Odds Against Tomorrow 05/29/18

Olive Films
Blu-ray

“Racial Tolerance: It’s Good for America AND good for Criminals!”  Harry Belafonte’s second production is a noir keeper, thanks to a top-flight cast and sharp direction by Robert Wise. The big heist is on, but Robert Ryan’s anger management problem all but assures doom and disaster. It’s Wise’s last gritty action picture before moving up to big-scale audience pleasers; he pulls off some slick images with film sensitive to infra-red light. Co-starring Shelley Winters, Ed Begley, Gloria Grahame, Richard Bright, Wayne Rogers and Zohra Lampert. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
5/29/18

Hilda Crane 05/29/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Call him strange, but CineSavant is fascinated by ‘women’s films’ that advance a consensus role template for American women. Then they ask questions like, “Is Hilda Crane a . . . TRAMP?”  Ladies attending these films may have sought to stir up fantasies with a racy romantic adventure — but not too racy. What a tough nut to crack within the Production Code: ace screenwriter Philip Dunne chose this as his third writing-directing assignment. Jean Simmons gives it her best shot, but the screen is stolen by everybody’s favorite harpy, Evelyn Varden. Also starring Guy Madison, Jean-Pierre Aumont and Judith Evelyn. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
5/29/18

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers 05/29/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

The Little Song ‘n’ Dance Show that Could, this over-achieving Jack Cummings production is a bright exception to the dull waning days of the MGM musical, due to many factors but especially Michael Kidd’s athletic choreography. And it’s been restored in both of its simultaneously-filmed versions, flat-widescreen and CinemaScope. Starring Jane Powell, Howard Keel, Jeff Richards, Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Rall and Julie Newmar. A Two-disc Blu-ray Special Edition from The Warner Archive Collection.
5/29/18

Midnight Cowboy 05/26/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Pictures like Midnight Cowboy pulled everyone my age into the movies, while the entire older generation likely stopped going to movies altogether. John Schlesinger’s masterpiece can boast a number of firsts, and deserves the high praise it receives from every angle — this was the epitome of progressive filmmaking circa 1969. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Barnard Hughes, Ruth White, Jennifer Salt and Bob Balaban. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
5/26/18

Death in the Garden 05/26/18

Eureka / Masters of Cinema
Blu-ray + DVD

Luis Buñuel’s filmic obsessions steered toward the anarchistic, the anti-clerical and anti-bourgeois, with a surreal spin. All of his films are political, but three features in the 1950s cast a harsh eye on the subject of revolution itself, with surprising results. This beautiful color show is a worthy jungle adventure tale shot through with Buñuel’s signature negativity — it could be titled “The Bad, The Greedy and the Faithless.” Starring Simone Signoret, Georges Marchal, Charles Vanel, Michel Piccoli, and Michèle Girardon. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Eureka / Masters of Cinema.
5/26/18

The Vampire and the Ballerina 05/26/18

Scream Factory
Blu-ray

Renato Polselli’s Italian vampire rally ups the on-screen babe count first and provides horror thrills second, yet the screenplay by Ernesto Gastaldi introduces a number of interesting wrinkles to the bloodsucking genre. This new bilingual release is a good presentation of what for American chiller fans has been a long-absent title. Starring Walter Brandi, Hélène Rémy, Tina Gloriani and María Luisa Rolando. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
5/26/18

Five Tall Tales: Budd Boetticher & Randolph Scott at Columbia, 1957-1960 05/22/18

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Bid welcome to five westerns guaranteed to make one fall in love with the genre all over again. Each stars the ultra-virtuous man of the West Randolph Scott, pitted against some of the most colorful antagonists on the range: Richard Boone, Lee Van Cleef, Claude Akins. Indicator’s extras constitute the best collection of research materials ever assembled on the underrated director Budd Boetticher. Also featuring Maureen O’Sullivan, Karen Steele, Nancy Gates, Craig Stevens, Pernell Roberts, James Coburn, Skip Homeier and Henry Silva. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
5/22/18

Five Steps to Danger 05/22/18

ClassicFlix
Blu-ray

It’s a road picture, a spy chase and an oddball romance all in one. A casual highway hitch-hike leads to intrigues with shady doctors, guided missile secrets and espionage intrigues. Possible escaped nutcase Ruth Roman enlists nice guy Sterling Hayden’s help, and before you can say Alfred Hitchcock they’re handcuffed together and on the run. It’s a B-picture gem from the mid-fifties, all the more amusing for its awkwardness. With Werner Klemperer, Richard Gaines and Jeanne Cooper. On Blu-ray from ClassicFlix.
5/22/18

The Holy Mountain (1926) 05/22/18

Kino Classics
Blu-ray

Teutonic art writ large and loud: Arnolf Fanck’s first big ‘mountain’ classic wow’ed them back in 1926, with its massive vistas and death-defying feats of mountaineering, all sworn to be authentic. More importantly, Fanck and his diva Leni Riefenstahl invest their images with the sense of mythic, spiritual kitsch grandeur that became an aesthetic blueprint for the coming Nazi regime. On Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
5/22/18

The Bloodthirsty Trilogy 05/19/18

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

Trailers from Hell’s dauntless Charlie Largent takes on vintage ’70s Japanese horror, a trio of sanguinary delights. Director Michio Yamamoto brings the vampire legend up to date in a unique trio of thrillers mixing ancient folklore, bestial bloodsuckers and modern day Japan, circa 1970. The three films The Vampire Doll, Lake of Dracula, and Evil of Dracula have been given a splendid presentation, on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
5/19/18

Espionage Agent 05/19/18

The Warner Archive Collection
DVD

Is this the filmic birth of both the wartime OSS and the SuperSpy genre? State department diplomat trainee Joel McCrea weds refugee Brenda Marshall, not realizing that she has gained her freedom by volunteering to become a Nazi spy. Released just as WW2 broke out but filmed and produced earlier, Warners’ production faced stiff political pressure from an isolationist Washington. Ever heard the phrase ‘premature anti-Nazi?’ Here there be patriots. With Jeffrey Lynn, George Bancroft and Hollywood’s first crop of actors specializing in loathsome Nazis: Martin Kosleck, Rudolph Anders and Hans Heinrich von Twardowski. On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.
5/19/18

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud 05/19/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Yes, we’ve all lived before; when I come back I don’t care who I am as long as I get to be in the 1%. When Michael Sarrazin reaches into a previous life his big sacrifice is to abandon the gorgeous Cornelia Sharpe for the gorgeous Jennifer O’Neill, arousing the suspicions of his wife in his previous life, gorgeous Margot Kidder. The show looks great, Jerry Goldsmith’s music is beautiful, but it runs up against real trouble in the script and directing departments. With Debralee Scott as yet another woman who wants to make it with Peter. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
5/19/18

Gun Crazy 05/15/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

The Warner Archive comes through with a film noir gem that still has the power to make one’s skin crawl, as a pair of circus sharpshooters go on the lam, using their skills to pull off cheap robberies. The clammy feeling of being cut off from society, having no place to go, is expressed in near-existential terms. Peggy Cummins’ cheap tease Annie Laurie Starr promises John Dall’s Bart Tare eternal love, but what good are promises from a psycho? With Berry Kroeger and Russ (Rusty) Tamblyn. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
5/15/18

A Fistful of Dollars 05/15/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Sergio Leone’s breakthrough international sensation has returned, in a 4k restoration from Italy that’s bound to continue the controversy — every color’s good as long as it’s a sickly yellow-green. In every other aspect this umpteenth edition of the first murderous adventure of The Man With No Name is the best yet, with a clean image and good new extras. Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, and Gian Maria Volontè shine; the best new extra is a great interview with Ms. Koch. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
5/15/18

The City of the Dead 05/15/18

VCI Entertainment
Blu-ray

2018 Limited Edition. The frights of Horror Hotel are back in an improved presentation in this 2018 Limited Edition. Set in New England but filmed in Old England, this creepy shocker is a favorite not just for the presence of Christopher Lee, but also the wonderfully mortiferous Patricia Jessel and the cadaverous Valentine Dyall. Also with Venetia Stevenson as a gullible student of witchcraft, and Betta St. John as a complacent bookseller in a town populated exclusively by ghouls. On Blu-ray from VCI Entertainment.
5/15/18

La belle noiseuse 05/12/18

The Cohen Film Collection
Blu-ray

The late Jacques Rivette knocks us silly with a breathtaking, demanding meditation on what it means to be an artist, and what art demands of those that believe in it. A woman roped into posing nude for a famed but insecure painter, undergoes several intense days of compliant collaboration. Rivette’s unforced style gives the impression of life as it is being lived; his commitment is matched by that of actors Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin and Emmanuelle Béart. On Blu-ray from The Cohen Group.
5/12/18

A Study in Terror 05/12/18

Mill Creek Entertainment
Blu-ray

John Neville is the consulting detective from 221B Baker Street, this time on the trail of Jack the Ripper. Perhaps producer Herman Cohen’s best film, this overly familiar, slightly campy horror show has a top notch cast, some of whom have a high time with the straight-razor guignol-fest in Whitechapel: Donald Houston, Anthony Quayle, Adrienne Corri, Frank Finlay, Judi Dench (!), Barbara Windsor, Cecil Parker, Robert Morley, Barry Jones, John Fraser, Kay Walsh, John Cairney, Edina Ronay, Terry Downes. Trailers from Hell’s Charlie Largent provides the slash-by-slash reportage. On Blu-ray from Mill Creek.
5/12/18

Model Shop 05/12/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Columbia sets Jacques Demy loose in Los Angeles in the pivotal year of 1968. Although it puts a coda on the French director’s bundle of romantic films, with his special philosophical approach to Love, this starring picture for Anouk Aimée and Gary Lockwood doesn’t quite catch fire in the same way. If our City of the Angels indeed defeated Demy’s unstoppable knack for romantic delirium, we owe him an apology. The rock group Spirit provides the music score, and makes a casual appearance. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
5/12/18

This is Cinerama & Windjammer: The Voyage of the Christian Radich 05/08/18

The Cinerama wonder movies were all but extinct fifteen years ago, un-preserved, un-projectable in their original 3-panel splendor, and largely forgotten. Countless hours of labor and research have now brought them all back to life on Blu-ray in the wraparound simulation ‘Smilebox’ format. These latest (and last?) discs properly restore two early releases, the show that started it all and the competing ‘Cinemiracle’ production that eventually became part of the Cinerama fanfold of travelogue gems. Separate releases on Blu-ray from Flicker Alley.
4/08/18

Forbidden Films: The Hidden Legacy of Nazi Film 05/08/18

Zeitgeist / Kino Lorber
DVD

Plenty of films considered politically beyond the pale have been locked up, for reasons good and bad. A German filmmaker born decades after WW2 offers a documentary about the controversy over ‘sensitive’ Nazi films, the propaganda features that encouraged racial hatred and offered lies to support the Third Reich’s oppressive policies. We can easily visualize American neo-Nazis cheering the messages in these pictures. What’s the verdict? Let them loose or destroy them? The abundant clips illustrate films directing hate at Poles, Jews, and the English, films that support lies about the war, and a pernicious propaganda melodrama about the Reich’s program of ‘compassionate’ euthanasia. On DVD from Zeitgeist / Kino Lorber.
4/08/18

The Psychopath 05/08/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Robert Bloch and Milton Subotsky may have helped to codify the Giallo in this murder thriller but the results are not up to even the shaky standards of Amicus. That said, horror fans are going to flock to get their hands on a big color & ‘scope release that’s gone missing for decades. It’s an important ‘save’ by Kino Lorber. With Patrick Wymark, Margaret Johnston, John Standing and Judy Huxtable. On Blu-rayfrom KL Studio Classics.
4/08/18

Moonrise 05/05/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Guilt, gloom, weird nightmares of death and persecution — and romance? The wondrous Gail Russell brings a spark of life into Frank Borzage’s weird expressionist masterpiece produced at the seldom-artistic Republic Studio. The bitter, despairing Dane Clark has just committed what a jury will likely call first degree murder, but the night can offer atonement and forgiveness, if he’ll just listen to Russell’s good advice. With Allyn Joslyn, Rex Ingram and Ethel Barrymore. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
5/05/18

Joe 05/05/18

Olive Films
Blu-ray

Reactionary deplorable hard hat hardcase Joe meets a complimentary maniac in a businessman-turned hippie killer, and the murders begin, all justified with tough talk over booze. Peter Boyle burst out of group comedy into the forefront with this surprise hit, which began a sub-genre of Nixonian retribution pictures. The show also introduced Susan Sarandon, who had to go back to TV soaps before stardom hit. Reviewed by Trailers from Hell’s Charlie Largent. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
5/05/18

Blue Denim 05/05/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray + DVD

Let’s go back to 1959, when just implying that two teenagers might have first-hand knowledge of sex is socially unacceptable dynamite. This adapted play about an unwanted teen pregnancy is actually quite good, thanks to fine performances by Carol Lynley and Brandon De Wilde, who convince as cherubic high schoolers ‘too young to know the score.’ And hey, the teen trauma is set to the intense music of composer Bernard Herrmann. With Macdonald Carey, Marsha Hunt and Warren Berlinger. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
5/05/18

The Post 05/03/18

20th Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray + DVD

Steven Spielberg’s excellent Pentagon Papers exposé thriller comes straight from the facts. If the project wasn’t begun in 2014 we’d think it was a direct response to today’s attacks on the news media. We’ll take it as that anyway. It’s a fine performing showcase for Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, and the direction creates exciting drama without a single car chase, assassination attempt or superhero. Co-starring Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Jesse Plemons, Michael Stuhlbarg. On Blu-ray + DVD from 20th Fox.
5/02/18

Schlock 05/03/18

Turbine Media Group (Germany)
Blu-ray + DVD

John Landis made his first dent in Hollywood with this hilarious parody of Z-grade monster movies, and it was big enough to launch a film career. The kudos go to Landis’ comic monkey-man performance, wearing a Schockthropus ape suit by the 20 year-old self taught makeup whiz Rick Baker. Only monster movie fans will understand, but they’ll be charmed. This foreign edition is stacked with schlock-thropic extras. With Saul Kahan, Eliza Garrett, Joseph Piantadosi and Harriet White Medin. On All Region Blu-ray and DVD from Turbine Media Group.
5/02/18

Ruby Gentry 05/03/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Prepare to let your jaw drop: Jennifer Jones and Charlton Heston’s sleazy bucolic ‘romance’ comes off as two-way sex harassment, with suggestive one-liners that make us cringe. Are there other pictures like this? Is this where dolts came to believe that women wanted to be treated like stupid squeeze toys? The great King Vidor directed, with no sign of intentional satire — the bizarre, eventually violent Southern-set melodrama is a one-of-a-kind grotesque spectacle. Co-starring Karl Malden, Tom Tully, James Anderson, Josephine Hutchinson, Phyllis Avery and Barney Phillips. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
5/02/18