Here’s the list you have been waiting for, on what I think are some of the best releases for 2019, giving new life to old classics and forgotten gems! Again, my thoughts are coming ONLY from what I have been able to see myself. I do NOT receive screeners of any kind (nor, quite frankly, would I want to), these are all movies I myself bought. These are chosen from among the 2019 releases I have seen, as of 11/27/2019. And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon!
- Swing Time (1936) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
- Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star in their sixth film together, with him playing a dancer and a gambler, who falls for a dance teacher. The transfer on the new Blu-ray may not be pristine, but the movie looks better than I’ve seen it previously, and just makes all the wonderful dances just look that much better! Full review here.
- Footlight Parade (1933) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- James Cagney and Joan Blondell star in this classic Busby Berkeley musical, about a man trying to create prologues for movie theaters. The Blu-ray restoration shines, and is never more evident than with Busby Berkeley’s wonderful musical numbers! Full review here.
- The Thin Man (1934) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- The classic screwball mystery featuring William Powell and Myrna Loy. A fun mystery, but the real enjoyment is in watching the relationship of the two main stars and their antics. While this movie hasn’t looked great in a long time, the recent Warner Archive Blu-ray has brought this film back to life! Easily one of the best film restorations of the year! Full review here.
- The Major And The Minor (1942) (Arrow Films, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- Ginger Rogers stars in this Billy Wilder-directed comedy about a woman posing as a 12-year-old girl as she tries to get home, and is delayed by an army major at a military academy. A wonderful comedy, and one that looks so much better in the new Blu-ray release from Arrow films! Full review here.
- Summer Stock (1950) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- Judy Garland’s last film at MGM, and her third film teaming her up with Gene Kelly as a pair who put on a show in her family’s barn! While not a perfect film due to stuff going on behind the scenes, the new Blu-ray release shows off the look of the 3-strip Technicolor, and makes the movie seem just that much better! Full review here.
- Jezebel (1938) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
- Bette Davis stars in one of her Oscar winning roles as the vain Southern belle Julie Marsden, as she goes against tradition and chases after Henry Fonda’s Pres Dillard in 1850s New Orleans. For this release, Warner Archives did a lot or work to restore it when it hasn’t looked good in a long time, and their work has really paid off with a fantastic restoration that makes this release easy to recommend! Full review here.
- The Kid Brother (1927) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
- In this Harold Lloyd silent comedy, he stars as the son of the town sheriff, who must now deal with the problems that arise when he signs some permits in place of his father allowing a traveling medicine show to perform in town. With this release boasting a new restoration of the movie that looks fantastic in high definition, outside of a few scratches here and there, but some fun bonus features, including two of Harold’s earlier shorts, I can’t help but recommend this set! Full review here.
- Notorious (1946) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 9/10)
- Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant star in this Alfred Hitchcock film about the daughter of a Nazi conspirator who tries to help an American agent take don some Nazis living in South America. With a new restoration for the second go-round on Blu-ray, this movie looks fantastic, and is definitely the way to go for this movie! Full review here.
- Road To Singapore (1940) (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
- The first film in the Road series, with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour as the two men escape impending marriages as they make their way towards Singapore. The transfer on Kino’s new Blu-ray release looks fantastic, and is easily the best way to see this movie! Full review here.
- Detour (1945) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 9/10)
- In this classic noir starring Tom Neal and Ann Savage, he is a pianist hitchhiking his way across the country when he accidentally kills the man he is traveling with and is forced to take over his identity. Due to being in the public domain, this movie has lloked terrible for a long time, but this recent restoration looks fantastic! Certainly the best way to see this wonderful movie! Full review here.
Honorable mentions: Road To Zanzibar (1941) (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray), Road To Morocco (1942) (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray), Stand-In (1937) (Classicflix, Blu-ray and DVD)
Honestly, though, it’s hard not to say that this has been a fantastic year of releases! A lot of the labels have really been upping their game this year when it comes to releases of many classic and obscure older movies. My own opinion is that the Warner Archive Collection has come out the best of everybody. After a couple years of mainly focusing on titles made in 1954 and later on Blu-ray (with the occasional pre-1954 title here and there), WAC has dug into their library to release a number of classic titles from the forties this year, and released a few from the thirties, the first time in four years the decade has been represented on Blu-ray from them, and all three titles were well worth it! Plus, in digging into Summer Stock, they have released their first new-to-Blu-ray pre-1954 MGM musical (marking the first time since Warner Home Video stopped releasing catalog titles on blu after 2015 that era of musicals has been represented on the format from Warner’s library). They even released a few movies on DVD I’ve long been waiting for on the format (although I haven’t quite managed to get my hands on them yet). Honestly, the only complaint I have with their releases is that they only released two new-to-blu musicals this year (since that is one of my favorite genres), but otherwise they have had a great year!
And of course, they’re not the only ones with a good year, either! Kino Lorber has been digging into the Universal library through their licensing deal with them, releasing a number of great films (plus a few obscure ones), with 2020 looking to bring even more! Criterion has had many good releases through their licenses with all the studios, plus some classic silent comedies making their debut with new restorations! And while Classicflix has had to pull back on how much they have been releasing, they still continue to maintain their high levels of quality in their releases, making it easy to try their films (most of which, I hadn’t even heard of before they announced them). And labels like Shout Factory and Arrow Films have both been delving into a number of Universal-owned classics, the first time either label’s Blu-ray releases have appealed to me! All in all, a great year of releases (and not enough time/money to keep up with all of them)! I can only hope 2020 looks this good!