THE HOLIDAYS mean holiday traditions, yet here's one oft-broadcast perennial that's been increasingly knocked off the airwaves by reality TV and football games. Clearly packaged with an eye toward the gift market, this elaborate four-disc set (released Nov. 9) boasts a newly transferred Technicolor print that will make your new plasma-screen television proud. Among the boatload of extras and featurettes, you'll learn how the famous Technicolor cameras—about the size of refrigerators—simultaneously recorded an image on three black- and-white filmstrips that would then be dyed red, green, and blue. Thanks to digital realignment today, the resulting colors and image quality are superior to those at the 1939 Atlanta premiere (itself nicely commemorated with newsreel footage).
A two-hour 1989 documentary included here combines interviews with surviving contributors to the effort with all kinds of great archival bits—producer David O. Selznick in his own recorded voice (a relative reads his famously infuriating, perfectionist memos in other passages); Vivien Leigh's color home movies with Laurence Olivier while the two were living in sin in L.A.; and a whole battery of screen tests with the stars of the day for the role of Scarlett O'Hara (Paulette Goddard gives Leigh a run for her money and would've been a funnier, earthier Southern belle). Still alive and quite acute in her memory, Olivia de Havilland also pops up in a separate new short.
As I remember thinking about Cold Mountain last Christmas, why bother with another Civil War picture after Wind? When it comes to broad, traditional entertainment packed full of love, war, and pageantry, you still can't top this movie, no matter how many digital effects and $100 million budgets you throw in. (It cost about $4 million in Depression dollars.) Remember that although all-time inflation-adjusted figures may place Wind short of Titanic, it sold more tickets than any picture in history. To fight off a post-turkey hangover, this well-stuffed set beats anything on TV.
THE BIG TITLE for Nov. 23 is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (and thanks to director Alfonso Cuarón, it's the best in the series so far). Breaker Morant features a commentary from director Bruce Beresford, while Sylvester Stallone lends his voice to First Blood (part of a Rambo three-pack, like we were all waiting for that). Seinfeld fans, rejoice: The first three seasons reach DVD with 24 hours of extras. It sounds like Spielberg and Hanks opted out of any extras for The Terminal, adding disappointment to disappointment.