As the DVD begins its descent into technological obsolesce, here’s my attempt in the New York Times to assess the effects of the format’s slow fade-out on cinephilia. For the moment, the bad news is that the hot new streaming technologies don’t offer a visual experience all that superior to VHS; the good news is that lowered tech specs might allow some long neglected (and uneconomical to remaster) titles to return to distribution. Netflix, for example, is offering some a grab bag of 1950s obscurities that includes some United Artists titles like Andre De Toth’s “Hidden Fear” (a film that surely ranks with “Reptilicus” as one of the finest drive-in pictures ever made in Denmark) and Pine-Thomas Paramount productions like Nicholas Ray’s “Run for Cover” (albeit whittled down to 1.33 from its original VistaVision).
In the end, the gains and losses will probably balance out. The immediate danger here is the widespread sense that, thanks to streaming video, “everything” is now available for viewing with the click of a mouse. That’s far from the case, unfortunately, but once that kind of complacency takes hold, it’s hard to shake off.