THE CINEMA LASER
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

04/23/00

To The Editor:

My suggestion for "Operation: DVD Objective" is not a film at all, but a short-lived tv series of only 14 episodes, including the pilot, entitled "WAY OUT", which I and others (such as the patrons and maintainers of the "terror tv" site at AOL.com) think would appeal to the same type of fans as those of CBS's "The Twilight Zone" and the imminently to be released "classic tv" series "One Step Beyond".

As you may or may not be aware, "WAY OUT" was telecast weekly in the spring of 1961 in 14 episodes, from March 31st to July 14th on the CBS network, in the half-hour right after each week's "Twilight Zone" broadcast. "WAY OUT" was executive-produced by the late tv producer and sometime on-air personality David Susskind, presumably through his company Talent Associates Ltd. (later Talent Associates Norton Simon Inc.). Each episode was framed by witty and macabre introduction and end-comment by Roald Dahl, the (Scandinavian-born) British author of famous children's books, some of which have been turned into films (e.g., "The Witches", "James and the Giant Peach", "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"). The program itself is known for its bizarre, sometimes horrific twist endings, always in the service of "poetic justice". (To paraphrase one author who described the show: "On 'The Twilight Zone' sad things would happen to sad people; on 'WAY OUT' TERRIBLE things happened to TERRIBLE people.")  This series has been rightly called "the Holy Grail of weird TV" and has an almost cultic following. Rather than quote well known writers in the horror and sci-fi genres that have praised the series, I invite you, if you are interested in pursuing the matter, to review Gary Joseph and Martin H. Friedenthal's *Filmfax* piece on the show, the most complete known to me, "WAY OUT: Inside the Dahl House of Horror", which has been transcribed and conveniently posted at http://roalddahl.org/movies/wayo.htm. Along with the review are included detailed summaries of each episode, so that there will be no question or doubt as to just what the show was about or the nature of any marketing campaign that would have to be mounted to make a digital videodisk release of this programming a success. (See also the more recent, shorter report on the same subject at http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue08/features/wayout/article.htm or http://www.tvparty.com/recwayout.html.

Trying to ascertain who currently owns the video rights to and is in physical possession of the master tapes of this program has been a frustrating and, so far, fruitless endeavor. (CBS?  Talent Associates Norman Simon Inc.? Museum of Radio & Television Broadcasting in NYC? David Susskind heirs (if there any)?)  I wrote months ago to various video distributors to probe for interest (including Mr. Ross at CBS Video in Hollywood, which PRESUMABLY(!) holds any video rights), with no luck of response.  Maybe you could get some information, if you feel this worthy of pursuit.

If so, you will have my thanks and that of many "cultists" of "weird tv". A "special edition" set of this programming would represent the ULTIMATE "video collectible"!

(Mr.) L. Brockman

Well, Mr. Brockman, I don’t known if WAY OUT will be an Operation: DVD objective, but I though I would post you letter to see if anyone out there may know which company has the rights to this series. Hopefully, someone in the know will see this letter and point us in the right direction. Anyone have a clue? Please drop me a line.

DMG.


01/19/00

To The Editor:

MGM is planning on releasing a series of "Midnite Movies," but have foolishly only announced them on tape (the format their being hyped on) for March! These are mostly titles from the AIP library and include: COUNT YORGA VAMPIRE, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE, JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER, THE HAUNTED PALACE, DIE MONSTER DIE, THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, and HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS. I don't understand why a big company like MGM can't get their act together and release these on DVD. These titles have been on tape and laserdisc for years, and the negligence of the DVD format in this case is just an insult to the genre fan!

Please tell readers to e-mail MGM and demand these be released on DVD.

Thank You,
George R. Reis

George,

Okay here you go. I am encouraging all genre fans contact to contact MGM about these genre movies. Also, while you’re at it, let MGM know that all wide screen titles should be released in their proper aspect ratios AND the 16:9 anamorphic enhancement should be applied to ALL wide screen DVD releases.

