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The Lens: From the vault

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 6, 2009 - As fewer retail outlets are willing to give up shelf space for old movies, the Hollywood studios have turned to the video equivalent of self-publishing, offering older title through a kind of print-as-needed basis rather than running up the expense of a wide-scale release.

Warner Brothers started the trend earlier this year with its "Warner Archive" collection,  the most recent entries including "Gilda Live,"  the 1979 Gilda Radner preformance film directed by Mike Nichols, and two long-awaited cult titles, Andrew Bergman's "So Fine"  and Howard Zieff's "Slither."

Now Universal Pictures is following the lead with its own collection, available only through the Turner Classic Movies website . (You can buy the Warners titles there, too.)

The first five releases are fairly obscure horror titles, but expect more from Universal's large collection of Westerns and melodramas in the future, for all of you Rock Hudson and Douglas Sirk aficionados out there. The Universal titles, unlike their no-frills Warners counterparts, actually come with other special features from the Turner holdings, like trailers, promotional materials and introductions from the ubiquitous Robert Osborne.

The Lens is the blog of Cinema St. Louis, hosted by the Beacon.