CineSavant Column

Tuesday November 6, 2018


I listened to a full podcast this morning. Sergio Mims, a writer and film programmer that I correspond & gossip with, is the subject of Bill Ackerman’s Supporting Characters podcast show, where he talks about his experience reviewing in Chicago, running film festivals and working on films. For me it was a good chance to hear how Sergio talks and learn about his background. Sergio attracted attention with his review here at CineSavant last summer for D.W. Griffith’s silent The Birth of a Nation; he has a commentary on an Arrow Blu-ray disc coming out in January: Willie Dynamite.

Brian Jamieson of Twilight Time just contacted me about two subjects. On November 20 his Redwind disc banner is releasing a highly praised but not-much-seen TV movie from 1973, Sunshine starring Cristina Raines, Cliff De Young and Meg Foster.

Featuring a battery of songs by John Denver, the show’s director is the esteemed Joseph Sargent (Colossus, the Forbin Project, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three); it was the most-watched TV movie of its time. CineSavant has mentioned the problem of TV movies from the ’70s and ’80s going missing, even huge successes, so I look forward to seeing if Sunshine merits its very high ratings. I’ll bet that actress Cristina Raines will be pleased to see it come back as well.

Plus, I asked Brian about the title sequence on Twilight Time’s new Blu of The Adventures of Haji Baba, which is missing an opening logo — more than one reader asked if the disc needed to be re-printed to restore a 20th-Fox CinemaScope logo. Produced by Walter Wanger, the show apparently was originally finished with Allied Artists logos in place. Fox distributed in America, and standard studio policy in most cases is to remove logos from acquisitions. Perhaps Fox only had good elements (the disc is picture-perfect) of titles with the AA opening. I suppose Fox could have slapped on their proprietary ‘Scope logo and fanfare, but this is the master with which TT was provided.

Alfred Hitchcock’s personally-owned Paramount films lost their original logos for a number of years when Universal re-issued them in 1983, after his death. That made a mess of things when the Paramount mountain graphic had been a seamless part of a title sequence. It was also disconcerting to hear a VistaVision musical fanfare behind an ordinary Uni globe. I think the original logos on most of those pictures have been restored. Psycho was also much improved when its original B&W Paramount logo, with its stylized horizontal lines, was put back in place.

But outrages still happen. Criterion’s otherwise excellent disc of One-Eyed Jacks, sourced from the film’s new owner Universal, does an identical opening logo-swap up front. It also ruins Marlon Brando’s evocative final shot by eliminating the final dissolve to a Paramount logo. Just when we want to contemplate the fate of the film’s separated lovers, the revised ending instead throws a stack of restoration credits at us.

For Los Angeles folk, associate Christopher Lemaire tells me that this Saturday (November 10), the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica will be screening the new Spanish documentary Sad Hill Unearthed about the restoration of the graveyard set, the famous location at the end of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It’s an interesting study of the fan culture around Sergio Leone, which I can attest is quite extensive. Christopher will be hosting a talk with director Guillermo de Oliveira, and Joe Dante will be providing an introduction. The info is at this American Cinematheque page.

And finally, a last-minute addition from the dependable Gary Teetzel:

“Well, we may not be able to purchase This Island Earth or The Incredible Shrinking Man yet on U.S. Blu-ray, but by golly it’s been announced that we’ll be getting Virgil Vogel’s The Mole People with John Agar and Cynthia Patrick. Shout! Factory has not yet specified any extras … although Tom Weaver has hinted on the Classic Horror Film Board that he may be doing commentaries for both Mole People and Kino’s The Land Unknown — Gary

I know it’s easy to mix up similarly-titled movies, but don’t confuse this Universal monster opus with the classic, non-existent Spanish-language film La gente de mole poblano, which I am assured is a perfectly crumulent movie. It has no monsters but tastes much better.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson