By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin February 26, 2010 at 8:28AM
Having already partnered with Turner Classic Movies for one series of dvds-on-demand, turnerclassic.moviesunlimited.com, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has now launched an even more ambitious program of custom-burned discs in with amazon.com. One of the titles in its initial lineup is a particular favorite of mine, and included in my new book, Leonard Maltin’s 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen: the 1980 drama Resurrection, starring Ellen Burstyn, Sam Shepard, Richard Farnsworth, and the legendary stage actress Eva LeGallienne. Written by Lewis John Carlino and directed by Daniel Petrie, it’s a moving and unusual story about a woman who has a near-death experience, then discovers that she has unexplainable healing powers.
I’ve always loved this film, and as I learned when I interviewed Burstyn not long ago, she is also quite fond of it. In fact, people talk to her about it all the time—often because they’ve been frustrated in their search to find it on video. That search is finally over. Like Warner Bros., Universal has decided that it makes no sense to sit on thousands of titles in its inventory (including its huge cache of pre-1949 Paramount pictures) when it can sell them to eager customers, without making a huge investment. Each disc retails for less than $20 and comes in a basic DVD box with simple graphics. There are no “extras,” but I’m grateful to have access to pristine copies of these movies for a reasonable price.
The selection ranges from the 1930s to the 1990s; among the contemporary titles I like you’ll find Chaz Palminteri’s A Bronx Tale (1993) with Robert De Niro. Marching backward by decades you’ll also find Abraham Polonsky’s Tell Them Willie Boy is Here (1970), with Robert Redford, and John Huston’s The List of Adrian Messenger (1963). Among the oldies there are some particular treats like Leo McCarey’s Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) with Charles Laughton, Death Takes a Holiday (1934) with Fredric March, Spawn of the North (1938) with Henry Fonda, George Raft, Dorothy Lamour, and John Barrymore, The House of Seven Gables (1940) with Vincent Price, Dragnet (1954) with Jack Webb, and Gambit (1963) with Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. A good friend of mine who’s the world’s biggest Ann-Margret fan will be thrilled to know that Kitten With a Whip (1964) is also among the first batch of releases.
Prices range from $14.99 to $17.99, and if you order more than one you qualify for free shipping, which makes the purchase even more attractive. Universal and Amazon promise to add to the collection on a monthly basis, and I can’t wait to see what turns up next.
This is great news for movie lovers and, as I’ve said before, I hope it inspires other studios to follow suit. Wouldn’t it be great to dive into the Paramount, Fox, Columbia, and (dare I say it?) Disney libraries?