Glenn Erickson's
Review Page and Column

Saturday June 16, 2018


1955: A Space Odyssey? CLICK on it.

The Virgin Spring 06/16/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Ingmar Bergman’s tale of murder, retribution and God’s forgiveness may be the perfect entry point for art-film appreciation — it’s immediately accessible yet genuinely profound. It’s also a compelling miracle story. Max Von Sydow is the proud father who fills himself with a spirit of vengeance that contradicts his newly-adopted Christianity; Birgitta Pettersson is the happy child who picks the wrong day to carry candles to the church. The excellent extras include incisive interviews with two of the actresses, and forty minutes of articulate Ingmar advice to AFI students. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
6/16/18

The Colossus of Rhodes 06/16/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Reviewer Charlie Largent goes Mediterranean! Before he forever rewrote the rules of the western, Sergio Leone broke into directing with this lavish sword ‘n’ sandal epic. Always smiling, Greek playboy Rory Calhoun comes to Rhodes to check out the babes, the same way Cary Grant might crash a garden party. But he wasn’t expecting a revolution! Smart filmmaking creates outsized effects around the enormous 6th Wonder of the World, the statue that was felled by an earthquake two centuries B.C.. Here it’s sci-fi weapon of mass destruction with a clockwork interior and secret trap doors fit for a bronze-age Transformer. The class-A cast for Leone’s peplum includes Georges Marchal, Ángel Aranda, and Lea Massari of L’Avventura; Warner’s export edition is reportedly a reel short of the Italian original. The music score is by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
6/16/18

The Woman in the Window 06/16/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Fritz Lang and Nunnally Johnson take a deep dive into Aberrant Psych 101 and come up with a winner: a milquetoast-meets-murderous-femme tale that pays off marvelously, even with its trick ending. Entranced more by his own gentle dreams than the allure of Joan Bennett, Edward G. Robinson imagines a perfect dalliance, and follows it up with a self-imposed punishment. Slimy Dan Duryea gives the breakthrough performance; if you already have an earlier edition Imogen Sara Smith’s commentary is reason enough for a re-purchase. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
6/16/18

CineSavant Column

Saturday June 16, 2018

Hello!

Over at The Passionate Movegoer for June 13 Joe Baltake has a pretty thorough article about actors replacing actors in movies, for a dizzying variety of reasons. I thought he was going to stick with a few examples, starting with Madeline Kahn on the Lucille Ball Mame. But Baltake’s account outlines a great many instances of radical actor replacments, familiar and un-. Some movies affected were All That Jazz, The Goodbye Girl, The Untouchables, Romeo + Juliet, The King & I, Love Story, Claudine, A League of Their Own and The Apartment. Recommended.


New disc news! Criterion just hit us with some nice upcoming titles for September: Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev, Assayas’ Cold Water, Sidney Poitier and the late Ruby Dee in A Raisin in the Sun, Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage and Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey. That last comedy with Carole Lombard has to be one of the funniest movies ever; it’s also high time that I took on the Bergman movie. I think my marriage can stand it.


And our joy know no bounds, as they say, for this last blurb. We’re happy to learn, through a Brad Norman Twitter Link forwarded by Joe Dante, that the city of West Hollywood is going to restore the giant statue of Jay Ward’s Rocky and Bullwinkle and put it up on public display again (not sure where exactly). I’d volunteer my front yard, but the neighbors would complain and I’m not in West Hollywood in the first place.

Friend Allan Peach immediately recalled that in 1970, a billboard for the movie Myra Breckinridge went up across the street from the statue on Sunset Blvd., with Raquel Welch holding a pose similar to Bullwinkle’s. Jay Ward’s inspired response was to outfit Bullwinkle with a matching American-flag get-up. My preference for Bullwinkle’s attire is his classic no-sleeves collegiate ‘Wotsamatta U.’ sweatshirt.

And Gary Teetzel intercepted this message, reportedly from some Trump advisors with thick accents:

“Eez much vorse than Confederate monuments!  Must not honor Moose and Squirrel!  Make Pottsylvania Great Again!”

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday June 12, 2018


Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Au hasard Balthazar 06/12/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Reviewer Charlie Largent plumbs the cinematic depths of Robert Bresson’s emotionally devastating masterpiece, in which an inoffensive beast of burden carries the sins of humanity. With non-professional actors and simple camerawork, Bresson expresses the mystery of life in a world devoid of moral justice. It’s a religious movie without a single sermon. Does a simple animal share in God’s grace? With Anne Wiazemsky. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
06/12/18

The Man Who Watched Trains Go By 06/12/18

ClassicFlix
Blu-ray

This strange blend of French série noire and English Brit noir was filmed in glowing Technicolor on location in Holland and Paris. Runaway bookkeeper Claude Rains teams up with the highly fatale Märta Torén, evading the law in pursuit of the good life promised by a valise packed with money. Georges Simenon’s crime tale has an undertaste of Poetic Realist rebelliousness. Co-Starring Marius Goring, Herbert Lom and a very young Anouk Aimée, and with Felix Aylmer and Ferdy Mayne. On Blu-rayfrom ClassicFlix.
06/12/18

2 Weeks in Another Town 06/12/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

A quick Jet-set ride takes us to Rome of 1962, which for a couple of years was the movie capital of the world. Washed-up actor Kirk Douglas reinvents himself amid the vipers of his past — an abusive director (Edward G. Robinson), a medusa-like ex-wife (Cyd Charisse) and a parade of show-biz creeps that want him to fail and grovel. But wait — redemption springs eternal through the love of a simple innocent unspoiled Italiana with no agenda of her own (Daliah Lavi). Will Douglas be reborn? Director Vincente Minnelli tries his hardest to get MGM in on the Italian art-movie gold rush. Co-Starring George Hamilton, Claire Trevor and Rosanna Schiaffino. On Blu-rayfrom The Warner Archive Collection.
06/12/18

Savant Column

Tuesday June 12, 2018

Hello!

Over at his page “Q Branch Mirror” fellow reviewer and fantasy film enthusiast Kyu Hyun Kim has shown elevated levels of interest in William Friedkin lately, and offered me a couple of links that I found to be good reading. In the first, he reviews the 1977 Sorcerer and in the second he interviews Professor Steve Choe of San Francisco State University, who has been conducting intense interviews with the director.


I think I’m going to get to review the new Joseph McBride book on Ernst Lubitsch, How Did Lubitsch Do It? The title would seem to be derived from the quote ‘How would Lubitsch do it?” which will be familiar to anybody who ever read anything about Lubitsch’s biggest fan, Billy Wilder. I’m awaiting my copy in the mail. It’ll be good timing because I’ve just finished Case History of a Movie, Dore Schary’s old book about the filming of the 1950 The Next Voice You Hear.


And I’m thinking of reviewing a picture that’s been out for a couple of years on Blu-ray, Code 46 from Olive Films. I started to watch it back then but gave up out of frustration — I wasn’t understanding enough of the dialogue, and there were no subtitles. But I watched it last week with the aid of a continuity script, and found it an interesting future-world romance along the lines of Gattaca and THX 1138. Would anyone sit still for a review of a Michael Winterbottom science fiction drama from 2003?


We have confirmation from Universal about the Creature Legacy Collection coming up in August. Gary Teetzel sends along this package mock-up that definitely says that the original film and Revenge of the Creature will both be in 3-D. And pessimist me actually doubted the word of the 3-D Film Archive, so must do penance. There are so few things in today’s world to really worry about, so we need to pick and choose.



And Gary Teetzel forwards an amusing Youtube ‘Look Mum No Computer’ video in which an engagingly demented fellow with a Brit accent named Sam explains how to turn a toy light saber into a musical instrument — LightSaber Theremin: Star Wars Musical Machine. This definitely reminds me of Mick Jagger back in Performance, playing with a neon light. The old technology just let Mick down.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday June 9, 2018


Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

The Birth of a Nation (1915) 06/09/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Writer Sergio Mims has been tapped lately for some interesting audio commentaries. I’ve known him as a solid associate for years, and asked him to weigh in on this deluxe Blu-ray set of a new restoration by the ultimate silent film authority, Kevin Brownlow.  D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epic is more controversial than ever, a masterpiece of the medium that’s so hateful in approach, it’s become fashionable to condemn it without taking a closer look. It’s the first 2-disc release on Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
6/09/18

The Big Country 06/09/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Ya know, “It’s a Big Country!” Westerns and pacifism are like oil and water, but William Wyler, Jessamyn West and three other top writers found a way for Gregory Peck to surmount eight showdowns and never fire a pistol in anger. Jean Simmons and Charlton Heston win top acting honors, while Burl Ives earns his Oscar, Carroll Baker gets the thankless role and composer Jerome Moross makes western music history. MGM’s remastering job fixes the problems of an earlier Blu-ray, and even brings the title sequence up to tip top condition. Plus several hours of special extras. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
6/09/18

Cold Turkey 06/09/18

Olive Films
Blu-ray

Norman Lear’s Cold Turkey is preferred by 4 out of 5 doctors, and the other doctor is a fool that doesn’t smoke cigarettes. Norman Lear’s triple-threat writing, producing and directing effort is by no means a lazy comedy, with its twenty featured actors running around like asylum inmates for ninety minutes. It’s not the show to help one kick the habit, that’s for sure — even though it makes smoking look appropriately disgusting. Starring Dick Van Dyke, Bob Newhart, Pippa Scott, Bob & Ray, Vincent Gardenia, Barnard Hughes, Jean Stapleton, Barbara Cason & Judith Lowry. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
6/09/18

CineSavant Column

Saturday June 9, 2018

Hello!

First, a happy news repeat from yesterday:

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

NBC Universal has announced a Creature From the Black Lagoon Blu-ray Legacy Collection that will include a new 3-D presentation of 1955’s Revenge of the Creature! The 3-D Film Archive has completed the Blu-ray formatting work, the scene-by-scene stereoscopic alignment and left/right panel-matching. The job has been executed using 4K scans of the original 35mm left eye and right eye camera negatives. According to 3D expert Bob Furmanek, the show has not been seen in widescreen 3-D since the original theatrical release in 1955.

The street date for The Legacy Collection is announced as August 28, 2018.

Coming really late in the 3-D craze, Revenge of the Creature nevertheless is designed for depth even better than the first smash hit Gill Man movie. The Legacy Collection set will presumably feature all three original Creature pix, including 1956’s The Creature Walks Among Us, which is unfortunately, flat. It’s going to be a monster-lovers’ wish come true for 3-D equipped viewers. Since all three pictures will be widescreen and in 2-D HD as well, there’ll be something desirable for everybody.

The street date for The 3-D Complete Creature Legacy Collection is announced as August 28, 2018.

I didn’t realize just how many Golden Age 3D pix the 3-D Archive has restored. Furmanek reports that only a few Universal 3-D features have not made the jump to Blu-ray ‘in depth’: Jack Arnold’s The Glass Webb; Douglas Sirk’s Taza, Son of Cochise and Budd Boetticher’s Wings of the Hawk. And we’re told not to forget the cartoon The Hypnotic Hick with Woody Woodpecker! Even deeper into his research, Bob says that Universal also have three musical shorts, but that they’re unlikely to see a release due to excessive music clearance costs.

For more information on the restoration and rare Creature memorabilia, please visit The 3-D Film Archive.

And Universal’s Complete Legacy Collection page.



Other Important Blu-ray News:  Kino has posted a long list of their ABC/Selznick holdings, and the prognosis for HD restorations on a title for title basis. A lot of expensive 4K scans are involved. According to Kino, the films Good Times (1967), The Rover (1967), Ring of Bright Water (1969), Midas Run (1969), Jenny (1970), Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came (1970), Too Late the Hero (1970), Kotch (1971) and Zachariah (1971) are ‘coming soon.’ The long-absent Song of Norway (1970) and the excellent The Last Valley (1971), both 65mm road show pictures, are listed as having ‘element issues’ — which hopefully is just the unwieldy format, not a comment on the film elements’ condition. It all sounds good to me.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Friday June 8, 2018

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

NBC Universal has announced a Creature From the Black Lagoon Blu-ray Legacy Collection that will include a new 3-D presentation of 1955’s Revenge of the Creature! The 3-D Film Archive has completed the Blu-ray formatting work, the scene-by-scene stereoscopic alignment and left/right panel-matching. The job has been executed using 4K scans of the original 35mm left eye and right eye camera negatives. According to 3D expert Bob Furmanek, the show has not been seen in widescreen 3-D since the original theatrical release in 1955.

Coming really late in the 3-D craze, Revenge of the Creature nevertheless is designed for depth even better than the first smash hit Gill Man movie. The Legacy Collection set will presumably feature all three original Creature pix, including 1956’s The Creature Walks Among Us, which is unfortunately, flat. It’s going to be a monster-lovers’ wish come true for 3-D equipped viewers. Since all three pictures will be widescreen and in 2-D HD as well, there’ll be something desirable for everybody.

The street date for The 3-D Complete Creature Legacy Collection is announced as August 28, 2018.

I didn’t realize just how many Golden Age 3D pix the 3-D Archive has restored. Furmanek reports that only a few Universal 3-D features have not made the jump to Blu-ray ‘in depth’: Jack Arnold’s The Glass Webb; Douglas Sirk’s Taza, Son of Cochise and Budd Boetticher’s Wings of the Hawk. And we’re told not to forget the cartoon The Hypnotic Hick with Woody Woodpecker! Even deeper into his research, Bob says that Universal also have three musical shorts, but that they’re unlikely to see a release due to excessive music clearance costs.

For more information on the restoration and rare Creature memorabilia, please visit The 3-D Film Archive.

And Universal’s Complete Legacy Collection page.

Thanks to Bob Furmanek, one more time, for the heads-up! That’s it until tomorrow! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday June 5, 2018


Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

The Misadventures of Biffle and Shooster! 06/05/18

Kino Lorber
DVD

Do you miss the Stooges? Miss Edgar Kennedy? Here’s a bizarre bill of goods for committed film fans in search of retro fun. Will Ryan and Nick Santa Maria perform as a madcap ’30s comedy team in a series of imaginatively re-created broad short subjects, all designed to fit the style of the era. It works like gangbusters for those who relish their vintage slapstick laughs. Five separate short subjects give us an overview of Biffle and Shooster’s fictitious but very funny career. With guest stars Robert Forster and Robert Picardo, plus Schlomo the Wonder Ape!  On DVD from Kino Lorber.
06/05/18

Designing Woman 06/05/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

MGM wasn’t the most current studio in 1957, as can be seen by this throwback to another era, a semi-screwball romantic comedy with big stars and directed in high style by Vincente Minnelli. Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall party like it’s 1939, and with the musical-comedy help of the irrepressible Dolores Gray, keep things light and mirthful. A score of fun actors provide support: Sam Levene, Tom Helmore, Mickey Shaughnessy, Jesse White and Chuck Connors as the mug that almost twists Peck’s nose off. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
06/05/18

Next Stop, Greenwich Village 06/05/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Paul Mazursky’s affectionate memoir of the New York bohemian life circa 1953 has a feel for the milieu and an honest appraisal of the kooky culture therein: artists, actors, users, takers, sweethearts, neurotics and phonies. Lenny Baker’s main character may have an amorous relationship with his girlfriend Ellen Greene, but his strongest connection is with his overbearing mother, played to perfection by Shelley Winters. She was a Best Supporting Actress nominee for The Poseidon Adventure but not for this?  Honestly. Co-starring Lois Smith, Christopher Walken, Dori Brenner, Antonio Fargas and Lou Jacobi. On Blu-rayfrom Twilight Time.
06/05/18