All the Sins of Sodom / Vibrations 09/30/17

Film Movement
Blu-ray

What’s this? Sex-oriented movies with believable psychodramatics, made by a committed artist of taste and talent? Joe Sarno’s pictures still aren’t suitable for grandma, but he’s far, far above the exploitation grind-house competition of his day. These 1968 B&W pictures are not only watchable, they’re emotionally involving. Restored to pre-print condition, they’re — how can I best put this? —  artistic and respectable. On Blu-ray from Film Movement.
9/30/17

The Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen Volume One: 1955-1960 09/30/17

Indicator UK
Blu-ray

Reviewer Charlie Largent examines the second volume of this Brit packaging of a trio of Ray Harryhausen Columbia greats — his first Schneer collaboration It Came from Beneath the Sea, the impressive 20 Million Miles to Earth and his ‘SuperDynamation’ Jonathan Swift fantasy The Three Worlds of Gulliver. With impressive extras and detailed essays. On Blu-ray from Interceptor (UK).
9/30/17

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? 09/30/17

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

One of the best pictures to come out of Hollywood in the late 1960s, Sydney Pollack’s screen version of Horace McCoy’s hardboiled novel is a harrowing experience guaranteed to elicit extreme responses. Jane Fonda performs (!) at the top of an ensemble of stars suffering in a Depression-era circle of Hell — it’s an Annihilating Drama with a high polish. With Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York, Gig Young, Red Buttons, Bonnie Bedelia, Bruce Dern, Allyn Ann McLerie. . . and my review ends with an interesting bit of info about Barbara Steele. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
9/30/17

Churchill 09/30/17

Cohen Media Group
Blu-ray

The scope of this slice of wartime history is so small, it’s almost the movie equivalent of a one-man show. There are perhaps only a dozen speaking roles. Brian Cox is impressive as The Man Who Saved England in its Darkest Hour, but the drama reduces both the man and the historical crisis to trivial status, as little more than a personal emotional crisis: “Winston, the Haunted Imperialist.” With Miranda Richardson and John Slattery. On Blu-ray from Cohen Media Group.
9/30/17

Gun Fury 3-D 09/25/17

Twilight Time
Blu-ray 3-D

Rock Hudson and Donna Reed star in a kidnapping-vengeance-pursuit western filmed in large part in gorgeous Sedona, Arizona, in 3-D and (originally) Technicolor. It’s another 3-D treasure from the 1950s boom years. Also with Lee Marvin and Roberta Haynes. The trailer is in 3-D too. On 3-D Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
9/26/17

The Chase (UK) 09/25/17

Indicator
Blu-ray + DVD

(1966) Welcome to UK disc purveyors Indicator, or Powerhouse, or how does Powerhouse Indicator sound? Savant’s first review from the new label is a favorite from the Columbia library. The extras are the draw for those of us who already have the U.S. release: they company has snagged long-form, in-depth interviews with James Fox and director Arthur Penn. Everybody’s written about The Chase but here Penn tells his side of the story. On Blu-ray from Indicator, All-Region.
9/26/17

The Big Knife 09/25/17

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray

What seemed too raw for 1955 still packs a punch, as Robert Aldrich takes a meat cleaver to the power politics of the old studio system. Monstrous studio head Rod Steiger has just the leverage he needs to blackmail frazzled star Jack Palance into signing the big contract. But will Hollywood corruption destroy them all? The cast list is formidable: Ida Lupino, Wendell Corey, Jean Hagen, Shelley Winters, Everett Sloane, Wesley Addy. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
9/26/17

The Piano Teacher 09/23/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Trailers From Hell’s Charlie Largent gives high marks to The Piano Teacher, Michael Haneke’s 2001 film about a tortured academic who turns the meaning of “teacher’s pet” on its head. Starring a brilliant Isabelle Huppert as the troubled teacher. Is there really a relationship between perverse female sexuality and classical music? On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
9/23/17

The Champion: A Story of America’s First Film Town 09/23/17

The Milestone Cinematheque
DVD

Proving again that there’s always more to learn about film history, Marc J. Perez’s documentary tells the story of a major American film capital before Hollywood. Milestone surrounds it with a couple of hours of early silent films made in the cinema Mecca of . . . Fort Lee, New Jersey. On DVD Blu-ray from The Milestone Cinematheque.
9/23/17

Brigadoon 09/23/17

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Balletic, stylized and rather aloof, MGM’s biggest musical for 1954 still has what musical lovers crave — good dancing, beautiful melodies and unabashed romantic sentiments. Savant has a bad tendency to fixate on the inconsistencies of its fantasy concept — in which God places an ideal Scottish village outside the limits of Time itself.. On Blu-rayfrom The Warner Archive Collection.
9/23/17

The Flight of the Phoenix (Region B) 09/23/17

Masters of Cinema UK
Blu-ray

Forgotten amid Robert Aldrich’s more critic-friendly movies is this superb suspense picture, an against-all-odds thriller that pits an old-school pilot against a push-button young engineer with his own kind of male arrogance. Can a dozen oil workers and random passengers ‘invent’ their way out of an almost certain death trap? It’s a late-career triumph for James Stewart, at the head of a sterling ensemble cast. I review a UK disc in the hope of encouraging a new restoration.. On Region B Blu-ray from Masters of Cinema.
9/23/17

Erik the Conqueror 09/19/17

Arrow Video
Blu-ray + DVD

“And On The Eighth Day Bava Created Color.” That’s my sentiment with every new quality restoration of a Mario Bava picture. This amazing new disc of Il Maestro’s teeth-clenched Viking epic delivers stunning action scenes and eye-bending widescreen fantasy visuals. Arrow’s Blu-ray is spiked with a new Tim Lucas commentary plus both Italian and English soundtracks. Savant digs into the difficulty in ‘seeing through’ Bava’s special effect illusions. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from DVD from Arrow Video.
9/19/17

Hour of the Gun 09/19/17

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

It’s the one saga of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral that puts Western legend into proper perspective as to the nature of money, power and the law: Edward Anhalt’s vision is of a gangland turf war with sagebrush and whiskey bottles. James Garner is a humorless Wyatt Earp, matched by Jason Robards’ excellent Doc Holliday. It’s one of John Sturges’ best movies, with yet another impressive music score by Jerry Goldsmith. And I even offer an unsolicited idea for a more satisfying ending. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
9/19/17

Vampyr (1932) 09/19/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Of all the legendary early horror films Carl Theodor Dreyer’s vampire nightmare was the most difficult to appreciate — until Criterion’s disc of a mostly intact, un-mutilated 1998 restoration. Nightmares, waking nightmares, demonic hallucinations are the order of the day, in a near-experimental film that relates its horror to the power of faith. Dreyer creates his fantasy according to his own rules — this pallid, claustrophobic dream movie is closer to Ordet than it is Dracula or Nosferatu. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
9/19/17

OSS 117 Five Film Collection 09/16/17

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

He’s fast on his feet, quick with a gun, and faster with the to-die-for beauties that only existed in the swinging ’60s. The superspy exploits of OSS 117 were too big for just one actor, so meet all three iterations of the man they called Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath . . . Kerwin Mathews, Frederick Stafford and John Gavin. Do I really gotta name all the titles again? OSS 117 Is Unleashed; OSS 117: Panic in Bangkok; OSS 117: Mission For a Killer; OSS 117: Mission to Tokyo,and OSS 117: Double Agent. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
9/16/17

Crime of Passion (1957) 09/16/17

ClassicFlix
Blu-ray

Witness the ‘fifties transformation of the femme fatale from scheming murderess to self-deluding social climber. Barbara Stanwyck redefines herself once again in Gerd Oswald’s best-directed picture, a searing portrayal of needs and anxieties in the nervous decade. With fine support from Raymond Burr, Virginia Grey and Royal Dano, but especially co-star Sterling Hayden, whose zero-to-sixty bruising physical assault is as believable as such scenes can be. Licensed from MGM, on Blu-ray from ClassicFlix.
9/16/17

One Million B.C. 09/13/17

VCI
Blu-Ray

Leapin’ Lizards!  The original cavemen vs. dinosaurs saga is a winner — if viewer involvement trumps visual effects, it’s got a narrow lead over the Hammer/Harryhausen remake. Victor Mature, Carole Landis and Lon Chaney Jr. all made career hay out of their weeks spent running in loincloths, out in the desert. And the new is a terrific UCLA Archive restoration, with an informative commentary by Toby Roan. On Blu-ray from VCI.
9/12/17

The Big Sick 09/13/17

Lionsgate
Blu-Ray

This modern romantic comedy about stand-up comedians generates a genuine warmth about people, the ones-who-need-people kind. Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s comic dramatization of the way they became a couple is a big winner, with heart-tugging performances from Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan, and fine characterizations by Holly Hunter, Zenobia Shroff, Ray Romano, and Anupam Kher. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate.
9/12/17

The Illustrated Man 09/13/17

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-Ray

Ray Bradbury adapted to the screen is always something to check out; this Jack Smight- directed trio of stories bound together by a mystery man wearing the graffiti of the title at least works up a little ethereal-cereal excitement. Husband and wife Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom spout ominous dialogue as they face various futuristic threats. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
9/12/17

The Emperor in August 09/10/17

Twilight Time
Blu-Ray

This great recent Japanese epic is all but unknown here — and is the kind of adult historical show that we seem incapable of these days. The intense diplomatic storm at the end of WW2 with an Army command willing to sacrifice the country in a national suicide pact, is given an exciting, thoughtful treatment. Tokyo is all but ashes, yet the militarists want to fight on. Directed by Masato Harada, starring Koji Yakusho, Masahiro Motoki and Tsutomu Yamazaki. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
9/09/17

David Lynch: The Art Life 09/10/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-Ray

Trailers From Hell’s Charlie Largent takes a look at David Lynch’s other job: that of the painter in his studio. There are similarities between the canvases and the films and it all adds up to an intriguing portrait of a great artist, by Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard-Holm. Charlie also adds insights to the just-completed Twin Peaks Showtime miniseries. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
9/09/17

The Love of a Woman 09/10/17

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray + DVD

L’amour d’une femme.  Welcome to the world of Jean Grémillon, where adult characters work through adult problems without benefit of melodramatic excess. The impressively directed experiences of Micheline Presle’s lady doctor on a storm-swept island opts for a progressive point of view, not sentimentality.Co-starring Massimo Girotti and Paolo Stoppa. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Academy.
9/09/17

Love with the Proper Stranger 09/10/17

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

What are two individualistic, highly motivated movie stars supposed to do when faced with an unimaginative studio system eager to misuse their talents? Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen collaborate with a great writer, director and producer for an urban romance with an eye on the sexual double standard. It’s a hybrid production: a gritty drama that’s also a calculated career move. Street reality guides Robert Mulligan’s direction, but he keeps one foot in pure romantic escapism. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
9/09/17

The Lost World (1925) 09/04/17

Flicker Alley
Blu-ray

It’s the wonder movie of the silent era, which pits five intrepid explorers against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fantastic South American plateau where marvelous animals from the dawn of time still live. Blackhawk Films and Lobster’s latest digital restoration includes footage never before seen in its original tints; it’s dedicated to film restorer David Shepard. Extras include an excellent commentary by Nicholas Ciccone, and a new restoration of the silent short subject The Ghost of Slumber Mountain. Starring Wallace Beery, Bessie Love and Lewis Stone. On Blu-ray from Flicker Alley.
9/04/17

La poison 09/04/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Yes, Love is Definitely a Battlefield and Charlie Largent reports from the front line. Writer-director Sacha Guitry’s caustic 1951 black comedy is about a bad marriage gone worse, and it appears to be a forerunner of How to Murder Your Wife, but with the gloves off. Starring the great Michel Simon, with Jean Debucourt and Jacques Varennes. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
9/04/17

Flipper Season One 09/04/17

Olive Films
Blu-ray

Back in 1964 a lot of people still thought dolphins were fish, but by the time this TV show was finished, we all knew that our happy undersea friend was smarter than the average bear and lives in a world full of wonder. Ivan Tors’ grandly successful Florida-shot family show kept a lot of seagoing movie veterans in green seaweed, including both original ‘Creature’ Gill Men. With Brian Kelly, Luke Halpin and Tommy Norden, plus a long list of guest stars. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
9/04/17

A ‘Close Encounters’ Example of Forced Perspective 09/04/17

An Article
With Images

‘Close Encounters’ awareness is up this week, what with a national mini-release of the 1977 Steven Spielberg hit, so I reached into the bottomless Savant archives for something to show-and-tell. This might be educational for fans of old-school visual effects, in this case, I focus on the miniature-making genius of Gregory Jein.
9/04/17

Krakatoa East of Java 09/02/17

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

‘Things Blowing Up Good’ has been surefire entertainment since the beginning of cinema, but this ill-fated Cinerama extravaganza about the biggest explosion in recorded human history limps along despite some pretty darned impressive volcanic effects. It’s quite an entertaining spectacle, with various good performers in three soap opera plots, either overacting or loitering about with nothing to do. And don’t forget the from-left-field musical striptease. An all-star cast slugs it out with some lively special effects courtesy of cult fave designer Eugèné Lourié. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
9/02/17

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* 09/02/17

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

(*But Were Afraid to Ask.)  Trailers From Hell’s Charlie Largent bolts the door and, in the company of a consenting adult, watches the terrific new Blu-ray of Woody Allen’s 1972 spoof of David Reuben’s bestseller. Woody Allen has us in his pocket from the first shot of bunnies behind a vintage make-out ballad — his encyclopedic look at sex comedy has been in and out of good taste several times already. John Carradine’s timeless performance as a perverted sex researcher was nominated for an Oscar, but he turned it down (is anybody reading?). On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
9/02/17

The Law and Jake Wade 09/02/17

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Many of MGM’s productions were scraping bottom in 1958, yet the studio found one more acceptable western vehicle for their last big star still on contract. Only-slightly corrupt marshal Robert Taylor edges toward a showdown with the thoroughly corrupt Richard Widmark in an economy item given impressive locations and the sound direction of John Sturges. With Patricia Owens, Robert Middleton and Henry Silva as a low down no-goodnik who hates coyotes. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
9/02/17