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Press Release: Four Classics from Sony on Feb. 22, 2005 (1 Viewer)

Aaron Silverman

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On February 22, 2005, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will premiere four classic films on DVD: TWENTIETH CENTURY, WE WERE STRANGERS, BITTER VICTORY and BEHOLD A PALE HORSE ($19.94 MSRP each).

Twentieth Century (1934)
Directed by Howard Hawks (Scarface, The Big Sleep) and starring John Barrymore (Grand Hotel), Carole Lombard (To Be or Not to Be).

Not Rated
Black & White / Closed Captioned
Running Time: 91 Minutes

Often imitated but never equaled, TWENTIETH CENTURY is a landmark in movie history: the very first screwball comedy ever produced. The prototype for free-wheeling farces ranging from His Girl Friday to Something Wild, Howard Hawks' rapid-fire romantic comedy established the essential ingredients of the "screwball" a dizzy dame, a charming but befuddled hero, dazzling dialogue and a dash of slapstick. John Barrymore stars as Oscar Jaffe, an egomaniacal Broadway director who transforms a sexy salesclerk (Carole Lombard) into a temperamental superstar. When their hilarious, histrionic love affair eventually ends, her career remains red-hot while his turns stone cold. Hoping to lose his creditors and regain his stature, Barrymore buys a ticket on "the Twentieth Century," a luxury train bound for California. To his delight, Lombard is also aboard, offering him one last chance at professional and romantic success. As inspired as Robin Williams and as influential as Charlie Chaplin, Barrymore created the fast-talking, slapstick style of acting that comedians copy to this day. More than a classic, TWENTIETH CENTURY is a mile-a-minute trip to comedy heaven.

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:
Digitally Mastered Audio & Full Frame Video
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles: English
Filmographies
Bonus Trailers
Scene Selections


We Were Strangers (1949)
Directed by John Huston (Maltese Falcon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre), starring Jennifer Jones (A Song for Bernadette) and John Garfield (Body and Soul) with a screenplay by Huston and Peter Viertel (The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea) based on the novel Rough Sketch by Robert Sylvester.

Not Rated
Black & White / Closed Captioned
Running Time: 105 Minutes

It's been seven long years since his people last tasted freedom. So when Cuban-born expatriate Tony Fenner (John Garfield) finally returns to Havana, he joins the Organization, a small band of revolutionaries dedicated to ending the tyrannical rule of President Gerardo Machado. Aided by fellow rebel China Valdes (Jennifer Jones), Fenner proceeds with his audacious master plan: to execute the head of the senate and then assassinate all of Cuba's leaders at his well-attended state funeral. And so, as the secret police race to stop them, Fenner and Valdes tunnel beneath the cemetery, where they intend to detonate a bomb so powerful, it will wipe out Machado's entire government with one blow. One of director John Huston's most controversial and rarely screened films, WE WERE STRANGERS is an explosively intense, action-suspense thriller.

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:
Digitally Mastered Audio & 16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles: English
Filmographies
Bonus Trailers
Scene Selections

Bitter Victory (1957)
Directed by Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause) and starring Richard Burton (Academy Award® nomination for Best Actor, Equus, 1977 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?, 1966), Curd Jurgens (The Spy who Loved Me) and Ruth Roman (TV's "Knott's Landing").

Not Rated
Color / Closed Captioned
Running Time: 102 Minutes

A World War II drama starring Richard Burton and Curt Jurgens as Captain Leith and Major Brand, a pair of British Army officers assigned to execute a daring commando raid on the Libyan stronghold of General Rommel. Before the mission even begins, the tension between the two is evident, a situation that is only exacerbated when Brand learns that Leith was once romantically involved with his wife, Jane (Ruth Roman). Once the operation is underway, Brand's cowardice forced Leith to step in and kill a German soldier. This act only adds to Brand's hatred for his second-in-command and as it grows, a series of disasters threaten the men and the success of their mission. Who will live, who will die, and what price honor?

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:
Digitally Mastered Audio & 16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles: English
Filmographies
Bonus Trailers
Scene Selections

Behold a Pale Horse (1964)
Directed by Fred Zinnemann (Three Oscars® for Benjy, 1951, From Here to Eternity,1953, A Man for All Seasons, 1956) and starring Gregory Peck (Guns of Navarrone), Anthony Quinn (Oscar® Winner, Viva Zapata, 1953 Best Actor, Lust for Life, 1956 Best Actor) and Omar Sharif (Oscar® Nominee, 1962 Best Actor, Lawrence of Arabia).

Not Rated
Color / Closed Captioned
Running Time: 118 Minutes

Manuel has been on the run for 15 years - and now it seems his time is up. Gregory Peck stars as Manuel, a guerilla leader who has been sought by a cruel police captain named Vinolas (Anthony Quinn) for fifteen years but has always managed to elude him. Upon learning that his mother is dying, Manuel is forced into the open, where Vinolas awaits. Manuel must reach the town of San Martin where he'll be given a map by the 11-year-old Paco Marietto Angeletti) who hopes that Manuel will avenge his father's death by killing Vinolas. Manuel hears that his mother has died, but makes the arduous journey nonetheless, only to be betrayed by an informer who tells Vinolas of Manuel's plans. Reaching San Martin, Manuel has the opportunity to kill either the informer or Vinolas. Whom will he choose?

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:
Digitally Mastered Audio & 16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles: English
Filmographies
Bonus Trailers
Scene Selections
 

Rob Willey

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Everytime I hear this, I say what about Bombshell that was released a year earlier!?

Rob
 

Jaime_Weinman

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Not to mention that "screwball comedy" isn't exactly an official or even very accurate term. I mean, Howard Hawks didn't sit down and say "I'm going to make a screwball comedy." To call something the first screwball comedy is like calling something the first revisionist Western. It's meaningless.

That aside, Twentieth Century is one of my favorite movies and I urge anyone who loves movie comedy to get it, never mind the lack of extras; the movie alone is worth it.

But the DVD cover is atrocious, what with the cheesy artwork and silly tagline ("Love is a farce"). More than any other studio, Columbia now seems desperate to convince buyers that classic movies are really current movies. Unnecessary, since studios like Warner Brothers have shown that you can achieve more success by using the old, old-fashioned poster art.
 

Eric Peterson

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Boy, you were kidding there. That cover art automatically debuts in my top 10 of worst cover arts to date. It's absolutely hideous. How on earth would Columbia believe that the uninitated would be sucked into buying it by looking at that is beyond me. Is nobody else paying attention to WB and what they're accomplishing with their classic catalog.

...and why on earth, do they bother listing a series of Special Features that aren't Special Features at all?

That said, I'll be picking up "Twentieth Century", and probably "We Were Strangers"
 

Ernest Rister

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Not to mention that "screwball comedy" isn't exactly an official or even very accurate term.

It describes a movement within the comedy genre, just like "slasher" describes a movement within the horror genre. If someone says "screwball comedy", the first thing I think of is Bringing Up Baby.
 

Aaron Silverman

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Yes. I sent them an email about it, but they haven't responded. It's probably just a typo in the press release.
 

Armin Jager

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The first months of 2005 are really wonderful. Let's take this release.
BITTER VICTORY is always shown in a shortened version on TV in Germany, WE WERE STRANGERS is the only John Huston film which was never shown in Germany neither theatrically nor on TV (and PINKY is the only one missing from Elia Kazan and is now released on DVD, too :) ),it will be a pleasure to hear TWENTIETH CENTURY in the original version with subtitles and Fred Zinnemann is one of my favourite directors, so I guess I'll end up buying all four discs.
And you folks are complaining about the cover-art :) ... though you're right.
 

Douglas R

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I can't believe how bad the cover art for these DVDs is. It's said that studios use the faces of stars on the covers in order to attract the casual buyer. But most casual buyers are unlikely to even know who Jennifer Jones or John Garfield are, so Sony might just as well use original artwork so that the DVDs attract those people who are interested in classic movies.
 

Aaron Silverman

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Douglas, I like the way you put that. I will probably pass these thoughts on to Sony at some point. I think these covers look pretty lowbrow.
 

Eric Peterson

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My thoughts exactly. There's an even lower chance that they'll know who Carole Lombard & Lionel Barrymore are, although they may recognize the name Barrymore. Even if they did, those pictures make them look so horrendously ugly, that no impulse buy will be triggered. I probably would never refuse to buy a disc based on cover art, but I can say without a doubt that I've purchased several WB classics, that I might not have, primarily due to the classic poster artwork that they use.
 

Mike D

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Egad! that Twentieth Century cover is hideous. What were they thinking? I might not even buy it because I wouldn't want that atrocity in my collection!


I think Fox have done a fine job incorporating original artwork in their forthcoming Film Noir series. I can't understand why more studios would not follow suit. It's not like the original poster wouldn't be a vast improvement.

 

Mike D

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Oh, absolutely! I'm ecstatic the film is being released and I'll probably just print the original artwork on that paper bag, but if Sony thinks sales might be negatively impacted because of terrible cover art they just might be persuaded to change it.

Too bad I won't be able to do much about the menus though.
 

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