Five classics come to DVD for the first time in October
By Patrick Luce Sep 21, 2006, 0:56 GMT
For an accurate look at how things were at MGM in the glory days, go directly to Motion Picture Masterpieces, a DVD box with five literary-minded A-list productions. MGM liked to think of itself as the studio of class, and its highbrow aspirations (mixed with plenty of old-fashioned hokum) are on lavish display in this collection. Louis B. Mayer ran the studio, and boy wonder Irving Thalberg supervised production. However, ...more
On October 10th, five film masterpieces, adapted from literary classics and made during Hollywood’s golden era, debut on DVD in Warner Home Video’s Motion Picture Masterpieces collection. All five are from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, known then as the “Tiffany of movie studios.”
David O. Selznick’s Oscar-nominated screen translations of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities; the 1940 Laurence Olivier/Greer Garson version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, featuring the irresistible re-teaming of Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper; and the opulent Marie Antoinette, starring Tyrone Power and Norma Shearer in her unforgettable performance as France’s tragic queen. The five-disc collection will have a suggested retail price of $49.92 with the individual titles available for suggested retail price of $19.97.
Marie Antoinette (1938)
MGM spared no expense to display the grandeur and revolutionary fervor of 18th-century France that marked this motion picture which captured four Academy Award nominations (Best Supporting Actress & Actor, Art Direction and Original Score). Norma Shearer returned to the screen after a 2-year absence due to the premature death of her husband, renowned producer Irving Thalberg - who had actually developed the project for his wife before he died.
Shearer went on to give one of the greatest performances of her career in the decades-spanning title role. Tyrone Power plays opposite her, John Barrymore is crafty Louis XV and Robert Morley was Oscar-nominated as Louis XVI. Painstakingly restored from its recently discovered original camera negative, this remastered edition brings back the film’s original ‘road show’ presentation including Overture and Exit Music.
DVD Special Features:
Oscar-nominated short The Great Heart
Vintage short Another Romance of Celluloid goes behind the scenes on this and other studio productions that year
Subtitles: English, Français & Español (feature film only)
David Copperfield (1935)
“We are friends for life.” The man speaking is Micawber, played by W.C. Fields with great comedic charm and human warmth. The child addressed is David, played by Freddie Bartholomew in his Hollywood debut. The movie is David Copperfield, still one of the best-ever screen adaptations of a Charles Dickens novel.
“To call the casting inspired is to underrate it,” historian David Shipman wrote in his The Story of Cinema. Lionel Barrymore, Edna May Oliver, Maureen O’Sullivan, Basil Rathbone, among others, joined Fields and Bartholomew as the eccentrics, cads and loving family. Nominated for 3 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the movie was directed by George Cukor and produced by David O. Selznick, who insisted on Dickensian detail that included matching the sets to the first edition’s illustrations.
Warner Home Video’s new presentation is another beautiful restoration and remastering effort that brings new life to a film that, for decades, has looked grainy and washed out. As always, Warner Bros.’ archivists embarked on a worldwide search for the best available elements, and here the original nitrate camera negative was located, allowing a full photochemical film restoration and preservation to create the new video master. The result is a tribute to the hundreds of people who contributed their skills and talents to the first DVD release of this beloved classic.
DVD Special Features:
Vintage Technicolor Musical Shorts: Pirate Party on Catalina Isle and Two Hearts in Wax Time
Classic M-G-M cartoon Poor Little Me
Audio-Only bonus: Leo Is on the Air Radio Promo
Pride and Prejudice (1940)
Like the arrows she launches at an archery target during an elegant lawn party, Elizabeth Bennet’s wit is pointed and unerring. “If you want to be really refined, you have to be dead,” she says, skewering the imperious airs of her hosts. Greer Garson plays the spirited Elizabeth, one of five Bennet sisters hoping for matrimony.
Laurence Olivier plays Darcy, whose arrival at a nearby estate sets their maiden hearts aflutter. Elizabeth and Darcy find reasons to view each other with disdain, setting in motion a velvet struggle of pride and prejudice, perception and reality, forgiveness and love. The lavish adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel won an Oscar for Best Art Direction.
DVD Special Features:
Oscar-nominated Crime Doesn’t Pay Short Eyes of the Navy
Classic M-G-M cartoon The Fishing Bear
A Tale of Two Cities (1935)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...”Charles Dickens’ novel of love and turmoil during the French Revolution comes to the screen in this a sumptuous film version by David O. Selznick, the producer noted for nurturing epic literary works like Gone with the Wind and Anna Karenina. The film garnered two Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture.
Ronald Colman (The Prisoner of Zenda, A Double Life) stars as Sydney Carton – sardonic, dissolute, and destined to redeem himself in an act of courageous sacrifice. “It’s a far, far better thing I do than I’ve ever done,” Carton muses at that defining moment. This is far, far better filmmaking, too: a marvel of uncanny performances top to bottom, eye-filling crowd scenes and lasting emotional power.
DVD Special Features
Oscar-nominated short Audioscopiks
2 classic M-G-M cartoons: Hey, Hey Fever and Honeyland
Audio-only bonus: Lux Radio Theater radio show adaptation starring Ronald Colman
Treasure Island (1934)
The unforgettable stars of 1931’s The Champ reunite in this rousing adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale. Jackie Cooper is Jim Hawkins, a lad living the kind of adventure every child dreams about. Treasure map in hand, Jim and his backers set sail for realms and riches unknown aboard the Hispaniola. But the notorious, one-legged Long John Silver (Wallace Beery) has signed on to the voyage by posing as a cook. Will the treasure fall into his scheming grasp? Will the Hispaniola soon be flying the dreaded skull and bones?
DVD Special Features:
Vintage early 3-Strip Technicolor M-G-M short The Spectacle Maker (1934) directed by John Farrow
Oscar-nominated M-G-M short Strikes and Spares
Classic M-G-M Happy Harmonies cartoon Tale of the Vienna Woods