A Few Words About A few words about...™ Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume Three

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The third selection of pre-code productions from the Warner / M-G-M library might better be called the William Wellman Pre-code Collection, as all six films are Wellman directed, during an extremely prolific time in his extraordinary forty year career.

    The general process for selecting films for a collections of this type is usually to create a mix of a couple of A titles, along with a B or two, and then fill the package out with "also rans."

    This is NOT the case here, as we have a top filmmaker directing top talent of the era.

    All of these films are relatively short, which was not unusual for the era, but even at that length I was not able to view them all. I selected two, and got two winners.

    Disc three contains two films from 1933 -- Heroes for Sale with Richard Barthelmess, Loretta Young and Aline MacMahon, and Wild Boys of the Road, with Frankie Darro, Edwin Phillips, Rochelle Hudson, Dorothy Coonan (who soon after production became Mrs. Wellman, and retired from the screen, and Sterling Holloway, known especially to Disney fans more by his unique voice than by appearance.

    Both films proved to be more timely than one might imagine, with their plots being re-enacted in real life in 2009 on a daily basis.

    As to the physical elements, Heroes appears to have been harvested from a new fine grain master taken directly from the original negative, as the image quality is superior. Wild Boys falls into almost the same category, possibly from an older fine grain. Both are spectacular, and Wild Boys spectacular enough that Ms. Coonan's freckles, which studio publicity of the era notes as being insured for a million dollars, are readily evident.

    Along with half the titles are quality running commentaries, shorts, and the Men Who Made the Movies documentary on Mr. Wellman.

    Warner is providing an incredible service by preserving these films and releasing them to DVD. They are rare gems, which might otherwise be unavailable to the public.

    Support Warners in picking up a copy, and be amazed at the quality of these early Wellman productions.

    The third volume of Pre-code era films from Warner, under the Forbidden Hollywood imprimatur is Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. RafaelPires

    RafaelPires Second Unit

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    I have already pre-orderd it and can not wait to get the set in my hands!!
     
  3. Charles H

    Charles H Screenwriter

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    Wellman and Henry Hathaway have always been underrated in my estimation. The letterboxed TRACK OF THE CAT was a revelation to me, and the look and the style is unlike any other mainstream Hollywood movie. I would hope that MGM would bring out some of his later films (THE HAPPY YEARS, WESTWARD THE WOMEN, ACROSS THE WIDE MISSOURI, MY MAN AND I, DARBY'S RANGERS, GOODBYE, MY LADY, THE NEXT VOICE YOU HEAR). Like Robert Wise and Fred Zinneman, contemporary critics always undervalued Wellman because his filmography reflected such diverse genres.
     
  4. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I am working my way through this for a forum review starting tonight. I find it kind of ingenious that the Warner marketing folks have identified a commercial hook to market a box set of six early 30s Wellman films with generous supplements. Director themed sets for people who are not Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, or Stanley Kubrick can be difficult marketing propositions, but the "Forbidden Hollywood" brand actually makes this one possible.

    Regards,
     
  5. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    For those on the fence about getting this set, TCM will be showing all the films and the documentaries on March 23rd.
     
  6. CineKarine

    CineKarine Supporting Actor

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    I pre-ordered when it was first announced. I have seen all of them (in old, faded TV prints) and look forward to seeing them again in all their glory on DVD. [​IMG]
     
  7. Danny Burk

    Danny Burk Second Unit

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    This was an instant pre-order for me, as would be most films of the '20s and '30s if only the studios would release them!
     
  8. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    I grabbed this set up yesterday along with the two Criterion blu titles Last Metro and 400 Blows... but couldn't wait to get home to watch Barbara Stanwyck in The Purchase Price!

    Nothing like a city girl sick of the fast life! At any rate it was a nice little film. The extras with bonus cartoons and shorts aren't bad either. It is a really nice set. I hope they continue to make more of these sets. I am sure there are many films avalaible on WB's archive collection site that would be considered pre-code films also.
     
  9. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Totally. I have read that John Wayne let Wellman make Track of the Cat - a pet project he had long been interested in - as a reward for the huge success of The High and the Mighty. Well, IMO Track of the Cat is a far superior film compared to H&TM which, apart from the scenes with Pedro Gonzalez, I found rather dull and tedious.

    Robert Mitchum wearing a red jacket in an otherwise monochrome looking set was a completely different matter.

    My copy of Forbidden Hollywood 3 shipped from Amazon yesterday, hopefully I'll have it by late next week. I've also got the 6 film Universal Pre-Code set to look forward to after that!
     
  10. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Mine *should* ship tomorrow; saving my pennies for the Universal set too - both are must buys IMHO.
     
  11. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    Andre Bazin goes out of his way to note that William Wyler is not as good an artist as Howard Hawks because Wyler made a massive diversity of masterpieces in a huge swath of genres with a wide variety of themes and perspectives. Since Hawks can be (unfairly, imo) reduced down to a very simple thesis statement about masculinity he is more worthy of study and a superior artist.

    That's my biggest fault with the way the auteur theory is perpetuated upon film studies. it privileges those filmmakers who make it easy on a critic/scholar by working with similar material their entire careers. Studying the style of how a Wyler or a Wellman made a movie and pulling out the subtle ways they left their stamp on films is a much more difficult job.
     
  12. jim_falconer

    jim_falconer Supporting Actor

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    Of course, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but I completely disagree with you here. The High & The Mighty set the standard for all other disaster films which followed it. The supporting players in the film were top-notch actors, all having their own little bit of time to shine in the film. I especially like William Campbell as the brash young co-pilot, who shows both arrogance and bravery. As for Perdro Gonzalez, I felt the scenes down on the ship were some of the weakest in the film. He was more of a cartoon character, then the real-life people up in the plane. His rolling around on the chair (while obviously being pulled by a wire off-screen), was distracting to the conversion going on.

    I have only seen Track Of The Cat once, on TCM. An interesting film, and the "black and white movie filmed in color" (as Wellman was stated to say), is certainly one-of-a-kind. But unlike The High & They Mighty, I have no desire to revisit that film again.
     
  13. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Of course, he was put in the film for comic relief to amplify the 'tension' (if you can call it that) when the drama returns to the scenes in the plane.

    The shot of him rolling back and forth on the chair is my favourite of the film. Of course it is "distracting", if by that you mean it momentarily takes you away from the story. However, that is the whole point; it is a piece of staging placed in the film to draw attention to the fact the film was shot in CinemaScope. The film was about the 20th released in CinemaScope; when watching the film on a TV it doesn't quite make sense why Gonzalez is rolling back and forth across the frame. However, back in July 1954 - when CinemaScope was still very new - people sitting in the theatre would've been quite startled seeing an actor slide back and forth across a 60 foot wide screen. The film provides an extra layer of pleasure related not simply to the story, but to the process it was filmed in.

    Many early CinemaScope films have similar decorative stylistic tactics like this that don't help tell the story. Rather, they remind the viewer that they are watching a film in a new way ("The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses" as Fox promoted CinmaScope). It also reminds the viewer that not all aspects of Hollywood film style are designed to tell stories (like Mitchum's red jacket in an other wise monochrome setting; it's like that because it looks cool.).
     
  14. ColbyCo82

    ColbyCo82 Stunt Coordinator

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    Does anyone else have a skipping problem with disc 1 near the end of "Other Men's Women" and throughout "The Purchase Price?" Also is anyone getting static sounds during some of the Wild Bill documentary? Just curious I am sending mine back for a replacement.
     
  15. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Does the disc look scratched or damaged?

    I hope this is a one off issue with your set, because I've already had to ask Amazon.com for a few replacements (Ford at Fox, Hitchcock Premier Collection, and a Criterion disc missing an essay booklet).
     
  16. member666

    member666 Stunt Coordinator

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    I"m hoping and pretty sure that this would be an isolated issue.
     
  17. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    All the disc labels for the first set were printed wrong remember. [​IMG]
     
  18. ColbyCo82

    ColbyCo82 Stunt Coordinator

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    I cannot see any signs of scratching or damage. I'm just sending it back and hoping it is an isolated incident.
     
  19. sestamuch

    sestamuch Stunt Coordinator

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    Same here.

     
  20. Mike*HTF

    Mike*HTF Supporting Actor

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    I'm not noticing any problems on the documentary but the first disc was horribly scratched and has playback problems. Disc two similarly had a large gash but seems to play...
     

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