Your Questions on The Big Fix, Phar Lap, More Answered

Q: Wondering why The Big Fix has never made it to DVD. Starring Richard Dreyfuss, this 1978 detective drama centered on a private investigator who’d come through the student movement of the ’60s and had become involved in a contemporary case involving a political party involved in an election. The movie also starred John Lithgow in one of his first roles, as well as Bonnie Bedelia and F. Murray Abraham. It is not only apropos re this being an election year, but also has obvious tie-ins with the 60′s cultural movement and the Occupy movement of today. It was never released in VHS in a decent copy, so it cries out for a decent restoration as well as being a worthy entry in the detective/political genre.

A: We love that film, too. Universal owns it and it would be a nice DVD release. In fact, Movie FanFare talked to director Jeremy Paul Kagan a while back, and he couldn’t figure out why it hadn’t hit DVD yet. He also noted that Roger L. Simon, the writer who adapted his own book for the movie (and who also wrote the story that last year’s Oscar-nominated A Better Life was based on) was once one of the leading liberal voices in Hollywood, but is now one of the leading conservatives in show business. Dreyfuss’s Moses Wine character appeared in several other books by Simon.

Q: I was wondering if anyone has any info on the remastering of William Friedkin‘s Sorcerer re-release? I heard it was in the works last year.

A: We haven’t heard anything recently. The film has a weird history: two studios financed it, and it is out on DVD in a pan-and-scan version–because that’s the way director Friedkin wanted it released. Now, Friedkin would prefer to have it issued in widescreen, which makes sense for DVD and Blu-ray. But while we were excited about this news–we’re fans of this much-maligned film–we have heard nothing recently about its release.

Q: I am looking for a movie that was not highly rated, but I loved it.  It was called A House is Not a Home and was based on the life of Polly Adler.  It starred Shelley Winters and Robert Taylor.  I can find the song, but not the movie.   Is it available on any medium?

A: It is owned by Paramount, but is not among the titles that Olive Films acquired for DVD, so it will likely be a long haul until it is issued. Sounds fascinating to us; Winters as a madam! Cesar Romero as Lucky Luciano! Broderick Crawford! Kay Ballard! Mickey Shaugnessy! We’d love to check it out, too.

Q:  Definitely try to acquire The Million Pound Note. It is such an entertaining movie, especially for Gregory Peck fans.

A: Directed by Ronald Neame, this 1953 movie based on a Mark Twain story, rather than The Prince and the Pauper, seems to be the basis of Trading Places. Peck is a down-and-out sailor who becomes the center of a bet between two rich British gents who want to see if Peck can be turned into a lord when he is given a million pound note. So far, we have no word on a DVD release, although we have discovered that MGM owns the film “in perpetuity,” so a future archive release remains a possibility.

Q: I’ve been looking for The Dark at the Top of the Stairs with Robert Preston. I’ve notice a lot of his movies haven’t been released on DVD. It’s a shame as he was a fine actor. Why is it so hard to clear musical rights to films? Don’t the copyright holders get a share of DVD sales? Can someone explain this to me?

A: There is a licensing problem with this film, but it is not clear what it is. It could be the original material, which was penned by William Inge (“Picnic”).  The musical rights may be covered in some instances and in some instances they may not be covered contractually. Each case is different and companies must dot their “i”s and cross their “t”s before they bring it to market.

Q:   I purchased the first season and half of the second season of the old television show, The Big Valley.  Are there any plans to record the rest of the series?

A: Fox tells us there are no current plans for another release of The Big Valley, the 1960s series with Barbara Stanwyck as the matriarch of a ranching family and Richard Long, Linda Evans and Lee Majors as the co-stars.

Q: The Ritz Brothers appeared in a movie about Jack and the Beanstalk although that may not have been the title. I remember seeing such a movie on TV over 10 years ago and can find no information of it. Am I imagining things? It is hilarious! No, not Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy…

Q: To tell you the truth, we have no recollection or record of the Brothers Ritz—Al, Harry and Jimmy—starring in a production of “Jack and the Beanstalk.” They did appear in the 1939 version of The Three Musketeers, and such films as Never a Dull Moment and The Gorilla, but we can’t find anything with the Ritzes and a beanstalk.

Q: Looking for the movie Phar Lap on DVD to play on a US DVD Player

A: You and many other people are seeking the 1983 true story about the champion race horse from New Zealand and the young stable boy who helped it attain greatness. It is owned by Fox, which has yet to put it out on DVD at all. We think that Shout Factory!, who has licensed some Fox titles, may put it out at some time, but we don’t know when.


  • Wayne

    Interesting ? and answer about the issues with re-releasing the Dark at the Top of the Stairs.  Ive got the same frustration with “Where’s Charley”  1952 with Ray Bolger.  Ive heard the hold-up is because the producer Loesser’s widow never liked the filmed version of the Broadway musical.  Its a shame when such subjective viewpoints, even if shared by those who have ownership rights, deprive a viewing public of outstanding and classic performances, such as to see the fab Ray dance and hear the great song Once in Love with Amy once more!  Now, if Movie Irv can pitch it…I, for one, would love to catch THAT Dvd release for the first time ever…thanks.  :)

  • Aaron

    Are there music rights issues holding up “The Uninvited”? I (and others!) would like to know the specific reason why it hasn’t been released. Also “Ministry Of Fear” ,”Island Of Terror”,”Jungle Woman” and “Jungle Captive”  These are all Universal owned.

    • Videobill

      The Uninvited, is scheduled for dvd release in november 2012.

      • Videobill

        Correction. The uninvited (1944) is to be released in sept. from Exposure Cinema
        with restored print and includes a booklet. Can’t wait to get mine! Info found on

        • Jasonrfleming

          It’s gonna be a region 2 disc though. I saw they had a region 0 disc of Fritz Lang’s Secret Beyond the Door I definitely want that.

  • CaryOh

    Samson and Delilah–Rains opf Ranchipur–Lydia Bailey??????When???????

  • Fbusch

    While i just recently saw Richard Dreyfuss in “let it ride” on tv, I’ve been looking for it for several years on vhs or dvd, and can’t find it. It’s a great little film, with a varied cast who do it well. What’s up? where can I find it?

  • moviepas

    Phar Lap is on DVD in Australia where it was made. In about 1932-33, after Phar Lap died in USA, Columbia slotted a proposed film with that title but it was never made, apparently.

    I live near the stables where Phar Lap was housed, James Street, Glen Huntly(Glenhuntly), Melbourne Australia. Close to a major suburban rail line and a major racecourse. Tommy Woodcock, the trainer, lived closer to my home and where I went to school. Now long dead(Tommy) my late father used to fix Tommy’s TV for many years. The area Tommy lived at that time was Mentone and close to another couple of racecourses, Mentone & Mordialloc plus Aspendale all now housing estates. Many horse connected people lived in that area. 

    If one takes any of these names of areas and looks on Google Maps with or without photos you can trace these places.

    The course close to James Street is Caulfield and ranks as the number two horse race field in the city. It is opposite a major train station/junction to the city or beyond on lines off the other way. There are stables and jockeys’ cottages in the area. I did weekly local newspaper deliveries, for many years, around the area for a defunct paper, The Southern Cross. 

  • Sgondo

    What was the first Martial Arts scene in American Cinema? The earliest scene I can find is a Judo demonstration in ‘Accross the Pacific” 1942 staring Humphrey Bogart.

    • Skybar2012

      One of the Peter Lorre/Mr. Moto films from the late 1930s had him demonstrate one of the Martial Arts (I believe it was jiu jitsu).

      • Jasonrfleming

        It’s Think Fast, Mr. Moto it came out in 1937

  • Netherlandj

    I’ve been waiting forever for Dark at the Top of the Stairs to come out on DVD.  Such a good movie…..

  • Barbara 1954

    I’m looking for comedy The Crystal Ball starring Ray Milland  and Paulette Goddard. A great movie i laughed all the way through.

  • Azladyprincess55

    I, too, love “The Big Fix” and have been looking for it on DVD.  What I always found interesting was the character played by F. Murray Abraham was obviously Abbe Hoffman, and if I remember correctly, Abbe was found out to be living a suburban life just like this character.