Coming Back to a Theater Near You

A History of Hollywood Reissues, 1914–2014

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About the Book

In the Silent Era, film reissues were a battle between rival studios—every Mary Pickford new release in 1914 was met with a Pickford re-release. For 50 years after the Silent Era, reissues were a battle between the studios, who considered old movies “found money,” and cinema owners, who often saw audiences reject former box office hits. In the mid–1960s, the return of The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)—the second biggest reissue of all time—altered industry perceptions, and James Bond double features pushed the revival market to new heights. In the digital age, reissues have continued to confound the critics.
This is the untold hundred-year story of how old movies saved new Hollywood. Covering the booms and busts of a recycling business that became its own industry, the author describes how the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart and Alfred Hitchcock won over new generations of audiences, and explores the lasting appeal of films like Napoléon (1927), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Rocky Horror Show (1975) and Blade Runner (1982).

About the Author(s)

Brian Hannan writes a regular column for Cinema Retro magazine and gives lectures on film at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland.

Bibliographic Details

Brian Hannan
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 492
Bibliographic Info: 101 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9813-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2389-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments  vi

Preface  1

Introduction  3

1. The First Quarter Century: 1914–1939,

Let Battle Commence  15

Introduction • The Reissue Bandwagon Begins to Roll • 

The First Reissue Boom: Chaplin Fever • Deception: The Fraud Squad • Self-Destruction: The Reissue Threat • The Last Taboo: Valentino • Reissue Phenomenon: Birth of a Nation • How Reissues Fitted the New Business Model • Talkies: The Impossible Equation • 

The New Horizon: Remakes and Synchronization • Intermittent Demand • Shortage Turns the Tide • Into the Record Books • Unlikely Reissue King: Charles Laughton • Financial Crisis and Looming War • Conclusion

2. The 1940s: Reissue Bust and Boom  41

Introduction • Thumbs Down to War Revivals • Longer, Shorter:

New Versions of Old Movies • Reissues Unwanted Until the Shortage Bites • Drastic Action as Studios Curtail Reissues • The Growth of the Specialist Reissue Company • The Reissue Double Bill • 

“There’s Gold in Them Thar Reissues” (Variety, April 2, 1947, 9) • 

Unions Demand Action • Conclusion

3. The 1940s: Case Studies—Haphazard Reissue  62

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs • The W.C. Fields Cult Begins • Gone with the Wind • The Wizard of Oz and the Anniversary Invention

4. The 1950s: Television Haunts the Industry  69

Introduction • Television: Opportunity and Threat • The Optimists • 

The Deceivers • Reissue Comebacks—Garbo and Chaplin • Victorious Defeat • The Fallow Years • King Kong to the Rescue • The Quantity Dilemma • Stretched to the Limit: Widescreen Revamps • The Drought • The Decade Ends on a High • Conclusion

5. The 1950s: Case Studies—Building a Reissue Arsenal  100

Introduction • Building a Reissue Arsenal: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1952) • The Birth of the Hitchcock Reissue Legend: The Lady Vanishes (1952) • Creating a Reissue Phenomenon: Gone with the Wind (1954) • The Lesson of Tarzan

6. 1960–1963: The Jury Is Out  113

Introduction • The Second Tier Blockbuster: The Glenn Miller Story • The Exhibitor Knows Best: Friendly Persuasion • Roadshow Reinvention: The King and I • Oscars: The United Artists Rethink • Immunity: MGM and Disney • The Arthouse Hothouse • Blockbusters • Star Power • Conclusion

7. 1964–1966: The Turning Point  142

Introduction • Game Changer No. 1: Bridge on the River Kwai • 

Game Changer No. 2—The James Bond Double Bill • Oscar Revamp • Musicals Bounce Back • Directors Exert Star Power • 1966: From Famine to Domination • Four Little Films That Could: Lili, An Evening with Batman and Robin, Poor White Trash, La Dolce Vita • Conclusion

8. 1967–1969: Husbandry—The “Threeissue”: Reissuing the Reissue  167

Introduction • The MGM Legacy • Disney: Reissue Champ • United Artists: Play Them Till They Drop • The Bonnie and Clyde Phenomenon • A Reissue Star Is Born: Sidney Poitier • Endangered Species • Conclusion

9. The 1960s: Case Studies—Reissue Royalty, Old Retainers and Loyal Courtiers  194

Introduction • Queen Elizabeth • King Alfred • Old Masters: The Comedians • Rising from the Dead—Humphrey Bogart • The Workhorses: The Thomas Crown Affair, One Million Years B.C. • 

Unsung Hero: Darby O’Gill and the Little People • Conclusion

10. 1970–1973: Sentence Commuted  212

Introduction • Fox on Fire • Roadshow Re-Cycle • Disney Attracts a Rival • Comedy Classics Entrenched • The Great Garbo Revival • Chaplin Rides Again • New Reissue Stars and Studios • The Other Champ Returns • Conclusion

11. 1974–1979: The Rollercoaster Ride  233

Introduction • A Wall Too Far • Heavyweights Go Head–to-Head • 

Television Cuts the Big Four Down to Size • Tuning Up: That’s Entertainment • 1975: Sherlock Holmes Hits the Spot • The Classics Step Up • Fanboy Favorite: Sinbad • A New Era Beckons • Another Boom • 1977: Alive to Opportunity • Classic Revival—Again • Star Wars: The Reissue “Wind Up” • 1979: The “Threeissue” Epidemic • Conclusion

12. The 1970s: Case Studies—Slow Burners and Surprise Packets  260

Introduction • This Joint Is Smokin’: Reefer Madness • Marx Brothers Mania: Animal Crackers • Rescued from Rejection: King of Hearts • The Oddest Love Story: Harold and Maude • Midnight Rendezvous: The Rocky Horror Picture Show • Conclusion

13. 1980–1999: Brave New Goldmine  271

Introduction • Video Cassette and Paycable • Thwarted Vision: Close Encounters of the Third Kind • The Greatest Reissue Story Ever Told: Napoleon • Re-Strike and Reissue Fever: A Star Is Born •

Alfred Hitchcock: Reissue Poster Boy • Disney Domination • Atonement: Lawrence of Arabia, the Director’s Cut • Righting Wrongs: Blade Runner, the Director’s Cut • The Biggest Restoration of All Time: Star Wars • The French Are Coming (Back): Belle de Jour • The Resurrection of Orson Welles • Conclusion

14. 2000–2014: Bigger Than Ever—How Did That Happen?  295

Introduction • Roadshow Redux: Fantasia 2000 • Once Is Not Enough: Metropolis • The New Perennials: The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, The Polar Express and The Nightmare Before Christmas • All Join In: Sing-a-Long-a Sound of Music • Reverse Reissue: It’s a Wonderful Life

Epilogue or Prologue? What Next for the Reissue?  307

Appendices

A: Top Reissues, 1940–1959  311

B: Top Reissues, 1970–1979  312

C: Disney Animated Feature Reissues, 1980–1989  313

D: Pattern of Reissue Release, 1963–1979  314

E: Reissues Reaching No. 1 in the Weekly Top Ten, 1960–1979  321

F: Reissues in the Weekly Top Ten, 1960–1974  321

G: Number of Entries Per Year in the Weekly Top Ten  323

H: British Cinema Circuit Reissues, 1939–1979  324

Chapter Notes  330

Bibliography  437

Index  445

Book Reviews & Awards

“a lively look back, packed with scads of incredible ads and posters that illustrate a peculiar sort of Tinseltown ballyhoo”—Flick Attack.