Dr. Phibes Double Feature 05/03/22

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Vincent Price’s strongest A.I.P. departure from the Poe mold, often praised for its ornate art direction, ‘The Abominable Dr. Phibes’ is a macabre murder fantasy in a 1920s period setting, one part Gaston Leroux and two parts Art Deco design accents, with some vintage music thrown in. The campy storyline sees Phibes organizing nine murders around the nine plagues of Egypt. The sequel ‘Dr. Phibes Rises Again’ goes in for even more homicidal artifice. With Joseph Cotten, Virginia North, Terry-Thomas; and Robert Quarry and Hugh Griffith. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/03/22

Dementia 05/03/22

Cohen Media Group
Region A Blu-ray

The Cohen Film Collection brings to Region A its beautifully remastered disc of American fringe filmmaking’s weirdest, most obsessively arty shock-fest — a loving return to silent expressionist horror. The New York censors scuttled its commercial chances, and it wound up as a movie-within-a-movie footnote for Steve McQueen. We never thought we’d see the show look this good — John Parker memorialized Venice, California five years before Orson Welles. But the overall package packs a big disappointment, as I’ll explain. On Region A Blu-ray from Cohen Media Group.
05/03/22

CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 3, 2022

 

Hello!

Recently posted to YouTube by Matthew B. Lamont, we can admire some arcane stop motion effect shots composited by the late David Allen: Stop-Motion Rarities: Taurus Test Footage (circa. 1964-65).

This is likely the same puppet seen in David Allen, David Stipes, Mark McGee & Dennis Muren’s Equinox, which saw an altered release in 1970.

Ha — revisiting my 2006 review of the Criterion Equinox disc shows that this short reel may have come from its extras. I also wrote that Chris Endicott is working on finishing The Primevals, an effort that’s still on-going, sixteen years later.

 


 

The Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival returns to Palm Springs next week, from May 12 to the 15th. The excuse to spend a few days in Palm Springs is a big draw for casual fest-goers and noir dogs alike. Sunglasses not included.

The draw this year — a post-pandemic return to form — is a chance to view the Film Noir Foundation’s latest restorations. John Reinhardt’s The Guilty is the return of a Cornell Woolrich adaptation, and Cy Endfield’s The Argyle Secrets has a wry political twist. A new appreciation at ‘Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings’ makes Argyle sound like a real hoot.

The festival will include a 35mm screening of the original theatrical cut of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. Full details are at the festival website.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday April 30, 2022

The question is, why does the IMDB insist on giving this 1963 movie a false title?

Irezumi 04/30/22

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

Yasuzo Masumura amazes us with yet another sensual stunner. This period way-of-all-flesh tale is almost a horror film, but the supernatural shivers are far outpaced by the daily Evil that Men Do. Japanese superstar Ayako Wakao blazes across the screen as a self-decreed avenger of the female sex, who allows men to destroy themselves and uses them to destroy each other. The bloody killings orbit around the desire to possess the irresistible Spider Woman, an in an ‘annihilating noir.’ The screenplay is by the equally famous Kaneto Shindo, from a Japanese ‘amor fou’ novel by Junichiro Tanizaki. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
04/30/22

Born to Win 04/30/22

Fun City Editions
Blu-ray

Ivan Passer’s first American film and his first in the English language is a core life-with-a-junkie tale in a cold Manhattan winter. George Segal is the ‘habituated, not addicted’ (he says) user whose married life has already been destroyed. Can he escape with the help of his new girlfriend?  Hector Elizondo’s pimp/pusher has no intention of letting that happen. What’s weird is Passer’s frequently light tone — Segal’s criminal antics verge on the absurd. It’s a great film to see Karen Black, a young Robert De Niro and even Paula Prentiss in action, and yet another snapshot of Times Square in its most degraded decade. On Blu-ray from Fun City Editions.
04/30/22

CineSavant Column

Saturday April 30, 2022

 

Hello!

Last week’s review of Marooned prompted contributor / advisor “B” to send along a sample of MAD Magazine’s October 1970 takeoff on the movie, “Moroned,” by the great Mort Drucker and Dick De Bartolo.

I stopped reading Mad a couple of years before, so I never saw this … and it’s really something. It touches on the same issues a good review would address. The caricature of James Franciscus is just okay, but the likenesses of David Jannsen (‘Dewerdye’) and Gene Hackman (Buzzoff) are truly good, really funny.

If you want to see more, drop me an email. It’s a sneaky trick to meet some readers, and I promise not to collect emails or anything.

 


Meanwhile, colleague and friend Bill Shaffer wrote from Topeka Kansas to report on an upcoming Godzilla & Friends weekend film festival, that he’s held for local kids at Washburn University for the last (gasp) 15 years. It’s in conjunction with the Kansas Silent Film Festival that he helps organize as well. I was invited twelve years ago to do a little presentation, and was greatly impressed with Bill’s young audience — value-wise, Topeka raises little kids that remind me of my own childhood. I clued Bill into the Godzilla experts Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski that year, and the wowed the kids with their special presentations.

It may not be IMAX but it’s a fun weekend for the Kaiju-deprived, a Friday evening and all day Saturday. Every year the film studios send Bill heaps of Godzilla-related swag to give out as door prizes. The little film fans respond as if they’d landed in Ali Baba’s cave.

I’m posting this announcement just in case someone halfway local to Topeka wants to check it out. Bill finally has to call it quits so this 15th installment will be the last. The dates are May 6th and 7th. Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski are flying in again. Bill will be showing 1968’s King Kong Escapes, which I remember taking my little brother to when it was new. It’s also a celebrity event: the movie’s star Linda Miller is scheduled to join in for a Zoom chat.

If nothing else, I’ll post some photos of the festivities later on. Where was Godzilla & Friends when I was seven years old?

Here’s a link to the info. Book your airfare now for beautiful downtown Topeka: Godzilla & Friends Festival #15.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday April 26, 2022

Very warmly remembered.

Damaged Lives & Damaged Goods 04/26/22

Kino Classics
Blu-ray

Surprise: these are quality movies on an important subject. Entry 13 in the ‘Golden Age of the Exploitation Picture’ gives us not sleaze but two well-produced vintage public education epics on the subject of (gasp) venereal disease. Although reissued by sensation hucksters as racy ‘forbidden’ fare, they had serious social aims — the screenplay for one was adapted by the famed author Upton Sinclair. The other was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Added extras are four short subjects directed by Edgar G., and two sex-ed lecture reels that alternate between funny and revolting. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.
04/26/22

Marooned 04/26/22

Viavision [Imprint]
Blu-ray

John Sturges’ orbital jeopardy thriller does everything right: the story is taken seriously, the actors seem committed and the special effects aren’t bad. Yet it’s more interesting for what doesn’t work than what does. As one of the first Sci-fi pictures in the wake of 2001 it wasn’t well received despite being technically astute. Did NASA’s race to the Moon put an end to fanciful space Sci-fi?  Gregory Peck, Gene Hackman, Lee Grant and some ex- TV actors do their best, but producer Mike Frankovich’s space saga just sits there. It looks great in its first Blu-ray release: images of the actual Apollo 11 launch are breathtaking. On Blu-ray from Viavision [Imprint].
04/26/22

CineSavant Column

Tuesday April 26, 2022

 

Hello!

This was too cute to pass up — just two days ago it had fewer than a hundred thousand hits on YouTube. CineSavant contributor Lee Broughton gives us a great fan video that puts Adam West into a trailer: The Batman, but with Goofy Batman.

The author-editor-effects whiz behind this is someone/thing called ‘Corridor.’ As far as I’m concerned, this is the Batman movie I want to see !

 


 

And here’s something — fifty years later, I finally get to hear the song Man of the West that Bobby Troup wrote for the memorable Anthony Mann / Walter Mirisch / Gary Cooper western. It’s nothing special at all, but I wish they’d have worked its pale melody into the film score — the music by Leigh Harline is depressingly generic, especially in the main titles and at the finish.

Frankly, the presence of Julie London makes both this western and Robert Parrish’s The Wonderful Country twice as interesting — they’re both adult roles and she is definitely an adult presence. Ms. London is also a knockout in a dreamy dream sequence in Frank Tashlin’s The Girl Can’t Help It, and brings definite heat to the much earlier The Red House, where she’s 21 but looks like the teenaged girlfriend of one’s dreams.

Man of the West is such a classic, yet it just doesn’t seem ‘completed’ — why not have Julie London’s Billie sing something for the main titles — she is a saloon singer, after all. Or why not have a church hymn, to represent Link Jones’ little religious community?  Knowing what I now know, I wonder if Anthony Mann kind of skated through Man of the West, while looking forward to Spartacus. Or would the timing not support that idea?

 


 

And advisor Gary Teetzel passes on some very good news — ClassicFlix will be releasing I, the Jury in Blu-ray 3-D, flat Blu-ray, and 4K. No date has been given just yet; the show was just screened at the TCM Fest.

I’ve never seen I, the Jury, which is a major wanna-see, 3-D- wise — the film was shot by John Alton and the depth effects are said to be excellent, so the chances are that it’ll be visually impressive even if seen flat. This is also Peggie Castle’s main claim-to-fame picture, and, more good news, I see that Velda is played by Margaret Sheridan from The Thing from Another World.

I’ll also be keen to see if actor Biff Elliot makes the grade as Mike Hammer. I ran into him several times at Dave’s the Laser Place in the early 1990s — he was a home video fan too. In his late ‘sixties he didn’t at all look like the bruiser we see in old movie stills, and had a very non-Mickey Spillane friendly smile.

 

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday April 23, 2022

This curious horror gem-in-miniature has some of Peter Lorre’s most affecting screen work.

Jigsaw 04/23/22

Cohen Collection / Kino
Blu-ray

Val Guest’s cinema quest for his own semi-docu style pays off in this fine, intelligent police investigation into a gruesome dismemberment murder. U.K. favorite Jack Warner is the main detective, Guest’s actress wife Yolande Donlan is a ‘person of interest,’ and the illusion of reality is enhanced by real locations in Greenwich, Brighton, Lewes and points between. It’s an excellent legwork murder mystery, with good atmosphere and colorful characterizations — within the dry ‘serious business’ format, of course. On Blu-ray from Cohen Media Group / Kino Lorber.
04/23/22

The Girl Can’t Help It 04/23/22

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

All hail Frank Tashlin!  The ex-cartoon director all but invented our fixation on extreme ’50s style, and in this musical comedy wrangles the top obsessions of the decade, rock ‘n’ roll and buxom Hollywood sex appeal as represented by Jayne Mansfield and her milk bottles. Tom Ewell and a hilarious Edmond O’Brien are the Old School representatitves of Show Biz and gangsterism, while the CinemaScope screen is assaulted by Little Richard, Fats Domino and Eddie Cochran, with some love left over for Julie (swoon) London. Reviewer Charlie Largent sees the truth through the blinding primary colors: is the fetishistic worship of Mansfield homogenized, or merely lactose indulgent?  On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
04/23/22

CineSavant Column

Saturday April 23, 2022

 

Hello!

DVD Classics Corner on the Air is back with another Dick Dinman podcast. Together with his guest George Feltenstein he looks at Two Miraculous Film Classic Restorations: William Wellman’s A Star is Born and George Pal and Henry Levin’s The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. George knows how to put the complicated restoration process into easily understood language.

The relevance here is that each of these movies came with ‘complications’ that a few years ago classified them as highly unlikely candidates for digital rejuvenation. My reviews are at Star is Born and Brothers Grimm. We’re happy to see Dick’s podcast flourishing.

 


 

Wonders Never Cease department:

And the people behind the coming-in-Fall home video breakout of the long-desired Invaders from Mars really seem to have their act together. With its re-premiere tonight at the TCM Film Festival they’ve announced the opening of early-early presales. Wary fans eager to see bits of the new restoration have been teased with this brief promo. It also gives us the great Jimmy Hunt, who is all-in with the promotion for the disc release. We’re already primed to accept that the quality won’t be uniform throughout — not all of the film’s shots were available as original negative.

It’s all coming from the Ignite company, which isn’t going to fool around with surprises or double-dip tricks — this Fall the show will be purchasable in DVD, Blu-ray and 4K versions. Yes, in a few months we obsessive collectors will have to find a new title to top our ‘movie most wanted’ restoration wish lists.

Ignite’s promotion page is at this link.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday April 19, 2022

One of the few movie monsters that really startled us — and still does!

Stingray: The Complete Series 04/19/22

Network
Blu-ray

Sign up for WASP: the World Aquanaut Security Patrol!  Troy Tempest flies the superduper rescue submarine Stingray. He likes both his boss’s daugher Atlanta and the delighful mermaid of the deep Marina, but he won’t marionette either of them. The full color restorations of these vintage Gerry and Sylvia Anderson puppet adventures are razor-sharp in HD, giving us a full appreciation of Derek Meddings’ superb special effects. The Deluxe Edition is packed with goodies including a comic book and a WASP pilot license and badge. Reviewer Charlie Largent recommends viewing the entire series through an aquarium, for added realism. On Blu-ray from Network.
04/19/22

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 4K (2011) 04/19/22

KL Studio Classics
4K Ultra HD + Blu Ray

This 2011 theatrical remake of John le Carré’s spy classic is a happy surprise — it’s every bit as distinctive and accomplished as the famed Alec Guinness TV miniseries. Swedish director Tomas Alfredson and the writers know how to tell a story — at just over two hours it’s neither bloated nor curtailed. Gary Oldman immediately makes the brilliant George Smiley his own — he’s younger but just as quiet and secretive. Oldman is surrounded by distinctive talent, an ensemble that serves the story: John Hurt, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy. It’s a delight for mystery-spy fans whether or not they’re familiar with the John le Carré-George Smiley universe. On 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
04/19/22

Gangway for Tomorrow: And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow 04/19/22

An Essay by Matt Rovner
Not a review.

Herein we break form, with a CineSavant- posted essay by contributor Matt Rovner. It’s not a review, but an essay about the development of the WW2 homefront propaganda movie Gangway for Tomorrow, that was largely written by the famed radio great Arch Oboler, Matt Rovner’s recurring object of study. Matt extensively researched the show’s progress from script to screen, observing how various episodes were changed or discarded at the urging of government advisors. The disc is available from The Warner Archive Collection but again, this is an academic essay, not a disc review.
04/19/22

CineSavant Column

Tuesday April 19, 2022

 

Hello!

This one’s just bizarre: correspondent Jonathan Gluckman has dug up a link to a 1967 Indian science fiction movie about a trip to the moon … only it’s also a Bollywood extravaganza that clocks in at 2.5 hours and includes scores of musical numbers and scenes of romance. It’s indescribable. The actual link is under the title Trip to the Moon but the original is said to be Wahan Ke Log. No subtitles, so just make up your own Noël Coward dialogue and lyrics.

Jonathan includes a link to a helpful critical analysis by ‘Todd:’ Teleport City: Wahan Ke Log  Without it this would remain something I only thought I’d only dreamed, that it couldn’t possibly exist for real. We’re told that in there somewhere is a wild, frenetic dance number featuring Laxmi Chaiyya, the star of Jaan Pehechaan Ho, the extravagant Bollywood musical number excerpted in Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World.

Jonathan also offers this Wahan Ke Log one minute excerpt that is subtitled, although we wish it weren’t: the miserable dialogue could have been written by Vlad ‘the Impaler’ Putin.

 


 

Plus, here’s a timely disc announcement. The upcoming Blu-ray restoration of the Abbott & Costello Jack and the Beanstalk now has a street date, and can be preordered from ClassicFlix. It’s a 70th anniversary Special Edition, due out on July 12. It is a limited edition. The 3-D Archive has put a great deal of effort into the rejunvenation of the show, originally released in SuperCineColor.

A full rundown of extras is listed, which includes a number of rare film clips. I personally am interested to see Jack Theakston’s visual essay Imperfect Spectrum: A Brief History of Cinecolor. Here are links to the Jack and the Beanstalk announcement-information page, and to the ClassicFlix pre-order page.

I checked — we first shouted about Jack and the Beanstalk back in October of 2020, so it’s been a while — they originally predicted it would arrive sometime in 2021.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson