Click here to learn more about anamorphic widescreen!
Go to the Home Page
Go to The Rumor Mill
Go to Todd Doogan's weekly column
Go to the Reviews Page
Go to the Trivia Contest Page
Go to the Upcoming DVD Artwork Page
Go to the DVD FAQ & Article Archives
Go to our DVD Links Section
Go to the Home Theater Forum for great DVD discussion
Find out how to advertise on The Digital Bits

Site created 12/15/97.



The Digital Bits logo
page created: 3/20/06




Classic Coming Attractions by Barrie Maxwell

Back to Part One

Barrie Maxwell - Main Page

Best Picture Winners, a Few Reviews, and the Latest Announcements
(Continued)



The Tall Texan

The Tall Texan (1953)
(released on DVD by VCI on January 17th, 2006)

Film Rating: B+
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B-/B+


This film's title and the way it was advertised with its looming image of a grim-looking Lloyd Bridges sporting two six shooters suggests something it's not. It's not a conventional low budget western with cardboard hero who guns down the bad guy in a climactic shootout. Instead it's a thoughtful character study involving several strangers on a makeshift stagecoach who become involved in a search for gold that just happens to be located on a sacred Indian burial ground. As one might expect, the natives are not amused and they proceed to pick off the offending gold hunters one-by-one.

The film was the first one directed by film editor Elmo Williams. He was given the opportunity by producer Robert Lippert who budgeted $102K for the film, which was shot on location near Deming, New Mexico. Due to the tight budget, Williams turned to several actors affected by the blacklisting of the time to star in the film, hence its impressive cast of Lloyd Bridges, Lee J. Cobb, and Luther Adler, supplemented by Marie Windsor. The script was only put together at the last minute and it shows at times as the story does bog down on occasion, but the interactions between the principal characters all have interest as compensation. The action scenes are not particularly persuasive although parts are well edited reflecting Elmo Williams' principal background. The film takes good advantage of the Deming area's interesting terrain, particularly a region of rocks and large boulders in which the latter part of the film takes place.

VCI has done a particularly nice job with the DVD transfer, which is correctly presented full frame. The black and white image noticeably shines in respect to its wonderfully varied gray scale. Overall, the image is fairly sharp although a few sequences are a bit soft looking. Speckling is minor. The mono sound does the job, but is otherwise unremarkable. There are no subtitles. The disc sports a respectable set of supplements, the most interesting of which is a 16-minute audio commentary (presented over a gallery of stills and posters) by Ross May who was a horse wrangler for the film and is a lifelong resident of the Deming area. On-screen text supplements provide pages of good production detail on the film as well as career biographies of both Lloyd Bridges and Lee J. Cobb, although there appears to be no control over the speed at which the various pages in these features are presented, which I found to be a minor irritation as they change too slowly. Also included is chapter 1 of the 1945 serial Secret Agent X-9 in which Lloyd Bridges starred, the film's original theatrical trailer, and trailers for four other westerns available from VCI. Recommended for western fans; others may wish to try a rental.


Operation Manhunt

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Operation Manhunt (1954)
(released on DVD by Mackinac Media on January 17th, 2006)

Film Rating: B
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/C-


The "Red Scare" atmosphere of the 1950s was presumably the main reason for Operation Manhunt, a film that focuses on Igor Gouzenko, a Soviet cipher clerk at the Soviet embassy in Ottawa who defected to Canada in 1945. In so doing, he turned over documentation to the Canadian authorities that effectively compromised much of the Soviet espionage effort aimed at discovering secrets connected to western atomic research programs of the time. Gouzenko was given another identity and a home at a secret location somewhere in Canada. Presumably, the Soviets hoped to kill Gouzenko in retaliation for his defection, but they were unsuccessful and Gouzenko lived in secrecy until his death from natural causes in 1982.

Unlike The Iron Curtain, a 1947 Twentieth Century-Fox picture that dramatized the Gouzenko defection, the independent production Operation Manhunt purports to show a failed Soviet attempt in 1954 to draw Gouzenko out of hiding and kill him. The script was written by Paul Monash, at the time a writer for the TV series Atom Squad (with its share of Red sabotage plots) and later a writer for The Untouchables and co-creator for the Peyton Place TV series. The plot is rather crude, full of Soviet stereotypes of the time, and emphasized by overly dramatic music, but it is presented with some vigour by a cast of lesser-known players headed by Harry Townes as Gouzenko and Jacques Aubuchon as another potential Soviet defector. The film does benefit from extensive use of location work in both Ottawa and Montreal, and is given an air of importance through narration by Westbrook Van Voorhies. The resulting semi-documentary style and a brisk 77-minute running time are effective in maintaining interest despite the film's script shortcomings. The real Igor Gouzenko appears at the film's end, his head hooded, and provides an epilog stressing vigilance regarding Soviet activities.

Mackinac Media has mastered the black and white film in high definition and delivered quite a nice-looking 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. The source material is obviously a little rough with speckles and scratches quite apparent on the DVD image, but the overall effect is fairly sharp with good contrast and average shadow detail. There are some soft-looking sequences, but the location work in the Montreal market and Ile St. Helene areas has a nice raw look of reality. The mono sound is in good shape with dialogue clear and undistorted. There are no subtitles. Supplements consist of some background information on Gouzenko, a gallery of stills and posters, and the original theatrical trailer. The latter is a very sensationalistic effort that suggests the film is more about the original Gouzenko defection than it actually proves to be. Certainly worth a rental.


Cisco Pike

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Cisco Pike (1972)
(released on DVD by Sony on January 24th, 2006)

Film Rating: B
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B-/E


A virtually forgotten and semmingly low budget film of the early 1970s, Cisco Pike manages to remain entertaining with an unassuming yet entertaining story and apparently effortlessly-good performances by a young Kris Kristofferson and the always reliable Gene Hackman. Cisco Pike (Kristofferson) is a once-famous rock singer now surviving mainly through peddling dope. He's blackmailed by a crooked cop (Hackman) into selling a load of stolen marijuana with a time limit of 53 hours, and finds he must pull in every favour he can if he's to get himself out of a situation that could prove to be lights-out. The film is directed with a gritty realism by Bill Norton and definitely catches the feel of the waning hippie era. Although it does try too hard at times with obvious dialogue and some trite situations, the acting manages to pull it through and creates a general air of goodwill for a decent effort. If the thought of discovering a film from the 70s you never heard of, and with Gene Hackman to boot, appeals, I don't think you'll be disappointed in the modest yet earnest Cisco Pike.

Sony thought enough of the film to give it a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, but that's about it. The image is somewhat inconsistent, at times crisp, at others washed out. There's some moderate grain in evidence as well as some speckles and scratches. The mono sound is adequate and is supplemented by a raft of subtitles including English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, and Thai. There are no extras, not even Sony's usual unrelated previews. Worth trying a rental for those willing to take a chance.


Controversial Classics: Volume Two - The Power of Media
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
All the President's Men (1976)
Network (1976)
(released on DVD by Warner Bros. on February 28th, 2006)

Controversial Classics: Volume Two - The Power of MediaDog Day Afternoon

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

All the President's MenNetwork

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEnhanced for 16x9 TVs

Three excellent films from the 1970s (sometimes referred to as Hollywood's second golden age) have been re-released by Warner Bros. in fine two-disc special editions. These are available individually or in a box set, Controversial Classics: Volume Two - The Power of Media. I suspect that most readers are quite familiar with these titles and since they are starting to get beyond the mandate of a true classics column, I don't intend to provide an assessment of the films themselves, but rather concentrate on the DVD side of things in comparison with the previous versions available. If you haven't seen these films, be prepared for provocative and tremendously entertaining fare featuring assured direction, well-crafted scripts, and some outstanding acting performances (the best of an impressive bunch - Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in All the President's Men, Peter Finch in Network - is William Holden's work in Network).

Dog Day Afternoon - The blurb on the back of the case is the only thing on the new SE that's the same as on the original DVD release in 1997. The latter was a two-sided disc with a widescreen, anamorphic (though not so labeled) version on one side and a cropped version on the other. Other than some production notes, there was no supplementary content. The new SE begins with a new 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer that looks improved over the original. Many of the scratches and debris have been cleaned up and the image itself is sharper. The overall colour is brighter but fidelity remains a problem with some flesh tones looking too red at times, and blues being somewhat washed out. The mono track seems little different from the original, but it does the job quite adequately. A French mono track and English, French, and Spanish sub-titles are provided. The supplementary content is impressive. Director Sidney Lumet offers an excellent audio commentary full of production detail and delivered with enthusiasm. There is a new 30th anniversary making-of documentary presented in four parts that last almost an hour in total. Sidney Lumet is prominent in the documentary, but there are also interviews with a number of the filmmakers including actors Al Pacino, Charles Durning and Chris Sarandon, as well as producer Martin Bregman and script writer Frank Pierson. The documentary methodically makes its way through script development, casting, shooting, and the film's eventual critical and public reception. Also included in the set is a short vintage featurette focused on Lumet and the original theatrical trailer. Highly recommended.

Film Rating (Dog Day Afternoon): A
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/A


All the President's Men - This film was also one of Warners' early DVD releases in 1997, offering a two-sided disc with a pan and scan version on one side and a widescreen, anamorphic transfer on the other. Production notes were the only supplement. The new 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is very good. It's sharper and cleaner than the original although the grainy film stock of the time still imparts a more gritty look than one might like but which is typical for a film of this vintage. Colour fidelity looks very good although there are some soft sequences. The mono sound is clear and quite adequate for the dialogue driven film. English, French, and Spanish subtitles are provided. Robert Redford who starred in the film as well as being involved in its production provides his first commentary for a film and it's a strong effort. He tends to concentrate more on the production side of things in his comments. His style is comfortable and it's an easy listen. Three new documentaries totaling just over an hour of screen time focus on the making-of the film (Telling the Truth About Lies, including interviews with Redford, Dustin Hoffman, and some of the real-life personages from the story); the role of journalism (Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire); and the real deep throat who recently revealed himself (Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat). Other supplements include a trailer gallery for director Alan J. Pakula and a couple of vintage featurettes. Highly recommended.

Film Rating (All the President's Men): A
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/A


Network - First issued by MGM on DVD in 1998, rights to the title were subsequently acquired by Warner Bros. who reissued the same MGM transfer under its own imprimatur. The release was a two-sided disc with a pan and scan version on one side and a widescreen anamorphic transfer on the other. The only supplements were some production notes and the original theatrical trailer. The new 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer shows the most improvement over the original version of any of the three films in the box set. The murkiness of the original is gone for the most part as is the excessive grain and colour fidelity is substantially improved. The image is quite sharp with very good shadow detail. The stereo sound is clear despite a very low level of hiss, generally sounding little different from the original DVD release. A French mono track and English, French, and Spanish subtitles are provided. The supplements begin with a thorough audio commentary by director Sidney Lumet who speaks continuously throughout the film and delivers a vast array of information on all aspects of the production. Lumet has an engaging speaking style that enhances the commentary experience. The most impressive supplement is a six-part making-of documentary that lasts almost an hour and a half in length. Individual sections focus on writer Paddy Chayefsky, the film's casting, the sequence in which the Peter Finch character speaks his famous line ("I'm mad as hell …"), the film's rehearsal process, camera and lighting issues, and reflections from Walter Cronkite. Other supplements include a fine hour-long edition of "Private Screenings" in which Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne interviews Lumet, a vintage interview of Chayefsky on Dinah Shore's TV show, and the original theatrical trailer. Highly recommended.

Film Rating (Network): A
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/A



New Announcements

Warner Bros. continues to create the biggest waves when it comes to classic releases. In my last column, I summarized news that the company announced regarding its 2006 DVD release plans. Since then, the Home Theater Forum has hosted a live chat with three of Warners' top executives including George Feltenstein. The transcript of the complete chat can be found here at The Bits, but I have summarized the news of interest to classic fans in the following table. The table presents the information alphabetically by film (or series) title or film star name.

Film Title, Series, or Player Year DVD News from Warner Bros.
American in Paris, An 1951 Ultra Resolution version had been hoped for 2006, but looks like 2007 now.
Andy Hardy series - Definitely not 2006. Possible 2007 or 2008 and would likely be a box set containing all the titles.
Angels in the Outfield 1951 New transfer exists, but release delayed. No new date set.
Bachelor Mother 1939 No plans in immediate future, but do hope to get it out later.
Big Parade, The 1925 Late 2006 or 2007
Black Camel, The 1931 WB owns Canada and US rights. See Charlie Chan.
Bonnie and Clyde 1967 40th Anniversary SE release in 2007
Bowery Boys films - Planned to have the Bowery Boys films out starting in January of 2006, releasing all the films chronologically. The masters for the first 8 films were awful so had to start from scratch, re-evaluating release plans for the films while searching the globe (literally!) looking for excellent quality 35mm materials. This will delay the chronological releases.
Brewster McCloud 1970 Working on getting a new transfer. No release timing as yet.
Caged 1950 Delayed from 2006 to 2007
Cagney, James - Box set in 2007
Candidate, The 1972 New edition with participation of Robert Redford. No timing as yet.
Carbine Williams 1952 Being considered, but will not be in the James Stewart box set coming later in 2006.
Chaney, Lon - There will be a Lon Chaney Collection Volume 2 including The Unholy Three (1925/1930), Tell It to the Marines, He Who Gets Slapped, and two other titles. No timing as yet.
Charge of the Light Brigade, The 1936 See Flynn, Errol.
Charlie Chan films - WB owns many of the Monograms and The Black Camel and plans to release them together, but no date has been set. There is difficulty in locating good elements on all the Monogram Chans, but WB is looking into it.
City for Conquest 1940 Fully restored with original prologue (found in Europe) and will appear later in 2006 as part of the Warner Tough Guys Collection.
Crawford, Joan - Volume 2 in 2007 will include Flamingo Road restored from the original nitrate.
Crowd, The 1928 Late 2006 or 2007
Dark of the Sun 1968 Likely in 2007
David Copperfield 1935 Will be released in conjunction with A Tale of Two Cities. No release timing as yet.
Day, Doris - Hoping to do another box set focusing on her early films, especially the musicals. Two non-musical films of hers are coming in 2006. One is likely to be Storm Warning.
Deliverance 1972 35th Anniversary SE in 2007.
Desperate 1947 Not scheduled as yet.
Dr. Kildare series - Hope to release the complete series as a box set. No timing as yet.
Drowning Pool, The 1976 See Newman, Paul
Executive Suite 1954 2007
Falcon series - Hope to release the complete series as a box set. No timing as yet. (This was inferred from the chat transcript, although it's a little vague in respect to the crime/detective series that WB holds.)
Film Noir Set #3 - Will contain Lady in the Lake, an RKO Mitchum film, and an unexpected MGM title. There will be a 4th set later this year (likely will include Side Street).
Flamingo Road 1949 See Crawford, Joan
Flynn, Errol - Second box set with fully restored titles coming in 2007. Will include The Charge of the Light Brigade and Gentleman Jim.
Ford, Glenn - Box set being considered.
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 1962 Possibly will appear in a Glenn Ford box set
Gentleman Jim 1942 See Flynn, Errol.
Giant Behemoth, The 1959 Will be released, but no timing as yet.
Goodbye Mr. Chips 1969 Will be released, possibly in spring 2007.
Greed 1925 Late 2006 or 2007
Green Slime, The 1969 Being considered
Harlow, Jean - Harlow box set in 2006 or 2007
Harper 1966 See Newman, Paul
He Who Gets Slapped 1924 See Chaney, Lon
Hill, The 1965 A new transfer has been completed. Hope to release in 2007.
Home from the Hill 1960 See Mitchum, Robert
Jeremiah Johnson 1972 New edition with participation of Robert Redford. No timing as yet.
Journey into Fear 1942 See The Magnificent Ambersons.
Lancaster, Burt - Box set in 2007, will include Twilight's Last Gleaming.
Loy, Myrna - See Powell and Loy.
Mad Miss Manton, The 1938 No solid plans at present, but could be included in a Barbara Stanwyck box set.
Magnificent Ambersons, The 1941 Still looking for better materials. Journey into Fear will be released at the same time.
Maisie series - Hope to release the complete series as a box set. No timing as yet.
Man Who Would Be King, The 1975 New SE in 2007.
Mark of the Vampire 1935 Late 2006
Mask of Fu Manchu 1932 Late 2006
Mitchum, Robert - Box set in 2007. Will include Home from the Hill.
Newman, Paul - Box set in 2006 will include Harper and The Drowning Pool.
No Time for Sergeants 1958 Being worked on. No timing as yet.
Performance 1970 2006 or first half 2007
Picture of Dorian Gray, The 1945 2007
Picture Snatcher, The 1933 Considered a hard sell, so seems unlikely.
Powell and Loy - Box set with all new-to-DVD titles in 2007.
Prisoner of Zenda, The 1922, 1937, 1952 Released all together in 2006 or 2007. More adventure films also planned.
Queen of Outer Space 1958 2007
Rogers, Ginger - Looking into her RKO films, but nothing definite as yet.
Scarlet Letter, The 1926 Late 2006 or 2007
Sea Wolf, The 1941 Won't release The Sea Wolf until can find the full length version in 35mm. WB's only source for the original theatrical version is a 16mm print. WB will keep looking around the world, as they did for City of Conquest, and try to give such a great film as The Sea Wolf a deserving presentation. If WB doesn't find the footage, they will resort to using the 16mm sequences for the cut scenes.
Shearer, Norma - Plan to release more of her films in the not too distant future. Right now, restoration on a lot of them is needed as none are "DVD-ready" aside from the previously issued The Women. The original camera negative of Romeo and Juliet was confirmed to be in existence, so new film elements on that are being prepared. Hope to get out some of her early pre-code pictures and some of the silents as well.
Shine On Harvest Moon 1944 Highly unlikely anytime soon, but not ruled out completely.
Show People 1928 Late 2006 or 2007
Side Street 1949 Likely for Film Noir #4 later in 2006.
Sinatra, Frank - Box set, but timing undecided. Likely will include Some Came Running.
Soldier in the Rain 1963 Being considered.
Some Came Running 1958 Has been restored. See Sinatra, Frank.
Stanwyck, Barbara - Have enough of her films for several box sets, although there is nothing specific as yet. The Mad Miss Manton is a possibility.
Star Is Born, A 1937 WB owns the rights and may release it in conjunction with the 1954 one. No timing yet.
Star Is Born, A 1954 Hope to revisit for High Definition
Summer Place, A 1959 Probably in 2007
Superman serials 1948, 1950 2006 via WB's TV group, will not be part of the Superman 14 disc box set coming this year.
Tale of Two Cities, A 1935 New master created. No release timing as yet. Will be released in conjunction with David Copperfield.
Tarzan films - Johnny Weissmuller RKO titles likely in 2007. Lex Barker ones to follow.
Tell It to the Marines 1926 See Chaney, Lon
That's Dancing 1985 Hopefully in 2007.
Twilight's Last Gleaming 1977 See Lancaster, Burt
Unholy Three, The 1925, 1930 See Chaney, Lon.
Up the Down Staircase 1967 Probably 2007
Wheeler and Woolsey - Not on the schedule at present.
Wind, The 1928 Late 2006 or 2007
Wood, Natalie - Box set probably in 2007.
Yakuza, The 1975 Delayed from 2006 into 2007


The other studios continue to plug along with modest new announcements, although Fox tends to stand out as it continues to roll out a relatively impressive number of classic titles. The following news is organized alphabetically by releasing company, with the Classic Coming Attractions Database having been updated accordingly. Sources for this column's information include personal contacts, releasing company press releases and websites, The Digital Bits, DVD Drive-In, DavisDVD, In the Balcony, DVD Times, DVD Active, TV Shows on DVD, the Home Theater Forum, and the ams newsgroup.

AC Comics will add to its existing DVD-R serial releases with editions of Manhunt of Mystery Island and Don Daredevil Rides Again - two Republic serials from 1945 and 1951 respectively - coming in late spring. Paramount, by virtue of its Republic holdings, controls the original material for both of these serials and I don't recall seeing them readily available to date from the public domain specialists, so one wonders about the legality of these planned releases.

Alpha has 22 new releases set for April 18th. There's one serial this time (The Black Coin, 1936), four B-westerns (one each with Tim McCoy and Tex O'Brien and two 1937 Three Mesquiteer outings - Come On Cowboys and Roarin' Lead). Also included are several double bills and the usual 4-episode collections of TV shows (eg. The Adventures of Kit Carson, The Gabby Hayes Show) See the new release database for the complete list of titles.

Here's a heads-up for a Fox release that slipped by me. On February 28th, the studio issued a 50th Anniversary Edition of Elvis's Love Me Tender (1956) as part of its Cinema Classics Series. I'm guessing the film has the same fine anamorphic transfer it had on its initial DVD release, but there is considerable new supplementary material including an audio commentary by Elvis historian Jerry Schilling, three featurettes, a set of lobby cards, and a photo gallery. Note that the studio is repackaging a lot of its previous classic releases under the Cinema Classics Collection banner - a number of the biblical films are being handled this way, for example. The Hiding Place (1975, with Julie Harris), previously expected on January 31st, is now scheduled for an April 11th release. Fox reports that the version of 1973's Battle for the Planet of the Apes included in the forthcoming Apes box set (March 28th) will be the extended version previously only available on a Japanese laserdisc. Fox has also added What a Way to Go! (1964, with Shirley MacLaine) to its April 4th release plans. In addition to those war films already announced, Fox has more May war releases with new 2-disc special editions of Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Patton (1970), and The Longest Day (1962) on May 23rd, all with anamorphic widescreen presentations. Patton will include an introduction and audio commentary by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, a photo gallery with audio essay, The Making of Patton documentary, the History Through the Lens: Patton: A Rebel Revisited and Patton's Ghost Corps featurettes (both are new to this release, compared to the original 2-disc Patton), a production stills gallery (accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith's complete musical score) and the film's original theatrical trailer. Tora! Tora! Tora! will include commentary by director Richard Fleischer and Japanese film historian Stewart Galbraith, the Day of Infamy documentary, 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes, 10 original Movietone News historical shorts, and the film's theatrical trailer. Finally, The Longest Day will include historical audio commentary, 5 featurettes, a stills gallery, and the film's theatrical trailer. Fox also has The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967, with Jason Robards Jr.) slated for May 23rd. On the same date, the studio will also repackage some of its releases old and new into four-title box sets. Heroes of War Collection: Frontline Combat includes D-Day: The 6th of June, Decision Before Dawn, Guadalcanal Diary, and Halls of Montezuma. Heroes of War Collection: Navy Battles includes The Frogmen, Sink the Bismarck, Morituri, and The Enemy Below. Classic Crime Collection: Street Justice includes The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Murder Inc., The Seven Ups, and The French Connection single disc edition. Classic Western Collection: The Outlaws includes Culpepper Cattle Company, The Proud Ones, Broken Lance, and Forty Guns. On May 30th, we'll get six of the films that originally appeared in the two Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collections repackaged (same transfers, same supplements) as the Marilyn Monroe 80th Anniversary Collection (including The Seven Year Itch, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Niagara, River of No Return, Let's Make Love, and the documentary Marilyn: The Final Days). On June 6th, the second volume of The Time Tunnel TV series will arrive as will Emperor of the North (1973, with Lee Marvin), and the next wave of Fox Film Noir. This time the three releases will be Boomerang! (1947, with Dana Andrews), House of Strangers (1949, with Edward G. Robinson), and I Wake Up Screaming (1941, with Betty Grable) - all will have audio commentary, trailers, and photo galleries, with Boomerang! also offering some deleted scenes. Then on June 13th we'll get the Betty Grable Collection 1 (My Blue Heaven [1950], The Dolly Sisters [1945], Moon Over Miami [1941], and Down Argentine Way [1940]) along with Valley of the Dolls - Special Edition (1967) and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls - Special Edition (1970). Fox's forthcoming Charlie Chan releases will begin with the first volume on June 20th. The box set will include the first four Warner Oland films that the studio has the rights to (Charlie Chan in London, Charlie Chan in Paris, Charlie Chan in Shanghai, Charlie Chan in Egypt) as well as the Spanish language version of Charlie Chan Carries On, known as Eran Trece. Fox is closer to readying its second volume of Laurel and Hardy features (expected to appear later in 2006 and to include The Dancing Masters, The Bullfighters, and A-Haunting We Will Go) as author Scott MacGillivry indicates that he has completed audio commentaries for them. As reported earlier, the first volume (including Jitterbugs, The Big Noise, and Great Guns) is due out on April 11th. The latest information on the previously rumoured Jayne Mansfield Collection suggests that the titles will now be The Girl Can't Help It, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, and The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (rather than The Wayward Bus). There is no word on a release date as yet. Fox is also considering the future release of two Jack Benny films on DVD - Charley's Aunt (1941) and The Meanest Man in the World (1943).

Grapevine Video has several new titles planned for March, although no specific release date has been announced. The films are: Bare Knees (1928, with the comedy short Danger Ahead), Little Orphant Annie (1918, with comedy short His Day Out), The Perfect Clown (1925, with comedy short Move Along), Our Gang Comedies - Volume #1 (1922-23, includes Fire Fighters, Young Sherlocks, One Terrible Day, A Quiet Street, The Big Show, The Champeen, A Pleasant Journey), a Frankie Darro/Mantan Moreland double feature of Irish Luck (1939) and Up in the Air (1940), and a Guinn "Big Boy" Williams double feature of Cowboy Holiday (1934) and The Law of 45s (1935).

Image's April schedule includes three further releases on the 25th - two Gene Autry westerns from 1939 (Colorado Sunset and Mexicali Rose) and a collection of four poverty row horror films called Forgotten Horrors (The Phantom [1931], The Intruder [1933], Tangled Destinies [1932], and Dead Men Walk [1943]).

Lion's Gate will offer two more double features in its line of Arkoff Film Library releases. Coming on April 18th are The Day the World Ended (1956, with Richard Denning)/The She Creature (1956, with Marla English) and The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (1957, with Abby Dalton)/Teenage Caveman (1958, with Robert Vaughn).

Mackinac Media has delayed Aesop's Fables to June 11th. Coming on the same date is The Complete Adventures of Cubby Bear. Both releases are entries in the company's Golden Age of Cartoons series. Two other titles previously anticipated in March (Hooray for Hollywood and Felix the Cat) are not currently listed on the release schedule.

Milestone has fallen behind on its release schedule as it has decided to leave Image Entertainment and issue titles on its own. With the learning curve involved, the forthcoming releases are likely delayed at least half a year. Its release of its Charley Chase Collection of shorts is now not anticipated until late fall 2006 or early next winter, for example.

On June 27th, MPI will have The Jackie Gleason Show - The Color Honeymooners: Volume One. It will contain nine episodes from Gleason's weekly 1966 show, with Sheila MacRae replacing Audrey Meadows.

Paramount's release of Julius Caesar (1971, with Charlton Heston) scheduled for March 28th has been delayed with no new release date set at present. The studio has, however, now announced official release dates of May 16th for Love Happy, Body and Soul, Secret Beyond the Door, The Dark Mirror and Letter from an Unknown Woman and May 23rd for War of the Wildcats, New Frontier (1935 and 1939), Red River Range/Three Texas Steers, Night Riders/Wake of the Red Witch - all titles revealed in the previous edition of this column. Meanwhile the Batjac titles that were previously delayed from December 2005 (Man in the Vault, Plunder of the Sun, Ring of Fear, Track of the Cat) are now scheduled to appear on June 6th. They will also be bundled together in a box set entitled: John Wayne's Batjac Productions Presents: The Suspense Collection. Track of the Cat and Plunder of the Sun are designated Special Collector's Editions. Also coming on the 6th is The Wild Wild West: Complete First Season (40th Anniversary) including all 28 episodes, introductions by Robert Conrad, and some audio commentaries. Paramount is expected to release Perry Mason: Season One, Volume One (19 or 20 episodes of the 39-episode first season ) on July 11th. There are understood to be no extras on this first release.

Roan Group will have Three Guys Named Mike (1951, with Jane Wyman) available on March 7th.

Sony (Columbia) will offer I Walk the Line, a 1970 John Frankenheimer film starring Gregory Peck March 7th, released mainly because it has Johnny Cash in its cast and ties into the current Cash biopic Walk the Line. On April 25th, Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger (1975, with Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider) is set for release, with Nicholson contributing an audio commentary. Sony will offer Here Come the Brides: The Complete First Season on May 16th. It will contain all 26 episodes from the first of the two seasons that the series lasted for.

On May 9th, Universal offers a new anamorphic release of the disaster film Earthquake (1974, with Charlton Heston). Then on May 30th, Universal will release John Wayne: An American Icon - a collection of five titles on two discs. The films are Seven Sinners (1940), Shepherd of the Hills (1941), Pittsburgh (1942), The Conqueror (1956), and Jet Pilot (1957). Universal has The Rockford Files: Season Two set to appear on June 13th. It will be a three-disc set containing the season's 22 episodes plus the series pilot TV film in its original uncut form, later retitled as Backlash of the Hunter.

VCI has added a Youth Run Wild Double Feature to its schedule, with release on April 25th. It will include Unwed Mother (1958) and Too Soon to Love (1960). The Forgotten Film Noir #1 Double Feature of Portland Express (1957) and They Were So Young (1954) is now set for April 25th too, as are Promises! Promises! (1963, with Jayne Mansfield) and Three Nuts in Search of a Bolt (1964, with Mamie Van Doren).

On June 6th, Warner Bros. will release the anticipated John Wayne-John Ford Collection, a 10-disc, 8-movie box set of collaborations. Included are new two-disc editions of The Searchers and Stagecoach as well as single-disc releases of Fort Apache, The Long Voyage Home, Wings of Eagles, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, They Were Expendable, and 3 Godfathers. The version of The Searchers included in the box set is an Ultimate Collector's Edition featuring a two-disc SE DVD with extensive all-new bonus features, plus a full color 36-page press book, a 36-page reproduction of the original Dell comic book, filmmaker memos and correspondence, several behind-the-scenes photos, and a mail-in theatrical poster. The two-disc SE will also be available separately, as will all the other films in the set. The two-disc Stagecoach SE includes a new feature-length American Masters retrospective profile: John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker & the Legend. Also on June 6th, we'll get The John Ford Collection - a box set of five of Ford's films comprising Mary of Scotland, The Informer, The Lost Patrol, Sergeant Rutledge, and Cheyenne Autumn all new to DVD. Sergeant Rutledge and Mary of Scotland will be exclusive to the set, but the other three titles will also be available individually. Only Cheyenne Autumn is expected to have a significant set of extras. Warners has also announced that five films with "cult" followings and previously unavailable on DVD, will be released on June 20th. The titles are: A Fine Madness (1966, with Sean Connery and Joanne Woodward), The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1971, from Jimmy Breslin's best seller), I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968, with Peter Sellers), The Loved One (1965, with Robert Morse), and Petulia (1968, with Julie Christie and George C. Scott). All will have anamorphic transfers. Also coming on June 20th is The Adventures of Superman: Seasons 3 & 4, comprising a total of 26 episodes. The 5th and 6th seasons will appear in the fourth quarter of 2006 as will the 1948 and 1950 serials. Finally, the Clark Gable Signature Collection is expected to be released in late June (see the database for anticipated titles), but no official announcement has been made as yet.

Once again, that's it for now. See you all again soon.

Barrie Maxwell
barriemaxwell@thedigitalbits.com


Barrie Maxwell - Main Page
E-mail the Bits!


Don't #!@$ with the Monkey! Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colors and .gif 89a animation.
© 1997-2002 The Digital Bits, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com