DMG

DVD Department
MGM Home Entertainment
2500 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90404-3061
Telephone: 310-449-3370
Fax: 310-449-3026
E-Mail Page: http://www.mgmhomevideo.com/cgi-bin/cgi/email.html
E-mail: homeentertainment@mgm.com
Web Site: http://www.mgmhomevideo.com/mgmhv/dvd  

******

To The Editor:

Will a Signature Collection of THE FRIGHTENERS ever be released on DVD? The Laserdisc is long out of print and old copies sell for over $200 on eBay, so there is a definite market for this special edition! How do we let them know there is a demand for it?

Scott Stewart
Birmingham, AL

Scott,

I don’t know what Universal’s intentions are for this title, but the best thing you can do is contact them directly. A snail mail letter writing campaign might be your best bet.

DMG

Colleen Benn
Universal Studios Home Video
70 Universal City Plaza Suite 435
Universal City, CA 91608
Telephone: 818-777-4315
Fax: 818-733-0226
E-Mail: http://www.universalstudios.com/dvd/MBright.html 
Web Site: http://www.universalstudios.com/dvd/ 

 


01/06/00

To The Editor:

JUNGLE BOOK and 101 DALMATIANS were originally filmed in 1:33:1, but for years the re-releases were shown in theatres in 1:85, meaning that a little of the top and bottom of the image were cut off. This also happened to CINDERELLA, PETER PAN and almost all animated classics before 1970. However, Disney finally wised up the last theatrical re-release of 101 DALMATIANS was "Letterboxed" to 1:33:1 so in the theatre you would see black bars on the sides of the screen. (Disney started this practice when it cost theatres a bundle of money to retrofit lenses and masking to show FANTASIA in the Disney-mandated 1:33:1 for the 50th anniversary re-release) So basically, the DVDs of those films are in as proper an aspect radio as is practical.

Incidentally, the first film Disney animated feature ever made in "full" 1:85:1 aspect radio was THE LION KING. Almost all animated features made in the 70s until then were made in 1:66:1 ratio, a radio that was a little shorter than 1:85:1, but could be projected as 1:85 with almost no noticeable difference (with the exception of BLACK CAULDRON, which was filmed in 2:35:1, just like LADY AND THE TRAMP and SLEEPING BEAUTY).

David Adams

David,

Thanks for the information. I suspected that Disney’s animated features were being projected at 1.85:1, so I was left with some doubts in regards to their proper aspect ratios.
DMG

Further confirmation of the correct aspect ratios comes in the letter directly below:

To The Editor:

About Disney aspect ratios. I wrote a letter to Disney about 4 years ago asking about their aspect ratios. In response, they told me that they experimented with LADY AND THE TRAMP and SLEEPING BEAUTY and shot both in widescreen and standard. They seemed to think that the response was mediocre and so didn't do widescreen films for their animated films again until THE LITTLE MERMAID.

Rob Martindale

Rob,

Thanks for passing along your response from Disney.
DMG


01/03/00

To The Editor:

My name is David Schroeder. I saw the knowledgeable letters written to THE CINEMA LASER web site about LADY AND THE TRAMP and JUNGLE BOOK. I need the opinion of these true Disney fans about a couple of the current Disney DVDs. Both JUNGLE BOOK and 101 DALMATIANS are being sold in full-frame 1.33 screen ratios. Do these DVDs truly represent the "whole" picture as these films were shot? By 1961 (and certainly by 1968), very, very few films were actually shown in theatre in anything less than the 1.85 ratio. So -- are these Disney DVDs cropped or pan/scanned in any way -- do you know?

Thank you for your help.
David H. Schroeder

David,

According to a number of sources 1.33:1 is the intended aspect ratio. However, I remain somewhat skeptical for the reason you mentioned above. As for theatrical presentations, I would imagine both films were shown at 1.85:1, unless the 1.33:1 image was reduction printed within the 1.85:1 matte area on the film. If anyone would care to comment on the aspect ratios for JUNGLE BOOK and 101 DALMATIANS, I would be happy to print it here.
DMG


12/20/99

To The Editor:

In regards to Bucky Rister's letter about LADY AND THE TRAMP. The current DVD IS the only way to see it Letterboxed AND with the correct sound mix- it’s unfortunate (and criminal) that it did not have the 16:9 enhancement. When Disney first announced the upcoming DVD titles I wrote to them about the defective laser and tape release of LADY AND THE TRAMP. They did acknowledge the problem and stated it would be corrected in the DVD, which it was. By all that’s right they should have recalled the discs and tape-they truly are defective.  I also advised them that all the tape & laser releases of THE JUNGLE BOOK was missing the first few musical notes (fanfare) because they eliminated the  "Distributed by Buena Vista" logo when they replaced it with the Disney Castle logo. They said they would look into it but doubted they would have the time to correct it. I wrote back and said being that it was the last group to be released they might have the time. I am pleased that the DVD is finally the COMPLETE version of THE JUNGLE BOOK.

Best regards,
Paul J. Casale

Paul,

I am glad that THE JUNGLE BOOK has been corrected.
The fact
LADY AND THE TRAMP isn’t enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays is a major disappointment.  Let’s hope that the next time around it is done as a collector’s edition that is fully enhanced for 16:9 playback, as well as offering the little seen 1.37:1 version of LADY AND THE TRAMP that was filmed at the same time as the CinemaScope version.  By the way, all of the wide screen Disney movies should be enhanced for playback on 16:9 monitors.  One other note, when Disney finally gets to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, let's hope that it is a full blown special edition that includes the WORK IN PROGRESS version of that masterpiece.
DMG

 


12/15/99

To The Editor:

This is in regards to your review of LADY AND THE TRAMP.
Nice review - however, one very important aspect of the LADY AND THE TRAMP DVD has been almost uniformly overlooked in the press. The last VHS and Laserdisc pressings of LADY AND THE TRAMP were faulty, with whole lines of dialogue and song lyrics missing. Someone over at THX or Buena Vista goofed when porting lines of dialogue to either the left channel or the surround channels, and these lines never made it into the transfer! With the DVD of LADY AND THE TRAMP, Disney has *very* quietly fixed the problem (most notably in the scene where Aunt Sarah shoos Lady from the baby's room and begins singing "Rock-A-Bye-Baby", horribly...her singing is missing on VHS and Laser - Lady is reacting to thin air!)

This means that the ONLY way to see LADY AND THE TRAMP in its original aspect ratio without anything missing is to buy the Region 1 DVD! And as it is going on hiatus for the next eight years, that might be important information for your readers to know about.

Best,
Bucky Rister

Bucky,
Not having seen the last Laserdisc or VHS incarnation of LADY AND THE TRAMP (if it doesn’t exist on DVD, then it doesn’t exist), I really can’t comment on the audio problems. However, I am posting your e-mail here for everyone else who may have encountered the problem.  Anyone else care to comment?
DMG

 


11/22/99

To The Editor:

I am currently involved with an online effort to return the modern sci-fi/noir classic, BLADE RUNNER, to DVD and VHS.  This time, however, we all would like to see a (non-"Director's Cut") "special edition" package of the film for fans, collectors, and curious buyers.  Our group has been collecting signatures for support ever since this past July, and banner-links, etc. to our page can be found on numerous other sites!  I have been a frequent visitor to this great website for some time now, and have always been interested in the "Operation: LD/DVD" movements.   What could we do to get some wider attention on our efforts? 

Sincerely,
Brendan Fanckboner
Spokesperson for the BLADE RUNNER
"Workprint" Coalition
www.bladezone.com/workprint

Brendan,
Hopefully exposure on this page will help your efforts somewhat. All right BLADE RUNNER fans, its up to you. Visit the site and get involved with the petition. www.bladezone.com/workprint.
DMG


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