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Classic Coming Attractions by Barrie Maxwell

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The Latest Classic Release Announcements

Let's not waste any time with preliminaries. Here are the latest announcements of classic films coming on DVD. The Classic Release Database has been updated accordingly.

Alpha has 25 new releases for June 28th, at least a third of which are 4-episode collections of various TV series. There are also a number of mysteries (some double bills and one Ellery Queen mystery [Mandarin Mystery]), one serial (Adventures of the Flying Cadets) and one western DB of the Range Busters series from Monogram. Another 25 releases are scheduled for July 26th, all but one from the 1930s or 1940s. This time the focus is on B westerns with the likes of Bob Steele, Tom Tyler, Sunset Carson, Ken Maynard, Tex Ritter, and Buck Jones all represented. See the classic database for the complete list of titles.

A company I've not heard of before and located in France is Blaq Out. It will be releasing a four film set of Otar Iosseliani's early Georgian films on May 12th, as region-free NTSC DVDs. The double-disc set includes April (1962), Falling Leaves (1968), There Once was a Singing Blackbird (1970), and Pastorale (1975) and also features an interview with Moscow Museum Cinema Director Naum Kleiman. The entire set is bi-lingual (French and English) and will be available direct from Blaq Out's new online shop, which will launch at www.blaqout.com on the same day.

Columbia Tristar will offer the first season of Bewitched, which stars Elizabeth Montgomery, on June 21st. The four-disc set will be available in either black and white or colour versions and will include a gag reel and making-of featurette. Other releases are The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962) on June 28th and Georgy Girl (1966, with Lynn Redgrave) on July 5th.

Criterion will have four releases in July: Preston Sturges's Unfaithfully Yours (1948), and Luchino Visconti's Le notti bianche (1957) on July 12th, and Seijun Suzuki's Story of a Prostitute (1965) and Gate of Flesh (1964) on July 26th. All are single-disc editions offering the usual new high definition transfers (in anamorphic widescreen where appropriate) and extras that mainly focus on new interviews, essays, and trailers. Later in 2005, Criterion plans a new release of Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear (1952) featuring a brand new transfer from newly restored elements, thus the old Criterion edition will go officially OOP as of May 16th.

Disney offers Walt Disney's Timeless Tales: Volume 1 and Walt Disney's Timeless Tales: Volumes 2 on August 16th. Each disc will include five classic animated shorts. Volume 1 is expected to include The Prince and the Pauper, Three Little Pigs and The Tortoise and the Hare (plus two others), while Volume 2 will deliver Ugly Duckling, The Country Cousin and The Wind in the Willows (plus two more).

Fox's TV-on-DVD offerings will expand to include The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Season #2 on July 12th and Lost in Space: Season 3, Volume 2 on July 19th. The latter will be a three-disc set that will include the final nine episodes of the series. In Old Chicago (1938, with Tyrone Power, and rumoured to include the previously-cut footage), The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956, with Gregory Peck), and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, with Bette Davis) are set for August 9th as the next three entries in the Studio Classics series. According to Fox publicity, future Studio Classics titles (possibly for November) will include The Rains Came (1939), No Way Out (1950), and Two for the Road (1967). On August 30th, Fox will offer The Shirley Temple Collection, Volume 1, a three-disc set (containing Curly Top, Heidi, and Little Miss Broadway) that one hopes will be an improvement over the company's first foray into releasing Temple's films several years ago. Classic fans may remember that the earlier releases consisted of black and white and colourized versions of three films (Bright Eyes, Dimples, and Heidi), all of which looked terrible - a pretty poor way to treat the films of a star who was the studio's meal ticket in the 1930s. Some of the early listings for this new release talk about colour versions only, so we will have to wait and see. In other news, Fox has postponed its release of Julia, which had been previously announced for June 7th, but continues to work towards anniversary editions of The Sound of Music (1965), Oklahoma! (1955), and State Fair (1945) for release later this year.

Goodtimes has four releases set for June 28th: Best of Betty Boop (4 disc set), Lost Cartoons #1: Fleischer Studios, Lost Cartoons #2: Famous Studios, and Lost Cartoons #3: Van Beuren Studios.

Michael Agee who releases a number of classic features through Image under The Hal Roach Studios imprimatur has a 12-disc Laurel and Hardy: The Definitive Edition release in the works. It will contain all the boys' work together and apart prior to 1929, plus appreciable supplementary material involving Charley Chase, Our Gang, Leon Errol, Edgar Kennedy, and many others. This planned release will not likely appear before the end of 2005 at the earliest, but when it does, it will replace the existing 10 discs comprising The Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy, and will contain almost two and a half times as much material in total as those discs.

Image will release four Red Skelton television specials under the title The Red Skelton Collection (three discs) on July 26th. On August 2nd, Image will make Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days available. Made in 2001, it was previously released as part of one of Fox's Monroe box sets. On August 30th, expect two Gene Autry westerns (Down Mexico Way [1941] and In Old Monterey [1939]), a non-Criterion edition of I Vitelloni (1953), and the fifth season of the TV series Combat (Combat: Season #5, Invasion #1 and Combat: Season #5, Invasion #2).

Kino has its three Josephine Baker films set for June 21st now. The titles are: Princess Tam Tam (1935), Siren of the Tropics (1927), and Zou Zou (1934). Scheduled for August 2nd is Avant-Garde: Experimental Cinema of the 1920s & 1930s. It will contain 15 short films including Manhatta (1921) and A Bronx Morning (1932).

