Sergio Leone’s western masterpiece is one of the best examples of what blu-ray can do for classic films.
In a marketing scheme, Fox and MGM have rereleased dvds based on literary classics. Titles include “The Grapes of Wrath”, “Moby Dick”, “Of Mice and Men”, “Henry V”, and others made by the studios over the years. What you should know is that while these films are great, none of them were remastered or redone for this series. MGM/Fox has simply included a new laminated bookmark over the original packaging. Most disappointing for me was the “Moby Dick” release, which has never been released in its original aspect ratio and deserves better. A great cast led by Gregory Peck, Richard Baseheart and Orson Welles, directed by John Huston, with screenplay by Huston and Ray Bradbury, this 1956 release is the best adaptation of the Herman Melville classic. Other than a trailer, this disc is bare bones.
Also worth mentioning in this rerelease list is “The Grapes Of Wrath”, John Steinbeck’s accounting of one family during the Dust Bowl years with stellar performances from Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell, directed by John Ford and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. This one has commentaries, newsreel footage and a restored picture. (It was restored for the original dvd release, not for this rerelease).
If you don’t have these two dvds in your collection, now is a good time to pick them up. Same low price (under $15 each) and heck, you get a free bookmark.
Added note by Nick:
As I have received the MGM DVD “Richard III” for review, I thought I would chime in with my two cents on this repackaging issue. Personally, I find these re-issues to be pointless because the titles are not in demand at all. Additionally, I have to wonder what’s the point in re-releasing catalogue titles such as this one with an exclusive bookmark? If MGM wanted to re-issue these titles, why not just add more extras, update the transfers, or in this case of this disc, get rid of the flipper disc and just have the option of playing the film in widescreen or fullscreen at the menu screen like most discs these days. Now, I’m not knocking the film itself. ’Richard’ is an interesting spin on William Shakespeare’s classic play set during an alternate 1930′s period in Britain. Ian McKellen in particular gives a riveting, tour-de-force performance as the title character, but there’s also a great supporting cast featuring the likes of Robert Downey Jr. (Lord Rivers), Annette Bening (Queen Elizabeth), Jim Broadbent (Duke Of Buckingham), Kristin Scott Thomas (Queen Anne), and Maggie Smith (Duchess Of York). It’s a must see for Shakespeare fans, but if you already own it, there’s no need to double-dip here.