Glenn Erickson's
Review Page and Column

Saturday May 19, 2018


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CineSavant’s new reviews today are:

The Bloodthirsty Trilogy 05/19/18

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

Trailers from Hell’s dauntless Charlie Largent takes on vintage ’70s Japanese horror, a trio of sanguinary delights. Director Michio Yamamoto brings the vampire legend up to date in a unique trio of thrillers mixing ancient folklore, bestial bloodsuckers and modern day Japan, circa 1970. The three films The Vampire Doll, Lake of Dracula, and Evil of Dracula have been given a splendid presentation, on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
5/19/18

Espionage Agent 05/19/18

The Warner Archive Collection
DVD

Is this the filmic birth of both the wartime OSS and the SuperSpy genre? State department diplomat trainee Joel McCrea weds refugee Brenda Marshall, not realizing that she has gained her freedom by volunteering to become a Nazi spy. Released just as WW2 broke out but filmed and produced earlier, Warners’ production faced stiff political pressure from an isolationist Washington. Ever heard the phrase ‘premature anti-Nazi?’ Here there be patriots. With Jeffrey Lynn, George Bancroft and Hollywood’s first crop of actors specializing in loathsome Nazis: Martin Kosleck, Rudolph Anders and Hans Heinrich von Twardowski. On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.
5/19/18

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud 05/19/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Yes, we’ve all lived before; when I come back I don’t care who I am as long as I get to be in the 1%. When Michael Sarrazin reaches into a previous life his big sacrifice is to abandon the gorgeous Cornelia Sharpe for the gorgeous Jennifer O’Neill, arousing the suspicions of his wife in his previous life, gorgeous Margot Kidder. The show looks great, Jerry Goldsmith’s music is beautiful, but it runs up against real trouble in the script and directing departments. With Debralee Scott as yet another woman who wants to make it with Peter. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
5/19/18

CineSavant Column

Saturday May 19, 2018

Hello!

Some fast notices and links today: Kino Lorber has laid out its release calendar for the rest of the year, and it’s got some great items. In addition to two versions of Nathan Juran’s Jack the Giant Killer on June 12, we’ll be getting Fritz Lang’s The Woman in the Window (June 19), TV’s The Martian Chronicles on June 26, two cuts of Selznick’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (July 10), and the not-seen-for-a-long-time Douglas-Lancaster noir I Walk Alone (July 24).

At the other end of the summer Kino will continue with both the TV and theatrical versions of the apocalyptic The Day After (August 7), Sangaree in 3D (September 18), both cuts of Michael Powell’s Jennifer Jones picture Gone to Earth / The Wild Heart (September 25), and The Farmer’s Daughter, The Night Stalker, The Night Strangler and The Spiral Staircase all September 25. It doesn’t stop: October 16 brings us the cult TV movie Trilogy of Terror, November 6 the previously MIA Ray Milland thriller Lisbon, and November 13 the second season of the Sci-fi series The Outer Limits.

Bob Furmanek informally announced another 3D release from Kino, Jivaro, but it has no date as yet so I’m thinking it’s for 2019.


Meanwhile, The Warner Archive Collection just announced a Blu-ray of both versions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the CinemaScope one we know, plus the 1:77 ‘insurance’ version that I have to say plays extremely well on home video, maybe better than the C’Scope. They looked good on DVD and ought to be a knockout on Blu — even in screwy Ansco color.


Gary Teetzel tips us off to a touted 4Kk restoration of the Brit ‘how I won the war’ epic The Dam Busters; the U.K article isn’t too swift but it comes with a pretty good copy of the trailer. Love the movie, even if that music gets old fast.


Joe Dante circulated this Vimeo link to a trailer mashup, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Max Fury Road. It says it’s three years old but I was impressed with the quality of the cutting.


Finally, for years I’ve been receiving informed tip-offs and research bulletins from a valued European contact, Stefan Andersson. With all the huzzarah circulating about the new Fistful of Dollars disc from Kino, I asked Stefan if I could just print his whole rundown on previous versions and the way the title is being discussed on other pages. You just need to know that Stefan uses ‘FOD’ for the film title, and ‘resto’ for restoration. A bunch of links connect to entries on the Home Theater Forum; other connections are a bit involved but I found them rewarding.

From May 16, 2018:

“Hi Glenn!  I just read your review of the Kino Fistful of Dollars (FOD).

In a thread about the Kino FOD on Home Theater Forum I found a really interesting Italian docu about the 2007 FOD resto done by Ripley’s Home Video. It’s unsubtitled, but has no narration, only intertitles with technical descriptions (‘notte Americana’) and before/after restoration examples of audio and video: The Home Theater Forum.

Go to post 29 for the resto video, 17 mins. Posted on Vimeo originally: Ripley’s restoration featurette — use the full screen option. It’s a good link – see screen right for some interesting videos, by Jordan Krug, about differences between various prints of Leone films.

More on that HTF thread up above:

See post 23 for images of back cover, Blu case, for German and Italian (Ripley’s edition) Blus of FOD.

Post 33: two live links to texts in English and Italian — Ripleys and L’Immagine Ritrovata/Cineteca di Bologna explaining their restos. The second link, to the newspaper Corriere della Sera, is marked ‘not safe’ in my web browser, and the page looks odd. The text about FOD is fully readable.

Post 36 says the German Blu uses the Ripley resto.

Post 49: live link to an Italian-language video of outtakes from FOD, including what seems to be an alternate opening with The Man stealing the poncho by a riverside. This video is from the 2014 resto by L’Immagine Ritrovata/Cineteca di Bologna.

For the record, here is info about Torsten Kaiser’s 2005 resto of FOD, For a Few Dollars More and the two My Name Is Nobody films: TLE Films. See clickable links, page bottom. This is old info by now, but the technical details are interesting and educational.

Screencaps comparisons, FOD – MGM Blu, German Blu, Italian Blu

Screencaps from the Kino FOD.

FOD on Italian Amazon (compare image of back cover with post 23 in the HTF thread)

FOD on German Amazon. This is the Blu with the restored FOD, I think (not sure).

For screenshots of front and back cover (compare post 23 in the HTF thread), go here (in German).

FOD seems also to be available in a two-film Blu set with For a Few Dollars More, though I’m not sure this edition contains the 2007 resto of FOD.

I haven’t personally seen any of these FOD discs, and so cannot vouch for quality or region compatibility. Nor am I certain that my research is 100% complete and accurate. But I wanted to keep you posted about the various options out there. Best, Stefan”

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday May 15, 2018


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CineSavant’s new reviews today are:

Gun Crazy 05/15/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

The Warner Archive comes through with a film noir gem that still has the power to make one’s skin crawl, as a pair of circus sharpshooters go on the lam, using their skills to pull off cheap robberies. The clammy feeling of being cut off from society, having no place to go, is expressed in near-existential terms. Peggy Cummins’ cheap tease Annie Laurie Starr promises John Dall’s Bart Tare eternal love, but what good are promises from a psycho? With Berry Kroeger and Russ (Rusty) Tamblyn. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
5/15/18

A Fistful of Dollars 05/15/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Sergio Leone’s breakthrough international sensation has returned, in a 4k restoration from Italy that’s bound to continue the controversy — every color’s good as long as it’s a sickly yellow-green. In every other aspect this umpteenth edition of the first murderous adventure of The Man With No Name is the best yet, with a clean image and good new extras. Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, and Gian Maria Volontè shine; the best new extra is a great interview with Ms. Koch. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
5/15/18

The City of the Dead 05/15/18

VCI Entertainment
Blu-ray

2018 Limited Edition. The frights of Horror Hotel are back in an improved presentation in this 2018 Limited Edition. Set in New England but filmed in Old England, this creepy shocker is a favorite not just for the presence of Christopher Lee, but also the wonderfully mortiferous Patricia Jessel and the cadaverous Valentine Dyall. Also with Venetia Stevenson as a gullible student of witchcraft, and Betta St. John as a complacent bookseller in a town populated exclusively by ghouls. On Blu-ray from VCI Entertainment.
5/15/18

CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 15, 2018

Hello!

Potential good news about Scream Factory’s upcoming (May 22) Blu-ray of The Vampire and the Ballerina; we’ve been told that it at least has both English and Italian audio. I’ve been corrected in regard to the film’s running time — the original L’Amante del Vampiro is not seven minutes longer. My expert says that there were no picture differences between the language versions (besides the title sequence). He also reports that the film was apparently regarded as fairly hot stuff back in the day. Milwaukee’s motion picture commission deemed it ‘Mature Entertainment’ along with (among others) What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Mr. Arkadin. By contrast, Jules and Jim and Phaedra were ‘Adults Only.’ The Legion of Decency gave The Vampire and the Ballerina a ‘B’, ‘Objectionable in Part for All.’

Back at MGM in 1994, John Kirk loaned me a non-subtitled VHS tape made from UA’s foreign video master, which I had to watch with my linguist spouse, to learn what was being said in Italian. The chubby ‘ballet dancers’ were amusing, and she found the finale unintentionally hilarious, with the female vampire henpecking her ineffective spouse in Italian as they retreat to the roof with dawn approaching. I still think it’s an excellent idea for a vampire picture: a queen bee mama fiend sends her hubby out to bring back blood. Their appearances change radically depending on how sated they are. The ‘servant’ husband’s work is never done. Here’s hoping that Scream’s disc is a keeper.


Olive Films’ May 29 release of Robert Wise’s Odds Against Tomorrow should be a real treat as well, depending on the quality of the transfer and source materials. I saw it only once in 35mm and the B&W cinematography looked great. The prints shown on TV always had weak sound and the same splices in the same places. They also barely registered the film’s interesting shots using infrared film — which gives some scenes a particularly crisp, bleak appearance. I hope to be able to report good news with this one — besides Robert Ryan, Harry Belafonte and Ed Begley in fine form, it has great work from Shelley Winters and especially Gloria Grahame.


Gary Teetzel found this article crowing about some goofy local publicity for King Kong’s 1956 theatrical comeback, only four years after a 1952 release that made almost as much money as its first run in 1933.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday May 12, 2018


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CineSavant’s new reviews today are:

La belle noiseuse 05/12/18

The Cohen Film Collection
Blu-ray

The late Jacques Rivette knocks us silly with a breathtaking, demanding meditation on what it means to be an artist, and what art demands of those that believe in it. A woman roped into posing nude for a famed but insecure painter, undergoes several intense days of compliant collaboration. Rivette’s unforced style gives the impression of life as it is being lived; his commitment is matched by that of actors Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin and Emmanuelle Béart. On Blu-ray from The Cohen Group.
5/12/18

A Study in Terror 05/12/18

Mill Creek Entertainment
Blu-ray

John Neville is the consulting detective from 221B Baker Street, this time on the trail of Jack the Ripper. Perhaps producer Herman Cohen’s best film, this overly familiar, slightly campy horror show has a top notch cast, some of whom have a high time with the straight-razor guignol-fest in Whitechapel: Donald Houston, Anthony Quayle, Adrienne Corri, Frank Finlay, Judi Dench (!), Barbara Windsor, Cecil Parker, Robert Morley, Barry Jones, John Fraser, Kay Walsh, John Cairney, Edina Ronay, Terry Downes. Trailers from Hell’s Charlie Largent provides the slash-by-slash reportage. On Blu-ray from Mill Creek.
5/12/18

Model Shop 05/12/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Columbia sets Jacques Demy loose in Los Angeles in the pivotal year of 1968. Although it puts a coda on the French director’s bundle of romantic films, with his special philosophical approach to Love, this starring picture for Anouk Aimée and Gary Lockwood doesn’t quite catch fire in the same way. If our City of the Angels indeed defeated Demy’s unstoppable knack for romantic delirium, we owe him an apology. The rock group Spirit provides the music score, and makes a casual appearance. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
5/12/18

CineSavant Column

Saturday May 12, 2018

Hello!

Children, are you ready for Mother’s Day?

Gary Teetzel reports on a new docu about the revered Sci-fi illustrator Chesley Bonestell, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with The Future that just premiered at the Newport Film Festival. The commentators tell us that Bonestell began as an architect and contributed to the designs for New York’s Chrysler Building as well as the Golden Gate Bridge. The home page for the film is here, and a trailer is viewable here. And I even learned how to pronounce ‘Bonestell.’


When I caught this Italian poster for Godzilla Raids Again I first noted that it uses the ‘King of the Monsters’ title that found its way onto the Americanization of Honda’s original Godzilla. I suppose this Italo version could actually be a re-dub of the U.S. derivative Gigantis The Fire Monster because of the style of the two monsters in the artwork. I also like the hype tagline across the top: “All the World is At Arms Against the Diabolical Nuclear Monsters in the Very Brilliant Film of Science Fantasy.”

I asked Gary Teetzel what he made of the single anglicized name ‘Jack Wallace’ in the list of actors, not to mention ‘Fred’ Kasay and ‘Susy’ Setsuko. Actually, all of the names appear to have been made up or scrambled from the Japanese originals. And since when did a Japanese monster movie need to billboard a list of actors?

Gary doesn’t think that there was an Italian variant of the film, with additional actors added. His guess is that the Italian distributor was just pulling a fast one, trying to fool patrons into thinking it was a western-made film. He also reminded me that, for no understandable reason, the German distributors would put the word ‘Frankenstein’ in the titles of most Japanese monster movies.

Gary also reminded me that Bill Warren’s researches found that an abandoned project was for the short lived AB-PT film company to build a new English-language movie around the Godzilla Raids Again effects footage, called The Volcano Monsters. As reported by Bob Skotak, Ib Melchoir worked on a screenplay for it.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday May 8, 2018


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CineSavant’s new reviews today are:

This is Cinerama & Windjammer: The Voyage of the Christian Radich 05/08/18

The Cinerama wonder movies were all but extinct fifteen years ago, un-preserved, un-projectable in their original 3-panel splendor, and largely forgotten. Countless hours of labor and research have now brought them all back to life on Blu-ray in the wraparound simulation ‘Smilebox’ format. These latest (and last?) discs properly restore two early releases, the show that started it all and the competing ‘Cinemiracle’ production that eventually became part of the Cinerama fanfold of travelogue gems. Separate releases on Blu-ray from Flicker Alley.
4/08/18

Forbidden Films: The Hidden Legacy of Nazi Film 05/08/18

Zeitgeist / Kino Lorber
DVD

Plenty of films considered politically beyond the pale have been locked up, for reasons good and bad. A German filmmaker born decades after WW2 offers a documentary about the controversy over ‘sensitive’ Nazi films, the propaganda features that encouraged racial hatred and offered lies to support the Third Reich’s oppressive policies. We can easily visualize American neo-Nazis cheering the messages in these pictures. What’s the verdict? Let them loose or destroy them? The abundant clips illustrate films directing hate at Poles, Jews, and the English, films that support lies about the war, and a pernicious propaganda melodrama about the Reich’s program of ‘compassionate’ euthanasia. On DVD from Zeitgeist / Kino Lorber.
4/08/18

The Psychopath 05/08/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Robert Bloch and Milton Subotsky may have helped to codify the Giallo in this murder thriller but the results are not up to even the shaky standards of Amicus. That said, horror fans are going to flock to get their hands on a big color & ‘scope release that’s gone missing for decades. It’s an important ‘save’ by Kino Lorber. With Patrick Wymark, Margaret Johnston, John Standing and Judy Huxtable. On Blu-rayfrom KL Studio Classics.
4/08/18

CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 8, 2018


Hello!

It’s been found! Last weekend I mistakenly remembered the theme music for Los Angeles KHJ Television’s ’60s movie show Strange Tales of Science Fiction as being Henry Mancini’s ‘Experiment in Terror.’ But it wasn’t, it’s this unusual piece entitled Out of This World by the Creed Taylor Orchestra. I don’t even remember if Channel 11’s ‘Chiller Theater’ had a music theme, as the TV reception for that channel was so poor, I rarely got to see it. Happy listening.

And what’s coming up at CineSavant? Discs are in for Jacques Demy’s The Model Shop, the Vaughn Monroe western Singing Guns, the Cher movie Mermaids, the silent The Holy Mountain, Paul Schrader’s Mishima and Hepburn and O’Toole in The Lion in Winter. Just seen and awfully good is Jacques Rivette’s La Belle Noiseuse, four of the best hours I’ve spent lately.

For the balance of May we’re expecting new Blus of Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, Brownlow’s restoration of Birth of a Nation, Mazursky’s Next Stop Greenwich Village and Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy. I’m also awaiting VCI’s improved encoding of City of the Dead.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson