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Favorite Discs of 2013

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

Tuesday September 2, 2014 -- Forget it, Jake. Summer's over.

Savant's new reviews today are:


  Richard Lester enlivens this realistic and tense thriller-spectacle: seven bombs are hidden on a giant ocean liner from which the passengers cannot be evacuated. The screenplay overcomes our expectations on every level -- the potential victims don't panic, for instance. The movie also has a great sense of humor. Most of all, we're entertained by a terrific cast -- Richard Harris, Anthony Hopkins, David Hemmings, Omar Sharif, Shirley Knight, Ian Holm, Clifton James and Freddie Jones. Roy Kinnear is a standout as a cruise social director doing his best to keep spirits high. In Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Vengeance Is Mine

  Shohei Imamura's docudrama examination of the crimes of a real Japanese serial killer carry a chill factor missing from later American genre exercises -- the charming murderer covers his tracks well and succeeds in seducing women into keeping his secrets. It's cold, clinical and scary. Ken Ogata is Iwao Enokizu, a clever sociopath who undertook a 78-day killing spree before the cops finally tracked him down. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

What's New Pussycat

  Woody Allen's first film as both writer and actor is a sex farce, a Paris-filmed "dirty foreign movie" that goes much farther than most U.S. pictures of its year. Peter Sellers can't get any, Peter O'Toole gets too much, and Woody... [insert Peter joke here]. It's beautifully designed, has music by Burt Bacharach and most of the jokes work. We also get the full benefit of four fabulous '60s actresses -- Capucine, Ursula Andress, Paula Prentiss and Romy Schneider. Believe me, in 1965 every sexually precocious 13 year-old was dying to see this one. In Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


Follow that Dream

  The Mirisch Co. inked The King of Rock and Roll for two pictures, and the first is a strange satire (maybe) about squatter's rights, in which Elvis plays a Gomer Pyle or Forrest Gump- like "Magical Hick". Arthur O'Connell is his slick-talking, chiseling father; pert country girl Anne Helm and evil psychologist Joanna Moore compete to see which can arouse Elvis's dormant sexual instincts. And don't forget the peppy title tune, sung by Elvis as he lies on the beach, scratching flea bites. Actually, this colorful musical carries a reputation as one of Presley's better movie vehicles. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

Hello! I'm back with four more reviews... it's nice to see the column looking 'fat' again.

A quick notice for TCM cable subscribers that catch this column on Monday night -- in a few hours Turner Classic Movies will reportedly screen the restored version of the 1940 Our Town with William Holden and Martha Scott. Check your schedule to record. I've never seen a watchable copy of the Sam Wood/William Cameron Menzies classic and can't wait to nab it on my DVR. Apologies to readers that don't see this note until tomorrow.

On the subject of my recent reviews for On the Beach and Testament, several readers sent me a link for a YouTube video of an entire 1954 Motorola Television Hour live TV drama, Atomic Attack. It stars Phyllis Thaxter, Robert Keith, Walter Matthau and Patty McCormack. They're right -- it's very similar to Testament.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson

Saturday August 30, 2014

Savant's four (count 'em, 4) new reviews today are:

Man Hunt

  Fritz Lang and Darryl Zanuck had some nerve -- this movie partly about an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler was produced and released before America entered the war. Walter Pidgeon is the big game hunter who finds himself hunted by Nazi spies George Sanders and John Carradine; Joan Bennett is the sweet seamstress who protects him in the London Fog. Good action scenes and Lang's precise direction highlight this winning spy drama. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

High School Confidential!

  Slam! Bam! Thank you, ma'am! Jack Arnold and Albert Zugsmith concoct the ultimate juvenile delinquent shocker, with slick hepcat Russ Tamblyn angling to become the top drug pusher on campus. Shocking the faculty and charming the students, Tamblyn romances his teacher and repels advances from his sexy "aunt": Mamie Van Doren! Jackie Coogan, Jan Sterling, John Drew Barrymore, Diane Jergens star: Jerry Lee Lewis makes his entrance pounding out "Boppin' at the High School Hop" from the back of a flatbed truck. "Turn your eyes inside and dig the vacuum!" In Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Out of the Clear Blue Sky

  Danielle Gardner's intense documentary follows the harrowing experience of the executives and families of Cantor Fitzgerald, a trading company that lost over 600 of its 900 employees in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. With the drama played out on TV news shows, CEO Howard Lutnik had to put together something that could do business when the stock market reopened just two days later. Then came a storm of anger and hate mail when survivors' families thought he was going to leave them financially in the lurch. It's a fascinating story told in quality interviews and well chosen news clips. In DVD from Virgil Films.


7 Faces of Dr. Lao

  George Pal confects a warm family story from Charles G. Finney's nihilistic original novel, but the result is too magical and charming to complain about. Tony Randall plays the multiple mythical characters that populate Lao's mysterious circus, and Barbara Eden is the librarian given a lesson in passion by the seductive Pan. Clever special effects bring to life a talking serpent and The Loch Ness Monster, animated by Jim Danforth. Makeup artist Craig Reardon contributes to the review with an assessment of the film's impressive makeups, designed by William Tuttle. In DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.


Yep, that's me about one week ago, doing what folks do about 2 degrees South of the Equator. Much of our trip was serious family business but the experience was amazing overall, meeting marvelous people and getting a look at how a foreign country works from the inside out. As longtime readers know Savant holds the achievement record for homebody excellence, mostly by necessity. This travel thing can clearly be fantastic.

But the sign on my door says that Discs Are Us, and I now have a huge volume of desirable titles to properly review. The Warner Archive is releasing a Blu-ray of The Great Race that I sampled last night; it looks very good. So does Scorpion/Kino's new BD of Oliver Stone's odd horror opus Seizure, with Jonathan Frid and Martine Beswick.

Other favorites that I'll soon be reviewing are Criterion's Love Streams and Vengeance is Mine, Twilight Time's Follow that Dream and The Secret of Santa Vittoria, Olive Films' Distant Drums and The Big Operator, KL Studio Classics' What's New Pussycat, Juggernaut and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Cohen's Queen Margot and Hangmen Also Die! (I hope) and a Blu of Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Thanks for reading ! Do you wanna see more exotic travel pictures? No? Aw, please.... --- Glenn Erickson

On the Beach
  Last Saturday's post was the grim Testament, so I guess I'm gambling that there are lots of readers out their who can't wait for another dose (75 Rads and rising!) of atomic doom. This is Stanley Kramer's big-daddy doomsday drama, the one that raised the subject of radiation extinction to the mainstream and did a lot to promote the Ban the Bomb movement. Nevil Shute's story of Australians and an American sub captain waiting for the end in Melbourne is probably Kramer's best job of direction, and his stars (Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins, Fred Astaire) couldn't be better. Beautiful visuals by Giuseppe Rotunno. In Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

  Lynne Littman's chronicle of a small California town's experience in an atomic war is intensely emotional, and harrowing in a way few post-apocalyptic dramas can touch. When the power goes out and news of the world shrinks to a trickle, housewife Jane Alexander must cope with keeping her family 'normal'. Then common necessities disappear and radiation levels rise. William Devane is the father who goes missing and Lukas Haas the first-grader trying to cope with a grim future. Also with Leon Ames and future stars Kevin Costner and Rebecca De Mornay. A Paramount reissue in DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection / Paramount.

Arch of Triumph
  Lewis Milestone had great ingredients for this prewar thriller: stars Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Charles Laughton, and Erich Maria Remarque's tense, romantic story of undocumented refugees come to London to flee the grasp of Nazi Germany. Boyer's a doctor plying his profession on the sly to make ends meet, and Bergman has been 'accepting the hospitality of gentlemen' to avoid starvation. Can they dodge visiting Nazi intelligence agent Laughton? Soon enough the haven of Paris will be overrun by the Germans! The direction and acting are tops, so why is this picture not a classic? At the very least, why is it not better known? Bergman is excellent. In Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!
  Pedro Almodóvar's follow-up to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is a racy anti-PC comedy. Some critics were offended because it presents a kidnapping and possible rape as fun movie subject matter. Asylum graduate Antonio Banderas stalks and imprisons ex- porn star and junkie Victoria Abril in an apartment, to wait until she falls in love with him. With Pedro writing and directing, it's perfectly charming stuff. Some audiences of 1990 thought the film wasn't rough enough to earn its NC-17 rating, but who cares about them? Great Ennio Morricone music too. A Dual-Format edition in Blu-ray and DVD from The Criterion Collection.

Call Her Savage
  A notorious pre-Code pot-boiler resurfaces to show us a great silent actress struggling to survive in the talkies. Silent screen legend Clara Bow tries to outdo the competition in risqué costumes and outrageously sordid plot contrivances. The story's theme is 'The Sins of the Fathers' but what we get is an unbroken parade of salacious content and offensive racial attitudes. The film's Depression-era Greenwich Village "artists and radicals" cafe is a hoot -- the resident commie agitator is Mischa Auer! The sad part is that the show didn't help Ms. Bow keep her career afloat. Also starring Thelma Todd. In DVD-r from 20th Fox Cinema Archives.

  Robert Bresson's hypnotic ode to spiritual transcendence (as per Paul Schrader) is a fascinating film, especially after one reads about the director's approach to filmmaking -- no professional actors, no 'performing' or emotions allowed. A Parisian loner decides that the only way to personal freedom is to become a pro sneak thief. It's a fascinating experience -- although the actor doesn't 'act', he nearly becomes a soul-mirror for the viewer. Will the pickpocket break free of his perverse mission, and make a meaningful connection with life and people? A Dual-Format edition in Blu-ray and DVD from The Criterion Collection.

Out of the Past
  It looks and sounds great! Not since original 35mm prints were screened has Jacques Tourneur's romantic noir masterpiece looked this good. Robert Mitchum reached stardom playing a detective too tough to be taken in by anything... except the alluring, devious fugitive Jane Greer, a genuine drop-dead beauty of the 1940s. Nicholas Musuraca's dreamy cinematography weaves a B&W spell over the picture, as Mitchum's PI tries to work his way out of film noir's tightest frame-up. Easily one of the top five noir titles, now in HD with uncompressed audio. With Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming, Steve Brodie and Virginia Huston. In Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.

The Unforgiven
  John Huston gets remarkable performances from a top cast in this excellent frontier drama. The author of The Searchers reworked the elements of that story into a new pattern, and Huston's love for outdoors adventure does the rest. When rancher Burt Lancaster's adopted sister Audrey Hepburn is accused of being an Indian, it looses a storm of racial hatred and violence. The local Kiowas want her back, while Lancaster's neighbors -- and his brother Audie Murphy -- want her dead. With John Saxon, Charles Bickford, Lillian Gish, Albert Salmi, Doug McClure, Carlos Rivas and a terrific Joseph Wiseman, whose demented drifter aligns with John Wayne's Ethan Edwards in the John Ford movie. In Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

August 2014
 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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