Inferno 3-D 05/27/17

Twilight Time
Blu-Ray + DVD

Now in Region A — One of the best releases from the early- ’50s 3-D boom. Millionaire Robert Ryan is abandoned to die in the desert by his wife Rhonda Fleming and her lover; the ‘useless’ executive earns self-respect by focusing on the problem of survival. Ryan’s terrific, and the depth effects in the attractive desert locations are great, thanks to cinematographer Lucien Ballard. On 3-D Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

The Bootleg Files

Saturday May 27, 2017

Hello!

I’ve been impressed lately with Phil Hall’s The Bootleg Files reviews over at Cinema Crazed, wherein he’s tracked down information about barely-known titles not released on, uh, authorized discs. Phil was one of the first critics to welcome me at the Online Film Critics Society, going on sixteen years ago. I think he’s found a good vein of reporting here, as every Bootleg entry I’ve read has been news, and I tend to be one of those people with the illusion that I’ve seen everything. This week the subject is The Bootleg Files: Afrique 50. Phil’s back-story explanation of the film’s suppression says a lot about colonial politics — the filmmaker René Vautier paid the price for defying French law, when he filmed actual conditions in French West Africa. I knew that the French were really touchy about such subjects, because they even censored the old western Major Dundee, taking out dialogue that implied that French colonial Legionnaires used torture. Phil’s column serves a useful purpose. Each entry begins with ‘just the facts’ data: ‘where last seen,’ ‘reason for bootleg status,’ ‘chances of seeing a commercial DVD release.’ Good show.

I’m hoping for a full report next week on the much touted new “ScreenX” format, from a special correspondent. Movie audiences (prompted by David Letterman) rejected Peter Jackson’s attempt to raise the frame rate in his Hobbit movies, but maybe they’ll respond favorably to what sounds like an exaggeration of Abel Gance’s silent ‘Polyvision’ tryptich effect. Apparently, either the whole show or certain sequences will open up to cover a 270- degree field of vision. That slice of a circle goes beyond ear-to-ear coverage . . . are they looking for a virtual reality effect?  I’ll be curious to learn more about the format: is it worthwhile? Does the image have seams? Do the ‘sides’ show matching live action, or is everything relevant concentrated in the front panel (if there are indeed panels)? Does the camera pan to follow action, or do we instead turn our heads? What happens in close-ups and fast cutting? The good part about this is that my contact knows enough to give an accurate report. Here’s the Hollywood Reporter article on the film and the ScreenX format.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Who’ll Stop the Rain 05/23/17

Twilight Time
Blu-Ray

A killer book (Dog Soldiers) must hide behind a Credence Clearwater tune. Karel Reisz’s killer movie about the moral residue of Vietnam scores as both drama and action, with disillusioned counterculture smugglers versus corrupt narcotics cops. Just don’t expect it to really have much to say about the Vietnam experience. But hey, the cast is tops — Nick Nolte, Richard Masur, Anthony Zerbe — and the marvelous Tuesday Weld is even better as a pill-soaked involuntary initiate into the pre- War On Drugs smuggling scene. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

Things to Come 05/23/17

MPI Media Group
Blu-Ray

Mia Hansen-Løve’s portrait of the travails of a middle-aged philosophy teacher is a plum acting vehicle for Isabelle Huppert It steers clear of crazy, extraordinary events to instead offer insights into how real people live and cope. The professor must dip into her subject matter to make sense of her life, and comes up sane. Folks expecting a feel-good satire about ‘goofy’ women can make do with Sally Field in Hello, My Name is Doris. Mia and Isabelle do well here. On Blu-ray from MPI Media Group.

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project 2 05/23/17

The Criterion Collection
Blu-Ray + DVD

After four years Martin Scorsese is back with another six filmic gems from all corners of the Earth: Insiang, Mysterious Object at Noon, Revenge, Limite, Law of the Border, Taipei Story. Love struggles in the slums of Thailand and the economic boom town of Taipei; underdog heroes undertake troubled missions in Turkey and Kazakhstan, a Malay storyteller plays cinematic games with basic narrative, and a vintage Brazilian art film is pure visual poetry. They’ve all been rescued by the World Cinema Project. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from The Criterion Collection.

Those Redheads from Seattle 3-D 05/20/17

KL Studio Classics
3-D Blu-Ray

Another 3-D breakthrough, this time for a Paramount musical rescued from oblivion and remastered by the 3-D Archive. Rhonda Fleming and Gene Barry star in a blend of songs and Alaskan adventure filmed in downtown Hollywood. The depth effects are great, but the big surprise is Teresa Brewer, the radio star turned one-shot movie musical wonder whose voice resurrects memories of pop vocals just prior to the arrival of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Also with the Bell Sisters, Guy Mitchell and Agnes Moorehead. The story of what was required to bring this one back from the brink of extinction, is fully covered — and 3-D fans can’t get enough of these shows! On 3-D Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Rescuing the Runes: The Almost-Lost Original Long Cut of Night of the Demon 05/20/17

Guest Article by Wayne Schmidt  Fires, clerical errors, and lab mistakes have caused films to be lost forever, or to become unavailable in good quality; studio indifference also allows vintage films to be ignored to death, while their negatives rot in cans. So it’s great to hear a ‘lost film’ story with a happy ending. Guest writer Wayne Schmidt recounts how the original version of one of our favorite horror pictures was accidentally rediscovered, only for its priceless, irreplaceable original film element to be almost lost forever. Wayne had a tricky problem to solve: how to get it back from a collector, without making a federal case out of it.

The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers 05/16/17

Olive Films
Blu-Ray

Les plus belles escroqueries du monde. A breezy five-episode compilation movie about swindles plays out in five film capitals, under the eye of five different directors including Claude Chabrol and Jean-Luc Godard. But Roman Polanski’s Amsterdam segment couldn’t be included, which is a shame. It’s in B&W ‘scope, and everybody gets to bring their favorite cameraman and composer along. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Decoy (TV Show) 05/16/17

Film Chest Media
DVD

Unsung actress Beverly Garland becomes TV’s first lady cop, in what’s claimed to be the first TV show filmed on the streets of New York City. This one-season wonder from 1957 has vintage locations, fairly tough-minded storylines and solid performances, from Bev and a vast gallery of stage and TV actors on the way up. It’s a full season, when a season of TV shows was 39 episodes. On DVD from Film Chest Media.

Night of the Demon 05/16/17

Wild Side (France)
Region A + B Blu-Ray and PAL DVD

This French disc release of the Jacques Tourneur classic gets everything right — including both versions in picture perfect transfers. Devil debunker Dana Andrews locks horns with Niall MacGinnis, a necromancer “who has decoded the Old Book” and can summon a fire & brimstone monster from Hell, no election fraud necessary. Even fans that hate ghost stories love this one — it’s a truly creepy highlight of the horror genre. Co-starring Peggy Cummins and our favorite movie demon — that’s the center of arguments about how much he should be shown, or if Tourneur didn’t want him shown at all. The release comes with a 144-page book. . . in French!   A good community college can help you there. A Dual-Format edition on Region A + B Blu-ray and PAL DVD from Wild Side (France).