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A few words about... Marlene Dietrich - The Glamour Collection


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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted March 16 2006 - 07:25 AM

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

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#2 of 19 OFFLINE   Corey

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Posted March 16 2006 - 07:58 AM

i completely agree with you. i can't wait for the mae west set as well.
Corey's most wanted R1 dvds:

Little Darlings (1980), My Cousin Rachel (1952), The Deep Blue Sea (1955), The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), Born to Be Bad (1950), Ivy (1947), Reckless (1935), Springtime in the Rockies (1942), The Barretts of Wimpole Street

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Darrell Bratz

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Posted March 16 2006 - 08:05 AM

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 of 19 OFFLINE   Andrew Budgell

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Posted March 16 2006 - 08:19 AM

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 of 19 OFFLINE   Corey

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Posted March 16 2006 - 08:31 AM

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.)
Corey's most wanted R1 dvds:

Little Darlings (1980), My Cousin Rachel (1952), The Deep Blue Sea (1955), The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), Born to Be Bad (1950), Ivy (1947), Reckless (1935), Springtime in the Rockies (1942), The Barretts of Wimpole Street

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   Eric Peterson

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Posted March 16 2006 - 08:36 AM

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 of 19 OFFLINE   Danny Burk

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Posted March 16 2006 - 08:47 AM

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 of 19 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted March 16 2006 - 08:55 AM

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

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#9 of 19 OFFLINE   ted:r

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Posted March 16 2006 - 12:29 PM

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?
"I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me."

My 25 most wanted DVDs: Chilly Scenes Of Winter (1979); The Dead (1987); The African Queen (1951); Johnny Guitar (1954); The Sterile Cuckoo (1969); The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (1973); The Rain People (196...

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Charles H

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Posted March 16 2006 - 02:03 PM

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.")
Charles Hoyt

#11 of 19 OFFLINE   RafaelPires

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Posted March 16 2006 - 02:11 PM

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 of 19 OFFLINE   Sean A

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Posted March 17 2006 - 02:04 AM

My hope would be a Billy Wilder collection of his eary Paramount films that are under Universal's control

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted March 17 2006 - 02:14 AM

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

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Charles H

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Posted March 17 2006 - 03:29 AM

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!"
Charles Hoyt

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   RobertDH

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Posted April 26 2006 - 12:09 PM

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 of 19 OFFLINE   Mark Zimmer

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Posted April 27 2006 - 10:31 AM

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 of 19 OFFLINE   JohnPM

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Posted April 27 2006 - 11:18 AM

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://greenbriarpic...s.blogspot.com/

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   BarryM

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Posted April 30 2006 - 04:05 AM

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 of 19 OFFLINE   MarcoBiscotti

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Posted April 30 2006 - 04:08 AM

Not sure I agree with the style and elegance part... but I'm glad to finally have these films on DVD!




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