CineSavant Column

Saturday August 20, 2022



Hot disc titles on the horizon: in addition to Ignite’s triple-format release of the 1953 classic Invaders from Mars, of course. That killer disc hits on September 26.

Newly announced or nailed for a street date:

*  From ClassicFlix, November 8 has been set for the release of their upcoming disc of Victor Saville’s Mike Hammer adventure I, The Jury. It’s listed as a 3-disc 4k + 3-D Blu-ray + Blu-ray combo.

It’s been tagged with a long list of extras, including two commentaries and three vintage TV shows, including an unaired 1954 Mike Hammer TV pilot starring Brian Keith.

*  And Powerhouse Indicator’s disc lineup for December 5 includes a new release of Sergio Sollima’s The Big Gundown (La resa dei conti). This is the ‘next best’ Italo western to the Leone classics, with Lee Van Cleef, Tomás Milian and best-ever music by Ennio Morricone.

We’ve seen two good Blu-ray releases but the specs say that PI’s set will include three separate versions: the US theatrical cut, the original 110-minute Italian version, and an extended US cut, which we assume will default to Italo audio for the added material while retaining as much of Lee Van Cleef’s English dialogue as possible.

*  And Flicker Alley has announced, for November 1, another top Film Noir restoration from The Film Noir Foundation and The UCLA Film & Television Archive:

Román Barreto’s El vampiro negro (The Black Vampire). The Argentinian feature from 1953 is not a horror picture — the ‘vampire’ is a murderer of children. It’s essentially a re-think of Fritz Lang’s “M”, and is described as being less about the general underworld than the plight of the women characters associated with the case.

I saw this screened at Noir City six or so years ago; it’s a suspenseful show with great sets and classic noir lighting.

***  Breaking News: Correspondent Gary Teetzel informs us that it “looks like Golden Age 3-D fans will have even more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: One week after I,The Jury arrives, Kino is releasing a 3-D disc of the 1954 feature The Diamond Wizard.”  It’s an English heist movie directed by and starring Dennis O’Keefe, and co-starring Margaret Sheridan. It was released flat in the U.S., according to Variety; big-net noir critics claim it as film noir, but some sci-fi folk list it in their logs just because the diamonds in question are synthetic. Or so I gather; I’ve never seen the movie.



Gratuitous photo feature!  On the left, meet the doggie named Mishka, now celebrating his 12th doggie year and looking really dapper for being well into his senior innings. He’s an extra treat for us when visiting my daughter.

And on the right, for no good reason except I think it looks good, is one of friend Steve Sharon’s photos of our old guardian Gort. This particular Gort was on display in Seattle. He looks good in his darker gunmetal tones. Both images are bigger than displayed.



We Sci-Fi fans are always curious about obscure titles just out of reach. Helping to alleviate our existential dilemma is the long-running web page by Janne Wass known as  scifist 2.0,  ‘A Sci-Fi Movie History in Reviews.’  Mr. Wass possesses the multi-lingual skills to dig into Eastern European resources. Although he covers the full genre we gravitate to his eye-opening reportage on obscure foreign titles given only sketchy paragraphs in English-language Sci-Fi Encyclopedias. For all practical purposes, many of these pictures are functionally invisible to us culturally deprived  American fans.

I’ve been fascinated by Mr. Wass’s essay on  Serebristaya Pyl (Silver Dust), a much-maligned Soviet anti-U.S. propaganda picture. Accurate info on it was so scarce, so-called ‘experts’ simply copied the same fuzzy synopsis from 1953. Sci-fist gives us the whole story.

Then there’s Croisières sidérales (‘Stellar Cruises’), an equally obscure French production from 1942. It involves time-space dilation based on Einstein’s theory, with a space voyager not getting older while people back on Earth do. We thought that subject was first filmed in an episode of The Twilight Zone.  We now have a full understanding of the picture.

Scifist has scores of films like those — titles we’d never heard of. It presently features a comedy about a dead star pulling the English hamlet of Shrimpton into space, all three of Harry Piel’s German sci-fi tales, and a 1921 adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau — not to mention exotic Sci-fi features from Brazil, Norway and Turkey!

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson