A Few Words About A few words about... Marlene Dietrich - The Glamour Collection

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Mar 16, 2006.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,194
    Likes Received:
    5,003
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    I've noted before that I've had the pleasure of working with people at Universal over the years, in varying areas, inclusive of home video.

    And I've bemoaned that fact that, accepting the problems with film elements from the old Paramount acquisition, that they've been sitting in the vault, virtually ignored.

    No more!

    I'm pleased to say that Universal Home Video has begun to access the collection with elegance, style and at a price point that is unbeatable.

    Over the past few years we've become used to the Warner ethic of packaging films in groups -- normally five -- and streeting them at a very fair price; each title with its own packaging.

    Universal took a route slightly more economically envisioned, both in dollars and in space, by using DVD-18s, a format that some players still seem to find problematic. I've never found them troublesome.

    On April 4, three sets of discs will be released as part of the continuing Franchise Collection.

    Each of these is dedicated to one of the great women in filmmaking in the 30s and 40s, and each comes very elegantly packaged and slipcased.

    I've only been able to sample the first, encompassing five films from the Marlene Dietrich library, but in short time have come away thrilled not only at the quality of transfer, but at the price.

    The original negatives no longer exist for these films, which means that whatever we have is based upon fine grain masters or other dupes, which can no longer be created. What exists exists, and that's it.

    What we have in the collection are five fine films: Morocco, Blonde Venus and The Devil is a Woman -- all the work of Josef von Sternberg and all with his very special look and texture intact, plus The Flame of New Orleans and Golden Earrings.

    Knowing the quality of extant elements, I'm extremely pleased.

    The set has a street price of under $20 -- incredibly, that's under $4 a title.

    Some may quibble that the set is not inclusive of extras. There might have been a documentary. But not at this price.

    I couldn't be happier.

    This set comes extremely highly recommended and should be a part of every serious collection.

    As an aside, I had forgotten that Sterling Holloway, known to most of you as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, makes only his second appearance in a feature film in Blonde Venus. You'll easily recall his unmistakeable voice.

    RAH
     
  2. Corey

    Corey Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2006
    Messages:
    1,412
    Likes Received:
    0
    i completely agree with you. i can't wait for the mae west set as well.
     
  3. Darrell Bratz

    Darrell Bratz Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2001
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    0
    You wouldn't happen to know anything about why they passed over inclusion of "Shanghai Express" for this set, would you Robert?

    Even without it, I'm quite pleased and will definitely be getting this.
     
  4. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2002
    Messages:
    1,450
    Likes Received:
    608
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Real Name:
    Andy Budgell
    I'm hoping Universal will do a similar set for Dame Elizabeth Taylor, including: Boom!, There's One Born Every Minute, and Secret Ceremony.

    Andy
     
  5. Corey

    Corey Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2006
    Messages:
    1,412
    Likes Received:
    0


    i hope WB does a new signature collection with remastered versions of national velvet, father of the bride w/ father's little dividend, butterfield 8, a date with judy, and raintree county (which they said will come out in 2007.)
     
  6. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2001
    Messages:
    2,959
    Likes Received:
    1
    I would love to have these, unfortunately I will not partake. No more DVD-18 nightmares for this person.

    I would gladly pay twice what Universal is asking for twice the discs though. Until then, I'll take my chances renting.
     
  7. Danny Burk

    Danny Burk Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2005
    Messages:
    277
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Universal released quite a few Dietrich titles in France last December; SHANGHAI EXPRESS was announced, then pulled at the last minute. I've heard rumors for several years that Criterion was planning to release it, as they did indeed release SCARLET EMPRESS. Hmm, I wonder whether this sudden exclusion from the French release has anything to do with Criterion??
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,194
    Likes Received:
    5,003
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    Re: Shanghai Express...

    As there seem to be 16 of Ms. Dietrich's films controlled by Universal (11 Paramount productions and 5 Universal), I would think that with any success at all with the initial outing on DVD, that Universal would follow up with two more packages.

    The Scarlet Empress is presently available as sub-licensed product via The Criterion Collection.

    RAH
     
  9. ted:r

    ted:r Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    Messages:
    336
    Likes Received:
    0
    Happiness, indeed.

    I am very glad that the Marlene Collection has passed Mr. Harris's scrutinous eye. It whets my appetite for what was already a must buy.

    And need I say that I already eagerly await Vols 2 and 3?
     
  10. Charles H

    Charles H Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2004
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    0
    I recall that Criterion did not release SHANGHAI EXPRESS because of the print condition. Great Lee Garmes photography, too.
    Hope that Universal gets around to doing Stanwyck, Colbert, Jean Arthur, Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder, Mitchell Leisen, more C.B. DeMille (the Technicolors), Irene Dunne, Ernst Lubitsch, Bing Crosby, Ray Milland, Charles Laughton, more Deanna Durbin. (But a couple of trailers included wouldn't "break the bank.")
     
  11. RafaelPires

    RafaelPires Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Messages:
    482
    Likes Received:
    4
    Charles I'm with you in every item you listed. All of the releases including any of the stars above mentioned would be a must buy fot me. And I would add to that more Crosby, more Lombard/Dietrich, Mae West,some Betty Hutton and Paulette Goddard, Alan Ladd/Veronica Ladd ...
    I really hope that Universal plans to release many more.
    I'm spending a lot of money with all those releases, but, man, I can't imagine a happier way to get broken.
     
  12. Sean A

    Sean A Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    0
    My hope would be a Billy Wilder collection of his eary Paramount films that are under Universal's control
     
  13. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,194
    Likes Received:
    5,003
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    All of these packages are based upon income.

    Support at the consumer level will help the home video execs to open the floodgates.

    They only need a reason to do it.

    The answer is obvious.

    RAH
     
  14. Charles H

    Charles H Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2004
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    0
    Betty Hutton on dvd is a terrific idea. The "Blonde Bombshell" was very much a creature of her era (wartime)/decade (the forties), and she is represented on dvd by THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK, STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, and pd releases of THE PERILS OF PAULINE, but it would be marvelous to have dvd representations of THE FLEET'S IN, HAPPY GO LUCKY, LET'S FACE IT, HERE COME THE WAVES,...AND THE ANGELS SING, INCENDIARY BLONDE (her favorite, and arguably, her finest hour), DREAM GIRL, RED, HOT, AND BLUE (all owned by Universal/MCA); LET"S DANCE and SOMEBODY LOVES ME (Paramount); and her only straight role SPRING REUNION (Sony/MGM).
    Although it is unlikely to appear on dvd (owned by Turner), her interview with Robert Osborne a couple of years was one of the most memorable, poignant tv events of the last decade. Talk about "wearing your heart on your sleeve!"
     
  15. RobertDH

    RobertDH Auditioning

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2004
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Robert, My understanding is that The Devil is a Woman was cut by about 14 minutes for release in 1935 to pass the censor board. Do you know of anything regarding Paramount or Universal possibly having the cuts or anyone looking into searching for them? What would you think the likelihood of the cuts still existing? Do movie companies assign someone to try to look for lost footage of important films? I would think that lost Von Sternberg footage would be a big find. Anyway I love the movie and would love to see it whole. Rob
     
  16. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    4,294
    Likes Received:
    30
    Watched MOROCCO this morning; I'd never seen this picture and was really bowled over by it. The sequence where Dietrich is at the engagement dinner and snags her pearl necklace, then rushes out to the passing legion, looking in vain for Cooper's face.....pure magic. Great sound design for an early talkie too---the long, long hold on the Paramount logo at the end as the desert winds blow, yikes. It doesn't get much more effective than this. Just stunning. Kudos to Universal for not replacing that with their own logo.

    I'm really looking forward to BLONDE VENUS, another one that unaccountably has escaped me before this.

    Weird arrangement of the films, though: 4 on one disc and 1 on the second?? That's just asking for trouble. I scanned through all four films on disc 1 and had no problems though, so fingers crossed.
     
  17. JohnPM

    JohnPM Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2004
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    0
    Somewhere I heard that there was a rights problem with "Shanghai Express", and that is why is was pulled from the French DVD group. I hope that isn't the case, as it's one of the best Von Sternbergs ---

    http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspot.com/
     
  18. BarryM

    BarryM Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    0
    For Mark Zimmer:

    "Blonde Venus" is in many ways a very slow movie, but the three musical sequences (Hot Voodoo, I Couldn't Be Annoyed, and You Little So-And-So) are about the best stuff Dietrich ever did (in my opinion). The band doing the music on Hot Voodoo is really first-rate....who the heck were they? the actors in stage?

    Amazingly, I don't believe any of these three nifty songs were got recorded at the time, either.
     
  19. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2003
    Messages:
    4,798
    Likes Received:
    1
    Not sure I agree with the style and elegance part... but I'm glad to finally have these films on DVD!
     

Share This Page