Find It On DVD? I Cant-or!
I tried to purchase an Eddie Cantor DVD recently so I could show my daughters the amazing high kick of comedienne Charlotte Greenwood. True story. But the search was in vain. The film has never been released in the format! If it wasn’t for my purchase several years ago of the Eddie Cantor Collection on VHS, I would be completely bereft of his Goldwyn filmography, and my daughters would have never seen the queen of contortion in action. Eddie Cantor out of print? No way.
And don’t even get me started on Danny Kaye’s Goldwyn catalog.
Granted, I’m a long-time fan and collector, and am certainly more interested in Cantor’s hey-day films than the average consumer. I get that. I also completely understand, for example, why there are no Joe Penner movies on DVD, because I may be the only person in the world who collects Joe Penner stuff.
But this is Eddie Cantor we’re talking about. Banjo Eyes…the diminutive perpetual motion machine who trod the boards of the Follies alongside W. C. Fields, Bert Williams and Will Rogers…with Flo Ziegfeld in the audience. Star of vaudeville, radio and television. Author. March of Dimes spokesman. None of that gives him any street cred today.
And yet, when the new theatrical version of “Nancy Drew” hit theaters last month, Warner Brothers was ready with a nice 2 DVD reissue of all four Bonita Granville Nancy Drew films from 1938-39. I have nothing against Ms. Granville, or the Disneyland Hotel tower named for her, but she couldn’t hold a flashlight to Cantor (or for that matter, the Goldwyn Girls).
Hmm. Maybe Will Farrell, Adam Sandler or Toby Maguire needs to star in a remake of “Roman Scandals” to force a Cantor DVD set out to the marketplace.
Maybe you’re not interested in Eddie Cantor. My mother-in-law isn’t, and that’s OK. But I’m pretty sure you’re waiting for something to come out on DVD. My friend Buddy has been waiting several years for “A Thousand Clowns” (1965) to appear. He’s still watching an old VHS he taped when he lived in Texas more than 20 years ago.
Disney fans are trained in the staggered release cycle, but the animated classics do eventually appear (with the notable exception of “Song of the South,” which I don’t need to address here). But fans of other films have nothing so systematic to hang their hats on. Just for the sake of discussion, here are ten random films currently MIA:
- “Knock on Wood” (1954). OK, that wasn’t random. I’m on a mission.
- Rod Taylor’s two “Dark” films:
- “Dark of the Sun” (1968 )
- “Darker Than Amber” (1970)
- “The Grey Fox” (1982). Worthy of its own post for several reasons.
- “The Horn Blows at Midnight” (1945). Jack Benny as an angel. ’nuff said.
- “Lonely Are the Brave” (1962). A Dalton Trumbo script, from an Edward Abbey novel, starring Kirk Douglas. A classic.
- “The Luck of the Irish” (1948). The Irish answer to Miracle on 34th Street
- “No Time for Sergeants” (1958). Will Stockdale takes on the army, and wins.
- “The Satan Bug” (1965). Government secrets and bacchilinus in the desert.
- “Sing You Sinners” (1938). Crosby, MacMurray & O’Connor. C’mon!
Don’t forget that widescreen films released in the pan and scan format don’t count either. Yuck.
So what’s on your short list? Which film are YOU waiting for?
Here’s the final irony. Cantor’s first two (and, until now, rarest) films, “Kid Boots” (1926) and “Special Delivery” (1927) were released on DVD this past March. They are both SILENT films, and nice additions to any collection. But until the vaults open up on the really good stuff — the early and acclaimed MUSICALS of Cantor, Goldwyn and others — the only place we can get DVD copies of “Whoopie,” “Palmy Days,” “The Kid From Spain,” “Roman Scandals,” “Kid Millions” and “Strike Me Pink” is from the VHS to DVD duplicators on eBay.
And that ain’t right.