CineSavant Column

Saturday September 11, 2021



Correspondent Bart Steele came through with something really arcane: a link to a 1952 product, apparently marketed in the U.K., that’s a direct tie-in with a certain Technicolor George Pal movie. This link to The ‘ZYRA’ Spaceship Jetex Rocket Kit explains the whole thing.

But wait, there’s more: this second article about the toymaker gets more specific about what came inside the box. And interior links take you to details like the blueprint plan sheet partly illustrated above.



Who cares about “Come back Shane?“”  When I dream of somebody I wish could ‘come back’ it’s the fabulous Lina Romay of Xavier Cugat fame. ()  The authentic Latin from Manhatan (well, Brooklyn) had mostly small roles in maybe twenty movies, often uncredited. But animation fans know her best from a to-die-for nine second cameo in Tex Avery’s 1949 Droopy Dog cartoon Señor Droopy. Experts agree: the sequence proves that by 1949 sex had definitely been invented, and was building in popularity.  To quote the sober-voiced little Basset Hound, “Caramba!”

Lina comes to mind because Jerry Beck over at Cartoon Research has divulged the title lineup and other details of the upcoming Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 3. The Warner Archive Collection disc is due in just a month, on October 5.

Señor Beck’s lists lets us know that this batch of restored, remastered short subjects includes more personal CineSavant favorites than either Volume One or Two: Blitz Wolf, Swing Shift Cinderella, King Size Canary, Señor Droopy, Billy Boy, Cellbound, just to name six. Beck describes some of the restoration work that was accomplished, including a reinstated ‘censored’ gag or two.



Another highly coveted disc will be arriving even sooner from the Warner Archive Collection, on September 21: a restored & remastered Warner Archive Blu-ray of the second Anthony Mann-James Stewart western, 1951’s Technicolor MGM offering The Naked Spur. If the WAC recaptures the look of original Technicolor prints, this ought to be outstanding.

Starting with Bend of the River, the Mann-Stewart westerns began to skew toward ‘niceness:’ Stewart’s frontier adventurer still had a suspicious, perhaps lawless past, but care was taken to make law abiding consensus family values firmly reassert themselves by the fade-out. The Naked Spur isn’t as pessimistic as a couple of Mann’s non-Stewart westerns, but this is the actor’s most neurotic character — bitter, frustrated and desperate.

The Colorado scenery seems hostile, even in gorgeous 3-strip Technicolor. Mann’s gritty details are telling: a tagline could have been, “You will FEEL what it’s like to receive a painful rope burn on both hands!”  The cast alone should convince: Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Ralph Meeker, Millard Mitchell.


An unbelievable Funeral procession.

Thanks to David J. Schow for this: BFM TV’s coverage of The Funeral of Jean-Paul Belmondo is absolutely spectacular, all the more so for the musical selection, a live orchestra playing Ennio Morricone’s Chi Mai. Somebody has impeccable taste. 25 years ago, my wife heard the pure, emotional use of strings in this theme and declared it one of her favorite pieces of music — and she doesn’t push opinions around as loosely as I do. David Schow noted, ‘look how the French revere their artists!’

What’s even more amazing?  I see people applauding, waving, crying — but few if any are holding up cell phones. It’s the classiest, most emotional ritual I’ve seen in years.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson