Saturday, 30 October 2004

The Second Golden Age of Horror Movies

Tommorow is Hallowe'en, so naturally my mind is on horror movies today. Of course, the thought of horror movies brings to mind the classic monster movies released by Universal in the Thirties and Forties. Most film historians and films buffs agree that Universal's release of Dracula in 1931 marked the beginning of a Golden Age for horror films; however, there is no such agreement as to when this Golden Age ended. Some believe that the Golden Age ended in 1948 with the release of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Others believe that it ended in 1936 with the release of Dracula's Daughter. By this time horror movies had been banned in Britain and as a result the possible box office that the American studios could see from any horror movie was drastically reduced. For this reason, Universal ceased production of horror movies for three years. I have always fallen into the latter category as to when the Golden Age of horror movies ended, feeling that the release of Dracula's Daughter marked its end. For me the horror movies of the 1940s constitute a second Golden Age of horror films.

As I said earlier, in 1936 Universal stopped making horror movies due to the ban on such films in Britain. Most other American studios followed suit, so that virtually no horror movies came out for three years. In 1937 the studio re-released both Dracula and Frankenstein. Both films did an incredible amount of box office, enough for Universal to rethink their position on horror movies. It was then that they decided to produce a second sequel to Frankenstein. Son of Frankenstein was released in 1939 and was a smash hit at the box office. Its success started a new cycle of horror movies that would last into the late Forties. Son of Frankenstein marked the final time that Boris Karloff would play the Monster, who, oddly enough, was speechless after his speaking role in Bride of Frankenstein. Son of Frankenstein concerned Wolf Frankenstein, the son of Henry, who returns home to claim his inheritance. He soon finds himself persuaded by corrupt former blacksmith Ygor (played by Bela Lugosi) to revive the Monster, who wants to use him for his own purposes. Although not as good as Frankenstein or Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein was still a top notch production and a very fine film.

With the success of Son of Frankenstein, Universal was back in the business of making horror movies. With 1940, they returned to the subject of mummies. Contrary to popular belief, The Mummy's Hand was not a sequel to 1932's The Mummy. In fact, the mummy of The Mummy's Hand, Kharis, was not even related to the mummy of The Mummy, Imhotep. Of course, the plots of the two movies are similar. In both an Egyptian tomb is disturbed and in both the mummy who resided in that tomb wreaks his vengeance. The Mummy's Hand was so successful that Kharis appeared in three sequels: The Mummy's Tomb (1942), The Mummy's Ghost (1944) and The Mummy's Curse (1944). Oddly enough, despite the success of the Kharis movies, he never encountered the other Universal monsters in the crossovers Universal did in the mid to late Forties.

Nineteen forty one saw the release of a movie that would establish the third of Universal's iconic movie monsters. The Wolf Man starred Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawerence Talbot, the son of a Welsh lord who has the misfortune of being bitten by a werewolf and thus becoming one himself. Like Son of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man was a top notch production, with a creative script by writing legend Curt Siodmak. It also involved far more special effects than any previous Universal horror movie, the transformation scenes marking a turning point in the history of FX. The Wolf Man was incredibly successful, cementing Universal's status as a maker of monster movies and establishing Lon Chaney Jr. as a horror movie star. Indeed, the Wolf Man is the only Universal monster played by only one actor--Lon Chaney Jr.

Bela Lugosi returned as Ygor in the fourth sequal to Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, released in 1942. This time around it was Lon Chaney Jr. who played the Monster. The plot concerned yet another Frankenstein, Wolf's brother, Ludwig Frankestein, whose field of expertise was brain transplants. Needless to say, Ludwig has a unique solution to the Monster's supposed murderous streak. Ghost of Frankenstein is generally considered the weakest of the Frankenstein sequels, although it was still a top notch production and still displayed some of the originality of the earlier Universal horror films.

Nineteen forty three perhaps marked the height of the Universal horror film in the Second Golden Age of horror. It was that year that the studio released no less than three of their most classic horror movies. The first of these was Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man marks a turning point in the history of Universal horror films, as it is the first time that two of Universal's classic monsters would meet. In Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Lawrence Talbot seeks out Dr. Frankenstein to find a cure for his lycanthropy. As it turns out, he fails to find a Dr. Frankenstein, although he meets his daughter, not to mention the Monster. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man was a well written and well directed, upscale production that matches Son of Frankenstein and The Wolf Man for quality. It is remembered as a classic to this day.

The second classic Universal horror film released in 1943 was a remake of the silent classic Phantom of the Opera. In this version Claude Rains (of Invisible Man fame) plays the Phantom, Erik, who becomes obsessed with opera star Christine. Phantom of the Opera had top notch production values, although it does fall short in quality when compared to the original Phantom of the Opera and other Universal horror classics. The largest complaint with the film has always been that it focused too much on opera and not enough on horror. Still, the 1943 version of Phantom of the Opera is enjoyable in its own right and holds up well today.

The third and final major horror movie Universal released in 1943 was the second sequel to Dracula. Son of Dracula is a strange film in which the legendary count (this time played by Lon Chaney Jr.) journeys to the American South under an assumed name (Alucard). The movie benefits from a good script (the screenplay by Eric Taylor, based on a story by Curt Siodmak) and good direction (it was directed by Robert Siodmak, Curt Siodmak's brother). Son of Dracula also benefits from great use of atmosphere; indeed, it is one of the creepier films Universal released in the Forties. Unfortunately, Son of Dracula would be the last upscale horror film that Universal would release in the Second Golden Age of horror. Following Son of Dracula, it almost seemed as if Universal was content to rest on their previous laurels.

Of course, just as Universal was not the only studio making horror movies in the First Golden Age of horror, so too was this the case in the Second Golden Age of horror. Perhaps the most notable of horror movies made by studios other than Universal in this era was a series of films which Val Lewton produced for RKO's B movie unit. Although made on shoestring budgets, Lewton's films are generally considered among the very best horror movies ever made. The Val Lewton horror movies were made with subtlety in mind. Partially because his budgets would permit little else, Lewton depended largely on atmosphere in his films. Rather than outright showing monsters or whatever other things might go bump in the night, Lewton's films depended on the mere suggestion of horror. Much of Lewton's success was due to his ability to spot new talent. Among the young directors he worked with were Mark Robson and former film editor Robert Wise.

Lewton's films stand apart from many other horror films of the time in being very literate, not to mention very original. One need look no further than Lewton's first horror movie for RKO, Cat People, for the innovation that marked most of his films. Released in 1942, Cat People deals with the time honoured idea of people transforming into dangerous animals, but does so in a way that is starkly original. A Serbian born fashion artist believes that she is descended from the Cat People and that any emotional arousal will result in her transformation into a panther. Lewton's originality can also be seen in I Walked with a Zombie released in 1943. It was one of the earliest films to deal in voodoo and zombies ever released. And like all of Lewton's horror movies, it dealt more in suggestion than images of the walking dead. Also released in 1943 was The Seventh Victim, one of the earliest films to deal with Satanists (called Palladists in the film to avoid offending religious sensibilities) as a source of horror.

Most notable among Lewton's films are those he made with Boris Karloff. At first Lewton was not looking forward to working with Karloff, associating the actor with the Univesal monster movies which he detested. After meeting the actor, however, he learned he had found a kindred spirit. The two made three horror movies together, the first of which was an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Body Snatcher, released in 1945. Not only did Karloff play John Gray, the cabman who obtains bodies (through exhumation and more sinister means), but Bela Lugosi played Joseph, the evil servant who turns to blackmail. The second Lewton/Karloff outing was Isle of the Dead, in which several people are stranded on a Greek island quarantined by the plague, and which may be stalked by a vampire-like demon called a vorvolaka. Lewton and Karloff's third collaboration was also the last horror movie Lewton ever produced. Bedlam, released in 1946, featured Karloff as the sinister figure who runs the notorious British asylum. With the success of his horror films, Lewton graduated from B movies to more upscale films.

