Tuesday, 2 September 2008

"Von Ryan's Express". A Review Of The Film Now Reissued On A 2007 2DVD Set As Part Of 20th Century Fox's 'CINEMA CLASSICS COLLECTION' Series.


This release is part of 20th Century Fox's ongoing series called "CINEMA CLASSICS COLLECTION". Initially Fox's re-issues were called "STUDIO CLASSICS" in the States (as they still are here in the UK), but they've been superseded with these. It's important to note that the CCC series is AMERICAN/REGION-ONE ONLY - and will therefore require A MULTI-REGION PLAYER to play the title.

(In the UK, Fox's premier series is/was called CINEMA RESERVE - see my review of "The Day The Earth Stood Still" for the full UK list).

Having just received 2 CCC titles in the post ("Von Ryan's Express" and "Fantastic Voyage") and having enjoyed them so much and loved their shiny new transfers, I feel sure other movie buffs will want to know what's available/forthcoming. So here goes!

The CINEMA CLASSICS COLLECTION series houses most of their titles in card wrap covers clearly marked as such at the top of the box. The artwork usually reflects the original poster art of the movie (the Studio Classics series tended to reflect the old video covers of the 70's & 80's). The DVD inside has the same artwork in its jewel case. The card wrap is a nice touch and lends the issue a classy feel. Some of the titles are 2DVD sets, all are restored transfers in one way or another - many exemplary (some have been criticized in minor ways) and some of the sets (like this one) come with lovely Lobby Card Postcards reproducing the original promotional shots of the film. Some even have a poster. The Card Wraps are NOT numbered or sequenced in any way (both the Studio Classics series and the Cinema Reserve series ARE numbered on their spines). Each CCC issue has a dedicated inlay - usually 2 or 3 pages - and each is full of great info about the shoot - the stars - the release - it's legacy etc. The discs themselves are loaded with fascinating extras, re-mastered soundtracks, archive material etc.... Fox has to be praised for this. The series is clearly building momentum in the States and is gaining the respect among collectors and lovers of film that say the WARNER BROTHERS SIGNATURE COLLECTION boxes have.

As a lover of oldies and classics, I thought I'd compile a list of these for fans here in the UK; many of these tiles are obscure and are REGION 1 only. I've cobbled this list together from several sources and the obvious sites for Fox, but if there are inaccuracies/additions/subtractions, then please feel free to point them out.

Titles in the Series are listed as follows:
Film Title (Principal Actors), Original Year of Release, DVD Year Of Release, No. of Discs and Any Other Relevant Info.
(Titles That Are Only Available As Part Of A Box Set Are Also Included):

1. A-Haunting We Will Go (Laurel and Hardy), 1942 (available only as part of the Laurel & Hardy Collection Volume 2 box set)
(Hemingway's) Adventures Of A Young Man (Paul Newman), 1962 (available only as part the Hemingway Classics Collection box set)
2. The Agony & The Ecstasy (Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison), 1965, April 2005, 1 Disc
3. Ambassador Bill (Will Rogers), 1931 (available only as part of the Will Rogers Collection Volume 2 box set)
4. Anna Karenina (Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richardson), 1948, April 2007, 1 Disc
5. Bedazzled (Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Raquel Welch), 1967, April 2007, 1 Disc
6. Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (Russ Meyers), 1970, June 2006, 1 Disc (see also Valley Of The Dolls) (also available on the CINEMA RESERVE series in the UK)
7. The Bible...In The Beginning (Richard Harris and George C Scott), 1966, 1 Disc
8. The Big Noise (Laurel and Hardy), 1944 (only available as part of the Laurel & Hardy Collection Volume 1 box set)
9. The Black Camel (Warner Oland and Bela Lugosi), 1931, August 2007 (only available as part of the Charlie Chan Volume 3 box set)
10. The Black Rose (Tyrone Power, Orson Welles and Jack Hawkins), 1950, May 2007, 1 Disc (also available as part of the Tyrone Power Collection box set)
11. Blood And Sand (Tyrone Power and Rita Hayworth), 1941, May 2007, 1 Disc (also available as part of the Tyrone Power Collection box set)
12. Blue, White & Perfect (Lloyd Nolan), 1941 (only available as part of the Michael Shayne Mysteries Volume 1 box set)
13. The Bullfighters (Laurel and Hardy), 1945 (only available as part of the Laurel & Hardy Collection Volume 2 box set)
14. Call Of The Wild (Clark Gable and Loretta Young), 1935 (only available as part of the Clark Gable Collection box set)
15. Caprice (Doris Day and Richard Harris), 1967, June 2007, 1 Disc
16. The Captain From Castile (Tyrone Power, Jean Peters and Cesar Romero), 1948, May 2007, 1 Disc (also available as part of the Tyrone Power Collection box set)
17. The Chairman (Gregory Peck and Anne Heywood), 1969, November 2006, 1 Disc
18. Charley's Aunt (Jack Benny and Kay Frances), 1941, June 2007, 1 Disc
19. Charlie Chan Collection Volume 1 (Warner Oland as Chan), (Box Set containing 5 films, Charlie Chan In London, Charlie Chan In Paris, Charlie Chan In Egypt, Charlie Chan In Shanghai and Eran Trece) (Titles Not Available Individually), June 2006
20. Charlie Chan Collection Volume 2 (Warner Oland as Chan) (Box Set containing 4 films, Charlie Chan At The Circus, Charlie Chan At The Olympics, Charlie Chan At The Opera, Charlie Chan At The Race Track) (Titles Not Available Individually), Dec 2006
21. Charlie Chan Collection Volume 3 (Warner Oland as Chan) (Box Set containing 4 films, Charlie Chan's Secret, Charlie Chan At Monte Carlo, Charlie Chan On Broadway, The Black Camel) (Titles Not Available Individually), August 2007
22. Cinderella Liberty (James Caan, Marsha Mason and Eli Wallach) 1973, March 2007, 1 Disc
23. Clark Gable Collection Volume 1 (Box Set containing 3 films, Call Of The Wild, Soldier Of Fortune, The Tall Men) (Titles Not Available Individually), August 2006
24. The Dancing Masters (Laurel and Hardy), 1943 (only available as part of the Laurel & Hardy Collection Volume 2 box set)
25. David Harum (Will Rogers). 1934 (only available as part of the Will Rogers Collection Volume 1 box set)
26. Deadfall (Michael Caine and Nanette Newman), 1968, October 2006, 1 Disc
27. Demetrius & The Gladiators (Victor Mature, Susan Hayward and Michael Rennie), 1954, due October 2007, 1 Disc
28. Do Not Disturb (Doris Day and Rod Taylor), 1965, January 2007, 1 Disc
29. Doubting Thomas (Will Rogers), 1935 (only available as part of the Will Rogers Collection Volume 1 box set)
30. Eran Trece (Warner Oland as Charlie Chan), 1931 (only available as part of the Charlie Chan Volume 1 box set)
31. Fantastic Voyage (Edmond O'Brien, Donald Pleasance and Raquel Welch), 1966, June 2007, 1 Disc
32. Flint (James Coburn) - see Ultimate Flint Collection
33. Fox Horror Classics Collection (Box Set containing 3 films, The Lodger, Hangover Square, The Undying Monster)
34. Francis Of Assisi (Bradford Dillman and Stuart Whitman), 1961, February 2005
35. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Marilyn Monroe), 1953, May 2006, 1 Disc (also part of The Marilyn Monroe Special Anniversary Edition box set)
36. The Girl Can't Help It (Jayne Mansfield), 1956 (only available as part of the Jayne Mansfield Collection box set)
37. The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing (Joan Collins and Ray Milland), 1955, July 2007, 1 Disc (see also part of The Joan Collins Collection box set)
38. Great Guns (Laurel and Hardy), 1941 (only available as part of the Laurel & Hardy Collection Volume 1 box set)
39. Hangover Square (Laird Cregar), 1945, due October 2007 (see Fox Horror Classics box set)
40. In Like Flint (James Coburn), 1967 (only available as part of the Ultimate Flint Collection)
41. In Old Kentucky (Will Rogers), 1935 (only available as part of the Will Rogers Collection Volume 1 box set)
42. Island In The Sun (James Mason and Joan Fontaine), 1957, Jan 2006, 1 Disc
43. Jane Eyre (Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine), 1944, April 2007, 1 Disc
44. The Jayne Mansfield Collection, August 2006 (Box Set containing 3 films, The Girl Can't Help It, The Sheriff Of Fractured Jaw, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?)
45. The Jeeves Collection (Arthur Treacher and David Niven), 1936/1937 (Thank You, Jeeves!, Step Lively, Jeeves!), June 2007, (1 Disc with 2 films, 1 on either side)
46. Jesse James (Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda), 1939, March 2007, 1 Disc
47. Jitterbugs (Laurel and Hardy), 1943 (only available as part of the Laurel & Hardy Collection Volume 1 box set)
48. The Joan Collins Collection (Box Set containing 5 films, The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing, Rally `Round The Flag, Boys!, The Sea Wife, Seven Thieves, Stopover Tokyo)
49. John and Mary (Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow), 1969, March 2007, 1 Disc
50. Laurel and Hardy Collection Volume 1 (Box Set containing 3 films, Great Guns, Jitterbugs, The Big Noise), April 2006, 3DVD set
51. Laurel and Hardy Collection Volume 2 (Box Set containing 3 films, A-Haunting We Will Go, The Dancing Masters, The Bullfighters), September 2006, 3DVD set
52. Les Miserables (Frederic March and Charles Laughton) 1935 Version and (Michael Rennie, Robert Newton and Debra Paget) 1952 versions, April 2007, 2 Disc Set
53. Let's Make Love (Marilyn Monroe), 1960 (also part of the Marilyn Monroe Special Anniversary Edition box set)
54. Life Begins At Forty (Will Rogers), 1935 (only available as part of the Will Rogers Collection Volume 1 box set)
55. The Lodger (Merle Oberon, George Sanders and Laird Cregar), 1944, due October 2007 (see Fox Horror Classics box set)
56. The Longest Day (Henry Fonda, John Wayne and Robert Mitchum), 1962, May 2006, 2 Disc set
57. Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley), 1956, February 2006 (Colorized version), 1 Disc
58. The Magus (Anthony Quinn, Michael Caine and Candice Bergen), 1968, October 2006, 1 Disc
59. The Man Who Wouldn't Die (Lloyd Nolan as Michael Shayne and Marjorie Weaver), 1942 (only available as part of the Michael Shayne Mysteries Volume 1 box set)
60. Marilyn Monroe Special Anniversary Edition (Box Set, 6 discs containing 5 films and a 2001 Retrospective, The Seven Year Itch, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Niagara, River Of No Return, Let's Make Love, Marilyn: The Final Days)
61. Michael Shayne Mysteries Volume 1, 1940/1942/1941/1942 (Lloyd Nolan as Michael Shayne), March 2007 (Box Set with 2 discs containing 4 films, Michael Shayne: Private Detective, The Man Who Wouldn't Die, Sleepers West, Blue, White and Perfect)
62. Move Over Darling (Doris Day, James Garner, Polly Bergen and Chuck Connors), 1963, January 2007, 1 Disc
63. Mr. Moto Collection Volume 1, 1937/1938/1938/1938, August 2006 (Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto) (Box Set with 4 discs containing 4 films, Think Fast, Mr. Moto, Thank You, Mr. Moto, Mr. Moto Takes A Chance, The Mysterious Mr. Moto)
64. Mr. Moto Collection Volume 2, 1938/1939/1939/1939 (Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto), February 2007 (Box Set with 4 discs containing 4 films, Mr. Moto's Gamble, Mr. Moto In Danger Island, Mr. Moto Takes A Vacation, Mr. Moto's Last Warning)
65. Mr. Skitch (Will Rogers), 1933 (only available as part of the Will Rogers Collection Volume 2 box set)
66. Mysterious Mr. Moto, 1938 (see Mr. Moto Volume 1)
67. The Neptune Factor - An Undersea Odyssey (Ben Gazzara, Yvette Mimieux and Walter Pidgeon), 1973, June 2007, 1 Disc
68. Niagara (Marilyn Monroe), 1953, May 2006, 1 Disc (also part of the Marilyn Monroe Collection box set)
69. O. Henry's Full House (Howard Hawks, Charles Laughton, Monroe and many others), 1952, November 2006, 1 Disc
70. The Other Side Of Midnight, 1977, March 2007, 1 Disc
71. Our Man Flint (James Coburn), 1966 (only available as part of the Ultimate Flint Collection)
72. Patton (George C Scott), 1970, May 2006, 2 Disc Set [same as CINEMA RESERVE issue but US artwork is different]
73. Peeper, 1975, October 2006, 1 Disc
74. Pinky, 1949, January 2006, 1 Disc
75. Prince Of Foxes (Tyrone Power), 1949, May 2007, 1 Disc (also available as part of the Tyrone Power Collection box set)
76. The Quiller Memorandum, 1966, November 2006, 1 Disc
77. Rally `Round The Flag, Boys!, 1959, July 2007, 1 Disc (also part of the Joan Collins Collection box set)
78. The Return Of Frank James, 1940, March 2007, 1 Disc
79. River Of No Return, 1954 (also part of the Marilyn Monroe Special Anniversary Edition box set)
80. The Robe (Richard Burton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature), 1953, 2005 Repackaged Artwork (outdated artwork on Amazon), 1 Disc
81. Royal Flash, 1975, April 2007, 1 Disc
82. The Sand Pebbles (Steve McQueen), 1966, June 2007, 2 Discs (Theatrical Version and the famous "Roadshow" Version (But In Poor Quality - There's Been Complaints!))
83. Sea Wife (Joan Collins), 1957, June 2007, 1 Disc (also part of the Joan Collins Collection box set)
84. Seven Thieves (Joan Collins), 1960, July 2007, 1 Disc (also part of the Joan Collins Collection box set)
85. The Seven Year Itch (Marilyn Monroe), 1955, May 2006, 1 Disc (also part of the Marilyn Monroe Special Anniversary Edition box set)
86. The Sheriff Of Fractured Jaw, 1959 (only available as part of the Jayne Mansfield Collection box set)
87. Sleepers West, 1941 (only available as part of the Michael Shayne Mysteries Volume 1 box set)
88. The Snows Of Kilimanjaro, 1952, March 2007, 1 Disc (also part of the Hemingway Classics Collection box set)
89. Soldier Of Fortune, 1955 (also available as part of the Clark Gable Collection Volume 1 box set)
90. Son Of Fury, 1942, May 2007, 1 Disc (also available as part of the Tyrone Power Collection box set)
91. S*P*Y*S, 1974, April 2007, 1 Disc
92. Steamboat `Round The Bend, 1935 (only available as part of the Will Rogers Collection Volume 1 box set)
93. Step Lively, Jeeves!, 1937 (see Jeeves Collection (2 films on 1 DVD)
94. Stopover Tokyo, 1957, July 2007, 1 Disc (also part of the Joan Collins Collection box set)
95. Stormy Weather, 1943, January 2006, 1 Disc
96. The Sun Also Rises, 1957, March 2007, 1 Disc (also part of the Hemingway Classics Collection box set)
97. The Tall Men, 1955 (also available as part of the Clark Gable Collection Volume 1 box set)
98. Thank You, Jeeves!, 1937 (see Jeeves Collection (2 films on 1 DVD))
99. Thank You, Mr. Moto, 1938 (only available as part of the Mr. Moto Collection Volume 1 box set)
100. The Three Musketeers, 1939, June 2007, 1 Disc
101. Think Fast, Mr. Moto, 1937 (only available as part of the Mr. Moto Collection Volume 1 box set)
102. Too Busy To Work (Will Rogers), 1932 (only available as part of the Will Rogers Collection Volume 2 box set)
103. Tora! Tora! Tora!, 1970, May 2006, 2 DVD set [also in the CINEMA RESERVE series in the UK with different artwork]
104. The True Story Of Jesse James, 1957, March 2007, 1 Disc
105. Twelve O'Clock High (Gregory Peck), 1949, June 2007, 2 Disc Set
106. The Tyrone Power Collection, May 2007 (Box Set with 5 Films on 5 Discs, Blood And Sand, Son Of Fury, Black Rose, Prince Of Foxes, The Captain Of Castile (their is a UK counterpart to the this box but the cases are all slim jewel cases)
107. Ultimate Flint Collection (James Coburn), November 2006 (Box Set with 2 films Our Man Flint, In Like Flint and a 3rd disc of extras)
108. Under My Skin, 1950 (only available as part of the Hemingway Classics Collection box set)
109. The Undying Monster, 1942 (only available as part of the Fox Horror Classics box set)
110. Valley Of The Dolls (Russ Meyers), 1967, June 2006, 1 Disc (see also Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls)
111. Von Ryan's Express (Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard), 1965, 2007, 2 Disc set (+ Lobby Card Wallet)
112. Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (Global Warming Edition), 1961, June 2007, 1 Disc (+ Lobby Card Wallet)
113. Will Rogers Collection Volume 1 (Box Set containing 4 films, Life Begins At Forty, Steamboat `Round The Bend, Doubting Thomas, In Old Kentucky)
114. Will Rogers Collection Volume 2 (Box Set containing 4 films, Ambassador Bill, David Harum, Mr. Skitch, Too Busy To Work)
115. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Jayne Mansfield), 1957 (available as part of the Jayne Mansfield Collection box set)

