Robert Wise's THE SET-UP (1949) - coming to R1 DVD?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Roderick Gauci, Jan 6, 2003.

  1. Roderick Gauci

    Roderick Gauci Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 3, 2002
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    I have just learned that Robert Wise’s film noir masterpiece THE SET-UP (1949) was released on DVD in France (through the renowned Editions Montparnasse label) on 12/04/02.

    This label has released several classic Hollywood films (all of which, incidentally, were originally produced by RKO) on DVD. Most of these have been digitally restored and, even though only a few include more than basic supplementary features, it is a reflection of the esteem in which they are held over there - whereas in the US, only a very small percentage of them have surfaced yet!

    To go back to THE SET-UP, which appears to be one of the few Special Edition releases in this series, it includes a full-length Audio Commentary by director Robert Wise. I don’t know whether this was recorded just now or whether it was ported from a previous Laserdisc edition, but I remember reading somewhere that Wise had recently recorded three or maybe four commentary tracks for upcoming DVD releases of some of his films. One is a brand-new track (accompanied by Nicholas Meyer) for Fox’s THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) and another, presumably, for Universal’s SE re-issue of THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1970). It would be awesome if he has managed to record a track for THE SET-UP as well; after all, it’s a relatively short picture at 72 minutes! I know as well that he had done an intermittent Audio Commentary for his Val Lewton-produced horror classic THE BODY SNATCHER (1945), which had been included on the film’s LD: it would also be great if he could revisit this marvelous film (again, it’s not very long), but it would have to be for a Region 1 DVD release - as Editions Montparnasse have already put this film out on R2, albeit bare-bones!

    It’s just shameful that Warners who owns such a vast catalogue of classic films (including the RKO library) is so slow in delivering them to their fans. I know many require some form of restoration and, perhaps, not so many supplements can be supplied for the majority of these titles - but, if anything is to be done at all, they should hurry up a bit because few people from the golden age of Hollywood are still around to comment and leave us their thoughts and memories, as it were. It’s truly remarkable, then, how veteran film-makers like Wise and the British Val Guest (who has recently recorded a commentary track for THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT [1955] - presumably for an upcoming R1 DVD release from MGM/UA), both of whom are now at a pretty advanced age, continue to contribute their knowledge of cinema - and are clearly still enthusiastic about it!

    As for the Editions Montparnasse RKO titles, I’m torn up whether to acquire their 2-Disc Set release of Howard Hawks’ THE BIG SKY (1952), which includes both the 122-minute Theatrical Version and the 141-minute Original Director’s Cut (although it appears that the latter has unremovable French subtitles!), as well as a few noteworthy supplements (among them a 16-page booklet, presumably in French only). It’s very unlikely that Warners (when they decide to put this out on R1 DVD) will be so generous; I don’t really see this film as being a priority title for them, so we’ll probably just get the shorter version, with no extras (though it must be said that Warners did give us both versions of another Hawks classic, THE BIG SLEEP [1945/46], albeit in clearly unrestored prints!!).

    So, in the long run, I wonder if THE SET-UP is being prepared for an R1 release - and, at the same time, continue to hope that more classic Hollywood films are in the process of being restored and transferred for posterity onto DVD, for all of us to enjoy over and over again.
  2. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Apr 15, 2002
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    Thanks for sharing this with us, I am tempted to buy the dvd. What is their website ?
  3. Dick

    Dick Producer

    May 22, 1999
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    I was one of the biggest detractors of Warner Bros for several years, while they dallied around releasing a couple of catalog titles each year. Now, however, I tend to want to cut them some slack. They have increased their catalog output significantly, trying to juggle releases from their three major libraries (their own, MGM, and RKO). They are also trying to make each release a worthy purchase with at least a modicum of restoration, if not the full-blown treatment of, say, NORTH BY NORTHWEST and CITIZEN KANE. I am quite satisfied with their efforts recently, and it appears they plan to step-up their catalog release schedule. It will be worth it, (won't it?), to see KING KONG and WHERE EAGLES DARE and hundreds of other titles given a decent release rather than a perfunctory, substandard one.
  4. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

    Dec 28, 1998
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    To the best of my knowledge there was only one release of The Set-Up on Laserdisc. ( Turner Home Entertainment via Image Entertainment.) It does not have a Wise commentary track.
    - Walter.

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