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Classic Coming Attractions by Barrie Maxwell

Barrie Maxwell - Main Page

The Christmas Column

I'd like to welcome all my readers to the last Classic Coming Attractions column of the year and one that traditionally offers a Christmas theme as its centerpiece. Most of you will know that I have also initiated a companion column on high definition releases called HDC - High Definition Classics and Beyond, and I am taking writer's prerogative to combine the two efforts on this occasion.

Past years have seen the Christmas column focus on Christmas films on DVD in general (the 2003 column), versions of Dickens "A Christmas Carol" on DVD (the 2004 column), and reviews of several often-requested classic Christmas films that were new to DVD (the 2005 column). This year's column offers more of the latter, in this instance reviews of new editions of Miracle on 34th Street, Holiday Inn, and It's Wonderful Life, as well as the first DVD appearance of O. Henry's Full House , a film that has enough wintery settings and Christmas content to make the grade. On the high definition side of things, I offer reviews of the new HD-DVD releases of A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The column is rounded off with a short section of new classic release announcements. I hope you enjoy it.

Before getting started, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading my columns throughout the year and for your always-welcome comments, corrections, and questions. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and good health and good classics for 2007. Now, as usual, on with the show.

Christmas Reviews - Classics on Standard DVD

One of my favourite Christmas films - Miracle on 34th Street - has been given the special edition treatment by Fox. The 1947 film was first made available on DVD several years ago and then, if memory serves, reissued in conjunction with the DVD release of the 1994 remake. That first release looked quite good, but Fox has now taken a second crack at it and come up with a real winner.

Miracle on 34th Street

Now I wouldn't usually go that far when there's a colourized version involved, but Fox has delivered a two-disc effort here that presents the colourized version on one disc and the original B&W version on the second disc along with all the supplements. In that way, you can just ignore disc number one and concentrate on disc two knowing that it's got everything of importance in the package. And what a package it is. The film itself is delightful as it tells the story of an old man named Kris Kringle who claims to be the real Santa Claus while he manages to bring the real spirit back into Christmas and even the heads of rival Macy's and Gimbels department stores together on speaking terms. Of course, there are those who don't believe that Kris is who he says he is and it takes a court case to resolve the matter. Edmund Gwenn delivers an endearing performance as Kris and as the real star of the picture, one that brought him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. Meanwhile, the film's nominal stars shone pretty brightly too - Maureen O'Hara as a Macy's executive and John Payne as struggling lawyer who takes on Kris's case. Natalie Wood is also a stand-out as the Santa-doubting daughter of Maureen O'Hara. Much of the film was shot on location in New York during the annual Macy's parade and within the store itself during the Christmas season, adding a significant feel of authenticity to the proceedings. Interestingly, Fox didn't have much confidence in the film as a major production, but when it was previewed they realized that they might have a hit on their hands. The actual release occurred in July to ensure the film received the attention due it and not get lost in the Christmas release shuffle. Critical and popular reaction was very positive and the film eventually received a nomination as Best Picture of the year (though losing out to Fox's Gentleman's Agreement). The full frame transfer is correctly presented and offers a very film-like image that's sharp and characterized by an excellent gray scale. There are no edge effects and speckles and debris have been minimized. This effort is a slight but noticeable improvement over the original DVD edition. Fox provides a mono sound track as well as new 5.1 Dolby mix, but there's virtually no difference of significance between them. The sound is clear with only a hint of hiss at times. The supplement package is impressive and is anchored by an audio commentary by Maureen O'Hara. She speaks well and enthusiastically about the film providing background information and anecdotes, although her comments occur somewhat sporadically. An AMC Backstory provides plenty of the production history and there is an interesting featurette on the Macy's parade (featuring comments from Robert Grippo who wrote a history of the parade covering the period 1924-2003). Other extras include a rather insipid 1955 TV version of the story, Fox Movietone footage on the Academy Awards ceremony, an interesting promotional trailer, and a short poster gallery. Highly recommended. Plus, of course, you get that free coaster that is the usual ugly colourized version.

