First up, fun disc announcements. Promised from The Warner Archive Collection in November are several special titles Operation Crossbow is a WW2 movie that crosses the real story of aerial bomb V-weapons, with a James Bond-like fantasy pretending that the ICBM V-3 was ready to launch. The World, The Flesh and The Devil is an end of the world Sci-fi with Harry Belafonte and Inger Stevens, filmed on real New York locations; it ought to look sensational in HD. The Bad and the Beautiful continues the WAC’s Vincente Minnelli push on Blu.
↑The last and most unusual choice is Great Day in the Morning, an atypical RKO western from Jacques Tourneur that’s never been on video disc here before. The cast is pretty interesting, too: Robert Stack, Virginia Mayo, Ruth Roman, Alex Nicol, Raymond Burr and Leo Gordon. Plus Technicolor and Superscope.
I’m afraid that many readers weren’t too pleased with The Disney Movie Club last summer when they tried to order the new Blu of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Correspondent MDH tells me that the outfit is now selling a BD disc of Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. I know fans are crazy about the Patrick McGoohan TV show; I reviewed it back in 2008 when Disney infuriated customers by releasing a very limited steel box edition, which was immediately bought up by scalpers.
Criterion January has an almost perfect slate of gotta-review movies for January, starting with one of Pedro Almodóvar’s best, All About My Mother. Then there’s the Hepburn-Grant Holiday, a beloved show I never cared for; Godard’s Le petit soldat, Sidney Lumet’s not-so-hot The Fugitive Kind and his Fail-Safe, which is pretty darn intense, and the basis of a million arguments about national defense.
Shining among Kino Lorber’s November titles is Roger Vadim’s Les Liasons Dangereuses, which may be his best film. They sprung this on us in college and it took our heads off — with Jeanne Moreau, Gerard Philipe and Annette Vadim, plus the jazz music of Thelonious Monk. But that was on a giant screen, so I wonder how it will play now?
I’ve had input from a few cooperative experts — Bob Furmanek thought my reportage on the technical side of Parasite 3-D was accurate, a first for me. He says that his 3-D Film Archive is concentrating on finishing their upcoming releases of 3-D Rarities II and Douglas Sirk’s Rock Hudson/Barbara Rush starrer Taza, Son of Cochise., in 3-D, Technicolor and widescreen.
Randy Cook checked in to remind me of a famous actor I didn’t catch in The Lavender Hill Mob — Robert Shaw is one of the London cops seen weighing the import souvenir in the convention hall. Is that specific gravity? If so, it takes me right back to un-learned high school physics classes. It’s Robert Shaw’s first feature film. → Since it’s also one of Audrey Hepburn’s first films, the question is, did they every play in the same film again?
← And finally, the always- friendly Michael Schlesinger has refreshed my faulty memory on the subject of the 1932 WB horror film Doctor X, which was released in two versions. I’m pretty sure that I saw the now-scarce B&W version on TV in the far past, but it was forgotten in the wake of a Warners’ laserdisc and DVD releases of the 2-Color Technicolor version. I thought I’d heard that the B&W version was much different, but Michael sent along a helpful note:
“Just FYI, we screened the B&W version at the 1986 Cinecon. It’s actually pretty much the same movie, with some small but noteworthy differences: dissimilar line readings, some stray sound effects (like a body thudding extra loudly when it hits the floor), slightly different camera angles, etc. But yes, it would be ideal to do a Blu set of both Doctor X’s along with Mystery of the Wax Museum!”
That’s a great idea — I watch the funny, creepy Mystery of the Wax Museum twice as often as I do the remake, and it’s in 3-D. Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson