|Classic Reviews Round-Up #59 and New Announcements (continued)
Classic Reviews (Continued)
Walt Disney's TV series Zorro which lasted for two seasons from 1957-1959, has made it to DVD as two releases in the company's Walt Disney Treasures series. The Complete First Season and Complete Second Season have each been accorded a six-disc set packaged in the distinctive Treasures tins, although they're black rather than the typical aluminum colour of past releases.
This is the first wide release of this material in Region 1, they having previously been available only through Disney-exclusive vehicles (in colourized versions). Region 2/PAL versions were also available. The Zorro series was a very popular program that owed much to the casting of Guy Williams in the title role. Williams was a handsome man well suited to the image of Zorro and quite able to handle the action aspects of the role with believability equally well as with the dramatic, romantic, and occasional comedic sequences. In addition to the series' two other regular cast members (Henry Calvin as Sergeant Garcia and Gene Sheldon as Zorro's manservant Bernardo), a number of recurring characters benefited from the use of a fine cast of familiar supporting faces (George Lewis, Eduard Franz, John Litel, Cesar Romero, Richard Anderson, Annette Funicello, Robert Wilke, etc.). Guest stars were also occasionally used including Lee Van Cleef, Robert Vaughn, Ricardo Montalban, Sebastian Cabot, etc.). There were 39 episodes (almost 26 minutes in length each) in each season and although each episode stands alone there are story arcs that stretch over several up to a baker's dozen episodes. The stories are fairly black and white, but stretching them over a number of episodes adds a complexity that elevates the material's interest substantially. Disney's full-frame black and white transfers are generally superior. Sharpness, contrast, and cleanliness are notably good on all episodes. Mild grain is evident except for some very isolated instances and the opening sequence during which the grain seems a little more accentuated and a little more debris appears. The mono sound is in very good shape. The supplemented are highlighted by the four hour-long Zorro programs that were made after the end of the two-season series, with two appearing with each set. Also included are introductions by Leonard Maltin; featurettes on Guy Williams, on the life and legend of Zorro, and on the series' costuming and merchandise; and a collectible pin and still in each tin. Each tin also includes a numbered certificate of authenticity (30,000 tins were produced for each season). Highly recommended.
Note that the new announcements database has been updated to include the announcements listed below.
Blue Underground is apparently planning to release Django (1966, with Franco Nero) on Blu-ray on May 25th.
Criterion has apparently lost the rights to The Third Man, a staple title in their catalog forever, it seems. That means that the recent Blu-ray release is now officially OOP, with availability now restricted to stock on hand. Many retailers, including Amazon, are already out of stock. Meanwhile, the company has announced that Leo McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) will appear on February 23rd. Supplements will be: a new video interview featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich discussing the career of Leo McCarey and his thoughts on Make Way for Tomorrow; a new video interview with critic Gary Giddins in which he talks about McCarey's artistry and the political and social context of the film; plus a booklet featuring new essays by critic Tag Gallagher and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, as well as an excerpt from film scholar Robin Wood's 1998 piece “Leo McCarey and Family Values”. Also coming on the 23rd is Eclipse Series 20: George Bernard Shaw on Film which presents three films: Major Barbara (1941, Wendy Hiller); Caesar and Cleopatra (1945, Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh); and Androcles and the Lion (1952, Jean Simmons). Max Ophuls' Lola Montes (with Martine Carol and Peter Ustinov) is set for February 16th in a two-disc DVD set and single disc Blu-ray edition including audio commentary featuring Max Ophuls scholar Susan White.
On January 26th, E1 Entertainment in conjunction with the Archive of American Television will release the 1953 Omnibus TV series version of King Lear that starred Orson Welles. There will be several supplements including interview and rehearsal footage and a collectible booklet with essays about the performance. E1 has also set a March 9th date for the release of The Abbott and Costello Show: The Complete Series. This will replace previous single show and single season releases by Passport which are now out of print. The box art for the nine-disc set suggests a restoration and remastering, but no details are available as to what exactly that means.
Fox has announced the release of The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Season Six for
February 2nd. It will be a three-disc set containing the season's 24 episodes.
With Hallowe'en just past, Image has announced that it has acquired from NBC/Universal the rights to the 1960-62 Thriller TV series that was hosted by Boris Karloff. Apparently the plans are to release a collector's box set of the series' entire 67 episodes all remastered and with an extensive set of supplements including audio commentaries on many of the best-remembered episodes. A 2010 release is planned. February 9th will bring some of the content on last year's Studio One - Anthology six disc set to individual DVD releases. Studio One - Rod Serling Dramas contains two programs, “The Arena” and “The Strike”. Studio One - Twelve Angry Men contains the title program starring Norman Fell and the bonus program “An Almanac of Liberty” with Pat Hingle. Each release will have its own booklet with new liner notes.
Lionsgate will offer Ballad in Blue (1966, with Ray Charles) for release on January 12th. Part of the company's “Music Makers” line, it will appear as a DVD and CD set and joins the Sammy Davis Jr. film A Man Called Adam being released the same day. The film was also known as Blues for Lovers for its original U.S. release. On February 16th, Lionsgate initiates its Studio Canal Collection of Blu-ray releases. The first two classic entries are The Ladykillers (1955, with Alec Guinness) and Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (1963, with Brigitte Bardot). Special features on the former include an introduction by filmmaker Terry Gilliam; "Forever Ealing" - a documentary on the famed British studio; audio commentary with film historian Philip Kemp; interviews with British filmmakers Allan Scott and Terence Davies and writer Ronald Harwood on the film; BD-Live (that includes a bonus interview with British filmmaker James Mangold); and a 20-page collectible booklet. Special features on Contempt include an
introduction by British film producer and Godard expert Colin MacCabe; a "making-of" documentary Once Upon a Time There Was... Contempt; a documentary on Godard's legacy in film Contempt... Tenderly; a discussion between Godard and director Fritz Lang The Dinosaur and the Baby; the theatrical trailer; BD-Live; and a 20-page collectible booklet.
Coming on February 16th from Paramount are a couple of TV series: Barnaby Jones : The First Season and Cannon: Season Two, Volume Two.
Shout! Factory will have The Patty Duke Show: Season Two (a six-disc set) on February 9th. Mr. Ed: Season Two is also on the docket for a February 2nd release.
It's expected to be a four-disc set containing the season's 26 episodes.
The Universal/TCM relationship mentioned in the previous column has now been confirmed in a recent press release. The two companies will collaborate on a program of releases (called the TCM Vault Collection Presented by Universal) somewhat akin to the Warner Archive, with the release discs manufactured on demand (MOD) on DVD-Rs. The pricing structure is similar to the Archive also with individual discs available at $20 each, but bundled sets at about half price. The major difference appears to lie in the promise of remastered titles, a more satisfactory selection of supplements, and introductions by TCM's Robert Osborne on selected titles. The first release will be the previously anticipated Universal Cult Horror Collection, set for October 31st. This will include Murders in the Zoo, Mad Doctor of Market Street, The Strange Case of Dr. Rx, The Mad Ghoul, and House of Horrors. [See review this column.] Coming on November 22nd will be Remember the Night (1940, with Barbara Stanwyck) and set for January is a Cary Grant Collection box set of The Eagle and the Hawk (1933), The Devil and the Deep (1932), and The Last Outpost (1935). Future plans include vintage films with Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, Deanna Durbin, director Douglas Sirk, and many more. An update on the program from TCM indicates that while the majority of releases under the Vault Collection will be on the MOD DVD-R format, some will be properly pressed discs and such is the case with the Universal Cult Horror Collection.
Universal has also added the previously delayed Legacy Series release of The Wolf Man (1941) back in to the studio's release schedule. It will now appear on February 2nd.
VCI has made its first release announcements for the new year. Coming on January 26th is British Cinema - Drama Collection, a 2-disc set containing four titles: Grand National Night (1953, with Nigel Patrick), Kill Me Tomorrow (1957, with Pat O'Brien), The Scamp (1957, with Richard Attenborough), and The Rough and the Smooth (1959, with William Bendix). The same date will also bring the 1952 British film Island of Desire (aka Saturday Island) with Linda Darnell and Tab Hunter. A two-disc, four film collection of Robert Stack titles is also planned for January 26th. Included are Action Man (1967), The Big Game (1972), Peking Blonde (1967), and Day of the Wolves (1971). Then on February 23rd, three other releases are planned. The first is one VCI previously hinted at, the British Renown release of No Orchids for Miss Blandish, from 1948 and starring Jack La Rue. The other two are both film noir. British Film Noir will contain Twilight Women (1952, with Rene Ray and Lois Maxwell) and The Slasher (1953, with Joan Collins), while Forgotten Noir: Volume 13 will have Eye Witness (1950, with Robert Montgomery) and Breakdown (1952, with Ann Richards).
Warner Bros. is extending its program of TCM Greatest Classics releases in 2010 with three more 4-title collections on February 2nd: TCM Greatest Classic Films: Marx Brothers (A Night at the Opera/A Day at the Races/Room Service/At the Circus); TCM Greatest Classic Films: Romance (Splendor in the Grass/Mogambo/Now, Voyager/Love in the Afternoon); and TCM Greatest Classic Films: Science Fiction (Them!/The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms/World without End/Satellite in the Sky). This of course provides little joy for classic fans as all these titles have previously been released. New classic titles are coming on pressed discs in the new year though and while some firm ones should be announced before Christmas, the significant new collections won't be coming out until mid-2010 as Warners continues its focus on its Archive Collection and particularly on Blu-ray. (To summarize from past columns, we already know that a 10-disc film noir set and an Errol Flynn box set are coming. The Flynn set will have 4 or 5 titles including Desperate Journey and Edge of Darkness, but will not contain Santa Fe Trail. That title is undergoing photochemical restoration after long-missing original elements were found. Also planned are releases of The Breaking Point and No Time for Sergeants.) Coming in Canada on February 2nd is the Warner Bros. Romance Classics Collection. This set of four Troy Donahue/Connie Stevens films from the early 1960s includes Parrish (1961), Susan Slade (1961), Roman Adventure (1962), and Palm Springs Weekend (1963). The set was previously released last year at about the same time, but was then only officially available in the US. March 9th will bring The Brothers Warner to DVD. It's a new 90-minute documentary that chronicles the famous Hollywood family dynasty.
November additions to the Warner Archive Collection are as follows: Tiger Shark (1932, with Edward G. Robinson); Two Seconds (1932, with Edward G. Robinson); The Man with Two Faces (1934, with Edward G. Robinson); Call It a Day (1937, with Olivia De Havilland); The Last Gangster (1937, with Edward G. Robinson); Manpower (1941, with Edward G. Robinson); Out of the Fog (1941, with John Garfield); I Dood It (1943, with Red Skelton); Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945, with Edward G. Robinson - from a new hi-def transfer); Holiday in Mexico (1946, with Jane Powell); Rich, Young and Pretty (1951, with Jane Powell); Because You're Mine (1952, with Maria Lanza); Give a Girl a Break (1953, with Marge & Gower Champion); I Love Melvin (1953, with Donald O'Connor); Small Town Girl (1953, with Jane Powell); Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (1955, with Gordon Scott); Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957, with Gordon Scott); Tarzan and the Trappers (1958, with Gordon Scott); Tarzan's Fight for Life (1958, with Gordon Scott); Tarzan's Great Adventure (1959, with Gordon Scott); Tarzan the Magnificent (1960, with Gordon Scott); Mail Order Bride (1964, with Buddy Ebsen); The Nutcracker (1964, with Melissa Hayden); and the Warner Bros. Big Band, Jazz and Swing Short Subject Collection (63 shorts on 6 discs). The six Gordon Scott Tarzan films listed above are also available in a value pak at 50% off the individual disc price.
On the Blu-ray front from Warner Bros., there have been leaks over the past month of classic releases coming in 2010 in France. On the docket there, apparently, are: Kelly's Heroes (1970) and Where Eagles Dare (1968) on April 7th; A Star Is Born (1954) on May 12th; Dial M for Murder (1954) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) on June 2nd; Dr. Zhivago (1965), Forbidden Planet (1956), Mutiny on the Bounty (both 1935 and 1962!) all on October 6th; and The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) on November 3rd. Official Warner Bros. releases in France will not go out before their counterparts in Canada and the Unites States, so were these dates accurate, we could expect some good things here in 2010. Already though, changes have occurred and this is what we know at present. The two Clint Eastwood films and Dr. Zhivago, and A Star Is Born (the 1954 version with the 1937 version remastered and included as an extra, but not 1932's What Price Hollywood?) will all be released here before summer. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) is undergoing a full photochemical restoration for a 75th anniversary release before the end of 2010. It is still undecided whether Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) will be released at the same time as the 1935 version or thereafter. The Postman Always Rings Twice is now most likely to be pushed back to 2011. Both Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) will look substantially better than their current DVDs as much better nitrate materials were found from which to work. The other titles and particularly their dates on the France list should be treated as speculative for the present, although they are undoubtedly on the active slate for 2010 or soon thereafter.
And finally, here are some releases outside of Region 1. Particularly of interest are the November Fox Spain releases of four titles in the company's Cinema Classics Collection, the Allan Dwan box set from Carlotta, the Universal westerns from Shock in Australia later this month and from Sidonis in France next April, and the advance 2010/2011 news from Wild Side in France. Optimum and BFI in the UK are also providing some good Blu-ray conversions.
Nov. 16: The Wrecker (1928) - from Strike Force International (UK)
Nov. 16: She Always Gets Their Man (1962, Ann Sears)/Part Time Wife (1961, Nyree Dawn Porter)/Two Wives at One Wedding (1961, Gordon Jackson) - from Pegasus (UK)
Nov. 18: Forever Amber (1947, Linda Darnell)/The Foxes of Harrow (1947, Maureen O'Hara)/City of Bad Men (1953, Dale Robertson)/The Walls of Jericho (1948, Kirk Douglas) - from Fox (Spain)
Nov. 19: Allan Dwan Boxset (Silver Lode /Passion /Cattle Queen of Montana /Escape to Burma /Pearl of the South Pacific /
Tennessee's Partner /Slightly Scarlet ) - from Carlotta Films (France)
Nov. 20: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970, Jason Robards) - from Fox on Blu-ray (Germany)
Dec. 3: Douglas Sirk Boxset: Volume 3 (La Fille des Marais /Les Piliers de la Societe /Paramatta, Bagne de Femmes /La Habanera ) - from Carlotta Films (France)
January 18: Cry the Beloved Country (1951, Canada Lee); The Queen of Spades (1949, Anton Walbrook); Secret People (1952, Audrey Hepburn) - from Optimum (UK)
January 18: The Red Balloon (1956, Pascal Lamorisse) - from Network in Blu-ray (UK)
January 25: Privilege (1967)/That Kind of Girl (1963)/Permissive (1970) - from BFI in Blu-ray and DVD
January 25: Undercover (1943, John Clements) - from Optimum (UK)
February 15: The Leopard (1963, Burt Lancaster) - from BFI in Blu-ray (UK)
February 15: The Go-Between (1970, Julie Christie)/The Ladykillers (1955, Alec Guinness)/A Bout de Souffle (1960)/Pierrot Le Fou (1965) - from Optimum in Blu-ray (UK)
February 24: The Honey Pot (1967, Rex Harrison)/Paris Blues (1961, Paul Newman)/Trapeze (1956, Burt Lancaster) - from Wild Side Video (France)
March 8: The Bicycle Thieves (1948) - from Arrow in Blu-ray (UK)
March 22: The Innocents (1961, Deborah Kerr) - from BFI in Blu-ray (UK)
April 30: Ride Clear of Diablo (1954, Audie Murphy)/The Spoilers (1955, Jeff Chandler) - from Sidonis (France)
2010/2011: Advance news from Wild Side in France indicates that a new series “Classics Confidential” will include the release of Wind Across the Everglades (1958)/Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)/While the City Sleeps (1956)/Northwest Passage (1940)/Run of the Arrow (1957)/The Devil's Doorway (1950)/The Lusty Men (1952). Wild Side also plans an extensive collection of “Vintage Classics” which will offer all the public domain usual suspects such as Santa Fe Trail, The Bigamist, D.D.A., Topper Returns, Angel and the Badman, and about 40 others in newly restored editions with supplements. These will be released in waves of 6 titles every 2 months, with the first appearing on January 6th. Whether there will actually be any improvement over versions already available in Region 1 remains to be seen.
Nov. 27: Backlash (1956, Richard Widmark); By Love Possessed (1961, Lana Turner); Man without a Star (1955, Kirk Douglas); Seminole (1953, Rock Hudson); A Taste of Honey (1961, Rita Tushingham); Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969, Robert Redford); Texas Across the River (1966, Dean Martin) - from Shock (Australia)
Well, once again, that's it for now. I'll return again soon.