February 2nd, 2010 was a day of announcements. Being on the West Coast, I awoke to a string of news articles. After my first ten minutes of consciousness, I had already been underwhelmed by the predictability of the 82nd-annual Academy Awards nominations, infuriated by the promise of more blistering winter at the hands of Punxsatawney Phil, and deeply saddened by Criterion’s announcement that Lionsgate had purchased a slew of their StudioCanal films from right out of the Collection. These titles will be going out of print by the end of March, so here is the heartbreaking list. Criterion has been kind enough to let us know ahead of time, and to knock five bucks off the price. They’re priced to move, and all items must go.
#001 Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937) — DVD and Essential Art House
#025 Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) — DVD
#058 Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960) — DVD
#066-069 The Orphic Trilogy (Jean Cocteau, 1930-1959) — DVD
#081 Variety Lights (Federico Fellini & Alberto Lattuada, 1950) — DVD Essential Art House Vol. 3 (DVD is already OOP)
#106 Coup de Torchon (Bertrand Taverneir, 1981) — DVD
#193 Quai des OrfÃ¨vres (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1947) — DVD
#222 Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951) — DVD
#227 Le Corbeau (Henri-George Clouzot, 1943) — DVD
#245 Port of Shadows (Marcel Carne, 1938) — DVD
#317 The Tales of Hoffman (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1951) — DVD and Essential Art House Vol. 4
#318 Forbidden Games (Rene Clement, 1952) — DVD and Essential Art House Vol. 3
#357 The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed, 1948) — DVD
#421 Pierrot Le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) — DVD and Blu-Ray
#439 Trafic (Jacques Tati, 1971) — DVD
#441 The Small Back Room (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1949) — DVD
Eclipse Series 6: Carlos Saura’s Flamenco Trilogy (Blood Wedding, Carmen, El Amor Brujo)
Last Holiday (Henry Cass, 1950) — Essential Art House Volume 3
Gervaise (Rene Clement, 1956) — Essential Art House Volume 4
Le Jour Se Leve (Marcel Carne, 1939) — Essential Art House Volume 4
Mayerling (Antoine Litvak, 1936) — Essential Art House Volume 4
C’est la vie. Lionsgate has swiped, among other treasures: Criterion’s Spine Number 1, Criterion’s last available Carol Reed, 2/4 of Criterion’s Clouzot, and (in my opinion) the only good Bresson film. We’re left with more questions than answers:
- Will the 50 Years of Janus Films collection be going out of print now that many of its titles are no longer under the umbrella?
- How did this transaction play out behind the scenes? Is there any bad blood between Criterion and Lionsgate?
- What are the odds that Criterion will someday recover these titles?
- Is this just the first wave of several?
- Will Lionsgate change its name to “Le Porte Des Lions” now that it has so many French films in its catalog?
My question to you, dear readers:
Which titles will you be purchasing before their disappearance?
Personally, I will be getting The Grand Illusion with my next paycheck, Le Trou with the paycheck after that, and hoping I’ll get a substantial tax return and can pick up The Orphic Trilogy before time runs out. Leave us your feedback and let us know which you are choosing to buy, and why.