CineSavant Column

Saturday June 6, 2020


Well, today we have actual posts about actual Blu-ray issues. Charlie Largent will be reviewing Severin Films’ Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection, the unthinkable 14-disc collector’s set. I asked Charlie if he liked the movies, as I’d already drawn my personal line against them when I reviewed the David Gregory documentary Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson. Charlie reminded me that they’re “just a part of the wacky history of movie production” and therefore will draw interest. So I’m looking forward to the review.

Correspondent Bob Furmanek is working furiously on his next restoration project, which isn’t in 3-D. It’s the Nassour Brothers’ Abbott and Costello feature, the first of their non-exclusive projects enabled by a new Universal contract. To promote the movie, it looks like they’ve taken a surviving trailer, replaced the wretched old visuals with their clean restored images, and re-composited the original animated text. They did the same thing in 3-D for Taza, Son of Cochise, to really good effect. The result is a non-original ‘original’ trailer for Africa Screams that ought to bring the 1949 movie back from Public Domain limbo in grand style.

And host Dick Dinman hosts William Wellman Jr., to talk about the recent Kino release of the William Wellman classic Beau Geste. It’s a good conversation, and I’m glad it doesn’t contradict anything in our Beau Geste CineSavant review.

I haven’t forwarded any hot Turner Classic Movies tips lately, but these two are hard to pass up if you’re connected to that cable service. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Eddie Muller’s show Noir Alley screens Cy Endfield’s The Underworld Story, a savage & subversive 1950 movie that takes on media tyranny, blacklisting and racial injustice: a black maid is set up as the patsy in a murder, and every institution in sight encourages it. The searing exposé, made just when Red Channels was first published, is strong stuff — the words ‘blacklist’ and ‘nigger’ are used openly. The film’s title is not particularly apt — something like “America = Hate” would be more accurate.

Then on Sunday night on TCM, a real treat: Georges Franju’s 1963 Judex, an affectionate and poetic retelling of the silent Feuillade serial about a (sometimes) masked avenger who battles an array of pre- WW1 villains, including the Irma Vep-like Diana Monti, a slinky catwoman prototype in a leotard with a dagger at her waist. The incredible music by Maurice Jarre abets the art-deco/surreal goings-on. Judex is followed by Franju’s other genre masterpiece, also with a superb Jarre music score: Eyes Without a Face.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson