The video hills will be alive with the sound of re-releases this fall. One of the surprise successes in last fall's competitive low-priced video market was MGM/UA Home Video's re-release of "The Wizard of Oz," which sold more than 1 million copies in its 50th anniversary edition -- not bad for a movie that had already been available on tape for five years, in at least two different highly promoted packages, at roughly the same price.
The success of the anniversary "Oz" was good news to all of the major video studios, whose executives are now doubtless watching the calendar for an excuse to launch an anniversary onslaught for favorite video titles from their own catalogues. The folks at CBS/Fox Video have already identified a good candidate: Rodgers and Hammerstein's final and most successful screen musical, "The Sound of Music" (1965), which the firm will offer in a limited silver anniversary edition this September.
Presented once again on tape in hi-fi stereo, without anything resembling the never-before-seen outtakes and trailers that dressed up the "Oz" video last year, and with a $24.98 price that is only $5 lower than its most recently promoted retail price, the silver "Sound" will chime in with little more than a new package to distinguish it from the hundreds of thousands of copies of the movie that have already been sold. But CBS/Fox is using the 25th anniversary of 20th Century Fox's finest musical hour to highlight the studio's larger contribution to the Hollywood musical tradition -- its 20-year association with Rodgers and Hammerstein -- by bringing out the Rodgers and Hammerstein Collection, which will accompany the re-release of "Sound."
There's a certain irony in any celebration of the Fox musical; the studio's attempts in the late 1960s to capitalize on the success of "The Sound of Music" with such big-budget disasters as "Star," "Doctor Doolittle" and "Hello, Dolly!" helped sour Hollywood on ambitious screen musicals for years to come. But "The Sound of Music" capped a string of successful Rodgers and Hammerstein efforts at Fox, five of which are featured in the September promotion. Two have long been widely available on tape: 1958's "South Pacific," with Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi, and 1955's "Oklahoma!," starring Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae. The 1956 adaptation of "The King and I" also returns to the video market after an absence of several years.
The best news for musical fans is probably the arrival of two Rodgers and Hammerstein classics never before on video: "Carousel," the 1956 Broadway transfer that reunited "Oklahoma!" screen stars Jones and MacRae; and the 1945 Jeanne Crain/Dana Andrews version of "State Fair," the only R&H musical written exclusively for the screen (later remade with Pat Boone).
With the exception of "The Sound of Music," the tapes in the Rodgers and Hammerstein Collection are priced at $19.98 each; all are offered in hi-fi stereo with closed captioning for the hearing impaired.
He's on His Way
Paramount Home Video wasted no time adding its name to the list of video companies that have rushed previous screen incarnations of Dick Tracy onto tape. It was only a few weeks ago that the studio announced that it had acquired a series of Dick Tracy cartoons, along with several other series from animation-house UPA Productions of America's library of vintage animated shorts. A collection of six 51-minute tapes in the "Animated Adventures of Dick Tracy" series is due in stores today -- just in time, Paramount executives hope, to catch the crest of the big-screen Tracy wave before Paramount's "Days of Thunder" takes over the weekend box-office lead. Each $12.98 tape features 10 animated "Dick Tracy" episodes from 1961, with art based on Chester Gould's original comic strip characterizations. Everett Sloane supplies the crime stopper's voice; Mel Blanc is in the supporting vocal cast.
August is shaping up as the big month for last fall's prestige pictures, including "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Born on the Fourth of July." Next month, however, renters will have to settle for the disappointments of the Christmas season. Some highlights: July 11: "Enemies, a Love Story," "Family Business." July 12: "Tremors," "Internal Affairs." July 18: "Homer & Eddie." July 25: "Blaze," "Courage Mountain," "Hard to Kill." July 26: "Valmont."