Aaron's review of Columbia/TriStar's DVD of Twentieth Century inspired me to do a little research on the studio's treatment of the older films in its catalog. Certainly Columbia doesn't have the riches accorded to Warner (via MGM, RKO, and Warner itself), Universal (via Universal and Paramount), and Fox. But Columbia is the repository for the films of directors like Frank Capra (their shining star), Howard Hawks, and George Cukor; a smattering of work by Rouben Mamoulian, John Ford, Max Ophüls, Frank Borzage, George Stevens, Leo McCarey, King Vidor, and Orson Welles; and in the Fifties, Nicholas Ray, Budd Boetticher, Jacques Tourneur, Anthony Mann, Stanley Kramer, and Joseph Losey. Contract stars included Rita Hayworth, Jean Arthur, Ann Miller, Glenn Ford, Judy Holliday, and (briefly) Cary Grant, among others. With help from DVD Planet's "Power Search" feature, I surveyed Sony/Columbia TriStar's DVD releases for films made before 1950 (I've omitted their "Three Stooges" releases): Matinee Idol/The American Dream (1928) $28 (Suggested Retail Price) Platinum Blonde (1931) $25 Twentieth Century (1934) $20 Pennies from Heaven (1936) $25 The Awful Truth (1937) $25 You Can't Take It with You (1938) $30 Only Angels Have Wings (1939) $28 The Howards of Virginia (1940) $20 Angels Over Broadway (1940) $20 Music in My Heart (1940) $25 Adam Had Four Sons (1941) $25 The Devil Commands (1941) $25 You'll Never Get Rich (1941) $20 Commandos Strike at Dawn (1942) $20 Talk of the Town (1942) $30 You Were Never Lovelier (1942) $25 The More the Merrier (1943) $25 The Return of the Vampire (1943) $20 Cover Girl (1944) $25 Once Upon a Time (1944) $30 The Jolson Story (1946) $20 Dead Reckoning (1947) $25 Down to Earth (1947) $15 Blazing Across the Pecos (1948) $20 The Man from Colorado (1948) $20 Jolson Sings Again (1949) $20 Tokyo Joe (1949) $25 The following titles appear under the "Columbia Classics" banner, and are treated to Special Editions: It Happened One Night (1934) $28 Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) $20 Lost Horizon (1937) $28 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) $28 His Girl Friday (1940) $25 Sahara (1943) $25 Gilda (1946) $20 The Loves of Carmen (1948) $28 The Lady from Shanghai (1948) $25 All the King's Men (1949) $25 --- but essentially "barebones" It appears that A Matter of Life and Death (aka Stairway to Heaven) (1946) will be released in a Special Edition later this year, but perhaps not under the "Columbia Classics" series, since it wasn't made for (just distributed by) the studio. The first thing to notice is the pricing structure. Columbia routinely charges $25-30 for barebones DVDs of its older titles. Compare this with Warner, which charges $20 for many of its classic Special Editions, or Fox which charges just $15 (originally $20) for its loaded "Studio Classics" line. Likewise, Universal has released some barebones boxsets recently (Marx Bros, WC Fields, Film Noir titles) at very reasonable prices. It's interesting that Columbia charges roughly the SAME PRICES for their "Columbia Classics" special edition line as they do for their barebones efforts. I am disappointed that Twentieth Century--one of Howard Hawks' best films--received a less-than-stellar, barebones DVD edition (with really horrible cover art, just to add insult to injury). And with Columbia, you can be sure that this is all we'll EVER get. And don't get me started about the crime they committed when they--FINALLY--released Satyajit Ray's sublime Apu Trilogy---poor picture quality (compared with the UK edition), no supplements (not even brief essay to place the films in context), no insert, and $30 each. If it achieved poor sales, well, what did they expect? It was a self-fulfilling prophesy. This for three of the acknowledged masterpieces of world cinema! Selected Titles Still in the Vault at Columbia Robert Aldrich: Autumn Leaves (1956) Dorothy Arzner: Craig's Wife (1936) Budd Boetticher: Ride Lonesome (1959), The Tall T (1957), Comanche Station (1960), The Name's Buchanan (1958) Frank Borzage: Man's Castle (1933) Frank Capra: The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), The Miracle Woman (1931), American Madness (1932) George Cukor: Holiday (1938) John Ford: The Whole Town's Talking (1935) Samuel Fuller: Underworld U.S.A. (1961) Alexander Hall: Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) Joseph Losey: M (1951) and The Go-Between (1970) Mikio Naruse: Mother (1952) Max Ophüls: The Reckless Moment (1949) Otto Preminger: Porgy and Bess (1959) EDIT: Likely controlled by MGM (via Samuel Goldwyn Entertainment) Satyajit Ray: Charulata (1964), Devi (1962), Teen Kanya (1961), Jalsaghar/The Music Room (1958), The Big City (1963), The Masses Music (1976) Alain Resnais: Providence (1977) Claude Sautet: These Things Happen/Les Choses de la vie (1970) André Téchiné: Thieves/Les Voleurs (1996) Hiroshi Teshigahara: The Face of Another (1966) Peter Yates: The Dresser (1983) [EDIT: Released in April 2004] Fred Zinneman: The Member of the Wedding (1952) I really hope Sony/Columbia TriStar can clean up its act, but I really have my doubts. I welcome any comments, insights, or corrections.