CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 15, 2018

Hello!

Potential good news about Scream Factory’s upcoming (May 22) Blu-ray of The Vampire and the Ballerina; we’ve been told that it at least has both English and Italian audio. I’ve been corrected in regard to the film’s running time — the original L’Amante del Vampiro is not seven minutes longer. My expert says that there were no picture differences between the language versions (besides the title sequence). He also reports that the film was apparently regarded as fairly hot stuff back in the day. Milwaukee’s motion picture commission deemed it ‘Mature Entertainment’ along with (among others) What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Mr. Arkadin. By contrast, Jules and Jim and Phaedra were ‘Adults Only.’ The Legion of Decency gave The Vampire and the Ballerina a ‘B’, ‘Objectionable in Part for All.’

Back at MGM in 1994, John Kirk loaned me a non-subtitled VHS tape made from UA’s foreign video master, which I had to watch with my linguist spouse, to learn what was being said in Italian. The chubby ‘ballet dancers’ were amusing, and she found the finale unintentionally hilarious, with the female vampire henpecking her ineffective spouse in Italian as they retreat to the roof with dawn approaching. I still think it’s an excellent idea for a vampire picture: a queen bee mama fiend sends her hubby out to bring back blood. Their appearances change radically depending on how sated they are. The ‘servant’ husband’s work is never done. Here’s hoping that Scream’s disc is a keeper.


Olive Films’ May 29 release of Robert Wise’s Odds Against Tomorrow should be a real treat as well, depending on the quality of the transfer and source materials. I saw it only once in 35mm and the B&W cinematography looked great. The prints shown on TV always had weak sound and the same splices in the same places. They also barely registered the film’s interesting shots using infrared film — which gives some scenes a particularly crisp, bleak appearance. I hope to be able to report good news with this one — besides Robert Ryan, Harry Belafonte and Ed Begley in fine form, it has great work from Shelley Winters and especially Gloria Grahame.


Gary Teetzel found this article crowing about some goofy local publicity for King Kong’s 1956 theatrical comeback, only four years after a 1952 release that made almost as much money as its first run in 1933.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday May 12, 2018


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CineSavant’s new reviews today are:

La belle noiseuse 05/12/18

The Cohen Film Collection
Blu-ray

The late Jacques Rivette knocks us silly with a breathtaking, demanding meditation on what it means to be an artist, and what art demands of those that believe in it. A woman roped into posing nude for a famed but insecure painter, undergoes several intense days of compliant collaboration. Rivette’s unforced style gives the impression of life as it is being lived; his commitment is matched by that of actors Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin and Emmanuelle Béart. On Blu-ray from The Cohen Group.
5/12/18

A Study in Terror 05/12/18

Mill Creek Entertainment
Blu-ray

John Neville is the consulting detective from 221B Baker Street, this time on the trail of Jack the Ripper. Perhaps producer Herman Cohen’s best film, this overly familiar, slightly campy horror show has a top notch cast, some of whom have a high time with the straight-razor guignol-fest in Whitechapel: Donald Houston, Anthony Quayle, Adrienne Corri, Frank Finlay, Judi Dench (!), Barbara Windsor, Cecil Parker, Robert Morley, Barry Jones, John Fraser, Kay Walsh, John Cairney, Edina Ronay, Terry Downes. Trailers from Hell’s Charlie Largent provides the slash-by-slash reportage. On Blu-ray from Mill Creek.
5/12/18

Model Shop 05/12/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Columbia sets Jacques Demy loose in Los Angeles in the pivotal year of 1968. Although it puts a coda on the French director’s bundle of romantic films, with his special philosophical approach to Love, this starring picture for Anouk Aimée and Gary Lockwood doesn’t quite catch fire in the same way. If our City of the Angels indeed defeated Demy’s unstoppable knack for romantic delirium, we owe him an apology. The rock group Spirit provides the music score, and makes a casual appearance. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
5/12/18

CineSavant Column

Saturday May 12, 2018

Hello!

Children, are you ready for Mother’s Day?

Gary Teetzel reports on a new docu about the revered Sci-fi illustrator Chesley Bonestell, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with The Future that just premiered at the Newport Film Festival. The commentators tell us that Bonestell began as an architect and contributed to the designs for New York’s Chrysler Building as well as the Golden Gate Bridge. The home page for the film is here, and a trailer is viewable here. And I even learned how to pronounce ‘Bonestell.’


When I caught this Italian poster for Godzilla Raids Again I first noted that it uses the ‘King of the Monsters’ title that found its way onto the Americanization of Honda’s original Godzilla. I suppose this Italo version could actually be a re-dub of the U.S. derivative Gigantis The Fire Monster because of the style of the two monsters in the artwork. I also like the hype tagline across the top: “All the World is At Arms Against the Diabolical Nuclear Monsters in the Very Brilliant Film of Science Fantasy.”

I asked Gary Teetzel what he made of the single anglicized name ‘Jack Wallace’ in the list of actors, not to mention ‘Fred’ Kasay and ‘Susy’ Setsuko. Actually, all of the names appear to have been made up or scrambled from the Japanese originals. And since when did a Japanese monster movie need to billboard a list of actors?

Gary doesn’t think that there was an Italian variant of the film, with additional actors added. His guess is that the Italian distributor was just pulling a fast one, trying to fool patrons into thinking it was a western-made film. He also reminded me that, for no understandable reason, the German distributors would put the word ‘Frankenstein’ in the titles of most Japanese monster movies.

Gary also reminded me that Bill Warren’s researches found that an abandoned project was for the short lived AB-PT film company to build a new English-language movie around the Godzilla Raids Again effects footage, called The Volcano Monsters. As reported by Bob Skotak, Ib Melchoir worked on a screenplay for it.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday May 8, 2018


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CineSavant’s new reviews today are:

This is Cinerama & Windjammer: The Voyage of the Christian Radich 05/08/18

The Cinerama wonder movies were all but extinct fifteen years ago, un-preserved, un-projectable in their original 3-panel splendor, and largely forgotten. Countless hours of labor and research have now brought them all back to life on Blu-ray in the wraparound simulation ‘Smilebox’ format. These latest (and last?) discs properly restore two early releases, the show that started it all and the competing ‘Cinemiracle’ production that eventually became part of the Cinerama fanfold of travelogue gems. Separate releases on Blu-ray from Flicker Alley.
4/08/18

Forbidden Films: The Hidden Legacy of Nazi Film 05/08/18

Zeitgeist / Kino Lorber
DVD

Plenty of films considered politically beyond the pale have been locked up, for reasons good and bad. A German filmmaker born decades after WW2 offers a documentary about the controversy over ‘sensitive’ Nazi films, the propaganda features that encouraged racial hatred and offered lies to support the Third Reich’s oppressive policies. We can easily visualize American neo-Nazis cheering the messages in these pictures. What’s the verdict? Let them loose or destroy them? The abundant clips illustrate films directing hate at Poles, Jews, and the English, films that support lies about the war, and a pernicious propaganda melodrama about the Reich’s program of ‘compassionate’ euthanasia. On DVD from Zeitgeist / Kino Lorber.
4/08/18

The Psychopath 05/08/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Robert Bloch and Milton Subotsky may have helped to codify the Giallo in this murder thriller but the results are not up to even the shaky standards of Amicus. That said, horror fans are going to flock to get their hands on a big color & ‘scope release that’s gone missing for decades. It’s an important ‘save’ by Kino Lorber. With Patrick Wymark, Margaret Johnston, John Standing and Judy Huxtable. On Blu-rayfrom KL Studio Classics.
4/08/18

CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 8, 2018


Hello!

It’s been found! Last weekend I mistakenly remembered the theme music for Los Angeles KHJ Television’s ’60s movie show Strange Tales of Science Fiction as being Henry Mancini’s ‘Experiment in Terror.’ But it wasn’t, it’s this unusual piece entitled Out of This World by the Creed Taylor Orchestra. I don’t even remember if Channel 11’s ‘Chiller Theater’ had a music theme, as the TV reception for that channel was so poor, I rarely got to see it. Happy listening.

And what’s coming up at CineSavant? Discs are in for Jacques Demy’s The Model Shop, the Vaughn Monroe western Singing Guns, the Cher movie Mermaids, the silent The Holy Mountain, Paul Schrader’s Mishima and Hepburn and O’Toole in The Lion in Winter. Just seen and awfully good is Jacques Rivette’s La Belle Noiseuse, four of the best hours I’ve spent lately.

For the balance of May we’re expecting new Blus of Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, Brownlow’s restoration of Birth of a Nation, Mazursky’s Next Stop Greenwich Village and Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy. I’m also awaiting VCI’s improved encoding of City of the Dead.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday May 5, 2018


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Happy Cinco de Mayo!  CineSavant’s new reviews today are:

Moonrise 05/05/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Guilt, gloom, weird nightmares of death and persecution — and romance? The wondrous Gail Russell brings a spark of life into Frank Borzage’s weird expressionist masterpiece produced at the seldom-artistic Republic Studio. The bitter, despairing Dane Clark has just committed what a jury will likely call first degree murder, but the night can offer atonement and forgiveness, if he’ll just listen to Russell’s good advice. With Allyn Joslyn, Rex Ingram and Ethel Barrymore. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
5/05/18

Joe 05/05/18

Olive Films
Blu-ray

Reactionary deplorable hard hat hardcase Joe meets a complimentary maniac in a businessman-turned hippie killer, and the murders begin, all justified with tough talk over booze. Peter Boyle burst out of group comedy into the forefront with this surprise hit, which began a sub-genre of Nixonian retribution pictures. The show also introduced Susan Sarandon, who had to go back to TV soaps before stardom hit. Reviewed by Trailers from Hell’s Charlie Largent. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
5/05/18

Blue Denim 05/05/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray + DVD

Let’s go back to 1959, when just implying that two teenagers might have first-hand knowledge of sex is socially unacceptable dynamite. This adapted play about an unwanted teen pregnancy is actually quite good, thanks to fine performances by Carol Lynley and Brandon De Wilde, who convince as cherubic high schoolers ‘too young to know the score.’ And hey, the teen trauma is set to the intense music of composer Bernard Herrmann. With Macdonald Carey, Marsha Hunt and Warren Berlinger. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
5/05/18

Savant Column

Saturday May 5, 2018

Hello!

Olive Films has announced three Blu-ray releases for May 29 — Norman Lear’s Cold Turkey (which I’ve never seen but is recommended), Robert Wise’s Odds Against Tomorrow (which I’ve seen many times and has been needing a Blu-ray release forever) and a DVD of Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood (which is sublime but we wish it was a Blu, too).


I used up all my good disc news last time out, so it’s time for a CineSavant creepy culture break.

Signs in Cusco, Peru: These three street signs were within a block of our hotel in Cusco, just off the main square in the old part of town. The signs give the place a . . . contemplative feeling, especially when one is walking back down the cobbled streets at 1am.

Note that the little pedestrian streets (Via peatonal) have cars running through them, with maybe two feet of clearance on either side. They’re all within shouting distance of a cathedral, which makes the name of the first sound appropriate, if a little harsh.

The second is about two blocks away from the church, and ought to have a story associated with it. Anyway, it’s intriguing. ‘Siete culebras’ translates as ‘Seven snakes, or vipers.’ Would make a nice movie title.

I went up this street and didn’t find an undertaker’s shop. But the name felt like someplace where Eddie Poe or Vinny Price might hang out. There’s not going to be a children’s show called ‘Calle Ataud’ — ‘Ataúd’ means coffin, or crypt. An elaborate, decorative ironwork sign, I thought. When a place is 500 years old, you wonder what kind of secrets are in the basements.

That’s the culture corner offering for the day, completely esoteric . . . Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Thursday May 3, 2018


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CineSavant’s new reviews today (two days late!) are:

The Post 05/03/18

20th Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray + DVD

Steven Spielberg’s excellent Pentagon Papers exposé thriller comes straight from the facts. If the project wasn’t begun in 2014 we’d think it was a direct response to today’s attacks on the news media. We’ll take it as that anyway. It’s a fine performing showcase for Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, and the direction creates exciting drama without a single car chase, assassination attempt or superhero. Co-starring Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Jesse Plemons, Michael Stuhlbarg. On Blu-ray + DVD from 20th Fox.
5/02/18

Schlock 05/03/18

Turbine Media Group (Germany)
Blu-ray + DVD

John Landis made his first dent in Hollywood with this hilarious parody of Z-grade monster movies, and it was big enough to launch a film career. The kudos go to Landis’ comic monkey-man performance, wearing a Schockthropus ape suit by the 20 year-old self taught makeup whiz Rick Baker. Only monster movie fans will understand, but they’ll be charmed. This foreign edition is stacked with schlock-thropic extras. With Saul Kahan, Eliza Garrett, Joseph Piantadosi and Harriet White Medin. On All Region Blu-ray and DVD from Turbine Media Group.
5/02/18

Ruby Gentry 05/03/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Prepare to let your jaw drop: Jennifer Jones and Charlton Heston’s sleazy bucolic ‘romance’ comes off as two-way sex harassment, with suggestive one-liners that make us cringe. Are there other pictures like this? Is this where dolts came to believe that women wanted to be treated like stupid squeeze toys? The great King Vidor directed, with no sign of intentional satire — the bizarre, eventually violent Southern-set melodrama is a one-of-a-kind grotesque spectacle. Co-starring Karl Malden, Tom Tully, James Anderson, Josephine Hutchinson, Phyllis Avery and Barney Phillips. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
5/02/18