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  1. #1
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    For a long time I have been an big fan of old British movie classics, ranging from the 1930s to the late 1950s. Many of these films have left a big impression on me. Although I also love b/w-movies, I mostly was impressed by the quality of the early british Technicolor movies.

    Therefore, I would sincerely wish for their release on DVD. Some of them (e.g. Blithe Spirit, This Happy Breed, Colonel Blimp) have already gotten the DVD-treatment, and are now available again in all its full glory. Nevertheless, a large number of these films (particularly of the 1940s!!!)seem to be forgotten. Herby I am thinking of such titles as: "Wings of the morning" (1937), "Sixty Glorious Years" (1938), "The Great Mr. Handel" (1941), "London Town" (1946), "Kingsenga [aka: Men of Both Worlds] (1946), "Jassy" (1946), "Blanche Fury" (1947), "Blue Lagoon" (1948), "Saraband" (1948), "Maytime in Mayfair" (1949), "The Elusive Pimpernel" (1950) and, last but not least, "The Magic Box" (1951).

    My question is, does any member of this forum know if any of these titles will be released in the near future. I would be grateful for any information. Thanks.



    [ 06. May 2004, 14:28: Message edited by: DB7 ]

  2. #2
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    It's mainly a commercial decision as to which DVDs are released, there's not usually much artistic input to the decision.



    If you can find out who has the rights to a particular film (not an easy task) then a bit of lobbying might make them think that there is more of a demand for the film so that they will get a return on the investment.



    There are various places like DVD Savant where they announce forthcoming releases (rumoured and confirmed).



    Steve

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Country: Scotland
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    Steve is right, commercial is the word. The problem is most people who work in DVD industry know about commerce but little about film. It is easy to sell new product as expected sales are often related to theatrical performance. The bigger companies who have the rights of films going back a5t least 70 years are having probably so much relative success with their new product that they are paying little consideration to their back catalogue. I know that some of the studios have been perplexed as to why they have failed to do as well as other companies in selling classic titles on DVD. And I am not referring to films made before 1960. Even classics from the 80's failed to garner the interest they expected.



    At first, new films had a load of extras readily available ('deleted scenes' etc) and people on hand from the cast and crew that were readily available to record their commentaries, after all there was a vested interest (i.e. self promotion to aid their career in the future) if not contractual obligation to do so. Also it is in the interests of actors and directors who are set to gain residual payments from the DVD sales of their films. The studios applied the same approach when it came to their back catalogue. Naturally, even for actors and directors od films going back only twenty years, promoting their old work would in no way have the same returns and many were not interested in helping the studios make more money off them with little financial benefits for themselves. It took smaller companies like Anchor Bay, who took a greater interest in the medium of film and the merits of the work they aimed to release, as well as financially rewarding those who participated, to persuade people like Alex Cox, Val Guest, Roy Ward Baker, Nigel Kneale etc that their contributions would be more worthwhile. In turn, the attention paid made the end product of greater interest and quality, as well as putting a greater retail value on each title.



    Most classic British films are now in the hands of two companies. Carlton own films previously produced by Rank (inc. Gaumont-British and Two Cities), Romulus Films, Gainsborough Pictures and London Films. Canal+ Image Ltd own the rights to films produced by Ealing Studios, British Intl'l Pictures, Associated British and British Lion. Carlton have released a fair chunk of the British films they hold and have begun paying some attention to some of their films. The African Queen comes with a Jack cardiff audio commentary and Carlton have specially made half hour docs on Genevieve, Black Narcissus (though no sight of the film in the UK), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Brief Encounter, A Matter of Life and Death. The Red Shoes, A Tale of Two Cities, The Importance of Being Earnest (1951), In Which We Serve, Oliver Twist, The Battle of the River Plate, the Doctor series and the early work of Alfred Hitchcock. Canal+ Image release through Warner here in the UK. So far they have released only a fraction of films own as far as classic British film is concerned, and none have come with any extras other than a few postcards. Those that have been released have mostly come in boxsets (the three different Ealing Studios boxsets). A company called DD video also begun releasing some old British films on DVD but none came with any extras until recently when they took on the early Hammer films which had previously been released by Anchor Bay in the US, sensibly acquiring all the extras that came with them (inc. many audio commentaries). Hopefully they will go down this line themselves and produce special editions of their own.



    Of the films you list I know of one title that is available now. Kino International have a DVD of Wings of the Morning that comes with another film, St Martin's Lane (starring Charles Laughton, Vivien Leigh and Rex Harrison) - go to http://www.kino.com/video/item.php?product_id=702. Jassy and Sixty Glorious Years are available on VHS on DD video, maybe they will release them on DVD in time. Considering the number of films that have been released on video, I am sure many will come out in time on DVD. I just hope that opportunities are taken to record additional features such as audio commentaries are taken sooner rather than later.

  4. #4
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    Write or e-mail Carlton and Canal+ Image Ltd. They are coming out with a lot of old goodies over here in the States, which they probably came out with in the UK first.



    I wrote BBC about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy a few years back (I'm sure I wasn't the only one) and they came out with it in 2002 or 2003. I'm sure it was due to interest (they think about markets the bean counters and marketing people).



    In your letter, I humbly suggest, making a case for the interest and preservation and renewed interest in the film with you personal request.

    Give them a reason why.



    Gibbie

  5. #5
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    I suggest you write a letter to Sir Richard Attenborough, he is one of our national cinematic treasures.

    I am pretty sure if you write a passionate letter to him, about your concerns he will reply.

    He can give you a overall perspective of how the archives of British cinema are being preserved for the future and what will be released for home viewing.





    Third Man

  6. #6
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    I know with the music industry, the drive is to get you (the consumer) to spend your money on the new releases by heavily promoted artists, so they (the music industry) can recoup what they invested so heavily in. I'm guessing the film industry is similar in that regard.



    Ironically musicians' back catalogues are making up an increasingly large percentage of all total music sales nowadays. I wonder if the same things apply to film, or at least might apply at a future date (ie, when different films are about to go into the public domain).



    And speaking of which, are there any thoughts about intellectual property rights vs. the public domain? In America at least, Congress keeps extending copyright protection (which I think is up to 95 years now and supposedly on par with the World Intellectual Property Organization treaties. I could be very wrong, though.) and I have decidedly ambivilent feelings about it. I feel such extensions are contrary to initial spirit of the law. (Then again, I'm also not the one making obscene amounts of cash off of, say, Steamboat Willie, so...)



    P.S: Nice post, James! :)

  7. #7
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    </div><div class='quotemain'>daisymum:

    [snip]

    And speaking of which, are there any thoughts about intellectual property rights vs. the public domain? In America at least, Congress keeps extending copyright protection (which I think is up to 95 years now and supposedly on par with the World Intellectual Property Organization treaties. I could be very wrong, though.) and I have decidedly ambivilent feelings about it. I feel such extensions are contrary to initial spirit of the law. (Then again, I'm also not the one making obscene amounts of cash off of, say, Steamboat Willie, so...)



    P.S: Nice post, James! :) [/b]
    In the UK, I believe the summary at http://www.patent.gov.uk (UK patent office site about copyright and IP) is still correct when it says:



    Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (including a photograph) lasts until 70 years after the death of the author. The duration of copyright in a film is 70 years after the death of the last to survive of the principal director, the authors of the screenplay and dialogue, and the composer of any music specially created for the film. Sound recordings are generally protected for 50 years from the year of publication. Broadcasts are protected for 50 years and published editions are protected for 25 years.



    Note that it's not 70 years after the film was made - but after the death of the last copyright holder. And some people involved in film-making are quite long lived. Jack Cardiff is still working even though he recently celebrated his 90th birthday!



    Steve

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    I'm very much in two minds about 'Public Domain' releases. Some interesting and obscure material gets released at low prices via this route, but some major productions which have failed to have their copyright renewed get released in poor quality versions.



    This has the effect of discouraging companies from releasing properly restored versions, as a percentage of the potential marker has been creamed off by some fly-by-night outfit bunging out copies for £2.99 in supermarket bargain bins.



    To pick an example, does anyone know where I can get a decent quality DVD of The Man With the Golden Arm? The DVD I have is very blurry and smeary.

  9. #9
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    The R2 version from Ken Barnes' Laureate label is perhaps the best. See the link below. Hart Sharp are also using his elements for an R1 release. I am trying to persuade them to record an additional audio commentary with original cast/crew members. Once a company invests in additional features such as audio commentaries, of which they do hold the rights, their commercial activity with such public domain titles becomes somewhat safe guarded and worthwhile. Other companies such as VCI are cottoning onto this fact.



    http://www.laureatedvd.com/goldenarm.htm

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Now that's interesting!



    Nice to see they got Elmer Berstein in to talk about his amazing score for the film before his recent death.

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