New Releases for the Warner Archive Include Madness, Sailors and Sportscars
Once again, the Warner Archive has presented some new DVD releases from its impressive collection of classic films. Besides new additions on Blu-ray, many of these films (and collections) are experiencing their first release on DVD all together. Some have received brand new restorations, sound enhancement and added bonus material. Every time there is a release from this prestigious studio I'm grateful that these movies were saved through the era when they believed there was no possible revenue to be gained from these films ever again. Thank goodness they were wrong.
Gaslight is being released with a new 1080p HD master derived from a new 4k Scan from archival elements. Nifty, huh? This is the film that prompted the coining of the phrase "to Gaslight someone". The classic of cinema suspense arrives in crystal clear High Definition, in gorgeous, luscious, glorious Black and White. Directed by George Cukor (The Philadelphia Story, A Star is Born), the plot has a lovely Ingrid Bergman portraying a vulnerable young bride who believes she is losing her mind. Her performance is palpable and reveals an impressive ability to completely lose herself within a role. Her co-star, the insanely charming Charles Boyer, plays her devoted husband who attempts to hide her from everyone with whom his wife has ever had contact. Always an appealing actor, Boyer gives his best dramatic performance much against his matinee idol persona. Angela Lansbury received a much deserved Oscar nomination for her first motion picture performance in the role of a suggestively, slutty parlor maid - a clear departure from her current image as a Disney favorite, and matronly sleuth. And Joseph Cotten, known for playing damaged men with agonizing moral dilemmas, plays a concerned and besotted detective persistent to relieve what ails miss Bergman. It is a wonderfully subtle performance from an actor who is not know for such romantic gestures.
Then there's the collection of Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2 (1946-47). When I was in elementary school I watched cartoons everyday in the afternoon. The series featured more than any other was Popeye. Back then I had no idea my guilty pleasure was created so many decades earlier. Now, the collection is coming out with a new 1080p HD master from a 4k scans of the original negatives (always grateful for the foresight of storage vaults). Back, bold and packing a wallop on Blu-ray (and DVD), the 90 year old all-American sailor man is back for another round of full color theatrical shorts from the fabulous forties. Here, Popeye and his favorite frenemy, Bluto are out of the service and once again competing for Olive Oyl's affections. But this time across time and space. There are episodes in the Klondike in the Gold Rush era (naturally), to the Wild West, (again, where else would ex-sailors go), with stops fighting pirates (back at sea), and aliens on Mars (I got nothin'). Of course, Popeye does what he does best with a spinach can always at hand. Classic animation at its finest, this collection is loaded with the familiar laughs, heaped with heart. Any fan of the sailor man will love to see these rarities once again. Note: Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2 is intended for the adult collector and may not be suitable for children. Hmm... that sounds interesting.
Finally, the other intriguing addition to this round of releases is the unusually constructed documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old (a new to Blu-ray disc and DVD combo). Marking the centenary of the First World War, internationally renowned director Peter Jackson (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogies) uses the voices of veterans combined with original archival footage to bring to life the reality of war on the front line. The footage has been colorized, which I usually detest, but in this case works to great success at transforming the old into present never-before-seen detail. This film may not be immediately appealing to you, but I encourage you to give it a chance. Within minutes you will be pulled into a narrative unlike any other. It is as intimate as it is universal. And I challenge you to actually note the moment the scenes turn from Black & White to color. You're not likely to realize it when it actually happens. And those voices! If that doesn't suck you into a story like nothing you've ever heard before, then I don't know what kind of cinema actually effects you.
Also included in this month's releases are the 1978 film, Corvette Summer in a new 2019 1080p HD Master with Mark Hamill (of Star Wars fame) and Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Designing Women), and The Madness of Max with over 40 cast-and-crew interviews, hundreds of behind-the-scenes photographs and rarely-seen film footage of the 1079 shoot, and Wally Gator: The Complete Collection which contains all 52 animated episodes of the 1962-63 Hanna-Barbera classic.