Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood 06/30/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Delirious silver-screen glamour never disappoints! Marlene Dietrich’s six Paramount pictures for Josef von Sternberg arrive in a beautifully annotated disc set: Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress and The Devil is a Woman. The most creative director-muse relationship of the 1930s created an all-conquering German siren-goddess, a screen icon vom kopf bis fuss. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
6/30/18

Take a Girl Like You 06/30/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

This noted adult role for Hayley Mills pairs her with a genuinely creepy Oliver Reed, trying his damnedest to affect natural charm. The Brit sex comedy addresses basic facts about boy-girl petting, and not much else. Reed’s aggressive girl-grabber glowers so much that we wonder if Mills’ virginal Northerner has a thing for werewolves. It’s another reason for #MeToo activists to get out the torches and pitchforks. With Noel Harrison, John Bird, Sheila Hancock and Ronald Lacey. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
6/30/18

The Addiction 06/26/18

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

Watch out – a bloodsucking fiend is stalking the highways and by-ways of lower Manhattan… and she has a PhD!  Abel Ferrara’s vampire mini-epic puts Lili Taylor through an ordeal that’s harrowing, transformational and either profound or pretentious depending on how you roll with existential philosophy. We acknowledge that Ferrara is a good judge of actor-flesh: sharing in the theory-speak and blood-soaked grue are Christopher Walken, Annabella Sciorra, Edie Falco, and Kathryn Erbe. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
6/26/18

Rocco and His Brothers 06/26/18

The Milestone Cinematheque
Blu-ray

Luchino Visconti’s national epic looks and plays better than ever. A Southern family relocates to Milan, and each of the sons reacts differently to life in the big city. It’s one of Italy’s most emotional film experiences. The impressive cast includes a young Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale, and the great Katina Paxinou; acting honors go to Annie Giradot and Renato Salvatori, as one of cinema’s most ill-fated couples. Presented in a 4K restoration at its original three-hour length. On Blu-ray from The Milestone Cinematheque.
6/26/18

My Sister Eileen (1955) 06/26/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Lively stars, good music and Bob Fosse-grade dancing favor Columbia’s forgotten-yet-rediscovered original musical remake, which turns the adventures of two sisters in Manhattan into an all-romantic gambol. Janet Leigh and Jack Lemmon are young and fresh, but MGM alumnus Betty Garrett steals the show. Director Richard Quine uses good sense on the musical numbers by Jule Styne and Leo Robin; also starring Tommy Rall, Dick York, Kurt Kaznar and Lucy Marlow. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
6/26/18

Female Trouble 06/23/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Reviewer Charlie Largent ambles down Baltimore way to peruse John Waters’ scorching social satire about celebrity envy in all its monstrous forms. The depraved comedy charts the journey of suburban hell-raiser Dawn Davenport, a social climber for the ages. Starring the unforgettable Divine and Waters’ usual gang of Maryland Misfits, this 16mm epic from 1974 has been given a grand new Blu ray release that’s DeLuxe, DiVine and DeRanged. Co-starring Edith Massey and Mink Stole. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
6/23/18

The China Syndrome 06/23/18

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

All but inventing the ‘new liberal exposé’ film format, James Bridges’ smart and effective thriller began as a star showcase with a political message. Its fictional nuclear accident hit screens just before almost the exact same thing happened in real life, at Three Mile Island. Historical synchronicity? Box office serendipity? One thing is certain — the show strongly affected the way we view the ‘miracle’ of nuclear-generated power. Starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas and Wilford Brimley. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
6/23/18

She Had to Say Yes 06/23/18

The Warner Archive Collection
DVD

Wow … pre-Code pictures frequently offended conservative values, but this saucy, sinful big business exposé is guaranteed to bring #MeToo advocates to their feet as well, demanding that the negative be burned. Loretta Young stars as a rather inconsistent modern maid, trapped between three less-than-scrupulous men. No, make that three total pigs. Co-starring Winnie Lightner, Lyle Talbot, Regis Toomey and Hugh Herbert. On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.
6/23/18

Guilty By Suspicion 06/19/18

The Warner Archive Collection
DVD

Movies about the blacklist aren’t common, probably because as Robert Vaughn wrote, the period produced no happy stories, ‘Only Victims.’ Few of us would like to be publicly branded an Enemy of the People, but doing so seems to be America’s number one spectator sport. Robert de Niro, Annette Bening and George Wendt give a bite of immediacy to the way the blacklist upset careers and blighted lives. Trying to keep the names and dates straight is daunting: De Niro is supposed to be John Berry and Martin Scorsese’s character is meant to be Joseph Losey, and Darryl Zanuck is named by name. But some events and relationships have been changed to protect the . . . to protect who?  On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.
6/19/18

One-Armed Swordsman & Legend of the Mountain 06/19/18

88 Films/Eureka Entertainment
Blu-ray

Guest reviewer Lee Broughton returns with coverage of two well-regarded wuxia films (period martial arts movies set in ancient China). One is an intense action flick from the Shaw Brothers Studio that places a heavy emphasis on bloody and gory depictions of swordplay. The second is a wuxia with a difference: rather than attacking each other with fancy sword moves or flamboyant punching techniques, the mystical fighters employ incantations and magical musical instruments. Starring Yu Wang, Chiao Chiao and Ti Tang; and Feng Hsu, Chun Shi and Sylvia Chang. Separate Blu-rays from 88 Films / Eureka Entertainment.
6/19/18

The Last House on the Left 06/19/18

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

Near the top of the list of movies we do not recommend as a date picture, no way no how, Wes Craven’s gut-wrencher presented a real problem for critics. Whose movie exactly is this? The producer wanted a commercially daring pornographic gore shocker. The writer-director envisioned a political scream of rage against America he considered Evil. Is the film an abomination, or an honest reflection of society in chaos?  Twenty years of revisions and extras are crammed into this three-disc limited edition of a legendary horror that, one upon a grimy time, revulsed drive-in audiences everywhere. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
6/19/18

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

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

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

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

Jack the Giant Killer 06/02/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

“From the land beyond beyond…”  — oops, wrong movie. Kerwin Mathews battles Torin Thatcher once again, with Judi Meredith in a stunning double role as both a delicate heroine and her evil counterpart in a magician’s mirror. Plus more stop-motion monsters than one can throw a ten-league boot at! Boy, we’re coining phrases left and right here. With Walter Burke, Anna Lee, Don Beddoe, Barry Kelley, Cormoran, Griffin, a two headed ogre and a trippy snake-octopus critter that’s like all green, ya know? On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
6/02/18

Suspiria 06/02/18

Synapse
Blu-ray

In the Black Forest is a Dance Academy staffed by witches! Dario Argento’s virtually plotless but extravagantly beautiful shocker has been thrilling audiences or sending them to the exits for over forty years; reviewer Charlie Largent gives it a looksee. Yes, come and get warm & fuzzy with the first of Argento’s Three Mothers: Mother Suspiriorum, aka Helena Markos aka The Black Queen, whose coven warps reality into a web of horror (and eerie music by Goblin). Starring Jessica Harper, Alida Valli and Joan Bennett; this disc is getting rave reviews from Argento fans. On Blu-ray from Synapse.
6/02/18

A Bucket of Blood 06/02/18

Olive Films
DVD

Roger Corman’s crew of associates must have had some pretty wild times, scraping around Hollywood and Venice Beach in the 1950’s trying to bust into the film business. Did these semi-bohemians stimulate writer Charles Griffith’s cynical humor gland? The first modern black comedy feature in a horror vein is an amazing low budget ‘sick’ accomplishment for the uniquely creative Corman. With Antony Carbone, Bruno Ve Sota, Ed Nelson and Bert Convy. On DVD from Olive Films.
6/02/18