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Warner Bros. to release Samuel Goldwyn classics

Ben Fritz
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
The Pride of the Yankees

LOS ANGELES — Seeking to boost its relatively healthy business for classic movies on DVD, Warner Bros. has signed a multiyear deal to release 73 classic films produced by industry legend Samuel Goldwyn.

Among the titles Warner is licensing from the producer’s son Samuel Goldwyn Jr. are best picture Academy Award winner “The Best Years of Our Lives,” the Lou Gehrig biopic “The Pride of the Yankees” with Gary Cooper, the musical “Guys and Dolls” with Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, and Danny Kaye’s “Hans Christian Andersen.” All were made between 1925 and 1955.

Some of the movies have never before been released on DVD, and many have not been available on Blu-ray disc or for digital download.

Jeff Baker, executive vice president of theatrical catalog for Warner Bros.’ home entertainment group, said many of the films would be released as part of packages the studio is already marketing under the brand of its sibling television network Turner Classic Movies. Warner has already released packs of movies, many starring or directed by such well-known names as Kirk Douglas and John Ford, in TCM collections for less than $20.

“The theatrical catalog business has been resilient,” Baker said. “Our business in catalog is virtually flat, which is outpacing the market.”

Warner will start releasing films from Goldwyn’s library on DVD late this year. Among the first will be “Guys and Dolls,” “Wuthering Heights” with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, and “The Bishop’s Wife” with Cary Grant.

In the past, Samuel Goldwyn Jr.’s firm, Samuel Goldwyn Co. — itself known for producing independent hits such as “Sid and Nancy,” “Mystic Pizza” and “Prick Up Your Ears” — released some of the movies on DVD in a partnership with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

“I’m very proud of these pictures and I’m pleased that they’ll be released by a company that has so many great pictures of its own, like ‘Gone With the Wind’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” Samuel Goldwyn Jr. said, referring to MGM movies Warner Bros. acquired earlier.

Goldwyn’s library also has 16 silent films including “Stella Dallas,” “The Winning of Barbara Worth” and “The Night of Love.”

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