New DVDs 4-29-2008

This week in the NY Times, a look at the “First Ladies: Early Women Filmmakers” series from Kino, which includes Lois Weber’s allegorical oddity “Hypocrites” (an oddly allegorical moment is shown above). And there’s a new digitally restored and remixed version of Gregg Araki’s Angry Young Gay Man movie of 1992, “The Living End.”

Joe Baltake has a heartfelt plea to Sony to free Jack Lemmon on his site, The Passionate Moviegoer. Why do some movies just seem to disappear — in this case, nine of the fourteen films Lemmon made under his Columbia contract?  There are no obvious answers, and the studio is silent.

4 comments to New DVDs 4-29-2008

  • Tim Froh

    Sony is easily the worst of the major studios when it comes to their home video division. They have sparkling new or archival prints of just about every major classic in the Columbia vaults (Borzage’s MAN’S CASTLE, Fuller’s UNDERWORLD U.S.A., and even a gorgeous print of Mann’s REIGN OF TERROR to name just a few). And yet they’ve made no concerted effort to put any of these titles on the home video format. In fact, the number of easily marketable titles in their vaults (such as their pre-code and noir holdings) is quite astounding. The Lemmon films are really just the tip of the iceberg.

  • seanflynn

    Don’t disagree with your point about Sony’s lack of attention to their older movies.

    Do they own Reign of Terror? It was an Eagle-Lion release initially, and has been released on DVD by various countries over the years, none of which seem to have any association with Sony Pictures. I know it has been on Turner before they started showing Columbia (Sony owned) films last year.

  • Tim Froh

    As far as I know, the film is in the public domain, and Sony seems confused about whether or not they have the rights to the Eagle-Lion properties (which in this case wouldn’t even matter). That said, the film has been released on DVD in a wretched transfer (abominable really, given the immense quality of the film) by Alpha and cries out for a proper release. Sony could do it, much as they did for HIS GIRL FRIDAY, which they released several years ago in their Cary Grant box in a mostly exquisite transfer (like Mann’s film, HGF is also in the public domain). In other words, they possess the best elements and could release the film if they wanted to.

    It’s interesting to note that the film will be screening on TCM this summer. I’ll be interested to see the quality, since I assume it will be the Sony restoration.

  • seanflynn

    Reign of Terror was on TCM in January 2006 (again predating their leasing of much of the Columbia library from Sony) with a less-than-pristine print (although conforming to minimum TCM standards), with the title card reading “The Black Book.” The alternate title was the one used in the UK; not sure if Eagle-Lion re-titled it during its US run or if it became the TV print title (as happens from time to time).

    Anyway it will be interesting to see if TCM even knows that Sony has a possibly better looking print. The one they showed previously did conform to the running time of 89 minutes listed in most sources.