CineSavant Column

Saturday December 1, 2018


Hello!

Twilight Time just announced their February titles, which should be a cause for excitement for Peter Cook and Dudley Moore fans: Bedazzled (above) is on the bill, along with Frank Tashlin’s Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, Oliver Stone’s Talk Radio and Lewis Gilbert’s The Admirable Crichton, aka Paradise Lagoon.

And Kino announced that they have three vintage Ealing comedies with Alec Guinness on the docket for early next year: Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Man in the White Suit, which is of course also a science fiction classic.


Over at Joe Baltake’s The Passionate Moviegoer today we’ve got an article with a good round-up of Lost TV Musicals over the last 60 years … I was aware of some of these and really wish they were viewable: Lee Remick in Damn Yankees, (right) Lesley Ann Warren in It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman!”, Anthony Perkins and Charmian Carr in Stephen Sondheim’s Evening Primrose, and more that I never heard of. It’s hard to believe that most of these weren’t preserved.


As I explained last Tuesday, the Blu-ray industry experienced a ‘replication capacity shortfall,’ which is short for ‘they couldn’t print the things fast enough.’ The effect is certainly being felt here, although I’m told that the crunch is over and the presses are rolling again (so to speak).

As for discs that were delayed, I just got in some of the hotter Kino Lorber titles but am still waiting on November titles from Twilight Time, Criterion and The Warner Archive. So I’ll have reviews forthwith for Kino’s The Outer Limits 2 set and The Puppet Masters. (below) I’ve been getting review requests for BIG titles already out — Some Like it Hot, The Thing from Another World, The Magnificent Ambersons, True Stories — and apologize for being tardy. Warners has Dark of the Sun for December 18, as well as a new collection of Popeye cartoons due out on December 11.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday November 27, 2018

It’s beginning to feel a lot like you-know-what. CLICK on George Bailey.

Age of Consent 11/27/18

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

A dreamy tropic idyll … or a dirty old man’s movie? Our verdict chooses the first option for Michael Powell’s retelling of the old tale of the artist’s innocent yet sensual creative adventure with his young model. Producer James Mason eases nicely into the part, but then- newcomer Helen Mirren takes the prize as the most fearless and liberated woman in filmdom circa 1969. With Jack MacGowran, the Great Barrier Reef when it was still Great, and a very talented dog, Lonsdale. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
11/27/18

A Man Alone 11/27/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Ray Milland directs a fine western drama, strong on character and tension; it garnered enough praise to set him on a second, minor career behind the camera. Milland also stars as a gunman in the wrong place at the wrong time — framed for a mass murder in an unforgiving frontier town. Who ya gonna blame? That nasty sidewinder villain Raymond Burr, of course. Also starring Mary Murphy, Ward Bond, Raymond Burr and Lee Van Cleef. Now, of those actors, which do you think doesn’t live to see the ‘The End’ card?  On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
11/27/1

CineSavant Column

Tuesday November 27, 2018

Hello!

Various notes from readers have made me aware of the patchy availability and missed/moved street dates for some Blu-rays released after September. I found out that there is a problem by writing Warners’ George Feltenstein about the issue of the Warner Archives’ new Blu-ray of The Thing from Another World. It’s been up at Amazon, but its status has been changing from ‘order now’ to ‘temporarily unavailable.’

The quick news on this issue is that The Thing listed on Amazon is real and not a mistake, so if you order it, it will come. Some buyers are just receiving their copies now. The availability question delayed the shipping of review copies, which normally come at least a week before street date — that’s why I didn’t even know it had been released.

Why are street dates changing, or becoming obscured? George tells me that there is at present an industry-wide Blu-ray replication capacity shortfall, that is just now clearing up. This inability to press the discs fast enough has caused grief with the release dates and marketing schedules of more than one Blu-ray company. When dates are changed at the last minute, info posted on Amazon doesn’t always catch up quickly. George says that small companies are hit the hardest, but even Criterion has been affected, with their discs of The Magnificent Ambersons and True Stories being pushed back a week or so.

