Wide Screen Movies Magazine
edited by John Hayes

The Widescreen Movies Magazine Wish List
by John Hayes

I thought it might be fun to compile a list - which we can update from time to time -of those classic – but elusive – movies, that AREN’T available (as official studio releases, and in their correct aspect ratio) on DVD, but SHOULD BE! We invite you all, dear readers, to submit those favourite film titles that you search for in vain – and of course, if we hear of any of them actually becoming available, we’ll let you know!

And because we know that widescreen fans also like regular shaped movies, too, we’ll let you include one or two academy and flat ratio films along with the proper ones.

Here are ten – in no particular order of preference - of the many that I’ve long been searching for, just to start the ball rolling…Ed.

Goliath and the Barbarians [2.35:1] (1959) – in fact most of the Steve Reeves back catalogue is LONG overdue for restoration and release, but Goliath is my personal favourite. Just as a matter of interest, there are couple of titles - The Last Days of Pompeii (1960) and Hercules (1959) - that have been restored and presented in their 2.35:1 ratio, and which are available in France. You can usually find them on Ebay if you have Internet access.

Move Over Darling [2.35:1] (1963) – What’s the story on this one? Practically everything else that Doris made is available – why not this one? Some trivia: this film originally started out as Something’s Got to Give, with Marilyn Monroe, but was uncompleted and shelved after her untimely death. Doris Day once said that she thought co-star James Garner was her most convincing screen husband.

The Long Arm [1.66:1] (1956) - Terrific Jack Hawkins crime thriller (U.S. title: The Third Key) and one of my all-time favourite films. The last Elstree Film made at the famous studio, before they moved production to Borehamwood. A very influential British film, and the inspiration for such long-running TV series’ as Z Cars and Softly Softly. Available on VHS – but where’s the DVD?

Merry Andrew [2.35:1] (1958) - A colourful Danny Kaye/Pier Angeli circus movie – her last at MGM. Written by Paul Gallico and Billy Wilder collaborator I.A.L. Diamond, and directed by ace choreographer, Michael Kidd. Very funny – though Danny Kaye can be an acquired taste for some - with a couple of memorable songs as well. Everybody sing along with me, “The square on the hypotenuse of a right tri-angle…”

Sodom and Gomorrah [?] (1962) - Robert Aldrich’s only Biblical epic. Starring Stewart Granger, Stanley Baker and Pier Angeli. The first cut was four hours long, then, Aldrich cut it to three hours. The producers insisted on further cuts, so a final cut of 154 minutes was agreed – this is the one used for the laserdisc version. It was cut again to 111 minutes for a pan & scan VHS release. Shot in some unidentified horizontal 35mm process – possibly Technirama – no one I know has ever seen it projected wider than 1.85:1, but that’s typical of Aldrich. A restored version of the laserdisc print would be nice – soon, please.

The Silver Chalice [2.55:1] 1954) – Is listed here due to my Pier Angeli fixation. Directed by Victor Saville, it is famous for two things: Paul Newman’s embarrassment over his debut performance (which isn’t half as bad as he thought it was – and he looks the part, anyway), and the highly stylised sets which are, well, different – but strangely effective nonetheless. Oh – three things – Virginia Mayo’s Mr. Spock eyebrows – what were the make-up department thinking of? The laserdisc has been around for years, but the world needs MORE Pier Angeli DVDs, urgently.

Fortune is a Woman [1.66:1] (1957) – Starring the brilliant Jack Hawkins again, this time with the lovely Arlene Dahl, the film is based on a Winston Graham novel (he also wrote Marnie, you know). This is a very clever insurance fraud thriller, with some extremely creepy moments. It turns up on TV occasionally, but I’ve not been able to locate it in ANY pre-recorded format.

Run of the Arrow [2.35:1] (1957) – An excellent Sam Fuller western which you may remember as the one where the cavalry officer goes head first into the quicksand. That scene stuck in my mind for years – along with Rod Steiger’s hilarious Irish accent. Nevertheless, it remains one of my all-time favourite films. A great cast, too, with Brian Keith, Ralph Meeker, Charles Bronson, H.M.Wynant and Sarita Montiel – the latter dubbed by Angie Dickenson, for trivia fans.

Land of the Pharaohs [2.55:1] (1955) – Not that I have a Jack Hawkins fixation, too, but no wish list would be complete without Howard Hawks’ only costume epic. He was not comfortable with this genre (probably because there are no cowboys in it), and the shoot was supposed to have been something of an ordeal for him. Whatever, Hawks never went back there again! However, the film looks terrific, and the pyramid building scenes are truly awesome – talk about a cast of thousands. The final scenes where the giant stone blocks slide into place, sealing the scheming Joan Collins into her husband’s tomb, are most satisfying. There is, I believe, an official DVD release in Korea. If you’re ever passing that way, you might pick one up for me.

The Big Circus [2.35:1] (1959) – I had to include at least one Victor Mature movie in the list, though there are so many of his films that are long overdue for the DVD treatment – The Egyptian (1954), The Sharkfighters (1956), Interpol (1957), Violent Saturday (1955)…in fact Vic could have a list all of his own. I’ve selected this one because it was a great effort from a small studio, Allied Artists, and as well as looking fabulous, it had a very interesting cast: Peter Lorre, Red Buttons, Gilbert Roland (walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope) and the yummy Rhonda Fleming. There is a pan & scan VHS version out there, but we won’t mention that.

Okay, I’m calling it quits, there, for now, but please don’t berate me for leaving your favourite film out – send me YOUR list, instead. Sooner or later, we’ll get to see our favourite movies again – they do seem to be sneaking out one at a time, don’t they?

Keep watching the skies…

Copyright © 2002-2005, John Hayes/Wide Screen Movies Magazine

Last revised: 3 December, 2005

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