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Discussion in 'DVD' started by R. Kay, Mar 16, 2005.
I loved these films growing up, but have heard nothing about any imminent release. Any news?
Slight tangent, but I just got "Dead End" and it looks pretty good. GREAT film BTW....
Leo Gorcey Jr. was telling people last year that Warners had told him that the BB were on their radar for eventual box sets. Warners themselves indicated at the last HTF chat that the BB were being considered. My guess is that we'll eventually see some releases but only after Warners has gone through their "A" list titles first. Steve
I don't know if this is good news or bad news for Bowery Boys fans, but DVDPlanet added a 5-disc set from Passport/Koch called The Bowery Boys Collection to their site today, streets 9/6, $29.95 retail. The Koch site has even less info. Tim
Passport/Koch is a "public domain" outfit. The BB are not public domain so I wonder if this is really an East Side Kids collection (they used the same general group of actors). If Passport is illegally releasing BB movies, I'm sure they'll be getting a letter from Warner legal. I'll wait for the Warners releases. Steve
The Warner Chat that was conducted here a few months ago stated that Bowery Boys sets would be coming out from them, starting in '06. The Koch release is most likely the East Side Kids era, before they became known as the Bowery Boys in 1946.
The last we heard about the Boys is that the planned 2006 releases were put on hold pending WHV finding better elements. Has there been any additional word on whether they've been successful in locating any? Thanks, Steve
"Hello! I have a little matter I would like to disgust (discuss) with you. It refrains (refers) to some kids here in the Bowery. You see, I'm what you call a benefracturer (benefactor) of humanity, and being that this matter is highly contagious (comprehensive) I'd like it if me and my accomplice (colleague), Mr. Jones, could come out tonight and prevaricate (prevail) about it in person. But tell me, are you going to coagulate (cooperate) with us, or ain't you?"--Terrence Aloysius "Slip" Mahoney (Leo Gorcey) from THE BOWERY BOYS MEET THE MONSTERS (1954) screenplay by Ellwood Ullman and Edward Bernds, directed by Edward Bernds. Warner Brothers Home Entertainment said the same precise thing about the (previous) delay with THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN tv series starring George Reeves in that the company was having difficulty with some of the source elements available in their archives but they ended up releasing some shoddy and abbreviated video transfers just the same (ie. "The Stolen Costume"). Ultimately this will likely prove to be the case with a DVD release of THE BOWERY BOYS films I fear. There is also the precedent that Warner Brothers previously announced the impending DVD release of FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) for 2005 which was delayed for a year and will now (finally) be made available this November 2006. The (main) holdup in this instance is that the company wants to make available these films in their original theatrical release order and it would seem that the earliest titles in the series (ie. LIVE WIRES, IN FAST COMPANY, etc.) are the ones that are in the less-than-presentable condition. Instead of keeping everyone (anxiously) waiting as a sign of good faith why don't they just release some of the films that are in good condition to get this DVD film series started? Who really cares about their original production order anyway? Whenever I've seen these films on tv broadcasts the print quality (if memory serves me correctly) has always been just fine with the exception that condensed (or rather edited) 50 minute versions deliberately shortened to fit an hour length timeslot have been made available for tv syndication (the average film actually runs anywhere from 61 to 70 minutes in length). So it may be that some of the original, full-length source elements after so many years are now completely missing from the Warner film vaults. Perish the thought! This is my first message post made in this discussion forum typed out in sterile, flat, undistinguished typing and it looks as such! Jeff T.
You know what? Above all other studios, Warner has a reputation of doing the best restoration job on their classic library. They aren't perfect (The Searchers is an example that comes to mind), but history has shown that they will absolutely delay the release of a title until it can be completed to perfection. I would much rather wait an additional year for Warner to do the best possible job with The Bowery Boys than see the sort of subpar presentation that is available through the public domain companies. Remember, the studio isn't just restoring these films for the sake of DVD. They are restoring film for history sake to be released on all future high-definition formats available now and in the future. I don't believe rushing these releases to DVD is the right thing to do.
Let's be patient- the fact that Warners is looking for better source material is a tribute to Bowery Boys fans everywhere. As soon as the best elements are found, they'll probably accelerate the process of bringing the series to DVD. It'll be worth the wait.
I'll take the Bowery Boys in the condition they are in vs. not at all. I know Warners is good at restoring but with 48 films and these not exactly considered film classics I don't think they would spend that much money restoring 48 films as much as I would like to believe that. I think that is why they are searching for better prints to release so they don't have to restore them and since many of the films are not in very good condition right now. The problem with the searching is that its not that likely that there are better prints. These were low budget films by Monogram pictures printed on low budget film stock and probably not well preserved over the years.
