A Traveling Column
I've been working in Los Angeles for an extended period and have
been unable to get a column out. This is a catch-up piece
concerning, not technical issues, but more properly new releases I
am comfortable recommending.
The success of DVDs since their initial rollout some six years ago
seemed to come as a surprise to the industry, but not to cinema
aficionados. Product recently in theatres became the mainstay of the
studios, while vault titles took a back seat.
2003 has changed that, as the studios have discovered the financial
rewards of keeping their asset protection executives busy creating
duplicating and transfer elements of older titles.
Each of the studios has evolved in the past year or eighteen months,
giving more importance to their classic (and not so classic
releases) of the past seventy years.
Fox put their best foot forward with their elegant series of Studio
Classics. Every one Fox's Classics was an visual and aural
showpiece, using the finest surviving elements of (to date) 14 of
the studio's vault library titles.
Their release of Murnau's Sunrise,
now available to all by simply purchasing a three-pack of titles was
one of the most important offerings of 2003. They continue with
their superb effort with the release of William Wellman's 1942 tale
of mob mentality, The Ox-Bow Incident*
starring contract player, Henry Fonda.
I personally can't wait to see the direction that this series will
take for 2004.
In the past couple of months Fox has also released other noteworthy
titles. I had mentioned the quality of Hello,
Dolly!* a couple of months ago on HTF.
This is a superb transfer based upon large format film elements,
with no image enhancement or digital artifacts to be found.
All That Jazz* has been
transferred from newly restored film elements, and actually looks
better than it did the last time that I saw it in a theatre. For
those into the Broadway ethic, this is essential Fosse and is highly
Although one should no longer be surprised at superb transfers,
Fox's Bend it Like Beckham*
shines. For those who haven't yet seen this film are in for a treat.
Also from Fox is Danny Boyle's 28 Days
Later*. Shot on video and appropriately issued on DVD
looking as it should, 28 Days
has more going on beneath the surface than one might find at first
glance. While the DVD offers three different endings, I prefer the
one as released.
"The World is Yours"
Over a decade ago, Universal made a savvy investment in taking over
the rights to the Howard Hughes productions. But they have gone all
but unseen on DVD until now, when tied in with the 20th anniversary
release of Brian DePalma's Scarface*
- a superb film in its own right - we now have the opportunity to
own the original Howard Hawks 1932 original as part of the deluxe
Scarface* boxed set.
Boxed in a luggage-like faux-reptile case measuring 9 by 12 inches,
the two versions come with a set of lobby cards and a money clip
emblazoned with Tony Montana's initials.
Mr. DePalma's 1983 production of Scarface*
was one of the final handful of films, which because of the quality
of its recorded track, was released theatrically in not only the
popular Dolby stereo optical format, but the far more expensive e to
produce four track magnetic stereo, which was applied to a special
print stock run through projectors via special perforations and
The audio for this film was not only among the highest quality for
its day, but stands up well against modern productions. The very
good news is that this state of the art track plays faithfully on
modern equipment courtesy of your DVD player.
There is, however, buried treasure hidden beneath a lift-out tray.
And that is the original 1932 film on which Mr. DePalma's film was
While I seldom recommend the purchase of a boxed set for "extras,"
this is one which is not only worth the outlay of funds, but which
will bring the cinema lover full circle with the history of the
genre. Along with Public Enemy
starring James Cagney and Little Caesar played by the Romanian born
Edward G. Robinson (both of which will hopefully be released in the
future by WB), the original 1932 Scarface*
is a not only the film upon which dozens of others have borrowed
material, but a singular cinematographic treat in terms of classic
I suggest adding the boxed set to one's library in place of the
still wonderful two-disc set of the 1983 version.
There have been more noteworthy releases from Universal. Several
films have been re-issued by via new anamorphic transfers. In
addition to a new Animal House*,
a boxed set appropriately entitled the High
School Reunion Collection, is inclusive of all new
versions of Weird Science,
Sixteen Candles*, and the film
which spawned the "brat pack," The
Breakfast Club*. This trilogy of John Hughes favorites
replaces earlier less than stellar releases which are worth
More from the Warner Vaults
One can't discuss classic cinema without mentioning three of
Warner's latest releases.
Long on request lists, the new box set (also available separately)
of The Adventures of Robin Hood*,
Yankee Doodle Dandy* and Treasure
of the Sierra Madre* fits into that category of "no
brainer" purchases. All three are high quality releases with
added value material. With the purchase of the boxed set, comes a
forth disc with more extras.
Treasure shows its wear a bit more than the other two, which have
been beautifully mastered. If one wishes to know what quality black
and white can look like, Yankee Doodle
Dandy* is a perfect example.
The other major release from Warner is the four DVD set of Looney
Tunes, all from newly minted film elements, going back to
original sequential (three strip Technicolor) negatives and masters.
These short animated films now glow in a richness of color unseen
for fifty years or more.
56 beautiful Looney Tunes for
about $50. And its legal. Yet another "no brainer."
A series of films concerning the adventures of a 1930s
archaeologist/professor is has just been released.
The Adventures of Indiana Jones*
comes highly recommended, although my recommendation is hardly
necessary. Those who read this column need not be reminded of the
three titles. All three transfers look superb on DVD with the single
caveat that the original Raiders
is, for some reason, seemingly lacking in shadow detail.
This very minor point aside, the quality of this entire package,
with a fourth disc of additional material is beyond reproach and
will probably be one of the most requested Christmas gifts of the
In addition to The Indiana Jones Trilogy*,
Paramount has also continued to make their catalog titles available.
The original Italian Job* has
been issued to coincide with the newer production of the same title.
More importantly, a , series of some of Peter Bogdonovich's early
works inclusive of Paper Moon*,
beautifully transferred in glowing black and white, Daisy
Miller and Targets*
have been made available.
Paper Moon* is yet another one
of those "no brainers," as is the coming release of Martin
Ritt's Hud*. One of the finest
film of the period, Hud* is a
beautifully rendered DVD featuring superb performances from Mr.
Newman and Ms. Neal along with support from Melvyn Douglas and
Brandon de Wilde. The other "star" of this production is
James Wong Howe's brilliant black and white cinematography. Hud*
was one of many high points in a career which began in 1919 and
closed with Funny Lady. In
between, Mr. Howe gave us some of the most beautiful images, both
color and black and white, to hit the motion picture screen.
Hud* is highly recommended.
Classics from the Columbia
While Columbia has been minting new classic DVDs for a year to two,
and have recently given us The Jolson
Story*, Jolson Sings Again*
(both three strip Technicolor), Dead Heat
on a Merry-go-round, The
Bedford Incident* and Cromwell,
their most important recent classic release must be Richard Brooks'
In Cold Blood*. Based on the
book by Truman Capote, In Cold Blood*
was beautifully photographed in black and white by the late Conrad
Hall, who's final work was Road to
Perdition*. Mr. Hall's work is worth researching and
seeking out. Mr. Brooks was a thinking man's filmmaker, and In
Cold Blood* stands today as one of the finer translations
from literature to film.
I should make a short mention regarding the new SuperBit release of
David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia*.
With the help of Columbia's Grover Crisp, and the cooperation of
CTHE, the new release is a proper representation of the filmed
original. I'm pleased to finally be able to place an asterisk after
this title. Upgraded at the same time were Hook*
and The Professional*.
A Boy and His Unicorn
There was a bit of a rivalry between directors Carol Reed and David
Both had made their way out of "quota quickie" territory,
where Lean began his career not as a director, but as an editor.
During that early period, both made their share of films that are
not particularly worthy of discussion.
By 1940 each had broken out of their early molds, with Reed
directing The Stars Look Down
and Night Train to Munich.
Lean was doing the last of his editing on films like Pygmalion
and Major Barbara, on which he
was also an assistant director.
Reed created his first major work in 1947 with The
Odd Man Out, which he followed, in quick succession with
The Fallen Idol in 1948 and
The Third Man* in 1949.
Lean hit his stride in 1942 with In Which
We Serve*, followed by This
Happy Breed, Blithe Spirit,
Brief Encounter* (1946), Great
Expectations* and Oliver Twist*
in 1946 and 1948, still considered to be the consummate film
versions of those Dickens works.
It was not until Breaking the Sound
Barrier (1952) and Hobson's
Choice (1954) that he again made films of importance.
During that same period, Reed had directed Outcast
of the Islands (1952) and The
Man Between (1953).
The film that brought on this comparison is Reed's 1954 (released in
the UK in 1955 and in the USA in 1956) A
Kid for Two Farthings*.
This is an interesting film, especially for the Reed aficionado, and
has a wonderful early '50s British studio feel to it. While this is
not one of cinema's great films, it should not be lost among the
thousands of titles suddenly finding their way to DVD. Kid is a
charmingly innocent film, photographed in the earliest incarnation
of Kodak's Eastman Color process. You'll note that there are some
minor inconsistencies in color due to dye fade and damage to the
yellow layer. But generally the color has a lovely Eastman sheen,
with perfect flesh tones and a superb balance.
In many ways Kid was not what
the public had come to expect of Reed. In fact there is little there
to directly compare with his films of the late '40s with the
exception of a short chase through darkened alleys and back streets
- an interesting comparison to the dark, wet pavement of post-war
Vienna in The Third Man*.
It was in the mid-50s that Lean and Reed took different roads, which
would strangely interact later.
Reed directed Our Man in Havana
(1959), the beautiful large format, but overblown The
Agony and the Ecstasy in 1965 and then Oliver!
In 1968, based on the same Dickens novel that Lean had made in 1948.
Lean, on the other hand was teamed with Katharine Hepburn in 1955
for Summertime*, and then went
on to create some of the finest films ever made with Bridge
on the River Kwai*, Lawrence
of Arabia*, Doctor Zhivago*,
Ryan's Daughter and A
Passage to India.
Lean was apparently irked that Reed had received an early
knighthood, possibly due to family and business connections, while
Lean had to wait until 1984 to be so honored, based solely upon his
In a discussion with Lean concerning his Dickens films and Oliver!,
he commented that Reed could take the story, which was in the public
domain, but not the little dog, which Lean had created. If you watch
both films, you'll see what this is about.
The bottom line is that the films of both are well worth viewing,
and that A Kid for Two Farthings*,
although not prime time Reed is well worth your viewing time.
The Tan Sierra... Again
The Coen brother's Fargo* is
making another appearance on DVD from MGM. This time they've gotten
it right in a beautiful new anamorphic transfer with heightened
resolution and more detail in the whites. You'll recall there are a
great many whites in this film. You 'betcha.
Animated Disney & the Real B&W
Absent Minded Professor
Along with the Jones Trilogy,
one of the most anticipated releases of the year has been Disney's
The Lion King*. Equal or even
higher in quality to The Little Mermaid*
and Beauty and the Beast*,
The Lion King* is a stunner of
This is another "no brainer" purchase that need not be
Sleeping Beauty was released a
month or so ago, also by Disney and is another film worthy of a
special edition. Produced originally as a Technirama production, ie.
8 perf 35mm with a 50% anamorphosis, the DVD appears to have been
produced from a 35mm intermediate which has had the bottom of the
frame slightly cropped. The film also seems to have been overly
degrained, but the general public will find the resultant transfer
of extremely high quality.
Sometimes when viewing DVDs, one can get carried away with technical
minutia, which has little impact on those who will be millions of
satisfied customers. With that in mind, it must be acknowledged that
some of the comments which I offer may go under the heading of
occasionally not seeing the forest for the trees, or as a gentleman
with whom I'm currently working would say... "Its like picking
pepper out of fly s-t."
When The Absent-Minded Professor*
was released a year of so ago, I fully expected to find the
beautiful black and white photography I remembered. What hit my
monitor was a horribly colororized rendition. Disney has now made
amends by giving us a the original black and white production as it
was meant to be seen.
There has been another recent release from Disney, but I probably
don't have to add much to what has already been said or written.
RAH is, without a doubt, the
reference DVD of the season, and may continue to be until the next
Pixar production comes to the format.
The delightful film, ported over directly from digital files,
literally glows on the surface of a monitor. The image is so finely
textured and detailed, it almost takes on the appearance of a
virtual saltwater fish tank.
This is a tremendous offering from Disney, which drives DVD quality
up another notch and sets the standard to be beat. I can't image an
image looking any better until we hit HiDef. I don't have to suggest
that this is a disc to own.
Mr. Carne Directs a British
Film... in French
Marcel Carne was a brilliant French filmmaker whose best known work
is undoubtedly Children of Paradise*.
He worked as an assistant director on films like Carnival
in Flanders (1935) and directed his first feature, Jenny,
Between Jenny and Children
of Paradise* he had a string of major works, each of
which deserve attention, but one of which did not receive public
support until years after its release.
Drole de Drame* (1937), the
film in question, was followed in rapid succession by Quai
des Brumes (Port of Shadows)
in 1938, Hotel du Nord also in 1938,
Le Jour se Leve (Daybreak)
1939, Les Visiteurs du soir
(1942) and finally Children of Paradise*
Drole de Drame is a very
strange film featuring actors which you have seen in other quality
films of the period, but here they play a typical British comedy of
manners, based upon a British novel, but with a typical Gallic
Drole de Drame* is another one
of those tiny foreign classics that can all too easily be lost amid
the releases of Indiana Jones
and other new must purchases.
I would suggest that you not allow that to occur.
Mr. Bergman & Mr. Nykvist
While surveying the recent releases of boxed sets, one can not
overlook the new Ingmar Bergman Trilogy
courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
No introductions are necessary. This is a full-blown Criterion
release through and through. Three discs each containing a
meticulously transferred version of The
Silence*, Through a Glass
Darkly* and Winter Light*
is the cinephile's equivalent of the Indiana Jones films.
Shot in startlingly beautiful black and white, these films add to
the previous Criterion Bergman releases encompassing some of his
earlier works, such as The Seventh Seal*
and Wild Strawberries*, two of
the most brilliant films of our time.
While I attempt to keep suggestions in check, this is a boxed set
worthy of your attention.
In February, MGM will be releasing five additional Bergman titles as
The Ingmar Bergman Collection.
The Passion of Anna, Hour
of the Wolf and The Serpent's
Egg. The set will be inclusive of a bonus disc which
sounds promising. I have high hopes for this release, but we'll have
to wait a while to see if MGM comes through with the quality that
these films deserve.
Mr. Nykvist is also represented via Paramount's release of Louis
Malle's 1978 Pretty Baby, a
beautifully photographed tale of photographer E. J. Bellocq and his
work and relationships with prostitutes in the Storyville District
of New Orleans, as laws were changing in 1917. This is an odd coming
of age story with a subject matter apparently not uncommon during
Coming of Age in New Zealand
A much more beautiful coming of age tale has been released by
Colombia. Keisha Castle-Hughes is at the center of Whale
Rider*, a film that more than met my expectations on
every level. Beautifully photographed and transferred, Whale
Rider* is about a young Maori girl heading toward
adulthood in a community still practicing the male-oriented rites
and rituals of the past, and how she proves her worth. A great film,
which hopefully will not be seen as something merely for twelve year
old girls, I recommend Whale Rider*
Bowling for Roger...
There is no doubt that Michael Moore, while having turned into a
fine filmmaker is still not a documentarian, and he doesn't create
Rather, Mr. Moore might be described as a conductor of photographed
Beginning with his initial effort, Roger &
Me*, which has recently arrived from MGM, through various
efforts for television, and most recently with Bowling
for Columbine*, Mr. Moore has driven his messages home
much like Dr. van Helsing used his stake.
Never delicate, but always entertaining and certainly in your face,
Moore's work may be mistaken by some as documentary efforts, but no
more fit into that arena than Leni Reifenstahl's brilliantly
political, promotional piece Triumph of
I can recommend both of these releases, with a caveat on the latter
because of extremely graphic scenes used to make points, not because
they are necessarily accurate or truthful, but because, if nothing
else, they fully exhibit the power of the cinema, and what can be
done with it when you have even a basic knowledge of the tools
available to you.
I'm not going to get into firearms here, as this isn't the incorrect
forum. And this isn't really about firearms anyway.
This is about common courtesy and respect.
As a part of Bowling for Columbine,
Mr. Moore makes a point of going to Charlton Heston's home. Once he
has Mr. Heston on speakerphone, he requests on interview, explaining
that he's a documentarian working on a project concerning guns and
Mr. Heston, ever the gentleman, invites Moore and his crew to visit
him at his home the following day, and as Moore, unsatisfied with
the answers he is receiving goes on the attack, Mr. Heston simply
stands, and slowly and painfully walks away.
Having met Mr. Heston on a number of occasions, it would not seem
atypical for him to open his home to Mr. Moore. From my brief
experiences with the gentleman, I've found him to be a totally
In some ways, Mr. Heston may well be one of the forces that led me
to film. As an early teen on a flight from NY to Miami, he kindly,
and unexpectedly, gave me a virtual master's course in filmmaking.
After approaching him with a couple of questions about Ben-Hur,
he allowed the conversation to continue. When the seat belt sign lit
up, he advised me sit down and buckle up as he gave me more time for
additional questions and answers.
What always struck me about this situation was that many others who
had hit celebrity status would not have given their time to a kid
who just happened to have interesting questions. I've had the good
fortune to run into Mr. Heston several times, as my own career took
shape. And each and every time I found him to be honest, open and
always the consummate gentleman.
Like his film on GM, Bowling
is a good film. Both show how facts can be easily distorted and how
editorially and pictorially an audience can be spoon fed information
as reality when what the intent of the filmmaker is not so much to
educate as to create a "tumult" and a good story. Moore
gathers his players, sets them at odds, and then stands back and
watches them go at each other.
One would have hoped that as a member of the motion picture industry
that he would have given Mr. Heston the same courtesy that he might
wish to receive from others. Taking on one of the respected elder
statesmen of our industry as he did shows - well, lets call it a
lack of breeding.
Both Roger & Me* and Bowling
for Columbine* are DVDs worth viewing for an education on
what can be accomplished when one sticks thousands of pieces of film
together to tell a story --- and how that story can be molded to fit
the needs of the filmmaker.
Acorn Media has just released a new version of Doctor
Zhivago*, as produced by Granada Television, not so much
a re-make of the David Lean original, but a re-telling of the Boris
Pasternak novel. At 225 minutes, it gives a more leisurely account
featuring Hans Matheson, Keira Knightly and Sam Neill. This is
another beautiful transfer in anamorphic widescreen from Acorn, and
while I went into its viewing with trepidation and a sense of
heresy, I came away seeing this as not an "enemy" of the
1965 classic, but a legitimate, and possibly more accurate version
based upon the original novel.
More than simply entertainment, I can recommend this new version of
Zhivago as both a different
entertainment, and an interesting example of what talented artists
can do with a tale that has already been told brilliantly.
Texas Chainsaw Redux... Again
One of my son's favorite films as a teen was TCM, which means that
I've viewed it in every possible format since its introduction to
home video as a rather tired transfer from dupe elements.
The problem here is that the 16mm ECO was accessed a number of years
ago for a new transfer. The confusion is that Pioneer is again
making it known that the camera original has again(?) been
transferred, but since the transfer as well as the extra materials
look vaguely like their previous release, it leads me to believe
that Pioneer may have some confusion in their ranks. The film is
also not anamorphically enhanced.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre*
is one of the gorier films which you'll find. It is also extremely
well photographed by cinematographer Daniel Pearl, who is currently
represented as the DP of the new 2003 re-make. Pearl's work is
probably best known as a director of photography on some of the most
artistically beautiful and technically brilliant 60-second films in
current release, i.e. television commercials.
The bottom line is that if you have the earlier release of this
film... you probably have the new one.
The Hills Have Eyes,* Wes
Craven's third feature as director - in this case also editor and
screenwriter - is finally making its first appearance on DVD. This
is a fun little tale of a family traveling through the desert whose
trailer has broken down and another family, in this case,
carnivores, whom they meet. The two groups don't seem to get along.
Anchor Bay has done a beautiful job transferring this 16mm effort,
and we are unlikely to see a better version under our current video
format of NTSC. One must keep in mind that this was an extremely low
budget 16mm production, and hence there are occasional scratches and
handling marks. If one is tracking Mr. Craven's career from early
works to mega-king of the horror world, Hills*
is a necessary inclusion to any collection.
Anchor Bay has minted this release as a two-disc set, with disc two
containing a veritable cornucopia of additional materials inclusive
of a superbly produced 55 minute documentary, as well as the one
hour AFI Directors segment on Mr. Craven. The
Hills Have Eyes* is recommended.
Two releases of films created during the pre-synchronized sound era
have come to DVD in the past few months and are apt to be the best
quality that one will find on these titles unless new footage is
discovered in the future.
Both come from Kino, a company run by people who have an obvious
love of the cinema and a respect for those who buy their products.
Metropolis* was released
months ago, as was Lang's The Nibelungen*,
but it was only recently that I was able to sample the latter, which
contains both Siegfried and Kriemhild's Revenge.
Both are from the finest surviving elements, like Metropolis*
have been properly licensed from their German owners and represent
restored version s of the films, not to be confused with earlier
public domain offerings.
A Technical Tour de Force
Wellspring has released what must be one of the most technically
interesting, and entertaining films to come along in a while.
Russian Ark* takes Hitchcock's
early experiments of long continuous takes found in Rope*
and Under Capricorn, and with
the help of digital cinema keeps it going for 96 minutes, creating
the longest single film to be created in a single take.
This is at the very least worth a rental, although true cinema
lovers will want to own a copy.
The Original Emmanuelle
Anchor Bay has released a trilogy of the original Emmanuelle
films. In the mid-1970s these films started a trend toward European
soft-core productions, which were imitated, but never duplicated.
Check your spellings. Only those spelled as above are the originals.
The elements for these titles have been looking ragged for decades,
and Anchor Bay has done a nice job of searching out the finest
surviving materials and using them for this set.
Two Visitors to Columbia
While most actors tended to stay with a single studio or possibly
work throughout their careers at a couple, others would pay short
visits, making a film or two before moving on.
Two new classic releases from Columbia give us Jean Harlow, before
she moved to MGM in the 1931 Frank Capra comedy Platinum
Blonde* and the 1941 Fred Astaire - Rita Hayworth vehicle
You'll Never Get Rich*.
Hayworth proved herself as a viable dance partner for Astaire, and
the two followed up with the 1942 production You
Were Never Lovelier. Astaire had spent his career at RKO,
and made a brief stop at Columbia before moving on to MGM.
A Two-perf Wonder
If there is a surprise among these recent releases, it must be
Paramount's Once Upon a Time in the West*.
I had forgotten that this Leone classic was a full-blooded spaghetti
western, and not a western of domestic origination. Apparently
voiced (when it was voiced during production) in various languages,
you'll note that actors turn slightly away from the camera as they
speak their lines, to make looping (or dubbing in English) an easier
The surprise here, however, is that as a Techniscope production I
expected it to be of far lower quality than the final result.
Techniscope is a process, which was used in the mid-1960s, most
prevalently, in a number of Italian westerns, as a budgetary device.
Using only half the horizontal real estate of a 35mm frame, it
yielded an image only two perforations in height. The trick was that
a high quality image would be obtained via Technicolor dye transfer
printing. As the printing matrices were produced not from dupes, but
from the two perf Oneg, quality could be superb. Once the dye
transfer process shut down, these productions became major optical
problems, filled with high contrast, soft images and heavy optical
Techniscope productions, almost be default, have flash frames,
mis-lites, sync problems and poor stability of image on top of grain
From what I've been told, the element used for the transfer was a 4
perf scope internegative, which is a third generation optical
element. Paramount initially sent the dupe (which was obviously the
best element available) to Post Logic for transfer to digital video.
After transfer it made a trip over to Lowry Digital, where grain and
other problems were attended to, and then a return trip to Post
Logic for additional color fixes.
The color is right, the grain is right, the image is stable and has
a fine contrast range.
Where everything could have easily gone against them, the folks at
Paramount made each and every move in the right direction, and ended
up with the veritable "silk purse."
Unexpectedly, Once Upon a Time in the
West* is a beautiful representation of the film on DVD.
It should be an addition to DVD libraries and is highly recommended.
A Quadrilogy of Aliens and A Few
In several short years, the concept of what is home entertainment
has changed immeasurably. This holiday season, we have not one, but
two major boxed sets that will hit huge audiences.
In addition to the aforementioned Indiana
Jones Trilogy*, we will have a set of nine discs
representing eight versions of four film plus a plethora of extras
unseen in our universe.
This set, when opened, and the nine discs exposed, measures some 65
inches across. It contains 45 HOURS of new footage, research and
documentary materials. I have never seen anything representing a
series of films that is this all emcompassing.
In addition to a new cut of Mr. Scott's original Alien,
we are treated to the original theatrical cut of Aliens,
which has never been offered on DVD, the original theatrical and a
restored pre-release version of Alien³,
and the original as well as an extended cut of Alien
The quality is beyond reproach, the extras unending to a point that
I have just been able to scratch the surface in viewing new
pre-production and production materials on the Alien
alone. The Alien Quadrilogy*,
which streets on December 2, will list at $100 and street at under
As a special boxed set was an amazing array of extras, The
Alien Quadrilogy* is an Event release from Fox which sets
a standard for its kind. Having only had the chance to view two of
the Alien documentaries, I can
report that the ancillary documentaries are of the highest order.
These are not your run-of-the-mill "We all love each other"
back-patting promotionals. Even with knowledge of what went into the
production of Alien, I learned
a great deal and will be returning to this fountain of wisdom for
more. Kudos to everyone at Fox for this superbly produced boxed set.
Months ago I mentioned that the floodgates holding back the studio
vault titles were opening. Warner Bros is about to release four new
Humphrey Bogart titles: They Drive by
Night, one of my personal favorites, To
Have and Have Not*, High
Sierra* and Dark Passage*.
Mr. Bogart made over thirty films for Warner Brothers between the
1932 Three on a Match in which he played a ninth billed henchman and
his final starring role under his Warner contract in the brilliant
1948 Key Largo. He was a
unique actor whose place has never been taken. Of the approximate 21
films that would be of interest to the DVD collector Warner's has
now released about one half. More Warner classics are certain to
follow in 2004, which portends to be a very good year of the classic
cinema on DVD.
* Designates a film worthy of purchase on DVD.
RAH Designates a film worth
of "blind" purchase on DVD.
Don't forget - you can
HERE to discuss this article with Robert and other home
theater enthusiasts online right now at The
Home Theater Forum. And speaking of that, thanks to the
HTF's Ron Epstein for the
picture of Robert seen in the column graphic above.