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Tuesday May 24, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Blood Bath
Arrow USA

 This four-feature set is the weirdest cinematic treasure box of the year, a sort of anti-matter film school. Three of the films are derived (very loosely) from a single Yugoslavian picture with Wiliam Campbell and Patrick Magee that wasn't commercial enough to suit Roger Corman. His acolytes Jack Hill and Stephanie Rothman proceeded to add serial killings, supernatural hauntings, a full-on vampire, and an ending that could be called 'Zombies In The Wax Museum.' Tim Lucas tells the whole story in a fascinating extra docu... that's longer than any of the individual feature films it references. Obscure, yes, but I'm really glad I saw this. On Blu-ray from Arrow USA.

Woman on the Run
Flicker Alley / The Film Noir Foundation
Blu-ray + DVD

 What in the world -- an A + top-rank film noir gem hiding under the radar, and rescued (most literally) by the Film Noir Foundation. Ann Sheridan and Dennis O'Keefe trade dialogue as good as any in a film from 1950; the relationships are far more mature than is usual for a noir thriller. It works on several levels at once -- it has a cynical worldview yet a positive personal outlook. With Robert Keith, a cute dog and San Francisco as a terrific backdrop for the drama. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Flicker Alley / The Film Noir Foundation.


The King and Four Queens
Olive FIlms

 Clark Gable is nearing the end but is still more than frisky enough to attract four well-chosen frontier women -- who in this case happen to be a quartet of robbers' wives, sitting on a rumored mountain of ill-gotten gains. Director Raoul Walsh abets the comedy-drama, as Gable's fox-in-a-henhouse tries to determine which hen can lead him to the promised golden eggs: Eleanor Parker, Jean Willes, Jo Van Fleet, Barbara Nichols, or Sara Shane. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.


I enjoyed reading a new article at Greenbriar Picture Shows today (listed as Monday May 23). It's about the Universal horror opus House of Dracula (1945) but brought up a lot of great discussion about our lifetime involvement with all of the Uni horrors, for better or worse. I particularly like author John McElwee's concern for the Larry Talbot character finding a happy rest in HOD, only to be brought back to life and into the same demonic predicament three years later in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. And hey, it feels good to contemplate a fantasy horror cycle where Larry Talbot and Dracula are 'cured', the Frankenstein Monster lives to a ripe old age and The Mummy and his reincarnated love live happily ever after. I mean, what we really have is a sentimental relationship with these monsters, after all these years.

Reader Michael Bjortvedt has been trying to track down more images of cut scenes, etc, from Roger Vadim's ...et Mourir de plaisir (Blood and Roses). No monster blobs to report so far, but he does have this choice image of Annette Stroyberg being rigged with a special effect blood tube. She's pictured with co-star Mel Ferrer. Here's hoping for more goodies on this subject.

Takashi Shimura -- musical star? Gary Teetzel forwards this link to a young Shimura singing in a musical comedy from early in his career: "Mandarin Duck." You can check out his dulcet tones at 38:30 and 43:00. It's rather different from his singing at the end of Ikiru. Heck of a swingin' main title theme, too! Thanks, Gary.

And thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Saturday May 21, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Too Late for Tears
Flicker Alley / The Film Noir Foundation
Blu-ray + DVD

 Noir if I can help it! Sultry Lizabeth Scott out-'fatals' every femme we know in this wickedly ruthless tale of unadulterated female venality. Rough creep Dan Duryea meets his match, as do other unfortunate males that get between Liz and a plump bag of blackmail loot. The Film Noir Foundation's restoration is a valiant rescue job, for a worthy 'annihilating melodrama.' A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Flicker Alley / The Film Noir Foundation.

La fièvre monte à El Pao
Region A+B Blu-ray + PAL DVD

 "Fever Mounts at El Pao"  Luis Buñuel's most direct film about revolutionary politics brandishes few if any surreal touches. It's a heady tale of personal intrigues, pitting French star Gérard Philipe against the Mexican legend María Félix. As in the opera Tosca, Jean Servais' sadisic governor blackmails the heroine into surrendering her virtue to save her lover. Yet it's an intelligent study of how not to effect change in a corrupt political regime. Produced in France and filmed in Mexico. A Dual-Format French edition on Region A+B Blu-ray and PAL DVD from Pathé.

Buster Keaton
The Shorts Collection 1917-1923

Kino Classics

 All hail Buster Keaton! The Great Stone Face's pre-feature output is a comedic treasure trove that allows us to watch a performing genius perfect his filmic persona. Lobster's all-new restorations (newly scanned in 2K and 4K) debut some alternate scenes and fix a number of broken jump cuts. Plus an entire recently discovered original cut of The Blacksmith. It's the whole shebang - all of the earlier Fatty Arbuckle shorts and Buster's later solo efforts, in a five disc set. On Blu-ray from Kino Classics.


Twilight Time

 Nicolas Roeg's bizarre blend of high drama, searing sex and over-the-top brutality waited a year, only to be given a tiny American release. It then dropped out of sight. We're now in a better position to appreciate the show's great actors - especially Theresa Russell, the boldest and bravest actress of the 1980s. Gene Hackman finds the mother lode; from that point forward it's all domestic fireworks, Voodoo orgies and a particularly gruesome murder. With Rutger Hauer, Jane Lapotaire, Mickey Rourke and Joe Pesci. In an extra, writer Paul Mayersberg compares the film to the real events it is based on. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.


Some interesting links, the first couple of which are courtesy of correspondent Stefan Andersson and involve Savant movie favorites.

Talk about straightening out a film question of personal interest -- Tim Lucas's Video Watchblog entry for May 17, 2016 features a great little article, The Blood and Roses Mystery Explained. I've been trying for years to figure out the meaning of some images from Roger Vadim's ...et Mourir de plaisir (Blood and Roses), and Tim's discovery goes a long way toward solving the mystery. He obtained a hitherto-undetected pocketbook novelization of Vadim's film that just happens to describe the infamous 'mystery blob monster' from what we assume was a cut scene. So far it's been seen only in a couple of stills Tim's account is a great read, particularly if you're familiar with the source book for Blood and Roses, Le Fanu's Carmilla.

The excerpt from the book is fairly explicit about where the blob appears - it comes between the optical of blood spreading across Millarca's torso, and the first 'Cocteau' image of the girl 'swimming' outside the fancy French doors. According to the novelization, the blob-thing, described a very similar to what we see in the stills, creeps onto the foot of Elsa Martinelli's bed and begins to cover her feet, which she can no longer feel. It's even described as being a slimy dark green in color. In other words, the novelization doesn't appear to be 'inventing' things, but following descriptions that may have been in the shooting script, or other actual production document.

Yet the evidence of the stills and the existing cuts suggest other possibilities. Wishful thinking?...

Looking at the video version on the German DVD, I still think that the blob must have been seen twice, here at the beginning of the 'Cocteau Dream' (which Tim defines as not actually a dream) and at the end. The German video has a slightly bumpy splice in both places, which is where I think the images once belonged. The fat splices tell us that the monster may have been pulled at the last minute. One reason I think that the blob was intended to be seen a second time, is because the two photos show it covering Martinellis's chest -- it's perhaps transplanting the 'blood motif' to her breast. That, and in the photos we can see that Martinelli is holding her hands up, as if to get them out of the way of the creeping blob. The first post-dream cut-back to Martinelli screaming, shows her hands in the same position.

That said, as Tim demonstrates, the novelization is very specific about the images in the dream sequence. In print, the blob doesn't return at the finish.

Amazing! Tim Lucas comes through with another revelation. Come on, French film authorities -- put ...et Mourir de plaisir back together, in large format Technirama.

Stefan also sends us a link to a spiffy Cannes promo for the new restoration of the marvelous classic Czech space odyssey Ikarie XB 1, which looks more amazing than ever. The imaginatively cut promo is very cool -- it even makes use of a quote from Joe Dante!

I need to add a personal message to Stefan Andersson: when I try to reply to your emails, they all bounce back immediately -- I've discovered that it's happened several times in the last month. I certainly receive your emails. Any suggestions for me?

And speaking of Joe Dante, on Wednesday Trailers from Hell hosted his cheerful trailer commentary for an old favorite of his, Roger Corman's The Wasp Woman, with the lovely Susan Cabot and Barboura Morris. We can tell when Joe reports on a personal favorite. The movie's not bad, either... TCM screens a good theatrical version from time to time.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

The VVitch: A New-England Folktale
 This is not your garden-variety horror picture -- its scares stem from primal guilt and fear of supernatural demons and devils that we can't entirely dismiss because people still believe in them enough to do terrible things. New faces -- Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw -- are excellent as 17th-century Puritans too pure to withstand the tricks of the Devil. Robert Eggers' first film is the best-reviewed horror picture of its year, and quite an achievement. On Blu-ray + Digital HD from Lionsgate.

Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy
 A major talent of the New German Cinema finds his footing out on the open highway, in a trio of intensely creative pictures that capture the pace and feel of living off the beaten path. All star Rüdiger Vogler, an actor who could be director Wim Wenders' alter ego. The three pictures are Alice in the Cities, Wrong Move and Kings of the Road; some of the other actors are Lisa Kreuzer, Hannah Schygulla, Nasstassja Kinski, Hans Christian Blech, Ivan Desny and Robert Zischler. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Edge of Doom
 Remember Charlie Chaplin's 'The Killer with a Heart?' You too will be frustrated by this well-produced story of a slum kid who commits an unpardonable crime, and the do-gooder priest that wants to pardon him. Dana Andrews and Farley Granger star but the smaller roles are best in this urban tragedy: Paul Stewart and Robert Keith, and an early appearance by Mala Powers. The unlikely producer of Mark Robson's No Joy In Mudville epic is Sam Goldwyn. On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.

The Private Affairs of Bel Ami
 Cad, bounder, dastard... look up those words in an old casting directory and you'll probably find a picture of George Sanders. Albert Lewin's best movie is a class-act period piece with terrific acting from Sanders, Angela Lansbury, Ann Dvorak, John Carradine, Warren William and many more. The source is the second novel by Guy de Maupassant. It's a powerful '40s picture that few have discovered, now handsomely restored. And don't forget the requisite Albert Lewin Technicolor insert shot of a painting. A really worthy restoration - revival... now if people can just find out about it. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Garden of Evil
 Bernard Herrmann music, plus weird landscapes, equals film-going Nirvana. Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward, Richard Widmark and Cameron Mitchell star in this extravagant early CinemaScope western tale, graced with an unbreakable story but lumbered with terrible dialogue and weak characters. Yet for fans of adventure filmmaking it's a legend, thanks to a thunderous Bernard Herrmann music score that transforms dozens of uncanny, real Mexican locations into something otherworldly. With an isolated music score track AND a commentary track about all things Herrmann features Nick Redman, Steven Smith, John Morgan and William Stromberg. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

That's Sexploitation!
 Aside from the obvious appeal of this smörgásbord of dirty movie delights, cult director Frank Henenlotter hosts a good history of soft-core, low-impact, cholesterol-free film smut in all its forms: '30s films about drugs, the 'mom & pop' fake hygiene films, nudist romps, 'nudie cuties', 'roughies' and sundry other weirdnesses collected by the late Mike Vraney of Something Weird. Includes excellent clips and input from one of the 'greats' in this field, David F. Friedman. Plus three hours of mind warping 'naughty' short subjects. Remember, it's for educational purposes only. On Blu-ray from Severin Films.

The Naked Island
 Don't let your boss see this movie. Writer-director Kaneto Shindo reduces the human condition to its raw basics, as an isolated family endures a backbreaking existence of dawn 'til dusk toil to eke out a living. It's a beautiful but humbling ode to adaptability and human resolve; the show has no conventional dialogue. With excellent extras, including a video piece with Benecio Del Toro. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

A Married Woman
 Here's something special, a Godard movie that's about people as much as it is about concepts. The dialogue doesn't sound as if it belongs in cartoon bubbles. His heroine is married but keeps a man on the side, in the French style. Jean-Luc Godard turns his intellect to the subject of relationships and reveals a lot about himself. It's a beautiful show too -- with the incredible Macha Méril visually cut up for study piece by piece. Co-starring Bernard Noël and Philippe Leroy. Extras include an excellent video talk with Macha Méril. On Blu-ray from Entertainment One / The Cohen Collection.

May 2016
 Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood  DVD  The Chase (1946)  Blu-ray  Mustang  Blu-ray  Roman Polanski's What?  Blu-ray  A Kiss Before Dying  Blu-ray  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  Blu-ray  Phoenix  Blu-ray  Candy  Blu-ray
April 2016
 In a Lonely Place  Blu-ray  Janis: Little Girl Blue  DVD  Where to Invade Next  Blu-ray  Julia  Blu-ray   Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents  Blu-ray  Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street  Blu-ray  When You're Older Dear Adam  DVD  Berlin Around the Corner  DVD  In the French Style  Blu-ray  Three Brothers  Region B Blu-ray + DVD  The Second Civil War  DVD  Father of the Bride  Blu-ray  Cutter's Way  Blu-ray  Dillinger  Blu-ray  Try and Get Me!  Blu-ray   The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates  Blu-ray  The Gallant Hours  Blu-ray  Exodus  Blu-ray  The City of the Dead  Blu-ray  Suspicion  Blu-ray  Blue Denim  DVD  Panic in Year Zero!  Blu-ray  The Stuff  Blu-ray  Alexander the Great  Blu-ray  Journey to the Seventh Planet  Blu-ray  "Manos" The Hands of Fate  Blu-ray
March 2016
 The Purple Plain  Blu-ray  Anastasia  Blu-ray  Brooklyn  Blu-ray  Susan Slept Here  Blu-ray  Dreams Rewired  DVD  The Hateful Eight  Blu-ray + DVD  A Brighter Summer Day  Blu-ray  Kill Me Again  Blu-ray  Vessel  DVD  The Manchurian Candidate  Blu-ray  Losing Ground  Blu-ray  Spies (Spione)  Blu-ray  Michael Collins  Blu-ray  Paris Belongs to Us  Blu-ray  Her Majesty, Love  DVD  I Knew Her Well  Blu-ray  The Trip  Blu-ray  Psych-Out  Blu-ray  Spring Takes Time  DVD  The Strangler  DVD  When Eight Bells Toll  Blu-ray  Murders in the Rue Morgue &  The Dunwich Horror  Blu-ray  The Big Heat  Blu-ray  Bad Boy  DVD  The Decline of Western Civilization + Part II The Metal Years  Blu-ray  Contagion  Blu-ray  Donovan's Brain  Blu-ray  The Hawaiians  Blu-ray  Revolt of the Slaves  DVD
February 2016
 The Vincent Price Collection III :
Master of the World, Tower of London, Diary of a Madman, Cry of the Banshee  Blu-ray  Cowboy  Blu-ray  The Graduate  Blu-ray  Key Largo  Blu-ray  Childhood's End  Blu-ray  The Black Sleep  Blu-ray  5 Dolls for an August Moon  Region B Blu-ray + DVD  Oh! What a Lovely War  DVD  L'Inhumaine  Blu-ray  Spotlight   Blu-ray + DVD  Where the Sidewalk Ends  Blu-ray  Millennium + R.O.T.O.R  Blu-ray  The Vikings  Blu-ray  Inside Llewyn Davis  Blu-ray  All Things Must Pass, The Rise and Fall of Tower Records  DVD  The Big Sleep  Blu-ray  The Emigrants & The New Land  Blu-ray  The Happy Ending  Blu-ray  GOG 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Woman in the Moon  Blu-ray  Deep Red  Blu-ray  Station West  DVD  Harlock: Space Pirate 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Crimson Peak   Blu-ray + DVD  Bridge of Spies   Blu-ray + DVD  Death By Hanging  Blu-ray
January 2016
 Gilda  Blu-ray  The Last Detail  Blu-ray  The Wrong Man  Blu-ray  Hawaii  Blu-ray  Beyond the Valley of the Dolls  Region B Blu-ray  The Southerner  Blu-ray  Curse of the Faceless Man  Blu-ray  I Confess  Blu-ray  The Undesirable  Blu-ray  Ex Machina  Blu-ray  Let There Be Light: John Huston's Wartime Documentaries  Blu-ray  Wind Across the Everglades  DVD  From the Terrace  Blu-ray  Figures in a Landscape  Blu-ray  Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things  Blu-ray  Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)  Blu-ray  The American Friend  Blu-ray  Bitter Rice  Blu-ray  Hitler's Children  DVD  Everest 3-D  3-D Blu-ray + Digital HD  The Look of Silence  Blu-ray  The Complete Lady Snowblood  Blu-ray  Four Men and a Prayer  DVD  The Captive City  Blu-ray  The Beginning or The End  DVD  Mysterious Island Encore Edition  Blu-ray  Nightmares  Blu-ray  Born Free  Blu-ray  Faust (1926)  Blu-ray  The Girl Most Likely  DVD

  Reaching further back in time?  2015 can't be uploaded yet, but you can see a
A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2014
... and for 2013 ... 2012 ... and 2011
Use the search function at the top of the page for individual titles -- it's new and improved and works well.

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