Review Page and Column
A cinematic puzzle and a filmic detective piece, Serge Bromberg’s examination of a world-class filmmaker’s catastrophic, never-finished production fascinates and dazzles. If the particulars of H.G. Clouzot’s experimental epic of internal torment remain clouded, the astonishing visuals he created are a total knockout. Working with hours of uncut dailies and precise collaborator memories, Bromberg gives us the most interesting filmic autopsy on record. Incredible stuff! Starring Romy Schneider, Serge Reggiani, and Dany Carrel. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
Tom Jones 02/20/18
Tony Richardson’s New Wave-inspired romp features Albert Finney in an 18th century pastoral with the lovely Susannah York as the apple of his eye and David Warner as the worm in that apple. With a brilliantly animated cast including Hugh Griffith, Joan Greenwood and Dame Edith Evans, the movie comes to us in a splendid edition sporting a gorgeous transfer. With Joyce Redman, Jack MacGowran, Diane Cilento, Peter Bull, Freda Jackson, Lynn Redgrave, & David Tomlinson. Trailers from Hell’s Charlie Largent is the reviewer. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
Night of the Living Dead 02/20/18
Talk about Zombies We’ve Known and Loved — this famed shocker is now worshipped as the father of the modern horror film. It’s no museum piece but a taut thriller that hasn’t diminished one wit — it still pays off in real chills. George Romero was a genuine original when it came to inspired independent filmmaking: if you haven’t seen this in a while, you’ll be impressed with the quality of his direction. With Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, this the best movie ever to come out of Pittsburgh P.A. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
The Mercenary (A Professional Gun) 02/20/18
Guest reviewer Lee Broughton is back with an in-depth look at Franco Solinas and Sergio Corbucci’s ‘committed’ political Spaghetti western, a large-scale drama about revolution, compromise and opportunism. Tony Musante is an honest peasant, Franco Nero a Polish military advisor, and Jack Palance a memorable villain; the music score is by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. Also with Giovanna Ralli and produced by Alberto Grimaldi, straight from Leone’s ‘Dollars’ films. On Region B Blu-ray from 88 Films.
Correspondent Stefan Andersson steers me to a new ‘Media Target Distribution GmbH’ German Blu-ray of Riccardo Freda’s The Horrible Dr. Hichcock: Das schreckliche Geheimnis des Dr. Hichcock. It is said to have an hour of extras, plus audio tracks in German and Italian . . . but no English subtitles. And the price is a trifle too steep for this fan, I kid you not. Would have loved to compare it to the two versions I have now!
Dick Dinman has two new audio shows to check out: to discuss the new Kino disc of Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw, he digs into his file tapes of star Jane Russell, uncut and unedited. To commemorate the Warner Archives new restoration of Delmer Dave’s The Hanging Tree, he confabs with the WAC’s fearless leader, George Feltenstein. Also present to discuss star Gary Cooper are star Joan Leslie and director Michael Anderson.
I just saw The Outlaw — sheesh. Will have to do some reading to write that one up. (after listening to Jane Russell, of course).
It looks like I will be reviewing a Blu-ray of Joseph Sargent’s superb Sci-fi tale Colossus: The Forbin Project, although not the new pressing from Shout! Factory. I’ve held off since last Fall, and it’s too good to pass up.
I missed Severin’s stealth limited edition of Baker & Berman’s notorious 1959 Jack the Ripper awhile back. It’s one I’ve not seen, although I remember the scary ads for it when it was new. I’ve got plans to borrow a copy and want to review it too, even though Severin would rather I wait for a potential future re-release. We love to promote good disc releases, but we also like to review good movies, plain and simple.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson
The Silence of the Lambs 02/17/18
Talk about staying power — Jonathan Demme’s riveting, ultimately humanistic horror thriller raked in a full house of Oscars and is still scaring new viewers. Even those that chose to avoid it know what it’s all about. My review bows to the film’s superiority and remarks on some of its finer points of cinematic splendor. Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster can do no wrong; Scott Glenn, Ted Levine and Diane Baker provide formidable support. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
Nowhere in Africa 02/17/18
Caroline Link’s wonderful, woefully obscure Best Foreign Film winner is an entertaining story of the perils of wartime emigration. It hits hard right now, with our own immigration crackdown underway. A Jewish family smartly escapes Nazi Germany at the 11th hour, only to find themselves imprisoned in detention camps by the British — who ironically consider them dangerous enemy aliens. The show is a glorious growing-up tale for a German tot transplanted to Kenya, and becomes an edgy romantic story when the mother repurposes her amorous needs to help rescue her family. With Juliane Köhler, Sidede Onyulo and Merab Ninidze. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber / Zeitgeist.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer 02/17/18
There’s a point at which unnervingly harsh and disturbingly irrational movies become more trouble than they’re worth. This groaner is two hours of jeopardy to children and perversely cruel storytelling that never rewarded this viewer. And director Yorgos Lanthimos chooses a style of performance and presentation that all but bypasses recognizable human values. I hold the film no particular grudge. It may be a masterpiece, but if I didn’t need to review it, I wouldn’t have stuck it out to the end. With Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan and Raffey Cassidy. On Blu-ray from Lionsgate.
Nice news from Criterion: their May Blu-ray titles include Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy, Borzage’s Moonrise, Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar and Schrader’s Mishima.
Universal (gasp) is releasing some vintage titles in Blu: The List of Adrian Messenger and Wood’s For Whom the Bell Tolls are coming in March, and De Mille’s 1934 Cleopatra arrives in April.
VCI has announced Steve Barkett’s The Aftermath and yet another edition of City of the Dead (Horror Hotel); we’ll be curious to learn what prompted the new go-round.
Twilight Time has four ‘hot’ pictures for April: Demy’s The Model Shop, Auto Focus, Ritt’s No Down Payment and the teen pregnancy epic Blue Denim — with music by Bernard Herrmann.
And Kino has a date for its 3-D disc of William Cameron Menzies’ The Maze: April 24.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson
Hey kids! Learn about the great time we’ll be having if the nuclear powers plunge us into a nuclear winter! This post-atomic horror show traumatized England in 1984, and even saw some airings in the U.S. thanks to the liberal media magnate Ted Turner. The most extreme prime-time response to Ronald Reagan’s heating up of the Cold War standoff, it remains the most honest look at a possible grim future, that rubs our noses in the full consequences of a nuclear exchange. Together with America’s The Day After and Testament, this TV show shouted a big ‘no’ to pro-nuke programs like the Strategic Defense Initiative, cynically marketed as ‘Star Wars.’ On Blu-ray from Severin.
Ross Macdonald’s Cool Cat detective — originally Lew Archer — comes alive in Jack Smight’s smart SoCal kidnapping mystery, thanks to a charismatic Paul Newman and a hot cast of bright, smart actors. It’s the first screenplay sale for the celebrated William Goldman, and the crisp cinematography by ace cameraman Conrad Hall doesn’t hurt either. With a great cast: Lauren Bacall, Julie Harris, Shelley Winters, Arthur Hill, Janet Leigh, Robert Wagner, Pamela Tiffin and Robert Webber. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
The Witches (Le streghe) 02/13/18
The strangest Italian portmanteau picture of the sixties features glorious Silvana Mangano in dozens of costume changes, directed by big names (Luchino Visconti, Vittorio De Sica, Pier Paolo Pasolini) and paired with a woefully miscast Clint Eastwood. The other major attraction in Dino De Laurentiis’ production is a delightful music score by Piero Piccioni, with an assist from Ennio Morricone. With an audio commentary by Tim Lucas. On Blu-ray from Arrow USA.
I’m doing my best to keep writing — I’m less jet-lagged from my journey than I am exhausted … but I did lose five pounds and I intend to keep them off. My aged body could do the climbing and hiking and sort-of keep up with the young’uns, which shows me that there will be rewards if I continue to get the exercise I need.
Fellow reviewer Charlie Largent forwards a new ‘NZ Pete’ article — make that a lengthy article, entitled Forgotten Gems of Visual Effects Part Nine – When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. It’s been assembled with help from Jim Danforth’s digital book, and also discusses Hammer effects in general.
The ever-watchful Gary Teetzel sends us to a Letter from Christopher Lee to Vincent Price, up on eBay from Vincent’s estate. It’s pretty entertaining.
And the folks at Indicator, the UK disc boutique, tell me that their Hammer Volume 2: Criminal Intent disc box (Cash on Demand, Never Take Sweets from a Stranger, The Full Treatment, The Snorkel) is on the way, along with Stanley Kramer’s star-studded Ship of Fools.
Happy Valentine’s day — it’s also my Anniversary! — Glenn Erickson
Region B Blu-ray
Tony Richardson’s look at corruption in the border patrol service is both sensational and insightful, and Jack Nicholson gives a committed performance as a downtrodden functionary who finds himself in a major moral and humanitarian catastrophe. The problem is still there today, with no consensus on the right diagnosis or solution. The action melodrama costars Harvey Keitel & Valerie Perrine, and introduces (to the U.S.) the impressive Elpidia Carrillo. From Powerhouse Indicator.
CineSavant is back — had an incredible time but a real physical workout, seventeen days on the move and my head is almost too dizzy to write. I’ll say no more except that it was an intense trip to Peru — six hotels and trips by air, bus, and boat and a lot of hiking. But I lost seven pounds going up and down those paths and ruins. Thanks for staying with me.
The good news is that I now have plenty of time free to catch up on reviews, especially with reviewers Charlie Largent and Lee Broughton helping. The discs ready to peruse are a daunting selection:
Milestone: Shoes; Severin: Threads; Arrow Video: The Witches, Federico Fellini’s Orchestra Rehearsal, Clouzot’s Inferno; Warner Archives: Harper and The Drowning Pool; ClassicFlix: Along Came Jones; Kino: The Covered Wagon; Twilight Time: Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, Dragonwyck, My Cousin Rachel; Criterion: Tom Jones, Elevator to the Gallows, The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead.
Upcoming titles that tickle Glenn’s fancy: Kino: The Outlaw, Under Capricorn, The House that Dripped Blood, Doctor Blood’s Coffin, The Outer Limits, Duck You Sucker (as A Fistful of Dynamite), The Lion in Winter, Joan of Arc (1948), Topaze, No Orchids for Miss Blandish, Roger Corman’s Highway Dragnet, and The Vampire and the Ballerina (hopefully with the Italian version L’Amante del Vampiro); The Maze in 3-D (not sure from where); Twilight Time: Jacques Demy’s Model Shop, Auto Focus, Martin Ritt’s No Down Payment, Blue Denim.
The Criterion Collection
Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s mine disaster saga is both a stirring social drama and a remarkable feat of technical engineering — the underground cave-ins and gas-fed fires are still frightening in their realism. Criterion’s extras offer critical and historical context for a pacifist statement filmed during a tense political time in France and Germany. From The Criterion Collection.
Charlie Largent wanders over to the poor side of London town for Bryan Forbes’s poignant kitchen-sink classic. This particular kitchen sink saga has a touch of glamour — the luminous, talented Leslie Caron is a Frenchwoman struggling to find an apartment in which to make some crucial life decisions. With able support from Tom Bell and Brock Peters, the movie is out now on an equally luminous Blu ray release, from Twilight Time.
Almost back! But we’ve got a little more review action today, thanks to Charlie Largent. I hope to have a full report on my weird wanderings late next weekend.
Thanks for Reading! — Glenn
KL Studio Classics
Hollywood glamour strikes the crime genre, with a bank robbery tale that concentrates on high living and high fashion. Superstars Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway play a coy game of thief and investigator. This expensive show is not really in fashion anymore, but in 1968 it was high-class filmmaking, with Norman Jewison solidifying his position as a smart maker of solid mainstream entertainment. With Paul Burke, Jack Weston and Yaphet Kotto, and two audio commentaries. From KL Studio Classics.
CineSavant’s sojourn into other dimensions is almost at an end; I will be returning refreshed, if bruised and sore, and ready to go on a full writing schedule once again. Sorry for the less than exciting presentation in the interim, and thanks for your patience! — Glenn
Charlie Largent reviews a choice Blu-ray box with four horrors from the house of Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenberg: Asylum, And Now the Screaming Starts and The Beast Must Die, plus a bonus disc with a wealth of special material. The stars include Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, Britt Ekland, Patrick Magee, Stephanie Beacham, Calvin Lockhart, Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling; on Blu-ray from Severin Films.
Hi from far away … CineSavant hasn’t been chloroformed, but is operating with a skeleton crew and at long distance. To vendors, your discs are being watched and will be up in good time (the spice must flow!) I only wish I could post pictures from where I am and write up the usual frills and links.
Thanks for Reading — we’ll be back up to speed soon enough — Glenn