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TV ON DVD: And movies, too, manufactured just for you
November 13, 2009  | By Diane Werts

eleventh hour sewell.jpg

Turns out that show you've always wanted to see on DVD might finally get there. But it won't necessarily land on a store shelf.

Warner Archive is now producing individual DVDs of hundreds of vintage movies -- and TV, too -- for delivery direct to consumers.

Last year's CBS version of Eleventh Hour starring Rufus Sewell [photo above] will be manufactured on demand (MOD) for you through the Archive web page or Amazon.com, among other sites. Cult desires like Gene Roddenberry's unsold post-Trek series pilots Genesis II and Planet Earth have recently shown up. Also miniseries like The Two Mrs. Grenvilles and Jack the Ripper. And if you've been dying to see Patrick Duffy's '70s mer-man TV movie The Man From Atlantis, your prayers have been answered.

man from atlantis dvd.jpgThese aren't fancy releases -- no extras, just standard navigation menus, in minimally decorated cases. But if it's this or nothing at all, most fans will be happy to cope.

I've screened both Eleventh Hour and the two Roddenberry pilots. The former looks great in widescreen, while the vintage pilot films look pretty good on disc, considering they weren't remastered for release. (Too bad DVD can't make their corny content any better.)

Film buffs get an even bigger Archive bounty. Turner Classic Movies viewers have already seen the on-air TCM promos pitching on-demand dupes of myriad movies:

Silent films -- The Sea Hawk, Souls for Sale, The Patsy, The Trail of '98

Pre-code coolness -- Gabriel Over the White House, 20,000 Years in Sing Sing, Wonder Bar

Studio-era favorites -- The Strawberry Blonde, Rosalie, Pride of the Marines, Rancho Notorious, The Fastest Gun Alive, The Moon Is Blue, Abe Lincoln in Illinois

Retro '60s and '70s -- Any Wednesday, The Sergeant, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, Skin Game, Get to Know Your Rabbit

Even '80s and '90s titles -- Penn & Teller Get Killed, Paul Simon's One Trick Pony, Pavarotti's Yes, Giorgio, the Jack Kerouac portrait Heart Beat, the concert film Gilda Live

Buff stuff that's hard to find has arrived at Warner Archive, too. Separate sets collect the short subjects of humorist Robert Benchley, the Joe McDoakes hard-luck comedies, and the dressed-up mutts of Dogville.

Special discounts and "value-paks" are offered, but most prices are in the vicinity of $20 a film. The Eleventh Hour series set holds 6 discs for $35.

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Warner Archive's site lets you search by decade, by genre and other categories. And many titles offer the option of digital download (313 of 372 titles, as of Nov. 13).

Now another studio is going MOD, too.

The Universal Collection launched a couple of weeks ago, at Turner Classic Movies' site. Already out of the Universal/Paramount vault as on-demand titles are the Christmas romance Remember the Night with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray ($20), and the 5-disc Universal Cult Horror Collection ($50), including such coolness as 1933's Murders in the Zoo. Universal promises its titles will include vintage memorabilia and other extras.

No news there yet about digital downloads. But who knows what's next? These archives give fans hope to get their hands on all their favorite obscurities.


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