Classic Comedy ‘Harold and Maude’ Joining ‘Paramount Presents’ Line Dec. 7

The coming-of-age comedy classic Harold and Maude arrives on Blu-ray Disc Dec. 7 as part of the “Paramount Presents” line from Paramount Home Entertainment.

In the 1971 film, directed by Hal Ashby and written by Colin Higgins, Harold (Bud Cort) is a death-obsessed teen who falls for Maude (Ruth Gordon), a happy-go-lucky, eccentric 79-year-old. To a lilting Yusuf/Cat Stevens soundtrack, Maude teaches Harold a valuable lesson about making the most of his time on earth.

Originally released on Dec. 20, 1971, the film celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and has been restored and remastered for the limited-edition release.  For the restoration, the original negative was scanned in 4K and careful color correction and cleanup were undertaken to pay homage to director of photography John Alonzo’s work and honor the look of the film, according to Paramount. In addition, the soundtrack was completely remixed using recently discovered tracks to add clarity and depth.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray includes a new commentary with Larry Karaszewski (co-screenwriter, Ed Wood; co-screenwriter, Dolemite Is My Name) and writer-director Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous), as well as a look at the film featuring Yusuf/Cat Stevens, who composed and performed the songs for the movie.

Harold and Maude is presented in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ 75th Anniversary Blu-ray Set Due Nov. 16

To celebrate the film’s 75th anniversary, Paramount Home Entertainment will release director Frank Capra’s timeless classic It’s a Wonderful Life Nov. 16 in a collectible, limited-edition two-disc Blu-ray.

Named the No. 1 most inspiring film of all time by the American Film Institute, the film stars James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell and Henry Travers. In the film, an angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Blu-ray set includes a colorized version of the film in high definition as well as the original, digitally remastered black-and-white movie in high definition, and access to a digital copy of the film.  The set also includes 10 collectible recipe cards from Insight Editions’ “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook” with cuisine inspired by the film. Additionally, the set includes more than 45 minutes of previously released bonus content exploring the meticulous process of preserving and revitalizing this iconic masterpiece, a look at the movie’s extraordinary sound, music, cinematography and visual effects, and vintage footage from the film’s wrap party.

Restored ‘The Sheik’ Joining ‘Paramount Presents’ Blu-ray Line Nov. 2 for Its 100th Anniversary

The epic 1921 silent film The Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino, will join the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line Nov. 2 for its 100th anniversary from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Originally released at the height of the nation’s appetite for motion pictures, the romantic drama The Sheik became a massive sensation, breaking box office records and earning more than $1 million during its first year of release.

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, the film was directed by George Melford and stars the legendary Valentino as the title character. The role helped propel Valentino into stardom and sealed his status as a Hollywood heartthrob — and the original “Latin Lover” — at the age of 26. Valentino is Ahmed Ben Hassan, a charming Arabian sheik who becomes infatuated with the adventurous, modern-thinking Englishwoman Lady Diana Mayo (Agnes Ayres). When the sheik abducts Lady Diana, the two clash, but ultimately profess their love for one another.

Since original negatives for silent films rarely exist, Paramount searched the world for the best elements for the restoration and used a print and an intermediate element called a fine grain. One source of the film yielded better results for image quality, another for intertitles. One of the elements was “stretch-printed” and had to be adjusted digitally during the restoration process. In the silent era there was no standard frame rate, so stretch printing was done to show silent films at 24 frames per second. In addition, tints and tones were digitally applied, guided by an original continuity script from the Paramount archive.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

While The Sheik was wildly successful, it did provoke controversy, much as the source material had upon its original publication in 1919. Many of the themes and controversial elements of the film are still being grappled with and are explored in a new featurette on the Blu-ray with film historian and professor Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, “Desert Heat: 100 Years with The Sheik.”  The disc also includes a music score by Roger Bellon and access to a digital copy of the film.

As with all films released in the “Paramount Presents” line, The Sheik is presented with collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.

Update (10/12/21): Release date changed from Oct. 19 to Nov. 2.

‘The Social Network,’ ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Oliver!’ Among Six Classics in Sony 4K Collection Coming Oct. 12

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is debuting six more classics on 4K Ultra HD disc for the first time ever Oct. 12, exclusively within the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Vol. 2.

Films in the collection, only available on 4K as part of the set, include Anatomy of a Murder, Oliver!, Taxi Driver, Stripes, Sense and Sensibility and The Social Network. Each title includes special features.

Included with the collection is a hardbound 80-page book, featuring in-depth sections about the making of each film via six new essays from writers Julie Kirgo, John Kenrick, Glenn Kenny, Michael G. McDunnah, Kayti Burt and Nev Pierce.

The set also includes an exclusive Blu-ray bonus disc featuring 20 short films from the Columbia Pictures library, all presented in high-definition. The shorts, curated from more than 80 years of the studio’s history, showcase a wide scope of creative output across both live-action and animation, from “The Three Stooges” to award-winning mid-century cartoons to titles from Sony Pictures Animation.

The courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture (1959). The film pits a humble small-town lawyer (James Stewart) against a hard-headed big-city prosecutor (George C. Scott). Emotions flare as a jealous army lieutenant (Ben Gazzara) pleads innocent to murdering the rapist of his seductive, beautiful wife (Lee Remick). Produced and directed by  Otto Preminger, the film features a score by Duke Ellington.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The musical Oliver!, based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, won six 1968 Academy Awards including Best Picture. It follows the story of a plucky young orphan and his quest for love and happiness in a world populated by Oscars rascals, rogues and thieves.

Winner of the prestigious Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (1976) and nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Taxi Driver stars Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s classic film of a psychotic New York cabbie driven to violence by loneliness and desperation. The film co-stars Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle and Cybill Shepherd.

In the comedy classic Stripes (1981), when quick-witted slacker John Winger (Bill Murray) loses his apartment, girlfriend and job all in one day, he joins the army. Directed by Ivan Reitman, the film also stars Harold Ramis, John Candy and John Larroquette.

Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture (1995), and directed by Ang Lee, Sense and Sensibility stars Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant. The romantic comedy, based on Jane Austen’s classic novel, tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, sensible Elinor (Thompson) and passionate Marianne (Winslet), whose chances at marriage seem doomed by their family’s sudden loss of fortune. Rickman, Grant and Greg Wise co-star as the well-intentioned suitors who are trapped by the strict rules of society and the conflicting laws of desire.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture (2010), The Social Network, directed by David Fincher, chronicles the formation of Facebook and the battles over ownership that followed upon the website’s unfathomable success. With a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and a cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake, the film bears witness to the birth of an idea that rewove the fabric of society even as it unraveled the friendship of its creators.

Update (8/24/21): Release date changed from Sept. 14 to Sept. 28.
Update (9/10/21): Date changed to Oct. 12.

1960s Christopher Lee Classics, 1980s Actioner ‘Strike Commando’ Among Titles Due on Disc June 22 From MVD and Severin

Christopher Lee European classics and 1980s actioners Invaders of the Lost Gold and the “Rambo”-inspired Strike Commando and Strike Commando 2 are coming to disc June 22 from MVD Entertainment Group and Severin Films.

Due on Blu-ray is The Eurocrypt of Christopher Lee. The collection features movies made during his career in 1960s Europe and brings together five of these Lee classics — Crypt of the Vampire (1964); Castle of the Living Dead (1964) co-starring an unknown Donald Sutherland; Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962); The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967); and the rarely-seen Challenge the Devil (1963) — with the 24 surviving episodes of the 1971 Film Polski anthology series “Theatre Macabre” hosted by Lee. All are remastered from original negative materials with more 10 hours of trailers, rare promos, audio commentaries and vintage interviews, plus the Castle of the Living Dead soundtrack and a new 88-page book by Lee biographer Jonathan Rigby.

Coming on Blu-ray and DVD are the actioners Strike Commando and Strike Commando 2.

For Strike Commando, writer-director Bruno Mattei and co-writers Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi borrowed from Rambo: First Blood Part II, Missing in Action and more to create their own ’Namsploitation masterpiece. Reb Brown (Uncommon Valor) stars as Sgt. Mike Ransom, a one-man war machine on a vengeance mission against brutal Vietcong, merciless Russians and double-crossing U.S. officers. Christopher Connelly (Raiders of Atlantis), Luciano Pigozzi (All the Colors of the Dark) and Jim Gaines (Island of the Living Dead) co-star in the film mastered in 2K from the original negative for the first time. Special features include “War Machine,” an interview with Fragasso; “All Quiet on the Philippine Front,” an interview with Drudi; and in-production promo; and the trailer.

In Strike Commando 2, Mattei, Fragasso and Drudi return to the Philippine jungles with a higher budget, bigger action and actor Richard Harris for a film that borrows from Apocalypse Now, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rambo and other actioners. This time, Sgt Mike Ransom (Brent Huff) battles the KGB, rogue CIA agents, an army of ninjas and a tough bar owner (Miss World 1977 Mary Stavin), among others. Mel Davidson (Robowar) and Vic Diaz (The Big Bird Cage) co-star in this sequel featuring a 2K scan from the original negative for the first time ever. Special features include “Guerrilla Zone,” an interview with Fragasso; “Michael Ransom Strikes Back,” an interview with Huff; and the trailer.

From producer Dick Randall — whose international trashterpieces include Escape From Women’s Prison, The Wild Wild World of Jayne Mansfield and Pieces — comes Invaders of the Lost Gold, an all-star Philippine production of the 1980s, on DVD and Blu-ray. In the last days of WWII, a Japanese platoon is attacked by headhunters while attempting to hide millions in gold. Then, 36 years later, a grizzled guide (Stuart Whitman) is hired to lead an expedition — including Woody Strode (Spartacus), Harold “Oddjob” Sakata and Laura Gemser (Black Emanuelle) — into a jungle inferno of greed, violence, nudity and murder. Edmund Purdom (Absurd) and Glynis Barber (Dempsey and Makepeace) co-star in this film directed by Alan Birkenshaw (Killer’s Moon). Also known as Horror Safari, the film is scanned in 2K for the first time ever. Special features include “Rumble in the Jungle,” an interview with director Alan Birkinshaw, and outtakes from Machete Maidens Unleashed with Birkinshaw and the wife of Randall.

‘Top Gun’ Flying Back to Theaters for 35th

The Tom Cruise action classic Top Gun will land at more than 150 Dolby Cinemas at AMC across the country for an exclusive one-week engagement beginning May 13.

Newly remastered, the film will be presented with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio.

The limited theatrical release is timed to Top Gun Day on May 13, as well as the 35th anniversary of the film, which was originally released on May 16, 1986.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The film, starring Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards,  is available now on digital, 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray, with more than four hours of bonus content, including a featurette that explores the film’s legacy and enduring popularity through interviews with Cruise, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and members of the cast of the new film Top Gun: Maverick.

The story of an elite group of pilots competing to earn the title of “Top Gun” ultimately earned a worldwide box office of more than $350 million.

Classic ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD June 29

The family classic Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and 4K digital June 29 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for its 50th anniversary.

Directed by Mel Stuart from a screenplay by Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is an adaptation of Dahl’s 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”  Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory stars Gene Wilder as Wily Wonka, Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, Roy Kinnear as Mr. Salt, Julie Dawn Cole as Veruca Salt, Leonard Stone as Mr. Beauregarde, Denise Nickerson as Violet Beauregarde, Dodo Denney as Mrs. Teevee and Paris Themmen as Mike Teevee.

The musical follows a boy named Charlie who wins a whirlwind tour of Willy’s incredible, edible realm of chocolate waterfalls, elfish Oompa-Loompas and industrial-sized confections.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The combo pack will include the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features, which include:

  • Commentary with the Wonka Kids;
  • “Pure Imagination: The Story of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory”;
  • “The Moviemakers”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: Pure Imagination”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: I Want It Now!”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: I’ve Got A Golden Ticket”;
  • “Scrumptious Sing-Along: Oompa-Loompa-Doompa-De-Do”; and
  • The theatrical trailer.

Kirk Douglas Western ‘Last Train From Gun Hill’ Joining Paramount Presents Blu-ray Line June 15

The Kirk Douglas Western Last Train From Gun Hill will debut on Blu-ray June 15 as part of the Paramount Presents line from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Douglas and Anthony Quinn headline the classic from director John Sturges, which has been remastered from a 6K film transfer of the original VistaVision negative.

The film follows U.S. Marshal Matt Morgan (Douglas) on the trail of his wife’s killer. Adding a dark twist to the tale, the suspect’s father is Morgan’s longtime friend, cattle baron Craig Beldon (Quinn). Morgan is determined to capture the killer and take him away by the 9 o’clock train, against all odds.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The limited-edition Blu-ray includes a new “Filmmaker Focus” with film historian Leonard Maltin, access to a digital copy of the film, as well as original theatrical trailers for Last Train From Gun Hill, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The Furies and The Black Orchid. The Blu-ray comes in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.

‘Ultraman Leo’ Coming to Blu-ray May 25 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release the classic Japanese series “Ultraman Leo” on Blu-ray as both a special-edition Steelbook and in standard packaging on May 25.

The seventh and final entry in the first wave of the “Ultraman” series premiered in Japan in April 1974. The mighty hero Ultraseven is crippled while defending the Earth from an invasion by the tyrannical Alien Magma. He is rescued by Gen Otori, a young Ultra warrior who had fled to Earth following the destruction of his home world, Planet L77 in the Leo constellation. Unable to return to his giant form, the injured Ultraseven resumes his human identity of Dan Moroboshi and trains Gen to become the next Ultra Hero — Ultraman Leo.

“Ultraman Leo” offered a more mature and often violent tone than its kid-friendly predecessor, “Ultraman Taro.” The show features a new Earth defense team; the Monster Attacking Crew; the return of classic Ultra Heroes such as Ultraman, Zoffy, Jack and Ace; and the introduction of three new Ultras.

The Steelbook and standard Blu-ray releases of “Ultraman Leo” include all 51 half-hour episodes in high-def with DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Digital redemption will also be available via Mill Creek Entertainment’s streaming service movieSpree.

Mill Creek Entertainment has licensed the entire available “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions.

Classic Musical ‘My Fair Lady’ Heading to 4K Ultra HD May 25

The classic musical My Fair Lady will debut on 4K Ultra HD combo pack May 25 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Winner of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, My Fair Lady also won the Best Picture Golden Globe and was selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.

Adapted from the Broadway stage hit, the film stars Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins, a role that earned him the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, a sassy, working-class London street vendor. The elitist Higgins attempts to turn Eliza into a sophisticated lady through proper tutoring. But when the humble flower girl blossoms into the toast of London society, her teacher has a lesson or two to learn himself.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The 4K Ultra HD release features a recent 8K film transfer, as well as English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD. The 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack also includes access to a digital copy of the film and more than two hours of previously released bonus content.