Review Page and Column
The 3-D Nudie-Cuties Collection 11/12/19
CineSavant chooses its reviews with discretion, knowing that attending to reader’s spiritual needs is a top priority. So get ready for a blistering, too-too spicy duo of ‘adult movies’ (read: they cater to dirty old men) created in the prehistoric days before humanity was transformed by X-rated porn. The first show THE BELLBOY AND THE PLAYGIRLS may be the professional screen directing debut of Francis Coppola, moonlighting from UCLA. It’s something of a wreck, but he was not one to miss a single opportunity to write and direct. The second picture ADAM AND SIX EVES, in gorgeous color and eye-popping 3-D, is so good as to suggest an art revival, if today’s PC culture wasn’t so likely to condemn these vintage girlie entertainments out of hand. But then again, the sub-genre is supposed to be forbidden and Taboo. Blu-ray 3-D conquers all! On 3-D Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
They Made Me a Fugitive 11/12/19
Sinister stabbings, women kicked and beaten, perverse hoodlums selling cocaine and murdering street-beat bobbies: what happened to civilized English crime? Cavalcanti’s vicious postwar Brit Noir shocked critics for The Times and had to be cut to ribbons for American distribution. A disillusioned, bored RAF hero turns to smuggling and skullduggery. This fully restored crime classic gives us Trevor Howard, Sally Gray and Griffith Jones in one of the best — and most brutal crime pix of its day. Plus attractive PI extras! On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
Great Day in the Morning 11/12/19
Jacques Tourneur’s ‘big sky’ western gives us the beauty of Colorado mountains plus stunning color images (originally Technicolor & Superscope) of his attractive cast: Robert Stack, Virginia Mayo, Ruth Roman. North-South antagonisms break out in Denver City, before the Civil War begins, and Robert Stack’s loner opportunist must choose a side. The WAC’s disc includes four Jacques Tourneur short subjects, with mystery themes. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
No astonishing links to trumpet today, not even any so-so or mediocre links! But we do have plenty of reviews on the way. Kino Lorber will be showing up on most every post, it has so many winners; Charlie Largent is working on Konga and The Magic Sword as we speak. There are some winners that I’m not expecting screeners for, but I do have commitments that will allow me to review some upcoming greats, like Film Movement’s Fritz Lang’s Indian Epic Films, Criterion’s Until the End of the World, Flicker Alley’s Trapped and Scream Factory’s The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas.
And thanks go out to Bob Furmanek for forwarding the inside documentation from The Bellboy and the Playgirls, especially Francis Coppola’s employment documents. Thanks also to Gary Teetzel for conducting those trade paper searches for reading material about our old genre favorites — the reader response has been encouraging.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson
Spirited Away 11/09/19
Hayao Miyazaki’s animation masterpiece, a truly wondrous flight of fantasy and imagination, returns to Blu-ray in a beautiful boxed special edition, similar to last May’s Princess Mononoke. Reviewer Charlie Largent turns his admiring eye to sing its praises, and reflect on the special edition’s contents, which include a lavishly illustrated forty-page book. “There. Your body matches your brain.” On Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
The Man Between 11/09/19
Critics compare this sophisticated spy thriller to Carol Reed’s earlier Triumph set in Vienna with Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles — but it’s a different story altogether, not about black-market evil but the perils of moral compromise in a divided Berlin. James Mason and Claire Bloom are stunningly good together, in a moody suspense that’s completely serious — no comic relief or ‘fun’ jeopardy to distract from the fascinating, you-are-there setting, a Berlin trying to rebuild itself. With Hildegard Knef, and an extended, beautifully filmed nighttime chase that seals an unlikely romance. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
Mean-spirited ‘Bad Movie’ satirists forget that production values aren’t everything, even if the collected works of Barry Mahon and Coleman Francis say otherwise. This threadbare backyard production has ‘endearing’ written all over it. The Last Time We Saw Arch Hall (we never saw him a first time), he may have been cooking up a sequel to his maladroit teenage caveman epic … if only he hadn’t killed off the main character. But this Turkey actually performed in release: Eegah would rate its niche in film history even if Richard Kiel hadn’t become a star in James Bond movies. Co-starring Arch Hall, Jr. and Marilyn Manning; Gary Teetzel contributes a gallery of vintage Trade Paper notices for the picture. On Blu-ray from The Film Detective.
Correspondent Jonathan Gluckman forwards a link to a pretty funny Stan Freberg Radio Show about Werewolves, from 1957. Part of the fun is listening to the voices of June Foray and Daws Butler. The actual werewolf ‘story’ begins around 8:14; it references I Was a Teenage Werewolf and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Freberg is pretty amusing — the show was going off the airwaves after only 14 or so episodes.
Arnold Leibovit is deep into his recovery-and-restore efforts for a Volume 2 Blu-ray of George Pal Puppetoons; I reviewed his first Puppetoon compilation disc here. He’s soliciting $ to finish the job and has a page that calls out ‘Be Part of History in the Making!’, with a cool sampler video of shots from the first volume.
And correspondent Lee Kaplan forwards this inspiring 2017 obituary for Curt Lowens, the star of Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory, reviewed just last week. He was not only a Holocaust survivor but a resistance operative in the Netherlands, saving Jewish children. He also rescued and protected two downed Allied airmen. That knowledge certainly puts the werewolf movie in a different light. It isn’t even mentioned, but his many other movie and TV appearances are … mostly playing Nazis.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson
Operation Crossbow 11/05/19
‘Mission impossible’ wartime sabotage fun takes on an authentic, dramatic episode of WW2 — the onslaught of futuristic V-Weapons on London — and then veers into fictional fantasy (think big explosions). George Peppard toughs it out to get free of his MGM contract. Lili Palmer and Barbara Rütting do the heavy lifting, while Sophia Loren is in as a glamorous sidebar. Weirdly, the movie all but lionizes the Germans that develop, test and fire the V-Weapon rockets at England … exaggerating their scientific progress and giving them a strange kind of ‘Right Stuff.’ The fast moving film features a galaxy of name actors as righteous heroes and tech-savvy villains: Trevor Howard, John Mills, Richard Johnson, Tom Courtenay, Jeremy Kemp, Anthony Quayle, Paul Henreid, Helmut Dantine, Richard Todd, Patrick Wymark, Ferdy Mayne and Anton Diffring. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory 11/05/19
Italian horror from the early 1960s covers a wide quality range, from eerie hauntings to tacky, lurid vampire romps. For one of his first major credits, ace giallo scribe Ernesto Gastaldi cooks up Lycanthropus, a murder mystery in which the savage slashing committed by a drooling maniac with a hairy face, wild eyes and saber-toothed fangs. You saw the poster out front, kid — do you think it might be … a werewolf? Director Paolo Heusch’s thriller is no classic, but neither is it stupid — and the original Italian language option on this disc reveals good work by a spirited cast. Dreamy Polish starlet Barbara Lass is a much more assertive, independent female than what we expect from conventional Italo horror fare. We also get to discuss a musical milestone added to the film’s U.S. release, the rather clever pop novelty song The Ghoul in School. On Blu-ray from Severin Films.
Does science really imitate Movies? Thirty years ago Wim Wenders said he dropped the ball with his futuristic epic Until the End of the World (1991), because his vision of 1999 didn’t predict the rise of The Internet. But his film’s invention — a machine that records The Act of Seeing so that blind people can see — gets used for a secondary purpose, and becomes a personal electronic device that addicts people with the curse of staring at small video screens.
My biologist son surprised me last week with a link to an article about a research program that sounds suspiciously like what Max Von Sydow was doing in the Wim Wenders picture: “Neural Network Reconstructs Human Thoughts from Brain Waves in Real Time.” The still images above remind me of the ‘dream visions’ from UTEOTW, which in 1991 were accomplished with a new video invention called ‘high definition.’ The full-length Until the End of the World arrives from Criterion on December 10.
I didn’t know this next item was coming, honest .. after griping and whining last time about the lack of sword ‘n’ sandal pix on quality disc, Kino Lorber hits us with news of two more big Italo titles ‘coming in 2020’: The Wonders of Aladdin starring Donald O’Connor and Vittorio De Sica, co- directed (?) by Henry Levin and Mario Bava, and the much-desired Goliath and the Vampires with Gordon Scott, Gianna Maria Canale and Leonora Ruffo, directed by Giacomo Gentilomo. Info is sketchy, but both Blu-rays claim new 4K transfers.
And finally, I just read most of the new issue (#27) of the Film Noir Foundation’s periodical Noir City and can recommend it — after reviewing so many atom-themed movies, I was interested in this issue’s several articles about atom-themed noirs, and real-life Hollywood creatives that got caught up in postwar national security issues. Plus an in-depth article about Gene Tierney, with more detail than I’ve read anywhere else. Even though my cable service screws up the transmission of standard-def movies on my TCM HD channel, I tune in every week to hear Eddie Muller’s comments on the movies … he, Alan Rode, Vince Keenan and Steve Kronenberg have a solid publication going here.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson
Hammer Volume Four Faces of Fear 11/02/19
PI’s fourth collection of Hammer attractions shows no sign of compromise — three out of four titles here are superb tales of fright and science fiction. Thanks to the company policy of leaving no gravestone unturned, the exclusive special extras never stop. We have alternate title sequences for two films, a gallery of censor alterations for another, and an entire second release version for yet another. Plus, Powerhouse re-premieres a new remastered copy of a prime Hammer classic, one that until now hasn’t been looking so well. Get set for The Revenge of Frankenstein, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, Taste (Scream) of Fear, and The Damned (These Are the Damned). On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
Seven Days to Noon 11/02/19
Is this ground zero for Atom-fear science fiction? The Boulting Brothers assemble the very first movie about a nuclear terror plot, without cutting corners or wimping out. The incredibly dry, civilized André Morell must track down a rogue scientist who threatens to nuke London; the entire city must be evacuated. Barry Jones is the meek boffin with a bomb in his satchel. This impressively produced thriller won an Oscar for Best Story; it’s practically a template for the ‘docu-real’ approach of the first Quatermass films. It’s also the link between ordinary postwar thriller intrigues and the high-powered, science fiction- canted terrors to come. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
The World The Flesh and The Devil 11/02/19
The world could come to an end in a lot of ways, but 1950s sci-fi was fond of making it end like a One-Act play. Harry Belafonte’s personal project soon drops the spectre of annihilation to cozy up to a statement about race relations. Despite the fact that his co-star Inger Stevens likely had the courage to take the material way, way farther, the last man and woman on Earth don’t even share a kiss. Can’t offend those distributors in Alabama, by golly. The film’s amazingly realistic vision of NYC abandoned after an atomic gas attack is stunning in HD — the show hasn’t lost its appeal, even if it deserts its second theme in favor of a rifle-toting showdown between Belafonte and Mel Ferrer’s villainous third-wheel survivor. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
Some Halloween-type reviews posted here today, that didn’t quite make the date. More horror, and some truly campy horror, are on the way.
I’m all healthy again, and grateful that I average two or three years between bouts with the common cold. It’s good to feel better, even if the weather’s gotten colder. It at least helps our heroic firemen battle California’s blazes.
← Correspondent John Black has tipped me to a German Colosseo Blu Ray, coming December 6, for Der Gauner von Bagdad — the 1961 Steve Reeves movie we know as The Thief of Bagdad. John says that it should be the first full CinemaScope home video release of this picture. This is news because quality releases of vintage Sword’n’Sandal pictures, even with Steve Reeves, are depressingly scarce (NOTE: I have no idea what the disc quality will be). The listing says Region B, but with English as one of the audio choices. It sounds promising, even though I miss Reeves with his full beard … as a kid I saw Steve Reeves in The Last Days of Pompeii, but not this one. Is it any good?
→ And a last stab at Halloween: I love this Youtube offering of a B&W theater promo plug for some kind of kooky spooky Spook Show — with music swiped from Bernard Herrmann! It’s called “35mm Trailer Dr Sin/Dracula”. The music track DOES make it a little scary!
November should be fun — I’ll try to keep up the flow of reviews. Hopefully some house-related issues won’t slow me up.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson