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

Tuesday July 7, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

It Follows
Anchor Bay/Radius
Blu-ray + Digital HD

 Another much-hyped horror effort, this shocker delivers the goods with no excuses. It's great, quality filmmaking as well: Alfred Hitchcock would probably not approve of the way modern kids live in this picture, but I bet he'd love the film's direction. Writer-director David Robert Mitchell comes up with a nightmarishly simple story notion involving an invisible phantom that never ceases its slow pursuit of its appointed victim, who can escape only by victimizing another innocent person. The way Mitchell chooses to tell his story makes all the difference: the people seem real, the threat is imminent and the show builds a relentless feeling of dread. This thing is superior filmmaking on all counts. On Blu-ray and Digital HD from Anchor Bay/Radius.

Miracle Mile
KL Studio Classics

  Steve DeJarnatt slipped in just under the wire, historically speaking, as this nuke-threat classic came out just before the Berlin Wall fell. It's got a sure-fire, can't-lose Cold War jitters premise: if you were to somehow be given a 90-minute early warning for an impending nuclear attack, what would you do? At 4:a.m., Anthony Edwards gets no traction trying to roust his new girlfriend Mare Winningham and scram out of town -- as the news leaks out and the Miracle Mile section of Wilshire Blvd. erupts in chaos. The anxiety and the filming style mesh perfectly to produce the story of Armageddon, L.A., with the symbolic La Brea Tar Pits ready to preserve a few new specimens from the doomed year of 1989. You'll be surprised by the level of technical and logistical accomplishment in this modestly-budgeted End-of-the-World thriller, and the location work is so good that Los Angeles residents will feel like it's really happening. Don't panic! With John Agar (perfect!) and a great score by Tangerine Dream. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


The Young Lions
Twilight Time

  It's an entertaining, fascinating big budget turkey -- three top stars in interesting roles can't overcome a trendy, faux-profound script and some of the worst direction in any big-studio attraction of the 1950s. You will believe that 20th Fox can spend millions on foreign locations and come up with a cheap-looking picture! Yet Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Dean Martin, Hope Lange, May Britt, Maximillian Schell and Barbara Rush give the move a gotta-watch quality. Brando as a dashing young Wehrmacht officer, complete with tricky accent gimmicks? Okay. Dean Martin as a draft-dodging showman? Much more believable. Comes with a Twilight Time audio commentary. Oh, and we all want to wrap up Hope Lange and Barbara Rush, and take them home. On Blu-ray from Twilight Tiime.


So whatta we got? We survived the 4th well enough, it seems.

Over at his Cageyfilms page, George Kenneth Godwin has an article called "Art Flms' and the Nature of Boredom. It's a cogent response to another article by a writer complaining about all those 'classics' we have to see that are boring or a drag. It's the "we have to see them" part that the writer gets wrong. One always has the right to discriminate. I barely survived a Bela Tarr film and it would take a concerted effort on someone's part to drag me back to one. But I wouldn't for a minute claim that his films are unworthy or invalid. Godwin very neatly sketches why some 'long art films where nothing happens' appeal to him and have value. More power to him.

If you've never read George's articles about his experience working on David Lynch's Dune, they're very much recommended. It was his great adventure at the periphery of big-time filmmaking, in his case, in Mexico City. They're at the Cageyfilms page as well.

And Joe Dante sent out this link to a what he joked is 'the stupidest review ever written, by somebody who hasn't seen the movie:' Joni Edelman's Pixar Fails At Body Positivity in 'Inside, Out.'

While Savant was knocked off the web airwaves, a disc I contributed to last year won an award. Kino circulated announcements that its Blu-ray of The Quatermass Xperiment is a 2015 Saturn Award Winner for Best DVD/BD Classic Film Release. Congratulations to author and authority Marcus Hearn, whose older Val Guest interview and audio commentary are really good. The award can't praise George Feltenstein, who, back in the 1990s at the old MGM Home Video, took the trouble of sourcing original elements for the English version. And there's also Deluxe Digital film manager Mary Grace Nicolas, who did such a good job re-mastering the movie in 2008.

The Saturn Awards are given out by The Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror Films. I remember the days when its eccentric founder Donald E. Reed, in his odd high-pitched voice, would introduce movies around Los Angeles. They are good memories - on my first Halloween in Los Angeles, on a stormy night in Westwood, Reed brought us a midnight show of the wondrous The Fearless Vampire Killers.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Thursday July 2, 2015 Back in Action Again

Savant's new reviews today are:

Kern & Hammerstein: Show Boat

  From the San Francisco Opera comes this colorful presentation of one of Broadway's most famous musicals, with the accent on the music, the singing and the dancing. Patricia Racette is Julie La Verne, while Heidi Stober, Michael Todd Simpson, Bill Irwin and Morris Robinson carry the other biggest roles. Taped (apparently) during real shows, this feels live, which only makes the voices (non-amplified) seem stronger and the performances more energetic. Great color, and a lavish production. On Blu-ray from EuroArts.

The Warner Archive Collection

  Pat O'Brien and Anne Jeffreys are a sleuth and a femme fatale caught up in an oil scheme in Panama; the screenplay would seem tailored for Robert Mitchum, and the lively Jeffreys at times seems to be imitating Lauren Bacall. It's clever, witty, and is directed in great style by Ted Tetzlaff, who gives us an extended opening sequence on a fateful plane trip, completely without dialogue. Also with Walter Slezak, Percy Kilbride and Jerome Cowan. This who-ever-heard-of-it film noir is very entertaining. On DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.


The Killers '46
The Killers '64

The Criterion Collection

  Returning to a dual-version DVD from fourteen years ago, Criterion gives them both excellent new transfers, and some new extras. Robert Siodmak's 1946 noir masterpiece enlarged Ernest Hemingway's short story, and made instant stars of Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner. Don Siegel's 1964 remake updated things, and also changed the point of view -- the 'investigators' into the mystery are now the killers, played by Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager. Siegel's update sizzles with fine work from John Cassavetes and Angie Dickinson, plus the final performance of Ronald Reagan -- as a miserable, vicious gangster. He's great! On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.


It's good to be back up again -- but disappointing that it took so long. Not a subject for popular discussion... the DVDtalk people are great, though.

In the news, Gary Teetzel informs me that Warner Home Video, which distributes the Paramount library on home video, has announced a Blu-ray release of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance for October 13. Other Paramount titles coming the same day are Witness, Escape from Alcatraz, The Core, Along Came a Spider and Team America: World Police. So be happy -- we're waiting for the timeless Paramount sci-fi classics The War of the Worlds and When Worlds Collide to appear on Blu, but the sci-fi box-office dud The Core is coming right up. I remember an audience laughing at the trailer for that one.

Gary saw this old ad for Anak ng Bulkan, a Filipino movie about a giant monster bird, and wasn't sure it was even real. The title apparently translates to "Sons of the Volcano." Then he found a YouTube link to the whole movie. We don't have any subtitles, so can't say if anybody in the film describes the giant bird as being, 'As big as a battleship.' Chapters six and eight are recommended for miniatures and monsters-versus-the-military action. The plot blurb reads: "The story revolves around the friendship of a small boy with a gentle giant bird which is mistaken by people as an evil creature." The movie is ... lively.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Report to the Commissioner
  Times Square street detective Michael Moriarty is sent on a dishonest mission, and to the regret of everyone on the force, carries it to its logical end. Susan Blakely is the undercover cop trapped by dirty politics in this superior '70s crime picture, also starring Yaphet Kotto and featuring Bob Balaban, Hector Elizondo and Tony King. Includes an unequalled action scene -- a chase over the rooftops and down on the city streets, with the quarry barefoot and in his underwear, carrying a pistol. Everybody's good in this show, and Moriarty and Blakely are terrific. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Absolute Beginners
  Julien Temple's extended music video musical is a riot of color and motion, music and dance. The setting is great too - the exploding youth-marketed street culture in London in the late 1950s, with Teddy Boys, Mods and Trads. Eddie O'Connell, Patsy Kensit, David Bowie, James Fox and Ray Davies mix it up in an unending string of creative musical numbers. It's an expensive, 'big style' fantasmagoria, with gaudy costumes and long uncut moving sequence shots. It's all about being innocent, being real vs. becoming a plastic fake and selling out. Now that's original! The racial tensions of the time are reflected in a half-danced, half-fought race riot and rumble. With an Isolated Score Track for Gil Evans' music. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

The Incredible Shrinking Man
  "Die unglaubliche Geschichte des Mr. C."  Universal won't release our favorites so we look to Deutschland to give us our Uni Sci-fi fix -- and this is one of the top titles of the 1950s. Savant's essay on Richard Matheson's ethereal, existential paradox covers the surreal metaphysics of a man stripped of all the things by which he defines himself; the superb widescreen B&W transfer makes Jack Arnold's overachieving thriller look like a million. Universal's prop and set shops outdid themselves, and producer Albert Zugsmith slipped past the front office a cosmic finish that still makes kids rock back in wonder. We're ready for Region 1 Blu's of these, Universal... and goes for your remaining 3-D pictures, too! Nyahh! On Region B Blu-ray from Koch Media GmbH.

3-D Rarities
 The secondary title reads "A Collection of 22 Ultra-Rare and Stunningly Restored 3-D Films," and that's exactly what we get -- a tall stack of 3-D wonder and fun from 1923 to 1962. The mix incudes experiments, demos, promos, sales films, exhibition films, animation, stop motion animation, cartoon animation, 3-D movie trailers, an atom bomb docu, some striptease delights and one of the first bits of film directed by Francis Ford Coppola… a girlie movie. Plus bonus 3-D stills and comics! It's all curated, annotated restored and fine tuned to look great on your 3-D home system, with commentaries and an informative, illustrated booklet. The lovingly produced 3-D Film Archive/Greenbriar Production is in 3-D Blu-ray from Flicker Alley.

The Golden Year: 5 Classics from 1939
  WHV slays us with five restored scans of pictures from what 'Life' magazine touted as the apex year for Hollywood movies. The lineup is a special one: Bette Davis fans get what they want with the ultimate women's weepie Dark Victory; Charles Laughton is amazing as Quasimodo in the superb, beautifully remastered The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Billy Wilder contributes classy comedy to Ernst Lubitsch's Greta Garbo masterpiece Ninotchka; with a six-gun and Technicolor, Errol Flynn cleans up Dodge City; and in the only repeat in the box, something funky happens below the Mason-Dixon Line in Gone With the Wind. Plus WHV's hour-long docu on the golden year of 1939. On Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.

The Thing with Two Heads
  It sounds like someone scraped the bottom of the barrel from the lowest vintage of the year of the worst movies ... but this horror pastiche turns out to be competent, non-insulting, amusing and reasonably well done. Who'da thunk it? Ray Milland takes the assignment as an opportunity to make a coherent statement about bigotry, and succeeds; Rosey Grier is engaging and funny as the death row convict who thinks he can escape the gas chamber by volunteering for some crazy surgery. It's exploitative fluff, but it works -- especially if you like a movie that takes a fifteen-minute break for an extended car crash-o-rama scene. If you remember having fun at this, you got nothing to be ashamed about. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

The Night of the Generals
 Anatole Litvak directs and co-produces this mega-production from the middle 1960s, filmed in France, Germany and Poland. Omar Sharif's German crime investigator finds that a top general may have committed a gruesome murder in the middle of the Warsaw campaign. He pursues his leads despite the chaos of war, preparing to accuse men that commit war atrocities as a daily activity. His suspects are Donald Pleasence, Charles Gray and the main star Peter O'Toole. His General Tanz is a barely functioning psychotic obsessed with cleanliness -- and exterminating enemy civilians. The impressive cast for this 'Murder in the High Command' drama includes Tom Courtenay, Joanna Pettet, Philippe Noiret, Coral Browne and Christopher Plummer as Rommel; a big part of the story concerns the attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1944. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

Pandas: The Journey Home
  They're big, they're cuddly, and plenty dangerous, but this 3-D IMAX short feature is a glimpse at the work being done at a Chinese Panda centers, where Pandas are bred, raised and trained to fend for themselves in the wild. The entire process -- even some of the icky aspects -- is depicted, by a staff that's the pride of the Chinese ecological effort (not to mention of great international PR value). The 3-D images are relaxing and all real -- no special effects to confuse us. The extra is a 1983 National Geographic TV special on Pandas. On 3-D + 2-D Blu-ray + DVD from Virgil Films & Entertainment.

June 2015
 Monte Walsh  Blu-ray  The Hound of the Baskervilles  Region B (UK) Blu-ray  John Ford: Dreaming the Quiet Man  Blu-ray  Mississippi Burning  Blu-ray  Vincent & Theo  Blu-ray  The Sunshine Boys  Blu-ray  The Onion Field  Blu-ray  American Guerilla in the Philippines  DVD
 The Bridge  Blu-ray  Tentacles &  Reptilicus  Blu-ray  Show Them No Mercy!  DVD
May 2015
 State of Siege  Blu-ray  The Island of Dr. Moreau  Blu-ray  Magician: The Astonishing Life & Works of Orson Welles  Blu-ray  Wolfen  Blu-ray  Shy People Savant Revival Review  A Man for All Seasons  Blu-ray  Carla's Song  Blu-ray  Cops and Robbers  Blu-ray  The Best House in London  DVD  1776  Blu-ray  Face to Face and  The Tramplers by Lee Broughton  DVD  The First Deadly Sin  DVD  Jamaica Inn  Blu-ray  The Confession  Blu-ray  Hombre  Blu-ray  Moonlighting  Blu-ray  Thank Your Lucky Stars  Blu-ray  Tarantula  UK Region B Blu-ray  It! The Terror from Beyond Space  Blu-ray  Ladyhawke  Blu-ray  The Midnight Special  DVD  Make Way for Tomorrow  Blu-ray  Seven Angry Men  DVD  The Beyond  Blu-ray  Richard III 1995  Blu-ray  The Premature Burial  Blu-ray  The Long Good Friday  UK Region B Blu-ray & PAL DVD
April 2015
 The Secret Invasion  Blu-ray  A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night  Blu-ray  Face of Fire  DVD  Mr. Turner  Blu-ray  Mysteries of the Unseen World  3-D Blu-ray  Blood and Black Lace  Region AB Blu-ray & DVD  Inherent Vice  Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD  42nd Street  Blu-ray  April Love  Blu-ray  Le Silence de la mer  Blu-ray  "X"  Blu-ray  Dance with Me, Henry  Blu-ray  That Man from Rio and  Up to His Ears  Blu-ray  Invaders from Mars 1986  Blu-ray  Zardoz  Blu-ray  Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas: Walk Cheerfully, That Night's Wife, Dragnet Girl  DVD  The Way Things Go  Blu-ray  The Friends of Eddie Coyle  Blu-ray  Why Be Good?  DVD  Blue Sky  Blu-ray  Hoop Dreams  Blu-ray  A Most Violent Year  Blu-ray + Digital HD  Solomon and Sheba  Blu-ray  Sullivan's Travels  Blu-ray
March 2015
 Odd Man Out  Blu-ray  Massacre Gun  Blu-ray  U Turn  Blu-ray  Hand of Death  DVD  Without a Clue  Blu-ray  The White Buffalo  Blu-ray  The Day Mars Invaded Earth  DVD  The Imitation Game  Blu-ray + Digital HD  The Babadook  Blu-ray  Journey to the Center of the Earth  Blu-ray  First Men in the Moon  Blu-ray  The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry  Blu-ray  Miami Blues  Blu-ray  Day of Anger  Blu-ray + DVD  The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies  3-D Blu-ray  Goodbye to Language  3-D Blu-ray  Forbidden Hollywood Volume 8: Blonde Crazy, Strangers May Kiss, Hi Nellie!, Dark Hazard  The Soft Skin  Blu-ray  The Falcon and the Snowman  Blu-ray  Alice's Restaurant  Blu-ray  Like Water for Chocolate  Blu-ray  Musicals: 4-Movie Collection: Kiss Me Kate  3-D, Calamity Jane, The Band Wagon, Singin' in the Rain  Blu-ray  Kiss Me Kate  3-D Blu-ray  The Liberator  Blu-ray  Muscle Beach Party  Blu-ray  Ride the Pink Horse  Blu-ray  The Manchurian Candidate  UK Region B Blu-ray & PAL DVD  Dear Heart  DVD
February 2015
 In the Land of the Head Hunters  Blu-ray  The Prowler  Blu-ray  The End of Violence  Blu-ray  The Sure Thing  Blu-ray  Incident  DVD  To Sir, With Love  Blu-ray  Caveman  Blu-ray  A Day in the Country  Blu-ray  Stormy Weather  Blu-ray  The Night They Raided Minsky's  Blu-ray  The Killing  UK Region B Blu-ray  The St. Valentine's Day Massacre  Blu-ray  Syncopation  Blu-ray  How to Murder Your Wife  Blu-ray  Black Sunday  Blu-ray  The Connection  Blu-ray  Rabid  UK Region B Blu-ray  Lust for Life  Blu-ray  The Wild Angels  Blu-ray  Watership Down  Blu-ray  Kiss Me, Stupid  Blu-ray  The Day They Robbed the Bank of England  DVD  Nightcrawler  Blu-ray  The Purple Rose of Cairo  Blu-ray  A Hole in the Head  Blu-ray  Don't Look Now  Blu-ray  Far from the Madding Crowd  Blu-ray  God Told Me To  Blu-ray
January 2015
 Why Don't You Play In Hell?  Blu-ray  Running On Empty  DVD  55 Days at Peking  UK Region B Blu-ray  Pork Chop Hill  Blu-ray  The Palm Beach Story  Blu-ray  The Black Scorpion widescreen  DVD  No Highway in the Sky  DVD  The Weapon  Blu-ray  The Bride Wore Black  Blu-ray  May in the Summer  Blu-ray  World for Ransom  Blu-ray  Breaking Away  Blu-ray  The Night Porter  Blu-ray  The Girl Who Knew Too Much  Blu-ray  The Russians are Coming the Russians are Coming  Blu-ray  Fury  Blu-ray  Bloody Sunday  DVD  52 Pick-Up  Blu-ray  Till the End of Time  DVD  Into the Woods  Blu-ray  The Twilight Samurai  Blu-ray  The Ultimate Invaders from Mars Savant Article Reboot  Ten Seconds to Hell  Blu-ray  Adua and Her Friends  Blu-ray  Kinoshita and World War II  DVD  The Boys from Brazil  Blu-ray

  Reaching further back in time?
A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2014
... and for 2013 ... 2012 ... and 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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