CineSavant Column

Tuesday March 12, 2019


Whoah — I’m looking on Amazon under ‘Film Noir Boxed Sets,’ for DVD boxed collections that came out in the last ten years from Warners, Sony, etc.. A bunch must be OOP because some of the prices are through the roof: $110 for the First Warners Film Noir Classics Collection, most of the contents of which is now on Blu-ray. I remember one reader who was trying to nab one of the Sony collections just a couple months after its release, was frustrated because it was no longer available.

But new things are on the horizon. On April 9, Kit Parker will be releasing a jumbo box of films noir, entitled Noir Archive Volume 1: 1944-1954 9 Movie Collection. I’m curious to find out the quality of this 3-disc set, as Parker takes great care in his products — if the movies are under eighty minutes, three B&W pictures to a single Blu-ray need not suffer in quality. All the titles appear to be new to Blu-ray. I’ve never seen several of them.

The lineup is as follows: Address Unknown (1944), William Cameron Menzies; Escape in the Fog (1945), Budd Boetticher; The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947), Henry Levin; The Black Book (aka Reign of Terror) (1949), Anthony Mann; Johnny Allegro (1949), Ted Tetzlaff; 711 Ocean Drive (1950), Joseph M. Newman; The Killer That Stalked New York (1950) and Assignment Paris (1952) both, Earl McEvoy; and The Miami Story (1954), Fred F. Sears. CineSavant hopes to snag a review copy — !

Helpful Constantine Nasr answered a message sent a few days ago and confirmed that a most-highly anticipated science fiction Blu-ray is indeed still on its way from Scream Factory, and in fact, work on its extras is almost complete. The movie I’m talking about is none other than Val Guest’s Quatermass 2, the first sequel in Hammer Films’ Quatermass series. I didn’t ask for more details because people working for disc companies must stay mum about unreleased product details. But it is good news just knowing that the disc hasn’t been cancelled. I’m hoping that it gets a release date before the summer.

I guess Q2 must be my favorite science fiction film, simply because I watch it so often. In my Savant Science Fiction Reader it takes place of pride for the best UK Sci-fi with two other gems. Also directed by Guest is the suspenseful, realistic The Day the Earth Caught Fire, which today seems more relevant than ever due to its theme of a man-made weather cataclysm. That show is out on a beautiful BFI disc, unfortunately not in Region ‘A.’

And the third UK Sci-fi classic, Joseph Losey’s These Are the Damned is definitely in the works for Powerhouse Indicator’s next Hammer Films box. The word is that it hasn’t yet been announced because they’re taking extra time to get the extras right. Having been thoroughly reexamined since it was restored to its original length in the 1990s, Losey’s film is important enough to merit a major reassessment.

Actually, These Are the Damned’s first stab at Blu-ray availability will be from Germany. An Explosive Media disc is coming on May 23. It should be closer to a plain-wrap presentation, but definitely All-Region.

But back to Quatermass 2!  Like I say, I couldn’t ask for inside information, even though I’m dying to know what Q2 is going to look like. Twenty years ago, when Image released the existing open-matte flat DVD, we were told that the only source that could be found was a print held by the BFI. The reason that part of its opening scene did not look good, is because the print was too dark to yield an acceptable image in telecine. Here’s hoping that improved elements have been located.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson