Desert Hearts 11/07/17
By 1985 Hollywood had still only dabbled in movies about the ‘shame that cannot speak its name,’ and in every case the verdict for the transgressors was sadness and misery, if not death. Donna Deitch’s brilliant drama achieves exactly what she wanted, to do make a movie about a lesbian relationship that doesn’t end in a tragedy. Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau make a fascinating couple; also starring Audra Lindley, Andra Akers, and Gwen Welles. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
He Walked by Night 11/07/17
Do you think older crime thrillers weren’t violent enough? This shocker from 1948 shook up America with its true story of a vicious killer who uses special talents to evade police detection, and has a murderous solution to every problem. Richard Basehart made his acting breakthrough as Roy Martin, a barely disguised version of the real life ‘Machine Gun Walker.’ With Scott Brady, Whit Bissell and Jack Webb. On Blu-ray from ClassicFlix.
Battle Cry 11/07/17
James Jones, move over — Leon Uris clobbers the big screen with a sprawling adaptation of his WW2 combat novel, loaded down with roles for promising young actors. This is the one where twice as much time is spent on love affairs than fighting. War may be hell, but if Mona Freeman, Nancy Olson, Dorothy Malone, Anne Francis and Allyn McLerie are going to be there for comfort, sign me up. The big-star roster includes Aldo Ray, Tab Hunter, Van Heflin, and James Whitmore. On Blu-rayfrom The Warner Archive Collection.
Cannon for Cordoba 11/07/17
A middling entry in the genre of blow-it-up big action spectacles, Paul Wendkos’ Spain-filmed western gives us all the excitement promised by the poster, but with some cardboard characters and lumpy storytelling. George Peppard is on the job, however, and once again proves he can carry a big picture, flaws and all. With Raf Vallone, Giovanna Ralli, Don Gordon, and Pete Duel; on Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
A couple of notes today. This should be unnecessary for most readers, but after another letter from someone who didn’t understand, the highlighted words and titles in CineSavant reviews are links, mostly to other reviews but sometimes to material outside the site. I like to leapfrog to related material in what has become a 5600-entry review matrix.
I miss not doing footnotes, and every once in a while might drop something in brackets ‘[ ]’ that should probably be a footnote. I haven’t mastered doing footnotes in wordpress yet (I might take a class next Spring).
And finally, helpful correspondents write in from time to time to tell me that I’m reporting aspect ratios incorrectly, that ‘2:35’ is correctly written ‘2.35:1’. I’m well aware of this. I first learned ratios projecting for Hollywood types (mostly Mike Frankovich but also singer Barry White and dailies for Close Encounters). Projectionists back then just wrote ARs on film leaders in shorthand, as I do — 2:35 is just easier. Anyway, when people write in to correct me, it’s a chance to make a new contact, so I’ll keep doing it my way.
I announced some Powerhouse/Indicator titles last time. I thought I was pretty clear but a helpful reader has suggested that I reiterate that the two Universal-sourced movies, The Border and Charley Varrick were listed as Region B locked. The other two Columbia films The Fortune and The Border are region-free.
Gary Teetzel and other Kaiju fans are excited that Criterion has announced that they’ll be bringing out the entire Toho Showa collection of Godzilla films for Region A. The merry monster honor roll will include Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, Godzilla Raids Again, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Son of Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Gary explains further: “So that gives them all the Showa-era Godzilla films except for King Kong vs. Godzilla, Ebirah Horror of the Deep (Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster) , Godzilla vs. Hedorah (/The Smog Monster) and Godzilla on Monster Island (Godzilla vs. Gigan). Universal, of course, controls KK vs. G; the other three were released on U.S. Blu-ray a couple of years back by Kraken Releasing.
If we do get a Zatoichi- or Lone Wolf and Cub– style boxed set, I hope they include the commentaries and featurettes from the Classic Media releases. And why not look into the rights to all those Toho sci-fi titles released years ago by Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock: The Mysterians, Atragon, Dogora, Varan, Matango, Latitude Zero and Yog? – – Gary.”
Yes, why not indeed!
Thanks for reading — Glenn Erickson
The Pirates of Blood River 11/04/17
Can a pirate be a substitute monster? Why not? Hammer Films gives yet another genre a spin with this box-office winner that launched a sideline in costume adventures. The Hammer crew makes it work: Christopher Lee, Marla Landi, Marie Devereaux, Michael Ripper, Oliver Reed and Andrew Keir, plus yank assistance from Kerwin Mathews and Glenn Corbett. It’s the famous pirate picture where the pirates have to do without a pirate ship — but we’ve got killer piranha to compensate. Kids loved this one in ’62. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
I’ll Be Seeing You 11/04/17
This unusually sensitive, overlooked WW2 romance skips the morale-boosting baloney of the day. Two people meet on a train, each with a personal shame they dare not speak of. Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten are excellent under William Dieterle’s direction, and Shirley Temple doesn’t do half the damage you’d think she might. From Dore Schary and David O. Selznick, big creative egos that formed an admirably productive truce for several years in the late 1940s. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
The Green Slime 11/04/17
Look out! Gamma Gamma Hey! It’s the attack of screaming, arm-waving green goober monsters from a rogue planetoid, here to bring joy to the hears of bad movie fans everywhere. Rugged Robert Horton, luscious Luciana Paluzzi and (add alliterative ‘J’ word here) Richard Jaeckel fight off an infestation on their wiggly-toy space station. Just make sure your partner is agreeably inclined before you make it a date movie — this show has ended many a good relationship, even before the immortal words, “We’ll never make it chief, it’s coming too fast!” On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
“I read your review on S.O.S. Tidal Wave and really enjoyed your take on it. I just wanted to let you know of another non-serial use of the Deluge footage.
