Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

The Legendary BEHIND THE DOOR Is Out On Blu-ray, and You Can Win a Copy!

Kevin Brownlow called it “the most outspoken of all the vengeance films.” It’s also one of the most daring and disturbing. And now—finally—it’s available on DVD.

Irvin Willat’s 1919 masterwork, Behind the Door, has been gorgeously restored through a  collaboration of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF), the Library of Congress, and Gosfilmofond of Russia. And Flicker Alley releases the Blu-ray disc on April 4th.


The restoration—the most complete version of the film since it was released almost a century ago—was a years-long labor of love. The print was meticulously pieced together using a copy of Willat’s original continuity script and every known film source element—including some critical action sequences tracked down from actor Hobart Bosworth’s personal collection.

Because the movie was made in the US right after World War I, you can imagine how the battle of the protagonists—patriotic American Oscar Krug (Bosworth) and monstrous beast Lieutenant Brandt of the Imperial German Army (Wallace Beery at his Wallace Beeriest)—shapes up. What you can’t imagine is the shockingly brutal turn of events that ensue when Krug’s ship is captured by the Germans and his wife (Jane Novak), who has sneaked aboard, is kidnapped and dragged onto their U-boat, leading her heartbroken husband to seek bloody revenge. If you think you’ve seen it all but you’ve never seen this film, trust me, you haven’t seen it all. (Warning: You may never be able to watch The Champ the same way again.)

Photoplay said of Behind the Door, “it took courage to make such a picture as this, for it is a ‘he-picture’—no pap for puking infants.” Though a few adults in the audience might have felt their lunch making a return appearance as well. But the film is as gorgeous as it is graphic: Willat used color tinting in unusual ways to underscore emotion and move the narrative along. And its 70 minutes seem to fly by in less time than it takes to boil an egg.

Here’s  a peek at the trailer:

As part of the roll-out, you can purchase Behind the Door at $10 off the regular price. Meanwhile, the fabulous folks at Flicker Alley have teamed with some classic film websites, including ours, to give away copies of this gorgeous print, which also includes scads of bonus materials:

  • The Russian version of Behind the DoorThe re-edited and re-titled version of the film that was distributed in Russia, with musical accompaniment by composer Stephen Horne, who also scored the English-language version on the DVD;
  • Outtakes from Behind the DoorFeaturing music composed and performed by Horne;
  • Restoring Irvin Willat’s Behind the Door”: A behind-the-scenes look at the restoration;
  • “Kevin Brownlow, Remembering Irvin Willat”: An in-depth interview with the legendary film historian and honorary Academy Award® winner on Willat’s career;
  • Slideshow gallery of stills and promotional material from Behind the Door;  and
  • Souvenir Booklet: Featuring rare photographs and essays by film historian Jay Weissburg, Rob Byrne, president of the SFSFF board of directors, who did the yeoman’s work of the restoration, and Horne.

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Behind the Door on dual-format Blu-ray/DVD from Flicker Alley. The contest is open to all US and Canadian residents and ends April 12, 2017, so hurry!

When you enter the contest by clicking below, you’ll be given the option to follow Sister Celluloid on Twitter—and I do mean option. But I hope you’ll give us a follow and join more than 2,000 movie-crazy people already at the party, sharing pix, comments, links and live-tweet events. 


And good luck!

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