Your Questions On Mermaid Movies And More

The window

The Window

Question: To date, several noir sets have been released, but one title is still missing, that being The Window, RKO’s tense 1949 nail-biter that helped win the late, great child actor, Bobby Driscoll, a miniature Oscar statuette as the outstanding juvenile performer of that year. Filmed on location on New York’s teeming East Side, it’s the story of a young boy whose reputation for telling tall tales has destroyed his credibility. As a result, after he witnesses a murder during the wee hours of a stiflingly hot summer night, he’s unable to convince anyone of what he’s seen… anyone, that is, except the killers, who set out to silence him permanently. The boy’s terror is palpable during the film’s climactic chase down dark, abandoned streets and through a condemned tenement building. “It Never Lets You Go,” proclaimed the 1949 one-sheet. It still holds true today.

Answer:  We are huge fans of this classic variation on the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” story. We expect it on an upcoming film noir set from Warner, but we have no clue when it would be issued. Apparently, others have fond memories of the suspenser, too, because we have received lots of requests for it.

Question: When will the original Sleuth with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine be released again on DVD? It’s been out of print for years. I thought it might be re-released when the new version of Sleuth hit the theatres, but was disappointed.

Answer:  Sleuth’s rights appear to be in limbo right now, and it’s something even Anthony Shaffer couldn’t figure out. The 1972 film has skipped around from company to company throughout its video existence–Anchor Bay, Fox and even budget line Video Treasures have all had dibs on it, but right now no one seems to be claiming its rights. It was produced by Palomar, which had ties to ABC. Other films from the company currently on DVD include They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and The Killing of Sister George, but Sleuth remains oddly off market.

Question: Has any word been heard of any Red Skelton movies coming out on DVD, like Whistling in Dixie, or any others from the ’40s or ’50s? Thank you.

Answer:  Good news. We have several Skelton films from that era in stock now, courtesy of the Warner Archives. Whistling in Dixie can be found on Red Skelton: Whistling Collection, which features all three mystery-comedies (Whistling in the Dark, Whistling in Brooklyn) with Red as radio detective Wally “The Fox” Benton. Other recent Skelton titles from the Warner program include I Dood It, Excuse My Dust, Lovely to Look At and Merton of the Movies, which is on a double feature with the earlier version of the same story, Make Me a Star.

Westward The Women

Westward The Women

Question: Any idea if 1951’s Westward the Women will be released on DVD, possibly through Warner Archive?

Answer:  Although we’ve heard nothing about the title coming out, this MGM release would be a good choice for the Archives. The William Wellman production, starring Robert Taylor as the rugged guy enlisted to bring a group of women from Missouri to California, has many fans who have requested its DVD release over the years.

Question: Any idea if the following movies will be released on DVD: A Stolen Life (Bette Davis), Love Letters (Jennifer Jones/Joseph Cotten), and the Hayley Mills movies Tiger Bay and Chalk Garden. Thanks.

Answer:  Great news! The 1946 effort A Stolen Life, with Davis in a dual role as twin siblings tussling over the attention of handsome lighthouse keeper Glenn Ford, is slated for a soon-to-be-determined date from Warner Archives. Love Letters boasts Cotten as a British soldier who writes love letters for fellow officer Roger Sully to Jennifer Jones. Sully eventually marries Jones, even though it’s the engaged Cotten who has fallen in love with her from the correspondence. If it all sounds a little Cyrano De Bergerac—you’re right, only this Cyrano was adapted by Ayn Rand! The 1945 Paramount release is now owned by Universal and we wouldn’t be surprised if it comes in some edition in the future. As for Hayley Mills, we hope to have The Chalk Garden, also with Deborah Kerr, available to us by year’s end. No word on Tiger Bay, however.

The High Road To China

The High Road To China

Question: What about High Road to China? Lots of people would like to see this come out on DVD in the States. Tom Selleck at his best, I think.

Answer:  Although Warner Home Video issued this 1983 period adventure on VHS back in the day, the title is actually owned by Golden Harvest, the Chinese company best known for such Jackie Chan titles as Rumble in the Bronx and Supercop 2, as well as the Cannonball Run movies. We’ve received many such requests from the Selleck fans out there, but the film hasn’t been licensed to any American DVD outfit as of yet.

Question: I would like to know if either of the following will be available on DVD or Blu-ray: Back Street with Susan Hayward and John Gavin; and Escape Me Never with Errol Flynn.

Answer:  Back Street remains an incredibly popular request title for us as people can’t get enough of Susan Hayward. Sadly, Universal has not placed this supreme sudser from 1961 based on the Fannie Hurst novel on DVD or Blu-ray yet. As for Escape Me Never, it remains elusive, as Flynn’s action efforts seem to be what get put on the front burner for DVD release. This 1947 drama teams Errol with Ida Lupino, Gig Young and Eleanor Parker in a music-filled soap opera set in 1900 Venice. Seems like a candidate for the Warner Archives to us.

Question: Can you tell me why the MGM film The Student Prince, with Ann Blyth, Edmund Purdom and the singing voice of Mario Lanza, seems to have vanished into oblivion? It’s never available on DVD or videotape, and last seen on TV (here in England) about 25 years ago.

Answer:  Warner holds onto the rights of the 1954 film, well-known for its Lanza singing and backstage intrigue (original director Curtis Bernhardt was fired during production and replaced by Richard Thorpe). It was once available (on our shores) on VHS, so you may want to see out an old copy of it in that format, since it seems Warner is sitting on its DVD release for some reason.

Question: I saw Terror in a Texas Town on TCM a while ago. Slightly bizarre western with a true bad guy dressed in black and Sterling Hayden with a Scandinavian accent. Does anyone know if that great Australian film Wake in Fright is available in any format? A must see for fans of films down under.

Answer:  We recommended the bizarre Terror in a Texas Town in our last column. Wake in Fright (AKA Outback), a 1971 Australian production which recently received some film festival play following an extensive restoration, has not been picked up for distribution in the U.S., even though it is available in other countries. The acclaimed film tells of a young teacher (Gary Bond), on a layover in a remote mining town, whose idealism slides downhill when he gets involved with booze, gambling and sex. Donald Pleasence and a young Jack Thompson also star.

Question: I would like to know if Jamon, Jamon, a Spanish movie with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, is available in DVD.

Answer:  This sexy 1992 film which introduced most of the world to Ms. Cruz (at her hottest) and now-beau Bardem is in a legal tussle over rights, so any DVD release anytime in the near future would be a surprise to us.

Question: The movie Hotel (1967) had not been released on DVD. Recently, I saw it listed in a Movies Unlimited catalog. However, it doesn’t show up when I tried to order it via the internet. Any advice?

Answer:  Hotel with Rod Taylor, Catherine Spaak and Karl Malden, based on Arthur Hailey’s novel, was announced, but unceremoniously dropped by Warner. It will likely appear sometime in the future. We suspect it needed more tech work to get it out on DVD.

Question: Will the mermaid comedy Miranda (1948) starring Glynis Johns ever be released on DVD? Perhaps along with the sequel, Mad About Men? I can imagine a boxed set of those two along with Mr. Peabody And The Mermaid (William Powell and Ann Blyth) and Splash (Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah) would go over like a tsunami (or not).

Answer:  This nearly forgotten mermaid farce is unlikely to make a splash on DVD anytime soon. The title and its sequel are owned by a British enterprise and no American company owns its licensing rights. It would be cool to bundle all the mermaid movies together, but different companies own the rights, so it seems highly doubtful. Other mermaid masterworks you may also recall are Aquamarine, Peter Pan, the creepy Night Tide and The Little Mermaid.

Question: Lou Costello made a film without Bud Abbott about a tall woman played by Dorothy Provine. I have been looking for the film and have been unable to find it. Can you help?

Answer: Yes, we happily can. The film is called The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, and offered Costello’s one movie role without Abbott. In this 1959 sci-fi farce, Lou plays a trashman/inventor who marries the gigantic Provine after she gets a dose of radioactivity in a cave. While not known as Costello’s best outing, the movie—which will shortly be released as part of Sony’s new On Demand program—has its funny moments and offers a neat supporting cast (Gale Gordon, Charles Lane) and the cute Provine, a mid-1960s fave (It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, The Great Race, That Darn Cat!) who passed away earlier this year. The film also turned out to be Costello’s final screen hurrah, as he died shortly after its completion at the age of 52.