Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Double Dip Indemnity


Just got the new Universal Special Edition of the Billy Wilder film noir classic Double Indemnity. Now, I love this movie, and the original Indemnity DVD (issued back in the early days of the format by Image Entertainment, above left) was one of the first discs I ever bought.

So how's the new version? Well, it's okay.

Universal could learn a thing or two from Warner Brothers on how to treat a classic film. While the packaging is nice, and the movie does look a bit better than the previous release with less grain and better contrast levels (still looks too soft, though), it seems a fairly half-hearted "Special Edition." The biggest disappointment is the relatively meager extras gathered by Uni for such an important and well-regarded classic.

There's a two-minute, fluffy intro by TCM host Robert Osborne, a good but short and somehow unsatisfying documentary and two dry commentaries by different film historians. That's it for disc 1.

The second disc holds only a 1973 TV remake of the film with Richard Crenna. It's pretty bad. Universal didn't even bother to put a Chapter Menu on it (but then, they only gave it two chapter breaks). This lame TV flick – only an hour and 14 minutes long – while a nice extra, could have easily fit on the first disc, and reduced the price of the set.

It's good to have a better version of the movie, as it's one of my favorites, but I really wish that Universal had more regard for their classic films. Both Fox and Warners treat their library titles so much better.

Don't even get me started on Uni's bare-bones release of This Island Earth. I'll be ranting about that in my column soon enough.

It really makes me wonder if those forthcoming Anniversary Editions of Dracula and Frankenstein will be worth spending money on again...

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