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Classic Coming Attractions by Barrie Maxwell

Barrie Maxwell - Main Page

Bogart Revisited, Hallowe'en Pleasures, and New Announcements

The title of the column pretty well says it all. I've updated the content of an early column dealing with Humphrey Bogart on DVD, supplementing it with reviews of Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection, Volume 1; Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection, Volume 2; and The Return of Doctor X (all Warner Bros.). Then I offer short reviews of several horror-themed releases including Dracula: 75th Anniversary Edition, Frankenstein: 75th Anniversary Edition, The Boris Karloff Collection, Inner Sanctum Mysteries (all Universal), and the Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection (Warner Bros.). Finally, I have the usual update of new classic announcements. So, on with the show.


Bogart Revisited

Back in early 2003, the second column of Classic Coming Attractions that I wrote highlighted the career of Humphrey Bogart. With the passage of almost four years and this month's release of Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection Volume One and Volume Two and The Return of Doctor X (see reviews below), it seems like a good time to take stock of the current status of Bogart on DVD.

As most fans know, the majority of Bogart's career was spent at Warner Bros. Of the 80 feature films that comprise his filmography, 51 were made at or released by that studio during the years 1932-1951, including most of his best-remembered roles. Twenty-two of those 50 films are now available on DVD. They are: The Petrified Forest (1936), Bullets or Ballots (1936), San Quentin (1937), Marked Woman (1937), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), Dark Victory (1939), The Roaring Twenties (1939), The Return of Doctor X (1939), They Drive by Night (1940), High Sierra (1941), The Maltese Falcon (1941), All Through the Night (1942), Across the Pacific (1942), Casablanca (1942), Action in the North Atlantic (1943), To Have and Have Not (1944), Passage to Marseille (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Key Largo (1948), and The Enforcer (1951). As one might expect, virtually all of these DVD releases came from Warner Bros. itself, thus ensuring good presentations with thoughtful supplementary content. Several of the titles have received Warner double-disc treatment including The Maltese Falcon (3 disc SE), Casablanca, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Only five of these films were available on DVD when I first wrote about Bogart, which means that Warners has given us 16 Bogarts new to DVD over the past five years (one other - The Enforcer - came from Artisan) as well as revisiting two of the original five with impressive new DVD special editions and HD versions in the wings (Casablanca scheduled to be out in HD-DVD on November 14th, with The Maltese Falcon not expected to be too far behind).

So what of the other 29 Bogart films from Warner? There are still a number of good films in that bunch and for ease of consideration, I've grouped them roughly into four categories. Readers should be aware that Warner Bros. has no plans to release any of these Bogart titles on DVD in 2007; however, several are in the works (film element restoration work is imminent) for a 2008 release. Black Legion is almost a certainty to be one of them.

"A" titles with a major Warner star of the time and with Bogart in a supporting role:

Big City Blues (1932, Joan Blondell), Three on a Match (1932, Joan Blondell), China Clipper (1936, Pat O'Brien), The Great O'Malley (1937, Pat O'Brien), Kid Galahad (1937, Edward G. Robinson), The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938, Edward G. Robinson), The Oklahoma Kid (1939, James Cagney), Invisible Stripes (1939, George Raft), Brother Orchid (1940, Edward G. Robinson), and Virginia City (1940, Errol Flynn). Any of the latter six titles are worthy of release, but the earlier four are long shots (Three on a Match did get a VHS release).

"B" titles without a major Warner star of the time and with Bogart in a lead role:

Two Against the World (1936), Isle of Fury (1936), Black Legion (1937), Swing Your Lady (1938), Men Are Such Fools (1938), Racket Busters (1938), Crime School (1938), King of the Underworld (1939), You Can't Get Away with Murder (1939), It All Came True (1940), The Wagons Roll at Night (1941), and The Big Shot (1942). There are some nice little films in this bunch. I believe only Black Legion has received a prior home video release and as mentioned it seems likely to get a DVD release in 2008. Other worthy contenders would be Racket Busters, Crime School, King of the Underworld, and The Big Shot.

"A" titles starring Bogart:

Conflict (1945), The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947), and Chain Lightning (1950). All have appeared on VHS (Chain Lightning also on laserdisc) and although none are topflight Bogart, all have interest.

Bogart cameos:

In This Our Life (1942), Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946), and Always Together (1948). Thank Your Lucky Stars (previously on laserdisc) holds interest because of the wealth of Warner stars who perform while In This Our Life (also on laserdisc) seems like a likely future release in a Bette Davis box.

Of the 29 films that Bogart made outside of Warner Bros., nine were released through Columbia with whom Bogart's Santana company had a production arrangement and seven arrived via Fox where Bogart's feature film career started. Sony has had seven of the nine Columbia films available on DVD for a number of years now. The titles are: Sahara (1943), Dead Reckoning (1947, film noir with Lizabeth Scott), Tokyo Joe (1949), In a Lonely Place (1950, essential Bogart and perhaps the best of this bunch), Sirocco (1951), The Caine Mutiny (1954, Oscar nomination for Bogart), and The Harder They Fall (1956, Bogart's last film and a very fine and gritty boxing story). For the most part, these are quite acceptable transfers, but typical of Sony product they generally lack supplementary material of significance. As films, Tokyo Joe and Sirocco are the least interesting of these titles. Still missing in action are Knock on Any Door (1949) and Love Affair (1932). The former would have been a no-brainer for DVD by now I would have thought, but there's no inkling of a release as yet. As far as Bogart's seven films for Fox (either 20th Century-Fox or its predecessor Fox Film Corporation), none are available on DVD. Fox has a reasonably good record on getting out its classic titles, so it's curious that it hasn't seen fit to have Bogart represented amongst its available DVD product. Two 1950s films - Deadline U.S.A. (1952, a typical Bogart characterization as a crusading newspaper editor) and The Left Hand of God (1955 CinemaScope and colour, somewhat offbeat Bogart role where he impersonates a priest) would have seemed like obvious candidates. The other five Fox films all date from Bogart's initial foray into Hollywood in 1930-1931. Obviously his first feature film appearance (A Devil with Women) would be of interest, but his second (Up the River) seems like another no-brainer given its pedigree. It stars Spencer Tracy in his first feature film and is also directed by John Ford. It has been shown on the Fox Movie Channel and appears to be in decent shape, so there shouldn't be much physical impediment to a DVD version. The other three Fox films from this period (Body and Soul, Women of All Nations, A Holy Terror) seem less interesting although any Bogart appearance in a western such as the George O'Brien starring A Holy Terror has a novelty value. Given Fox's recent box sets on Clark Gable and Will Rogers, there seems some hope that a Bogart box might be forthcoming, but Fox has not commented on such a possibility to date. What better year for it though than 2007 when Warners is not planning any new Bogart content with which to compete?

The remaining 13 films include four from Paramount, five from United Artists, two from Universal, one from MGM, and one from Ealing in England. All the Paramount productions are available on DVD (three from Paramount itself and all with typically fine Paramount transfers though devoid of supplements - the delightful Sabrina [1954, directed by Billy Wilder], the underwhelming We're No Angels [1955, directed by John Huston], and the highly entertaining The Desperate Hours [1955, directed by William Wyler]). The fourth Paramount title (The Road to Bali [1952, cameo by Bogart]) seems to have fallen into the public domain and is available on DVD from the usual list of suspects (from which the Brentwood release is a good bet).

The key film among the United Artists releases is The African Queen (1952), the film for which Bogart won his Academy Award. The lack of its availability on DVD (at least in Region 1) has been a source of irritation for Bogart fans for many years now. Currently Paramount holds the DVD rights and has reportedly been restoring the film for release. Unfortunately that "reportedly" business has been going on for several years now and we seem no closer to an actual release. Paramount has failed to respond to my latest appeal for information. The other four United Artists releases are available on DVD. Dead End (1937) was made available a year ago and The Barefoot Contessa (1954) appeared several years ago. Both came from MGM and sport quite acceptable transfers though no supplementary material beyond a trailer. The remaining two UA titles are Stand-In (1937, starring Leslie Howard) available on DVD from Image and Beat the Devil (1954) available from various public domain specialists.

The Universal releases are Midnight (1934, an entertaining adaptation of a dramatic stage piece and sometimes also known as Call It Murder) available on DVD from Image and Bad Sister (1931). The latter is Bette Davis' first film and is not available on DVD. MGM's Battle Circus (1953) is a fairly routine Korean War film not available on DVD. Warners holds the DVD rights and if memory serves, this one did get announced for laserdisc late in that era but may not have seen the light of day. Finally, The Love Lottery (1953) was an Ealing picture starring David Niven that offered a short Bogart cameo. It hasn't surfaced on DVD as yet.

Well then, now how about a few Bogart reviews? October has seen three pertinent releases from Warner Bros. Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection, Volume 1 packages together four Bogart titles that were previously released - Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, High Sierra, and They Drive by Night. The Casablanca and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre versions are the two-disc digipack Special Editions that have been available for several years now. Both sport impressive film transfers and an impressive range of supplementary material. Only Casablanca looks to be improved on in the near future with its imminent HD version (November 14th). High Sierra and They Drive by Night were originally released in snappers; in this new collection, they're packaged in slimcases but are otherwise identical in content to the original releases. I highly recommended these two titles in my original reviews here. I can't imagine any true Bogart fan not already having all four of these titles, but if you're missing them, this Signature Collection is the way to go.

Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection, Volume 1Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection, Volume 2

Warners' second October Bogart release is Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection, Volume 2. This five-film box set is anchored by a new three-disc edition of The Maltese Falcon packaged as two slimcases in their own cardboard slip cover (although readers should be aware that some purchasers have reported the cardboard slip cover to be missing from their packaging). The other four titles in the set (Across the Pacific, All Through the Night, Action in the North Atlantic, Passage to Marseille) each come in separate slimcases. All titles can also be purchased individually. There's little I need to say about the films themselves. The Maltese Falcon is truly one of Bogart's signature roles, the directorial debut of John Huston, and a film that Huston wrote with Bogart in mind even though it took the usual George Raft refusal of the lead role to open the door for Bogart. This 1941 version was a case of third-time lucky, for the Dashiell Hammett story had been filmed twice before by Warner Bros. with some success but none approaching that of the Huston adaptation. Fortunately for us, we're able to judge the relative merits for ourselves as Warners thoughtfully has included both the 1931 and 1936 versions as supplements. The former (released as The Maltese Falcon although sometimes known on TV as Dangerous Female to distinguish it from the 1941 one) is a saucy pre-Code and fairly straight version of the story starring Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels. The 1936 version known as Satan Met a Lady (with Warren William and Bette Davis) plays the material more for laughs. Both are pleasant entertainments although the 1936 version wears on the nerves after a while. The 1941 version is the touchstone, however, with Bogart giving a galvanizing performance as detective Sam Spade. The rest of cast including Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Lee Patrick, and Elisha Cook Jr. fits the material like a glove. Interestingly, the effective way that the whole cast worked together paved the way for assignments together on future films included in this box set. Thus Bogart, Astor, and Greenstreet were reunited with director Huston for Across the Pacific in which Bogart works undercover to disrupt a plan to destroy the Panama Canal. Bogart and Lorre along with Conrad Veidt enjoy a Damon Runyonesque romp involving New York gangsters combating Nazi spies in All Through the Night. And Bogart, Greenstreet, and Lorre team up with Casablanca co-star Claude Rains for another outing together in the Passage to Marseille ode to free French fighters. Only Action in the North Atlantic is out of step in this respect. In it (a very solid wartime propaganda film with some excellent action sequences), Greenstreet and Lorre are nowhere to be seen as Bogart stars with Raymond Massey portraying the officers of a merchant ship making the arduous wartime North Atlantic crossing as part of a convoy bound for Russia. These four films are vintage Bogart vehicles from his prime Warner period of the 1940s. All are highly entertaining and each is distinctly different from the others either in story or structure. Only All Through the Night with its wonderful cast of supporting players (William Demarest, Phil Silvers, Edward Brophy, Jackie Gleason, Frank McHugh, Jane Darwell, Wallace Ford, Barton MacLane, Judith Anderson, Ben Welden, etc.) could be said to be at all reminiscent of the stock gangster stories that Bogart found himself entrenched in during the late 1930s. Warners has once again gone back to the original camera negatives as its source for the fine DVD transfers on display in this set. The work on The Maltese Falcon is particularly of note and those who own the first DVD release will find a much improved image in every respect - cleaner, sharper, more detailed and better contrast. I suspect this will make a fine HD release when that anticipated event occurs. The other four films in the set are close to The Maltese Falcon in image quality with slightly more dirt and debris being the main difference. The mono sound on all titles is in good shape, offering clear dialogue and decent transmission of the typically effective Warner sound tracks. Very minor hiss is occasionally discernible. The supplements are ample on all titles with each sporting the theatrical trailer, a Warner Night at the Movies feature (newsreel, cartoon, short and coming attraction trailer), and a newly-minted documentary either on the making of the movie or on related issues such as directors or character actors of the era. Some of the titles also include Warner blooper reels from the same year of release and both The Maltese Falcon and All Through the Night have audio commentaries by Bogart biographer Eric Lax (the latter film's commentary also involves director Vincent Sherman). The three-disc Maltese Falcon set also adds the two previous film versions as mentioned above (both in very nice shape) as well as a look at Bogart's career through trailers of his films and hosted by TCM's Robert Osborne, makeup tests for Mary Astor, and three radio adaptations of the film. Very highly recommended.

