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Favorite Discs of 2013

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

Saturday September 27, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:


  The most embarrassing movie biography of all time is a fascinating study of what happens when a Hollywood studio takes on a hot-button political potato. Omar Sharif is a dead ringer for Che, while Jack Palance... smokes cigars. The filmmakers do everything but backflips to avoid dealing with Che Guevara's ideas about revolution, and the screenplay treats crucial decisions in Castro's revolution as a sitcom tiff between obstinate roommates. It's an excellent film transfer in all respects, in Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

The White Tower

  RKO sent color cameras to Europe to film Paul Jarrico's tale of a daring attempt to climb a forbidding mountain. Claude Rains is an unhappy writer and Oscar Homolka a jolly innkeeper, and Alida Valli a young woman who wants to achieve what her father could not. But the real drama erupts between ex-flier Glenn Ford and the expedition's expert mountaineer, Lloyd Bridges. One's a calm American and the other a resentful German. Great location photography and realistic climbing scenes, even on the studio sets -- this is one of the better films of its type. In DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.

The Young Savages

  Rough tough Burt Lancaster puts his liberal brand on Harold Hecht's juvenile delinquency epic, with an assist from sophomore film director John Frankenheimer and a good cast that includes Dina Merrill, Telly Savalas, Shelley Winters and John Davis Chandler. Why did three Anglo hoods fatally stab a blind Puerto Rican kid? Lancaster's D.A. wants to find out, but everyone else is screaming for a quick murder conviction. In Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


Night of the Comet
Region B Blu-ray + PAL DVD

  This well-remembered '80s artifact sets up Valley Girls Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney as the last women on Earth, after an unfortunate date with a lethal astral body (a comet). It's a totally carefree shopping day until sinister scientists come to steal their blood. Mary Woronov and Robert Beltran star in a low budget, high spirited romp on the day after doomsday. With a number of featurettes and interview extras. In Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Video (UK) .


Last time out I posted Kino's first attempt at artwork for their upcoming Blu-ray of Hammer's The Quatermass Xperiment... so to be fair, here's a peek at the final disc cover, which we agree is a better fit for the movie. Kino also released an impressive list of extras for the disc. John Carpenter will be opinionizing on the show, along with a Val Guest interview and commentary with Marcus Hearn. Ernest Dickerson's Trailers from Hell entry, a trailer and the alternate The Creeping Unknown title sequence are listed as extras. Last up are two featurettes I edited in 2003 for an MGM Home Video Midnite Movies DVD release that never came about. One of the featurettes is built around another Val Guest interview by Greg Carson.

If you look again at my review for the Criterion disc of The Innocents, a new footnote has been added. Ex-child star Martin Stephens wrote in with a correction about his vocal performance in the movie. Mr. Stephens maintains an interesting personal website that has some amusing content. He doesn't look quite so sinister now, 54 years later.

I've got some heavy film screening to do this weekend ... besides the new releases of Chef and Edge of Tomorrow, the enormous Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection just arrived. I'll be reviewing it from the collector perspective -- most of us have some of those older Universal single releases on DVD (heck, and VHS), not to mention the "Legacy Collections" and the lavish Classic Monsters Blu-ray set. Is this new monster box something to own, or is it a gift opportunity for some lucky kid?

Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson

Tuesday September 23, 2014

Savant's new reviews today are:

To Be and To Have

  This delightful and moving French docu covers a year in a rural French grade school to show how ace teacher Georges Lopez motivates, inspires and socializes twelve fairly adorable kids. It's specialized work; the film presents dozens of privileged moments of truth and insight. Director Nicolas Philibert captures remarkably candid and true moments of childhood emotions; we fall in love with the kids too. Inspirational -- and it also makes us think about the terrible treatment of American teachers. In DVD from Kino Lorber.

The Moonshine War

  What a trap for a reviewer: Savant loved this movie at a young and impressionable age, and will only grudgingly admit that it has serious deficiencies. But I still have good things to say about the legendary Elmore Leonard's exciting, perfectly paced story, and the eccentric performances from favorites Patrick McGoohan & Richard Widmark, with Alan Alda, Lee Hazlewood and Suzanne Zenor. Hillbilly havoc breaks loose when gangsters try to horn in on a cache off illicit Kentucky booze. And don't forget "Old Sweetheart", the BAR rifle that McGoohan's corrupt prohibition agent keeps in a suitcase. In DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.

The Killer Elite
+ Noon Wine


  Sam Peckinpah fans can get excited about his 1975 spy-action tale starring James Caan and Robert Duvall, but the golden lining in this precious two-fer disc is its encoding of a newly-rescued color video copy of Sam's 1966 TV show Noon Wine. Starring Olivia de Havilland and Jason Robards, it did so well with the critics that it resuscitated Peckinpah's D.O.A. film career. And it's still a great show, an adaptation of a book by Katherine Anne Porter. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.


Brute Force
Region B (UK) Blu-ray

  Jules Dassin's first noir masterpiece is a disturbingly violent and angry protest film that seemingly encourages revolt not just in prisons but against the world at large. Burt Lancaster heads an terrific cast of inmates to oppose Hume Cronyn's outrageous yard captain, a fascist monster who tortures prisoners to further his advancement to warden. Does it sound like your workplace? Dassin's direction deals with flashbacks to dames left behind, like Yvonne De Carlo and Ella Raines, but the emphasis is on intolerable oppression and savage combat. In Region B (UK) Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.


I guess I'm feeling self conscious today about reviewing so many violent action films, because I've slipped in Kino's wonderful little movie about teaching, To Be and To Have. It's a definite cheer-up movie, without a single gun or death threat in sight.

