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October 28, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Right Stuff
Blu-ray

Another great picture on Savant's favorites list. Philip Kaufman's epic on the Mercury program exaggerates facts and turns our first astronauts into comic types, yet it captures the spirit of space exploration better than any other film. Alternately inspiring and hilarious, and packed with future big stars: Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Barbara Hershey, Kim Stanley, Veronica Cartwright, Pamela Reed, Lance Henriksen, Donald Moffat, Levon Helm, Mary Jo Deschanel, Scott Wilson. This is the kind of inspirational patriotism that pleases Savant -- America's resources and its most courageous pilots are dedicated to an ambitious, constructive goal not entirely dominated by warfare. A 30th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition from Warner Home Video.
10/29/13

The Uninvited
Blu-ray

The classic Hollywood ghost story, as Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey and the glorious Gail Russell probe the dark secrets of the past that haunt a beautiful seaside mansion. Director Lewis Allen and a fine screenplay put the kick back into things that go bump in the night, things that provoke troubled young women to throw themselves off craggy cliffs. With a surprisingly frank lesbian subtext, impressive effects, and Russell's dreamy eyes (pardon). Michael Almereyda's visual essay is excelent as well, and the disc is offered at a reduced price point. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
10/29/13

and

The Beast
with Five Fingers

Robert Florey and Peter Lorre elevate a spooky idea about a severed hand into one of the fondest-remembered late-late show attractions that ever creeped out little kids. A rich man dies, his will is contested and his left hand detatches from his arm and goes looking for victims. Some very startling effects thanks to Florey's fine, expressive direction, Max Steiner's music and especially the goggle-eyed, frantic performance by the terrific Lorre. With Robert Alda, Andrea King and J. Carrol Naish. From The Warner Archive Collection.
10/29/13





Hello!

For your immediate pre-Halloween viewing this year, Gary Teetzel forwards this article, complete with attached YouTube video, on a new documentary about Orson Welles' War of the Worlds.

I've also gotten substantial positive feedback on my reviews of the last week or so. Not only that, the leading video quality wonks over at other big-time forums concur on my thoughts on the appearance of the James Dean Giant disc. That's something new. As it happens, a several viewers say haven't yet caught up with Eyes Without a Face. My advice is to see it under ideal circumstances -- uninterrupted. Viewing in the dead of night is also a good idea, unless you're prone to depression!

I'm finishing up this year's horror pix disc coverage with The Uninvited and The Beast with Five Fingers. It's been a very good October for horror fans. Now let's hope for the Peter Lorre The Face Behind the Mask, Franju's Judex, Vadim's ...Et mourir de plaisir (pictured) and Freda's The Horrible Dr. Hichcock!

Thanks for reading and Trick or Treat -- Glenn Erickson



October 25, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

Shack Out on 101
Blu-ray

The battle against Communism is fought in an odd arena, a beachside café North of San Diego. Lee Marvin, Terry Moore, Keenan Wynn, Frank Lovejoy and Whit Bissell act up a storm in what critics called a cross between Karl Marx and William Saroyan. Terry Moore is actually pretty good, and Marvin and Wynn's off-the-wall improvisations are ... off the wall. Frank Lovejoy once again plays a patriotic everyman fighting the good fight to save the Free World... in a greasy spoon hangout. It's never been bettered. In Blu-ray from Olive Films.
10/26/13

James Dean
Ultimate Collector's Edition

Blu-ray

James Dean's trio of film greats, each by a star director, get the HD treatment in this gift boxed set. East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause are handsomely restored, and Giant looks pretty good too. The extras are phenomenal -- four or five full length documentaries and a tall stack of original outtakes, tests, etc. The late Dennis Hopper appears in a new interview. Three Blu-ray discs and four DVDs are in the fancy box. From Warner Home Video.
10/26/13

and

Eyes Without a Face
Blu-ray

Savant's #1 favorite all-time horror film is back in HD, with a new interview with star Edith Scob. The wealthy, arrogant Doctor Génessier kidnaps and mutilates young women to restore his daughter, who wanders through his mansion wearing a silken, Cocteau-like mask. Never was a hoary horror tale told with as much cold-blooded elegance -- what one takes away from the picture are memories of eerie beauty. With Pierre Brasseur and Alida Valli, and featuring an early, sublimely creepy music score by Maurice Jarre. See it under good conditions and it's unforgettable. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
10/26/13




Hello!

Here are a couple of links to an interesting project being done by Milestone Films with UCLA Archivist Ross Lipman: a documentary called NOTFILM about the making of Samuel Beckett's experimental film from 1964, called FILM. That's the curious item that starred an elderly Buster Keaton. Lipman has uncovered many outtakes, rare audio recordings of Beckett and a newly discovered opening scene. It's a complicated story: here are links to the NOTFILM website and the NOTFILM trailer. Milestone will be producing the film by raising half of its budget through IndieGoGo.

Keeping up with the Good Stuff Department: over at today's (October 25) Greenbriar Picture Shows, John McElwee digs into the media onslaught wielded by Stanley Kramer to sell his U.A. Atom Doomsday picture On the Beach worldwide. This is the one that had umpteen simultaneous premieres on several continents, including a premiere in Moscow. It was billed with the immortal words, "If You Never See Another Picture in Your Life, You Must See On the Beach!" With the holidays coming up, rather than plug my own Sci-Fi book quite yet, let me again direct your gift-buying instincts to John's entertaining, surprising tome about a century of motion picture exhibition, Showmen, Sell It Hot! It's a classy, good looking publication, too.

Things are going well here at Savant Central. Shout! Factory may still be sending a Vincent Price Blu-ray Set for review; they've also announced a UA horror Blu-ray double bill for January, of The Beast of Hollow Mountain and The Neanderthal Man -- in their proper aspect ratios, according to the promo flyers. Cohen Media has promised their upcoming Blu-ray of Intolerance, clips from which look like an astounding leap in quality from what I've seen before. They also have René Clair's Beauty of the Devil, due in just a couple of days.

More intriguing arthouse stuff is on the way: Icarus Films has Chris Marker's Le joli mai, which I've read about for ages and never seen. Zeitgeist has a Blu-ray of Hannah Arendt, a new drama starring Barbara Sukowa. Finally, Kino Classics is promising a December release for its Blu-ray of one of of Mario Bava's best gothic tales, The Whip and the Body. I've seen it back in the '60s on a tiny B&W TV as What!, in some okay disc releases and in a worn but colorful print shown at the Cinematheque in 1993 ... here's hoping that Kino's copy will be something special.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



October 22, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

Baby Peggy:
The Elephant in the Room

Vera Iwerebor's fascinating and uplifting documentary was created in conjunction with 'Baby Peggy' herself, Diana Serra Cary, who spent her entire baby-and-childhood working as a 6-days-a-week actress in slient pictures. It's the familiar story of irresponsible parents and thieving associates all feeding off a pint-sized money-machine. The good news is that Diana did not experience the tragedy that befell so many child actors, but has lived a productive and happy life rebuilt from her own personality and spirit. And she's immensely likeable at any age. With three short Baby Peggy films, and one full silent feature, Captain January. From Milestone Film and Video.
10/22/13

The Other
Blu-ray

Robert Mulligan expresses well the impressionable, wondrous state of childhood, and in this adaptation of Thomas Tryon's best-selling novel, turns his talent to an exceedingly skilled but repellent horror drama. Twin boys on a New England farm are implicated in ever more deadly 'accidents'. Uta Hagen and Diana Muldaur are the biggest name in the cast; the stars are Robert Surtees' expressive cinematography and Jerry Goldsmith's ominous musical score (available here on an Isolated Music Track). In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
10/22/13

and

Cry of the City

This classic, first-rank Fox film noir wasn't released with the rest of their output ten years ago; either some legal snag has evaporated or somebody was asleep at the switch (for which we are grateful). Victor Mature and Richard Conte are excellent in Robert Siodmak's tense, exciting tale of a cop killer trying to seize some stolen jewels and escape with his girlfriend (Debra Paget in her first movie). With great acting turns from Shelley Winters, Hope Emerson, Fred Clark, Berry Kroeger and many others. From 20th Century Fox Cinema Archives.
10/22/13




Hello!

A couple of cute links today:

Is that old car in your driveway in need of replacing? Do you need something less flashy, that won't get undue attention, or stand out in a crowd? And do you not need to carry anything around with you, larger than a book or two? Perhaps THESE are the wheels for you. I live in Los Angeles, and one of these babies would be a natural for cruising on Hollywood Blvd. Just don't get caught driving in a California fire zone. Versions begin at $80,000, with the deluxe model streeting for a paltry $240,000. Gracías to Gary Teetzel for the link.

Do you remember the awful lyrics added to Elmer Bernstein's main theme for The Magnificent Seven? They've been immortalized on an alternate, better-forgotten trailer for the 1960 western. But Bernstein and Walter Mirisch didn't end their musical crimes there... you may want to think twice about listening to this vocal rendition of the (gasp) main title theme for The Great Escape. It's not a fake or a bad joke. It's real. Egads.

I've received the Warners James Dean Ultimate Collector's Edition today, for which a review will be up by Saturday. Not quite in the door is the Shout! Factory Vincent Price box. I was told it was coming but ya never know about these things. Such is life. Those A.I.P. color Corman pictures really pop in Blu-ray, it's a fact!

Thanks for reading --- ! Glenn Erickson



October 19, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

Plunder Road
Blu-ray

Director Hubert Cornfield's existential caper now seems related to French crime films, as a team of gold thieves attempts to haul away their bulky bullion in a trio of trucks. As an extended exercise in cruel irony, it has few equals. The crooks are tripped up by painfully trivial mistakes and their own too-elaborate plans. An interesting group of actor-losers make with haunted stares of quiet desperation: Gene Raymond, Jeanne Cooper, Wayne Morris, Elisha Cook Jr., Stafford Repp and Steven Ritch. Looks great, finally, in Regalscope and Blu-ray from Olive Films.
10/19/13

House on Straw Hill
Blu-ray + DVD

One of the original horrors labeled a 'video nasty' and banned in the UK, this suspenseful shocker doesn't try to hide its ambition to be grossout exploitation fare. A young Udo Kier hires a secretary, Linda Hayden, to help him write in a country house. A horrible rape and several murders by knife and shotgun later, just about everybody ends up in mincemeat. On view is an uncut version rescued from deteriorating elements; the first 3,000 copies come with an extra DVD disc containing a historical docu on the Video Nasties, Ban the Sadist Videos. In Blu-ray + DVD from Severin Films.
10/19/13

and

Funeral in Berlin

An Out-Of-Print Paramount disc returns as a Warner Archive title. The second Michael Caine - Harry Palmer spy adventure sees Harry arranging for Russian General Oskar Homolka to defect. The malingering, sarcastic Harry works well in a world of casual deception. His West German contact seems a bit shifty, and he's picked up by a gorgeous international model that he doesn't trust any more than his own boss back in Trafalgar Square. If you haven't seen this one, it's highly recommended -- clever, funny, intelligent. From The Warner Archive Collection / Paramount.
10/19/13




Hello!

Here's an important non-movie topic, thoughtfully sent to me by Gary Teetzel. I agree with Gary when he wishes that these were mandatory viewing for every school-aged child and teen in America. Consider it DVD Savant's way of being constructive without venting so many of my own personal political biases. Besides, I wish I were the logical and mentally discerning Open Minded Critical Thinker described in these powerpoint- like mini-lectures: Open-mindedness and Critical Thinking. Listening to so much rational sanity in one sitting is like a mini-vacation from TV news coverage. One question: isn't the correct term "closed-minded", not "close-minded?"

I know, I know, just like me, you're dying to read an article on Israeli Zombie movies. Well, Matthew Rovner has put one together that's actually very interesting -- the walking dead in these films appear to comment directly on Israeli-Palestinian differences. The article is at The Jewish Daily Forward and is called What's Behind Israel's Zombie Outbreak?

And lastly, I'll bet the news that Criterion is coming out in January with an expanded, almost-roadshow Blu-ray of Stanley Kramer's all-star comedy epic It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World has already permeated into every crevice of online disc fandom. Robert Harris is in charge, and although this isn't the much-desired film restoration we'd like to see, reportedly the 70mm projection print clips used for the long-ago MGM laserdisc have been re-transferred and optimized, and combined with a few pieces Mr. Harris has located independently over the years. The multi-disc set will contain the now-standard shorter cut (which I saw projected as a 70mm restoration four years ago; it looks incredible) plus Harris's expanded version on a separate disc.

