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Classic Coming Attractions by Barrie Maxwell

Barrie Maxwell - Main Page

John Ford & John Wayne Together, plus Coming Classic Releases

In this edition of the classics column, I look at the 22 films on which John Ford and John Wayne collaborated and their availability on DVD. As well, I have the latest new release announcements of interest to classic enthusiasts. So let's get right to it.


John Ford and John Wayne

John Ford's film career extended from 1914 to 1970 while that of John Wayne lasted from 1926 to 1976. For some 36 of those years, from 1928 to 1963, the two careers converged, resulting in 22 films in which the two worked together. The first of these was Mother Machree (1928, Fox) and the last was Donovan's Reef (1963, Paramount). One film - The Alamo (1960, UA) - was both acted in and directed by Wayne with Ford helping out on some second unit direction, but otherwise Ford was the director and Wayne solely an actor in their many collaborations.

By the year 1928, John Ford was 34 and already a highly-regarded director. His first feature-length film had been Straight Shooting (1917, Universal) with Harry Carey, followed by a lengthy list of westerns over the next 4 years. After he moved full-time to Fox Studios in 1922, his work became increasingly diverse in subject matter, but his best notices continued to be for westerns such as The Iron Horse (1924) and 3 Bad Men (1926). The year 1928 began with a trio of films - Mother Machree, Four Sons, and Hangman's House - and it was with these films that Ford's and Wayne's paths first crossed.

Wayne's real name was Marion Morrison and at the time, he was studying law and playing football at USC. During the summers, he worked as an assistant propman at Fox. Ford took a liking to Wayne and the result was small bits in 1928's Mother Machree, Four Sons, and Hangman's House and unbilled extra work in 1929's The Black Watch. Somewhat larger roles followed in Ford's 1929 film Salute and 1930's Men Without Women, as well as more unbilled extra work in 1930's Born Reckless. Around this time, director Raoul Walsh was looking for someone to play the lead in Fox's widescreen, western epic The Big Trail and Ford recommended Wayne to him. At this point, Wayne's and Ford's careers diverged, partly because, in his obtuse fashion, Ford was unhappy that Wayne had gone to work for another major director - even though Ford had recommended him! The two would not work together for nine years.

When they did, in 1939, the result was Stagecoach (UA) - a significant picture for both men. For Ford, it signaled the beginning of a remarkable run of seven memorable films over three years, for two of which he would win the Best Director Academy Award (The Grapes of Wrath [1940, Fox], How Green Was My Valley [1941, Fox]). For Wayne, it was the film that finally and permanently lifted him to stardom, freeing Wayne from the cycles of Monogram and Republic B-westerns that characterized most of the 1930s for him (although contractually he would complete four more Three Mesquiteers B-westerns for Republic before departing that field for good).

Stagecoach was accorded classic status almost from the instant of its first release. It is essentially an ensemble piece, bringing a group of individuals previously unknown to each other together on a stagecoach trip to face adversity and revealing their true strengths and weaknesses as a result. Aside from Wayne, the cast is an outstanding mix of familiar faces, including Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine, Andy Devine, George Bancroft, and Tom Tyler. Brilliant second unit work is coordinated by Yakima Canutt including the famous stunt in which Canutt, portraying an Indian, falls between the stagecoach's horses and allows the stagecoach to pass over him. Stagecoach is also John Ford's first foray to Monument Valley in southeastern Utah, a location that would become synonymous with the director.

Wayne and Ford soon teamed again in The Long Voyage Home (1940, UA), an adaptation by Dudley Nichols of several one-act plays by Eugene O'Neill. The film is another ensemble piece, this time of a crew on a merchant ship gradually making its way from the West Indies to its home port in England. The film was beautifully composed and featured many of Ford's regulars such as Ward Bond, John Qualen, Mildred Natwick, Barry Fitzgerald, as well as Wayne, here playing a young Swedish sailor.

With the intervention of World War II, Ford and Wayne once again parted company. Ford would be fully involved with the U.S. Navy for the duration as head of a field film and photographic unit while Wayne remained in Hollywood making films. Wayne was apparently classified as unfit for service due to ear problems. Nevertheless, Ford seemingly felt Wayne could have made a stronger effort to involve himself directly in the services somehow. Wayne did participate actively in USO tours and at the Hollywood Canteen for servicemen.

At the end of the war, Ford and Wayne reunited on They Were Expendable (1945, MGM) a story of the valuable role of PT boats in the Pacific theatre. This film commenced the longest and final chapter in the Ford/Wayne collaboration. In 1948, the first of Ford's Cavalry trilogy Fort Apache (RKO) appeared. The focus was on Henry Fonda who played a bitter, yet ambitious colonel assigned to take command of a fort in the Arizona desert. Wayne played Captain York, a veteran of the fort and its run-ins with the Apache. The film concentrated on the contrast between the two soldiers and their handling of men and military strategy. In She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949, RKO), Wayne delivered one of the finest performances of his career as Captain Brittles, a soldier with one last mission before returning to civilian life. For the third film of the trilogy, Wayne is Colonel Kirby Yorke in Rio Grande (1950, Republic) where he is stymied by Apache raids followed by the Apaches' retreat across the Rio Grande where he is not authorized to follow. The interactions between Wayne's character and that of his estranged wife played by Maureen O'Hara were very energetic and effective, a preview of future films featuring the two together.

In the midst of this trilogy, Three Godfathers (1948, MGM) also appeared. The three godfathers, actually three badmen played by Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, and Harry Carey Jr., take responsibility for a baby borne to a woman who dies in childbirth and strive to deliver it to safety in the town of New Jerusalem, Arizona as Christmas approaches (in an obvious dramatic parallel to the birth of Christ). For Ford, this was a remake of a story previously filmed several times, most recently in 1936 by MGM. The film features another strong Wayne performance, but is particularly notable as the debut of Harry (Dobe) Carey Jr., the son of Ford's old friend and collaborator from silent western days.

Then in 1952 came The Quiet Man (Republic), the story of an American prizefighter who, following the death of an opponent in the ring, returns to Ireland to settle down. Ford had wanted to make the film for years and in 1946 had come close to finalizing a deal to do so with independent producer Alexander Korda. It was, however, not until he contracted with Republic for a series of films beginning in early 1950 that The Quiet Man came to be. Filming was carried out on location in Ireland during the summer of 1951 and the result was released in 1952 to wide popular and critical acclaim that embraced both Ford and Wayne as well as the ensemble cast of many Ford regulars.

In 1956 and 1957 came Ford and Wayne's next two collaborations - The Searchers (1956, WB) and The Wings of Eagles (1957, MGM). Little need be said here of The Searchers, considered by many to be Ford's best western if not his best film, period. Interestingly, upon its initial release, the film was considered to be a good John Wayne western or an above-average picture, but it did not have the cachet it has gradually gained over the intervening years. The Wings of Eagles has never had any great reputation, probably due to the rather abrupt change that occurs in the film - from almost slapstick in the first half to intense drama in the second. Wayne, however, gave a very satisfying performance and there is a funny impersonation of Ford in the film by Ward Bond when he plays a Hollywood director named John Dodge who has pictures of silent cowboy stars on his wall and several Academy Awards on his shelf.

The years 1959 to 1963 brought the final five films that Wayne and Ford were involved in together. The best of them was The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962, Paramount), with fine roles for Wayne, James Stewart and Lee Marvin. It was perhaps Ford's most melancholy western, but certainly his last one to make money. Preceding it were The Horse Soldiers (1959, UA) - somewhat mediocre with a rather disappointing battle at the end given the build-up - and The Alamo (1960, UA). Actually, the latter is Wayne's baby. He had always wanted to tackle the subject and in the end sank a lot of his own money into it as well as starring in and directing it. Ford appeared on the set at one point during shooting and Wayne put him to work shooting some second unit footage, virtually none of which was used in the end.

After The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, there were two final collaborations. How the West Was Won (1962, MGM) was an episodic history of the west filmed in Cinerama, and but a footnote in both Ford and Wayne's careers. Ford was one of three directors on the film (the others were Henry Hathaway and George Marshall) and was responsible for the Civil War sequence during which John Wayne had a short cameo as General Sherman. Finally, there was Donovan's Reef (1963, Paramount), a reasonably enjoyable romp on a Pacific island if taken in the same spirit of good summer fun in which Ford filmed it. Wayne, Lee Marvin, Elizabeth Allen and Jack Warden starred.

For Ford, his best work was all behind him and he would make only 3 more feature films. 1964's Cheyenne Autumn (WB) would be his last western. He died in 1973. John Wayne outlasted him by only 6 years, dying in 1979, but in the 16 years between Donovan's Reef and his death, there were 23 films. Included were enjoyable outings with Kirk Douglas in The War Wagon (1967, Universal) and with director Howard Hawks in El Dorado (1967, Paramount); his Academy Award winning performance in True Grit (1969, Paramount); and his last, poignant and prophetic performance, that of retired gunfighter J.B. Books in The Shootist (1976, Paramount).

Twelve of the 22 Ford/Wayne collaborations are available or forthcoming on DVD. With the exception of the seven early films, which seem unlikely to ever make it on DVD, the other three would all appear to be likely candidates. A positive sign is the fact that all were previously available on laserdisc except The Wings of Eagles. Few of the DVDs are packed with supplementary material like so many of the current film releases (at best there are short making-of featurettes accompanied by trailers), but after all, the film's the thing and that's the basis of most of the following comments.

Mother Machree (1928, Fox)
Four Sons (1928, Fox)
Hangman's House (1928, Fox)
The Black Watch (1929, Fox)
Salute (1929, Fox)
Men Without Women (1930, Fox)
Born Reckless (1930, Fox)

Not on DVD. These seven early Fox productions seem unlikely to ever appear on DVD. On the other hand, several of them were featured in the past on AMC during one of that station's erstwhile film preservation festivals. So at least some of the titles are available in fairly decent shape. With the draw of the John Ford and John Wayne names, it would only take a little initiative and daring on Fox's part to make them available.

Stagecoach - (1939, UA) This was a Walter Wanger production whose home video rights are now controlled by Warner Brothers. Warners issued a DVD in 1997 (still available) that was a welcome sight although it contained a far-from-pristine transfer. Supplements included production notes and seven trailers. There are plans to restore Stagecoach and issue a new DVD version sometime in the next two years.

The Long Voyage Home - (1940, UA) This too is a Walter Wanger production for which Warner Bros. now controls the home video rights. There is no DVD currently available and no hint that it is in the works. Warner Bros., however, plans to release a number of Ford and Wayne pictures on DVD in 2006 in honour of the 50th anniversary of The Searchers and this would seem to be a good bet to be one of those.

They Were Expendable - (1945, MGM) MGM released a DVD in 2000 that gave the film a very nice image presentation. Supplements consisted of the theatrical trailer and a booklet insert. Warner Bros. subsequently assumed distribution of the title and their DVD replicates the MGM effort, but without the booklet.

Fort Apache - (1948, RKO) This title is not yet available on DVD. Warner Bros. holds the home video rights by virtue of its ownership of the RKO catalogue. There has been no hint of a DVD release so far, but as with The Long Voyage Home, it may be in the plans for 2006.

Three Godfathers - (1949, MGM) This Technicolor film was a production of Ford's Argosy Pictures and distributed by MGM. Warner Bros. holds the home video rights and plans a DVD release later in 2004.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon - (1949, RKO) Another Argosy Pictures Technicolor production this time released through RKO, the home video rights are held by Warner Bros. which issued a DVD in 2002. It involved a Technicolor restoration that resulted in a very fine transfer only marred by some dirt and occasional edge effects. Supplements included some John Ford home movies and the theatrical trailer.

Rio Grande - (1950, Republic) By 1950, Argosy had a deal with Republic, hence the further change in distributor. The Republic catalogue is controlled by Artisan (now Lion's Gate) at present and there have been two DVD releases so far, one by Republic Home Video itself before Artisan took over and Artisan's more recent (2002) Collector's Edition. The latter offers a very fine black and white image transfer only marred by occasional edge effects. Supplements include an audio commentary by Maureen O'Hara and a couple of making-of documentaries.

The Quiet Man - (1952, Republic) This film parallels the theatrical and home video production history of Rio Grande - that is, an Argosy Pictures production released by Republic, later issued on DVD by Republic Home Video before the rights were assumed by Artisan (now Lion's Gate). That's where the similarities end. The beautiful Techicolor film has always looked terrible on home video and that goes for Artisan's most recent DVD release, a 2002 Collector's Edition. The source material requires a proper restoration for any DVD release to look its best.

The Searchers - (1956, Warner Bros.) Warners issued the VistaVision and Technicolor film on DVD in 2000 in a very attractive-looking anamorphic transfer that reflected restoration that the title had undergone in the 1990s. Some short, vintage featurettes on the making-of the film and the theatrical trailer were included. A two-disc special edition is planned, but will not apparently appear until the 50th anniversary in 2006.

The Wings of Eagles - (1957, MGM) Not on DVD (nor previously on laserdisc either). Warner Bros. owns the home video rights and the title may be another candidate for the package of Ford and Wayne films that Warners is planning for 2006.

The Horse Soldiers - (1959, UA) MGM issued the film (in colour by DeLuxe) on DVD in 2001 using what appeared to be the same transfer as the previous laserdisc incarnation. The image is 1.85:1 but not anamorphically enhanced and is generally a weak presentation overall. The theatrical trailer is the only supplement.

The Alamo - (1960, UA) This Batjac production (Wayne's own company) is available on DVD from MGM in a 2.20:1 anamorphic transfer that is attractive overall, but does have some colour fidelity and grain issues. It's also only the general release 162-minute version, rather than the 202-minute director's cut with overture, entr'acte, and exit music which was previously available on laserdisc. There are apparently deterioration issues with the extra footage that film preservationist Robert Harris has championed as needing urgent attention if that footage is not to be lost. The current DVD includes a truncated version of the laserdisc's lengthy making-of documentary and the theatrical trailer.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - (1962, Paramount) Paramount issued a very nice-looking 1.85:1 anamorphic DVD of this black and white production in 2001. The theatrical trailer was included.

How the West Was Won - (1962, MGM) Originally released in Cinerama, a 2.35:1 DVD from MGM was issued in 1998, since reissued under the Warner Bros. imprint. The image is not anamorphically enhanced and probably reflects the original laserdisc transfer. The image and music quality is passable only and the disc is one frequently mentioned by fans as needing updating. Supplements consist of a short making-of featurette and the theatrical trailer. Warner Bros. has acknowledged the need to revisit this title, but nothing is imminent.

Donovan's Reef - (1963, Paramount) Paramount issued the final Wayne/Ford collaboration on DVD in 2001. The transfer was 1.85:1 and anamorphically enhanced, and offered a very colourful and crisp rendition of the film. The theatrical trailer was included.


Classic Coming Releases

Note that the Classic Release Database has been updated as usual (zipped Word .doc).

This time out, Paramount takes the spotlight with a number of classic releases forthcoming during the remainder of the year. So I'll start off with them and then go through the rest of the releases alphabetically by releasing company. First, however, I'd like to mention the availability of several films that have slipped through the cracks in recent months. The San Francisco Silent Film Festival has issued The Goddess (1934) on DVD. It's an acclaimed Chinese film starring Ruan Lingyu that's available with an original piano score and audio commentary by Richard J. Meyer. Koch Vision, through its Shanachie label, has begun a British Cinema Collection series that includes a number of rarely-seen items. Already available are: Across the Bridge (1957, Rod Steiger), Wrong Arm of the Law (1963, Peter Sellers), The Man Who Changed His Mind (1936, Boris Karloff), Car of Dreams (1935, John Mills), Unpublished Story (1942, Richard Greene), and Crackerjack (1938, Tom Walls). Forthcoming in the series on June 8th is The Golden Gong, a documentary on J. Arthur Rank and the rise of Pinewood Studios narrated by Michael Caine.

