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A Classic Restored -- but why not out in the USA?
on 5 January 2012
David O. Selznick's THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER was always a holiday favorite in New York -- one local station used to air it every Thanksgiving and Christmas (obviously two holidays where lots of kids are home . . . ), and so you sort of grew up with it in New York City; and later, one national syndicator did the same thing. But on video it's never had much of an existence -- there was a dark, faded edition on VHS tape from CBS/Fox, and later a laserdisc that was no better; and even when the Selznick library started showing up on DVD, this was one title that never got issued in America. I was delighted to see that it was out as a Region 2 disc (I have an all-region player), and was equally happy with the way said disc looked -- oh, if someone were to commit the kind of resources to restoration that had been devoted to Selznick's GONE WITH THE WIND (for which this movie was sort of a run-up, in terms of preparation) it could look and sound better; but that's not going to happen, and in the meantime this edition stands head and shoulders above the CBS/Fox laserdisc or its VHS predecessor. There aren't any extras, but none are really needed -- this is just a fun, handsome movie, without being over-cute as subsequent renditions of the story tended to be, and with none of the creakiness of the earlier Jackie Coogan version (done early in the sound era). It ought to be available on this side of the Atlantic, but I'm glad it's available at all.