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[Savant Links] [Year Five Report]
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Tuesday August 30, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Fixed Bayonets!
KL Studio Classics

 Samuel Fuller's first picture under his Fox contract is a fine Korean War 'suicide squad' tale, filmed on a sound stage but looking quite authentic. Fuller brings his experience as an infantryman to the fore, while Richard Basehart and Gene Evans lead a fine cast -- Michael O'Shea, Skip Homeier ... it's one of Fuller's better-acted movies. Lots of cigars get chomped, and Gene Evans is actually named Sgt. Rock. A BIG plus is an excellent commentary with Michael Schlesinger hosting Christa Lang Fuller and Samantha Fuller, the director's wife and daughter. Between the three of them we get an in-depth look at this picture, and a lot more. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Tony Rome / Lady in Cement
Twilight Time

 It's ring-a-ding time, with producer-star Frank Sinatra and his cooperative director Gordon Douglas doing a variation on the hipster detective saga. The two Tony Rome pictures are lively and fun and chock-ful of borderline offensive content. The misogyny is rough enough, with the main running gag being smash-zooms into women's rear ends. And don't forget the scenes expressing contempt for gays. Yet even with the wince-inducing attitudes, Sinatra is quite good and has fine support across the two pictures: Richard Conte, Gena Rowlands, Simon Oakland in one, and Raquel Welch, Martin Gabel, Lanie Kazan and Dan Blocker in the other. Plus Jill St. John and Sue Lyon, who aren't so hot.. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.


American Ninja 3 Blood Hunt
Olive Films

 At the bitter end of a ten-year slide into ever- cheaper productions, The Cannon Group sends stars David Bradley (a nice guy), Steve James (everyone's favorite) and Marjoe Gortner (a stiff) to South Africa at the height of the Apartheid boycott, to film an anemic entry in the profitable series. The producer? Why Harry Allan Towers, of course. Cannon is considered a 'fun' subject this year because of those funny documentaries that came out. Savant cut the trailer for this particular picture, so takes the opportunity to talk about the wild life and times in the Cannon trailer department. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.


Along with everyone else I'm sorry to see favorite Gene Wilder go. Back in 1972, when I was an usher at the now-gone National Theater in Westwood, we saw a continuous string of actors -- Alan Alda, Claude Akins, etc.. When I offered Jane Fonda the assistant manager's office to change her baby's diaper, she gave me a really frosty, off-putting "Go away." Hmmph. The same summer the management installed one of the first 'Pong' games, a tall, futuristic-shaped thing with a B&W monitor that played the game up top, and a slot to put a quarter in. I guess Gene Wilder had no patience for the movie he was watching, for he came out and started playing Pong. He got $5.00 worth of quarters and went at it, with a little smile on his face. About ten minutes later, I think I said, 'So I guess you like that.' He gave me the friendliest sideways smile you could imagine, and said, 'Where did this come from? I really could get hooked on this.' He played like that for at least forty minutes, and nobody bothered him. He seemed utterly self-possessed and serene, not neurotic in the least. So that's my story for the day.

Not a lot of additional news today, just stuff I don't expect readers to care that much about, like my last-ditch effort to tame my disc collection. First step: buy some file boxes at Office Depot. We're going to make room in this house, if every 10th disc has to be up in the attic, gathering dust.

Just got in Criterion's disc of Jacques Tourneur's Cat People and will be checking it out tonight. It only looks so-so on DVD and the prints I saw back in the 1970s were incredibly subtle, just beautiful. So I hope the restoration will pop.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Saturday August 27, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Chimes at Midnight
The Criterion Collection

 aka Falstaff. Fans that lament Orson Welles' many career frustrations will flip over this Spanish-filmed masterpiece. Not well distributed when new and MIA for decades, it had serious audio problems when I saw it in the late '70s... but I could see what an accomplishment it was, even if I couldn't hear most of the dialogue. It's great -- right up there with Kane and Touch of Evil, and it features what is probably Welles' best acting. He is beyond perfect for this role. With John Gielgud, Keith Baxter, Jeanne Moreau and Margaret Rutherford. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Tab Hunter Confidential

 What's the right thing to say about a closeted movie career in an industry that feeds on gossip? There's plenty to say, if you're Tab Hunter. The 'fifties heartthrob breaks his silence with a remarkably candid and positive account of his astonishing, unique Hollywood experience. He comes off as charming as he does in his movies. The inside story on Hunter's personal life clears up a lot of cobwebs without trashing anybody. I guess this qualifies as an LGBT docu, but I related to it as a picture about a Hollywood 'pretty boy' with integrity, who found a way to sidestep the bigotry. Highly entertaining, funny and uplifting stuff here. On Blu-ray from FilmRise.


The Pride and the Passion
Olive Films

 Round up three international stars, surround them with several thousand extras in Franco's Spain and you've got yourself an instant historical adventure epic. Unfunny Cary Grant has a BIG GUN, Spanish peasant guerilla Frank Sinatra looks totally lost, and Sophia Loren conquers Hollywood by making with the sultry eyes and body moves. It's Stanley Kramer's first shot at an epic, with insufficient directing experience; the best qualifier we can give it is 'mixed results.' Fans of the stars will love it, otherwise it's a total hoot. Originally presented in VistaVision and Technicolor, with music by George Antheil. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.


I got a request this week from a loyal correspondent asking if the Region coding posted for a German disc of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves was accurate. The reliable answer for that particular title was available at Blu-ray.com, so that problem went away. But I sometimes become confused myself, and one doesn't want to order an expensive foreign disc, only to find that it can't be played here. If you want to help out your fellow collectors, and discover that the Region coding for a foreign disc is different than what's on Amazon UK, Amazon DE or wherever, write in and I'll post it here.

Semi- not good news -- A while back we were disappointed that a German disc of favorite This Island Earth was such a dog. Our hopes were raised again when a French disc of the same title was announced. Unfortunately, it's been reported to me that DVD Beaver has checked out the French product and found it the same transfer, just given a better bit rate. I guess it's important to be wary of foreign discs of titles owned by domestic studios: Japanese discs of RKOs have been made from secondary, inferior elements, and so have some European Universals.

And other on-site news that promises top review picks at DVD Savant: Olive has confirmed that their upcoming Monster of Piedras Blancas, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock and Commando Cody, Sky Marshall discs will be available for review, along with the promising Cecil B. DeMille silent, The Captive. I've been notified that a Legend of Tarzan 3-D from Warners is forthcoming; and assured that I'll be able to review the new Cinelicious disc of Leslie Stevens' once unavailable Private Property. I'm also positioned to review a big favorite, Rod Serling's 'organization man' drama Patterns, from The Film Detective/Allied. The new bounty of Twilight Times riches has just arrived, and I'm getting right into Arnold Laven's The Glory Guys and Paul Schrader's Hardcore, both of which I'll have a bit of inside info to talk about. The same goes for Kino's American Ninja 3 - Blood Hunt. I don't review too many Cannon pix but I cut the trailer for this Michael Dudikoff title back in 1988, so can't resist. The plan is to use part of the review to talk about the wild and unruly Cannon trailer department, back in its 'Mo & Yo' heyday.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 2016
 Microwave Massacre  Blu-ray  The Spiders (1919)  Blu-ray  Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words  Blu-ray  Chandu the Magician  Blu-ray  These Three  DVD  Woman in the Dunes  Blu-ray  Destiny  Blu-ray  Pioneers of African-American Cinema  Blu-ray  Betrayed  Blu-ray  A Touch of Zen  Blu-ray  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  Blu-ray  The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension  Blu-ray
July 2016
 Muriel, or The Time Of Return  Blu-ray  The Gang's All Here  Blu-ray  Modesty Blaise  Blu-ray  'Neath Arizona Skies  Blu-ray  Miss Sadie Thompson 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Crimes of Passion  Blu-ray  Mill of the Stone Women  Region B Blu-ray  Gun the Man Down  Blu-ray  Silk Stockings  Blu-ray  3 Bad Men  Blu-ray  Night and Fog  Blu-ray  Scott of the Antarctic  Region B Blu-ray  To Have and Have Not  Blu-ray  Carnival of Souls  Blu-ray  With the Ghouls in Lawrence, Kansas Article by guest contributor Bill Shaffer  Inserts  Blu-ray  Invisible Invaders  Blu-ray  The Daughter of Dawn  Blu-ray  Blood and Black Lace  Blu-ray  The Taking of Pelham One Two Three  Blu-ray
June 2016
 99 River Street  Blu-ray  The In-Laws  Blu-ray  Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan  Blu-ray  The Panic in Needle Park  Blu-ray  The Ninth Configuration  Region B Blu-ray  Forbidden Hollywood Volume 10: Guilty Hands, The Mouthpiece, Secrets of the French Police, The Match King, Ever in My Heart  DVD  Appointment with Crime  Blu-ray  Night Will Fall  DVD  The Hound of the Baskervilles  Blu-ray  Fantastic Planet  Blu-ray  Rollercoaster  Blu-ray  La Chienne  Blu-ray  Gold  Blu-ray  The Magnetic Monster  Blu-ray  Shield for Murder  Blu-ray  They Were Expendable  Blu-ray  Doctor Strangelove  Blu-ray  The Wave  Blu-ray  Hello, My Name is Doris  Blu-ray  Here Comes Mr. Jordan  Blu-ray  Le Amiche  Blu-ray  She Wore a Yellow Ribbon  Blu-ray  Antonia's Line  Blu-ray  The Whip Hand  DVD
May 2016
 The Angry Hills  Blu-ray  City of Women  Blu-ray  The Player  Blu-ray  Cat Ballou  Blu-ray  Hail, Caesar!  Blu-ray + DVD  Dark Passage  Blu-ray  Journey to Space  4K Ultra-HD, Blu-ray + 3-D Blu-ray  Blood Bath  Blu-ray  Woman on the Run  Blu-ray + DVD  The King and Four Queens  Blu-ray  Too Late for Tears  Blu-ray + DVD  La fièvre monte à El Pao  Blu-ray + DVD  Buster Keaton: The Shorts Collection 1917-1923  Blu-ray  Eureka  Blu-ray  The VVitch: A New-England Folktale  Blu-ray  Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy : Alice in the Cities, Wrong Move, Kings of the Road  Blu-ray  Edge of Doom  DVD  The Private Affairs of Bel Ami  Blu-ray  Garden of Evil  Blu-ray  That's Sexploitation!  Blu-ray  The Naked Island  Blu-ray  A Married Woman  Blu-ray  Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood  DVD  The Chase (1946)  Blu-ray  Mustang  Blu-ray  Roman Polanski's What?  Blu-ray  A Kiss Before Dying  Blu-ray  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  Blu-ray  Phoenix  Blu-ray  Candy  Blu-ray
April 2016
 In a Lonely Place  Blu-ray  Janis: Little Girl Blue  DVD  Where to Invade Next  Blu-ray  Julia  Blu-ray   Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents  Blu-ray  Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street  Blu-ray  When You're Older Dear Adam  DVD  Berlin Around the Corner  DVD  In the French Style  Blu-ray  Three Brothers  Region B Blu-ray + DVD  The Second Civil War  DVD  Father of the Bride  Blu-ray  Cutter's Way  Blu-ray  Dillinger  Blu-ray  Try and Get Me!  Blu-ray   The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates  Blu-ray  The Gallant Hours  Blu-ray  Exodus  Blu-ray  The City of the Dead  Blu-ray  Suspicion  Blu-ray  Blue Denim  DVD  Panic in Year Zero!  Blu-ray  The Stuff  Blu-ray  Alexander the Great  Blu-ray  Journey to the Seventh Planet  Blu-ray  "Manos" The Hands of Fate  Blu-ray
March 2016
 The Purple Plain  Blu-ray  Anastasia  Blu-ray  Brooklyn  Blu-ray  Susan Slept Here  Blu-ray  Dreams Rewired  DVD  The Hateful Eight  Blu-ray + DVD  A Brighter Summer Day  Blu-ray  Kill Me Again  Blu-ray  Vessel  DVD  The Manchurian Candidate  Blu-ray  Losing Ground  Blu-ray  Spies (Spione)  Blu-ray  Michael Collins  Blu-ray  Paris Belongs to Us  Blu-ray  Her Majesty, Love  DVD  I Knew Her Well  Blu-ray  The Trip  Blu-ray  Psych-Out  Blu-ray  Spring Takes Time  DVD  The Strangler  DVD  When Eight Bells Toll  Blu-ray  Murders in the Rue Morgue &  The Dunwich Horror  Blu-ray  The Big Heat  Blu-ray  Bad Boy  DVD  The Decline of Western Civilization + Part II The Metal Years  Blu-ray  Contagion  Blu-ray  Donovan's Brain  Blu-ray  The Hawaiians  Blu-ray  Revolt of the Slaves  DVD
February 2016
 The Vincent Price Collection III :
Master of the World, Tower of London, Diary of a Madman, Cry of the Banshee  Blu-ray  Cowboy  Blu-ray  The Graduate  Blu-ray  Key Largo  Blu-ray  Childhood's End  Blu-ray  The Black Sleep  Blu-ray  5 Dolls for an August Moon  Region B Blu-ray + DVD  Oh! What a Lovely War  DVD  L'Inhumaine  Blu-ray  Spotlight   Blu-ray + DVD  Where the Sidewalk Ends  Blu-ray  Millennium + R.O.T.O.R  Blu-ray  The Vikings  Blu-ray  Inside Llewyn Davis  Blu-ray  All Things Must Pass, The Rise and Fall of Tower Records  DVD  The Big Sleep  Blu-ray  The Emigrants & The New Land  Blu-ray  The Happy Ending  Blu-ray  GOG 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Woman in the Moon  Blu-ray  Deep Red  Blu-ray  Station West  DVD  Harlock: Space Pirate 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Crimson Peak   Blu-ray + DVD  Bridge of Spies   Blu-ray + DVD  Death By Hanging  Blu-ray
January 2016
 Gilda  Blu-ray  The Last Detail  Blu-ray  The Wrong Man  Blu-ray  Hawaii  Blu-ray  Beyond the Valley of the Dolls  Region B Blu-ray  The Southerner  Blu-ray  Curse of the Faceless Man  Blu-ray  I Confess  Blu-ray  The Undesirable  Blu-ray  Ex Machina  Blu-ray  Let There Be Light: John Huston's Wartime Documentaries  Blu-ray  Wind Across the Everglades  DVD  From the Terrace  Blu-ray  Figures in a Landscape  Blu-ray  Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things  Blu-ray  Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)  Blu-ray  The American Friend  Blu-ray  Bitter Rice  Blu-ray  Hitler's Children  DVD  Everest 3-D  3-D Blu-ray + Digital HD  The Look of Silence  Blu-ray  The Complete Lady Snowblood  Blu-ray  Four Men and a Prayer  DVD  The Captive City  Blu-ray  The Beginning or The End  DVD  Mysterious Island Encore Edition  Blu-ray  Nightmares  Blu-ray  Born Free  Blu-ray  Faust (1926)  Blu-ray  The Girl Most Likely  DVD

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A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2014
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