CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 26, 2020


Well, it looks like Scorpion Releasing definitely has a Blu-ray coming for Night Visitor, which might include an added value extra I was involved with. I enjoyed the afternoon I spent talking about the making of the movie, that part of the filming I could know about from inside an editing room. Meeting the new-generation crew of extras-creators currently cooking up featurettes and interviews for labels like Severin and Scorpion was fun, too. Some of them are really crazy about anything to do with Cannon Films, either that or they figured it was the right attitude to take when interviewing someone who worked for the company for a while.

Back when commentaries were recorded at professional post houses, I once worked for a disc producer from the ritziest label out there (no names) who was insultingly patronizing. But he was the exception. This bunch for Scorpion Releasing didn’t even treat me like too much of an old man. Much appreciated.

I had no idea that 1989’s Night Visitor had fans of any kind. I saw it again to prep for the session, and was pleased that it had some good qualities… the name actors involved always impressed me. I still like the late Allen Garfield’s performance, a lot. I’ve seen too many actors that hired on for films they thought were beneath them, and then took out their frustration on anybody within earshot. All of the acting talent in this modest satanic thriller did their best. Allen Garfield was very friendly in person, and his scenes were really fun to edit: look, a real performance!

Night Visitor was originally called Never Cry Devil, as seen in this sales poster by the original production company. MGM/UA’s title change insured that the film would forever be confused with a much better known Max von Sydow / Liv Ullmann movie.


And I’ve been thinking about the Memorial Day holiday that has just past. To help you get ready for our next war, I found something we’ll need to get more familiar with — a genuine Ration Book!  Rationing is what happens when an entire nation’s production capacity is realigned toward the war effort. Because the military’s needs are so great, civilians are allowed to consume less of the country’s output of food, gas, auto tires, etc..

And who knows, in the glorious economic disaster that looms ahead (?) we may need rationing, with or without a war. For years after victory in England, rationing remained imposed. Both staples and luxuries were tightly controlled, to squeak out a positive balance of trade and prevent the entire country from going bankrupt.

I’m kidding, yet I’m also feeling nostalgic for a time when the U.S.A., imperfect as it was, could actually face up to a calamity in a responsible way. They put up with the frustrating rationing system because it was fair, and patriotic.

My parents left me a ration book from 1945. I regret that I never asked exactly how the stamp system worked. I know they weren’t like money, but served only as permission to purchase something. This page of stamps has little images of tanks, but others have a cannon and an aircraft carrier. I have no idea what these particular stamps were for. Any experts out there want to fill me in?

The stamps always remind me of something else long-gone that I do remember: the old ticket system from Disneyland. Each standard book of ride tickets included a few ‘E-Tickets’ for the desirable rides (‘Matterhorn Bobsleds’), various mid-range tickets, and finally ‘A-Tickets’ for the Main Street vehicles and minor walk-through exhibits. The sock drawers of many of us kids in Southern California filled up with unused A-Tickets because one could ride a Fire Engine or see ‘Sleeping Beauty’s Castle’ only so many times.

Did these WWII Ration Book ticket pages survive because they were of lesser value?  Maybe there was a number system… would two pages of tickets entitle one to buy the juicy steak that shows up in wartime Tex Avery cartoons? ←

(opening the images in a new window makes them much bigger.)

And there you go, yet another Column entry that actually has nothing to do with Blu-rays. But let nobody say that CineSavant is not patriotic.  Now get out there and collect scrap metal and rubber.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson