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Looking Back: EW's Top 100 Laserdiscs and their appearance on DVD. (1 Viewer)


Mar 7, 1999
I was looking at The Entertainment Weekly Guide to the Greatest Movies Ever Made today. This book was released in 1994 and includes 100 of the best laserdiscs ever made. I thought it would be interesting to see what has and has not made it to DVD, in terms of both films and extras. Also hearing comments about the old days from long-time collectors like Alan Halvorson and Michael Reuben is always interesting.
Note: Voyager = Criterion.
1. The Ultimate Oz - 5 CAV + 1 CLV MGM/UA
Current WB special edition has some but not all extras (?)
2. Terminator 2: Judgement Day - Special Edition Pioneer/Carolco/Live
Now on DVD + even more extras in the 2-disc Ultimate Edition package
3. Raging Bull Voyager
Region 2 got an SE but Region 1 doesn't even have an anamorphic transfer, never mind the storyboards, screenplay and Scorsese and Schoonmaker commentary.
4. Pinocchio Deluxe CAV Laserdisc Edition Disney/Image
DVD is now out-of-print but still available from many retailers. No extras to speak of.
5. Criterion Television Classics: I Love Lucy Voyager
contains original credits and cigarette ads. Many still frames and photos and audio commentary. No Lucy episodes currently available, but rumors are that Columbia House plans to release them (?).
6. Apocalypse Now Paramount
Available on DVD as well as Apocalypse Now Redux.
7. The Last Picture Show Voyager
Director's cut version from Voyager. Many extras. Current Special edition DVD does not include commentary and other extras.
8. Herbert Von Karajan: New Year's Concert Vienna 1987 Sony Classical
Available on DVD
9. The Busby Berkeley Disc MGM/UA
"Three hours of musical sequences staged by the master of nuttily overripe choreography." Unavailable on DVD?
10. The Searchers WB
Is this DVD a flipper?
11. Lawrence of Arabia Voyager
EW recommends the cheaper CLV version over Voyager's deluxe 4-disc CAV edition. Current DVD has many extras.
12. The Abyss Special Edition FoxVideo/Image
Available in a special edition 2-disc DVD package (non-anamorphic video though.)
13. 1776 Pioneer
Unavailable on DVD. Laserdisc includes cut that was "expanded by a half hour to the length originally intended by the director. Almost all the additions ... enrich the story, especially a still-timely ditty that twits conservatives."
14. Tootsie Voyager
LD included "making-of short and still-frame appendix, audio commentary by Syndey Pollack." DVD has no extras of substance (?).
15. Citizen Kane: 50th Anniversary Edition Voyager
LD included "extensive still-frame documentary, original promo trailer, early Welles short." Current DVD is wonderful.
16. West Side Story Voyager
LD included "video interview with Robert Wise, storyboards vs. final scenes, location-scouting pics, trailers." EW says the MGM/UA version is cheaper but has a better image, coming from a 65 mm source. Current DVD only includes trailer.
17. Close Encounters of the Third Kind Voyager
"It restores the original, slightly longer cut and appends the extra "Special" scenes to the end of each disc side, so you can program your player to plop them into the proper sequence. ... Big bonus: an ingenious three-way split-screen documentary about the [SFX], plus [more]." Current DVD only includes director's cut (?).
18. Aliens Special Wide-Screen (sic) Collector's Edition FoxVideo/Image
Current DVD includes this cut, plus other supplements.
19. Work in Progress: Beauty and the Beast Disney/Image
Coming this fall from Disney on DVD.
20. The Magnificent Ambersons Voyager
Welles' version not on DVD.
21. City Lights FoxVideo/Image
LD included "transcripts of altered scenes, stills of promo materials." Contains both original 1931 score and new "surround stereo version conducted in 1989 by Carl Davis." Current DVD includes same.
22. Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb Voyager
LD included "a sampling of government-produced nuclear-preparedness propaganda, from pamphlets to short films." That's not available on the current SE DVD but that disc does include some good extras.
23. Taxi Driver Voyager
LD included Bernard Herrmann isolated score, complete storyboards, essay on Herrmann's score & more. Also included Scorsese commentary and additional comments by Paul Schrader. Current SE DVD is good, but we'll probably never see the Criterion supplements on DVD.
24. Star Wars Trilogy: The Definitive Collection FoxVideo/Image
I've never heard of these films, but EW chose this version of the trilogy: "18 CAV sides, widescreen, ... $250; includes copy of Charles Champlin's book George Lucas: The Creative Impulse, sporadic audio-track commentary by Lucas and effects technicians" and more. Not officially released on DVD.
25. The Adventures of Robin Hood MGM/UA
They pick the MGM/UA version over the two Voyager (one CLV and one CAV) versions. Unavailable on DVD (this is the Errol Flynn version.)
26. Die Hard FoxVideo/Image
Current 2-disc SE of Die Hard is stellar.
27. The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, Vols. 1 and 2 MGM/UA
Unavailable on DVD
28. Looney Tunes Curtain Calls Warner
29. The Connery Collection MGM/UA
Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. DVDs are out-of-print.
30. The 400 Blows Voyager
Unsure if Criterion DVD contained all extras on LD. Regardless, it too is OOP and possibly the most rare Criterion DVD. Rumors of a reissue.
31. Blue Velvet Warner
SE DVD comes out this June with many more extras.
32. King Kong / The Son of Kong Image
Unavailable on DVD.
33. Swing Time Voyager
Unavailable on DVD.
34. Bye Bye Birdie Pioneer
Pioneer screwed up the LD, swapping the left and right audio channels (?). Current DVD has not many extras.
35. How Green Was My Valley FoxVideo/Image
LD included "true surround stereo track" plus original mono plus isolated score (?). DVD only has original mono.
36. Chinatown Paramount
LD included "music-only track". DVD doesn't have it but has retrospective interviews with Polanski, Robert Towne and Robert Evans.
37. Rebecca Voyager
Criterion DVD just released. Don't know if all extras were ported from LD.
38. Mickey Mouse: The Black and White Years, Vol. 1 Disney/Image
Unavailable on DVD (?).
39. The James Dean 35th Anniversary Collection Warner
contained East of Eden and Rebel Without A Cause. East of Eden unavailable on DVD. RWAC has an SE DVD from WB.
40. Back to the Future MCA/Universal
DVD release has been rumored since, um, the invention of DVD.
41. Spartacus Voyager
With apologies to Joe Caps, the 2-disc Criterion set is loaded and wonderful. Don't know if all extras were ported.
42. 8½ Voyager
New Criterion release is loaded.
43. Jaws MCA/Universal
LD had "2 CLV sides plus 1 CAV side." 2 DVD releases: one DD, one DTS. Neither include full-length documentary nor original mono soundtrack.
44. Into The Woods Image/BPI
Available on DVD from Image.
45. The Graduate Voyager
Criterion extras (commentary, production photos, scrapped screenplay excerpts, screen tests, comparison of novel with movie, etc.) don't appear on current SE DVD from MGM.
46. North By Northwest Voyager and MGM/UA
2 versions, both recommended by EW. Voyager version included storyboard comparisons with finished film. Current WB DVD is hard to fault, though, as it includes a documentary, commentary and isolated Herrmann score.
47. Invasion of the Body Snatchers Voyager
LD included a side 3 widescreen demo, which shows a scene letterboxed, "then repeats it blown up and cropped to fill your entire TV screen." Current SE DVD from Artisan is widescreen (non-anamorphic) and includes a few extras.
48. Midnight Cowboy Voyager
LD included commentary by director and producer. DVD (from MGM) is barebones and non-anamorphic.
49. Polyester Voyager
LD included "Odorama" scratch card and Waters commentary. New Line released it on DVD as a double feature with Desperate Living, with Water's commentary and scratch card! Don't know if same Voyager extras are included.
50. Raiders of the Lost Ark Paramount
51. The Apartment MGM/UA
MGM DVD is anamorphic widescreen with only a trailer.
52. Poltergeist MGM/UA
Both CAV and CLV laserdisc versions. (EW raved about the surround sound.) Current WB DVD includes anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 soundtrack.
53. Cabaret Warner
Early DVD release from WB. Non-anamorphic (?).
54. The Killer Voyager
LD was ported to DVD by Criterion and is now long OOP. Winstar has a version out and this is another that is rumored to be re-released by Criterion.
55. Ghostbusters Voyager
Current SE DVD is phenomenal. Don't know how many extras were ported from LD.
56. Lord of the Flies Voyager
Criterion DVD includes all (?) of LD extras.
57. The African Queen Limited Commemorative Edition FoxVideo/Image
Unavailable on DVD.
58. The Forbidden Hollywood Collection MGM/UA
Unavailable on DVD.
59. The Player Voyager
Don't know if loaded New Line SE contains same extras as LD.
60. Winchester '73 MCA
Unavailable on DVD. LD included Jimmy Steward commentary.
61. The Devil and Daniel Webster Voyager
Criterion DVD is rumored.
62. A Day At The Races MGM/UA
Unavailable on DVD.
63. Help! Voyager
64. King of Kings MGM/UA
Unavailable on DVD.
65. One, Two, Three MGM/UA
Unavailable on DVD.
66. Black Narcissus Voyager
Criterion DVD contains all (?) extras from LD.
67. Patton FoxVideo/Image
2-disc version is OOP ?
68. Secret Honor Voyager
Unavailable on DVD.
69. Blade Runner: The Director's Cut Warner
Current DVD contains director's cut. An earlier WB release that's okay but needs to be updated, and probably will when Ridley Scott recuts the film for the umpteenth time.
70. For All Mankind Voyager
Criterion DVD is loaded.
71. Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance Image
Unavailable on DVD. Score is available on DVD-A.
72. Gunhed Toho
Unavailable on DVD.
73. La Strada Voyager
Criterion DVD release is rumored.
74. The Last Emperor (Import Version)
Import LD had Director's cut. So does DVD which is frequently panned for video quality (?).
75. Carousel FoxVideo/Image
Non-anamorphic DVD from Fox.
76. Madonna: Blond Ambition World Tour Live Pioneer
Unavailable on DVD. (?)
77. The Taming of the Shrew Pioneer
CTHV DVD doesn't include alternate audio tracks on LD.
78. Vienna: The Spirit of the City Voyager
Unavailable on DVD.
79. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World MGM/UA
LD had "3-hour, 8-minute restored cut". SE DVD from MGM is "2-hour, 41-minute cut."
80. Monty Python and the Holy Grail Voyager
CTHV has screwed this DVD up twice. The first time was one of their only non-anamorphic releases. The newer SE has still never been fixed, as it is missing the first fake-Swedish subtitle. The SE DVD is one of the few to include Criterion supplements on a non-Criterion DVD.
81. The Three Caballeros Disney
Available on DVD.
82. Akira Voyager
Don't know which if any of the extras were ported from LD, but there are 1-disc and 2-disc editions of this film.
83. The Clint Eastwood Trilogy MGM/UA
The Dollars Trilogy. All 3 are available on DVD. Rumors of a Good, Bad and The Ugly restoration have been floating around.
84. El Mariachi: Special Collector's Edition Columbia TriStar
Current SE with Desperado has same extras (?)
85. The Music Man Warner
SE DVD from WB is available.
86. Jason and the Argonauts Voyager
LD had many extras including Harryhausen commentary. CTHV DVD includes only a Harryhausen interview with John Landis.
87. Mysterious Island Pioneer
Unavailable on DVD.
88. Gremlins 2: The New Batch Warner
Unavailable on DVD.
89. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Touchstone
Current DVD is bare-bones and non-anamorphic (?). SE is rumored (?).
90. The War of the Roses FoxVideo/Image
DVD includes all of LD's extras (?) including commentary and deleted scenes.
91. The Dawn of Sound MGM/UA
Unavailable on DVD.
92. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp Voyager
Unavailable on DVD. Rumored from Criterion.
93. Animation Legend Winsor McCay Lumivision
Gertie the Dinosaur and other shorts. Unavailable on DVD.
94. Mon Oncle Voyager
Available as a Criterion DVD.
95. Great Artists Series: Vermeer & The Golden Age of Dutch Painting Pioneer
Unavailable on DVD.
96. Yojimbo Voyager
"Yo, Jimbo, how you doin'?" "I'm doin' good. I'm available on Criterion DVD."
97. Suspiria Image
Available as a regular edition and a 3-disc SE from Anchor Bay.
98. Nothing Sacred Lumivision
Availalble on DVD from E Realbiz.
99. Good News MGM/UA
Available on DVD from WB.
100. WOW! Lucasfilm
aka The THX Demo Disc. Van Ling mentioned this in his recent HTF chat. Unavailable on DVD.


Stunt Coordinator
Jan 1, 2000
Great job on that list Greg! A very impressive list of LD's. It's a shame that some of the titles have not seen the light of day on DVD. I'm also a little surprised that 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' (the special edition autographed version) did not make the list. It's got to be one of the most impressive LD packages I've ever seen.


alan halvorson

Senior HTF Member
Oct 2, 1998
Gee, I got mentioned by someone!

Let's see, I own about 3/4 of the titles mentioned. A few additions (not many - pretty good job):

1.) The Ultimate Oz - LD box set has a book containing the continuity script, some very nice B&W photos, and, if I had gotten my act together back then, a poster that you had to send for but I didn't.

2.) Terminator 2: Judgement Day - Special Edition. The dvd is better, but when it comes to actually watching the extras, it's the LD box set for me.

13.) 1776 - Unavailable, but rumored to be coming, although it sounds like it won't be exactly the same version. Not many know it, but there was also Columbia release of the Pioneer version, sans extras (this is what I own).

22.) Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb - the supplements on the Criterion LD are some of the most entertaining ever put on an LD.

24.) Star Wars Trilogy: The Definitive Collection. This was the best version available in 1994 - the SE box wasn't released until later.

25.) The Adventures of Robin Hood MGM/UA. Pick the MGM/UA to watch - blows the Criterion out of the water - but you need the Criterion for the supplements.

33.) Swing Time - I believe it's been announced as coming to dvd this year.

39.) The James Dean 35th Anniversary Collection - also contains Giant and a nice set of supplements.

I'm surprised at what was left out. Where's the Amadeus, Dances With Wolves, Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady box sets? These outclass many of the titles listed (I'm not certain of the release year of all of them). These I will never part with. Where's Ben-Hur and Gone With the Wind? The Gone With the Wind box had a small set of supplements, but there was available, separately, a 2-disc set of extras that are nowhere to found on dvd.

Still, not too bad a list. Dvd has come a long way in a very short time (does anyone understand that at an equivalent point in LD developement, only a few hundred titles were available?), but it still has a long way to go.

Rob Lutter

Senior HTF Member
Nov 3, 2000
What about Criterion's Brazil LD boxset? Wasn't it one of the best-selling LD sets of all time? And the DVD is just as great (if not better).

Mark Cappelletty

Senior HTF Member
Jun 6, 1999
The Brazil box-set wasn't released until 1995 or 1996, well after this list was published. I got into LDs about the same time this was published and this list helped me immeasurably.

Eric Paddon

Mar 17, 2001
There are a lot of other LD sets I would have put in ahead of some of the ones that got named, but I think that may have to do with the fact that a lot of other great ones came out between 1994-97 after the list was first compiled. Among those not duplicated fully or in any way on DVD I would cite would be:

1-Jaws 20th Anniversary CAV set. Shame on Universal for not giving us the full documentary and not even all of the deleted scenes supplement.

2-My Fair Lady 30th Anniversary set. The DVD transfer is great, but missing the wonderful Jeremy Brett hosted documentary, plus all the extra supplements like the Academy Awards footage etc. not to mention the great option of having Audrey Hepburn's vocals on the analog tracks so they can be heard while watching the film itself.

3-The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes (MGM/UA). I doubt very much that this title will include all the wonderful supplements whenever it gets a DVD release. This presentation gave us our first tantalizing glimpse of what was lost and may sadly stay lost forever (Robert Harris or someone else, any hope of the other missing elements of this turning up?)

4-Thunderball, CAV set. Missing the 1965 "Incredible World Of 007" documentary on DVD.

5-Ben Hur, 35th Anniversary CAV set. Isolated Miklos Rozsa score and also used a different trailer in the supplement than the DVD does.

For the titles that did make the list, "1776" will not be successfully duplicated on DVD for reasons too painful for me to rehash once again (I prefer to hold off renewing that argument until we get closer to the actual release), and one other thing about "Ultimate Oz" that it gets right is the "Jitterbug" supplement is presented with the correct vocal. WB literally ruined the DVD for me with their use of the demo vocal instead of the proper final version.

Joel C

Oct 23, 1999
I notice you say the current Close Encounters DVD includes only the director's cut... it has a lot more, too, including a documentary and deleted scenes not reinserted into the DC.


Stunt Coordinator
Jul 22, 2001
"57. The African Queen Limited Commemorative Edition FoxVideo/Image

Unavailable on DVD."

I know some of you think there is only one Country in the world and that occasionally they upconvert non anamorphic transfers for other regions because they could not possibly bother to do true 16:9 for another region 1st but (end of rant, please don't take offence) as I'm sure lot's of you are aware Carlton in the UK have released a very nice DVD of The African Queen with very good picture IMO, DOP Jack Cardiff commentary & poster gallery.


Jul 27, 2000
>71. Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance Image

This is available on DVD from their web site for approx. $180 (donation).

Steven Good

Supporting Actor
Jan 12, 2000
Real Name
the Ghostbusters Criterion CAV LD had different deleted scenes than the DVD did. made me wish i hadn't sold of the LD beofre i bought the DVD...


Senior HTF Member
Apr 26, 2000
Which additional deleted scenes, Steven? Did they have the one where Ray and Winston are dressed up as mounties or something? And the extended "dream" sequence that wasn't originally dreamed?

No idea why C/T couldn't put ALL the deleted scenes on that awesome disc.

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