O. Henry's Full House

The new DVD of 1952's O. Henry's Full House is typical of the sort of release that Fox has been accustoming us to over this past 12 months - a classic film that one didn't expect to appear on DVD, at least not anytime soon, and with an impressive set of supplements to boot. The film, with much of the setting either at Christmas or at least over the winter season, actually comprises five short films each based on an O. Henry story and all tied together by on-screen narration from author John Steinbeck. O. Henry's stories date from about the turn of the last century and are famous for their gentle narratives and twist endings. The content here includes The Cop and the Anthem (with Charles Laughton and a small part for Marilyn Monroe, directed by Henry Koster); The Clarion Call (with Dale Robertson and Richard Widmark, directed by Henry Hathaway); The Last Leaf (with Anne Baxter and Jean Peters, directed by Jean Negulesco); The Ransom of Red Chief (with Fred Allen and Oscar Levant, directed by Howard Hawks); and The Gift of the Magi (with Jeanne Crain and Farley Granger, directed by Henry King). I found The Last Leaf and The Cop and the Anthem to be the best of the five. The former benefits immensely from a nice performance by Gregory Ratoff as an artist whose last act is to save a young woman who has given up on life. The latter gives Charles Laughton a juicy acting opportunity as a hobo who is frustrated at every turn as he tries get himself put in jail to avoid having to live on the streets over the winter. The Gift of the Magi's ironic story of Christmas hope is very familiar and that tends to lessen its impact now despite nice performances by Jeanne Crain and Farley Granger as the poor young couple seeking to get meaningful gifts for each other. Both The Clarion Call and The Ransom of Red Chief are focused on loud and obnoxious people and both outstay their welcome before their 20 minutes is up. In the former, at least it's Richard Widmark being the obnoxious one, but in the latter, we have to put up with not only both Fred Allen and Oscar Levant but an objectionable young kid as well (Lee Aaker). Fortunately for all the stories, Fox has made a nice restoration effort in bringing the film to DVD, given that the original negative no longer exists. The cleaned-up image is clear and generally well detailed with some modest grain in evidence. Both the original mono sound and a stereo track are provided, but there's little discernible difference. The audio is clear and reasonably strong with no background hiss. The generous list of supplements is highlighted by two 1927 two-reel silent Fox comedies billed as Jazz Age versions of O. Henry stories - Girls and Man About Town. Both are delightful entertainments presented in sepia images that are in quite acceptable condition although unaccompanied by any music. Other extras include an audio commentary by O. Henry expert Dr. Jenny Lind Porter (very informative as the O. Henry aspects, but less incisive on the film-specific material), featurettes on the life and writing of O. Henry and on the O. Henry museum, various publicity materials, and a restoration comparison. Recommended.

Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn first appeared on DVD seven years ago, paired with Going My Way. Now, Universal has revisited the title with a stand-alone single-disc Special Edition release that includes some very nice supplements. The film features Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire with Crosby playing a song and dance man who quits show business to open an inn in the country that only operates on holidays. Astaire is Crosby's former stage partner and rival for the love of Marjorie Reynolds, a young singer who seeks work at Crosby's "Holiday Inn". The film is delightful Christmas entertainment and easily surpasses the rather loose 1954 remake, White Christmas, in which Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney star. The music for Holiday Inn was written by Irving Berlin, and is highlighted by "White Christmas" which Crosby sings to Reynolds and is one of the best-selling recordings in music history. Fred Astaire also has a couple of memorable numbers - a drunk dance in which he performs while Marjorie Reynolds tries to hold him up and another in which he throws firecrackers at the stage as he dances. Crosby and Astaire work very well together and the two were reunited in 1946's Blue Skies, another film benefiting from Irving Berlin's music. Universal's DVD efforts show in the bright, crisp transfer that improves on the previous release. Some grain is nicely in evidence and blacks are suitably rich and deep. There are a few speckles, but overall this is another example of the fine work that Universal is now routinely turning out on its classic releases. That bodes well for its new classics line debuting in February. The mono sound is in fine shape. Extras include a very good audio commentary (both informative and entertaining) by film historian Ken Barnes, a meaty biography of Astaire and Crosby featuring interview footage with Barnes and Astaire's daughter Ava Astaire MacKenzie, a short featurette on the making of musicals, and the film's original theatrical trailer. Highly recommended.

It's a Wonderful Life: 60th Anniversary Edition

One of the classics that appeared on DVD early in that medium's life, courtesy of Republic Home Video, is Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life. The Republic release was later reissued by Artisan. The film is well known to classic enthusiasts as a Christmas favourite and a typically Capra-esque film of the eventual success of the little guy. In this case, it's George Bailey (James Stewart) who judges his routine life in Bedford Falls to have been a failure and threatens to kill himself until a guardian angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) gives him pause. Frank Capra and James Stewart always said that It's a Wonderful Life was their favourite film. Certainly, it's one of mine too. After all, what's not to like? The film has an excellent script; it's superbly acted; and it's full of Capra's signature touches in casting. It's a Wonderful Life is also a natural progression from Capra's two Columbia masterpieces - Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - and his WB follow-up to them, Meet John Doe. The noir aspects of the suicide component of the latter film began to offer a powerful counterpoint in Capra's work to the more one-dimensional nature of goodness inherent in the earlier two films. That concept is effectively extended in It's a Wonderful Life by the sequence that depicts George's descent into despair and his trip through the Bedford Falls that might have been - the garish Pottersville - had he never been born. The result is a film that offers some thoughtful doses of realism, while retaining that Capra spirit of belief in the ultimate triumph of right over wrong and the over-riding importance of the contribution of the ordinary person to that triumph. And anybody who is not moved by the film's conclusion, especially at Christmas, should wonder what's wrong with them. The film was Capra's initial film under the auspices of his independent producing company, Liberty Films. Unfortunately it was not a success at the time of its original release in 1946 and that spelled the early demise of Liberty Films, one of the reasons that the film fell into the public domain in the early 1970s. Republic Pictures was eventually able to claim copyright for some of the music in the film and that allowed them to secure effective copyright of the film itself, hence its later appearance on laserdisc and DVD under the Republic imprint. Republic then came under Paramount's control and rights to its properties were leased out to Artisan which was then absorbed by Lionsgate. The latter managed to renew its rights to much of the Republic catalog earlier in 2006, but Paramount retained a few titles for itself including It's a Wonderful Life - hence the new 60th Anniversary DVD release from Paramount. Because the original DVD release was above average in image quality, the new disc is not as distinctively improved as upgrades of other early-DVD titles have demonstrated. Nevertheless, it does look better - brighter with deeper blacks and reduced speckling. Image sharpness and detail as well as image contrast are all superior. The mono sound is in good shape, and is comparable to the previous release. Unfortunately, the supplements, while good, are exactly the same as what was previously offered. They include a making-of documentary hosted by Tom Bosley, a featurette paying tribute to Frank Capra and hosted by his son Frank Capra Jr., and the theatrical trailer. Highly recommended for those who may not have the previous DVD incarnation. Others should try a rental to see if the improved image is enough to warrant making the upgrade.

High-Definition Classics and Beyond by Barrie Maxwell

Christmas Reviews - High Definition

A Christmas Story (HD-DVD)

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A Christmas Story
1983 (2006) - Warner Bros.
Released on HD-DVD by Warner Bros. on December 5th, 2006

HD-DVD Format1080p - Analog Full ResolutionDolby Digital Plus

Film: A
Video (1-20): 15
Audio (1-20): 13
Extras: B

Specs and Features:
93 mins, PG, VC1 1080p standard (1.85:1), HD-30 DL, Elite Red HD packaging, all DVD features included in standard definition, audio: DD Plus 1.0 mono (English and French), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned

There's something about the innate respect for the joy of the Christmas season that classic Christmas films possess that makes them feel head and shoulders above more recent fare as the sort of movie experience you want at this festive time of year. Too many of the recent Christmas films seem to focus on the stupidity or ineptness of human beings, or else the more crass aspects of the season, to actually generate any warm feelings about it. Fortunately there is the odd exception and one of them is A Christmas Story which first appeared some 23 years ago. It's a story set in 1940s Indiana about a young boy named Ralphie who has his heart set on getting a genuine Red Ryder 200-shot carbine action air rifle for Christmas. Predictably, voicing his desire brings the stock "You'll shoot your eye out" from every adult he encounters. The film covers the final weeks leading up to the big day and with great warmth depicts various incidents in Ralphie's and his friends' lives as he angles for his heart's desire despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Who among us has not been subjected to childhood indignities such as sitting on an ersatz Santa's knee, having our mouths washed out with soap, sucking up to the teacher in order to curry favour, been dared to stick our tongues on a freezing steel post, had to run a gauntlet of bullies on the way to school, imagined ourselves saving our parents and siblings from some catastrophe, suffered over an embarrassing gift from some distant relative, and so on? Most of such memories are happy ones but even those that may not necessarily have been so at the time are usually ones we can look back on now with some perspective and fondness given the passage of time. This film reminds us of all those sorts of events and does so with charm and insight. It's definitely one that can be added to the list of old favourites as worthy of annual Christmas watching. Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillion, and Darren McGavin star as Ralphie and his parents respectively, and all are spot-on in their characterizations. Ringing true as well is the whole supporting cast of both youngsters and adults. Much of the film was shot in Cleveland when there was a dearth of snow, but the set design is very successful in creating the look and feel of winter and the aura of the Christmas season.

A couple of years ago, Warner Bros. created a very nice two-disc special edition DVD for A Christmas Story and that has formed the basis of the new HD-DVD release. The latter is definitely better looking than the standard DVD release particularly in its rendering of some of the brighter colours such as the reds, but it's not a poster-child for HD-DVD in general. That's not so much the fault of the transfer as the fact that the film was not a high budget release to begin with and that combined with the effort to give the film a 40s-era feel resulted in a somewhat soft-looking image. That look is reflected in the HD-DVD image, and as a consequence the disc never exhibits the three-dimensional look or pop that one associates with the best high definition transfers. The source material used is obviously not pristine as a few speckles and scratches are also in evidence suggesting that were Warners to revisit this title, some improvement is possible. The disc's mono sound is workmanlike at best. It delivers clear and clean audio, but there's little to remark on beyond that.

The supplements on the disc are basically those found on the 2004 special edition DVD. They include a decent audio commentary by director Bob Clark and actor Peter Billingsley. It's fairly comprehensive in terms of production details with Clark especially also providing some good anecdotal-type material. The making-of documentary is disappointingly incomplete. It depends on interview comments from Clark, Billingsley and many of the supporting players (all of whom it's interesting to see 20 years later and also to hear their positive reactions to the film's role in their lives), but it's very selective on what it talks about and the recitation of poetic material that's interspersed throughout soon becomes annoying. More interesting is a short history of the Daisy rifles including the information that the particular model referred to in the film was never manufactured as a production item. It represented an amalgamation of features from two different models. Also entertaining is a short featurette on the film's famous "leg" lamp. Finally there are some script pages, the theatrical trailer, and a couple of games.

A Christmas Story is definitely a film to have in your collection. If you don't have it on disc, the HD-DVD version is the one to get, but if you already have the 2004 two-disc DVD, there's not an overly compelling reason to upgrade.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (HD-DVD)

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National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
1989 (2006) - Warner Bros.
Released on HD-DVD by Warner Bros. on December 5th, 2006

HD-DVD Format1080p - Analog Full ResolutionDolby Digital Plus

Film: C-
Video (1-20): 13
Audio (1-20): 13
Extras: C

Specs and Features:
97 mins, PG-13, VC1 1080p standard (1.85:1), HD-15 SL, Elite Red HD packaging, all DVD features included in standard definition, audio: DD Plus 2.0 (English) and 1.0 mono (French and Spanish), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned

I guess National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is an improvement on its predecessor National Lampoon's European Vacation, but it's still a basically pathetic attempt at a comedy film - not surprising, I guess, since it relies largely on the marginal talents of Chevy Chase and tries to generate laughs out of a character who acts like a moron most of the time. Basically the story involves our hero Clark Griswold attempting to ensure that the Griswold home personifies the joy and spirit of Christmas by overdecorating, outspending, and generally one-upping everyone else. It's all accompanied by much mayhem and klutziness that's supposed to be hilarious. Yep, that's what Christmas is all about. Make an ass of yourself, show how dumb you are, and everyone will find you endearing in the end. The script, by John Hughes, is a litany of clichés and obvious situations apparently intended to do just that. Get a Christmas tree that's too big for the house? Check. Try to string lights around the top of the house and fall off the roof? Check. Live beside obnoxious neighbours? Check. How about incompatible in-laws? Check. You know, the sad part is that I'm sure there are people who think this is a hilarious movie and may be even consider it a Christmas comedy classic. To those people, I doubt there's anything I could say to make them change their minds. To anyone else, let me assure you that there's more genuine humour and laughter in five minutes of films like A Christmas Story or Miracle on 34th Street than National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation's 90-odd minutes of forced and obvious situations could ever hope to generate.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation gets just about the HD treatment it merits - a basically uninspiring transfer that lacks any of the pizzazz that people are looking for from HD. This HD-DVD version is certainly an upgrade over the standard DVD version although that's not difficult as the latter was satisfactory at best. The image is inconsistent, appearing soft as often as it is sharp, and colours rarely leap out at one. The source material also could be better as some debris is in evidence although not a real distraction. The stereo sound might as well be mono for all the presence it offers. At least it's clear and free of background noise. The supplements consist of the theatrical trailer and an audio commentary by seemingly everybody connected with the film except Chevy Chase.

A poor film and a mediocre HD-DVD effort adds up to money saved to spend on much better Christmas fare. If you want a Christmas HD suggestion beyond A Christmas Story as discussed above, you can't go wrong with The Polar Express (reviewed in the first edition of my HDC column).

New Announcements

[Editor's Note: The Classic Coming Attractions Database has been updated as usual.]

Alpha ushers in its 2007 release program with 20 new discs set to appear on January 30th. TV series represented include The Big Picture: Volumes 1 and 2 (early program focusing on the armed forces and combat footage from the World Wars), Cowboy G-Men: Volume 2 (4 episodes), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (a 1955 episode of Climax), and Studio One Presents Suspense (two episodes of the Studio One series - Two Sharp Knives and There Was a Crooked Man). B westerns include: The Boiling Point/Frontier Justice (a Hoot Gibson double bill from 1932/1938); Kid Courageous/Near the Rainbow's End (a Bob Steele double bill from 1935/1930); and Riders of the Rockies/Frontier Town (a Tex Ritter double bill from 1937). Other titles are: Captain Scarlett (1953, with Richard Greene); The Capture (1950, with Lew Ayres); Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941, with Martha Scott); Convention Girl (1935, with Rose Hobart); The Courageous Dr. Christian (1940, with Jean Hersholt); Please Murder Me/A Life at Stake (1956/1954 double bill with Raymond Burr/Angela Lansbury); The Gaunt Stranger (1939, with Alexander Knox); Mark of the Hawk (1957, with Sidney Poitier); Narcotic (1937); Port of Lost Dreams (1935, with William Boyd); Queen of the Yukon (1935, with Charles Bickford); and Sinners in Paradise (1938, with Bruce Cabot).

There's some really great news from Criterion about their anticipated Eclipse line. From Criterion's own blog: "We're nine years into the DVD market, and there are still hundreds of important films that can only be seen in old VHS versions or, if you're lucky enough to live in a town with a good repertory theater, a new print might come around once every ten years or so. We want those films to be more readily available, and that's why we're creating Eclipse. Each month we'll present a short series, usually three to five films, focusing on a particular director or theme. There will be no supplements and the master materials will be the best we can find, but they won't be full Criterion restorations. Retail pricing for each set will average under $15 per disc, and we are examining the logistics of making the sets available at an even more favorable rate on a subscriber or club basis. The goal here is to make these films available, to make sure that Criterion's own work style doesn't contribute to the continuing unavailability of these films. Once our producers and restoration crew get started on a Criterion edition, the project takes on a life of its own. Months later, with a little luck, we'll have something really special to show for it, but at that rate we can't make a dent in the number of important unreleased films that we'd like people to be able to see. The early films of Ingmar Bergman, the documentaries of Louis Malle-these are extraordinary and important films that are very hard to find outside the revival-house circuit. At the moment you'll find more Mizoguchis in theaters (thanks to a traveling retrospective) than in the video store, and that's certainly also true for Naruse, Ozu, and Imamura. While Criterion is working on new special editions of individual pictures by all of these filmmakers, at a rate of maybe one or two a year, we'll never be able to represent the breadth of their bodies of work. Eclipse will help to fill that gap." The first offering in this series will be Early Bergman, a collection of several films pre-dating The Seventh Seal. In other Criterion news, harkening back to laserdisc days, the much-requested Robinson Crusoe on Mars is on Criterion's 2007 schedule as well. Finally, Criterion is now indicating that the anticipated release of Jules Dassin's The Naked City (1948, with Barry Fitzgerald and Howard Duff) will occur on March 20th. The features include: a new, restored high-definition digital transfer; audio commentary by screenwriter Malvin Wald: analysis of the film's New York locations by “Celluloid Skyline” author James Sanders: a new video interview with NYU film professor Dana Polan: footage of Jules Dassin from his 2003 appearance at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the theatrical trailer; a stills gallery; and a new essay by Luc Sante. Also in March, on the 13th, expect two films from Kon Ichikawa - Fires on the Plain (1959) and The Burmese Harp (1956). Each will offer a new interview with the director, a new essay, and the original theatrical trailer.

Goldhil will have Daniel Boone: Season 3 on April 10th. It will be an eight-disc set comprising 27 episodes and a variety of supplements including some audio commentary by Darby Hilton (Israel Boone).

Grapevine Video's December releases comprise seven discs, four of silent films and three sound. The silent offerings are The White Sister (1923, starring Lillian Gish and Ronald Colman); What Happened to Rosa? (1920, with Mabel Normand, supplemented by two Normand shorts - Mabel's Blunder and The Little Teacher); Gypsy Blood (1918, directed by Ernst Lubitsch); and The Films of Edmund Cobb (1925-27, 4 short films). The three sound discs are all double features: The Blood of Jesus with Go Down, Death! (both starring and directed by Spencer Williams); Underground Rustlers with Trail Riders (two titles in the Range Busters series); and Breaking the Ice with Hawaii Calls (two 1938 Bobby Breen titles). Special pricing is offered on these six discs until January 3rd.

MGM's January 23rd release of Fiddler on the Roof: 2-Disc Collector's Edition will include audio commentary by director Norman Jewison and actor Topol, deleted scenes, a documentary, 6 featurettes, interviews, photo galleries, trailers and more.

MPI has announced the March 27th release of Dick Van Dyke: In Rare Form. This disc will provide some 100 minutes of Van Dyke monologue, pantomime, and dance routines from 1958-59 season of The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. Supplements include new introductions by Boone and an episode of the 1959 panel show Laugh Line hosted by Van Dyke.

Paramount has now confirmed that TV's The Untouchables will indeed be coming to DVD. The Untouchables: Season One, Volume One is set for April 3rd, and will likely include about half of the 1959-60 season's 28 hour-long episodes. There's no indication yet, however, whether it will include the two-hour pilot film, The Scarface Mob. Also on April 3rd comes The Streets of San Francisco: Season One, Volume One. This is from the part of the Republic Pictures package that Paramount retained when it recently leased most of its Republic holdings back to Lionsgate. Also set from Paramount is The Wild Wild West: Season Two for release on March 20th.

VCI has two titles set for release on January 30th. One is a collection of episodes from the 1952 TV series starring Donald Woods - Craig Kennedy, Criminologist. The other is Peer Gynt (the 1941 amateur 16mm film in which a 17-year-old Charlton Heston made his film debut).

The annual Warner Bros. box of film noir is expected to contain 10 films when Volume 4 appears in July. The rumoured titles are: Act of Violence (MGM, 1949), Cornered (RKO, 1945), Crime Wave (WB, 1954), Decoy (Monogram, 1946), Illegal (WB, 1955), Mystery Street (MGM, 1950), Side Street (MGM, 1950), Tension (MGM, 1950), They Live By Night (RKO, 1949), and Where Danger Lives (RKO, 1950). Finally, in a post at the Home Theater Forum, motion picture archivist Robert Harris provides a nice hint that Warners may be working on a release of This Is the Army, the 1943 Technicolor service musical long consigned to public-domain hell.

Apparently the Weinstein Company has acquired the rights to the much-desired Samuel Bronston films Circus World, Fall of the Roman Empire, 55 Days at Peking, and El Cid and a mid-2007 DVD release is rumoured. Like MPI's long-promised release of Becket, I'll believe it when I see it.

Well, that's it for 2006. I look forward to seeing you all again in 2007.

Barrie Maxwell
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