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The Good, the Bad and the Hobbit

About Nothing over 6 bucks each!

Previous Entry The Good, the Bad and the Hobbit Aug. 21st, 2007 @ 04:56 pm Next Entry

Two great recent finds...

EastWestDVD, which a year or so ago released the animated Rankin Bass version of The Hobbit in its dollar-DVD line, has come through with RB's second and final "Rings" installment, 1980's The Return of the King.

Those of us old enough to remember its first broadcast will recall curious elements such as:

  • An artistic style that looked as if the entire movie had been done in watercolor
  • Roddy McDowall as the voice of Samwise (and as the evil, taunting voice of the ring)
  • The non-Tolkien addition of a strumming minstrel to fill us in on all the details we missed in the previous books, voiced by Limeliter folkie Glenn Yarbrough ("Frodo of the nine fingers, and the ring of dooooooooom!").

I picked this up in National Wholesale Liquidators. Worth every penny of the dollar, it was. I recommend it to all.

A similarly great deal was the box set of nine spaghetti Westerns I picked up at Stop & Shop for $7.50. None of them star Clint Eastwood, but many of them star Lee Van Cleef. Four of the nine titles are widescreen format, but with three on each DVD, don't expect wonderful quality. To its credit, St. Clair Entertainment Group includes a disclaimer at the beginning about deterioration of the original negatives causing uneven quality. Hey, for $7.50 I'm not complaining. There's also a few extras, including a bunch of spaghetti Western trailers.

It includes these movies:

Happy viewing!


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Date:August 21st, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
Wait, those animated versions of The Hobbit and LOTR books are in the public domain? How did I not know that?
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Date:August 23rd, 2007 01:53 am (UTC)
Even if the movies weren't properly registered, the underlying copyrights on the books themselves would make it impossible to release a legally-okay PD DVD of those films. As usual, EastWest is skating on thin ice.

Also, there was an incident two years back where some eagle-eyed viewers were able to determine that Diamond Entertainment had lifted prints from DVDs put out by other companies (including DVD-R "companies"). A lot of those titles are also present on this St. Clair set, so I can't help but wonder...
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Date:August 23rd, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
I agree that the RB animated films are not likely public domain, but I'm not so sure the book's copyrights would secure the movie versions -- different media, different copyrights.

Copyright law is a weird quagmire which allows 1940s Superman cartoons to be PD, even though the Superman character is obviously legally owned by DC Comics. Popeye, Casper, Woody Woodpecker, etc., are all owned by others, yet their individual cartoons are PD. But, because the characters are copyrighted, PD producers would have to pay to use even still images from the PD cartoons as cover art, which is why you usually see a badly drawn version on the sleeve instead. Wacky, eh?

Perhaps most similar to the Tolkien example is that "His Girl Friday" is in the public domain while the copyright on the play it is clearly based on, "The Front Page," is still legally secure.

Again, this is not to argue that EastWest's "Hobbit" and "ROTK" releases are PD or even legit. Nonetheless, I gladly handed over my dollar for them!

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Date:August 23rd, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC)
I agree that the RB animated films are not likely public domain, but I'm not so sure the book's copyrights would secure the movie versions -- different media, different copyrights.

Considering the copyright on the story IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is based on was used to reassert the movie's copyright, I must respectfully disagree. Story copyrights are also part of the reason that NOSFERATU is PD. As I recall, NOSFERATU was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (which was still under copyright at the time) and the Stoker estate was successfully able to (essentially) take away the rights from the people who made NOSFERATU in court due to that fact. And when the copyright on "Dracula" expired...

In the case of THE HOBBIT, it also contains songs taken straight from the pages of the original copyrighted book, so the Tolkien estate could unlease an RIAA-style whoopin' on EastWest if they chose to (I doubt they even know these EastWest DVDs exist). Your note on "The Front Page" is interesting, but all it shows to me is that the play's copyright holders haven't taken the necessary action (It wouldn't surprise me if they didn't know that they could do so).
Date:August 22nd, 2007 02:17 am (UTC)

Yeah, sure.

As if St. Claire is using anything even close to original negatives.

I'm highly skeptical there's a title in this post that is truly public domain.

- CW
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