Scenes from a Marriage 10/06/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

The marital discord in this show is a different animal than those Italian romps with Loren and Mastroianni — Ingmar Bergman’s miniseries examination of a breakup between two upstanding, thoughtful parents is a demanding, grueling exercise in self-evaluation. Try as one might, we can’t help but compare the fireworks between Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson with one’s personal experiences. It’s presented in two separate versions — the three-hour theatrical cut, and the original 6-hour Swedish TV show. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
10/06/18

Joseph W. Sarno Retrospect Series 4 10/06/18

Film Movement Classics
Blu-ray

Let the debate about the incompatibility of film art and screen eroticism commence: Joe Sarno is back!  His 1964 Sin in the Suburbs is still a slice of genuine Americana, considered total smut when first released but barely notable now except for the sordid believability of its subject matter. Is Sarno the Cassavetes of his own subgenre, the ’60s softcore sex soap opera? He certainly impresses as a man with a cinematic mission, following the beat of a different drummer. Joining Sin is Confessions of a Young American Housewife and a bonus feature, Warm Nights and Hot Pleasures. On Blu-ray from Film Movement Classics.
10/06/18

The Naked Prey 10/06/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

An excellent example of a thriller that improves with age, Cornel Wilde’s survival tale is a lean ‘n’ mean exercise in first-person terror. Sent barefoot and naked on a hopeless ‘run of the arrow,’ our hero earns our admiration from his first desperate steps. Actor Wilde may never have directed anything else quite as good, but this winner cements his name in the achievement books. With Ken Gampu. On Blu-rayfrom The Criterion Collection.
10/06/18

CineSavant Column

Saturday October 6, 2018

Hello. CineSavant is taking a time-out with the column today. Midterm elections are one month away.


Back on Tuesday, hopefully with a brighter attitude. — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday October 2, 2018

Nomination hearings can get rough, can’t they? CLICK on it.

The Bravados 10/02/18

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Gregory Peck slips into vengeance mode full-tilt, riding down a quartet of blackhearted knaves: rapist Stephen Boyd, ambusher Albert Salmi, sneaky Lee Van Cleef and inscrutable Henry Silva. The action direction and scenery in this late ‘fifties Big Sky western are excellent; Joan Collins and Kathleen Gallant put in good performances as well. But Savant has reservations about the story’s air of sanctimony. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
10/02/18

The Collector 10/02/18

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Mixed-up lotto winner Terence Stamp goes about putting his life in order in a straightforward manner: since he has difficulty attracting a woman, he just kidnaps one, locks her away and waits until she decides to love him back. At least that’s the plan in William Wyler’s late career horror-suspense item. The object of Stamp’s non-PC affections is the wonderful Samantha Eggar; it’s a toss-up whether the screenplay has anything to say, or is simply exploiting a sick premise in a classy presentation. Reviewed by the much more civilized Charlie Largent. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
10/02/18

Exorcist II: The Heretic 10/02/18

Scream Factory
Blu-ray

‘There must be a sequel’ spake Warner Bros., and lo Sir John of Boorman stepped up to the plate. One of the most jeered-at, overcooked sequels of all time thoroughly deserves its reputation as a train wreck of a movie. In hindsight we see a heap of resources and cinematic fireworks thrown at a project with little chance of survival. I think a lot of the scorn was blowback from the power of the original Friedkin picture, a blockbuster that was just too profane of an act to follow. Louise Fletcher is no lecher. Richard Burton isn’t hurtin’. Hey there it’s Linda Blair. A two-disc set on Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
10/02/18

CineSavant Column

Tuesday October 2, 2018

Hello!

Reliable, long-standing associate and all around good guy Dick Dinman reports that he has two new audio shows up and ready to be heard, each a talk with The Warner Archive’s George Feltenstein about a recent release. Surviving The Last Hunt likely centers on star Robert Taylor, a Dinman favorite. It’s one of the best of Taylor’s later pictures. Going Home from the Hill is the latest Vincente Minnelli release; the WAC seems to be hitting them all, so the question is, will the next be Some Came Running or The Courtship of Eddie’s Father? I’ve recently reviewed both pictures as well: Home from the Hill on August 4, and The Last Hunt on August 18.

And Gary Teetzel brought another link to my attention … Peter Jackson has been busy putting 100 year-old World War One footage through a digital car wash, for a commemorative feature called They Shall Not Grow Old. The few shots we see are really remarkable. My guess is that they’re from original untouched sources in the British War Museum… at least, they cannot be the creaky over-duped shots that predominate in older documentaries. The War Museum keeps millions of feet of film footage never seen; years ago the feature Overlord was constructed that utilized reams of interesting film shot in the days before the Normandy invasion. That link is for a trailer.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday September 29, 2018

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

A Raisin in the Sun 09/29/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Lorraine Hansberry’s play has been given a masterful film adaptation, with the emotional truth of her words left intact. We’re told of some superficial compromises, but they do not diminish the play’s powerful clash between old and new ideas in a Southside Chicago family struggling to escape poverty. This may be Sidney Poitier’s best screen performance, but the honors are shared with a superlative cast: Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands, Ivan Dixon, John Fiedler, Louis Gossett Jr., Stephen Perry, Joel Fluellen. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
9/29/18

Looker 09/29/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

It’s always fun to peruse the impressive career of writer-director Michael Crichton, whose brilliant, commercially savvy ideas so often hit the mark. He even invented a plausibly credible dinosaur movie. This 1981 thriller may be his least coherent show, with too many screwy ideas and a supporting cast that needed better direction. Yet it has the winning combination of Albert Finney and Susan Dey, and some very original thriller elements.. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
9/29/18

CineSavant Column

Saturday September 29, 2018

Hello!

This is a strange story …

Remember the 1976 King Kong remake? I personally saw the Dino DeLaurentiis/Carlo Rambaldi full-sized King Kong hand on an MGM stage in 1976 — Richard Yuricich sneaked a number of us over there after he filmed a 70mm front projection test for CE3K. But I missed out on a night where several friends went to MGM, to be extras for the filming of the giant robotic Kong, the towering robotic mannequin that Dino claimed deserved an Academy Award as a revolution in special effects. Not only did the robot fail to function in front of the crowd, it sprung an oil leak — down its leg — which brought gales of laughter from the crowd of extras given ‘Petrox’ flags to wave. It apparently was something like a recent day with another awkward mannequin at the United Nations.

Anyway, Gary Teetzel came across this Corroded Vault investigative item on what became of the giant Rambaldi Kong props: DeLaurentiis apparently rented them out for dubious live-action show presentations in Argentina. The article has plenty of documentation in the form of newsprint graphics but no title per se. For the purposes of a link, I’m calling it King-Kong “En Vivo”.  Be prepared, it’s a crazier rip-off than the movie ever was. I’m surprised Argentina didn’t declare war on Paramount Pictures. The page has been up for a year, so I hope this isn’t old news for too many people.

And are you ready for some real fun? Correspondent William T. Garver just posted an announcement by Shout Select, of an upcoming disc of the uncompromised, thoroughly appalling animated show about animals used for medical experiments, The Plague Dogs. Wow, the kiddies will LOVE this one — it’s like These are the Damned, only with innocent, suffering anthropomorphosed canines. The new date for Shout’s Blu-ray is January 14. Lovers of great animation should look up various reviews online for this previously MIA movie — it’s not about cute little puppies.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday September 25, 2018

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

The Cyclops 09/25/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

He’s back — looking meaner and uglier than ever!  Bert I. Gordon’s early sci-fi effort shapes up as a surprisingly entertaining monster thriller with an elemental appeal. And lots of groaning and howling, too. Led by Lon Chaney Jr., the all-name cast keeps things lively. The pop-eyed monster is the ultimate bogeyman for the kiddies. Any movie that inspired as many nightmares as this one did, can’t be bad. With Gloria Talbott, James Craig and Tom Drake. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
9/25/18

