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MARCH 2010


March 2010 sees the release of TWO ALL TIME CLASSICS

1. The newly restored version of


Starring Humphrey Bogart & Katherine Hepburn
Directed by John Huston


Making its DVD debut in the USA, this classic film based on CS Forester’s novel is presented in FOUR different versions:

(a) On DVD as a 1-disc release (
(b) On DVD as a 2-disc Commemorative box set with many extras
(c) On Blu-Ray a 1-disc release (
(d) On Blu-Ray as a 2-disc Commemorative box set with many extras (

For details of Paramount’s outstanding restoration of this much-loved film:





An international best seller on its original vinyl release in 1977, BING CROSBY’S last album – produced by LAUREATE’S KEN BARNES in London in September of 1977 just one month before the singer’s untimely death, this award-winning collection has been unavailable since 1982 due to contractual complications. As a result, it has become the most sought-after of all Crosby’s recordings. Now, finally, the legalities have been ironed out with the Crosby family gaining complete ownership of the album and releasing it as a Collector’s Choice De Luxe Edition.

This NEW release – presented by Bing Crosby Enterprises – goes even further than the original musical package. In addition to presenting the album’s 12 songs from its initial release – arranged and conducted by Grammy Nominee PETE MOORE – this new CD adds a further 13 bonus tracks. Five poetry readings showing off Bing’s matchless dramatic sense as a subtle interpreter of works by such famous poets as Wordsworth, Longfellow and Kipling followed by eight great songs – recorded for a radio broadcast just three days before his death.. Thus, this unique collection is a complete studio chronicle of the last month of Crosby’s life. No artist – and especially no other singer – ever had a more impressive valedictory.

“SEASONS” has been newly remixed by the album’s original producer, Ken Barnes and remastered by the redoubtable engineer, Peter Reynolds. The complete track listing of this outstanding NEW release is as follows:


1. Seasons (Gilbert Becaud, Ken Barnes )
2. On The Very First Day of the Year (Ken Barnes, Pete Moore)
3. June In January (Leo Robin, Ralph Rainger)
4. Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year (Frank Loesser)
5. April Showers (Buddy De Sylva, Louis Silvers)
6. June Is Bustin’ Out All Over (Rodgers, Hammerstein II)
7. In The Good Old Summertime (Evans, Shields. arr. Pete Moore, Ken Barnes)
8. Summer Wind (Mercer, Bradtke, Meyer)
9. Autumn In New York (Vernon Duke )
10. September Song (Maxwell Anderson, Kurt Weill)
11. Sleigh Ride (Mitchell Parish, Leroy Anderson)
12. Yesterday When I Was Young (Charles Aznavour, Herbert Kretzmer)

The Poems

13. Around The Corner (Anon. Music P. Moore)
14. The Singers (Longfellow. Music. P. Moore)
15. If (Kipling – music P. Moore)
16. Lucy Gray-Solitude (Wordsworth. Music P. Moore )
17. The Slave’s Dream (Longfellow. Music. P. Moore)

The Last Session

18. Feels Good, Feels Right (Ken and Mitzi Welsh )
19. Nevertheless (Kalmar, Ruby)
20. As Time Goes By (Herman Hupfeld)
21. The Night Is Young and You’re So Beautiful (Suisse, Kahal, Rose, Edwards)
22. There’s Nothing I Haven’t Sung About (Duddy, Bresier)
23. Summer Wind (Mercer, Bradtke, Meyer)
24. The Only Way To Go (Rice, Hamlisch)
25. Once In A While (Edwards, Green)

Tracks 1- 17 Arranged & Conducted by Pete Moore
Tracks 18-25 Conducted by Gordon Rose

Original album produced
Ken Barnes

Released – in the U.S.A. – on Collector’ Choice.

Available from as an import

More next time.



Date November 18, 2009
Place: Savannah,Georgia. U.S.A.

A life-size bronze statue of Johnny Mercer (1909-1976) was unveiled in Savannah’s Ellis Square. The ceremony was attended by various City and State dignitaries receiving full media coverage – TV, press and radio, etc.
Laureate’s Ken Barnes (producer of Johnny Mercer’s London recordings) made the keynote speech introducing Mayor Otis Johnson who performed the unveiling of the statue along with relatives of the Mercer family and Savannah sculptress, Susie Chisholm.

Ken Barnes makes keynote speech in Savannah at Johnny Mercer Centennial celerations.

Ken Barnes makes keynote speech in Savannah

Ken Barnes (left) Dianne Thurman (centre) Anne Barnes (right) with statue of Johnny Mercer


Working from the original 16-track analogue tapes, KEN BARNES supervised the new digital re-mixing and remastering of Johnny Mercer’s classic 1974 London recordings. Now available as a double CD from Amazon


Legendary Hollywood director and actor, CLINT EASTWOOD acted as Executive Producer of a new feature-length documentary on the life and times of JOHNNY MERCER which was co-funded by the Johnny Mercer Foundation, Turner Classic Movies, Warner Home Video and BBC’s Arena. The film features many famous artists – FRED ASTAIRE, BING CROSBY, NAT KING COLE, JUDY GARLAND and FRANK SINATRA etc – performing a whole gallery of Johnny Mercer hits.
Exclusive interviews were shot with such major music personalities as TONY BENNETT, JAMIE CULLUM, DAME CLEO LAINE, SIR JOHN DANKWORTH and MICHAEL FEINSTEIN.
First screened in the U.S. by TCM on November 4, 2009 to great acclaim, this major documentary – written by Laureate’s KEN BARNES is now available – in the USA - on a special 2-disc DVD on Warner Home Video.

Also available as a Region 1 import on Amazon.

Watch out for more developments in 2010.


                                 TWO IMPORTANT CENTENARY EVENTS

In the last year, LAUREATE has participated in celebrating the centenaries of two important artists of the 20th century. Master film maker, David Lean and master songwriter Johnny Mercer.  Each in his own way is unique, both made an indelible impression in their respective fields and both were recipients of Academy Awards for their individual contributions to the world of film.

DAVID LEAN (1908-1991)

LAUREATE is pleased to announce their own choice for the DVD Box Set of 2009 -
– 10 fully restored classic films tracing the history and progress of Lean’s celebrated “English” period – which many say represents his best work. Be that as it may, each of the films in this important collection are certainly the equal – in terms of artistry – to such later blockbusters as “The Bridge on The River Kwai” and “Lawrence of Arabia.”  


This set offers an improvement over the previous 9-film box set of Lean’s work in that it includes his very first directorial effort “In Which We Serve” and, therefore, offers the complete canon of Lean’s classic black-and-white period.  The new digital restorations have been funded by the David Lean Foundation and cannot be recommended too highly.  


JOHNNY MERCER (1909 – 1976)

LAUREATE’S KEN BARNES – who knew and worked with Johnny Mercer – has been busy researching and writing the script for a film documentary on Mercer’s life. Ken and his wife, Anne are preparing to visit Savannah, Georgia (Mercer’s birthplace) in November for the official Centennial celebrations and the unveiling of a life-sized statue of the celebrated songwriter-singer. Other plans include a new 2-CD set comprising the complete London recordings of Johnny Mercer – originally produced by Barnes in 1974 – and the publication of an elaborate coffee table book “The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer” by musicologist, Robert Kimball.  


These and other details will appear in the next Laureate News Update.




High Definition television (HDTV) is rapidly completing its transformation from a high-end luxury technology enjoyed primarily by affluent early adoptors, to a mainstream product dominating the shelves of high street retailers. Industry estimates of HDTV household penetration surpassed 50 per cent last year – with sales of high definition sets expected to triple in just the next few years. Put simply, HDTV’s roots have taken hold and the reasons for that are many – including regulatory influences that are pushing consumers towards DTV purchases along with decreasing retail prices, expanding HD programming options and a greater consumer emphasis on picture and sound quality.

Despite the global recession, there has been a noticeable international upsurge in the home entertainment market as evidenced by continuing success of movies, concerts and TV shows delivered via up-converted DVDs or the full high definition (1080p) Blu-Ray disc.

Following a hesitant start three years ago, Blu-Ray has weathered the expected format war and emerged victorious and, in the last 12 months, has made a profound impact on world markets. 2008 was indeed the year of Blue-Ray. And the good thing about investing in a Blu-Ray player is that it will not only handle all of your existing DVDs, it will actually up-grade their picture quality. Thus, it is not necessary in every case to re-invest in HD versions of your favourite classic movies.

The only setback is that the Blu-Ray player tends to remain faithful to a film’s original aspect ratio. This means that a classic 4.3 film will appear with black bars at the sides of a wide screen TV. This can be off-putting to viewers who like to be able to switch aspects on all films – be they old or new – to fill the major part of the frame.
Since widescreen 16.9 TVs are now the common standard, the easy solution to this problem would be for the home video companies to master 4.3 films as anamorphic releases which would fill the frame without distortion.


Since this website has always catered for the classic film buff, it’s a pleasure to announce that 2009 will see 50th Anniversary Blu-Ray editions of Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest” and William Wyler’s “Ben-Hur” both of which were originally released in 1959. There will also be 70th Anniversary Blu-Ray Editions of “Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With The Wind.”

Already available on Blu-Ray are classics such as “The Adventures of Robin Hood”(1938), “An American In Paris” (1951), “Gigi” (1958) “The French Connection”(1971) and “The Godfather Trilogy” (1972 –’74 and ’90 )

And more to come.


2009 marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of classic songwriter, JOHNNY MERCER. To commemorate this event, a special two-hour film documentary is currently in production for international showing later this year.

This is a joint project involving the Johnny Mercer Foundation, Turner Classic Movies, Warner Home Video and the BBC. The Executive Producer is CLINT EASTWOOD, producer/director is BRUCE RICKER and the writer is Laureate’s KEN BARNES .

The film, which covers Mercer’s career and his many successes in Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood will feature clips from film and TV with such stars as BING CROSBY, FRANK SINATRA, JUDY GARLAND, NAT KING COLE, DINAH SHORE and many others. It will have the full support of the Mercer family and will include interviews with such luminaries as TONY BENNETT, ANDRE PREVIN, DAME CLEO LAINE, SIR JOHN DANKWORTH, DAME JUDI DENCH, MEL BROOKS, MICHAEL FEINSTEIN, DOCTOR JOHN, JAMIE CULLUM, HARRY CONNICK,JR, RICHARD SHERMAN,

Its first showing will be in the autumn on American Masters PBS and later on TCM and the BBC. The DVD will be marketed by Warner Home Video.

JULY 2008

(but where are the classics?)

Now that the high definition format war is over – that Sony’s Blu-ray has emerged the winner and Toshiba’s HD-DVD has gone the way of the dodo – movie buffs are currently being inundated with a veritable deluge of titles in the Blu-ray format. The great majority of the films currently on release are new, or at least recent, titles. To the film companies, of course, this makes perfect sense. Their new films – flops and hits alike – represent massive investments that must be recouped as soon as possible. Also the one thing they have in common is they are all produced under the latest state-of-the-art technical conditions and are perfectly compatible with Blu-ray’s high definition delivery. This may be good news for the Harry Potter – X Men generation, but what about the collectors of classic films?

When can we expect to see the timeless classics on Blu-ray ? Well, they are coming. For lovers of musicals, Warners are releasing newly mastered two-disc special editions of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS and GIGI on both DVD and Blu-ray. Also planned for this year is the first feature film shot in Cinerama HOW THE WEST WAS WON in a specially restored version that has removed the infamous “join lines” that marred previous VHS and laserdisc releases. It also boasts a host of extras and comes in a Digi-book form (meaning a 32 page book). Another classic from Warners before the end of 2008 will be the Blu-ray release of the 1938 definitive Errol Flynn swashbuckler THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, 2009 will see 50th Anniversary Editions (in Blu-ray) of William Wyler’s BEN-HUR and Alfred Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

The future of Blu-ray looks very promising especially since Warners have promised that, in time, they will be releasing everything in Blu-ray. But, as with everything, there is a downside. Some companies in their eagerness to show off the visual perfection of the high definition process have “overcooked “some of the mastering by eliminating the grain from certain classics on Blu-ray. This is a gross mistake because the grain is what distinguishes a classic film from the pristine and characterless digital photography that we’re getting today. This indeed is one of the reasons why Steven Spielberg chose to shoot the latest Indiana Jones movie as a film that would retain the look of the previous three pictures from the 1980s. It’s important that classic films should benefit from high definition without jeopardizing or altering the work of the great cinematographers.

Should grain be removed? In some cases, possibly, but not entirely and only with the utmost care and attention. With all the DNR technology that’s around, it’s relatively easy to “clean up” the film so that there is no trace of grain left. But this leaves us with an image that looks like a video game. Faces are waxy, clothing looks different, dirt on walls and windows is missing, background details are changed and high frequency information is missing and all because some techno-boffin doesn’t like to see grain. All the excellent work done by skilled cinematographers and talented directors is ruined. The solution is to stop this rot before it goes any further. This is not to say that ALL Blu-ray releases are subject to this kind of idiotic “cleaning up”,  Happily there are enough film experts, buffs and serious collectors, already making their case to the major film companies and their words are being heeded by the more responsible executives so hopefully this will keep things on an even track.
Laureate members may rest assured that this column will point out – whenever possible – which Blu-ray discs to avoid. At the moment, we would suggest avoiding the Blu-ray versions of PATTON, GANGS OF NEW YORK and COLD MOUNTAIN.

Discs that can be bought with confidence are THE SAND PEBBLES, THE PROFESSIONALS and the recently released Clint Eastwood box set:


Dirty Harry in Blu-Ray

The latter set is, in fact, so true to the original film image that you can occasionally spot dirt on the original camera lens. Here we have film that looks like film.
Another reason to recommend this set is that it is awash with extras. Each of the five discs carries an audio commentary and there is an abundance of documentaries and memorabilia. Highly recommended.

There’s no doubt that Blu-ray is a boon to film buffs, but it has some growing up to do. Classic movies are on their way and we’ll be glad to report on the progress over the next few months.


This worthwhile four-day event covering the life and career of the great Fred Astaire took place at Oriel College, Oxford from June 21 to 24 and was organised on a most efficient scale by two very gifted ladies Kathleen Riley (from Australia) and Chris Bamberger (from the U.S.A.) and attended by Astaire experts and admirers from all over the world. Guests of honour were Fred’s daughter, Ava Astaire Mackenzie and her husband, Richard Mackenzie. All aspects of Astaire’s talents as dancer, choreographer, pianist, singer, songwriter and actor were examined and discussed as well as his personal qualities as a family man and friend. As one of the delegates, Laureate’s Ken Barnes – who enjoyed a 12 year friendship with Fred and produced his last recordings in London - made a special presentation on Fred Astaire the Singer and Recording Artist as well as being one of the conference’s keynote speakers. For full details of this event



2008 – The Year of Blu-ray ?

For more than two years now the DVD has been standing on the threshold of a new era in home entertainment. High Definition. But with this new era came an old problem. The battle of two formats to win over a new generation of DVD buyers is very much akin to the early days of video tape and the conflict between VHS and Betamax. That battle, of course, was won years ago by VHS which itself was eventually swallowed up by the DVD – the fastest developing area in the history of home entertainment.

It is now almost ten years since the first DVDs were released in the U.K. in April of 1998.  The Laureate Company was formed in 2000 to take advantage of the requirements of DVD production and now, as we enter our ninth year of operation, it’s interesting to note that the current battle for control of the high definition market between, on the one hand, Toshiba with HD-DVD and, on the other, Sony with Blu-ray, is at last coming to an end.

Movie collectors, who form more than 73 % of the DVD market, have been slow to embrace high definition because of this format battle and we at Laureate made a decision over 18 months ago not to comment on this new era until a definite conclusion was in sight. We did, however, keep a close watch on the way that this emergent market was developing and it seemed to us as far back as the summer of last year that Blu-ray had the best chance of winning. True Universal made the decision to exclusively support HD-DVD – presumably because it was the cheaper of the two systems and, theoretically, would have wider appeal with the general public. Also – and this was another consideration – HD-DVD discs were cheaper to produce and manufacture.

But to offset this, there were rumours back in May that Warner Brothers may give Blu-ray the green light exclusively. If they did, this would give Sony six of the seven major studios and this would pretty well bring the format war to an end. Then, in the autumn of 2007 Toshiba reacted by taking the radical step of offering $150 million dollars to Paramount and DreamWorks if they would drop Blu-ray and release their high definition titles exclusively on HD-DVD. They accepted and a significant number of popular Paramount and DreamWorks titles previously announced for Blu-ray release were dropped. Yet despite this drastic step, Blu-ray continued to hold its own in the admittedly small high-def market.

Then, on November 1st, Toshiba in their eagerness to win the format war took an even more radical step by announcing that the cost of their HD-A2 player retailing at $499 would be slashed down to just $99. It was difficult to see why they would do this except as a move of extreme desperation. There was no way that Toshiba could hope to profit from such a move except in the short term. Believing perhaps that 25 years earlier the cheaper VHS tape system had won out over Betamax, they probably thought that the general public would again go for the cheaper option and plump wholeheartedly for HD-DVD. What they failed to notice was the fact that over the last ten or so years the consumers have come to understand technology and its many advantages. They have also come to expect more for their money.

If we look objectively at the differences between HD-DVD and Blu-ray we can see at once the shortcomings of the cheaper system. On the subject of picture quality it is difficult to differentiate between the two systems. Both offer superb visual advantages over standard DVD. But it is in the area of storage that the Blu-ray wins hands down. The standard DVD holds around 5 gigabytes. Blu-ray disks will hold at least 50 gigabytes with a possibility of 100 gigs or more. HD-DVD starts at 15 gigs and tops out at 45. Toshiba’s supporters claim that all that consumers are interested in is a good picture and there’s no need for all that elaborate storage space. Many market experts agreed with this viewpoint and believed that the more costly Blu-ray system would fall by the wayside.


In the summer of 2007, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates laid into Sony’s chief executive Howard Stringer by arguing that Sony’s Blu-ray standard needed to be changed so it could work smoothly with personal computers running on on Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Stringer and his team defended their technology, insisting Blu-ray would work fine with computers.

What began as a private argument soon became public. On September 27, Microsoft and Intel (INTC) fired a broadside at Sony, suggesting publicly the Blu-ray technology could not deliver what it had promised – and they pledged their support for Toshiba. This did not stop movie studios voicing their support for Sony as top film directors like Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay stated that their preference was for Blu-ray. Then Dell and Hewlett Packard took the highly unusual step of releasing a joint statement denouncing the move by Microsoft and Intel, the PC makers two most important suppliers.

Microsoft’s criticism was that Blu-ray disks will be more expensive to manufacture and may be impossible to make in large volumes. Yet the technology’s supporters are certain that costs will be similar in the long term.
Michael Dell, chairman of PC giant Dell stated “We don’t see any big cost difference, and we know a thing or two about volume manufacturing.”


A format war such as this one does no good for either the consumer or the manufacturer. But it’s easy to see why two major companies are going head to head to achieve supremacy because the ultimate winner will have virtual control over the home entertainment market for the next decade and beyond. The cold fact is that, over the last 12 months, this format war has had an adverse effect on the DVD business. Sales were down compared to previous years. Many consumers were loath to invest in the high-def market until it was clear which system would survive. Consequently a large proportion of potential buyers decided not to purchase their favourite films in the expectation that they would eventually emerge on HD.

While this battle was going on, the statistics told their own story.


Week ending December 16, 2007         Blu-ray 61%        HD DVD 39%

Year to Date                                              Blu-ray 65%         HD DVD 35%

Since inception                                         Blu-ray 62%         HD DVD 38%

It was felt throughout the industry in the USA that the final blow to HD DVD would be dealt during the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas starting on January 7. But, in fact, the news came on January 4 when Warner Brothers finally announced that they would throw all their weight behind Blu-ray later this year, a decision that can only serve as a death blow to HD DVD.

This was underlined when Bill Gates, in his keynote speech to the convention, did not make a single reference to HD DVD (the system he had supported throughout the format war) but instead went on to pledge Microsoft’s role in the future digital age.

Warners had been the sole major backing both formats since late summer, when Paramount dropped Blu-ray in favour of HD DVD, due in no small measure to the cash and marketing incentives proffered by Toshiba and the belief that that HD DVD’s lower costs would drive greater market adoption. Yet Warners found that consumers still hesitated to dip their toes into the high-def waters due to confusion over the duelling formats. The price impediment was diminishing, but the take-up was not increasing. Thus, Warners very wisely decided to take the big step towards ending the format war by choosing Blu-ray exclusively over HD DVD.

Warner’s chairman and CEO, Barry Meyer said “The window of opportunity for high definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger.”

Warner’s final shift to Blu-ray does not go into effect until June 1st and the studio will honour their commitment to HD DVD until May 31 after which they will release only Blu-ray on the high def front. But, unlike Paramount who completely ignored their existing Blu-ray customers, Warners will be offering incentives to HD DVD consumers that will help them switch over to Blu-ray for the future which now looks secure.

Equally secure will be our existing DVD collections because Blu-ray is not only backwards compatible it also makes your old DVDs look even better than before.

So is the format war now over ? Will 2008 be the year of Blu-ray ? The answer would seem to be an affirmative yes!



A lot to report this time. This has been a busy period for Laureate. Back in March, Ken and his wife, Anne, travelled to Los Angeles on business and had interesting meetings with famed film historian and archivist, Leonard Maltin; with Sinatra Enterprises and with Universal’s Home Entertainment division. Talking with Universal’s Michael Ribak, Ken was able to pass on many of the requests received at film society lectures and on the Laureate website. Hopefully, some of these ideas will be taken up during 2008.


2007 is proving to be an amazing year for DVD box sets on both sides of the Atlantic.

Among the homegrown PAL releases of classic movies, there are sets devoted to the early British films of such well-remembered actors as LAURENCE OLIVIER, JAMES MASON and STEWART GRANGER. There is also a wonderful POWELL & PRESSBURGER COLLECTION that gathers together all of their best-known titles including “A Matter of Life and Death,” “Black Narcissus” and “The Red Shoes.”
But perhaps pride of place should go to DAVID LEAN, one of the greatest film directors of all time, with a long overdue box set covering the best of his British output from “This Happy Breed” (1944) right up to “Hobson’s Choice” (1954) taking in such timeless classics as
“Brief Encounter”
(1945) “Great Expectations” (1946) and “Oliver Twist " (1948).

For all his greatness, Lean was not really a prolific film maker. In a career spanning just over four decades, he made a total of only 16 films which makes his legacy relatively easy to collect. This welcome box set conveniently covers his first decade and nine of the ten films prior to his association with the big Hollywood studios. It is an indispensable slice of film history and is deservedly listed here as a LAUREATE HOT BOX.



On the American side of the spectrum, Warners – as usual – lead the way with their ongoing “Signature Collection” series which, this year, offers sets devoted to such charismatic stars as KATHERINE HEPBURN, GARY COOPER and JAMES CAGNEY as well as continuing second volumes of HUMPHREY BOGART and ERROL FLYNN. Also a second volume of CLASSIC MUSICALS FROM THE DREAM FACTORY. All wonderful stuff that helps fill the gaps in many a movie buff’s collection.



Laureate members will remember that three years ago we held a forum on the films of 20th Century Fox in which scores of members sent in their requests for many neglected films from musicals – like “Daddy Long Legs” and “Sun Valley Serenade” – to Film Noir titles such as “Laura” and “Kiss of Death” and the films of Tyrone Power.
Well, in the last three years, just about all of these requests have been fulfilled as individual releases. Now, at last, Fox have taken the plunge and released a superb box set

In some ways, the Power collection surpasses some of the Warner box sets by offering a greater selection of relevant extras – documentaries, interviews with Power’s family and former leading ladies, audio commentaries and restoration comparisons plus theatrical trailers and even a highly readable booklet not to mention isolated orchestral scores and
packs of lobby cards. Well done, Fox – keep up the good work !


We have just received word of the publication of three highly desirable books that are sure to have an appeal to many of Laureate’s members and visitors.

FRED & GINGER – by Hannah Hyam ( Penpress Publications ) A highly readable and beautifully detailed account of the greatest dance team in Hollywood history.

FRANK SINATRA – The Man, The Music, The Legend ( University of Rochester Press)
Edited by Jeanne Fuchs and Ruth Prigozy, this is a most informative spin-off from the 1998 Sinatra conference at Hofstra University, Long Island. NY and is required reading for all Sinatra admirers.

GOING MY WAY – BING CROSBY and American Culture (University of Rochester Press)


Back in 1973 when the record industry were pinning their hopes on the arrival of quadraphonic sound, Ken Barnes, one of the busiest independent record producers in London, was commissioned by Pye Records to produce some albums that would exploit the new 4-channel concept of audio entertainment. He selected a big band with a difference. THE HARRY ROCHE CONSTELLATION. Ken had previously produced two albums with Roche that had attracted attention and the band – with its eccentric lineup of nine trombones, 1 trumpet doubling flugelhorn, 1 reed/woodwind and six rhythm/percussion – created a spectacular big band sound with a difference.
This resulted in two outstanding albums “Spiral” and “Sometimes” – which featured Europe’s top musicians playing a wide selection of standards, pop hits and originals scored by the industry’s finest arrangers – Pete Moore, Angela Morley, David Lindup, Don Lusher, etc.

Now, for the first time on CD, Cherry Red Records have released both of these exciting albums on a single disc. The stereo quality and the new digital mastering are exceptional. If you’re looking for a great big band sound and want to give your hi-fi set-up a workout, then this is for you.


That’s all for this time. In the next Newsletter, we will be discussing the next generation of DVD – High Definition – and the battle of the two systems which is now really hotting up.





soars into the U.S. TOP 30 DVDs

The recently released Region 1 version of Irving Berlin’s “Holiday Inn” – the classic 1942 film in which Bing Crosby first introduced “White Christmas” – made a strong sales impression in the USA over the Christmas holidays. This was the NTSC conversion of Universal’s much-praised UK version containing all the extras produced by Laureate Presentations including two featurettes and an audio commentary by Ken Barnes. This classic black and white musical starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire has proved to be one of the season’s fastest-selling DVDs and in Amazon’s sales charts over the 2006 Christmas period, outsold such hotly-tipped titles as “X Men – The Last Stand,” “King Kong – Extended Edition” and “Nacho Libre.” Not bad going for a 64 year-old black and white movie.

The original Region 2 version is still available here in the UK


The fabulous 5-disc box set comprising 4 CDs and 1 DVD of previously unreleased live performances of Frank Sinatra (all recorded in Las Vegas between 1961 and 1987) has proved to be one of the biggest-selling box sets ever released by Warner Brothers. Not surprisingly, the album’s producer Charles Pignone is now working on another Sinatra project that promises to be just as exciting.


It was almost three years ago that Laureate ran a forum on this website asking all our members to request their favourite films in the 20th Century Fox catalogue. The response was tremendous. The most oft-requested items were Fred Astaire’s “Daddy Long Legs” (1955_ and the two musical featuring the Glenn Miller Orchestra “Sun Valley Serenade”(1941) and “Orchestra Wives”(1942). Now these three titles plus five others are joyfully released in a superb box set entitled simply Hollywood Musicals

Other Fox films requested included the swashbuckling movies of the handsome Tyrone Power --“The Mark of Zorro” (1940) and “The Black Swan” (1942). These are now available plus other Power classic as “Crash Dive” (1943), “The Razor’s Edge” (1946) and “Nightmare Alley” (1947). The latter film is part of an excellent series of Film Noir titles including such other much-requested classics as “ Laura” (1944) and "Call Northside 777" and many others which are all gradually becoming available.

Laureate’s army of movie buffs never had it so good.





Universal Home Entertainment have now released LAUREATE’S Special Presentation OF Irving Berlin’s HOLIDAY INN. The evergreen classic musical that first introduced Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” (STILL the biggest hit of all time). The special edition DVD – produced by KEN BARNES for Universal (UK) – is basically the same as the UK version except for a different package design which is tastefully presented in a slip cover and snap case.
American reviews have praised the set for its excellent picture and sound as well as its outstanding array of special features which include two featurettes (one with Fred Astaire’s daughter, AVA ASTAIRE MACKENZIE) and a feature length audio commentary by Ken Barnes that includes archive comments from the film’s stars BING CROSBY and FRED ASTAIRE.

The songs of IRVING BERLIN, the singing of BING CROSBY and the dancing of FRED ASTAIRE make this one of the best-loved musicals of all time. An enduring classic.

NEWLY RELEASED in the UK is the RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN COLLECTION featuring “State Fair” (in both the 1945 and 1962 versions ), "Oklahoma” (1955), “Carousel” (1956), “The King and I “ (1956) and “The Sound Of Music” (1965). These and several other great musicals-released by MGM-UA - including “Guys and Dolls”, “West Side Story” and ”Fiddler On The Roof” are all being promoted on specialist radio stations across the UK by LAUREATE’S KEN BARNES.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein films have all been remastered in their original widescreen aspect ratios and are released as Special 2-Disc Editions.


October saw the release on EMI Gold of an exciting double CD release DICK HAYMES – THE COMPLETE CAPITOL COLLECTION.
Containing the two classic albums “Rain Or Shine” and “ Moondreams” plus all of the Haymes singles for Capitol and many previously unreleased out-takes. Conceived and Produced by KEN BARNES for EMI. Truly a collector’s classic.

THE BIG NEWS for FRANK SINATRA collectors is the all-new Warner Brothers Box set


There have been many box sets of Sinatra over the years but never one quite like this. The entire programme spread across 5 discs ( 4 CDs and 1 DVD ) consists entirely of PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED PERFORMANCES all recorded live in Sinatra’s beloved city of Las Vegas.

Produced on a lavish scale by CHARLES PIGNONE (author of THE SINATRA TREASURES) and housed in a most sturdy and attractive box with an elaborately designed 64-page book crammed with illustrations and comments from many of Sinatra’s associates, friends and his family, this is a not-to-be missed set.

Released in the UK on November 27, 2006.


APRIL 2006


The long awaited DVD debut of a much-loved classic screen musical

DVD ( REGION 1 ) U.S.A & CANADA release 21st February, 2006 AmazonUK


DVD ( REGION 2) U.K. & EUROPE release forthcoming ( TBC)
Original aspect ratio: 2.35:1 Stereo Dolby Digital
Audio Commentary by Ken Barnes & Ava Astaire Mackenzie with archive comments from the film’s composer – 4-time Academy Award Winner – Johnny Mercer
Movietone News footage of the film’s Los Angeles & London Premieres
Stills Gallery - Original Theatrical Trailer

"DADDY LONG LEGS" heads up Fox Home Entertainment's new series of " MARQUEE MUSICALS"
Also released February 21st (U.S. Region 1 )are

"Weekend In Havana"(1941)



"Pin Up Girl" (1944)



OUT NOW - March 6th Release on CD


Their classic 1975 album produced by Ken Barnes - arranged & conducted by Pete Moore
Plus extra Bonus Tracks is now on CD




This KEN BARNES production is a refurbished, expanded and re-mastered two-disc version of the earlier single disc UK release of 2003.
It’s bigger and better in every way – and is certainly the definitive version of this classic film. Early signs indicate that it will be a big seller.

FRANK SINATRA, Jr. has just completed a new album for Warner Brothers which will be issued in the spring of 2006. Details will be announced soon.

KEN BARNES and his wife, ANNE have just returned from a business-cum-pleasure trip to the USA covering Los Angeles, Savannah and New York.
While in Los Angeles, KEN had meetings with GEORGE FELTENSTEIN (director of WARNER HOME VIDEO) who mentioned that their second ASTAIRE-ROGERS box set (which will be just as elaborate as the first) will be released in the USA in August of 2006 – exactly one year after the first set (which is doing very good business).
He also said there will be a super de-luxe new special edition of WIZARD OF OZ released later in 2006.

UNIVERSAL UK are preparing a special Christmas double promotion campaign of HOLIDAY INN (the definitive Diamond Edition produced by KEN BARNES) in tandem with FRANK CAPRA’S classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. This will be a national TV and press advertising campaign with both films jointly tagged in all media outlets. Both films are all-time Christmas classics and this campaign should do good business over the festive season.



Concurrent with a wonderful full page review by renowned jazz critic, Nat Hentoff in the Wall Street Journal on August 9th, Shout Factory’s superb 3-CD box set “Swingin’ With Bing” produced by Laureate’s Ken Barnes zoomed straight to #1 in the Amazon jazz charts and into the top 10 of their popular music charts.

Available from Amazon


The perfect follow-up to “ Swingin’ With Bing”
This new double CD offers – for the first time in one album – the complete radio duets of Bing Crosby and Al Jolson.
Available on the acclaimed Sepia label. Release date: September 6th
RRP £11.99

Available from Amazon


Hart Sharp’s new deluxe 50th Anniversary DVD of Otto Preminger’s THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM – a Laureate Presentation in association with Sinatra Enterprises of Los Angeles will make its U.S. market debut Hart Sharp Video on October 16th.

Unlike Laureate’s previous 2002 UK release, this will be a two-disc edition that will contain Laureate’s exclusive documentary MUSIC ON FILM – ELMER BERNSTEIN in conversation with KEN BARNES plus revised and newly-conceived graphics and moving menus, a special audio-visual montage of exclusive photos – by celebrated photographer, Bob Willoughby - from the film’s soundtrack sessions with Frank Sinatra and Elmer Bernstein set over Sinatra’s own recording of the song “The Man With The Golden Arm “ written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen.
This rare Sinatra recording was originally intended to be heard over the film’s credits but was later dropped in favour of Bernstein’s dynamic main title theme.
Loaded with attractive extras including exclusive footage of Sinatra talking about his preparation for the role of Frankie Machine and a newly-recorded feature-length audio commentary by Ken Barnes, this is the definitive DVD presentation of one of cinema’s true classics.


For FRANK SINATRA fans, EMI have just issued ( August 17th ) a new 3-CD box set THE PLATINUM COLLECTION, a newly-remastered overview of Frank’s work on the Capitol label, generally considered to be his finest-ever period. It boasts an informative booklet by Ken Barnes tracing the ups and downs of Sinatra’s association with the label.

Crammed with classic hit singles and choice standards from his greatest albums, this is classic Sinatra all the way.

Available from Amazon

For BING CROSBY fans, a new and spectacular 3-CD box set SWINGIN’ WITH BING is released in the USA by Shout Factory on August 24th distributed by Sony. A Laureate Presentation produced by Ken Barnes ( Executive Producer, Kathryn Crosby ) this is by far the most important Crosby release for many years. Culled from Bing’s famous top-rated radio shows of the 1940s and ‘50s, this exciting collection - spanning the years 1942 to 1953 - contains many tracks never before released commercially and includes every radio duet that Bing did with both Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. More than five years in production and involving hundreds of hours of studio time, this set has been
painstakingly restored and beautifully mastered from the original transcription sources.
In addition to the superb performances and the outstanding audio quality, Shout Factory have really gone to town on SWINGIN’ WITH BING presenting it as a splendidly designed deluxe hardback 40 page book full of illustrations, rare photos and fascinating information on Bing’s radio and recording career. An absolute MUST for all lovers of quality popular music and top class singing.

This is Bing at his unbeatable best  Available from Amazon


Following in the wake of the Universal – Laureate box set FRED AND GINGER, Warner Brothers – the world’s leading DVD label – flew Fred Astaire’s daughter, Ava Astaire McKenzie to New York on August 18th to film her contributions to their forthcoming DVD editions of EASTER PARADE(1948) and THE BAND WAGON (1953).

MAY 2005.

New 2-disc edition of “THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM” is now completed

A new de-luxe two-disc edition of Otto Preminger’s 1955 classic has now been completed for U.S. release as part of this year’s 50th Anniversary celebration which will also include a new American theatrical re-release of the film. This updated DVD release – produced by Laureate in association with Artanis Entertainment/Sinatra Enterprises will be released by Hart Sharp Video of New York.

  • Extras include newly re-mastered print of the film.
  • Exclusive video interview with FRANK SINATRA
  • Feature length audio commentary by Laureate’s Ken Barnes
  • MUSIC ON FILM – ELMER BERNSTEIN in conversation with Ken Barnes
  • Production Background
  • Extensive Cast and Crew Profiles
  • Film soundtrack re-mixed and newly mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1

Release date will be later this year. Details to follow.

Fox give green light to “DADDY LONG LEGS” on DVD

After more than two thousand requests on the Laureate website for a DVD of “Daddy Long Legs”, The Los Angeles office of Fox have finally green-lighted a DVD production of this popular Fred Astaire-Leslie Caron musical. Preparation has now begun with KEN BARNES of Laureate overseeing an in-depth audio commentary with Fred Astaire’s daughter, AVA ASTAIRE MACKENZIE to be recorded at Phoenix Studios in Denham, Middlesex. It was hoped that the film’s co-star, LESLIE CARON would also contribute to this DVD but due to conflicting circumstances, Miss Caron is unable to participate.


The recent Warner releases of “Easter Parade”, “The Band Wagon” and “Finian’s Rainbow” will be followed later this year by the first of two box sets of the complete Astaire-Rogers musicals. While some of these titles have previously appeared on DVD, Fox’s release is a DVD first.

No release date has yet been set for this long-awaited DADDY LONG LEGS DVD. But as soon as information is available, it will be announced on this website.



A Happy 2005 to all our visitors
and I’d like to begin the year with an apology.
As you all know, just before Christmas the Laureate website was hacked by some unknown source taking with it our Message Board and God knows how many messages. We are told that this also happened to some 39,000 other websites around the world. Finally, the mess has been cleared up and our message board is now again up and running.
So please let us continue to hear from you all.

We would like to offer congratulations to our U.S. friends - Sinatra Enterprises (Los Angeles) and Hart Sharp Video (New York ) on achieving Gold Awards for THE RAT PACK – LIVE AND SWINGIN’ (CD/DVD) and SUPER SIZE ME. (DVD). It’s a pleasure to be associated with these companies and we are looking forward to completing the new 50th Anniversary Special Edition of Otto Preminger’s THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM starring Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker and Kim Novak. Arrangements are currently underway to interview cast members Eleanor Parker and Arnold Stang. Keep your eye on this column.


HMV’S in-store campaign 100 DVDS YOU MUST HAVE features Universal’s CITIZEN KANE-SPECIAL EDITION ( a Laureate Presentation produced by Ken Barnes)

KEN BARNES’ three most recent TV appearances are Channel 4’s UK GOLD AWARDS (November 2004), BBC Four’s THE DVD COLLECTION (December 2004)
and Channel Five’s 40 GREATEST LOVE SONGS (Screening February 14 2005 )


Mercer Sings Mercer

Back in 1974, Academy Award-winning songwriter, Johnny Mercer was in London writing a musical with Andre Previn. Record producer Ken Barnes – who recalled the many hit records that Mercer had made over the years – persuaded the legendary lyricist to personally record new versions of some of his greatest songs. This resulted in two albums (a total of 28 songs) accompanied by two superb backing units The Pete Moore Orchestra and The Harry Roche Constellation. Arrangements and musical direction throughout by Pete Moore. Now, for the first time on CD, all 28 songs are presented on an outstanding double CD on the Castle Pulse label. Release date: February 28,2005.

The late Johnny Mercer has been in the news quite a lot lately following the publication of not one but two biographies on his life : Skylark-The Life and Times of Johnny Mercer by Philip Furia (St. Martin’s Press.2003) and A Portrait of Johnny – The life of John Herndon Mercer by Gene Lees (Pantheon Books.2004).

On the subject of Mercer the singer, both Ken and his partner, Pete Moore look back on these sessions as among the most enjoyable of their careers.

Says Ken. “ Johnny Mercer was not only an outstanding songwriter, he was an excellent and very stylish singer. These sessions were a joy for everyone involved and, after more than 30 years, we were surprised to find that they still sound as fresh as ever. They sound like they were recorded yesterday”


Ken Barnes (right) with Oscar-winning songwriter, Johnny Mercer and composer-arranger, Pete Moore

The set includes joyous versions of such Mercer classics as That Old Black Magic, Autumn Leaves, Too Marvellous For Words, Good Goody and, of course, Moon River .
All sung in Johnny Mercer’s inimitable style against a set of exceptional orchestrations played by the finest of Europe’s musicians.

For all lovers of The Great American Songbook, this new release is a must!
Available at all good record stores or buy it online from


2004 Archive

The first FILM TO DVD SEMINAR held at the National Film Theatre in London on July 5th was adjudged a definite success.
Organised and hosted by Jean Luc Renaud, president of Globalcom and publisher of DVD Intelligence, the function covered all aspects of the ever-widening DVD market.
Statistics now show that 67% of all households in the UK now have DVD.
The event was punctuated by a string of interesting and stimulating speeches by numerous industry experts including Laureate’s Ken Barnes who made the case for adding “extras” to DVD presentations of classic films. “ Most of the major companies,” he said.” Are too concerned with pushing the new film product to the exclusion of their back catalogue. This is not to say that they don’t care about classic titles it’s just, in most cases, their executives lack the knowledge. There are more film buffs out there than they realize and any company that releases an important classic title as a film-only release is short-changing the customer. We are no longer living in the VHS era. It’s time to realise that the DVD is a collector’s medium far more than VHS ever was. “

Many people at the Seminar agreed wholeheartedly with Ken’s speech and it is hoped that by next year’s FILM–TO-DVD SEMINAR the overall situation will have improved.

Work is now in progress on a new deluxe Golden Anniversary DVD of Otto Preminger’s THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM which is being produced by Ken Barnes in association with Sinatra Enterprises of Los Angeles.

It will be released in the USA by Hart Sharp Video in March, 2005 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the film’s production.
Unlike Laureate’s previous 2002 UK release, this will be a two-disc edition that will contain Laureate’s exclusive documentary MUSIC ON FILM – ELMER BERNSTEIN in conversation with KEN BARNES plus revised and newly-conceived graphics and moving menus, a special audio-visual montage of exclusive photos – by celebrated photographer, Bob Willoughby - from the film’s soundtrack sessions with Frank Sinatra and Elmer Bernstein set over Sinatra’s own recording of the song “The Man With The Golden Arm “ written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. It was originally intended to be heard over the film’s credits but was later dropped in favour of Bernstein’s dynamic main title theme.
Other extras – currently being explored – are possible interviews with Sinatra’s co-stars Eleanor Parker and Kim Novak. The film will, of course, also feature exclusive footage of Sinatra talking about his preparation for the role of Frankie Machine and a newly-recorded feature-length audio commentary by Ken Barnes.


For FRANK SINATRA fans, EMI have just issued ( August 17th ) a new 3-CD box set THE PLATINUM COLLECTION, a newly-remastered overview of Frank’s work on the Capitol label, generally considered to be his finest-ever period. It boasts an informative booklet by Ken Barnes tracing the ups and downs of Sinatra’s association with the label.

Crammed with classic hit singles and choice standards from his greatest albums, this is classic Sinatra all the way. Available from Amazon

For BING CROSBY fans, a new and spectacular 3-CD box set SWINGIN’ WITH BING is released in the USA by Shout Factory on August 24th distributed by Sony.
A Laureate Presentation produced by Ken Barnes ( Executive Producer, Kathryn Crosby ) this is by far the most important Crosby release for many years.
Culled from Bing’s famous top-rated radio shows of the 1940s and ‘50s, this exciting collection - spanning the years 1942 to 1953 - contains many tracks never before released commercially and includes every radio duet that Bing did with both Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
More than five years in production and involving hundreds of hours of studio time, this set has been painstakingly restored and beautifully mastered from the original transcription sources.
In addition to the superb performances and the outstanding audio quality, Shout Factory have really gone to town on SWINGIN’ WITH BING presenting it as a splendidly designed deluxe hardback 40 page book full of illustrations, rare photos and fascinating information on Bing’s radio and recording career. An absolute MUST for all lovers of quality popular music and top class singing.

This is Bing at his unbeatable best ! Available from Amazon


Following in the wake of the Universal – Laureate box set FRED AND GINGER, Warner Brothers – the world’s leading DVD label – flew Fred Astaire’s daughter, Ava Astaire McKenzie to New York on August 18th to film her contributions to their forthcoming DVD editions of EASTER PARADE(1948) and THE BAND WAGON (1953).


It is sad to report the passing of three of the screen’s greatest composers.

JERRY GOLDSMITH ( born Feb 10th,1929 – died July 21,2004 )

DAVID RAKSIN ( born August 4th 1912 – died August 9th,2004 )

ELMER BERNSTEIN ( born April 4th 1922 – died August 18th,2004 )

I had the pleasure of meeting and knowing all three of these gifted individuals.
Apart from being blessed with extraordinary talent, each shared the same qualities of friendliness and generosity of spirit. While there are certainly new and up and coming composers of screen music who display promise and excellence, none will ever command the respect and admiration that these three gentlemen received from their peers. While they will be sorely missed, their music will continue to bring pleasure to film lovers and concert audiences the world over. All three left the world better than when they found it.

Ken Barnes (August,2004 )


Click pic for readable version (630k)
 In the 16th May edition of the Sunday Express, celebrated show business author and columnist, Michael Freedland reported enthusiastically on the growing trend towards classic films on DVD and singled out the Laureate Collection as one of the market leaders in this area paying special attention to our DVDs of "Citizen Kane" and the box sets of Fred and Ginger, The Road Pictures, Cary Grant and The Marx Brothers.
Our profound gratitude to Mr. Freedland and the Sunday Express.

 A CHANGE OF DIRECTION.   Due to increased pressure of work and a change in schedules, Ken Barnes and Laureate are unable to proceed with Universal's long-planned John Wayne project.  Universal have assured us that the Wayne project will appear but in a different form to the one envisaged originally.   Laureate, in the meantime, have been revising and expanding some of their most popular titles for American distribution later this year.  

THE FIRST FILM-TO-DVD SEMINARY AT THE NFT.   July 5th at the National Film Theatre in London will see the video trade's first "FILM_TO_DVD" seminary.  It will cover many aspects of the growing market for DVD especially in the field of re-purposing classic film catalogue.    Laureate's Ken Barnes will be one of the speakers on the importance of special DVD editions.   A full report will appear here following the event.

2003 Archive

CITIZEN KANE gets the deluxe treatment fromCDA Entertainment in association with
Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd.

Following the critical and commercial success of Laureate's dedicated presentation of Universal's "Citizen Kane-Special Edition" (released in June,2003), CDA Entertainment have now created a deluxe Classic Presentation Box making this the definitive collector's version of the timeless Orson Welles film classic.


Two Discs: Senitypes, Stills and Commemorative Booklet

Disc One:
* Restored and remastered feature
* Soundtrack: Dolby Digital 2 channel
* Audio commentary from Ken Barnes

Disc Two:
* "Anatomy of a Classic:" documentary presented by Barry Norman (50 mins)
* Restoration comparison
* Behind the scenes stills gallery
* "The War of the Worlds" original 1938 radio broadcast
* "The Happy Prince" Oscar Wilde's classic children's story.
The original 1945 commercial recording with Orson Welles and Bing Crosby
* Original theatrical trailer
* Collectible senitype -exclusive 35 mm image of the film.
* Six high quality reproduction stills from the film.
* Commemorative booklet
Housed in a sturdy de-luxe presentation box

Available from all good video dealers and on line from


Universal’s massive catalogue of classic movies is getting the Laureate DVD treatment with a spectacular series of boxed sets featuring some of Hollywood’s best-loved stars in special collections of their greatest movies.





The Laureate Company and Phoenix Video Ltd - the team that brought you the acclaimed Citizen Kane Special Edition – are currently hard at work to complete the above four boxed sets ( a total of 16 classic movies ) in time for November release.

More great classics are being lined up for 2004.


2002 Archive

On Wednesday 9th October, Ken and Anne Barnes attended the Elmer Bernstein Concert at the Royal Albert Hall after which Michael Aspel presented the legendary composer with the red book signalling a special programme of "This Is Your Life."
Ken and Anne were invited to the show and reception that followed the concert and were happy to chat with the talented Mr. Bernstein about his new film score for Martin Scorcese's "Gangs of New York" and to thank him for his generous contribution to Laureate's new DVD "The Man With The Golden Arm."

Laureate's two latest productions now have release dates as follows:

"The Man With The Golden Arm" - 28th October

" Holiday Inn" (Universal Pictures) - 2nd December.


Sanctuary Digital Entertainment, distributors of the Laureate Collection recently commissioned Ken Barnes to produce Special De Luxe Editions of David Cronenberg’s film of Stephen King’s THE DEAD ZONE –starring Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen and Roger Donaldson’s film of THE BOUNTY starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins. While these DVDs are not officially part of the Laureate Collection, they have the benefit of Ken’s production expertise and broad knowledge of screen history and a full-scale no-expense-spared budget. Both are currently available – and doing well (see Reviews)


The latest Laureate DVD presentation – released on October 28 – is the Frank Sinatra-Otto Preminger drama classic THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM. This ambitious Special Edition DVD has been produced in association with the Sinatra Estate and the Artanis Entertainment Group.


Although we are only halfway through 2002, plans are already afoot to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the biggest-selling hit record of all time – Irving Berlin’s WHITE CHRISTMAS recorded by BING CROSBY who first introduced it in the 1942 film HOLIDAY INN in which Bing co-starred with FRED ASTAIRE.

12 years after HOLIDAY INN, Bing Crosby starred in a second production titled WHITE CHRISTMAS this time his co-stars were Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. This 1954 Technicolor production has become an enduring seasonal favourite all around the world. It’s success on VHS and DVD has tended to obscure the brilliance of the original 1942 black and white film.

Now, that situation is about to be rectified. Universal Home Video has asked Ken Barnes and the Laureate Company to produce a 60th Anniversary Special Edition of HOLIDAY INN. Discussions are currently in progress and a list of the DVD’s Special Features and exclusive extras will appear shortly.

Watch this space !

 2001 Archive

Meet John Doe, starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck; The Big Trees, starring Kirk Douglas; and Suddenly, starring Frank Sinatra are released.

Our reputation is growing - along with our catalogue. In the week beginning 19th August, the LAUREATE WEBSITE was selected by as one of the Best New Links on the web. Now listed at 

Ken's interviewing the great film composer Elmer Bernstein for the next Laureate Collection DVD - watch this space!

DVD EUROPE 2001Following the industry’s reception of Laureate’s first three releases, Ken Barnes was invited by the organisers of DVD Europe-2001 to make the opening keynote speech before 450 delegates at London’s Business Design Centre.

Ken was definitely a conference highlight and one of the best arguments ever aired for extra content on DVD video. This (as described by Days 2 and 3 chairman, Tim Frost) "author, songwriter and film historian" described some of his company’s products in the light of transferring classic movies to DVD. It was, he explained, analogous to the early days of the CD: "Why should music consumers buy their record collections all over again?" One solution was that of adding bonus tracks, and the DVD equivalent of this, he stressed, is was what his company does.

No-one sitting there and seeing some of the extras on a DVD version of the movie Charade could not be convinced. Apart from the feature itself, there were film clips of the screen debuts of both Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn; as well as a clip of them talking, in which the word ‘assassinate’ was used. Since that was just about the time of John F Kennedy’s assassination, the word was deemed unsuitable and was the sequence was dubbed with the word ‘eliminate’. Clips of both versions were shown, confirming Barnes’s statement that not having extras was "Not only a wasted opportunity but a disservice to the consumer. Every movie has a story behind it."

LAUREATE’S first three releases SECOND CHORUS, ROYAL WEDDING & CHARADE (not currently available) have all been acclaimed by the press. See Reviews

All text & Pictures © Laureate Company. Design © Karen Edwards 2002/2010