Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Warner Archive

By now the news is all over the place.  For those who haven't heard, in an unprecedented move, Warner Home Video, have launched a new DVD line called Warner Archive.  Sold exclusively through the WHV website, the series will make available thousands of titles (eventually) that have otherwise not appeared on DVD and, in some cases, even home video.  Amazing!  The downside is that the discs will be burned as DVD-Rs rather than pressed as commercial DVDs normally are.  This has many consumers concerned about the overall quality and longevity of the discs.  WHV head honcho George Feltenstein assures the fanbase that these discs will be up to the standard we have come to expect from Warner--the process being used will yield better results than one could get making home DVD recordings off of TCM.  Feltenstein and WHV's reputation being what it is, I, for one, believe him.  Additionally, the films will be presented in their original aspect ratios, but extra features are slim to none and the artwork leaves something to be desired.  However, all films will come with full packaging.  Still, the $20 price tag seems high.  Check out tonight's WHV/Home Theater Forum chat transcript. The Warner folks always have their eyes on the goings on at HTF so I have to believe they've read my pleas for Dusty and Sweets McGee there!

The archive site is being regularly updated, with more titles added, it seems, by the hour.  They are up to 155 at latest count.  The goal, WHV says, is to eventually make the entire Warner catalog available. The company will not abandon its regular releases, thankfully, and some Archives titles may eventually be upgraded to standard release status (you've been warned!).  

There are so many titles I would like to pick up, but with the prices being what they are, and the overall quality still unknown, I'm proceeding cautiously.  Still, it's hard not to get a bit giddy.  I never thought I'd see Dusty and Sweets McGee released!


J.D. said...

Yeah, I noticed that they had a copy of THE SERGEANT which I am quite tempted to get but I had to hold off as HEART BEAT was my first choice. Being a fan of the Kerouac and the Beat Generation, this is one of the rare films made about these folks. Plus, it is hard to pass up John Heard and Nick Nolte as Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady!

Ned Merrill said...

Let me know what you think of HEART BEAT. I've heard mixed things. I had the Jack Nitzsche soundtrack LP in my hands a few weeks ago, but no more turntable to play it on...

The Green Shroud said...

Hi Ned,

in June 2009 we're releasing 'Cocktails', an album haunted by the ghosts of Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Henry Mancini & Serge Gainsbourg, and served up with a modern electronic twist.

We were wondering if you would like a promotional copy?

Thanks for your blog, as film/music nerds we like it very much.

mandingo said...

Can I just make a comment about 'Heart Beat'?

I too snapped this up on VHS years ago when I saw it had Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek and John Heard in the cast. How could it go wrong?

Somehow it does; perhaps, not 'wrong', but it has always seemed to me a little tepid. And I have watched it many time to try to see it otherwise, or see if I might have missed something, or been in the wrong mood.

Not having been a participant in the 'beat generation', it is impossible to say with any certainty, but my research into the period suggests that short period which we refer to as 'beat' seemed a lot more edgy, a lot riskier, there was an almost dystopian edge to the genre.

Kerouac wrote in particular of the search for meaning and enlightnment, particularly in books like 'Dharma Bums'; and was at his most interesting when his quest was perverted by the reality of life in America at the time. I think this realisation is what ultimately destroyed him.

And others of his ilk.

Supposition, naturally.

The film 'Heart Beat' seems, quite simply, weak. Ordinary.

Or is it accurate? Is this what the 'beat generation' was really like- very ordinary, very domestic-a lot less vibrant, anarchic, subversive than we have been led to understand, and we have been feasting upon the mythology? And when we see someone portray the period as being as 'ordinary' as it might well have been, are we utterly dissapointed?

If what I understand of that period is exaggeration, bordering on revisionism, is the 'beat generation' as it truly was a disappointment held up against the way we understand/want it to be?

You be the judge.

This has been part of my problem with most of the films about the period- 'Beat', 'Day I Committed Suicide' etc- they have simply been too 'ordinary', looking to dramatise the mundane and elevating it to some mythological status. Kerouac and his continuous roll of paper, Burroughs (if you include him) shooting his wife, and the words...what else do you have?

Is much of it really that cinematic? I think I get more out of the docos than the 'narrative' attempts. Let's see what happens with 'On The Road'...

Unless you were there, it can only be speculation. And even for many of those who were there...

How do they see it? And how accurate is their perception of it?

In the meantime, live with the question, and keep printing the myth, I guess.

It's much more fun...

Robert Cashill said...

DUSTY played just fine on my MacBook Pro; haven't had a chance to look at it on my TV set-up, but I don't think fans of the film will be disappointed with the bare-bones presentation. (It is quite fascinating.) I'm not the most demanding DVD consumer, but the disc does seem to avoid obvious flaws and the print and soundtrack are in good shape. It's fascinating that a division of Kinney Leisure Services would put out such a picture, along with The Devils.

Ned Merrill said...


Thanks for the mini-review of DUSTY AND SWEETS MCGEE. I think I will wait until WHV addresses the technical issues and offers some more buyer discounts (I missed the first coupon). Don't forget, Kinney Leisure Services also greenlit A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

Robert Cashill said...

That first coupon I think I had read about only seemed to work on your birthday--so it only worked if you hadn't plugged in your birthday already, as I had done. I did get free shipping.

Dusty looked and played fine on my eight-year-old Sony DVD changer and nine-year-old Sony TV (27") with 16:9-enhanement mode. Like I said, it's a forgiving set-up. But even if it were a "real" DVD I wasn't expecting glossy perfection from a 38-year-old film rarely seen since the early 70s.

Dean Treadway said...

HEARTBEAT is a mysterious disappointment, given the cast. I didn't think it had very good period detail even when I saw it on cable as a teen. A missed opportunity for sure. Can't wait to one day see DUSTY AND SWEETS MCGEE, though! ANd that poster for THE RAIN PEOPLE has to be my number one want for my collection. Nobody did better posters than Warner Bros/Seven Arts in the 60s and 70s. I have COOL HAND LUKE, THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, RACHEL RACHEL, WAIT UNTIL DARK, and a Carol Lynley movie whose name escapes me at the moment. All are terrific uses of photos, color, graphics, credits, and taglines.

Ned Merrill said...


Agreed about the RAIN PEOPLE poster. It is a stunner as are many of those Warner / Seven-Arts posters. They happen to be great movies, as well, most of them.