CineSavant Column

Saturday May 25, 2019

Hello!

The most welcome Blu-ray news in a while comes from The Disney Movie Club … which is finally offering Richard Fleischer’s 1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on Blu-ray. The release date is June 18 … for members only. A friend or two belong to the Club, but I don’t know if they like it… It doesn’t seem to be a forced subscription thing, exactly, but the text on their introductory offer has some Beagle Boy pitfalls, so beware.

Seven years ago at the AMIA’s REEL THING presentation, we saw a glorious restoration of 20,000 Leagues remastered at 2.55:1, with the ‘CinemaScope Mumps’ shots corrected by using extra image ‘real estate’ tucked beneath the soundtrack area. I have the restoration on my DVR from Turner Classic Movies, but that is of course compressed, so am excited about getting this long-AWOL Jules Verne wonder-movie. I swiped the inspiring image above from a Video Watchdog post by Tim Lucas.

Kino Lorber has announced two very good westerns for Region A: UA’s Day of the Outlaw, directed by André de Toth, with Robert Ryan, Burl Ives, Tina Louise and Venetia Stevenson, and Universal-International’s Man Without a Star, directed by King Vidor, with Kirk Douglas, Jeanne Crain, Claire Trevor, Richard Boone and William Campbell. CineSavant offers an easy guide to telling them apart: Outlaw = B&W and snow.  Star = Color and barbed wire.

The image above with Jeanne Crain has the rustic, outdoorsy pioneer flavor that I decided best represented these fine ’50s westerns.


And finally, a formatting gripe. Ads on CineSavant review pages are supposed to be displayed on the top and on the sides, but for the last few days they’ve suddenly popped up in the text of my reviews, 4 and 5 per article. Not cool, speaketh Savant. I’m told they’re working on a fix … but hasn’t this already happened before?  Sorry for the inconvenience. At least they’re not porn ads, which back on the DVDtalk page kicked in once or twice, and the webmaster wanted to know why I was concerned.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday May 21, 2019

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Fantomas Three Film Collection 05/21/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray Collector's Edition

Kino’s Studio Canal deal continues with more rare gems: Charlie Largent reviews a trio of fantastic pulp crime thrillers from the 1960s, that updates Louis Feuillade’s silent classic to the super-spy 1960s. Half- comedy and half- pop madness, these flashy ‘scope and color comic book adventures are graced with the iconic presence of Cocteau’s Jean Marais as the unstoppable criminal genius Fantômas. The pictures are Fantomas, Fantomas Unleashed and Fantomas vs. Scotland Yard; also starring Luis de Funès as Inspector Juve, with Mylène Demongeot and Robert Dalban. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/21/19

CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 21, 2019


Hello!

Some fun new disc news in the last week … The Warner Archive Collection has announced a Blu-ray with both versions of Gaslight, George Cukor’s more familiar 1944 Bergman / Boyer / Cotten remake, and an SD encoding of the Diana Wynyard / Anton Walbrook English original from 1940.

The WAC also has something in the works for a different kind of fan — Jonny Quest, The Complete Original Series. Now I’ll finally get to see the episode with the walking eye-monsters (if there really is one). Since I haven’t seen the show in fifty years, maybe I’ll be surprised by the supposed Non-PC content I’m hearing about online?

Also announced as pending from the WAC: None But the Brave, Corvette Summer, and Popeye: The 1940’s Vol. 2.


Twilight Time just sent out a note revealing its July titles, for the 16th of that month: Fred Zinnnemann’s Spanish Civil War drama with Gregory Peck Behold a Pale Horse, J.Lee Thompson’s loopy Cold War cartoon The Chairman, also with Peck; Susan Hayward & Charlton Heston in the costume drama The President’s Lady, and Phillip Dunne’s Ten North Frederick with Gary Cooper and Diane Varsi.

I’m eager to review TT’s May titles, due in the door next week… they include Steve McQueen in Horton Foote’s Baby the Rain Must Fall and the superior Edward Dmytryk western with Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn, Warlock.


Gary Teetzel pointed me to a find from CD producer Ray Fiola: “Several years back, when producing the CD of the surviving King Kong music tracks, producer Ray Faiola came across a track he didn’t recognize. He thought it might be some sort of demo, because toward the end there is a snippet that seems to quote Kong’s Ann Darrow theme. Years later, Faiola has identified the track as Max Steiner’s main title for the lost 1933 RKO horror thriller The Monkey’s Paw.

So if you’ve ever wondered about Max Steiner’s score for this rarity, here’s a brief taste from Chelsea Rialto Studios: the Main Title for The Monkey’s Paw.

Well whaddaya know department: Correspondent Michael Draine informs me that the 1933 The Monkey’s Paw HAS been found … but only in a French Dub. Here’s a nice discussion board entry, with screen caps, at the Nitrateville Page. Thanks Michael!


Gary T. also sent along this photo from that old 1957 favorite The Monster that Challenged the World. (To see it larger, open it in a new window.) I thought, ‘How odd that an official still from a sci-fi horror picture should be a posed shot with a woman happily greeting the titular mollusk monster, as if it were an old friend.’ Then I had a thought about the identity of the lady on view, which Tom Weaver graciously confirmed: she is indeed none other than Pat Fielder, the screenwriter of Challenged and several other Levy-Gardner-Laven monster-thons.

This mini-revelation is probably old news to those that frequent online boards, but Ms. Fielder is a special case for me. In a decade with few or no opportunities for filmic advancement, especially for women, UCLA graduate Pat advanced from office assistant to screenwriter at L-G-L, racking up credits that made possible a career writing for TV. That’s the way good work and team loyalty is supposed to be rewarded. It makes the creators of Without Warning!, Vice Squad, The Vampire and The Return of Dracula seem like a great group of people.

And they even let Pat pose with Augie Lohman’s goopy sea-slug, just for fun. I hope Ms. Fielder knows she’s appreciated.


And from the talented Paul Gentry comes a little more news about Full Moon’s remaster of the 1980 Sci-fi Opus The Day Time Ended. If you want to get a jump on the disc before reading about the picture quality, here’s a link to the Amazon Page. I should be receiving it in a couple of weeks, to review; I only know it flat on television so am eager to see it for the first time in its wide Panavision framing.

I met Mr. Gentry briefly a couple of months ago when TDTE’s producer Wayne Schmidt flew down to record a commentary for the new disc. The movie’s effects were produced at the late David Allen’s shop out on Olive in Burbank. If memory serves, this was about the same time that several of our 1941 modelmakers were moonlighting there, building sets and miniature props for the proposed Charlie Band picture The Primevals.

When Greg Jein constructed a futuristic house model for The Day Time Ended I got to visit Allen’s shop, where Randy (Randall William) Cook was busy getting ready to do stop-motion animation. This is Paul Gentry’s photograph of Randy posing with the show’s two main monster puppets. Hey, Mr. Cook looks pretty good here — he could pass for a teenager, and no pictures of ME this old are as presentable. I was going to make a joke about other photos of Randy way back at my wedding, but instead want to congratulate him for a worthy honor: last Saturday, Randall William Cook was appointed an advisor to the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation!

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday May 18, 2019

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Princess Mononoke 05/18/19

Shout Factory
Blu-ray Collector's Edition

The revered Japanese anime fantasy from Hayao Miyazaki and Ghibli Studios returns in an impressive gift box with a hefty book packed with attractive artwork. The fantastic animated tale posits supernatural forest spirits against the depredations of human civilization; demons attack villages, a heroine lives in the forest with a wolf, and it’s not for little kids. The show itself is viewable in its original Japanese with subtitles, or dubbed into English by an all-star voice cast: Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver. On Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
05/18/19

Stagecoach ’66 05/18/19

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Twilight Time goes for a Blu-ray upgrade of the western remake with the all-star cast. Forget that there was ever a John Ford or a John Wayne and it’s a perfectly presentable wild west story, but the mileage may vary for classic western fans inclined to make comparisons to the 1939 classic. Top billing goes to an enthusiastic Ann-Margret… but we’re sorry to report that her hip-swinging rock number, ‘Viva Geronimo!’ was cut at the last minute. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
05/18/19

CineSavant Column

Saturday May 18, 2019

Hello!

By this time most of the announcements for summer disc releases are out, and close associates are snooping about for news of potentially desirable genre product — yes, horror and sci-fi as well as crime and noir — scheduled for later in the year. In the average year the usual thing is for only a few Gottahavethedamnthing titles to be on the radar, with dim hopes for exciting Halloween- themed releases. This year is more than just unusual — the flow of hot announcements began a couple of months ago, and it seems it will peak in July. Most of the items are Blu-ray improvements on favorites, but there have already been some notable debuts, like the French Fantomas trilogy from the 1960s, which CineSavant’s Charlie Largent should be reviewing within the week.

Looking at the list of goodies, I see that Kino Lorber’s new release compact with Studio Canal is a major source of new product. Scream Factory has been putting out attractive ’50s Universal thrillers for months now, and still has some major items to spring on us. Also represented here are Criterion, Flicker Alley, Arrow Academy and Mill Creek/Kit Parker:

May 28: The Alligator People, Blue Velvet
June 4: The Last Warning, The Man Who Laughs, Arabesque
June 11: Frankenstein Created Woman, The Entity, Piranha
June 18: The Silent Partner, The Running Man, The Monolith Monsters, The Universal Horror Collection (The Black Cat, The Raven, The Invisible Ray, Black Friday)
June 25: Monster on the Campus, Lost Highway, Gone to Earth/The Wild Heart
July 2: Bob le Flambeur, Le Doulos
July 9: This Island Earth, The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, Mothra, Alphaville, Dead of Night
July 16: Noir Archive 9-Film Collection Volume 2, The Leopard Man, Attack of the Robots
July 23: Criss Cross, Death Takes a Holiday, Death in the Garden
July 30: The Reptile, Quatermass and the Pit, Quatermass 2
August 6: A Foreign Affair
August 13: Early Hitchcock (Kino box)
August 20: Isle of the Dead, 4D Man, Dinosaurus!, Hercules in the Haunted World
August 27: The Leech Woman

It’s quite a list; July is in particular a real killer month. I may not be able to review quite a few of them, but I’ll do my best.

CineSavant may be a little lean in the next week, as I’m concentrating on an outside project. But Tuesday will see a review of a fairly hot title, and I’ll keep the CineSavant Column news coming!

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday May 14, 2019

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Men Must Fight 05/14/19

The Warner Archive Collection
DVD

CineSavant obsesses over yet another obscure bit of cinematic sociology: a glossy pre-Code MGM melodrama about mothers and war, which half-debates issues like pacifism, the losses of world war one, military vigilance, cowardice, chemical WMDs and foolish idealism! But don’t worry, the title statement is the ultimate answer to everything. Oh, it’s also political sci-fi: it takes place in the future year of 1940, when New York City comes under aerial attack, with skyscrapers bombed to bits and poison gas dropped in the streets. No, this is not new, it was released in 1933. Starring Diana Wynyard, Lewis Stone, Robert Young, Phillips Holmes, May Robson and some outrageously good special effects. On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.
05/14/19

Von Richthofen and Brown 05/14/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Freshly divorced from American-International Pictures, Roger Corman leaps into the filmic mainstream with a fairly large-scale World War One aviation picture. He competes with the big studios but retains his nonconformist atitude: his retelling of the story of the Red Baron fixates on the theme of the death of chivalry in combat. For his star players Corman picks Don Stroud, and John Philip Law, whose on-screen persona is a good fit for one of the first warrior aces of the sky. With Barry Primus, Corin Redgrave, Stephen McHattie, Hurd Hatfield, Ferdy Mayne and Peter Masterson. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/14/19

CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 14, 2019


Hello!

Well, I wasn’t thinking this week — I try to get a LITTLE variety into my review choices but both films I’ve reviewed are about aviation in WW1 and a couple of decades thereafter. I of course forgive myself — and I even caught myself and spelled ‘Richthofen’ correctly.

For Mother’s Day I sent out this drawing my daughter made twenty years ago for my first review book … it’s about Gorgo, of course, and the big monster’s the mother of the little monster … honest, it seemed a good Mother’s Day gag yesterday. If anybody should want to swipe it for online use (like I never swipe online images) please contact me so the artist can be properly attributed.

My kids certainly know Gorgo as a Mother’s Day movie. The same goes for the eco-positive John Huston epic The Roots of Heaven. In one scene an elephant breaks into a pen to free its baby. The situation aligns neatly with the finale of Gorgo and also takes us back to the harmonious relationship between Dumbo and his Ma, Mrs. Jumbo. If you really want to make some pachydermical connections, take a look at an early scene in Elephant Boy where a baby elephant, playing in the water with its mother, runs through her legs like a puppy, splashing water around and having the time of its life. The Dumbo animators must have used it as a reference, as the action is almost identical.


This boxed set landed on my doorstep a week ago. It’s so heavy, at first I thought it was another book to review. A Blu-ray review is on the way, but it won’t make tomorrow’s street date, so in the absence of bigger disc news I’m reporting it here. It’s the Studio Ghibli modern classic, Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime). In this case the oversized box is a plus, providing a larger canvas for the artwork in the forty-page book. A soundtrack CD is included as well. I remember being proud back in 1998 when my kids opted to go to the one theater playing it in Japanese language with subs, instead of dubbed into English with all the star talent. Princess Mononoke Collector’s Edition, from Shout! Factory.


And finally, I’m wondering if the review page DVDtalk has breathed its last. It hasn’t posted a new review for a couple of weeks, and its submission website is down, the place I’ve gone for 20 years to look for discs to review. That’s too bad for me, for the page was my only source for Scream Factory discs. But the only other reviewer I’ve heard from on the subject is my wise colleague Stuart Galbraith IV. If someone out there knows what’s happening, I’d like to know too.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday May 11, 2019


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The Landlord 05/11/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

It’s the brightest debut feature of 1970, and perhaps the warmest movie ever about the American race divide. Hal Ashby and Bill Gunn’s work is inspired: rich boy Beau Bridges buys a slum tenement and launches a wonderful ensemble comedy-drama in confrontation with the fantastic quartet of actresses — Lee Grant, Diana Sands, Pearl Bailey and Marki Bey. The humanist picture doesn’t cheat on its subject matter. The cast list contains fresh debuts and and more best-of-career showings: Louis Gossett Jr., Melvin Stewart, Susan Anspach, Robert Klein. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/11/19

The Big Clock 05/11/19

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray

Clever plotting goes into overdrive for this light-comedy proto-paranoid film noir about a magazine publishing empire so organized that it seems a sci-fi invention from the future. Ray Milland’s charismatic fall guy finds himself embroiled in a murder plot filled with false identities, and a manhunt that he must supervise… to catch himself. Maybe Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale watched this from their cribs, and applied its chaotic symmetry to their pretzel-plotted comedies!  Charles Laughton’s performance is priceless, as are the contributions of Maureen O’Sullivan, George Macready, Rita Johnson and the hilarious Elsa Lanchester. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
05/11/19

The House of the Seven Gables 05/11/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

MGM’s biopic about Clark Gable’s raucous childhood went through several title changes including The Seven Little Gables and Snow White and the Seven Gables before settling on The House of the Seven Gables. Wisely, MGM deep-sixed the production altogether when Universal released their adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 19th century potboiler. It stars a young Vincent Price and George Sanders, but in this outing lovely Margaret Lindsay easily outclasses her cast-mates. PLUS, a link to a TV version of the story with a cast that impressed reviewer Charlie Largent as ‘psychotronic’: Shirley Temple and Jonathan Harris? On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/11/19

CineSavant Column

Saturday May 11, 2019

Hello!

I’m sure that by now all green-blooded Godzilla fans have seen this photographic evidence, but here’s a snapshot of the Cinerama Dome taken on Thursday last — they seem to be preparing a massive visual aid to tout the upcoming premiere of a certain monster movie. I’ll have to arrange a drive-by tomorrow… maybe I’ll stop off at Amoeba Records and pop out the front door with my camera — it’s right next door on Sunset Blvd. I’d guess this giant ‘sculpture’ can’t be a balloon, because if so why would they need a crane to install it?   I’ve told Gary Teetzel that I’m willing to go see the Big G monster-thon fresh and new, just for a fun outing … let’s see if it happens.


I have proof that the German Explosive Media Blu-ray of These Are the Damned is indeed on its way, scheduled for May 23 and available from Amazon.de as Sie sind Verdammt. It’s the first HD release of Joseph Losey’s powerful sci-fi classic, and it ought to look sensational. I’m excited about the release because I provided an essay for a seven-page insert pamphlet. I’ve had an article published before in translated German, but it’s pretty neat seeing my words reconfigured this way: “Helft uns! Bitte, HELFT UNS!”


And I’m flattered that Craig Reardon has been helping me by lending his exacting eye and photoshop skills to my collection of original 2¼ transparencies from fave film Major Dundee. They never looked better — and I happily take the opportunity to show off a couple of cropped samples.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday May 7, 2019

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Robbery 05/07/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Why do crime caper films have so much appeal?  Are we all closet criminals, eager to watch less timid souls risk life and limb to get the big payout and live happily ever after?   Peter Yates’ stylish re-telling of England’s Great Train Robbery makes for an excitingly detailed, nonsense-free heist straight from real life, with a just-the-facts clarity. The show begins with an influential car chase — straight through the heart of London. Starring Stanley Baker, Joanna Pettet, James Booth, Frank Finlay and Barry Foster. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
05/07/19

The Ghost Lovers 05/07/19

88 Films
Region B Blu-ray

Guest reviewer Lee Broughton returns with an assessment of an obscure period chiller expertly assembled by Shen Hsiang Yu. One of the Shaw Brothers’ early attempts at screen horror, this superior gothic romance with a supernatural twist failed to find an audience upon its initial domestic release — a circumstance that led to the studio changing tack and pursuing a more exploitative line of genre flick. However, 45 years on it plays like the kind of film that jaded and/or discerning genre fans might well take great delight in discovering. On Region B Blu-ray from 88 Films.
05/07/19