It seems like virtually every movie, TV show and other piece of recorded image has been released by now on DVD or Blu-ray — but that’s not the case. There are plenty of obscure offerings that have yet to make it to disc.
It seems like virtually every movie, TV show and other piece of recorded image has been released by now on DVD or Blu-ray — but that’s not the case. There are plenty of obscure offerings that have yet to make it to disc. Here are a few of my favorites. If you have something you’d like to see available on DVD, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll share your picks in an upcoming column.
“Batman”: You’d think with “The Dark Knight Rises” looming in the distance, every bit of Bat-video would be available for purchase. But the beloved Adam West TV series, which aired from 1966 to 1968, has never been available on tape, DVD or Blu-ray. It’s reportedly a rights issue, with 20th Century Fox owning the show and Warner Bros. owning the character. That means a DVD release is unlikely unless two giant corporations can agree to work together for the common good. In the meantime, the 1966 movie based on the series is available on DVD and Blu-ray, so at least you can watch that.
“Knights of Prosperity”: This ABC sitcom aired (very) briefly in 2007, but the premise had enough promise to go several seasons. A group of blue-collar goofballs, led by Donal Logue, plots to rob the penthouse apartment of Mick Jagger. The show found comedy in each step of the process and managed to create several memorable characters. Ideally, the DVDs would include every episode, even the ones that never aired. It’s a long shot, but maybe co-star Sofia Vergara’s success on
“Modern Family” could inspire ABC to give us a “Knights” set.
“The High Life”: Even more obscure than “Knights,” this HBO show ran for a mere eight episodes back in 1996. Created by former “Late Night with David Letterman” writer Adam Resnick, it was an offbeat take on shows like “The Honeymooners,” focusing on a couple of guys in 1950s Pittsburgh always looking to make a quick buck. Plots involved typical 1950s fads like Davy Crockett hats, but also delved into the darker aspects of the era, spotlighting the Red scare and race relations. The way it coaxed laughs from serious subjects — plus the fact that it was filmed in black-and-white — set “The High Life” apart from most other shows of the era. Good luck seeing this forgotten favorite on DVD.
“Bugsy Malone”: It was released to theater — and quickly vanished from them — in 1976, but this movie written and directed by Alan Parker remains one of the strangest films ever seen. It’s a gangster movie. Plus, it’s a full-scale musical. Plus, the entire cast is made up of kids. And, as if that weren’t enough, instead of the traditional firearms, they battle it out with guns that shoot whipped cream. (I swear I’m not making this up.) The whole thing is oddly entertaining, with plenty of catchy songs written by the great Paul Williams (who sometimes provides the singing voice for the kid actors). It was released on DVD in England (where it was a hit), but the presence of Scott Baio and Jodie Foster in lead roles should make it worth releasing here in the states, too — right?
“Night World”: Thanks to DVD-on-demand services like Warner Archives, all sort of obscure movies that might never see the light of day are available to own on disc. So how about this one? Released in 1932 at the height of the pre-Production Code era, it’s an amazingly compact tale of one night in the life of a Manhattan club, with plots and subplots galore: The club owner (Boris Karloff, a year after “Frankenstein”) is threatened by gangsters. A drunken young man (Lew Ayres) falls in love with the club’s top dancer (Mae Clarke, also a year after “Frankenstein”). The oddly philosophical doorman (Clarence Muse) worried about his wife, who’s in the hospital. Toss in gangster actor George Raft, gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and a few Busby Berkeley dance numbers, and you’ve got a very packed little movie — especially considering it’s only 58 minutes long!
Read Will Pfeifer’s Movie Man blog at rrstar.com/blogs/willpfeifer/ or email him at email@example.com.
DVDs out Tuesday
“True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season”: HBO’s hit show about bloodsuckers and other weirdos lurking in the deep South continues to keep the vampire trend surprisingly healthy. Between this and those “Twilight” movies, the fanged folks account for a big bite of the DVD market. (Ha! Get it? Did you see what I did there?)
“Maverick: The Complete First Season”: James Garner stars as smooth-talking ladies’ man Bret Maverick in this debut season of the hit Western series. This is back when television seasons tended to be a bit longer, so set aside plenty of time for the 27 episodes (on seven DVDs) in this box.
“Coriolanus”: Actor Ralph Fiennes does double duty here, both directing and starring as a Roman general in this Shakespeare adaptation. It’s a modern take on the bard, with automatic weapons replacing the standard swords, and the powerful cast also includes Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, Vanessa Redgrave and James Nesbitt.
“Gone”: Amanda Seyfried tries to convince everyone that the guy who abducted her sister is the same guy who kidnapped her years earlier. Naturally, no one believes her, and she has to take the law into her own hands.
“Goon”: Seann William Scott (aka Stiffler in the “American Pie” movies) plays a thuggish hockey player in this sports comedy. “Goon” is not to be confused with “Gone,” though they might make an interesting double feature.
Scissor Sisters, “Magic Hour”: According to press materials, no less an authority than Bono himself called them “the best pop group in the world.” I guess he would know, right?
Regina Spektor, “What We Saw from the Cheap Seats”: This album was recorded in Los Angeles during the summer of 2011, but if you’re going to watch Ms. Spektor on her tour for this album, you’re probably going to be seeing everything from seats that are pretty expensive.
Soundtrack, “Men in Black 3”: If you buy this CD expecting to hear another catchy rap song by “Men in Black” star (and former Fresh Prince himself) Will Smith, you might be disappointed. Then again, it does have an entire score by Danny Elfman, the man behind most of Tim Burton’s movie soundtracks, so that’s pretty good, too.
Public Image Limited, “This is Pil”: It’s been 20 years since John Lydon released an album by Public Image Limited, but after touring in 2009, he apparently felt the itch to get back inside the studio. Remember when Lydon first became famous, way back in the mid 1970s? He was called Johnny Rotten back then, and his band was the Sex Pistols.
— Will Pfeifer
Sources: thedigitalbits.com; tophitsonline.com