Yikes! That took me a few hours!

Now back to this issue.
Disc 1 has the movie and the transfer and restoration is gorgeous - great colour - very little if any scratches - score in 5.1 - Isolated score Track with Commentary by three knowledge types.

Disc 2: (a) Reliving The Adventure Of Von Ryan's Express, 2007 featurette with great on-set footage of Sinatra and Howard and filming in the mountains, rewrites of the script etc (about 30 minutes)
(b) Hollywood & The War, 2007 Featurette on War Movies in General (including Von Ryan) - a little superfluous to requirements, but interesting nonetheless (about 20-25 minutes)
(c) The Music Of Von Ryan's Express, 2007, probably the most pointless piece on it - it consists of Jerry Goldsmiths excellent score being highlighted as parts of the film are played - that's it - just bits of the film being played with his music in it - any fool could have made this and it smacks of filler. Far better is...
(d) Bringing Movies To Life: The Legacy Of Jerry Goldsmith, 2007 featurette on the legendary composer with superb family footage and interviews, clips from Planet Of The Apes and how he revolutionized how movie music was used - his drums and piano runs on Von Ryan literally carrying the action along.
(e) Original trailers and (f) TV Spots (g) Stills Gallery. Unfortunately, Disc 2 feels like it could easily have been fitted onto Disc 1. Still, there is stuff here for lovers of Sinatra, Howard, Goldsmith and the movie itself.

The booklet is very informative and the envelope of Lobby Cards an absolute treat (why don't they have these in ANY of the UK CINEMA RESERVE releases??)

A Sunday Afternoon classic then - it's not The Great Escape or The Battle Of Britain for sure, but it is entertaining. I'll definitely be collecting more titles in this series. And the print was just superb - that's what I want most - good films presented to me - Joe Public - in a good way.

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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