The Apartment 12/30/17

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray

Savant’s vote for the best romantic comedy ever goes to a sordid fable about problems in the big city Rat Race: keeping both a job and one’s self-respect. Picking up where 1930s pre-Code movies left off, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s ‘how to succeed’ thesis divides people into two groups, Takers and those that Get Took. And yet the message it delivers is life & love- affirming. Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray top an impeccable cast. With an excellent selection of extras, old and new — I learned new things about the picture. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
12/30/17

Forever Amber 12/30/17

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Meet the lusty Amber St. Clare, an ambitious 17th century social climber determined to sleep her way to respectability. Gorgeous Linda Darnell gets her biggest role in a lavishly appointed period epic; Otto Preminger hated the assignment but his direction and Darryl Zanuck’s production are excellent. George Sanders, Cornel Wilde, Jessica Tandy, Richard Haydn . . . and it has an all-time great David Raksin movie score, Isolated on its own track. On Blu-rayfrom Twilight Time.
12/30/17

The Whales of August 12/30/17

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

This look at the ‘adjustments’ of old age and the pain of nostalgia is a prime opportunity to admire a pair of legendary actresses. David Barry’s play observes the intersection of several interesting personalities on one glorious late-summer day. Bette Davis and Lillian Gish earn our full attention, backed by memorable turns from Ann Sothern and Vincent Price, directed by Lindsay Anderson. Packed with interview extras, on Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
12/30/17

The Garden of Allah 12/23/17

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

One of the first full Technicolor features is a romantic fantasy about an innocent beauty’s encounter with an equally innocent fugitive monk … all surrounded by sensuous, confected Hollywood exotica, courtesy of producer David O. Selznick. Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer steam up the screen, but dancer Tilly Losch steals the show with just one scene. With Basil Rathbone, Joseph Schildkraut & John Carradine. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
12/23/17

Terminator 2: Judgment Day 12/23/17

Lionsgate
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital HD

Still looking sharp 26 years since its premiere, James Cameron’s picture completely masters the mass audience thriller while pushing the effects envelope far beyond the industry’s horizon. Technically slick, conceptually brutal, Cameron’s style is what still prevails in action-based Sci-Fi. All this, and Ah-nold too. With Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Joe Morton and Jenette Goldstein. On Ultra HD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate.
12/23/17

Ruby 12/23/17

VCI
Blu-ray

A major horror hit from ’77, Ruby surprised all that made it including its director Curtis Harrington, who struggled with an interfering producer for control of the set. Despite everything, star Piper Laurie still shines, and there’s some good atmosphere — for an Exorcist rip-off, it’s not bad. With Stuart Whitman, Roger Davis and Janit Baldwin. On Blu-ray from VCI.
12/23/17

Dunkirk 12/19/17

Warner Home Video
UHD, Blu-ray + Digital

A huge summer hit and a righteous blow struck for positive, non-comic book entertainment, Christopher Nolan’s account of a WW2 crisis is a major war picture with amazing, full-scale visuals that we are told were only slightly augmented with CGI effects. Hallelujah. With Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, this is a must-see war picture that entertains everybody. The new UHD format delivers the full theatrical experience, for our fancy home-theater friends. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray + Digital and Ultra HD from Warner Home Video.
12/19/17

Pulp 12/19/17

Arrow Video
DVD

A spoof? A black comedy? Michael Hodges and Michael Caine’s hardboiled ‘foreign intrigue’ comedy lays on the movie references and clever dialogue, going the distance in the arcane, hipster-noir subgenre. Caine is always good in that mode, and Mickey Rooney gets a supporting role that can only be called bizarre. Featuring a gallery of noir-lite suspects: Lionel Stander, Lizabeth Scott, Al Lettieri. And Hey, Richard A. Smith, it’s filmed in Malta (personal reference). Available on Blu-ray; reviewed on DVD from Arrow Video.
2/19/17

CineSavant 2017 Favored Disc Roundup: Restorations 12/16/17

20 restorations and rediscoveries
plus a Savant favorites list

It’s the end of the year — Savant’s taken a look back at twelve months of discs, 304 reviews in toto, to pull forward not the twenty ‘best’ — who needs my opinion on that? — but twenty of the most appreciated Restorations, rediscoveries and rescues that made it to video disc. Some titles represent years of work, while others are perfect copies simply discovered in a vault. And then there’s representative discs from genres and countries that need more attention. All this, and unwanted personal asides as well.
12/16/17

Four Faces West 12/12/17

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Westerns are all about values: good and bad, law and lawlessness, etc. Joel McCrea and Frances Dee’s ‘bad man’ saga isn’t faith based, exactly, but it’s great for humanitarian values, the simple notion that the good in people should be encouraged. And one important detail may make Four Faces West unique. Hint: John Milius might be strongly prejudiced against this picture. Co-starring Charles Bickford and Joseph Calleia. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
12/12/17

Night Passage 12/12/17

Explosive Media (Germany)
All-Region Blu-ray

 ‘Die Uhr ist abgelaufen’.  It’s the great Anthony Mann-James Stewart western that Mann didn’t direct: Stewart goes it alone, over-filling a good western idea with ‘cute’ scenes and conservative messages Mann had no use for. But it’s an exciting picture, and one of co-star Audie Murphy’s best — and it’s the first feature in the splendid oversized format known as Technirama. The cast sprawls as wide as the screen: Elaine Stewart, Dianne Foster, Brandon De Wilde, Jay C. Flippen, Robert J. Wilke and Hugh Beaumont. On All-region  Blu-ray from Explosive Media (Germany).
12/12/17

Letter from an Unknown Woman 12/12/17

Olive Signature Collection
Blu-ray

This devastating romantic melodrama is Max Ophüls’ best American picture — perhaps because it seems so European? It’s probably Joan Fontaine’s finest hour as well, and Louis Jourdan comes across as a great actor in a part perfect for his screen personality. The theme could be called ‘No regrets,’ but also, ‘Everything is to be regretted.’ Produced by John Houseman with Mady Christians and Art Smith; the extras are excellent. On Blu-ray from Olive Signature.
12/12/17

Casualties of War 12/09/17

Explosive Media (Germany)
Region B Blu-ray

Charlie Largent takes the pulse of Brian De Palma’s true-life Vietnam story of an appalling ‘Incident on Hill 192.’ Combat is combat and boys will be boys, they say, and their horrible crime against a young woman is good ‘for the morale of the squad.’ Michael J. Fox is a throw back to the Audie Murphy-style of soldier: fresh-faced, optimistic and decidedly the odd man out in his own platoon. Sean Penn and John C. Reilly co-star; the music is by Ennio Morricone. On Region B Blu-ray from Explosive Media (De).
12/09/17

Maigret Sets a Trap & Maigret and the St. Fiacre Case 12/09/17

Kino Classics
Blu-ray

Welcome to a pair of vintage mysteries with George Simenon’s popular Inspector Jules Maigret, a gumshoe who gets the tough cases. Top kick French actor Jean Gabin is the cop who keeps cool, until it’s time to rattle a recalcitrant suspect. In two separate cases, he tracks a serial killer in the heart of Paris, and travels to his hometown to unearth a murder conspiracy. With Annie Giradot and Michel Auclair; on Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
12/09/17

A New Leaf 12/09/17

Olive Signature Collection
Blu-ray

Filtered through her experience as an unequalled comic performer, writer-director Elaine May scores a bulls-eye with this grossly underappreciated gem, fashioned in a style that could be called ‘black comedy lite.’ And that’s the release version mangled by the producer. What might it have been if May had been allowed to finish her director’s cut? Elaine May and Walter Matthau star, with major help from Jack Weston, George Rose, James Coco, Doris Roberts, Renée Taylor and William Redfield. On Blu-ray from Olive Signature.
12/09/17

The Complete Monterey Pop Festival 12/09/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Criterion lavishes a major upgrade to its older box set celebrating the first major rock concert event, the ‘California Dreamin’ idyll that some say marked the beginning of the Summer of Love. Get ready to hear and see some history-making performances from Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and The Who. Plus two more features and a bundle of ‘extra’ music sets . . . including Tiny Tim. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
12/09/17

Deathdream 12/05/17

Blue Underground
Blu-ray + DVD

Casual fans of A Christmas Story likely don’t know that Bob Clark had once made creepy horror pictures with Alan Ormsby, but this independent shock effort of the early ’70s still casts a spell of dread. Listed as deceased, Richard Backus’s infantryman returns to his hearth and home on a fiendish mission. Although Vietnam is never mentioned, the war’s shadow strikes deep into the heart of a small-town family. John Marley and Lynn Carlin lead a fine cast; an exacting new transfer brings renewed life to the dead. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Blue Underground.
12/05/17

General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait 12/05/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a precedent! Barbet Schroeder’s documentary gets up close and personal with a narcissistic dictator consumed by his own ego. Idi Amin rants and raves incoherently and demands to be the center of all attention while taking his country down a road to ruin. This is Africa in 1973, where Uganda has been converted into ‘The Idi Amin Reality Show’ — and where a minion in disfavor might be fed to the crocodiles. Schroeder is fearless — he asks the dictator on camera to explain his support for Adolf Hitler’s ideas — and Amin just laughs. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
12/05/17

Election 12/02/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

We’ve all met Tracy Flick — the eager-beaver student that charms the right teachers, wins all the awards and corners the big scholarships. Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor’s witty, perceptive look at High School shows the predicament of a model teacher who can’t help but sabotage a pupil’s run for class president. Reese Witherspoon’s wholly original characterization scores big, and Matthew Broderick plays what is probably his best screen role. On Blu-rayfrom The Criterion Collection.
12/02/17

Stay Hungry 12/02/17

Olive Films
Blu-ray

Are ’70s auteur pictures liberated and loose, or flaky and undisciplined? Bob Rafelson’s Alabama escapade places Jeff Bridges amid a wide range of choice-quality nuts, with Sally Field and Arnold Schwarzenegger staking their first claims on the big screen. What do the changing face of The South and competition-level body building have to do with each other? You tell us! With R.G. Armstrong, Robert Englund, Helena Kallianiotes, Roger E. Mosley, Woodrow Parfrey, Scatman Crothers, Kathleen Miller, Fannie Flagg, Joanna Cassidy, Ed Begley Jr. and Joe Spinell. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
12/02/17

Operation Petticoat 12/02/17

Olive Signature Collection
Blu-ray

Tony Curtis grew up idolizing the suave and funny Cary Grant, emulated his romantic moves as an actor and then performed a brilliant impersonation of Grant for Billy Wilder. The next step had to be co-starring with the great man himself. Blake Edwards’ amiable, relaxed submarine movie allows Grant to play with ladies’ under-things, while Curtis wrestles with a pig. With Joan O’Brien, Dina Merrill, Gene Evans, and Arthur O’Connell; on Blu-ray from Olive Signature Collection.
12/02/17