Film buffs who aren’t already in bankruptcy court may quickly find themselves there courtesy of the Warner Archive Collection, a new program of bare-bones DVD-R releases of films that have gone out of print or are unlikely ever to get proper DVD treatment. Think of it as the anti-Criterion: you order a title from the Web site and Warner ships you a freshly burned copy with a plastic case and no extras aside from the theatrical trailer, if available. The film will, however, be in its proper aspect ratio, the kind of detail not always attended to in the movie marketplace, even on regular DVD editions.
A random trawl through the decade-by-decade listing turns up lots of intriguing stuff: Laurence Olivier in The Beggar’s Opera, the John Gay play that provided the scaffolding for the Brecht-Weill Threepenny Opera; Steve McQueen’s bid for Serious Actor status in Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People; George C. Scott’s directorial debut, Rage, in which a rancher is stricken by accidentally released nerve gas that has also killed his son and livestock, and sets out to do as much damage to the military as possible before he too succumbs; George Roy Hill’s last film, The Little Drummer Girl, a John Le Carre adaptation I’ve long wanted to give another look.
I’m not sure the world needs another look at Luciano Pavarotti’s bid for film star status in Yes, Giorgio — I was one of the few who saw the thing, and I still have the occasional nightmare from the experience — but I’d be interested in seeing if One Trick Pony is really just a Paul Simon vanity project or a coulda-been contender.