I couldn't agree more. Restoration is a beautiful thing, but there's only so much Warner can do with each and every title. Out of 48 Bowery Boys films, some are bound to be more or less pristine than others. With some prints you just can't get blood from a stone; if all 48 movies can't look sparkling, then all 48 simply can't look sparkling, and that's it. My worry is that Warner may be afraid to release the entire series at all if they can't make them all look like they were filmed yesterday. I don't mind waiting if we can be sure it'll pay off, but the core audience for these older films ain't gettin' any younger, either.
I'm ok with waiting until Warners finds acceptable prints. I may not be getting any younger, but I plan on being around for quite a while yet Anyone reading the other current threads where WHV is getting beat up for perceived problems with The Searchers and Naked Spur readily recognizes that releasing a "good enough" or merely adequate DVD isn't going to cut it (or think back to the threads complaining about the Val Lewton DVDs). The Bowery Boys may not have been "A" level pictures, but their fan base holds them in "A" level esteem. Monogram elements are problematic, but after seeing Dillinger from Noir 1 it appears that good prints do exist of at least some of these films. I am confident that if better prints can be found, Warners will find them.
But I wonder if it's a matter of the prints they've seen so far being "unacceptable" or just that they're not "immaculate"? If it turned out that they couldn't find "perfect" prints for each and every one of the 48 films, would you rather they shelved the whole project? That's what I'm concerned about. Warner is a great studio, but it's not like they haven't released some titles that were less than pristine before. Their Val Lewton Horror Collection was an example of this.
In defense of Warners one must remember that the RKO film library changed hands quite a bit over the decades, and original negatives/prints got lost in the shuffle. The fact that Citizen Kane looks good as it does on DVD is a miracle when you consider that the original camera negative was lost. Apparently the Lewton films suffered from all the ownership changes.
This is definitely going to be a tough call! I think Randy is probably correct in that Warner Brothers is (likely) going to merely utilize their best existing prints currently in circulation for this particular DVD film series. I also believe there is some confusion in that the Eastside Kids comedies (of the early to mid-1940s) have always been in (generally) reprehensibly poor condition due no doubt to their having been processed on inferior film stock (as suggested) but The Bowery Boys movies (of the late 1940s and the entire 1950s) released for tv syndication since 1960 were usually in quite outstanding shape by comparison. I've (personally) seen several Monogram Pictures/Allied Artists Pictures Corporation SF and horror films of the 1950s fully restored to pristine quality and believe me there was absolutely nothing wrong with the particular type of film stock used. Of course Warner Brothers could (pleasantly) surprise us all and do extensive restoration work on this film property after all. Hope springs eternal! Jeff T.
I hope they do great restorations on these also. It would be a dream come true. I just don't think it will happen. The cost vs. return for Warners would keep them from doing this. If they wouldn't spend the money on "The Naked Spur" for restoration why would they spend the money for 48 Bowery Boys movies? Regarding the condition of the films. Yes the Eastside Kids do generally look worse but the Bowery Boys were Monogram from 1946-1952 and then switched to Allied Artists from 1953-1958. The Allied Artists films are in great shape, its about 6-8 of the Monogram films that are not so good at least based on the TV prints that TCM used about 10 years ago. They oddly showed only the 1st 43 films and left out the last 5. Maybe decent copies of the last 5 are also part of the problem.
I was going to ask about that. I just got TCM last month (thanks, Cablevision) and I was wondering what they looked like in the marathon airing. BTW, are all of the Eastside Kids films (which I consider better and more entertaining than BB) PD? Is there any chance of a legit, remastered release of those films?
The Eastside Kids films are PD up to a certain year (I think 1944). The films after that are still covered by copyright. That is why one will find many ALPHA type titles of the first 15 or so titles but none of the last batch. Steve
According the Movies Unlimited website, the prospects of getting the Bowery Boys on DVD are potentially in jeopardy. The same column also mentions that Warners plans for a Monogram Chan set may have been derailed for the same reason. I guess the next question is how bad are the available Bowery Boys prints and are there any good quality 16mm prints that could fit the bill? I know WHV doesn't like to use 16mm because of the quality dropoff but if quality 35mm elements are truly lost to the ages then, in my opinion, consumers would be more forgiving of a less than stellar presentation. Steve