CineSavant Column — Halloween

Saturday October 31, 2020


Why a photo of Val Lewton’s sublime The Seventh Victim up top? ¬†Eddie Muller has scheduled the ultimate downer depressive horror flick for his TCM Noir Alley Halloween show, tonight. The film’s tone is so defeatist, its evil devil cult can’t even work up a competent human sacrifice. But that’s not the point — it may be the only show of its era to aesthetically encourage self-destructive impulses. I hope Eddie’s discussion stays out of the ‘Is it Noir?’ weeds. If we look at The Bishop’s Wife in the right way, it becomes film noir as well.


U.K. Correspondent Dave Carnegie sends along an interesting YouTube item, an eight-minute German color film from 1936: Berlin in the Year of the Olympic Games. The city scenes are a good reminder right now … a Fascist country can look as pretty as a picture. It’s really a demonstration of Agfacolor — a color system perhaps not as robust as Eastmancolor, but perfected almost twenty years before. The best restored Agfacolor is in the ‘Sissi’ Films of the 1950s. They are quite beautiful, if soft and muted compared to Hollywood’s Technicolor. Thanks Dave!


Important words for our time. Ashley Cullins’ Hollywood Reporter article about the drawbacks of ‘owning’ digital movies stored in the cloud is the kind of thing that’s ammunition for we hard media advocates: Amazon Argues Users Don’t Actually Own Purchased Prime Video Content. Remember, the original haberdashers and junk men that founded Hollywood invested in Nickelodeons because they realized people would pay just to see the product, and walk away empty handed. It’s intellectual property… all sales final. Media corporations are improving on the moguls’ dream of literally selling ‘nothing’: it’s the same now, except with ‘home theater’ the audience provides the auditorium, the projector, the screen and the chairs. (We have to provide the popcorn too, but at least we don’t overcharge ourselves.)

I have associates that don’t want to accumulate too many video discs (gee, how is that possible?) and tell me that with some digital purchases, when a better transfer surfaces, it automatically replaces what was there when he purchased. That sounds terrific to me… but I’ll stick to my cold frozen fingers speech about how the 2nd Amendment gives me the American birthright to own and open-carry DVDs and Blu-rays to my heart’s content, even in churches and government buildings. The small print on all of those ‘purchase contracts’ basically say that what’s being bought can disappear at any time.


And Dick Dinman outdid himself this month, with an incredible, amazing, pretty-important podcast of his DVD Classics Corner on the Air series. This time it’s A Heated Conversation about The Day the Earth Caught Fire. Dick’s impeccable taste in interviewees is in evidence as well — I help him discuss Val Guest’s super Apocalyptic ‘The-Weather-Goes-Haywire’ epic.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson