Warner Bros. is offering a new service that could lead the way for film fans to see rarities hidden in the studio archives. Movies that might not make their money back in a standard DVD release, are being released in limited numbers, depending on demand. There's also the option to 'download to own'. Whoever is interested can now see these older movies, and the studio doesn't waste money on over-production. The online store is linked here.
There've been two 'waves' of releases so far. The downside is that this is only available in the USA at the moment. Here's what initially caught my eye...
I can now officially take Doc Savage - Man of Bronze off my 'not on DVD' list. The 1975 adaption, of the long-running 1930s pulp action hero adventures, isn't popular with every fans of the bronze giant, but it still deserves to be out there. I reviewed the movie, fondly, here.
Want to see Francis Ford Coppola's 1969 'existential road movie'? Now you can - a youthful James Caan, Robert Duvall and Shirley Knight starred. I shouldn't be surprised when films by important directors aren't available, but I am.
Looking for information on early 'flight panic' movie Zero Hour, (the movie that largely inspired Airplane!), I heard about The Crowded Sky and it's close links with the genre. It's based on an Arthur Hailey book that was adapted before he had the huge hit with Airport (the template for 70s disaster movies). The Crowded Sky also pre-dates Dana Andrews mid-air collision in Airport 1975. Now if only I lived in America, I could get to see it...
Hammer films were all made by the same British studio but distributed by many different American distributors. Tracking them all down has become a lifetime quest. But Hammer fans can now see the psycho-thriller Crescendo (1970) starring Stefanie Powers (Hart to Hart, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.) and James Olsen (The Andromeda Strain, Moon Zero Two).
Many of the movies on offer are early black-and-white film. Rasputin and the Empress (1932) impressed me greatly when I caught on late-night TV. A grand recreation of the legendary puppet master and his friendship with the Russian royal family. This is the only time the three heavyweights of the Barrymore acting dynasty starred together. Drew's grandad John has a terrifying showdown with Lionel, as Rasputin, where they beat bloody hell out of each other, in a violent approximation of real-life events. This movie being 'pre-code', it's a still shocking scene today.
Hopefully, this will be a success and Warners will continue to dust off more treasures from their vaults, and maybe other studios will follow on.