CineSavant Column

Saturday September 15, 2018


Just in time for Halloween, Shout Factory has announced a Blu-ray of Roger Corman’s The Wasp Woman, the initial Filmgroup production and nearly the only one made in Hollywood, before new Guild guidelines prompted Corman to flee out of town for filming, to North Dakota, Puerto Rico and finally Europe. The specs make us hope for a quality item, with two commentaries, a theatrical aspect ratio and an extra version with padding scenes added for TV (which might look strange matted to 1:85…). The show is small-scale but much liked, thanks to Susan Cabot’s energetic performance and Corman’s tapping into an interesting office vibe. In a good version it ought to be a keeper. Just don’t expect a literal representation of the famed poster illustration to show up — the title insect looks like a hot date for one of the Zanti Misfits.

By all means Shout Factory, keep unearthing quality encodings of more arcane ’50s items, from Corman and others.

CineSavant is gearing up for a busy September and October review season, with Charlie Largent helping out. Likely titles already in hand are Scenes from a Marriage, Looker, The Trip to Bountiful and the sublime, irreplaceable My Man Godfrey (↑).  I’m expecting a wave of must-review items in the door at any time: The Last Hurrah, The Other Side of Midnight and The Bravados from Twilight Time, Andrei Rublev, A Raisin in the Sun and The Naked Prey from Criterion, and Good Times, The Night Stalker, The Night Strangler, The Spiral Staircase and Trilogy of Terror from Kino. Plus we must catch up with an August title that slipped by, Severin’s The Changeling.

Although it hasn’t really surfaced yet, people online are scratching their heads about color choices for the new Criterion Blu-ray of Brian De Palma’s Sisters. I haven’t seen it either, but I can attest that original preview prints and A.I.P.’s release prints — I saw it three times when new — were not things of beauty, with mismatched color, and the A.I.P. print sickly green and grainy, too. I never got the Arrow Region B, so I can’t compare with that either. GOOD movie, though!

And I finally caught up with a 1940 picture, The Monster and the Girl, from Paramount, that seems created in a different galaxy than the horrors from Universal. It’s the only ape-on-the-loose picture I’ve seen where an ape-suited character is consistently well handled… some of the scenes are quite impressive. In researching it for TCM, I read contemporary trade reviews that theorized that its story had been severely altered by the Production Code office, mostly to neutralize a sidebar theme of forced prostitution. But the movie is much more weird than that — it enters into a series of flashbacks from which it never returns — even the confusing The Locket doubles back to its starting point. The story is ostensibly the memory of the leading lady Ellen Drew, yet she has no knowledge of most of what happens … and never even finds out the ‘secret identity’ of the title ape monster!   Somebody page Tom Weaver to straighten me out — I have to see it again, just to find out if I ‘read’ it wrong.

The web’s Dark Corners offers a pretty funny crazy video review of The Monster and the Girl.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson