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Warner Bows Comedy, Musical Classics

17 Dec, 2004 By: Brendan Howard

Warner Home Video is opening the vaults to release gems from its comedy and musical libraries.

From the comedic realm come the Cary Grant — Katherine Hepburn classics Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story.

The Philadelphia Story was released years ago on DVD, but has been remastered with new extras: film historian commentary, trailers, Hepburn's self-made documentary, a short film, a cartoon and two radio adaptations featuring the film's stars.

The hold-up on the Bringing Up Baby DVD release was a question of film elements, said Warner SVP of classic catalog George Feltenstein.

“The RKO library [home of Bringing Up Baby] has been in many different hands since RKO went out of business in 1957,” Feltenstein said. “The elements were very poorly cared for. The splices between shots had come apart, and someone decided to fix them and took out frames [so the soundtrack doesn't fit]. We did a search around the world for a good element that would yield us a top-notch transfer.”

Bringing Up Baby will have trailers, two documentaries (one of which, Cary Grant: A Class Apart, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival last year), a short, a cartoon and commentary by director/writer Peter Bogdanovich, who used the film as inspiration for his movie What's Up, Doc?

The two are available alone as two-disc special editions ($26.99/MAP $19.95) or as part of a six-movie set of new-to-DVD titles “The Classic Comedies Collection” ($68.92). They street March 1 (prebook Feb. 1).

The other four films in the collection — Libeled Lady, To Be or Not to Be, Stage Door and Dinner at Eight — will also be available separately at $19.97/MAP $14.95.

Coming two weeks later are two-disc special editions of the Fred Astaire musicals Easter Parade and The Band Wagon. They'll be available separately at $26.99/MAP $19.95 each or in a set with three other new-to-DVD musicals in the “Broadway to Hollywood: Classic Musicals Collection” at $59.92. They all street March 15 (prebook Feb. 15).

Both Easter Parade and The Band Wagon have been remastered using Warner's “Ultra-Resolution” process, which, Feltenstein explained, is specifically for films produced between 1935 and 1953 that used three-strip film, instead of Eastman Color's one-strip film, which came after. Easter Parade and The Band Wagon join Gone With the Wind, Meet Me in St. Louis, Adventures of Robin Hood and Singin' in the Rain in getting the “Ultra-Resolution” treatment.

Among the extras on Easter Parade, which also stars Judy Garland and features music from Irving Berlin, are making-of featurettes, commentary from Astaire's daughter and a Garland biographer, trailers, an outtake musical number and an Emmy award-winning documentary on Garland.

The Band Wagon will have commentary by the director's daughter, Liza Minnelli; an outtake musical number; a making-of documentary; and more.

The other three titles, all stocked with extras at $19.97/MAP $14.95 each, are Bells Are Ringing, Brigadoon and Finian's Rainbow.

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