Lucía 10/27/20

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

The Cuban masterpiece has been restored, and is now viewable on the Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project 3 boxed set. Humberto Solás’ nearly 3-hour national epic revisits two earlier revolutions to tell the stories of ‘three Lucías. The first Lucía is entangled in the war of independence against Spain, and the second opposes the gangland-era despot Machado. The third contemporary Lucía faces a different challenge to revolutionary progress. The show uses several styles to span the years — the women change, but their independent spirit remains constant. Starring Raquel Revuelta, Eslinda Núñez, and Adela Legrá. The unofficial national epic is restored, on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
10/27/20

I, Monster 10/27/20

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

It’s Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing together in a horror picture, a formula no shock feature fan can resist. Most of us remember staring at the beautiful full-color photo of Chris Lee in monster makeup in Denis Gifford’s picture book about horror movies. Yet this has remained one of the pair’s most obscure items, at least as a quality presentation. Powerhouse Indicator’s expert added value items put all the rumors to rest, including the question that’s been repeated through the years — where’s the legendary 3-D version?  Or perhaps more to the point, was there really a 3-D version?  And then there’s the other question — is the movie any good?  Also starring Mike Raven. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
10/27/20

The Hit 10/24/20

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

If you like Euro-crime and haven’t seen this one you’re in for a real treat. English killers are on the road in Spain, executing a hit on a ‘Supergrass’ who’s spent ten years in protective custody. The brilliant cast — Terence Stamp, John Hurt, Tim Roth and Laura Del Sol give the criminal twists extra credibility. The suspenseful show is one of Stephen Frears’ best, and it builds to a highly satisfying conclusion. It’s also the feature debut of Tim Roth, and as such shouldn’t be missed. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
10/24/20

Joe Kidd 10/24/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Clint Eastwood proves again that he Owns the western genre with this odd tale of land reform insurrection and establishment blowback in New Mexico of 1906. To direct the script by the great Elmore Leonard, Eastwood brought in the western movie legend John Sturges, who discovered that collaboration now meant acceding to whatever the star wanted. The beautifully filmed movie falls apart even though Sturges saved the day with an 11th hour stunt action climax. With Robert Duvall, John Saxon, Don Stroud and Stella García. On Blu-rayfrom KL Studio Classics.
10/24/20

The Ape 10/20/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Mad doctor Boris Karloff is tragically misunderstood, just because he kills a few neighborhood pets for his experiments to cure polio/typhoid/Covid/herpes/what-have-you. And that escaped gorilla from the circus?  Its pelt is just the thing for Boris to prowl around in at midnight, collecting spinal fluid mooahahahaha. You’d be surprised how endearing and (almost) sane this picture is, thanks to Karloff’s input and dialogue that’s often quite clever. And the stellar supporting cast: Jessie Arnold! Ray Corrigan! Maris Wrixon… wait, Ms. Wrixon is very good. Reviewer Charlie Largent gives this Monogram Special a hearty three-banana rating. The disc comes with twin commentaries from Tom Weaver and Richard Harland Smith, both excellent. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
10/20/20

The Opposite Sex 10/20/20

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

This CinemaScope musical remake of 1939’s The Women is highly watchable, especially in this flawless digital remaster. The actresses that bare their claws, compete for husbands and just plain cat-fight are a choice batch, with favorites from the ’50s (June Allyson, Agnes Moorehead) the ’40s (Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller) the ’30s (Joan Blondell, Charlotte Greenwood) — plus a few wildflowers that bloomed cinematically for only a few years (Dolores Gray) and one that somehow managed immortality (Joan Collins). It’s highly watchable despite, or maybe because of, its criminally outdated recipe for marital bliss. Did women really go for this fantasy — did anybody ever really live like this?  With Leslie Nielsen, Jeff Richards, Sam Levene, Alice Pearce and Carolyn Jones. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
10/20/20

Claudine 10/17/20

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Easily the best family-oriented black experience movie of the early 1970s, the Third World Cinema Corporation’s first film features Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones in a funny, endearing saga of life in the welfare system, with human feeling and compassion to spare. But the triumphant socially progressive movie fails the 2020 diversity test — its primary producer, cameraman, writers and director are white. Are we still allowed to enjoy it?  With Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Tamu Blackwell, David Kruger, Yvette Curtis, Eric Jones and Socorro Stephens. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
10/17/20

DeepStar Six 10/17/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

This big, expensive and well-produced action-suspense Sci-fi epic mostly delivers on its promise to be Aliens at the bottom of the sea. At heart it’s a 1950s pulse-pounder with a bigger monster, a zillion times the budget and a script that does everything but make us care. We appreciate the likable characters but it’s too easy to predict who will ‘get it’ next. The realism factor is not bad at all, although the undersea explorer video training sessions should have given ‘how not to crack up under stress’ more emphasis. And can’t anybody properly mind those pesky nuclear bombs?  With Cindy Pickett Matt McCoy, Taurean Blacque, Nia Peeples, Marius Weyers, Elya Baskin and especially Miguel Ferrer. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
10/17/20

The Ipcress File 10/13/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

It’s finally back on Blu in Region 1, the ‘sixties spy movie beloved by enthusiasts yearning for something a bit more substantial & nutritious than James Bond. This first Harry Palmer adventure seems even more perfect than when it was thanks to a great espionage recipe and quality ingredients. Michael Caine is sensational as the anti-007, the feel of London streets is intoxicating, and John Barry’s music score is beyond praise. Are Sidney Furie’s directorial mannerisms too show-offy, too fussy? I only raise the question to defend him. The marvelous Mister Caine is aided and abetted by Guy Doleman, Nigel Green, Sue Lloyd, Gordon Jackson, Aubrey Richards, Frank Gatliff, Thomas Baptiste, Oliver MacGreevy, Freda Bamford, David Glover, Mike Murray and Anthony Baird. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
10/13/20

The Chalk Garden 10/13/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

From reviewer Charlie Largent — Whenever Deborah Kerr signs on as a governess we ought to know that trouble is brewing. Teen brat Hayley Mills maliciously picks apart her new governess’s backstory, and finds enough dirt to bury the woman — but this time around Kerr isn’t as emotionally vulnerable. Why does Hayley’s (rather tame) hellion do bad things like set things on fire?   It’s all about liberating young Mills from the unhealthy influence of an unfit grandmother (Edith Evans). Ah, you can’t grow a healthy garden over a foundation of chalk…  Producer Ross Hunter grinds off the rough parts of a reportedly edgy play about upperclass rigidity; Ronald Neame directs. With John Mills and Elizabeth Sellars, on Blu-rayfrom KL Studio Classics.
10/13/20

Brute Force 10/10/20

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

If you have to name ONE movie that’s not likely to be screened in a prison, this one’s a good bet. In his sophomore starring outing Burt Lancaster leads a group of rebel convicts on a do-or-die bust-out against Hume Cronyn’s utter Nazi of a warden Captain. Richard Brooks’ script and Jules Dassin’s direction doesn’t sugarcoat the sadistic goings-on and producer Mark Hellinger pushed the result through the Production Code office. Sure, sure, plenty of noirs are violent … but this one must have been quite a head-spinner in ’47. With an incredible cast: Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford, Yvonne De Carlo, Sam Levene, Ann Blyth, Jeff Corey, Ella Raines, John Hoyt, Sir Lancelot, Howard Duff, Art Smith, Whit Bissell. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
10/10/20

The Secret Ways 10/10/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Producer-star Richard Widmark may have thought he was inventing a new kind of spy film but his adaptation of an Alistair MacLean novel just grinds the Cold War grist, mixing good atmosphere with unconvincing action derring-do. The handsome production makes good use of Austrian and Swiss locations and the unfamiliar cast is a big assist. German star Sonja Ziemann gets the plum role, but Hollywood’s discovery is the lovely Senta Berger. Co-starring Charles Regnier, Walter Rilla, Howard Vernon, Hubert von Meyerinck, Stefan Schnabel, Ady Berber, Reinhard Kolldehoff. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
10/10/20

A Place in the Sun 10/06/20

Viavision [Imprint]
Blu-ray

A bona fide film classic, George Stevens’ movie is less revered as an excellent adaptation of Theodore Dreiser than for its intense, almost hallucinatory romantic scenes between Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. A guileless poor boy tries to succeed above his economic background and entangles himself between two very different women. I guess the Academy wasn’t ready to take the glamorous young MGM beauty seriously: both Clift and their co-star Shelley Winters received acting nominations, but not Liz. Stevens’ first ‘fifties picture is perhaps the most balanced of his ‘heavy’ and ‘important’ works, a tragedy that’s too deeply felt to be merely ponderous. On Blu-ray from Viavision [Imprint].
10/06/20

S.O.S. Titanic 10/06/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

TV’s 1979 Titanic movie comes to Blu in two versions. We liked it when new but didn’t care for the cut-down theatrical version that hit DVD in 2002. Kino’s disc completes a set of various film versions of the infamous 1912 disaster, and allows us the chance for a Titanic ‘battle of the bands’ — we’ll rate them from several criteria. The filmed-in-England production has a nicely-chosen soap opera cast: David Janssen, Cloris Leachman, Ian Holm, Helen Mirren, Anna Quayle, David Warner, Susan Saint James, Harry Andrews. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
10/06/20

The Vincent Price Collection – 2020 Reissue 10/03/20

Blu-ray

A new BFI restoration of Roger Corman’s color Edgar Allan Poe epic THE MASQE OF THE RED DEATH, photographed by Nicolas Roeg, was so impressive that it justified a reissue. Not only does the image jolt us with its hallucinatory colors, a number of brief (censor?) deletions were reinstated. Jane Asher was never lovelier, and the same goes for the enthusiastically evil Hazel Court! It’s part of a reissue of an older collection: The Fall of the House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum, The Haunted Palace, Witchfinder General and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Reviewed by Charlie Largent, on Blu-ray.
10/03/20

Sergeant York 10/03/20

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Ya like quality pro-intervention propaganda?  Warners’ filmic call to arms inspired America’s reluctant warriors via a superhuman feat by a highly decorated WW1 veteran… and promptly got into hot water with the United States congress. Howard Hawks’ highly effective load of sentiment and sanctimony makes Tennesseans look like denizens of Dogpatch, U.S.A.. But America loved it, even favorite Gary Cooper’s cute ‘aw shucks’ mannerisms that compare shooting the enemy with shooting a turkey. That’s how we baby boomers learned about patriotism.  With Walter Brennan, Margaret Wycherly, George Tobias and a radiant, sweet-sixteen Joan Leslie. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
10/03/20

The Face at the Window 10/03/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

And now for something we had read about but never before saw: Tod Slaughter’s highly entertaining murder thriller is stylized in a vintage theatrical format, the Victorian blood & thunder barnstorming drama, originally from 1880 or thereabouts. Slaughter’s refined gentleman is also a crazed killer with a bizarre modus operandi. Everything that happens is borderline preposterous, and all the better for it. It’s not exactly a horror picture — unadventurous fans may just see a creaky 80-year old movie — but Tod Slaughter is one of a kind. Kino’s new Blu-ray is a beautiful restoration with an informative and entertaining audio commentary…. pay no attention to that awful poster. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
10/03/20