I've just read your online review of Red, White and Zero and thought I'd clear
up some of the mysteries surrounding MGM's DVD release before someone else
does! The title given to the DVD is in fact the intended title of the
three-part omnibus film you mention, which seems never to have been shown
commercially in its complete form, though both other parts were in fact
completed and still exist. The White Bus is the correct and, to the best of my
knowledge, only release title of Lindsay Anderson's contribution; the composite
title was never used.
Tony Richardson's episode was called Red and Blue and starred Vanessa Redgrave
and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (!) It's a short romantic musical, seemingly
influenced (like much of Richardson's 1960s work) by the French New Wave and
especially Jacques Demy. It was the supporting featurette to The Graduate when
the latter (released by United Artists in the UK, not Embassy) opened at the
London Pavilion in 1968, but public complaints caused it to be pulled before the
main feature had completed its run. A slightly faded colour print exists in the
BFI Archive and I have shown it myself at the Showroom in Sheffield, which may
have been one of its very few commercial screenings.
The third and shortest segment of the omnibus film is Ride of the Valkyrie
which stars - you guessed it - Zero Mostel as an opera singer involved in a
"madcap" chase to the tune of - you guessed it again - "Ride of
the Valkyries". I'm not aware of its having had a commercial release in
the UK (though IMDb indicates a December 1979 screening in the US), but I
certainly remember it being shown on TV here in the 1970s.
For the record, Ride of the Valkyrie was directed (badly) by Peter Brook. Red and Blue is quite favorably reviewed in the October 1968 issue of Films and Filming. The September issue indicates is was meant to support The Graduate on general release, but it is omitted from subsequent listings. I assume that after its disastrous London engagement it was shelved altogether.
MGM could easily have performed a public service by putting the three films
together for the first time on home video if someone there had known what they
were doing. But as I recall all three were shown together at a conference I
attended at the University of Stirling a few years ago, the location of the
Lindsay Anderson Archive; the screening venue was the Macrobert Arts Centre on
the university campus. So the full version has actually been shown, if only to
a specialised academic audience. I can see why UA didn't want to release it!
RETRO RESPONDS: Ah, Sheldon- I should have known that a Cinema Retro contributor would hold they keys to this mystery. This minor film has generated a lot of interest among our readers, thus they'll be happy to know how Redgrave and Mostel came to be associated with the original errant packaging by MGM. To be fair to the studio, there is no evidence that the packaging was ever released. I think the photo in question in my review just pertains to an early prototype done for marketing purposes. Apparently, the error was caught in time as the screener we received has correct packaging. As for releasing the entire film, let's just say that the right people are reading this so perhaps they will. It might be, however, that the master prints are in poor condition. Studios are reluctant to sink substantial money into restoring films that have limited financial prospects. Although I'm not a fan of The White Bus, I do appreciate the fact that MGM has put it out. It's an interesting experiment by a man who would become a respected director.
(Sheldon Hall teaches film studies at the University of Sheffield and is the author of numerous books about the cinema.)
Update: Reader Dave Williams advises that The White Bus is also available for streaming through Netflix.