Saturday, November 22, 2014

16 notable movies never released on DVD in the U.S.

Just as there are interesting TV shows that have never been released on DVD, the same goes for movies.
What follows is a list of interesting and noteworthy movies that have never gotten the DVD treatment in the U.S.
Other people have put together similar lists, but they usually include a lot of obscure titles from the silent and early sound eras of film or foreign-language movies. Other lists include low-budget horror movies or independent films.
A lot of movies that previously had been unavailable on DVD have been released through the Amazon.com “Never Before on DVD” store, which opened in May 2012.
I purchased several long-time DVD holdouts through this website including “Who’s Minding the Mint?” (1967), “Resurrection” (1980) and “Made In Heaven” (1987).
Here’s my current list of rare movies never released on DVD in the U.S.:

Song of the South (1946)

Walt Disney’s live-action/animated musical “Song of the South” is considered off limits for home video release because of its controversial depictions of black former slaves and race relations in Reconstruction-Era Georgia.
The movie is based on a collection of African American folktales adapted and compiled by Joel Chandler Harris in 1880. The central character is Uncle Remus, who speaks in Harris’ version of a Deep South slave dialect. Some have described the movie as racist.
In the film’s best known scene, Uncle Remus and animated animals sing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” which won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Song. The movie also inspired the Disney theme park attraction Splash Mountain.
The film got official releases on laserdisc and videocassette in Europe, Japan and Latin America. But not on DVD and no home video format in the U.S.
(See articles by BuzzFeed and Wikipedia.)

J.T. (1969)

“J.T.” is a made-for-TV movie about a troubled inner-city youngster who adopts a stray cat for Christmas, and must hide it from his financially strapped mother.
The tearjerker was produced for a Saturday morning children’s anthology on CBS, but got such rave reviews that the network aired it in prime time a week later.
“J.T.” also won the prestigious Peabody Award.
(See articles on IMDb, Christmas TV History, Sound on Sight and the Examiner.)

Let It Be (1970)

“Let It Be” is a documentary film about the Beatles rehearsing and recording songs for what would be their final original album. The film features an unannounced rooftop concert by the group, their last performance in public.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr collectively won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for the film. The soundtrack also won a Grammy for Best Original Score.
McCartney and Starr blocked the release of the film on DVD because it presents the Beatles in a negative light, Wikipedia said.
The Daily Express reported in July 2008 that McCartney and Starr were worried about the film’s possible effect on the band’s “global brand ... if the public sees the darker side of the story,” an anonymous source told the paper. “Neither Paul nor Ringo would feel comfortable publicizing a film showing The Beatles getting on each other’s nerves ... There’s all sorts of extra footage showing more squabbles but it’s unlikely it will ever see the light of day in Paul and Ringo’s lifetime.”
The documentary “shows, in often-painful detail, just how much John, Paul, George, and Ringo did not like being in the same room together by the end of the band’s career,” the A.V. Club wrote.

Willard (1971)

“Willard” is a horror film starring Bruce Davison and Ernest Borgnine. It’s about a social misfit who trains rats to attack those who have tormented him. The supporting cast included Elsa Lanchester in one of her last performances, and Sondra Locke in one of her first.
It opened to good reviews and high box office returns, according to Wikipedia. It even spawned a sequel, “Ben.”

Ben (1972)

“Ben” is the sequel to the killer-rat horror film “Willard.” The theme song, “Ben”, is performed by pop singer Michael Jackson.
(See articles on Wikipedia and Internet Movie Database.)

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975)

“The Reincarnation of Peter Proud” is a supernatural drama about a college professor who begins to experience flashbacks from a previous life. His investigation into those visions leads him to his wife and daughter from the past life. The film stars Michael Sarrazin, Jennifer O'Neill and Margot Kidder.
David Fincher, the director of “Seven” and “The Social Network,” has expressed interest in doing a remake, according to Bloody Disgusting.
(See articles on Wikipedia and IMDb.)

Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)

“Looking for Mr. Goodbar” was the first significant movie for Diane Keaton, Richard Gere and Tom Berenger. It is overshadowed by “Annie Hall,” also starring Keaton, which was released the same year.
The film is based on Judith Rossner’s then-notorious novel of the same name, which was in turn based on the real-life murder of New York City schoolteacher Roseann Quinn, according to Wikipedia.
The movie was a financial and critical success and garnered Tuesday Weld an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
It was released on VHS but not on DVD or Blu-ray Disc. One possible reason is that the studio hasn’t been able to secure music rights for the film.

It Happened One Christmas (1977)

The made-for-television holiday movie “It Happened One Christmas,” starring Marlo Thomas, is a gender-reversal remake of the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“It Happened One Christmas” was first broadcast on ABC at a time when “It’s a Wonderful Life” was rarely aired on television and thus many viewers were unfamiliar with the story. “However, once the original 1946 film returned to the airwaves on an annual basis, the remake slipped into obscurity,” a Wikipedia article says.
The remake also starred Wayne Rogers, Orson Welles and Cloris Leachman.
On her Facebook page in December 2011, Thomas addressed the lack of a DVD release.
“A lot of you have asked about ‘It Happened One Christmas.’ I wish it was on DVD, too,” she said. “Lots of people request it. The movie is owned by Universal and they haven’t wanted to make a DVD of it. People should write to Universal and request that they do and maybe they will!”
Some unauthorized copies of the movie are currently being sold online as DVDs.
(Also see article on IMDb.)

