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January 27, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Lady from Shanghai
Blu-ray + DVD

Orson Welles' Chinese puzzle of a noir thriller is still borderine incomprehensible, but it looks and plays better than ever, with several of the director's best-realized scenes. Rita Hayworth is the lover (or the bait?) in intrigues that tangle an innocent sailor in a murder frame-up. And the film's ending will guarantee a lot more than just seven years of bad luck. Yet another Welles box office flop that now shines above the competition. In Blu-ray + DVD from the TCM Vault Collection.
1/28/14

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
Blu-ray

This early silent horror drama showcases the talents of John Barrymore, whose stage-based performance is dated yet brilliant -- and can still get to the sensitive viewer. A silent classic often shown in miserable, truncated versions, this reconstruction is almost complete, and covers Robert Louis Stevenson's entire story arc. With an excerpt from a competing 1920 version and two short subject versions of the story, one of them a spoof starring Stan Laurel. In Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
1/28/14

and

Fearless
Blu-ray

Jeff Bridges, Isabella Rossellini and Rosie Perez are exceptionally good in Peter Weir and Rafael Yglesias' tale of a man who survives a plane crash and emerges with a feeling of inner peace but also the disturbing belief that he's physically invulnerable. Are Bridges' rash actions evidence of derangement, or has he been liberated from the everyday fear that makes the rest of us behave in conventional ways? He dedicates himself to helping fellow crash survivor Perez escape a mire of depression and guilt, and puts his marriage in jeopardy. One of Peter Weir's best pictures and one of the best movies of the 1990s. In Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
1/28/14




Hello!

Some fun stuff going on, links-wise: Dick Dinman's empire of radio shows has two new instalments and for once I can link to them in a timely fashion. They are Salutes to "Mad World" Producer-director Stanley Kramer, Parts One and Two. The discussion of Kramer's films and his commitment to the issues of the day comes through Dinman's interview bites with Tony Curtis, Jonathan Winters, Abby Mann and Karen Kramer. Part one also has coverage of six recent Criterion discs.

Gary Teetzel forwards a link to a dinosaur movie few of us have heard or seen, the 1952 Mexican comedy El Bello Durmiente starring Germán Valdés, aka Tin Tan. It's an Alley-Oop type farce with silly slapstick, a sexy female lead and prehistoric monsters that dance the Mambo... well, sort of. The scene in question starts at 16 minutes in...

Another quick tip -- on Wednesday, Trailers from Hell is going to give us a trailer for a terrific sleazy-campy UA picture from the early 1950s, Wicked Woman. I wouldn't want you to miss that ...

Finally, I found this myself but that fact doesn't automatically make it bad. It's called Not Another Sundance Movie, and it's a parody of Independent Movie trailers. It's been up about ten days and almost a quarter of a million people have seen it, so it was about time for me to find it. It's good!

Thanks for reading --- Glenn Erickson



January 25, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

Taxi
DVD

Made just after his big gangster success, this show gives us James Cagney at his best, fighting thugs in a taxi war and hunting down the "dirty rat" that killed his brother. Oh, and Cagney also shows off his skill with Yiddish, which he learned as a boy in the New York tenements. Roy Del Ruth directs; co-starring are Loretta Young, George E. Stone and in a tiny part as a dance contestant, George Raft. In DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.
1/25/14


The Killing Fields
Blu-ray

Roland Joffé's adult epic uses a true personal tragedy to tell the greater story of the 1970s genocide perpetrated by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, an unexpected consequence of the Vietnam War. Sam Waterston and Dr. Haing S. Ngor play journalists covering the civil war, who stay to see the rebels take over. The American reporter can do nothing when his Cambodian friend is arrested and sent to a succession of Khmer extermination camps. Beautifully filmed, the story manages an upbeat ending that's true to historical fact. In Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
1/25/14

and

Throne of Blood
Blu-ray + DVD

Starring Toshiro Mifune, Akira Kurosawa's stylized adaptation of Shakespeare's MacBeth has been lauded as the best filmic adaptation of Shakespeare ever -- the Japanese master shifts the particulars to Shogunate times but adds his own visual flourishes and dramatic scenes of violence. A huge hit overseas as well, it contains the unforgettable scene of Mifune cornered by hundreds of arrows -- not a special effect, but real arrows shot by real archers. A Dual-Format edition in Blu-ray and DVD from The Criterion Collection.
1/25/14




Hello!

I'm pretty much backed up to deadline here so I won't pause for a big column... except to say a couple of things. Over at the World Cinema Paradise page is posted an interview I did with Greg Kintz of The 3-D Film Archive,, about Twilight Time's new 3-D Blu-ray of Man in the Dark. The other new articles at WCP are worth checking out as well.

The TCM Vault Collection Blu-ray / DVD for The Lady from Shanghai magically appeared a couple of days ago. DVD Beaver was kind of hard on the release, which certainly played fine for me and is the best I've seen the movie. And I'm excited that TCM Vault has jumped to Blu-ray -- although I wish they could made the leap for last year's disc of Billy Wilder's Five Graves to Cairo and A Foreign Affair. Yes, the extras are thin but that's the drill with TCM Vault. This one does have a commentary.

The only real foo-paw that tripped me up was the disc packaging, which is the size of a DVD case and doesn't even say "Blu-ray" on the front. I wrote Gary Teetzel saying that I was sad that they only sent a DVD copy -- when other companies pull this switcheroo on me I'm usually not amused. "Uh, Glenn" Gary answered, "There is no straight DVD release. What you have ought to carry both formats." THAT'S how I found out how good TCM had been to me. Expect a glowing review of The Lady from Shanghai on Tuesday.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



January 20, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

Martin Scorsese's
World Cinema Project

Blu-ray + DVD

This opening volley of restored international movie delights from The World Cinema Project was personally chosen by Scorsese - six features produced on several continents, from the 1930s to the 1980s: Touki-Bouki, Redes, A River Called Titas, Dry Summer, Trances and The Housemaid. They include epic dramas, a chilling thriller and a post-modern tale of lovers on the run. Each title comes with a short docu and an on-screen introduction. A Dual-Format edition in Blu-ray and DVD from The Criterion Collection.
1/20/14

and

Man in the Dark 3-D
Blu-ray + 3-D

The first major studio release of the 1953 3-D craze was this gimmicky noir from Columbia, which packs a brain operation, amnesia and a hunt for stolen loot, not to mention hallucinatory flashbacks and dream sequences. Edmond O'Brien thinks he's had his 'criminal tendencies' surgically removed, but the scalpel just makes him into a defenseless target for his old cronies in crime. Prime noir femme fatale Audrey Totter is the good/bad girl assigned to ply him with kisses. Blu-ray and 3-D versions included, from Twilight Time.
1/20/14





Hello!


Today I've got another two-review post, which actually carries multiple reviews -- a total of seven titles. Every desirable January 21 disc seems to have arrived at once, and although some of my basic reviews are already prepared, I don't want to rush anything. Savant Central remains the first stop for my reviews but I'll put notices up for a couple others as well.


In addition, the Warner Archive Collection has forwarded some interesting new titles, including the new Blu-ray of a '90s favorite, Fearless with Jeff Bridges and Rosie Perez. Add to that the highly desirable Twilight Time epics Zulu and Khartoum licensed from MGM and The Criterion Collection's amazing monster set for It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and I can see myself happily typing away for quite a few hours in the next week.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



January 18, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

I Cannibali
(The Year of the Cannibals)

Blu-ray

Liliana Cavani whips up a political protest film by re-imagining Sophocles' Antigone in an alternate-universe Milan ruled by a faceless dictatorship. The bodies of thousands of rebels lie dead in the streets, with a death sentence mandated for whomever as much as touches one. Britt Eklund's principled protester defies the warnings to give the bodies decent burials. Youth rebellion icon Pierre Clementí is a Stranger in a Strange Land who goes on the run with her when the authorities strike back. Not seen in a decent copy since it was new (or so I am told), Cavani's picture appears in a flawless colorful Techniscope encoding, and features a fierce theme song by Ennio Morricone: "Call me a cannibal! I won't DIE!" In Blu-ray from Raro Video / Kino Lorber.
1/18/14

and

The Jerry Warren Collection
Volume 1

Man Beast, Curse of the Stone Hand,
The Wild World of Batwoman

DVD

Zero-reputation filmmaker Jerry Warren gives us three of his more notable cinematic... uh... offerings. Man Beast is a fairly competent Abdominal Snowman epic, while Warren's ham-fisted "editing" of Curse of the Stone Hand makes celluloid cole slaw out of what appear to have been good South American mystery thrillers. The Wild World of Batwoman is silly bone-headed fun, fascinating for Warren's delusion that he could rip off the Bat-mania franchise and get away with it. And don't forget, these gems are posted as a "Positively No Refunds Triple Feature!" Some interesting extras. too. In DVD from VCI.
1/18/14




Hello!

A bit belated on my part, but Dick Dinman has uploaded a trio of radio shows about the late, great Eleanor Parker at his growing library of DVD Classics Corner On the Air attractions. Eleanor Parker's Interrupted Melody accompanies a new Warner Archive Disc; three-time Oscar nominated best actress Eleanor Parker explains in detail the incredible challenges she faced in her portrayal of opera singer Marjorie Lawrence. Eleanor Parker's Favorite (and least favorite!) Leading Man explains itself -- the discussion includes Gable, Flynn, Bogart, Sinatra, Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Heston and MacMurray. Frank Sinatra: A Tribute to the (Acting) Chairman of the Board fits in here because Ms. Parker and Robert Osborne join Dick Dinman to discuss Sinatra's acting career.

Stuart Galbraith's new World Cinema Paradise site has my new review of Kino's silent Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde disc, as well as other new articles by writers Stephen Bowie, Anthony Balducci, Dusty Somers, Duane Epstein and Stuart himself.

I'm accruing a growing list of responses to my earlier Column article about mislabeled and misleading Sony product sold in big-box store bargain bins; and am looking for the right way to present them. I may give it another week and then post them behind the old review for Harryhausen's The Three Worlds of Gulliver. Recent pressings of this title have burned more than one Savant reader.

And finally, Shout! Factory / Scream Factory made good on a promise from last November, and sent me a review copy of the much desired Vincent Price - Poe Collection on Blu-ray. Since my review will be roughly two months late, I'm working on a spin that will make it a useful read even if you already own the disc set. Those Corman-Poe pictures are looking better than ever.

Oh, one last thing before I forget. Over at Greenbriar Picture Shows (scroll back to 1/13/2014) John McElwee knocked me out with his profile of sexy French actress' Simone Simon's first attempt to break into Hollywood. The more I read about this woman the more desirable she gets! What are movie stars about, if not for (as Raymond Durgnat said) worshipping at various altars of cinematic lust? This is what I mean when I write a female star's name like this: Barbara (swoon) Steele, or Jane (swoon) Greer.

SPECIAL NOTE: Correspondent Matthew Rovner, could you get in touch with me? It's important, and the email I have for you doesn't seem to be working...

Thanks for reading! Glenn (cough) Erickson



January 13, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

Captain Phillips
Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet

Paul Greenglass makes a suspenseful and thoughtful picture out of a real 2009 piracy event on the high seas. Tom Hanks is the workaday captain whose enormous container ship is boarded by armed Somalis demanding millions in ransom. It's a war of nerves: Phillips tries not to make a fatal mistake, and the Somali pirate leader (Barkhad Abdi) grows more desperate as the U.S. Navy closes in on all sides. I'm glad Abdi got that Golden Globe nomination... In Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
1/14/14

Royal Flash
Blu-ray

Malcolm McDowell is the cowardly dastard Harry Flashman, whose exploits in Her Majesty's Service pit him against Otto von Bismarck and take him into the arms of Lola Montés, the hottest playgirl of the 19th century. Richard Lester overloads the irreverent epic with slapstick, but help from supporting actors Oliver Reed and Alan Bates puts it over the top. Also with Florinda Bolkan and Britt Eklund. This disk has all the TT bells and whistles, including Ken Thorne's music in an Isolated Music Score. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
1/14/14

and

Young America
DVD MOD

A Fox pre-Code from Frank Borzage about juvenile delinquency. Pharmacist Spencer Tracy predicts disaster when his wife Doris Kenyon offers their home to a lawbreaking "bad apple" orphan. The kid wants to do the right thing, but an impoverished background, abusive relatives and inflexible authorites have it in for him. I mean, all he does is steal cars. Kid actor Jimmy Conlon steals the show, which uses every sentimental and melodramatic trick in the book. In DVD-Rom from 20th Century Fox Cinema Archives.
1/14/14




Hello!

A quick note, first: for Los Angeles folk, the New Beverly Theater will be showing a double bill of Son of Frankenstein and House of Frankenstein next week. I mention it here because on Sunday night, January 19th organizer Scott Essman will be moderating a panel with notable experts and lifelong superfans Bill Warren, Donald F. Glut and Ted Newsom. Monster heirs Sara Karloff and Bela Lugosi, Jr. will be present as well. I've not heard of these two Frankenstein sequels being revived in recent memory, and the special guests should make it a memorable evening.


Secondly, Godzilla fans with small kids, or fans that secretly behave like small kids (who, me?) will want to check out a Gary Teetzel- forwarded link to The Godzilla Interactive Illustration at Deviant Art. And I suggest you check it out before (shhh!) the long arm of Toho does something about it. Designer Aaron John Gregory has concocted some cute animation that plays when one clicks on various parts of the image (hint: the signs).


Now to subject #3. Savant hears plenty of reader complaints about discs, most of which unfortunately fall under the category of, "that's how things are". But I have been made more sensitive to which products have subtitles and which do not, for the benefit of the hearing impaired movie fans being discriminated against in the current 'no extras' trend. However, a few days ago correspondent Bill Groves hit me with an issue that makes me mad too: he claims that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has been packaging flat film transfers in boxes indicating widescreen versions. When buttonholed on the bait 'n' switch tactic practice, they answered with an infuriatingly insulting rationalization.

Bill thinks SPHE has gone with a strategy of product mislabeling as a means to liquidate stocks of old pan-scan discs (certainly less marketable with the advent of widescreen TVs) by packaging them in cases containing the same paper inserts used for widescreen versions. Why spend $ to print new, correct labels? He's now been burned twice in this way. The discs are commonly sold at low prices, but that's no excuse for intentional mislabeling.

The first instance was when Groves picked up a copy of Walter Hill's Geronimo from a discount bin at Big Lots. The insert indicated that it was a two-sided disc containing both the widescreen and full screen versions. But inside was a one-sided disc containing only the full screen. When Groves e-mailed and called Sony about this, they initially shrugged it off by saying that the widescreen version was no longer available, as if that justified the fraud.

When that didn't satisfy Bill, they pointed to the little disclaimer that indicates that information contained in the specs grid may not be applicable to special features. So suddenly, the main feature title was to be considered a "special feature." Apart from the obvious absurdity of this defense, the package listed another reference to the widescreen version being on side B, outside the specs grid. When Groves pointed out the failure of this argument, communication ceased.

Crudely stated, prevarications like this one reminds me of the old phrase, "They're pissing down my back and telling me it's raining." Big Daddy was less crude: "There's a heap 'o mendacity goin' on here."

Bill Groves then picked up a copy of The 3 Worlds of Gulliver. No room for misinterpretation on that one. It plainly stated that it was the widescreen version. No reference to there being more than one version of the film on the disc. This second time Sony did not respond at all.

Groves knows that $3 or $5 for a bargain bin disc may not seem like a big deal, but it's not pleasant to think of how many of these fraudulent discs (of who knows how many titles) are being sold in outlets like Big Lots, Wal-Mart, etc. It's dumping an inferior and undesirable product under false labeling.

They clearly feel that they can get away with it, as indicated by the E-mail text (as given to me by Bill Groves) from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Kevin Scott:

"Upon looking at the attachments you have sent us the area does say "Presented in WIDESCREEN and FULLSCREEN versions". However, above that area and directly to the right of where "SPECIAL FEATURES" are printed on the back of the movie case is a disclaimer that states, "Some of the information in the grid below may not apply to special features." In this case unfortunately the widescreen edition is not available to this title.

As per the other issue where it is only a single-sided disc as opposed to the dual-sided disc, this also falls under a "special features" category and is not available in a dual sided format."

That last sentence reads to me as contemptible double-talk. The box says "widescreen" and "double-sided disc", but we have no right to expect those claims to be true. It's "read the small print", followed by "the small print can lie all it wants to, so there."

Assuming all the particulars are accurate, I'm 100% with Bill Groves on this one. There's no defense for this practice. A bargain-priced product does not grant a license to cheat the consumer. I've occasionally cheated myself by not reading the product description on a disc. But these examples are just plain fraud: "WIDESCREEN" in big letters, and a disclaimer that is clearly misleading. Savant doesn't jump on disc companies for the fun of it; it's more accurate that I'm probably too easy on them. I've been watching Sony / Columbia disc product closely from the beginning, and I've always been impressed by their attention to detail and the quality of the customer experience. This is pretty outrageous.

Bill Groves has asked me to inquire if other Savant readers have been burned like this.

With malice toward nobody, and Thanks for Reading! Glenn Erickson



January 11, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

More Than Honey
Blu-ray

Marvelous macro-cinematography highlights this survey and health report on the state of bees in the world, from the ways they are domesticated to their crucial function in pollinating flowering plants. We see old methods of keeping them and newer, mass production methods. All factors are considered in answering the question, why are bees dying out? If you don't like bees, think again. A massive species kill-off is happening right now, and these insects may be the tipping point for a collapse of the ecosystem. In Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.
1/11/14

Sabata
All Region Blu-ray + Region 2 DVD

UK correspondent Lee Broughton sinks his reviewing spurs into another classy Italo western import starring Lee Van Cleef. Gianfranco Parolini's comic western brings in elements of the circus, along with trapeze-worthy stunt work. Van Cleef's snake-eye stares are out to uncover yet more dirty doings in a frontier town. With William Berger. An All Region Blu-ray + Region 2 DVD from Explosive Media GmbH.
1/11/14

and

Vivacious Lady
DVD-R

Nightclub chanteuse Ginger Rogers marries gangly botany professor James Stewart after knowing him just a few hours, but family circumstances in his college town prevent them from announcing their marriage. Stewart's just finding his screen persona but Rogers is in full control -- the best material is her running battle with Stewart's clueless, insulting fianceé, which culminates in one of the screen's funniest catfights. Starring Charles Coburn, Beulah Bondi and James Ellison, the picture was both produced and directed by George Stevens, in full-on screwball mode. In DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.
1/11/14




Hello!

The Film Noir Foundation's touring noir screening series appears to be going international this year, dipping into the French, Italian and Japanese classics that for adult content frequently outpaced domestic noir. They have an attractive new Noir City The International Edition Trailer up that shows a tempting selection of exotic film clips. Irresistible!

This The Independent article Alfred Hitchcock's Unseen Holocaust Documentary To Be Screened is about the restoration/reconstruction of a film prepared by Alfred Hitchcock on the Nazi Death Camps. Author Geoffrey MacNab calls it unseen but it did show twice on PBS starting back in 1985, under the title Memories of the Camps. I know because I taped it and have kept it for 28 years. I even think I've discussed it in some footnote in an earlier Savant review somewhere.

The purposely raw-looking show was actually broadcast in very good condition. It grouped footage taken during the liberation of several concentration camps, all horrible hellholes but some more visually disturbing than others. The worst content is evidence of sadistic murders, some committed with flamethrowers, carried out by SS guards as they fled. Memories of the Camps was never formally finished or screened. The PBS copy has no ending because somebody spliced out the final chapter on Auschwitz, presumably to be edited for some other purpose. My mind always runs to the footage seen in Judgment at Nuremburg, but some scenes had appeared previously, in other docus. According to MacNab, this missing end chapter has been located and restored.

What bugs me is that the effective original narration by Trevor Howard will not be used for the new restoration. MacNab reports that Howard's voice has a sardonic understatement, but it's also sensitive and thoughtful. It's also the REAL narration with real HISTORICAL VALUE, so it irks me that it will be replaced. I realize that Howard's track for the Auschwitz section may not have survived. What we hear could have been a temporary track, but it sounds pretty final to me. The way the filmmakers approached the problem of narrating this difficult-to-watch footage is more than half of the story; a new voiceover will make the footage just another Holocaust compilation.

Hitchcock's name is already being used to draw attention to the movie, which seems opportunistic to me. Without knowing for sure, it may be that the director had only a supervisory role to play. To suggest that the show has a special interest for Hitchcock fans is pretty distasteful. In fact, the repackaging of the show (new title; tie-in with a new docu by the filmmaker of The Act of Killing) seems distasteful. PBS presented the show almost without comment beyond a simple disclaimer. To me, that was the right way to go.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



January 06, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

Many Wars Ago
(Uomini contro)

Blu-ray

Francesco Rosi's anti-WW1 movie stakes its own claim in Kubrick / Paths of Glory territory. On the Austrian Front, Lieutenants Mark Frechette (of Zabriskie Point) and Gian Maria Volonté must carry out the orders of an elitist General, an incompetent whose obsolete strategies cause untold casualties, and who covers for his idiocy by finding excuses to execute his own men. Adapted from a famous novel, the film trashes the notion of proud military tradition, and quietly advocates mutiny. Beautifully filmed by Pasqualino de Santis, music by Piero Piccioni. In Blu-ray from Kino Lorber / Rarovideo.
1/07/14

Corruption
Blu-ray + DVD

Peter Cushing must have thought he wandered onto the wrong film set! The dean of quality British horror plays a blood-soaked surgeon who decapitates writhing female victims to restore his girlfriend's rosy complexion. In this smorgasbord of sleaze our beloved, upstanding Peter wrestles with nude women and wields a scalpel like Jack the Ripper, all because of a grossly traumatic mid-life crisis. He should have gotten a sports car. The dual-disc set includes both the domestic version, a far rougher International cut with alternate scenes, and a surfeit of creative extras. In Blu-ray + DVD from Grindhouse Releasing.
1/07/14

and

Lee Daniels' The Butler
Blu-ray

This well-acted, emotionally valid drama is a-far-from factual account of the life of Cecil Gaines, White House Butler to at least seven Presidents. The scenes in the Oval Office are crazy, what with some really odd Presidential impersonations and a script that gives forty years of American history a sketchy once-over wax job. But the personal story, with Gaines reacting to his son's involvement in the Civil Rights movement, is very well done. With Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr. and a string of not-even-close and forget-the-cigar Presidents. Robin Wiliams as Eisenhower? But hey, Minka Kelly's Jackie Kennedy is spot on. Very entertaining, and frequently moving. In Blu-ray from Weinstein/Anchor Bay.
1/07/14




Hello!

We still have bright, clear skies here in Los Angeles. Usually we have one day like this after a rain and then the haze and pollutants creep back in. But this time the postcard-worthy weather has been hanging in there for two full weeks. Several members of my family are back East, in conditions that I cannot possibly imagine -- I hope they're adapting well.

Over at Trailers from Hell, Chris Wilkinson is commenting on the trailer for Groundhog Day, which ought to be everyone's favorite movie. Trailers and commentary for Time After Time and Peggy Sue Got Married arrive later in the week.

Looking at the calendar, I'm expecting Twilight Time's Khartoum and the original Zulu, plus Criterion's extended version of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World to come waltzing in the door this month, along with Blu-rays of Rififi chez les hommes (Criterion) and I canniballi (Kino). Kino's More than Honey will be up soon, along with (hopefully) Fox's Sunrise Blu. Fox can be fickle, but they've been good to me lately.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



January 03, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Beast of Hollow Mountain
and
The Neanderthal Man

Blu-ray + DVD

It's a pair of early prehistoric '50s monster romps that collectors go nuts over, transferred in the luxury of HD. One is a hybrid western/sci-fi epic about a frisky Allosaurus trying to eat Guy Madison and Patricia Medina -- its odd stop-motion animation is misleadingly billed as "Regiscope", but it is in color and CinemaScope. The other is a very early Z-grade horror with terrible effects and a weak mask for its title character. Robert Shayne is the rather rape-happy ape-beast, and beautiful Beverly Garland will bust your eardrums with her 99 decibel screams. The perfectly preserved HD image lets us admire the dime-store fakery of it all. In other words, it's irresistible. A Blu-ray + DVD Double Feature from Scream Factory.
1/04/14

The Big Gundown
Blu-ray + DVD

Sergio Sollima's grade-A spaghetti western raises Lee Van Cleef to leading man status and introduces Tomas Milian to the genre. Ennio Morricone's superb score is in place as well as a new 'political' attitude being felt in Italo thrillers. Savant's review compares and contrasts this first authorized U.S. region release with the excellent German version from last year. In Blu-ray + DVD from Grindhouse Releasing.
1/04/14

and

Stella Dallas
DVD

Another remastered vintage Goldwyn title, and it just happens to be the champion 'women's weepie' feature of all time. Barbara Stanwyck is the "lower class" small town girl who nabs a social aristocrat on the skids. When things get better and their daughter grows up, she finds that she no longer fits in his world -- or the daughter's. Top direction by King Vidor. Owners of earlier discs should take note -- this new pressing also carries the entire silent version of the film, starring Ronald Colman and Belle Bennett. From Warner Home Video.
1/04/14




Hello!

I've got some fun links today. Savant correspondent and busy blogger Kyu Hyun Kim has written a great article with his top disc picks for 2013 -- his choices are excellent and his reasons are sound. The article is over at a site called Q Branch.

Meanwhile, correspondent Dan Dorman makes a case for questionable remake practices, with a visual comparison of openings of Superman: The Movie (1978) and Man of Steel (2013). It's over at Dan's Cinema Is Dead page.

I've been shown an interesting Disney Film from 1968 online at Open Culture, an interesting public education film called Family Planning. The subject is the stuff of extremist revolt now, but Disney created this sane show to be translated into dozens of languages for worldwide viewing. Donald Duck is in for some stupid duck tricks, and the message was probably rejected by every fundamentalist, male-dominated culture on the globe, but it's a good effort. The page links to at least one other Disney sex-related educational film as well.

I have received at least TWENTY emails from avid fans of John Carter so I guess I'm not alone out there. Either that, or I've alienated readers that don't subscribe to my general taste in film. Thanks, I feel like less of a freak now. I mean, even my close associate Gary Teetzel was underwhelmed by the movie. But we don't always agree, which is good.

Over at World Cinema Paradise, my review for Kino's Blu-ray of the docu More Than Honey went up a couple of days ago. And Stuart Galbraith IV has added several more new articles, including his own best of 2013 review.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson


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

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