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Legend Films and Vintage Paramount on DVD


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I thought this was important enough to merit a thread of its own... the small video company Legend Films has apparently signed a deal with Paramount Pictures to release a number of movies from the Paramount library that Paramount apparently is not interested in releasing.

 

Some titles are relatively recent (1990's *Almost an Angel* ) but a lot are from earlier decades... here is an article from the NYT that includes more information and titles:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/movies/homevideo/03dvd.html?

 

*New DVDs: An Antiwar Farce and a Vintage Paramount Collection*

By DAVE KEHR

 

LEGEND FILMS?

 

Paramount Collection

 

Up to now Legend Films has been a company mainly known for its colorization technology. (Ray Harryhausen used its system to apply a wash of tints to his 1957 ?20 Million Miles to Earth.?) But Legend also has a DVD division that has just grown larger with the licensing of 32 vintage titles from Paramount Pictures, a welcome development in light of Paramount?s apparent reluctance to exploit its studio library. And none of these Paramount-Legend films, this purist notes with relief, are in need of the company?s primary service: all were originally filmed in color, a few even in the glorious three-strip Technicolor process.

 

The first batch of 16 titles comes out today, and it?s an extremely mixed bag, whose jumbled contents include the cringe-inducing Paul Hogan comedy ?Almost an Angel? (1990) and Michael Campus?s confused science fiction thriller ?Z.P.G.? (a k a ?Zero Population Growth,? 1972). Other curios are Frank Pierson?s ?King of the Gypsies,? which propels viewers back to that distant time (1978) when Eric Roberts was a star and his little sister Julia was still in grade school; Ennio De Concini?s ?Hitler: The Last Ten Days? (1973), featuring a fastidious portrayal of the title personage by a pre-Obi-Wan Alec Guinness; and Michael Pressman?s 1982 ?Some Kind of Hero,? with Richard Pryor in a rare dramatic role as a floundering Vietnam veteran.

 

As a movie, it isn?t much, but George Marshall?s ?Houdini? (1953) offers the star couple Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh ? the Brangelina of their day ? at the height of their physical perfection in a fictionalized version of the life of that celebrated escape artist. And ?The Skull,? a largely forgotten 1965 British horror film that brings together Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and the director Freddie Francis, proves to be an unexpectedly lively offering, with a bloodthirsty flying skull (that of the Marquis de Sade, no less) that cries out for 3-D treatment.

 

The big title in this first group is Richard Fleischer?s 1975 ?Mandingo,? a back-alley parody of ?Gone With the Wind? based on a lascivious 1957 best seller by Kyle Onstott. All that dewy-eyed antebellum melodramas so carefully repress returns here with a vengeance. James Mason, wallowing in a deep Dixie accent, is Warren Maxwell, the run-down proprietor of a run-down plantation whose two great concerns in life are finding appropriate breeding partners for his prize female slave, Ellen (Brenda Sykes), and his only son, an Adonis with a gimpy leg played by Perry King.

 

Maxwell?s efforts at human husbandry go luridly awry when the partner he finds for Ellen ? the former heavyweight champion Ken Norton as a fighting slave ? begins a culturally unthinkable relationship with a not-so-shrinking Southern belle, played by the British actress Susan George. With its scenes of incest and infanticide (at no additional charge), ?Mandingo? can hardly be accused of taking a sober, dignified approach to its subject, but when the historical context is itself obscene, transgressions are justified. That the film is still a hot potato more than three decades after it was made is a tribute to its undiminished power to provoke.

 

Legend?s next group of Paramount titles comes out on July 1, and will include Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in ?Money From Home,? one of the films mysteriously missing from Paramount?s two excellent Martin and Lewis boxed sets. There are no extras apart from trailers, but with a list price of $14.95 each, there is little reason for complaint. A list of titles and ratings is at legendfilms.com.

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that's great news ff, i plan to buy some of these titles and wonder what's on their release list in july..... i also bookmarked the legend films website, i was surprised to see fox titles like the shirley temple films were released by them on dvd. i've seen those pink-boxed temple titles in stores, they look like quality releases.

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As much as it baffles me that Paramount would rather license some of its library titles to Criterion or Legend Films, instead of releasing them through their own home-video arm, I'm just happy some of these movies are getting released on DVD at all.

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Paramount is strictly interested in releasing TV series on DVD and has no interest in their library of unreleased pics. Thankfully LEGEND will pick up the slack. I just pre-ordered HOUDINI, a most wanted title. Other titles I would like to see released are C.B. Demille's SAMSON AND DELILAH, THE PLEASURE OF HIS COMPANY with Fred Astaire, Debbie Reynolds and Lilli Palmer and FOREVER FEMALE with William Holden, Ginger Rogers and Paul Douglas.

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> {quote:title=TripleHHH wrote:}{quote}

> I picked up the Skull from Legend Films Directly way b4 the release date...maybe it was cheaper for Paramount to use Legend Films and not Criterion ??

 

Paramount doesn't have to "use" anyone. Studios don't have to license their movies to anyone if they don't want to. If they do, it's because someone came up with an agreement that was presumably mutually beneficial. And Criterion probably wouldn't want the titles that Legend is picking up.

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Well, I watched *The Optimists* the other night, one of the Legacy/Paramount releases. Just wanted to mention that the transfer appears reasonably well done; the film looked pretty good for a movie of the early 70's. The DVD has anamorphic widescreen transfer and closed-captioning, but nothing at all in the way of extras, like the article mentioned.

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I bought "Houdini" W./Janet Leigh & Tony Curtis...& the print was flawless!! Very nice print!! No scratches, cuts etc....the only downfall was the only special feature was a trailer...but otherwise I was very very happy with the purchase! Very glad this film finally came out it is a personal favorite of my partner's!

 

I bought it through Amazon.com for $10.99 + shipping and handling ...!

 

 

I can't wait to get:

 

Rhubarb (1951)

Release Date: July 1, 2008

 

The Busy Body (1967)

Director: William Castle

Release Date: July 1, 2008

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  • 1 month later...

_*Legend Films puts older flicks on DVD*_

 

By Chris Hicks

Deseret News

Friday, June 27, 2008

 

The major studios are still quite slow to offer DVD releases of older movies, which these days can mean anything pre-1980. Instead, their vast film libraries gather dust as the fans most interested in such titles grow older themselves and eventually pass on.

I understand the economic reasons for releasing and rereleasing A-list titles on DVD, but to a film buff like me, it seems criminal to have so many titles out of circulation decade after decade.

 

At the moment, Fox and Warner are earnestly getting older titles out there. Last week Fox issued "The Carmen Miranda Collection," and Warner came out with several Frank Sinatra box sets last month ? all bringing many titles to DVD for the first time, and several that marked their debut on any home-video format.

 

And every once in awhile, an independent label negotiates to pick up a studio film that has been neglected, as with the Leslie Caron musical "Fanny," a Warner Bros. film released last week by Image Entertainment, and the Barbara Stanwyck Western "The Furies," a Paramount Pictures production that the Criterion Collection also issued last week.

 

But here's an idea I wish more independents would aggressively pursue. Legend Films ? which up to now has been primarily involved in colorizing classic black-and-white pictures ? recently licensed more than 30 films from Paramount for DVD release. Half are out now and the rest arrive next month.

 

None of these titles has been on DVD before, and some have never been on home video. The prints are uniformly excellent transfers (widescreen where applicable), although the only extras are chapters and trailers. Not that fans will care. We're just happy to see these movies being made available.

Among the best are the Peter Sellers comedy-drama "The Optimists" (1973); the family comedy "Rhubarb" (1951), about a baseball team inherited by a cat; the John Sayles teen picture "Baby, It's You" (1983); Jackie Gleason's dramatic turn in "Papa's Delicate Condition" (1962); a pair of very good but largely forgotten Shirley MacLaine films, "Desperate Characters" and "The Possession of Joel Delaney"; and a pair of British horror pictures, "The Skull" (1965), with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and Hammer Films' "The Man Who Could Cheat Death" (1959).

 

Of course, some of Legend's choices are far from classics ? the unfunny gay farce "Partners" (1982), with Ryan O'Neal and John Hurt; the dull disaster-flick remake, "Hurricane" (1979), with Mia Farrow and Jason Robards.

 

But many more are gems.

 

"Paramount was open to the idea," said Legend's PR rep Maria Mason, providing Legend with a list of titles to choose from. A few are being sold exclusively at Best Buy, but most can be found at the usual outlets, including such online stores as Amazon.com

 

Mason said two titles a lot of critics are asking to review are "Houdini" (1953), the Hollywoodized biography starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, and "Mandingo" (1975), the controversial, overheated tale of slave treatment prior to the Civil War.

Also among the many titles is the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis film "Money From Home" (1953) ? which begs the question, why was it noticeably absent from the Martin & Lewis collection released by Paramount last year? (Now the only M&L film missing from DVD is "Three Ring Circus.")

 

 

For a complete list, go to www.legendfilms.net.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, another Paramount title that has recently been released through Legend Films is *French Postcards*, from the guys who also wrote *American Graffitti*. It's all about American college students in France. It should definitely appeal to anyone who's ever taken French lessons - or even who is fluent in French.

 

It's not a truly great movie, even as far as stuff from the late 70's goes, but it does feature Debra Winger and Mandy Patinkin in early roles (as well as the famous French actor Jean Rochefort).

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I can't believe no one mentioned Genius Products' (a close affiliate of Legend Films) recent announcement of The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection. It will have all of Hal Roach's talking Rascals shorts, including ones that were never released to DVD by Hallmark or Cabin Fever, and they're all uncut and from the original masters like the ones on VHS in the 90s. This is big.

 

The cover/packaging art was just released to the internet the other day, too. Amazon is taking pre-orders.

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Where did you read that Genius Products was a close affiliate of Legend? I can find no such information on the respective websites for both companies. It does seem that Genius Products has at some point distributed family movies released by Legend. However the bulk of GP titles are recent theatrical releases from the Weinstein Co. and IFC films.

 

In any case, if you haven't seen any info about the Little Rascals on the Upcoming Releases threads, you may want to mention it there, too. Thank you for sharing!

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And I wasn't trying to play mod by suggesting you post the info in the Upcoming Releases thread, just wanted to suggest that because people who might be interested in that may not necessarily be checking this thread regularly. ;)

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