Warner Brothers are destroying film history.

Film  It's Warner Brothers 100th anniversary so I decided to celebrate by watching a selection of films from this grand old studio.  Except with over three thousand titles to choose from, or at least a quarter of that available on home media or streaming, I needed to find a limit.  I needed to find a list.  

In 2013, Warner Home Video released the "Best of Warner Bros 100 Film Collection" which looks suitably impressive from the list available on Amazon and although I've seen a few of them recently would offer enough ideas to work through over the next couple of months.

Except, I very quickly began to notice some discrepancies in that Gone With The Wind,  Citizen Kane and Seven certainly weren't originally Warner Bros films, hailing from MGM, RKO and New Line respectively.  What's going on?

Over the years, through a series of complicated purchases, mergers and licensing deals, Warners has acquired the film libraries of those studios plus dozens more including the pre-1982 Orion Pictures library, Lorimar productions, United Artists and post-1987 Cannon films.

In other words what they claim on the box to be the "Best of Warner Bros" is actually the "best" of Warners, MGM, RKO and a few others.  Here is a break down of the films in the set by the originating film studio:

Best of Warner Bros
Warner Bros. Pictures (59) 300, 42nd Street, A Clockwork Orange, A Face in the Crowd, A Star is Born, All the President's Men, Batman, Blazing Saddles, Bullitt, Caddyshack, Casablanca, Cool Hand Luke, Dark Victory, Dirty Harry, Dog Day Afternoon, Driving Miss Daisy, East of Eden, Enter the Dragon, Full Metal Jacket, Giant, Goodfellas, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Interview With the Vampire, L.A. Confidential, Lethal Weapon, Mildred Pierce, Million Dollar Baby, National Lampoon's Vacation, Natural Born Killers, Rebel Without a Cause, Risky Business, Sherlock Holmes, Superman: The Movie, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Big Sleep, The Blind Side, The Bodyguard, The Color Purple, The Dark Knight, The Departed, The Exorcist, The Fugitive, The Goonies, The Hangover, The Jazz Singer, The Life of Emile Zola, The Maltese Falcon, The Matrix, The Outsiders, The Public Enemy, The Right Stuff, The Searchers, The Shining, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Wild Bunch, Unforgiven, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (24) Broadway Melody of 1929, Grand Hotel, Mutiny on the Bounty, A Night at the Opera, The Great Ziegfeld, Gone With the Wind, Wizard of Oz, The Philadelphia Story, Mrs. Miniver, Gaslight, Anchors Aweigh, An American in Paris, A Streetcar Named Desire, Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gigi, North by Northwest, How the West Was Won, Viva Las Vegas, Doctor Zhivago, The Dirty Dozen, 2001: a Space Odyssey and Clash of the Titans.

New Line Cinema (4) Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring, Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers, Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King and Seven.

RKO Pictures (3) Best Years of Our Lives, Cimarron and Citizen Kane.

United Artists  Around the World in 80 Days and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Paramount Pictures Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Allied Artists Cabaret

Allied Stars Ltd / 20th Century Fox Chariots of Fire (Note: Distributed in the US by WB through The Ladd Company)

Orion Pictures   Amadeus

Columbia Pictures The Shawshank Redemption

A few notes.  The studio now owns New Line but when those films were produced it was a separate company.  Warners acquired Willa Wonka and Shawshank when the distribution rights lapsed at those originating financing companies.  

Nevertheless, of the 100 films in the set, only 59 are full blood Warner Brothers films.  The rest originated with other studios.  If you were someone who's not really interested in such things, this was excellent value with a great number of canonical films included.

Why does this matter?  Because it erases film history.  Warner Bros now owns the film libraries of two of its rivals in the original "big five", MGM and RKO and in this set are acting like the victors in many similar conflicts and passing those assets off as their own.

It would be like Disney producing a boxed set celebrating their hundred years and including the Fox musicals from the 1950s, Planet of the Apes, The French Connection and Independence Day.  Except they keep everything separate.  When Heat was released on 4K last year, the Fox logo was on the spine.

That was at the 90th anniversary.  What about ten years later?  Warners have release a number of boxed sets in various configurations and I've itemised those too.  Although the results are somewhat better - different Warner titles have been introduced, some are still hanging around.

There are fifteen films included the three "5 film collection" released in the UK.  Here they are amalgamated together:

5 Film Collection
Warner Brothers (10) Casablanca, Rebel Without A Cause, The Goonies, Gremlins, Enter The Dragon, The Lost Boys, Goodfellas, Unforgiven, Elvis and Training Day.

MGM The Wizard of Oz and Singin in the Rain.

RKO Citizen Kane

Paramount Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Columbia The Shawshank Redemption (Columbia)

There is also a 30 film collection, "100th Anniversary Studio Collection" which promotes itself as being the first time many of these titles have appeared in 4K

100th Anniversary Studio Collection
Warner Bros. Pictures (23)  A Star is Born, Argo, Batman, Beetlejuice, Blade Runner, Casablanca, Cool Hand Luke, East of Eden, Elvis, Enter the Dragon, Goodfellas, IT, Mad Max: Fury Road, Rebel Without a Cause, Rio Bravo, Superman: The Movie, The Exorcist, The Goonies, The Maltese Falcon, The Matrix, The Shining, Training Day, Unforgiven,

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (4) 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Singin’ in the Rain and The Wizard of Oz.

RKO Pictures Citizen Kane

Paramount Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

Columbia Pictures The Shawshank Redemption

Now the big kahoona, this anniversary's equivalent of the 100 DVD boxset, four sets of 25 films separated across "genres" - Award Winners, Comedies, Dramas & Musicals, Fantasy, Action & Adventure and Thrillers, Sci-Fi & Horror.

WB 100th 25-Film Collection
Warner Bros (74) 300, A Clockwork Orange, A Star is Born, A Streetcar Named Desire (the Original Restored Version), All the President's Men, Annabelle, Aquaman, Argo, Batman, Birds of Prey, Black Adam, Blade Runner: the Final Cut, Bonnie and Clyde, Bullitt, Casablanca, Constantine, Cool Hand Luke, Crazy Rich Asians, Dune, Empire of the Sun, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Full Metal Jacket, Goodfellas, Gravity, Gremlins, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Her, Inception, Interview With the Vampire, Invictus, It, Joker, Judas and the Black Messiah, Justice League, Key Largo, Lethal Weapon, Little Shop of Horrors, Man of Steel, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Natural Born Killers (the Director’s Cut), Ocean's Eleven, Pan's Labyrinth, Practical Magic, Purple Rain, Rebel Without a Cause, Risky Business, Selena, Shazam!, Supergirl *, Superman: The Movie, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Bodyguard, The Color Purple, The Conjuring, The Dark Knight, The Departed, The Exorcist (Extended Director’s Cut), The Goonies, The Green Mile, The Hangover, The Iron Giant, The Maltese Falcon, The Matrix, The Neverending Story, The Outsiders (the Complete Novel), The Shining, The Suicide Squad, Twister, Unforgiven, V for Vendetta, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Wonder Woman.

MGM (11)  2001: A Space Odyssey, 42nd Street, A Star is Born, Ben-Hur, Children of the Damned, Doctor Zhivago, Grand Hotel, Mrs. Miniver, Mutiny on the Bounty, Singin' in the Rain and The Wizard of Oz.

United Artists  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

New Line Cinema (10)  A Nightmare on Elm Street, Boogie Nights, Dumb and Dumber, Elf, Friday, Hairspray, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King and Seven.

RKO  Citizen Kane and King Kong

Columbia Pictures  The Shawshank Redemption

* Although Supergirl was produced by Warner Bros, the Salkinds fell out with them after the underperformance of Superman III and they ultimately gave the distribution rights to Tri-Star.

As you can see, this isn't as negligent as 2013 list,  although it leans heavily on recent releases, particularly from the DCU.  Including Dune in there, which is effectively half a film is pretty ridiculous and either of the Justice Leagues are noticeable by their absence. 

But they're still pretending they originated the Lord of the Ring films, and King Kong now too.  The whole thing seems based on the premise of having a bunch of good films even if it doesn't accurately represent the history of the Warner Brothers studio.

None of which would matter if the text on the box didn't include the phrase "join us in celebrating 100 years of Warner Bros" which should more accurately says "join us in celebrating 100 years of Warner Bros along with the other film libraries we've acquired".

With everything which is happening at the company right now, film history seems like its the least of their worries.  I'd be fascinated to know how the accompanying booklet squares all of this, although I'm not prepared to shell out the hundreds of pounds to find out.

Steven Soderbergh on the MCU

Film  Steven Soderbergh sidesteps a landmine with all the grace you'd expect from him at Variety.  My guess is if MARVEL offered him something, the Richard Lester fan in him would probably take a second look:

There’s an interesting article in the New Yorker that argues that the Marvel Cinematic Universe ate the movie business. Do you agree?

If that’s true, it’s not really relevant to me. The bottom line is people go see what they want to go to see. I’ve got to figure out how to integrate that reality into how I work. I have two choices. I either find something that I love and that has enough in it to potentially attract an audience at a scale that would make the prospect worthwhile to a studio, or I stick to a medium in which those concerns aren’t primary like television or streaming. I’ve got two movie projects that I’m preparing that I’m very excited about that have enough in them to justify coming out theatrically in a normal wide release and not as an arthouse film.

Whenever this question comes up, rather than asking if the MCU has been the death of cinema, the more interesting question would be if the director/actor/whoever would consider making a film if the right project came along. 

Dear god, I'm glad Soderbergh's retirement didn't stick.  He continues to be one of those directors who can make films which say important things and are also great genre pieces.  Hopefully he'll take a crack at the western soon.  

Incidentally The New Yorker piece is more even handed than the title or the interviewer above suggests: its an in-depth history of the studio with plenty nuggets about the Sony deal.  I had no idea that the third Garfield film was going to be a desperate time travel adventure featuring dinosaurs.

Also, there's no point blaming a studio which turns out two-four films a year for "ruining cinema" as though the audience is a sheep like mass.  Hollywood has had its own hand in this by producing so many average films which strain for mass appeal to the extent they don't appeal to anyone.

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1960.

Sigh.  For some people of a certain age, Generation TV Cream if you will, BBC Television Centre was nothing short of a pop culture Mouseion of Alexandria, a place were creative people gathered to amuse and enlighten us in our formative years.  It's difficult to really describe what it was like watching a single channel of television from breakfast time to bedtime knowing the majority of the programme were either made or broadcast from the same building and fantasizing what it must be like to wander the circular corridors and potentially drop into any of these shows in production, to do a Lenny Henry.

But I was in Liverpool, TVC was in London and it wasn't until year after it had closed and in the process of being turned into flats and freelance studios they are now that I was able to at least stand on the pavement outside.  Even then it still felt like the end of a pilgrimage begun years before somewhere between Swap Shop and Blue Peter.  What must it be like to live there now, with the ghosts of literal Christmas Record Breakers past indexed in the walls like The Stone Tape?  Or going to see an ITV show recorded in the place which used to be the home of their rival?

BBC Television Centre Opens

"British Broadcasting Corporation's GBP12-million Television Centre at White City, London, will come into use in a few weeks - 4 years after building began, and a new, expansive age for British television - competing in foreign markets with American programmes - is hopefully predicted."

"An industrial building - a factory - the largest, best equipped, and most carefully planned factory of its kind in the world." This was how the B.B.C.'s great television centre at the White City was described by Mr Gerald Beadle, director of B.B.C. television, in a speech yesterday when the press was taken on a tour of the centre, which will go into operation when Studio 3 gives its first production on June 29."
[The Guardian]

Massive archive of photos, plans and history.  A staggering amount of material.
[TV Studio History]

"Television is an industry: and Television Centre is an example of industrial planning."
[Ariel via Transdiffusion]

"A short film showing the building of BBC Television Centre in the 1950s."

"RTS London has commissioned a special programme looking at the origins and design of the building, and what it meant to BBC staff and viewers in the 1960s and beyond.  The programme features archive footage, and contributions from Robert Seatter, the Head of BBC History; Phillip Schofield, TV Presenter past and present at TVC; and Roger Bunce*, TVC Studio Cameraman in the 1960s."
[Royal Television Society]


"What does it mean to be a young artist trying to break into the Art World, to live by painting?
Introduced and edited by Huw Wheldon."
[Anthony Whishaw RA]

"Playwright Dennis Potter returns to his home village near the Forest of Dean after three years as a student at Oxford. Here he describes the changes he finds in the village and his relationships with family and friends."
[BBC Rewind]

"The men in the BBC documentary Borrowed Pasture, Eugeniusz Okołowicz, photographer, and Włodzimierz Bułaj, electrician, were in the Polish Army during September 1939 campaign of WWII, then crossed into Lithuania where they were interned, to avoid capture by either Germans or Russians. Soviets occupied Lithuania in Spring 1940 and transferred the interned Poles to Russian camps. My wife’s grandfather Aleksander Głuchowski was also among them."
[Lech S. Borkowski, Małgorzata Głuchowska: Critical Narrative Analysis]


"In July 2011 Leah Panos and myself had the good fortune to interview veteran television director Darrol Blake in his Barnes Bridge home. In a career that spans fifty years, Darrol started as a Design Assistant at the BBC in the 1950s, going on to become a Production Designer and then direct for the BBC, before becoming a freelance director for both the BBC and a range of ITV companies from the 1970s onwards."
[Spaces of Television]


"Written and Produced by Richard Cawston.  This film, which won a British Film Academy Award, is being repeated as a result of numerous requests. It tells the story of an imaginary day in the life of the BBC.  The film takes viewers behind the scenes of both sound radio and television to show the BBC's huge organisation at work-engineers, planners, producers, artists, musicians, personalities - a cast of 1,200 in all."


"6 February 1960: Those expecting a series of rehearsed interviews with BBC worthies and a lushly reverent narrative will be disappointed."
[The Guardian]

"Peter Dimmick explains the BBC's preparations for filming Princess Margaret's wedding, including camera positions in Westminster Abbey and along the parade route."
[BBC Clips]

"Tony Hart gives young viewers a sneak preview of some of the BBC television shows that will be airing over the Christmas period.  Originally broadcast 20 December, 1960."
[BBC Archive]

"This film - date unknown but presumed to be late 1960s as the example programmes are still in black and white although the film itself is in colour - was produced to train staff on the physical splicing and cutting of 2" Quadruplex videotape."
[Nigel B]

"BBC Wales prepares for its sound and TV coverage of the National Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in Cardiff."
[BBC Rewind]


"Developments in broadcasting have followed each other rapidly ever since the beginnings some forty years ago."
[World Radio History]

"The future of broadcasting presents a challenging prospect at the present time."