Tag: You Ought to be on DVD

You Ought to be on DVD Revisited, Part One

Back in 2012, I wrote a series of articles about old movies and TV programs which ought to be on DVD but weren’t. Since that time, more material has been released on DVD, but still much of it remains elusive. So how much progress has been made in the last six years in getting great stuff to viewers? We’ll take a look.

The first article I wrote covered some vintage mystery series that were noticeably absent from DVD shelves. I’ve previously reported the serious progress made with Warner Archives releasing all the Perry Mason films  and six Philo Vance films.

Since then, there’s been a few releases. Let’s take a look at how the detectives I listed six years ago have fared:

Philo Vance:

Five years ago, there were six Philo Vance movies on DVD, now there are nine. The last three are post-War films, Philo Vance Returns with William Wright, and Philo Vance’s Gamble, and Philo Vance’s Secret Mission with Alan Curtis. Reviews seemed to be decidedly mixed about the quality of these releases. These are not from Warner Archive, but from a small company and let the buyer beware. Sadly, most of the William Powell stories as well as the Philo Vance case I’m most curious about (The Gracie Allen Murder Case) are still not available.

Hildegard Withers:

In 2013, Warner Archives released all six Hildegard Withers movies. Edna May Oliver is great when she plays the role, not so much for Zasu Pitts, but they’re all worth at least one watch.

Ellery Queen:

A mystery the Maestro himself couldn’t solve is why the Ellery Queen films starring Ralph Bellamy and the great William Gargan haven’t had a release.

The Lone Wolf:

In 2013, there had been one Lone Wolf film released. Since then, there have been two more, Counter-Espionage and Passport to Suez. These DVDs are made by Sony. All three of these DVDs contain one movie about an hour in length and cost around $20. For comparison’s sake, you can get the Perry Mason box set with six movies for $24.

Boston Blackie:

Sony has still only released two of the fourteen Boston Blackie films, both of them for a little bit less than $20.

After discussing movie series, I dedicated an entire article to Nero Wolfe and the lack of DVD releases outside of the excellent 2001 A Nero Wolfe Mystery series. There’s been some good news recently. A DVD box set has been released including the entire 14 episode Nero Wolfe TV series starring William Conrad and the very good Thayer David TV Movie based on the Doorbell Rang (not League of Frightened Men as I erroneously stated six years ago) which was a pilot for the series.

Other adaptations remain unavailable including the 1930s movies and the 1960 pilot with William Shatner as Archie Goodwin. Further, my hope of having a subtitled version of the 1960s Italian Nero Wolfe TV series released on Region 1 DVD with subtitles is probably a pipe dream. The series looks great from clips I’ve seen, but the only way to understand it will get an all-region DVD player and learn Italian. On the bright side, the 2012 Italian Nero Wolfe series has been released on region 1 DVD with English subtitles, so that gives me a little hope.

Then I took a look at films whose radio presence peaked my interest. The next year, one of those films, Mask of Demetrios, made it on to DVD and turned out to be a good movie. Sadly, none of the other three films I listed (Chicago Deadline, Mr. and Mrs. North, and To the Ends of the Earth) have been released.

We’ll return next week and take a look at what progress has been made on the rest of the titles I covered in 2012.

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You Ought to be on DVD Revisited: What’s New in Old Movies

Last year, I wrote a series of posts about TV series and movies that were due a DVD release and hadn’t received one. I’m pleasantly surprised to see some movement on this thanks largely to the efforts of Warner Brothers and their Warner archives collections. Here are some long lost treasures that can be brought home on DVD mostly due to the efforts of Warner Archives:

Perry Mason Movies: Before Raymond Burr made Perry Mason a television icon in the late 50s and early 60s, actors such as Warren William, Ricardo Perez, and Donald Woods took their turn playing the iconic lawyer in the 1930s. Warner Archives has released all six movies on DVD which will give audiences a chance to enjoy a Perry Mason closer to Erle Stanley Gardener’s hard-boiled intention.

Philo Vance Movies: Warner Archives is out with a sampler of Philo Vance movies covering several actors. There’s the Bishop Murder Case with Basil Rathbone, The Kennel Murder Case with William Powell, The Dragon Murder Case with Warren William, The Casino Murder Case with Paul Lucas, The Garden Murder Case with Edmund Lowe, and Calling Philo Vance with James Stephenson. There’s actually three more Powell entries and another William entry that I hope will see release.

Lone Wolfe Movie: This release of the Vance and Mason movies may be tied to a recent book about Warren William. That also will explain why one entry in the Lone Wolfe series has finally seen the light of day with the release of, The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady.

While I didn’t mention the relatively short Nick Carter detective movie series with Walter Pidgeon, those have also been released.

It’s not just Mystery Series that Warner Brothers is releasing, but also standalone mystery classics. We played the Screen GUild Theater presentation of, The Mask of Demetrios for one of our specials and at last this film has earned a DVD release. The thriller is rare as it stars Peter Lorre as a hero not named Moto and Sidney Greenstreet plays a heavy.

On the comedy front, the Great Gildersleeve movies with Harold Peary have seen release along with one movie (Seven Days Leave) in which Gildersleeve is a supporting character for Lucille Ball’s lead.

Finally, while I haven’t gotten my wish about more Dr. Kildare movies making their way to DVD, the first season of the Dr. Kildare TV series starring Richard Chamberlain has been released.

Overall, Warner Archives deserves a debt of thanks from fans of classic golden age entertainment. There’s still much more unreleased material that’s part of America’s cultural heritage. From Johnny Midnight to Dick Powell’s To the Ends of the Earth, but Warner Brothers has taken some great steps by making so many productions available to a mass audience. Well done. I’ve added many of these movies to my Amazon wish list and hope to see them very soon.

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You Ought to Be On DVD: And the Rest

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We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series on TV programs and movies that should be on DVD and aren’t.  In this one, I’ll try and wrap everything up with other miscellaneous movies and TV series that haven’t gotten a deserved DVD release:


The Dr. Kildare series has perhaps been noteworthy. The Kildare series starring Lew Ayers and the continuing Gillespie series starring Lionel Barrymore that was made after MGM dropped Ayers due to his Conscientious Objector status in World War II. Also missing from an official release is the Dr. Kildare TV series starring Richard Chamberlain which ran for five season. This popular franchise featured some of the finest actors of their periods and had 30 years of popularity. So what gives with the lack official DVD releases? All that is available are two Kildare films that have lapsed into the public domain.

In addition, another medical drama that ran five seasons, Ben Casey didn’t receive a DVD release even though the series was nominated for several emmys during its run, picked up a couple, and enjoys a 7.4 rating on IMDB. 

Another medical based series (this one set against the back drop of war) was reccomended by one of my Facebook fans for a DVD release. China Beach rate from 1988-91 and enjoys a solid 7.9 rating on IMBD. The release has been held up by disputes over music rights, but hopefully there can be sufficient demand to resolve this.

Finally, one series I should have mentioned previously that occurred to me after I wrote the appropriate post was “The New Dragnet.” This is not to be confused with the Dick Wolf produced “LA Dragnet” but rather the 1989-91 syndicated Dragnet series. The program was temporarily viewable on Hulu and I saw quite a few episodes. It’s true the budgets weren’t high and the actors weren’t big name but the series did a servicable job bringing Dragnet into the late 1980s with good interaction between the two leads and well-crafted stories that seemed a good fit for Dragnet. Yes, it has a new jazzy 1980s opening and yes, it’s not the same without Jack Webb, but it is serviceable and for the Dragnet fans who have seen everything else, the series would be a great way to feed the hunger for a little more classic procedural action.

If you have any TV shows or movies that you’d like to see on DVD that aren’t, leave your comments.

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You Ought to be on DVD: This Looks Like a Job for a DVD Release

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With the recent craze of superhero movies, is it time for some TV shows to reveal themselves once again to the world?

The most requested TV show that fans most want to see according to TVShowsonDVD.com is, the 1967 Batman TV series. It’s somewhat remarkable that the series, still well-beloved, popular, and fun for its campy comedy has not yet received a DVD release. The problem comes down to rights issues between Fox (the producer of the program) and Warner Brothers and DC comics, the current owners of the Batman character.

This series remains an inconic television classic that remains popular in reruns to this day and it’s astonishing that these sides can’t get together. Of course, it’s far from the only superhero program to have difficulty getting to DVD.

There’s a similar problem with Superboy. The character of Superman as a a boy in Smallville has been put on hold due to a dispute between DC Comics and the families of the character’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Only those properties specifically calling the character Superboy, so the TV series Smallville has had no problems. However, the 1960s Cartoon Superboy has been stuck in limbo as has the latter seasons of the 1980s and 1990s Superboy Television show. (Update: After I wrote this piece but before I published it, Season 2 of Superboy was cleared for release.)

However, other than these exceptions, DC has been good about getting most of their superheroes to DVD. The only other exceptions is a 1960s Batman Animated shorts that aired as part of the Batman-Superman Adventure hour.

Marvel has quite a few programs not released on DVD. Among them are five 1960s Cartoon Series featuring the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Thor, The Incrediblue Hulk, and Submariner. In addition, the live action Amazing Spider-man Television series from the 1970s was not released. The list of programs spans more decades with the 1970s Spider-woman cartoon and Fantastic Four programs not being on DVD. Also missing are the 1980s Incredible Hulk program along with two separate Spider-man programs along with the highly acclaimed 1990s Spider-man television series being limited to four collections of scattered episodes , in addition the Spider-man Unlimited TV series has not been released.

The major Marvel Series facing any legal issue is the 1960s Fantastic Four Series which has its rights owned by Hanna-Barbera which is a rival to Disney. This is a shame as the series features two well-known radio actors in prominent roles. Mr. Fantastic was voiced by Gerald Mohr (Philip Marlowe) and The Thing is played by radio jack of all trades Paul Frees.

To be fair, some of these Marvel programs have enjoyed streaming time on Netflix. However, that’s not the same as an actual DVD release that anyone with a DVD player can enjoy and own.

Each of these programs in their own way took a unique look at these men and women in tights, and most have a different spin than modern incarnations. Based on the fact that comic book companies have realized that their original Golden and Silver Age books have strong demand, it seems bizarre that they would practically abandon the sales of these older television shows to black and gray marketers. By releasing these programs particularly with the current popularity of superhero movies, all companies involved can make money while allowing these programs to be enjoyed by new generations.

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You Ought to be on DVD: Beloved Radio Comedy Characters

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For 24 1/2 years, Husband and Wife Jim and Marion Jordan played Fibber McGee and Molly over the radio as it became one of the most recognizable and iconic shows of radio’s golden age. From that show, span off Harold Peary as the Great Gildersleeve, a role he held down for eleven years, two as a supporting character on Fibber McGee and Molly.

However, what many people don’t is that these radio legends made a series of movies. In 1937, Fibber McGee and Molly had bit parts in This Way Please and followed up with three more movies in prominent roles in Look Who’s Laughing, Here We Go Again, and Heavenly Days. Only Look Who’s Laughing  has been released and that as part of a Lucille Ball RKO pictures collections.

Peary appeared in two of these films as Gildersleeve.  Gildersleeve also had parts in three other films in the late 1930s and early 40s before four Gildersleeve were made between 1942-44.

Of course, they weren’t the only beloved radio comics to get shorted in DVD released. Lum and Abner had a career on radio running from 1931-54, with a few breaks here and there. They made seven films in the process. Four of the Lum and Abner films have lapsed into the public domain.  However, the last three, Goin’ to Town, Partners in Time, and Lum ‘n Abner Abroad remain far more difficult to obtain.

Finally William Bendix made a name playing Chester Riley on The Life of Riley. The radio series is widely available, however television show availability is far more spotty without an official release. In addition, The Life of Riley movie hit theaters in 1949 towards the tale end of the radio run.  One show writer/producer who lived into the 21st had made a big deal about radio fans sharing episodes of the radio series, yet seemingly took no steps to get an official release of either TV shows or Movies on to DVD. What a revoltin’ development.

Then we have Our Miss Brooks. The movie version starring Eve Arden has finally been released as an archive DVD. Great! Will we soon see the four seasons released for fans to enjoy on an official release with great video quality?

Perhaps, most neglected radio show that moved to television is the Burns and Allen program. No official DVD release of the show’s mostly copyrighted filmed run has occurred. Mostly what is available are somewhat badly restored episodes from the kinescope runs.

Here’s hoping for better care and availability of our comedy heritage in years to come.

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