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Favorite Discs of 2014

[Savant Links] [Year Five Report]
Write Savant (Glenn Erickson) at

Saturday December 3, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Sudden Fear
Cohen Film Collection

 Joan Crawford executive-produced and controls every aspect of this glamorous, Oscar nominated noir about a murderous marriage double-cross. Good acting enlivens a by-the-book, gimmick-laden plot, with every moment designed to flatter the star. With Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame are in great form; the disc is a welcome restoration. A full commentary by Jeremy Arnold. On Blu-ray from Cohen Film Collection.

Cry of the City
KL Studio Classics

 Robert Siodmak's superb noir classic pits two graduates of Little Italy against one other: a crook who can deceive relatives and seduce strangers into helping him, and the cop who wants to put him out of business. Starring the great Richard Conte, with Victor Mature in what might be his best role. Also terrific performances from Debra Paget, Berry Kroeger, Betty Garde and Mimi Aguglia, and the great Hope Emerson. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


Pete's Dragon
Walt Disney Studios
Blu-ray + DVD

  Does anybody still care about great movies for small children? If so, here's a good one. It's neither an outright musical nor a comedy but this big furry green remake is great for sensitive small fry -- plenty of heart and not too violent. The fantastic dragon Elliot is the kind of playmate every lonely kid wants. The discovery of a feral child in logging country leads a forest ranger and her family to realize that a legendary magical dragon is real. It's better than a remake: a smart and thoughtful re-think, tailored for small kids. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Walt Disney Studios.


Gary Teetzel sends us a link to a web episode of Adam Savage's Tested that visits Peter Jackson's collector's vault to see the original armature of King Kong. It's big and heavy and there's only one other, which we're told is in possession of monster maker and collector Bob Burns.

'Best of' lists for the year will all be arriving soon. Because of some work that has piled up, my ideosyncratic list of favorite Savant discs may be out a little later this year, before New Years instead of Christmas. So many favorites...

Gary's report also tells me that Kino Lorber is planning a Blu-ray of Howard Hawks' late career car racing drama Red Line 7000. I have memories of that film playing numerous times on network television, with commercials that made it seem to last forever. My memory is only seeing parts that takes place in motels -- I'll be curious to find out how it ends. A young James Caan, Laura Devon and Marianna Hill -- how bad can it be?

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Tuesday November 29, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

The Asphalt Jungle
The Criterion Collection

 John Huston's primal heist film is an almost perfect movie, with a score of unforgettable characterizations. A solid crime noir, it concerns itself with the human ironies in the 'left handed form of human endeavor.' It's got Sterling Hayden's thug, Sam Jaffe's mastermind, Louis Calhern's playboy double-crosser, and is also the breakout picture for Marilyn Monroe. City grime is all over every aspect of the picture, but screenwriter Ben Maddow opts for a tragic conclusion on green grass under an open sky. With Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Marc Lawrence -- all perfect. Criterion's extras include a two hour documentary with Sterling Hayden. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

The Undying Monster
KL Studio Classics

 Fox's first official monster movie is a terrific-looking but mostly flat mystery that seems to be trying its utmost not to be a horror film at all. It's a head scratcher that will interest fans of the expressive John Brahm, and help completists scratch another werewolf film off their gotta-see lists. James Ellison and Heather Angel star, but the film's attraction is the impressive studio sets and the beautiful work of the lighting cameraman Lucien Ballard. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


The Quiet Earth
Film Movement Classics

 Remember the warning to avoid 'crossing the streams' in Ghostbusters? Director Geoff Murphy enjoyed a world-wide release for this eerie sci-fi fantasy about a scientist who becomes unstuck in time-space, alone in an empty world. A last-man-on-Earth tale turns into yet another doomsday romantic triangle before opting for a bizarre cosmic finale. Bruno Lawrence delivers a powerful performance, trying to undo the effects of a wild experiment. With a commentary offering the thoughts of Neil deGrasse Tyson. On Blu-ray from Film Movement Classics.


More 3-D on the way: Gary Teetzel has tipped me off that another restoration of a vintage '50s three-dimensional release is coming, to be released by Twilight Time. The movie in question is Raoul Walsh's Gun Fury, a Columbia picture starring Rock Hudson and Donna Reed, with Roberta Haynes (Return to Paradise,) and a trio of greats: Leo Gordon, Lee Marvin and Neville Brand. A 3-D 'fifties western, in color! Can't wait. Now where's Hondo?

I've never seen Gun Fury. I find that some people assume I've seen everything, and I of course try to give that impression, but it's far from true. I see very few Asian movies and don't watch most of the Middle Eastern movies that come by. I've also closed the door on most non-classic-era lower-end horror pictures, and won't touch certain directors like Jesus Franco any more. Life's just too short, even though respected people like Nathaniel Thompson and Tim Lucas think Franco is terrific. Tim just touted his discovery of Ikarie XB-1 a couple of weeks back, a title I've been waving the flag about for ten years now. But just as some movies have to trap me into seeing them, I don't expect my recommendations to appeal to everybody. After all, I read Video Watchdog in part to keep up with films I didn't actually want to see. I'm a Pedro Almodóvar fan, but that would never have happened if my wife hadn't dragged me to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown long ago. We also discovered Carlos Saura together, at her instigation.

We all have lists of movies we're supposed to see, but end up avoiding. Some I just never make time for, but for others I've seen only the last scene several times while changing channels. Others I ditched out of after the first scene, back at UCLA's Melnitz Hall, with a disapproving Howard Suber watching me leave. Just so you realize that Nobody Sees Everything, going through the Andrew Sarris book of American classics I've been highlighting since 1972, I spotted a blank spot over Gun Fury right away. As illustrated above. But I also realize I haven't seen all of the following: The Big House, Anna Christie, A Bill of Divorcement, Dinner at Eight, Queen Christina, Cavalcade, Of Human Bondage, Sylvia Scarlet, Babes in Arms, Going My Way, Cobra Woman, Summer Storm, Lady in the Dark, Devotion, Unconquered, A Song is Born, Corridor of Mirrors, Bright Victory, Anatahan, The Naked Dawn, Tea and Sympathy, The Catered Affair, Saint Joan, Porgy and Bess, Light in the Piazza, The Luck of Ginger Coffey, The Whisperers. And there's tons of stuff between 1970 and 1990 I haven't seen, and after that I'm even more spotty.

These days I see what I have to, to vote with the OFCS each Christmas, but I've ditched out of most Marvel movies and I'm not sure I'll even keep up with the Star Wars franchise any more, except as my family wants to see them. I did rush out last week to see Arrival on the big screen, and that was certainly worthwhile. Because i do research work for TCM, I suppose you might call this a profession, but not really. It's like I tell people who seem to be out there buying mass quantities of disc media: do it if you can enjoy it (and you can afford it...). We're all curious about movies in our own way, and in our own direction. And I'm still not ready to watch Going My Way.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Moby Dick
  I have a back file of reader notes asking for a Blu-ray for John Huston's Moby Dick, and more pointedly, wondering what will be done with its strange color scheme. I wasn't expecting miracles, but this new Twilight Time disc should make the purists happy -- it has approximated the film's original, heavily muted color scheme. Seen widescreen in such a good scan, Huston's epic merits new appreciation, as do Richard Basehart, Leo Genn and the unfairly maligned Gregory Peck. I'm still impressed with the special miniature and monster effects in this great picture -- as well as the music! On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

 Can an old-fashioned monster movie still work in the 1980s? The dedicated cast of this overachieving chiller takes a story of Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers in directions most punk-era horrors do not. John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry and Kim Greist are Manhattanites dealing with slimy horrors sneaking up through their basements and creeping out of manhole covers on the streets of Soho. Arrow gives us both the theatrical and 'integral' versions, along with a stack of extras. On Blu-ray from Arrow U.S..

The Boston Strangler
 True-Crime Terror in Boston town! Richard Fleischer and Edward Anhalt's riveting serial killer story fudges some facts but still impresses as a novel approach to one of the most infamous murder sprees on record. The film is among the few pictures that use split- and multi-screen imagery as a narrative aid, not just decoration: it's a different kind of suspense. Tony Curtis goes all out with his performance as Albert DeSalvo, and the low-key cast includes Henry Fonda, Mike Kellin, Murray Hamilton, Jeff Corey and Sally Kellerman. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

One of Our Aircraft is Missing
 Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger officially become 'The Archers' for this sterling morale-propaganda picture lauding the help of the valiant Dutch resistance. It's a joyful show of spirit, terrific casting (with a couple of surprises) and first-class English filmmaking. With star Googie Withers, Archers veterans Pamela Brown and Robert Helpmann, and Peter Ustinov in his first movie! On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Cinerama's Russian Adventure
 The USSR's Cinerama knockoff proved a 'good business' between the rival superpowers, when some producers imported and re-edited six Soviet Kinopanorama travelogues to make an action- & culture-packed 3-panel Cinerama attraction. In some ways it's one of the best -- the circus scenes and animal comedy are terrific. With plenty of David Strohmeier- produced extras. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Flicker Alley.

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams
 If anybody's dreams are interesting, Akira Kurosawa's should be, and this late career fantasy is a consistently rewarding string of morality tales and visual essays that pop off the screen. Some of the imagery has input from the famed Ishiro Honda. If Federico Fellini can psychoanalyze himself on film for twenty years, why not Kurosawa? With two additional documentaries and extra interviews. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

J'accuse (1938)
 World War, a solemn vow, and a promise betrayed lead to a 'night of the living war dead' - all cooked up by the director of Napoleon, Abel Gance. The early, famed pacifist fantasy is back in near-perfect condition and restored to its full length. It's a reworking, not a remake, of Gance's 1919 silent classic. The director is as erratic as ever -- his star Victor Francen holds the drama together with a standout performance. Gance makes use of real disfigured combat veterans to stage his horrific 'march of the dead.' On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

The Magic Box: Project Shirley Volume 4
 Milestone wraps up its 'Project Shirley,' an in-depth study of the independent director of The Connection and Portrait of Jason. Practically all of Shirley Clarke's small and experimental films are here from the early 1950s forward, plus a wealth of biographical film. Highlights are a charity film about 'saving the children' that UNICEF thought too extreme to use, and a masterful documentary on poet Robert Frost. On Blu-ray from The Milestone Cinematheque.

November 2016
 Rabid  Blu-ray  Hell or High Water  Blu-ray + DVD  Runaway Train  Blu-ray  Boomerang!  Blu-ray  One-Eyed Jacks  Blu-ray  Time After Time  Blu-ray  The Killing of America  Blu-ray  It's Always Fair Weather  Blu-ray  Lone Wolf and Cub  Blu-ray  Daisy Kenyon  Blu-ray  Private Property  Blu-ray + DVD  Strike Me Pink  DVD  The T.A.M.I. Show &  The Big T.N.T. Show  Blu-ray  The Sea of Trees  Blu-ray  Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte  Blu-ray  Western Union  Blu-ray  John Carpenter's The Thing  Blu-ray
October 2016
 The Chase (1966)  Blu-ray  I Wake Up Screaming  Blu-ray  Little Fauss and Big Halsy  Blu-ray  The Executioner  Blu-ray  The Return of Dracula  Blu-ray  Eye of the Needle  Blu-ray  The Hills Have Eyes  Blu-ray  McCabe and Mrs. Miller  Blu-ray  Boy on a Dolphin  Blu-ray  Strategic Air Command  Blu-ray  The Laughing Policeman  Blu-ray  Five Days One Summer  DVD  Dekalog  Blu-ray  Violent Cop  Blu-ray  Ghostbusters (2016)  Blu-ray  The Legend of Tarzan  3-D Blu-ray  It Came from Outer Space  3-D Blu-ray  On Dangerous Ground  Blu-ray  Suddenly  Blu-ray  Vamp  Blu-ray  Face to Face  Blu-ray  Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia  Blu-ray  Fury (1936)  DVD  High Noon Olive Signature  Blu-ray  Body Snatchers  Blu-ray
September 2016
 The Earth Dies Screaming  Blu-ray  Valley of the Dolls  Blu-ray  The Human Condition  Blu-ray  Canadian Pacific  Blu-ray  Stakeout on Dope Street  DVD  Twin Peaks The Original Series, Fire Walk with Me & The Missing Pieces  Blu-ray  Patterns  Blu-ray  Free State of Jones  Blu-ray  Johnny Guitar Widescreen Olive Signature  Blu-ray  The People v. O.J. Simpson  Blu-ray  Blood Simple  Blu-ray  Aliens  Blu-ray  La moglie più bella  Blu-ray  Comanche Station  Blu-ray  Dr. Mabuse the Gambler  Blu-ray  The Horrible Dr. Hichcock  Blu-ray  The Monster of Piedras Blancas  Blu-ray  Night Train to Munich  Blu-ray  Once Were Warriors  Blu-ray  Hammer Films Double Feature: The Revenge of Frankenstein, The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb  Blu-ray  Hammer Films Double Feature: The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Gorgon  Blu-ray  The Glory Guys  Blu-ray  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  Blu-ray  Deadline U.S.A.  Blu-ray  Hardcore  Blu-ray  Cat People  Blu-ray
August 2016
 Fixed Bayonets!  Blu-ray  Tony Rome / Lady in Cement  Blu-ray  American Ninja 3 Blood Hunt  Blu-ray  Chimes at Midnight  Blu-ray  Tab Hunter Confidential  Blu-ray  The Pride and the Passion  Blu-ray  The Ox-Bow Incident  Blu-ray  Wild in the Streets  Blu-ray  The Immortal Story  Blu-ray  Tale of Tales  Blu-ray  Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon  Blu-ray  Love Me or Leave Me  Blu-ray  A Taste of Honey  Blu-ray  Road House (1948)  Blu-ray  Microwave Massacre  Blu-ray  The Spiders (1919)  Blu-ray  Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words  Blu-ray  Chandu the Magician  Blu-ray  These Three  DVD  Woman in the Dunes  Blu-ray  Destiny  Blu-ray  Pioneers of African-American Cinema  Blu-ray  Betrayed  Blu-ray  A Touch of Zen  Blu-ray  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  Blu-ray  The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension  Blu-ray
July 2016
 Muriel, or The Time Of Return  Blu-ray  The Gang's All Here  Blu-ray  Modesty Blaise  Blu-ray  'Neath Arizona Skies  Blu-ray  Miss Sadie Thompson 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Crimes of Passion  Blu-ray  Mill of the Stone Women  Region B Blu-ray  Gun the Man Down  Blu-ray  Silk Stockings  Blu-ray  3 Bad Men  Blu-ray  Night and Fog  Blu-ray  Scott of the Antarctic  Region B Blu-ray  To Have and Have Not  Blu-ray  Carnival of Souls  Blu-ray  With the Ghouls in Lawrence, Kansas Article by guest contributor Bill Shaffer  Inserts  Blu-ray  Invisible Invaders  Blu-ray  The Daughter of Dawn  Blu-ray  Blood and Black Lace  Blu-ray  The Taking of Pelham One Two Three  Blu-ray
June 2016
 99 River Street  Blu-ray  The In-Laws  Blu-ray  Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan  Blu-ray  The Panic in Needle Park  Blu-ray  The Ninth Configuration  Region B Blu-ray  Forbidden Hollywood Volume 10: Guilty Hands, The Mouthpiece, Secrets of the French Police, The Match King, Ever in My Heart  DVD  Appointment with Crime  Blu-ray  Night Will Fall  DVD  The Hound of the Baskervilles  Blu-ray  Fantastic Planet  Blu-ray  Rollercoaster  Blu-ray  La Chienne  Blu-ray  Gold  Blu-ray  The Magnetic Monster  Blu-ray  Shield for Murder  Blu-ray  They Were Expendable  Blu-ray  Doctor Strangelove  Blu-ray  The Wave  Blu-ray  Hello, My Name is Doris  Blu-ray  Here Comes Mr. Jordan  Blu-ray  Le Amiche  Blu-ray  She Wore a Yellow Ribbon  Blu-ray  Antonia's Line  Blu-ray  The Whip Hand  DVD
May 2016
 The Angry Hills  Blu-ray  City of Women  Blu-ray  The Player  Blu-ray  Cat Ballou  Blu-ray  Hail, Caesar!  Blu-ray + DVD  Dark Passage  Blu-ray  Journey to Space  4K Ultra-HD, Blu-ray + 3-D Blu-ray  Blood Bath  Blu-ray  Woman on the Run  Blu-ray + DVD  The King and Four Queens  Blu-ray  Too Late for Tears  Blu-ray + DVD  La fièvre monte à El Pao  Blu-ray + DVD  Buster Keaton: The Shorts Collection 1917-1923  Blu-ray  Eureka  Blu-ray  The VVitch: A New-England Folktale  Blu-ray  Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy : Alice in the Cities, Wrong Move, Kings of the Road  Blu-ray  Edge of Doom  DVD  The Private Affairs of Bel Ami  Blu-ray  Garden of Evil  Blu-ray  That's Sexploitation!  Blu-ray  The Naked Island  Blu-ray  A Married Woman  Blu-ray  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

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A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2014
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