Gregory’s Girl 01/21/20

Film Movement Classics
Blu-ray

From the director of the beloved Local Hero: ‘Pure Simple Joy’ is an apt way to describe this deceptively meek, completely endearing Scottish film with a universal theme about adolescence and the reality of teen love. John Hughes’ teen pix do not hold a candle to the innocent charm found here. The gawky yet boundlessly optimistic Gregory falls head over heels for the teenaged wonder girl of his dreams… his only problem is that she’s light years ahead of him in terms of maturity. But the female social system takes on the problem in what must be the most gentle (make that Utopian) view of high school ever. Writer-director Bill Forsythe struck independent hit gold, through the great performances of Gordon John Sinclair, Dee Hepburn, and Clare Grogan. On Blu-ray from Film Movement Classics.
01/21/20

Night Tide 01/21/20

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Experimental filmmaker and writer Curtis Harrington took his first shot at a feature film with this intriguing horror blend of Val Lewton ambiguity and A.I.P. nightmare thrills. Dennis Hopper is the amiable sailor at the sideshow pier who gets literally tangled up with a mermaid performer — who has some secrets he’d rather not know. Linda Lawson and Luana Anders are the romantic alternatives, but we know that sailors never pick the right woman. This two disc special edition loads the show with extras, including an impressive set of restored Harrington short films. And you’ll never think of the Santa Monica Pier’s carousel the same way again. Reviewed by the reportedly experimental Charlie Largent. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
01/21/20

House by the River 01/21/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

One of Fritz Lang’s least-known thrillers has aspects that appealed to him, and he certainly applied his personal viewpoint and visual talent. It’s a period Gothic with women in corsets, about a deranged writer who lets his desires get out of hand. It may be actor Louis Hayward’s best work. Jane Wyatt is the suffering wife, but the real honors go to Dorothy Patrick, in an all-too brief appearance. It’s yet another Lang film about a sex-killer; commentator Alexandra Heller-Nicholas relates the attempted rape to the #metoo movement. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
01/21/20

CineSavant Column

Tuesday January 21, 2020

Hello! Let’s fan the flames for a much-desired home video release!

It was 1992 when a big laserdisc compilation of Tex Avery MGM Cartoons (above left) was released — we big $$ spending laserdisc nuts were happy to finally be able to dig through a huge chunk of Avery’s work in one go … even those sad mid-’50s retread cartoons reformatted for CinemaScope. Back in the 1980s MGM/UA Home Video released two or three VHS compilations, which were simply marvelous — my kids all knew how to imitate the slow-talking country wolf (“Hey Look, Billy’s back!”) and 1001 Avery gags became shorthand expressions for our daily use, like doing the dog’s goofy Hawaiian dance in the cartoon about the magician. The clean-but-sexy-as-all-get-out Swing Shift Cinderella taught us that Avery’s animators could really be inspired when the subject was, uh, inspiring, and Symphony of Slang introduced kids to a whole new level of vocabulary humor: “What’s a Russian Mule?”. Finally, King-Size Canary and Bad Luck Blackie snuck the concept of surrealism into their defenseless little psyches … except I think I showed my daughter Bad Luck Blackie when she was too young, and some of the cartoon’s unrestrained sadism was a little disturbing.

There the cartoons have sat for almost thirty years, with only a few remastered for HD, to show up now and then attached to a Warners Blu-ray feature release. And since my last laser player gave up the ghost several seasons ago, my collection of 12″ discs are now really only for display (my boxed sets stand proud, above right). The covers of The Compleat Tex Avery and The Val Lewton Collection are worth framing … I think the Avery box art was derived from VHS artwork.

Now the announcement is here, courtesy of Jerry Beck and Animation Scoop — a disc set with 19 cartoons. It’s just the first volume. Bad Luck Blackie and Symphony in Slang are there as classic Avery selections, along with some ‘Screwy Squirrels,’ ‘George & Junior’ and ‘Droopy’ cartoons.

Yes, rediscovering Tex Avery is a good idea at any time. My knowledgeable reviewer associate ‘B,’ volunteered yesterday to review the rumored set, and I said yes right away — ‘B’ wrote an entertaining piece on Porky Pig 101 2.5 years back. And this release is a good reminder to try and solicit a written piece from another friend, who worked with Tex and came away with some pretty nifty late-career anecdotes from the crafty Texan animation genius.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday January 18, 2020

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Fail Safe 01/18/20

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

The world trembles on the brink, and liberals are in charge!  The nicest President you ever met gives the Soviet Premier an offer anybody could refuse, while technical glitches, not crazy people or radical politics, are blamed for starting WW3. Sidney Lumet’s taut, scary armageddon-outta-here thriller was weighed in the balance against a certain Stanley Kubrick film and found wanting, but unless you’re a stickler for technical details it really works up a buzz. The cast & crew list is a menu of committed liberal talent. Featuring Henry Fonda, Dan O’Herlihy, Walter Matthau, Frank Overton, Edward Binns, Fritz Weaver, Larry Hagman, Janet Ward and Dom DeLuise. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
01/18/20

Tunes of Glory 01/18/20

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Some critics wondered if Alec Guinness and John Mills should have swapped roles for this adaptation of James Kennaway’s incisive novel about popularity vs. discipline in the command structure of a Scots army brigade. Ronald Neame’s direction is exemplary, showcasing the powerhouse performances yet avoiding theatrical flourishes. And the movie introduces Susannah York as well. Criterion’s 4K remaster greatly improves on their older DVD release. Starring Dennis Price, Susannah York, Kay Walsh, John Fraser and Gordon Jackson. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
01/18/20

CineSavant Column

Saturday January 18, 2020

Hello!

So far no complaints about the Explosive Media All-Region Blu-ray of Major Dundee with my commentary. A long list of purchasers have asked me for the English original of my insert essay, which in the disc booklet is translated into German. I believe the commentary is the first fully-explained guide to the original continuity, taken straight from Sam Peckinpah and Oscar Saul’s shooting script. I’ll continue to send .pdfs of the insert essay to purchasers that email me, copying the first line of the essay, or its title, in German!   Remember, the Twilight Time release is out of print, and has no original audio version.

Criterion’s April titles include Blu-rays of the classic Marlene Dietrich/James Stewart western Destry Rides Again ( ↑ ) and Juraj Herz’s creepy Czech political horror movie The Cremator, plus a reissue of Jean-Pierre Melville’s great tale of the occupation resistance, Army of Shadows.

Correspondent Brendan Carroll has steered me to a VCI page announcing a new Library of Congress restoration of the excellent 1932 pre-Code Lewis Milestone/Joan Crawford/Walter Huston drama Rain. The movie was heavily cut to be reissued under the Production Code, but The Mary Pickford foundation possesses an intact full-length uncut negative. A 4K restoration is underway; a disc release is projected for mid-2020.

Kino Lorber has a terrific April Blu-ray lineup. Spread out across the month is a long string of desirables that include Henry Hathaway’s The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), Lewis Milestone’s The General Died at Dawn (1936), William Wellman’s Beau Geste (1939), the Victor Halperin/Carole Lombard horror mystery Supernatural (1933), Ernst Lubitsch’s Angel (1937), George Marshall’s Murder, He Says (1945), Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s Nazi-era Paracelsus (1943), as well as his silent masterpiece The Love of Jeanne Ney (1927) ( ↑ ); a combo of Memphis Belle (1944) and The Cold Blue (2018), William Wyler’s wartime documentary and a new documentary about Wyler; Vittorio De Sica’s Woman Times Seven (1967), George Cukor’s TV movie Love Among the Ruins (1975), a new restoration of Paul Wegener’s silent The Golem (1920), Karl Malden’s Time Limit (1957), Andrew L. Stone’s 65mm musical Song of Norway (1970), John Schlesinger’s comedy Billy Liar (1963), and Karel Reisz’s eccentric Morgan, A Suitable Case For Treatment (1966). That’s quite a list!

Correspondent Jonathan Gluckman tipped me off to a series of Museum of Modern Art new restorations being screened this month. The delights include Gustav Machatý’s notorious Ecstasy with Hedy Lamarr; Michael Curtiz’s horror classic in two-strip Technicolor Mystery of the Wax Museum; The Corman/Price/Roeg horror classic Masque of the Red Death ( ↑ ); and Raoul Walsh’s silent Loves of Carmen with Gloria Swanson. And that’s just the titles I’m familiar with. Hopefully some well-deserved Blu-rays will follow.

Note, just prior to posting: Correspondent Marc Hampton just saw the restored Mystery of The Wax Museum last night at MoMA. He writes: “I remembered you mentioned the restoration last month, and always agreed with your criticism of DVD version. Wow…it looks terrific. Like the best segments in King of Jazz, almost 3-D in their 2-color weirdness. I’ve never seen the film look this good. Or sound this good. The lady introducing the film told us how fantastic this restoration would sound, and she wasn’t kidding.

Despite the 25 degree evening, an almost packed house. Can’t gush enough, as this is one I’ve been waiting for a looooong time. Best, M”

Finally, Dick Dinman has another good podcast discussion with Warners VP George Feltenstein, this time celebrating the recent Warner Archive Blu-ray of The Bad and the Beautiful, Vincente Minnelli’s Hollywood-On-Hollywood classic.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday January 14, 2020

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

The War Lord 01/14/20

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

One of the more satisfying costume adventures of the ‘sixties is also one of its star’s best vehicles. Charlton Heston was born to play bigger-than-life historical types, and his Norman knight in this film has the benefit of an intelligent screenplay and a terrific supporting ensemble. This hero’s armor doesn’t shine — he’s more than willing to risk everything to possess a pagan woman with whom he’s become infatuated. Many would-be epics want us to think that the charms of unlikely damsels like Virginia Mayo and Claudette Colbert changed the course of history, but this show makes it seem more than possible. Plus, it features great action scenes and a terrific music score by Jerome Moross. With an impressive cast: Richard Boone, Rosemary Forsyth, Maurice Evans, Guy Stockwell, Niall MacGinnis, and James Farentino. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
01/14/20

Black Angel 01/14/20

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray

This unassuming noir classic can boast a strong creative pedigree and an unusual ending… which I’ll not spoil. Dan Duryea is the confused pianist helping June Vincent clear her husband of a murder charge, by infiltrating the nightclub of suspicious Peter Lorre. The outline sticks close to Cornell Woolrich’s story source, and Roy William Neill contributes a classy job of direction. Also starring Constance Dowling and Broderick Crawford; Alan K. Rode’s commentary is a winner. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
01/14/20

CineSavant Column

Tuesday January 14, 2020

Hello!

I’m taking an undeserved Lazy Break from the column, mainly because I just got back from a trip and there’s simply no time to do it properly. I’m sure that the CineSavant contributors will have a few juicy items for me for Saturday — if I get a review of something done in time… !

The image above doesn’t represent my condition or my attitude, no matter what my close associates might claim on the witness stand. It’s from today’s reviewed disc Black Angel.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday January 11, 2020

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

The Titfield Thunderbolt 01/11/20

Film Movement Classics
Blu-ray

Toot Toot!  The Little Engine that Could becomes a tale of the little town that could, when their tiny rail service is discontinued. A crackerjack cast of Ealing regulars — Stanley Holloway, Naunton Wayne, John Gregson — band together to take over the little spur line and keep it running. We get to see a vintage locomotive from the early 1800s in action, but the appeal isn’t limited to lovers of trains — Ealing’s knack for inspired, understated comedy is all over this show. Plus, it’s the company’s first feature in Technicolor, and is beautifully remastered. With George Relph, Godfrey Tearle, Hugh Griffith, Sidney James, and Jack MacGowran. On Blu-ray from Film Movement Classics.
01/11/20

Young Winston 01/11/20

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Epics — everybody wants to make them but the studios are naturally wary. Richard Attenborough’s ode to the youthful ambitions of Sir Winston Churchill was a big hit in England but didn’t make a dent here. Although a dead ringer for the young Winston, Simon Ward didn’t take off as a star either, leaving Anne Bancroft and Robert Shaw in a sidebar drama that will mostly be remembered for an STD. Correspondent-soldier Churchill sees action in India, The Sudan and South Africa, thanks to the intervention of his socially adept mother. It’s a beautiful, ‘safe’ production with plenty of national pride. Its American premiere served as the Grand opening screening for the second FILMEX film festival. No shortage of Brit movie stars on view: Jack Hawkins, Patrick Magee, Edward Woodward, John Mills, Pat Heywood, Laurence Naismith, Colin Blakely, Ian Holm, Robert Flemyng, Jane Seymour, Anthony Hopkins, Pippa Steel. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
01/11/20

CineSavant Column

Saturday January 11, 2020

Hello!

CineSavant correspondent Gary Teetzel tells me that the word’s going around that the alternate ending for Saul Bass’s weird eco-apocalyptic science fiction thriller Phase IV may now be viewable, perhaps even remastered. I remember the Cinefamily theater sneaking a viewing Saul Bass’s long-lost alternate ending back in 2012. My 2015 review of an Olive Films disc lamented the fact that the alternate ending hadn’t been included, but there is word that the film is now being shown on Apple TV with it restored. The runtime listed is indeed 86 minutes and not 84, but nothing says ‘Director’s Cut’ or ballyhoos a restoration.

Meanwhile, Carlotta Films in France has listed a new Blu-ray as coming out in April. One website claimed it was an 87 minute version — which would suggest it has the lost alternate ending — but Amazon lists the theatrical 84-minute runtime; it does, however list the original ending as an extra. It also has a documentary, and a limited edition release also includes a 200-page book called Phase IV: Eclipse of Humanity by Frank Lafond.

If Olive Films isn’t out of business, dare we hope for a Signature Edition here in the States?

Meanwhile, correspondent David Arscot sends along a web article with more discussion: An Original Ending for Phase IV?  On it you’ll find scans of both endings, too.


Newly posted on YouTube is a Reconstituted Trailer for How the West Was Won — a longform original trailer for the 1962 movie has been overlaid with the ‘Smilebox’ processed video from Warners’ 2008 Blu-Ray, to good effect. I think I see only one shot that looks a little ragged, so perhaps it wasn’t used in the feature, and therefore couldn’t be matched-in. Very high quality images, no argument there.


Most of Kino’s January titles have arrived in-house, but the list of upcoming Blu-rays for February just hit. The titles that catch my eye include Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues, Summer of Sam, Jungle Fever, Crooklyn and Clockers; the camp jaw-dropper The Oscar, H.G. Clouzot’s Quai de Orfèvres, Allan Arkush’s Heartbeeps, Joseph Losey’s The Criminal (The Concrete Jungle) and Accident, Mike Nichols’ The Day of the Dolphin, Claude Chabrol’s The Third Lover & Line of Demarcation, Peter Hall’s Perfect Friday, René Clément’s The Deadly Trap and the Jules Verne / Kirk Douglas pirate film The Light at the Edge of the World.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday January 7, 2020

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Cimarron 01/07/20

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Once upon a time, MGM launched a big spectacle Western remake with the top star Glenn Ford and the bright import Maria Schell — and then second-guessed the whole production, cutting back on everything so severely that director Anthony Mann ankled the set for Spain and El Cid. The storytelling is a mess — after starting big, the show soon falls into pieces. But many of individual scenes and set pieces are exemplary, especially Mann’s re-run of the Oklahoma Land Rush, staged in Arizona and augmented by classy special effects. The large cast rounds up some big talent — Mercedes McCambridge, Russ Tamblyn — to tell Edna Ferber’s multi-generational story about ambition, intolerance and dreams of glory on the frontier. With Anne Baxter, Arthur O’Connell, Russ Tamblyn, Mercedes McCambridge, Vic Morrow, Charles McGraw, Harry Morgan, David Opatoshu, Aline MacMahon, and a whole lotta horses. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
01/07/20

Viy 01/07/20

Severin Films
Blu-ray

Could the Soviets do a horror film?  The answer is a big yes, with an adaptation of the same Nikolai Gogol fable credited with inspiring Mario Bava’s Black Sunday. The bucolic period setting and comic undertones do not prepare the viewer for the maelstrom of supernatural events, aptly described by the disc notes as ‘demonic mayhem.’ It’s too terrifying for one Russian director, so Konstantin Ershov, Georgiy Kropachyov collaborated. The equally frightening CineSavant scribe Charlie Largent pens the review, doing some research to better place it in a cinematic context. Does a movie like this fit into the horror tradition of western Europe, or does it exist in isolation? Some of the creepy-crawly monster things in this show defy description.  On Blu-ray from Severin Films.
01/07/20

CineSavant Column

Tuesday January 7, 2020

Hello!

Now that I can link to older CineSavant Columns, let me direct your attention to the Column of December 10, 2019 where I was excited to report that Scream Factory would be releasing a Blu-ray of Roger Corman’s Day the World Ended on March 10. The very next day, Scream said, yes, the disc was coming, but not in March. Now Gary Teetzel passes on a another semi-substantiated rumor that Day will now be coming out in May, likely with another A.I.P. horror item, How to Make a Monster. Both titles are from the group of A.I.P. features now held by the Sam Arkoff contingent. That’ll be good news, if the films are remastered for HD. We welcome any development that helps break the logjam that prevents more MIA favorites from reaching the fans that so strongly covet them.


New discs in the review hopper are Jack Clayton’s Room at the Top (Kino), George Cukor’s Holiday (Criterion), Curtis Harrington’s Night Tide (Powerhouse Indicator) and Charles Crichton’s The Titfield Thunderbolt (Film Movement Classics). I’m keeping the mailbox monitored for some hot titles expected soon: Arthur Hiller’s Penelope, John Sturges’ Underwater! ( ↑ ) and William Conrad’s Two on a Guillotine; Preston Sturges’ The Great McGinty, William Wyler’s The Good Fairy, Michael Ritchie’s Semi-Tough, Robert Aldrich’s Ulzana’s Raid and Franklin J. Schaffner’s The War Lord. Criterion has Sidney Lumet’s Fail-Safe on the way, along with Pedro Almodóvar’s All About My Mother, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema, and way at the end of February, Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman. Kino just announced a long list of desirable and rare titles for February; I’ll talk about those on Saturday.


And we’ve got a really good reason to visit Trailers From Hell’s podcast The Movies That Made Me this week — to launch the third year of the podcast feature, Josh Olson and Joe Dante welcome producers Julie and Roger Corman for a long discussion of everything cinema. And I wish to express my appreciation and thanks to Trailers from Hell as well: CineSavant is well into its fourth year being hosted at TFH, which in my estimation is the classiest movie-mad showcase on the web.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson