CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 15, 2018


Potential good news about Scream Factory’s upcoming (May 22) Blu-ray of The Vampire and the Ballerina; we’ve been told that it at least has both English and Italian audio. I’ve been corrected in regard to the film’s running time — the original L’Amante del Vampiro is not seven minutes longer. My expert says that there were no picture differences between the language versions (besides the title sequence). He also reports that the film was apparently regarded as fairly hot stuff back in the day. Milwaukee’s motion picture commission deemed it ‘Mature Entertainment’ along with (among others) What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Mr. Arkadin. By contrast, Jules and Jim and Phaedra were ‘Adults Only.’ The Legion of Decency gave The Vampire and the Ballerina a ‘B’, ‘Objectionable in Part for All.’

Back at MGM in 1994, John Kirk loaned me a non-subtitled VHS tape made from UA’s foreign video master, which I had to watch with my linguist spouse, to learn what was being said in Italian. The chubby ‘ballet dancers’ were amusing, and she found the finale unintentionally hilarious, with the female vampire henpecking her ineffective spouse in Italian as they retreat to the roof with dawn approaching. I still think it’s an excellent idea for a vampire picture: a queen bee mama fiend sends her hubby out to bring back blood. Their appearances change radically depending on how sated they are. The ‘servant’ husband’s work is never done. Here’s hoping that Scream’s disc is a keeper.

Olive Films’ May 29 release of Robert Wise’s Odds Against Tomorrow should be a real treat as well, depending on the quality of the transfer and source materials. I saw it only once in 35mm and the B&W cinematography looked great. The prints shown on TV always had weak sound and the same splices in the same places. They also barely registered the film’s interesting shots using infrared film — which gives some scenes a particularly crisp, bleak appearance. I hope to be able to report good news with this one — besides Robert Ryan, Harry Belafonte and Ed Begley in fine form, it has great work from Shelley Winters and especially Gloria Grahame.

Gary Teetzel found this article crowing about some goofy local publicity for King Kong’s 1956 theatrical comeback, only four years after a 1952 release that made almost as much money as its first run in 1933.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson