The Daimajin Trilogy 08/14/21

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

This new 3-disc Limited Edition is a real labor of love for Daiei’s trio of 1966 costume thrillers with a unique star: a ‘Shogun-Golem’ 25 feet tall, with an attitude meaner than a mythological demon. Revenge, righting wrongs, and mostly striking back against evil are Daimajin’s prime directives; Daiei’s production surrounds this bruiser with terrific art direction and special effects: “You will believe a giant statue can impale a man on a ten-foot pike.” The two sequels are so similar — they basically tell the exact same story with a few changes — that they’re almost variations on a theme. Reviewer Charlie Largent sics his gaijin praises on this lavishly appointed release. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
08/14/21

Ashes and Diamonds 08/14/21

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Andrzej Wajda’s most celebrated film in the West is a serious thriller about postwar doubt and corruption in a Poland ‘liberated’ by the Soviet Union. It has a cerebral script and a hero with a hipster attitude befitting a window of relative freedom briefly given to Polish filmmakers. Touted as the James Dean of the Eastern Bloc, the dashing Zbigniew Cybulski cuts an image as clean as J.F.K.. But his character, an assassin working for the reactionaries, undergoes a crisis of conscience. The miracle is that the Party censors allowed any doubt as to what our hero’s path should be. Given a stylized, almost expressionist B&W look, Wajda’s masterpiece is an intelligent thinkpiece that lays off the direct propagandizing. The new disc has significant new extras. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
08/14/21

CineSavant Column

Saturday August 14, 2021

 

Hello!

Big disc release news today … most of which has already circulated but is definitely worth repeating. First up is the announcement that Criterion is going 4K Ultra HD, initially on a select handful of prestige titles. The new line rolls out in November, and the first six titles include something for everyone: Citizen Kane, Menace II Society, The Piano, Mulholland Dr., The Red Shoes and A Hard Day’s Night.

The initial announcement says that a Blu-ray with the special features will be included as well, and that some films will be presented in Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos.

 


 Kino Lorber recently released a series of Mae West features on Blu, so a selection of the best of the ‘Belle of pre-Code Innuendo’ is already fully available here. But UK’s Powerhouse Indicator label Will be coming out with a lavishly appointed Mae West in Hollywood 1932-1943 collection in November. The boxed set will likely be Region-B limited, but PI is known for their extensive extras.

The titles in question are Night After Night, She Done Him Wrong, I’m No Angel, Belle of the Nineties, Goin’ to Town, Klondike Annie, Go West Young Man, Every Day’s a Holiday, My Little Chickadee and The Heat’s On. It’s ten titles on six discs.

 


 The Warner Archive is going all odd on us… we love that they continue to release Blu-rays of vintage titles, even if we’re given odd items like Humphrey Bogart in Chain Lightning. We were thrilled by Errol Flynn in a slick restoration of The Sea Hawk and a fine remaster of Objective, Burma!, discs that encouraged us to eagerly anticipate maybe Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigage or Gentleman Jim. We instead find ourselves with the odd Public Domain item Santa Fe Trail, a beautifully directed Michael Curtiz film that’s nobody’s idea of a great picture. The best thing about this odd historical pastiche is Raymond Massey as John Brown; Massey is even better as a religious maniac than he is as Abraham Lincoln. And I like somewhat shaky films about the civil war era.

Some fans have already jumped to the conclusion that the Archive will now unveil sparkling new editions of other Public Domain favorites like Life with Father, which is not at all likely. In what I’ve observed, there’s been no way to predict what’s next on the Archive’s list. For a while it seemed as if they had a moratorium on vintage Technicolor musicals, and then last year produced an impressive string of classics.

We’re of course concerned about the future of The Warner Archive Collection, and in the absence of any concrete news can only hope that the powers that be are swayed by the label’s financial success — a great manuy loyal, enthusiastic Blu-ray customers out there don’t want to be left high and dry.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday August 10, 2021

Almost perfect western…!

The Last Man on Earth 08/10/21

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Charlie Largent  honors Vincent Price’s chilling A.I.P.-Italo production, the best version so far of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. The world has succumbed to a vampire plague, and only Price remains, barricaded in his house and going out by day to stake the undead and burn their bodies. Great cinematography by Franco Delli Colli almost obscures the Rome locations standing in for Middle America, and the atmosphere is quite good. The special edition features a Richard Harland Smith commentary (he knows the undead by their first names) and an interesting alternate ending.  “MORGAN… COME OUT!”  On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

CineSavant Column

Tuesday August 10, 2021

 

Hello!

A couple of disc announcements today — Cohen media is releasing the vintage 1948 English drama Corridor of Mirrors. It’s the first film directed by Terence Young and the first film appearance for Christopher Lee, which should raise some interest even though he reportedly only gets two lines in one scene. The semi-fantastic story is said to be fine art- oriented and on the precious side — yet most reviews I’ve read were enthusiastic. It’s due on October 19, through Kino Lorber.

Then there’s the surprise announcement of a Director’s Cut for Francis Ford Coppola’s Dementia 13, from Lionsgate. The re-edit reportedly removes a scene or two. The best news is that it is sourced from the original negative — all other disc copies of this Public Domain picture have been derived from prints. An Official Restoration Trailer is viewable online.

The IMDB states that American Zoetrope produced this new 4K restoration of Dementia 13 in 2018. It will have an intro and audio commentary from Francis Ford Coppola. In a separate menu item will be the original opening called the ‘D-13 prologue.” It was a test administered to viewers to see if they were sane enough to watch Dementia 13 without going stark raving mad. Coppola reportedly culled five or six minutes of scenes to make his ‘Director’s Cut,’ and we’re not sure if those outs will be on the disc. And what’s the story with the famous axe murder, the film’s most notorious scene?   We’ve read that it was an add-on directed by Jack Hill, but I’m not sure if that’s accurate.

The restoration is billed as ‘Francis Ford Coppola’s First Movie’ … does that mean we won’t be seeing Director’s Cuts of Tonight for Sure and Battle Beyond the Sun?

 

 

The lineup of expected new reviews (after this brief August slowdown) looks very exciting. Charlie Largent will have the fabulous Arrow Daimajin box and the Viavision Hammer Four Gothic Horror Films box, while I’m tackling the Viavision Silver Screams Cinema box. We’re also got Criterion’s Ashes and Diamonds and FunCity Editions’ Rancho Deluxe.

I’m looking forward to Arrow’s 4K of David Lynch’s Dune, their Moju / The Blind Beast and Kino Lorber’s Peter Ibbetson. If that Gary Cooper show looks good it ought to be a revelation: full-on surrealism from Paramount in 1934. Didn’t know Henry Hathaway had it in him.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday August 7, 2021

Should everybody get back to in-person classrooms?

F.P. 1 Doesn’t Answer 08/07/21

Kino Classics
Blu-ray

“Es ist eine schwimmende Plattform!”  Here’s something for committed Sci-fi followers, a lavish German production with big drama, big emotions, and impressive, ambitious special effects. Hans Albers makes sure his pal Paul Hartmann’s artificial mid-Atlantic airport becomes reality, only to lose his new girlfriend Sybille Schmitz to him. The Murnau Foundation’s superb restoration makes the giant Flugplatform seem real. UfA produced the show in three languages with three different casts; Kino’s handsome disc gives us excellent renderings of two of them. Plus glorious German songs about the joy of flying!  On Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
08/07/21

CineSavant Column

Saturday August 7, 2021

Hello!

Hey, I’m one review short today: just a single review for the next two outings or so. There’s nothing wrong here, I’ll explain later. But hey, we have interesting links… interesting to me anyway. Thanks for all the great messages & responses in the last few days…. (smile emoji goes here).

I met correspondent Steve Iverson and through him secured links to his model-building websites. I have a brother who’s into radio control planes and a couple of associates that make terrific models from scratch. I’m a model fan myself, a former high-powered ‘miniature coordinator’ (cough) who could assemble old plastic models, you know, when they were cheap. And hey, there’s some old Aurora monster models in this mix, so these links are CineSavant-friendly. No apologies.

For the curious, and for modelers with glue-sticky fingers, here are Steve’s pages:
CultTVman’s Fantastic Modeling is his blog.
CultTVman Hobby Shop is the full sales site with news of upcoming product and conventions.
CultTVman CarModelsUSA concentrates on that specialty, not mine, normally.

Why does this sound like fun to me?  I still have intriguing models for an SS Seaview and a When Worlds Collide Space Ark sitting atop a shelf, unbuilt. () If only I were as talented as Todd Stribich.

 


 

New terms no-one needs to learn but are interesting anyway: “MUSE” and “DANCE.” Correspondent Foxx Nolte points us to a pair of great YouTube videos by Techmoan. It’s essentially a lecture called HD Laserdisc – HD in ’93, but it covers the entire spectrum of home video after the VHS craze, laying down a timeline for many DVD milestones and every laserdisc innovation including one called ‘Muse’ that played HD video before any other format.

It’s a good refresher on much I had forgotten. Did you know that laserdisc players were sold until 2009?  That Japan called Laser HD ‘Hi-Vision?’  I know curious disc & home video fans that will eat this up. The video has an equally enthusiastic Part Two. That Laserdisc HD system was ridiculously complicated and expensive, and it’s highly entertaining to see him try to replace a circuit board in a player.

The first of many takeaway nuggets: Techmoan says that DVD was the catalyst for the changeover from analog to digital video, even broadcast TV.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday August 3, 2021

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

The Raven + The Comedy of Terrors 08/03/21

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Separate Releases.  Kino continues its round-up of Vincent Price / American-International hits with two outright comedies in the Poe series. Karloff, Price, Lorre and Jack Nicholson (?) team up for a spoof about dueling wizards in a decidedly liberal interpretation of Poe’s poem The Raven. Then Jacques Tourneur tries his hand at graveyard laughs in the broad farce The Comedy of Terrors. Price, Lorre, and Rathbone rattle the coffin handles while Karloff and Joe E. Brown clown about in the margins; Hazel Court and Joyce Jameson simmer on the sidelines. Reviewer Charlie Largent looks for the laughs — but will his essay be a autopsy for comedy?  On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
08/03/21

Counterblast 08/03/21

Savant Revival Screening Review
Not on Home Video

A review for a movie not on video disc. CineSavant bears down hard on a now-obscure UK thriller that proves a crossroads for several key themes of modern terror: Nazis, bacteriological warfare and paranoid conspiracies. ‘007’– associated writer Jack Whittingham scripted a tale that connects old-school espionage to visionary super-crimes against humanity, the thriller genre of ‘The Unthinkable.’  Who’s the threat?  An innocuous little doctor with a horrendous secret background and a somewhat preposterous ability to go undetected as he kills to assume and protect a new identity. The techno-chiller was released in 1948 yet seems screamingly relevant now. The cast includes stars from Dead of Night, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Things to Come and Pygmalion.
08/03/21

CineSavant Column

Tuesday August 3, 2021

 

A second photo link? He’s gone nuts.
Hello!

This is a lean week for Column Items and also a pressing one for free time — next week the whole site may go lean for a couple of days. I’ve been thinking about the CineSavant page, and want to mention some issues that are probably redundant, but that I get asked about in my mail.

1.  The large images that I put on top of the page twice a week are just my way of linking to older reviews that might be of interest. I no longer write ‘CLICK on it’ as a link prompt, but take my word for it, they’re links. I’ve put an extra image here, from The Night of the Hunter, just to give the column something visual. Also, my review text is usually packed with links, mostly for movie titles. They lead to other reviews and anything else I think might be interesting. On my browser the links just show up in red, and not underlined. They won’t take you to scammers or anything, honest. I know this sounds elemental, but I don’t want any of my readers to miss out — if the review you’re reading is no good, maybe the one at the link will be better.

2.  At the right side of the CineSavant front page is an invite to write me — the email is direct. It doesn’t put you on any kind of mailing list or anything. The most fun I derive from this page is corresponding with fellow movie fans, many of whom are better informed than I am.

3.  The reader comments below my reviews at Trailers from Hell are more complicated. I get great comments but also have some followers that enjoy the ability to anonymously give me grief. It comes with the territory. Responding would just make things ugly, and their remarks are a form of entertainment too. And it’s not like I don’t make errors — my advisers save me every week. I read my comments daily. Positive remarks really bolster the morale around CineSavant Central.

4.   I know my review index is a mess — they’re the three links in the right-hand column with the ‘flying saucer’ images from when I had more hair. The index is kept up to date, even if I’ve screwed up the WordPress formatting and the entries jump up and down in size. This is the place to search, here on CineSavant. The Search function at Trailers from Hell will only find reviews that were posted at Trailers from Hell. My 6500+ reviews go back to 1998 at three other pages. If you can’t find a review or an old article, feel free to write.

5.  Finally, I haven’t changed the format of my reviews for ages, and I realize that not all of it makes great sense. The ‘ratings’ at the bottom are definitely old-school and not particularly relevant, but readers want them. Since I pick and choose what I review most reviews get an Excellent or a Very Good anyway. Ranked judgments become silly when I give a Z-picture sci-fi groaner high marks, just because I find it entertaining.

