Warner, Uncle & Shaft

3 Stars

Warner ..what are you doing? Golden Arrow on Blu ray? A non event movie that was barely seen and ranked a marvelous 4.7 on imd. Warner seem to have a passion for lowly ranked films that had minimal commercial release – without at least the benefit of a big soundtrack to upgrade.

Shaft in Africa? Another low ranker receiving a Blu Ray upgrade ….. and why “Unexpected Uncle” on DVD? It runs for only 60 minutes and stars little remembered Anne Shirley who had many B pictures to her credit in the 30’s to 1944.

It is as if they are rolling the dice; and when a film that had neither commercial success nor critical acclaim comes up – it receives the nod for release. It is a pity as so many great and very good films are now “lost” amongst thousands of such non event films (not talking taste).

Twilight Time do a remarkable job but so many of their titles have questionable value to warrant the steep $29.99 asking. It is a pity that many of the big successful films of the 40’s-60’s remain unreleased on Blue Ray – some not even on DVD in the correct screen ratio. This post is an exception to current thinking perhaps – but it relieves my frustration. Those who “know” many of the titles that “warrant” a release

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26 Comments

  1. M90GM

    Shaft in Africa? Another low ranker receiving a Blu Ray upgrade ….. and why "Unexpected Uncle" on DVD? It runs for only 60 minutes and stars little remembered Anne Shirley who had many B pictures to her credit in the 30's to 1944.

    It is as if they are rolling the dice; and when a film that had neither commercial success nor critical acclaim comes up – it receives the nod for release. It is a pity as so many great and very good films are now "lost" amongst thousands of such non event films (not talking taste).

    There's the Shaft film coming out in a few months and not to mention I would say there is a fanbase for Shaft's Big Score and Shaft in Africa. Also, what is the condition of Unexpected Uncle? I also doubt that it would recoup a profit on BluRay.

  2. Here we go again! 🙁 Personally I am delighted that The Golden Arrow is seeing a blu ray release. I'm not a fan of the Shaft movies but the franchise has its fan base and I'm sure they are as happy about the Shaft blu rays as I am for The Golden Arrow seeing the light of day. I realize that many people are frustrated that their favorite Norma Shearer "classics" and Jane Powell musicals aren't getting the blu ray treatment that their fans feel they deserve but is it really necessary to denigrate the films that are being released in HD because they're not on your wish list? Cinema is a smorgasbord with something for everyone. If you don't like the pickled herring, don't criticize those who do.

  3. Thomas T

    Here we go again! 🙁 Personally I am delighted that The Golden Arrow is seeing a blu ray release. I'm not a fan of the Shaft movies but the franchise has its fan base and I'm sure they are as happy about the Shaft blu rays as I am for The Golden Arrow seeing the light of day. I realize that many people are frustrated that their favorite Norma Shearer "classics" and Jane Powell musicals aren't getting the blu ray treatment that their fans feel they deserve but is it really necessary to denigrate the films that are being released in HD because they're not on your wish list? Cinema is a smorgasbord with something for everyone. If you don't like the pickled herring, don't criticize those who do.

    Well said, Thomas. I'm just sorry that it's still necessary to remind some people of that elementary truth.

  4. Thomas T

    Here we go again! 🙁 Personally I am delighted that The Golden Arrow is seeing a blu ray release. I'm not a fan of the Shaft movies but the franchise has its fan base and I'm sure they are as happy about the Shaft blu rays as I am for The Golden Arrow seeing the light of day. I realize that many people are frustrated that their favorite Norma Shearer "classics" and Jane Powell musicals aren't getting the blu ray treatment that their fans feel they deserve but is it really necessary to denigrate the films that are being released in HD because they're not on your wish list? Cinema is a smorgasbord with something for everyone. If you don't like the pickled herring, don't criticize those who do.

    I'm with you, Thomas, but, unfortunately, every now and then, we have to go through these posts. The ultimate question that needs to be asked of EVERYBODY here, especially those that like to complain, is are we putting our money where our mouth is? If I am correct in my theory about the costs for WAC being higher than for the boutique labels, then WAC needs our support more than them! I know I have been complaining, but I'm trying to put my money where my mouth is, and support the releases I really want (whether it be for the films themselves, or actors/actresses I want represented, or whatever). If we can all do better about those immediate purchases, then these complaints might happen a little less often. But, ultimately, people pay attention to different things. I mean, I know I've seen complaints about WAC releasing nothing good this year, but, like you, I would disagree. The release of Summer Stock means a lot to me, because it is WAC's FIRST pre-1954 MGM musical being released on Blu (I'm not counting their re-release of Meet Me In St. Louis since that didn't require any new restoration work), not to mention their first pre-1954 musical on blu since Thank Your Lucky Stars nearly four years ago. I see that, and it excites me, but others want to complain it means nothing, etc.

  5. Astairefan

    I'm with you, Thomas, but, unfortunately, every now and then, we have to go through these posts. The ultimate question that needs to be asked of EVERYBODY here, especially those that like to complain, is are we putting our money where our mouth is? If I am correct in my theory about the costs for WAC being higher than for the boutique labels, then WAC needs our support more than them! I know I have been complaining, but I'm trying to put my money where my mouth is, and support the releases I really want (whether it be for the films themselves, or actors/actresses I want represented, or whatever). If we can all do better about those immediate purchases, then these complaints might happen a little less often. But, ultimately, people pay attention to different things. I mean, I know I've seen complaints about WAC releasing nothing good this year, but, like you, I would disagree. The release of Summer Stock means a lot to me, because it is WAC's FIRST pre-1954 MGM musical being released on Blu (I'm not counting their re-release of Meet Me In St. Louis since that didn't require any new restoration work), not to mention their first pre-1954 musical on blu since Thank Your Lucky Stars nearly four years ago. I see that, and it excites me, but others want to complain it means nothing, etc.

    My tastes are all over the place. I'm very excited for The Golden Arrow but I'm equally thrilled at the announcement of Summer Stock (westerns and musicals are my two favorite genres). I think the Warner Archives has done a good job of trying to give something for everyone. In the past 12 months (a year), Warners has announced or given us blu rays of westerns (Wild Rovers, Last Hunt), musicals (Summer Stock, Mame), horror (Frankenstein 1970, Horror Of Dracula), Doris Day comedies (Glass Bottom Boat), peplum (Golden Arrow, Colossus Of Rhodes), blaxploitation (Cleopatra Jones, Shaft In Africa), Neil Simon (Prisoner Of Second Avenue), dramas (A Patch Of Blue, Home From The Hill), sci-fi (Thing From Another World, Queen Of Outer Space), thrillers (The Prize), swashbucklers (The Sea Hawk), TV movies (Blue Knight, Man From Atlantis), Robert Altman (Brewster McCloud), Tarzan (Tarzan's Greatest Adventure, Tarzan Goes To India), action movies (Dark Of The Sun), disaster movies (The Swarm), war movies (Naked And The Dead, Never So Few), comic book superheroes (Supergirl), literary adaptations (Billy Budd) etc. yet people are still complaining. Go figure! Remember, it's not about you, it's about us!

  6. The Warner Archive is delivering an eclectic mix of films on blu ray with surely some good titles for all. The release of the Noir Archive Kit Parker films reminds us that a lot of the really good stuff is held by Warners. It's about time some of the RKO noirs are let out.

  7. Keith Cobby

    The Warner Archive is delivering an eclectic mix of films on blu ray with surely some good titles for all. The release of the Noir Archive Kit Parker films reminds us that a lot of the really good stuff is held by Warners. It's about time some of the RKO noirs are let out.

    Some have been "let out:" Murder My Sweet, On Dangerous Ground, Out Of The Past being prime examples and all three being superb discs.

  8. Keith Cobby

    The Warner Archive is delivering an eclectic mix of films on blu ray with surely some good titles for all. The release of the Noir Archive Kit Parker films reminds us that a lot of the really good stuff is held by Warners. It's about time some of the RKO noirs are let out.

    The ultimate question here is "what shape are the elements in?" After all, it seems like the main thing said around here about a lot of the RKO movies in general is that the elements are not in the best shape (not to mention it seems like a lot of WAC's pre-1954 movies aren't exactly big sellers for them).

  9. Astairefan

    (not to mention it seems like a lot of WAC's pre-1954 movies aren't exactly big sellers for them).

    Sadly, yes. If Summer Stock doesn't do well, we may never see The Pirate or In The Good Old Summertime 🙁

  10. The only metric we have, WBShop's best sellers page, shows a bunch of pre-1954 films in fairly high rankings, with a couple even on page 1.

    I guess people would be less antsy if there was a bit more communication.

  11. Ken_Martinez

    The only metric we have, WBShop's best sellers page, shows a bunch of pre-1954 films in fairly high rankings, with a couple even on page 1.

    I guess people would be less antsy if there was a bit more communication.

    I would imagine a few of them sell decently, otherwise, why would they release any at all? The real question is, how, if at all, are they any different than the movies made in 1954 and later? I thought I read this somewhere (although where, I couldn't even begin to tell you), that the difference *could* be because of the aspect ratios, as the widescreen movies might have had more work done on them when they were released to DVD (since they had only previously been made available in pan and scan transfers), while the earlier films might not have had as much work done, and that might result in the pre-1954 stuff being more expensive to do for Blu-ray (and hence, why we don't get as much). Again, I don't know how much (if any) truth there is in that, but it makes sense to me as a possible explanation (and would probably mean they need to sell just that much better if we want more).

  12. Ken_Martinez

    The only metric we have, WBShop's best sellers page, shows a bunch of pre-1954 films in fairly high rankings, with a couple even on page 1.

    I guess people would be less antsy if there was a bit more communication.

    Another point about the wbshop sales rankings: how many of those titles are doing as well as they are because of the 4 for $44 sales? The more we rely on those sales, the harder it becomes for WAC to do all the work they need to do. I mean, we were told by RAH that Seven Brides was an expensive restoration (maybe not as bad as trying to restore the original elements might have been, but still expensive), and, after just looking, that movie is at least on page 6 in the best sellers list (I mean, shouldn't that movie be MORE popular than some of the others that have made it higher). Either that one isn't selling as well, or the fact it is not being included in most of the sales is hurting it. But, again, for how much it has been demanded, it should be a lot higher than that! I know people like to throw around the so-called "prestige" of some movies, but that just reminds me of the exchange between Fred Astaire and Janis Paige in Silk Stockings

    Steve Canfield (Fred Astaire): You know what prestige means.
    Peggy Dayton (Janis Paige) : Sure – pictures that don't make money.

  13. I was surprised about the release of Golden Arrow too. I'd never heard of it and with Tab Hunter and some Italian actress in costume in an early 60s film, I would expect a stinker. Is it any good? A new Shaft film is being released, so that explains that.

  14. Astairefan

    Another point about the wbshop sales rankings: how many of those titles are doing as well as they are because of the 4 for $44 sales? The more we rely on those sales, the harder it becomes for WAC to do all the work they need to do. I mean, we were told by RAH that Seven Brides was an expensive restoration (maybe not as bad as trying to restore the original elements might have been, but still expensive), and, after just looking, that movie is at least on page 6 in the best sellers list (I mean, shouldn't that movie be MORE popular than some of the others that have made it higher). Either that one isn't selling as well, or the fact it is not being included in most of the sales is hurting it. But, again, for how much it has been demanded, it should be a lot higher than that! I know people like to throw around the so-called "prestige" of some movies, but that just reminds me of the exchange between Fred Astaire and Janis Paige in Silk Stockings

    Steve Canfield (Fred Astaire): You know what prestige means.
    Peggy Dayton (Janis Paige) : Sure – pictures that don't make money.

    Call me cynical but I have an uneasy suspicion that many of those who cry out for "classic" Golden Age movie titles don't actually buy them. They just like to complain 🙂

  15. Thomas T

    Call me cynical but I have an uneasy suspicion that many of those cry out for "classic" Golden Age movie titles don't actually buy them. They just like to complain 🙂

    That, or just buy them on sale. I mean, why would we even look at the rankings for the best sellers on the wbshop? If I go off what I see here and elsewhere, most people buying stuff on there are buying the releases DURING THE SALES (and not so much full price when they are released, which is more important for determining future releases), and so that would affect the best sellers rankings. Me, I will admit to complaining a bit about what they are NOT releasing, but I also came to a realization that I had to do things differently after I took a closer look at what WAC had released through 2017 and what I was doing to support them before that, so I have tried to change how I do things. And that is the thing. How many here that are complaining have made that effort? If we're being told that such-and-such has to sell to get more films from an actor, are people going to actually buy that item at full price, day 1, or are they going to wait for a sale, assuming others will do the work (and then complain that they're not getting what they want). The horror/ sci-fi stuff is selling, and for those of us that don't care for those (and complain constantly that those are getting released instead of what we want), we have to examine WHY those are successful, and do the same for the stuff we want.

  16. Astairefan

    That, or just buy them on sale. I mean, why would we even look at the rankings for the best sellers on the wbshop? If I go off what I see here and elsewhere, most people buying stuff on there are buying the releases DURING THE SALES (and not so much full price when they are released, which is more important for determining future releases), and so that would affect the best sellers rankings. Me, I will admit to complaining a bit about what they are NOT releasing, but I also came to a realization that I had to do things differently after I took a closer look at what WAC had released through 2017 and what I was doing to support them before that, so I have tried to change how I do things. And that is the thing. How many here that are complaining have made that effort? If we're being told that such-and-such has to sell to get more films from an actor, are people going to actually buy that item at full price, day 1, or are they going to wait for a sale, assuming others will do the work (and then complain that they're not getting what they want). The horror/ sci-fi stuff is selling, and for those of us that don't care for those (and complain constantly that those are getting released instead of what we want), we have to examine WHY those are successful, and do the same for the stuff we want.

    Well, I have to confess that due to budgetary limitations (I have to leave some money for rent, food, car insurance, credit card payments, gas, electric, union dues etc.), I often wait on sales too and thank Heaven for them. But there are many movies that I simply can't wait for and want now. So I pay full price. I've been salivating ever since Kino's announcement of Becky Sharp and I didn't want to wait until Kino put the title up for one of their frequent sales so I bought it at full price. I've done that frequently for Warners titles rather than wait until one of the 4 for $44 sales and I've paid full price for several Twilight Time titles rather than for one of their less frequent sales or bundles. So I straddle both worlds. I love sales but there are some movies that I simply cannot wait for.

  17. Thomas T

    Well, I have to confess that due to budgetary limitations (I have to leave some money for rent, food, car insurance, credit card payments, gas, electric, union dues etc.), I often wait on sales too and thank Heaven for them. But there are many movies that I simply can't wait for and want now. So I pay full price. I've been salivating ever since Kino's announcement of Becky Sharp and I didn't want to wait until Kino put the title up for one of their frequent sales so I bought it at full price. I've done that frequently for Warners titles rather than wait until one of the 4 for $44 sales and I've paid full price for several Twilight Time titles rather than for one of their less frequent sales or bundles. So I straddle both worlds. I love sales but there are some movies that I simply cannot wait for.

    I don't disagree with you. I know I have budget limitations myself, and BOY are they being tested this year, with so many releases being announced that, in previous years, WOULD be full-price, day 1 purchases, but I can't quite pull them off this year. I admit, I'm closer to being happier when the labels DON'T announce something I want, which is leaving me just a *little* disappointed with WAC, whose initial announcement for May included nothing I wanted, and then when the pre-orders came up, they also included a re-release of the 1954 A Star Is Born (since I haven't gotten around to buying the WHV release), and I know I'm debating whether to grab that alongside Summer Stock to help support Judy Garland releases, or whether to wait on Star and hold out for either the next set of Popeye, whatever 30s film is coming from WAC (since that will require a lot of support for reasons I've mentioned time and time again), or whatever 40s movie is coming (assuming any of those get announced for June). My main point is that, if I'm correct, WAC has more costs to deal with than some of the boutique labels (hence why they don't release as many of the classics), and so I want to support them.

  18. Thomas T

    Call me cynical but I have an uneasy suspicion that many of those who cry out for "classic" Golden Age movie titles don't actually buy them. They just like to complain 🙂

    Whining and complaining seems to be what the internet was created for. Well, that and porn.

  19. Thomas T

    Call me cynical but I have an uneasy suspicion that many of those who cry out for "classic" Golden Age movie titles don't actually buy them. They just like to complain 🙂

    I have thought something similar or that they only buy them on 4 for $44 sales. So they complain why some b horror film is released and not all these classics but whenever a classic is released its oh great I will get it on the next 4 for $44 sale. Where on the flip side the b horror films will sell on release date at whatever the cost. Gee I wonder why Warner keeps releasing those instead of spending a fortune restoring classics that people only buy on 4 for $44 sales 😉

  20. I’ll take you somewhere else and say this:

    Imagine in the classical music world, cds of unknown Salieri works being released, and no cds of Mozart’s masterpieces or Beethoven’s symphonies in the horizon.
    Would it be whining, if someone pointed out this strange event?

    my point is some things are not subjective, but objective, despite my, yours, his taste.

  21. Thomas T

    Call me cynical but I have an uneasy suspicion that many of those who cry out for "classic" Golden Age movie titles don't actually buy them. They just like to complain 🙂

    Well there's a ton of Golden Age Classics that I wouldn't be interested in (& a lot I would be), & I do like the odd obscure choice (I never thought I'd get The Naked & The Dead), & it's great that Warner does a monthly release of old titles, no other studio do. But, I haven't bought anything since The Sea Hawk, so nothing so far this year, & I'm not hard to please, mainly 40s, 50s & 60s, I could write a hundred wanted titles off the top of my head. So as usual, fingers crossed for the next announcements in a couple of weeks time.

    I see I've started sentences off with both, but & so…creative writing.

  22. I bought The Golden Arrow on Blu-ray because I believe in supporting WAC, but can honestly say its no prize. Ditto for ‘The Prize’ which was a regurgitation of plot elements Ernest Lehman used in North by Northwest. I’ve become more selective in my WAC purchases of late because I really want to see the studio get more bona fide classics out there. And as the fall approaches, WAC has done just that. Cannot wait for The Letter, The Jetsons, The Set-up, the farmed out ‘Now Voyager’, My Favorite Year. Already basking in the glories of Jezebel, None But the Brave, Merrill’s Marauders, Moonfleet and so on. So, yes – WAC has diversified their palette of late. Really looking forward to beyond Sept. announcements. Some of the best stuff comes from WAC in Oct. and November. Here’s to hoping.

  23. Nick*Z

    I bought The Golden Arrow on Blu-ray because I believe in supporting WAC, but can honestly say its no prize. Ditto for 'The Prize' which was a regurgitation of plot elements Ernest Lehman used in North by Northwest. I've become more selective in my WAC purchases of late because I really want to see the studio get more bona fide classics out there. And as the fall approaches, WAC has done just that. Cannot wait for The Letter, The Jetsons, The Set-up, the farmed out 'Now Voyager', My Favorite Year. Already basking in the glories of Jezebel, None But the Brave, Merrill's Marauders, Moonfleet and so on. So, yes – WAC has diversified their palette of late. Really looking forward to beyond Sept. announcements. Some of the best stuff comes from WAC in Oct. and November. Here's to hoping.

    While we obviously don't know for sure, I wouldn't count out December, either (I know I did last year, and then they surprised us with the likes of Popeye volume 1 and The Sea Hawk, and I had already spent whatever money I would have used to buy them at that time). I can only imagine what must be coming, considering their September lineup. Unless they haven't got everything up yet on wbshop, there are so few DVD releases coming for the month, I imagine they must have tied up a lot of their resources in trying to restore some of their movies/tv shows for Blu-ray for the remaining few months! So, definitely should be something to look forward to!

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