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Favorite Discs of 2013

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

Saturday September 20, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

The 'Burbs
Region B Blu-ray

  Joe Dante and Tom Hanks have a scary good time in a comedy-horror thriller that forges its own offbeat style. Three judgment-challenged neighbors let their imaginations get out of hand when they decide that the weird foreigners in the creepy house next door may be serial-killing maniacs. With an eclectic sense of humor that veers from slapstick to replays of old cultural forms -- like the conventions of old TV shows -- the show is packed with unexpected laughs and surprises. Aiding and abetting Hanks are Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, Rick Ducommun, Wendy Schaal and Corey Feldman, with an assist from jolly old Gale Gordon and The Poodle With No Name. In Region B Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

The Dogs of War

  On-task mercenary tough guy Christopher Walken is beaten senseless during a reconnaisance/spy trip to a corrupt African dictatorship. He returns with a fighting force to kill the president and seize the country for a European platinum consortium. Tom Berenger, Colin Blakely and JoBeth Williams star in Frederick Forsythe's tale of international piracy, directed by John Irvin. The encoding contains both the theatrical and longer international cuts, and Jack Cardiff's cinematography looks great in HD. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

The Innocents

  Celebrated as one of the most elegant and sophisticated horror films ever, Jack Clayton's adaptation of the Henry James tale seeks to be ambiguous about its ghosts and phantoms. Nervous nanny Deborah Kerr takes charge of two wealthy orphans (Pamela Franklin & Martin Stephens) and soon comes to believe that they are under the perverse influence of deceased servants. Featuring the much-admired cinematography of Freddie Francis, in razor-sharp Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.


Hangmen Also Die!

  Fritz Lang's noirish war thriller invents a complex conspiracy to dramatize the resistance of Czech patriots to their German occupiers, who are executing forty hostages per day. Brian Donlevy's patriot-assassin refuses to give himself up, while the daughter of a hostage discovers why resisting the Nazis is essential to the defense of humanity. Restored in HD, this disc also restores a crucial missing minute from the film's climax. In Blu-ray from The Cohen Film Collection.


A good stack of reviews today ... as you can see, Hangmen Also Die! arrived today. So did more discs from just about every distributor, so I'm having a great time working my way through. Couldn't be more fun if they were made of chocolate.

The Warner Archive tally includes some desired titles Arrowsmith, Drum Beat, The Moonshine War and another bunch I've never seen: The Hunted, Lolly Madonna XXX, Nasty Habits and The White Tower. And I'm setting aside a special time to watch perhaps the last outstanding bit of Sam Peckinpah I've not seen before, the teleplay he directed of Noon Wine, which is on the Twilight Time disc of The Killer Elite. So this is going to be an important screening week.

Over at Trailers from Hell they've just finished with trailers for three Budd Boetticher / Randolph Scott Ranown westerns. The newest is Ride Lonesome, with commentary by John Sayles !

Have some extra money? Go put in your bids for prime memorabilia at the Ray Bradbury Estate Sale. Pictured above is the original Saturday Evening Post artwork for Bradbury's short story "The Fog Horn". Bradbury even kept a piece of artwork painted by Savant associate Mike Hyatt, from 1968!

Thanks for reading! -- Glenn Erickson

Tuesday September 16, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Tragedy of

by William Shakespeare


  Roman Polanski's superlative film adaptation emerges as a grisly tale about the horrors of blind ambition. Incredible production values, great acting and razor-sharp direction -- it's one of his best. With Jon Finch and Francesca Annis as the murderous Thane and his scheming wife. Fine extras collect old featurettes and TV shows, plus a new interview documentary. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Across 110th Street

  It's not Blaxploitation, but a pure gangster drama that skips social messages in favor of straight-up action and suspense. When three gunmen take the mob for $300,000, the Mafia Don orders that Harlem be taught an ugly, violent lesson. Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto are the stars but there's great acting from Anthony Franciosa, Paul Benjamin, Ed Bernard, Antonio Fargas, Richard Ward, Norma Donaldson, and Marlene Warfield. Major bonus: a Tarantino-approved soundtrack by Bobby Womack and J.J. Johnson. In Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Black Sunday
Black Sabbath
U.S. Release Versions


  Now Kino releases a double bill of Mario Bava horror pix in their U.S. versions, as released by American-International in 1961 and 1963. Les Baxter's replacement music score is a big improvement for Sunday, and in Sabbath we finally get to hear Boris Karloff's own voice, performing in English. A.I.P. did major editorial surgery on both pictures. It's interesting to see how they reworked one horror episode that originally had a lesbian theme. In Blu-ray from Kino Classics.


Ghostbusters II
30th Anniversary Edition

Blu-ray + Digital Download

  For the 30th, Sony trots out new transfers and adds new extras with nostalgic memories from Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd. The original Ghostbusters is still fall-down funny, while the passing of time has been kind to the more family oriented and 'Yuppie-fied' Ghostbusters II. Number two is also a completely integrated sequel, with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson and David Margulies all returning. With beaucoup extras. Blu-ray + Digital Download from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.


Yes, yes, I'm running late again. These four reviews were more intensive than usual -- especially when one writes an entire piece and then thinks, "do you really believe anything you just wrote? Try starting over." I'm just the starting-over kind of guy, but I think it paid off. I studied the Mario Bava pictures in extra detail, and I changed my mind completely about the merits of Ghostbusters II ... it's a pretty good movie.

Today's big news is from faithful correspondent Edward Sullivan .... on November 17, the BFI is releasing a Region B Blu-ray of The Day the Earth Caught Fire, a confirmed Savant favorite and one of the best British sci-films ever. It may be director Val Guest's best as well, and certainly his most creative. Anyhow, the prospect of seeing it in HD is enough to make it this year's Can't Wait Movie, to replace last year's The Sicilian Clan. Here's Amazon U.K.'s listing. Ed also forwards an interesting BFI article, Panic On the Streets of London. For me, the bizarre weather phenomena in Caught Fire seem strongly related to our new awareness of Global Warming.

Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson

  David Lynch's head split open and let loose all these murky, morbid and gross dreams -- in a unique avant-garde picture that secured him one of the oddest of film careers. Jack Nance suffers through a Fatherhood from Hell, an unending, unendurable purgatory of misery and grotesque hallucinations. Is the Angriest Dog in the World tied up out back? Lynch appears to control the extras, which include six of his short subjects plus some unexpectedly candid video and text interviews. Oh, and the B&W cinematography is much improved, in Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

The Buddy Holly Story
  This 1978 musical bio skates over the details but taps the essence of the great Buddy Holly, starting with Gary Busey's inspiring performance. The smartest move is that Busey, Don Stroud and Charlie Martin Smith actually play and sing the Holly songs live for the camera. There's no fat in this telling of the boy's brief but bright career. We love the scenes that establish the public hostility to Rock 'n' Roll, and Holly and the Crickets' awkward, hilarious New York debut before an all-black audience at the Apollo Theater. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

The Death Kiss
  Talk about a cult picture that proves the strength of a cult star: Bela Lugosi has third billing, few dialogue lines and only twelve minutes of screen time in what isn't even a horror movie. We instead get a not-bad murder mystery on a Hollywood film set, with Lugosi only one of a handful of likely suspects. Horror fans will note that the real stars are David Manners and Edward Van Sloan, Lugosi's co-stars in Dracula. With Adrienne Ames. In Blu-ray from Kino Classics.

The Big Operator
  Another Al Zugsmith howler, a crime film starring Mickey Rooney as labor racketeer Little Joe Braun. He's the kind of guy who has his political rivals tossed into a cement mixer. The cast is just plain goofy -- Steve Cochran and Mel Tormé are lowbrow machinists, Mamie Van Doren is a modest housewife and sinister Ray Danton is an incompetent hit man who likes to set people on fire. Zugsmith adheres to the chicken soup theory of filmmaking -- keep dropping eccentric people into the mix, like Vampira and Jackie Coogan. In Blu-ray from Olive Films.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden
  Illustrated with photos and movies from over 85 years ago, we see unfold the true drama of German pioneers on an uninhabited island in the Galapagos. A malcontent intellectual and his girlfriend, a homesteading family and a sexually liberated 'Baroness' with her two lover/consorts all seek differing notions of 'paradise'. They eventually clash in a mysterious mix of violence and unexplained disappearances. The absorbing true story is brilliantly assembled from diaries, news accounts and the testimonies of other Galapagos residents, witnesses to the strange events. In DVD from Zeitgeist Films.

The Great Race
  Blake Edwards' most lavish production takes Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Natalie Wood on an epic, around-the-world automobile race. The extravagant, saga-length spoof of silent comedies contains an elaborate Wild West excursion, not to mention a farcical re-staging of the entire The Prisoner of Zenda, on a scale more vast than the classic originals. With Peter Falk, Keenan Wynn and the music of Henry Mancini. Remastered in Blu-ray for The Warner Archive Collection.

Distant Drums
  Raoul Walsh and Gary Cooper team up for this independently produced battle epic about the historic Seminole Wars. Forget Indian politics, as this 1951 costume thriller casts its Native Americans as enemies, plain and simple. Coop's punitive raid against Spanish villains selling flintlocks to the Seminoles is one long combat in the swamps. Mari Aldon and Arthur Hunnicutt co-star, but the real attraction are the Florida locations in Sid Hickox's terrific Technicolor cinematography, here reproduced perfectly in HD. Great fun! In Blu-ray from Olive Films.

God's Pocket
  Actor-director John Slattery top-bills his Mad Men co-star Christina Hendricks in a dark, nearly absurd story of small-time scheming and crime in a godforsaken borough of Philadelphia where everybody's got a racket. In one of his last performances, Philip Seymour Hoffman tries to keep his unhappy wife from bolting by finding out what really happened to her dead son, the victim of a workplace accident. When he pulls in a favor from his partner in thievery John Turturro, the mob gets involved. But newspaperman Richard Jenkins is assigned to the story, and when he sees Hendricks' desperate housewife, he goes after her as well. It's less a black comedy than a gritty update of an old-style Loser Noir... I liked it. In Blu-ray from MPI /IFC.

September 2014
 Queen Margot  Blu-ray  Seizure  Blu-ray  The Secret of Santa Vittoria  Blu-ray  Captain America: The Winter Soldier  Blu-ray  Juggernaut  Blu-ray  Vengeance is Mine  Blu-ray  What's New Pussycat  Blu-ray  Follow that Dream  Blu-ray
August 2014
 Man Hunt  Blu-ray  High School Confidential!  Blu-ray  Out of the Clear Blue Sky  7 Faces of Dr. Lao  On the Beach  Blu-ray  Testament  Arch of Triumph  Blu-ray   Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!  Blu-ray  Call Her Savage  Pickpocket  Blu-ray  Out of the Past  Blu-ray  The Unforgiven  Blu-ray  Wildcat Bus  The Essential Jacques Demy: Lola, Bay of Angels, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort, Donkey Skin and Une chambre en ville  Blu-ray  Bankers of God: The Calvi Affair  Blu-ray  Marty  Blu-ray  Performance  Blu-ray  Scanners  Blu-ray
July 2014
 Werner Herzog, The Collection: Even Dwarfs Started Small, The Land of Silence and Darkness, Fata Morgana, Aguirre the Wrath of God, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Heart of Glass, Strozek, Woyzeck, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Fitzcarraldo, Ballad of the Little Soldier, Where the Green Ants Dream, Cobra Verde, Lessons of Darkness, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, My Best Fiend  Blu-ray  Savant Article: Military Boomer Movie Confessions  Dark Crimes Volume Two: Ministry of Fear, You and Me, Undertow, Hollywood Story  Paris Blues  Blu-ray  Born Yesterday  Blu-ray  Witness for the Prosecution  Blu-ray  Hearts and Minds  Blu-ray  Violent Saturday  Blu-ray  The North Star + Armored Attack!  Blu-ray  The Scalphunters  Blu-ray  The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes  Blu-ray  Caught  Blu-ray  Picnic at Hanging Rock  Blu-ray  Woman's World  The Lost Moment  Blu-ray  I Vinti (The Vanquished)  Blu-ray  The Time Machine  Blu-ray  A Hard Day's Night  Blu-ray
June 2014
 Operation Petticoat  Blu-ray  Judex  Blu-ray + DVD  Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid  Blu-ray  L'eclisse  Blu-ray  World on a Wire  Blu-ray  Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison  Blu-ray  All that Heaven Allows  Blu-ray  What Price Hollywood?  Crack-Up  The Train  Blu-ray  The Great Flood  The Man from Laramie  Blu-ray  Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq  Kismet  Blu-ray  The Max Linder Slapstick Symposium Collection  Home of the Brave  Blu-ray  Sullivan's Travels  Region B Blu-ray  Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide  The Nutty Professor 50th Anniversary  Blu-ray  Weekend of a Champion  Bible Quiz
May 2014
 Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?  Prime Cut  Blu-ray  Here Comes the Navy  Red River  Blu-ray  Fate is the Hunter  Blu-ray  Warner World War II Collection: The Big Red One, Where Eagles Dare, The Dirty Dozen, George Stevens D-Day to Berlin (DVD), Memphis Belle, Battle of the Bulge, Defiance  Blu-ray  Two Rode Together  Blu-ray  Johnny Come Lately  Blu-ray  The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou  Blu-ray  The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection: South Pacific, The Sound of Music, State Fair, The King and I, Carousel, Liliom, Oklahoma!  Blu-ray  Monte Walsh  Blu-ray  Overlord  Blu-ray  Flying Tigers  Blu-ray  Il sorpasso  Blu-ray  The Flying Dutchman  Thunderbirds are GO! &  Thunderbird 6  Blu-ray  Wild at Heart  Blu-ray  Memphis Belle  Blu-ray  Ace in the Hole  Blu-ray + DVD  Midnight Lace  White Zombie  Blu-ray + DVD  A Brief History of Time  Blu-ray  Forever Amber  Sorcerer  Blu-ray  Backlash  All-Region Blu-ray  Nosferatu the Vampyre  Blu-ray  The Wind and the Lion  Blu-ray  The Inspector Lavardin Collection  Blu-ray  Show Boat  Professor Mamlock  Dante's Inferno  The Trials of Muhammad Ali
April 2014
 All the King's Men  Blu-ray  The Revengers  Blu-ray  Young at Heart  Blu-ray  The Freshman  Blu-ray + DVD  Get Carter  Blu-ray  King of the Hill  Blu-ray + DVD  Man Without a Star  All-Region Blu-ray  Broadway Danny Rose  Blu-ray  Disco & Atomic War  The Pawnbroker  Blu-ray  Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation  Blu-ray  Touch of Evil  Blu-ray  Used Cars  Blu-ray  Villain  Double Indemnity  Blu-ray  Wonderwall  Blu-ray  Let the Fire Burn  Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia  Blu-ray  The People versus Paul Crump  Men in War  Blu-ray   Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics IV: So Dark The Night, Johnny O'Clock, Walk A Crooked Mile, Between Midnight And Dawn, Walk East On Beacon!  Stranger on the Prowl  Blu-ray  Providence  Region 2 DVD  King Kong vs Godzilla  Blu-ray  The Hidden Fortress  Blu-ray + DVD  Riot in Cell Block 11  Blu-ray  The Bamboo Saucer  Blu-ray  Hatari!  Blu-ray
March 2014
 The Killers (1964) Region B Blu-ray  The Eddy Duchin Story  Blu-ray  The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah  Cry Danger  Blu-ray  The Front  Blu-ray  The Swimmer  Blu-ray + DVD  Gunfight at the O.K. Corral  Blu-ray  Free and Easy + Estrellados  Roadblock  The Hunchback of Notre Dame  Blu-ray  Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom  Blu-ray  American Hustle  Blu-ray  The Americanization of Emily  Blu-ray  Thief  Blu-ray  Dead Kids Strange Behavior  Blu-ray  Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me Theatrical Review  The Nuisance  Invitation  5 Fingers  ...Et mourir de plaisir (...und vor Lust zu Sterben, Blood and Roses)  Region 2 DVD  Crimes and Misdemeanors  Blu-ray  Tess  Blu-ray + DVD  The Blue Max  Blu-ray  Foreign Correspondent  Blu-ray + DVD  Margin for Error  Jupiter's Darling
February 2014
 Thunderbolt and Lightfoot  Blu-ray  Thirst  Blu-ray  Du Rififi chez les hommes  Blu-ray + DVD  Heart of Darkness   Come Back, Africa - The Films of Lionel Rogosin, Volume 2  Blu-ray  Gravity  Blu-ray  Khartoum  Blu-ray  Savant Q&A Interview: Greg Kintz of The 3-D Film Archive on Man in the Dark  Dusty and Sweets McGee  Thor: The Dark World  Blu-ray  It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World  Blu-ray + DVD  This Woman is Dangerous  The Vincent Price Collection: The Fall of the House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum, The Haunted Palace, The Masque of the Red Death, Witchfinder General, The Abominable Dr. Phibes  Blu-ray  Million Dollar Baby  Blu-ray  Zulu  Blu-ray  Trans-Europ-Express  Blu-ray
January 2014
 Grey Gardens  Blu-ray  The Lady from Shanghai  Blu-ray  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)  Blu-ray  Fearless  Blu-ray  Taxi  The Killing Fields  Blu-ray  Throne of Blood  Blu-ray + DVD  Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project: Touki-Bouki, Redes, A River Called Titas, Dry Summer, Trances, The Housemaid  Blu-ray + DVD  Man in the Dark 3D  Blu-ray + 3-D  I Cannibali  Blu-ray  The Jerry Warren Collection Volume 1: Man Beast, Curse of the Stone Hand, The Wild World of Batwoman  Captain Phillips  Blu-ray  Royal Flash  Blu-ray  Young America  More Than Honey  Blu-ray  Sabata  Blu-ray + Region 2 DVD  Vivacious Lady  Many Wars Ago (Uomini contro)  Blu-ray  Corruption  Blu-ray  Lee Daniels' The Butler  Blu-ray  The Beast of Hollow Mountain  Blu-ray  The Neanderthal Man  Blu-ray  The Big Gundown Region A  Blu-ray  Stella Dallas

  Reaching further back in time?
A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2013
... and for 2012 ... and for 2011

 Savant's DVD Wish List FINAL NOTE 2012

Hundreds more Savant reviews at the Other End of this Link!


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

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