While writing about "The Apartment" recently for its second DVD incarnation (or its fourth, if you count its inclusion in two different box sets), I started looking up some Jack Lemmon films I hadn't thought about in a while.
I knew that at least some had been on VHS "Good Neighbor Sam," "The Notorious Landlady," "Phffft," "April Fools" and "Under the Yum Yum Tree" so perhaps they slipped onto DVD when I wasn't looking. No such luck.
Likewise the VHS-released Lemmon films "Three for the Show," "Luv," "The War Between Men and Women" and "Buddy Buddy." And a couple "Operation Mad Ball" (a childhood favorite of mine) and "You Never Can Tell" never even made it to VHS.
In a column a few weeks ago, I wrote about the DVD shift to Blu-ray and how that will likely mean a rush to reissue and repackage popular A-list titles at the expense of lesser-known vintage titles. Lemmon's oeuvre is an instructive example of what's missing.
Thankfully, the bulk of his most popular and critically acclaimed films are on DVD, of course: "The Apartment," "Some Like It Hot," "Mister Roberts," "The Odd Couple" far too many to list.
But how many more ways will the studios find to rerelease "The Apartment" and "Some Like It Hot" before they get around to "Good Neighbor Sam" and "The Notorious Landlady"?
All of which got me thinking about a list I had compiled a couple of decades ago, when I was doing a call-in radio show in addition to writing reviews for the Deseret News a list of the "most-requested" titles that never made it to VHS (as opposed to "best" or "classic" titles).
I thought it was time to take a gander at that list again, to see how many have since made their way to DVD. To my surprise, only a few: "The High and the Mighty," "The Slipper and the Rose," "Annie Get Your Gun," "Brigham Young," "O. Henry's Full House," "Cheaper by the Dozen" (1950), "Of Mice and Men" (1939), "Count Dracula" (1977, a BBC/PBS adaptation with Louis Jourdan) and "The Promise" (available only in a Danielle Steel box set).
The remainder of the list movies that have still not been released on VHS or DVD is much longer: "Porgy and Bess," "Song of the South," "Hellzapoppin,"' "Lost Horizon" (1973), "Fate Is the Hunter," and many more, far too numerous to list here.
On the other hand, there are always surprises. To cash in on ... er, celebrate ... the 10th anniversary of the passing of Frank Sinatra, no less than 10 of his films will make their DVD debut on May 15 including "Sergeants 3," a title that many thought would never receive a home-video release.
Filmed in southern Utah, "Sergeants 3" is one of only two movies to star the entire Rat Pack Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. (The other is "Ocean's 11.")
The remaining nine new-to-DVD titles are "Some Came Running," "None but the Brave," "The Tender Trap," "Marriage on the Rocks," "Double Dynamite," "Higher and Higher," "Step Lively," "It Happened in Brooklyn" and "The Kissing Bandit."
That's good news, and it offers a little hope for vintage-movie fans.But it's worth noting that alongside these new-to-disc titles are a batch of reissues of a dozen other Sinatra films that are already on DVD.