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Outstanding Adventure and Historical films from golden age not on DVD


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#1 of 41 Jim Bur

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Posted February 19 2006 - 07:29 PM

No other genre of film has been so neglected and underrepresented in the DVD era as adventure and historical movies from Hollywood's golden age. The major studios are, in some cases, now into releasing on DVD the B movie tier of many of the other film genres. However, they continue to neglect many of the first tier of the adventure and historical films from Hollywood's golden age. From approximately the mid 1930's to the mid 1950's (with a break during the later war years)Hollywood turned out quite a large number of outstanding adventure and historical epics. These films are among the best films of Hollywood's Golden Age, and many of the films that have not been released on DVD are, in many instances, far better than the films that are being released. One can only speculate as to the reason for the failure of some of the major studios to so far release many of these films on DVD: i.e. lack of historical knowledge, political correctness run amuck, sheer ignorance of the existence and quality of these films, etc.

The following is a chronolgoical list of some of the outstanding adventure and historical epics from the Golden Age which the major studios have so far failed to release on DVD (in parenthesis after each film title is the name of the studio that made the film, and after that the name of the company who it is believed holds the current rights to release the film on DVD, if different from the studio that made the film).

1934 The Lost Patrol (RKO-Warners)-the good news is
that there is information this film will be part of
the John Ford box set to be released by Warners

Treasure Island (MGM-Warners)-arguably the best
film version of this timeless classic

1935 The Call of the Wild (Fox)-although London's novel
was completely rewritten, it was still made
into an excellent Alaskan adventure film
displaying director William Wellman's flair for
realism, and was one of Clark Gable's best
1930's movies

Clive of India (Fox)-Ronald Colman is excellent
in the title roll-the first of his historical
epics

Les Miserables (Fox)-one of Fredric March's
best films

A Tale of Two Cities (MGM-Warners)- can
you believe we are 10 years into the
DVD era and this film has not been released?
One of the greatest MGM films of the 30's.

1936 The Charge of the Light Brigade (Warners)
one of Flynn's greatest films-enough said

The Prisoner of Shark Island (Fox)-one of the
best 1930's films of director John Ford-
Warner Baxter gives arguably the top
performance of his career as the imprisoned
Samuel Mudd-the historical scenes, such
as the secret trial of those charged as
accomplices in Lincoln's assasination are
fascinating-features escape attempts,
insurrections, epidemics, legal manuevering, etc-
a great film on many different levels.

Under Two Flags (Fox)(excellent foreign legion
film starring Ronald Colman, Victor McLaglen,
Claudette Colbert, and Rosiland Russell-the second
half contains some of the best desert battle scenes
ever made-directed by Frank Lloyd who the year
before directed Mutiny on the Bounty, and he
directs this one with the same flair

1937 The Prisoner of Zenda (Selznick-Warners)
One of the all time great adventure films
starring Colman and Fairbanks Jr.-I read
a number of years ago where Jack Valenti
rated it one of the movies he most
admired-amazing that it is now so seemingly
ignored

Slave Ship (Fox)oustanding seafaring
tale directed with flair by Tay Garnett
with Warner Baxter, Wallace Beery and Mickey Rooney
all at their best.

Souls at Sea (Paramount-universal)-excellent
Henry Hathaway directed high sea adventure
film starring Gary Cooper-covers some of
the same themes as the contemperaneous
Slave Ship- can recall an interview
of Gore Vidal on the old Dick Cavett
show where he talked about how much
he admired this film.

1938 If I Were King (Paramount-Universal)-
one of the best and most intelligent
swashbucklers ever made-with a brilliant
script from Preston Sturges-directed by
Frank Lloyd-and featuring great performances
from Ronald Colman and Basil Rathbone

Kidnapped (Fox)-one of the best renditions
of this Stevenson classic

1939 The Light That Failed (Paramount-Universal)
terrific Rudyard Kipling tale directed
by William Wellman-he did just as good a
job on this film as his did the same year
with Beau Geste-the opening and closing
battle scenes are excellent-a great blend
of drama with a dash of adventure-
Ronald Colman gives one of his greatest
performances, with outstanding supporting
performances from Walter Huston and Ida
Lupino. For some inexplicable reason
Universal has never released this film
on either VHS or DVD. Would make a great
double feature DVD release teamed with
If I Were King.

Stanley and Livingstone (Fox)-directed by Henry King
with one of Spencer Tracy's best peformances.

The Real Glory (Goldwyn-Sony)-American
army in the Phillipines at the turn of
last century-a unique and very good adventure
film starring Gary Cooper and David Niven
and directed by Henry Hathaway (Lives of a
Bengal Lancer,etc)

1940 Northwest Passage (MGM-Warners)-another of
the all time great adventure films-this film, along
with Stanley and Livingstone, reveal Spencer Tracy
at his very best-with lush
technicolor portraying the forests of the
the northeast in the 1750's it would seem to make
a great candidate for a DVD release-a giant
box office hit

1942 The Black Swan (Fox)-colorful Carribean
swashbuckler starring Tyrone Power and
directed by Henry King (Jesse James, the Gunfighter,
Twelve O'Clock High, etc.)

1947 Captain From Castile (Fox)-another Tyrone
Power swashbuckler directed by Henry King

Unconquered (Paramount-Universal-early Americana
Cecil B. DeMille adventure epic covering the
period of Pontiac's rebellion starring Gary
Cooper

1949 Adventures of Don Juan (Warners)-top notch
Flynn swashbuckler, with a witty script

1950 The Black Rose (Fox)-a terrific and very underrated
middle ages adventure film starring Tyrone
Power and directed by Henry Hathaway-historical
sweep covering from England to the Middle East
on to China and back again to England-based
on Thomas Costain's novel which was one of
the bestselling novels of its age-outstanding
supporting performances from Jack Hawkins
and Orson Welles-more literate than most
adventure films-for some inexplicable reason
Fox has regrettably never released this film on
either VHS or DVD

The Flame and the Arrow (Warners)-very good
Burt Lancaster adventure film with a
setting in Northern Italy-directed by Jacques
Tourneur

1951 Captain Horatio Hornblower (Warners)-outstanding
early 19th century naval adventure tale-for many
this is Gregory Peck at his very best-directed
by action master Raoul Walsh-hard to believe
that Warners did not release this film on DVD
at about the same time as Master and Commander
came out-covers the same historical period and,
as in Master and Commander, much of the action
takes place in the Pacific side of South America-
holds up very well in comparison to that film,
and, along with Master and Commander and Damn
the Defiant, the best film of its kind ever made


1952 The Story of Robin Hood (Disney)-the second
best version of the Robin Hood tale

1953 All the Brothers Were Valiant-good Pacific
seafaring tale starring Stewart Granger
and Robert Taylor and directed by Richard
Thorpe who directed Ivanhoe

1954 His Majesty O'Keefe (Warners)-very good
South Pacific adventure tale-it is debatable
whether it is this film or The Crimson Pirate
which is Burt Lancaster's best swashbuckler

1955 Moonfleet (MGM-Warners)-excellent and
underrated swashbuckler directed by
Fritz Lang about 18th Century English
smugglers-one of Stewart Granger's best
performances with George Sanders in support-
Warners has never released this film on
either VHS or DVD for some inexplicable
reason

Untamed (Fox)-good 19th Century South
Afican adventure tale starring Tyrone
Power and directed by Henry King


Here's hoping that these films will not continue to languish in the studio vaults.

c Jim Bur

#2 of 41 Robert Crawford

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Posted February 19 2006 - 08:09 PM

I know some of those titles are in the pipeline for release. Also, some answers to the Warner titles should be revealed at tomorrow's night chat with Warner.





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#3 of 41 oscar_merkx

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Posted February 19 2006 - 09:42 PM

That would make sense with the chat.

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#4 of 41 Joe Caps

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Posted February 20 2006 - 12:40 AM

One of the titles you mentioned - Untamed - I would kill for.
Great early cinemascope, stereo film and it has never been shown or released in widescreen.

#5 of 41 Jim_K

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Posted February 20 2006 - 02:00 AM

Nice list. Quite a few films on there I'd like to own on DVD.

I know it's outside the era you noted but there are plenty of very good Historical/Adventure films from the 60's that are absent from DVD. Most notably the British production Becket and the Bronston Epics El Cid, Fall of the Roman Empire and 55 Days at Peking.
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#6 of 41 DouglasBr

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Posted February 20 2006 - 02:54 AM

Great thread! I'd add Disney's Dr. Dyn, Alias the Scarecrow as a deserving title thus far neglected (rumors a couple years ago notwithstanding).

The absence of A Tale of Two Cities is indeed quite puzzling to me. Here's hoping for enlightenment at the Warner chat!

#7 of 41 Randy Selz

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Posted February 20 2006 - 04:11 AM

King of the Khyber Rifles (Fox) 1953 would be another good one..

#8 of 41 Jim Bur

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Posted February 20 2006 - 05:04 AM

As an oversight, I forgot to include The African Queen (1951) as one of the outstanding adventure films from the golden age which has not been released on DVD. I'm not sure who currently has the rights to that film. Perhaps, someone can supply that information,

Another film I overlooked is China Seas (1935)(MGM-Warners), a very good Tay Garnett directed film starring, among others, Clark Gable, Wallace Beery and Jean Harlow. Many of Tay Garnett's films from the 1930's have a very exotic flair to them i.e., One Way Passage, Slave Ship, Trade Winds, etc., and China Seas fits that mold. China Seas would make an outstanding addition to any Clark Gable or Jean Harlow box set. c Jim Bur

#9 of 41 seanOhara

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Posted February 20 2006 - 05:36 AM

Quote:
1937 The Prisoner of Zenda (Selznick-Warners)
One of the all time great adventure films
starring Colman and Fairbanks Jr.-

Let's not forget the '52 version with Stewart Granger, James Mason, and Deborah Kerr, also owned by Warners. This is just begging for a two disc edition with both films.
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#10 of 41 Charles H

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Posted February 20 2006 - 05:51 AM

From Universal: MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS and ANNE OF A THOUSAND DAYS. From MGM: YOUNG BESS, PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE, DR. EHRLICH'S MAGIC BULLET, THE BIG SKY, THE STORY OF LOUIS PASTEUR, BEGINNING OR THE END, AN AMERICAN ROMANCE, THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN, ACROSS THE WIDE MISOURI (uncut), MISSION TO MOSCOW (which is coming out), YOUNG TOM EDISON/EDISON THE MAN, a perverse vote for THE STORY OF MANKIND, and a suggestion for an historical Film Noir box (THE TALL TARGET, MAN IN A CLOAK, THE BLACK HAND, and if anyone there can locate a decent print of THE BLACK BOOK aka REIGN OF TERROR).
From Fox: LLOYDS OF LONDON, PRINCE OF FOXES, SUEZ, THE STORY OF ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL.
From Sony/UA: THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII, THE HAWAIIANS, THE SEVENTH DAWN, KINGS OF THE SUN, TARAS BULBA, SOLOMON AND SHEBA, and a restored HAWAII.
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#11 of 41 Jim Bur

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Posted February 20 2006 - 07:27 AM

To Charles H.

Thanks for mentioning Across the Wide Missouri (1951)(MGM-Warners). Since the setting of that film was in the western United States in the 1820's I had viewed that film primarily as a western, however I agree that it is the type of film that could be considered as both an adventure film and a western. Along with The Tall Men, I think Across the Wide Missouri represents Clark Gable at his post-war best, and is another outstanding example of the work of director William Wellman. Of the unreleased Clark Gable films in the Warners library, Across the Wide Missouri would be my first choice for a DVD release. You mentioned that you would like to see it released in an uncut version. I had previously read where there was severe post-production editing of the film, and that a narration was added. It would be interesting to know how much additional footage still exists, and whether or not it would be feasible to include an alternate version of the film with the additional scenes and without the imposed narration. You also mentioned The Big Sky (1952) (RKO-Warners), which was released as part of the same film cycle as Across the Wide Missouri. I had omitted mentioning The Big Sky for the same reason as Across the Wide Missouri, in that I thought of it primarily as a western. It would be equally true that the Big Sky could be considered as both an adventure film and a western, and it would also make an excellent DVD release.
c Jim Bur

#12 of 41 SteveGon

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Posted February 20 2006 - 08:03 AM

The Lost Patrol is available on a French R2 disc - it's not the best though. I'd gladly spring for a better R1 DVD.

The Prisoner of Shark Island is coming from Eureka's Masters of Cinema line (next month I believe), though it's also R2.

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#13 of 41 Cees Alons

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Posted February 20 2006 - 08:16 AM

Wholehearted second here! More than 90% of the films on that list are on my long-awaited list too.


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#14 of 41 Peter M Fitzgerald

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Posted February 20 2006 - 08:44 AM

So many great titles already listed, particularly in Jim Bur's initial post.

As far as adventure films (some with a historical bent) go, I'd add--

Classic Era:

THE FOUR FEATHERS (1928) Paramount
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (1934) Universal
WELLS FARGO (1937) Universal
THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER (1938) Sony/MGM
FIVE CAME BACK (1939) WB
THE JUNGLE BOOK (1942) Sony/MGM's superior print
BIRD OF PARADISE (1951) Fox
RUN FOR THE SUN (1956) Sony/MGM
NORTH WEST FRONTIER (1959, aka FLAME OVER INDIA) Sony/MGM
TARZAN'S GREATEST ADVENTURE (1959) Paramount
TARZAN THE MAGNIFICENT (1960) Paramount

Post-1960:

RAMPAGE (1963) WB
A BOY TEN FEET TALL (1963) WB
SANDS OF THE KALAHARI (1965) I'm still not sure who controls this great film, which has never been given a legit release on any home video format; Sony? Paramount? Studio Canal?
THE NAKED PREY (1966) Paramount
DARK OF THE SUN (1968) WB
GOLD (1974) WB
SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (1976) Sony/MGM

My Current Damage at DVD Aficionado

Wanted in R1: UNEARTHLY STRANGER ('63) / IF I HAD A MILLION ('32) / THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK ('41) / IT CONQUERED THE WORLD ('56) / TERROR ABOARD ('33) / DANGER ROUTE ('68) / THE BLISS OF MRS. BLOSSOM ('68) / GUNN ('67) / ZOO IN BUDAPEST ('33) / THE SEA WOLF ('41) / DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS ('63, restored) / ALAKAZAM THE GREAT ('60)

Wanted TV-on-DVD: T.H.E. CAT (1966-67) / SUSPICION (1957-58) / WAY OUT (1961) / ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR (1962-65) / PANIC! (1957-58) / CORONET BLUE (1965) / DRAGNET ('50s) / NEW ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN (1968) / BUS STOP (1961-62) / THE WESTERNER (1960) / THE IMMORTAL (1970) / BLUE LIGHT (1966) / TERRIERS (2010)


#15 of 41 Charles H

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Posted February 20 2006 - 08:46 AM

ACROSS THE WIDE MISSOURI (1951) runs a mere 78 minutes with the Dore Schary-imposed narration by Howard Keel. I remember the film as being the bottom half of double-billers and clearly Wellman's epic vision was truncated. I don't know how much--if any--footage remains. MGM was great on salvaging outtakes and deleted footage from the musicals but what about the Jayne Mansfield and the Ruth Gordon footage from THE LOVED ONE. King Vidor's labor of love AMERICAN ROMANCE was cut by more than half-an-hour. For legal reasons, Agnes Moorehead's part as a scientist in BEGINNING OR THE END was deleted. THE WINGS OF THE EAGLES is forthcoming in the Ford/John Wayne Collection. After THE QUIET MAN, John Ford insisted he would do a film that would win Maureen O'Hara an Oscar. That would have been THE WINGS OF THE EAGLES, but her role as the alcoholic wife of screenwriter/WWI aviator Frank Wead was cut at the insistence of the Wead children. Wonder if that exists?

One more Wellman picture from 1951 (WESTWARD THE WOMEN) would be a worthy candidate. It's a tough--in the realistic sense of the word--film.
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#16 of 41 Henry V

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Posted February 20 2006 - 09:49 AM

Peter get yourself an R2 DVD player and pick up the British widescreen print of NORTH WEST FRONTIER (1959, aka FLAME OVER INDIA), it's well worth it.

With all the multiple Bette Davis boxed sets of her many films coming out, I'd hoped that Warners might put a little more effort into giving us a few more of Errol Flynn's classic adventure films on DVD too. I know that Barrie Maxwell recently mentioned that GENTLEMAN JIM and SILVER RIVER are rumoured to be in the pipeline at some point but where are DAWN PATROL, CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN, DESPERATE JOURNEY, DIVE BOMBER, VIRGINIA CITY, EDGE OF DARKNESS, NORTHERN PURSUIT, SAN ANTONIO or ROCKY MOUNTAIN? Hopefully there's some room on their busy production schedules to give Warner's greatest screen cavalier a little better representation on DVD and these lavish escapist adventures will be able to thrill a new generation of viewers.

#17 of 41 Richard M S

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Posted February 20 2006 - 12:58 PM

What a great list!
A Tale of Two Cities is serioulsy overdue - if ever a film needed the deluxe treatment, that one qualifies.

And bravo for remembering If I Were King , another unjustly neglected film.

I would hope Warners also releases the 1936 Robert Donat-Olivia DeHavilland film Anthony Adverse .

#18 of 41 Charles H

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Posted February 20 2006 - 01:43 PM

Robert Donat was not in ANTHONY ADVERSE. Fredric March played "Anthony Adverse." Robert Donat was "supposed to be" CAPTAIN BLOOD, but because of health issues, CAPTAIN BLOOD was Errol Flynn's breakthrough role. There is an odd quasi-musical called HEARTS DIVIDED (1935), produced by William Randolph Hearst, directed by Frank Borzage, starring Marion Davies, with Dick Powell as Napolean's younger brother and Claude Rains as Napolean.
I'd like to see THE MAGNIFICENT DOLL (now owned by Paramount via Artsan via Republic) in which Ginger Rogers plays Dolly Madison, David Niven plays Aaron Burr, and Burgess Meredith plays James Madison in history's oddest romantic triangle. Recent showings of THE LAST COMMAND, Frank Lloyd's mini-epic about the Alamo starring Sterling Hayden and Ernest Borgnine, on TCM look pretty good and it's certainly worthy of dvd release--as wood be the uncut, restored version of John Wayne's THE ALAMO from Sony/MGM.
Charles Hoyt

#19 of 41 Paul_Scott

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Posted February 20 2006 - 01:47 PM

i don't think anyone has mentioned That Hamilton Woman yet. Although it may fall more into the historical drama category.
but it does concern Brit navel hero Lord Nelson- and it is a title that is sadly lacking a release (and being MGM/Sony, probably not coming anytime soon).

i would also love to see a decent, non el cheapo pd, release of The Scarlet Pimpernel (another property owned by Sony now)

#20 of 41 Jim Bur

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Posted February 20 2006 - 03:11 PM

Paul Scott:

Thanks for mentioning the film That Hamilton Woman (1941). It's an excellent movie. That film was ostensibly a British film from Alexander Korda, which, if I recall correctly, was actually filmed in the U.S. because of the war. I believe the film was titled Lady Hamilton outside the U.S. I can remember reading that it was Winston Churchill's favorite film, and that he viewed it repeatedly during the war years. It's a film that definitely belongs on any list of oustanding historical films not yet on DVD.

If British adventure films from that era are also considered, another outstanding film not on DVD is The Drum (1938) which was also made by Korda, and written by A.E.W. Mason who also wrote the Four Feathers. The Drum (1938) starred Roger Livesey (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp), Valerie Hobson, Sabu, and Raymond Massey. The Drum was made with the same panache as Korda made The Four Feathers (1939), the following year, and is almost as good a film as The Four Feathers. Since MGM/Sony released The Four Feathers on R1 DVD last year, it would seem to make sense for them to follow through with a release of The Drum this year.

Another excellent, British adventure film is Scott of the Antartic (1948), an Ealing film starring John Mills, which also features a very famous film score by classical composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. I recall seeing that Scott of the Antartic has already been released on R2, however there has been no DVD release of that film in R1. I don't know for sure who has the U.S. rights on this film. Perhaps, Anchor Bay since they have released many other Ealing films in the past.

Another British adventure film which might possibly make an excellent DVD release is Zarak (1957) (Columbia/Sony), an adventure film set in India starring Victor Mature and Michael Wilding, and directed by Terence Young, who also directed, among other films, Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and Thunderball.

Still another British adventure film from the 1950's which has never been released on DVD is The Stranglers of Bombay (Hammer-Columbia/Sony), though it is often thought of as a horror film since it was made by Hammer, and directed by horror film master, Terence Fisher. Maybe it could best be considered an adventure film with horrific elements or as just a thriller. However classified, it is a great film, and one of the best films ever made by Hammer. Considering all the minor Hammer films that have been released, it's amazing that one of Hammer's greatest triumphs has not been released on either VHS or DVD (or even shown on cable TV) in the U.S. Possibly there is some political correctness at work here, however if this film were excluded on those grounds, then Gunga Din would also have to be excluded since as I recall there are portions of Gunga Din which cover similar themes (i.e the Thuggees).




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