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Warner Bros. Opens Up Its Archive! Thousands Of Forgotten Classics (And Non-Classics) Headed To DVD!

Beaks here...

For years, I've been pining for a decent DVD release of Sidney Franklin's pre-code rendition of Noel Coward's PRIVATE LIVES. It's not the best comedy of the 1930s (and probably not even in the top ten for that decade), but I love Norma Shearer in the role of Amanda, the newlywed who suddenly falls back in love with her ex (Robert Montgomery) right in the middle of her honeymoon with hubby number two (Reginald Denny). Great play, damn good movie - yet, for one reason or another, it has yet to appear on DVD. Until now. In a move that's sure to thrill cinephiles the world over, WB has unveiled The Warner Archive Collection, an on-demand service which allows people to order custom-made DVDs of titles that have yet to hit retail. For $19.95-a-pop (a bit pricey, no?), you can secure studio-quality copies of long-out-of-print films like Francis Ford Coppola's THE RAIN PEOPLE, Budd Boetticher's WESTBOUND, SCARAMOUCHE (1923 and 1952), ONE ON ONE (the 1977 college basketball drama starring Robbie Benson and G.D. Spradlin), THE BIG HOUSE (Wallace Beery as a prison bully!), THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING (hard-to-find 1973 western starring Burt Reynolds) and Alan Pakula's bizarre Kristy McNichol vehicle DREAM LOVER. Chances are, there aren't a lot of titles on this list that you're going to want to buy. But that's what I kinda like about it: finally, those 759 people who've been lobbying for the release of OXFORD BLUES can go online, plunk down their $19.95 and, one week later, swoon as a working class Rob Lowe rows his way into the heart of British nobility. According to this USA Today story, WB would like to make their entire 6,800 film library available online (with digital copies running a slightly more reasonable $15). This sounds wonderful, but I've one caveat: what kind of shape are these movies in? Guess I'll find out when PRIVATE LIVES turns up in a week. See anything you'll be ordering? You know you need DOC SAVAGE with a side of Paul Simon in ONE TRICK PONY. (Thanks to my pal Jeff for passing this along...)

Readers Talkback
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  • March 23, 2009, 12:33 a.m. CST


    by inb4scriptgirl


  • March 23, 2009, 12:36 a.m. CST

    Warner Bros.

    by Lashlarue

    I respect them above all the others.

  • March 23, 2009, 12:38 a.m. CST

    Oxford Blues

    by Dancingforever

    Was some of Lowe's best work. There isn't enough rowing in movies today.

  • March 23, 2009, 12:40 a.m. CST

    by Groothewarrior

  • March 23, 2009, 12:41 a.m. CST

    Oh Fuck!

    by mrbeaks

    Totally missed Budd Boetticher's WESTBOUND. Ordering that, too.

  • March 23, 2009, 12:43 a.m. CST


    by mefrog

    I'm gonna check out the available titles right now. Hope the other studios follow suit soon.

  • March 23, 2009, 12:52 a.m. CST

    Since HBO is owned by WB...

    by MCVamp

    What are the odds that "LONG GONE" eventually shows up on this service, I wonder?

  • March 23, 2009, 12:55 a.m. CST

    oh my...

    by The Amazing G

    this is pure awesome

  • March 23, 2009, 1 a.m. CST

    Well I'll be pig fucked.

    by Stengah

    I'll be fucked by a pig.

  • March 23, 2009, 1:01 a.m. CST

    well I'll be pigfucked!

    by The Amazing G

    now THAT'S cool news!

  • March 23, 2009, 1:05 a.m. CST


    by Vern

    I can't believe John Flynn's early drama about gay love in the military is hitting DVD before his ROLLING THUNDER or THE OUTFIT. But I'll check it out if they get it at the video store.

  • March 23, 2009, 1:05 a.m. CST

    Reginald Denny

    by PAC-MAN

    Didn't he get beaten down in the Rodney King riots?

  • March 23, 2009, 1:22 a.m. CST

    Awesome news!

    by Continentalop

    The Egyptian Theatre was having a pre-code WB film festival the last two weekends but I had to miss them because of work and family (the two great plagues). Had to miss a bunch of classic movies unavailable on DVD, but now it seems they will soon be available. <p> At least "Lost Boys of the Road" will be playing on TMC tomorrow, so I don't have to wait for that one.

  • March 23, 2009, 1:40 a.m. CST

    Sensible idea, that some of us have been

    by Dingbatty

    suggesting for years. Does this mean we'll finally be able to get Maverick seasons on DVD?

  • March 23, 2009, 2 a.m. CST

    Jimmy Hollywood...........

    by BrainFart

    anyone remember that one?

  • March 23, 2009, 2:11 a.m. CST

    Wait, Don't get carried away. Report back on the Quality

    by George Newman

    I don't know how much faith we should put in "Custom dvd" just yet. Yous guys who have already forked over the cash, tell the rest of us how it goes.

  • March 23, 2009, 2:33 a.m. CST


    by moviemenace

    get my hands on a DVD copy of "Class Act" starring Kid N' Play. Oh, how I've waited so long.

  • March 23, 2009, 3:06 a.m. CST


    by MR. MURDOCH

    Joan Crawford. I have to pick that one up just for the title! And this is just the first 150! Golden! Thanks, WB!

  • March 23, 2009, 3:16 a.m. CST

    Film Quality

    by ducki3x

    Regarding the print quality, many of the films (at least, the ones I clicked on for more info did) had links to view a short scene that gives you an idea of how good (or bad) it is...

  • March 23, 2009, 3:23 a.m. CST

    anamorphic transfer (16x9)? subtitles? zone free dvd?

    by Gorgomel

  • March 23, 2009, 3:24 a.m. CST

    by The_Skook

    Brilliant! Lots of goodies, but... ships to US destinations only! My international region DVD shall continue to sit quietly... Sigh...

  • March 23, 2009, 3:27 a.m. CST


    by whiskey_dick

    Twenty bucks is expensive for a DVD now? Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time I bought one.

  • March 23, 2009, 3:48 a.m. CST

    and what of us international folk???

    by deanbarry

    Huh...huh? Not all us live in the states ya know.

  • March 23, 2009, 3:58 a.m. CST

    "Ships to U.S. Destinations Only"

    by Gorgomel


  • March 23, 2009, 4:11 a.m. CST

    This is a great idea!

    by foreverguardian

    What a good idea. I hope that other studios follow suit and offer something similar- I'm sure it will make a lot of people happy, and will be a nice little earner for the studio, who otherwise have a catalogue of movies that are sitting doing nothing. I love the idea of custom DVDs, but as others have said, it'd be a case of what the quality was like, as well as packaging, if there are extras, that sort of thing. I'm sure the list has a bunch of titles on it to interest a lot of film fans. I like the idea of making them available to the people that want them. That makes good business sense. That said, making them available to overseas folks like me would be nice too ;)

  • March 23, 2009, 4:19 a.m. CST

    Now for the other studios to follow suit.

    by pax256

    Cmon Paramount. Hanging on to any film by Michael Mann is a crime.

  • March 23, 2009, 4:28 a.m. CST

    How about THE BERMUDA DEPTHS on DVD already

    by Monkey_King

    Warners owns the rights to this cult classic Rankin & Bass film. Release the longer version of this film already, with bonuses.

  • March 23, 2009, 5:01 a.m. CST



    I LOVED this film as a kid. Those ghost green snakes gave me fuckin nightmares.

  • March 23, 2009, 5:06 a.m. CST

    speaking of Doc...


    if ever in this land of horrible remakes, Doc Savage should be one of them.

  • March 23, 2009, 5:07 a.m. CST

    but... it should be a good remake...


  • March 23, 2009, 5:44 a.m. CST

    avatar footage article on dark horizons

    by Potatino

    theres an article on dark horizoins about a time magazine guy who saw the footage of avatar.. just in case anyone's interested

  • March 23, 2009, 5:51 a.m. CST

    Let us know how the quality of these copies

    by Gungan Slayer

    For those that start buying these, like Harry, please tell us how the quality of the films are, what sort of packaging they come in, etc.

  • March 23, 2009, 5:52 a.m. CST

    I remember really liking One on One back in the day

    by Professor_Monster

    When I was a kid and they played it over and over again on Showtime. It was sort of like Rudy only with basketball

  • March 23, 2009, 6:34 a.m. CST

    The Devils/Lisztomania please WB!

    by Alfred_Packer

    Ken Russell classics..

  • March 23, 2009, 7:01 a.m. CST

    Sorry, but none of these titles really makes me...

    by MrSentinel

    want to plunk down 20 bucks plus shipping. Not a winner in the bunch...

  • March 23, 2009, 7:07 a.m. CST


    by CuervoJones

    Best swordfight ever.

  • March 23, 2009, 7:08 a.m. CST

    Trick r Treat?

    by Desk of Steel

    Because that's certainly been put in their vault.

  • March 23, 2009, 7:36 a.m. CST

    Where the hell is STEEL?

    by NinjaRap

    I keep waiting for Shaq's hilarious STEEL to show up on DVD. That movie is just too funny. This move made me think "Finally! I can watch STEEL with my pals whenever we have 'Terrible Movie Night.'" Alas, it's not on the list. WHat the hell, WB.

  • March 23, 2009, 7:39 a.m. CST

    All in all a great idea!

    by Motoko Kusanagi

    Hope the movies are in good shape, though.

  • March 23, 2009, 7:42 a.m. CST

    Kristy McNichol was my first boner back in the 70's

    by Stuntcock Mike

    Who knew.

  • March 23, 2009, 7:43 a.m. CST

    Only ship to US destinations dammit!

    by filmcoyote

    Come on WB what about all us international types with multi-region players? Can't you just tack on an extra $5 for overseas postage or something?

  • March 23, 2009, 7:43 a.m. CST

    Torrents, here we come!

    by Stuntcock Mike

  • March 23, 2009, 7:56 a.m. CST

    price consideration

    by nametaken

    price isn't bad for what is happening, back end business wise. price is pretty weak compared to retail distribution. an online model i would have thought to be better (and cheaper) due to such little demand there will be for this.

  • March 23, 2009, 8:20 a.m. CST

    Nice idea, but fuck all extras.

    by V'Shael

    So it's a bit pricey.<br> I know that when I buy a classic movie from decades ago, I want all the extras and documentaries etc..

  • March 23, 2009, 8:29 a.m. CST

    Shipping to US only makes no sense.

    by V'Shael

    The whole point of the internet business model / custom / on-demand production, is to make money from what is called the long tail. The statistically significant outlier. <p> If they artificially limit their distribution to the US, they are chopping off the end of that long tail. They will not make the same kind of money, if at all, by doing this. <p> Some MBA fuckhead who failed math, needs to take a bullet to the head.

  • March 23, 2009, 8:38 a.m. CST

    That IS cool news!

    by JDanielP

    Nice. I'll be sharing this news with my wife.

  • March 23, 2009, 9:19 a.m. CST

    Bill Brasky

    by liljuniorbrown

    His favorite movie is One on One with Robbie Benson. For some reason that was always one of my favorite lines of all of the Bill Brasky SNL skits. I'm sure i'm the only one who remembers that one.

  • March 23, 2009, 10:25 a.m. CST

    Mr. Lucky

    by DonnieSnarko

    One of Cary Grant's best and most underrated films. They should release "Every Girl Should Be Married" as well.

  • March 23, 2009, 10:27 a.m. CST


    by utz_world

    Three The Hard Way & Black Belt Jones, here we come! And I'll take that lame ass Cleopatra Jones sequel too!

  • March 23, 2009, 10:34 a.m. CST


    by axel fff

    Hells yeahs. Great Cold War shit there.

  • March 23, 2009, 10:45 a.m. CST


    by Dr Lizardo

    Starring a righteously pissed off George C Scott. 'nuff said.

  • March 23, 2009, 10:59 a.m. CST

    This is awesome!

    by a goonie

    I'm intrigued by the Doc Savage flick, as well as Captain Sinbad and They Only Kill Their Masters. I haven't seen any of those three, but now I have the opportunity to check them out. Damn cool stuff.

  • March 23, 2009, 11 a.m. CST

    The Site Is Hell To Navigate, But...

    by Rebeck2

    I've been wanting The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (excellent western) and One On One (corny, but fun - and a young Annette O'Toole, mmmm). I also might buy a film from my childhood, Captain Nemo And The Underwater City. Anyone else here remember that one? And on the topic of Kristy McNichol - she is absolutely adorable in Just The Way You Are. No classic by any means but definitely the height of her appeal and talent before she retired a bipolar lesbian. Juuuuust kidding. Little Darlings is the one that needs to be released though and I'm not sure which studio that is, Paramount maybe. The Little Drummer Girl here is not bad but I would kill for Looking For Mr. Goodbar, also with Paramount - how can not be released by now? Anyway, some nice forgotten movies here.

  • March 23, 2009, 11:13 a.m. CST

    Banned for no reason

    by ricarleite2

    Thanks Harry

  • March 23, 2009, 11:23 a.m. CST

    I love this concept!

    by ExcaliburFfolkes

    It's a movie buff's dream come true. Hope WB goes through with putting up their entire catalog and that other studios do the same with theirs soon, too. Off to the site to browse and buy.

  • March 23, 2009, 12:09 p.m. CST

    Love with the Proper Stranger

    by conniebrean1

    Come on. Please!

  • March 23, 2009, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Bill Brasky

    by thelordofhell

    Did I ever tell you about the time Brasky took me out to go get a drink with him? We go off looking for a bar and we can't find one. Finally, Brasky takes me to a vacant lot and says, "Here we are." We sat there for a year and a half, until sure enough, someone constructs a bar around us. Well, the day they opened we ordered a shot, drank it, and then burned the place to the ground. Brasky yelled over the roar of the flames, "Always leave things the way you found 'em!!"

  • March 23, 2009, 1:38 p.m. CST

    Fabulous idea

    by bravogolfhotel

    I hope it succeeds well enough that Warners can offer the entire library. Out of these releases, I know I'll be getting COUNTDOWN (Robert Altman's first film, a fascinating time-capsule docudrama about the Apollo Project).

  • March 23, 2009, 2:03 p.m. CST

    Wrestling Ernest Hemingway

    by ZooTrain

    It's a shame "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway" hasn't been released on DVD yet. Robert Duvall and Richard Harris at their best.

  • March 23, 2009, 2:10 p.m. CST

    Great News!

    by Charlie_Allnut

    Pricey, but its great that these movies are FINALLY getting a release. It's a crime that so many classics remain unseen.

  • March 23, 2009, 2:11 p.m. CST

    A Guy Named Joe

    by Don Lockwood

    I'd love to see this available on DVD. It's an MGM film which WB should have distribution rights to.

  • March 23, 2009, 2:43 p.m. CST


    by wash

    Ordering the fuck out of that one.

  • March 23, 2009, 2:47 p.m. CST

    Captain Sinbad and El Condor!

    by The Reluctant Austinite

    On first glance I found "Captain Sinbad" with Guy Williams. While not on the level of Ray Harryhausen and Charles Schneer's Sinbad adventures, I saw this in a theater as a kid, and I enjoy it immensely. Guy Williams was a great swashbuckler. Then I found "El Condor" which will go nicely with my Lee Van Cleef Western collection. "Doc Savage" is the cult gem here, finally in widescreen in its camp glory. Thanks for the news!

  • March 23, 2009, 3:10 p.m. CST


    by Dingbatty

    Another Rankin-Bass controlled by Warners I'd like to see is Flight of Dragons. Would be nice to have a copy that isn't a bootleg from a VHS.

  • March 23, 2009, 4:49 p.m. CST

    Edison The Man with Spencer Tracy.....

    by Commanderbob

    .....for those not familiar, definitely worth checking out.

  • March 23, 2009, 5:08 p.m. CST

    Shipping to US only makes perfect sense

    by DougMcKenzie

    WB may not own the home video/dvd rights to these movies in some territories, so rather than having to invest a lot of time and effort to see if this many movies' rights are secured, it is easier to just say no to international distribution all together.

  • March 23, 2009, 5:38 p.m. CST

    COUNTDOWN, Altman's first movie.

    by pzadvance

    Before M*A*S*H, before That Cold Day in the Park...been waiting to see this forever. Can't wait to pick that up. Hope some other lost Altman treasures see the light of day because of this.

  • March 23, 2009, 6:57 p.m. CST

    I just bought Doc Savage

    by wuher da brewer

    Hope its a decent transfer. They charged tax, but not shipping. Final cost was a whopping 21.20 for a single disc.

  • March 23, 2009, 7:08 p.m. CST

    Son of Ingagi!

    by Sal_Bando

    Must have that on DVD just because.

  • March 23, 2009, 7:28 p.m. CST

    It's About Time! So... blu ray?

    by Larry of Arabia

    On-demand publishing comes to the DVD market.

  • March 23, 2009, 9:14 p.m. CST

    COUNTDOWN at last!

    by Dasinfogod

    Was briefly available on VHS, now finally on DVD, and finally in widescreen, too!<p>Still waiting for ZEPPELIN with Elke Sommer and Michael York, and then my life will be complete...

  • March 23, 2009, 9:38 p.m. CST

    This better include...

    by loogenhausen uncut version of The Devils!

  • March 23, 2009, 10:41 p.m. CST

    This could single-handedly rejuvenate studio support for film ar

    by s00p3rm4n

    I don't see enough people buying into it to turn insane profits... right? Anyway, if by some lark of marketing or cutting the price another $2.50 they somehow get market share with this, I think it could garner a lot more support for restoring and archiving important films at the other studios. I also hope that the writers, directors, actors and crew in these films will get the royalties they're due. (I won't hold my breath.)

  • March 23, 2009, 11:07 p.m. CST


    by Handiana Jolo

    Frankly, a custom-made product that sells at a price that most new-release DVDs retail at seems pretty reasonable to me. <br><br>It'd definitely be more expensive for them to produce an unknown quantity of different DVDs than one mass-produced batch of one movie. I think it's a good deal, frankly (pending video quality issues).

  • March 24, 2009, 1:25 a.m. CST

    Kid n' Play's Class Act

    by Amadeo Zeller

    Warner's, make it happen!

  • March 24, 2009, 1:52 a.m. CST

    The Rain People deserves better.

    by StarWarsRedux

    I'd esepcially like to see the Lucas documentary "Filmmaker" packaged as an extra. But doesn't seem likely in this deal...

  • March 24, 2009, 8:29 a.m. CST

    what a great model

    by palewook

    20 bucks for a drm'd download that will surely be a pain in the ass to watch on your system when you do an o/s reinstall or change 1 piece of hardware. <p> industry still doesnt have a clue. its nothing more than a rental at 4-5x the normal price. <p> this will fail badly.

  • March 24, 2009, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Oxford Blues

    by ReelLifeLA

    OK, time out here...this is precisely the problem I have with web reporting of almost sort these days...blatant (and avoidable inaccuracy). Oxford Blues is NOT offered by this service from isn't listed anywhere within their site. Look it up yourself. Yet Harry mentions it rather explicitly right there in his write-up. Which begs the question...for what possible reason would Harry even mention this film if the damn thing isn't even listed or offered by this service? Yeah, I know its possible (granted, only possible) that Harry may have mentioned it for reference purposes (to illustrate a film long held back in the studio's archives from commercial production & release due to uncertain market reception), but this is ridiculously misleading....not that I'm burning to see Oxford Blues, but hey, Harry mentioned it, I'm an guy in the industry, so I looked it up (theatrical, home video rights, etc). It's not even clear that WB WOULD offer this film on DVD, given that both MGM/UA and FOX both had theatrical release rights for the film, and still maintain rights for the films' release. Look, I know its a small thing to pick on this, however, sometimes I really long for the fact-checking and accuracy that (frequently) comes with established journalism. BTW...Palework, I share the same reservations re: archive DRM burns that are potentially not transferrable in the future, and that are priced 3X higher than standard DVDs due to scarcity and custom order.

  • March 24, 2009, 1:45 p.m. CST

    Awesome news except...

    by Trazadone

    Why debut with 50 movies nobody cares about? Surely out of the 5000 films not yet released they could've chosen more appealing titles. I quickly scanned through what they're currently offering and didn't see a single thing that interested me.

  • March 24, 2009, 4:22 p.m. CST

    Awesome it is...

    by JudgeDredd

    But I'm still waiting for MGM to release Gordon Parks' "Super Cops" on DVD, dammit!

  • March 24, 2009, 4:30 p.m. CST

    Ordered Doc Savage as soon as I saw this.

    by Shepard Wong

    I've been dying to get this on DVD for a while.

  • March 24, 2009, 8:10 p.m. CST

    Dust/scratch removal?

    by Anakin Whoopass

  • March 25, 2009, 12:02 a.m. CST

    I've Been Waiting For Oxford Blues for 10+ Years!

    by grievenom

    on Dvd. I have it on laserdisc, and love the movie. Agree with ReelLifeLA, though it was a UA/MGM release. Unless WB purchased the rights, don't see how this news story would involve my beloved Oxford Blues. I guess I won't be rowing eights anytime soon.

  • March 25, 2009, 3:52 a.m. CST

    How To Find A Millionaire? (Or Billionaire)

    by iamalice1 The best place to meet a sexy&hot girl or a wealthy guy for love or for fun!

  • March 26, 2009, 6:48 a.m. CST

    join to meet a sexy&hot girl or a wealthy guy f

    by iamalice1

    join to meet a sexy&hot girl or a wealthy guy for love or for fun!

  • April 17, 2009, 12:53 p.m. CST


    by cseresz

    >Oh</a><br>by mrbeaks</td><td

  • April 17, 2009, 12:54 p.m. CST

    by cseresz

    >Oh </a><br>

  • April 17, 2009, 12:55 p.m. CST

    by cseresz

    </a>>Oh Fuck!</a><br>by mrbeaks</td><td

  • April 17, 2009, 2:04 p.m. CST

    by cseresz

    <a>Oh Fuck!</a>

  • April 20, 2009, 9:06 a.m. CST

    Oxford Blues DVD

    by rawdealmonty

    I found it on their website. It's available here,default,pd.html?cgid=