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4th January 2007


Nine film noir classics will be released by Universal Pictures UK on February the 12th, headed by one of the genre's archetypal films, Double Indemnity (with Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson, written by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler, based on the novel by James M Cain, directed by Billy Wilder).

The other films in the collection are: Out of the Past (Robert Mitchum); The Killers (Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, directed by Robert Siodmak, based on the story by Ernest Hemingway); The Glass Key (Gloria Grahame and Robert Mitchum); The Blue Dahlia (Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, screenplay by Raymond Chandler); This Gun For Hire (Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd, based on the novel by Graham Greene); Murder My Sweet (Dick Powell, directed by Edward Dmytryk, based on Farewell My Lovely, by Raymond Chandler); and The Big Steal (Robert Mitchum, William Bendix and Jane Greer).

It looks like all the films will be bare-bones releases, even Double Indemnity, which was released by Universal in the US a few months ago as a special edition with extras including a featurette and two commentaries. Sigh. Isn't it about time Universal Pictures UK employed people who love movies?

The discs have an RRP of 9.99.

Buena Vista has announced that their forthcoming two-disc Peter Pan Special Edition DVD will now be released on March the 19th, several weeks later than originally planned.

Twentieth Century Fox will release the smash-hit comedy The Devil Wears Prada on DVD on February the 5th.

The Star Trek: Klingon Fan Collective DVD set, which was originally scheduled for release in November, has been given a new release date: January the 15th.

2nd January 2007


Happy New Year from Zeta Minor!

There's not a lot to report at the moment - most of the DVD industry seems to go into hibernation a the end of December, no doubt exhausted from promoting the titles released at the beginning of December: the year's Summer blockbusters, and the endless stand-up comedy titles!

At the beginning of January the retailers turn their attention clearing the fourth-quarter overstocks. The DVD companies release titles aimed at those who have gift vouchers burning holes in their pockets, and keep fit titles, aimed at those who feel they need to loose the excess weight they've accumulated over the festive period.

Don't worry, things will soon be back to normal!

I wish I could say that I've been using the recent lull to its full advantage, but I can't. I've done nothing productive since just before Christmas, apart from keeping the Incoming database ticking over (a mere tweak or two, compared to the stalwart work of my colleagues Ben and Ceri).

If I was the sort of person who's especially efficient, I would have had new competitions lined up for this week. But, I'm not, and so I haven't - sorry!


Film Score Monthly has scored two palpable hits with their latest pair of CD soundtrack releases...

The Silver Age Classics release is The Spy With My Face - Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movies, which features music from the eight Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature films, by Morton Stevens, Gerald Fried, Nelson Riddle, Richard Shores and Jerry Goldsmith.

The U.N.C.L.E. films were created by joining two TV episodes together. Some of them were given a theatrical release in the US, but they were primarily made for theatrical release overseas (in England, Japan and Australia, in particular - To Trap a Spy, the feature version of the series' pilot opened in London a couple of months before the series made its BBC debut, for example). In recent years the movie versions have been more ubiquitous here than the TV series, thanks to their regular exposure on television, and to the Warner Home Video DVD box set.

This disc complements the label's three existing Man From U.N.C.L.E. CDs. With the obvious exception of Goldsmith's wonderful Main Title theme, almost everything on this new compilation is previously unreleased. The films featured a mixture of music from the TV version, and newly-composed music (often by the same composer). Some of the films featured new footage (most notably To Trap A Spy, which added a new character played by Bond babe Luciana Paluzzi, a few months before her appearance in Thunderball).

Music from four of the films was re-mastered from Warner Bros' quarter-inch mono tapes. To Trap a Spy was re-scored with the music Goldsmith wrote for its TV pilot incarnation, (and most of it was featured on FSM's other The Man From U.N.C.L.E. discs), so this new disc only features the slightly re-jigged opening and closing sequences).

The tracks from One of Our Spies Is Missing, The Karate Killers and How To Steal The World were taken from three-track 35mm stereo masters. The two tracks from The Helicopter Spies (the Main Title and End Title, the only cues recorded especially for the film) were thought to be lost, but FSM managed to locate acetate copies at USC, and they were used to complete the disc.

The disc, a limited edition of three thousand copies, is accompanied by a twenty-page booklet, featuring extensive notes by Jon Burlingame, lavishly illustrated with an array of international poster images and photo's.

FSM's most recent Golden Age Classics release will be the answer to the prayers of many vintage animation fans. Tom and Jerry & Tex Avery Too! - Volume 1: The 1950s is a packed two-disc set of music composed and conducted by Scott Bradley (who scored seventeen Academy Award-winning cartoons).

The set features two dozen complete scores for Tom and Jerry and Tex Avery classics, including favourites like Touche, Pussy Cat! (set in 19th century France) and Pet Peeve. The scores are from Bradley's last few years at the studio (he retired in 1957). The choice is largely dictated by the surviving music elements. Music from before 1953 was archived to tape in 1971 on an ad hoc basic, and many of these recordings were unusable. From 1952 onwards the scores were recorded on magnetic 17.5mm film, offering a more stable format for FSM's restorers to work from, and superior sound quality. Nine of the scores were archived on three-track 35mm film (the same process used for full-length feature films), and these are presented in stereo, with startling sound quality.

The disc, a limited edition of three thousand copies, is accompanied by a twenty-two page booklet, featuring extensive notes by Daniel Goldmark, author of Tunes for 'Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon.

Film Score Monthly discs can be obtained from specialist soundtrack retailers, or directly, from FSM's trading partner, Screen Archives Entertainment.

Last week's Zeta Minor News can be viewed here.

Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.

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