6.  I welcome suggestions — especially ones that might make posting easier. I maintain several logs every week covering my posting work at CineSavant and Trailers from Hell, which I guess all comes under the heading of ‘keeping mischievous hands busy.’ Sorry I’ve no fun/silly links for you today … will run some down for next time, if I can.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Line of Demarcation 07/31/21

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Claude Chabrol’s ‘minor’ wartime drama is one of the best movies of its kind I’ve seen. A French town under German rule lies on a river straddling occupied and Vichy territories, and becomes a hotbed of intrigues. Yes, there’s resistance activity, but we also see that most people avoid involvement — and some find ways to profit from the desperation of refugees fleeing the Nazis. It’s a case of small town, everyday terror. The stellar cast is subordinated to the powerful, non-exploitative drama: Jean Seberg, Maurice Ronet, Daniel Gélin, Jacques Perrin & Stéphane Audran. Samm Deighan’s informative commentary is a big +Plus. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
07/31/21

Objective, Burma! 07/31/21

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Errol Flynn goes to war!  One of the last major direct-combat pictures to come out of Hollywood during the war, Raoul Walsh’s ode to the jungle fighters in Burma is a finely-crafted show that lets loose a powerful, almost frightening blast of anti-Japanese rage. Errol Flynn earned his pay slugging it out through the swamps, George Tobias provides the Brooklyn humor and Henry Hull the outrage over combat atrocities. And the English were none too happy either, claiming that the movie made it look as if America had done the heavy fighting in what was largely a Brit field of battle. With Mark Stevens, Richard Erdman, Anthony Caruso & Warner Anderson. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
07/31/21

CineSavant Column

Saturday July 31, 2021

 

Hello!

Always there to pitch in when CineSavant’s powers of detection go slack — which is always — advisor and moral conscience Gary Teetzel followed through on my interest in the unseen French film L’Inconnu de Shandigor and located a link to a fancy coming attraction promo, which may or may not be adapted from an original 1967 trailer. Deaf Crocodile Films and the cinematheque Suisse present a four-minute trailer for a new 4K release of Jean-Louis Roy’s The Unknown Man of Shandigor, described as a ‘surreal espionage thriller,’ and starring Daniel Emilfork, Serge Gainsbourg, Marie-France Boyer and Howard Vernon.

A press release states that Deaf Crocodile will partner with OCN Distribution / Vinegar Syndrome for the first-ever U.S. Blu-ray release of the film in January 2022.

It looks like it could be terrible or a lot of fun — it depends on whether it has a real sense of humor or is content to play visual games. The visuals could be in the same spirit of comic-book graphics taken to a delirious extreme in Mario Bava’s Diabolik… but the trailer’s artsy ‘semaphore’ style for intertitles also suggest games like Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville. I’ll have to find out for myself.

Gary warned me that I might be insulted by the trailer. An unspeakably cruel line of narration reads, “A pack of vampires, of reptiles, of centipedes … and we call them savants?

 


 

Also forwarded by Gary, an outfit called the Corridor Crew has re-edited and visually augmented some movie scenes to create a montage that basically asks what would happen If James Bond Weren’t So Lucky.

It’s a little confusing to me, what with various Bonds (Dalton, Lazenby) killing others (mostly Connery), and I’m not sure it has any point to make — but it is a fun laser-slice of CGI effects manipulation.

 


 

And finally, helpful correspondent George Fogel responded to Yannie Tan’s take on ‘Cat Concerto with another take on the same cartoon,
Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 (with ‘Cateen Cadenza’).

I did a picture search to figure out if ‘Cateen Cadenza’ is a joke on ‘Cat Concerto’ or not … what if the unnamed pianist called himself Cateen?  A picture search identifies him as the highly talented Hayato Sumino.

I know the composition has been used everywhere, often in parodies of classical music. The image that comes to my mind is Dolores Gray singing “Remember” in It’s Always Fair Weather. Now can I call myself cultured, or what?

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday July 27, 2021

A dream sequel-rethink of Ford’s The Informer.

Thunderbolt 07/27/21

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

This ‘dawn of sound’ classic from Josef Sternberg is an important early entry in the gangster genre, a romanticized tale of urban crime with little violence but a full measure of romantic revenge. Star George Bancroft is the title underworld kingpin, who risks everything to hold his girlfriend Fay Wray the way he holds onto power — with his fists and with his gun. The highly sentimental story has some odd ideas about prison rules on Death Row; although packed with ‘Sternbergian’ touches the visuals aren’t as overtly poetic as is his norm. It’s an interesting study from the first year of ‘all talkie’ pictures: the audio is highly creative but the dialogue delivery is slow — perfect for anyone learning English! On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
07/27/21

Step by Step 07/27/21

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

More or less ignored for 75 years, this curious ‘B’ program picture now finds its way directly to a Warner Archive Blu-ray release. Cult actor Lawrence Tierney has an atypical ‘swell guy’ role as a Marine veteran thrust into a murder mystery and made the fall guy for nefarious foreign spies. Anne Jeffreys becomes his co-fugitive when the villains frame him for murder. It’s like a fancy 1960s romantic thriller, except the scale is so small. Just the same, Phil Rosen’s movie crams a lot of incident into its brisk 62 minutes. Consider it a gift to Lawrence Tierney fans — they might like him in a role that Cary Grant could play. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
07/27/21