Kino's new "Masterworks" collection, which features the mesmerizing, restored film classics "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," "Cyrano de Bergerac" and F.W. Murnau's "Faust" ($30 each), proves silents are golden.
The 1919 "Caligari," directed by Robert Weine, is not only considered the first psychological horror film ever made, the thriller also brought the stylistic art of German Expressionism to the screen. Kino's edition has restored the film's original color tints and features new intertitles that match the Expressionistic ones found in the original source material.
Walter Rohrig, Hermann Warm and Walter Reinmann designed the grotesquely wonderful sets. Werner Krauss and Conrad Veidt ("Casablanca") star. Also featured on the video are excerpts from Weine's spooky vampire film "Genuine."
The 1925 French-Italian version of "Cyrano de Bergerac" is a delightfully entertaining version of Edmond Rostand's tale. The production also is a great example of Pathecolor--a technique in which every frame of film was colored by tinting, hand-painting and stenciling. The print is beautiful and the colors are rich and vibrant. Pierre Magnier gives a memorable performance as the long-nosed, love-struck Cyrano.
Murnau's 1926 "Faust" is clearly the crown jewel of the three.This inventive and stunning adaptation of Goethe's tale features a larger-than-life, scene-stealing turn by the great Emil Jannings as Mephistopheles. Gosta Ekman and Camilla Horn also star.
"Faust" was Murnau's last German film before he came to Hollywood. It is a lavish production that features Walter Rohrig and Robert Herlth's impressive, surreal sets, Carl Hoffmann's evocative black-and-white cinematography and some nifty--at least for 1926--optical effects. Murnau also directed such classics as "Nosferatu the Vampire," "The Last Laugh" and "Sunrise"
Monday happens to mark the 65th anniversary of the death of Murnau, who was killed at age 42 in an auto accident while driving from Los Angeles to Monterey. To order the videos: (800) 562-3330.
Documentary: Richard Dreyfuss is the engaging host and narrator of "The Universal Story" (MCA/Universal, $13), a moderately entertaining two-hour retrospective on the famous movie studio and amusement park that was founded way, way back in 1915. The first half features some terrific archival footage.
Inspirational: "Silent Climb" (Keen Communication, $20) is an educational little drama about a hearing-impaired young man who doesn't let his disability stop him from realizing his dream to participate in a challenging mountain climb. The film originally aired on Kaleidoscope, America's Disability Channel. To order: (800) 363-5336.
Killer Bs: Michael Dudikoff stars in the trite "Soldier Boyz" (HBO Video), sort of a "Dirty Half Dozen" action thriller about an ex-Marine who takes six ruthless prisoners on a dangerous rescue mission in Vietnam.
Michael Biehn stars in "Breach of Trust" (Republic), a standard action-thriller about an underworld criminal and a female undercover agent who join forces to stop some underworld drug dealers.
Ben Cross headlines "The Criminal Mind" (Columbia TriStar), a no-brainer mob thriller.
Tom Sizemore and Pamela Gidley star in "Bad Love" (A-Pix), a bad film about two losers who's volatile relationship ends in tragedy.
New to Video: Mel Gibson's Scottish epic "Braveheart" (Paramount) is nominated for 10 Oscars, including best film and best director.
Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas play cat and mouse in the action-thriller "Assassins" (Warner).
Spike Lee directs "Clockers" (MCA/Universal), an urban drama based on Richard Price's bestseller. Harvey Keitel and John Turturro star.
All-righty! Jim Carrey stars as the pratfall-prone animal sleuth in "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" (Warner, $23).
Brooke Adams and Peter Horton are among the stars of "The Baby-sitters Club" (Columbia TriStar, $20), the first feature adaptation of the popular children's novels.
Lou Diamond Phillips and Judge Reinhold star in the crime thriller "The Wharf Rat" (Paramount).
Rebecca DeMornay and Antonio Banderas star in the erotic chiller "Never Talk to Strangers" (Columbia TriStar).
Also new: "Venus Rising" (Columbia TriStar); "The Silver Strand" (MGM/UA); "The Final Days" (Republic); "The Colony" (MCA/Universal); "The Prophecy" (Dimension).