Mona Lisa 09/18/21

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Bucking the trends for ’80s crime films, Neil Jordan’s tale of a low-rung hood attached to Cathy Tyson’s ‘complicated’ call girl becomes a love story about meaningful relationships. Sort of the ‘anti- Travis Bickle,’ Bob Hoskins’ low-class mug discovers emotions and an ability to commit that could even be called Chivalric. Michael Caine chills as an all-too real villain, the boss that doesn’t think Hoskins worthy of a straight answer. Topping it off, cinematographer Roger Pratt makes this possibly the best-looking British crime film in color. With a new interview with director Jordan and star Cathy Tyson. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
09/18/21

The Herculoids: The Complete Original Series 09/18/21

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Wikipedia tells of the mighty struggle of a family of ‘space barbarians’ that with their fighting monster pets — Zok, Tundro, Igoo, Gloop and Gleep — fight off marauding ‘Faceless People, Destroyer Ants, Raider Apes, Mutoids, Arnoids, Zorbots, Mekkano men and the Ogs.’ Yes, let’s not forget the Ogs. A great show for the Vietnam generation, Hanny Barbera’s disc contains all 18 original episodes from the 1967 series on three discs. Every kid needs his territorial imperative reinforced: “We must defend Planet Quasar!”  On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
09/18/21

Prince of the City 09/14/21

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Sidney Lumet’s harrowing film is a true-life account of a NY narcotics detective- turned goverment informant; its length and intensity can be emotionally overpowering. Treat Williams is the idealistic cop who blows up his whole life and ends up betraying all the people he hoped to protect. He doesn’t seem to understand the ruthless, opportunistic nature of ‘systemic reform’ as he goes from good guy to the object of hate for both crooks and cops, and a target for the very same system that welcomed his help. The WAC made an excellent choice with this one — it’s one of the most deserving, underappreciated films of the early 1980s. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
09/14/21

Columbia Noir #4 09/14/21

Powerhouse Indicator
Region B

Powerhouse Indicator moves forward to their fourth fancy box of noirs from the studio of Harry Cohn, six pictures stretching from the postwar boom to the end of the original classic noir era. This time around we have some notable directors, and a nice selection of stars — Dennis O’Keefe, George Murphy, Fred MacMurray, Kim Novak, Jean Simmons, Rory Calhoun and Richard Conte. Kim Novak makes her starring debut as a femme fatale; noir icon Richard Conte shines in a movie that marks a turn into a new kind of existential, paranoid thriller. And speaking of paranoid, we again get to lighten up with another selection of theme-appropriate Three Stooges shorts. The contents:Walk a Crooked Mile, Walk East on Beacon, Pushover, A Bullet is Waiting, Chicago Syndicate, and The Brothers Rico. On Region B Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
09/14/21

Cold War Creatures – Four Films From Sam Katzman (Part One) 09/11/21

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

Yes, sometimes a producer could earn ‘auteur’ status making B pictures. A name that’s never going to be uttered in the same breath as Val Lewton is Sam Katzman, who for the 1950s settled into a profitable tenure making Columbia program pictures. They pretty much stayed in the category of ‘obvious junk’ yet include a number of endearing favorites. And Katzman deserved to slip through the pearly gates just for helping get Ray Harryhausen’s feature career into motion. Besides their minimal production outlay, Katzman’s horror/sci fi attractions have one strange thing in common: they don’t carry Columbia torch Lady logos. PART ONE of this review takes on two of the four features in Arrow’s gorgeously appointed boxed set; reviewer Charlie Largent will follow with reviews of the second pair of creature features. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
09/11/21

The Heroes of Telemark 09/11/21

Sony Home Video
Blu-ray

Any WW2 action adventure involving the Norwegian resistance is OK in my book, and this big-star saga about sabotage efforts to stop the Nazis’ atom research is a natural — much of what happens in the story is true. The show can boast marvelous locations and excellent action scenes but the script and characters aren’t very strong. Did Columbia curb epic director Anthony Mann’s greater ambitions, or did star Kirk Douglas interfere to enhance his leading character into a combo scientist, playboy and sure-shot action man?  Also starring Ulla Jacobsson, Richard Harris, Michael Redgrave, and every over-fifty English name actor not nailed down. On Blu-ray from Sony Home Entertainment.
09/11/21

The Little Rascals Volume 2 09/07/21

ClassicFlix
Blu-ray

The ClassicFlix Restorations hits us with eleven more Hal Roach ‘Our Gang’ short subjects (averaging 25 minutes each), starting with ‘Pups is Pups’ in 1930 and ending with ‘Dogs is Dogs’ in 1931. Every one of these little hoodlums is here, from Jackie Cooper, Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins, Mary Ann Jackson, to kids given the PC-poison names ‘Wheezer,’ ‘Stymie’ and ‘Chubby.’ Director Robert F. McGowan worked with Charley Chase in preparation for these crazy pictures, and wrangled kids and fought off stage parents for over eighty partly improvised Our Gang/Little Rascals shorts spread over four years. Charlie Largent continues the Our Gang / Rascals story. On Blu-ray from ClassicFlix.
09/07/21

The Grifters 09/07/21

Paramount Viacom CBS
Blu-ray

Every once in a while a movie makes me think, ‘this one’s too good to review, just tell them to see it and they’ll understand.’ John Cusack is a penny-ante small stakes cheat, his girlfriend Annette Bening hooks on the side while seeking a partner for ‘long cons,’ and his mother is an operative for the Mob, placing large bets at the race track to manipulate the odds on select horses. Each worships the ‘left-handed form of human endeavor’ and depends on it to the degree that human trust just can’t be maintained. Paramount’s plain wrap re-issue touts the film’s four Oscar nominations; the Stephen Frears film is the best adaptation yet of a Jim Thompson crime novel. With great acting contributions from Pat Hingle and J.T. Walsh. On Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment.
09/07/21

Illustrious Corpses 09/04/21

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Yet another masterpiece from the Italian director Francesco Rosi, adapting a fiction novel about a political murder conspiracy that is altogether too much of a good fit for the troubled Italy of 1975. Crime star Lino Ventura is the incorruptible detective investigating a series of killings of high-level judges, who begins to intuit that his superiors want the murders to continue. Dark and moody, Rosi’s picture is impeccably directed for a kind of nagging, uneasy suspense, with frightening hints that Ventura is being drawn into a bigger, more sinister frame. With Charles Vanel, Max von Sydow and Fernando Rey, and music by Piero Piccioni. The insightful audio commentary is by Alex Cox. The original Italian title is even more blood-curdling: Cadaveri eccellenti. On Blu-rayfrom KL Studio Classics.
09/04/21

A Life at Stake 09/04/21

The Film Detective
Blu-ray

It’s low-rent Noir A Go-Go: Angela Lansbury is a double-crossing femme fatale in this independent cheapie with modest charms. You can’t trust anyone these days, especially real estate developers with plans to collect YOUR life insurance. Lansbury is the seductive ‘motivator’ with a preference for late-night rendezvous in the high mountains, where everything is a long drop, nudge nudge wink wink. She makes with the hotcha come-ons but rugged Keith Andes is the one who goes around topless for an entire reel. One of the most obscure ’50s films noir, this one gives us a peek at an evocative Hollywood location or two. On Blu-ray from The Film Detective.
09/04/21