The Mind of Mr. Soames 09/25/18

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Amicus tries for class-act science fiction: lifelong coma sleeper Terence Stamp is revived as an ‘adult baby’ and must be educated in a medical psychology lab. But hey, Doctors Nigel Davenport and Robert Vaughn differ on how to raise children! The bouncing baby Cockney is soon an infantile Clockwork Orange, defying his minders and running away to see the world for himself. No, you can’t explain youth rebellion that easily… Also with Donal Donnelly, and shot by cameraman Billy Williams. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
9/25/18

The Dragon Missile 09/25/18

88 Films
Region B Blu-ray

Guest reviewer Lee Broughton offers an assessment of one of the Shaw Brothers’ quirkier and more idiosyncratic historical martial arts efforts: an action-packed Meng Hua Ho wuxia flick from 1976 that concerns an irredeemable killer sent on a mission to save the life of a despicable and hated tyrant. Outstanding fight choreography, unusual weaponry and unpredictable plot twists! On Region B Blu-ray from 88 Films.
9/25/18

CineSavant Column

Tuesday September 25, 2018

Hello!

I feel like I learn something whenever director-raconteur extraordinaire Brian Trenchard-Smith talks about movies… he should be hosting on TCM, or become the new Alastair Cooke for PBS. Trenchard-Smith’s latest great Trailers from Hell commentary singles out what looks like a really good historical epic, Alejandro Amenábar’s 2009 Agora. Starring Rachel Weisz, it’s set in ancient Alexandria, and it completely escaped me. I’ll have to go snoop for it online — to see if a Spanish-language Blu-ray is available.

Correspondent Jonathan Gluckman has forwarded a really good archive.org encoding of Weltram Schiff 1 Startet… Eine Technische Fantasie, uploaded by the National Archives and Records Administration. I believe it may have been among the high-tech Nazi contraband confiscated by the U.S. at the war’s finish, along with the science fiction film Gold. I’ve written about this 23-minute science fiction milestone in the past, with its giant spaceship that launches on a roller-coaster like track, a gambit seen just before in Kosmitcheskiy reys: Fantasticheskaya novella , and later in When Worlds Collide and Satellite in the Sky. The webpage dates the film as 1928, but every place I’ve seen it listed gives 1937 as the year of production. Invite your best Deutsche friend over, because even this good transfer has no English subs. The title translates as ‘Spaceship 1 Launches — a Technical Fantasy.’ Did Germans call sci-fi stories ‘technical fantasies?’  We don’t get to see the Weltraum Schiff land, but the takeoff montage that starts at 13 minutes in is sensational.

Say it ain’t so, Mister Bishop!  Everybody’s reporting that Mel Gibson will direct a remake of the 1969 western game-changer The Wild Bunch, directed by Sam Peckinpah. I’m reminded of Mrs. Hudson’s lament in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes: “Oh, there’s a cryin’ need for that!”  Gee, I hear that Jim Carrey is available. And can Martin Short play a Mexican maybe?  Where will Gibson slip in some strange religious theme — crucifixion via bullet holes, perhaps?  Actually, news like this makes me wonder if the studio mentality is capable of promoting original work. If one wants to do a remake, why not skip the classics, and instead try a do-over on a great movie story that wasn’t perfect the first time around?

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday September 22, 2018

We love Liv anyway. CLICK on her.

The Changeling 09/22/18

Severin Films
Blu-ray

Morbid spirits are on the loose … Peter Medak directed this much-respected ghost story, that finds new wrinkles and some great characters in a haunted house. George C. Scott adds another fine performance to his record, as a master musician who discovers a secret room and a horror story that happened seventy years before. The nervous supporting cast features Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, Jean Marsh, John Colicos, Barry Morse, and Madeleine Sherwood. On Blu-ray from Severin Films.
9/22/18