CineSavant Column

Tuesday June 15, 2021



Wow, two disc reviews today and both are U.S. products and Region A. No complications. They do everything but wear masks and show their vaccine cards.

First up are some interesting disc announcements. Yesterday, the Warner Archive Collection named four titles on the way for July. The first two are well-known quantities. Errol Flynn stars in Objective Burma!, the brutal WW2 combat film that offended the Brits; Hollywood Ten writers Alvah Bessie and Lester Cole really let loose with the anti-Japanese hate invective. Then, Gene Kelly, Esther Williams and Frank Sinatra star in the Technicolor Arthur Freed picture Take Me Out to the Ball Game. It’s Busby Berkeley’s last full job of feature musical direction, credited.

The second two are fairly obscure thrillers that will excite hardcore noir aficionados.  Step by Step re-teams Lawrence Tierney and Anne Jeffreys from his breakthrough Dillinger, in a weird wartime spy tale set on a California beach. We’ll have to find out how ‘noir’ it is.

I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes  is one I’ve wanted to see for ages; for a while it was thought to be lost. It’s the second film produced by Walter Mirisch, when he was at Monogram — Walter was sufficiently shrewd to use source stories from Cornell Woolrich, guaranteeing built-in hardboiled noir interest.



We’ve also got confirmation for two disc releases from The Film Detective. The cringe-inducing Frankenstein’s Daughter is due out on October 19, with extras; it’s the second of the four Richard E. Cunha horror shows from 1958-59.

Two weeks earlier on October 5, the same label will issue a Blu of the excellent noir The Amazing Dr. X aka The Spiritualist. It stars Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari and Cathy O’ Donnell — I hope they eventually spell her name correctly. The expressive visuals come courtesy of camerama wizard John Alton. If the transfer does Alton justice it’ll be a great disc.



We finish the Column with a list of links from Gary Teetzel. They’re video files from Getty Images, Newsreel Clips with fun film connections. There’s a stack of them, so I’ll get right into Gary’s notes:

1.) Footage from the L.A. premiere of TOMB OF LIGEIA, with fans taking part in a costume contest to award the title of ‘Mr. Gruesome.’ Vincent Price is of course present. Elizabeth Shepherd seems to be there as well, although the narrator never bothers to point her out. She doesn’t look very happy! (Note: John McElwee says that the actress we think is Shepherd, is really Maila ‘Vampire’ Nurmi, and he has a promo flyer to back it up.) Other guests include Caroll Borland from Mark of the Vampire and Elsa Lanchester. Watch as Forry Ackerman rudely shoves the latest issue of Famous Monsters in front of Lanchester. Only the back cover is seen and all he does is startle the great actress.

2.) Boris Karloff, the Terror Titan of Tennis. Didn’t Karloff play cricket?  He doesn’t humiliate himself, unlike his co-players — the synch audio plays like a laugh track.

3.) Boris is one of several celebrities attending a birthday party for Joe E. Brown’s daughter.

4.) A brief shot of Boris and his wife Evelyn attending a movie premiere, 1954.

5.) Another Boris movie premiere snippet.

6.) Bela Lugosi donates blood and afterward enjoys a donut. Is it staged?  You’d think Lugosi’s doctors would be giving him blood. This is such a great clip, how come it’s never shown up in a horror documentary?  And why does narrator Alan Mowbray call Lugosi a werewolf?

7.) No actual footage of Boris or Bela, but this is cute — some costumed people cavort and pose in front of a theater playing Dracula and Frankenstein. It’s from 1941, if the metadata can be trusted.

8.) Premiere of My Favorite Brunette includes a clip of Lon Chaney Jr. plugging the film in his ‘Lenny’ voice.

9.) Lon Jr. at a ceremony unveiling a bench dedicated to his father. No date given, but Junior is looking fairly young and slender. He’s with child star Edith Fellows.

10.) A brief snippet of Peter Cushing from his pre-horror days–1953, to be precise. With a mustache, I think.

11.) and another brief clip of Cushing at a theater opening, with Orson Welles.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson