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I know that there are not many fans of the Warner Archive here, but...


Guest obrienmundy

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They are running a sale through Monday. 3 films for $35 plus shipping and tax. There are 1,199 films to choose from. All Warner Archive non-boxed set titles released through late July qualify for the sale. (MGM, Columbia, and HBO films are not part of the sale.)

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I've seen a lot of grumblings about The Warner Archive on the boards, but I've never figured out what the chief problem is. Is it the print quality? A lack of bonus features? Bad sound/ transfer?

 

Personally, I'd rather have some of these films available in some form at a reasonable price than not have them available at all or (worse) overpriced by at least $10 with the same lack of bonus features and bad prints to boot (yes, *Criterion,* I mean *you* )

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I know wat you mean, Addison. I can't say anything about Criterion specifically, but I HAVE, on a lark, bought DVDs of old movies from the DOLLAR STORE that look better than some I've paid $20+ for.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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What is says on some of the DVDs I have looked up on the Warner Bros Shop page is, :Made to Order," then when you look into it a little closer the following statement can be found..

 

"Important: This title has been manufactured from the best-quality video master currently available and has not been remastered or restored for this DVD/Digital Download release".

 

I just recently viewed a "restored" version of a old film that was for awhile only available with the label, DVD-R and the different in the quality of the two was quite stunning.

 

Many of the films I rent from a video store that carries "classic old films" has the label DVD-R on them with the statement, "May not play on all DVD machines" which means sometimes I have to play them on my laptop computer. It is weird because some play fine on the DVD machine and other don't.

 

So what does DVD-R exactly mean?

 

Lori

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There are two formats of recordable DVDs, DVD-R and DVD+R. Some home players play one or the other, others play both, early machines may not play either.

 

I have a DVD/Hard Drive recorder which will record and play both formats. My older recorder would not record or play the +Rs.

 

So instead of producing a bunch of regular DVDs for these titles, WA runs off copies on DVD-Rs as needed.

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Criterion **** me off.

 

If a classic title is on Criterion, that means that it *is not available in any other format* (possibly there are exceptions, but I can't think of any, and this includes some studio films like The Horse's Mouth, All That Heaven Allows (maybe all of Sirk's titles now that I think about it) and The Scarlet Empress ) and the average price of a Criterion DVD is $35.

 

 

That is ludicrous, especially since I have checked out numerous Criterion DVDs (back before I had to cancel me Netflix) and *in every single case* there were negligable bonus features (usually a trailer, color bars (for some reason) and sometimes a grainy interview with the director or a reprinted- and very dull- essay someone published years ago that you could no doubt FIND ONLINE but that you can scroll through with your remote if you really really want. Whoopee.)

 

 

Compare that to *any number of other classic DVDs* released by studios that cost $20-$25 and contain (in some cases) a second DVD loaded with documentaries, extra versions and bonus material. The DVDs for The Philadelphia Story, The Big Sleep, The Wizard of Oz, The Joan Crawford Collection and ALL the Universal horror titles come to mind.

 

 

There is no defense for Criterion, but every time I go into this spiel, someone chimes in with how awesome the prints and sound are. They're nowhere near awesome enough to validate an extra $15 on the price, nor is the kicky cover art, and in the case of The Scarlet Empress the print and sound are atrocious.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Sep 15, 2012 12:54 PM

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AddisonDeWitless, you might want to check out "OliveFilm" a new company and they do have some classic films in their inventory. They are the company that restored the two films I mentioned in an earlier post and their prices are reasonable. The also have a "suggestion" feature where people can e-mail them with their requests.

 

It is just a thought.

 

Thank you ginnyfan for your response to me.

 

Lori

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> {quote:title=AddisonDeWitless wrote:}{quote}I've seen a lot of grumblings about The Warner Archive on the boards, but I've never figured out what the chief problem is. Is it the print quality? A lack of bonus features? Bad sound/ transfer?

>

To repeat an earlier post I made, here are the problems that either I have experienced with the Warner Archive discs I have bought plus problems noted by others with specific titles:

 

 

My bad luck started with my first order when they first opened three years ago. I ordered 5 discs . The Beast of the City was one of them, or at least it should have been. Instead, in a case marked "Beast of the City" and a DVD marked "Beast of the City" I got a copy of Edison the Man.

