CineSavant Column

Saturday April 18, 2020

Hello!  ….  The Czech frame grab above? Olga Schoberová (aka Olinka Berova) is saying, “I don’t bite, doctor.”

I happily made a fuss on FB the other morning when Criterion announced their July 7 disc of Pal’s The War of the Worlds, which fully deserved the digital restoration it received two years ago. The new spiffed-up edition has been cablecast once on TCM, and even with that compression looked sensational. I have received a complaint or two that the actors looked too waxy, as if the image had been given too much digital buffing. I don’t know, as the original Technicolor copies had that squeaky-clean perfect color and makeup associated with 3-Stripe color back in the day. One change I noticed, was that all the stock shots (the Flying Wing, etc.) had been cleaned up — no more big hairs in the gate.

The old ‘wires’ issue is coming back, I’m afraid, the talk that the suspension wires on the Martian fighting machines (and lots of other stuff) weren’t visible on original Tech prints, so therefore it’s proper to digitally erase them. Don’t believe it. They were always there, barely perceptible most of the time but plain as day in maybe three or four individual shots. They can’t have been appreciably more visible on the Eastmancolor prints circulated for a 1970s reissue — I think it’s more likely that we all started to pay more attention to the wires after multiple viewings.

They’re pretty much gone now. It’s revisionism, all right, but in this case I have to say I’m not offended. I will definitely be looking forward to hearing the newly created stereophonic track… the overall sound design of TWOTW is so dynamic, the old mono tracks sound like stereo.

This is one show that many of us have seen many times. In my case I can’t really watch the whole thing alone anymore … one great joy of raising children was being able to re-experience favorites like this through their eyes. A couple of months back TCM also cablecast a beautifully remastered copy of another Pal movie we dearly love, When Worlds Collide. Maybe Paramount will let some disc boutique license that core sci-fi picture as well.

Movie host Dick Dinman has a new audio discussion piece up, this time with the great Gena Rowlands. Their talk is mainly about Lonely Are the Brave, ‘saluting’ the late Kirk Douglas. Ms. Rowlands was short-changed for great film acting opportunities early in her career, but every last show she appears in is a winner. Kino has a Blu-ray of the movie due out in a month … I really enjoy Jerry Goldsmith’s music score.

And Greenbriar Picture Shows has a great in-depth article from Thursday, April 16 — John McElwee looks at Sam Fuller’s The Baron of Arizona with Vincent Price and Ellen Drew, the near-perfect melodrama about the historical swindler who almost got away with proving that he was the rightful owner of an entire territory out West. Who would have guessed that this was a favorite role for Price? Once again John shows me things I didn’t know about a movie I thought I’d fully absorbed.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson