Reasons to hang on to your DVDs

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
I'm sure like many on here when I look for something to watch, I head for the Blu Ray section of my library and tend to forget the DVD shelves. However, recently I have been correcting that oversight and doing justice to some terrific films that have yet to see a Blu Ray release. So here are some of my reasons -in no particular order- to hang on to my DVD collection.

The Devil and Daniel Webster

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A film I've waxed poetic about on several occasions on these forums. Quite simply, one of the greatest films ever made. A re-location of the Faust legend to 19th Century New England, the film is one of the best representations of "Americana" ever put on screen,

If you look at the credits, most of the key technical and creative personnel that worked on Citizen Kane also worked on The Devil and Daniel Webster. Kane had just wrapped shooting at RKO and director William Dieterle grabbed many of the key people from that film to work with him.

There are definite echoes of Kane in The Devil and Daniel Webster with some scenes seeming like pure Welles in tone. Interesting that two films, both so different from everything else that was around at the time, were shot one immediately after the other at the same studio. Consequently, there have been rumours over the years that Welles had uncredited "input" into The Devil and Daniel Webster. Looking at the finished result I wouldn't be surprised.

Brilliant direction from Dieterle at the top of his game, bravura performances from Walter Houston and Edward Arnold respectively as The Devil and Daniel Webster, an Oscar winning score from Bernard Herrmann and acerbic observations on the American Dream, the American political process and its politicians (the character of Daniel Webster was a real life 19th Century statesman) that are still relevant today. All wrapped up in on stunning bundle of entertainment with a capital "E".

The reason that this terrific film has dropped off the cultural radar, is due to its lack of availability over the years. One of my earliest childhood memories was of a TV showing of this film where it was literally burned into my memory. The image of The Devil playing a Satanic, screeching tune on his fiddle gave me many a childhood nightmare. It was almost 20 years before there was another UK TV screening as the film was considered lost. Even then, when it eventually reappeared, it was only shown only in it's drastically edited 85 minute version as Daniel and the Devil, but even in that bowdlerised version, the power of the film making still blew me away. It wasn't until 2003 and the discovery of a preview print among the director's personal effects, that Criterion restored the original 107 minute version of the film and that was a revelation!

This film desperately needs a Blu Ray release if only to aid in its rediscovery by a new generation and get it on all of those Top 100 lists where it so richly deserves a place.

A Portrait of Jennie

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Another fantasy classic from the director of The Devil and Daniel Webster, William Dieterle. Producer David O Selznick hired Dieterle to helm the film, specifically as he wished to recapture the other worldly tone of many sequences in The Devil and Daniel Webster that had so impressed him. Indeed the film sets out its eerie, other-worldly stall form the outset, as it is the only film of that era to have no opening credits whatsoever, not even the title of the film.

A ghost story, the film tells the story of a down at heel artist (Joseph Cotten) who meets a young girl (Jennifer Jones) in New York's Central park wearing very old fashioned clothes from an earlier era, who on each successive meeting appears to be ageing more rapidly than should be possible. Cotton becomes infatuated the girl and begins work on the titular portrait and in the process learns the true story and fate of his muse.

Again, like The Devil and Daniel Webster, the film boasts stunning black and white cinematography that sets out to reproduce the look of classic paintings and is really crying out for the Blu Ray treatment.

Is Paris Burning

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One of those huge roadshow films of the '60s complete with overture and intermission, Is Paris Burning is director Rene Clement's epic retelling of the liberation of Paris from the German occupation. In the final days before liberation Hitler ordered that Paris should be razed to the ground if the German occupation force had to evacuate the city, and had every monument, bridge, museum and historical building wired with high explosives. The title comes from The Fuhrer's frantic and repeated outburst down the telephone at the end of the film.

For once the DVD cover's boast of "An All-Star Cast" is not mere hyperbole as the cast is a who's who of international cinema that casts German, French and American actors in their respective national roles. The roster includes Gert (Goldfinger) Frobe who is superb as the conflicted kommandant of Paris tasked with destroying the city and also includes Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Anthony Perkins, George Chakiris, Robert Stack and Orson Welles among the American cast.

However as the film is mainly the story of the French Resistance in the city, the lion's share of the cast is made up of practically every huge name in French cinema including Alain Delon, Jean Paul Belmondo, Leslie Caron, Charles Boyer, Jean Louis Trintignant, Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, Michel Piccoli, Jean Pierre Cassel, Michel Lonsdale and Albert Remy. Indeed the only French star of the era that I could think of who wasn't in the film was Brigitte Bardot.

Unusually for such a blockbuster production of the time, the film was photographed in black and white. Originally it was planned as a colour production, but the Parisian authorities had pledged that the Nazi flag would never again fly over their city, even for the purposes of filming. A compromise was reached by having the red in the flags replaced with green, which photographed as the same shade in black and white. However this compromise handed the producers an unexpected bonus in that they were able to incorporate actual black and white footage of the liberation of the city and the ensuing celebrations, which is truly jaw dropping and makes the international Millennium parties in 2000 look like small family get-togethers.

One of the highlights of the film is an absolutely stunning score by Maurice Jarre, which for my money is the best he ever composed, beating even his work on Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. Central to his score is The Paris Waltz, a joyous purely Parisian composition that begins to creep in slowly on the soundtrack and builds gradually as the liberation edges closer and closer still, until at the end of the film the screen bursts into full colour with a glorious sequence of aerial shots of present day (1966) Paris accompanied by the full blooded version of the music. Glorious!



I really long for a Blu Ray release of this film, if only for the hope that Paramount release the definitive audio version. The DVD contains an English language and French language track, but, no matter which option you choose, you will be watching the partially dubbed version of the film that was released in the USA. However at the time of release there was a version of the film released in Europe with a soundtrack that featured the German, French and American actors all speaking in their native languages with appropriate subtitles for each market. As this version exists it should be no great chore for Paramount to release a version with the option of viewing the film with its original voice track with subtitles for the French and German sections.

I'm a sucker for a big, sprawling war film or any film set in Paris (my favourite city) and Is Paris Burning combines both into one terrific bundle. A classic and much overlooked WWII epic.

Incidentally, the film boasts a screenplay collaboration by Gore Vidal and a young Francis Ford Coppola.


Black Sunday

DVD Black.jpg


Black Sunday directed by John Frankenheimer is a criminally underrated and little known nail-biter that came after Frankenheimer's excellent French Connection II and both marked a momentary return to form for a director who gave us some of the best films to come out of '60s Hollywood. Starring the ever-watchable Robert Shaw and the equally wonderful Bruce Dern, the film is unusual for a film of this era in that the narrative is driven by the villain and not by the hero.

This gripping thriller revolves around a Black September bomb plot on US soil and was based on an early novel by Silence of the Lambs author Thomas Harris. Harris has stated that the driven, focused character of the terrorist Dahlia Iyad, played in the film by Marthe Keller, was actually an inspiration for Clarice Starling in the Lecter novels.

This is a superbly directed thriller. The last 30 minutes alone are a masterclass in how to film on-screen suspense and the location sequences filmed with Robert Shaw at an actual Superbowl match are superbly managed by Frankenheimer and blended seamlessly with the studio footage. On repeat viewings, even though I know the outcome, the climactic sequences never fail to grip me.


The Marx Brothers

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Does this really need any explanation? Simply some of the most hilarious comedy ever committed to celluloid. A crime that Warner and Paramount have not released any of this material on Blu Ray.

OK guys, that's just a few of mine to begin with. What DVDs will you be most definitely be holding on to pending a Blu Ray release? :)
 
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MarkusThatch

Distinguished Member
51YYCNBHZFL.jpg

I'm always wittering on about this one. Still no blu-ray that I'm aware of.

And this one.

the-hill-cover-40394.jpg
 

MarkusThatch

Distinguished Member
It really is - it hardly gets any mentions but it really is terrific. Connery in particular is so good in this film.

Edit: I remembered another one I've yet to replace that I'm keeping -

100_box_348x490_original.jpeg
 

Pecker

Distinguished Member
Mr Lime, I believe it was you who suggested The Devil & Daniel Webster to me. Good call!

May I add, still missing on Blu-ray from Criterion:

Z
I Know Where I'm Going!
The Browning Version
(1951)
Carnival of Souls

Still missing from Woody Allen:

Manhattan Murder Mystery
Play it Again, Sam


Still missing in film noir:

Fury
(1936)
Key Largo
The Big Sleep
The Set-Up


Still missing from Sony (I expect this to turn up with every new Twilight Time announcement):

Fail-Safe

Still missing from Warner:

Whose Life is it Anyway?
Bad Day at Black Rock
Seven Days in May
Wait Until Dark
The Seventh Victim
(or any Val Lewton)

Still missing from Amicus:

From Beyond the Grave
Torture Garden
The House That Dripped Blood
Asylum


Still missing from Hammer:

Revenge Of Frankenstein
Scars Of Dracula
Lust For A Vampire
Dracula A.D. 1972
The Satanic Rites Of Dracula
The Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires
The Nanny


And a couple of personal favourites still AWOL on Blu-ray:

Conspiracy
Swimming Pool
(Ozon)

Thank heavens I still have the DVDs.

Steve W
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Yes Steve - some great films still missing in action on Blu. I keep hoping that Warner will issue that wonderful Val Lewton DVD box set on Blu Ray every time Halloween approaches, but alas no joy! :(

Val_Lewton_Collection_copy.jpg


I'm frankly baffled by some of the posts on here from people that say they have dumped their entire DVD collection or those who find DVD "unwatchable", when so many great titles are only available on that format. Of course we'd prefer everything to be on Blu ray, but DVD looks absolutely fine up-scaled on my 60" screen.

Besides, would you rather watch a great film from the above list on DVD or the latest Transformers or Jupiter Ascending bollox on Blu Ray?
 

PaxtonSage

Active Member
I would never dump my dvds, I was upset enough when I took years worth of videos to the dump whilst all my head could do was repeat to me "all that money wasted". I have a certain way I buy my films now anyway, if I feel its not a film that benefits from scope or a film that is more a comedy, serious drama ect I go for the dvd version, making sure its the best edition available on the format. Then you have your big budget films like your sci-fi and action films that may not quite have the story quality but work out your system and go for blu on those. I have saved myself loads by using this method, I also no longer buy tv series on dvd or blu due to the fact they do not have as much rewatch value as films for me.
 

k-spin

Active Member
I'd prefer a great film on DVD over a mediocre one on Blu-ray every time. Ideally everything would be available on Blu-ray but until it is, and unfortunately I doubt that will ever happen, I would not get rid of any of my favourites on DVD just because they're not HD. Blu-ray undoubtably looks better on my system but DVD is far from unwatchable.

I wouldn't buy anything on DVD now though that was available on Blu-ray unless there was something seriously wrong with the Blu-ray version.

Now, what to do when Ultra HD Blu-ray arrives....
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
That's inspired me to add the Blu Ray of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein to the Halloween viewing list.
 

pRot3us

Distinguished Member

mikemag

Distinguished Member
Arguably at the other end of the quality scale, but DVD remains the only place to find some of my fonder memories of 70's childhood and most definitely likely to remain that way :)

image.jpeg
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member

weaponx031277

Well-known Member
I'd love a blu release of that, a criminally overlooked piece of dystopian science fiction.

I saw that for the first time last Friday at a secret cinema event at a disused Nuclear Bunker. Never even heard of it before hand. Very good film even with abrupt ending.
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Great li
Expensive for a 35 minute made for TV short, but worth every penny.

And I think we're lucky to see this on DVD, let alone wait around expecting a Blu-ray.

La Cabina

Steve W

Steve - I think I'm in love with you! :)

Just picked this up for a smidgen over £12 from a French eBay seller.

I had this for many years on an off air VHS recording from a BBC 2 showing in the late '70s. Never dreamed I'd find it on a disc format. Terrific little Twilight Zone style chiller that the Spanish do so well.

Result! :)
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
I think it's so expensive on Amazon as it's out of print. No results for searches on Amazon Spain and the only eBay result that came up was the guy in France who I bought it from.
 

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