July 22, 2001
Open the Vaults
If I want to pop in a DVD
of The Adventures of Robin Hood this evening, I can't. That's because Robin and his merry
men, in the definitive version with Errol Flynn courting Olivia de Havilland, aren't on DVD. Oh, I
could resort to desperation and crank up the venerable Pioneer Elite CLD 97 laser disc player and
choose between the Criterion or slightly more colorful MGM version of the classic adventure film,
but these days my lasers are in such disarray I might have to spend the better part of a feature
film looking for Robin. The Adventures of Robin Hood is just one of the classic Errol Flynn
flicks still not on DVD. And that's just one of the great MGM and Warner catalog titles now
controlled by Warner, a vault filled with incredible film treasures of which few have seen the
light of DVD.
Typical company position appears to be that many of these classic titles are in
need of restoration and therefore they are not being released. To suggest that restoration is
keeping vaults tightly sealed tight is a bit beyond comprehension. With the latest magical digital
wonders of transfer technology, minor miracles are performed on films. North by Northwest, which
did not undergo a needed original element restoration, was nevertheless delivered to DVD in a
splendid transfer, digitally manipulated to maximize color and detail without sacrifice to artistic
Obviously, there are other motives keeping the classic releases at little
more than a trickle. Nobody in their right mind expects major studios to release every gem in their
treasure chest in one glorious insane gesture to the hungry movie loving community. There are valid
economic concerns. The DVD market place can only absorb so many releases without dust covering the
leftovers in sales bins. It happened on laser. Of course, laser never had the popular base DVD has
built in a relatively short time. Maybe some brilliant "suit" posited that the majority
of DVD users know little of classic Hollywood and need to learn, slowly, what it's all about. Well,
maybe there is some truth to that.!
Classic appetites are being whetted
with stunning studio releases of classic Marilyn Monroe films from Fox and MGM. Paramount has
treated home theater audiences to the grace of Audrey Hepburn. Universal continues an ever
growing parade of their classic horror catalog and hit a long home run with the release of their
Hitchcocks. Warner gifted us with a rapturous A Star is Born, but where oh
where are those other Garland films languishing in cold storage and how about the what Warner was
all about once upon a time, gangsters. Columbia has released DVDs of Only Angels Have Wings, Gilda, Lady from Shanghai, Lawrence of Arabia and
other staples from their vaults. That doesn't mean I am not tired of waiting for On the
Waterfront to spin in digital purity. Criterion, long a champion of classic special editions on
laser disc is coming across more these days with a mix of releases from Rififi to Mr. Hulot's Holiday
and Spartacus. We know
that there are plenty of classics in the works. Criterion is working with Universal and the Sturges
heirs to bring brilliant Preston Sturges comedies to DVD.
We are still getting but a tiny fraction of the huge
wealth of Hollywood cinema history on DVD, not to mention foreign films. The majors will no doubt
continue to walk classics out with cautious steps. It probably makes good business sense to them,
but it doesn't change the fact that there's almost no DVD representation for Tyrone Power, Robert
Taylor, Greta Garbo, Lana Turner
or Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and Susan Hayward. Movie lovers have to
do their part too. Go out of your way to purchase the classics. Don't be content to watch them on
AMC or Turner Classics. If the sales numbers indicate a willingness to buy black and white, then we
will get more precious product.
Links to Rants and Raves by Date
April 6, 2001
The DVD Package
April 21 2001
Inserts and the Pop-Up Window
June 2, 2001
FBI Warning/Logo Wars
A heist delivered in simple strokes and sudden fury. Harvey Keitel
Movie Poster Archive includes extensive poster images from the films of stars like Susan Hayward,
Kirk Douglas, Katharine Hepburn and many more. Our featured star is Tyrone Power.
Click on the DVD MIA symbol for
profiles of DVDs missing in action.
Add films to the DVD MIA Master List by filling out
a simple form. Click Here
Selections from the Feature Archive include articles on
Akira Kurosawa, Frank
Darabont, Blonde Bimbos, Hollywood Street Gangs, or Vietnam: The
Hollywood Pariah, and many more....
Preston Sturges was Hollywood's resident comic genius for more than a decade. His movies are
timeless. Click on his image to read all about it.
Puttin on the
Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse bring Silk Stockings to life, a remake of Ninotchka, one of many
films successfully turned into musicals by the Hollywood dream factory. Read all about remakes into
musicals by clicking on the divine dancers.
Have you visited Home Theater
Talk lately? One of the friendliest places on the Net for Home Theater and DVD discussion, you
can get help for installation problems or simply share your opinions with other Vidiots.
The National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to save
America's film heritage.
An elegantly presented fan site dedicated to one of Hollywood's great action stars.
Classic Images on classic films, featuring news, reviews, obituaries, film convention reports,
and detailed articles on film people, from the most famous to the most obscure