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Classic Coming Attractions by Barrie Maxwell

Barrie Maxwell - Main Page

The Latest New Classic Announcements

As we enter the final months of 2004, the stream of classic releases has dried up a little. Only a few of 2005's releases have yet been announced. Some of the anticipated fall releases from Warner Bros., such as an Errol Flynn box set and a Classic Gangster set like last year's Warner Legends set, did not materialize. One can only hope that that means a very busy early 2005 for Warners, and indeed that seems to be the case. More on that below. Companies such as Fox, despite its Studio Classics series, and Columbia seem to have lost their inspiration of late too. At least in Fox's case, we have its new film noir series to look forward to in March. In Columbia's case, its first classic release for 2005 will be that scintillating catalog item from 1964, Ride the Wild Surf. Doesn't sound like much is going to change there. Paramount is forging along with a steady program of classic releases at attractive prices so there's not much to complain about with them. Even Universal has made quite a few classic titles available in novel packaging this year. One hopes their efforts will see them dig deeply into their classic Paramount holdings next year. Among the independents, Milestone looks set for a banner year in 2005 and we can hopefully count on Kino, Image, and VCI for more fine and rare releases too.

I said I'd have more to say about Warner Bros. The Bits just published Robert Harris's excellent interview with George Feltenstein, Warner Bros.' Senior VP of Marketing for Classic Catalog. Therein, Mr. Feltenstein confirmed or expanded on many of the classic titles we're already expecting from Warners. Among the highlights are the following. For 2005, James Cagney, Greta Garbo (her 100th anniversary), and Errol Flynn films are definitely on the release schedule. A new documentary, The Adventures of Errol Flynn, is currently in production and will be part of the expected Flynn box set. There will be more Bette Davis and Joan Crawford films. Coming soon are the Thin Man movies, the Miss Marple movies, and many of the DVD Decision titles that weren't among the winners. A Face in the Crowd (1957) and The Loved One (1965) are on the way too. For those who liked the "Warner Night at the Movies" feature with Leonard Maltin that graced the Warner Legends Collection last fall, there will be two sets of releases in 2005 with it included. Next year's release of Easter Parade will be an Ultra Resolution effort with the American Masters documentary, Judy Garland: By Myself, on the second disc. The documentary on MGM, When the Lion Roars, is ready to go, but awaits the right marketing opportunity to best promote it. Astaire/Rogers films are definitely coming in 2005, as is a box set of all nine Val Lewton films. The Broadway Melody of 1929 will apparently appear by Oscar time in 2005. Its DVD will include six or seven Metro Movietone Revue shorts that previously surfaced on the Dawn of Sound laserdisc sets. Public Enemy and Little Caesar are upcoming and both will have new documentaries. The Big Parade (1925) will have its 80th anniversary next year and Warners hopes to do something on DVD with it, perhaps in a two-disc set. More silents are in the works, with the plan being to offer one or two collections each year. And in late breaking news, Warner Bros. has announced a January 25th release date for the Warner Gangsters Collection. It will contain Angels with Dirty Faces (1938, Cagney and Bogart), Little Caesar (1930, Robinson), The Petrified Forest (1936, Bogart), The Public Enemy (1931, Cagney), The Roaring Twenties (1939, Cagney and Bogart), and White Heat (1949, Cagney). The titles will be available in a box set or individually. No details on extras as yet. Then on February 1st, Warner will celebrate Oscar with special editions for two Best Picture winners - The Broadway Melody (1929) and The Life of Emile Zola (1937, Paul Muni).

Hopefully, the rest of 2004 will reveal an opening to 2005 on the classic film front from the other studios that is even half as sparkling as that of Warner Bros. In the meantime, here's the rundown on the latest new announcements of classic titles forthcoming over the next few months. The classic announcements database has been updated to reflect these most recent additions.

For November 23rd, Alpha has another release of some two-dozen titles. It's the usual grab-bag of B westerns (featuring Tim McCoy, Bob Steele, Buck Jones, Sunset Carson, and Kermit Maynard), mysteries (a couple of Tod Slaughter titles this time), and television shows. This month's serial addition is The Clutching Hand. See the database for the complete list of titles.

Anchor Bay has completed a deal with Fox to release a number of that company's films. No specific titles have been indicated as yet. A couple of box sets of late 1940s to mid-1950s British films are apparently set for mid-2005 release. The British War Collection will include The Cruel Sea, The Dam Busters, Went the Day Well, The Colditz Story, The Ship That Died of Shame, and Against the Wind. The Ealing Comedy Collection will include The Titfield Thunderbolt, A Run for Your Money, Tight Little Island, Passport to Pimlico, and The Maggie.

After the uproar over its recent cropped version of Castle Keep (1969, Burt Lancaster), Columbia will release a proper widescreen version on November 2nd. On November 30th, we'll get The Fantastic Films of Ray Harryhausen. The set will repackage the previously released It Came from Beneath Sea, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, 20 Million to Miles Earth, Mysterious Island, and First Men in the Moon. Son of Godzilla (1967) will appear on December 14th and as mentioned above, Columbia will kick off 2005 with Ride the Wild Surf (1964, with Fabian).

Criterion presents us with a nice pre-Christmas offering of two classic releases on December 7th. First is a new two-disc edition of Fritz Lang's M (1931) that features a new, restored high-definition digital transfer; audio commentary by German film scholar Eric Rentschler, author of The Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and Its Afterlife, and Anton Kaes, author of the BFI Film Classics volume on M; A Conversation with Fritz Lang, an interview film by William Friedkin; Claude Chabrol's M le Maudit, a short film inspired by M; classroom tapes of M editor Paul Falkenberg discussing the film and its history; an interview with Harold Nebenzal, the son of M producer Seymour Nebenzal; a physical history of M; and a stills gallery, with behind-the-scenes photos, and production sketches by art director Emil Hasler. The second release is another two-disc set, this one for Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 King of Kings. Included in the set will be new, restored digital transfers of both versions of The King of Kings - DeMille's 155-minute roadshow version and his subsequent 112-minute general release; new Dolby Digital 5.1 scores by composers Donald Sosin (1927 version) and Timothy J. Tikker (1931 version), plus the original score for the 1931 release by Hugo Riesenfeld; behind-the-scenes footage from the making of The King of Kings; cast portraits by photographer W.M. Mortensen; production and costume sketches by renowned artist Dan Sayre Groesbeck; a stills gallery of rare production and publicity photos; an original illustrated program and press book featuring photographs from the film's gala premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and studio correspondence from DeMille; original theatrical trailers; and a booklet featuring a 1927 essay by DeMille, an excerpt from Robert S. Birchard's new book Cecil B. DeMille's Hollywood, production notes, and a new essay by film critic Peter Matthews .

Falcon Picture Group has several collections of TV shows and B westerns coming out on November 9th. The B-western ones are Rough Riders Triple Features Numbers 2 and 3. The former contains Below the Border, Ghost Town Law, and Riders of the West while the latter has Down Texas Way, West of the Law, and Dawn on the Great Divide. The Rough Riders were portrayed by Buck Jones, Tim McCoy (later replaced by Rex Bell), and Raymond Hatton. The films were produced by Monogram in the early 1940s. Falcon's TV show collections will each contain four episodes: Adventures of Robin Hood #3, Burns and Allen Show #3, Love That Bob #2, and Roy Rogers Show #2.

Fox will be altering its approach to releasing titles in its Studio Classics series in 2005. Instead of one release per month, waves of three to four titles will be released four times a year. The first wave will appear in February (there is some question about the exact date) and will include Leave Her to Heaven (1945, with Gene Tierney), A Letter to Three Wives (1949, with Jeanne Crain), and Return to Peyton Place (1961, with Jeff Chandler). It appears that Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944) will be one of the titles in a future 2005 wave as USC film professor Drew Casper has apparently already recorded a commentary for the film. The new Film Noir series will debut on March 15th with three titles: Call Northside 777 (1948, with James Stewart), Laura (1944, with Dana Andrews), and Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, with Bette Davis). The latter is not usually grouped with film noir, but that's what Fox is currently saying. In other Fox release news, January 11th will bring Pinky (1949, with Jeanne Crain), What a Way to Go! (1964, with Shirley MacLaine), and The Great White Hope (1970, with James Earl Jones). February 1st will see the release of a Frank Sinatra Collection that will include The Detective (1968), Lady in Cement (1968), Tony Rome (1967), and the previously released Von Ryan’s Express (1965). Fox is understood to be working on new anamorphic editions of several Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. It now appears that we will see: The Sound of Music: 40th Anniversary Edition, Oklahoma!: 50th Anniversary Edition, and State Fair: 60th Anniversary Edition, all in 2005.

Goodtimes has some TV show material forthcoming on DVD. The Howdy Doody Show is set for November 9th, while December 28th will see the release of the Abbott and Costello Comedy Hour #1 and #2, Best of Classic Television Westerns #1 and #2, and the Milton Berle Show #1 and #2.

In November, Image will have a double bill of Battle Beyond the Sun (1962) and Star Pilot (1965) on the 16th, and Combat!: Season 2, Mission 1 and Combat!: Season 2, Mission 2 on the 30th. December 7th will see the 1957 TV version of Cinderella starring Julie Andrews. This will feature a newly recorded DVD introduction by Julie Andrews; a new documentary featuring new interviews with stars Julie Andrews, Edie Adams, Kaye Ballard, and Jon Cypher; never-before-seen behind-the-scenes photo galleries; extensive galleries of rare colour photos and advertising art; Rodgers and Hammerstein's appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show prior to the airing of Cinderella; and a collector's booklet: Impossible Things Are Happening Every Day: The Making of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella!. The same date will also bring lower-priced reissues of A Farewell to Arms (1932, with Gary Cooper) and A Star Is Born (1937, with Janet Gaynor). Mourning Becomes Electra (1947, with Rosalind Russell) is set for December 14th and will apparently feature the longest restored version in existence. Finally, Image returns to The Twilight Zone with a new Season #1 (1959/60) six-disc box set that includes new transfers; audio commentaries by Earl Holliman, Martin Landau, Rod Taylor, Martin Milner, Kevin McCarthy, Ted Post, and William Self; and other extras.

Kino will release the Fritz Lang films Woman in the Moon (1919) and Spies (1928) on November 9th. These will also be available in the Fritz Lang Epic Collection box set that includes Die Nibelungen and Metropolis. Luis Bunuel's L'Age d'Or (1930) arrives on November 23rd. December 14th will see the release of three titles in a new German Gay Silent Film series: Michael (1924), Sex in Chains (1928), and Different from Others (1919).

Koch rolls out a bunch of past Christmas TV shows on November 9th: Christmas with Bing Crosby and Kate Smith, Christmas with Jack Benny, Christmas with Ozzie and Harriet, Christmas with Red Skelton, Christmas with the Beverly Hillbillies, and Happy Holidays from Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

In honour of its 15th anniversary, Milestone has firmed up some impressive release plans over the next year. Coming out on November 16th is Legong: Dance of the Virgins (1935), filmed in Bali by Marquis Henry de la Falaise (husband of both Gloria Swanson and Constance Bennett) in glorious two-color Technicolor and restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. This disc is loaded with bonus features including de la Falaise's long-lost Kliou, filmed in Indo-China (Vietnam) in 1935, and Academy Award-winner Robert Snyder's Gods of Bali (1952). Then on December 7th, White Thunder (2002) will be released. It's an engrossing documentary by Victoria King and the National Film Board of Canada that tells the story of explorer/filmmaker Varick Frissell and Hollywood's worst real-life disaster - the filming of Paramount's The Viking, during which 26 crew members lost their lives in a ship explosion, including Frissell. Bonus features include The Viking (1931, starring Charles Starrett and restored by the National Archives of Canada), as well as Frissell's earlier documentaries, Lure of Labrador and The Swilin' Racket!. On February 8th, Milestone will have Hindle Wakes (1927), a British film directed by Maurice Elvey and based on the popular stage play that is England's answer to Ibsen's "The Doll House." Restored by the BFI, Hindle Wakes features a new Philip Carli score, to go along with the English-commissioned score by In the Nursery. March 2005 will bring the release of Piccadilly (1929), the beautifully restored masterpiece (courtesy of the British Film Institute) by E.A. Dupont that stars the electrically erotic Anna May Wong in her greatest role! The DVD will boast the original tints, a new score by famed British composer Neil Brand, and many bonus features. Also coming in 2005 will be The Dragon Painter (1919), one of the finest independent films of the silent era and starring Sessue Hayakawa. The DVD will have many bonus features, including Thomas Ince's The Wrath of the Gods (1914), also starring Hayakawa and Aoki. Both films are from the tinted 35mm restorations done at George Eastman House.

In 2005, Milestone will also return to its continuing series of Mary Pickford releases. Through the Back Door (1921) with the bonus feature Cinderella (1915) will appear on February 8th; Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921) on March 1st; Heart o' the Hills (1919) with the bonus feature M'Liss in May; Suds (1920) with a bonus 1966 documentary on Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Birth of a Legend, in May; and Poor Little Rich Girl (1917) with the bonus 1970s documentary, America's Sweetheart, later in 2005. In 2005, Milestone will also offer the Charley Chase Classic Comedy Collection, a five-hour compilation of 15 Chase shorts that it has been working on for the past two years.

Those who were interested in MPI's previously announced Dirk Bogarde version of A Tale of Two Cities should note that this release has been canceled with no current plans for a future release.

There is apparently a signed agreement in place between New Line and the Harold Lloyd Trust to have New Line release all of Lloyd's films on DVD. No details on timing are available as yet. The trust has also reached agreement with Sony Classics to release the Lloyd films theatrically. This may affect the timing of the DVD releases, but that is speculation only at this time.

Paramount has two releases scheduled for January 11th - Michael Curtiz's A Breath of Scandal (1960, with Sophia Loren), and Melville Shavelson's It Started in Naples (1960, with Clark Gable - not prime Gable, but I'll take anything at this point), and three on January 18th - William Wyler's Carrie (1952, with Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones), Joseph Anthony's The Matchmaker (1958, with Shirley Booth, Shirley MacLaine, and Anthony Perkins), and Melville Shavelson's A New Kind of Love (1963, with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward). Paramount has also become a little more active in looking into the possibility of a release of Robinson Crusoe on Mars. The success of the Jerry Lewis discs that Paramount has just released will likely factor into a desire by Chris Lewis to see a 16-film box set of the Martin and Lewis collaborations released in 2005.

VCI's double feature discs starring the likes of Gary Cooper, Hedy Lamarr, Susan Hayward, Vincent Price, Joel McCrea, and the East Side Kids previously planned for an October 12th release are now scheduled for November 16th.

Warner Bros. has released the details of the five discs getting a January 11th release as a result of its DVD Decision 2004 results. Ice Station Zebra (1968) will be in anamorphic widescreen and have a vintage making-of featurette; Ivanhoe (1952) will have the Oscar-winning Tom and Jerry cartoon, Two Mouseketeers; King Solomon's Mines (1950) will have a vintage short, Jungle Safari; The Letter (1940) will also offer the 1929 Jeanne Eagles version also as well as an alternate ending to the 1940 version; and Random Harvest (1942) will have some as yet unnamed documentaries. All will have the original trailers. Also on January 11th, Gilligan's Island: The Complete Second Season will be released. Musicals on Warners' slate for 2005 (as listed in the recent That's Entertainment release) include: The Band Wagon (1953), The Bells Are Ringing (1960), Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962), Brigadoon (1954, remastered), The Broadway Melody (1929), Easter Parade (1948), Finian's Rainbow (1968), and Love Me or Leave Me (1955). Finally, those with an interest in the recently released Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection should note that three of the shorts on the first disc have been edited, contrary to the package's advertisement as being completely uncut. Warners will be remastering the first disc with uncut versions of the three offending ones and will make replacement copies available free. Details are not yet announced.

In Region 2 news of interest, the British Film Institute (BFI) will release a double bill of Bunuel's L'Age d'Or and Un Chien Andalou on October 25th. The same date will see the BFI also release Silent Shakespeare. This is a DVD made using nitrate prints of seven films from Britain, Italy and the USA archived at the National Film and Television Archive (UK). They range from the very first Shakespeare film ever made, King John in 1899, to Richard III (1911). BFI will follow with Jour de Fete (1947, Jacques Tati) in November and Tristana (1970) on December 6th. Tartan Video will offer four films in its Ingmar Bergman collection for December 6th: Torment (1944), Port of Call (1948), A Lesson in Love (1954), and The Rite (1969). Artificial Eye still plans the Jean Vigo Collection (L'Atalante, Zero de conduite, A propos de Nice) for a late October release. Dd Video will have a six-disc Shirley Temple Collection including Heidi, Stowaway, Captain January, Poor Little Rich Girl, and Our Little Girl on October 25th followed by a massive 19-disc Deanna Durbin Collection on November 8th. The only Durbin films apparently not included are 1940's It's a Date and Spring Parade. The Silver Fleet (1943, Michael Powell) will also be released then.

One last note. Given all of the above title news, our Classic Coming Attractions Database has been updated accordingly (click the link to download it in zipped Word.doc format).

Barrie Maxwell
barriemaxwell@thedigitalbits.com


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