Monday, May 25, 2009

Produced and Abandoned- Part 1

So, thought I'd try a new recurring feature here. The demands for movies not on DVD is growing in chorus everyday. Warners, with its newly announced Archive sessions, is a definite step in the right direction..... if I wanted to shell out $20 bucks apiece, sight unseen, for the 175 or so movies that aren't readily available on disc. But, this is an admirable move on part of Warners to dispense with long-lost titles that may or may not be financially viable on the home video market. And then there's the fact that I've got 118 titles in the Netflix queue ready and waiting to be seen... but the thing that really haunts me (and so many other movie lovers) are the ones we can't get our hands on or shuffle within the queue and have ready at our doorsteps tomorrow. It's excruciating, I know.... and I suppose if this is the biggest of my worries, then I'm doing ok.

So, this on-going and evolving feature is intended to call out some of the movies not on DVD that I desperately want to see for the first time, or again. My hope is that you, fellow readers of this blog, will chime in and give me some of yours as well. While bloggers such as Moon In the Gutter and Fin De Cinema track the various region 2 and obscure 70's gems with much more passion and fervor than I do, I want this to be a group effort. Reply in the comment section and when I create numbers 2 thru whatever in the future, I'll be sure to include those and link your blog. Maybe, over time, we'll have a flexible and fairly authoritative list on par with the now defunct DVD Journal MIA List.

And before the debut list, a couple of quick Not on DVD viewing notes: check out Turner Classic Movies this week where they're showing a Robert Duvall flick called "Badge 373" from the mid 70's (which I've never heard of, but is described as a "Dirty Harry" influenced cop drama) and the 1970 Italian film "Machine Gun McCain" with John Cassavetes and Peter Falk. Set the Tivos now!

Produced and Abandoned: Part 1

1. The Outfit (1973)- Robert Duvall film that seems to top most of these lists. There was a screening very late at night on TCM last year, so prints are floating around. No idea what the hold-up is on this one.
2. Wanda Nevada (1979)- Peter Fonda is a very under appreciated director. If one gets the chance, check out his other two features, the excellent western "The Hired Hand" and the definitely 70's sci-fi trip "The Idaho Transfer". This one stars a young Brooke Shields and teams up the young Fonda with father Henry. Reviews haven't been kind, but based on his first two films, I'm willing to give this one a chance if we ever see it.
3. Homicide (1991)- After first becoming aware of the brilliance of David Mamet back in the mid 90's, I tracked down a VHS copy of this film. As usual, its bitter and sharp and a nearly perfect police con that continually keeps you guessing. With virtually every other Mamet film available, no clues as to why this one has remained hidden from the public.
4. Secret Beyond the Door (1948)-I'm just beginning to crack the surface with Fritz Lang films, and the thought that I possibly won't be able to track down a copy of 5 or 6 of his films is disturbing. TCM... where are you?
5. The Deadly Affair (1966)- I went a little obsessive over watching any and all Sidney Lumet films last year. With the exception of a handful that have never been released on VHS or DVD, the one that aggravates the most is his 1966 spy thriller entitled "A Deadly Affair". There are some region 2 copies floating around, but I don't feel like paying $35 plus. Here's hoping a recent retrospective at New York Film Forum will put pressure on certain distribution companies. I understand it may be available online, so I'm trying to find out where. Still, a tangible DVD copy is long overdue.
6. Illustrious Corpses (1976)- Francesco Rosi makes some incredible films. "Hands Over the City" and "Christ Stopped At Eboli" are touchstones of Italian cinema if you ask me. Yet only 5 of his films are available on DVD. This one has been called an enigmatic conspiracy thriller.
7. The Fixer (1968)- John Frankenheimer directed. I've managed to see all of his films except this one from '68 and the martial arts thriller called "The Challenge" in 1982. That movie is available on VHS (for over $50 on Ebay) but no sign of "The Fixer" which seems to follow Frankenheimer's early stage days as a film about a Jewish man kept in captivity for unjust reasons.
8. Illtown (1996)- Faithful readers of this blog know my extreme appreciation for indie director Nick Gomez, and this (his third film) didn't get the best word of mouth. I saw it in an empty theater on opening weekend, and its hazy, elliptical portrait of Florida drug dealers and youth starring Michael Rappaport, Lili Taylor and Tony Danza (yes) made an indelible impression. It deserves to be seen and judged on its own.
9. Alamo Bay (1985)- Another director suffering from just 2 or 3 omissions from his entire body of work (also which includes the early 70's film called "Black Moon" that sounds utterly promising), Louis Malle's early 80's drama stars Ed Harris as a Texas rancher dealing with immigration.
10. The Kremlin Letter (1973)- While Huston's seventies work is not considered his most riveting, this cold war thriller sounds intriguing. With the attention paid to his 1979 film "Wise Blood" from Criterion a few weeks ago and "The Dead" (not on DVD) still found in heavy circulation on TV, maybe this 1973 thriller isn't far off.

Stay tuned for more lists later and again, I welcome your input for future creations.


Ivan said...

This is a swell idea, and inspirational, too: I might just start making a DVD MIA list at my blog.
The funny thing is that there are films that are puzzling as to their lack of DVD-ness (like Mamet's Homicide or Ken Russell's The Devils), while there are others that should be on DVD, but because of their cult status or lack of success won't be (Frankenheimer's 99 & 44/100ths Dead or George Pal's The Power). Then there's flicks that are NEVER going to be on DVD because only about 2 people in the world want to see them on DVD (like Cut-throats Nine, or Dan Haller's Devil's Angels).
Of course, then there are films that are on DVD, but Netflix doesn't carry them, like the double-DVD of When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth and Moon Zero Two.

Ten films I wish were on DVD:
Sometimes a Great Notion
Dark of the Sun
Bakshi's Coonskin
The Devils
Brewster McCloud
Sam Fuller's Run of the Arrow
The Hellstrom Chronicle
Michael Ritchie's The Island
Decline of Western Civilization

Thanks and keep up the great work,

Joe Baker said...

Ivan, great list! As I create future lists, I'll be sure to sprinkle your suggestions throughout!

I have seen Frankenheimer's "99 and 44/100ths Dead", but it was so long ago. I think the issue with that one (if memory serves) was it was financed by a European film company who went bankrupt. No idea who owns the print now. That seems to be the overriding reason for so many 70's films to be OOP.

Ivan said...

Joseph B.:
I agree; weird financing does seem to be a major issue regarding flicks being OOP, but I think music rights confusion/madness is another issue. I'm pretty sure that's why Two-Lane Blacktop took such a long time to get on DVD, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was why Altman's Brewster McCloud is OOP as well.

Ivan said...

Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant has a gigantor DVD MIA list that's hours of delicious time-killing:

Anonymous said...

Joe, i have Wanda Nevada and the Outfit on dvd+r let me know if you want a copy of either. Brad

Eric said...

Wanda Nevada is great. Too bad I can't just pop it in whenever I want to.

Joe Baker said...


By the way, TCM aired "Skidoo" several months ago for the first time in ages. Hope you got a chance to catch it.


Hopefully due to the last comment, I'll soon be able to see it!

Ivan said...

Yeah, I stayed up till dawn to catch that screening of Skidoo--and then they went and broke my heart by showing a washed-out pan&scan print! Grrrrrr...

Skidoo--whether you think it has flaws or not--is one of those flicks that needs to be seen widescreen, especially with the way Preminger has framed each scene.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.