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johnbabe

Pre-Code TCM box set Volume 4

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I hope this includes the original uncut and uncensored Mata Hari with Garbo

 

Also, when are we going to get real pre-codes, not B movies in the box sets!

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I really love the Forbidden Hollywood series, but I agree the last set of selections was a little disappointing. It bothers me that B-films from WB like Other Men's Women make it to a top-notch DVD collection, but pre-code MGM classics like Riptide, Strangers May Kiss, Paid, and Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise are left in the vaults. Its even worse when you think that films like Frisco Jenny could have been put out via the new Archive collection, instead of other pre-codes like Strange Interlude and Laughing Sinners which really desearve delux treatment for their stars alone. I used to think the pre-code films with big stars like Crawford and Garbo were being held back for star-specific box sets, but Im not sure that is the case anymore. Wellman is great, but they show his films all the time on TCM. I like it when these collections have something a little rarer like the original Waterloo Bridge in Vol 1. Maybe volume 4 will be different, but I am dreading it will be something like the Michael Curtiz collection which would just be more WB spotlight and MGM shoved to back. (How about doing an MGM director like Clarence Brown instead?)

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My sentiments exactly. Although I do think *Heroes for Sale* and *Midnight Mary* are very worthy inclusions in any precode DVD set.

 

In fact they could have done a top notch precode set of just Richard Barthelmess precodes: *Heroes for Sale, Central Airport, The Last Flight, The Dawn Patrol, Cabin in the Cotton, The Finger Points* and *Weary River*, his first talkie.

 

Something I noticed too: when TCM airs their commercial for the latest precode set they mention actors like Barbara Stanwyck when her face appears but when Richard Barthelmess' face appears they don't say his name, just the film title. I think that stinks. It's as if Richard wasn't an important enough actor to have his name mentioned (and you really have to be ignorant of film history if you think that!).

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Too much complaining about these great sets. I'd rather watch FRISCO JENNY than Garbo or Crawford. I hope future editions include Ruth Chatterton, Richard Barthelmess, Dorothy Mackaill and Glenda Farrell.

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Constructive criticism is good. The consumer often has great ideas that should be listened to. I haven't purchased any of the precode sets because I already have all the films recorded from the station that are in these sets. If they want my dollars they are going to have to start including precode films they have never shown before on TCM. It's really as simple as that for me. I will be buying the Universal precode set coming out in April because there are rarities on that which are never shown.

 

I think if TCM really wants to make money on their sets, instead of showing the films in these sets in full before the sets premiere, they should do shows with Robert Osborne where he talks about their history and where he shows CLIPS from the films instead. That's a bit more savvy salesmanship. I'll bet they lose a lot of money by showing the films in full before a set comes out.

 

If they REALLY want to make big bucks then come out with a set filled with precode rarities, like Jeanne Eagels' *The Letter* or Norma Shearer's *The Trial of Mary Dugan*. A set like that would fly off the shelves!

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I agree with the previous postings. I have most of the pre-codes that make up the current box sets. How about some obscurities and rareties? I'm sure there's a ton of stuff in the Universal,

RKO, and Warners' vaults that need to see the light of day. My suspicion is that some of the

folks in charge aren't true buffs. Maybe it would help to involve Osborne and Maltin to pick

the titles. These guys have vast knowledge regarding old films, and I'm sure their picks

would make great, marketable box sets.

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There may be some ancient copyright holdups that affect whether or not they can be taken out of mothballs and exhibited. Like Crawford's Letty Lynton. I have a rather mediocre print but still glad to have it: few people have seen the film in decades because of some ancient copyright entanglement from the author's estate against the studio.

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I really don't understand this idea of copyright/legal issues keeping old films from public viewing

(especially 70-80 years afterwards when all the principal parties in these cases are dead). Why are these legal issues/entanglements allowed to go on? What harm is there in allowing the public to view these films? Maybe I'm showing my ignorance but it seems so silly and petty to allow these films to decompose in vaults while all original parties in these cases are deceased. There ought to be a new ruling that if cases like these aren't settled within a certain number of years and/or if all principal parties to these cases are deceased they should be dropped and taken off the books. Aren't there enough current/new legal entanglements already abounding without having all these ancient cases cluttering up the legal books and prohibiting films from public viewing?

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Something I noticed too: when TCM airs their commercial for the latest precode set they mention actors like Barbara Stanwyck when her face appears but when Richard Barthelmess' face appears they don't say his name, just the film title. I think that stinks. It's as if Richard wasn't an important enough actor to have his name mentioned (and you really have to be ignorant of film history if you think that!).

 

TCM seems to emphasize the women of the Pre-code era, so that's probably what many people are most aware of. They made one documentary that was strictly about women's roles (Complicated Women) and from what I remember, the others seemed to be more about the freedom women had to be bad (and gangsters) than about the real social issues that were explored in some of the films. Barthelmess' films tended to be about social issues--he insisted on it, if I remember right, Yet few people remember that Cabin the Cotton was about the plight of share croppers--they remember Bette Davis' first vixen role. Sadly for sharecroppers and Barthelmess, if not for Bette Davis fans ;), she sort of stole the picture out from under him.

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That's pretty short sighted of them though to just concentrate on the women. There were many outstanding actors working in precodes at that time, Richard was just one of them. I agree Bette stole Cabin in the Cotton from Richard but he had his excellent moments in that film too such as the scene in the woods, and the ending. Bette's character was shallow and Richard's character tried to do the right thing. Overall I think the audience by the end of the picture cares more about where Richard's character's life will take him and not Bette's character.

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Midnight08, often times the issue goes back to the author's estate and not the studio's existing copyrights, if any. If the relatives of the author still remain on top of the issue and don't want to bend then the studios have little choice if the original judgment fell to the author in a contested case, even if it was 60,70,80 years ago. The Sonny Bono Copyright Extension law signed by Clinton in 1997 pretty much guaranteed that no old works (except for a few historical documents) will enter the public domain until 2018.

 

For instance, it's not a precode, but the Joan Fontaine, Charles Boyer version of The Constant Nymph is held up from being screened or broadcast or put on DVD because the original author of the novel did not like the way the studio changed her story, she sued and won the case. So since that time few have legally tried to screen The Constant Nymph. Last time I looked it was illegally on YouTube but then 90% of YouTube videos are probably illegal and breaking copyright and few copyright holders seem to care enough to put in a complaint. YouTube is one thing but if TCM tried to broadcast The Constant Nymph the author's estate might sue them.

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Universal released hundreds of feature films during the 1930s. How many have you ever seen? How many are available for viewing? It's not just a rights issue. It's studios' disinterest too.

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I think goldensilents had a great idea about Osborne doing a show on the movies in the set instead of showing them in full. I'd rather see a half-hour show with behind the scenes information on the movies, stars and directors covered in each set. That would entice more people to buy the set itself. While I wasn't as impressed with #3 as 1 & 2, I will continue to support them so these sets continue to come out.

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I still feel there should be a statute of limitations on these cases. In the case of the Joan Fontaine movie I assume the author was paid damages and the case should have been settled. Why can't the studio simply place a disclaimer before the opening credits stating that the story was not told according to the author's wishes etc.? Viewers aren't interested in all the legal mumbo jumbo; all they want is to see their favorite stars in their movies. The only ones winning in these cases are the attorneys.

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I agree with you. These cases are utterly ridiculous. When copyrights were first instituted in this country they lasted 14 years and another 14 years if you renewed. That was in the early 1800's. Slowly the terms were increased and increased and increased so that it is now way beyond reasonable; in America you can conceivably get 150 - 170 years of "protection". The US Constitution actually states copyrights should be for "limited terms". Several generations are not "limited terms". The government has been stepping on the US Constitution and making it of none effect for years and years.

 

If copyright terms were still reasonable, even if there were issues between studios and original authors like with The Constant Nymph, those issues would no longer hold legal sway because the shorter copyright terms would put the original works into the public domain much earlier, where they rightfully belong. If Clinton had not signed the Sonny Bono Copyright Extention law in 1997 EVERY SINGLE WORK FROM THE 1920's, books, films, art, etc. would ALL be in the public domain right now and you would see an EXPLOSION of restorations of old works.

 

A healthy public domain is good for the people; too long extended copyrights are good for corporations. It's pretty obvious which entity Washington D.C. favors.

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"A healthy public domain is good for the people; too long extended copyrights are good for corporations. It's pretty obvious which entity Washington D.C. favors"

 

I certainly agree with you on who Washington favors, but I can't help but wonder who some of these ridiculously long bans help. I mean, who is benefiting from "The Trial of Mary Dugan" not being seen by anyone? I can't even think of it helping a corporation.

 

There should be a "use it or lose it" length of time of several decades after which something falls into the public domain.

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Whichever corporation owns *The Trial of Mary Dugan* would stand to benefit financially from putting it out on DVD, if they owned the copyright outright. The original author might have contested something. I have the original novel of this story and the story is a bit different from the film. Maybe the situation was something like *The Constant Nymph* , where the author objected to the film because too many things were changed about plots / characters. So if the author wins their case against the studio and their work was published 1923 or later it is still under copyright, more than likely, and the author's estate could sue the film company, even at this late date, if they broadcast it or tried to make money from it. They (or their relatives / estate) gain because they have the satisfaction that few can see the resulting film the author objected to all those years ago. ;)

 

I know, it stinks.

 

The attorneys who have fought to protect the public domain have tried to push forward ideas to circumvent Sonny Bono, to little success. For instance they tried to put in place a system where if a copyright owner doesn't pay 1 dollar per year to keep their old copyrights current that the works would fall into the public domain before the year 2018. Many old copyrights would fall into the PD under that system because original artists would be dead and not send the 1 dollar. But so far this idea has been nixed by the courts.

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I would like a set with a bunch of(or even a couple) Warren Williams films, the ones where he played some real slimeballs, I love those films.

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Indeed, films like THE MOUTHPIECE (1932), SKY SCRAPER SOULS, (1932), BEAUTY & THE BOSS (1932), EMPLOYEE'S ENTRANCE,(1933),THE MIND READER (1933), would make a good set.

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I think a future FH collection should spotlight director William Dieterle, who made some of the fastest, grittiest and most stylish pre-code pictures at Warner Brothers. I'd gladly shell out for a collection that featured (to name a few) THE LAST FLIGHT, JEWEL ROBBERY, FOG OVER FRISCO, MAN WANTED, THE CRASH, and FASHIONS OF 1934.

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I kind of agree with the idea that these cases should be dropped after a certain number of years. But at the same time, it wouldn't really be fair. If the cases are dropped, the rights would likely fall back into the hands of the studio. And while that's great for film fans, it isn't fair to the estate of the other party in the case. That's basically just saying that if it goes on for too long then the defendant wins.

 

Maybe if they made the films public domain once a case goes on for so many years.

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Anyway, I'd love a Frank Borzage pre-code set. I know a few of his pre-codes (like Liliom and Bad Girl) were already released on that AMAZING Murnau, Borzage, and Fox set. But it would be wonderful to have his other pre-codes like Man's Castle (my all-time favorite movie), Little Man, What Now?, A Farewell to Arms, Secrets, and No Greater Glory.

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>>I would like a set with a bunch of(or even a couple) Warren Williams films, the ones where he played some real slimeballs, I love those films.

 

I didn't mean to steal anyone's thunder by starting another thread on a Warren William box set. I just didn't see this post previously. I just get so frustrated with these boards as every third mouse-click takes five minutes to load and it keeps signing me out after 30 minutes, and each time I sign back in, it takes another five minutes. I don't know why this happens, I participate on many Yuku boards, the IMDb and a couple of horse racing sites, but this is the only place to give me such difficulty.

 

A shame too as I like a lot of what I read here, and there are many well-informed and polite posters. I enjoy a troll-free environment.

 

I'm not on dial-up, I have a high-speed cable connection, but it might as well be an ancient modem for all the speed it gives me here.

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