CineSavant Column

Tuesday December 4, 2018


It’s time to get holiday issues in line. I have the familiar gauntlet of decorating problems to overcome, like finding the ‘special’ lights, but that’s my personal bear to cross, so I’ll stick to discs.

There’s the best-of list to compile, which in my case of CineSavant of course a list of special restorations and releases I think worthy of touting. It’s not difficult to make a choice but I do wonder to what degree readers still go for lists in any form. Think of it as a ‘happy’ list, not some fat opinion ranking artistic merit like scores in a ping pong playoff. I’ve been doing it for 18 years now!

And there’s also the glut of great discs I want to review, which would be easier if the industry’s ‘disc replicating pile-up’ hadn’t occurred in November. I’m still waiting on three or four titles that my readers want very badly to read about. Although I’m not a technical authority I pride myself on a fair evaluation of disc quality from a consumer standpoint. And when I reach my limit of expertise I do have some excellent tech advice from Mr. T and Mr. P..

Late Criterion discs that I want to review, no matter how late they become, are Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot, Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons and David Byrne’s True Stories — they were all expected more than a week ago. Ingmar Bergman’s Sawdust and Tinsel has arrived, but not Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns. Upcoming should be Julien Duvivier’s Panique, a highly recommended show I’ve never seen.

I’m told that the only Warner Archive Disc seriously affected is The Thing from Another World. It’s at present an accidental Amazon Exclusive, and the newest press release indicates that the official WAC release (with the WAC buyer guarantee I recommend) will be on December 18th. Due on the same day are two more titles that get an A++ for fan anticipation.

Note: 4PM 12.04: The Warner Archive has sent, in just one day, the equivalent of a reviewer rescue packet … Horror of Dracula, Dark of the Sun, The Thing, The Blue Knight and The Sea Hawk… so I’m in business again, bigtime.

The November Twilight Time discs have been delayed but I’ll be jumping on them as soon as they arrive: Oklahoma Crude, Antony & Cleopatra, The Iron Horse and The True Story of Jesse James. TT’s December discs are scheduled to debut in just ten days. I do have the related Redwing disc of the Cristina Raines feature Sunshine almost written up (it’s good).

The Kino Lorber group of labels has been putting out lots of product but I think they’ve been affected as well. With some discs I’m not sure if they’re out yet, even though the proof is whether or not they show up on Amazon. So I’ll simply offer a status report: Presently up for review are The Killing of Sister George, The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre, the Mamie Van Doren Films Collection and The Grissom Gang; expected soon are The Black Windmill, The Atomic Cafe, Charly, Female on the Beach, The Last Command and Foxfire. The first 3-strip Technicolor feature Becky Sharp has been moved back to April 2.

I don’t know if Shout Factory & Scream Factory are affected, but they have some hot titles due as well — Terence Fisher’s Dracula Prince of Darkness and John Carpenter’s Starman both arrive on December 18. By the way, for March 19 of next year, Scream Factory has just announced the classic Universal big bug movies Tarantula and The Deadly Mantis. Well, one classic and one … well known attraction!

And in regards to my yuletide photo above, I gotta push good old Gorgo, from VCI. The 2013 Blu-ray is being offered at a stocking-stuffer price on Amazon … buy two, so you can keep one in a safe deposit box.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson