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Studios Open Their Vaults—Even Wider

Porter Hall,Betty Hutton,Eddie Bracken  Even as film
buffs bemoan the downsizing of the DVD market, major studios are making more of
their vintage titles available in other ways. Paramount has just launched a
YouTube channel on which, amazingly, they are streaming a diverse assortment of pictures from the 1950s and ’60s—for free—from Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in Artists and Models to Elvis Presley in King Creole. A variety of film clip
packages cover movies of the ’70s, ’80s, and beyond. The studio’s inventory includes
titles from Republic Pictures, like John Wayne in The Fighting Kentuckian and the Batjac library, including Budd
Boetticher’s terrific Western 7 Men From
Now
, with Randolph Scott. When you sample one of these films you discover
even more that are available, like Here
Comes the Groom
and Riding High
with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope in Casanova’s
Big Night
, and Jean Arthur in The
Devil and Miss Jones
.

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944)

Paramount no
longer owns its pre-1948 titles, having sold them to MCA (now Universal) in the
late 1950s, although there is one happy exception: they held back Preston Sturges’
Miracle at Morgan’s Creek because
Jerry Lewis was remaking it as Rock-a-bye
Baby.
That’s why the classic Sturges comedy is now streamable free of
charge. (Paramount was also the last major studio to make its films available
for syndicated television use; by the time they dove in the pool there was
little interest in such early ’50s black & white movies as Dear Brat and Darling, How Could You!. Sure enough, they are part of this YouTube
channel today.)

 Meanwhile, 20th
Century Fox has announced a year-long program of releasing one hundred vintage
titles in the digital format, including ten films that have never been released
on home video before: Raoul Walsh’s The
Red Dance
(1928), The Cock-Eyed World
(1929), the rowdy, politically incorrect The
Bowery
(1933) with Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper and George Raft, Hello Sister (1933), which was begun by
Erich von Stroheim,  and the very funny Sailor’s Luck (1933); John Ford’s Men Without Women (1930), Will Rogers and
Janet Gaynor in the little-seen State
Fair
(1933), Shirley Temple in Mr.
Belvedere Goes to Washington
(1949), the Marilyn Monroe documentary Marilyn (1963) and opera star Laurence
Tibbett in Metropolitan (1935), the
first official release from 20th Century Fox.

You can check
out the first batch of films at www.itunes.com/foxfilm,
which features a handful of John Ford titles: Doctor Bull with Will Rogers, Drums
Along the Mohawk, My Darling Clementine, The Prisoner of Shark Island, Young
Mr. Lincoln, The World Moves On, Tobacco Road,
and The Seas Beneath as well as an eclectic selection of more recent
selections including Alien Nation and
Romancing the Stone. The rental price
is a modest $3.99.

Rochelle Hudson-Will RogersSony has been
supplying titles to a number of cable and satellite channels but also has its
own outlet, Get TV, which my provider doesn’t yet offer, sorry to say. Where
else can I revisit Hugo Haas’ Strange
Fascination
or I Love a Mystery?
In its early days Get TV featured B Westerns from the early 1930s with Tim
McCoy and Buck Jones, but now they’re scheduling TV series from the Columbia
library as well as episodes of The Merv
Griffin Show
, vintage filmed series like Laredo, and Judy Garland’s variety hour from the early 1960s. If
you want to learn more, go to www.get.tv.

 For movie
buffs, these encouraging developments means we have access to films that have
been difficult to see, in any format. Anything that unearths dormant titles
from the 1920s onward is good news as far as I’m concerned.

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