The Lone Wolf, Under the Rainbow and more

Question: As always, I enjoy your column each month.  I was wondering if you had any information concerning DVD releases of the following films:

Belle Starr (1941)

Springtime in the Rockies (1942)

Song of the Islands (1942)

Yolanda & the Thief (1945)

The Sky’s the Limit (1943)

They Met in Bombay (1941)

The Lone Wolf series with Warren William & Eric Blore


Thanks for all your help, Irv.

— (via email)

Answer: First, thanks for your list. Sony, which controls the Columbia library, is actually considering issuing a boxed set of the Lone Wolf mystery series of the late 1930s and 1940s starring William and, subsequently, Gerald Mohr. They were based on the books by Louis Joseph Vance. In the books, the radio show and the latter-day TV series, Michael Lanyard (aka “The Lone Wolf”) is a former jewel thief who likes stealing from the rich and has a way with the ladies. As for the other titles, here’s the lowdown: Fox has no current plans to issue the Technicolor frontier saga Belle Starr with Gene Tierney and Randolph Scott, or the Betty Grable starrers Springtime in the Rockies and Song of the Islands. Warner has Fred Astaire’s Yolanda and the Thief and The Sky’s the Limit (originally from RKO), but has not slated them for immediate DVD release. The Clark Gable-Rosalind Russell-Peter Lorre adventure tale They Met in Bombay is another Warner item we expect from their Archive project at some point, and Maisie with Robert Young and Ann Sothern is a longshot from Warner at this time.

Question: Dear “Movie Irv”-

Thanks to you and your colleagues for starting this “Movie FanFare” site.  If nothing else, it will afford another outlet for us fanatics to ventilate.  Being left to our own devices could be dangerous or at least annoying to others.

On your site, clicking on “Hollywood Q&A”, I saw the tags for Nelson and Jeanette, two of my favorites.  Clicking on them produced nothing.

You are surely aware of some DVD reissues of films they made separately, but none of the 8 MGMs they made as a pair.  Considering the (IMHO) relative junk that has been lovingly transferred (even restored in the process) to DVD, this is an American cultural travesty.  Even the VHS tapes are getting hard to find, outside of flea markets and eBay.

With difficulty, we have obtained a few J&N DVDs from Brazil, but these look like unrestored transfers from VHS to DVD.

I have experimented.  When shown to people who are unacquainted with them, most of the J&N movies have a magical effect.  Clapping, then silent astonishment, followed by something like “Why did we not know about these before?”  A few friends actually wondered whether they were blacklisted or involved in some sordid scandal.  The latter at least might have done their visibility some good.  There is a fan (Sharon Rich) who has tried to cook one up about a romantic relationship between Jeanette and Nelson, but all this tall tale has done is sell a few of her books to believers.  A more scholarly study of MacDonald was published a few years ago by an MIT professor, Edmund Baron Turk (“Hollywood Diva”).  But we need the DVDs (and perhaps a little promotion!) before my tapes wear out.

I believe a box set of the 8 MGM J&N films on restored DVDs (with the usual added goodies) would sell.  I would subscribe in advance, and there are even several active J&N fan sites where you also would find such subscribers.  Not only specific J&N nuts like yours truly but anyone interested in operetta is a candidate.

Any ideas or thoughts about how to get the powers that be to issue restored J&N DVDs would be appreciated.

J&N is not my only mania, but isn’t that enough for now?

— (via email)


Answer: We share your fondness for Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, and can assure you that so do the powers-that-be at Warner who have the rights to them. We can also tell you that putting out the singing pair’s classic MGM efforts has been an ongoing project for Warner, and the effort includes restoration of the prints and putting together the extra elements that would make the release really special.  Unfortunately, it’s all been a long time coming and we have no other choice than to wait. Stay tuned for more info as we get it.

Question: Will the following OOP pan-and-scan Columbia/SONY titles be re-released on DVD in widescreen or are the done until Blu-ray: Lord Jim, MacKenna’s Gold, Annie, and Picnic? Thank you.

— (via email)

Answer: These titles are likely to be reissued in widescreen by Sony, which has done the same with such other previously pan-and-scan only titles as Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Whether they will turn up on DVD or Blu-ray only remains to be seen. Starman, another Sony title, is in standard ratio DVD only, while the new Blu-ray will be widescreen.

Question: Universal recently released Quincy Season 3. Any chance that they’ll release season 2 of Kojak? It’s a little interesting that they release one of the 2 TV series that they said would not get released at all. I saw that The African Queen will be released on 10-13-09. Paramount said this date is tentative. Do you think they’ll change the date?

— (via email)

Answer: Our Universal contact said “yes” when asked if more volumes of these TV series would release on DVD, likely in the first quarter of 2010. African Queen has been scrapped yet again. The date kept moving around, and then Paramount took it off of their schedule. You can bet when there is any definite word, we will have it first.

Question: I’m wondering if Universal has any plans in the near future to release any more of Audie Murphy’s westerns to DVD. I think Tumbleweed,  Ride Clear of Diablo, Drums Across the River,  Destry, Ride a Crooked Trail, Hell Bent For Leather and Six Black Horses are all worthy of release. Maybe even as a triple pack like the Randolph Scott series recently. Thank you from Australia.

— (via email)

Answer: We have no word of Universal’s plans to put out these Audie Murphy sagebrushers, but his films and the Universal western sagas in general have done quite well in the past. The company had discussed a Murphy set in the past, but those plans, unfortunately, seem off the books for right now.

Question: While growing up in the 70’s, television turned out some of the best made for television movies.  Some of these titles were on VHS at one point but haven’t ever made it to DVD.  One of several I am interested in is Taylor Caldwell’s 1977 miniseries called Testimony of Two Men.  This awesome miniseries starred Randolph Mantooth from Emergency and David Birney.  Do you think this one will ever become available?  Also, what about Farrah Fawcett and Sam Elliott’s miniseries called Murder in Texas (1981)?  I would even LOVE to have a copy of the horror movie with Bette Davis called Dark Secret of Harvest Home!  Do have any more information on the release of the following: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (made for TV), Ice Palace (older movie), My Sweet Charlie (Patty Duke), Who’s Minding the Mint? (Milton Berle), First Born (Teri Garr).

— (via email)

Answer: Testimony of Two Men was a Universal production and part of the Operation Prime Time slate, but Universal has no current plans to put it on DVD. Murder in Texas was once available on VHS, and you would think Farrah Fawcett’s appearance in it would warrant interest for a DVD release. The Bette Davis film, too, would be nice to add to our collections. As for the other titles you mentioned, we have no firm dates on them. Ice Palace, the 1960 adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel starring Richard Burton, Robert Ryan, Martha Hyer and Carolyn Jones, is a favorite of ours, too. We expect Warner to put it out over the next several months.

Question: Do you have any info on a DVD release date for any of these classics?

Scavenger Hunt-Cloris Leachman

Under the Rainbow-Chevy Chase

Legend of Billie Jean-Helen Slater

Pandemonium-Tom Smothers

Just You & Me Kid-Brooke Shields/George Burns

Thanks, I see so many funky movies come out I keep wondering where are the good ones!

— (via email)


Answer: That’s the great thing about movies: One person’s turkey is another person’s gem! Under the Rainbow is actually one of the most requested films out there. The Chevy Chase-Carrie Fisher comedy about the behind-the-scenes wackiness surrounding the Munchkins during the filming of The Wizard of Oz was a bomb in theaters, but remains incredibly sought after on DVD. Warner says they are “looking into” a DVD release. The other titles seem less likely to make their way to the DVD format real soon.

Question: I am trying to locate an old movie titled The Loved One, with Jonathan Winters and Rod Steiger.  Probably from the 50’s.  I would appreciate any info.

— (via email)

Answer: The great dark all-star satire The Loved One from 1965 is available on DVD and has them in stock right now. This black-and-white masterpiece adapted by Terry Southern from Evelyn Waugh’s novel is a scathing look at L.A. neuroses and features a cast that also includes Robert Morse, Liberace, James Coburn, Anjanette Comer, Dana Andrews, Roddy McDowell, Tab Hunter, Robert Morley, and John Gielgud.

Question: Any chance of seeing the Fred MacMurray-Claudette Colbert film The Egg and I on DVD?

— (via email)

Answer: This winning 1947 comedy that inspired the Green Acres TV show and featured the stars as a couple who get a chicken farm also offered Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride in their first screen appearances as Ma and Pa Kettle. For that reason, it’s actually been available on DVD for quite a while, as part of the collection The Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle, Vol. 1. It’s never been available individually; however, if you’re more a fan of Colbert than the Kettles, you’ll soon have another option. This fall, the film will also be released as part of The Claudette Colbert Collection from Universal. The collection also showcases never-before-on-DVD Colbert gems like Three-Cornered Moon, Maid of Salem, I Met Him in Paris, Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife and No Time for Love.

17 thoughts on “The Lone Wolf, Under the Rainbow and more

  1. Hi Irv!

    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?



  2. I’ve always looked forward to your Q and A column, but it’s now been over two months since the last one. Has this feature been discontinued, or may I look forward to another installment coming soon?

  3. I was wondering if you could check into it about the release of the fabulous 1971 Movie- Bunny O’Hare starring Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine.It is one of Bette’s best and needs to be released soon on dvd. Thank you,Jeff

  4. i would like to no when the betty grable box set, when my baby smiles at me, mother wore tights, and coney island will be for sale. thanks.dolores bailey.

  5. Do you have any information if any of the following will ever be released on DVD?

    (1) Movie – Bless The Beasts And The Children (Billy Mumy)
    (2) Movie – Ode To Billy Joe (Robbie Benson)
    (3) Movie – Buster And Billie (Jan Michael Vincent)
    (4) Animated TV Series – Prince Planet

  6. RE: Bless the Beasts…

    Sony has been talking about “Bless the Beast…” because for some reason it didn’t make the Stanley Kramer Collection as it shopuld have. sony also owns Buster and Billie, which would likely fit into a Jan-Michael Vincet set they’ve mentioned, which would also include White Line Fever. Ode to Billy Joe is a good candidae for Warner Archives in the not-so distant future.

  7. Greetings Ask Movies Unlimited:
    I love your column and the whole website. I wish to know when, if ever, If I Were King, released (I think by Paramount) in 1938 and starring Ronald Colman, Basil Rathbone, and Ellen Drew, will be released on DVD. The film was once on VHS.
    The comic byplay between Rathbone’s miserly King Louis XI and Colman’s medieval French poet Francois Villon is well worth preserving.

  8. Is the movie “1900”, about a man that lives his entire life on a passenger ship, (also a piano/music prodigy), available for DVD purchase through this site OR ANY OTHER SITE you may be aware of?
    I have a housebound friend that really NEEDS to experience this film. Thanks in advance…..CJ; obscure movie junkie

  9. Can it be possible that no one remembers HOLD BACK THE DAWN? In the face of so many people who have stories related to immigration, this gem hasn’t been mentioned for years. It wasn’t offered on VHS of which I am aware, and I finally wore out the copy that I recorded on TV in VHS. Olivia DeHavilland and Chares Boyer were amazing, not to mention an outstanding supportive cast including Paulette Goddard, Walter Abel, Rosemary DeCamp, etc. This tender romance deserves attention and I’m going to write to everyone until it’s issue. Who holds the rights? Thanks Susan

  10. I would love to see “Bless the Beasts and The Children” released on DVD.
    Any word if “The Third Man” (film, not TV series) will be released on DVD. I know it is out on BLURAY.
    Any word if any of the classic Laurel and Hardy shorts will ever be released on DVD in the U.S. I know there are British versions available, but do not know how to obtain, or if they are compatible with our DVD players.

  11. What news of ‘The Last Hunt’ (1956) with Robert Taylor & Stewart Granger. The Big Gamble with Stephen Boyd & Juliet Greco (1959)

  12. I have been searching for the War/comedy The Best of Friends with David Niven and a cast of British and Italian actors. Seems it’s fallen off the map can anyone help me.

  13. Right-on Tim. The best of Enemies is a classic Anglo-Italian movie that I dont think has ever been on VHS never mind DVD. It is based on a true story from WW2 in Ethiopa. It would be great to see this movie available on DVD.

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