On now to Paramount, where the following previously announced late summer titles are now confirmed for release on August 31st: The Black Orchid, Broadway Bill (Capra - 1934), Come Back Little Sheba, The Country Girl, Desire Under the Elms, Riding High (Capra - 1950), The Rose Tattoo, The White Dawn, and I Love Lucy - Season 2. Most will be the standard film-only Paramount catalogue presentation although The White Dawn will have director commentary and a couple of featurettes. Season One of Happy Days is set for August 17th. The end of summer features Murder on the Orient Express (1974, Albert Finney as Poirot) on September 7th and I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958, Tom Tryon) on September 14th. October will find us in Jerry Lewis country with ten of his films being made available on the 12th. Included will be: The Stooge (1953), The Delicate Delinquent (1957), Cinderfella (1960), The Bellboy (1960), The Errand Boy (1961), The Ladies' Man (1961), The Nutty Professor CE (1963), The Disorderly Orderly (1964), The Patsy (1964), and The Family Jewels (1965). Too bad only one of them involves the Dean Martin partnership. Also coming in the same month are Black Beauty (1971) on October 5th, the Andy Griffith Show-Season One and Hogan's Heroes-Season One on October 12th, and Conquest of Space (1955, Eric Fleming) on October 19th. November 9th offers some manly (and mostly western) action with Ace High (1969, Eli Wallach), Arrowhead (1953, Charlton Heston), Last Train from Gun Hill (1959, Kirk Douglas), and The Naked Jungle (1954, Charlton Heston). Orson Welles' It's All True which features footage from his unreleased 1942 Brazilian documentary (filmed while The Magnificent Ambersons was being cut in his absence) will appear on November 30th.

On the way for June 30th from Aircraft Films (a component of Spacecraft Films, distributed by Fox) is a 60th Anniversary two-disc set of the William Wyler Memphis Belle movie (1944), newly restored (through an HD transfer). The set will be packed with footage from the 34 reels of film (held at the National Archives) that were shot during the original production.

Alpha's offerings for June 22nd are: Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (4 episodes), Becky Sharp (1935, Miriam Hopkins), Decoy (1957, 4 episodes), Earthworm Tractors (1936, Joe E. Brown), The Kansan (1943, Richard Dix), Marie Galante (1934, Spencer Tracy), Milky Way (1936, Harold Lloyd), Mr. & Mrs. North (1952, four episodes), Mutiny in the Big House (1939, Charles Bickford), Our Daily Bread (1934, Karen Morley), Palooka (1934, Jimmy Durante), The Phantom of 42nd Street (1945, Tex O'Brien), Port of Missing Girls (1938, Harry Carey), Prison Train (1938, Clarence Muse), Riding Avenger (1936, Hoot Gibson), Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (1953, several episodes), Roll on Texas Moon (1946, Roy Rogers), Royal Bed (1931, Mary Astor), Spade Cooley Double Feature [The Silver Bandit/The Kid from Gower Gulch] (1950), Speak Easily (1932, Buster Keaton), Tokyo File 212 (1951, Florence Marly), and Utah (1945, Roy Rogers).

In July, Columbia will release Castle Keep (1969, Burt Lancaster) on July 20th and They Came to Cordura (1959, Gary Cooper) on July 27th. Gidget: The Complete Collection arrives on August 3rd and will include full frame versions of each of Gidget (1959), Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961), and Gidget Goes to Rome (1963). A Matter of Life and Death (1946, Powell and Pressburger), which was scheduled to be released on May 25th, has now been delayed to allow Martin Scorsese to do an audio commentary for it. No new release date is specified as yet.

Criterion's July offerings (all coming on the 20th) start off with Yasujiro Ozu's Early Summer (1951) including a new high-definition digital transfer with restored image and sound, audio commentary by Japanese-film expert Donald Richie (author of "Ozu and A Hundred Years of Japanese Film"), Ozu's Films from Behind-the-Scenes (a conversation between Ozu producer Shizuo Yamanouchi, actor and technician Kojiro Suematsu, and assistant cameraman Takashi Kawamata), a new essay by film scholar David Bordwell (author of "Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema") and the original theatrical trailer. Marcel Carné's Port of Shadows (1938) will feature a new high-definition digital transfer with restored image and sound, interviews with director Marcel Carné, writer Jacques Prévert, and stars Jean Gabin and Michèle Morgan, a new essay by acclaimed cultural historian Luc Sante (author of "Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York"), the original theatrical trailer, and a poster gallery. July's third offering is Stage and Spectacles: Three Films by Jean Renoir. The films are The Golden Coach (1952), French Cancan (1955), and Elena and Her Men (1956). Each film will have extensive supplements including special introductions, photo galleries, trailers, and featurettes. For August, Criterion has announced Federico Fellini's I Vitelloni (1953) for release on the 4th. It will include a new making-of documentary, stills, the theatrical trailer, and contemporary newsreels. Criterion is also preparing a boxed set of five films by legendary American independent John Cassavetes. In addition to new high-definition transfers of Shadows (1960), Faces (1968), A Woman Under the Influence (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), and Opening Night (1977), the set will include Charles Kiselyak's award-winning 200 minute documentary, A Constant Forge (2000), along with exclusive new interviews with Cassavetes collaborators Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel, Lelia Goldoni, and others. The set is slated for an autumn release.

Direct Cinema is issuing two acclaimed documentaries by Robert Weide on May 22nd. The titles are The Marx Brothers in a Nutshell (1982) and W.C. Fields Straight Up (1986). The Marx Brothers disc will include a Woody Allen interview not included in the original film due to clearance issues.

Disney's fourth wave of Walt Disney Treasures (expected December 7th) will include include True Life Adventures, Mickey Mouse in Black and White: Volume 2, a Pluto collection, and a Mickey Mouse Club collection.

Film noir fans will be interested to know that Fox's Film Noir series is now planned for a March 2005 kick-off. Among the earliest offerings will be Laura, Panic in the Streets, Call Northside 777, House of Bamboo, and The Street with No Name. The last four Studio Classics releases from Fox this year will be Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938, Tyrone Power, Alice Faye) on September 7th, The Three Faces of Eve (1957, Joanne Woodward) on October 5th, Three Coins in the Fountain (1954, Clifton Webb) on November 2nd, and How to Steal a Million (1966, Audrey Hepburn) on December 7th. Fox is also apparently in .the process of restoring The Black Swan (1942, Tyrone Power) for an eventual release.

Goodtimes is adding to its Roy Rogers collection with the following releases scheduled for July 13th: The Ranger and the Lady (1940), Out California Way (1946), Susanna Pass (1949), Trail of Robin Hood (1950), Heart of the Rockies (1951), and Spoilers of the Plains (1951). It's a shame the quality of these discs doesn't measure up to the Gene Autry ones being issued by Image. Roy deserves better.

Speaking of Image and Gene Autry, there will two more releases on July 13th - Indian Territory (1950) and Texans Never Cry (1951). Image will also make available a Boris Karloff double bill on July 6th consisting of Island Monster (1953) and Chamber of Fear (1968). Combat: Season One will see the light of day on July 20th in the form of two 4-disc sets - Campaign One and Campaign Two.

Kino in cooperation with Europe's Lobster Films will be releasing Slapstick Symposium, a collection of five DVDs presenting 29 rare short-film comedies and two feature-length motion pictures from silent-comedians Stan Laurel, Harold Lloyd, Charley Chase, and the famed Laurel and Hardy duo. The release date is July 20th. The Stan Laurel Collection (1923-1925) is a two-disc set containing 16 shorts he made before teaming with Oliver Hardy. The Harold Lloyd Collection (1919-1922) is a single DVD containing seven shorts and the feature length Grandma's Boy (1922). The Charley Chase Collection (1924-1926) will contain six of his shorts. The other disc in the set is the Laurel and Hardy feature Flying Deuces (1939) whose previous European release has been highly praised as the best available presentation of that film.

Koch Vision, via its Passport label, will release two five-disc sets on July 13th - a Little Rascals Collection and a Shirley Temple Collection. The latter will feature many of Shirley's early 1930s shorts and another outing of the ubiquitous The Little Princess public domain feature. Under its Shanachie label, Koch will offer Going Hollywood: The War Years (a documentary on Hollywood's films of WW2 narrated by Van Johnson) on June 8th and Slapstick, Too (a documentary on early film comedy narrated by Eli Wallach) on July 13th.

MGM has now confirmed September 7th as the release date for the David Lean Collection and the Judgment at Nuremberg SE. These were titles mentioned in the previous edition of this column. The David Lean films include Blithe Spirit, Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, In Which We Serve, Madeleine, Oliver Twist, The Passionate Friends, and This Happy Breed. In November, MGM will release a set of eight Alfred Hitchcock films: The Lady Vanishes, Notorious, The Paradine Case, Rebecca, Sabotage, Spellbound, The Thirty-Nine Steps and Young & Innocent. All the Lean and Hitchcock films will also be available separately.

Laughsmith Entertainment has produced a four-disc set tentatively entitled The Forgotten Films of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. The set will include 22 Arbuckle titles with new music scores supplemented with eight commentaries, various photo galleries, and a 30 page full color booklet with detailed restoration notes, biographies, reviews and essays. The distributor and release date are expected to be announced very soon.

Laureate, up until now a U.K. Region 2 releasing specialist has apparently entered into an agreement with Hart Sharp Video of New York to release two of its discs for Region 1 consumption. The titles are The Man with the Golden Arm (1955, Frank Sinatra) and Meet John Doe (1941, Gary Cooper). Both titles will be remastered and appear on two-disc special editions late in 2004.

MPI has scheduled A Tale of Two Cities (1958, Dirk Bogarde) for release on June 29th. Now if we could only get the Ronald Colman version too (from Warners)!

The Roan Group label is supposedly going to be re-energized by Troma with more releases in the future. Scheduled for May 25th are Lady of Burlesque (1943, Barbara Stanwyck) and the Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe serial (1940). For June 29th, Roan has planned a 50th anniversary release of Suddenly (1954, with Frank Sinatra). It will also include the first chapters of a couple of serials, but what that has to do with the 50th anniversary of Suddenly is a good question.

Universal, unfortunately, has dropped Double Indemnity (1944, Fred MacMurray) from its July film noir release package. No reason has been given. One can only hope that it's to prepare a release that really does the film justice, or even to give Criterion a crack at the title. In a more hopeful vein, Universal is rumoured to be releasing three further monster legacy collections this coming October of their Mummy, Invisible Man, and Creature from the Black Lagoon films. New to video amongst these titles would presumably be the four Invisible film follow-ups to The Invisible Man (1934) and the two Creature sequels. Rumours also continue to abound that the Marx Brothers Paramount films and a W.C. Fields collection are in Universal's plans for later this year.

VCI will release Luis Buñuel's The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1952) on August 31st. The film is Buñuel's first effort both written and directed for an English speaking audience and also the first he directed in colour. The disc's release is timed to coincide with the film's 50th anniversary of its original North American theatrical release. VCI will also release its third Cisco Kid Double Bill on July 27th.

Warner Bros. of course has not been idle. August will be a busy month starting with six Elvis Presley films on August 3rd: It Happened at the World's Fair, Double Trouble, Speedway, Spinout, Harum Scarum, and The Trouble with Girls. Each will be anamorphic and include an Elvis trailer gallery. August 10th will bring four special editions: Dead Ringer (1964, commentary by actor and playwright Charles Busch and "Bette Davis Speaks" author Boze Hadleigh, along with the vintage Behind-the-Scenes at the Doheny Mansion featurette); The Bad Seed (1956, commentary by Patty McCormack and Charles Busch, plus the Enfant Terrible: A Conversation with Patty McCormack featurette); a double-feature of the original Village of the Damned and Children of the Damned (1960, 1964, audio commentaries on both); and Tod Browning's notorious Freaks (1932 with an optional theatrical reissue prologue, three alternate endings, Freaks: Sideshow Cinema documentary, and commentary by Tod Browning biographer David J. Skal). On August 24th, look for Lassie Come Home (1943), Son of Lassie (1945), and Courage of Lassie (1946) as well as Flipper (1963) and Flipper's New Adventure (1964). For September 14th, expect THX 1138 (1971), a George Lucas Director's Cut in both one- and two-disc editions. Finally, it appears that Captain Blood (1935) and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) are among the Errol Flynn titles forthcoming this autumn.

In Region 2 news, Eureka will release The Holy Mountain (1926) on June 21st. The two-disc edition will include the fascinating three-hour documentary The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl. On June 28th, Warner will offer four literary adaptations: Anna Karenina (1948, Vivien Leigh), The Beggar's Opera (1953, Laurence Olivier), Far from the Madding Crowd (1967, Julie Christie), and Three Sisters (1970, Laurence Olivier). BFI has three release on July 26th: Playtime (1967, with 95 minutes of extra materials, including an audio commentary by historian Phillip Kemp); Jacques Feyder's 1935 satire, Carnival in Flanders [La Kermesse heroique]; and Tony Richardson's The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968). Finally, Laureate's previously announced plans for an extensive John Wayne DVD retrospective in conjunction with Universal in the U.K. have been canceled. Universal still expects to go ahead with the project but in a different form than that envisaged with Laureate.

Well, that wraps it up once more. I'll return again soon.

Barrie Maxwell
barriemaxwell@thedigitalbits.com


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