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Mainstream - The Roller Derby Chronicles - 3 DVD Set

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The Roller Derby Chronicles
3 DVD set
VSC 2009

The Roller Derby Chronicles DVD set is going to bring pleasant memories to anyone who has ever followed this sport. The 3 DVD set includes 2 documentaries about roller derby on disc 1:  Rolling Thunder (2009) and Derby (1971). DVD 2 and 3 features games from 1960, 1974, 1973, and 1977 and incomplete footage from a game in 1952 and 1959. The insert for Roller Derby Chronicles is a reprint of a 1969 Sports Illustrated article that does a very good job of telling the story until then. This is a really cool box set and a must for roller derby fans.

Roller Derby is simple. 2 players wearing marked helmets have to lap all the other players. Their team gets one point for each opponent lapped. The other players wrestle and take spectacular falls. There are two referees and both went to the seeing eye dog school.

Did you know roller derby as we know it was co-created by famous sports writer Damon Runyon and Leo Seltzer? That it was one of the first televised sports and its appearance on the Dumont network in the mid forties is what really gave birth to derby?  These are but some of the many interesting things you learn in Rolling Thunder (48 minutes). The documentary includes archival footage, profiles, and interviews with some of the greats like Skiny Mini Miller and experts and historians of the sports. Rolling Thunder closes with the end of Roller Derby at the end of 1973 after it was sold to a rival, Roller Games.

1971’s Derby is a 94 minute documentary where someone basically turned the camera on and followed the Roller Derby people on tour for a while. It very quickly gets monotonous. The unrestored footage also shows its age and has an unedited home movie look.

DVD 2 of The Roller Derby Chronicles features parts of games from the fifties to the mid seventies. The early footage is in decent enough shape. The 1974 game in Kingston is in very good shape but the announcers are useless and the game lacks energy because there is almost nobody in the stands. The game does feature Paul The Bear Rupert and Skinny Minnie Miller.

The third DVD features two full-length games. The 1973 Chiefs vs Bombers game is good but lit a bit brightly if you ask me.. The 1977 game between the Bombers and Brooklyn is also very good. The footage is in very good shape with only a couple of glitches here and there.

Roller Derby Chronicles DVD 2 (178 minutes) Games: 1952 Jersey Jolters v. New York Chiefs, at the 14th St. Armory, Periods Seven and Eight. 1959 Championship Game: Chicago Westerners v. San Francisco Bay Bombers at The Cow Palace, Second Half. 1960 New York Chiefs v. San Francisco Bay Bombers at The Cow Palace, Second Half. 1974 Los Angeles Thunderbirds v. Canadian All Stars, at the Kingston Memorial Arena, Second Half

DVD 3 (190 minutes) Games: 1973 New York Chiefs v. San Francisco Bay Bombers, at Kezar Pavilion. 1977 Brooklyn Red Devils v. San Francisco Bay Bombers, at Kezar Pavilion


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