Friday, December 7, 2007

It's (still) a wonderful life, Mr. Scrooge

Without a doubt, two of the more cherished holiday movies are "It's a Wonderful Life" and the 1951 version of "A Christmas Carol".
Both films have been issued in upgraded DVDs this year. Although we groused in a recent post about the habit of issuing films over and over, both of these upgrades are well worth it.
VCI's upgrade of A Christmas Carol (Ultimate Collector's Edition)(B/W & Color) (sometimes known as "Scrooge") is a real holiday present. It marks the first time that the original 35 mm film elements have been used. The difference is immediately noticeable in the sharpness and contrast of the new version to the old one.
The sound has also been upgraded. In addition to the original mono, the disc features a stereo surround sound track, an audio commentary featuring George Cole, who played the young Ebenezer Scrooge, and an audio narrative for the blind.
In addition, a 16x9 widescreen ratio version is also available, though we prefer the original aspect ratio.
The color version of the film that has circulated for several years is on disc 2, maybe the only criticism of the set, as is Seymour Hicks' 1935 version of "Scrooge," probably one of the dreariest versions of the Dickens story out there. It makes for a good comparison with the 1951 version.
Other special features include a photo gallery that includes shots of the original press kit, trailers, restoration comparison, a Charles Dickens featurette and a booklet. Suffice to say this thing is loaded with more than enough features to warrant buying it, even if you already have it.
Another holiday favorite that's been around a lot on DVD is "It's a Wonderful Life," which has reissued this year in It's A Wonderful Life (Two-Disc Collector's Set) (B/W & Color). The big sell with this set is not the black-and-white version, which looks good as usual, but the new color version, which looks much more lifelike and real than similar color versions floating around. This one is actually watchable, even for those who detest them. The extras include "The Making of 'It's a Wonderful Life'," narrated by Tom Bosley, a tribute to Frank Capra by his son, Frank Jr., and the original trailer.
These movies are true holiday classics. And these new DVD versions only make the holiday that much more enjoyable.

  • Warner Home Video has announced two more new upgraded DVDs: "Riverdance" and "Les Miserables." Both will be expanded to two-disc sets that will include new documentaries. They'll be out Feb. 19.

    Check out our DVD Watch "A Christmas Carol" store featuring all the different versions of "A Christmas Carol" on DVD.