Saturday, July 21, 2007

Twentieth Century Fox News

Fox has set up a website for its classic film DVD releases, "Fox Studio Classics" at

Warners and Fox are the only big studios releasing old movies with any consistency. Fox has by far the better special features -- commentaries on most films, and featurettes that often manage to avoid the boredom of the standard making-ofs. (The featurettes on the Tyrone Power Collection are mostly about aspects of Power and his career, rather than just straightforward accounts of how each film was made.) Warner Brothers has gotten into the habit of using found material like cartoons and shorts as a substitute for newly-produced special features. On the other hand, Fox's transfers are variable -- often very disappointing with three-strip Technicolor films, somewhat better with black-and-white CinemaScope films. Both studios could do better but they're both doing a lot better than the other companies.

The list of upcoming releases this year confirms the plans for the John Ford box and a fourth Charlie Chan collection, and features some interesting never-on-video titles like the June Haver musical The Girl Next Door and Nunnally Johnson's early-CinemaScope melodrama Black Widow.

Hopefully they'll continue releasing old movies long enough to remember Cluny Brown, Margie or Bachelor Flat.


Laura said...

Amen on MARGIE! Thanks for this great link. I am posting it on my site and giving you credit. :)

Best wishes,

Brent McKee said...

"Warner Brothers has gotten into the habit of using found material like cartoons and shorts as a substitute for newly-produced special features."

True Jaime, but this is part of the whole concept that Warner Brothers has been pushing of a "Warner Night At The Movies" in which you saw what moviegoers at the time saw - a cartoon, selected short subjects from the period and the movie. And it's not a new idea from them either. Some of their first offerings on video tape were Warner Nights at the Movies, with a cartoon and selected short subjects. The difference is that it was a lot harder to just watch the movie with VHS if you also had the cartoon and hte selected short subjects.

And yes, Fox and Warners are doing a far better job with their back catalog than any of the other companies. I have to wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that Fox (News Corp) and Warners (Time-Warner) both have cable TV stations that air their old movies and as a result are thoroughly aware of the audience for classic films.

Laura said...

Perhaps this might be a good place to ask -- Does anyone know why Fox shows such a limited range of "classic" selections on Fox Movie Channel? We've had that channel since last fall and they keep showing the same relatively small playlist over and over. I've been hoping for Jeanne Crain movies like MARGIE and APARTMENT FOR PEGGY to show up, but no luck.

Best wishes,

Mrs. R said...

Thanks for mentioning the Fox features. I especially enjoyed the features on the new Tyrone Power DVD collection; I thought they were most excellent and different from the same old same old I had seen previously.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

I'm pretty pumped about the tentative releases of The Lodger and Hangover Square; both are first-rate films featuring the great Laird Cregar (who tragically left us too soon) and director John Brahm, who held the reins of many of the classic Twilight Zone episodes. Ditto for Black Widow as well.

I noticed Boomerang! is listed among the releases--does this mean that legal stickiness has all been cleaned up?

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Fox has been real good about releasing thier "film noir" films to dvd. I only wish some of them had been remastered. Warners is usually good in that department. Their black and white films look great.

I still think Criterion beats them both, though.