Q: Are they ever going to release Bunny O’Hare with Bette Davis? It is such a good and funny movie. Please, please, please.
A: The wacky comedy with Bette teaming up with Ernest Borgnine to portray bank robbers disguising themselves as hippies could very well be a title in MGM’s archive series. It was produced by AIP, a company that is now part of the studio’s library. While this bizarre film was not a box-office hit, it is well remembered by many.
Q: Kane and Abel. It starred Peter Strauss and I believe Sam Neill. Some time ago, I saw one VHS available on eBay, but the price was prohibitive; I suppose because no one has copies of this fine mini-series. How could I get a copy?
A: The 1985 miniseries features Neill as the son of a privileged New England family who becomes a powerful player on Wall Street, and Strauss as a Polish prison camp survivor who eventually turns into a hotel tycoon. Eventually, their paths meet. Based on Jeffrey Archer’s best-selling novel, the series also stars Ron Silver, Fred Gwynne and Alberta Watson. Unfortunately, it is not on DVD and there is no word if it will be in the near future, despite the request from you and many others. Its rights lie in the quagmire that is MGM right now, so other than a possible archival release, we are unable to foresee a DVD release.
A: The biography of John Phillip Sousa is definitely a much-requested title. Sadly, Fox doesn’t have it on their DVD docket at present. Wouldn’t make a great Independence Day release?
Q: Any word on the release of The Sound and the Fury on DVD?
A: The 1959 version of the William Faulkner-penned classic about a struggling southern family is owned by Fox, but no word from them on a DVD release. It could be issued from their upcoming manufacture-on-demand line, which we are waiting to hear more about. Yul Brynner (with hair!), Joanne Woodward, Margaret Leighton and Stuart Whitman star, while Martin Ritt (Norma Rae) directs.
Q: In the day, I was a big Jan-Michael Vincent fan, but I wonder why many of his most popular films are not on DVD.
A: One problem is that Sony has the rights to many of his best-known titles, and they have yet to put them out. They would include Buster & Billie, White Line Fever and Baby Blue Marine. But we do have info on two of his most requested films coming out on DVD: the sci-fi epic Damnation Alley is on its way later in the year from Shout Factory, and Defiance, the 1980 vigilante drama in which the actor plays a merchant seaman battling hoods in NYC, will be issued shortly. Recently released, meanwhile, is the great B actioner Vigilante Force, with Jan-Michael backing Kris Kristofferson, Victoria Principal and Bernadette Peters. We also wonder when—or if—1987’s Enemy Territory will ever make it to DVD? This unsung, rip-roaring saga stars the actor as a handicapped Vietnam veteran who helps insurance salesman Gary Frank battle gangs in a ghetto apartment building.
A: This fine film is missing from DVD, probably because it is not owned by a studio, but rather an independent entity that no longer exists. Conti was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of an alcoholic poet and McGillis, before Witness and Top Gun, made an impression as the younger woman he falls in love with.
Q: Gene Hackman is a great actor and I have many of his films in my DVD library. I would like to see The Package released on DVD, though.
A: You may get to add to your DVD library soon, as it will likely come out by way of MGM archives. It’s an Orion film that MGM now controls. For the uninitiated, The Package is a solid thriller from Andrew Davis (The Fugitive) with Hackman as a Green Beret escorting Tommy Lee Jones to the U.S. for a court martial. When Jones escapes, Hackman must track him down before he does damage to a nuclear disbarment treaty—not easy, because Jones has effectively changed his identity.
Q: Two movies that should be released on DVD are It Should Happen to You with Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon, and Rosalie Goes Shopping, with Brad Davis and Marianne Sagebrecht. They are two of the best comedies ever made.
A: We don’t know why Sony hasn’t placed It Should Happen… on DVD, especially since they’ve put out many titles with Lemmon in recent years. As far as we can tell, there is no rights problem and if we discover anything else, we will let you know. As for Rosalie Goes Shopping, its rights in the U.S. remain in the air. It was financed by West German filmmaker Percy Adlon using European money, but the film’s rights remain with an overseas company.
A: The film, which was directed by Anthony Quinn and produced by Cecil B. De Mille, is owned by Paramount, which has been pretty bad of late in releasing their library titles on DVD. A shame, because the film is a terrific look at Andrew Jackson, Jean LaFitte and the War of 1812. For the record, Heston played Andrew Jackson in this film as a general and in the earlier The President’s Lady as the Commander in Chief.
A: The Courtneys of Curzon Street—aka Kathy’s Love Affair—is owned by a British enterprise and as far as we can tell, its rights are not controlled by an American company. The 1947 film traces the lives of people in one family from the Boer War to after World War II. It begins in near-scandal as the daughter of a maid marries the master of a prominent family who is about to fight in the war.
Q: We need a DVD release of the MTM-CBS TV show He & She, which was the model for Mary’s own show which followed.
A: The well-remembered romantic sitcom with Richard Benjamin as a cartoonist, Paula Prentiss as his wife and Jack Cassidy as the star of the TV show based on Benjamin’s superhero creation, is not slated for DVD release any time soon. We believe Sony controls the rights, but the company doesn’t have it on its radar right now. From what we can tell, Mary Tyler Moore had no involvement in the show, although some of the same writers worked on both series. The show lasted one season (1967-1968) and co-starred Kenneth Mars, who recently passed away.
Q: I’m still waiting for the DVD release of two 1970s made-for-TV movies: The Man in the Iron Mask and The Count of Monte Cristo both starring Richard Chamberlain among many notable others. Why are these classics ignored while other movies, some of which I’ve never heard of, are released?
A: The rights to both those TV movies are now controlled by Lionsgate, who seems to have put their foot on the brakes in regard to releasing archival material of late. Too bad, as both of these adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ novels are much-requested and considered classics. The casts are wonderful in each instance. In 1975’s The Man in the Iron Mask, Chamberlain is joined by Trevor Howard, Louis Jourdan, Tony Curtis, Donald Pleasence and Kate Nelligan, while 1977’s The Man in the Iron Mask also featured Jourdan with Patrick McGoohan, Jenny Agutter, Ian Holm and Ralph Richardson.
Q: I have been looking for the movie The Farmer’s Daughter in DVD format. Loretta Young won the Best Actress Oscar for that movie. It also stars Joseph Cotten and Ethel Barrymore. It is one of my favorites and can’t find it anywhere. Please let the “powers that be” know we love this film and want it released. Thank for all the great films you bring us.
A: Why you are welcome! RKO released this adaptation of the stage play which later became a beloved 1960s TV show with Inger Stevens and William Windom. In the movie, Young plays the Swedish immigrant who lands in the States to study nursing, and then ends up running for Congress against Cotten, to whom she is attracted. The film has the imprint of David O.Selznick as well, which makes this property of MGM, (the company has DVD rights to such other David. O. productions as Spellbound and Notorious), so a future release from their MOD wing isn’t out of the question, yah.
Q: Will the television movie about Lizzie Borden starring Elizabeth Montgomery ever be released? I remember that one in the mid-‘70s. Loved it.
A: The highly rated 1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden is controlled by Paramount Pictures, not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to archival releases. Perhaps its big rating had something to do with seeing the Bewitched star in a truly wicked role? Hopefully, the recent announcement that Chloe Sevigny of Big Love will play Lizzie in a new cable project will prompt Paramount to release it.
Q: I want to see the 1960-61 adventure/drama TV series with Rod Taylor called Hong Kong on DVD. Any chance?
A: 20th Century Fox produced the one-year wonder that ran on ABC, which was cancelled because its primary opposition, NBC’s Wagon Train, was still riding high in the ratings. Despite its short run, Aussie actor Taylor, who had just starred in George Pal’s The Time Machine, garnered lots of attention and soon was taking high profile roles in such films as The Birds, A Gathering of Eagles, The V.I.P.s, Sunday in New York and Fate is the Hunter. He also provided the voice of Pongo in the Disney 1961 animated classic 101 Dalmatians. In Hong Kong, Taylor played an American journalist in the Far East who encounters all sorts of shady characters as well as some sexy women. Lloyd Bochner portrayed his inspector associate. Among the 1960s sirens who appeared on the show were Felicia Farr, Gia Scala, Rhonda Fleming, Susan Kohner, Anne Francis, Suzanne Pleshette, Joanna Moore and Pippa Scott.
Q: I am a big film noir fan and am thrilled that many of the titles I have wanted have been issued over recent years. However, there is one that is missing that I’d love to get called While the City Sleeps with Dana Andrews. Will that ever be put on DVD, either as an archive or regular release?
A: Good news. Warner is issuing the Fritz Lang-helmed title as part of their Archive series in May. This crackerjack mix of noir and newspaper drama from 1956 stars Andrews as a prize-winning reporter and news commentator who finds himself in the middle of an internecine war over control of his newspaper and a race against the clock to get the scoop on “the lipstick killer” who is terrorizing the city. Howard Duff, Thomas Mitchell, Rhonda Fleming and Vincent Price co-star. Also on the way is another Lang-directed crime drama with Andrews, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
Q: Since 20th Century Fox has released DVD box sets of Betty Grable, Alice Faye, and Carmen Miranda, is there any hope they’ll produce a set of Sonja Henie’s films? Only one of her films (It’s a Pleasure) is available on DVD.
A: Right now, it doesn’t seem likely. Fox has pretty much stalled all their classic releases for the time being and the company’s archives collection has been pretty much put on hold except for MGM-oriented titles. The films starring the Norwegian Olympic skating sensation (including Sun Valley Serenade and Thin Ice) were quite popular in the old VHS days, but Fox is annoyingly quiet on their DVD releases. And speaking of Miss Henie, she was once considered for the lead in The Farmer’s Daughter, for which Loretta Young received the Academy Award.
Q: Midnight Caller was a great TV program. I wish that would be put out on DVD. So many really low quality shows are issued, and I never understand why good ones get left out.
A: We have received oodles of requests for Midnight Caller, the 1988-1991 TV series with Gary Cole as Jack “Nighthawk” Killian, a former San Francisco cop who has taken an overnight shift as a radio disc jockey and who can’t help getting involved with his callers, using his contacts to help them and investigate crime at times as well. From what we can tell, Lorimar had a stake in the series, which would make it a Warner property. Hello, Archives Collection—you there?
Q: Would love to see the general release of the one-off series Queen of Swords, starring Tessie Santiago. I understand it’s available in France and Japan.
A: We can’t track down who controls the rights to this syndicated series which ran from 2000-2001. It featured Ms. Santiago as a female variation of Zorro, a Spanish aristocrat who returns to California to fight corruption and evil, wearing a mask and using her prowess with a sword. Since it was an international production, we assume its rights are controlled by an overseas entity. En garde!