CineSavant Column

Saturday August 17, 2019

Hello!  Some welcome new disc announcements today.

Olive Films is following up their DVD release with a new 4K remaster of A Bucket of Blood, Roger Corman’s first foray into all-out ‘sick humor’ horror. The comedic saga of misunderstood artistic genius Walter Paisley is still a winner thanks to writer Charles B. Griffith’s crazy-man wit, the dead-on spoof of coffee shop beatniks, and the original performances of the late Dick Miller, Barboura Morris and Anthony Carbone.

As an Olive Signature item, the list of extras sounds encouraging as well: Video interviews with Roger Corman, and Dick & Lanie Miller; an audio interview with Charles B. Griffith, a feature commentary by Elijah Drenner and text input from Miller biographer Caelum Vatnsdal. The release is billed as a 4K remaster, so we’re hoping that it clears up some minor flaws in the previous DVD. The expected street date is September 24. Good call, Olive!

And there are more vintage classics on the way:

One can make a convincing case that this is shaping up as Bette Davis Season, at least for Blu-ray fans. I’m primed to review the Warner Archive Collection’s new remastered release of the classic Jezebel, which ought to look great — many older WB classics are showing up on TCM in sparkling HD remasters. Just the other day I re-viewed Kings Row.

But just on Thursday, the WAC also announced Davis’s The Letter, and The Criterion Collection announced new Blus of All About Eve and Now, Voyager, all three top Bette Davis titles, for November. That the Fox picture would be licensed by Criterion is no surprise, but we’re especially pleased whenever Warners digs deeper into the 1930s, as they did a bit back with a terrific disc of the Busby Berkeley/James Cagney musical Footlight Parade. I keep forgetting that Warners is periodically licensing things out now.

And finally, CineSavant resource, associate and advisor Gary Teetzel attended a Thursday night Aero Theater screening of David Swift’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, prompted by the promised attendance of its star Robert Morse. Morse’s visibility has peaked in recent years, thanks to his excellent work in TV’s Mad Men. As Gary relates, it was apparently the film gathering of the month:

“Saw How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying last night at the Aero for the Q & A with 88-year old Robert Morse afterward. He hadn’t watched the movie in a few years, and seemed genuinely touched to see it with an enthusiastic, appreciative audience; he said that at his age it’s nice to be reminded that “Bobby, you had a damn good career.”

The subject of the missing Coffee Break musical number inevitably came up. Morse didn’t know if it had been filmed or not. Someone in the audience shot their hand up and breathlessly explained what had happened to the sequence, and said he had called John Kirk (‘who was then the head of preservation at MGM’) years ago, and John had told him he had already searched, without success.

Among those in the audience: Larry Mirisch; the sister of Maureen ‘Hedy LaRue’ Arthur (Maureen is ailing; Morse said to pass on his best wishes); an actress who had understudied Smitty during the original run, and then played the part with the road company; Michael Schlesigner; and Leonard Maltin. Morse said he had expected Michelle Lee to show up, but she didn’t. Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner — or maybe it was his son — had been there for the screening, but left before the Q & A.” — Gary

And wait, there’s more and it has nothing to do with movies whatsoever.

When my parents moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona in 1970, we watched the London Bridge being reassembled in the middle of the desert. Two years later, Billy Wilder made a crack about rude rich Americans buying English landmarks in his movie Avanti!  Well, here’s a new skillful aerial video of the lake area taken by my brother David, from his radio controlled airplane early one morning on a glass-smooth lake just south of the Bridge (which almost but doesn’t quite appear in the video). I don’t see many videos like this so I was impressed.

I like what the video camera does with the spinning propeller — very interesting. That jagged ridge of mountains to the South can be seen prominently in the 1944 movie 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, either representing Japan or a test flight area, I forget which.   Wait, that video’s not enough?   Here’s another, a front view. You’re welcome, don’t mention it.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson