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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Warner Archive Releases February 2021

The Warner Archive releases for February 2021 include, among others, four classic films that represent the best of the best that the Warner Bros' have to offer. There are two beloved musicals and two renowned dramas from the 1930s. The stars include Clark Gable, Janette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy, Doris Day, Gordon MacCrea, Ronald Colman, Howard Keel, Ava Gardner, and Kathryn Grayson.

The 1952 version of Show Boat is now available in a new 2021 1080p HD master from a 4K scan of the original Technicolor negative. That's a big deal to musical lovers everywhere. Why? Because musicals are meant to big and bold and beautiful. And don't forget that they ought to have fantastic sound. If you don't have a special remaster, restoration edition, why would you want to see them in your own home? You'd be much better off waiting for a fresh 70mm print to come to a big city theater near you. The problem is that the studios have decreed a halt on all future prints. It's just too expensive to make and ship. So we're stuck with the next best thing. And that thing just got a lot better with these new releases.

Based on the Broadway musical and the novel by Edna Ferber, Show Boat is a nice little piece of musical melodrama about the sweet and innocent Magnolia Brown (Kathryn Grayson) who has grown up onboard a sailing theater. She naturally falls in love with a handsome gambler and rogue, Gaylord Ravenal (Howard Keel), and the two marry. But Ravenal's debts cause him to desert Magnolia and that forces her to find stage work in order to raise their child on her own. Special Features include dual audio tracks, commentary by director George Sidney, the Lux Radio Theater Broadcast, and the original theatrical trailer.

On Moonlight Bay is now available as a 1080p HD master from a 4K scan of the original technicolor negatives. Again, this is a big deal. There's nothing like Doris Day in Technicolor, and now you can see her and the film the way it looked when it first appeared in a theater. Deemed as an "instant classic" (I really hate that term) the film cemented Day's iconic image as America's sweetheart. She's simply adorable as a Tomboy in the first decade of the 20th century who falls for the free-thinking college senior next door, Gordon MacCrea. This charming, effervescent family film sparkles and shines like never before in this truly luminous HD transfer sourced from the original negatives. Special features include vintage shorts, a classic cartoon and the original theatrical trailer.

And then there are the gorgeous Black and White dramas of the 1930s. Produced today, these two films would be considered "over the top" in production, style and acting. However, there's something about the magic of a 1930's production. You are easily persuaded into suspending disbelief. Then you can sit back and let the manners and veiled morals of another era wash over you.

A Tale of Two Cities (1935) receives the treatment of a new 1080p HD master.

This sumptuous Black and White film adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale of love and tumult during the French Revolution comes to the screen in courtesy of famed producer David O. Selznick (Gone with the Wind). The dashing Ronald Colman (The Prisoner of Zenda) stars as the sardonic, dissolute, wastrel destined to redeem himself in an act of courageous sacrifice. Filled to the rafters with top notch performances and true cinematic spectacle, the film builds to a climax that deftly intertwines pathos and inspiration that searingly conveys redemption and sacrifice. The soon-to-be-celebrated cinema team of Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur lend their skills to the film's rousing scenes of revolution. Special features include an MGM short, two classic cartoons, a radio adaptation with Ronald Colman, and a trailer.

San Francisco (1936) is presented in a new 1080p HD master from a 4K scan of nitrate preservation elements. In this melodrama Jeanette MacDonald is an aspiring opera singer in San Francisco who becomes involved with bawdy saloon owner, Clark Gable, and his priestly pal, Spencer Tracy. Then everything becomes a lot less important when the 1906 quake hits. With spectacular special effects that still hold up today, this is the disaster picture that set the standard. The spectacular special effects are second only to the stellar performances of Gable, Tracy, and Macdonald. Special features include an alternate ending, the short "Clark Gable: Tall, Dark and Handsome" , two vintage FitzPatrick Traveltalks, the classic cartoon “Bottles", and the theatrical re-issue trailer.

I grew up watching these films, so they are a part of the fond memories I hold for the early days of my adventures in movie watching. Even when seen on the late show on TV, the old prestige productions of the big studios have a special kind of magic that just can't be compared to the films of today. Now you can bring the special movie experience back to life with these bigger and better estorations.


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