Sunday, March 22, 2009
The Warner Archive, Another Thing That Isn't Available In Canada
Warner Brothers has set up something called The Warner Archive, an online-order program where they send out manufactured-on-demand DVDs of movies that aren't going to be relased to stores.
Ronald Epstein at the Home Theater Forum has more about this program. Apparently the widescreen movies will be in 16:9 format, and the individual titles have video clips online that indicate the print/transfer quality; it seems generally good from the clips I've seen. They have 140 titles up on the site, and are planning to add more.
Most of the titles they have at the moment can be described as minor films of major stars: lots of not-yet-on-DVD movies by popular stars with huge filmographies, like Cary Grant, Norma Shearer, Clark Gable. There are a bunch of films that were relased on VHS but never made it to DVD, and some real curios like The Grasshopper, a remarkably cheesy low-budget sexual-revolution melodrama starring Jacqueline Bisset (as an innocent Canadian girl who comes to mean, sexy L.A.) and made by... director Jerry Paris and writers Jerry Belson and Garry Marshall, exactly the people you'd expect to portray the wild world of sex and drugs.
Also, as an Ann-Margret fan, I'm glad they've included Made In Paris, a "family" film that's incredibly sleazy even by Joe Pasternak's standards, and one of the two 1966 star vehicles that basically wrecked her movie career (the other being The Swinger).
When I can figure out where to have them shipped (they're not shipping to Canada) I'll definitely be getting Once Upon a Honeymoon, though I'm surprised it wasn't considered a candidate for general-release DVD, considering that it stars Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers. It's Leo McCarey's anti-Nazi comedy in the vein of The Great Dictator and (from the same year) To Be Or Not To Be, and its mix of comedy, drama and propaganda is weirder and more controversial than either of those films. It's not very satisfying as a whole, but some of its parts are extraordinary.