Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Nick*Z, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Second Unit

    Apr 30, 2003
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    Dear Mr. Harris: I would like to take this opportunity, first, to sincerely thank you for the many fine works you've done over the years in restoring classic motion pictures, but also to give thanks for providing your invaluable comments and time on this forum to give die hard classic movie buffs such as myself the opportunity to make inquiries and get some truly direct answers from people who are in the know. My concern herein is with regards to the Warner Archive, WB's MOD DVD program that has seen a good many truly great films come to the home consumer, though regrettably, not entirely in either the format or quality a collector would want. I have a good many of the WB Archive titles in my 3000 plus DVD and Blu-ray private collection because I have feared that this is the only way I will ever have the opportunity to own the titles I really want. But more recently I have taken advantage of Screen Archives association with Twilight Time to acquire Blu-ray editions of The Egyptian, Picnic, and Pal Joey. I already have my orders in for The Grapes of Wrath, Zorba the Greek, Desiree and Bell Book and Candle. A few years ago I wrote a letter to Mr. George Feltenstein at WB to inquire then whether WB would ever consider 'farming out' as it were, their as yet unreleased classics to third party distribution to a company like Criterion (the only 'boutique' distributor of DVD and Blu-rays that I knew of at the time.) Given that Warner Home Video currently owns the rights to, not only their own vintage library, but also MGM's and RKO's (to say nothing of their vast Lorimar TV archive, that includes such small screen milestones as Dallas and Falcon Crest, The Thorn Birds and North and South), the task of restoring millions of feet of rapidly deteriorating film is daunting to say the least. But I was informed by Mr. Feltenstein then that WB has repeatedly denied third party intervention in their home video apparatus, preferring to do the painstaking work slowly and by themselves. That's commendable - a certainly, good - occasionally great - efforts have been put forth to achieve some truly remarkable film and television restorations. But I can honestly say that at least half the WB Archive titles that I have purchased are of a 'frisbee' quality - meaning they're only good for tossing - or of average to just above middling quality. Some films arguably don't deserved complete digital restoration. (I just saw The Opposite Sex for the first time and couldn't believe how truly awful it was. Just goes to show that not everything old is a classic!) But other films in the archive deserve much better than what they've received. Films like The Student Prince, Valley of Decision, The White Cliffs of Dover, The Enchanted Cottage, The Swan, The Brothers Karamazov, The Andy Hardy series, etc. - these are cultural touchstones in a delicate state of disrepair and it continutes to break my heart that these films continue to be overlooked for their innate artistic value simply because their title isn't Citizen Kane or Gone With The Wind. The powers that be at Warner Home Video should at last concede that the task itself of restoring their vast catalogue is beyond their scope. It isn't that they lack the fortitude, committment, knowledge or appreciation to do the work themselves. Quite simply, they lack the manpower and limitless resources. No harm. No foul. As such, it is time for Warner Home Video to actively seek out third party home video distribution for these titles and others, because the responsibility of restoring (not merely preserving) these mass entertainments and cultural touchstones for future generations to revisit and appreciate is as important and, dare I say, as necessary fundamental as today's custodians of these classic movies. Enough said. But I would very much appreciate hearing your thoughts on the matter.

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