Four films I wish I could see on DVD


VASCO, accompanied by a SMALL CHILD, walks up to the counter looking lost.  Two of the CLERKS take a step backward before he says a word, and the third CLERK is transfixed to the television set, watching reruns of “Friends”.


Excuse me, do you have Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure?

One of the clerks rolls her eyes.


Pee what?


I never heard of it either, how do you spell it?


Pee double e double u double e

The second Clerk looks around for hidden cameras.


Nothing for that, sorry.

CLERK 3 (“Friends” fan)

Maybe, just try “big adventure”.

Clerk 3 is still watching Friends on the screen.  Clerk 2 types the words in.  Then shakes her head.

Clerks 1 and 2 shake their heads in embarrassment.  The small child looks up to see what’s going on.


What about March of the Penguins?

Clerk 3 leaves her tv show behind and leads the customer to the documentary section.  The other two clerks relax.  Clerk 1 even smiles.  He finally asked for a movie that actually “exists”!

Same old story.  I went to the video rental shop, and they never heard of the film I wanted to borrow.  So, I checked a major online retailer.  It was only available in Region 1. We could see the trailer online, but we have to get a new machine to watch it.

This has happened to me five times.

5.  Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985).  I saw this film as a kid.  I loved it.  I remember when the bus driver scarred the living noodles out of the girl who sat a few seats away from me.  I think the whole cinema shook.

I couldn’t really do justice by quoting it.  So much of the magic of this film is in the delivery.  I’m not saying the script wasn’t great, just that everyone in it is such a genius that you really have to see it to experience it.

This is a classic.  Come on, it’s like Tim Burton’s first proper film.  It’s a crime against cinema not to stock it.

(Okay, we have this one on region 2 DVD now, imported from France.  It’s still one of my favorite movies.  Sadly, the DVD rental place has gone out of business.)

4. Maytime (1937).  This film is probably terrible.  Noel Langley claims to have written the script in three days. He also claims it was a box-office success.

(Of course, he had an operetta and a treatment in place to work from before those three days started.  And they probably had someone else helping on set.)

I don’t know how valid Langley’s claims are, but he was one of the many writers involved in Wizard of Oz, so he must have had some talent.

Maytime was released on DVD apparently, but I haven’t found a copy.  I guess you can get it used in Italian, but for that price, I want a new one.  And I really want to see the screenplay that he wrote “in three days”, which may not be what’s on film.

Ok, so I don’t want to see the film that much.  That’s why I said “Four films” I wish I could see.  If Maytime is showing, I’ll come along.

3.  Married but Single (1940) aka This Thing Called Love. The script for this was written by a few people, including uncredited Wizard of Oz writer George Seaton.

No, I never saw this film.  I don’t know how long it took to write.  I don’t even know how well it did at the cinema.

But in doing research for my dissertation, I remembered it.  I’d read about it before.  You see, the director was credited with some great ideas that came from the writer.

There’s a scene where the husband slams the door just in time, and the wife throws something at it (a shoe I think.)  As the door closes, and the shoe hits, we see fifty marks on the door, and “know” that they’ve had the argument fifty times before.

I want to see that film with people who never heard of it, and see if they “know” what’s going on.

2. Little Fugitive (1953).  A kid thinks that he killed his brother, and runs away to Coney Island (which was then a big amusement park).  It just sounds fascinating.  In fact, this film is said to be one of the influences of François Truffaut.  All that, and you can’t find it in region 2.

1.  The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924).  I don’t normally like propaganda films, but this was a classic developed by the creator of the Kuleshov effect, Lev Kuleshov himself!

I saw one clip when I was studying cinema in France, and it looked like the funniest Russian film I ever saw.

I want to tear it apart, to see how montage influences the comedy.  I want to rant about how politically motivated it is, how none of that is like real life.  But mostly, I want to watch it and have a good laugh!

If you own the DVD rights to any of these films (except for Maytime) and have some originals, I will be happy to help distribute them.  Include some Mister Hulot, and we could have a festival of missing classics.