The good news for disc companies is that the replication capacity issue is straightened out just in time for the holidays when the sales volume goes up. The Warners titles slated for the 11th and 18th of December will street as scheduled. Technically The Thing is at present an unofficial ‘Amazon Exclusive,’ because the machinery to sell it through the WB Shop was put on hold, and now has to be re-started. That’s probably too much detail, but it does explain why searching for ‘The Thing from Another World Blu-ray’ doesn’t yield results at the fairly efficient WB Shop. At least, not at this exact moment of writing.

Meanwhile, the highly awaited Dark of the Sun has quietly been made available at the WB Shop, without marketing materials being sent out, either. Maybe reviews for these will have to wait for later.

Talking with George is great because he fills me on restoration news inside the business. I do have several other studio home video contacts, but I long ago stopped asking questions about what’s coming out or what’s in the works. It’s all proprietary information. Any scoops are reserved for in-house disclosure, and I wouldn’t want to get anyone in trouble. By now there’s likely a full rundown on The Thing over at the Warner Archive Collection’s Facebook page.

George did tell me I could confirm that the new The Thing disc is indeed a major restoration: all of the scenes previously cut for a 1950s reissue have been restored from 35mm elements, instead of the fuzzy 16mm sources seen on the old DVD and on TCM cablecasts. The title sequence that had been re-formatted for widescreen for the re-issue, has been restored to the original 1:37 Academy version. I can’t wait to hear the Dimitri Tiomkin music score in full-resolution HD audio.


And it finally happened over at Trailers from Hell… I got about thirty seconds into a trailer commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith, stopped watching and immediately ordered the Blu-ray. It’s a Spanish film called Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) made of several stories about revenge, and it looked perfect for home viewing. After I see it I’ll go back and listen to all of the commentary. Sony gets some of the best new foreign films, but review access is difficult; TFH is good just for finding out that some of these titles exist.

I’ve already said that Trenchard-Smith is my favorite TFH ‘guru’; he’s always saying something highly interesting. Other recent goodies, just to name two, are Allison Anders on Roger Corman’s Reform School Girl and Allan Arkush on William Wellman’s Wild Boys of the Road.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday November 24, 2018

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Clouzot The Early Works 11/24/18

Kino Classics
Blu-ray

A master of suspense admired even by Hitchcock, Henri-Georges Clouzot is famous for acid-tinged thrillers about cold-blooded murder and ugly politics, whether in a French town or a Latin American oil field. But his early writing career was quite different: he provided the scenarios and dialogue for ten years’ worth of clever farces and affecting melodramas, often with musical numbers. The set’s titles are My Cousin from Warsaw, Dragnet Night, The Unknown Singer, I’ll Be Alone After Midnight, The Terror of Batignolles, Tell Me Tonight and Dream Castle. On Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
11/24/18

Brewster McCloud 11/24/18

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Robert Altman’s first opportunity to cut loose with an entirely personal film is this scattershot comedy that satirizes the American scene, taking pokes at patriotism, greed, and silly police movies. To his favorite eccentrics from M*AS*SH Bud Cort and Sally Kellerman he adds the new discovery Shelley Duvall; the movie’s like a bag of absurdist jokes that spilled onto a Houston Highway. Also starring Michael Murphy, William Windom, Rene Auberjonois, Stacy Keach, John Schuck, Margaret Hamilton and Jennifer Salt. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
11/24/18

The Best of the Three Stooges 11/24/18

Time-Life
DVD

Duck while you can still see: this collection rounds up enough short subjects for a 13-disc set, including all 87 of the Columbia Pictures Shorts produced between 1934 and 1945; also television, stage shows, cartoons and four Three Stooges Feature Films. Are you getting the message — it’a LOT of stuff! Plus those awful pokes in the eyes. Reviewer Charlie Largent has tried them for real, and reports from the state reformatory that the sound effects are different, but people do end up blinded. On DVD from Time-Life.
11/24/18

CineSavant Column

Saturday November 24, 2018

Hello!

Correspondent Gary Teetzel reminds me that there’ll be another chance for Anglenos to see the new restoration of Edgar Ulmer’s Detour on a big screen: the American Cinematheque will be showing it on December 16, at the beautiful Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd.. The marvelous Arianné Ulmer Cipes will be there; she and host Alan Rode will cut through the fuzzy legend surrounding her father’s film, including all those rumors that it cost next to nothing, was filmed only in front of a rear-projection screen, etc.. Arianné showed me the original PRC budget, and it was actually fairly pricey for that studio — it’s even got a pop song on the soundtrack. The photo is from 2009: L-R are photographer Allan Peach, Arianné Ulmer Cipes, Gary Teetzel, Glenn Erickson and author Bern Herzogenrath. This was at a book promotion at the now-gone store Every Picture Tells a Story; we then went across the street to the Aero theater for a screening of Ulmer’s Ruthless.



Disney fans might want to check out another Gary Teetzel find, a 1940 issue of American Cinematographer that explains Disney’s experimental stereophonic sound process Fantasound, as heard in the avant-garde animation epic Fantasia. Once you’re in, note that the same issue carries an article by cinematographer Gregg Toland about an upcoming film with ‘special’ scenes, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.

Oh, and one more article has some advice for Jesús Franco. →


And finally, the new Film Noir Foundation magazine is out and available for download; the FNF home page has the info. This particular issue contains some fine articles, including pieces by Imogen Sara Smith (on Mexican cabaretera noir) and Steve Kronenberg (on Roger Corman’s The Intruder). Another article talks about the 1949 Eagle-Lion noir thriller Trapped, which the FNF has located in 35mm and is in the process of restoring. The Lloyd Bridges & Barbara Petyon- starring counterfeiting saga is a scarce item — like their previous rescues The Man Who Cheated Himself and Woman on the Run, I’ve yet to see it.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday November 20, 2018

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Crazy Rich Asians 11/20/18

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray + DVD

A surprise hit? This ultra-glamorous rom-com about life among the Singapore 1% would be a fantasy, if everything we see weren’t real. Constance Wu and Michelle Yeoh head an all-Asian cast in a celebration of ostentatious excess — yep, some folks aren’t hurting at all. As an expression of Asian ascendency and female power, the show may have opened a door to a whole new empire of crossover ethnic fantasies. With Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu and Awkwafina. On Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
11/20/18

Georgy Girl 11/20/18

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Lynn Redgrave burst to stardom with this fine study of romance vs. reality in swinging London circa 1966. Georgy thinks of herself as a plain Jane next to her popular roommate, played by Charlotte Rampling. Alan Bates is the flighty boyfriend and James Mason the old millionaire making Georgy indecent proposals. How can a good girl get somewhere in life? As sometimes happens, the song has retained more fame than the movie. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
11/20/18

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood 11/20/18

Kino Lorber
DVD

Matt Tynauer’s frank, unrated documentary about the wild times of gay and straight hustler-procurer Scotty Bowers is built around his 2012 tell-all book about the Hollywood sex underground of the late ’40s and ’50s. Scotty tells his own story in a way that compels belief. It’s a fine docu, sort of an exposé item but more credible than Hollywood Babylon. But it’s also not for all audiences, as some hardcore content is included. On DVD from Kino Lorber/Greenwich Entertainment.
11/20/18

CineSavant Column

Tuesday November 20, 2018

Hello!

I’ve been asked to comment on the replacement disc that Universal has been sending to purchasers of their Creature From The Black Lagoon Complete Legacy Collection. Back in September, buyers were dismayed by the second disc in the set, which carried not only 3-D and 2-D encodings of Revenge of the Creature, but a third encoding of the 2-D The Creature Walks Among Us. Compared to the bright and sharp Creature from the Black Lagoon (and all of the other new Legacy Collection titles) the 3-D Revenge looked washed out and soft; it seemed to get even softer at times. Worse, it wasn’t programmed like other 3-D discs — players reverted to a screen where we first had to make a format choice. Walks Among Us was satisfactory but the 2-D Revenge wasn’t much better than DVD quality.

To our surprise Universal responded and promised replacement discs. Those discs started arriving awhile back, and I got mine two days ago, with a signature required through UPS.

The new disc received looks just like the old disc. The only way I see that they can be distinguished is through the numbers on the label. Each disc has two numbers:

replacement: 1055201-2110795

old disc: 1028787-2092919

At first glance this doesn’t seem a full fix — to do that would, I think, require a third disc in the set. I have a feeling that Universal acknowledged mainly that the way the 3-D version loaded had to be properly programmed. The other fixes seem limited to the 3-D version, and appear to be tweaks, not a re-encoding of the full restoration done. Revenge of the Creature has been screened theatrically, where I’m told it looks sensationally good. The other two encodings, look the same. That’s a subjective assessment; here are the details:

It’s still just one disc, carrying all ‘three’ movies.

Revenge of the Creature 3-D: When it loads and one chooses the 3-D option, Revenge now comes right up. It no longer goes to a ‘choose 3-D’ mode screen, but defaults straight to the film in 3-D like most commercial discs. I found the contrast better overall, and the picture sharper- looking. With the increased contrast range the night shots look especially good. The logo still looks weak to me. It’s still not quite as punchy as the 3-D disc of the first Creature movie.

Revenge of the Creature 2-D doesn’t look any better than it did the first time around, it’s still lackluster. From what I can see The Creature Walks Among Us looks and plays the same, very well.

So should we be pleased? I guess I am, for Revenge in 3-D is the title I most wanted, and now it’s a lot more attractive. I realize that most collectors don’t have 3-D. Since players and monitors have been discontinued, when my present equipment breaks down I may be 3-D challenged as well. So I’m just enjoying it while it lasts. Hopefully LG or Samsung will bring the feature back.

One thing I learned about Revenge of the Creature is that some of its shots aren’t in 3-D. This 3-D Film Archive article Why are there occasional flat scenes in vintage 3-D movies? gives full documentation on why.


Oh, two exciting last-minute items: The Warner Archive Collection has just announced a much-desired title, Errol Flynn in the 1940 Michael Curtiz classic The Sea Hawk. Plus the Hammer Horror of Dracula!, which ought to be good news. I suppose it will have the recovered extra/alternate shots found in Japan, then. They say they’re going with the BFI / Hammer restoration, but tweaking the colors (!) — sounds promising!

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday November 17, 2018

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Nothing Sacred 11/17/18

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Whaddaya know, this new disc of the Carole Lombard / Fredric March comedy hit looks great, besting by far all previous videos and prints I’ve seen of the early (1937) Technicolor production. Hazel Flagg’s Madcap Manhattan Weekend now pops with brilliant hues. And a little digging tells us that Ben Hecht’s morbid premise is based on a real-life scandalous workplace tragedy called ‘The Living Dead Women.’ Also starring Charles Winninger, Walter Connolly, Sig Ruman, Margaret Hamilton, Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom and Troy Brown as a non-PC Eastern potentate. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
11/17/18

The Princess Bride 11/17/18

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

William Goldman and Rob Reiner’s unchallenged modern classic captures the magic of fairy tales about noble lovers, loyal warriors and low-down villains. Everybody’s terrific, all the characters are hilariously magical and Goldman’s writing glows with love for happy storytelling leavened further by sly wit. Criterion presents the Blu-ray in a lush storybook package with a treasure chest of extras. Starring Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Peter Falk, Mandy Patinkin, André the Giant and Wallace Shawn. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
11/17/18

CineSavant Column

Saturday November 17, 2018

Hello!

Correspondent ‘Bee’ follows up on the The Last Movie review that he helped write with a link to a brief film clip from The Merv Griffin Show helpfully entitled A Slightly Bombed Dennis Hopper Bemoans the fate of his ‘The Last Movie.’ It’s short, but sweet.


A fun resource located by Gary Teetzel: a July 1957 episode of CBS Radio Workshop is an adaption of Poe’s Never Bet the Devil Your Head, the story filmed by Federico Fellini in Spirits of the Dead. Actor John Dehner narrates the story as Poe; the unlucky Toby Dammit is played by . . . wait for it … Daws Butler.

Yes, Daws Butler, famous for doing countless voices for Hanna-Barbara, including Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, etc.. Butler’s Dammit isn’t like any of those characters, but it does distinctly sound like a cartoon voice. So if you want to hear Poe as performed by Yogi Bear, here you go: CBS Radio Workshop – Never Bet the Devil Your Head. Presented by the Old Time Radio Researchers Group at Yahoo.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday November 13, 2018

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