From the N.Y. Post:
DVD Extra: Warner Archive gets some remastering.
"Some of the early Warner Archive releases should not have been put out because of the quality,'' admits Warner Home Video's George Feltenstein, who says the studio has set a "higher bar'' because of fan complaints. "We've rejected a lot of things we planned to release, like 'Lucky Night' with Robert Taylor and Myrna Loy, which has a very shaky image,'' says Feltenstein, who I interviewed recently in connection with this week's superb Blu-ray release of "Gone With the Wind.'' The original concept of the Warner Archive was to use existing digital masters created for TCM and VHS to make a large number of films -- more than 350 so far -- available on demand that wouldn't have supported a regular commercial DVD release. "Now we're going to do some re-mastering on a small group of films, and hopefully more if we can get the budget,'' Feltenstein says. (There are a number of widescreen WB. films from the '50s and '60s, like "The Chapman Report,'' that presently exist only in old pan-and-scan transfers and would have to be redone in letterbox).
He is particularly keen on the "beautiful'' new high-def master for Roy Rowland's "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes'' (1945) with Margaret O'Brien, one of a group of Edward G. Robinson movies that became available yesterday at warnerachive.com. (The others are Raoul Walsh's rousing "Manpower'' with Marlene Dietrich and George Raft; Howard Hawks' "Tiger Shark,'' Mervyn LeRoy's fascinating "Two Seconds'' with Mary Astor; "The Man With Two Faces,'' from a play by Alexander Wollcott and George S. Kaufman; and "The Last Gangster'' with a moustachioed James Stewart).
Coming up from the Archive is a remastered version of Michael Curtiz' "Mammy'' with Al Jolson, complete with restored Technicolor sequences. "That one looks good enough for Blu-ray,'' he says. For those "myopic individuals'' griping that WHV is focusing its resources away from regular DVD releases to Archive releases and Blu-gray upgrades, Feltenstein says "we have a very robust schedule planned for both regular DVD and the Archive. I think people are going to be pleased.''
The studio has already announced a 10-title fifth volume for its film noir series for 2010, as as well as another Errol Flynn set (the latter will not include "Santa Fe Trail,'' which is being photochemically restored after long-missing original elements were discovered).
Over at the Archive, Feltenstein promises more titles featuring stars who haven't been well represented so far -- James Cagney, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart and Wallace Beery. Sales for the relative handful of TV movies and mini-series released so far "blew everyone away. We had our best month yet in October. I have found some stuff nobody even knows about. There was a series called 'Conflict' that Warners made for ABC in the '50s, with a lot of stars in remakes of old movies, like Natalie Wood in a version of 'Pretty Baby.' '' One of the big vintage titles bowing on Blu-ray -- within the next six months, Felteinstein says -- is George Cukor's 1954 version of "A Star is Born'' with Judy Garland. "It's an extraordinary presentation, with a lot of exciting extras,'' he says. Felsteinstein confirmed our earlier report that the extras include a remastered version of William Wellman's classic 1937 version. But not Cukor's "What Price Hollywood,'' which is considered a precursor. "We considered it, but there wasn't space and it truly isn't a version of the same story.''