Universal and RKO were not the only studios making horror films in the Forties. The Poverty Row studios, such as Monogram and PRC, made many throughout the era. And the major studios followed Universal's lead in jumping on the horror bandwaggon. In 1939 Paramount released one of the all time classic horror movies, Dr. Cyclops. Dr. Cyclops featured Albert Dekker as Dr. Thorkel (the doctor of the title), who has learned how to shrink both humans and animals. Dr. Cyclops was an upscale production and, in fact, it was the first horror movie released in Technicolor. Nineteeen forty saw the release of Before I Hang from Columbia (a studio that always bordered on Poverty Row and the majors). The film featured Karloff as Dr. John Garth, a man who conquered death. It was the first of a four film contract Karloff had with Columbia, which was never completed. In 1941 MGM released another version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this time starring Spencer Tracy as the doctor and his alter ego. Unlike previous versions of the tale, the 1941 version did not depend heavily upon makeup to denote the difference between Jekyll and Hyde, but rather upon Spencer Tracy's acting talent. Also in 1941, Warner Brothers released The Hidden Hand, another film dealing with a spooky old house. In 1942 Twentieth Century Fox released Dr. Renault's Secret, featuring George Zucco in the title role (Zucco virtually made a career of playing mad doctors). In this film Renault has broken the evolutionary barrier and figured out how to turn apes into men. There were many other horror movies released than these, many of the B variety, from 1939 to about 1948.

Indeed, by 1944 it became apparent that Universal had mined the genre much too deeply. The days of upscale horror movies with quality production were over at Universal. Instead, the studio sought to repeat the success of Frakenstein Meets the Wolf Man by featuring its iconic monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and the Wolf Man) all in one film. The first of these was House of Frankenstein, released in 1944. House of Frankenstein featured Boris Karloff as scientist Gustav Niemann, who has been trying to revive the dead just as Frankenstein had, and Lon Chaney Jr. once more as the Wolf Man. While both Lawrence Talbot and his furry alter ego get a good deal of screen time in this film, it seems the other monsters did not fare so well. Dracula, played by John Carradine, appears only in the first half of the film, while the Frankenstein Mosnter (played by Glenn Strange) spends most of his time strapped to a table. Despite this, House of Frankenstein is an enjoyable film, particularly for Karloff's peformance as the mad Dr. Niemann and Chaney's performance as the tormented Talbot.

The success of House of Frankenstein led to a second "monster mash" movie, House of Dracula, released in 1945. The film features both Lawrence Talbot and Count Dracula seeking out the kindly Dr. Edelmann for a cure to their conditions (althogh Dracula does seem to have another agenda entirely on his mind...). Like House of Frankenstein, Dracula is gone midway through the movie. Unlike House of Frankenstein, the Monster has even less of a role in House of Dracula. Like House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula is an enjoyable film, although both pale when compared to Universal's earlier work--particularly the classics of the Thirties.

With House of Dracula, Universal appears to have exhausted the monster movie formula. There would be no House of the Wolf Man. In fact, the only thing left was for Universal to feature their classic monsters in a comedy. Throughout the Forties, the two biggest money makers at the studio had been their classic movie monsters and the comedy team of Abbot and Costello. It was perhaps inevitable that all of them should meet. And, indeed, they did, in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein released in 1948. The movie features the hapless duo as freight handlers who have the rotten luck of delivering the remains of Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster to a house of horrors. Not surprisingly, Dracula is revived and soon plotting to revive the Monster, too. Only Lawrence Talbot, Bud, and Lou stand in Dracula's way. The genius of Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein is that the monsters themselves are never played for laughs. The comedy comes not from the monsters, but from Bud and Lou's reaction to them. Lon Chaney still plays Talbot as a tormented soul and Bela Lugosi once more plays the role that made him famous. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is a unique combination of frights and laughs, and quite possibly one of the greatest comedy films of all time.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein marked the last time that Universal's monsters would appear in a major motion picture. It therefore marks the end of the Second Golden Age of horror movies in my mind. The Fifties would see new monsters, from the intellectual "carrot" of RKO's The Thing to Universal's Creature from the Black Lagoon. Universal would re-release the classic horror films Dracula and Frankenstein in 1954. Following the successful TV debut of the RKO classic King Kong on March 5, 1956, Universal decided to release their pre-1948 horror movies to television in 1957. For the first time such classics as Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Wolf Man could be seen on local stations across the United States. This inspired an absolute craze for the classic movie monsters, resulting in tons of merchandise, from posters to Aurora model kits. Since that time the classic Universal films and other movies from the First and Second Golden Ages of horror have been inspiring new fans. It is safe to say they will do so well into the future.

