The Counterfeit Traitor 05/17/22

Viavision [Imprint]
Region Free Blu-ray

George Seaton connected an ideal cast to this true-life WW2 story so good that a lazy script and slack direction can’t sink it. William Holden is the American-Swede who spies for the Allies, ruining his own reputation and schmoozing with Nazis that will kill him if he slips up. Wonderful Lilli Palmer is the patriot-agent who steals his heart. The locations are impressive but one inspired scene captures with perfection the utter depravity of fascist power. If ever a WW2 movie needed a remake, this one qualifies. On Blu-ray from Viavision [Imprint].
05/17/22

Double Indemnity 4k 05/17/22

The Criterion Collection
4K Ultra HD + Blu Ray

It’s back and Criterion’s got it, so be prepared for sharp-talking insights on Billy Wilder’s nearly flawless, cinema-changing ode to cold-blooded murder, Los Angeles style. Edward G. Robinson wants Fred MacMurray but Barbara Stanwyck has him wrapped around her trigger finger. James M. Cain tapped into our city’s domestic malaise — who doesn’t know somebody they’d like to trade in for some extra cash?  What about the extras?  The Big C has Noah Isenberg, Imogen Sara Smith, Eddie Muller, Angelica Jade Bastién. Plus, we get the legendary Wilder interviews with Volker Schlöndorff, uncut and völlig ungeklärt.  Revolver under the sofa cushion, anyone? On 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
05/17/22

A Fistful of Dollars + For a Few Dollars More 4K 05/17/22

KL Studio Classics
4K Ultra HD + Blu Ray

The good news is that Kino’s new 4K encodings of Sergio Leone’s first two Italo ‘Dollars’ oaters look terrific, with Fistful showing a lot of improvement: the basic restorations are from prime Italian film elements. And the packages are collector / home theater enthusiast friendly — standard Blu-ray encodings are part of the deal. As the films are still licensed from MGM, they include the extras from 2007 of which we’re very proud. The end results may be the first Leone disc release that makes this viewer ‘The Man with No Complaints.’  Don’t forget, they’re separate purchases. On 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/17/22

Francis the Talking Mule 05/14/22

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

7 Film Collection. Universal’s ongoing franchise used tricks to make a mule talk (with the voice of Chill Wills) providing Donald O’Connor with steady work but also shoehorning him into a role unworthy of his talent — as a high-stepping dancer he was the equal of Gene Kelly any day. Universal put everybody on the contract roster in these shows: actresses Julie Adams, Piper Laurie, Lori Nelson, and one show is the official credited debut of Clint Eastwood. The final entry is a real oddity, with Mickey Rooney taking over for Donald O’Connor and Paul Frees as the Mule’s voice. Will Francis sound like Toshiro Mifune? On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/14/22

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 4K 05/14/22

Paramount Presents
4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray

What a great title to revisit — John Ford’s ‘Kabuki’ western is less about action and more about form and tradition — especially the way the truth gets plowed under in ‘the West,’ which is of course America reduced to a mythological keepsake. John Wayne, James Stewart and Lee Marvin’s characters seem to know they are playing roles that never change. We might question the values but there’s no denying that said values prevailed as the country’s consensus self-image. Paramount’s new 4K makes a great-looking movie look even better, Pilgrim — and we don’t tolerate no disloyal debates ’bout film grain North of the Picket Wire. On 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray from Paramount Presents.
05/14/22

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) 05/14/22

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

In just her fourth American movie the Swedish import Ingrid Bergman proves herself the most sensual creature in Hollywood, running away with Spencer Tracy and Victor Fleming’s remake of Mamoulian’s pre-Code classic. The morals are cleaned up and the sex angle tamed down (except for Fröken Bergman) and the acting is less stylized — overall it’s a fine show. Ingrid learned quickly how things were done at MGM — she swiped the film’s plum role from Lana Turner. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
05/14/22

Mr. Klein 05/10/22

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Expatriate blacklistee Joseph Losey is the perfect director for this excellent, strange tale, a big award winner in France. The terrible Occupation-era victimization of the Jewish citizens of Paris is told tangentially from the viewpoint of a jackal-like opportunist who buys art and valuables cheaply from Jews desperate for cash. But Klein has a little ‘doppelgänger’ problem straight out of Franz Kafka . . . and finds himself in an existential nightmare that’s strangely . . . appropriate. This original, superior thriller also stars Jeanne Moreau, Francine Bergé, Michael Lonsdale, Juliet Berto and Suzanne Flon. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
05/10/22

Some Like It Hot 4K 05/10/22

KL Studio Classics
4K Ultra HD

This knockout comedy rates as one of Hollywood’s funniest ever — although it could be ‘cancelled’ any day now, so get ready to deny ever having laughed at it. Ultimate movie star glamour meets the apex of screenwriting hilarity: liberated by 101 cross-dressing jokes Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond jam sly sex innuendo into almost word spoken. We still don’t know how the censors passed one of of Marilyn Monroe’s costumes: Raymond Durgnat described the resulting visual effect as ‘The Hanging Gardens of Marilyn.’ Everybody’s tip top in this one: Jack Lemmon prances, Tony Curtis does his Cary Grant imitation, and Billy Wilder tosses in a score of his favorite 1920s tunes. On 4K Ultra HD from KL Studio Classics.
05/10/22

Murphy’s War 05/10/22

Powerhouse Indicator
Region B Blu-ray

Peter Yates’ excellent war-movie follow-up to Bullitt landed in the wrong year: the beautifully produced and directed action thriller was barely seen in America. Royal Navy mechanic Peter O’Toole swears vengeance on the U-Boat commander who sunk his ship and murdered its entire crew. Locals in a Caribbean backwater help him to strike back: he must first teach himself to fly an airplane. With support from Horst Janson, Sian Phillips and the great Philippe Noiret, it’s a wartime suspense nail-biter with a little manic obsession thrown in as well. Indicator’s extras feature the great editor-director John Glen, who relates the exciting story of the filming on location in Venezuela. On Region B Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
05/10/22

The Hunter 05/07/22

Viavision [Imprint]
Region Free Blu-ray

Steve McQueen’s final film is an action-comedy compromise that will satisfy his fans even if it barely hangs together. The thrills are kinder & gentler, with plenty of hair-raising stunts but less gunplay and gore. McQueen’ eccentric bounty hunter collects toys and can barely drive a car, but he always gets his man. Kathryn Harrold is good; Eli Wallach, LeVar Burton, Ben Johnson, Richard Venture and Tracey Walter are along for the ride (and stay out of Steve’s spotlight). Steve’s in charge — he tailors everything to highlight his quirky star characterization, and the guiding principle is ‘low key.’ On Region Free Blu-ray from Viavision [Imprint].
05/07/22

12 Monkeys 4K 05/07/22

Arrow Video
4K Ultra HD

Here’s one that really benefits from its 4K upgrade — Terry Gilliam’s dense visuals look great with Roger Pratt’s exacting cinematography. Is this really a thinking man’s science fiction hit, or did audiences mainly want to get a look at Brad Pitt in a new mode, playing a weird motormouthed eccentric?  Bruce Willis and Madeleine Stowe star in a time-puzzle thriller adaptation of Chris Marker’s La jetée. On 4K Ultra HD from Arrow Video.
05/07/22

Dr. Phibes Double Feature 05/03/22

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Vincent Price’s strongest A.I.P. departure from the Poe mold, often praised for its ornate art direction, ‘The Abominable Dr. Phibes’ is a macabre murder fantasy in a 1920s period setting, one part Gaston Leroux and two parts Art Deco design accents, with some vintage music thrown in. The campy storyline sees Phibes organizing nine murders around the nine plagues of Egypt. The sequel ‘Dr. Phibes Rises Again’ goes in for even more homicidal artifice. With Joseph Cotten, Virginia North, Terry-Thomas; and Robert Quarry and Hugh Griffith. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/03/22

Dementia 05/03/22

Cohen Media Group
Region A Blu-ray

The Cohen Film Collection brings to Region A its beautifully remastered disc of American fringe filmmaking’s weirdest, most obsessively arty shock-fest — a loving return to silent expressionist horror. The New York censors scuttled its commercial chances, and it wound up as a movie-within-a-movie footnote for Steve McQueen. We never thought we’d see the show look this good — John Parker memorialized Venice, California five years before Orson Welles. But the overall package packs a big disappointment, as I’ll explain. On Region A Blu-ray from Cohen Media Group.
05/03/22