The Classic Glamour Comes Back15 Jun, 2009 By: Stephanie Prange
With all of the hullabaloo over disc dollars and cents, the home entertainment business for a few months lost sight of its role in preserving and extolling the virtues of classic cinema and television. But just in the past two weeks, we’ve gotten a little of that glamour back with star-studded celebrations of Sony’s The Norman Lear Collection June 1 and Warner’s 70th anniversary release of The Wizard of Oz June 9.
There is no bigger engine for preserving these classics than disc. In many cases, it has been the driving force behind restoration projects on classic films and television shows and that legacy continues.
TV legend Norman Lear called attention to the fact that The Norman Lear Collection is a concrete record of his historic contribution to the television business — something he would have been able to show his mom as proof of his significance to the medium.
Stars from his past shows, including Jimmie Walker, Pat Harrington, Bonnie Franklin, Ed Begley Jr., Mary Kay Place and Rob Reiner, reunited for the Norman Lear event at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills, paying tribute to the man and their work that is being preserved on disc. These landmark shows could so easily fade and be forgotten without such classic releases.
The Wizard of Oz returned for its 70th with another star-studded fashion show of ruby slippers from famous designers (my personal favorite, Oscar de la Renta’s) at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. The film has be remastered yet again for high-definition Blu-ray Disc, and the studio has packed numerous hours of extras and elaborate packaging into the Ultimate Collector’s Edition releases on DVD and Blu-ray. The packaging includes such details as the original budget for the film. Without DVD and Blu-ray, many of these things would be lost. At the event, I also got wind of another long-forgotten classic in the works for disc that features a much-sought-after celebrity in what may be her first performance as a young girl. Stay tuned.
Without disc, these classics might be stuck molding in a vault somewhere. Without the revenue that DVD and now Blu-ray Disc can deliver, we might lose much of our film history. Everyone who treasures film should be glad that the glamour is back on disc.