Taking a page from the successful programs that Warner Bros. and other studios have launched, Amazon has unveiled their “Never Before On DVD” store, which will make DVD copies available for films and television shows that have not yet made the leap to home video.
The catalog currently boasts more than 2,000 titles from the vaults of Disney, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, most of which had already been available from Warner Archive or other similar services. It also includes current content (mostly in the form of reality television) from CBS Networks, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, MTV Networks, Nickelodeon and Universal Studios Home Entertainment, with seasons of short-lived TV shows like “Mr. Sunshine” or “Dark Blue” appearing on disc for the first time.
The store will utilize Amazon’s CreateSpace DVD on demand service, which literally makes discs and packaging after you have ordered them, and it allows studios to provide content on DVD that wouldn’t otherwise be economically feasible to mass produce. Because DVDs would only be produced on an order-by-order basis, there’s no concerns of unsold stock. And Amazon’s director of digital content acquisition, Brad Beale, also adds that “In addition to being available on DVD, many titles are available to digitally enjoy through Amazon Instant Video and Prime Instant Video.”
1. “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” (1976)
A cunning Sherlock Holmes tale from writer Nicholas Meyer (“Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan“) and director Herbert Ross (“The Sting“), this features a coke-addled Holmes (Nicol Williamson) and his faithful companion Watson (Robert Duvall) embroiled in a mystery when they head to Austria so Holmes can be treated by Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin). Considerably more fun than either Guy Ritchie movie.
2. “The Best Man” (1964)
An adaptation of the Gore Vidal play recently revived on Broadway, this is a gripping, seedy political drama about the battle between two prospective presidential candidates, one with a history of mental illness (Henry Fonda), the other a possibly closeted homosexual (Cliff Robertson). Helmed by Franklin J Schaeffer (“Planet of the Apes“).
3. “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” (1956)
Fritz Lang‘s last American film, this convoluted but never muddled noirish thriller stars Dana Andrews as a man who takes the fall for a murder in order to expose a corrupt D.A. The film was remade (terribly) with Michael Douglas a few years back, but the original is far superior.
4. “The Search” (1948)
Speaking of remakes, this post-war Fred Zinnemann drama, about a young boy and his mother looking for each after surviving the holocaust aided by a U.S. army engineer (Montgomery Clift), is the next film up for “The Artist” helmer Michel Hazanavicius. His wife and star Berenice Bejo is taking the Clift role, but you can check out the original ahead of time now.
5. “Obsession” (1976)
Brian DePalma‘s first hit (which came out only three months before “Carrie“), his riff on “Vertigo” stars Cliff Robertson as a man whose wife (Genevieve Bujold) and daughter are killed by kidnappers only for him to come across the doppleganger of his late spouse fifteen years later. It’s perhaps a little too under Hitchcock’s thrall, but there’s plenty of reason to watch if you’ve never seen it, including the director’s first collaboration with John Lithgow, and the final score (written before, but released after “Taxi Driver“) by Bernard Hermann.
6. “Blue Collar” (1978)
Remarkably, the directorial debut of Paul Schrader has never before been available on DVD, but is now exclusive to Amazon. The film stars Richard Pryor (in one of his best dramatic roles), Yaphet Kotto and Harvey Keitel as three Detroit auto workers who decide to rob their union. It’s funny, acerbic and politically-charged stuff.
7. “Gabriel Over The White House” (1933)
Batshit-crazy political fable starring Walter Huston as a corrupt President who nearly dies in a car crash, and through divine intervention, has a change of heart, revoking the Constitution to become a leader with absolute power, able to execute his enemies at will. This is all posited as a good thing, making the film a rare American argument for fascism, essentially. Curiously entertaining for all of that.
8. “Freebie And The Bean” (1974)
Stanley Kubrick‘s favorite movie of 1974, this was something of a precursor to the buddy cop movie, starring James Caan and Alan Arkin (in perhaps his best role) as two nutjob cops trying to take down a San Francisco mobster. Genuinely funny with great chemistry between the leads, and featuring a terrific car chase.
9. “The Landlord” (1970)
The directorial debut of the great Hal Ashby, this is perhaps the most underrated film by the chronically underrated director: a social satire starring Beau Bridges as a privileged white boy who gradually comes to understand his new African-American tenants. it’s got a brace of terrific comic performances, an amazing score by Al Kooper, and a nuanced, complex take on ’70s race relations.
10. “Brewster McCloud” (1970)
Robert Altman‘s follow-up to giant hit “M*A*S*H,” the film was a disaster when it was first released but has grown in status as the years have gone by. It’s a deeply odd fable starring Bud Cort as a young man who lives under the Houston Astrodome who tries to build wings so he can fly while people are murdered around him and his fairy godmother forbids sex. Basically like nothing you’ve ever seen before.