CineSavant Column

Saturday August 25, 2018


The AMIA’s The Reel Thing conference is happening up on Vine Street as I write, and last night the AMIA itself spilled the beans as to what mystery sci-fi title restoration would be shown in its surprise screening. Unless this graphic is a fake, they’ve indeed restored George Pal’s 1953 The War of the Worlds. That’s great news, as the picture was in dire need of work. The old DVD is just okay, and a full restoration might be able to give us back the film’s original stereophonic audio track. The film’s audio is so dynamic, that even the monaural track sounded like stereo in a good theater, but I hope the experts surprise us.

We also hope that Paramount does something with the transfer: six or seven years ago Disney premiered an incredibly good extra-wide widescreen restoration of its 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the only place I know that it has surfaced is a single TCM cablecast.

Of course, the big question for The War of the Worlds will be, ‘what about the wires?’ Should they leave them in, or take them out? A few years back the issue of wire removal during restorations came up at The Reel Thing. Grover Crisp commented that he had never spoken to a director who didn’t want wires removed when asked.

The Kino company has announced its release schedule for the rest of the year, on its various sub-labels. Titles that jumped out at me are Filmworker (9.18), Brazilian Cinema Novo director Joaquim Pedro de Andrade: The Complete Films (9.25), the silent epic Old Ironsides & Jonas Mekas’ avant-garde feature Hallelujah the Hills (10.30), Bill Moyers’ interview series Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth and a collection Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers (11.20), the famed French director H.G. Cluzot: Early Works (11.27), a remastering of the influential documentary-satire The Atomic Café (12.04), Mario Bava’s viking tale Knives of the Avenger (1.15).

Meanwhile, The Warner Archive Collection has hard dates for a string of new Blu-ray announcements: John Milius’ surfer epic Big Wednesday (9.11), Michael Crichton’s odd sci-fi thriller Looker (9.18) and the unfathomable Zsa Zsa Gabor space opera Queen of Outer Space (9.25).

And everybody’s happy on board this Piper Cub, heading into that remote, radioactive Mexican valley! Reported by the Warner Archive for September 25 is the much-appreciated Bert I. Gordon monster mash The Cyclops, one of my most favored ‘fifties Z-pix. Also tagged but date-less are an extended edition of Irwin Allen’s The Swarm and a re-issue of Franklin Schaffner’s Papillon. Last summer we were told that Jack Cardiff’s Dark of the Sun was on its way, but it appears either to be put back aways or lost in the shuffle. Readers of the WAC’s facebook page may know more about that.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson