UPDATE #2: Classic Film Fans Get Lucky on Fox’s 100th Birthday

gggggggg - 1Updated 1/21/16 – New info in italics.

Christmas comes early this year for classic movie buffs, courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

On Thursday night at the New York Film Festival, Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos announced that the studio will celebrate its centenary by making 100 classic movies available to buy or rent digitally in high definition for the first time ever. The films in Fox’s Century of Cinema series range from the 1920s to the 1990s, but the vast majority are pre-1950 releases  many unavailable since their original release.

Gianopulos made the announcement at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall before a screening of Ernst Lubitsch’s HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943), one of seven Fox restorations presented at the 53rd edition of the NYFF. All seven have been restored in conjunction with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015. (Scorsese also participated in a Q&A following the film.)

“At 20th Century Fox, we consider ourselves custodians of the great legacy of filmmakers past and present, and we owe them out best effort to restore and protect their work and to make their films accessible to new audiences,” Gianopulos said. “That’s a responsibility my colleagues and I accept with pride and devotion.”

047-sunrise-theredlistThe Fox 100 digital releases are enough to make any classic film fan weep with joy. Ten are from the Silent Era, including F.W. Murnau’s SUNRISE: A TALE OF TWO HUMANS (1927), an Oscar winner at the first Academy Awards in 1929. One-third of the titles are from the 1930s, with nearly 20 coming from the Pre-Code Era. At least ten of the films have never before been on home video in any format, including five from director Raoul Walsh and one from John Ford (MEN WITHOUT WOMEN). Selections include silent films (with Fox’s original Movietone soundtracks), musicals, comedies, dramas, historical epics, films noir, the first movie ever shot in CinemaScope (HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE), the only Shirley Temple film not on DVD (POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL), and the feature film debuts of Judy Garland (PIG SKIN PARADE), the Three Stooges (SOUP TO NUTS), and Marilyn Monroe (SCUDDA HOO! SCUDDA HAY!)

And all have been re-mastered in HD, an increasingly important requirement for collectors and the best way to inspire sampling from a new generation of viewers.

The first ten films in the Fox 100 series are already available for digital rental or purchase on a dedicated iTunes page (some titles are also streaming at Amazon), with the remainder expected in periodic releases in the coming weeks. Titles typically rent for $2.99 for a standard definition stream or $3.99 for HD, with most available to own for $9.99. Once you rent a film, you have 30 days to start watching and 24 hours to complete it after clicking play. Purchased films can be viewed any time (via streaming) or anywhere (including offline, via a digital download to your device).

marilyn-monroe-how-marry-millionaire-glasses“I like to watch movies on my TV, not my telephone!” I heard a naysayer grumble on the way out of Alice Tully on Thursday. And while I fought the temptation to evangelize in person, let me say this here (even though most of you know it already): buying or renting a film digitally does not mean you have to watch it on a computer, tablet or smartphone. Films available digitally in Fox’s Century of Cinema series can be viewed on your TV in HD via easy-to-use streaming players like Apple TVRoku or the Amazon Fire TV. (Use Apple TV to watch iTunes videos, and Roku or Amazon Fire TV for Amazon purchases or rentals.) And once you own a film digitally, you own it. No backsies.

While a handful of these titles have been available on Blu-ray (some in now out-of-print, limited editions from Twilight Time), most are not likely to ever see a physical media release. Though some collectors mourn the move away from physical media, digital distribution may be the best news ever for classic film fans. According to Variety, older films now make up 40% of digital sales, up from only 5% four years ago. HD digital copies also offer far better image quality than standard def, manufacture-on-demand DVDs, and almost always cost less. Plus, they don’t take up shelf space, either in stores or at home.

“It allows you to have more of your catalog readily available, because you put it on iTunes and it stays there,” Mike Dunn, president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, told Variety. “You’re not being judged by how many units it sells.”

As classics continue to get kicked to the curb by Netflix in favor of original programming, accessibility is more important than ever in keeping old movies alive. That’s why mainstream venues like Turner Classic Movies are so important. And for TCM fetishists, this announcement is particularly good news. Fox classics have traditionally not had a high profile on the channel and, while that relationship has thawed in recent years, the Fox 100 digital releases provide an excellent opportunity for TCM viewers (like me) to fill in some holes in our classic film knowledge.

With TCM making their on-demand app available on TV via the Amazon Fire beginning later this year, and 100 Fox classics soon to be available in what Gianopulos called “pristine” form, it’s time for you Luddites to get off the digital fence. Nobody’s going to take our DVDs or VHS tapes away (despite what our spouses and interior decorators might prefer), but I promise you, the ability to watch beloved movies at the touch of a button will change your life. And the more film lovers support these preservation and accessibility efforts, the more once-hard-to-find movies we may be able to see – looking better than ever.

Merry Christmas.

FOX: A Century of Cinema digital releases (all in HD) 

Updated 11/18/15 – Fox has released additional titles. Those are now marked AVAILABLE NOW.

Updated 1/21/19 – Fox has released additional titles. Those are now marked AVAILABLE NOW. As far as I can tell, 23 of the 100 films remain unavailable as yet. Those titles are highlighted.

1920s – 10
Just Pals (1920) AVAILABLE NOW
Three Bad Men (1926) AVAILABLE NOW
Sunrise (1927) AVAILABLE NOW
Four Sons (1928) AVAILABLE NOW
Hangman’s House (1928) AVAILABLE NOW
The Red Dance (1928) NEVER ON HOME VIDEO
Street Angel (1928)
The Black Watch (1929) AVAILABLE NOW
The Cock-Eyed World (1929) NEVER ON HOME VIDEO
In Old Arizona (1929) AVAILABLE NOW

1930s – 32
The Big Trail (1930) AVAILABLE NOW
Born Reckless (1930) AVAILABLE NOW
Men Without Women (1930) NEVER ON HOME VIDEO
Soup to Nuts (1930) AVAILABLE NOW
Up the River (1930) AVAILABLE NOW
Bad Girl (1931) AVAILABLE NOW
A Connecticut Yankee (1931) NEVER ON DVD
The Seas Beneath (1931) AVAILABLE NOW
Me and My Gal (1932)
Doctor Bull (1933) AVAILABLE NOW
Sailor’s Luck (1933) NEVER ON HOME VIDEO
The Affairs of Cellini (1934) AVAILABLE NOW
Baby, Take a Bow (1934) AVAILABLE NOW
Judge Priest (1934) AVAILABLE NOW
Stand Up and Cheer! (1934)
World Moves On (1934) AVAILABLE NOW
The Call of the Wild (1935) AVAILABLE NOW
King of Burlesque (1935)
The Gay Deception (1935) AVAILABLE NOW
Metropolitan (1935) NEVER ON HOME VIDEO
Under Pressure (1935) AVAILABLE NOW
Pigskin Parade (1936) AVAILABLE NOW
Poor Little Rich Girl (1936) NEVER ON DVD – AVAILABLE NOW
Prisoner of Shark Island (1936) AVAILABLE NOW
Sing, Baby, Sing (1936) AVAILABLE NOW
Kentucky (1938)
Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) AVAILABLE NOW
The Rains Came (1939)
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) AVAILABLE NOW

1940s – 31
Down Argentine Way (1940) AVAILABLE NOW
Lillian Russell (1940)
The Mark of Zorro (1940) AVAILABLE NOW
The Blue Bird (1940) AVAILABLE NOW
Blood and Sand (1941) AVAILABLE NOW
Man Hunt (1941) AVAILABLE NOW
Sun Valley Serenade (1941) NEVER ON DVD
Tall, Dark and Handsome (1941) AVAILABLE NOW
Tobacco Road (1941) AVAILABLE NOW
This Above All (1942) AVAILABLE NOW
To The Shores of Tripoli (1942)
Crash Dive (1943)
Guadalcanal Diary (1943)
Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943) AVAILABLE NOW
Greenwich Village (1944) AVAILABLE NOW
Jane Eyre (1944) AVAILABLE NOW
The Keys to the Kingdom (1944)
The House on 92nd Street (1945)
Anna and the King of Siam (1946) AVAILABLE NOW
My Darling Clementine (1946) AVAILABLE NOW
Captain from Castile (1947) AVAILABLE NOW
The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947) AVAILABLE NOW
Call Northside 777 (1948) AVAILABLE NOW
Dangerous Years (1948) AVAILABLE NOW
The Luck of the Irish (1948) AVAILABLE NOW
Scudda Hoo Scudda Hay (1948) AVAILABLE NOW
The Snake Pit (1948)
Come to the Stable (1949) AVAILABLE NOW
It Happens Every Spring (1949)
Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949) NEVER ON HOME VIDEO – AVAILABLE NOW
Prince of Foxes (1949) AVAILABLE NOW

1950s – 14
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950) AVAILABLE NOW
Mister 880 (1950) AVAILABLE NOW
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) AVAILABLE NOW
The President’s Lady (1953) AVAILABLE NOW
Black Widow (1954)
Daddy Long Legs (1955) AVAILABLE NOW
The Tall Men (1955) AVAILABLE NOW
Teenage Rebel (1956) AVAILABLE NOW
Boy on a Dolphin (1957) AVAILABLE NOW
A Hatful of Rain (1957)
The Sun Also Rises (1957) AVAILABLE NOW
The Young Lions (1958) AVAILABLE NOW
The Best of Everything (1959) AVAILABLE NOW
A Private’s Affair (1959) AVAILABLE NOW

1960s – 5
Can-Can (1960)
Marines Let’s Go (1961) AVAILABLE NOW
Marilyn (1963) NEVER ON HOME VIDEO
The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) AVAILABLE NOW
The Detective (1968) AVAILABLE NOW

1970s – 1
Wizards (1977) AVAILABLE NOW

1980s – 4
Kagemusha (1980) AVAILABLE NOW
The Star Chamber (1983) AVAILABLE NOW
Romancing the Stone (1984) AVAILABLE NOW
Alien Nation (1988) AVAILABLE NOW

1990s – 3
Sleeping With the Enemy (1991) AVAILABLE NOW
Rookie of the Year (1993) AVAILABLE NOW
Blood and Wine (1996) AVAILABLE NOW

This post was updated October 3 with additional info regarding DVD availability from Lou Lumenick

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About willmckinley

I'm a New York City-based writer, producer, and digital marketing consultant. I've been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by Robert Osborne), NPR, Sirius Satellite Radio, and the official TCM podcast. I've written for Slate.com, Game Show Network, getTV, Sony Movies, and NYC weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News. I'm also a contributor to four film-and-TV-related books: "Monster Serial," "Bride of Monster Serial," "Taste the Blood of Monster Serial," and "Remembering Jonathan Frid."
This entry was posted in Classic Film, Fox Cinema Archives, Streaming and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to UPDATE #2: Classic Film Fans Get Lucky on Fox’s 100th Birthday

  1. Elise says:

    I think you need to organize some live tweeting screening parties ASAP.

  2. Kelly says:

    Okay where is the Power and glory come on Roger Alies give it to me stop messing with Donald Trump I don’t like that dude
    I can’t stand Megan Kelly and Bill O’reillly YIKES

  3. Lesley says:

    Hot damn, Will, this is fabulous news! So excited…good list. Thrilled and relieved that I’ll be able to let go of that DVRed State Fair, such a fine little Pre-Code…

    • willmckinley says:

      All of this is great news, even if your favorites aren’t on the initial list. Access breeds access, unless this fails. Then it breeds closed vault doors, because it’s not worth the time, effort and expense.

  4. Exciting news! I like how you break down current and past availability on releases. That’s helpful in deciding what might be worth watching first.

    • willmckinley says:

      I think they’re making the right call by staggering the releases. As I’ve said before, having access to everything can feel like nothing. Curation and presentation are key.

  5. Vienna says:

    Great news from Fox


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  7. Jackie says:

    It’s not a question of not wanting to watch on a computer or a phone (although I don’t) – some people are tactile and they still like their movies nicely packaged in a box to sit on the shelf with their other dvds. Marilyn fans have been waiting for years for the 1963 documentary to be released and it’s disappointing that it will only be available digitally.

  8. “once you own a film digitally, you own it. No backsies.”


    Disney has already been shown to reach into users’ Cloud accounts and delete titles people had already purchased.

    And when you download a movie from Amazon, you must agree to allow their software to access your hard drive, which means they can reach into your files and delete your purchase if so directed by a rightsholder.

    Bottom line: if you cannot hold the item in your hands physically, it is not yours. At best you have that movie on an indefinite lease. You’re at the mercy of the copyright holder and their whim as to how long you get to “own” a digital copy of a movie. Is it likely that Fox would ever change their mind and delete purchases and make consumers rebuy any of these movies? No, probably not. But likelihood is not the same as a guarantee. So after you’ve made that download, you’d better burn yourself a couple preservation DVD copies to be truly safe.

    • Salvatore "Jimmy" James says:

      Ahem. If we’re talking possibilities, it is equally as likely that your DVD or Blu-ray discs will be damaged, stolen, consumed by fire, suffer disc rot, etc. Nothing lasts forever.

      • popegrutch says:

        But, in those instances, it is relatively unlikely that the original seller will break into your home and destroy your possessions in order to generate sales. In the case of digital purchases, this is in their economic interest, and no law protects you from it.

    • willmckinley says:

      This is a good point Marc, and an important consideration as we move to a virtual ownership model. While cloud copies can disappear in rare cases (as you’ve pointed out), it’s much harder to disable downloaded copies that have been backed up to external media (CD-R, hard drives, etc.) If I ever begin buying digital copies in earnest — I’m still mostly a renter, except when I’m forced to buy — I will most certainly back the files up remotely.

  9. maxofdimitrios says:

    Does anyone understand or know the reason why Leonard Maltin’s “Movie Guides” and “Classic Movie Guides” have NEVER included Raoul Walsh in their Index of Director’s Listing? A curious but consistent oversight that bothers me, especially since names such as Todd Haynes, Richard Linklater, Todd Solondz have managed to secure a place on the pages. Surely Mr. Walsh’s film resume is far more impressive than these gentlemen, and in fact most of the other directors included.

  10. Mike Ingram says:

    Are these going to be UV? My collection is in Vudu.

  11. Pingback: Admiring The 100 Movies In Fox’s Century Of Cinema HD Digital Release « Movie City News

  12. popegrutch says:

    Will: You point regarding Netflix is well-taken. Have you by any chance looked at classicflix.com? I’d be interested in your assessment.

  13. Whee! This is terrific news! Thanks for sharing it – you’re like the Huffington Post of the classic movie world.

  14. Tim says:

    What? Still no “Flim-Flam Man” in HD? *sigh*

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