Things Change 02/23/21

Powerhouse Indicator
Region B Blu-ray

David Mamet’s gangster fable benefits from a casting match made in heaven — Don Ameche and Joe Mantegna. A showshine vendor is tapped to take a rap for a mob boss, but the hoodlum delivering him to court instead takes him on a two-day escape to Reno … against mob orders. It’s low-key comedy with delightful characters and the sobering knowledge that the weekend will end in jail … or the morgue. After a forty-year hiatus Ameche makes a marvelous return to starring glory… just think, a Mamet film where we really warm up to the players!  Also starring Robert Prosky, J.J. Johnston, Ricky Jay, Mike Nussbaum, William H. Macy, J.T. Walsh and Felicity Huffman. On Region B Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
02/23/21

Runaway Train 02/23/21

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Akira Kurosawa wrote the original story for this slam-bang action picture that finally got Cannon Films on a, ‘Hey this is a great movie’ list or two. Mean, nasty, desperate men make an impossible escape attempt across a frozen landscape that might as well be on the moon. Jon Voight gets to use the same eccentric gimmicks that Dustin Hoffman exploited, and comes off great while Andrei Konchalovsky showed Cannon what a brilliant director could do. The show also established Eric Roberts and Rebecca De Mornay as talents to watch. Co-starring Kyle T. Heffner, John P. Ryan, T.K. Carter and Kenneth McMillan. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
02/23/21

San Francisco 02/20/21

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

MGM’s glamour factory hit heights of grandeur with this nostalgic disaster spectacle, which retains its power even as its pious sentimentality runs amuck. We don’t believe the characters but we believe the STARS: Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald and Spencer Tracy succeed with sheer personality. Best of all are the sensational special effects featuring the highly cinematic earthquake montage by Slavko Vorkapich and John Hoffman. Co-starring Jack Holt, Jessie Ralph, Ted Healy and Shirley Ross. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
02/20/21

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo García 02/20/21

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Blood, gore and the smell of gunpowder! Sam Peckinpah’s booze-soaked Odyssey sends Warren Oates on a grisly fool’s errand to retrieve a rotting, fly-bitten… oh, just read the title will ya?  Resolutely sordid and debased, and soaked in ugly exploitation values, the tale of ‘Machete Bennie’ nevertheless scores as Peckinpah’s last successful movie — if Edgar Allan Poe went crazy locked in a room with rotting corpses, he might have come up with this idea. Co-starring Isela Vega, Robert Webber, Gig Young, Helmut Dantine, Emilio Fernández and Kris Kristofferson. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
02/20/21

“Doc” 02/16/21

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Frank Perry’s version of the shootout at the O.K. Corral shapes up as a fine western and an even better drama — the revisionist angle is supported by an excellent script and thoughtful, challenging characterizations. Tombstone’s frontier folk are dirty, vulgar and corrupt, but Stacy Keach and Faye Dunaway generate a rough-hewn romantic harmony. Harris Yulin’s Wyatt Earp is a revelation as well — if this were modern times Earp would get a lock on city hall politics and go into the land development racket. The beautifully filmed movie looks terrific on disc. Alex Cox delivers a solid audio commentary as well. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

So Evil My Love 02/16/21

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

How many ways can a total rat take advantage of someone who loves him?  Ray Milland knows!  The suave romancer can play silky-sinister better than anyone: Alias Nick Beal, Dial M for Murder. This is one of the darkest ‘Gaslight Noirs’ ever: poor Ann Todd is seduced, abused, victimized and two-timed, yet volunteers to enter her lover’s evil world. That’s true love for you — the crying shame is that we didn’t get the review up in time for Valentine’s Day. Reviewer Charlie Largent really went for the show and strongly recommends it. Co-starring Geraldine Fitzgerald, Leo G. Carroll and Moira Lister. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
02/16/21

Good News 02/13/21

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

The Arthur Freed MGM musical unit gives this 1927 musical remake the old College Try!  It’s a vehicle for the wartime sweetheart June Allyson, aided by Peter Lawford, who is quite good if not real musical material. The fun original tunes are joined by a couple of new ones, including an all-time terrific song & dance number staged by Robert Alton and performed by the incredible Joan McCracken. The new restoration does wonders with the 1947 Technicolor and the WAC adds hilarious, eye-opening musical excerpts from the crazy 1930 early talkie version with Penny Singleton. Good news indeed. With Patricia Marshall, Mel Tormé and Tommy Rall. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
02/13/21

The Deep 02/13/21

Viavision [Imprint]
Blu-ray

Peter Benchley’s follow-up to Jaws is a treasure hunt thriller starring Robert Shaw and filmed in the pearly waters off Bermuda. The exciting underwater scenes boosted the careers of Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset but the memory that stuck in the minds of millions was a particular wardrobe decision for Bisset’s siren of the deep. Who needs Spanish gold and a fortune in lost morphine?  This import disc features a commentary by actress Illeana Douglas. Also starring Louis Gossett Jr. and Eli Wallach. On Blu-ray from Viavision [Imprint].
02/13/21

Dark Intruder 02/09/21

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Reviewer Charlie Largent gets to assess this long-MIA 1960s horror item, a TV pilot that got the boost to a theatrical release — at only 59 minutes in duration. Long before his name became synonymous with comedy, Leslie Nielsen plays a clever investigator tracking down a serial killer, who turns out to be tangled up in an Asian curse with a supernatural sting. The movie’s just rare enough to warrant a good look-see. Also starring Judi Meredith and Mark Richman; the impressive cinematography is by John F. Warren. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
02/09/21

The Parallax View 02/09/21

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Paranoia strikes deep! Alan J. Pakula made THE Watergate-era conspiracy creepshow in this sinister update of political trends. Warren Beatty’s investigative reporter thinks he has an inside track to expose and destroy what looks like a shadow assassination bureau. If the technology of 1974 could be this efficient, our own Brave New World of ‘truth control’ seems even scarier. Pakula and cameraman Gordon Willis found a Panavision style that fully expresses the faceless corporate menace; the ‘Parallax Recruitment Montage’ is still the most terrifying piece of psych-out Agit-prop ever assembled. With Paula Prentiss, Hume Cronyn, William Daniels, Walter McGinn and Jim Davis. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
02/09/21

Columbia Noir #2 02/06/21

Powerhouse Indicator
Region B Blu-ray

The UK disc purveyors Powerhouse Indicator are back with a second installment of Region B Film Noir goodies from the darker end of the Columbia Torch Lady’s film vault. This time around we have a couple of Femme Fatale thrillers (does she or doesn’t she?), a trio of organized crime mellers, and a hit man saga so minimalist, it’s almost avant-garde. The icing on the noir cake is the curated selection of extras, plus the absurd counter-programming of Three Stooges short subjects. Why did nobody think to cast Moe, Larry and Shemp as cold-blooded Noir hit men?  The titles run from 1947 to 1958: Framed, 711 Ocean Drive, The Mob, Affair in Trinidad, Tight Spotand Murder by Contract. On Region B Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
02/06/21

A Tale of Two Cities 02/06/21

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Few ’30s classics have held up as well as this MGM blockbuster, a costume thriller that in spirit is quite faithful to the great Charles Dickens novel. Heroes don’t come more sophisticated or noble than Ronald Colman’s Sydney Carton, nor as vile as Basil Rathbone’s Marquis St. Evrémonde. David O. Selznick’s impeccable production hits all the right notes and even downplays the ‘save the royals’ sentiments. This is the one where the Bastille gets stormed and a chortling hag cheers every drop of a guillotine blade. The show even has a connection to producer Val Lewton. Just remember that activities like capitol-storming and public executions need to stay back in the 18th century where they belong. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
02/06/21

Giant from the Unknown 02/02/21

The Film Detective
Blu-ray

¡Ai Caramba!  It’s the best movie ever made about a killer Spanish Conquistador from beyond the grave!  This is probably the most satisfying of Richard Cunha’s monster romps despite being rudimentary in all respects. The script is dire and the monster just a generic bogeyman, but the actors are pleasant and the locations attractive. The filmmakers had the last laugh anyway, as the plain-wrap show garnered a nationwide theatrical release. The Film Detective has wisely brought on Tom Weaver to front the extras, as he had the picture fully documented years ago. On Blu-ray from The Film Detective.
02/02/21

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Vol. 2 02/02/21

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

The WAC’s second helping of Tex Avery Madness heaps on another 143 minutes of murderous hunters, mischievous magicians and houses, cars and TV of the future. This time around the cats are Counterfeit and can throw their voices, when they aren’t hating people. A taxicab wants to be a speed rader, and Droopy Dog scores six cartoons all to himself. And best of all, the oversexed Little Rural Riding Hood takes her toll on wolves both urban and suburban. Look to reviewer / animation fan Charlie Largent for insights, artistic appreciation and sly remarks for these outrageously funny, digitally remastered gems. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
02/02/21