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Classic Coming Attractions by Barrie Maxwell

Barrie Maxwell - Main Page

The Latest Classic Release Announcements

Well, it's that time again. Here's the latest news on forthcoming classic films on DVD. As usual, I'll go through them alphabetically by company, although you'll find that Warner Bros. has its customary embarrassment of riches, putting all others to shame. In addition, Warners has just participated in a chat at the Home Theater Forum during which they revealed much news of interest to classic film enthusiasts. At the end of the column, I've summarized the key points.

The Classic Release Database has been updated accordingly, but note that its format has been modified somewhat. It now consists of two tables only - one for announcements with precise release timing and a second for titles whose release dates are not confirmed or which are rumoured only. The TV series announcements have been integrated with the film titles announcements except that they are shown in italics to differentiate them. Information on Region 2 releases is no longer included in the tables, nor reported on in the column, due to personal time constraints which preclude my being able to be anywhere near comprehensive enough to warrant the inclusion of such information.

So here we go!

Alpha offers 25 new titles for release on May 31st. Most are either B westerns or compilations of TV series episodes. There are no serials this time out. See the database for the specific titles.

Columbia (Sony) has confirmed its release of the extended cut of Sam Peckinpah's Major Dundee (1965, with Charlton Heston) on May 31st. The film now runs 136 minutes and features an entirely new score (original score also included). It will be presented in anamorphic widescreen. Also coming on May 31st are Diamond Head (1963, with Charlton Heston, 2.35:1 anamorphic), the fine western Gun Fury (1953, with Rock Hudson), and a young John Wayne in Texas Cyclone (1932, with Tim McCoy).

Coming from Criterion on May 24th and May31st respectively are The Phantom of Liberty (1974, directed by Luis Bunuel) and Jules and Jim (1962, directed by Francois Truffaut). The latter will be a two-disc edition featuring a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, two audio commentaries and numerous other supplements. The former will offer a new anamorphic transfer, an essay, and a video introduction. June releases (specific dates not yet confirmed) will include Ernst Lubitsch's Heaven Can Wait (1943, with Gene Tierney), Anthony Asquith's The Browning Version (1951, with Michael Redgrave), Ko Takahira's Crazed Fruit (1956), and Robert Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar (1966). All offer a nice selection of supplements and are set at Criterion's lower price point, which may signal a change for the future in this regard. There are rumours that Criterion may introduce a new cult label later this year that will present titles such as The Atomic Submarine (1959, with Arthur Franz), Corridors of Blood (1963, with Boris Karloff), and The Haunted Strangler (1959, with Boris Karloff).

On July 12th, Disney will release several Disneyland 50th Anniversary DVDs. Two of the titles will be The Best of the Mickey Mouse Club and Vintage Mickey. The latter will have a small collection of cartoons including Steamboat Willie. Four live action features will appear on August 16th, but initial indications suggest that all will be presented full frame. The titles are: The Boatniks (1970, with Robert Morse), Johnny Tremain (1957, with Hal Stalmaster), Toby Tyler (1960, with Kevin Corcoran), and The World's Greatest Athlete (1973, with John Amos). Indications now are that Song of the South (1946) may be on its way in the fall of 2006 - its 60th anniversary.

Fox's next wave of film noir is set for June 7th. The expected titles are Nightmare Alley (1947, with Tyrone Power), House of Bamboo (1957, with Robert Ryan), and Street with No Name (1948, with Mark Stevens). There has been some speculation that Kiss of Death may appear instead of Street with No Name in this wave, but as of writing, Fox was still stating that Street with No Name is the planned title. Hopefully, this will be clarified over the next few weeks. Other June 7th releases include The Man Who Never Was (1956, with Clifton Webb), The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox (1976, with George Segal), Julia (1977, with Jane Fonda), and The Driver (1978, with Ryan O'Neal).

June appears to be collections month over at Image. June 14th will bring the Poverty Row Theater Collection (includes Detective Kitty O'Day [1944], Private Snuffy Smith [1942], and Club Paradise [1945]) and the Sasquatch Horror Collection (includes Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot [1977], The Snow Creature [1954], and Snowbeast [1977]). On June 21st, we'll get the Alien Attack Collection (includes The Brain from Planet Arous [1958], Cat Women of the Moon [1953], Missile to the Moon [1959], and The Day It Came to Earth [1977] - all reportedly full frame) and the Monster Madness Collection (includes The Lost Continent [1951], The Giant Gila Monster [1959], She Demons [1958], and Monster from Green Hell [1957] - also all reportedly full frame). On June 28th, Image will release the original Twilight Zone: The Definitive Series, Season 3 (1961/1962).

Koch Releasing will have the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Comedy Collection: Volume Three and the Laurel and Hardy Collection: Volume Two, Alone and Together out on June 7th. No details of the actual contents of these discs is known.

Laughsmith's highly anticipated four-disc set (32 shorts), The Forgotten Films of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, will be released on May 24th. Stooges: The Men Behind the Mayhem (an expansion of a previous A&E biography program and previously available only by direct mail) is now set for April 26th. The releases will be made via Laughsmith's distributor, Mackinac Media.

MGM will release an anamorphic version of The Magic Sword (1962, with Basil Rathbone) on July 12th.

MPI will offer The Doris Day Show: Season One on June 28th and The Rifleman Collection 5 on July 26th.

New Line will release the Steve McQueen western series Wanted Dead or Alive: Season One on June 7th. The set will include all 36 episodes plus a six-part documentary on McQueen on four discs. The Harold Lloyd plans now indicate that New Line will offer a major release of 28 Lloyd titles late this coming October or early November. Included are all the silent features, most of the sound features, and some silent shorts.

Paramount has removed Darling Lili from its April release schedule. There is no new date at this time. Added on April 19th is the western Three Violent People (1957, with Cahrlton Heston). May will bring the rescheduled release of Have Gun Will Travel: The Complete Second Season on the 10th; the westerns Blue (1968, with Terence Stamp), Johnny Reno (1966, with Dana Andrews), and Waterhole #3 (1967, with James Coburn) all on the 17th; and The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Season Two on the 24th. There are more westerns scheduled for June 7th: Branded (1950, with Alan Ladd), Far Horizons (1955, with Fred MacMurray), Heller in Pink Tights (1960, with Sophia Loren), and Chuka (1967, with Rod Taylor). June 14th will bring the rescheduled special edition of Danger: Diabolik (1967, with John Philip Law) as well as Prime Cut (1972, with Lee Marvin) and The Reivers (1969, with Steve McQueen). Other Paramount titles that may appear in the second half of 2005 are The Adventurers (1970, with Ernest Borgnine), The Rainmaker (1956, with Burt Lancaster), My Friend Irma (1949, with Martin & Lewis), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946, with Barbara Stanwyck - an official studio release instead of the ubiquitous PD copies would be nice), The Five Pennies (1959, with Danny Kaye), and perhaps even the elusive The African Queen (1951, with Humphrey Bogart).

Rhino will release My Favorite Martian: The Complete Second Season on May 10th.

The Roan Group (Troma) will offer Rod Serling's Patterns (1956, with Van Heflin) on April 26th.

On May 31st, Universal will release The Front Page (1974, with Jack Lemmon) in a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. Dragnet '67: Season One will appear on June 7th.

VCI has four releases planned for May 31st. First up is a three-disc set containing the original uncut version of Anna May Wong's Chu Chin Chow, a 1934 British film. The set also includes the cut-down American version of the film entitled Ali Baba Nights, another rare British film from 1935 entitled Abdul the Damned, and numerous extras. The other three releases are all 12-chapter serials from the early 1930s: Universal's Rustlers of Red Dog (1935, Johnny Mack Brown); Mascot's Fighting with Kit Carson (1933, Johnny Mack Brown); and RKO's only serial The Last Frontier (1932, Lon Chaney, Jr.).

The news from Warner Bros. begins with a May 31st release for the Essential Steve McQueen Collection. It will include three new-to-DVD titles - The Cincinnati Kid (1965, with two audio commentaries), Never So Few (1959), and Tom Horn (1980) as well as a new two-disc version of Bullitt (1968, with audio commentary and three documentaries), The Getaway (1972, with audio commentary), and Papillon (1973). All titles will also be available to purchase separately. On June 14th, Warners will release The Bette Davis Collection and The Joan Crawford Collection. These are likely to be the first of a number of collections featuring the films of these classic stars. The Crawford set includes three new-to-DVD releases including the first-ever home video release of The Damned Don't Cry (1950), plus Crawford's triumphant role opposite John Garfield in Humoresque (1946) and her 1947 Warner Bros. classic Possessed, along with two of her most famous films Mildred Pierce (1945) and The Women (1939), both of which have been previously released and will now be repackaged into keepcases. The Bette Davis set will feature Mr. Skeffington (1944) and The Star (1952) [both new-to-DVD] as well as a new edition of Dark Victory (1939), which has been restored from the original camera negative and remastered for optimum picture quality. The box set also includes two other archetypal Davis essentials, the unforgettable Now Voyager (1942), [originally released in 2002] restored from the original negative, and now in sturdy Amaray keepcase packaging, and The Letter (1940) [released earlier this year]. In the case of both collections, all films will also be available separately. Fans should note that another Davis favorite, Jezebel (1938), is currently undergoing restoration and will be released either as a stand-alone disc later this year or as part of the second Davis set next year.

On July 5th, Warner Bros. will release The Film Noir Classic Collection Volume Two. It will include Born to Kill (1947, with Claire Trevor), Clash by Night (1952, with Barbara Stanwyck), Crossfire (1947, with Robert Mitchum), Dillinger (1945, with Lawrence Tierney), and The Narrow Margin (1952, with Marie Windsor). All will have audio commentaries and each title will also be available separately. Point Blank (1967, with Lee Marvin) will appear on July 5th as well.

Other Warner news and rumours include current work on Sergeant York (1941) and The Fountainhead (1949) [both with Gary Cooper] for release in 2006; the restoration of Dancing Lady (1933) for a future Clark Gable set; and work on a box set of the Laurel and Hardy material that Warners controls. No timing available on this yet, but it could include Hollywood Revue of 1929, Pick a Star, Hollywood Party, The Devil's Brother, Bonnie Scotland, Air Raid Wardens, Nothing But Trouble, and the existing elements of the lost film, The Rogue Song).

As mentioned at the start of the column, the recent Warners chat at the Home Theater Forum yielded a lot of information on future classic title releases. Here are the main points (click here for the complete transcript):

- Box sets forthcoming in 2005: nine Val Lewton films with special features and commentary; six Thin Man films plus a bonus disc; Greta Garbo films this fall (100th anniversary), including Anna Karenina; five Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers films (likely Top Hat, Swing Time, Follow the Fleet, Shall We Dance, The Barkleys of Broadway)

- Other 2005 releases: Looney Tunes Volume 3; Ben-Hur 4-disc SE (1925, 1959); The Wizard of Oz (1939, Judy Garland) two-disc SE; Mighty Joe Young (1949, Terry Moore); The Nun's Story (1959, Audrey Hepburn)

- Box sets forthcoming in 2006: Clark Gable; Spencer Tracy; Pre-Code films; second Warner Gangsters; Jean Harlow (late in the year); Sam Peckinpah; first of 48 Bowery Boys films in several box sets; five remaining Astaire/Rogers films

- Other 2006 releases: Storm Warning (1951, Ronald Reagan); Kitty Foyle (1940, Ginger Rogers); The Naked Spur (1953, James Stewart); Petulia (1968, Julie Christie); A Streetcar Named Desire (1951, Marlon Brando) two-disc SE; Baby Doll (1956, Karl Malden); Sweet Bird of Youth (1962, Paul Newman); The Spirit of St. Louis (1957, James Stewart); The Night of the Iguana (1964, Richard Burton); The Maltese Falcon (1941, Humphrey Bogart) two-disc SE and three other major Bogart film restorations

Miscellaneous:

- Julius Caesar (1953, Marlon Brando), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962, Marlon Brando), and Ryan's Daughter (1970, Robert Mitchum) will all be released in either 2005 or 2006

- more John Garfield films coming but not in 2005

- Warner still looking for better elements for The Magnificent Ambersons and Journey into Fear (both 1942, Orson Welles)

- RKO Tarzan films coming, but no date set

- the 1931 and 1940 versions of Waterloo Bridge are both in the works

- Flamingo Road (1949, Joan Crawford) is in the works

- no plans for The Mortal Storm (1940, James Stewart); Green Dolphin Street (1947, Lana Turner); The D.I. (1957, Jack webb); a Cool Hand Luke (1967, Paul Newman) SE; or Dark of the Sun (1968, Rod Taylor) at present

- more Lon Chaney being considered, but no date set

- Home from the Hill and The Sundowners (both 1960, Robert Mitchum) are in the works, as is Girl Crazy (1943, Mickey Rooney)

- Quo Vadis? (1951, Robert Taylor) needs extensive restoration work, but will come out as soon as possible

- Northwest Passage (1940, Spencer Tracy) is a likely future release

- Son of Kong (1933, Robert Armstrong) is coming, but no date is set

- an Esther Williams box set is in the works, but no date set

- the original Popeye cartoons rights issues are still to be resolved before any release can be contemplated

- the Superman serials [Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950)] are in the planning stages

- no plans for dedicated box sets of MGM shorts (Pete Smith, Crime Does Not Pay, etc.), but they will continue to appear as extras on individual discs

- Finally, an SE of The Devils (1971, Oliver Reed) is in preparation, but no date is set

Barrie Maxwell
barriemaxwell@thedigitalbits.com


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