Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Third, a Second and a First

A Third

June 15th, 2010 marked the Third Blogiversary for Out of the Past ~ A Classic Film Blog. I really wanted to do something big. A giveaway, a contest, a competition, blogathon, something, but life got in the way and so the blogiversary quietly passed me by. However, I want to take the opportunity to thank all of you for reading my blog, whether you just started or if you've been on board for the long haul. Thank you.

A Second

Yesterday, the winners for the Best Classic Film Blog LAMMY award were announced. She Blogs by Night (she also blogs for TCM's Movie Morlocks) won by a landslide. However, I didn't do to shabby and ended up getting 15 votes (plus some extra votes from newbies, sorry I forgot there were rules about that). Woohoo! Those 15 votes got me second place. I think this is probably the pinnacle of my LAMMY award career. I don't think I'll ever win, especially now that there are so many great classic film blogs on the LAMB. So I'll take 2nd place, happily!

Thank you so so so much to everyone who voted for me. You guys are wonderful.

A First

Cliff from Immortal Ephemera,, etc. just announced the launch of the First ever Classic Movie Search! You'll never want to use plain old Google ever again. This customized search engine weeds out the irrelevant sites and focuses on classic film related sites and blogs for keyword searches. Brilliant. Cliff is still developing it and if you have a blog or site that you think should be added to the growing list, make sure you reccommend it with the form available in the 'Featured Sites' section.

Press Release: Jane Russell at Hollywood Heritage Museum

If you live in the Hollywood area, you are a lucky SOB because you have an opportunity to see Jane Russell in person! Here is the press release:

Jane Russell To Appear June 23 at Hollywood Heritage Museum
Iconic Hollywood sex symbol Jane Russell, who starred in “The Outlaw,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “The Revolt of Mamie Stover,” will make a rare personal appearance June 23 at the Hollywood Heritage Museum in the Lasky-DeMille Barn.
The “Evening with Jane Russell” program will begin at 7:30 p.m. with a 45-minute motion picture summary of Ms. Russell’s life and career and close with a conversation with the multi- talented performer/activist.
The deeply-religious entertainer, an adoptive mother of three, founded the World Adoption International Fund (WAIF) in 1952, which placed an estimated 51,000 orphaned children. The next year she championed passage of the Federal Orphan Adoption Amendment, which allowed children of American servicemen born overseas to be placed for adoption in the U.S. And in 1980 she was at the forefront of the lobbying effort for the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, which provides reimbursement for eligible foster and adoptive parents, and financial assistance for the additional cost incurred with adopting handicapped children.
The Lasky-DeMille Barn (birthplace of Paramount Pictures) is located at 2100 N. Highland Avenue, across from the Hollywood Bowl. Parking is free (in Lot D). General admission is $10 ($5 for Hollywood Heritage members) and refreshments are available.
The museum auditorium has seating for only 110 guests, and ticket-seekers are advised to arrive early. For additional information visit:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Charlie Chan teaches us about Classic Film distribution

Hasty conclusion like gunpowder. Easy to explode. - Charlie Chan

Do you ever wonder why TCM won't show a particular movie? Do you ever think to yourself,"How did they pick the movies for that boxed set"? Do you find that your head starts to spin whenever you try to keep all the movie studio names straight?

The world of contemporary classic film distribution is complicated. Before I start, let me just clarify that  when I say "classic film distribution", I mean the system in which current movie studios distribute classic films on DVD and license those same films to be shown on television channels such as TCM, AMC and Fox Movie Channel. Trying to figure out who owns what rights, who can show what, who can sell what and what studios have merged together is no easy task. Having tried to figure it out myself, I have come to the conclusion that it's pretty impossible to understand the whole system. However, a basic understanding of some key facts can help you understand the availability of certain films and the unavailability of others as well as how the system works.

It's like the saying goes, in order to eat an elephant you have to go at it one bite at a time. Let's start understanding the classic film distribution by understanding how one particular boxed set came together.

The Charlie Chan Collection is a boxed set I recently reviewed. Note the language on the box indicates that it's part of the TCM Spotlight collection and it's presented by Warner Home Video.

A few things to know...
  • Time Warner merged with Turner Broadcasting System.
  • Time Warner owns both TCM and Warner Bros.
  • The pre-1986 library of MGM films is controlled by Warner Bros.  MGM is currently owned and controlled by Sony Pictures.
  • Monogram films, post-1936, are controlled by Warner Bros (classified under the MGM library). Pre-1936 films are owned by Paramount which is controlled by Viacom.
  • Fox Entertainment Group owns all the various Fox studios (20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, etc.) and has full control over the distribution of all of their films. They will sometimes allow channels like TCM to show films in their library.
  • Universal Studios is owned by NBC and they control the distribution of their library of films with some notable exceptions. They also own distribution rights to films by other studios, including 5 out of the 6 Hitchcock films that Paramount released.
  • Pathe Studios merged with RKO. The library of Pathe and RKO films is owned by Time Warner and thus distributed by Warner Bros.

Now here is a time line for the Charlie Chan films...
  • 1926 - Pathe releases the first Charlie Chan film The House without a Key. The film is considered lost.
  • 1927- Universal Studios releases the second Charlie Chan film The Chinese Parrot. This film is also considered lost.
  • 1929 - Fox acquires the rights to the Charlie Chan character.
  • 1929-1937 - Fox releases 17 Charlie Chan films. 1 with E.L. Park, 1 in Spanish, Eran Trece, and 15 with Warner Oland.
  • 1938 - Warner Oland dies.
  • 1939 - Fox hires Sidney Toler to play Charlie Chan
  • 1939-1942 - Fox releases 11 Charlie Chan films with Sidney Toler but then decide to abandon the franchise.
  • 1942 - Sidney Toler buys the rights to the Charlie Chan character and starts making pictures with Monogram Studios.
  • 1942-1946 - Monogram releases 11 Charlie Chan films with Sidney Toler.
  • 1947 - Sidney Toler dies.
  • 1947 - Monogram hires Roland Winters to play Charlie Chan
  • 1947-1949 - Monogram releases 6 Charlie Chan films with Roland Winters
To put the Charlie Chan franchise in perspective:
  • TCM and Warner Bros. can distribute one lost Pathe film (if it's ever found) and all of the Monogram films (half Sidney Toler and all of Roland Winters).
  • Fox can distribute all of the Warner Oland Charlie Chans and the first 11 of the Sidney Toler Charlie Chans.
  • Universal Studios can only distribute The Chinese Parrot, if they ever find it.

Warner Bros. had already released some of their Charlie Chan films. They could not put any Warner Oland Charlie Chans in the set because those are owned by Fox. They put a "new to DVD" spin on the set which would exclude the following films:

The Secret Service (1944)
The Chinese Cat (1944)
Meeting at Midnight (1944)
The Jade Mask (1945)
The Scarlet Clue (1945)
The Shanghai Cobra (1945)

With only a few films left, TCM and Warner Bros. chose to create a boxed set with 3 Sidney Toler Charlie Chans and 1 Roland Winters Charlie Chan. And thus we get the TCM Spotlight: Charlie Chan Collection!

So next time you find yourself daydreaming about the perfect DVD boxed set and wondering why it isn't available, just know that putting a boxed set together is much more difficult than you think.


Quelle Note: I tried to be as accurate as possible in the post above. If you find any errors or want me to include additional information, please e-mail me at Quellelove at gmail dot com.

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