These days it is very difficult to find anything which is out of print, which is a great thing, it is usually the diamonds in the rough which will inspire future generations. And the more of those which are readily available the more likely great art will be inspired in coming generations. More studios should be following suit with Warner Brothers and slowly rolling out their vaults and making almost anything and everything available to all. Below are films which good, bad and ugly are currently unavailable on either VHS or DVD, and that ought not be so. Many of them represent types and I’m sure you can find a handful of films similar to the titles I mention. Those suggestions are welcome and just as viable.
8. Serials (any serial)
The most idealistic choice, but seriously I don’t know how these can be expensive and someone should pick them up and distribute them on an On Demand basis because they’re like a cinematic drug; addictive. The serial is just classical storytelling at its best and it has inspired some of the best loved film series of the 20th centuries (think Star Wars and Indiana Jones). If you chop those down into 15 minute installments you get classic cliffhangers. Blake of Scotland Yard for the novice has absolutely everything you need, if you want the most inventive array of genres mixed together get The Phantom Empire.
7.Song of the South
Here are facts regarding Song of the South: The controversy surrounding racism in this film is centered on two key points: first, the “happy slave” character. This, however, was cliché. The vitriol against the film really comes from the subplot of Bre’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby. This was a direct adaptation of the original tale and literally about a baby made of tar. The film unintentionally put the term into the common vernacular as a racist slur. While I can’t defend many animators regarding many insensitive jokes in this era this one did seem rather innocuous. Due to one short scene an all around decent and wonderful film has been lost in time. Compounding it is that clips of the film have been used in Sing-A-Longs, characters from the film are at Disneyland and -World and everyone sings “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” It’s a bit hypocritical and a bit of a tease to let younger generations know this film exists and that they’re not allowed to see it. Disney should either bury it or put it out there, stop trying to have your cake and eat it too. Keep in mind that titles which are overtly racist like Birth of a Nation and Leni Reifenstahl’s propaganda films are readily available, so it’s not even as if the home video market is devoid of contentious subject matter so if one disagrees with this assessment of Song of the South rest assured it’s not readily available and if it were you needn’t buy it.
6. As Aventuras da Turma da Monica
This is the original animated feature which sews together vignettes starring Mauricio de Sousa’s seemingly endless cast of characters. It’s a wonder no studio has tried to introduce these characters to the States since his comics and cartoons are syndicated all over Latin America, Europe and Asia.
5.Ciske the Rat
A staggering, realistic and disturbing portrayal of the birth of a juvenile delinquent in the most haunting and disturbing way possible where you can identify with it and almost want it to happen. A strong 1980s entry from the Netherlands.
4. Shark: Rosso nell’oceano
This is a film I first and only saw on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and is one of the most memorable and hilarious episodes of that show. It truly is one of the grotesquely terrible films ever made. Case in point, it’s more like an octopus than a shark, not sure what the rationale behind the title was exactly. With or without any comic relief this film is painful.
3. Eu Sei Que Eu Vou Te Amar
Features Fernanda Torres in a role which won her Best Actress at Cannes in one of her first performances it is another compelling, complex and fascinating film by Arnaldo Jabor which takes place almost entirely within the confines of an apartment yet stays engagingly cinematic.
2. The Cellar
Is a prime example of execution of a film and its plot heavily outweighing the importance of budget, production value and actor’s ability. The sum of the last three factors should not be enough to make a great horror movie but the cinematography, ingenious and practical effects work, score and editing make this movie happen.
1. They Shall Have Music
I saw this during 31 Days of Oscar on TCM. It is a standard 1939 tear-jerker which makes it better than anything today in that regard. It’s a nice easy watch with a deservedly Academy-Award nominated score by Alfred Newman and great cinematography by Gregg Toland.