CineSavant Column

Saturday October 12, 2019


First Up is the cartoon I promised from my daughter. It is one of dozens my daughter did during her time at Brown; ‘Techhouse’ is the name of a dorm that catered to engineering and especially computer students. The photo I promised of the actual item in question, a thing called ‘Pompey’s Head,’ will have to wait until I can crawl into the attic to get it. I believe it will become a family heirloom, eventually.

The distinctive cartooning style is something my daughter also used for illustrations for my first book of reviews. One of my facebook pages uses her cartoon celebrating the ‘wall of discs’ at Savant Central, around 2004 … which is now the ‘several rooms of discs’ that are utterly out of control. She also did a joke birthday card for me about Major Dundee that I should post sometime … maybe when I review that movie again.

(Note, some of these images are larger if opened in a new window.)

Second up: longtime correspondent Malcolm went with me ages ago to a Sony screening of The Big Gundown, before it was available on home video. He responds to my note about the amusing-creepy skull cake my daughter baked, with a more seriously creepy-creepy article by Leigh Chavez-Bush: The Macabre Art of Baking People Pot Pies.

I think I’d be more impressed if these things were edible… or would I want to eat something that looks like that, no matter how good it tasted?  The article is actually a little disturbing, like they’re deriving a bit too much ‘Buffalo Bill’ amusement with the idea.

The dependable Gary Teetzel forwarded a Classic Horror Film Board post on Facebook by the UCLA Film & Television Archive regarding a new restoration of that great, classic 1933 horror film Mystery of the Wax Museum. I wonder if somebody jumped the gun on an announcement: in the Facebook comments they say a Warner Archive Blu-ray will be coming at some point, and that they are trying to secure funding to do the same restoration job on Wax Museum’s sister film Doctor X. Here’s the text of the Facebook post:

“Here’s a peek at one of our current restoration projects: Michael Curtiz’s horror classic Mystery of the Wax Museum, one of Hollywood’s best two-strip Technicolor features, premiering early next year! Special thanks to our partners at Roundabout Entertainment, The Film Foundation and Warner Bros.”

This is of course great news; every year I get notes from readers that complain that the existing NTSC transfers of Wax Museum are all wrong, that the telecine colorists tried too hard to ‘improve the colors.’ I saw what I think was a re-premiere of the movie at the 1971 or 1972 FILMEX, with Randy Cook … at my discussion of the film I tell the story of the two of us approaching the special guest audience member, Fay Wray (!) before the screening.

We also get excited with the prospect of a restoration of Doctor X. The last we heard we thought one or both of those films were thought to be lost, until a print turned up in Jack Warner’s personal collection, discovered after he passed away. Speaking for myself, I’d like to see a simo restoration of the B&W Doctor X, which is said to be an entirely different movie, with a somewhat different tone — either more or less serious, I forget which. Long live the synthetic flesh!

This is the weekend that Mr. Muller Goes to Washington, film noir fans. The Noir City: DC publicity says, I’ll paraphrase, that the film series returns to the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center October 11-24. This year’s featured screenings include the Film Noir Foundation’s most recent restoration project, Richard Fleischer’s Trapped, and a free screening of Norman Foster’s great Woman on the Run, with Imogen Sara Smith joining Eddie Muller for a post-film onstage discussion.

They’re also touting 75th anniversary screenings of five landmark noirs from 1944: The Woman in the Window, Laura, Phantom Lady, Double Indemnity, and Murder, My Sweet. And a ‘rarities’ selection during the two-week run will include City That Never Sleeps, Murder by Contract, Private Hell 36, and The Scarlet Hour. Initial weekend hosting duties will be performed by the celebrated film historian Foster Hirsch will introduce screenings during the first weekend. Passes, tickets, and the full line-up are available on the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center’s website.

Contributing correspondent Craig Reardon forwards this Youtube home movie feature that’s self- explanatory: Laurel and Hardy — in Color, in 1956. Craig’s note said, and you’ll quickly agree, that the unexpected element is that Oliver Hardy had by that time lost so much weight — Laurel had gained enough — that they’re almost equal to one another in heft. Craig was also pleased to see the classic film comedians both looking so relaxed and evidently fond of one another, especially due to the indicated friction in that recent biographical film about them.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson