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

Saturday April 18, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

Le Silence de la mer
The Criterion Collection

 Jean-Pierre Melville's first feature is an assured adaptation of a subversive novel secretly published and distributed in France during the German occupation. Melville reportedly offered to destroy the negative if the book's author didn't approve of the result. A 'good' German officer (Howard Vernon) is billeted with a Frenchman and his niece, who refuse to talk to him or acknowledge his presence... so the German makes little speeches every night, about his naïve dreams for French-German happiness after the victory. It's a powerful statement of 'no forgiveness' from a director who was himself a Resistance agent during the war. The extras include Melville's first short film as well as biographical docus that examine Melville's war years. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

- The Man With the X-Ray Eyes

KL Studio Classics

  Roger Corman's best science fiction film goes beyond exploitation to reach the first rank of visionary sci-fi; it seems an even greater achievement now that we're no longer so obsessed with CG effects. The brilliant examination of the limits of perception pushes the Corman-centric theme to a logical conclusion: Ray Milland's surreal explorer wants to 'see' all he can, forgetting that it is not possible to 'un-see.' A new widescreen transfer includes a welcome commentary from Tim Lucas, who communicates spacey science fiction concepts as well as he does notions about gothic horror. Also featuring a nostalgic video intro from Joe Dante, an original trailer and the film's ludicrous network TV 'padding prologue.' On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


Dance with Me, Henry
Olive Films

  Abbott and Costello's last feature as a comedy team is a truly sad affair. Not only does Lou Costello look tired and dispirited, the film changes the formula from their usual burlesque routines and slapstick hi-jinks, to a Chaplin-like sentimental tale. Lou runs a child's fun-fair, and fears that the authorities will take away his adopted children. The 'new' Bud is a chronic gambler tangled up with loan sharks, and not a very positive character; the excellent Ted de Corsia is the mob menace. The kids -- Gigi Perreau, Rusty Hamer, Sherry Alberoni -- are more than able, but the show is dragged down by a melancholy vibe. We can't help but think that Costello's personal tragedies have taken their toll. A&C fans that 'believe in the boys' need to see this one. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.


Some nice announcements for today. The Criterion manifest for July includes The Black Stallion, Hiroshima mon amour and the two versions of Hemingway's The Killers. I hope they're putting out the '64 version in widescreen -- it played much better that way on last year's Region B Arrow release. From Warners I just got in 42nd Street and am expecting Ladyhawke fairly soon. And they've surprised me with the hugely enjoyable Inherent Vice, a movie I that might not appeal to the widest range of viewers.

I'm curious to take another long look at The Beyond via Grindhouse Releasing's new Blu-ray. It was the only Lucio Fulci movie that really appealed to me back in the first wave of DVD Euro-horror, and I want to see if it gets better with a second viewing. And Gary Teetzel and I both want to investigate Kino Lorber's A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a European vampire film about which we're hearing good things. I almost passed it up, confusing it with another recent release with similar box artwork (Left and right, above). Well, sort of similar.

Also announced earlier this week - I want to review almost every title in Twilight Time's list of July releases: The World of Henry Orient, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Best of Everything, Places in the Heart, A Month in the Country, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Sam Fuller's House of Bamboo. It'll be a full-up Twilight reviewing month.

Horror fans and TCM viewers -- check your logs for the weekend. Early Sunday morning they're screening 1964's The Strangler, an obscure item with Victor Buono. I'm going to try to catch it.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Tuesday April 14, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

That Man from Rio
Up to His Ears

The Cohen Film Collection

  Tin-Tin? James Bond? Indiana Jones? No, it's Jean-Paul Belmondo in Philippe de Broca's breezy adventure mystery. Belmondo's on-leave soldier follows his girl (gorgeous Françoise Dorléac) to Brazil, to foil two kidnappings and get to the bottom of treasure/curse left by an ancient civilization. Belmondo never stops moving or fighting, in vehicles, up and down every imaginable obstacle, evading killers to rescue his girl. The second feature is an adaptation of a Jules Verne adventure, with a suicidal Belmondo who decides he wants to live when he sees Ursula Andress perform a unique 'reverse striptease.' The setting for chases, romance and intrigue is Hong Kong, India and high in the Himalayas. A two disc set, packed with extras, on Blu-ray from The Cohen Film Collection.

