Geoffrey Long
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Whither the classics on HD?

Following up on last night's post about Bob Rehak's movie-a-day project, one of my longstanding goals has been to watch the entirety of the AFI's Top 100 Movies list. Putting two and two together, it only makes sense that this would be a great place to start my own movie-a-day project (right after I finish Lost, I think).

This is complicated by the publication in 2007 of a "10th Anniversary 100 Greatest List", which is, of course, different from the one I'd been using. I've only seen an embarrassing 39% of the original list, and an even more embarrassing 33% of the new list. How many have you seen? The list is up on Wikipedia; check it out for yourself.

What surprises me, though, is how few of these classics are currently available in HD. Of the 100+ titles (of both lists combined), I think the only ones available on HD-DVD are as follows:

  • The Deer Hunter
  • Unforgiven
  • Spartacus
  • 2001
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Mutiny on the Bounty
  • Goodfellas
  • Casablanca
  • Blade Runner

I just picked up the majority of these due to two whopping after-Christmas sales currently running at Amazon and Best Buy, and I'll even stake the following claim: when studios release these films in a high-definition format that I have access to (which is HD-DVD, until I invest in a PS3 sometime this summer), I'll plunk down the cash. I want to up those percentages I listed above, and I want to build up the 'classics' section of my film library – but I want to do it in a way that I won't wind up replacing the discs again in another two years. (Yeah, yeah, I know – if HD-DVD loses the HD war, yadda yadda yadda, but it's the hardware I already have, so I'm not too worried about it.)

Hopefully these discs will show up by the weekend, along with the speakers I ordered. Since Laura's working on Saturday (the drawbacks of working retail), I may have to take some time off my Lost-watching schedule to gorge myself on some classics.


I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for classics. Despite all the big "commitments" from studios to one format or another, nobody's spending a whole lot of time or effort putting movies out on HD that aren't pretty much ready to go anyway (i.e., new films that already have an HD master prepped).

Alas, we early adopters of HD are just a drop in the bucket in terms of studio revenue right now. And hell, I haven't invested in either format yet (though I did spring for the new 52" Sony Bravia XBR5 for Christmas). I'm thinking of picking up a dual-format player, probably the Samsung BD-UP5000, which is getting killer reviews -- if the damn thing ever actually comes out...

Until then, I cringe every time I buy a standard DVD.

Ah, you DINK couples and all your "free time" for "doing stuff." Might as well be science fiction for me.

May I live vicariously through you? :) Between now and 2024 (when my youngest graduates high school), it's all crumbs for me, baby. I can barely make time for the stuff I have to do, let alone the stuff I'd like to.

I'm not convinced there is going to be a winner in this video format war. The studios are divided, and the market is huge. I don't like the idea, but I think there is room to have more than one high-def format, just like we have Macs and PCs, and multiple gaming systems.

I'm probably still a year away from getting an HD TV, but like you Bill, I hate buying standard def DVDs now.

Yeah, Derek -- that's why I'm trying to squeeze as much of this stuff in now as I possibly can!

Bill, that's a niiiiiice TV. I've also heard good things about that combo player, so it'll probably be worth the wait. I'm still planning on springing for a PS3, since I want to keep playing the Final Fantasy games, but if it weren't for that I'd probably go for a combo player as well. I think David's right, that we may wind up with two formats for the forseeable future, but I backed HD from the beginning because, well, when was the last time Sony won a proprietary media format war? Anyone remember mini-discs? If it weren't for the (admittedly questionable) popularity of the PS3, I think this war would have already been declared over.

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