The Golden Age of Hollywood

By this I mean proper pressed discs not the DVD-Rs of the Warner Archive Collection ? The evidence certainly appears to suggest this.

The big studios appear to have almost stopped releasing new classic titles. Only Sony with forthcoming Noir sets appear to be doing very much. Warner have one title in September : John Ford's Wagonmaster (1950), Paramount continue to reissue, Fox had Manhunt (1941) the other week but the star boxsets they used to do appear to be a thing of the past.

Yes I know about the recession but there has been a drastic slowing down of classic releases in the last few months. Are the studios now only interested in the latest films and the big classics we can expect on Blu-ray in the next few years ?

What about brick and mortar stores ? I think the choice is still fairly good in them in the UK (at least of R2 releases) but what about the US is it true classics aren't being stocked in these places ?

What about the Warner Archive model ? To start with it seemed like a good idea to get loads of obscure titles out but the films are unrestored and are DVD-Rs. Also they are rather expensive ($20 a pop) : now some titles they are appearing at even dearer prices as Amazon exclusives (about $30 each). So they are effectively out in online retail which makes the Warner Archive collection a real moneymaker for the studio. Could this be the future of classic movies on DVD and downloads ?

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I wondered the same thing Derek. Most of the "A" material by the studios has seen the light of day and I don't think they are too interested in getting their "B" material out on DVD. It is true, at least in my limited exposure here in the metroplex, that stores are stocking less, and in many cases no classic titles. My local BestBuy no longer even has a classic films section. A few scattered titles can be found here and there but no one place for the collector to go to anymore.

Unfortunately I think the future may very well be downloads. I understand that the Warner Archive has been a bigger success and money maker than they thought. I personally will not spend $20 on a DVD-R that I can make a trade for and get just as good a quality copy as Warner Archive provides. Yes it will likely have the TCM watermark but you know what? I don't care! All I want really is to see the film.

Kevin
Derek,

I expected fully the Warner Archive line to drop some in price pretty quickly. Down to around $15.00 a disc. Not to go up in price? Huh? Did I read that corrctly?

Anyway, I have only gotten one movie from this service so far. THE TRAIL OF '98 (1928) with Harry Carey, And Delores De Rio. The recording is only nominally better than my own from back in 2001 or so. However, in this case, these are the best surviving elements.

I don't think that they could make allot of the films look much better. Some Silents like Ramon Novarro's THE RED LIL,Y, and Marion Davies THE RED MILL received a fresh transfers before they debuted on TCM a couple years back. And those movie look beautiful. They was a rare exception though, where camera negatives of the features survived, so new Fine-Grain prints could be struck. Most of the Silents, and the sound films from the 30's that Warner Archive has issued so far, probably do not have original camera negatives to draw from surviving. Just old battered prints.

I plan to order a few more titles, but i was waiting to see what other Silents were forth-coming. In the past couple of months nothing additional has been released. Hoping for films like NOAH'S ARK, THE VIKING, and THE PAGAN, among others. I don't need any of the Garbo's, because those titles that were not already on DVD, I have them all on Laser-disc, and have made DVD-R's out of them. Including THE TORRENT, and A WOMAN OF AFFAIRS which Warner Archive hasn't even offered yet. I rather doubt that the official DVD-R's are going to look any better than the LD's did.
There are some who think the dearer Amazon exclusives presumably of the Archive Collection are a limited pressed run of those titles which include films like 20,000 Years In Sing,Sing (1933) and The Strawberry Blonde (1940).

As far as I know and from I've read most of the 30s and 40s titles in the Archive Collection are unrestored, simply using the TCM broadcast masters so if you have access to the channel I doubt you are getting great benefit apart from losing the channel logo.

I expect the silents are the same, just as broadcast pretty much. Some silents I know are restored and scored for TCM screenings so those are fine picture quality wise, I think what concerns some people about made on demand DVD-Rs however "official" is their longevity and these are overpriced. Oddly enough its two of my pressed DVDs that have failed.

International buyers are also pretty much excluded. The Archive titles I believe are available from tomorrow on Movies Unlimited website but its still pretty expensive for shipping. The Warner shop site was open to international customers for a couple of days but this was fairly disastrous. The problem is if you buy more than roughly $25 of goods UK customs can open your package (they often routinely do this anyway) and slap extra charges on it for duty etc and the Royal Mail can ransom it unless you pay. So UK customers could only buy one title before the risk of that happening then Warner also put extortionate shipping costs per shipment which meant to buy one title it cost $40 altogether. The Amazon exclusives at $28.98 are of course over the customs limit.

I did find some good news at Amazon the release of the documentary You Must Remember This - The Warner Brothers Story on August 4th though again an Amazon exclusive though not I would expect a DVD-R and not too bad, priced just now at $21.99 for an almost 5 hour 2 disc set.
Derek,

That is terrible about the high cost of shipping to the U.K. I didn't know about this before.

By the way, TCM is debuting Henry King's THE WHITE SISTER (1923) tonight Starring Lillian Gish and Ronald Coleman, with a brand new score on Silent Sunday Nights. I will let you know if the music was good. I assume this is the same print as TCM France, but it might have had something more done to it since? Maybe a few additional tinting effects, further removal of artifact's or something?

Most people seem to have missed THE BIG PARADE broadcast last week, and I am extremely upset about the matter. Not surprising considering how late the movie aired, and after a whole extended weekend of other War Movies. But still very disheartening.
I haven't ordered anything from the Warners Archive Collection because I was curious about the quality of hte discs, the picture quality, whether the films include an imprinted onscreen logo, etc.

From the comments on this thread, I'm guessing the overall quality is not very good and that the discs aren't worth the prices being charged. Would that be an accurate assessment?
I ordered 2 discs from them ( Soldier In The Rain and On Borrowed Time) and both looked great.
Everyone,

They have already dropped the price by a couple dollars per disc to $17.99. I would have expected them to go down a little lower than that. There is no TCM logo in the corner at anytime. So no concern there. They do have the Turner oval on some of the older titles before the feature starts playing.

Actually, based on the Trailer at the front of the disc's, I would say that the overall quality of many of the titles is very good. Comparable to commercial DVD. A basic menu though would have been nice, and couldn't have been much trouble to set up. Just seems really cheapy without at least some thumbnails.

If you plan on making back-up's of these I should mention that, THE TRAIL OF '98 was heavily copy-protected. It is possible, but takes some work.

Derek,

I was very impressed with the new score to THE WHITE SISTER (1923) by Garth Nuestatder. The only drawback was the Main-title theme was played over and over far to many times, and for to long of a duration. However, the rest of the score was really very good.

I was far less impressed with the print TCM aired. Although it had some new tinting effects, they were rather harsh and garish, obscuring detail. What was most disappointing is the overall clarity was not up to the standard of what TCM France had Broadcast back in 2006.

I don't know if TCM accidentally encoded the broadcast at a the wrong, Bit-Rate, a lower one than they should have, or what was to blame? What I do know is that it lacked the crisp detail of the earlier TCM France showing.
A few new developments re the Warner Archive. I'm going to post more details in the main part of the site. Another batch of 29 titles are coming over the next month. They've started doing boxsets : a set of fairly obscure Gary Cooper movies is available along with a set of Ruby Keeler for I think $50/60 . I hope this catches on as its a step in the right direction as far as cost at least for US customers.

Yes I expect most of the films will look fine picture quality wise but I wouldn't stretch to saying they are as good as commercial DVD as I've said the longevity of DVD-Rs is unproven (though that is true of DVDs its true as well).

I have seen a few reviews of certain titles particularly of movies from the 30s which were less than complementary, there is one of The Big House on DVD Beaver which doesn't mince words. From what I see as the Giant says the menus are very basic (only one menu to be honest) which is static and simply allows you to play the movie
Last message was cut short when the system didn't save it and its only 21 new titles, sorry. I suppose we should be pleased with anything the way things are at the moment with the economy. This though appears to be about the only show in town at the moment which is a shame. Nothing about those Amazon exclusives ?
Derek,

They are releasing some new Silents and Pre-codes later this month. I have almost all of these titles recorded off of TCM, but many people may not have them? I just wish they would release some movies that have never been on TCM. Like Colleen Moore's LILAC TIME (1928) for example. I still may purchase a few of these just to have recordings with no TCM logo or watermark on the screen at times. Here is the list:

*The following titles will be available on the Warner Archive Collection June 15th:*

*· Beau Brummel (1924) John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Carmel Myers.*
*· Better Ole, The (1926)* Syd Chaplin-Original Vita-Phone Score
*· Divine Lady, The (1929)* Corinne Griffith-Vintage Track.
*· First Auto, The (1927)* Original Vita-Phone Score
*· Let Us Be Gay (1930)* (?)
*· Min and Bill (1930)* Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery.
*· Old San Francisco (1927)* Delores Costello, Charles Mack
*· Politics (1931)* (?)
*· Reducing (1931)* Marie Dressler, Anita Page.
*· Sea Hawk, The (1924)* Milton Sills, Enid Bennett.
*· When a Man Loves (1927)* John Barrymore, Delores Costello
Everyone has raised some excellent points, and here's my two cents. After careful consideration, I must confess to a certain level of distress. On the one hand, I am pleased with the selection of silent and 30's "classics" available thus far. Having said this, I am fearful that this will dilute or eliminate future Warners box sets. A case in point: you can get several "value packs" at $49.95 (I'm thinking specifically of the Dick Powell/Ruby Keeler and MGM 40's musical sets. There are also, to date, six Al Jolson films sold individually. These prices are comparable (or perhaps a little cheaper) than previous collections like "Gangsters", "Broadway to Hollywood", etc. Any one of these examples would have been ideal for a traditional high-class Warners boxed set. Furthermore, as they are "bare bones" editions (not even including trailers, from what I gather), we're missing out on the "special" elements like commentaries, shorts, cartoons, and mini-documentaries. I guess my bottom-line opinion is, while I'm glad to get so many good films at once (admittedly, some of these may have a limited fan base), I don't see the advantage of paying full price for something like WONDER BAR, when as part of a Berkeley box set (or also available in a standalone version, as is often the case), it would have had a few extras. I think any purchases I make in the Warner Archives series will very likely be "value packs".
Here in NYC I am very lucky that we have a great DVD STORE that sells all the classic films that have been released thus far. J@R is a DVD, AUDIO, CD, ELECTRONICS ETC SET OF BUILDINGS IN CITY HALL area and the prices are great. Since the studios have stopped releasing classic films I have been buying films I did not know were available on DVD or films I did not buy because I was buying box sets and waiting to see if classic films would be released like they were doing a few years back. I am disappointed that there may never release Greta Garbos signature collection box set 2 or BETTY GRABLES box set2, or a JEAN HARLOW boxset. Films I had wanted were HOLD YOUR MAN, SEVENTH CROSS, I MARRIED A WITCH ETC. Paramount keeps re releasing the same films over and over again. Luckily for me everytime I go DVD shopping I am able to find a film I did not have. Recently bought THE PURPLE HEART with DANA ANDREWS, DESPERADOS with GLENN FORD. I also don't think for now anyway that i'd buy anything from the Warner Archieves.

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