Undercrank Productions announced today that Frank Borzage: 1922 Silents will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 7, 2023.
Frank Borzage, winner of the first-ever Academy Award for Best Direction, is perhaps best known today for his silent film masterpieces 7th Heaven (1927) and Street Angel (1928) starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. But Borzage had a substantial silent era career directing a string of dramatic hits in the 1920s, few of which have been available for fans. Frank Borzage: 1922 Silents presents two important films Borzage made for Cosmopolitan Productions: Back Pay and The Valley of Silent Men. These two rare features are presented in new digital scans from 35mm archival preservations by the Library of Congress, and new musical scores have been created for them by Andrew Earle Simpson.
Back Pay is the tale of Hester Bevins (Seena Owen), a restless small-town girl who leaves town and boyfriend Jerry (Matt Moore) behind for luxury in the big city. But that luxury comes at a terrible cost. The Valley of Silent Men is an adventure story of the Far North, shot on location in Canada. Following a series of bizarre and identical murders, suspicion falls on the mysterious Marette Radisson (Alma Rubens). Or is the man who loves her — Corporal James Kent of the Mounties (Lew Cody) — the killer?
“When I first accompanied Back Pay at the Library of Congress,” says Simpson, “I found it to be deeply moving and genuine. The relationship between the desperate Hester and the ever-loyal Jerry is particularly touching. I created a piano score for Back Pay to match the intimacy of this drama. The Valley of Silent Men contains stunning shots of the Canadian Rockies, and its large scale is echoed by a theatre organ score. The film is interesting because some parts are missing, and its restoration required consulting the original James Oliver Curwood novel, inserting a few crucial stills, and deploying basic story-telling instinct for the climactic scene, not found in the novel.”
This 2-disc set brings these films to Blu-ray and DVD for the first time, in new 2K digital scans made from 35mm preservations from the Library of Congress. Also included on the set is a video essay A Turning Point: Borzage at Cosmopolitan.
FRANK BORZAGE: 1922 SILENTS
Back Pay (1922) – directed by Frank Borzage; written by Frances Marion; starring Seena Owen, Matt Moore, J. Barney Sherry; 82 mins
The Valley of Silent Men (1922) – directed by Frank Borzage; starring Alma Rubens, Lew Cody, Joe King, George Nash; 56 mins
Bonus Feature: A Turning Point: Borzage at Cosmopolitan (2022); 11 mins
Undercrank Productions – Producer: Crystal Kui; Writer, Narrator and Music: Andrew Earle Simpson
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: March 1, 2023
DVD Suggested Retail Price: $24.95
Blu-ray Suggested Retail Price: $29.95
TOTAL RUNNING TIME – 149 Min – B&W/tinted – 2 discs
Stereo – NTSC – Not Rated – Region: 0 – 1.33:1
New musical scores composed and performed by Andrew Earle Simpson
Produced for home video by Andrew Earle Simpson and Ben Model
Films preserved by the Library of Congress
Released by Undercrank Productions / Library of Congress