Friday, 29 October 2004

"This....is a Thriller!"

Sunday is Halloween and my mind is turning to the horror genre. Growing up I remember a horror anthology series called Thriller. I was not yet born when the series first debuted on September 13, 1960. In fact, I was not even born when the series last aired on NBC on April 30, 1962. For much of that two year run, Thriller brought tales of unspeakable horror to the small screen, including adaptations of some classic stories from horror literature. This was perhaps fitting, as the series was hosted by famous movie ghoul, Boris Karloff. Fortunately, as I was not yet born during its original run, Thriller had a healthy syndication run. I remember KRCG reran it in the Seventies. I watched it as often as I could. It was possibly the most frightening TV show I had ever seen, short of a few episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Though it is best known as a horror anthology series, Thriller did not start out that way. Thriller was created by TV legend Hubbell Robinson (former programming chief of CBS). As originally conceived by Robinson, Thriller would be "the Studio One of mystery, a quailty anthology drawing on the whole rich field of suspense literature." The series would be on par with Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. Robinson assured NBC that Thriller would be his own personal project. Robinson had been programming chief at CBS during the so called Golden Age of Television. During that time he had watched over the development of many of that network's greatest series, including I Love Lucy and Sergeant Bilko. Robinson championed such classic anthology series as Studio One and Playhouse 90. He had also been executive producer for Playhourse 90. Robinson then had a good deal of clout in the televison community and NBC added Thriller to their fall 1960-1961 lineup without requiring a pilot episode.

Unfortunately, problems regarding the series developed almost immediately. Nineteen sixty was the year of the second longest Writer's Guild strike of all time. For the duration of the strike, no television writer could write, re-write, or even so much as edit any script of any TV series. To do so would result in sanctions from the Guild. Needless to say, this made things extremely difficult for televison shows, particularly those going into production for the first time. A more serious problem was a disagrement between executive producer Robinson, line producer Fletcher Markle, and associate producer/story editor James P. Cavanaugh as to what consulted a good "thriller." The three men disagreed as to whether horror and black comedy could be included under the heading of "thriller," whether graphic violence was necessary within a thriller, and nearly everything else about the show.

Between the writer's strike and inner turmoil in the production staff, Thriller debuted to almost universally hostile reviews and low ratings. As the series progressed, neither the quality of the stories nor the reviews nor the ratings showed any significant improvement. Its sponsor was not happy, hence neither was NBC. Robinson blamed the low quality of the initial episodes on the writer's strike. From anohter producer this might be an acceptable explanation, but, from Hubbell Robinson, NBC did not buy it. NBC conducted its own investigation and discovered the ugly truth: Robinson, Markle, and Cavanaugh simply could not agree on anything

After eight episodes, NBC handed Robinson an ultimatum: either Thriller would be brought up to the level of quality they had expected of the show or it would face cancellation. Robinson decided that the series' problem was the fact that its focus was simply too broad. Its focus was then narrowed from the whole field of mystery to two specific subgenres: the horror/mystery tale with supernatural elements and the fast paced crime story. Markle was fired and two new producers were hired. William Frye would produce the horror episodes, while Maxwell Stone would produce the crime episodes. Peter Rugolo, who provided Thriller with loud, jazzy musical scores, was replaced by Morton Stevens and Jerry Goldsmith, who provided the series with more appropriately chilling music. Finally, Boris Karloff, the master of horror himself, was brought in as the show's host.

Robinson's solution initially made for an uneven series. Though the episodes were now of a fairly high quality, the show itself was divided between two very distinct genres. One week the viewer might tune in to see an exciting tale of murder and drug smuggling, while the next week he might tune in to see a terrifying tale of the undead and ghostly possession. As the first season of Thriller progressed, however, the show began to take shape as a definite horror anthology. Tales of terror outnumbered the tales of crime, and even the crime stories took on a more of an air of Hitchcockian suspense or pyschological horror.

