USHE Press Release: Cleopatra 75th Anniversary Edition and The Pre-Code Hollywood Col

Ronald Epstein

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ONE OF THE MOST SPECTACULAR MOTION PICTURES EVER MADE AND A
COLLECTION OF SIX RARELY SEEN SHOCKERS FROM HOLLYWOOD’S
DECADENT EARLY DAYS KICK OFF THE NEW

UNIVERSAL BACKLOT SERIES

CLEOPATRA – 75TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
And
THE PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD COLLECTION
THE CHEAT
MERRILY WE GO TO HELL
HOT SATURDAY
TORCH SINGER
MURDER AT THE VANITIES
SEARCH FOR BEAUTY

Cary Grant, Claudette Colbert, Randolph Scott, Sylvia Sidney and Kitty
Carlisle Star in Some of the Most Daring Films in History

Available on DVD on April 7, 2009 from Universal Studios Home
Entertainment

Universal City, California, February 13, 2009 – Universal Studios Home Entertainment proudly announces the launch of the Universal Backlot Series of historic cinematic gems on DVD on April 7, 2009 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The first entries in the landmark series include The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection, six films from most decadent era in motion picture history that pre-date Hollywood’s motion picture rating system, and Cecil B. De Mille’s Oscar®-nominated historical epic, Cleopatra – 75th
Anniversary Edition.

Universal is opening its vaults of rare treasures, overlooked groundbreaking work and films of historical and cultural importance for the Universal Backlot Series. Each motion picture in the series will be digitally remastered from original film elements and presented in its intended aspect ratio to help preserve its place in cinema history. Many of the films will be available on DVD for the very first time and will include a wealth of revealing new bonus
features. The films, along with the documentaries, feature commentary, and archival materials that accompany them make the Universal Backlot Series essential additions to every serious cinema collection.

The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection, a 3-DVD set, is priced at $49.98 and includes a physical reproduction of the actual “Production Code” document in the DVD set. Cleopatra – 75th Anniversary Edition retails for $29.98 and includes 3 collectible lobby cards. Preorder close for both is 2/17/2009.

THE PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD COLLECTION

For the first time ever on DVD, The Cheat, Merrily We Go to Hell, Hot Saturday, Torch Singer, Murder at the Vanities and Search for Beauty will be available for home viewing in The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection, a new 3-disc DVD collection that also includes a fascinating bonus featurette revealing the secrets of Hollywood’s racy, risqué early days. Featuring films starring screen legends Cary Grant, Fredric March, Claudette Colbert,
Tallulah Bankhead, Randolph Scott, and Sylvia Sidney, The Pre-Code Hollywood Collection captures a unique and little known period in cinema history.

Before the 1934 introduction of the restrictive “Production Code” changed the way movies were made for the next four decades, Hollywood filmmakers operated virtually free from censorship. During the “pre-Code” era that lasted from 1929 to mid-1934, no subject was too scandalous. The public demanded graphic stories designed to titillate and shock, and the studios produced astonishing tales filled with adultery, prostitution, murder, illegal drug use, homosexuality and nudity.

BONUS FEATURES:

• FORBIDDEN FILM: THE PRODUCTION CODE ERA: A featurette on the
“Pre-Code Hollywood” era in which filmmakers had no rules.

SYNOPSES:

The Cheat

Hollywood wild child Tallulah Bankhead stars as a woman willing to do anything to pay off her gambling debts in an opulent and extravagant drama set in the sheltered environs of the uber-rich. Elsa Carlyle (Bankhead) is on the brink of financial ruin until she recklessly accepts help from lecherous scoundrel Hardy Livingstone (Irving Pichel). Livingston’s only condition is that she betrays her husband with him. When Elsa attempts to change the terms of their deal, Livingston’s shocking revenge could mean the end of Elsa’s sheltered world.

Merrily We Go to Hell

Abusive alcoholic Jerry Corbett (Fredric March) marries heiress Joan Prentiss (Sylvia Sidney), who helps him realize his dreams of becoming a playwright. Jerry’s flagrant affair with his leading lady (Adrienne Ames) pushes Joan into the arms of a charismatic young actor (Cary Grant), but dueling infidelities drive the couple apart before Joan can tell Jerry she is carrying his child.

Hot Saturday

Scandal erupts after a flirtatious young woman spends a night with a notorious playboy. Ruth Brock (Nancy Carroll) already has a reputation for being “fast” in her small town, but when she stays overnight at the home of wealthy Romer Sheffield (Cary Grant), tongues start wagging overtime. Even her fiancé (Randolph Scott) begins to think something is amiss when Ruth suddenly decides to move up their wedding date and Ruth finds herself caught in a web of malicious gossip that threatens to ruin her life.

Torch Singer

Abandoned by her lover, Sally Trent (Claudette Colbert) struggles unsuccessfully to provide for herself and illegitimate daughter. After she is forced to give up her child for adoption, Sally reinvents herself as Mimi Benton, a successful torch singer with a reputation for hard living. But she is also Aunt Jenny, the hostess of a children's radio program, who tells
bedtime stories and sings lullabies. When Mimi realizes that her daughter may be listening to Aunt Jenny, she mounts a campaign to find her using the show.

Murder at the Vanities

While the sexy musical revue “The Vanities” captivates an audience on its opening night, a murder investigation takes place backstage. As the mystery unravels behind the curtain, performers Gertrude Michael, Kitty Carlisle, Ann Sheridan, Lucille Ball and Duke Ellington go on with the show, presenting a wealth of memorable musical numbers including “Cocktails for Two,” “Where Do They Come From?” and the film’s most notorious number, “Sweet Marijuana.”

Search for Beauty

Real life Olympic swimming champion Buster Crabbe stars opposite Ida Lupino in a fast-paced satire of health-food hucksterism and Hollywood hype. Inspired by the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, three con artists trick prize-winning athletes into endorsing a racy magazine—and much worse. The athletes agree to be talent scouts for what they think is a fitness magazine, not realizing that it is being transformed into a far more lurid enterprise.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION:

Street date: April 7, 2009
Selection number: 61106092
Price: SRP $49.98
Running Time: Approx. 7 Hours 53 Minutes
Layers: Dual Layer
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame 1.33.1
Rating: Not Rated
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono


CLEOPATRA 75TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Nominated for five Academy Awards® including Best Picture, Cleopatra is classic DeMillean spectacle. Claudette Colbert stars as the cunning Queen of the Nile, with Warren William as Julius Caesar and Henry Wilcoxon as Marc Antony. Featuring a digitally remastered picture and all-new bonus features, Cleopatra 75th Anniversary Edition is a stunning tribute to one of the most breathtaking motion pictures ever made.

BONUS FEATURES:

• CLAUDETTE COLBERT: QUEEN OF THE SILVER SCREEN: An
insightful bio of one of the most popular movie stars of the 1930s and 1940s!
• CECIL B. DEMILLE: HOLLYWOOD’S EPIC DIRECTOR: A documentary
on one of the greatest showmen in Hollywood history.
• FORBIDDEN FILM: THE PRODUCTION CODE ERA: A featurette on the
“Pre-Code Hollywood” era in which filmmakers had no rules.
• FEATURE COMMENTARY: With filmmaker F.X. Feeney.
• THEATRICAL TRAILER: The original promotional trailer for the theatrical
release.

SYNOPSIS

History tells of the ruthless and ambitious Queen of the Nile. Exquisitely beautiful, she uses seduction as her weapon, luring Roman leader Julius Caesar (Warren William) into leaving his wife for her. But Cleopatra's grandiose plans for their future are thwarted when Caesar is brutally murdered. Her grief is short-lived, however, as she turns her attention to Caesar's successor, Marc Antony (Henry Wilcoxon). As a result, Antony’s rule is soon fraught with betrayal and anguish, leading to a startling conclusion the Daily Express hailed as, “A great cinematic achievement, a spectacle of breathtaking brilliance.”

TECHNICAL INFORMATION:

Street date: April 7, 2009
Selection number: 61106005
Price: SRP $29.98
Running Time: 1 Hour 42 Minutes
Layers: Dual Layer
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame 1.33.1
Rating: Not Rated
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitle
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono

CAST AND FILMMAKERS:

Cast: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Henry Wilcoxon
Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Writing Credits: Bartlett Cormack, Waldemar Young, Vincent Lawrence
 

WadeM

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I hope this new UNIVERSAL BACKLOT SERIES is successful.
 

Mike*HTF

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Likewise.

And I'm encouraged by the inclusion of featurettes on Cleopatra.
 

Charles H

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Great news that Universal is licensing another MCA film--Leo MacCarey's MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW--to Criterion.
 

Shakey67

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"Merrily We Go To Hell"... one of the greatest titles EVER.
 

Jim Peavy

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Cleopatra -- finally! haven't seen this in years, but remember it being wild. The sets and costumes look like a science fiction film. And Colbert's Cleopatra being rolled out of a carpet at the feet of Marc Anthony is one of my all-time favorite scenes!
 

ColbyCo82

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Does Claudette take a milk bath in Cleopatra? I thought that was Sign of the Cross. Either way she is gorgeous in both films.
 

Bob Cashill

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CLEOPATRA is part of the three-year-old CECIL B. DeMILLE COLLECTION.
 

Tim Tucker

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Yes, but that version was bare bones.
 

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Savant has a fine review of the Pre-Code set. Looking forward to the set - my favorite in the bunch is Torch Singer.
 

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It's so great that we are getting 12 pre-codes in two sets within the space of 2 weeks. Even better, the average price - including postage - worked out for me to be a bit over AUD$10 per film (about US$7), which of course excludes the value of all the extra features.
 

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two more weeks before pre-orders ship... can't wait!!!

This is my most anticipated set of the year!!!
 

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B&N have just to increase the members discount a *little* more, then I'm in. C'mon B&N...
 

ColbyCo82

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I cant wait until we can see some screen caps
 

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Review of Cleopatra on DVDTalk
 

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My copy of the Pre-Code Hollywood Coll. arrived today and I'm really hoping that Universal's Backlot Series has a bigger lasting effect than some of their recent series. I'm looking forward to their next waves.
 

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Does anyone know how this Cleopatra transfer compares to the one from the Cecil B. DeMille Collection?

I really like Union Pacific so if the prints are the same for Cleopatra between the two it might be better going the collection route for me ($41 for the collection, $21 for Cleopatra separately). I realize the collection doesn't have all the extra's but Union Pacific is not offerred separately at this time and may never be.
 

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