Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New batch of Warner DVDs

While I was away on holiday the Warner Archives service announced an addition of 6 new Sword & Sandal titles to their roster. This is great new and everyone should rejoice but this selection creates more questions than anything else.


TARTARS, GOLD FOR THE CAESARS and HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES are not surprising additions; SON OF SPARTACUS is sort of a surprising addition: it was known that these titles were part of a small bunch of titles which were NOT in the public domain, unlike the majority of PEPLUM films made during that period. The first three titles were some of the few that TCM played on a regular basis. I've seen them myself and recorded those broadcasts. But I've never seen SON OF SPARTACUS on TCM it is surprising to see even if it was long overdue.

So the first thing that stood out were DAMON & PYTHIAS and SANDOKAN because it is well known that those two titles are in the public domain. Why is Warner releasing public domain titles? I'm glad those titles are being made available on DVD in their widescreen formats but I'm still puzzled as to why they did this. DAMON & PYTHIAS is available to download for free at acrchive.org (here) as well as a slew of cheap DVDs from Millcreek or Alpha Video. The quality of the film is terrible but it is in the public domain...as for SANDOKAN, it was available on a few out of print DVD sets. Those titles are puzzling. It's more puzzling when you know that there are other titles which aren't in the PD and are still not available, like THE GOLDEN ARROW, AMAZONS OF ROME or Steve Reeves' THIEF OF BAGHDAD or MORGAN THE PIRATE. Why not make those titles available instead? I'm not complaining. I can't wait to see DAMON & PYTHIAS in a good transfer but it's odd.

The second thing is none of the DVDs are uncut. I know that HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES is missing the entire beginning and SON OF SPARTACUS is also cut with a different, more generic soundtrack. It's better than nothing but these titles should be available the same way they were shown in Europe.

The other thing is that the year of release indicated in the graphic above shows the year those films were released in the US not the actual year those films were completed. For example, HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES was released in 1963 in Italy but only reached the US in 1965.

Can't wait to see what Warner will come out with next. Hopefully the stunning looking MORGAN THE PIRATE will be part of a new batch.

Last note: because I live in Canada, I cannot purchase the DVDs directly from Warner but I can buy them at Oldies.com. Check it out.


The really cool thing about this is I believe that Warner (and hopefully other studios) has finally realized the popularity of the Sword & Sandal (or Swords & Sandals) genre. They specifically created the ad above which tells me they know the PEPLUM genre I talk/post about every day here has a huge following. They could have easily sold these six films as a Sword & Sandal pack. Hopefully, people will buy them and Warner will keep on devoting their resources in releasing more of these hard-to-find films.


S. R. Orsulak said...

I'm interested in seeing THE SLAVE more than the others that I ordered, and if I remember when it played in the theaters it's running time was close to 100 or so minutes (102 min. listed.). It played with CAPTAIN SINBAD back in 63-64. The GOLDEN ARROW and AMAZONS OF ROME along with SIEGE OF SYRACUSE are at the top of my wish list yet. TCM has most of these films, but is really holding back on them for some dumb reason. They have not answered any of my e mails as I mentioned before.

S. R. Orsulak said...

I'm back and TCM is selling the Warner Archive movies for $2 more then OLDIES.COM.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Amazon will release the titles one month after WB too. I have Hercules, Samson, and Ulysses on pre-order.

Pal said...

Among several other Peplum films, the excellent SIEGE OF SYRACUSE was recently released on dual-layer PAL DVD in outstanding quality in the Czech Republic. It does not have English subs, but it is available for download elsewhere.

PEPLUM cinema said...

SIEGE OF SYRACUSE was originally released by Paramount.

PEPLUM cinema said...

Pal, does the Czech dvd have an English dub?

Pal said...

No, it unfortunately has neither English dub, nor English subs.

However, most recently an English subtitles has been uploaded on the Net. (It misses a couple of minutes, though, for the English version [which was apparently the base for this subs] is cut - and a crucial part was edited out [dealing with Archimedes' young son as well as his scientific philosophy]. Anyway, there are complete subtitles in other languages, which I Google translated to fill the gap.)

Once again, the Czech DVD has perfect picture - and the film is apparently uncut.

PEPLUM cinema said...

ok thanks