In some respects it was logical that Thriller would evolve into a horror anthology. This would further set it apart from Alfred Hitchcock Presents, to which it is still compared. At the same time, television had yet to fully mine the horror genre. Thriller first ventured into the horror genre with its fourth aired episode, the first one produced by William Frye, "The Purple Room." This episode dealt with an heir (played by Rip Torn) who must first spend a night in a house said to be haunted before he can inherit the property. It was with the series' 12th episode that Thriller took shape as the horror anthology which most fans remember it as. "The Cheaters" was based on a story by Robert Bloch, originally published in Weird Tales back in 1947. The episode centred upon a mysterious pair of glasses which allowed the wearer to see through the facades of anyone to the truth about that person. Unfortunately, it does so at a terrible cost to the wearer. "The Purple Room" was pivotal in the development of Thriller in that it was the first of many to be based on a classic horror story and it was the first in which Boris Karloff utters the immortal words, "This....is a Thriller!" That phrase would become the tagline for the series.

"The Cheaters" was among the best episodes of the first season of Thriller. "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" was based on the classic Robert Bloch story from a 1943 issue of Weird Tales, in which a man (John Williams) discovers that Jack the Ripper is alive and well in the United States and continuing to commit murders. Robert Bloch himself adapted "The Devil's Ticket," based on his own story which first appeared in Weird Tales in 1944. In "The Devil's Ticket" a starving artist (MacDonald Carey) pawns his soul to Satan for three months of fame and fortune. PErhpas the most terrifying episode of the series' entire run as John Kneubuhl's adaptation of "Pigeons from Hell," based on the story by Robert E. Howard which first appeared in Weird Tales in 1938. In "Pigeons from Hell" two brothers, stranded by car trouble, find themselves facing the undead presences of a particular sadistic plantation family's servants. Over all, the first season of Thriller saw some of the best horror tales ever aired. To this day many of the episodes remain umatched in their power to evoke terrior.

For its second season Thriller shifted almost entirely to a horror format. Only the final episode, "The Specialists," an unsold pilot about an international ring of jewel thieves, contained absolutely no elements of terror. Among the best episodes of this season was Robert Bloch's adaptation of his own "Waxworks," first published in Weird Tales in 1939, in which figures in a travelling wax museum modelled after famous killers are brought to life. In another one of Bloch's adaptation of his own stories, "The Weird Tailor,"a man has a tailor make a special suit that will resurrect his dead son.

Karloff himself appeared in a few of the second seasons. Among these was an adaptation of Poe's "The Premature Burial." Karloff played a woman's lover who buries her cataleptic husband alive. Karloff also appeared in "The Last of the Sommervilles," in which he plots with his cousin to kill their wealthy aunt. In "The Incredible Dr. Markesan," based on an August Derleth/Mark Schorer story first published in Weird Tales in 1934, Karloff plays a doctor who has figured out a way to cheat death.

Not every episode of Thriller was an exercise in chills. The show also dealt in black comedy. An example of this is "The Remarkable Mrs. Hawks" in which a lady hog farmer (Jo Van Fleet) in a small American community turns out to be the legendary Circe!

By the end of its second season, Thriller was a cult favourite with horror fans and had redeemed itself with television critics. Unfortunately, this would not guarantee that it would see a third season. . At the time NBC was also home to Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Unlike the hour long Thriller, Alfred Hitchcock Presents had only been a half hour in length. With the 1962-1963 season, Hitchcock and his production staff decided to expand his series to one hour and rename it The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. It seems possible that Thriller was cancelled to make room for more Hitchcock. Perhaps confirming this theory is a report from Thriller associate producer Doug Benton who had heard that Hitchcock thought that in making Thriller Hubbell Robinson had tread on his turf. From what Benton had heard, Hitchcock thought that Thriller was doing the same sort of material he covered in his own show. The fact that both shows aired on NBC and that both were made at Revue at least makes it possible that Hitchcock expanded his show to an hour in an effort to compete with Thriller.

Regardless, Thriller went onto a very successful syndicaiton run, airing on local stations for literally years. To this day it is perhaps better remembered than horror series with longer runs. The reason is not just its famous host, Boris Karloff, but the fact that despite an awkward start it went onto become a quality anthology series. While Robinson had wanted to do the Studio One of mystery, he ultimately produced the Studio One of horror. It was one of the few shows to adapt classic tales of horror from pulp magazines, often by a master of horror himself (Robert Bloch). The show also benefited from several talented directors, among them John Newland, John Brahm, and Ida Lupino. Finally, as both host and actor, Boris Karloff lent the series both an atmosphere of terror and an air of prestige.

To this day I have fond memories of Thriller. A few of the episodes are out on video and I have thought of buying them at times (unfortunately, I don't think "Pigeons from Hell" is one of them). I am hoping that at some point they will release the entire series on DVD with several extras (the original network promos, a documentary on the series, et. al.). Given its continued popularity, it seems possible that some day they will.

Sunday, 24 October 2004

What is Released on DVD

I have often wondered who determines what movies and TV shows are released on DVD and how they make that determination. The reason I have pondered this for a long time is it seems to me that there is often little rhyme and reason as to what is available on DVD and what is not.
A perfect example is the Judy Garland and Gene Kelly Summer Stock. It is regarded by many as a classic musical and has long been a favourite with fans. As I write this, however, it is still not available on DVD. On the other hand, For Me and My Gal, another teaming of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly and the first motion picture in which Gene Kelly starred, is available on DVD. While I don't know of anyone who seriously dislikes For Me and My Gal, most people I know regard Summer Stock as the superior of the two films. So why isn't Summer Stock available on DVD?

Indeed, Summer Stock is hardly the only classic film that is not on DVD. El Cid, the classic Sixties epic with Charlton Heston as the legendary hero, has never been on DVD either. What is worse is that I have never heard of any plans to release it. Given the continuing popularity of the film, I would think it would be an obvious choice for release on DVD too.

Of course, some films are released on DVD only to go out of print. The Beatles film Help! was released on DVD in 1997, but it is no longer being manufactured. There are still new and used copies to be bought, although the prices tend to be steeper than most DVDs. Indeed, the prices for copies of Help! would seem to indicate there is a demand for the movie. Indeed, I would think the fact that it is a Beatles movie and anything Beatles related tends to sell very, very well, would dictate that it would not have gone out of print. And yet, I have heard of no plans to re-release it on DVD.

The question of how it is decided what films are released on DVD becomes even more pointed when I think about just what is available on DVD. Cocktail, the 1988 movie in which Tom Cruise played a bartender, has been on DVD since 2002. Now, in my humble opinion, not only is Cocktail possibly Tom Cruise's worst film, it is also quite possibly one of the worst films of all time. I can name only a few other Hollywood products that are as dreadful as Cocktail, yet it is available on DVD, while Summer Stock and El Cid are not.

I am not only mystified by what films are released on DVD and what films are not, but also by which TV shows are released on DVD and which ones aren't. The Wild Wild West as long been a cult favourite and has had a long and successful syndication run. It continues to be a popular series to this day. Despite this fact, The Wild Wild West is not available on DVD, and I have heard of no plans to release on DVD. This would not be so puzzling, except that the first season of Just Shoot Me is out on DVD. Now Just Shoot Me was a show that critics did not regard highly and it never was a huge hit in the ratings. Its syndication run has not been a huge success. In fact, the only reason I believe it ran five years at all is that NBC kept on Tuesday and Thursday nights where at least some of the audiences for their higher rated sitcoms might just stay tuned. Regardless, its first season can be bought on DVD.

It makes little sense to me that classic movies like Summer Stock and El Cid are not available on DVD and classic shows like The Wild Wild West are not available on DVD, while lesser movies and shows are. I do have to wonder how it is determined what goes on DVD and what doesn't. At least Amazon has it set up to where people can let the powers that be know what they want on DVD. Let us say that someone does a search for Summer Stock on DVD. They would arrive at a page which would inform them that the title is not yet available. On that page would be a link that he or she could click to let Amazon know that they are interested in seeing Summer Stock on DVD. Amazon would then alert the owners of the copyright on Summer Stock that an individual wants Summer Stock on DVD. With any luck, if enough people want Summer Stock on DVD, then those owning the coypright would release it on DVD. While I don't know how effective Amazon can be in persuading companies to release their product on DVD, it at least gives fans an outlet to express their desires.

Anyhow, I do hope that eventually I do see Summer Stock, El Cid, and The Wild Wild West released on DVD. I would certainly buy them. Unfortunately, I don't kow how soon that will be...