Old movies–TV movies, in this case

Another in the ongoing series of single-disc comments on TreeLine’s megapacks, my constant companions in treadmill time:

This is the 50-Movie All Star Collection, a set of 50 Movies for TV.

All stars! All color (I believe)! All talkies! Some as recent as the 1980s. Some even with stereo sound! Oh, and by the way, these are all TV movies. Nothing wrong with that, to be sure.

I naïvely expected that TV movies would be defect-free, taken from videotapes. In general, there are a lot fewer defects here—but there are, in some cases, the kind of scratches and jumps you expect from overused prints.

As always, a second bracketed run time is what I actually found on the DVD, when it differs by more than a minute from IMDB’s claimed run time.

Disc 1

Divorce His; Divorce Hers, 1973, color, Hussein Waris (dir.), Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Carrie Nye, Barry Foster. 3:00 [2:27]

I don’t understand either the 3:00 claimed run time at IMDB or the 2:34 combined run time on the sleeve (two portions, 77 minutes each). I’d guess the latter difference represents the “in part 2” trailer and “in part 1” leader that the TV presentations would have, which don’t appear on the DVD—but I would assume that these were 90-minute episodes including ads, which makes sense for 73-74 minute runtimes. Is it plausible that 33 minutes are missing? I doubt it. In any case, this two-sided view of a marriage falling apart is well-photographed (mostly in Rome), in glorious color, and you can’t fault the cast. It’s a little slow moving (as one reviewer noted, it would have made a good 2-hour movie), but it’s certainly worth watching. Generally very good condition. (This counts as two of the four movies on disc 1: Divorce His and Divorce Hers.) $2.50.

The Brass Ring, 1983, color, Bob Balaban (dir.), Dina Merrill, Sylvia Sidney, Dana Baron. 1:21

Well…Dina Merrill plays this kind of role well, I guess. She’s a depressed mother of three who won’t take her medicine, runs away from her mother’s house in New York (Sylvia Sidney as the mother), camps out on supposed family property for some months, gets a job for a little while, and then goes completely out of it…while the older daughter narrates and tries to keep the family together. The mother also chain-smokes. Just not very interesting, a typical “trouble” TV-movie.

Catholics, 1973, Jack Gold (dir.), Trevor Howard, Raf Vallone, Martin Sheen, Cyril Cusack. 1:37 [1:13]

Another puzzler: Is it possible that 24 minutes are missing? (The sleeve, which has the run time right for The Brass Ring, says 1:18; the DVD itself has 1:13 of movie.] Maybe so, but I can’t imagine where—unless they added 24 minutes for the video release, called The Conflict. The full title of the TV movie is Catholics: A Fable. It’s set in “the future”—1999—in a time in which the Catholic Church has not only abolished the Latin Mass but also private confession, Lourdes has been closed by the church, and transubstantiation is no longer Catholic dogma—now you’re eating a wafer and drinking wine with only metaphoric religious meaning. A bunch of monks on an Irish island maintain The Old Ways, going to the mainland to do an open-air Latin Mass, and bus- and plane-loads of people flock to attend these now-heretical services. A very young Martin Sheen (this was 32 years ago, after all) shows up as a representative of Rome, to investigate and quell the rebellion. He’s not dressed as a priest. It’s an interesting story about faith (or lack thereof) and change. Unfortunately, this one appears to have been taken from an overused film print; there’s a fair amount of damage. $1.

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