Eternity Limbo

Speaking of classic Columbia films on digital, I wrote the following to Sony Home Video spokesperson Fritz Friedman earlier today: “This summer will mark the third anniversary of Grover Crisp‘s high-def restoration of From Here to Eternity. This allegedly spiffier-than-ever version played at the Academy in the fall of ’09, and then on the beach in Cannes in May 2010. I know — I was there watching it.

(l. to r.) Frank Sinatra, James Jones, Montgomery Clift sometime during filming of From Here To Eternity.

“In any event, year after year I’ve asked if there’s any commitment to bringing it out on Bluray, and every year your response has been ‘down the road’ or ‘sometime next year’ or words to that effect.

“My most recent article, posted on 8.20.11, suggested in a very cynical vein that Sony Home Video just forget about putting out the Bluray entirely and instead offer From Here To Eternity as a high-def streaming download when such downloads become commonplace in two or three or four years.

“I feel foolish asking again, as I suspect what the answer will probably be, but as your most recent reply was that Eternity would be delayed until sometime in 2012, is that the actual plan? To release it later this year? Or are we thinking yet again about bumping it into 2013 or whenever? Just checking.”

My closing statement to Sony Home Video execs:

“Where did this idea about movies acting as shared-memory experiences, aesthetic-worship rituals and/or opportunities for spiritual nourishment come from anyway? You’re running a business, Sony Home Video, and that’s how you need to play your cards. If a Bluray isn’t likely to bring in a healthy profit that will impress Sony stockholders, fuhgedaboutit.”

  • Bob Violence

    pretty funny how that message was predicated on the idea that Sony doesn’t care about anything except 21st-century films when they clearly care more about their older titles than any other studio

    but hey, I know if I wanted to get them on my side I’d just make stuff up too, that always charms ’em

  • Jeffrey Wells

    They’re not a derelict studio when it comes to tending to their library — who said they are? I said they had Grover Crisp do the work on From Here to Eternity and then did nothing to allow it to be seen for over 2 and 1/2 years, That’s not “made up stuff” — that’s fact. How many years does it have to sit on the shelf before you, Bob Violence, agree that they’re slacking when it comes to this particular title? Four years? Five? Give me a number.

  • Bob Violence

    I am not really sure how you expect SPHE or anyone else to take a remark like “concentrate on releasing 21st Century Blurays that’ll make more money anyway” (followed by an entire paragraph of redundant snark in the exact same vein) as anything but a flat accusation that their failure to release this particular classic film marks them as a bunch of troglodytes with no interest in anything except Underworld: Awakening special editions

    then again I’m not really sure why you think you have any leverage with these people when routinely excoriate them for presenting movies in their original aspect ratio and branding them “fascists” for doing so

  • “Where did this idea about movies acting as shared-memory experiences, aesthetic-worship rituals and/or opportunities for spiritual nourishment come from anyway? You’re running a business, Sony Home Video, and that’s how you need to play your cards. If a Bluray isn’t likely to bring in a healthy profit that will impress Sony stockholders, fuhgedaboutit.”

  • Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy

    I’m posting this way past the “sell-by” date, but…

    the answer to your question, Jeff, is that both Sony and Paramount Pictures have unofficially (or officially?) stopped releasing catalog titles on Bluray.

    Actually, I think Sony made this decision at least a couple of years ago, because films that I performed quality control evaluations on (after the high-def mastering had been completed) have been sitting in limbo for years. Only recently, have some of these titles started to become available to the consumer through limited edition releases. I believe Twilight Time has the license for the Columbia titles, and Olive Pictures has Paramount titles.

    In any case, these vendors are only getting the rights to the actual film transfers. Any bonus materials that were originally produced for the DVD, or in anticipation of a high-def release, are not carrying over.

    Obviously, both Paramount and Sony will release “the jewels in the crown” under their banner, hence the upcoming anniversary editions of CHINATOWN and ROSEMARY’S BABY. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is a widely -acknowledged classic, so I’m sure Sony has plans for it somewhere down the line. However, I’ve got to agree with Mr. Violence; a paragraph of redundant snark isn’t going to motivate them to answer your questions any time soon.

  • Cadavra

    FHTE turns 60 next year, so I’m guessing they’re waiting for the anniversary, just as they waited for this year to release LAWRENCE.

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