MGM will have a Pink Panther promotion on July 26th. It will include the release of The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, Revenge of the Pink Panther, Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther, Son of the Pink Panther, and The Pink Panther Strikes Again. This comes barely over a year after MGM's Pink Panther box set so new transfers of the films included in that seem unlikely. Also being released is the five-disc The Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection (the first three discs of which will also be available separately). The Collection will contain some 124 cartoons produced by Friz Freleng and David H. DePatie between 1964 and 1980, plus the Behind the Feline: The Cartoon Phenomenon documentary, the Pink Patter with Art Leonardi: The Story Behind the Animation, Remembering Friz: A Tribute to Friz Freleng, Think Pink: How to Draw the Pink Panther and Page to Screen: The Making of Two Cartoons featurettes, plus the animated main title sequences from five of the feature films. In other MGM news, The Killing of Sister George (1968, with Beryl Reid) is set for August 23rd. Less certain are the special editions of the three Sergio Leone films (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, A Fistful of Dynamite) which have already appeared in Region 2. They had been scheduled for a December Region 1 release, but the merger with Sony may change that.

On August 30th, MPI will release the Petticoat Junction Ultimate Collection (a three-disc set) and Without Warning. The latter may be the minor United Artists 1952 film noir, although there are other films with the same title - to be determined.

Paramount has six titles set for release on July 12th: The Adventurers (1970, with Ernest Borgnine), Another Time, Another Place (1958, with Lana Turner), A Breath of Scandal (1960, with Sophia Loren), Elephant Walk (1954, with Elizabeth Taylor), It Started in Naples (1960, with Clark Gable), and The Rainmaker (1956, with Burt Lancaster). August 2nd will see the release of Island in the Sky (1953) and The High and the Mighty (1954), both as two-disc Special Collectors Editions and designated as part of The John Wayne Collection. The War of the Worlds (1953, with Gene Barry) previously scheduled for June 14th has been delayed indefinitely.

The previously announced This Is Your Life box set from Respond2 Entertainment is now set for a May 31st release.

Roan Group will offer Alfred Zeisler's Enemy of Women (1944, with Claudia Drake) on May 31st, and on June 30th, Illegal (1932, made by Warner Bros. in Britain) and The Last Frontier (1932, RKO's only serial - with Lon Chaney Jr.).

Timed to coincide with MGM's Pink Panther release, Universal will have The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) on July 26th. Universal is also expected to have a new Universal Horrors release this coming fall, apparently showcasing Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Included will be Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1936), and Black Friday (1940). No details on specific timing as yet or whether these will be packaged as the previous Legacy Collections.

Ventura will release The Ed Sullivan Show: Amazing Animal Acts on July 26th, The Very Best of the Ed Sullivan Show on August 9th, and a Suspense Classics 50 Movie Pack (12 discs) on August 23rd.

On June 28th, VCI plans to release I Married Joan: Classic TV Collection #2 (1952-1955, two discs), Stronghold (1951, with Veronica Lake), and The Moon and Sixpence (1943, with George Sanders). VCI's plans for July (no specific dates yet) apparently include two serials: Riders of Death Valley (1941) - the so-called 'Million Dollar Serial' with Dick Foran, Buck Jones, Leo Carrillo, Charles Bickford, and Lon Chaney Jr., and Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere (1951, with Judd Holdren).

On July 12th, Warner Bros. has two Gene Hackman titles (Scarecrow [1973] and Night Moves [1975]) and then on the 26th, Gilligan's Island: The Complete Third Season. August starts off in style on the 2nd with The Complete Thin Man Collection. The seven-disc set will include all six films in the series (The Thin Man, After the Thin Man, Another Thin Man, Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, and Song of the Thin Man) and a special bonus disc featuring two documentaries profiling Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Loy), the debonair detective team of the 1930s and 1940s screwball romantic comedies. Also included among the bonus features will be the pilot for the 1957 Thin Man TV series starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk, as well as film shorts, radio dramas and vintage cartoons. Even more style will be offered on August 16th with the release of the Astaire & Rogers Collection: Volume 1. The five-disc box set will include Top Hat (1935), Swing Time (1936), Follow the Fleet (1936), Shall We Dance (1937), and The Barkleys of Broadway (1949). Each disc will also offer an audio commentary, a new featurette, and a vintage short and cartoon. News is now surfacing about Warners' Greta Garbo plans for September. Garbo: The Signature Collection is planned for release on September 6th to commemorate what would have been the month of Garbo's 100th birthday. It will contain seven of her sound films and three silents. The latter will be packaged as TCM Archives: Garbo Silents, a two-disc set containing The Temptress (1926), Flesh and the Devil (1926), and The Mysterious Lady (1928). The sound titles are Anna Christie (1930), Mata Hari (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), Queen Christina (1933), Anna Karenina (1935), Camille (1936), and Ninotchka (1939). The Signature Collection will also include Garbo, a new documentary prepared by Kevin Brownlow that will be exclusive to the set. The sound titles and the TCM Archives release will also be available individually. Notable supplements on the sound titles include the German language version of Anna Christie, and the 1921 silent version of Camille starring Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino. Finally, some details on the release later this year of the TV series Maverick have also appeared and if correct, Warners seem to be in the process of dropping the ball on this popular series. Rather than a season set, it looks like we'll be getting a disc containing merely three episodes of the series. No specific release date has been revealed as yet.

I'll return soon with more classic reviews.

Barrie Maxwell
barriemaxwell@thedigitalbits.com


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