Doctor X/The Return of Doctor X

One Bogart film that I never thought to see on DVD was 1939's The Return of Doctor X, a modest horror film with Bogart in the title role and sporting hair with a bizarre white streak in it. He's been brought back from the dead by another doctor (John Litel) trying to perfect synthetic blood, but his life can only be sustained by killing others with a rare blood type that's the basis for the manufactured blood. The film is mainly a vehicle for young Warner up-and-comers Wayne Morris, Dennis Morgan, and Rosemary Lane and although predictable, it's over in a brisk hour before it can outstay its welcome. Warners' transfer of the film is superb, the film looking and sounding as though it were minted virtually yesterday. Even better, it sports a fine audio commentary by screenwriter Steve Haberman and director Vincent Sherman (who recorded his comments a year or so prior to his recent passing at age 99). Recommended. The only down side for Bogart fans who aren't also horror fans is the fact that the film is paired as one half of a double bill with 1932's Doctor X and the disc is only available in a box set with two other similar double bills. The set's called the Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection. But more about that below.


Hallowe'en Pleasures

One of the welcome things about this time of year is the studios' desire to cater to the horror theme surrounding Hallowe'en. 2006 is no exception and for some may be one of the better years given what's on offer. Warner, Universal and Sony all have some classic goodies to share.

Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection

As mentioned above, Warner Bros. has released the Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection. It consists of three discs, each containing a double bill. In addition to the Doctor X/Return of Doctor X duo, it also features Mark of the Vampire paired with The Mask of Fu Manchu and Mad Love paired with The Devil Doll. All six of these films were originally made in the 1930s at either Warners (the two Doctor X ones) or MGM (the other four). All titles are available only in the box set. Veteran laserdisc collectors will remember that the four MGM titles were made available as a very welcome box set also exactly 10 years ago. Now they're back looking substantially better than ever. Best of all, the four films are superior entries in the genre each featuring seasoned horror filmmakers (Boris Karloff in The Mask of Fu Manchu, Bela Lugosi in Mark of the Vampire, Peter Lorre in Mad Love, and Tod Browning directing The Devil Doll). Doctor X was also available on laserdisc (but there it was combined with Mystery of the Wax Museum - a good choice since both films were Warner Pre-Code efforts directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Fay Wray and Lionel Atwill, and made in two-colour Technicolor). The mating in the DVD box is with The Return of Doctor X whose only commonality is the appearance of "Doctor X" in the titles. The transfer of Doctor X is the weakest in the box set, but is still an improvement on the laserdisc and worthwhile because of the opportunity to have the colour version. The sound on all is quite acceptable despite modest hiss and crackle in some cases. Once again, Warners provides fine supplementary material in the form of the theatrical trailers for all and audio commentaries on all except The Devil Doll. Recommended.

Dracula: 75th Anniversary EditionFrankenstein: 75th Anniversary Edition

Universal has trotted out Dracula and Frankenstein for the third time each on DVD. This time, the releases have been issued as 75th Anniversary Editions within the Universal Legacy Series. So should you invest again? Well that's a tough one. There's no doubt these new editions are handsome ones, mounted as they are in the elegant two-disc, book-style Legacy packaging. The transfers exhibit modest improvements over the previous releases. There are still lots of speckles and scratches, but detail is better and upconverted using an HD-DVD player, the images have great presence - speckles, grain, and all. Both titles carry over the supplements from the previous releases, but add new material of significance. Both for example offer the excellent lengthy documentary entitled Universal Horror, narrated by Kenneth Branagh. Each has a new profile on its star, either Lugosi or Karloff, and each also provides a second audio commentary (by Sir Christopher Frayling on Frankenstein and by screenwriter Steve Haberman on Dracula). If you've somehow never managed to acquire either of these two films on DVD, obviously the 75th Anniversary Editions are the ones to get. Yet one can't help but suspect that Universal has HD editions of both in the offing, and who knows, they might appear as early as next year at this time.

The Boris Karloff CollectionInner Sanctum Mysteries: The Complete Movie Collection

Universal has also given us a couple of entries in its Franchise Collection series - The Boris Karloff Collection and Inner Sanctum Mysteries: The Complete Movie Collection. The most important piece of information about both of these sets is the fact that Universal has shelved the dreaded DVD-18 approach to such releases, using single-sided double-layer discs instead. The Boris Karloff Collection uses three such discs to deliver five Karloff films that span the period 1937 to 1952. All are interesting entries, but few are real horror films. Night Key is a mystery melodrama in which Karloff plays the inventor of a security system who is then kidnapped and forced to help a gang of burglars commit robberies. In Tower of London, Karloff plays executioner Mord to Basil Rathbone's ruthless Richard who tries to seize power by killing off all those ahead of him in line for the throne. The Climax finds Karloff playing a mad doctor who's insane jealous over a beautiful opera singer (Karloff's first feature filmed in colour). In The Strange Door, Karloff is the servant of a mad nobleman who tries to free the madman's helpless prisoners (with Charles Laughton in a juicy lead role). Finally, in The Black Castle, Karloff has another supporting role in a tale of betrayal and revenge. All clocking in at roughly 80 to 90 minutes, these films are amiable timepassers at best. They do show Karloff in a variety of roles and all are the better for his presence, but none are among his best work. The image transfers are all typically good for Universal. The sole Technicolor title (The Climax) exhibits good saturation although not in the same league as Warners' best work on its Technicolor films. As is typical for such Universal collections, there are no supplements bar a couple of trailers. For Karloff completists.

Unfortunately, the review copy of Inner Sanctum Mysteries that I received from Universal had two Disc Ones in it so I was unable to sample three of the six features included in the two-disc set (although I was familiar with all of them from Universal's previous VHS releases). I don't know how isolated this problem is, but you might want to check your copies if you haven't examined them as yet. Based on the "Inner Sanctum" radio shows of the 1940s, these roughly hour-long mysteries made during 1943 to 1945 all star Lon Chaney Jr. in a variety of roles (lawyer, doctor, artist, chemist, hypnotist, professor) that involve death, delusion, and the dark arts. With titles such as Calling Dr. Death, Weird Woman, Dead Man's Eyes, The Frozen Ghost, Strange Confession, and Pillow of Death, the stories (all are introduced by a sort of ghostly head that talks from inside a crystal ball) are interesting and crisply delivered for the most part. The source material appears to be in good shape (at least for the first disc that I was able to view) with the result that we get nice crisp transfers with good image detail. The mono sound is quite satisfactory. There are no supplements. Recommended.

Finally, this is just an acknowledgement that Sony has released its own Karloff collection entitled Icons of Horror Collection: Boris Karloff. This contains four Columbia films: The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942), The Black Room (1935), The Man They Could Not Hang (1939), and Before I Hang (1940). I did not have an advance copy to review, so cannot comment on the transfers, but I have seen the films themselves in the past and all hold interest, particularly The Black Room.


New Announcements

I begin this column's section on new announcements with some comments that George Feltenstein, Senior Vice President of Theatrical Catalog Marketing for Warner Bros., kindly passed on to me. I've already mentioned above the hiatus in Bogart titles for 2007, but that will be more than compensated by Warners' plans to release 200 or so titles new to DVD this coming year. Although no specific titles were mentioned, classic enthusiasts can look for at least one collection and usually two each month. These will include all new-to-DVD titles except where a previously released title has been substantially upgraded in terms of master quality and supplements (such as was the case with The Maltese Falcon recently). In addition, there will be some repackagings of previously-released titles into box sets, but that will be distinct from the 200 or so new titles. There will be no sets issued that include a mixture of old and new releases. It sounds like Warner Bros. is already staking out best studio of the year status for 2007. Classic fans can only rejoice in the continued commitment!

Now on to the specific new announcements. Early 2007 release news is slowly starting to flow and it's apparent that both Warners and Fox are maintaining their classic efforts. The Classic Coming Attractions Database has been updated as usual and sources for this edition include studio press releases and websites, personal contacts, internet newsgroups, online retailers, and dvd news sites (The Digital Bits, Davis DVD, the Home Theater Forum, DVD Times, TVShowsonDVD, among others).

Alpha has a couple of dozen classic releases planned for each of November 21st and December 19th. Included is the usual mix of westerns (mainly double bills starring the likes of Bob Steele, Jack Perrin, Tex Ritter, and The Range Busters), mysteries, and collections of TV episodes. One serial (Rin-Tin-Tin in Law of the Wild), one silent film (an early Boris Karloff appearance in 1924's Dynamite Dan), and several double bills with all-black casts are also on the schedule. Check the new release data base for details.

Classic Media Classic Media has announced the release of The Complete Harveytoons Collection for November 7th. Unfortunately, the title is misleading; as reported a few days ago by Bill Hunt on The Bits, this four-disc set (double-sided DVD-18s) features 52 episodes of The Harveytoon Show each of which contains three or four of the original cartoons - hardly the complete set of 312. For those who don't remember, these feature the likes of Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, and Baby Huey. The set comes with an original Casper comic reprinted inside. Apparently the audio and video are very good, but the packaging (particularly the identification of exactly what's included on the various discs) is very much lacking. Meanwhile, Classic Media is also following up its recent two-disc release of Gojira (the original Godzilla) with two later installments in the Godzilla series - the first sequel known as Gozilla Raids Again (1955, retitled as Gigantis the Fire Monster for its American release) and Mothra Vs. Godzilla (1964, released in the U.S. as Godzilla Vs. the Thing). As with Gojira, both of the new releases include the original Japanese and later American versions. The two titles were to be released on November 7th, and may still be available then but only through a special promotional website. A wider release will follow in spring 2007.

Criterion's initial offerings for the new year include Robert Bresson's Mouchette (1967) due on January 16th, Monsters and Madmen - a set of four films including The Haunted Strangler (1958), Corridors of Blood (1963), First Man into Space (1959), and The Atomic Submarine (1959) due on January 23rd, and Yojimbo/Sanjuro: Two Films by Akira Kurosawa (1961/1962) also due on January 23rd. All will have new restored high definition digital transfers, audio commentaries, and a selection of other supplements (documentaries, new interviews, trailers, essays). The Kurosawa films will also be available separately.

There's an addition to Fox's December line-up - The Will Rogers Collection: Volume Two - due on the 12th. It includes four films - David Harum (1934), Mr. Skitch (1933), Ambassador Bill (1931), and Too Busy to Work (1932). Fox's first classic titles for 2007 will include the long-awaited Blood and Sand (1941, with Tyrone Power) on January 9th. Also coming on the same date is Little Murders (1971, with Elliott Gould). January 30th will bring three Doris Day films - Caprice (1967), Do Not Disturb (1965), and Move Over Darling (1963), and The Big Valley: Season Two, Volume One (the first 15 episodes). According to the official Alice Faye website (alicefaye.com), Fox plans a box set of Alice Faye films - On the Avenue, Lillian Russell, That Night in Rio, and The Gang's All Here (no date announced as yet).

Grapevine Video has now made available Trapped by the Mormons (1922). It's a pressed DVD (as opposed to Grapevine's normal DVD-R release approach) that contains a wealth of supplementary information - audio commentary by film historian James D'Arc; a new soundtrack by Blaine Gale in Dolby 4.0 recorded on Peery's Egyptian Theater Wurlitzer organ in Ogden, Utah; Thomas Edison's 1905 short A Trip to Salt Lake City; a new documentary; and the complete book "The Love Story of a Mormon" (1911). Other October releases (all DVD-R) are: Seven Keys to Baldpate (1917, with George M. Cohan), Wolf Blood (1925, an early werewolf film), a Ken Maynard double feature of Tombstone Canyon (1932) and Phantom Thunderbolt (1933), a mystery double feature of Midnight Manhunt (1945) and The Amazing Mr. X (1948), and an "old house" mystery double feature of The Rogues' Tavern and The House of Secrets (both 1936).

Image offers Gangland: Bullets over Hollywood on December 5th. It's a 2005 69-minute documentary on gangster films narrated by Paul Sorvino. On January 9th, we'll get the Dr. Mabuse Collection which includes return of Dr. Mabuse (1961), Invisible Dr. Mabuse (1962), and Death Ray Mirror of Dr. Mabuse (1964).

Kino's previously-announced release of a number of early Ernst Lubitsch films is now set for December 5th. The titles are: Anne Boleyn (1920), The Oyster Princess/I Don't Want (1919), Sumurun (1920), and The Wildcat (1921).

The Roan Group (Troma) has added the western Yellowneck, a 1955 independent production (released by Republic in Trucolor) to its late fall release schedule, but there's no specific release date known at this time.

Sony will have The Dean Martin Double Feature for release on December 12th. It will include Who Was That Lady? (1960, with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh) and How to Save a Marriage (and Ruin Your Life) (1968, with Stella Stevens and Eli Wallach). There are no supplements planned.

Tapeworm Distribution (A2ZCDs.com) will release Ambush Valley (1936, with Bob Custer), American Empire (1942, with Richard Dix), Rogue of the Range (1936, with Johnny Mack Brown), and Son of the Renegade (1953, with Johnny Carpenter) on October 31st.

VCI has several goodies scheduled for November 28th. First up is a George Reeves Double Feature, no doubt prompted by the interest in the Adventures of Superman TV series and the recent Hollywoodland film. Included in the double feature are two 1948 films, both co-starring Ralph Byrd of Dick Tracy fame - Thunder in the Pines and Jungle Goddess. Supplements will include extensive new interview footage with various individuals who knew Reeves or have been involved in related projects. Hammer Film Noir will make a return with Volume Four (Terror Street [1953, with Dan Duryea] and Wings of Danger [1952, with Zachary Scott]) and Volume Five (The Glass Tomb [1955, with John Ireland] and Paid to Kill [1954, with Dane Clark]). Finally there will be more Red Ryder. Red Ryder Double Feature Volume 11 will offer Vigilantes of Dodge City and Sheriff of Las Vegas (both 1944) while Red Ryder Triple Feature Volume 12 will include The Lone Texas Ranger (1945), California Gold Rush (1946), and Homesteaders of Paradise Valley (1947). All star Bill Elliott except for the last one, in which Allan Lane plays Ryder.

Warner Bros. has announced the release of Robert Mitchum: The Signature Collection on January 23rd. It will be a six-disc set (slim cases) including Angel Face, Macao, Home from the Hill, The Sundowners, The Good Guys and the Bad Guys, and The Yakuza. All titles will also be available separately. Supplements include audio commentary on Angel Face (Eddie Muller), Macao (Eddie Muller, Jane Russell, and screenwriter Stanley Rubin), and The Yakuza (director Sydney Pollack), and vintage featurettes on most of the others. Warner has a Valentine's Day romance promotion the following month that will see the release of The Clock (1945, with Judy Garland), Miracle in the Rain (1956, with Jane Wyman), and A Summer Place (1959, with Dorothy Maguire) - all on February 6th. February 13th brings a couple of British films of interest - The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962, with Tom Courtenay) and Performance (1970, with James Fox).

In High Definition news, Warner Bros. will release The Searchers on Blu-ray on October 31st. That will make The Searchers the first classic title to be available on both HD formats, it having previously appeared in HD-DVD on August 22nd. On November 14th, HD-DVD versions of Casablanca, the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty, and Forbidden Planet have been announced by Warners. The Forbidden Planet HD-DVD will also be available in the same 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition tin set packaging (with the Robbie the Robot figure!) as the standard DVD. Blu-ray versions of these three titles would follow in 2007. Meanwhile the planned release of Sony's The Professionals (Blu-ray) did not occur on October 17th as originally announced. The release has been postponed indefinitely.

Well, that's it once again. I'll return again soon with the first HDC-High Definition Classics column.

Barrie Maxwell
barriemaxwell@thedigitalbits.com


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