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Indie Supplier Gives 'Golden Arm' VIP Treatment

30 Aug, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Frank Sinatra in The Man With the Golden Arm

Special-edition DVDs are no longer the domain of the major studios — and, of course, the Criterion Collection.

A growing number of independents are giving classic films the full VIP treatment, cleaning up prints, sprucing up the audio and adding lots of extras.

The latest: Hart Sharp Video, which Oct. 18 will release a lavish two-disc special edition of The Man With the Golden Arm, the controversial 1955 adaptation of the Nelson Algren novel that snagged star Frank Sinatra his second Academy Award nomination and his only Oscar nod for best actor.

The DVD, timed to coincide with the film's 50th anniversary, includes such bonus materials as an exclusive interview with Sinatra in which he discusses his starring role as card hustler and heroin addict Frankie Machine; an interview with the late composer Elmer Bernstein; a Sinatra photo montage over his rendition of the film's title song; and an audio commentary from critic Ken Barnes.

The film itself has been digitally restored and remastered from an original 35mm print.

Hart Sharp president Joe Amodei, a veteran home entertainment executive who launched the company two years ago, noted that one of Hart Sharp's first releases was a music DVD compilation of Sinatra duets from his TV specials that aired between 1957 and 1960.

“We have a great relationship with the Sinatra estate, and this was always Mr. Sinatra's favorite film,” Amodei said. “The Man With the Golden Arm also has a lot of cinematic historical significance, with its controversial plot and legendary fight with the ratings board.”

The film was denied a Production Code seal — the equivalent of a Motion Picture Association of America rating — upon its December 1955 theatrical release because of its realistic portrayal of drug addiction.

Amodei said Hart Sharp, which so far has released mostly special interest and sports films, plans on issuing more special editions of classic films in the future.

Meanwhile, more special-edition DVDs are on the way in time for the holidays, including three from Universal Studios Home Entertainment: Rumble Fish, Francis Ford Coppola's 1983 coming-of-age film, Sept. 13; an extended 10th anniversary edition of Mallrats, Sept. 20; and The Big Lebowski: Collector's Edition, Oct. 18.

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