Danger: Diabolik 05/23/20

Shout Factory
Blu-ray

Oh Joy, Oh Rapture!  Mario Bava’s comic book thriller makes the jump to Blu-ray in fine shape, with knockout visuals and eye-popping color. John Philip Law, Marisa Mell, Terry-Thomas and the late Michel Piccoli are all irreplaceable in this one-of-a-kind show. Bava’s film translates action comic fantasy into cinematic terms, pictorial appeal and dynamism intact. The disc comes with a pair of excellent commentaries, featuring Nathaniel Thompson, Troy Howarth, Tim Lucas and John Philip Law himself. As for the review, expect my usual enthusiastic over-analysis and personal memories. On Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
05/23/20

Destry Rides Again 05/23/20

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Yes, a western than can make grown men cry! Reviewer Charlie Largent celebrates the wonder of Marlene Dietrich’s major career comeback, a big hit that also marked a pre-war high point for James Stewart, not to mention terrific turns from Brian Donlevy and Una Merkel. The nearly perfect screenplay slides from sly cynicism to knockabout comedy to high tragedy, giving viewers a full emotional workout. Dietrich is great whether singing with her Adam’s Apple or engaging in a no-holds saloon catfight with Una; Jimmy Stewart has honed his laconic, down-to-Earth ‘cute’ act down to perfection. With this picture the unheralded George Marshall beats the icon Howard Hawks at his own game — it’s rowdy, smart and sentimental at the same time. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
05/23/20

The Curse of the Werewolf 05/19/20

Scream Factory
Blu-ray

Rip-roaring Oliver Reed’s silver-coated were-beast is one of Hammer Films’ very best screen monsters, which is more than enough reason to sample this colorful 1961 shocker. It was apparently ripped to shreds by the U.K. censors, a horror-crime spared us lucky Americans. The movie has been released more than once on Blu-ray but Shout’s new 4K scan restores it to prime condition. Numerous extras trace its stormy path through the slights and deletions of The Curse of the BBFC. With Clifford Evans, Yvonne Romain, Catherine Feller and Anthony Dawson. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
05/19/20

Cisco Pike 05/19/20

Powerhouse Indicator
Region B Blu-ray

Easy Rider terrifies twenty confused studio executives because they don’t understand it. Hoping to keep their jobs, they rush to hire more longhairs to make movies ‘the kids’ will see. Ex- UCLA film student B.L. Norton parlayed his way into writing and directing on the streets of Los Angeles, with new stars Gene Hackman and Karen Black, and singer-songwriter of the year Kris Kristofferson in his first starring role as a musician forced to deal marijuana by a corrupt cop. A time travel trip back to the City of the Angels circa 1971, it’s realistic and honest, and Kristofferson turns out to have terrific camera presence. With Harry Dean Stanton, Viva, and Joy Bang. On Region B Blu-rayfrom Powerhouse Indicator.
05/19/20

Pool of London 05/16/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

I’d never heard of this gem of a British production; now it goes on my list of highly recommended titles. A dock area on the Thames is ‘the pool,’ and the sailors that disembark from the cargo ships are susceptible to the temptations of black market trade. A single eventful weekend traces the fates of a half-dozen young people, the women that learn to like the sailors, and the sailor that gets mixed up in a deadly serious crime. Director Basil Dearden’s excellent cast is mostly unfamiliar to us Yanks; but we get really tied up in their problems. This picture should be much better known: it’s the first English movie to depict an interracial romance, and it does so without sensationalism or special pleading. The best new extra is an interview with actor Earl Cameron, who at 103 years of age has his act (and his memories) totally together. With Susan Shaw, Renée Asherson, Moira Lister, James Robertson Justice, John Longden, on Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/16/20

Blood on the Moon 05/16/20

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Robert Mitchum intercedes in a range war in this ‘A’ western, and he’s got the pro team of director Robert Wise and cameraman Nicholas Musuraca on his side. All but one action scene plays out at night, which is why this is sometimes called a Noir Western. The dark visuals fit that mold but the story values are strictly traditional, starting with the hero’s laconic do-it-don’t-say-it sense of personal honor. Partly filmed in Arizona, the fine production further advanced the laid-back Mitchum persona, this time as an honest cowpoke, not a cool-dude hipster. His top-rank co-stars: Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Preston, Walter Brennan, Phyllis Thaxter, Frank Faylen, Tom Tully, and Charles McGraw. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
05/16/20

Taza, Son of Cochise 05/12/20

KL Studio Classics
3-D Blu-ray

Great 3-D thrills — Hollywood was working to perfect 3-D movies just as the craze died out. An impeccable Blu-ray 3-D restoration, the glory of young Rock Hudson and some of the best Utah scenery in depth makes this a very enjoyable disc. Director Douglas Sirk was itching to do a western, and the swiftly rising star Rock Hudson wanted to work for him again, even though it meant playing another Indian role. Were these men that desperate to get out of Hollywood for a month? At least they avoided filming in nuclear test sites. With Barbara Rush as ‘Oona.’ On 3-D Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/12/20

The Bat (1959) 05/12/20

The Film Detective
Blu-ray

An old-fashioned haunted house thriller is given a new lease on life in writer-director Crane Wilbur’s creepy re-imagining. Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead headline a time-honored tale of buried treasure and the bloodthirsty fiend who’ll stop at nothing to lay his claws on it. Predictable but light-hearted entertainment, The Bat remains ghoulish fun for the whole family. Charlie Largent’s review is of a 2016 disc release, just for the record. On Blu-ray from The Film Detective.
05/12/20

Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain 05/12/20

Eureka Entertainment
Blu-ray

Guest reviewer Lee Broughton returns with a Region B review of Tsui Hark’s mystical tale of derring-do in ancient China. Hark revived a once popular variant of the wuxia film form — the Chinese shenguai wuxia films from the late 1920s that paired chivalric martial arts with more overtly mystical and mythological elements. The groundbreaking and stylishly executed result is said to have been John Carpenter’s chief inspiration when making Big Trouble in Little China. On Region B Blu-ray from Eureka Enterainment.
05/12/20

Mystery of the Wax Museum 05/09/20

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Talk about a worthy title for restoration — somebody up there likes us. Digital tools and film preservation expertise have advanced far enough to revive this marvelous pre-Code comedy-shocker in a form that showcases its wild designs and stylized 2-color Technicolor sheen. Director Michael Curtiz’s adept direction highlights Glenda Farrell’s racy dialogue delivery as well as the spooky, expressionist horrors in Lionel Atwill’s haunted ‘waxitorium.’ To top it off we have fabulous Fay Wray, the talkies’ original scream queen, shrieking her way into the horror hall of fame in the tradition of The Phantom of the Opera. Plus — for once the Warner Archive adds some fine new added value extras.. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
05/09/20

Brighton Rock 05/09/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Graham Greene’s crime tale is as important as his classic The Third Man but nowhere near as well known. Down Brighton way the race-track boys have sharp ways of solving disputes and terrorizing the common folk — think straight razors. Richard Attenborough’s breakthrough film is also a showcase for Hermoine Baddelely and a marvelous newcomer that every horror fan loves even if they don’t know her name, Carol Marsh. Kino’s disc has a Tim Lucas commentary; this review balances thoughts about mercy and damnation, with an extra insight about a piece of ‘stick candy’ unfamiliar to us Yanks.. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/09/20

Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales 05/09/20

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Welcome to the exciting, hesitant, guilt-laden and provocative world of Eric Rohmer, and his varied voyages of slightly intimidated romantic discovery. There are six Moral Tales (and some short subjects) and each finds a main character stymied by indecision: should he hew to the narrow moral path, or stop being so conflicted and let relationships happen as they may?  Some are moral debates and others are just ruminations on the foolishness of males that overthink their love lives — or are these self-directed men simply trying to be considerate and fair while navigating their amorous possibilities?: The Bakery Girl of Monceau, Suzanne’s Career, My Night at Maud’s, La collectionneuse, Claire’s Knee and Love in the Afteroon. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
05/09/20

The Golem 05/05/20

Kino Classics
Blu-ray

A top movie monster is back from filmic perdition, restored to his full might and power. Rabbi Lowe’s answer to the persecution of the ghetto is a mysterious unthinking automaton capable of terrible destruction. Paul Wegener’s indelible clay statue stands as a core myth in Jewish lore. But he’s still here, usually in allegories about mankind losing control of its own creations. With its imposing architecture and impressive special effects, this early expressionist masterpiece is one of the design highlights of silent cinema. On Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
05/05/20

John Ford at Columbia: 1935-1958 05/05/20

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Columbia was apparently a calm port in a storm for producer-director John Ford; the four Columbia-controlled pictures presented on Powerhouse Indicator’s lavishly appointed disc set consist of two winners and (for this viewer) a pair of odd ducks. Away from the bankability guaranteed by John Wayne, Ford never quite regained the power of his earlier triumphs, from the silent era to his socially conscious classics at Fox. But the quality of his films remained consistent. This extras-loaded Region B disc contains The Whole Town’s Talking, The Long Gray Line, Gideon’s Day and The Last Hurrah. On Region B Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
05/05/20

The Love of Jeanne Ney 05/02/20

Kino Classics

When does a silent classic really become a classic?  When we can see a reconstituted full original version, which in this case meant decades spent waiting. G.W. Pabst’s celebrated 1927 jeopardy-soap has romance, treachery, murder, a revolutionary war and a score of terrific characters embodied by Brigitte Helm, Sig Arno, Vladimir Sokoloff and the weird Fritz Rasp. But our hearts are stolen by the wistful lady in the title role, Édith Jéhanne, whose natural performance resonates with innocence and devotion. The rambling narrative barely holds together, but this romantic winner is graced with some of the best-directed scenes from silent cinema. Kino gives us the truncated U.S. release as an extra. On Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
05/02/20

Reflections in a Golden Eye 05/02/20

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Charlie Largent focuses on refracted art filmmaking from Warner Bros. and John Huston, an overheated adaptation of Carson McCullers’ book that helped bring on the 1968 MPAA ratings system. The ‘adults only’ studio production features discreet nudity but no bad language. Practically every character has a sexual secret to hide, or to flaunt. Erotic obsessions both expressed and repressed drive the narrative to a bloody and unhappy end. Taking part in the sub-Freudian psycho-sadism is an incredible cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Brian Keith, Julie Harris, Gordon Mitchell and the debut of favorite Robert Forster, who in one scene rides a horse naked. The weird production comes in two separate versions, cameraman Aldo Tonti’s ‘golden’ toned original, and Warners’ follow-up with normal colors. You be the psychoanalyst judge!  On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
05/02/20

The Great Escape 05/02/20

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Images from this picture were burned into our Boomer childhood brains … we actually sat still for almost three hours to watch it. John Sturges’ epic show is like a fine-tuned watch — its unbreakable story is populated by ideal characters that become instant heroes, just for acting like normal men that want free of confinement. It’s really about freedom — after two hours in the POW compound, the fugitives set loose in the wide, green beauty of Germany might as well be escaping into a wonderland of light and space. In its own way this show made our parents’ wartime experience come alive — it’s THE picture to interest kids in events of the past. Our favorites are all here, at their best: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Donald, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, Hannes Messemer, David McCallum, Gordon Jackson, Angus Lennie, and Nigel Stock. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
05/02/20