By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin May 5, 2014 at 12:00AM
I’ve just tried out Warner Archive Instant—and I’m hooked.
Mind you, I am a technological klutz, and I’ve had trouble dealing with
streaming and downloading. But (full disclosure) Warner wanted me to sample
their program, and installed a Roku box on my large-screen TV. With no trouble
at all, I found myself browsing their library and sampling a variety of vintage
movies and TV series. It couldn’t be easier or more fun.
Aside from the speed—films arrive on screen in mere seconds—the most impressive aspect of this library is the availability of older films in razor-sharp, high-definition copies. There may still be specks and artifacts in the original material, but the clarity and resolution are mind-boggling. When I ordered Wheeler and Woolsey in Cracked Nuts (because that’s the kind of guy I am) the RKO Radio logo knocked my eyes out even before the movie began. All high-definition titles are clearly labeled, and you never know what you’ll find in this category: a Johnny Mack Brown B-western, The Curse of the Cat People or the Hal Roach feature Pick a Star.
In the television category I’ve had fun sampling episodes of 77 Sunset Strip and The Adventures of Superman, among others. New titles are added every week from Warners’ endless inventory (which includes the libraries of Warner Bros., MGM, RKO, Monogram, and Allied Artists, among others).
Best of all, you can feel free to browse as much as you like, because the monthly fee of $9.99 covers unlimited usage.
Like many other collectors, I’m not ready to abandon my DVD
and Blu-ray library, especially the titles that include valuable bonus
features. But for sheer viewing fun, Warner Instant is irresistible.
Now I have to push my boundaries by seeing what else I can do with that Roku box!