Released next month is the latest mouth-watering, connoisseur-pleasing release from Flicker Alley, Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer. This is a five-DVD set covering Fairbanks’ career 1916-1921, as he worked his way through the genres and ever-increasing stardom, before the series of great costume dramas that marked the peak of his fame in the 1920s. It’s officially released on 2 December, with a discount offer for advance orders.
The eleven titles featured on the set are:
- His Picture in the Papers (1916)
- The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916)
- Flirting With Fate (1916)
- The Matrimaniac (1916)
- Wild and Woolly (1917)
- Reaching for the Moon (1917)
- A Modern Musketeer (1918)
- When the Clouds Roll By (1919)
- The Mollycoddle (1920)
- The Mark of Zorro (1920)
- The Nut (1921)
It’s a sensational package, not just for the instrinc value of the films, but for the portrait it provides of the ‘all-American’ character leaping out of a pre-war world into post-war opportunity. The release of the set is complemented by the publication of Jeffrey Vance’s new biography, Douglas Fairbanks. This, we are told, is
the first critical analysis of Fairbanks’s body of work in over twenty-five years as well as the first full scale biography in over a half century. This extensively researched, engagingly written and sumptuously designed book goes behind Fairbanks’s public persona to thoroughly explore his art and far-reaching influence. Utilizing access to Fairbanks’s personal and professional papers, Douglas Fairbanks is a superb portrait of a true pioneer, critically important to the creation of cinema as the defining art form of the 20th-century.
The DVD set takes its apposite name from the title of the recently rediscovered 1917 A Modern Musketeer, which the curmudgeonly Bioscope didn’t much care for when it was shown this year at Pordenone. For a more generous view, within an illuminating critique of the Fairbanks persona, read David Bordwell’s latest post.