Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Warner Archive

For those of you who follow the classic film blogs, this might well be old news. Warner Brothers is releasing 150 back catalogue movies on DVD for $19.95 (plus shipping and handling) by special order or by download for $14.95. Many of the films have never before been released on DVD or digital download. Furthermore, they will only be available though the Warner Archive. One will not be able to find them at the local WalMart. All within a week, the DVDs will be manufactured. packaged, and shipped to customers.

The movies being released are of a wide variety, ranging from the Silent Era to the Eighties, from classics to schlock. Among the movies, by decade are:

The Twenties: The 1929 silent film The Smart Set, starting William Haines and directed by Jack Conway.

The Thirties: Love on the Run, the 1936 film starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford as rival newspaper reporters.

The Forties: Mr. Lucky, perhaps the gem of the Warner archive so far. This is the 1943 movie staring Cary Grant as a gambler and a grifter.

The Fifties: The Mating Game, the classic sex comedy featuring Tony Randall in one of his few starring roles, as a tax collector and Debbie Reynolds as the daughter of a farmer delinquent on his taxes. A must have.

The Sixties: Kaleidoscope, a caper film featuring Warren Beatty in an outrageous plot to break the bank of every casino in Europe.

The Seventies: Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze, the campy film adaptation of the classic pulp hero, produced by George Pal. Although often anathematised by fans, it is a fun film when one overlooks how disloyal it is in its flavour to the pulp novels.

The Eighties: Wisdom, was rightfully drubbed by the critics, but it is historic as one of the few films to acknowledge the recession of the era.

Warner Brothers is currently planning to add about twenty movies a month to the Archive. In fact, when going to the site the user is greeting by a pop up survey asking which of a few movies should be the next to be released to the Archive. If Warner Brothers does meet its goal of adding 20 movies a month to the Archive, they will have 300 movies available on the site. This is a drop in the bucket, given Warner Brothers owns over 6,800 movies, of which only 1,200 have ever been released on DVD.

At any rate, the Warner Archive would appear to be reason for fans of classic and not so classic films to rejoice. For the first time many movies will be available on DVD that were never available before. Of course, it also seems to be the newest way for movie buffs to go broke...

Among the films are a few silents, such as the 1929 movie The Smart Set, starring William Haines and directed by Jack Conway. From the Eighties is the critically drubbed Wisdom (one of the few films to acknowledge the recession of the time). The Seventies is represented by George Pal's camp interpretation of the classic pulp hero, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. From the Sixties is the Warren Beatty caper movie Kaleidoscope.


Raquel Stecher said...

I am excited to get a copy of The Mating Game (when I order it that its).

This will forever change the distribution of DVDs. It's a very historic moment.

Terence Towles Canote said...

The Mating Game, Mr. Lucky, and Doc Savage are the three I really want. Doc Savage isn't a classic like the former two, and it is very disloyal to the spirit of the pulp novels, but I need it for completionist sake!

I do have to agree, I think it will change DVD distribution. And I am hoping the other studios will follow suit soon!