Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Who Really Deserves A DVD Collection?

So here I am in one of the downtown Toronto DVD outlets.
And I'm trying to discover what big stars get DVD Collections and what ones do not.
"Do you have a Robert Taylor Collection?" I ask hopefully.
"Sorry. He made most of his movies for MGM and while some single titles of Taylor's like Ivanhoe are out most haven't made it as yet to DVD," responds the clerk.
Susan Hayward?
Charlton Heston?"
Irene Dunne?
"Well she made movies for almost every studio so getting together her best titles would be impossible. Individual Dunne titles like Roberta are out."
But I persevered. "But Marjorie Main as Ma Kettle had a collection. So does Don Knotts. So does Bela Lugosi. And Boris Karloff. "
But some of the biggest movie stars around just aren't there: Jean Arthur, Loretta Young, Rosalind Russell, Ronald Colman,Robert Donat are missing in action.
Ditto a whole gaggle of British stars like Anna Neagle, Margaret Lockwood, Phyllis Calvert, George Formby.
Some are represented by British collections not for sale in Canada except by special order.
Claudette Colbert's is now out but many titles are ones which I already bought on VHS (you remember VHS don't you).
Cary Grant deservedly has two collections out: the RKO and Warners titles on WB Video (including Destination Tokyo, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House) and The Bachelor And The Bobby Soxer).
And Grant's Columbia work is collected by Columbia DVD including such titles as The Awful Truth, Holiday, His Girl Friday and Talk Of The Town.
Fox has a lush Tyrone Power Collection but other Fox stars like Dana Andrews and GeneTierney just aren't there although I'm hearing Fox's greatest ever female star (yes it's Janet Gaynor) may be saluted soon.
I told one clerk it seems to me collections are getting smaller and more select.
For example The Rita Hayworth Collection just out is restricted to four titles.
And Busby Berkeley's new WB collection is just four titles whereas the WB collection of Berkeley just a few years back had seven titles.
Ditto Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers who also have a four-film set out from MGM.
Fox is repackaging films already out into four-film collections. The one I'm watching now includes Leave Her To Heaven and The Sun Also Rises.
Well, that's because DVD buying is seriously down --people think they can tape anything off Turner Classic Movies or AMC.
So the prices of these four film collections hovers around the more affordable $19.99.
In fact I can now relate the downtown DVD outlets seldom seem very busy any more --Towers has already vacated its prime Queen at Yonge location.
In desperation the WB Archive which includes Warners, MGM and RKO titles has started selling directly to customers with many rare or obscure titles that probably would never make it to store shelves.
They're not available directly to Canadians --I had to order some through an American friend.
But call up tcm.com and you can order this way. The titles include The Douglas Sirk Collection , the three-movie collection saluting a great team, Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert.
And there's a three-film collection of early Cary Grant Paramount titles: The Last Outpost, The Devil And The Deep and The Eagle And The Hawk.
The Warner Archive Collection is even more impressive. Titles include Plymouth Adventure (1952), Susan Slept Here (1954), Joan Blondell as Blondie Johnson (1933), From Headquarters (1933), Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady In Red (1935), Paul Muni in Black Fury (1935).
In fact there are so many Barbara Stanwyck titles you could make up your own collection including The Man With The Cloak (1951), B.F.'s Daughter (1948), Cry Wolf (1947), The Secret Bride (1934.
Also well represented in the WB Archives: Joan Blondell, Kay Francis plus from MGM Lana Turner and Robert Young.
So go for it.,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jean Harlow -- and no, I am not counting the upcoming, disappointing re-release of four of her titles into one of these cheapo TCM packs... double-sided DVDs ... yuck.

That's another waste of a release as all four of those have been available for years while several other Harlow titles frustratingly remain in obscurity. What we could use is one a Harlow DVD set with films like BOMBSHELL, RECKLESS, RED DUST, and THREE WISE GIRLS. All of these could be released by Warner if they wanted to do it. BOMBSHELL is the one I'd most eagerly anticipate, likely followed by THREE WISE GIRLS.