Today my CineSavant Column entry is about film, although it’s the kind of shameless ‘look what I’m working on’ announcement that these days seems to be 20% of my Facebook feed. Three years ago my friend Ulrich Bruckner of the Blu-ray company Explosive Media granted me a wish and produced a fancy special edition disc of Major Dundee, allowing me to contribute to the overall concept and the extras. The success of that release spurred two more special editions from Australia and England that kept my spirits up during these Covid Years.
Now Ulrich is busy pulling together a fancy special edition Blu-ray for Robert Aldrich’s Italian epic Sodoma e Gomorra, released here in 1963 as The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah. Up ’til now our only access to the show has been a dreary mal-formatted DVD that I think is OOP. The same eyesore transfer is also being cablecast on the Fox Movie channel. Ulrich has gone to the trouble to commission a new scan of the long version of the movie in Italy, from original film elements. It was originally shown in Italy in a shorter version but they must have gone back at some point and prepared a ‘versione integrale’ — Explosive’s Blu-ray will be full-length.
As you can see by the new image scans the visual improvement is really apparent — at its full width and clarity the show looks big and expensive again. It was expensive: between this and Visconti’s The Leopard, Italy’s biggest studio Titanus practically went out of business. The stars are Stewart Granger, Pier Angeli, Stanley Baker, Anouk Aimee and Rossana Podestá, the great music score is by Miklos Rozsa. I think I have a handle on the controversy surrounding the involvement of Sergio Leone — full discussions of the movie appear in several reliable movie biographies.
The screenplay delivers useful advice, such as the immortal words “Beware of Sodomite patrols!” The lavish Bible epic will be released by the German Explosive Media label; as was Dundee it’s primarily for the Deutsch-speaking market but the plan is for it to be Region A friendly and carry English & Italian Language tracks. The projected release date is December — a Christmas present for devotees of director Robert Aldrich.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson