Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Ten great movies you can’t legally stream

Ty Burr, former Boston Globe film critic, writing at his Substack about movies that can’t be found online:

The problem, in 9 cases out of 10, is a rights issue. Who owns a movie, particularly one from the post-studio/pre-corporate era of the 1960s through 1990s, can be maddeningly difficult to divine unless you’re a psychic or an entertainment lawyer. Companies dissolve, rights holders die, films and film libraries get bought and bought again and sometimes just disappear into a parallel universe. In many cases, legal contracts detailing a movie’s post-theatrical rights were written in the VHS era or earlier and made no provision for a streaming technology no one back then had the foresight to imagine.

A few years back, I went looking for a legit copy of one of the movies on Ty’s list—Truly Madly Deeply, starring a young Alan Rickman—for my mom1, who loves it but hadn’t been able to find it on DVD. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to locate a copy. (I see on Amazon that Region 2 versions of DVD and Blu-ray are available, but no US version, alas.) More recently, I went in search of 1999’s Tea with Mussolini for my wife which can be had on DVD, but isn’t available for streaming or digital purchase. And I myself have occasionally tried to seek out the fantastic Argentinian film Nine Queens, which is likewise unavailable online, and hard to come by even in DVD form.

We often think that the streaming era means anything we could ever want to watch at our fingertips, but it also ends up undeservedly burying those movies that aren’t available online. I’m sure in a few decades, after the rights change hands a few more times2, these titles will eventually be unearthed and lauded as “discovered classics,” but for the meantime, you’re either out of luck or have to dive into the seedier side of the internet.

  1. Who is also the one who sent me this article, naturally. Thanks, mom! 
  2. Truly the wildest part of Ty’s article might be the mention of two movies that are owned by pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb?! 
—Linked by Dan Moren

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