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February 29, 2008

Greetings! Savant's new reviews today are

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue
Blue Underground

and
Right At Your Door
Lionsgate

Columbia/Sony DVD consultant Mike Schlesinger has confirmed through a 'hint' on the Classic Horror Film Board that Terence Fisher's gruesome thriller (and Savant favorite) The Stranglers of Bombay will be included in an upcoming "Hammer Adventure Set" DVD from Sony. The 1959 movie's unrestrained sadism is said to have been responsible for a major UK censorship crackdown, that forced Hammer to neuter The Brides of Dracula and tone down the horror content of their movies in general. According to Michael Powell, critical indignation from Stranglers spilled over into a campaign of outrage against his Peeping Tom. Set against today's sicko horror pix, Stranglers' content is shocking only when the year it was made is taken into account. But as a political statement about colonialism and xenophobia, it's fascinating.

The Hollywood Reporter sez that the Miriam Collection's The Fall of the Roman Empire will indeed come out April 29 from Genius in a three-disc set with many extras. The notice also offers the information that 55 Days at Peking and Circus World will follow. I've gotten several emails asking about Circus World, so now they know that it isn't being ignored.

Fox is mistaken in its press release listing Garden of Evil as a flat transfer. They've done that a couple of times before. Fellow web reviewer Dick Dinman got an answer from Fox today, saying the the disc would indeed be formatted for the CinemaScope frame ratio. The angry mob rally set for noon today is thus cancelled.

Savant bought his Blu-ray player yesterday, about an hour before receiving an email from consultant Allan Peach with a link to an article explaining why now is a bad time to buy! Well, it looks good anyway, even though I was concerned for a minute that my 2002 HD-ready Mitsubishi wouldn't play it properly. Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson



February 25, 2008

Savant's new reviews today are

Lubitsch Musicals
The Love Parade, Monte Carlo,
The Smiling Lieutenant, One Hour with You

Eclipse

and
Shogun Assassin 4: Five Fistfuls of Gold
AnimEigo

Hello! Issue #70 of Tom Betts' long running fanzine Westerns All'Italiana has a review and interview of Tim Lucas and a review of his enormous Mario Bava Book from an Italian Western point of view -- written by our own UK correspondent and frequent reviewer Lee Broughton. Congratulations Lee! The fanzine is a free .pdf download at the following sites: The Drive-In Connection; Western Clippings; The Spaghetti Western Database and Guns, Mud and Blood. Readers wanting a printed edition of Westerns All'italiana can contact Tom Betts at PO Box 25042, Anaheim, CA 92825.

Yes, oh yes, it was Oscar night, a very calm one. This year saw a slew of good movies, with few eye-rolling monstrosities and PC-cuddly insults to mar the landscape. Only one of the nominees for Best Picture rubbed me the wrong way this time around. Very few surprises in the awards but it was fun seeing all the beautiful people dressed up. No entertaining gaffes or over-exuberant winners; Daniel Day-Lewis's bowing to 'The Queen' was the night's memorable visual moment. As usual, the obituaries were the one segment to get Savant misty-eyed; all the other montages were cut as frustratingly tightly as the movie that won for Best Editing. Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson.



February 22, 2008

Greetings! Savant's new reviews today are

American Gangster
3-Disc Collector's Edition
Universal


and
Midnight Express
30th Anniversary Edition
Columbia / Sony

Hello! Disney has seen fit to announce some Walt Disney Treasures titles coming next November. One of them is the oft-requested Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow with Patrick McGoohan, and another is built around Destino, Disney's 1946 animated experiment with Salvador Dali.

I've been helping Guido Bibra with the English translation of his Film Format Guide, a concise lowdown on all the major film formats, and a resource I'm going to add to the Savant Links Page. The link takes you to the original German version of the site, but an "English Version" selection is near the top of the page.

Criterion has announced their special edition of The Thief of Bagdad (the 1940 Michael Powell film, not a modern docu) for May 27; I've added it to the 2008 Savant Wish List. It should handily replace an older MGM disc, which had a fine transfer but distorted audio.

Finally, I've been asked to comment on the Hi-Def shakedown, but have been holding off. I have purchased my first two Blu-ray discs, and should have my player installed in a couple of weeks. I'll hopefully be reviewing new Hi-Def product by the middle of March! Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson



February 18, 2008

Greetings! Savant's new reviews today are

In the Valley of Elah
Warner DVD
and
Ladrón que roba a ladrón
Lionsgate

Three worthwhile links to pass on today. I caught Mexican actress Lupita Tovar interviewed on NPR the other day; she played the 'Mina' role in Universal's Spanish-language version of Drácula, filmed 77 (!) years ago.

Corresponent Ed Sulllivan sent in this link to a fascinating, funny presentation by George Dyson, about a real 1960s project to send a nuclear-powered space ship to Saturn. Let's go! Just a few bugs to work out, like how to control a level of radiation in the passenger cabin hundreds of times that of normal!

And Canadian contact Brad Caslor sends this brief, funny 'Be Sensible' PSA starring Martin Scorsese. Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



February 15, 2008

Greetings! Savant's new reviews today are

Beowulf
Paramount
and

Walker
Criterion

Hello again ... Bill Shaffer tells me that the 2008 Kansas Silent Film Festival is scheduled again for Friday and Saturday of February 22 & 23, at White Concert Hall on the Washburn University campus in Topeka, Kansas ... admission is free and open to the public. This year they're showing rare films by Ben Turpin and others as well as greats by Harold Lloyd, Rin Tin Tin, Fatty Arbuckle, Charlie Chaplin. A full schedule is available at The Kansas Silent Film Festival Page.

New release news: Reader Jon Hofbauer has let me know that Fox is reissuing 1930's The Big Trail in a two-disc special edition that includes both the flat 35mm and the widescreen 65mm Grandeur version, with three new documentaries. That comes on May 13.

On the same day, Fox will release a Fox Classics triple bill of Rawhide, The Gunfighter and the much-desired Garden of Evil, with its Bernard Herrmann score. 2008 is really beginning to shape up for classic collector titles.

Universal gets into the act on May 13 as well, reissuing both of their Universal Sci-Fi Ultimate Collections in some sort of combo package. No more 'Best Buy exclusives' between consumers and those titles.

Reader Don Stroud sends in this amusing You Tube link to a montage of Television Horror Hosts. It's very amusing! Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson



February 11, 2008

It's worth a special mention: Hot release info from MGM/Fox today, with several highly desirable library titles coming in May. I've already added them to the 2008 Savant Wish List:

WAR MOVIES (5/13):

CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE (Virginia McKenna as famous WW2 intelligence operative)
MORNING DEPARTURE
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY (Hardy Kruger is a captured Luftwaffe pilot, that they just can't keep locked up)
THE SECRET INVASION (Roger Corman's crooks-fight-WW2 epic ... before The Dirty Dozen)
THE SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIA

WESTERNS (5/13):

DAY OF THE OUTLAW (Excellent Andre de Toth western, with Robert Ryan)
GUNFIGHT AT DODGE CITY
MAN OF THE WEST (Anthony Mann-Gary Cooper great ... easily the most desired western title)
MAN WITH THE GUN
NAVAJO JOE (Burt Reynolds and Ennio Morricone's screaming banshee soundtrack)
THE WAY WEST
THE WESTERNER

COMEDY (5/20):

IF IT'S TUESDAY, THIS MUST BE BELGIUM
THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED MINSKY'S (hilarious record of Burlesque acts: Jason Robards, Norman Wisdom, Britt Eklund)
WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, DADDY?

Not a dog in the bunch, and at least seven must-haves for Savant ... this is one of the best announcements of the year so far .... Glenn E.


Greetings! Savant's new reviews today are

Gone Baby Gone
Miramax

and
This Sporting Life
Criterion

A fast Monday, as editing work calls again. Gary Teetzel sends this link to a You Tube clip from a 1957 Ray Anthony TV show ... where the trumpeter-bandleader plugs and performs the main theme he recorded for a new Universal science fiction film!

I did take time out from pending reviews last Friday to jump ahead and see Criterion's upcoming The Last Emperor -- the 3 hour, 38 minute TV version. It's quite spectacular. The disc is out on the 26th; I'd better get my review going soon. Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson



February 09, 2008

Greetings! Savant's new reviews today are

Joan Crawford Collection Volume 2
A Woman's Face, Flamingo Road,
Sadie McKee, Strange Cargo, Torch Song

Warner DVD

and
The Last Sunset
Universal

Hello again ... this note is to clear up a perhaps minor but signifcant goof on Savant's part last month -- my return email to a reader keeps bouncing back as undeliverable. Rob, aka 'Robolly' wrote to correct me on my The Naked Prey review, telling me that the 'little boy' that Cornel Wilde meets in the movie is really a little girl. I wrote him back, twice, assuring him that he was wrong. Then the other day another reader wrote me with proof that the little native kid is a girl. Being wrong is no big deal, but being smug about it is something else. So, since I can't find Rob online, here's my response in the column:

Rob .... There's being wrong, and there's being plain wrong, and then there's willful ignorance. In this case I guess I have to claim the third. You are correct about the GIRL in THE NAKED PREY. I've simply brainwashed myself for 40 years that it is a BOY. I don't know whether I simply assumed it or read some reviews that made the same mistake ... but usually when one is convinced of something like this, the brain makes up excuses ("I know I saw it somewhere before") to cover the wound.

So please accept my apology for assuring you that I was right without thinking or investigating further. Thanks for your patience, Glenn. And Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson



February 04, 2008

Greetings! Savant's new reviews today are

The Apartment Collector's Edition
MGM / Fox
and
Miss Julie
Criterion

Well, there's more guesswork in motion regarding The Weinstein Company's upcoming disc of The Fall of the Roman Empire; correspondent "B" informs me of an interesting DVD Spin Doctor article by Glenn Abel about the possibility of the DVD being released at its full Road Show length. More restoration hopes are raised!

I'd also like to point readers to Gareth Moses' Free Movement to Music blog, with its many entries on fantastic films and their actors. Gareth has interesting reactions to the genre fare being shown on TCM; the good reading is out there to be found! Thanks, Glenn Erickson.



February 01, 2008

Greetings! Savant's new reviews today are

Payday
Warner DVD

and
Halleluja Italo-Western Box:
Ein Halleluja Fur Camposanto, Man Nennt Mich Halleluja, Sando Kid Spricht Das Letzte Halleluja
Koch Media (Germany), a PAL Region 2 review by Lee Broughton

Longtime Savant friend and correspondent Stuart Galbraith IV reports that he has two new books being published this spring. The mammoth The Toho Studios Story (May 28) from Scarecrow is a history and complete filmography that provides a complete picture of every Toho feature the Japanese studio produced and released-as well as foreign films that it distributed - during its first 75 years. Stuart's second release is described as a photo-heavy coffee table book, and doesn't yet have a specific release date. Japanese Cinema has chapters devoted to Japanese fantastic cinema, jidai-geki, chanbara, virtually unknown comedies with sci-fi/fantasy elements, etc. Stuart has only seen sample pages so far, but says that editor Paul Duncan's layouts look great.

Turner Classic Movies Online has just launched a massive 31 Days of Oscar site which has a ton of content - an article on almost every film (353 in all) with the poster, video clip, award info and archival materials when available. The best feature is the music video jukebox player - the 31 DAY-O-RAM - that plays theme song/credit sequences from Vertigo, Easy Rider, 2001 and a lot of other favorites. It's very impressive!

Finally, Gary Teetzel has informed me of 3 Frank Sinatra boxed sets coming from Warner DVD on May 13. Here's the rundown:

Frank Sinatra - The Early Years: Double Dynamite (new to DVD), It Happened in Brooklyn (new to DVD), Step Lively (new to DVD), Higher and Higher (new to DVD), The Kissing Bandit (new to DVD)
Frank Sinatra - The Golden Years: None But the Brave (new to DVD), The Man with the Golden Arm (new to DVD), Some Came Running (new to DVD), The Tender Trap (new to DVD), Marriage on the Rocks (new to DVD)
Frank Sinatra & Gene Kelly: Take Me Out to the Ball Game (newly repackaged), On the Town (newly repackaged), Anchor's Aweigh (newly repackaged)
Frank Sinatra - Rat Pack Collection: Ocean's Eleven (newly repackaged), Sergeants 3 (never before on DVD!), 4 For Texas (newly repackaged), Robin and the Seven Hoods (newly repackaged).

That's a lotta Frankie for one day, but I'll be looking forward to Some Came Running! Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson


Don't forget to write Savant at dvdsavant@mindspring.com.

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