A few days ago I got a couple of related but separate news bulletins from Undercrank Productions. Their latest DVD/Blu-ray release Zander the Great (1925) dropped on Tuesday; and a day or two earlier their crowdfund campaign for their next release Beverly of Graustark (1926) broke their previous best record by attaining its goal in about two hours. Both of those films star Marion Davies, and so that’s my first bit of news. I went to Undercrank’s web site and learned that they had been very busy while my head was turned! I’ve already let you know about most of their previous releases: Johnny Hines’ The Crackerjack; several editions of their Accidentally Preserved series (here, here, and here); The Mishaps of Musty Suffer; The Marcel Perez Collection; The Kinetophone; The Alice Howell Collection; The Douglas MacLean Collection; and Edward Everett Horton. But they also have put out numerous others which I missed somehow, including a bevy starring Davies such as Beauty’s Worth (1922), The Bride’s Play (1922), Little Old New York (1923), When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922), and now Zander the Great. So you can amass yourself quite a little Davies library should you so choose.
Zander the Great is one of those omnipresent western/adventure/comedies of the silent era, with an all-star cast that includes Davies, Holbrook Blinn, Harrison Ford, Harry Watson (i.e. Musty Suffer), Harry Myers (City Lights), Emily Fitzroy (Way Down East), Hobart Bosworth, Richard Carle, Hedda Hopper, Carmencita Johnson, and a young Toby Wing, along with her sister Pat. Silent movie afficiandoes will tell you — that is a LOT of stars. It was written by Frances Marion, and directed by George W. Hill, who went on to helm Tell it to the Marines with Lon Chaney the following year, and later his best known classic Min and Bill (1930) with Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery.
You’d think all of this activity would be enough to keep Undercrank’s Ben Model busy, but no, he’s still doing the Silent Comedy Watch Party most Sundays, produces and hosts a Silent Film Music Podcast, and accompanies films in live performance. We are particularly excited about his upcoming March 3 show, for he will be joining forces with another friend, Slate‘s Dana Stevens, to present Buster Keaton’s The General and Neighbors at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Westchester as part of the roll-out for her new book Camera Man. Tickets for that can be found here.
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For more on silent and classic film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.