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WHERE FOR ART THOU CLASSICS?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Nick*Z, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. Message #1 of 149 Oct 3, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
    Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Screenwriter

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    It's the end of 2017 and film lovers everywhere have a great deal to be grateful for; what with studio archives releasing a good many of their own hidden gems and bona fide classics, and, third party distributors picking up the slack with licensing agreements to add even more girth to the roster of 'must have' titles. It's been great fun revisiting these in either hi-def or Ultra hi-def. And for this, we should be ecstatic.

    It makes the query in this post all the more immediate and pressing, however. As rumors about some classics to be reissued in better quality transfers (rumors started all the way back in January of this year) have yet to actually see the light with an 'official' release date. Is it just me, or have others recalled the promises made to North American audiences to have a new 'digitally restored' edition of The Lion in Winter - costarring Peter O'Toole and Kate 'the great' Hepburn? Ditto for The Big Country; newly remastered and about to get a re-issue from Kino...or so it has been suggested but not documented, as yet. Personally, I'm tired of various sites - not this one - that claim to have seen UHD transfers of The Godfather and the original Star Wars; teasing us with their aptitude for hyperbole but with NO official announcements or even a glimmer of actually getting one by the end of next year. And what became of the Universal/Amazon 'exclusive' pre-orders for Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, The Paper, For Richer or Poorer, etc. et al. After getting a lot of us to actually do these pre-orders, the pages have simply vanished from Amazon and the orders seemingly left in an undisclosed purgatory. Meanwhile, movies like Doctor Zhivago have already been given lavishly appointed 4K upgrades and theatrical reissues in Europe with NO sign of a UHD release. One would sincerely hope Zhivago is on the short list of such immortals to make its way to the 'new' format: along with Gone With The Wind, The Wizard of Oz, or (choke!) Ryan's Daughter (still not even on Blu-ray).

    And then there is the issue of rights and regions to contend with. With regards to 'region locked' disc releases. It only makes sense for new movies, yet to be marketed or perhaps even released completely around the world. But vintage product that has been out for 40 plus years? Absolute rubbish. Clear the rights across the board and release these discs everywhere. Or release them only to the Euro marketplace, but keep them region free so those who wish to spend the extra coin at least have the opportunity to import their drug of choice! You'll solve a lot of 'bootleg' problems this way!

    Were that certain labels in the U.K. and France could get right with the Lord and, more directly, their licensees to grant them permission to send some of their phenomenal efforts our way. I read recently that all of the Agatha Christie murder mystery features, beginning with Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express, right on through to John Guillerman's Death on the Nile have been given spiffy new remasters from Studio Canal. Canal is one of the most progressive labels out there. Unfortunately, less than a trickle of their product has been allowed to proliferate the North American market. Ditto for Arrow and Eureka! and Masters of Cinema: too many fine labels not allowed to peddle their wares in the U.S. and Canada. Now, if the licensees had plans of their own to release such gems as this, and others like The Glass Key, The Blue Dahlia, Revenge of the Creature, El Cid, The Fall of the Roman Empire, etc. et al over here, then I wouldn't grumble. I'd wait. But these movies and hundreds more have been given pristine restorations, only to be made available everywhere else in the world except here!

    And then, of course there is the bane of the industry to contend with: Disney Inc. who, after launching their own archive to market their live action classics - limiting them only to a select few 'club joiners', only to be black-market sold on the internet at premium price points, seem now to have absolutely shuttered any and all plans to continue releasing their formidable stable of art even there: leaving such monumental and cherished movies as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the original Parent Trap, Three Lives of Thomasina, The Happiest Millionaire, Darby O'Gill and the Little People, The Journey of Natty Gann and on and on, to molder with their illustrious past.

    I'm not even going to talk about Song of the South - that much requested, and as buried golden oldie likely never to get released because of erroneous claims of 'racism' running rampant. Nor am I even going to bother with dreaming for a remastered version of Tombstone (the current Blu-ray is a travesty), or wish for more of the Touchstone/Hollywood Pictures archive to arrive anytime soon: movies like I Love Trouble, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Outrageous Fortune, Hello Again!, Pretty Woman, While You Were Sleeping. And I think its fairly late in the game to expect Disney to actually give us Bedknobs and Broomsticks in its restored full length version, or go back and actually do justice to The Sword and the Stone. Folks, we are still missing Melody Time and The Three Caballeros; to say nothing of all those beloved Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck/Goofy/Silly Symphony shorts that were only given a very limited DVD release and then never heard from again. For shame! The mouse house ought to be very ashamed indeed.

    Add to this a growing concern from yours truly that a lot of studios have all but retired the notion of releasing 3-strip Technicolor movies to hi-def (presumably due to costly restoration and realignment issues), as well as some larger format movies (again due to cost) and B&W classics (too much/not enough), and well, as much gratitude as I possess for what's been offered to all of us in 2017, I will reiterate the notion that there is a ton more work to be done and soon as fans of such movies as National Velvet, The Harvey Girls, High Society, Around the World in 80 Days, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Student Prince, Show Boat, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Raintree County, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, China Seas, Dinner at Eight, San Francisco, Red Dust, Test Pilot, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Andy Hardy movies, The Thin Man franchise, The Great Ziegfeld, Ziegfeld Girl, Ziegfeld Follies, the original Kismet, Rio Rita, Marie Antoinette, Week-end at the Waldorf, Mrs. Parkington, Mrs. Skeffington, All This and Heaven Too, My Reputation, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, They Died With Their Boots On, Charge of the Light Brigade, A Woman's Face. Respectfully, I hope someone at Warner Bros. is reading this.

    Fellas, I adore your archive releases. But please, can we have some legitimate classics feathered into the mix of camp and B-grade horror and C-grade action/drama that has become something of the bread n' butter of late. Freebie and the Bean gets a release before, say Reversal of Fortune? It Came from Hell is ahead in the queue than say, I Walked With A Zombie? Brigadoon (which I love) comes before High Society or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers? You had remastered editions of Annie Get Your Gun, Good News and The Harvey Girls released to DVD. You have an HD version of Ryan's Daughter. Where are they on Blu. Also, you need to remaster Anchors Aweigh and On the Town - they look horrendous! It is a very sad day when such stars as Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, Jane Powell and Esther Williams are barely even represented on Blu-ray, if, in fact they are represented at all! I won't even acknowledge the waste of seeing something like The Green Slime, or Ice Pirates given front line status when you haven't even come around to remastering Around the World in 80 Days or corrected the gate weave and color density issues on an Oscar winner like Driving Miss Daisy!

    I remember VP George Feltenstein making a comment once about 'creatives' should never be involved in marketing decisions because they would only release their favorites and thus not make the company any money at all. Well heck...whose favorite was Deep In My Heart, the flimsiest of the faux composer bio pic movies to come from Metro at the tail end of the cycle. Surely there are more fans of either Till the Clouds Roll By or Words & Music than this movie. How about rescuing the Frank Capra classic, Meet John Doe and MGM's Topper from public domain purgatory and release both - at least to Blu-ray!

    Finally, all of the studios (with possibly the exception of Sony/Columbia) have been guilty of dragging their feet where their libraries are concerned and, in fact, possessing a thoroughly backward philosophy on remastering their catalog. Is it just me or is anyone else tired of seeing new to Blu releases advertised as "new 2K transfer from original elements" when the future of movie mastering is already advanced full frame into 4K?!? Would it not make more sense for the studios - even if they are only willing to release these movies as yet on Blu-ray and not UHD, to master their elements in 4K on the off chance that someday they will be required to reissue them in actual 4K. Here's how the game is played, folks. Formats move forward.

    No one is clamoring for a return to the bad ole days of pan and scan VHS tape. So, rather than have to remaster a movie now in a "brand new 2K scan" and then have to go back two years from now and do a 4K scan (wasting time and money) why not just do it once, do it big and give it class? This used to be the old MGM motto years ago. It's still a good motto to hang onto, especially in our increasingly disposable world of pop-u-tainments: movies made strictly for the dollar value they can immediately reap with zero thought paid for the actual longevity of 'the art itself'. Does anyone here seriously think we'll be celebrating the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman? I feel sorry for those who do. Not a bad film. Just not one that has enough 'legs' to stand on its own for the duration of history itself.

    All this may sound like a bit of a diatribe and smack down to the studios in totem. It's not. It's merely a reminder that what you've given us is appreciated, but at the same time, considered by many as just not enough to illustrate a whole-hearted investment in seeing your past shine through into the future. Well, 2018 is just around the corner. Like many of us who frequent these message boards, I'll wait in the hope of better things for the coming New Year. So, for what it's worth - thank you for what you've given us thus far. Might we be so bold as to assume you'll try even harder to satisfy us next year?
     
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  2. RMajidi

    RMajidi Screenwriter

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    Agree with your sentiments and wishes.

    Re The Big Country: my understanding is that MGM claimed not to have been aware of the stretch issues on their previous master, after Kino raised the issue with them in response to the unified chorus here on HTF; wherefore, the planned release was delayed to ensure it would be done right ...or so I understand.
     
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  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    As to one query, many films are not positioned to have a 4k scan, for either lack of elements, or actual resolution.
     
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  4. commander richardson

    commander richardson Second Unit

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    Really good write up .............my guess is that many of these major film studios employ numerous young people with little or no interest in the movies of yesterday and who have zero interest in the Golden Age of Cinema and additionally films that are most wanted on Bluray ........they probably think the name errol flynn is a shaving cream......
     
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  5. Rick Thompson

    Rick Thompson Screenwriter

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    Regarding The Big Country, I'm hoping they'll finally get the color right on the copper wash in the Main Title sequence. The current blu has it in there lightly, not the rich color of the original release (I'm old enough to have seen it). That's better than the DVD, which "corrected" it to black and white(!), but still not as it should be. Only the VHS release got it right.
     
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  6. skylark68

    skylark68 Screenwriter

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    I agree with everything you said except for the Green Slime attack... Even cheese Italo-Japanese co productions should be given their due!
     
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  7. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor
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    On thing is that what was a great eight transfer years ago is not acceptable today. The demand is just not there as it was in the early 2000’s.
     
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  8. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    Can we have a reader's digest version please?
     
  9. atcolomb

    atcolomb Screenwriter

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    One of many reasons i purchased a all region blu-ray player is so i can see my favorite classics like the Ealing films The Man in the White Suit or The Lavender Hill Mob that are only available on blu-ray in the UK.
     
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  10. Billy Batson

    Billy Batson Producer

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    If only old b/w (& I suppose I mean really old) films sold better. Personally 2K will do for me, plus a clean up (neg & pos dirt really does show up on HD). Universal are doing brilliantly with their old horror movies, I hope they move on to the 'Road To' films. It's Warner who have the lions share of my most wanted b/w films, I was looking through those thick books, The MGM/ Warner Bros' Story, & oh so many great b/w films missing from Blu-ray, although it must be said, a lot of the DVDs look very nice.
     
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  11. Thomas T

    Thomas T Producer

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    Why isn't this on blu ray, why isn't that on blu ray, why are they releasing XYZ but not ABC? Your "priorities" aren't necessarily my or anyone else's priorities. I, for one, am very happy to have Deep In My Heart in blu ray (in fact, I'd rather have it than Song Of The South). I'm just grateful to get anything remotely "classic" in a dying format. The glass is half full, not half empty. Your demanding attitude of give me this, give me that is as irritating as your denunciation of Kino for having an entire reel of Marjorie Morningstar in misregistration when, in fact, there was no such thing and when someone called you on it, you conveniently disappeared.
     
  12. Billy Batson

    Billy Batson Producer

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    Ha, yes, we mustn't lose sight of the fact that we have many classic films on Blu-ray, & looking just great, & we all knew that we'd never have all the titles that were released on DVD.

    & looking forward to reading Robert Harris' report on The Sea Wolf.

    & er...Warner, Flynn & Marx brothers, just saying :)
     
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  13. TJPC

    TJPC Producer

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    You don't even mention the travesty of travesty of only releasing the flat version of 3D American movies on North American blu Rays while releasing them in Europe on 3D blu!!
     
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  14. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I think So Dear To My Heart is a better movie than Song of the South (although the animation isn't as good.)
     
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  15. Message #15 of 149 Oct 3, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
    Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I, for one, refuse to condemn third party distributors for not releasing region-free discs when their contractual obligations do not allow them to do so.

    There are legitimate complaints to be made about selections of titles released and timeframes, but I personally think it's silly to get angry about little companies who are already doing their best with limited means to get neglected titles out there.

    I've said this in so many threads already, but at the risk of repeating myself - in the year 2017, the market for physical home media is fracturing and shrinking. If you are a fan of collecting physical media, the responsibility is now on you as a collector to acquire a region free player, many of which can be had for around just $100 - or less than the cost of four Twilight Time discs.

    Whether or not this is a fair burden seems irrelevant to me at this point. It is what it is.
     
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  16. Robin9

    Robin9 Producer

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    Apart from anything else, Deep In My Heart has one of Cyd Charisse's classic dance routines and Song of The South does not!
     
  17. Robin9

    Robin9 Producer

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    We've had a shorter version of this several times before. He sings the same song every few weeks.
     
  18. B-ROLL

    B-ROLL Cinematographer

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    My Drama, English and Shakespeare Teachers/Professors would all decry the misuse of the R&J quote. It meant to say "Why are you (Romeo)?" and not "Where are you..?" :cool:

    The simple answer of the where is that distributors release what they think they can sell at a reasonable return on their investment...
     
  19. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    Maybe the rant will expand until it is a supernova of words!
     
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  20. RMajidi

    RMajidi Screenwriter

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    That statement certainly resonates.

    WAC released World Without End on Blu, which no doubt raised several eyebrows. For me though, it was a most welcome surprise and I'm about to take it with me on my trip to see my folks today. It will knock their socks off, as my father's cousin has a role in the film (not to mention the cover art). They have no idea that it's been resurrected and I don't think they've seen any of her films since they first screened.

    So I can't bemoan any and all titles being resuscitated, but certainly there are many others that I dearly hope will have their stars align.
     
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