Correspondent Bill Migicovsky sends along Larry Getlen's conservative, tasteful New York Post article about The Notorious History of Drunken Hollywood. It's short and saucy and just the sort of thing DVD Savant should be ashamed to link to. Enjoy.

A fun turn-around from Monday... Kino uploaded prospective cover artwork for its upcoming (unannounced, I think) Blu-ray of Hammer's The Quatermass Xperiment... and promptly took it down after a regular fan brushfire erupted on the horror and Sci-fi discussion boards. The reason might be that the artwork chosen was derived from a French poster ... for the wrong movie, The Quatermass Xperiment's superb sequel, Quatermass 2. I personally think the dynamic graphic looks great, but it's indeed inappropriate -- its only design element are Q 2's bullet-helmeted 'zombie guards' that we know and love so well.

I don't mind pointing up the error as it's an honest mistake; Kino will appreciate the publicity and surely be happy to discover how intensely readers care about their upcoming disc. I have a horse in the race to some degree as well, as the new disc may include some work I edited eleven years ago. I won't know until the disc is announced.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson

The 'Burbs
  Joe Dante and Tom Hanks have a scary good time in a comedy-horror thriller that forges its own offbeat style. Three judgment-challenged neighbors let their imaginations get out of hand when they decide that the weird foreigners in the creepy house next door may be serial-killing maniacs. With an eclectic sense of humor that veers from slapstick to replays of old cultural forms -- like the conventions of old TV shows -- the show is packed with unexpected laughs and surprises. Aiding and abetting Hanks are Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, Rick Ducommun, Wendy Schaal and Corey Feldman, with an assist from jolly old Gale Gordon and The Poodle With No Name. In Region B Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

The Dogs of War
  On-task mercenary tough guy Christopher Walken is beaten senseless during a reconnaisance/spy trip to a corrupt African dictatorship. He returns with a fighting force to kill the president and seize the country for a European platinum consortium. Tom Berenger, Colin Blakely and JoBeth Williams star in Frederick Forsythe's tale of international piracy, directed by John Irvin. The encoding contains both the theatrical and longer international cuts, and Jack Cardiff's cinematography looks great in HD. In Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

The Innocents
  Celebrated as one of the most elegant and sophisticated horror films ever, Jack Clayton's adaptation of the Henry James tale seeks to be ambiguous about its ghosts and phantoms. Nervous nanny Deborah Kerr takes charge of two wealthy orphans (Pamela Franklin & Martin Stephens) and soon comes to believe that they are under the perverse influence of deceased servants. Featuring the much-admired cinematography of Freddie Francis, in razor-sharp Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Hangmen Also Die!
  Fritz Lang's noirish war thriller invents a complex conspiracy to dramatize the resistance of Czech patriots to their German occupiers, who are executing forty hostages per day. Brian Donlevy's patriot-assassin refuses to give himself up, while the daughter of a hostage discovers why resisting the Nazis is essential to the defense of humanity. Restored in HD, this disc also restores a crucial missing minute from the film's climax. In Blu-ray from The Cohen Film Collection.

Roman Polanski's Macbeth
  Roman Polanski's superlative film adaptation emerges as a grisly tale about the horrors of blind ambition. Incredible production values, great acting and razor-sharp direction -- it's one of his best. With Jon Finch and Francesca Annis as the murderous Thane and his scheming wife. Fine extras collect old featurettes and TV shows, plus a new interview documentary. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Across 110th Street
  It's not Blaxploitation, but a pure gangster drama that skips social messages in favor of straight-up action and suspense. When three gunmen take the mob for $300,000, the Mafia Don orders that Harlem be taught an ugly, violent lesson. Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto are the stars but there's great acting from Anthony Franciosa, Paul Benjamin, Ed Bernard, Antonio Fargas, Richard Ward, Norma Donaldson, and Marlene Warfield. Major bonus: a Tarantino-approved soundtrack by Bobby Womack and J.J. Johnson. In Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Black Sunday and Black Sabbath:
  Note, 9/25/14: Release CANCELED. Now Kino releases a double bill of Mario Bava horror pix in their U.S. versions, as released by American-International in 1961 and 1963. Les Baxter's replacement music score is a big improvement for Sunday, and in Sabbath we finally get to hear Boris Karloff's own voice, performing in English. A.I.P. did major editorial surgery on both pictures. It's interesting to see how they reworked one horror episode that originally had a lesbian theme. In Blu-ray from Kino Classics.

Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II
  For the 30th Anniversary Edition, Sony trots out new transfers and adds new extras with nostalgic memories from Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd. The original Ghostbusters is still fall-down funny, while the passing of time has been kind to the more family oriented and 'Yuppie-fied' Ghostbusters II. Number two is also a completely integrated sequel, with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson and David Margulies all returning. With beaucoup extras. Blu-ray + Digital Download from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

September 2014
 Eraserhead  Blu-ray  The Buddy Holly Story  Blu-ray  The Death Kiss  Blu-ray  The Big Operator  Blu-ray  The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden  The Great Race  Blu-ray  Distant Drums  Blu-ray  God's Pocket  Blu-ray  Queen Margot  Blu-ray  Seizure  Blu-ray  The Secret of Santa Vittoria  Blu-ray  Captain America: The Winter Soldier  Blu-ray  Juggernaut  Blu-ray  Vengeance is Mine  Blu-ray  What's New Pussycat  Blu-ray  Follow that Dream  Blu-ray
August 2014
 Man Hunt  Blu-ray  High School Confidential!  Blu-ray  Out of the Clear Blue Sky  7 Faces of Dr. Lao  On the Beach  Blu-ray  Testament  Arch of Triumph  Blu-ray   Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!  Blu-ray  Call Her Savage  Pickpocket  Blu-ray  Out of the Past  Blu-ray  The Unforgiven  Blu-ray  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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