I believe both have been released on SD DVD, derived from 35mm prints.
Both are AFAIK in the public domain, and if released in high quality would only get grabbed the Chinese and the Koreans among others. That's assuming that they would bother copying something that wasn't copyrighted.
I would think that there's a chance of seeing SiB as an extra on the 1954 restored release when it arrives.
Is there a way to get movies back out of the public domain ? Because if it isn't it seems to me that no company would invest the necessary time and money to bring such a title back into circulation in appropriate quality.
I could have sworn that I saw restored clips of Wellman's "A Star Is Born" that look infinitely superior to the print used on the Image disc (which is OK for what it is--certainly better than the "low-rent" broadcasts seen in the '70's & '80's); but perhaps I'm confusing this with clips I had seen of the restored "Becky Sharp."
I've seen pristine clips used as well. That's what I don't get-I understand why the rights holders don't bother to release a DVD of these public domain titles but what's preventing them from being used for TV showings? TCM has access to the WB/MGM/RKO catalog and they own the 1937 "A Star is Born" (Ron Haver mentioned in his book that he came across excellent source material for the original in Jack Warners private film stash) but the version shown on TCM is pretty poor. The trailer for it is on the 1954 ASiB DVD and it looks great. Here's a link to a story about the restoration of "Nothing Sacred": Cinetech News Article says it was shown on TV in Europe and that a DVD was to be released in 2000 but I only find the usual poor quality DVDs and I've never seen a good print on TV. Oh, well.
UCLA was responsible for the recent 35mm restoration of the 1937 A STAR IS BORN. If I recall correctly, they utilized the three-strip camera negs or some early element and the results were outstanding.
That being said, UCLA doesn't have to answer to WB in terms of ownership unless they supplied the elements, seeing as the film is in the public domain, and the price they put on the film may not be what Warners wants to pay for something so non-exclusive. There may also have been donor restrictions on the materials used for the print if the materials did not come from WB.
Actually, MGM released Zulu awhile ago on DVD when many inferior non-anamorphic PD copies were floating around, so it's not necessarily the case that it's not worthwhile to release a PD title for which you own the original elements. The only title that comes to mind as being "rescued" from PD is Metropolis.