A month or so back I got a note from an enthusiastic fellow helping to put together some of the extras. He said that he was going through over an hour of beautiful 16mm color BTS home movies of many of the film's big scenes, showing the practical effects rigging and including lots of shots of the comedian-stars cutting up, off camera. This sounds like a very special disc indeed.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



October 15, 2013
Savant's new reviews today are:

Untold History
of the United States

Blu-ray

Oliver Stone undertakes a century-long examination of historical high crimes and misdemeanors -- an alternate read of American history that makes a lot more sense than the self-congratulatory Official Versions. It's a monumental work and actually a pretty valid one. it made me question several beliefs I thought were 'givens', and taught me about some people I'd never really heard of, like the impressive Henry A. Wallace. A four-disc set with three major docu extras not shown on cable TV. In Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
10/15/13

(The Ballad of)
Tam Lin

Blu-ray

In Roddy McDowall's updating of a Scottish folk ballad, young Ian McShane is the kept plaything of the fabulously wealthy Ava Gardner, who travels with a dozen party people around her at all times. Ava's also a jealous mistress, and when McShane dares to fall in love with Stephanie Beacham, a woman his own age, Hell Hath No Fury. Beautifully filmed in Scotland and very interestingly directed, the movie was misunderstood, abandoned, retitled, cut, given minor releases, and almost forgotten. Now it's back in a dazzlingly colorful rendition, in Blu-ray from Olive Films.
10/15/13

and

Hands of a Stranger

Fans of obscure horror take note -- this umpteenth remake of The Hands of Orlac is an odd affair with lots of psychologizing and a series of murders that take place mostly off-screen. A famous pianist's talented hands are mangled in a car wreck, so a daring surgeon grafts on a fresh pair from a recent corpse -- a criminal known for strangling people. The best part of this show are some supporting players of note: Irish McCalla is a nurse, Sally Kellerman makes out in one scene, and the talented, nervy little kid Barry Gordon makes his screen debut as a talented, nervy little kid. From The Warner Archive Collection.
10/15/13




Hello!

Last week Trailers from Hell knocked off a trio of coming attractions for space-themed '50s Sci-fi pictures, which of course means that Savant was sniffing around that site all week long. They're all up now. Ernest Dickerson discusses The Creeping Unknown (The Quatermass Xperiment, pictured left), Mick Garris plumbs new depths of profundity in Fire Maidens of Outer Space, and Joe Dante waxes nostalgic over The Man from Planet X.

And Twilight Time has announced its release schedule for the first two months of 2014. We already have attractions like Oliver!, Jane Eyre and The Way We Were on the way. January 21 will bring us Blu-rays of Khartoum, Zulu, Titus (1998) and a 3D disc of Man in the Dark. February 11 will sneak in with Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Front, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Blue Max and The Eddie Duchin Story.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



October 12, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Big Parade
Blu-ray

Reportedly the most successful silent film ever, King Vidor's epic tale of one man's disillusioning experience in war was the picture that made WW1 come together for American audiences. Vidor's polished, artistic direction gives John Gilbert an atypical role as a callow rich kid who goes to war. René Adoree is the French farm girl who captures his heart. Includes a comprehensive essay by Kevin Brownlow, anc comes in an exceptionally clean and rich-looking restoration. in Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
10/12/13

The Haunting
Blu-ray

Robert Wise's tense psychological haunted house tale gains quite a bit from HD, with all those ornate B&W images finally coming across in a quality to match the theatrical experience. Brave investigators Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn and Richard Johnson check into the consummately creepy Hill House, and are immediately set upon by supernatural phenomena. Things go bump in the night -- and then threaten to smash through your chamber door. The beefed-up lossless HD audio adds a lot as well. In Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
10/12/13

and

The Americano
Blu-ray

Glenn Ford went to Brazil to film this colorful cowboy-on-the-Matto Grosso epic, but when things went wrong the show ended up being filmed back in California with a new director and female stars. A Texas stock expert delivers three Brahma bulls to the interior of Brazil, only to become embroiled in a bloody range war. With Cesar Romero, Frank Lovejoy, Ursula Theiss. Sexy Abbe Lane dances and sings -- but unaccountably in Spanish, not Portuguese. In Blu-ray from Olive Films.
10/12/13





Hello!

This is certainly shaping up to be a happy Halloween for horror fans. I wasn't asked to make one, but here's a quick Blu-ray & DVD buying guide based on Savant's horror-centric tastes. Not yet reviewed are Georges Franju's Eyes without a Face, Udo Kier in House on Straw Hill (with a full docu on English "Video Nasties", Ban the Sadist Videos), Hands of a Stranger, Roddy McDowall's Tam Lin, René Clair's I Married a Witch!, the impressive A.I.P. Vincent Price Collection, Ray Milland in The Uninvited.

And now readable at Savant are reviews for Robert Wise's The Haunting, Bert I. Gordon's Tormented, Curtis Harrington's Night Tide, the Region B Blu-ray of Corman's The Fall of the House of Usher, the 3D House of Wax, The House of Seven Corpses, Jess Franco's The Awful Dr. Orloff, Carpenter's Halloween, Dana Andrews in The Frozen Dead, Bela Lugosi in The Devil Bat, Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone and Terence Fisher's Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.

A couple of links to offer as well: this 53 seconds of slightly disturbing whimsy (?) can only be called The Mystery Truck Video. Tell me what it means... have they stopped screaming yet?

And in response to an earlier post, faithful correspondent Ed Sullivan finds a precursor to The Cold Equations in a comic book by Al Feldstein with art by Wallace Wood. The whole thing is readable online: A Weighty Decision. Just click the individual panels to enlarge.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



October 08, 2013
DVD Savant Newsletter

Tuesday October 8, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

Voyage to the
Bottom of the Sea

Blu-ray

Irwin Allen gets his feet wet putting a busy cast of pickup players through a sloppy, absurd but exciting juvenile adventure, packed with nonsense science and mucho hokey jeopardy. Verdict? Kids and nostalgic adults love it. Walter Pidgeon and Peter Lorre race a futuristic sub across the map to extinguish a fire in the sky that's roasting the world on a spit. Barbara Eden dances and Frankie Avalon provides the gloppy title tune; the sight of the submarine cruising under the flaming sky is wondrous. In Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Studio Classics.
10/08/13

Farewell to Yesterday

Something for avid historians and collectors -- a 1950 history of WW2 (and the beginning of the Cold War that followed) culled from original Movietone Newsreels. It's undeniably dated both in concept and script -- but is valuable to see how such things were presented to the public in earlier times. Confession: I studied this as sort of a warm-up for Oliver Stone's upcoming The Untold History of the United States. From 20th Century Fox Cinema Archives.
10/08/13

and

Betty Boop:
The Essential Collection Vol 2

Blu-ray

Volume 2 of the irrepressible Betty's amorous adventures takes her through three phases. One cartoon shows Betty with her original dog's ears, looking like some kind of mutation. Then comes the large group of surreal cartoons packed with naughty innuendo and salacious situations... and finally a trio of shows made after the Production Code forced Betty to clean up her act, and do what women are supposed to do -- redirect their sexuality, be helplessly powerless and cry a lot. In Blu-ray from Olive Films.
10/08/13




Hello!

More radio shows today, courtesy of Dick Dinman. This time around he finds two ways to look at Hollywood's Pact with Hitler. As a response to Criterion's new disc of Ernst Lubitsch's To Be Or Not To Be, Dick interviews Ben Urwand, the author of a book about the relationship between the Hollywood studios and the Third Reich, THE COLLABORATION: HOLLYWOOD'S PACT WITH HITLER. The discussion carries across two separate shows, Part 1 and Part 2.

In my review of The Fall of the House of Usher I ventured some thoughts about Roderick Usher's spooky gallery of portraits. Savant correspondent Martin Hennessee sends along a YouTube clip from Gilbert & Sullivan's ghostly comedy Ruddigore where the portraits of the milquetoast Baron's cursed ancestors come alive and command him to do his family duty of committing one evil crime per day. The clip is from a PBS version of the teleplay starring... you guessed it... Vincent Price! He doesn't appear in this particular clip but he's quite delicious as the Baron's elder brother. Thanks Martin!

Reader W. David Lichty sends us to a YouTube radio production of Ray Bradbury's short story Kaleidoscope, which I was discussing last time in conjunction with Gravity. The voice talent is Paul Frees. And frequent correspondent Edward Sullivan sends along a link to the first Sci-fi story he ever read, which I remember reading when it was reprinted in Spacemen, another Forry Ackerman publication. It's Tom Godwin's 1954 The Cold Equations; despite being written before manned space flight, it raises Gravity- like anxieties over an unsolvable survival problem in outer space.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



October 05, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Big Combo
Blu-ray

Joseph H. Lewis's slick crime noir is a tale of sexual obsession, given an impressive visual dimension by cameraman John Alton. Every other shot looks like a cover from a '50s pulp novel. Cornel Wilde stars as a detective crazy with jealousy over Jean Wallace, the stunningly beautiful girlfriend of the crime boss Richard Conte, whose mantra is "First is first, and second is nothing!" Also with Lee Van Cleef, Earl Holliman and Brian Donlevy. In Blu-ray from Olive Films.
10/05/13

Tormented

The unsinkable Bert I. Gordon gives up on giant beasties and goes after the William Castle audience with a ghost story packed with special-effect phantoms. Guilty murderer Richard Carlson suffers from hallucination-visitations from the woman he killed, until he kills again; this is the one with a severed head that talks, while Carlson holds it by the hair. With Susan Gordon, Juli Reding and Joe Turkel. A Halloween offering from The Warner Archive Collection.
10/05/13

and

Night Tide
Blu-ray

Curtis Harrington's first feature is a wobbly but heartfelt revisit of Cat People, set on a rundown amusement pier. Sailor Dennis Hopper falls in love with a sideshow mermaid, only to discover that there's some strange kind of curse around the woman. With Linda Lawson and Luana Anders, and commentaries and interviews with the director and his star. In Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
10/05/13




Hello!

Just got back from Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, the pre-release and festival buzz of which made it the first film this entire year I actually wanted to see first run, ASAP. So we bopped on down to The Grove and had a good time. The movie is impressive, but not nearly the experience of Cuaron's previous pic Children of Men, which sent me scrambling for words of praise.

This one's not a fantasy, but a wholly realistic story of a crisis in space. It's something to look at, with unbroken shots lasting minutes on end, and (to my eyes) flawless effects work from stem to stern. It's engaging in a, you-are-there, what-do-you-do? way. For some reason, I found myself getting a little impatient with the Sandra Bullock character's inability to knuckle down, keep her head up and do things like grabbing stuff when necessary. Good person but a chronic tool-dropper. I know she's not supposed to be an A-1 space pilot, and she's in a fix that would certainly prevent me from thinking straight, but I felt frustrated with her anyways. The film is about working through a complex problem from point A to Z, with every letter in between a crucial step -- sort of like getting your car out of the frozen snow but worrying that the ice you have to cross is too thin, and you know that hungry wolves will be descending on you in 90 minutes. It's a story of survival that aviators know well, especially flight engineers that are asked to solve problems that look unsolvable ... and the clock is ticking.

When the movie arrives at a certain speech about taking on an optimistic outlook in the face of disaster, it soars for a minute... but basing another astronaut's defeatism in a 'traumatic incident from the past' seemed an easy dodge for me. I didn't feel all that close to the likeable characters, and I'm not so sure I'll remember the film for long. I hate to say it, but the 1995 Apollo 13 is still much more engaging, even with its crude CGI and the occasionally corny rah-rah stuff. Gravity: visuals and direction A++ ; 3D good too. Script B.

Now to go look up the first science fiction short story I ever read, which I think is from Ray Bradbury's R is for Rocket. It's about five or six spacemen that spill out into space when a ship is cut open by a meteor or something. Some of the spacemen are drifting away into the void, to die a slow death, and some are falling back to Earth, to burn up like falling stars. They can't do anything except talk to each other on the radio. Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



October 01, 2013

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Brute and the Beast
&
El Rojo

DVD Savant welcomes back U.K. correspondent Lee Broughton, who reviews a pair of Region 1 (USA-compatible) Spaghetti Westerns. The Brute and the Beast stars Franco Nero, George Hilton and Nino Castelnuovo, was written by Fernando Di Leo and directed by Lucio Fulci (no zombies, sorry). El Rojo has Richard Harrison, Piero Lulli and Nieves Navarro, and was directed by Leopoldo Savona, the auteur of Le notti di Teddy Boys! Lee promises plenty of Italo western action. From Wild East.
10/01/13

The Fall of the House of Usher
Region B (UK) Blu-ray

Savant is Region B Blu-ray capable once again! My review of this well-produced disc is a month late, but worth the effort -- the extras include a Roger Corman commentary, a very good interview with Joe Dante and a charming archived interview with Vincent Price. Also interesting analytical input from Jonathan Rigby, David Cairns and Tim Lucas. In Region B (U.K.-locked) Blu-ray from Arrow Films.
10/01/13


Drums Along the Mohawk
Blu-ray

John Ford's first Technicolor movie looks FANTASTIC in HD, thanks presumably to an excellent restoration by 20th Fox. Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda face the privations of the Mohawk Valley and find their homested overrun by irregular Indian marauders helping Brit John Carradine terrorize rebellious colonials. An almost perfectly scripted drama that transcends its own 'building a nation' drama. Savant argues for the feminist interpretation, an angle John Ford would mostly drop after WW2. With a fine commentary and a special full-length docu on John Ford's years with Fox and Darryl Zanuck. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
10/01/13

and

The Stranger
Blu-ray

Orson Welles' postwar thriller is a tense manhunt for a Nazi butcher who has taken up residence in a cozy new England town. Sinister Franz Kindler (Welles) has found a faculty position and has just married a local beauty (Loretta Young) when war criminal hunter (Edward G. Robinson) finally tracks him down. Packed with suspenseful scenes and expressive touches, all set off by the bucolic town setting. This was Welles' gambit to prove his mettle as a 'responsible' Hollywood director -- it's his most conventional film but a very good one. Disc producer Bret Wood has rounded up some powerful extras, too. In Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
10/01/13




Hello!

I'm sneaking through with a full roster of reviews today, thanks to collaborator correspondent Lee Broughton of the UK, who introduced me to the depths of Spaghetti westerns upwards of thirteen years ago.

As you can see I'm up and running again, able to review Region B Blu-rays; the notice on Arrow's Deluxe The Fall of the House of Usher can finally go up. Many readers recommend foreign discs -- I wish they were more easily obtained for review. Every once and awhile something sensational pops up like Miracle in Milan or Hammer's extended Dracula, and you'll see me spring for it.

I'm checking out Olive Films' disc Betty Boop Volume II, which I'm happy to report appears to consist of earlier Pre-code cartoons. I hope some of the musical classics are among them. Otherwise, I'll finally be able to get to the desired titles from Olive Films, Kino, Milestone, Criterion and the Warner Archive. It's fun finally seeing Plunder Road in full Regalscope, and Bert I. Gordon's Tormented in a copy that doesn't look like it's been run through a lawn mower.

Flash for Gary Teetzel -- the Warner Archive just announced a title he's been asking about for years, the Robert Florey-Peter Lorre The Beast with Five Fingers. AND Criterion just announced a 24-hour 50% 0ff sale... details at the Criterion Real-Time Dashboard.

Totally irrelevant but a shock to me was accidentally hearing on a web radio channel a pop instrumental tune I'd loved on the radio at age 16, back in 1968. It seemed to play just for a few days and I never heard it again until now. I've forgotten, remembered, and forgotten the melody several times over the intervening 45 (cough) years and practically fell over when it played this morning. My periodic attempts to find it failed because I thought it was by the same Frenchman who did the somewhat similar easy listening standard Love is Blue, Paul Mauriat. Nope, that was a dead end, and I'm glad I didn't buy any $50 Mauriat CD collections in a futile search. The song has the "???" name Soul Coaxing, and the key recording is by Raymon Lefevre and his Soul Orchestra. No wonder I never found it. Either that, or I was never in the right elevator to hear it coming over the Muzak. Anyway, in case you're curious, a YouTube rendering of Soul Coaxing is here. Thanks for indulging me in this -- for all I know, it's been playing constantly all this time.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson


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

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