Early Universal Vol.2
Reaching back a decade earlier than Eureka’s first Early Universal Blu-ray collection, this Vol.2 set again highlights the sophistication of the movies being made in Hollywood in the 10 years or so before sound arrived. The earliest of them (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) is the most ambitious and still the most effective, even if it does betray its age with the histrionic acting style imported from the stage. But the film’s best moments of underwater photography and atmosphere are grabbing.

The other two movies in the set could hardly be more different. The Calgary Stampede is a fairly routine western, but interesting for its wilderness footage, its presentation of what would become persistent Canadian tropes in Hollywood, and the presence of Hoot Gibson, now barely remembered except among silent-movie aficionados but a big name in his day. What Happened to Jones, meanwhile, is a bit of fluffy nonsense but an undeniably fun one.

All three films demonstrate the increasing sophistication of the cinema between the mid-1910s and mid-1920s, particularly in the handling of narrative through editing; ties to the traditions of the proscenium arch were becoming weaker and weaker. The 4K and 2K restorations serve them well, as do the newly commissioned original scores, and if anything the set as a whole outdoes the first Early Universal volume.

2xBD50 | 1080p AVC | 247 min | 75.5 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English intertitles
Subtitles: none
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Romance, Sport, Western

Edition Details:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Stuart Paton, 1916; 86:10) A “sea monster” threatening shipping around the world turns out to be the Nautilus, Captain Nemo’s personal submarine; meanwhile, events on Mysterious Island will bring both enemies and loved ones from Nemo’s past back into his life.
• "Kim Newman on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" 2021 author/critic video appreciation (22:26)

The Calgary Stampede (Herbert Blache, 1925; 91:46) An American cowboy in Canada is unjustly accused of shooting his fiancee’s father and must flee the Mounties.
• Audio Commentary by professor and film scholar Jason A. Ney (2021)

What Happened to Jones? (William A. Seiter, 1926; 70:53) Trying to escape the police after his poker game is raided on the eve of his wedding night, a young man resorts to disguise and subterfuge.
• Audio Commentary by film historian and writer David Kalat (2021)