An Update on My "Holy Grail" Movie List
A couple days ago, I had a random burst of inspiration and decided to google the movie Mother Lode, a nifty adventure flick from 1982 starring Charlton Heston and a very young Kim Basinger. I was curious to see if there were any rumors about it finally coming to DVD, even though I didn't really expect to find any. Mother Lode is one of those perennial "missing-in-action" titles; as far as I know, it only ever had a single home-video release, on VHS cassette back in the days when nobody could afford those except video-rental stores. I've never understood why a well-crafted, solidly entertaining movie like this one could fall into near-total obscurity while so many truly awful B- and Z-grade schlockers get 15 different editions in each new media format that comes along. Granted, not many people have even heard of Mother Lode, but every person I meet who's seen it thinks very highly of it. There is a following out there, even if it's not terribly organized or vocal.
Since the Warner Archive came along, I've been hoping it might finally surface as a manufacture-on-demand title, so I've been checking every few months as the thought occurs to me. And I've been disappointed every time, too... until this week. To my tremendous surprise and joy, Mother Lode is scheduled for release at the end of March... and not as an MOD title, either, but as a full-fledged, regular-production (or "pressed") DVD. I immediately pre-ordered my copy, and, as lame as it sounds, I've been walking on air ever since. It's just a DVD, but it's also the fulfillment of a very long quest to find something that didn't seem to be attainable. It's been a long time since I felt that kind of satisfaction that perhaps only collectors really know.
Anyhow, finding out about Mother Lode got me thinking about my other "holy grail" films, the ones that I want to own on DVD but which have remained stubbornly unavailable. I remembered that I actually blogged about them almost two years ago now, and I thought maybe I ought to revisit that list and see if the status has changed for any of the others...
Here's the list as I composed it in 2009, with the titles I now know to be available at retail stricken out:
- High Road to China
These two Tom Selleck vehicles are both still MIA. I have no idea why but I'm guessing some sort of legal problem is holding them up, as opposed to a perceived lack of interest. I know High Road, at least, would probably sell fairly well. I believe both of these are Warner Bros. titles, so if Mother Lode is at last here, perhaps there's some hope for these two as well...
Pre-ordered and due to ship in only a few short weeks.
I didn't realize this when I drew up this list two years ago, but this title has already come and gone without me ever realizing. It was released clear back in 2000, practically the dawn of the DVD age. Used copies are currently going on Amazon for $40 and up. With prices like that, I'll stick with my old VHS copy and hope this film gets re-released at some point on down the road.
The 1979 biopic with Kurt Russell in the title role was released last year. I don't have it yet, but it's on my "to-buy" list.
The Great Waldo Pepper
Quietly released last summer without me realizing; I've added it to my "to-buy" list.
The African Queen
Released last spring; now in my collection.
- The pre-1997 editions of the original Star Wars trilogy
Well, I keep hoping, for all the good it does me. I know a lot of folks don't understand why this is such a big deal -- a very good friend recently shocked the hell out of me by revealing that he actually prefers the Special Editions to the unrevised versions -- but I stand by my convictions that (a) there wasn't any need to "fix" what wasn't broken, and (b) the unrevised versions are historically significant and deserving of the proper respect and preservation. In other words, they ought to be on the market in a presentation that meets contemporary standards. If Ridley Scott can release a box set containing five different cuts of Blade Runner, and Steven Spielberg can do the same with three versions of Close Encounters, and Coppola can give us two versions of Apocalypse Now, then George Lucas can bloody well do the same thing. He's the only "film school generation" director who doesn't seem to trust the consumer/collector to decide for themselves which variant of his signature films they want to enjoy. I hope that someday somebody will finally get through to him.
(Incidentally, if you want to study this issue in more detail and find out why George is, ahem, incorrect, check out Saving Star Wars, a really fascinating site filled with all kinds of technical detail and rational arguments in support of my position. It ain't just me, kids!)
Six of my 10 grails are still unavailable. But hey, we've made some progress, at least...