Invaders from Mars
Shout! Factory-Scream Factory

  (1986) Tobe Hooper remakes an old classic with fancy effects but neglects just about every other aspect of this loud and colorful Martians-your-lap epic. Karen Black, Bud Cort, James Karen and Timothy Bottoms cope with the threat of becoming remote-controlled pawns, while Laraine Newman unpacks her best Coneheads voice. The extras include a director's commentary and a lengthy, detailed making-of featurette. Personally, I can't get enough of those cartoonish, grinning Martian drones, the mean green muthers from Outer Space that swallow Louise Fletcher whole. On Blu-ray from Shout! Factory-Scream Factory.


Twilight Time

  John Boorman's ambitious New Age future dystopia has a savage Sean Connery invade a Vortex of immortality, to grant the Eternals, the Apathetics, the Brutals and what-have-you with the sweet release of death, no Kool-Aid required. Filming in Ireland on a shoestring, Boorman and Geoffrey Unsworth work miracles to invent crazy images for this philosophical talkathon, but what we remember is the wall-to-wall nudity and the preposterous Giant Floating Zardoz Head, that dispenses guns to the savages, plus helpful bits of wisdom: "The gun is good! The penis is evil!" Finally, a Sci-fi epic the NRA can endorse. Helping Connery out on the sexual end of things is Charlotte Rampling, the '70s actress least likely to say No to anything involving skin. Beautiful transfer, by the way, and two good audio commentaries. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.


It's sort of a science fiction day here, movies I enjoy even when they stumble. The column is late because I was rushing so fast, I forgot that I already had a review finished for Criterion's Blu of Le Silence de la Mer. That'll be up on Saturday, now. There's no shortage of exciting genre titles to cover. I've seen Kino's "X"-The Man with the X-Ray Eyes and The Premature Burial but haven't yet had the time to see their The Secret Invasion, The Mackenzie Break or A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The same goes for Criterion's The River, Olive's Dance With Me, Henry and Harry and Son; Grindhouse Releasing's The Beyond.

Also coming in all at once are Twilight Time's April Love, Richard III, The Fantasticks, Remains of the Day and The Story of Adele H., all of which demand to be reviewed. Not quite in hand yet but equally coveted are Arrow's Blood and Black Lace (amazing screen shots floating about of this; can't wait to hear Tim Lucas's commentary) and from The Warner Archive Collection, The Best House in London, Seven Angry Men, Michael Collins, The First Deadly Sin and Face of Fire. That's an exciting bunch of movies. With this much going on I'll be happily writing until Summer's here.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas
  We've seen Yasujiro Ozu's silent comedies, which greatly inform his later humanistic reflections on life. These three lively gangster pictures are beautifully constructed, with vibrant, active camera direction, jazzy characters and an overriding theme of sentiment pulling bad men and women back to the straight and narrow. Heavily influenced by U.S. silent crime pix, we've got guys in fedoras, sinister henchmen, cheerful sidekicks, good and bad women and a cop who understands. Great action but also hearty helpings of Ozu-ian sentiment and humanity. Really fascinating stuff, here: Walk Cheerfully, That Night's Wife, and Dragnet Girl. On DVD from Eclipse (Series 42).

