Bedazzled 02/26/19

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

(1967). All hail the memory of Stanley Donen! We also appreciate the razor-sharp satire of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, whose genius Donen preserved in this hilarious Faustian comedy. Poor pitiful Stanley Moon bargains with the Devil for seven chances to win the woman of his dreams, which naturally turns out to be a big mistake. Who could make a wise decision with Raquel Welch’s ‘Lillian Lust’ climbing into their bed?   Co-starring Eleanor Bron as the real object of all this lust, and featuring Barry Humphries, Robert Russell and Michael Bates. Insufficiently appreciated: Dudley Moore’s elegant, jazzy music score. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
02/26/19

The Mole People 02/26/19

Scream Factory
Blu-ray

Not enough love is set aside for this ambitious, under-budgeted Lost Civilization epic. John Agar and Cynthia Patrick find love in an ancient citadel of albinos that worships a Death Ray and enslaves a race of Subterranean Humanoid Underground Dwellers — Mole Men, what else?   It’s unconvincing and the production lacks polish, but it’s also got clever story gimmicks and sympathetic monsters, so it gets a warm reception at CineSavant Central. Plus it co-stars Hugh Beaumont, Alan Napier and Nestor Paiva, gentlemen all. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
02/26/19

Audition 02/23/19

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

Some pretty scary shockers launched J-horror, and this may be the scariest.   Takashi Miike shook up a lot of festival attendees and theatergoers with this creepy tale. A widower ‘auditions’ a new wife, and gets far more trouble than he ever expected. Miike may also have kicked off the ‘torture porn’ subgenre here. The violent events at the twisted finish tie time and reality into knots. It’s the most aberrant Japanese horror film since Moju. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

02/23/19

Mad Dog and Glory 02/23/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

What can you say about a hybrid gangster picture that generates a good feeling about people?  We really like this show — Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman and Bill Murray’s characterizations are fresh and surprising — and refreshingly non-PC. Everything’s in fine form under director John McNaughton, as filmed by Robby Müller. And there’s a fascinating story about how parts of the story were re-written and re-shot, after a preview screening. Co-starring David Caruso, Mike Starr and Kathy Baker. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
02/23/19

Death in Venice 02/23/19

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

High class Italo filmmaking slips into the ’70s with Luchino Visconti still on top. This handsomely appointed period drama recreates Venice of 1910. Make that a highly stylized recreated Venice. As curiously enacted by Dirk Bogarde, Thomas Mann’s story of a composer’s inner turmoil over a maddeningly attractive teenaged boy becomes a one-man ordeal. With Romolo Valli, Mark Burns, Marisa Berenson and Silvana Mangano. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
02/22/19

What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? 02/19/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

It’s cold-blooded murder, I tell ya!  Feisty Ruth Gordon goes undercover to uncover evidence of homicide at Geraldine Page’s desert home, where companion-housekeepers keep disappearing. It’s a Grand Guignol but with fine acting taking the place of overt gore. Robert Aldrich produced this marvelous, E-Ticket battle between celebrated actresses, and the result is a creative new solution for retirement finance problems! Also starring Rosemary Forsyth and Robert Fuller, the disc is given an informative audio commentary by Richard Harland Smith. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
02/19/19

The Vengeance of She 02/19/19

Scream Factory
Blu-ray

Olinka Berova is as sexy as Ursula Andress, but even with a new woman producer Hammer’s She sequel doesn’t give her new She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed much of a chance — the story just sits there and the kingdom of Kuma is woefully under-produced. Good photography and acting help, but one doesn’t earn high marks for the Boys from Bray. The Czech import Berova is backed by John Richardson, Edward Judd, Noel Willman, Colin Blakely and everyone’s favorite André Morell. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
02/19/19

Ecco + The Forbidden 02/19/19

Severin / Something Weird
Blu-ray

Those scurrilous Italian ‘mondo’ films are difficult to see in original versions; this Something Weird double bill yields an American hybrid of one of the better (?) examples, given the classy touch of a narration by George Sanders. A second oversexed psuedo- docu is a homegrown mongrel (careful, don’t touch) with all the credibility of today’s Reality TV — it doesn’t even try to be legit. Once again, Severin comes through with a doubly guilty pleasure, for sex-starved carnival suckers everywhere. Contains a new interview with a colleague (co-defendant) of producer-writer Bob Cresse. On Blu-ray from Severin Films/Something Weird.
02/19/19

The Wrong Box 02/16/19

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Director Bryan Forbes tries his hand at comedy. His nostalgic Victorian farce features an eclectic choice of Brit stars — established greats John Mills & Ralph Richardson, the freshly-minted Michael Caine, reigning jester Peter Sellers and even a debut for the collegiate pranksters Peter Cook & Dudley Moore. It’s a beaut of a production with a charming John Barry music score… but the result yields more indulgent smiles than out-and-out laughs. The supporting cast is marvelous: Nanette Newman, Tony Hancock, Wilfrid Lawson, Thorley Walters, André Morell and many more. On Region A+B Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
02/16/19

Untamed 02/16/19

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Fiery dame Susan Hayward carries this far-flung ‘women’s epic’ to delirious romantic extremes, as her Irish heroine defies nature and exploits admirers to claim the hunky Dutchman of her dreams — Tyrone Power. Using apartheid-ridden South Africa as a background for a cheerful white conquest wasn’t as touchy an idea in 1955 as it is now, but it should have been. Just the same, Henry King’s film is an impressive production from the early years of CinemaScope. Richard Egan, Agnes Moorehead, Rita Moreno, John Justin, Hope Emerson and Brad Dexter play hardy pioneers. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
02/16/19

La vérité 02/12/19

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

(The Truth) Brigitte Bardot proved her mettle as a dramatic actress in H.G. Clouzot’s strikingly pro-feminist courtroom epic, that puts the modern age of ‘immoral’ permissiveness on trial. Is Bardot’s selfish, sensation-seeking young lover an oppressed victim?  Clouzot makes her the author of her own problems yet doesn’t let her patriarchal inquisitors off the hook. It’s great ‘old school’ filmmaking, co-starring Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel and Sami Frey; the extras include a fascinating career documentary on the director Clouzot. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
02/12/19

Tarzan Goes to India + Tarzan’s Three Challenges 02/12/19

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Jock Mahoney was the umpteenth actor to play the Lord of the Jungle, and is on record as the oldest Tarzan, leaping and slugging his way through two feature films at age 44. In Tarzan Goes to India he fights burly Leo Gordon to save 300 elephants from drowning. Then it’s off to Thailand for Tarzan’s Three Challenges and its grueling series of endurance and skill rituals, climaxing in a battle with Thai Chieftain Woody Strode. It sounds like a lot of wear and tear on the old Tarz-carcass; why couldn’t Mahoney be cast in Tarzan Relaxes on the Beach?   Reviewer Charlie Largent does the honors on this one; I remember seeing Three Challenges at age 12, and thinking it pretty intense. Separate purchases on Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
02/12/19

A Star is Born 02/12/19

Warner Home Video
UltraHD + Blu-ray + Digital

Last Fall’s audience-pleaser is indeed a pleasant surprise, not because it’s a classic but because it isn’t plain awful. An unnecessary third remake of a Depression-era Cinderella story has been concocted to showcase the special talents of Lady Gaga, who indeed comes off as the most personable and deserving star-to-be-born since Judy Garland. Bradley Cooper stunned the industry by wearing almost all the creative hats on this thing — and producing an entertainment that will enhance the careers of all involved. On Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
02/12/19

Private Snafu Golden Classics 02/09/19

Thunderbean Animation
Blu-ray

Make way for the ribald, very non-PC adventures of the GI doofus Private Snafu — demonstrator of the wrong way to do everything. This alternative-press edition of Snafu delights contains all of his adventures and more — they’re mostly animated by irreverent Warners talent. Some have rhyming dialogue and narration by Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. The compilation disc contains 34 complete shorts: 26 specific Private Snafu cartoons, plus all eight of his appearances in a related War Department series called A Few Quick Facts. On Blu-ray from Thunderbean Animation.
02/09/19

My Name is Julia Ross 02/09/19

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray

Is this any way to treat a lady?  Lovely Nina Foch just wanted a job, but she instead becomes the fall-gal in a psychologically perverse plan to deny her very identity. Cult director Joseph H. Lewis makes deft use of cinematic suspense techniques to compel our involvement in a bizarre conspiracy: not just convincing a woman that she’s insane, but also that she’s literally not herself. Neck deep in the skullduggery are the capable Dame May Whitty, George Macready, Roland Varno, and Leonard Mudie. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
02/09/19

Horror Express 02/09/19

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

It’s a spooky, snowy train ride across thousands of miles of Siberian rails — trapped on board with a victim-possessing creature from outer space, with eyes that kill! Actually, ‘Pánico en el transiberiano’ is a fine show for Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, a Spanish-made chiller with a smart script, some effective shocks and a fun guest performance from Telly Savalas as a Cossack officer — make that a Bald Cossack officer. This new edition adds good extras to the excellent featurettes sourced from an earlier release. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
02/09/19

The Midnight Man 02/05/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Murder strikes at a private college, and the new security guard’s efforts to find the killer uncovers sordid secrets and multiple unsavory conspiracies. Triple-threat Burt Lancaster directs, stars and heads a large, exemplary cast of suspects in a mystery that implicates practically all of them in something illegal. This is only part of the sprawling usual suspects list: Cameron Mitchell, Morgan Woodward, Harris Yulin, Catherine Bach, Robert Quarry, Joan Lorring, Lawrence Dobkin, Ed Lauter, Charles Tyner, Quinn K. Redeker, Linda Kelsey. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
02/5/19

Beyond the Limit (The Honorary Consul) 02/05/19

Explosive Media GmbH
Blu-ray

Retitled from The Honorary Consul and sold in America with one of Paramount’s sleaziest ad campaigns, John MacKenzie and Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of a Graham Greene novel about terrorist goings-on in dictatorships in Argentina and Paraguay features a fine Michael Caine performance, but prefers to stress sex scenes between star Richard Gere and Elpidia Carrillo. Just call it ‘Lust in the Argentine Littoral’ — but performed in English. Also starring Bob Hoskins. The Falklands War prompted the show to relocate filming to Mexico. This is a German disc, but it’s fully compatible with U.S. equipment. On Blu-ray from Explosive Media GmbH.
02/5/19

Yanks 02/02/19

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

A million American GIs are bivouacked in the English countryside, awaiting debarkation to France… and the green fields are loaded with young English women, whose own men have been off fighting for years. John Schlesinger puts together a good drama, with an excellent cast; he also avoids the expected ‘please wait for me!’ clichés attendant to this subgenre of war film. The exemplary cast finds a fine role for Richard Gere, while the lovely Lisa Eichhorn takes the acting honors. Especially good are the unusual pairing of William Devane and Vanessa Redgrave. Co-star Chick Vennera helps with a commentary track. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
02/02/19

Jack the Ripper 02/02/19

Severin Films
Blu-ray

“Is your name Mary Clark?”  The notorious English Baker-Berman team take on Whitechapel’s most notorious fiend, proposing that a mad doctor is responsible for slaughtering a score of streetwalkers in dark alleys, and throwing the city into a state of mortal terror. Writer Jimmy Sangster doesn’t do much with the parade of killings — — but he does think up a nasty fantasy finish for London’s most famous gut-ripper. More than a rescue than a restoration, Severin’s deluxe Blu-ray slipped out with just a few copies a couple of years ago, and now it’s getting a full release. The disc includes one version from a battered film print and another that looks like it’s been rescued from video. The extras include the ‘naughty bits’ alternate Continental scenes. I hope reviewer Charlie Largent gives us a full report on that. “Is your name Mary Clark?”  On Blu-ray from Severin Films.
02/02/19

Television’s Lost Classics Volume One: John Casssavetes 02/02/19

VCI
Blu-ray

John Cassavetes springs forth as a major 1950s talent in these two ‘Primetime Special’ dramatic plays broadcast live on ABC and CBS. Crime in the Streets is the Reginald Rose classic directed by Sidney Lumet; No Right to Kill is a ‘culture for the masses’ adaptation of Crime and Punishment. Cassavetes’ co-stars are Robert Preston, Glenda Farrell, Terry Moore and Robert H. Harris. The restoration of original Kinescopes is quite good in HD, and the producers Sabucat includes a racy ten-minute blooper reel from The Defenders and The Nurses. On Blu-ray from VCI.
02/02/19