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Universal Opens Vaults for DVD (Some)

By admin Published: October 28, 2009

I have previously mentioned my admiration for Warner Bros.' offering many titles on a made-to-order basis. Now Universal, with TCM, is jumping a little ways into the game. Details after the jump.

From TCM:

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE) have entered into an extensive new partnership to offer classic movie fans rare vintage films, all digitally remastered, on DVD on a made-to-order basis. The TCM Vault Collection Presented by Universal marks USHE’s first foray into the manufactured-on-demand (MOD) arena. TCM began offering MOD featuring lost titles from the RKO library.

TCM and USHE are working to remaster a number of great titles never before available on DVD, with several never available on home video at all. The first titles made available include five chilling horror films, three early Cary Grant pictures and the unsung 1940 holiday classic Remember the Night, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray and scripted by the great Preston Sturges. The films will be made available by request on DVD via for the first time during the fourth quarter of 2009. TCM host Robert Osborne will provide introductions for selected titles, which will also include supplemental materials compiled by TCM and extensive material from the TCM archives. In addition, TCM will present exclusive premieres of the movies over the next six months.

“Many terrific films have been unavailable on home video for far too long, especially the holiday classic Remember the Night,” Osborne said. “It’s wonderful that today’s movie fans will be able to enjoy these rare movies. TCM and Universal have worked hard to restore them digitally and provide historical context, bonus content and behind-the-scenes information, something DVD collectors are sure to appreicate. I’m proud to be part of this great project with TCM and Universal.”

For Universal, the agreement is a great way to reach avid film fans. “Universal is very proud of its prestigious collection of Hollywood screen gems,” said Craig Kornblau, president, Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “Like us, TCM is deeply dedicated to honoring Hollywood’s golden age. This collaboration presents the perfect opportunity to share Universal’s rich cinematic legacy and celebrate vintage works with classic film fans.”

The launch of TCM/Universal DVDs will be divided into three initial releases:

Universal Cult Horror Collection (films also available as singles )

DVD Availability: Oct. 31

TCM Premiere of Murders in the Zoo: Oct. 31
Suggested Retail Price: Collection - $49.99; Individual Titles - $19.99

This collection will include five rarely seen horror gems from the Universal vault, most appearing on home video for the first time. Special features include over a hundred photos, posters and lobby cards, trivia, articles and more.

Murders in the Zoo (1933) – Censors had a heyday with this horror film about a zoologist and sportsman who uses his zoo animals to kill his wife’s lovers. Lionel Atwill plays the villain, with Kathleen Burke as his wife, a young Randolph Scott as the hero and the ever lovable Charles Ruggles providing comic relief as the zoo’s press agent. Among the men playing Burke’s doomed lovers is John Lodge, who later left acting to enter politics, becoming governor of Vermont.

Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942) – Lionel Atwill plays a mad scientist who places people into suspended animation and then revives them. When he is accused of murder following the death of one of his subjects, he flees on a ship, becomes stranded on a tropical island and soon becomes revered as a god by the natives. Una Merkel, Nat Pendleton and Claire Dodd co-star.

The Strange Case of Dr. RX (1942) – A mysterious killer bumps off acquitted murderers who have all been represented by the same laywer, played by Samuel S. Hinds. Lionel Atwill, Patric Knowles and Anne Gwynne co-star, with Shemp Howard (on hiatus from his work with The Three Stooges) providing comic relief.

The Mad Ghoul (1943) – This creepy tale follows a mad professor, played by George Zucco, who has discovered an ancient Egyptian gas that turns anyone who sniffs it into a heart-eating zombie. David Bruce plays the doctor’s assistant who gets dosed with the gas and goes on a murderous rampage. Evelyn Ankers and Robert Armstrong co-star.

House of Horrors (1946) – The legendary Rondo Hatton, whose acromegaly deformed his face and made him a frequent Hollywood villain, marked one of his last roles with this offbeat film. Martin Kosleck plays a mad artist who, after saving Hatton and making a bust of his face, uses the disfigured hulk to murder art critics. Hatton died of a heart attack the year this film was released.

Remember the Night (1940)

DVD Availability: Nov. 22
TCM Telecasts: Dec. 6 and Dec. 24
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99

This heart-warming holiday romance – penned by Preston Sturges – marked the first of four on-screen pairings of Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck and came four years before their iconic work in Double Indemnity. MacMurray plays a prosecutor who finds himself falling in love with a shoplifter (Stanwyck) during a court recess at Christmas time. The atmospheric film co-stars Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson and Sterling Holloway and was directed by Mitchell Leisen.

Remember the Night is rarely seen and received a brief home-video release on VHS. It is being now remastered and brought back to life so it can take its rightful place as a signature holiday classic. Special features on the DVD will include an introduction by Robert Osborne; still galleries, including behind-the-scenes photos; never-before-seen interview segments on the work of director Mitchell Leisen from the TCM Archives; and the original movie trailer, trivia, biographies and more.

Cary Grant Collection (films also available as singles)
DVD Availability: January 2010
Three early Cary Grant films will populate this boxed set:

The Eagle and the Hawk (1933) – This vivid World War I drama stars Frederic March as a disillusioned but fearless squadron leader and Cary Grant as his bullied gunner-observer. The gripping interpersonal drama, anti-war sentiments and outstanding aerial dogfights give this film an impact that remains vital today. Carole Lombard and Jack Oakie round out a top-notch cast. The great director Mitchell Leisen, who is billed as associate director, is believed to have directed most of this film.

The Devil and the Deep (1932) – This melodrama is headlined by Tallulah Bankhead, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant and Charles Laughton. The setting is the northern coast of Africa, where submarine commander Laughton is stationed and where his wife, Bankhead, is splitting her time between suitors Cooper and Grant. This marked Laughton’s first American film and one of his most underappreciated performances.

The Last Outpost (1935) – Cary Grant plays a British officer saved from a Kurdish tribe by fellow officer Claude Rains. But when Grant unknowingly falls in love with Rains’ wife, tragedy looms. Gertrude Michael and Kathleen Burke co-star under the dual direction of Charles Barton and Louis Gasnier.

Future Universal collections and titles for rollout on DVD and TCM include vintage films from Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, Deanna Durbin, director Douglas Sirk and many more.

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