The Way Things Go
  A pair of Swiss artists / mechanics / chemical engineers fashion an astonishingly varied and intricate Rube Goldberg machine that takes a full thirty minutes to play out. It's a seemingly endless set of mechanical cause & effect actions. Things roll, fall, blow, slide, flow, rise, catch fire, explode, tip off balance, dissolve, and simmer in chemical reactions. We watch in an unbroken (more or less) cut, as every delicately-triggered gag moves on to the next as the sequence of spectacular events moves around the concrete floor of a warehouse or factory. It's fascinating, educational and multi-lingual -- there's no dialogue. On Blu-ray + DVD from Icarus Films.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle
 Robert Mitchum is superb as an aging Boston hood who turns squealer in hopes of avoiding a prison term. Unfortunately, the ruthless web of deceit and informing in the Beantown underworld puts him at a lethal disadvantage. Peter Yates directs action perfectly, and every character confrontation shows us that these friends basically prey upon each other in a Dog Eat Dog world. With Peter Boyle, Richard Jordan, Steven Keats, and Alex Rocco; one of the best realistic crime films ever. With a commentary from the director, and a great magazine article on that rascal Mitchum. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Why Be Good?
  Meet Colleen Moore, the quintessential flapper of the 1920s, challenged only by Clara Bow. Once thought lost, this hot 1929 comedy romance was discovered in a perfect print and reunited with a perfect collector-preserved Vitaphone soundtrack. The result is one of the best-looking silent greats in the WAC. Saucy Moore is Pert Kelly, a girl who feels she must promote a daring image to attract men. She gets the boss's son but also some misunderstandings. Amid all the dancing (great music BTW) and 3:am carrying on, the movie acknowledges the existence of the double standard, loud and clear. Bubbling over with koo-koo-ka-choo cutes, Ms. Moore is a really fresh personality. In DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.

Blue Sky
  By the time Jessica Lange collected her Oscar for this show she had several more movies in release, and its director had been dead for three years. Her great performance as Carly is only the top attraction in a tale of an Army wife whose emotional problems verge on mental illness. Husband Tommy Lee Jones is patient with Carly's erratic, provocative behavior; she wants to live like Brigitte Bardot or Ava Gardner. He's a nuclear engineer making waves in a bomb-testing program that can't handle instability of any kind -- even before Carly gets in trouble. It's a thriller, but also an unusually mature movie about a troubled marriage. In Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Hoop Dreams
  A sleeper hit from 1994, this video-shot documentary captured the spirit of the nation. Three filmmakers followed two disadvantaged Chicago neighborhood boys for five years, as they pursued their goal of becoming big-time NBA basketball players. We see everything -- the personal and financial problems, family arguments and all the issues they have to overcome. First it's getting into the right private schools and then it's sorting out the confusing college offers. At almost three hours, the film is not a minute too long. Criterion's new release includes a new 40-minute docu follow-up that charts the duo's rocky future after the movie ends. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

A Most Violent Year
  J.C. Chandor knocks this one out of the park -- his story of a family-owned company under criminal attack in 1981 New Jersey is a searing critique of what it takes to stay in business in a free enterprise system. Not only that, a lazy D.A. targets them for a withering corruption investigation, all just as the company is trying to float a risky major expansion. The new wrinkle? This isn't a cynical crime story. Played by Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, the husband-wife owners of the company aren't gangsters but honest entrepreneurs under siege, and try to resist without taking violent action in New York's most violent, lawless year on record. It's a remarkably mature, impressive movie. Also starring Albert Brooks. In Blu-ray + Digital HD from Lionsgate /A24.

Solomon and Sheba
  Among Biblical epics this one is modest, beautifully produced and a good solid story experience - just skip a couple of silly orgy scenes. On second thought, they're fun too. After the death of the great King David his sons Solomon the Just (Yul Brynner, with hair) and Adonijah the Insulting (George Sanders) vie for the throne. Into the mix comes the honest-to-myrrh actual Queen of Sheba (Gina Lolobrigida), a curvaceous pagan temptress who leads Solomon far enough astray to bring down the wrath of Jehovah. The many entertaining scenes include a terrific desert battle with a special effects finish to match the parting of the Red Sea, and a special icon guest appearance from none other than the Ark of the Covenant. Solid Gold Old Testament thrills, transferred by MGM directly from 8-perf Super Technirama film elements. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

April 2015
 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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