The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean 07/31/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Need a laugh? Paul Newman shoots people, hangs others and runs a judiciary speed trap for unwary outlaw vagrants. John Huston’s picture is a slack, passably amusing interpretation of writer John Milius’s career- boosting screenplay. A slow-going exercise in ‘printing the legend, only funnier,’ it’s recommended just to take in Stacy Keach’s memorable albino menace, ‘Bad Bob.’ With a dynamite cast, mostly in glorified cameos: Tab Hunter, Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins, Roddy McDowall, Victoria Principal, Jacqueline Bisset, Ned Beatty, John Huston. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
7/31/18

Footsteps in the Fog 07/31/18

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Could this be retitled “Dial ‘F’ for Fog?”  Jean Simmon’s greedy maid blackmails her employer Stewart Granger with proof that he murdered his wife, kicking off a criminal ‘deadlock’ in a London household. The cold-fish schemer Granger ponders his next murderous move while Simmons enjoys playing the lady of the house — having dared to leapfrog two social classes, she hopes that her victim will respond with kindness, not homicide. This gothic domestic murder tale should be required reading for marriage counselors. With Belinda Lee and William Hartnell, in Technicolor. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
7/31/18

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 07/28/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

David O. Selznick’s  Americana classic came together in the run-up period before Gone With the Wind, getting terrific results from early 3-strip Technicolor. They’re all here — Tom, Huck, Becky Thatcher, Aunt Polly, Muff Potter and Injun Joe — plus that prissy little SOB, Sid. The unforgettable cave sequence by William Cameron Menzies cinched the big GWTW gig for the world-class designer. Mark Twain’s tale is presented in two versions, the uncut original and a later reissue cut-down. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
7/28/18

The Revolt of Mamie Stover 07/28/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Now it can be told! Or maybe, now it can’t be told? William Bradford Huie’s novel of creeping American ambition in Honolulu ends up as a tame vehicle for Jane Russell, who in one of her last big starring movies gives the Hawaiian scenery a run for its money. Raoul Walsh does well in the direction department, but the story has been cleaned up for Sunday School. Co-starring Richard Egan, Agnes Moorehead and Michael Pate, plus gorgeous Oahu locations in CinemaScope and Color by Deluxe. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
7/28/18

The Complete Hal Roach Thelma Todd Patsy Kelly Comedy Collection 07/28/18

ClassicFlix
DVD

Vintage ’30s comedy returns, with a beautiful blonde, a sassy brunette and elaborate location filming in a bygone Los Angeles. Producer Hal Roach found a good match for his ‘female Laurel & Hardy’ comedy team in gorgeous Thelma Todd and the smart-mouthed Patsy Kelly. The relatively expensive shorts were filmed all over Los Angeles. It’s hours of vintage comedy, plus several bonus shorts with Pert Kelton and Lyda Roberti, on the ‘Silver Series’ label. On DVDfrom ClassicFlix.
7/28/18

A Clever, Resourceful Special Effect Surprise 07/28/18

Savant Article

It’s another special effects-related CineSavant piece, like last year’s on Close Encounters. ‘Fifties effects mavericks Jack Rabin, Irving Block and Louis DeWitt cleverly repurposed CinemaScope scenes from a drama about Hawaii in 1941, for use in a 1957 Science Fiction film set in Mexico. Get set for explanations about mattes, reformatting and mystery aspect ratios. A CineSavant Article.
7/28/18

The Stranglers of Bombay 07/24/18

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

“Kali bids us to Kill! KILL!”  A full review of Indicator’s Hammer Volume 3 Blood and Terror collection will follow, but CineSavant jumps the gun to highlight Terence Fisher’s 1959 mass murder shocker. It adds up to more than exploitative and racist cheap thrills: it’s one of the key films to describe the roots of contemporary terrorism. David Zelag Goodman’s screenplay lets Hammer for once say something relevant about the Colonial past, even if it’s a case of mixed signals — and sex. With Guy Rolfe, George Pastell, Marne Maitland, Jan Holden and Marie Devereaux. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
7/24/18

Cinderella Liberty 07/24/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

A real peach of a ’70s New Hollywood picture, Mark Rydell and Darryl Ponicsan’s story of a sailor on extended leave is sentimental neorealism — a tough street story, but with the pessimism removed. Poolroom hustler Marsha Mason and sailor-adrift James Caan are a beautiful couple in the making — although the whole world seems against them. Co-Starring Eli Wallach and Kirk Calloway; photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
7/24/18

The Day After 07/21/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Will the world end with a bang or a whimper? Back in ’83 a hundred million viewers tuned in to ABC to find out. Edward Hume and Nicholas Meyer’s daring docudrama reacquainted Americans with their status as hostages in a global game of nuclear roulette. Gruesome nuclear annihilation visuals complement fine performances led by Jason Robards. The tense, thoughtful show is presented in separate TV and theatrical versions. Co-stars under the fallout are JoBeth Williams, Steve Guttenberg, Jim Dahlberg, John Lithgow, Bibi Besch, Lori Lethin, Amy Madigan, Jeff East, Georgann Johnson, William Allen Young and Calvin Jung. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
7/21/18

Supergirl 07/21/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

The fine presence of the marvelous Helen Slater redeems this last film in the Salkind Superman franchise, which we’re told features the first live- action theatrical film super-heroine was. CineSavant likes the show for the right reasons — his very young kids adored it — and can see its turnip screenwriting and frayed corners showing through. The release combines a 125-minute Blu-ray with an overstuffed 139-minute DVD. Also starring Faye Dunaway, Brenda Vaccaro, Peter Cook Marc McClure, Hart Bochner, Maureen Teefy, Peter O’Toole, Mia Farrow and Simon Ward. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
7/21/18

Meet Me at the Astor 07/21/18

Savant Article

With the help of correspondent ‘B’ CineSavant poaches on Greenbriar Picture Shows territory with a quick sideshow of photos from New Yawk, New Yawk: Once upon a time, any old film release might get a gigantic ‘your name in lights’ opening on the Great White Way. The Astor – Victoria theater combination created a giant wall that regularly carried enormous, elaborate film advertising signs — and not just for road show epics.
7/21/18

Strange Victory 07/17/18

The Milestone Cinematheque
Blu-ray

‘This Picture Kills Fascists’ might be a motto for this bombshell essay documentary. Leo Hurwitz’s film wasn’t made welcome in 1948 and would surely be controversial today, as it’s just too &%#$ truthful and blunt about good old American bigotry and injustice. The passionate, jarring plea for humanist sanity really shakes up viewers, in a constructive way. Hurwitz said that one TV executive compared it to The Sermon on the Mount. It’s still a lightning bolt against fascist ideas flourishing in the Land of the Free. Narrated by Alfred Drake, Muriel Smith, Gary Merrill, Saul Levitt and Faith Elliott Hubley. On Blu-ray from The Milestone Cinematheque.
7/17/18

I Walk Alone 07/17/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

One of a number of Paramount noirs seemingly forever MIA on disc, Hal Wallis’ glossy production reunites Burt Lancaster and Lizabeth Scott with promising newcomers Kirk Douglas and Wendell Corey. It’s light on action but strong on character — and it contains a key scene in the development of both the noir style and the gangster genre. Co-starring Kristine Miller, George Rigaud, Marc Lawrence, Mike Mazurki, and as a cocksure hoodlum, Mickey Knox. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
7/17/18

Ready Player One 07/17/18

Warner Home Video
UltraHD, Blu-ray & Digital

Lifelong gaming fan Steven Spielberg goes all-in for motion capture, with much different results than The Adventures of Tintin. It’s an ode to 1980s videogame fads and pop culture that could be re-titled ‘Astounding Adventures in Licensing.’ It’s Star Wars, TRON and Avatar mashed together for young teens, and more interesting than it ought to be. With Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance. On Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
7/17/18

Irma La Douce 07/14/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s lavish movie boils down to a dirty party joke, but they struck gold just the same. Audiences flocked to see Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine reunited in a fantasy Parisian red light district, in a show that looks like Disneyland for fans of Playboy cartoons. Co-starring Lou Jacobi, Herschel Bernardi and Hope Holiday. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
7/14/18

Billy Budd 07/14/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Forget the ‘famous book’ doldrums — this exciting seagoing drama will take your head off. Criminally unseen and unheralded, Allied Artists’ classic is an impressive feat by director-co-screenwriter and star Peter Ustinov. It introduced Terence Stamp and provided Robert Ryan with a deserved career highlight. Filmed on the high seas in CinemaScope, and co-starring Melvyn Douglas, Paul Rogers, John Neville, David McCallum, Ronald Lewis, Robert Brown, John Meillon and Niall MacGinnis. On Blu-rayfrom The Warner Archive Collection.
7/14/18

The Incredible Shrinking Man 07/14/18

Arrow Video UK
Blu-ray

I Still Exist!  CineSavant’s own Charlie Largent takes on this dee-luxe 2017 English release, the one with the terrific transfer and some glorious extras. Robert Scott Carey takes the plunge into microscopia, a seventh of an inch per day, passing through a Robinson Crusoe world before confronting the Infinite (and he didn’t even have to fly to Jupiter first). Jack Arnold and Richard Matheson’s classic is still the spiritual experience that knocked kids on their tails back in 1957, and its special magic has not yet been surpassed. On Region B Blu-ray from Arrow UK.
7/14/18

Village of the Damned 07/10/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Inquiring minds want to know — why you’re thinking about a BRICK WALL. John Wyndham’s diabolically clever alien invasion fantasy is taken straight from nature: children fathered by who-knows-what are found to possess a hive mentality and brain-powers that we puny Earthlings cannot oppose. Is it simply Us against Them, or perhaps a paranoid image of estranged, dangerous 1950s teens? Martin Stephens, George Sanders and Barbara Shelley star. We’ve all seen and loved this thriller; this time around CineSavant writes more of an essay than a review. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
7/10/18

Smash Palace 07/10/18

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray

From reviewer Charlie Largent: This superior drama won co-writer and director Roger Donaldson breakthrough international attention. The breakup of a family is sensitive and shocking, and takes a turn into violent territory without becoming exploitative or crude. Starring New Zealand’s leading actor Bruno Lawrence. A non-molestation court order for a race car driver to stay away from his wife, leads to bad, self-destructive decisions — the title is the name for an auto junkyard, but really describes a failed marriage. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
7/10/18

sex, lies and videotape 07/10/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Is this show still as daring as it once was? How does it fare in this year of #MeToo? Where are the personal boundaries in relationships, when nobody can risk being entirely honest? We discover a man who wants to relate with women solely through the recordings he makes of them talking about sex — is that OK, or not OK? Steven Soderbergh’s micro-budgeted intimate drama was the definition of independent filmmaking success. With fine, complex performances from Andie MacDowell, James Spader, Laura San Giacomo and Peter Gallagher. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
7/10/18

A Matter of Life and Death 07/07/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Imagination and resourcefulness accomplishes miracles on a Stairway to Heaven, with visual effects never bettered in the pre-CGI era. The wonder movie of 1946 sees the Archers infusing the ‘Film Blanc’ fantasy with amazing images and powerful emotions. Michael Powell’s command of the screen overpowers a soon-obsoleted theme about U.S.- British relations. David Niven, Kim Hunter and Roger Livesey bring fine performances to bear on the fantastic material. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
7/7/18

Xtro 07/07/18

Second Sight Region B
Blu-ray

Nope, this isn’t ET, The Extraterrestrial, not by a long shot. Guest reviewer Lee Broughton offers an assessment of Harry Bromley Davenport’s British cult sci-fi shocker of modest means, a show that would be pure exploitation if not for some creditable performances. It’s nasty but has a basic competence and is not just more cynical grist for the mill. ‘Phone Home,’ my Aunt Fannie: sometimes the difference between a thriller like this and a higher-profile classic is just pretension. On Blu-ray from Second Sight (UK).
7/7/18

Under Capricorn 07/07/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

What could go wrong? Alfred Hitchcock directs Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten in a mysterious tale of marital intrigues and social bigotry in a land populated by ex-convicts. Bergman is the long-suffering wife and Jack Cardiff is behind the Technicolor camera, which swoops through several amazing unbroken moving camera master shots, one fully five minutes long. I respectfully repeat, what could go wrong?  Also starring Michael Wilding and Margaret Leighton. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
7/7/18

Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! 07/03/18

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

Inflato-faced Jô Shishido is at it again, here in a typically precocious, spoofy crime adventure by Nippon’s nutcase-stylist Seijun Suzuki. If the eccentric color scheme doesn’t do the trick, the antic comic relief and wild musical numbers will. Shishido dances the Charleston, and the nightclub rocks with a terrific twist number. How cool it is to hear better rock music under Nikkatsu’s logo, than in a Hollywood picture?. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
7/03/18

Hitler’s Hollywood 07/03/18

Kino Lorber
DVD

What, another docu about Nazis? This one tells the entire story — with many rare clips and interesting actor and filmmaker profiles — of the hundreds of state-produced German films made during the Third Reich. Rüdiger Suchsland’s film is an excellent look at a suppressed era of film history. With Joseph Goebbels dictating the subject matter, personnel, and political spin on every movie made, what did Germans see? Mostly mindless escapism laced with totalitarian subtext. Udo Kier reads a first-class narration. With revelations about some surprising names, like Douglas Sirk and Ingrid Bergman. On DVD from Kino Lorber.
7/03/18

Beirut 07/03/18

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray

We’re still waiting for the role that will prove that Jon Hamm has a future after Mad Men. This middling hostage negotiation drama doesn’t insult our intelligence yet is still not that much more impressive than an average ‘let’s go to a war zone!’ episode of NCIS. Hamm delivers excellent work as the put-upon diplomat in a tight, tight spot. Co-starring Rosamund Pike and Mark Pellegrino, and filmed in Morocco. On Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment/Bleeker Street.
7/03/18