Night People 07/31/17

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Nunnally Johnson hands us a well-written, politically astute spy & hostage drama in Cold War Berlin, with plenty of intrigue and good humor to boot. Gregory Peck is the troubled negotiator and Broderick Crawford a Yankee galoot sticking his nose where it isn’t wanted. This one has been out of reach for quite a while — and it works up some fun suspense. With Broderick Crawford, Anita Björk, Rita Gam, Walter Abel, Buddy Ebsen, Peter van Eyck and Marianne Koch. An early extra-wide CinemaScope picture, on Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
7/31/17

You Only Live Once 07/31/17

Classic Flix
Blu-ray

Fritz Lang continues his take-no-prisoners indictment of America’s curious relationship with crime; this time he presents the thesis that an innocent man can be a pawn in cosmic game of injustice. Three-time loser Henry Fonda, the glummest actor in ’30s films, doesn’t mean to rob or kill, but gosh darn it, They Made Him a Criminal. Those considerations aside, it’s a wonderful cinematic achievement, made all the better by a decent digital restoration. Starring Sylvia Sidney, with Barton MacLane, Jean Dixon, William Gargan, Jerome Cowan and Margaret Hamilton. On Blu-ray from Classic Flix.
7/31/17

Terror in a Texas Town 07/26/17

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray

On paper it’s a western with everything — a major star, decent supporting players, a cult director and sideways references to the blacklisting years. But even with its ya-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it high noon showdown scene, Joseph H. Lewis’s last feature film is still a lower-tier United Artists effort. Sterling Hayden goes up against Sebastian Cabot and Nedrick Young, armed with a, with a . . . aw, you probably know already. With video extras with author Peter Stanfield. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
7/25/17

Where the Boys Are 07/26/17

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Heading for Spring Break somewhere? Long before Girls Gone Wild, kids of the Kennedy years found their own paths to the desired fun in the sun, and most of them came back alive. MGM’s comedic look at the Ft. Lauderdale exodus is a half-corny but fully endearing show, featuring the great Dolores Hart and the debuts of Connie Francis, Paula Prentiss and Jim Hutton, not to mention Yvette Mimieux, Frank Gorshin and Barbara Nichols. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
7/25/17

Lost in America 07/26/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Trailers from Hell’s Charlie Largent gives us the comedy lowdown on Albert Brooks’ and Monica Johnson’s response to “those ferociously materialistic young professionals whose numbers blossomed during the Reagan administration” — the dreaded YUPPIES. This acerbic road movie details what happens when an upwardly mobile hot-shot decides to get back to nature and “touch Indians”. The result is a mile-a-minute talk fest worthy of writer-directors like Billy Wilder, Woody Allen and Preston Sturges. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
7/25/17

The Breaking Point 07/22/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

You can tell it’s film noir — even the cabin cruiser has Venetian blinds. Ernest Hemingway’s favorite film adaptation of his work is this uncompromised story of a good man taking a criminal course on the high seas. John Garfield is again ‘one man alone’ against the system, and the moral quicksand all but swallows up Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter and Wallace Ford; this release comes just in time to herald Alan K. Rode’s new career biography of director Michael Curtiz. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
7/22/17

Kong: Skull Island 3-D 07/22/17

Warner Home Video
3-D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + HD Digital

Kong is back, transformed into a ‘MonsteVerse’ colossus suitable for combat with Kaiju-sized foes. The key inspiration is video games but the day is saved by capable performers in mostly amusing roles. Even though the show treats its fantasy halfway seriously, it’s still an infantile guns ‘n’ monsters romp, embellished with impressive visual effects. With Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson and John C. Reilly. On 3-DBlu-ray from Warner Home Video.
7/22/17

The Battle of the River Platte 07/22/17

ITV Studios Home Entertainment
Region B Blu-ray (locked)

 Panzerschiff Graf Spee.  Powell & Pressburger’s big-scale historical epic is perhaps the best show ever about an old-school naval encounter between battleships. The first half depicts the showdown between England and Germany in the South Atlantic, and the second half a tense diplomatic game in the neutral country of Uruguay. Peter Finch, Bernard Lee and Anthony Quayle shine as sea captains; the film was shot in big-format VistaVision and originally printed in Technicolor. On Region B Blu-ray from ITV Studios Home Entertainment.
7/22/17

The Sea Chase 07/17/17

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

John Wayne plays a German sea captain in a film that goes out of its way to create a favorable image of our former enemy, with hardly a Nazi flag or even a German accent in sight. Wayne and his co-star Lana Turner are as Teutonic as Blondie and Dagwood, yet the film works as a basic adventure – we like the charismatic star, and the sea chase format guarantees extra interest. John Farrow’s direction and a fun cast are assets as well: Lyle Bettger, Richard Davalos, Tab Hunter, John Qualen & Claude Akins are all German sailors! On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
7/18/17

Shalako 07/17/17

KL Studio Classics
Bluray

It’s 007 in the saddle! Sean Connery didn’t become a career cowboy but this one stint as a Louis L’Amour hero is a diverting change of pace. And we couldn’t resist the pairing of two of moviedom’s most attractive actors — Connery and Brigitte Bardot. Terence Young’s cast is almost all-star: Jack Hawkins, Honor Blackman, Peter Van Eyck, Stephen Boyd, Alexander Knox and Valerie French — with Woody Strode as Chato, challenging BondShalako to a duel to the death. Actually, it’s rather good. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
7/18/17

The Quiet American (1958) 07/17/17

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

There appear to be no rules governing tricky politics in movies — Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel about terrorism in French-held Vietnam completely reverses the author’s message. Does a conspiracy theory about a movie still carry any weight, when our daily political life now plays like one giant conspiracy? All-American Audie Murphy is the whitewashed ‘U.S. aid representative,’ while Michael Redgrave is the dissolute Brit correspondent. The main attraction may be all the atmospheric location work filmed in Saigon in 1957. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
7/18/17

Straw Dogs 07/15/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Trailers from Hell’s Charlie Largent takes on Sam Peckinpah’s contribution to the ultra-violent movies of 1971. Originally rated ‘X’, details of a gang rape scene weren’t shown until the home video era arrived. What does a nerdy math professor do when uncouth hooligans take his wife and violate the sanctity of his solid-stone country home? Defend his turf with deadly force, that’s what. Pauline Kael called it ‘fascist cinema,’ but it’s one of Sam’s better pictures. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
7/15/17

The Valachi Papers 07/15/17

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Charles Bronson plays a real-life Mafiosi in a period gangland saga with a fine script, some good performances and a production so sloppy that the whole thing could be called The Anachronism Papers. Joseph Wiseman and Lino Ventura supply the tough-guy star-power and Bronson actually commits himself to the role — quite a change of pace for one of his later pictures. Also with Jill Ireland. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
7/15/17

Obsessions 07/15/17

Cult Epics
Blu-ray + DVD

What a great sales hook — a feature film with a Bernard Herrmann music score that we hadn’t heard of. And one of the writers was Martin Scorsese, before Boxcar Bertha and Mean Streets! But wait, it isn’t as simple as that. The new release is more than a little confusing. Its own ad copy first calls this Dutch production ‘obscure,’ and not four sentences later describes it as a ‘classic exploitation film.’ Starring Alexandra Stewart. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Cult Epics.
7/15/17

The Angry Red Planet 07/15/17

Scream Factory
Blu-ray

Hey, Ib Melchoir’s Opus Mars-us is back, in a not-bad new scan and color-grading job. If the nostalgia bug has bitten you deep enough to appreciate a fairly maladroit but frequently arresting space exploration melodrama, this may be the disc for you. Let’s be honest: NOBODY can resist the allure of the fabulous Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab, and in glorious Cinemagic, no less. Starring the non-angry redhead Nora Hayden, Gerald Mohr, Les Tremayne and jumpin’ Jack Kruschen. Finally remastered on Blu-ray in its proper aspect ratio, by Scream Factory.
7/15/17

The Lost City of Z 07/11/17

Broadgreen / Amazon Studios
Blu-ray

They don’t make ’em like this any more, and the original TV spots for James Gray’s accurate retelling of history almost didn’t know how to sell it. Charlie Hunnam spends his life trying to solve a riddle of the Peruvian rainforest, in between fighting in WW1 and dealing with class prejudice. Yup, one could say the picture was filmed in a ‘classic’ style . . . can that kind of show find an audience these days? With Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller and Tom Holland. On Blu-ray from Broadstreet / Amazon Studios.
7/11/17

Blood Alley 07/08/17

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Now a successful producer, John Wayne tries a big budget action picture with an anti-Communist theme. It’s The Alamo on a ferryboat, with Wayne as an apolitical adventurer who just feels like savin’ Chinese and kissin’ Lauren Bacall. Ace director William Wellman holds it together — barely. Berry Kroeger is a hateful comrade, Mike Mazurki a loyal aide and Anita Ekberg can be spotted in a couple of scenes, looking very . . . Swedish. With some interesting newsreels and TV show excerpts. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
7/08/17

Ikarie XB 1 07/04/17

NFA Czechoslovakia
Blu-ray

For the discerning science fiction fan, this is the best of the Eastern-bloc Cold War Sci-fi epics, a genuinely brilliant and warmly human ‘Voyage to the End of the Universe’ restored in 4k resolution. It’s from before 2001: A Space Odyssey and has an equally wondrous but totally different vision of the future. Hopefully this will soon be readily available here; buying it required some clever footwork by Foreign Exchange of Culver City. Starring my favorite Czech personalities Radovan Lukavský, Zdenek Stepánek, Frantisek Smolík, Irena Kacírková and Dana Medrická. Please Marek, forgive my incompetent diacritical marks! On Blu-ray from NFA (Czech).
7/04/17

Varieté 07/04/17

Kino Classics
Blu-ray

At last, an expressionist silent classic that takes full advantage of cinematic principles. The legendary E.A. Dupont goes in for subjective-emotional effects of which Hitchcock would approve; Cameraman Karl Freund and effects wizard Eugen Schüfftan pull off spectacular visuals and special effects. No wonder this was a huge hit in America, it’s way ahead of its time (and ours too, in some ways). Emil Jannings shows why he was considered the world’s best actor in the 1920’s. Plus the enigmatic Lya De Putti. On Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
7/04/17

Free Fire 07/04/17

Lionsgate
Blu-ray

Have an itch to see a movie about a gunfight, the whole gunfight and nothing but the gunfight? Search no more, for Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump have the movie for you: twenty minutes of angry crooks in conference, and then seventy minutes of non-stop shootin,’ with no annoying plot context or character depth to get in the way. Just say ‘Bang Bang I shot you down’ and then play it in a loop ad infinitum. Starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Babou Ceesay, Noah Taylor, Jack Reynor, Mark Monero and Patrick Bergin. On Blu-ray from Lionsgate.
7/04/17

The Bridge at Remagen 07/01/17

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

What’s the best true-story WW2 combat film for pure-grit, no-nonsense tanks ‘n’ bombs ‘n’ crazy mayhem action on a giant scale? This non-stop battle epic gets my vote. George Segal and Ben Gazzara’s GI infantry dogs are suitably tough, cynical and desperate, especially when they’re repeatedly sent into danger. The history is fairly accurate — there was indeed a race to seize the last bridge across the River Rhine. With Robert Vaughn, Bradford Dillman, E.G. Marshall, Peter Van Eyck, Hans Christian Blech & Bo Hopkins. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
07/01/17

Ugetsu Monogatari 07/01/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Trailers From Hell’s Charlie Largent takes a Westernized look at the great Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi and his preeminent masterpiece Ugetsu, brought to us in a stellar new release from the wizards at Criterion.. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
07/01/17

L’argent 07/01/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Welcome to the final film of the aesthetically precise, rigorously austere Robert Bresson, an adaptation of a fateful tale by Leo Tolstoy visualized in Bresson’s frequently maddening personal style. An extreme artist makes a fascinatingly unyielding show: as with the classic paintings that Bresson admires, appreciation requires special knowledge. With an excellent vintage interview with Michel Ciment to clarify Bresson’s theory of cinema: I’m still only part-way there. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
07/01/17