Some of RD’s films are available in several DVD incarnations of varying quality and sadly, some are not available at all. Here’s Jenny’s expert guide to what is currently out there and, where there are several versions on the market, what we think you need to know.
The ‘fan-made versions’ we refer to are generally dubbed from TV broadcasts, sold by reputable websites where the website and seller have been in business for some time and where we are able to vouch for the quality of their merchandise. We mention them because, sadly, in some cases, this is the only way to see a decent print of RD’s films (or even, sometimes, to see the film at all).
Gill will endeavour to add UK specific information where she can.
Please be aware: we make no money whatsoever through any of these recommendations, nor from this website as a whole.
That Night in London (1932) not available on DVD
Men of Tomorrow (1932) lost entirely, apart from a few stills held at the BFI
Cash (1933) Reasonable print and sound. Not great but I felt lucky just to find the movie. Region 1 DVD, Distributed by Kartes Video Communications. You can view a copy of this print for free on Youtube on our Complete films page. No guarantee as to how long those will stay up and of course you may lose some quality in compression to flash format. There is a fan-made version of Cash available from a reputable seller on Bonanza. There is also a DVD of Cash, available from Firecake Entertainment. I have other titles from Firecake which are fine, but not great. This particular title has one very negative review on Amazon, but I’d take that with a grain of salt. People have gotten used to restored classic films on DVD but the vast majority of films from this era are sadly in a state of decay and it shows.
The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) Available as part of Criterion’s Alexander Korda’s Private Lives boxed set. If you don’t want to buy the whole boxed set, you can stream the film at Huluplus. This is the only restored version of the film that I know of. Don’t confuse with the Netflix Instant stream which is of an unrestored version of the film. The current Youtube stream is also unrestored. There are also fan-made versions of the film and several unrestored DVDs. I have a fan-made version, recorded from TCM, but it is not a patch on the Criterion version.
The Count of Monte Cristo (1934) We’re excited to announce a restored version of The Count of Monte Cristo will soon be available. We’ll do an in-depth review when we get our copy! Before the Hen’s Tooth release, the only official DVD of this film was as part of Firecake’s Robert Donat collection. I haven’t seen this particular DVD but again, I have other Firecake titles which are reasonable for unrestored films. Also included in collection are The 39 Steps and The Ghost Goes West as well as the three radio versions of these films! If that’s not enough there’s a pdf of Count so you can read the book before or after watching the movie. Wait for our review on the Hen’s Tooth DVD to see if it’s worth the money.
The 39 Steps (1935) Criterion Collection, restored version with extras, booklet and commentary. This is an excellent DVD, probably the best Robert Donat product available. Beware that a lot of DVD sellers on Ebay and the like will use pictures from Criterion discs and then send you a lesser version of the film. Available from various reputable places for around $30. A more affordable, (around $10) restored version of the film is available from Criterion as part of their Essential Art House Collection. Minus the bells and whistles, but a nice, clean copy of the film. There are of course numerous fan and unrestored versions around the internet, but I would avoid them especially when a good copy can be had for the same price!
If you are in UK and have access to one of the public libraries which houses a BFI Mediatheque, you can see this film free of charge at the moment.
The Ghost Goes West (1935) Criterion is currently streaming a really good print of this at Huluplus which is what I used for the source for my screencaps. No word as to an official release. TGGW is part of the afore-mentioned Firecake Donat Collection. There are several fan-made versions floating around. I own the MovieCat version: It isn’t too bad. The Huluplus version is superior though. If you simply must have hard media or can’t get Huluplus (it’s not available in the UK), then this is the way to go I think.
Region 2 version from Network DVD has an image gallery and a PDF of the script as extras. The picture quality is okay for a film of its age, but the sound quality isn’t great, sadly.
LoveFilm (UK film hire site) is currently streaming this film.
Knight Without Armour (1938) Criterion is streaming a restored print at Huluplus. No word on an official release. The Firecake release is unrestored, but at least you get to see the movie which is sensational!
LoveFilm (UK film hire site) is currently streaming this film.
The Citadel (1938) Available from Warner’s buy and burn “Archive Collection” A bare bones release with no extras, but a decent copy of the film. It is comparable to the version I dubbed off TCM which was excellent. Happily this is available on Region 1 DVD from Amazon, now. Not too long ago it wasn’t available at all in the UK because the Warner store wouldn’t ship overseas! (What is this, 1993?)
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) Restored picture and sound with no extras. Can usually pick it up under $20 if you shop around.
The Young Mr. Pitt (1942) Movie Cat’s version is decent, but for some reason my computer doesn’t like this particular disc and I can’t make screencaps from it. Sad face. Anyway, it plays fine in my DVD player so at least I can watch it. There is also a Firecake version.
The New Lot (1943) (uncredited) Short made by Carol Reed for the war department. Is available as an extra on the DVD of “The Next of Kin” by DD Home Entertainment as part of the Imperial War Museum Collection. I just recently purchased this DVD after years of searching for it. Quality is quite good, with a bit of grain to the picture, but with clear sound and decent contrast. (See screen captures). I picked it up on Ebay for less, but Langton Info Services is a reputable seller and I’ve bought a number of rare British film DVDs from them.
This film is available to watch at the Imperial War Museum website. The quality isn’t great but it is free to view.
The Adventures of Tartu (1943) I own the Alpha Home Entertainment version of the movie. It is a decent but unrestored version. At least it is the complete film! There is a version on Youtube which is comparable (and possibly just a rip of this DVD). Avoid the horrible Synergy Entertainment version: a chopped-up unrestored version taken from an edited for TV print. Boo! Beware there are many rips of the Synergy version floating around online. Huluplus is currently streaming the chopped version.
Perfect Strangers (1945) (aka Vacation from Marriage, USA) The Firecake release according to reviews has decent picture and audio. For a comparable price there is a fan-made version available. But I don’t know anything about the seller and haven’t seen the print. The seller has a good feedback rating though, and most of the people who do this simply recover their costs to support their labor of love.
Captain Boycott (1947) From Amazon’s new on demand service. Similar deal to Warner Archives where they burn a DVD-R after you pay. You get a bare bones DVD from the best available source with no bells and whistles. I haven’t tried this out yet, but none of the reviews for the film mention the copy being exceptionally bad. Movie Cat has a version available for considerably less. I haven’t seen this print, but Movie Cat is a reputable seller. Might be worth it since RD’s part in this one is pretty small. Also available as part of the Stewart Granger Collection. Pricey but worth it I suppose if you are wild about Stew. Region II only, Americans will need a region free player for this.
The Winslow Boy (1948) The Studiocanal version is Region II, only.
The Cure for Love (1949) not available on DVD, but is not lost. The BFI has a print because they showed it in 2008. Hopefully some day this will see the light of day.
Clips of this film can be viewed on the BFI website from public libraries and educational establishments in the UK.
Lease of Life (1954) Loving the Classics is a reputable dealer in fan-made products. I’ve ordered many discs from them over the years. I’ve only seen the film when it was available on Youtube. I’ll be ordering this version soon and report on the quality.
Gill says: I now have this DVD. It’s been recorded from Channel 4 (UK commercial tv channel) some years ago, pre-digital broadcasts. So there are breaks in the film where the commercial breaks would have been. The quality is all right considering its origins and it is watchable. Nonetheless, for an Ealing film starring Robert Donat to be unavailable on commercial DVD does not seem right.
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) A restored print on the Fox DVD gives the picture and sound quality a big budget technicolor epic deserves.
Please let us know if you have any information to add.