Saturday, March 1, 2014

This Week in DVD and Instant Watching EXTRA

You know, folks, I forgot to mention the Warner Archive DVD releases this week, and it was an interesting slate of new titles, so let me rectify my oversight:

Show Boat (1936): Long-awaited classic makes it to DVD. It's not the Howard Keel/Ava Gardner full-on musical, but the black-and-white James Whale version. Hey, Ava Gardner was 14 in 1936. What are you, some kind of pervert?

Winner Take All: This disc gives us two things of which there can never be enough on DVD: Jimmy Cagney and old boxing movies.

Here Comes the Navy: Pre-WWII service film with Cagney (wait, I think I smell a trend this week), Pat O'Brien, and of course the most charismatic Warner Brothers star of them all, Frank McHugh. It features the "Arizona," one of the battleships lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor, so there's something cool for you history buffs (as if Frank McHugh weren't enough).

The Oklahoma Kid: Not only can we always use more Cagney on DVD, we can always use more Bogey. In fact, it should already be a law that no Humphrey Bogart movie should be unavailable on home video at any given time. I know we don't normally associate these guys with Westerns, but it's still odd that if not for showings on TCM, most people would only know this from that scene in "Goodfellas" where Joe Pesci shoots Michael Imperioli in the foot. "Hey, I'm the Oklahoma Kid!"

The FBI Season 7: I am not a fan of the series, but it is impressive that WA is cranking these out, and apparently the show is doing well for them. It was on for about 10 years and over 200 episodes, yet I never saw any trace of it until American Life (or whatever it was called at the time) showed some reruns a few years ago, and then these DVDs came along.

Speaking of Warner Archive, let's get some Instant Watching into this post. George Feltenstein, grand poobah of the Archve program and a true friend to cinephiles everywhere, made a good point when discussing why titles rotate in and out of the Instant Archive. He said that some movies need to be removed as they are made available for other windows--presumably things like pay cable. I admit I hadn't thought about that. Perhaps they want to protect a partner that buys rights to air a package of old movies. OK, I'll buy that. He also specifically said that those titles would then come back, but in the meantime they always strive to have new ones coming in so that there would always be something fresh to watch on the service. Sounds great, but it's been slow the last few weeks...

One last thing: The Warner Archive Podcast is a great 40 minutes or so of listening pleasure each week. Feltenstein and his two co-hosts run down the week's new releases, give Instant Archive recommendations, and answer viewer mail. The love they have of movies and the joy they take in presenting the material is infectious and makes for a delightful experience. You can't help but want to go watch a bunch of classic movies after listening to these guys. Oh, and this week's episode also explains in detail why the 1936 version of "Show Boat" is now available but not the other two famous movie versions. I was too busy making dumb Ava Gardner jokes, but the podcast give a great explanation.

(NOTE: I linked to the no-frills XML feed so that you can download the MP3s directly without worrying about iTunes)

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