Your Movie Questions Answered: Spencer Tracy, Debbie Reynolds

A Guy Named JoeQ: Could you tell me if WB is ever going to release more Spencer Tracy films, in particular, A Guy Named Joe, The Seventh Cross, Cass Timberlane, Keeper of the Flame and The Sea of Grass?

Also, with all of the classic films on DVD, it seems that Debbie Reynolds has been forgotten! Any chance that such films as I Love Melvin, Give a Girl a Break, Bundle of Joy, This Happy Feeling, Say One For Me, The Gazebo, It Started with A Kiss, The Pleasure of His Company, My Six Loves, or Goodbye Charlie will make it to DVD in the near future?

Finally, when can we expect another installment in the WB Bette Davis collection? Also, will they finally release Beyond the Forest, Winter Meeting, and The Corn is Green?

A: Of the titles you asked about, Cass Timberlane, I Love Melvin, and Give a Girl a Break are all currently available courtesy of Warner’s Archive program. There certainly is a good chance of a new Bette Davis set, but we have no clue when. And we’ve heard rumor of a Spencer Tracy release for some time. As for the other titles, the Warner Brothers/MGM/RKO titles probably have the best shot making it to DVD as Archive releases.  That would include Bundle of Joy, The Gazebo, and It Started With a Kiss. Hey, what an idea: Why not a Debbie Reynolds boxed set?

Q: Will The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm ever be released on DVD ?

A: The MGM title is now owned by Warner, who is said to be working on a special deluxe edition. Word is that on Blu-Ray, it may simulate the Cinerama experience ala How the West Was Won. But this has been in the works for some time, and we have no recent news to report. Brothers Grimm, a George Pal Production, offered an all-star cast that included Richard Beymer, Buddy Hackett, Terry-Thomas, Barbara Eden and Arnold Stang as Rumplestiltskin.

Q: Do you have any information if any of the following will ever be released on DVD? Bless the Beasts and Children (Billy Mumy); Ode to Billy Joe (Robby Benson); Buster and Billie (Jan-Michael Vincent); the animated series Prince Planet.

A: Sony has been talking about Bless the Beasts because for some reason, it didn’t make their Stanley Kramer Collection as it should have. Sony also owns Buster and Billie, which would likely fit into a Jan-Michael Vincent set they’ve mentioned, which would also include White Line Fever. Ode to Billy Joe is a good candidate for Warner Archives in the not-so distant future. As for the Japanese-produced Prince Planet, a fave from the 1960s; We believe it is owned by MGM, now about to be sold, so any Prince Planet possibilities for now or in the near future are definite long-shots.

Q: I have a question. Has the British series Rock Follies ever been put on any form? A few years ago I asked and was told that even though an album of the music was out, there was no video release on any type of format. It was great and quite telling of that business. Has it ever been released, and where?

A: Sorry, no word on a DVD release of Rock Follies. This 1976 British series seems to have quite a following. The show, which helped introduce Rula Lenska to the world, played on PBS in America, but it has never seen a home video release here.

Q: I have been waiting and wondering if Abel Gance’s Napoleon will ever be issued on DVD or Blu-ray? Any chance that could happen?

A: The landmark silent film was reissued in conjunction with Francis Coppola’s Zoetrope Pictures in 1979 and with a new score by the director’s father, Carmine Coppola. There is word that another restoration is in place which will hopefully lead to a theatrical release (with a live orchestra, we’re hoping), and an eventual home digital release. The revolutionary (in many senses) 1927 film employed split screens, hand-held cameras, and color tinting in its telling.  By the way, Gance’s lack of funding only enabled him to cover Napoleon’s life from his early days to his march into Italy. Film historian Kevin Brownlow was involved in the film’s restoration.

Q: What’s the deal on the great historical epic 55 Days at Peking and John Wayne’s Circus World? We’ve read of their release following those of such Samuel Bronston epics El Cid and The Fall of the Roman Empire on DVD, but nothing lately?

A: Well, both movies you mentioned are, in fact, owned by The Weinstein Company, which in turn makes them eligible for release by Vivendi, which now controls the back library of the company (Sony distributes their new releases like Nine and The Road). To date, though, no word from the folks at Vivendi on future plans to issue these Bronston epics on DVD and/or Blue-ray.

Q: When will The Rita Hayworth Collection be issued?

A: Sony’s long-promised Rita Hayworth Collection has been postponed—not cancelled—until a later date, now believed to be this November. As it stands, the collection will feature the screen siren in such films as Tonight and Every Night, Salome, Miss Sadie Thompson, Cover Girl and Gilda.

Q: I can recall a weird western from the 1950s in which one of the lead characters used a harpoon. Any clue what this could have been?

A: You must be talking about Terror in a Texas Town, available on DVD, and featuring Sterling Hayden as a Swedish sailor who battles an evil land baron (played by Sebastian Cabot) and his tough henchmen. Hayden also uses a prehistoric type of steel knuckles in a fight in this bizarre sagebrusher from director Joseph H. Lewis (The Big Combo). For the record, the film has many ties to the era’s blacklist. Hayden admitted his Communist ties and named names, while blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo delivered the script using a “front” and co-star Ned Young, who plays a gunslinger, was also blacklisted.

Q: Any chance of Humphrey Bogart’s Across the Pacific being issued on DVD?

A: Unfortunately, John Huston’s 1942 film in which Bogart teams with The Maltese Falcon compadres Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet has never been available on DVD as single. It was on the out-of-print Humphrey Bogart Signature Collection, Vol. 2, and you can now get it on the new 13-disc Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection. For the record, Bogie plays a court-martialed soldier who attempts to stop a Japanese plan to attack the Panama Canal. The original story involved Pearl Harbor, but was changed after the military base actually came under fire.

Q: Could you keep me posted or let me know if or when the 1980 movie The Georgia Peaches starring Dirk Benedict, Sally Kirkland, and Tanya Tucker will be released on DVD as it is an excellent movie long overdue.

A: This is one Roger Corman production that seems to have gotten away. It was actually a pilot for a TV series that didn’t make it. Certainly the cast makes it interesting to many fans, as does the car races and moonshine running. It was even directed by American International veteran Daniel Haller (The Devil’s Angels, Die! Monster! Die!). Unfortunately, it is not on any DVD radar for the time being.