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Tuesday August 23, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

The Ox-Bow Incident
KL Studio Classics

 Leave it to director William Wellman to direct the most compelling social justice movie of the 1940s. Taken from a bestselling novel, it's a wrenching examination of the workings of a natural American phenomenon, the Lynch Mob. It's painful to watch, but you don't want to look away. With great acting from Dana Andrews, Henry Fonda, Harry Morgan, Anthony Quinn and many more. It's Hollywood's most convincing lesson about Law and Order, and every kid with a punk attitude about vigilante violence needs to see it. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Wild in the Streets
Olive Films

 Shelley Winters, Christopher Jones and Diane Varsi star in American-International's most successful 'youth rebellion' epic -- a political sci-fi satire about a rock star who starts a political movement, overthrows the government and puts everyone over 35 into concentration camps... to be force-fed LSD. Also with Hal Holbrook, Millie Perkins, Ed Begley and Richard Pryor. Listen to Max Frost and the Troopers" 'Let the old world make believe we're blind and deaf and dumb, but nothing can change the shape of things to come.' On Blu-ray from Olive Films.


The Immortal Story
The Criterion Collection

 Orson Welles' French TV show with Jeanne Moreau is a near-masterpiece, directed with assurance and style. A rich misanthrope in Macao wants to pay two people to fulfill a ribald sailor's legend... so as to extend his control over people. Beautifully filmed in France and Spain, and restored to top quality in two language versions. It's the filmmaker's first color feature, and his last completed fictional feature. With some excellent interviews, as well as an illuminating French docu on Welles with a lot of candid footage. On Blu-ray from Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.


LOTS of positive feedback from Saturday's column reporting from AMIA's The Reel Thing from Hollywood. I have even more input in this follow-up report from our intrepid correspondent Gary Teetzel:

"Some interesting presentations today at the first day of AMIA's annual The Reel Thing conference. The highlights for me:

First up was a presentation on the restoration of the American cut of the 1931 version of The Front Page, directed by Lewis Milestone. There is a video about this on the 'net, so this may be old news to all of you. If not, the basic story is: Recently a print of The Front Page from the Howard Hughes estate was studied and, since it was in pretty good shape, was going to be used as the basis for a new restoration. One shot was problematic, so they borrowed the Library of Congress print -- the source of all those Public Domain versions over the decades -- thinking they could use it to fix the one bad shot. Upon closer examination, though, it was discovered that the two prints were totally different. Research revealed that three negatives had been prepared for the film: A U.S. version (which used the best takes and was generally more polished), an English version (now lost) and a General European version assembled from other takes and sometimes eliminating American references in the dialogue. The General European version also has a couple things that could not get by the U.S. censors, like a character giving someone the finger. The Library of Congress print was the European version, having originally been obtained from Europe. The Hughes print was the long-lost American version, unseen for decades. To restore the audio they used original metal stampers that were used to generate sound discs for theaters showing it in the sound-on-disc format. They discovered alternate stampers for Pennsylvania and Ohio, with alterations to comply with local censorship codes.

The Hughes collection has also yielded rare prints of some Lewis Milestone silent films; these are currently being restored.

Here is a video about the two versions of The Front Page. Joe Dante had this on his Facebook page a little while ago, which is where I first saw it.

Later came a presentation by Criterion's Lee Kline on the remastering of Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller. They had been hoping to work on this with Vilmos Zsigmond, who had been dissatisfied with the way most prints looked and was eager to work with them on it. But Zsigmond passed away shortly after they had completed scanning the film. They started looking at prints for reference, but no two seemed to match, with several having downright odd color choices. With the ninth print, though, they hit pay dirt -- it was a print that Zsigmond had timed himself for a Polish film festival. That became their guide for the color.

Another Criterion rep discussed the audio restoration for Don't Look Back, Quadrophenia and A Hard Day's Night.

Most of the other presentations were of a more technical nature: a primer on UHD and HDR; a discussion about scanning optical soundtrack negs; a look at a new wetgate scanner; and some highly technical stuff that was beyond my understanding.

The evening screening was a new restoration of John Huston's Beat the Devil done by Sony. Grover Crisp said they had put off the restoration for years, trying to locate better-quality materials, especially the original neg. Finally deciding to work with what they had, they began evaluating their elements and discovered that what they thought was a dupe negative contained about 60% of the original neg. They also borrowed a fine grain from Romulus in England, hoping that they might be able to use it for some sections where they did not have the original neg. It turned out to be in excellent condition -- and was an alternate, uncensored version of the film! All the Public Domain versions of Beat the Devil that have been circulating have been of a shorter, re-cut/censored version. Interesting point: Grover insists the film is NOT in the Public Domain.

The differences between the two versions of Beat the Devil:

1. The uncut version is told chronologically. The re-cut version uses a flashback structure and adds some Bogart narration.

2. The uncut version opens with a new scene of Jennifer Jones and Edward Underdown walking through the streets of the small Italian port town. The dialogue sets up some of Jones' flakiness.

3. About 18 minutes into the film there is a scene of Jones and Bogart talking outside, and Jones playfully accuses Bogart of making a pass at her. We then dissolve to a short scene of Gina Lollobrigida bringing the ailing Edward Underdown some tea, which ends abruptly as we dissolve back to Bogart and Jones. In the uncut version, the first scene between Bogart and Jones goes on slightly longer. We see them walking off and then reveal Peter Lorre shadowing them. We then cut to the Lollobrigida tea scene, which is now a little longer. We see her lean in to give Underdown the tea tray, her bosom coming very close to his face as he turns away awkwardly. We then cut back to Bogie and Jones.

4. The re-cut version takes a shot of the ship's captain yelling angrily from later in the film, flops it and inserts it into the scene of the characters boarding the ship.

5. In the scene where Bogart cons the Rita Hayworth-loving Arab policeman with the claims that he knows the actress personally, we see in the uncut version a pin-up of Hayworth in a racy swimsuit. A casual viewer might think she's nude. The re-cut version darkens the whole upper right corner of the screen, creating the effect of a shadow that conceals the pin-up.

There may be a couple other small differences, but those are the major ones. The restoration looked and sounded great; it would be nice if we could get a Criterion or Twilight Time release. -- Gary"

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Saturday August 20, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Tale of Tales
Shout! Factory

 It's strange, it's different, and I can see why it wasn't a theatrical hit... but Matteo Garrone's superb telling of three very adult, very extreme 17th century folk tales is a special item, beautifully directed and visually splendid. Yes, it has giant monsters, magic spells, a sex-obsessed monarch and a pair of crones that want to be young again... yet nothing is pat or obvious, let alone predictable. The biggest stars in the cast are John C. Reilly and Salma Hayek, but young Bebe Cave takes the prize as a princess forced into a hell-on-earth marriage. Italian made; great images and music. On Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.

Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon
Olive Films

 Troubling fact: the great director Otto Preminger's worst film is not Skidoo. Three physical misfits form an alternative family as a defense against the world. It's a good idea for a movie, but the writer and director do just about everything wrong that a writer and director can do. Liza Minnelli takes a risk playing a young woman scarred by acid; she pairs up with a gay paraplegic (Robert Moore) and a young man stricken with undiagnosed seizures (Ken Howard, in his first movie). There are positive elements in Junie Moon, namely a hauntingly warm song by Pete Seeger. But that's not enough to put up a defense. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.


Love Me or Leave Me
The Warner Archive Collection

 It's a powerhouse musical bio about the personality clash between an ambitious singer and the powerful enabler who wants her in his bed. Doris Day and James Cagney are at their best in a surprisingly uncompromised treatment of the real-life showbiz relationship of 'twenties star Ruth Etting and the domineering mobster Martin Snyder. Determined to have a singing career, Etting accepts Snyder's help in crashing show biz -- but Snyder isn't happy when she fails to come across with the old Quid Pro Quo. It's early CinemaScope from MGM, and it looks great on Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.


Some fun announcements today. First up, it appears that a 3-D Blu of the '50s Sci-fi classic It Came from Outer Space will be available on October 4, and can be pre-ordered now as a Best Buy exclusive. The good news? It's listed at really cheap price point. Universal did a full-on restoration of The Creature from the Black Lagoon of several seasons ago; this disc was restored by the 3-D Film Archive. I hope it's as good as the Archive's other great 3-D disc releases.

And Criterion has announced a November release for a Blu of Marlon Brando's One-Eyed Jacks, which I remember as one of the most stunning Technicolor-VistaVision presentations I've ever seen. A friend saw the film restoration at AMIA's The Reel Thing just last night. He reports that

"The results look great--sharp, detailed with excellent color. Sourced from a DME mag [dialogue, music effects], the audio was also superb. A Universal exec said the original negative suffered from fading in the blue layer, so one of the separations on file was used to help recover the color. They had three vintage prints to look at for reference. Scorsese and Spielberg were active participants, providing a lot of feedback as the restoration progressed. At one point Spielberg showed Scorsese images from the film on his iPhone by long distance, as it screened. Scorsese appears in a video introduction before the film, mostly discussing its production and history. The intro will presumably be on the Criterion disc. Those of you who like the film should be very pleased."

I got in contact today with the Foreign Exchange Blu-ray Imports store in Culver City, which imports Region B Blu-rays for greedy all-Region collectors like myself. The company now has a new web sales site up, which the happy owner tells me is doing a great business!

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

A Taste of Honey
  Rita Tushingham captures one's heart in Tony Richardson's adaptation of the near-revolutionary play by Shelagh Delaney, a realistic tale of an option-challenged working-class misfit in industrial Manchester. Dora Bryan is magnificent as her mother, who likewise is trying to get on and have a good time; but Murray Melvin steals the show as a new (and by British law, illegal) character who befriends Rita's character, and tries to help her through her problems. The extras have new interviews with both Tushingham and Melvin, and an illuminating docu on Joan Greenwood's rebel theater movement, hosted by expert Kate Dorney. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Road House
 The character setup in this classy noir potboiler couldn't be better, with Ida Lupino a sensation as the mountain lodge chanteuse who knows her way around men. Cornel Wilde is the man who falls in love with the woman with the deep voice, unaware how murderously unreasonable his boss RIchard Widmark will become when he learns of his treachery. It just misses first-rank noir status.. for its first two acts the show is all but perfect, delineating crisp noir characterizations before the story gimmicks kick in. An extra treat is a repeat of a dandy commentary with Eddie Muller and Kim Morgan. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Microwave Massacre
 'Worst Movie Ever?'   No way. But neither is Wayne Berwick and comic Jackie Vernon's tacky cannibalism tale a piece of art. When I say it's interesting, it's more as a study item than entertainment. The smutty tale follows a schlubb who packs the remains of his battleaxe wife in the fridge, to be doled out as lunchtime snacks. The sub-burlesque jokes, verbal and visual, are painfully dire, making this a Black Comedy that's weird, but not funny, sexy or particularly gory. Something for everyone and no point in sight. It's a Bad movie -- but the disc is a terrific restoration. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Video.

The Spiders
 When Fritz Lang began in film he was a better writer than director. This lavish two-part thriller sees him concocting a multi-genre mash-up, shoehorning cowboy action thrills and an exotic lost Incan civilization into dagger-and-poison serial skullduggery. Part one 'feels' like Raiders of the Lost Ark, while the second feature-length adventure contains aspects of Big Trouble in Little China. Carl de Vogt is the cowboy-like treasure hunter and Lil Dagover the Incan sun priestess with whom he falls in love, between gun battles. On Blu-ray from Kino Classics.

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words
 Hollywood's most elegantly natural, defiantly independent movie star comes alive in a film biography about her personal life, using inside family testimony, rare film and her diaries. Sweden's Ingrid seems more radiant than ever. The show concentrates on the actress's personal life, not the details of her film career. Pia Lindström and Isabella, Ingrid and Roberto Rossellini provide their memories and Alicia Vikander impersonates Bergman perfectly in reading from her diaries. Bergman seemingly filmed everything, and one is hard pressed to find a single unattractive photo or movie image of her.. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Chandu the Magician
 Hissable villain Bela Lugosi is in denial --- no, it's actually star Edmund Lowe who is in the Nile, tied up in a sunken sarcophagus. Lugosi's up top trying to get his art deco death ray in running order -- opposed only by some nubile babes and a Great White Hypnotist from the Swami school of mind control. Extra excitement comes courtesy of the stellar designer and co-director William Cameron Menzies -- this serial Egyptian adventure is packed with exciting settings, furious action and eye-opening special effects. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

These Three
 Radical changes were required to adapt Lillian Hellman's Broadway play for post-Code Hollywood, to eradicate a theme that in 1934 was entirely taboo. But were audiences really unaware of the subject matter switch? William Wyler excels with this bowdlerized, yet curiously near-perfect, story about the power of scandal. Starring Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon and Joel McCrea. Wyler himself remade it 25 years later, without improving on it. On DVD from The Warner Archives Collection.

Woman in the Dunes
 Japanese art filmmaking writ large by director Hiroshi Teshigahara: a strange allegorical fantasy about a man imprisoned in a sand pit, and compelled to make a primitive living with the woman who lives there. Plenty of harsh nature, raw sex, and impressive B&W images of a world ruled by sand: in dunes, filtering through the roof, caked on one's body, one's food... it's, like, sandy, get it? Stars Eiji Okada and Kyoko Kisida are odd couple in a sand trap without a golf course. With impressive extras including four earlier Teshigahara short subjects. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

August 2016
 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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