Friday, May 11, 2007

showing some class

Just a few items and a couple of previews of some classic film DVD that I know will be marked on your calender. We'll return with another DVD review later.

Roundup Update:
The Top Shelf picks for the work have finally had a closer look for review, and here's the lowdown. Both box sets are repackaging of the previous editions of the titles. The Quiet Man DVD, for example, is the previous Collector's edition disc. This maybe good news for anyone who could not find these releases on the shelves, but if you are hoping for any kind of special edition or new discs with extras, you are out of luck. If you own any of the titles, you might be better off finding the previous individual releases. I know I have found them in some bargain bins of some of the big box stores. Either way, the films are great and worthy of a Saturday afternoon or two.

Two previous MID (Missing in DVD) films coming out soon:

You've probably seen Scarface, right? Al Pacino? Well, you may not have seen the original classic starring Paul Muni. Thankfully, that problem will be remedied in two weeks. Universal Studios will be releasing this 1932 Howard Hawks classic on May 22nd. This is probably the first great "talkie" gangster film and probably one of the most explosive of the genre, aside from The Public Enemy. I've been waiting for years for this film to hit DVD. The film also stars George Raft and Ann Dvorak. Scarface was notorious in it's day for it's non-to-subtle allusion to incest between Paul Muni's main character, Tony and his sister. Extras will include an introduction from TCM's Robert Osborne. original trailer and an alternate ending. More information to come in the roundup.

James Cagney fans (and perhaps anyone who remembers watching this film in middle school) will be excited to learn that Warner Home Video will be releasing Max Reinhardt's 1935 classic film version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Many of Warner Brother's stock of famous stars were on hand for this one, including James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Olivia de Havilland, Dick Powell and others. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two. Word is that WHV has remastered the film and restored it to it's original roadshow length. Extras are abundant. The film will released as part of the Shakespeare Collection in August. The box set will also include Kenneth Branagh's 1996 version of Hamlet (a two disc special edition), Laurence Olivier's 1965 version of Othello, and MGM's 1936 production of Romeo and Juliet, starring Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard. This set looks to be a must buy. More info can be found at DVD Times.
Also coming soon from Warner Home Video:

We're in the middle of a great Katherine Hepburn month on TCM. Just in time for her 100th anniversary celebration, Warner's is releasing several early Hepburn and a later film on it's TCM Spotlight series. This box set includes the films, Morning Glory, Undercurrent, Sylvia Scarlett, Without Love, Dragon Seed and The Corn Is Green. Fans of the Spencer Tracy and Hepburn pairings, such as myself, should be particularly happy to see Without Love. We look forward to seeing more Hepburn and Tracy on DVD. Word is the WHV is also working on a Spencer Tracy Signature Collection, possibly for release in 2008. Hopefully we'll see Test Pilot, Edison the Man and some other great Tracy films that haven't yet hit DVD. Either way we're very excited to see more Katherine Hepburn on DVD. The box set is due to be released May 29th. We hope to have a preview/review for you here on the Shelf, so stay tuned!

Myrna Loy/William Powell Collection:
In 2005, The Thin Man Collection Box set was released, much to the joy of classic film fans everywhere. no doubt you will remember our three part review. It has since become one of Warner Home Video's best selling classic film DVD sets. It was promised to fans that more was coming, and thankfully that day is near. On August 7, WMV will release the Myrna Loy/William Powell Collection including the films Manhattan Melodrama, Evelyn Prentice, Double Wedding, Love Crazy and I Love You Again. Extras will abound. All of the films are appearing on DVD for the first time, and this brings almost all of the Powell-Loy pairings out on DVD. The only exception being The Senator was Indiscreet, a William Powell film in which Myrna Loy had a short cameo. (Their other films The Great Ziegfeld and Libeled Lady have been previously released on DVD.) August is looking to be a busy month for classic films.

Get Animated!:

Animation fans will be excited to know this will be a fantastic year as several "holy grails" of animation on DVD will be hitting the Shelves this summer. The best news is that WB and others are really putting an effort to bring us this classic animation remastered, uncut and uncensored!

Tex Avery's Droopy - The Complete Theatrical Collection is set to hit the street next week! As many Shelfer's know, I have long bemoaned the lack of Tex Avery on DVD. Now things are starting to look up. This set includes all of the original theatrical shorts on two DVDs. Included are several extras, including a documentary on Tex Avery and one of best loved creations: Droopy.

Popeye The Sailor 1933-1938 Volume 1: featuring 60 of the original great Max Fleischer shorts, uncut and remastered, spread across four discs. Fans have been eagerly awaiting the real deal for a very long time, and now it appears all of the famous studio's shorts will be getting the treatment the deserve. It should also boost confidence that animation historian and cartoon guru, Jerry Beck, has been on hand to assist in the DVD setup. If you love the Looney Tunes Golden Collection sets, this Popeye set is a no-brainer. Popeye is set to be released July 31st. And if you love extras, this set will be a virtual treasure chest of features, documentaries and interviews. Don't miss it!

The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection will be available in July. This set features that famous laughing bird we all know and love in many of his shorts, all on 3 DVDs. The shorts are presented in order of release, and the is word there may be a volume 2 next year if the set sells. Also features are cartoons of some of Walter Lantz's other creations like Chilly Willy and Andy Pandy. The happy news is that these shorts will be uncut and have been remastered from the original master negatives.

Also coming out this year will be Looney Tunes, Golden Collection: Vol. 5 and a the complete series of The Archie Show from the 60s, that animated classic that actually brought the recordings of several songs from The Archie's including the hit, Sugar, Sugar.

Exciting stuff, right? Well budget accordingly. There are many more great DVD sets for classic film, television and animation this year. And as always we will have news, previews and reviews here on the Shelf. Stay tuned. And just so you can't say old Uncle Loophole never gave you anything, here are some radio adaptations of a couple of Myrna Loy and William Powell films.
Here's the Screen Actor's Guild radio adaption of: Love Crazy, which should be a featured extra on the DVD set. And, just cause I'm a sentimental guy, here is the Lux Theater radio adaption of: The Thin Man. Just right click and enjoy!

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

You be careful madam, or you'll turn my pretty head with your flattery.


filmfanman said...

Thanks for the preview of the William Powell and Myrna Loy set, and thanks for the radio shows! I really love the William Powell movies. Please give us links to more if you ever find anymore. I've already pre-ordered my Loy/Powell set on DVD! Now I just have to endure the wait til august.

Anonymous said...

also preordered the powell/loy set. just curious if you know if they will ever release powell's life with father or the philo vance films on dvd? anyone know?
also the radio show was good. the thin man became a regular radio show for a while i think.

Wolf Flywheel said...

The folks over at have all 11 Philo Vance mysteries in one collection for around $70. The site does not confirm the format (DVD/VHS). I have the "Kennel Murder Case" on DVD so I know that one is out there. It is a horrible print, though. Since a large portion of the 'Vance films' that Powel was in were done prior to that one, I wouldn't count on any better from them. If the new Powel/Loy set does well, we may see these great films remastered in the next few years. "Life With Father" is available now on DVD. You can even pick it up on a double feature with "My Man Godfrey" at for less than $10. Don't count on any features though. You can also get the Philo Vance radio shows on cd now. Loophole may come up with more info in the future about a Philo Vance box set as he has his finger on the pulse of DVD releases so make sure to keep checking back!

J.C. Loophole said...

Here's the skinny on Philo Vance: the folks at WHV have stated their intention in a chat earlier this year with the Home Theater forum (you can read a transcript of that chat courtesy of the folks at Digital Bits here:

They plan to release the Philo Vance films in 2008. William Powell only did 4 Philo Vance films, with several actors taking over the role in later films. Most famously Basil Rathbone and William Warren. Buzz is there may be a box set, but my guess would be; with costs of restoration involved etc., that it will at least be the first 4 Powell films. If those sell well then the others may come later.
Stay tuned to the Shelf for more updates.

brewjow said...

I also have the My Man Godfrey DVD, but the print is horrible. I think the film is in public domain. It's sad - there should be a definative dvd release with features,etc. It's a great film.

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