We close out June (sniff!) with seven reviews, if only two actual disc sets. The Criterion package transported me back to days in UCLA’s Melnitz Hall, when I was one of many film students to first encounter early Paramount and Fox pictures in near-flawless nitrate prints. Down the hill in Westwood we’d pay three whole dollars to see a new movie in a slimy Movielab release print, all grainy and green. We thus learned to respect the craftsmanship and beauty of older pictures. We haunted LACMA, The Vagabond, and the Encore, where we caught studio prints of silver-screen thrillers, and Technicolor musicals more colorful than reality.
I think I can attribute this interest in filmic wonders of the past, with steering me away from the guerilla filmmaker mindset that prevailed at UCLA. Technical quality was optional, but if a student could cobble together a 16mm feature with commercial appeal things might click, even for someone without Hollywood connections.
Speaking of rough ‘n’ ready film production, Scream Factory has announced a Blu-ray of The Wasp Woman, one of Roger Corman’s final out-of-pocket B&W productions before new rules forced him to start making movies outside the reach of the Hollywood guilds. A quality disc of this title raises hopes of better releases of other Corman ‘Filmgroup’ titles, like The Last Woman on Earth. Can we also wish that whoever controls good copies of the director’s Allied Artists pictures, comes forward with new scans? I’m thinking of Not of this Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters and War of the Satellites but other seldom-revived juvenile delinquent & crime Cormans are currently out of circulation as well. The entertaining Charles Bronson-Susan Cabot Machine Gun Kelly would seem to have a ready audience waiting.
Correspondent Gil Lamont responded to my June 16 column blurb about Rocky and Bullwinkle with a shot of his personalized license plate. I definitely approve.
Also circulating is a cute Batman Dance Party video, at This Isn’t happiness. It jumped out at me after a colleague of my wife commented about the cool dance by John Travolta and Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, but didn’t know its source from 1966. She’s in her thirties and therefore cannot be faulted for being out of touch with cultural goobers fifty years old. Then again, how can one be alive and not know the connection between The Batusi, a glass of milk and actress Jill St John? Those three minutes of glory are likely Ms. John’s best screen work.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson