For years, I've been pining for a decent DVD release of Sidney Franklin's pre-code rendition of Noel Coward's PRIVATE LIVES. It's not the best comedy of the 1930s (and probably not even in the top ten for that decade), but I love Norma Shearer in the role of Amanda, the newlywed who suddenly falls back in love with her ex (Robert Montgomery) right in the middle of her honeymoon with hubby number two (Reginald Denny). Great play, damn good movie - yet, for one reason or another, it has yet to appear on DVD.
Until now. In a move that's sure to thrill cinephiles the world over, WB has unveiled The Warner Archive Collection, an on-demand service which allows people to order custom-made DVDs of titles that have yet to hit retail. For $19.95-a-pop (a bit pricey, no?), you can secure studio-quality copies of long-out-of-print films like Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE, Budd Boetticher's WESTBOUND, SCARAMOUCHE (1923 and 1952), ONE ON ONE (the 1977 college basketball drama starring Robbie Benson and G.D. Spradlin), THE BIG HOUSE (Wallace Beery as a prison bully!), THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING (hard-to-find 1973 western starring Burt Reynolds) and Alan Pakula's bizarre Kristy McNichol vehicle DREAM LOVER.
Chances are, there aren't a lot of titles on this list that you're going to want to buy. But that's what I kinda like about it: finally, those 759 people who've been lobbying for the release of OXFORD BLUES can go online, plunk down their $19.95 and, one week later, swoon as a working class Rob Lowe rows his way into the heart of British nobility.
According to this USA Today story, WB would like to make their entire 6,800 film library available online (with digital copies running a slightly more reasonable $15). This sounds wonderful, but I've one caveat: what kind of shape are these movies in?
Guess I'll find out when PRIVATE LIVES turns up in a week. See anything you'll be ordering? You know you need DOC SAVAGE with a side of Paul Simon in ONE TRICK PONY.
(Thanks to my pal Jeff for passing this along...)