Sunday, March 22, 2009

Treasure Island!

I suppose the Home Theater Forum should snag some of the credit for this bauble, but since I read about it first at Jaime Weinman’s Something Old, Nothing New he will receive the treasured doff of the TDOY chapeau. The Warner Brothers online store website has announced the debut of The Warner Archive, a collection of 150 classic films currently not available on DVD (or once available on VHS, but have made little to no progress on disc) that can be purchased in a sort of “made to order” system.

Jaime is lamenting the fact that these titles will only ship to the U.S. (if there’s a problem with that, J.W., e-mail me) and HTF’s Ronald Epstein explains how it works:

Every few months Warner will release a "wave" of new titles for this
program. They will range from silent films, forgotten classics and
even small films from the 70s-90s. They will not be mass replicated
to be sold in stores. Instead, anyone that wants a title will go to
Warner's website, order it, and have it sent to their mailbox within
three days. The titles will only be replicated according to the amount
of orders received.

The titles will arrive in regular packaging with artwork and a printed
label on the DVD.

The quality of these DVDs (and I forgot to mention these are only DVDs)
are as good as anything you would expect the studio to release. They
will be in their proper aspect ratio, 16x9, and with the necessary audio
codecs. Nothing will suffer when it comes to presentation quality.

The DVDs will cost $19.95 each.

I scanned through the titles and found some must-haves for the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives—in fact, I’ve already placed my first order for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rain People (1969), an early FFC effort that used to play on USA many years ago but seems to have vanished off the face of the earth. (Coppola apparently wasn’t fond of the film, but I think it’s one of his best—with outstanding performances from Shirley Knight, James Caan and Robert Duvall.) Others under consideration for TDOY archive acceptance include The Beast of the City (1932), The Big House (1930), Convicts 4 (1962), Lost Boundaries (1949), On Borrowed Time (1939) and two silent classics, Scaramouche (1923) and The Trail of ’98 (1928).

The program is designed to allow the studio to release films previously not made available to the public, and I think it’s positively fantastic. Good on you, Warner!


Rick Brooks said...

This is great, but I hope Warners doesn't A) quit leasing titles like these for screenings on TCM and B) scale too far back on the cool box sets. "The Big House" in particular strikes me as a movie that could have fit in some kind of slick collection.

I also wish the price were a little lower, but, hey, it's cool of WB to make these movies available. Maybe they'll release TV series like "Maverick" or "77 Sunset Strip" this way, though who knows how much something like that will be.

Laura said...

Thanks so much for alerting me to this program, Ivan. I posted more info on it, including new links today to a Glenn Erickson "Extra!" column, an AP article, and tonight's live chat with Warners' George Feltenstein at Home Theater Forum.

Very, very interesting --

Best wishes,

Bobh said...

A number of classic TV titles have been mentioned for this manufacturing on demand (MOD) program, including 77 Sunset Strip, Bourbon Street Beat, Hawaiian Eye, Maverick, Bronco, and Lawman. Information as to when they will be available, in what format (individual eps., season sets, series sets), and pricing is not yet available, but they will be included.

Laura said...

Thanks for that good news, Bobh. I have a lot of MAVERICK on Columbia House video, but they don't include many of the Jack Kelly and Roger Moore episodes I'd love to own.

Best wishes,

Bobh said...

Laura, it will be interesting to see how this roles out, i.e., whether you will be able to order just those episodes you want, or if you will have to purchase full seasons or even the full run of the series. Time will tell.


Flickhead said...

From what I understand, these are DVD-Rs, not commercially manufactured DVDs. There shouldn't be a difference in image and sound quality, but they may not have the life of standard DVDs. And considering the blanks they're recording on cost them pennies, $19.95 is steep. Plus, my Blu-ray player occasionally refuses DVD-Rs, so that's something else to consider.