CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 17, 2022



Dick Dinman has a particularly good podcast presently up, hosting Alan K. Rode to Salute the Blu-ray Restoration of 3 Rare Classics. Alan Rode is incredibly busy these days. He also didn’t slow down for a second during the pandemic, turning out a new commentary or producing a Blu-ray disc seemingly every few weeks.

Three big collectors’ titles are discussed in this show, and I’ve vouched for all three of them in reviews: Alfred Werker’s Repeat Performance, Robert Siodmak’s The Whistle at Eaton Falls and Lewis Milestone’s A Walk in the Sun. Theater owners a long while back tended to over-use the sales motto, ‘Movies are Better than Ever!’ I’m not so sure if that blurb fits today’s movies, but Restorations Definitely ARE Better than Ever.



An upcoming slate of films on Turner Classic Movies is cause to wear out one’s eyeballs, or program the DVR: on Saturday May 21st the cable channel will present three pictures Directed by Cy Endfield  including a special debut title. The wonderfully subversive The Underworld Story is practically a telegram to the HUAC, shouting ‘blacklist me!’  Endfield’s action hit Hell Drivers stars a full dozen great Brit actors including Stanley Baker and Sean Connery.

The third show is a premiere of ANOTHER new noir restoration by the Film Noir Foundation, Endfield’s first personal directing effort The Argyle Secrets. I’m told that it’s about tracking down U.S. collaborators with the Nazis, after the victory. The fuzzy image above got my attention, so I hope it’s actually from the movie . . .

TCM’s intro article by Jeremy Arnold is a good introduction to Cy Endfield, whose better-known movies include Zulu and Try and Get Me!

Jeremy tells us that Hell Drivers was restored in 2016 in B&W VistaVision. I’ll be tuning in to find out if TCM will replace the miserable old B&W copy they’ve shown for years. Endfield’s movie and Michael Powell / Emeric Pressburger’s 1957 Ill Met By Moonlight were both filmed in B&W VistaVision but something went wrong at the U.K. lab — Powell complained that after lugging heavy VistaVision cameras all over the island of Crete, the finished prints didn’t look any different than normal 35mm (actually a bit worse). The 35mm print I saw of Hell Drivers at the Cinematheque carried a VistaVision logo too — and it didn’t have the visual snap we always associate with VistaVision.



Correspondent Mark Forer recommended that I see Kino’s new Blu-ray of “Mamba” so I’m going to give that a shot.

Mark also reminded me of the Vitaphone Project Facebook Page , and that got me looking also at the very informative (intense, actually) Vitaphone Varieties page. It only seems to have run between 2006 and 2009 but I find the articles fascinating, with so much detail.

Take a look — if it appeals, you may spend more time there than you thought you would.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson