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

Tuesday July 29, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

Werner Herzog:
The Collection


  It's a massive group of films from one of the world's most original filmmakers: 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. The sixteen features and documentaries are packed with director commentaries and other extras, including a 40-page book. In Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.

Savant Article:
Military Boomer Movie Confessions

  Prompted by colleague Stuart Galbraith IV, Savant relates his atypical upbringing as a U.S. Air Force dependent, growing up discovering movies in a theater system that showed everything, on military bases where I could walk to shows by myself at age seven. I hadn't seen anything written anything about the military movie system but I've already connected with some folk that grew up the way I did. The article contains humiliating photos, too.


Dark Crimes
Volume Two


  The folks at Turner Classic Movies combine the Fritz Lang Paramount titles Ministry of Fear and You and Me with a pair of mid-century Universal thrillers Undertow and Hollywood Story by William Castle. All have noir pedigrees, and You and Me has been a relative rarity for years. With extras and commentary by noir czar Eddie Muller. In DVD from The TCM Vault Collection.


The end of a very hot weekend here at DVD Savant. We actually slipped out to see a movie in a real theater yesterday, and took in the John Le Carre spy saga A Most Wanted Man. It's very well made and exceedingly well acted by Grigoriy Dobrygin, Nina Hoss (so good in last year's Barbara), Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Houmayoun Ershadi and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I understand that this is the last we'll be seeing of the late Hoffman on theater screens, not counting a pair of upcoming Hunger Games movies.

If you like Le Carre's work you'll love this, as it's all tense character interaction and almost zero action scenes. Hoffman is excellent as a Smiley-like German masterspy trying to do good work under pressure from competing, politically-motivated intelligence agencies. And we're really going to miss Philip Seymour Hoffman. I saw many of his movies, and thought he did a great job in all of them, even things like Twister.

Thanks for reading! -- Glenn Erickson

Saturday July 26, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

Paris Blues

  Hollywood dream couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward took off for France for this music-oriented independent feature about Americans abroad. Expatriate jazz men Newman and Sidney Poitier want to pursue their careers, but are targeted for romance by tourists Woodward and Diahann Carroll. Slick B&W cinematography on location, a great Duke Ellington music score and guest stars Lois Armstrong & Serge Reggiani keep things lively. In Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Born Yesterday

  George Cukor's slick adaptation of Garson Kanin's smash play is still a delight, with Judy Holliday easily the brightest movie newcomer of 1950. In the Capitol to buy off a congressman or two, vulgar millionaire Broderick Crawford makes the mistake of hiring writer William Holden to take the rough edges off of Holliday's Billie Dawn. Ditzy bimbo Billie has hidden potential -- she not only learns to be 'couth', she gets wise to her boyfriend's influence-peddling schemes. A beautiful restored HD transfer, in Blu-ray from Twilight Time.


The Squeeze

  Savant's latest Brit Crime discovery is this excellent kidnapping caper picture from Michael Apted, starring Stacy Keach, David Hemmings, Edward Fox, Stephen Boyd and Carol White. I'd never heard of it but it's just as entertaining as Get Carter or Villain. Alcoholic ex-cop Keach must hustle to get his act together when vicious hoods kidnap his ex-wife and her daughter. The action is excellent and the script witty; Apted doesn't shy away from the exploitative content. It's yet another obscure Stacy Keach film that turns out to be a big winner. In DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.


Film technical consultant Bob Furmanek is a key authority on special processes, aspect ratios and especially 3-D. His new article up at the 3-D Film Archive is entitled Preserving a Lost 3-D Film. It chronicles the Allied Artists production Dragonfly Squadron, to be released this October 14 on 3-D Blu-ray by Olive Films. As is typical with Furmanek's reportage, the article is very specific about the month-to-month history of the 1953 3-D craze; the other Allied Artists 3-D offering was The Maze. We also learn that Walter Wanger & Don Siegel's Riot in Cell Block 11 almost became a 3-D film.

And now a treat for science fiction film fans -- an opportunity to see something fairly unheard-of here in the U.S.. Foreign correspondent Guido Bibra wrote an article a couple of years back about a 1966 West German space adventure show called Raumpatrouille -- Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion. The literal translation is Space Patrol -- The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion. The 7-episode show looks like a blend of Star Trek, Firefly and Forbidden Planet, with a little bit of Ikarie XB 1 thrown in for good measure.

Opening narration: "One of this starships is the Orion, a little piece in the giant security system which protects the Earth from outer space threats. Let's accompany the Orion and her crew at their patrols-service on the edge of infinity..." The characters are interesting, the costumes flashy, and the general production is superior to the Anderson shows UFO and Space:1999, which I have to say I couldn't stand. The film's space cruiser is a really cool flying saucer, and some of the camera setups with the 'futuristic' spacemen remind me of Wallace Wood illustrations from old Mad magazines.

Guido forwarded a YouTube link where the whole miniseries is viewable in a quality transfer, with subtitles: Raumpatrouille Orion. Even the music cues are cool -- they sound like something from a Matt Helm picture! Great fun -- I'd spring for the Region 2 DVDs, if they had English subs.

Thanks for reading! -- Glenn Erickson

Violent Road
  Howard W. Koch's low-budget re-do of The Wages of Fear sees he-man playboy Brian Keith leading a truck convoy carrying highly combustive rocket fuel up some perilous roads East of the Sierras. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is a semi-suicidal rocket scientist who has lost his family to an explosive accident -- he's a perfect choice to drive one of the trucks. And sexy Merry Anders is there to show Keith why he's risking his hide on such a dangerous mission. And watch out for the nasty stuff in truck #2 -- it burns like acid. In DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.

Radio Days
  Woody Allen's most affectionate & nostalgic feature is an ode to the grandeur of '40s radio. An eccentric family in Rockaway Beach lives vicariously through the glamorous music and personalities they hear on the airwaves. Actor-wise the film is a regular W. Allen homecoming night: Mia Farrow, Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest, Julie Kavner, Michael Tucker lead a delightful cast of dozens. And the huge selection of great music is isolated on an M&E track. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

Witness for the Prosecution
  Billy Wilder shakes up Agatha Christie's whodunnit classic with snappy dialogue, witty humor and razor-sharp direction. The genuinely terrific cast -- Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power, Elsa Lanchester -- elevates the nail-biting courtroom drama genre into high art: "Are you not a chronic and habitual LIAR???!!" Comes with a selection of Billy Wilder interviews conducted by Volker Schlöndorff. In Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Hearts and Minds
  The first and most affecting anti-war documentary about Vietnam told truths that Americans didn't want to hear, just as Watergate and the failed war were winding down. Using an inspired collection of prime news and interview footage, the vision of the war is an undeniable fabric of lies and crimes. General Westmoreland's own testimony damns the military mindset and political rationale, while we see some of the iconic horror moments that made indelible impressions on the American conscience. The extras include excellent unused material, including an interview with newsman David Brinkley that makes one lament our nation's loss of anything resembling objective journalism. A Dual-Format edition in Blu-ray and DVD from The Criterion Collection.

Violent Saturday
  This format back-track retrieves Richard Fleischer's combo Grand Hotel- bank robbery movie from an earlier flawed presentation: the new HD master is one of the best-looking transfers ever of a '50s CinemaScope feature. Stephen McNally, J. Carrol Naish and Lee Marvin pull off a bank heist that cuts a bloody swath through several soapy relationships. With sharp characterizations from Richard Egan, Virginia Leith, Sylvia Sidney and Ernest Borgnine as a pacifist with a mean pitchfork. And Victor Mature earns the love of his son the old-fashioned way, by wading into the mayhem with a shotgun. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

The North Star + Armored Attack!
  Hoky smokes -- Samuel Goldwyn's 1943 ode to the fighting spirit of Russian peasants is a thick slice of pro-Stalin propaganda, aimed (we hope) to improve relations with our Soviet ally. A top cast led by director Lewis Milestone fights back against the Nazi blitzkrieg in an idealized, sanitized (and non-religious!) Ukraine. Starring Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, Farley Granger, Dana Andrews, Erich von Stroheim, Dean Jagger and Jane Withers. Armored Atack!, believe it or not, is a 1957 re-cut that swings 180 degrees the other way, making the movie into an anti-Communist tract. Both versions are here, intact. With music by Aaron Copland and camera work by James Wong Howe. In Blu-ray from Olive Films.

The Scalphunters
  Burt Lancaster's western ego-fest (he's the most fit and athletic 54 year-old in history) has him sparring with escaped slave Ossie Davis, while struggling to retrieve the furs he's trapped from a friendly (but greedy) Indian chief. Telly Savalas' nasty crew of land pirates scalp Indians for money; the movie's ability to shift modes is pretty impressive when it makes Savalas the henpecked hubby of unhappy frontier broad Shelley Winters. Directed by Sidney Pollack, the show is a lot of action-packed, slapstick fun in Panavision and color. In Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
  Billy Wilder's superb epic about the World's Greatest Consulting Detective remains his most rewarding late-career feature. The beautifully directed film follows Robert Stephens' Sherlock and Colin Blakely's Dr. Watson on a bungled case backstage at the Russian Ballet, and then on to a deductive adventure involving dead canaries, a mystery woman (Geneviève Page), Sherlock's imperious brother Mycroft (Christopher Lee) Trappist Monks, a bicycle tour to Scotland and the Loch Ness Monster. Wilder goes for sentiment this time out, and his bittersweet ending is like nothing else he's done. And the film has a masterful, mesmerizing music score by Miklos Rozsa. A Dual-Format edition in Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

July 2014
 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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