It’s used in the 1944 Ruth Terry vehicle, Jamboree about a country-western group moving to a farm to learn more about how the country folk live. About fifty minutes into the movie, a storm breaks out and Rufe Davis has a dream/nightmare of inventing a weather machine. He’s showing the machine (in a sequence with no dialog) to a group of investors when it explodes and starts the tidal wave. There’s a well-done montage of the Deluge footage with Davis running on a treadmill in front of the rear screen projection. He wakes up, panics and jumps out the window into a rain barrel … and that’s it. It’s not followed up at all and just seemed to be randomly inserted into the film. Like somebody in the front office said, Remember that flood footage? We haven’t used it since Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc.. Stick that in the movie. Weird!
A year or so, this was one of the Republic films that was available on the Paramount Vault YouTube channel when full-length Paramount and Republic films were briefly available. It was a gorgeous looking print. Just thought you’d be interested in this. John Hall” (October 31, 2017)
Here’s a positive plug for the Noir City E-Mag, which just brought out its issue #22 . . . I just read an excellent educational feature by Alan K. Rode about noir scribe Frank Fenton. The magazine is a good deal, and all the proceeds go to the restoration efforts of the Film Noir Foundation. Thanks to Daryl Sparks, Foundation’s promotional director.
Some good disc news — Powerhouse Indicator has more Harryhausen coming up soon, and they’ve just announced that they have some Universal titles coming for January: Mike Nichols’ The Fortune and Paul Schrader’s Blue Collar look to be all region, but the desirable The Border (Tony Richardson) and Don Siegel’s excellent Charley Varrick are indicated as Region B locked.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson
Hammer Volume One: Fear Warning! 10/31/17
Just in time for Halloween, Charlie Largent sinks his educated fangs into a quartet of rejuvenated Hammer pix, and the good news is that the transfers/encodings are excellent. On tap for this Volume One are Maniac (mind that blowtorch), Fanatic / Die! Die! My Darling! (mind the scissors), The Gorgon (why don’t Stheno and Euryale ever get a movie?) and The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (you wuz my brother! you shoulda took care of me!). The discs are all-region. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse / Indicator (UK).
The Vampire’s Ghost 10/31/17
Is it a classic? Well, not exactly, but it’s also not a typical disappointing ’40s Z-picture. Screenwriter Leigh Brackett pens a nice twist on the Dracula motif, and little-known actor John Abbott is genuinely impressive as what is surely the most low-key vampire on the books. Plus a sexy dance from Adele Mara! On Blu-rayfrom Olive Films.
S.O.S. Tidal Wave 10/31/17
Republic raids an early RKO talkie for a fantastic special effects sequence, and you won’t believe how it’s used — in a story about a TV personality (in 1939!) taking on a corrupt political mob. New York crumbles and is then washed away — sort of. It’s yet another Blu-ray debut of a title that not long ago we couldn’t see to save our cinema-curious souls. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
We start out this Halloween coverage with seven minutes of genuine historical horror. Joe Dante asks, is this the scariest movie of 1939? Check out the link: the answer is yes, because we’re living in the far-too-similar year of 2017!
Meanwhile, Dick Dinman’s latest web podcast show has arrived, Dick Dinman and George Feltenstein Salute the Restored and Uncut The Sea Wolf.” Warner Home Video executive Feltenstein regales producer/host Dick Dinman with the arduous challenges inherent in bringing the Michael Curtiz classic The Sea Wolf to its full uncut glory for the first time in more than sixty years. Also covered are the Warner Archive Collection’s new discs of the lyrically romantic Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse/Vincente Minnelli classic Brigadoon as well as the Robert Taylor / Richard Widmark western The Law and Jake Wade, and Hell on Frisco Bay with Alan Ladd and Edward G. Robinson. They also take time out to talk about Criterion’s new disc of The Philadelphia Story.
I was about to review a foreign, Region B Blu-ray of Joseph Sargent’s Colossus: The Forbin Project, but Gary Teetzel tipped me off that Shout! Factory has announced a Region A release for February. The news also includes a Blu-ray for William Castle’s The Night Walker and Curtis Harrington’s Games — two more desired titles.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson
Savant’s creepy and spooky, mysterious and ooky features today are:
How Much Shock Can You Stand? 10/28/17
Charlie Largent’s nostalgic Halloween offering looks at a trio of high-toned horrors — two venerated classics that evoke chills through sophisticated & subtle means, and a fine haunted house ‘Boo!’ thriller that’s still guaranteed to scare up a cauldron of shudders. These ‘fantasy triple bills’ were inspired by the three- and four- feature multiple bill ads in old newspapers — which we happily imitate.
Hypnotic Chill! Monster Thrill! 10/28/17
A second dose of movie memories swings the other way — this second fantasy trio of shockers will always be inseparable from the experience of first viewing, for different reasons. What was the first movie you saw as a kid, where you were scared to death and couldn’t understand why adults were letting you watch? What horror picture became the backdrop for a memorable hot date? Savant recalls what it was like, back in the day.
Dawson City: Frozen Time 10/28/17
Imagine that, a disc review, of a fascinating hybrid of experimental film and historical documentary by Bill Morrison of Decasia fame. Lost film history and the vanished era of the Dawson Gold Rush blend into one story — all touched off by the discovery of tons of rare silent film, buried in the cold ground of the Canadian Yukon. And Donald Trump’s in there too! In the show, not the snow. On Blu-rayfrom Kino Lorber.