Happy Earth Day! Avatar Gets A Release Date

Mark your calendars. Avatar has a release date and it is April 22 – Earth Day. For director James Cameron this date makes perfect sense because of the film’s “Save the Planet” message. But there is a catch. Avatar will only be available in 2D. The small screen certainly won’t benefit Avatar and having seen it in 2D, I can tell you that Avatar in 2D is easily one of the worst movies ever made.

How do you think Avatar will fare on DVD? Will it break DVD sales records as well?

And in case you haven’t seen this interview with James Cameron, he answers questions about Avatar and the future of 3D.

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Rejoice! The African Queen (Finally) Comes To DVD

Save this date!

Beginning March 23, you can own The African Queen on DVD. The 1951 classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn has never been released on DVD until now.

So why the wait? Paramount took six years to restore the film using 4k digital technology. Jack Cardiff, the film’s cinematographer who passed away in April 2009, provided his commentary of the film for Paramount. Other special features include a new documentary, Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen, about the making of The African Queen. Martin Scorsese is one of the film experts interviewed for the documentary.

Limited editions will also include: an audio disc with a recording of a radio version of The African Queen; a Senitype film frame collectible reproduction; collectible postcards; and a reproduction of Hepburn’s out-of-print memoir, The Making of The African Queen or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind.

Now this is something that should make every film geek go nuts.

All I Want For Christmas

Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this world-renowned
distribution company with Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus
Films
, an expansive collectors’ box set featuring fifty classic
films on DVD and a beautifully illustrated hardcover book that tells the
story of Janus Films through an essay by film historian Peter Cowie, a
tribute from Martin Scorsese, and notes on each of the fifty films.

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Isn’t it amazing? And for only $650, these are the 50 films you get:

Alexander Nevsky (1938)
Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
L’Avventura (1960)
Ballad Of A Soldier (1959)
Beauty and the Beast (1946)
Black Orpheus (1959)
Brief Encounter (1945)
The Fallen Idol (1948)
Fires on the Plain (1959)
Fists in the Pocket (1965)
Floating Weeds (1959)
Forbidden Games (1952)
The 400 Blows (1959)
Grand Illusion (1937)
Häxan (1922)
Ikiru (1952)
The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)
Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958)
Le Jour Se Leve (1939)

Jules and Jim (1962)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Knife in the Water (1962)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
Loves of a Blonde (1965)
M (1931)
M. Hulot’s Holiday (1953)
Miss Julie (1951)
Pandora’s Box (1929)
Pepe Le Moko (1937)
Il Posto (1961)
Pygmalion (1938)
Rashomon (1950)
Richard III (1955)
The Rules of the Game (1939)
Seven Samurai (1954)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
La Strada (1954)
Summertime (1955)
The Third Man (1949)
The 39 Steps (1935)
Ugetsu (1953)
Umberto D. (1952)
The Virgin Spring (1960)
Viridiana (1961)
The Wages of Fear (1953)
The White Sheik (1952)
Wild Strawberries (1957)

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Sigh, if only my parents were the type who spoil their children.

Here’s more information on the best Christmas present that I will never receive.

New On DVD: The Ronald Reagan Signature Collection

 Out on DVD today is the Ronald Reagan Signature Collection. This collection features five of the late actors best motion pictures: The Winning Team, King’s Row (which should’ve been Reagan’s breakthrough role, but it wasn’t), The Hasty Heart, Storm Warning, and Knute Rockne: All American.

I’ve seen both Knute Rockne and King’s Row. I liked them both. But I have to admit that I didn’t realize Ronald Reagan made enough movies to create a decent box set. (and I know I’m not the only person who thought that.)

Despite having a 14-year studio career, Reagan was never more than a B-list actor. Which is okay, considering he went on to do bigger, better, and more important. He was, after all, the President of the United States.

Also new on DVD today:

The James Stewart Signature Collection

Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales

Click here to read the New York Times DVD Review of both.

Clark Gable: Signature Collection


Releasing tomorrow (Tuesday June 27) is the Clark Gable: Signature Collection. Here is an excerpt from the New York Times review:

Clark Gable: Signature Collection
Warner Home Video, $59.98, not rated.

Is it possible to be a great star without appearing in very many great movies? Clark Gable is probably the test of that proposition: he’s one of the few major box office stars of the 1930’s who might produce a glimmer of recognition from a contemporary audience, but after Gone With the Wind and perhaps It Happened One Night, most people would be stuck naming many more of his films.

What would Gable be without Gone With the Wind, or for that matter, what would Gone With the Wind be without Gable? It’s his leering masculinity that gives Margaret Mitchell’s weepy epic the balance and the ballast it needs to keep it from becoming the world’s longest Harlequin romance, and it’s David O. Selznick’s film that finally gives Gable a social context and a personal history to anchor his free-floating libido in something solidly dramatic.

Gable’s curse, of course, was that he spent most of his career under contract to MGM, and being a team player, never seemed to balk at the unimaginative, repetitive assignments he was given. A new box set from Warner Home Video, Clark Gable: The Signature Collection, brings together six Gable films, all but one (John Ford’s 1953 Mogambo) from his prewar period of greatest fame. (Gable spent World War II in the Army Air Corps, after his wife, Carole Lombard, was killed in a plane crash on her way home from a war bond drive.)

And while Gable’s sexual magnetism is still evident, even in a piece of cheese like Clarence Brown’s 1936 Wife vs. Secretary, there’s little in that film or the set’s remaining four (Robert Z. Leonard’s 1933 Dancing Lady, Tay Garnett’s 1935 China Seas, W. S. Van Dyke’s 1936 San Francisco, and Jack Conway’s 1940 Boom Town) that suggests the hold that Gable had over audiences of the period. Without Gone With the Wind — made, like It Happened One Night, while he was on loan to another studio — Gable would probably rank no higher in contemporary consciousness than Robert Montgomery or Robert Taylor, to name just two of his in-house MGM rivals.

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This review poses some interesting questions about the career of Clark Gable. There’s no denying his iconic status, but his filmography doesn’t exactly shine.

But here is how I see it. What it comes down to is how you measure an actor’s iconic status. Is it based on awards and recognition? On career choices? On social impact? On charm? It’s a combination of all of this. What I do know is that when you starred in It Happened One Night and you were Rhett Butler, then you deserve to be a film icon, even if you don’t have the most outstanding filmography.

Clark Gable will always be an icon.