Movie Movie (1978)

“Movie Movie” is a tribute to 1930’s double-bills in the form of two B-movies, with an old-fashioned intermission between the films. It consists of two films, Dynamite Hands, a boxing ring morality play, and Baxter’s Beauties of 1933, a musical comedy, both starring the husband-and-wife team of George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere. A fake trailer for a flying-ace movie set in World War I entitled Zero Hour (also starring Scott) is shown between the double feature, according to Wikipedia.
It was directed by Stanley Donen (“Singin’ in the Rain”) and co-written by Larry Gelbart (“M*A*S*H”).
It was never released on DVD but is available for digital download from Amazon.com.

The Word (1978)

“The Word” is an eight-hour miniseries (four episodes, 2 hours each) that aired on CBS. A 3-hour version was released on VHS in 1996. The entire miniseries has never been released on home video in any form, according to Wikipedia.
Based on a novel by Irving Wallace, the plot revolves around the discovery within Roman ruins of a new gospel believed written by a younger brother of Jesus named James. In this new gospel, many of the facts of Jesus’ life, including the years not mentioned in the Bible, are revealed not to be as factual as they were once thought to be.
Mother Angelica, the Roman Catholic nun who would launch EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) in 1981, was perturbed by the existence of this miniseries, deeming it “blasphemous,” according to IMDb.
The miniseries stars David Janssen, Kate Mulgrew, James Whitmore and John Huston.

Little Darlings (1980)

“Little Darlings” is an R-rated comedy starring Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol as two 15-year-old girls competing at a summer camp to see who can lose her virginity first. The movie also featured Matt Dillon.
The movie was notable for having a contemporary pop soundtrack, including music by artists such as Blondie, the Cars, Supertramp and Rickie Lee Jones. Music rights have caused problems for its home video release.
The original video release on VHS and laserdisc kept the soundtrack intact. But in the second VHS release, many songs in the film such as Supertramp’s “School”, John Lennon’s “Oh My Love” and The Bellamy Brothers’ “Let Your Love Flow” were removed due to licensing issues, and were replaced with sound-alikes, according to Wikipedia.
(Also see entry on IMDb.)

The Keep (1983)

“The Keep” is a horror movie directed by Michael Mann, who also did “Thief,” “Heat,” “The Insider” and “Collateral.” It’s the only feature film directed by Mann that has not been released on DVD.
The movie is about Nazis battling an ancient demon they inadvertently freed from its prison during World War II. The movie stars Scott Glenn, Jurgen Prochnow, Robert Prosky, Gabriel Byrne and Ian McKellen.
Mann’s original cut of the film ran three and a half hours (210 minutes). The theatrical version was 96 minutes and the VHS and laserdisc version was 91 minutes long, according to IMDb.
Internet Movie Database says there are two reasons why the movie hasn’t been released on DVD. First, the studio wasn’t able to obtain the rights to the soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. Second, Michael Mann (who has disowned the film) forced the studio not to release it.
While not available on DVD or Blu-ray Disc in any country, it is available for streaming on Amazon instant video and available on Netflix in the U.S., Wikipedia says.

Electric Dreams (1984)

“Electric Dreams” is a charming science-fiction, romantic comedy-drama film set in San Francisco that depicts a love triangle between a man, a woman, and a home computer. It stars a young Virginia Madsen.
“Electric Dreams” was released on VHS but never on DVD in the U.S.
The soundtrack features music from prominent popular musicians of the time, including Culture Club, Giorgio Moroder and Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra.
(See articles on Wikipedia and IMDb.)

Rad (1986)

“Rad” is an ’80s cult classic about BMX racing. It was directed by Hal Needham.
“Bill Allen plays a small-town guy named Cru Jones trying to make it in the cutthroat world of competitive BMX racing, while Full House’s own Lori Loughlin plays his love interest – they fall in love doing bike tricks at a school dance,” BuzzFeed gushed.
Many Internet groups are demanding the release of the film, according to Listverse.
“In the movie, Cru is faced with a tough decision – the qualifying races for the Helltrack bike competitions are on the same day as his SATs, which he must take in order to attend college,” according to Listverse. “Winning Helltrack means a lucrative sponsorship deal and fame.”
“Rad” came out when competitive bike racing was in its infancy and it is credited with helping to popularize the sport.

Buried Alive (1990)

“Buried Alive” is a made-for-TV horror thriller directed by Frank Darabont, who later made film adaptations of Stephen King novels “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile” and “The Mist.” He also brought “The Walking Dead” series to cable.
“Buried Alive” stars Tim Matheson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, William Atherton and Hoyt Axton.
It premiered on the USA Network and was later released on VHS in the U.S. It was released on DVD in Europe, but not in the U.S.
(See articles on Wikipedia and IMDb.)

The Addiction (1995)

“The Addiction” is a horror movie directed by Abel Ferrara. It’s about a New York philosophy grad student who turns into a vampire after getting bitten by one, and then tries to come to terms with her new lifestyle and frequent craving for human blood.
“The Addiction” stars Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken, Annabella Sciorra and Edie Falco.
It was released on DVD overseas, but not in the U.S.
(See articles on Wikipedia and IMDb.)

See also:

26 Hard-To-Find Movies That Remind Us Why VHS, DVD, And LaserDisc Still Matter (BuzzFeed; Aug. 20, 2014)

64 clips of movies you can’t find on DVD (New York Post; June 18, 2014)

Even more clips (70, in fact) of flicks you can’t find on DVD (New York Post; June 26, 2014)

Over 100 more movies that really ought to be on DVD (New York Post; July 20, 2014)

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