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THE BOWERY BOYS on DVD: continuing discussion of Warner's eventual release plans (NEW UPDATE 10/2 Post #801)

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#1 of 1320 Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 24 2007 - 08:40 AM

I had an extended conversation with Warner Brothers today about
their plans to put THE BOWERY BOYS out on DVD. After all,
these films have been amongst the most requested titles that the studio
has not yet released to the format.

The truth of the matter is that Warner could have released many of
the 48 1-hour films at any time. In fact, there were plans to release
the first 6 films as early back as 2005. The problem has always been,
however, that the studio didn't want to do a half-ass job for the fans.

Based on the feedback the studio received during prior HTF chats and
related threads, it seemed that most people wanted the studio to wait
to obtain the best elements possible and then release the films in
chronological order.

Let me begin by talking about one title in particular that has become
a huge stumbling block in getting these movies out: Mister Hex,
which was released in 1946. Right now, what Warner has on hand
is a 16mm print that has been duplicated over several times. The
transfer is filled with burn marks and splices -- the sort of transfer
you would find in a bargain bin from an obscure company. In fact,
to make matters worse, the studio doesn't even have a complete
negative, though they are continually optimistic they will eventually
find a 35mm print from a collector.

The rest of the titles in the Bowery Boys catalog look mostly
acceptable, and because of that, the DVDs would be priced according to
quality. What this means is that the titles would be available at budget
prices.

The studio feels they can get the Bowery Boys films out rather quickly.

What they need to know is whether all of you would support a
"Best of" release plus added features, with hopes of doing a
chronological effort at a later time.

We are posting a poll to obtain your feedback. Additionally, you
can be assured that the folks from Warner Brothers will be reading
your comments. Be polite!


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#2 of 1320 LaurenceGarvey

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Posted July 24 2007 - 11:08 AM

I have never understood why some folks insist on "chronological" releases. Warners didn't do a chronological release of their Fred & Ginger films, their films noir, or most of their other releases. The first batch of Bowery Boys films, chronologically, are not as strong as their later films (they're much more closely related to the crime-type melodrama/comedies of the East Side Kids days than they would be to the later comedy-oriented Bowery Boys we know and love) and a casual movie buff sampling the series with a "Chronological Vol. 1" might well eschew future purchases. I urge Warners to go with a "Best of the Bowery Boys" Vol. 1, and give us the best of the Bowery Boys!

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#3 of 1320 Steve...O

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Posted July 24 2007 - 11:37 AM

This is a tough call. I have always believed that waiting for better elements is the right thing to do. In my opinion, a release should be done right the first time At the same time, I don't think an entire series should be held up because of the occasional problematic print.

To me, it makes sense to release a "series" in chronological order. One can follow character development and progression and watch the Bowery Boys turn into the Bowery Middle Aged Men over the course of 48 films. I have great respect for Mr. Garvey's point of view, but I can't compare one off films like noirs or films with the same co-stars playing different roles to a series with a recurring set of characters.

My preference and recommendation would be to stick with chronological releases but if a title is problematic, defer its release until a better source can be found. So, for example, if Mr. Hex goes from Vol 1 to Vol 4 or Vol 5 that would be fine. If WHV feels there is no hope to find a better print, include it anyway, warts and all, with a disclaimer that better elements simply do not exist.

To me this modified approach is better than buying a "Best Of" and then double dipping later. Truth be told though, I will support whatever WHV decides to do. The worst thing that can happen is a "Best Of" doesn't sell because of consumers waiting for the chronological releases.

A big thank you to WHV for once again showing a lot of class by reaching out to their consumers and getting input! Thanks also to Ron for providing this opportunity to respond.

EDIT: I love Ron's idea below about spine numbers. That is a great suggestion and will keep the "Mr. Monk" in all of us happy. This may not work perfectly if WHV uses double or triple features, but will be close enough.

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#4 of 1320 Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 24 2007 - 12:22 PM

The folks at Warner do have a lot of class. No other studio would
take the time to discuss this matter with me and then offer our
membership the opportunity to weigh in their opinion -- one that
could very well gauge whether these DVDs make it to market sooner
than later.

My thoughts are this....

To have one problematic transfer hold up an entire series of
films for this long is something I am having problems coping with.

Steve makes a great point. Get these films out as soon as
possible. If you go the chronological route, simply skip
Mr. Hex and release it later.

Another point I'd like to bring up....

Obviously the earlier films are not as polished as the later ones.
In order to interest audiences not familiar with the work of The
Bowery Boys
, why not mix up these releases a little bit by
releasing Best Of collections with offerings from different
years mixed together.

If you want to do something really special to preserve the
chronological aspect, put a # at the bottom of each spine indicating
where that film falls in the entire series according to year of release.
This way, you can ship these DVD titles out of order, but once all
released, the collector can rearrange the titles on their shelves
by the number indicated on the spine.

Let's get these films out, shall we?

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#5 of 1320 Bob Furmanek

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Posted July 24 2007 - 02:25 PM

I would also STRONGLY suggest that Warners reach out to the collecting community. If there are no decent 16mm elements (and the 35's are MIA) I know that private collectors have decent 16mm prints which may be better than material the studio has in the library.

Case in point: the STOLEN COSTUME episode of Superman from the first season. WB used a worn out, cued up 16mm syndication print for the DVD, and there are mint prints out there among private collectors.

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#6 of 1320 Michael Elliott

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Posted July 24 2007 - 03:47 PM

These films and Warner has been discussed at another message board and one poster asked how long Warner was willing to wait since the die-hard fans of this series are getting older and (in his words) "dying off". It seems like the longer they wait that sales might go down.

Fox jumped around on their Chan releases and included two of the first two films (BEHIND THE CURTAIN & THE BLACK CAMEL) on Vol. 4. As Laurence said, no studio goes 100% in order. It would be nice to start with Bogart's small, supporting roles of the 1930's and see him progress as an actor up to his "Golden Age" but that's not how things work. Each box set jumps around by including great films and some less than classic works from different periods. It would be easy to release all of the Val Lewton titles in one set but we're talking about 48 films here.

I also see where Steve is coming from by seeing the boys "grow older" but as Ron pointed out, one film shouldn't prevent 47 from being released. Warner is the best studio out there for a reason but at the same time I think it's important for all studios to know that fans want certain films and most will take a 16mm transfer over nothing at all.

I seriously doubt those on quality control are going to be holding their fingers for The Bowery Boys to be released. I doubt the HD crowd are going to be buying these to show off their theaters. These films have a strong group of fans and I'm sure these fans want to own official copies no matter if one or two don't look as great as another title. Anyone with a limited amount of knowledge knows that not every film can look brand new so if someone does complain about one transfer being off then that problem is with that person and doesn't (or shouldn't) reflect on the studio in question.

I'm not trying to start a heated debate but there's a big difference between a quality junkie and a film buff/junkie. I'm only 27 and I buy every classic release out there and there are thousands of other films I want to see Warner release and I hope they wouldn't release a Chaney title just because the quality wasn't great. I'd much rather have a 16mm print over nothing at all. Fans will do what they have to to see a film they want so I'd rather give my money to Warner for their 16mm print instead of giving it to "someone else" for their 16mm print copy recorded off TV.

And as Bob said, the private collectors for this type of thing (or even horror movies) are pretty strong so I'm sure they could find someone with a decent print. Case in point, there's one collector who has several prints of rare Lon Chaney silents but no one seems interested. He has the only prints in the world and I for one would love to see Warner reach out to him and include these on an upcoming release.

Back to the films in question....

I'm not a die-hard BB fan but as a film buff I want to watch everyone of them so I'd certainly support their release (especially THE BOWERY BOYS MEET THE MONSTERS (1954), which I've been dying to see for years now).


Edit to add: I'd also prefer double features for these releases no matter how they come out. Double feature single releases or perhaps a box set of five discs with two movies on each? Perhaps leave the troubled transfers for the last box?

#7 of 1320 Jack Theakston

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Posted July 24 2007 - 03:55 PM

I have to agree with Bob here. There are decent prints in private and archival collections, which WB can access if they want to do the fans right.

I can tell you exactly where there are several prints of MISTER HEX, but of course, WB can always hire me to do these things. Time is money, you know Posted Image
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#8 of 1320 Joe Karlosi

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Posted July 24 2007 - 10:04 PM

First, I really think it's a terrific thing that Warner is asking the fans for their input about this.

In a perect world, sure it would be great to have all The Bowery Boys films released in strict chronoogical order. But this can't always be accomplished, and from what I understand we're talking about only 1 film out of a whopping 48 that is "unacceptable"? I would agree with others that a starter set called "Best of the Bowery Boys" would suit me fine, though my concern with a title as limiting as that would be that we may not get ALL the films..... I would just hope that, whether the first release is called "Best Of" or simply "Volume One", we eventually would be able to own them all. And then, who really can say what the "best" films are? I think THE BOWERY BOYS MEET THE MONSTERS (1954) is one of the finest, and I'm pretty sure this one made the most money of all their films when originally released, and it's a big fan favorite. BLUES BUSTERS is also very good, as is MASTER MINDS... but I'm getting ahead of myself...

While it would be nice to see the "boys" grow older and see the changes in the cast and so forth, with these films they are all stand-alone movies, and there is no continuing storyline or anything which would require viewers to see them in strict order. It's not really a necessity. As has been suggested earlier, perhaps WB can start releasing them chronologically and then just skip MR. HEX. Or better yet, let the fans help you out with better prints, as has been suggested. I have just about all of these on VHS, taken from TV airings, and the quality is certainly acceptable on them. In fact, I also have MR. HEX, and it too looks fine, from memory. So there are prints out there. In some cases, perhaps Warner may indicate on the packaging that "every effort has been made to obtain the best elements possible for each film, though quality may vary".

I would want to see these released as soon as possible, even if it means skipping titles here and there while waiting for better elements. I am one of those fans who feels that the core audience for these films are mainly people who grew up with them on TV and the theater, now in their 40s and beyond. These people will likely be your key buyers who really know the Bowery Boys and aren't getting any younger. Posted Image Of course, there will be younger movie buffs out there, like Michael Elliott, who will try these films out as well.

Lastly, while Warner is second to none when it comes to releasing vintage older movies, and their quality is almost always impeccable, there have been times where some individual films or titles in any given set are not as pristine as others. I don't see why the Bowery Boys should be any exception to that. And while I like this series a lot, these particular movies are not exactly high art or cinematic "masterpieces". Thanks for the opportunity for the direct feedback, and I'll be eagerly anticipating VOLUME ONE (of many which will include all the films, I hope!) ASAP. My money is waiting. Posted Image

Quote:
Obviously the earlier films are not as polished as the later ones.
In order to interest audiences not familiar with the work of The
Bowery Boys, why not mix up these releases a little bit by
releasing Best Of collections with offerings from different
years mixed together.

If you want to do something really special to preserve the
chronological aspect, put a # at the bottom of each spine indicating
where that film falls in the entire series according to year of release.
This way, you can ship these DVD titles out of order, but once all
released, the collector can rearrange the titles on their shelves
by the number indicated on the spine.

Agreed. A very good idea!

#9 of 1320 MarcoBiscotti

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Posted July 25 2007 - 12:38 AM

It really depends on the timeline.

There are SO many great DVD's to chose from, the majority of which are being put out by Warners, which makes for an influx of consistently high quality and entertaining films on the market. I'm certainly not finding shortage of ways to spend my money!

That said, I would ideally want to see these films restored to their best ability and packaged together comprehensively with features for a definitive release.

I would be more than willing to wait another year, even two, for the series to be done right. Afterall, the DVD format isn't going anywhere so soon and these films offer timeless entertainment. I'd much rather see them preserved in digital format given the studios best effort.

That said... if we are talking about an indefinite timeline for release, or expected 3+ years from now, well than I'd rather the films themselves just be available to the public because something is ultimately better than nothing.

I trust Warners decisions though and am confident that they will find the best window to issue these. I would gladly wait for better elements to turn up and improved transfers with extras, chronologically packaged. But if we're talking 4/5 years... I'll take 'em any way Warners sees fit.

I don't want a rush job, but I can't accurately vote in this poll without placing matters into context.

What would Warners expected timeline for release be otherwise?

Obviously nobody can say for sure when better elements will surface, but the studio should be in a position to offer an approx. estimate of when they feel these films could be readied for maximum effort.

#10 of 1320 John Stell

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Posted July 25 2007 - 12:40 AM

I don't think they should even call the sets "Best Of"s. Simply release sets as Volume I, Volume II, etc. Then, if they find a good print later down the road, simply include it as a "bonus," as Fox is doing with Volume 3 of its Chan series. In this way, there'd be no double dipping, and the fans can get them now.

Truth is, I'd buy them any way they put them out, preferably like they're doing with Volume 4 of their Film Noir series (10 films on 5 discs). I'm someone who owns every pre 1950 (LOVE 1930s - 1940s films) Warners release so I'll get them no matter what.

Thanks WB for letting us share our thoughts.
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#11 of 1320 William Miller

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Posted July 25 2007 - 01:26 AM

Bowery Boys? Who wants them?

I want the 12 Joe Palooka movies!

JUST KIDDING!!!!

I will buy the Bowery Boys anyway I can get them.

Chronological order.

Backwards order.

Out of order.

Good quality would be nice but I don't care. Burn marks and splices? Fine.

I would buy a box set. Or 1 title per DVD. Or 6 per DVD. I don't care.

They could be DVD 9 or DVD 18 or DVD 42. Doesn't matter.

If the covers and DVD are blank, that's O.K., I'll write the titles in myself. No covers. Fine. Just put them in a sleeve. No sleeve? Fine. They will probably play with some marks on them.

You can even put the image upside down. I don't mind turning my TV upside down when I watch them.

$9.98 per film? $14.98? $19.98? Higher? I don't care. I have a little equity left in my house.

I want them! The sooner the better.

Thanks Warner!

#12 of 1320 Bob Furmanek

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Posted July 25 2007 - 01:35 AM

Edit


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#13 of 1320 HalLane

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Posted July 25 2007 - 04:37 AM

To me the whole point of having these on DVD is to be able to best appreciate as reasonably as possible the original theatrical perspective. Warners is to be commended for their "Night At The Movies" approach to the more mainstream films they release, and in fact I commend them. So to that end I think chronological is the way to go, hopefully by way of original "seasons", or by year at the very least. Speaking as someone who supported and bought all of the official pro-dupe VHS releases of select Bowery Boys videocassettes in the "best of" format several years ago only to see the series wither and die after only a handful of titles, I'm not anxious to repeat that helter skelter experience. Besides, count me as one who actually prefers the earlier "hardboiled" approach to the later funnier episodes. Best case scenario: start at the begining. Fallback plan: release separate numbered chronological volumes out of order.

As to the question of waiting for upgraded episodes, with time sensitive material such as movies (not to mention the aging-audience factor), the correct answer is always NOW. And these upgrades don't just fall out of the trees. By all means reach out to the private collector community. And by all means hire a consultant, negotiator, go between, liason, middleman or whatever you want to call him to get it done. Offer Papal Dispensation to the collectors holding the material if you have to, but please get this material into the right hands, which ultimately is us, the cold hard cash-spending public. Cheap is good, but I'd certainly pay more to have the job done right.

Thanks very much for the time and the opportunity to have a say. I have high hopes for these releases.

#14 of 1320 Mark Zimmer

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Posted July 25 2007 - 04:52 AM

This is a problem, indeed. Since there's not much of any continuity from film to film beyond the characters themselves (at least so far as I know---I can't claim to have seen over half of them), it hardly seems important to get them in chronological order.

OTOH, if you release the Best Of, chances are good that there won't be a release of the Worst Of and at best there's a double-dip involved.

I would be OK with something like Fox is doing for the Chans---not a Best Of, but just release volumes of them (since they're only an hour long, a set of 8 on 4 discs should be easy enough, or even 16 if Warner's feeling generous) with the spine numbers as suggested above. That has worked pretty well for the Zatoichi movies, one of which still hasn't been released so far as I know, crossing multiple studios (though one obnoxiously didn't use the spine numbers) and letting us put them together as we please. I really, really don't like the "Best of" idea. Release them all, but not necessarily in chronological order if print issues on one volume are holding things up. The downside to the spine numbering is it commits Warner to releasing them all--downside that is, if sales are disappointing and they don't complete the set. I hate that hole in the Zatoichi set...

And it goes without saying, Warner should be very clear about offering an amnesty to collectors who make good prints available to them for use. No questions asked. Whether the Suits will go along with such as novel idea, who knows.

#15 of 1320 roven97

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Posted July 25 2007 - 06:47 AM

I for one do not want a best of set. I want chronological. Disney has been doing great with the tin sets they have. And the many TV series sets do the same. I never did like the Best of...sets that double dip at a later time. I of course would like great prints as well. The reason I want DVD over VHS is because of this exact point. I always hated when WB released best of DVD's (early superhero DVD's, etc) only to double dip at a later date. So I do not buy best of DVD's anymore. However, if there is not a decent print of a particular film, then releasing the set sans said movie is fine by me.

#16 of 1320 Michael Elliott

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Posted July 25 2007 - 07:39 AM

I doubt Warner would release "Best Of" sets and then not release the lesser quality titles.

I think they can release them however they want as long as fans get all 48 films. I think having all 48 on DVD should be the #1 goal.

#17 of 1320 Joe Karlosi

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Posted July 25 2007 - 08:57 AM

The "Best Of" idea throws me because it implies that only selected "special" titles will be released. Unless, of course, the "Best Of" label is merely being used as a formality.... and there is a "Volume One" also tagged on ("Best of The Bowery Boys Volume One, Volume Two...", etc.).

I'd be happy with THE BOWERY BOYS COLLECTION (Vol. 1), THE BOWERY BOYS COLLECTION (Vol. 2)... and onward. Whatever is in each set is in each set, sort of like what MGM does with their James Bond Boxes. Hey, if they can be as chronoligical as possible, even better -- but it's not a deal breaker.

Whatever it takes! I'm dying to watch BOWERY BOMBSHELL right now! Posted Image

#18 of 1320 Russell G

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Posted July 25 2007 - 04:31 PM

I think Warners should start to release these as soon as possible. See, not a month goes by that Dad doesn;t ask me "Get any Bowery Boys yet?". so it would be nice to be able to give the old boy something to watch other then "Angles With Dirty Faces" Posted Image

I would though, not release a "best of" package. Since theres so many of these, why not release them like the Looney Tunes? The ones that are good to go, throw them in a boxset? Use the thin cases so that you can have Rons idea of numbered spines for those who well eventually want them in Chrono order. That way, you can put a few from each era in a set. 5 DVDs of double features, 10 films a year? I admittedly don;t know much about the series, but it sounds like they are about an hour or so each, so that should accomodate them.

My thinking is, I never buy "Best OF" discs, as they sound like filler till a propper release. And there is enough stuff getting released ("Jazz Singer" Posted Image thank you WARNERS!!! Posted Image ) to keep me interested that I can wait. Call it "Volume 1" instead of "Best OF", and I'll buy it.
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#19 of 1320 genomovie

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Posted July 26 2007 - 03:12 AM

Posted Image I thank Warners for asking for our opinion. My take on it,... release them now. I grew up watching these crazy guys in the late 40's and early 50's. What a gas. My favorite was "BLUES BUSTERS". Posted Image Put them in volume's, not "The best of". A lot of times when you see "The best of", this means, there will be no more. Warner's, my money is waiting.

#20 of 1320 Jay E

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Posted July 26 2007 - 03:16 AM

I would prefer chronological sets over "best of sets". I always watch series such as these in chronological order, I like to see how the characters develop & change over time and how the series tone & mood changed as well.

My brother and I are DYING for these films to come out on DVD already. If Warner would like to mix the titles together in box sets, then I can live with that as long as they are not "best of" boxsets and will ultimately contain all of the films in the series.

And I have no problem accepting that Mister Hex won't be in the best of conditions. Warner should be applauded in being so forthcoming about this issue and also for seeking input from its customers.





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