More than a year after I first read about it on Wise Kwai's blog, Five Star Productions has finally begun releasing the promised films from its vault. At the end of August it was announced that Five Star had signed a deal with media distribution company BKP to release more than 100 titles from its film vault on DVD.
The set has been dubbed The Legend Collection, or in Thai ตำนานหนังกลางใจ. This will be a re-release on DVD for some titles, but it will be the first DVD treatment for the vast majority of these films. Some 70 specific titles have been announced, and will be released in "volumes" of seven titles each. Fourteen titles, comprising the first two volumes of The Legend Collection, were released in September. The retail price is set at 199, but they are easily found for 139 baht. Unfortunately, none will have English subtitles.
This weekend I bought Vol. 1 No. 1, อนึ่งคิดถึงพอสังเขป, directed by Bhandit Rittakol. The quality of the transfer appears very good, as far as these things go. I'll write more about that soon.
For now, some more highlights from this impressive collection:
* 12 films by director Piak Poster -- almost every film he made between 1978 and 1996. (Two of his first films, โทน / Tone (1970) and ชู้ / Adulterer (1972) were released on DVD in 2007 by Triple X films.)
* 8 films from the Charuchinda entertainment dynasty -- 4 directed by Sakka Charuchinda (สักกะ จารุจินดา), and 4 directed by his son, Narong Charuchinda (ณรงค์ จารุจินดา).
* 7 films by director Euthana Mukdasanit, more than half of his directorial efforts. (His 1997 film จักรยานสีแดง / Red Bike Story was released by GMM this year as part of its Memory Collection.
* 6 films by Bhandit Rittakol. (A limited edition box set of all 6 films in Bhandit's original Boonchu series was also released last year.)
* 3 of the most well-known films of National Artist Vichit Kounavudhi: Mountain People, Son of the Northeast, and Her Name is Boonrawd.
Many of the films are adapted from well-known Thai books:
* นำพุ้ / The Story of Nam Phu (1984) and เขาชื่อกานต์ His Name is Kan (1988) are both based on books by Suwanni Sukhontha (สุวรรณี สุคนธา).
* คนทรงเจ้า / The Medium (1989) is based on the 1988 book of the same name by S.E.A. Write Award-winning author Wimon Sainimnuam (วิมล ไทรนิ่มนวล)
* ผีเสื้อและดอกไม้ / Butterfly and Flowers (1985), based on the 1978 book of the same name by Makut Oraruedi (under the pen name นิพพานฯ).
* ครูไหวใจร้าย / Mean Ms. Wai (1989), from the 1966 book by Phakawadi Uttamot (ผกาวดี อุตตโมทย์).
* ปริศนา / Enigma (1982), from the novel by HRH Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit (under her pen name ว.ณ ประมวลมารค).
* ข้างหลังภาพ / Behind the Painting (1985), from the 1936 novel by Siburapha (ศรีบูรพา).
* ไผ่แดง / Red Bamboo (1979), from the book by Kukrit Pramoj (คึกฤทธิ์ ปราโมช), a former Prime Minister and founder of Siam Rath newspaper.
* ลูกอีสาน / Son of the Northeast (1982), from the S.E.A. Write Award-winning novel by Kampoon Boonthavee (คำพูน บุญทวี).
* ผู้หญิงคนนั้นชื่อบุญรอด / Her Name is Boorawd (1985), from the pen of the prolific Botan (โบตั๋น).
[Update: Here is the spreadsheet I made of the 70 titles announced so far. Each DVD includes a booklet listing the titles from the first 10 volumes. Since the Thai film industry does so many remakes, sometimes it's ambiguous exactly which version of the film they will be releasing.]