Review Page and Column
Women in Love 03/17/18
Finally — a satisfying home video edition of Ken Russell’s absorbing, argument-starting classic, in which D. H. Lawrence’s quartet of bohemians attempt to live out their progressive theories about love and sex. The intellectual arguments may be cold but the characters are warm and vivid. Exceptional performing from all — Alan Bates, Glenda Jackson, Oliver Reed and Jennie Linden, and outstanding cinematography from Billy Williams. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
Liquid Sky 03/17/18
Remembered as a briefly hot quasi- avant-garde title, then a cult item, Slava Tsukerman’s brightly colored movie is said to capture a New York fashion ‘n’ drugs scene that could be called Neon Punk. It certainly extended model Anne Carlisle’s fifteen minutes of fame. Oh . . . technically it’s also a Science Fiction movie. On Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome.
Robert Altman’s Images 03/17/18
Do we sometimes ‘grow into’ movies? This one now seems a minor masterpiece. ’70s auteur Robert Altman proves himself an expert practitioner of psychological hallucinations, in the intense tale of a schizophrenic children’s author who can’t keep her husband and two (imagined?) lovers sorted out. It’s one of the best, and best-looking puzzle pictures ever. It’s a top title for Susannah York, and features Rene Auberjonois, Marcel Bozzuffi and Hugh Millais. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
Super-associate Gary Teetzel has been
snooping doing valuable research, and has come up with a couple of interesting web finds on the subject of The Outer Limits, which is on a lot of collectors’ minds these days. Gary writes:
“A couple of Outer Limits- related magazine articles, just for fun: This trade ad for the show specifically mentions the Cliff Robertson-JFK connection, and Stefano’s work on Psycho:
And this article cites the high ratings for sci-fi movies on TV for encouraging ABC to make The Outer Limnits. They say that even the relatively feeble Invisible Invaders out-performed its competition on the TV dial:
It’s a sunny Saturday here after a day of rain, so I’m lookin’ to get outdoors a bit. Am awaiting Twilight Time titles, the Warner Archives’ remastered The Black Scorpion and some other desired goodies … happy St. Patrick’s Day and see you Tuesday.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson
The Outer Limits Season One 03/13/18
Where were we in ’63? Wow — we finally have a quality Blu-ray set of an entire generation’s favorite Sci-fi / monster TV show, an attraction that lit up our humdrum lives. Respected stars and good writers contributed to a weird-oh winner that can boast at least fifteen classic hours of Sci-fi delight, in velvety black and white. Thirty-two hourlong episodes on seven discs, with informative new audio commentaries. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
The Passion of Joan of Arc 03/13/18
This time around Criterion pulls out all the stops to offer an ‘Ultimate’ La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, even going so far as to present it at two frame rates. Carl Dreyer’s ultra-intense study of martyrdom and the human condition is known for eliciting rapturous responses — don’t be intimidated by its lofty cinematic reputation. The newly remastered 24fps version has been given three music scores, and new essays, interviews and video pieces, including one on its ‘versions history.’ The immortal Renée Falconetti stars; Michel Simon is one of her inquisitors. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
Before Vincent Price haunted houses, he chalked up plenty of experience as a Broadway star and a versatile character actor. This superb Joseph L. Mankiewicz gothic romance assigns him major leading man duty as a ‘dark and troubled’ soul — the kind that intimidates cowering leading ladies. The show is technically a vehicle for Gene Tierney, with fine work by Walter Huston, Vivienne Osborne, Spring Byington, Jessica Tandy, Anne Revere and Glenn Langan. With typical good humor, Price called it the first of his ‘dead wife’ movies! On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
The Drowning Pool 03/13/18
‘Harper Days Are Here Again,’ reads the advertising tag line for this worthy follow-up to Paul Newman’s first outing as Ross Macdonald’s jaded private eye. The movie is certainly worthy, but how did the producers let the terrific song Killing Me Softly with His Song get away? Newman’s fine cast is topped by Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, Murray Hamilton, Gail Strickland, Melanie Griffith, Linda Haynes and Richard Jaeckel. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
The fab Outer Limits box reviewed today is just the tip of the iceberg for great review discs in the CineSavant hopper, with more bobbing their way in here daily. In the absence of earth-shattering disc news, let me go over the list again. With the help of review associates I stand a good chance to getting to most of them. The order can indeed be swayed by requests.
Of the titles that have been here more than a couple of weeks, I really want to get to Kino’s The Covered Wagon, Topaze, The Lion in Winter and The Oldest Profession. Olive’s Five on the Black Hand Side beckons as well.
Just in are Powerhouse Indicator’s Town on Trial, Gumshoe and Otley; Arrow’s Basket Case and Sacha Guitry: Four Films; Flicker Alley’s A Trip to the Moon; Vinegar Syndrome’s Liquid Sky; and Criterion’s The Age of Innocence, Women in Love and their Eclipse Box of Ingrid Bergman’s Swedish Years.
Add Twilight Time’s hotly awaited Underworld USA, The New Centurions, Don’t Bother to Knock and The Seven-Ups to the stack of things expected at the mailbox, and I’ve a lot of video to go through. It really helps that it’s such an exciting variety of entertainment.
Last note about the stunningly divisive powers of CineSavant — helpful readers have informed me that King of Jazz, which I claimed had been M.I.A. for generations, was shown ages ago on the old ‘Z’ Channel, and also released on a VHS tape. I do wonder how it looked, however. And I’ve gotten plenty of pro- and con- notes about my review of Ship of Fools. A couple of readers think I was far too kind to it, while a respected film writer who loves it voiced a desire to debate its merits!
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson
King of Jazz 03/10/18
Make room for a genuine rarity, come back from the cinema graveyard in excellent condition: a lavish color musical extravaganza from 1930 that’s effectively been MIA for generations. Universal undertook a daunting restoration of this ‘revue-‘ style spectacle, which includes a full presentation of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in its original orchestration. Starring bandleader Paul Whiteman, John Boles, Bing Crosby (unbilled), Laura La Plante, Glenn Tryon, Slim Summerville and Walter Brennan. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
The Dumb Girl of Portici 03/10/18
We may not have film of the legendary actresses Lily Langtree or Sara Bernhardt to enjoy, but now we can see the famed Anna Pavlova dance and act, in an epic-length revolutionary saga inspired by a Grand Opera. In conjunction with the BFI and the New York Public Library, The Milestone Cinematheque gives us the full 2015 restored feature. A second disc offers more vintage film clips of the world’s first ballerina with an international touring company. On Blu-rayfrom The Milestone Cinematheque.
Ship of Fools 03/10/18
Secure one major book with a serious subject, sign up a wagonload of stars (including a legend or two) and make sure every cookie-cutter character explains themselves to the camera in close-up. That formula worked well for Stanley Kramer in 1965; his film hasn’t much of a reputation but the cast is gold. A bright new transfer makes the picture look very good. Starring an undeniably impressive cast: Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, Oskar Werner, Michael Dunn, Lee Marvin, José Ferrer, Elizabeth Ashley, George Segal, Barbara Luna, Gila Golan. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
Powerhouse Indicator made the announcement .. May 21 will bring a boxed set of Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher movies roughly known as the ‘Ranown’ cycle: The Tall T, Buchanan Rides Alone, Decision at Sundown, Ride Lonesome and Comanche Station, all in restored Blu-ray. It’s like five variations on the same theme — a man alone in a raw country. They’re more than welcome. The official title of the box is Five Tall Tales: Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott at Columbia 1957-1960.
Kino made a splash with its announcement of a 4K restoration of Rafferty, Loader and Rafferty’s The Atomic Cafe, a must-see, highly influential documentary made entirely of government, public service and AEC propaganda movies from the (mostly) 1950s. The original 1982 release was a purposeful slap in the face to the Reagan notion of a winnable atom war; they make no bones about the fact that this quality re-boot was motivated by our country’s insane new toying with war threats. Kino’s announcement came with a great link, to Rafferty and Loader being interviewed about The Atomic Cafe exactly 36 years ago on The David Letterman Show: March 10, 1982.
I’ve just received from Vinegar Syndrome a scarce neon punk-era Sci-Fi fantasy called Liquid Sky, that’s set to come out on April 24. It’s the notorious 1982 picture with Anne Carlisle, that I’ve never seen. A helpful publicity rep tipped me off, bless her — I’m not offered much Vinegar Syndrome product so somebody must have thought me especially appropriate to the task.
A helpful note arrived from revered correspondent and reviewer “B” about my review for Colossus: The Forbin Project, in which I give Universal a hard time for muffing the Sci-fi film’s release. “B” stood up for Universal, which did after all try a second 1970 release for the film just a few months after the first laid an egg. Even he notes that the show was ready to go the year before: Ad materials designate its rating “M”, which changed to “GP” early in 1970.
I just made a big noise about the legendary early talkie King of Jazz being wholly unavailable back in the day, but correspondent and old friend Avie Hern has just told me that, back when he went to college, he saw it in 2-strip Technicolor via a print owned by old-time collector William K. Everson. So, so much for my memories and some other sources as well.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson
Hammer Volume Two: Criminal Intent 03/06/18
Reviewer Charlie Largent turns his pen toward a quartet of Hammer Films’ efforts to corner the crime thriller market on UK screens. The Snorkel and The Full Treatment (Stop Me Before I Kill) are Jimmy Sangster potboilers not without points of interest, but the others are two of the finest efforts ever from the Boys at Bray. Peter Cushing delivers one of his best film performances in Cash on Demand, a nail-biting, twisty heist thriller. And Never Take Sweets from a Stranger is an intelligent, mature yet chilling look at the taboo issue of child molestation. One doesn’t remember that it’s a Hammer film until the terrifying conclusion begins to close in. The imports are Region-A compatible, happily, on Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator UK.
The Housemaid 03/06/18
Guest reviewer Lee Broughton has found a unique Vietnamese horror film set on a French plantation towards the end of the First Indochina War. Is the ghostly killer a revenant of colonial evils, or the strange result of interracial tension? It’s a new point of view on a familiar subject, beautifully filmed in wide screen by director Derek Nguyen. On Region B Blu-ray from Eureka Entertainment UK.
Great Balls of Fire! 03/06/18
Director Jim McBride puts retro magic into a rock ‘n’ roll bio about a big talent who was probably more fun on stage than in person. Dennis Quaid hits the right note of insanity for his portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis’s rise to fame and fortune. Winona Ryder’s hilarious, almost scary bobby-sox Lolita becomes Jerry’s girl bride. Everything’s ducky until the real-life story goes sour, leaving the comic characterizations high and dry. Also starring Stephen Tobolowsky, Trey Wilson, and Alec Baldwin as an unlikely Jimmy Swaggart, this one deserves a second look. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.