Fox Cinema Archives line which debuted late last spring has continued to release a steady stream of interesting titles.
For the most part, this has been good news. I've now reviewed a few hard-to-find, entertaining films from the '40s which were released in the FCA line and have been happy with both the films and the DVDs themselves. These titles include THE MAN I MARRIED (1940), SECRET AGENT OF JAPAN (1942), THEY CAME TO BLOW UP AMERICA (1943), and DEEP WATERS (1948). I enjoyed them all and think that THE MAN I MARRIED and DEEP WATERS, in particular, were excellent films which should be more widely seen.
Home Theater Forum, as well as in comments to my review of SUN VALLEY SERENADE (1941) -- which incidentally isn't out yet from the Archive, but perhaps in 2013?
In any event, caution should be exercised when purchasing films released in the widescreen era, 1953 and beyond. Perhaps if the program is successful Fox will get its act together and release the widescreen films in their proper ratio. I think everyone understands that in this brave new "MOD" world many films are being released without remastering or restoration, but I do think consumers have a right to the minimal expectation that we won't be sold pan and scan prints!
It was very disappointing, as just one example, to read at the Home Theater Forum that THE BIG SHOW (1961), one of the last Esther Williams films I need to see, was released in pan and scan.
All this said, I'd love to see classic film fans continue supporting the Fox Cinema Archives releases from the '30s, '40s, and early '50s which are being put out in the proper ratio. There are many interesting titles currently available and many more that desperately need an official release, such as CENTENNIAL SUMMER (1946), MARGIE (1946), and APARTMENT FOR PEGGY (1948), as my own starter wish list.
Last October I called attention to eight Fox Cinema Archives titles which were reviewed here in years past, when they were only available from Fox Movie Channel, old VHS releases, and the like. To date there isn't a central website where it's easy to track the new FCA releases -- I recommend regularly checking Lou Lumenick's DVD Extra column in the New York Post for news in this regard -- so I thought I'd similarly call attention to a new group of films released over the last few weeks.
My review is linked at each title, and an Amazon link to the Fox Cinema Archives DVD-R can be found at the end of each review. I want to emphasize I haven't yet seen any of these films in their Fox Cinema Archives versions.
LITTLE OLD NEW YORK (1940) is a mildly engrossing, heavily fictionalized story of Robert Fulton and the steam engine, starring Richard Greene, Fred MacMurray, and, in a straight dramatic role, Alice Faye.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? (1945) is an obscure Kurt Weill-Ira Gershwin musical starring Fred MacMurray, Joan Leslie, and June Haver. Although it stars a trio of favorites, this movie didn't really work for me; however, Lou Lumenick is an enthusiast.
THAT LADY IN ERMINE (1948) is a highly entertaining piece of Technicolor silliness from director Ernst Lubitsch, who died during production. It stars Betty Grable, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Cesar Romero. It's a crazy movie but I really enjoy it.
IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING (1949) is an amusing baseball fantasy starring Ray Milland and Paul Douglas. The professor's wood-repelling ball also raised ethical issues for me, although the movie itself skirts around them.
HALF ANGEL (1951) is a cute romantic comedy with Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten, with Young playing a prim nurse who unleashes a second personality when she sleepwalks.
DREAMBOAT (1952) reveals college professor Clifton Webb has a secret past as a swashbuckling silent movie star. Ginger Rogers and Anne Francis costar. This one was a lot of fun.
Other movies now out from FCA which have not been reviewed here to date include an old favorite, THE STORY OF ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL (1939), starring Don Ameche, Loretta Young, and Henry Fonda; HAPPY LAND (1943) with Don Ameche, Frances Dee, and Ann Rutherford; SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY (1946) starring Maureen O'Hara and John Payne; and FATHER WAS A FULLBACK (1949) costarring Fred MacMurray and Maureen O'Hara.
I have purchased two more FCA releases, which I'll be reviewing here in the future: THE BRASHER DOUBLOON (1947) and WAY OF A GAUCHO (1952). (Update: My review of THE BRASHER DOUBLOON has now been posted.)