 

I had a similar problem with the silent film "Trail of 98" when in a case marked "Trail of 98" and a DVD also labeled as "Trail of 98" I actually had received the film "Trail Street" starring Randolph Scott.

 

I got a copy of Never too Late that pixelated in every scene where there was excessive motion.

I got a second replacement copy which did the same - I gave up.

 

I bought a copy of 1946's The Verdict when it came out. It was supposed to have a trailer. Instead it is the first minute of the film which then just ends randomly.

 

 

I've been through three copies of Madame Satan - supposedly restored. I'll never know since none of them ever played all the way through. I finally just threw the last copy in the trash, figuring they all had this flaw and there was no point in getting any more replacements.

 

The first disc of the Vitaphone short set is unreadable by anything in my home.

 

"On With the Show", which is a 1929 revue style film, was shipping as a 64 minute film when in fact it is almost two hours long. The first 55 minute of the film would play and then it would skip straight to the 9 minute finale. Customers who actually knew there was a problem would often request a replacement and get ANOTHER 64 minute version of the film!

 

 

When "Under The Rainbow" was first released, either the master itself or the manufacturing process for this particular archive product was defective. There was a problem with poor compression and edge ringing that absolutely ruined this DVD-R release.

 

Let's not even go into the ten Archive discs that have gone bad in their cases over the last three years, yet Warners DRM makes it a felony to make a backup copy when the original DVD-R fails - and they all do fail eventually.

 

When a disc is pressed the physical media lasts longer and the product is more likely to be error free since so many of the identical copy are "pressed" at the same time. In the "Manufacture on Demand" model of the Warner Archive, one copy is made per customer and it may be perfect or it could have one of a hundred flaws.

 

 

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The distaste for Criterion is interesting. I've only bought three titles from them (Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes on Blu-Ray and Ikiru on DVD) and found them all to be pricey but excellent. The print of Black Narcissus was far superior to what I've seen on TCM. All three are pretty well packed with documentaries and interview footage. Are these the exception?

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Thanks to everyone for explaining. So basically, these Warner Archive deals are about on a par with bootleg MST3K DVDs or fan rips of The Star Wars Holiday Special.

 

They need to be $5.99-$9.99 in that case, because there is *no excuse* for charging $20.00 for that, 'specially as it's costing them *nowhere near that to manufacture them* and they make a good profit on the shipping and handling.

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> {quote:title=tcmsnumberonefan wrote:}{quote}The distaste for Criterion is interesting. I've only bought three titles from them (Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes on Blu-Ray and Ikiru on DVD) All three are pretty well packed with documentaries and interview footage. Are these the exception?

I can't say about all of them, and I think a lot of the newer titles that end up on Criterion are *loaded* with bonus features- to the point that a lot of the editions are double disc and upwards of $45.00 or more. But, the Criterion DVDs I have checked out- The Horse's Mouth, All that Heaven Allows, The Scarlet Empress and a couple others that I can't recall at the moment (lame I know, but momma's gettin' old) have *seriously underwhelmed me in the bonus features department,* and in the case of Empress, the print and sound were terrible (of course, that may just be the case with the film itself*.)*

 

*I have NEVER seen a Criterion DVD with extras that were anything compared to the extras on a lot of studio-release, $15-$20 DVDs in my collection.*

 

My beef with Criterion is (again) the fact that if you want to own All That Heaven Allows or anything Kurasawa ever did on DVD, then you *must pay $30.00 for it.* And the bonus features are nowhere NEAR substantial enough to validate that extra ten bits, ditto for The Horse's Mouth, which I broke down and bought (used for about $27) years ago as it is one of my favorites. The extras on it are pathetic- a dull five minute short that has nothing to do with the film itself other than it played in some theaters before the movie back in 1958, a trailer, and a brief intro by Ronald Neame. Period. I don't see the need for the $32.00 price tag no matter how damn good the print is, and I am not a print snob to begin with.)

 

And don't get me started on anyone who is stupid enough to pay $32 for Carnival of Souls or Robinson Crusoe on Mars.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Sep 15, 2012 8:19 PM

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I feel like I've derailed this post with me rants about Criterion.

 

Please scroll four posts down to the post from *Calvinnme* and read about the travails this guy has had with the Warner Archive.

 

Anyone who reads it will think twice about ordering any of those DVDs (and the second thought will in all likelihood be, "um thanks, but I'll pass.")

 

Dude, really, you should write Ted Turner or something with those grievances, cause that is *inexcusable.*

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> Dude, really, you should write Ted Turner or something with those grievances, cause that is inexcusable.

 

Addison,

 

Don't know if you know but Ted Turner no longer has any connection to Warner Brothers or to his former film library.

 

The better person to write to would be George Feltenstein at Warners. He is the Senior Vice President of Warners Home Video.

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Just a little question. So what type of DVD's do I and the other "signers" of my petition want to demand of Warners? In the body of my petition I did note clearly we the signers of this petition want "quality" produced DVDs for the box-set that the petition requests.

 

I can easily change the wording to the petition if it would do any good.

 

That is ridiculous of Warners to sell such poor quality DVDs. Obviously they care nothing about quality, and / or have no quality control department.

 

Lori

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Addison, you don't have to pay that much for a Criterion (and normal editions max out at $40 - two disc Blu-rays can go higher, however. Any retailer charging higher than $40 for the DVDs should be avoided.) Keep an eye out and you'll find discounts left and right, definitely lower than $35, and Barnes & Noble has two month long 50% off Criterion sales every year (so $15-$20 for the average release; these sales are usually spread over May/June and November/December)

 

It wouldn't be going too far to say Criterion doesn't expect (encourage, even) anyone to actually pay full price for their product (or even the customary $10 reduction at most stores.) But their elevated price is important; you might have a fair point about a lot of their mainstream studio releases but they help subsidize a lot of obscure titles like I Fidanzati (and a studio like Paramount would never have released the Sternberg silents on their own.)

 

On The Scarlet Empress...that's what Universal gave them, what they had at the time, so it's not their fault; the later Region 2 release looks vastly superior.

 

 

Speaking of that, alternatively, you could also get a region free DVD player (which are very cheap nowadays) and take advantage of the insane prices over at Amazon UK, such as the Douglas Sirk Collection, which I got for less than $20 - official Universal product, seven films including All That Heaven Allows and a better edition of The Tarnished Angels than the TCM set, but most of these are single layer DVD5 and thus don't look quite as good as the Criterions. Their Written on the Wind does compare well however, it looks really great (if you're watching on an old CRT, you won't notice a difference in quality, but on an HDTV you definitely will - positive or negative.)

 

 

 

> {quote:title=AddisonDeWitless wrote:}{quote}There is no defense for Criterion,

 

Yes, there absolutely is a defense and it's not simply because of the quality of their work. You apparently have no use for most of what they do but it's precisely what they trade in that requires a premium price. Unlike Warner and Universal, they don't own their films, they license almost everything. That alone elevates their operating costs and this isn't a company with Warner's money to begin with. They often, but not always, make HD telecines at their own expense - this costs a lot of money and the benefits are not just their own, they are widespread.

 

Most of their international counterparts price their products similarly but occasionally they can be cheaper. The British Film Institute is selling two Ozu films on Blu-ray in one package for about 20 quid retail, which after price reductions can come to about 10 quid (which comes to less than $20 U.S.) That's amazing, and these are quality discs, but do you know why they can do that? Because they're reusing Criterion's HD telecines and working with existing materials. So their prices are lower in many cases but it also means their operating potential and total output doesn't match Criterion's yearly output (a couple dozen releases vs. some seventy releases a year.)

 

Criterion and their counterparts in the U.K. and France are today a key component of the cinephile community. It is labels like these that are keeping the machine moving in light of increasingly difficult theatrical exhibition and promotional realities. It essentially IS our base, the repertory theater can no longer perform this role. Anyone who really cares has a major stake in what these companies do and they need to receive fair compensation for it.

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> {quote:title=calvinnme wrote:

> }{quote}"On With the Show", which is a 1929 revue style film, was shipping as a 64 minute film when in fact it is almost two hours long. The first 55 minute of the film would play and then it would skip straight to the 9 minute finale. Customers who actually knew there was a problem would often request a replacement and get ANOTHER 64 minute version of the film!

That one actually was THE SHOW OF SHOWS, not ON WITH THE SHOW.

Sorry to read of your bad experiences with Warner Archives. As I noted earlier mine have all been good. And one is my story of ordering THE SHOW OF SHOWS. I ordered it right when it came out and it arrived fine and played fine and complete. I had no idea there were any problems others were having with the discs. Then several weeks later I was surprised to receive another DVD of the movie. An accompanying note explained that they had been informed that some of the discs were defective so they were sending me a replacement (even though mine was fine and I obviously never had contacted them with any complaints about it). So I got a second copy which also was the full-length complete movie and played fine.

 

Another good experience (I guess I'd say it was good even if it started with a defective disc) was when the "Joe McDoakes" shorts set came out. I ordered it but one of the discs wouldn't play. I called them and they said instead of returning the whole box set for just one bad disc, I could just keep it and they'd send a whole new set, which they did. So now I have extras of most of the discs in that set...probably a good thing if it's true that the discs eventually go bad - I'll have back-up copies.

 

 

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> {quote:title=AddisonDeWitless wrote:

> }{quote}They need to be $5.99-$9.99 in that case, because there is *no excuse* for charging $20.00 for that, 'specially as it's costing them *nowhere near that to manufacture them* and they make a good profit on the shipping and handling.

 

I agree that Warner Archive single-discs shouldn't cost as much as $20.00. But really there's no need to pay that much unless the DVD is needed immediately. Warner Archive has sales quite often and so if one can wait for a sale the single discs can usually be purchased for about $10.00 each, and higher priced box sets are often also on sale. And they'll sometimes even offer free shipping.

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

> > {quote:title=calvinnme wrote:

> > }{quote}"On With the Show", which is a 1929 revue style film, was shipping as a 64 minute film when in fact it is almost two hours long. The first 55 minute of the film would play and then it would skip straight to the 9 minute finale. Customers who actually knew there was a problem would often request a replacement and get ANOTHER 64 minute version of the film!

> That one actually was THE SHOW OF SHOWS, not ON WITH THE SHOW.

> Sorry to read of your bad experiences with Warner Archives. As I noted earlier mine have all been good. And one is my story of ordering THE SHOW OF SHOWS. I ordered it right when it came out and it arrived fine and played fine and complete. I had no idea there were any problems others were having with the discs. Then several weeks later I was surprised to receive another DVD of the movie. An accompanying note explained that they had been informed that some of the discs were defective so they were sending me a replacement (even though mine was fine and I obviously never had contacted them with any complaints about it). So I got a second copy which also was the full-length complete movie and played fine.

>

>

>

> Another good experience (I guess I'd say it was good even if it started with a defective disc) was when the "Joe McDoakes" shorts set came out. I ordered it but one of the discs wouldn't play. I called them and they said instead of returning the whole box set for just one bad disc, I could just keep it and they'd send a whole new set, which they did. So now I have extras of most of the discs in that set...probably a good thing if it's true that the discs eventually go bad - I'll have back-up copies."

I stand corrected. It was indeed "Show of Shows", and its revue style format is the reason so many people didn't notice the short running time since there was no plot hole to give away the fact that something was wrong.

 

Nice that you got such good service. There was a situation about a year and a half ago when some of the first Warner Archive discs started failing. Warner Archive customer service initially took the hard line that if you didn't return a disc in the specified return period (30 -90 days? Not quite sure which) that you were out of luck, or more specifically out twenty bucks. Better luck next time. Would you like to order more sir?

 

One such "dead disc" holder whose possession went dead in the case in a 70 degree low humidity no-sunlight room after only being played once started a Twitter campaign to shame Warners into relenting on this policy. As a result, their policy changed rather quickly due to the high profile bad publicity. Without that one brave soul, you might have been told to take a hike too when your McDoakes disc went bad.

 

Or as one dissatisfied Warner Archive customer put it:

"One shouldn't need a Twitter account or any other kind of public venue or forum in order for these problems to be dealt with in a timely and satisfactory manner."

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