column last week about movies that are unavailable in shiny-little-disc format garnered such controversy, comment, and acclaim that I just had to write another one.
Much like Veruca Salt in the beloved 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “I don’t care how; I want it now,” especially when it comes to movies I like. Last week I discussed six films deserving of an R1 physical media release for one reason or another. Thinking and writing about those films, and excessively ruminating about life without them in my collection, has opened a veritable can of worms in my brain. The floodgates of want have been opened! (A common side effect of brain worms.) Here are seven more films deserving of better home video treatment than they are currently receiving. Because seven is more than six, and because having is better than not having.
2013 shit-fest, both of which are readily available on DVD and Blu-ray disc. I am talking about the 1949 version directed by Elliott Nugent and starring Alan Ladd. By 1949 the F. Scott Fitzgerald book had not yet entered the canon of great literature, so this film plays fast and loose with the novel, introducing innumerable flashbacks and a structure that resembles a noir murder mystery. Is this version a GREAT Gatsby? Well, it’s not always successful, but it’s interesting—and it features a young Shelley Winters as Myrtle Wilson. Also, as a former English teacher, I long for its release on disc so that lazy students will watch it and get important questions wrong on multiple-choice tests—just like they do now with the Leonardo DiCaprio version (“Question 4: Where is Nick Carraway when we first meet him? A: REHAB.”)
Imagine everyone’s surprise when, some forty years later, a print of Horror of Dracula was discovered in a Japanese film archive that did, indeed, contain extended footage of two horror sequences. The footage in question was restored and added back to the film proper, and an R2 Blu-ray was released in 2012 in England. Warner Brothers must really hate American film fans because no similar American release was forthcoming… and now it has been six long years. If you would like to see the extended final sequence, it is pretty terrific and available here. I have seen the complete restoration and the real shame is that, besides the added material, the picture and sound restoration is superb. The BFI version really outshines the stinky old Warner’s DVD, but American horror fans can’t have it unless they invest in a region-free Blu-ray player. Boo!
And of course, let us not forget the predictable disappointment of Paperhouse, Song of the South, and Let It Be (all of which I have written about at some length in the past) still lacking any kind of R1 disc release. I’m guessing that with Paperhouse it’s rights issues because the two studios that distributed it (Vestron and Tri-Star) both went belly-up; with Song of the South, it’s Disney’s sensitivity to the film’s outdated racial stereotypes. In my column on Let It Be, I discuss the myriad reasons that this film isn’t available on DVD, although there are plenty of bootleg versions around.
BUT THERE IS A SINGLE REASON TO REJOICE, BROTHERS AND SISTERS!
Cold Turkey deserved better than its Warner Archive MOD DVD release. Just to show how closely the studio bigwigs follow my column, this unsung little gem of a black comedy is finally getting a Blu-ray release TODAY, courtesy of the fine folks at Olive Films. The transfer is immaculate, and this actually helps the comedy. Watching the new Blu-ray release was the first time I realized that Stan Gottlieb, who plays the un-credited “Man on Operating Table” (and delivers one of the funniest lines in the picture) is the very same actor who plays “Hobo” in George Roy Hill’s 1972 masterpiece Slaughterhouse-Five and delivers an important monologue to boot! How was I finally able to discern that it was the same actor? Why, the improved transfer, of course. (And speaking of Slaughterhouse-Five: where is that movie’s @#$%$# Blu-ray release?)
Listen: I am a simple man, with simple needs. And one of those needs is to have every goddamned movie ever made available to purchase at a reasonable price, as a 4K restoration or Criterion Collection Blu-ray disc, with multiple supplements and outstanding cover art. And also… for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in a spirit of harmony and peace.