From Dogma to The Cannonball Run: more hard to find movies (keep your DVDs)

Connie Queline

From Dogma to The Cannonball Run: more hard to find movies (keep your DVDs)

Some prominent movies are still very hard to find on either disc or streaming. Here are some notable examples of why you should hang on to your physical media.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article listing ten movies that – despite being well known – were difficult to find (legally) on any streaming service or even on disc. Those titles ranged from Ron Howard’s Cocoon to movies like Dawn of the Dead (the original). In the comments, many of our readers chimed in with their two cents on films they’ve found difficult to find over the years, so here are a few more challenging-to-find flicks, some of which may surprise you.

Dogma:

Now, unlike other movies on this list, there’s a legitimate reason why Dogma is so hard to find, and it goes back to the complicated way it was initially released in 1999. Kevin Smith’s film was originally made for Miramax Films, but the company that Disney owned at the time became worried about the risk of releasing a film deemed blasphemous. So, the heads of Miramax, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, released the movie on their own (through Lionsgate), meaning they owned the rights to it. With Harvey Weinstein now in prison, the former mogul has been holding onto the rights in a vain attempt to do something with the property to raise money. With him no longer on speaking terms with his brother Bob and Kevin Smith vowing never to associate with them again, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a re-release unless the rights are somehow pried from the Weinstein Brothers’ control. 

shoot to kill

Shoot to Kill:

The late, great Sidney Poitier stars this underrated action thriller from 1987. In it, he plays an FBI agent on the trail of a serial killer. He’s forced to chase his prey into the remote Pacific Northwest, where he’s infiltrated a hiking group led by a woman (Kirstie Alley) whose boyfriend (Tom Berenger) is an expert tracker. To save her, the agent and the tracker must team up (in classic mismatched buddy fashion) to track down the killer. What’s cool about this one is that all of the men on the hike with Alley are played by guys who have played villains (Clancy Brown, Richard Masur, and Andrew Robinson), so you never know who the killer is. This was a Touchstone Pictures release, so Disney owns the rights. It’s out on DVD but has never been issued on Blu-ray, and it’s unavailable on any of Disney’s streaming services (not even on Star in Canada – which has most Touchstone movies). Of all the movies on the list, this is the one I’m most eager to see get re-released, as it’s a total gem. It’s Sidney Poitier’s only real-deal action movie, and despite being in his sixties at the time, he did many of his own stunts. His chemistry with Berenger in this is also really good. 

the devils

The Devils:

Ken Russell’s infamous film has a long history that explains why it’s never been issued on disc in North America. It’s an X-rated, surreal account of a catholic priest (played by Oliver Reed) who burned at the stake as a witch due to the hysterical accusations of a lusty, hunchbacked, maniacal nun, played by Vanessa Redgrave. In the UK, this is more of a cult movie so that you can find it on disc. It occasionally shows up in the US on The Criterion Channel (it’s streaming this month), but only in a dated transfer of the censored R-rated cut. Warner Bros, who owns the rights, has seemingly always been terrified of this film, but they won’t license it out either, despite interest from Criterion and other labels. 

the cannonball run

The Cannonball Run:

You’d think that the third most popular film of 1981, and one that spawned two sequels, would be easier to find. If you grew up in the eighties, The Cannonball Run was everywhere, and the cast was jam-packed, including Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Farrah Fawcett, and even Jackie Chan. It’s about an illegal cross-country race and was a major blockbuster in its time. This one isn’t available because it was financed independently, while the sequels, which you can find, were not. One interesting thing about this movie is that Roger Moore plays a man who believes he’s…well…Roger Moore (or rather James Bond). EON Pictures were so upset that they included a clause in all future 007 contracts that actors could never wear a tuxedo in non-Bond projects while under contract. Moore himself had mixed feelings about the film, as one of the women who plays his companions in the movie, stuntwoman Heidi von Beltz, was left quadriplegic after a controversial accident during shooting. This is available on a DVD from HBO that was released in the 90s. 

wired 1989

Wired:

This controversial dramatization of Bob Woodward’s infamous account of John Belushi’s final days was roundly attacked by friends of the comedian back in 1989. Michael Chiklis plays Belushi in a performance that nearly ended his career – until he landed the lead in the series The Commish a few years later. Friends of Belushi’s took this movie so poorly that Dan Aykroyd had co-star JT Walsh blocked from a role in one of his movies years later. That said, the story has a happy ending as Chiklis, who’s gone on to a great career, ran into James Belushi, John’s brother, years later in a bar. He said the two had a drink and officially buried the hatchet after Chiklis apologized for taking a role in a movie that the family found hurtful. Of all the films on the list, maybe this is the only one that deserves the forced obscurity it’s found itself in, as its release serves no one. Also, it’s a bad movie. 

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