Among Fox Blu-Ray Classics ...
Call Of The Wild (1935) Gets The Long-Awaited Fix
Fox's Blu-Ray of this is just out, and the news is good. For the first time since 1935, we're given a complete version of the Clark Gable-Loretta Young starrer directed by William Wellman. Reviews haven't emphasized it, but this Call Of The Wild restores a Code cut that had gone missing in all prints and previous DVD/video releases. I first saw mention of it in program notes William K. Everson wrote for a 1966 screening, and others have wondered why Katherine DeMille and LeRoy Mason, billed in credits, aren't to be seen in the movie. Well, now they're back. I'm unclear on why this footage was cut, Call Of The Wild being a Code-conformed pic from its beginning. Was there re-submission to the PCA for a first reissue in the 40's? Apparently so, as that's when footage was removed, and not restored till now. Kudos are due to critic/historian Lou Lumenick at The New York Post, who was aware of the problem and alerted Fox Home Video to that effect. If not for his vigilance, we may have got a truncated Call Of The Wild as was case with the earlier DVD.
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Wild was produced, not by 20th Century Fox, but Twentieth-Century Pictures, the entity set up by Joseph Schenck and Darryl Zanuck, with financial backing from, among powerful others, Louis B. Mayer. Part of what Mayer wanted in exchange was the new company hire of his son-in-law, William Goetz, to an executive position. Mayer further buttered bread with loan of top Metro stars to Twentieth Century, including Clark Gable for Call Of The Wild. Success of the new firm was immediate, so much so that banks stepped forward to enable a merger between Twentieth Century and ailing Fox Film Corporation. Overnight was born a new, and very major studio. Rechristened 20th Century Fox would produce, distribute, and in large part exhibit pics (their West Coast theatre chain one of the nation's largest), a full grown octopus right out of the cradle.
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