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DVD SAVANT

(This page holds the Savant
Semi-daily columns between November 23, 2000, and April 25, 2001)   Newer Columns  Older Columns



April 25, 2001

Greetings from The City of the Angels in its first truly smoggy day of 2001.  This week the Online Film Critic's Society invited Savant to join its hi-falutin', high-toned ranks, and being the humble soul that I am, I said yes.  So the OFCS banner will be up here in a few days.  Fearless Leader Geoffrey Kleinman of DVDTalk assures me that it's no small honor, and I am duly grateful.  And if it translates into more hits, then more power.  And more reviews later ... Thanks for helping attract the attention of those Film Society talent scouts!  Glenn Erickson


April 23, 2001

Savant ekes by with a little help from his friends, in this case with an assist from recidivist contributor Lee Broughton, who previously wrote about The Sweeney and offered a popular two part essay on Spaghetti Westerns.   This time he weighs in with a review of a region 2-only release of the William Peter Blatty mind-blower, The Ninth Configuration, that, reversing typical distribution patterns, has come out in England without even being announced in the U.S..

Also on the docket is Synapse Films' excellent disc of the notorious Triumph of the Will, the Nazi rally film that Leni Riefenstahl still denies has political content (she must be pushing 100 now).  The commentary on this disc does what no screening of TRIUMPH ever did - explain it in context and detail, to the point where this reviewer thought he was understanding what was going on for the first time.  Bravo, Synapse. GE


April 21, 2001

The review this Saturday is Two Lane Blacktop, which Anchor Bay came out with ages ago.  Savant's excuse is that it was the most exciting DVD he saw last week, and writing about a movie on which you actually might have something to say is always better in the long run.  Savant comes to the film as a film and not really as a cult movie about cars (it kind of inherited that mantle from fave Thunder Road, vroom, vroom), but it does make me think of that old car sitting idle in my driveway, waiting for days of more spendable cash!   Triumph of the Will, Sabrina, and The 5,000 Fingers of Dr.T just walked in the door, so I'll have some nice shows to watch in between the new Anchor Bay Verhoeven titles.  Have a nice weekend, vroom, vroom.  Glenn


April 18, 2001

Summer is breaking out already at Anchor Bay, where a raft of never-on-video titles is hitting the street.  Up this week at Savant is Candy, a milestone movie that got lots of media attention for its daring in 1968, yet couldn't find an audience.  If the Internet Movie Database is accurate, the new DVD may be uncut from what we saw way back then in American movie houses.  The film is something of a jaw-dropping curiosity, with nubile Ewa Aulin being pursued by the likes of Richard Burton, James Coburn, Walter Matthau and Marlon Brando as a guru named Grindl.

Looks like Savant is getting into more DVD Docu work soon ... can't give any details.  The next DVD on the street which I worked on is THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.  The BBC docu meant for the disc had to be completely revamped, so although the interview bites are still the work of the original British producers, almost everything else is new, including some spiffy montages to that great Elmer Bernstein music.  You could cut blank leader to that music and look good.

Savant has been promised an early disc of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND to review, and may do a couple of articles on it, like he did with 1941.  At the very least, I'll be able to help straighten out confusion over the various recuts and revisions to which Steven Spielberg subjected his personal epic.  Thanks, GE


April 15, 2001

Since it's tax day, while you're thinking of overthrowing the government, Savant has a review of a fine movie about underground resistance fighters to get you mental attitude in shape.  Paul Verhoeven's Soldier of Orange is one of those best-kept-secret movies, an engrossing, complicated and true wartime espionage tale starring a very young Rutger Hauer.  Anchor Bay's superlative disc has a lively director's commentary track that is the perfect accompaniment for those who already know the movie well; Savant usually samples commentaries but this one was different.

Image Entertainment is out with another Film Board of Canada short animation collection, this one is called Leonard Maltin's Animation Favorites from The Film Board of Canada, and although there are a few repeats, Maltin's brief introductions are a big plus, offering glimpses of the animators behind the films, and in some cases, explaining the arcane animation techniques used.

Savant would like to make an announcement about MGM's website, which I stopped writing for a couple of months ago.  The site has carried on as 'Cinema Savant', and the articles there are geared more directly toward marketing than the essays I was writing.  We parted very amiably.  I read this month's column and realized that many readers might think it's my work.  It criticizes readers for not sending in 'more interesting' questions and generally takes an attitude that I would not.  So just for the record, since MGM is not making the distinction clear, if you HAPPEN to have been an MGM Savant reader, please pass the word that after April's articles, that column has nothing to do with me.  Hopefully their reader mail is being answered by a name and not just 'Savant.'

There's a treat for Stanley Kubrick fans at the Amateur Home Theater site.  It's a lengthy interview with one of Kubrick's editors, Gordon Stainforth, on THE SHINING and particularly its music editing.  Savant has great admiration for really good music editors; even on the short films I cut, it's harder than picture cutting, I kid you not.  Writer Felix Martinez gets into the details of working with Kubrick, and it's a great read.


April 11, 2001

In our house we play Defending Your Life at least once a year, along with I Know Where I'm Going!, Joe versus the Volcano and Groundhog Day.  Almost as good as Life is Albert Brooks' Lost in America, which Savant is happy to review this week.  The movie seems to be made up of only a very few scenes, just one bitingly funny encounter after another.  It's another of Brooks' movies about an ad man who spends all his time talking to and being abused by Mercedes-Benz dealers ("We call it Mercedes leather ... heavy vinyl").  When he was cutting television spots in Los Angeles in the mid-eighties, Savant remembers well how every mention of Albert Brooks brought forth the information that his brother was Cliff Einstein, a prominent ad man in reality.  This accounts for the on-the-button satire (or accurate reportage?) of the advertising world and its values.

Expecting another avalanche of great titles soon ... thanks for reading... Glenn


April 9, 2001

It's back to animation this week, with the freakish First Run Features collection called Cartoon Noir.  Not for every taste and definitely not for kids, there are some fairly creepy highlights in these six animated short subjects.   Definitely not to Savant's taste is Battle Beyond the Stars, a cutprice yawner of a space opera that has to be for tots because who else could take it?  Released in the cosmic void that followed Star Wars, when anything with a spaceship and a raygun could get attention (remember Laserblast?) B B the S is best remembered as the spawning ground of King of the World James Cameron, and can boast a pair of fun commentaries from Gale Anne Hurd, Roger Corman, and a slumming John Sayles.

Savant has Albert Brooks' LOST IN AMERICA waiting in the wings ... Thanks, Glenn


April 6, 2001

Roger Corman does it again! The Intruder from New Concorde turns out to live up to its formidable reputation, and more, with an excellent performance from (yes) William Shatner and a daring concept based on making a film about Southern racists, with and among Southern racists!  It gets Savant's highest recommendation.  Not so highly praised is First Run Features' The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick, an amateurish docu about a fascinating man that has all the tackiness of a cheap website, without being half as informative.

Another DVD Tale to tell, on the subject of the new restoration and forthcoming DVD release of THE TERMINATOR:

There were some negative online discussion group responses to the Region 2 and Region 4 DVD versions of THE TERMINATOR that seemed unfair.  One insisted that there were "obvious errors" in the new mix and that Lightstorm's Gary Rydstrom "would never make such a mistake."  Well, guess who did the mix?  Gary Rydstrom.  Others were complaining that "obviously an old print was used" because it "should have looked much better."  They must be referring to some of the effects scenes, which inevitably looks soft because of the extensive use of rear projection, etc.

LIghtstorm was pleased with MGM's video transfers of THE TERMINATOR but asked for a couple of alterations to the theatrical version, that had already been done for the newest laserdisc.  There's a flopped shot that appears in the future war scene when the Frank Columbo terminator invades the compound.  The flopped version creates NEW continuity problems (a trash can jumps from screen right to screen left), but Lightstorm insisted upon it.  Another shot Cameron wanted reframed occurs when the terminator exits the cheap motel--it's the end of the "F*** you a**hole" scene. When Arnold leaves the room and walks down the hall, you can see that he's not wearing his boots--he has shoes on instead.  Both of these corrections were made on video only.

Some good news on the subject of THE PRISONER tv series DVD release:

A & E sells most of their TV series in 2-disc sets, with 2 episodes on each disc.  In Volume 2 of THE PRISONER, containing discs 3 and 4, two episodes suffered from distorted audio:  "The Chimes of Big Ben" on disc 3, and "The General" on disc 4.  The dialogue tracks sounded fine, but the M & E tracks suffered from extreme warble.

There was a lengthy thread on the problem on the Home Theater Forum.  Someone posted a copy of an e-mail from A & E stating that anyone with a defective copy of Volume 2 could return it to A & E and receive a corrected replacement copy.  (Anyone who originally purchased Volume 2 directly from A & E was automatically sent a replacement.)  Savant knows someone who followed the instructions as posted and got his replacement in about 2 weeks.

The address (in case you bought the set and noticed the audio problem):

A & E RETURNS DEPARTMENT
327 Holly Ct.
Williston, VT 05495

The also have a Customer Service phone number: 1-888-423-1212.

Savant's friend reports that the replacements are honestly and truly corrected versions--no more distorted audio.  It's always a pleasant surprise when this sort of stuff actually works out.  Glenn E.


April 3, 2001

Another odd pair of reviews this Tuesday, the early Edgar G. Ulmer Science Fiction-in-the-fog thriller The Man from Planet X, and Roger Corman's most in-your-face shocker, The Wild Angels.  Under-shown and under-appreciated, this groundbreaking, taboo-shattering biker epic was the real beginning of the anti-establishment film, the credit for which fell three years later to EASY RIDER.  As Savant tries to prove, Corman's an A-Class director in this picture, just a few films before he retired to the safe gold mine of production and distribution.  Both of the discs are no-frills MGM 'Midnite Movies' attractions, quality DVDs at a price you'd expect to pay for a used VHS.  Glenn


April 2, 2001

The new review of the moment is Image Entertainment's The Lost World, a restoration by David Shepard that is said to be different than the Eastman one that toured the country last fall.  It may not be quite as complete in some scenes as the Eastman version; people who saw that show said that it had the scene of the brontosaurus sticking its head in a London Bar, and an unfamiliar-sounding scene of a minor mutiny at the Amazon camp when Professor Challenger is overdue at one point.  But they also said that the final shots of the brontosaurus swimming out to sea were of very poor quality; on this Image disc they looked very nice to Savant.

With the luck of babes in arms, Savant's Jack Cardiff tribute montage got good notices in this week's Entertainment Weekly Magazine.  The article on the show singled it out as the best of the night's montages, and another sidebar extolled the virtues of Black Narcissus - saying it was 'the best movie of the year' ... based on the evidence of the Cardiff montage as well, I have to conclude.

Just in, MGM's THE MAN FROM PLANET X (the newspaper-like pressbook to which is the main photo of Savant, above) and the controversial THE WILD ANGELS.   See Ya soon, Glenn


March 29, 2001

The new reviews are a pair from Fox's ongoing lesson in How to Produce Quality Genre DVDs: Wolfgang Petersen's German-American coproduction Enemy Mine, and John Boorman's out-of-control Science Fiction extravaganza Zardoz.  The mention of Zardoz cues eye-rolling in some fans, but let Savant just say that director Boorman's honest and reflective commentary on this disc put the movie in a whole new interesting light, and made it fascinating to watch once again.

Savant attended the American Cinematheque last night to see Nicholas Ray's 55 DAYS AT PEKING, a real epic with a grandiose set matched only by the huge constructions for Bronston's FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE the following year.  Although the screening had the usual repertory problems (the print was a bit chewed up) and Savant already owns a nice laserdisc of the movie, it was a good oldfashioned movie experience - those BIG movies just look BIGGER on the biggest screen available.  In a couple of weeks the Cinematheque is showing a Samovar full of those Russian fairytale movies popularized in Video Watchdog, the Alexander Ptushko films like ILLYA MUROMETS (The Sword and the Dragon), SAAMPO (The Day the Earth Froze) and THE STONE FLOWER. All in original uncut Russian prints, this promises to be as illuminating as their earlier Karel Zeman festival!

Let me plug once again a newish Savant feature that might make the unwieldy size of DVD Savant a little easier to navigate.  At the bottom of this page is a SEARCH feature, that will bring up links to all of the site's 220+ articles by word association alone.  This helps Savant when he wants to revise something (like removing outdated whines that this-or-that movie hasn't been released) but it is also the fast way to see if Savant ever ventured an opinion on some movie that has grabbed your interest.

Finally, Savant lets his own nose guide him to what DVDs he wants to review, but now that DVDTalk is doing such a fine job of filling the gaps in the screener dragnet, it's possible for me in some cases to order up a title rather than pick from what's offered.  If there's something you'd really like to see reviewed, please give it a shot. (A note: I'll get to OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, I promise!)  Glenn


March 27, 2001

Savant gets even more eclectic with two reviews of Image Entertainment discs: Kevin Brownlow's superior documentary miniseries Cinema Europe, The Other Hollywood,and another Something Weird entry from the land of exploitation, Mantis in Lace.  I expected to learn something from Brownlow's documentary, but the nudie-slasher movie had an educational kicker too, in the form of an enlightening extra, a 16mm high school drug-warning movie called LSD, Trip or Trap?  It inspired a good old-fashioned Savant rant, and put Something Weird entrepreneur Mike Vraney in a new and definitely positive light.

The glory of the Academy Awards are fading fast and it's past time for me to remind myself that Oscar is a business town's self congratulatory exercise that means little to honest working people living outside Hollywood ... there's more discs to review, and more surprises to discover.  'Tis true, DVDs are better than ever. Glenn


March 26, 2001

With Oscar night safely tucked away, we can move on to more important issues - new reviews: Criterion's Coup de torchon is a creepy crime drama with an unusual setting - French West Africa in the late 1930s.  American movies with 'shocking' content can learn a lot from this French essay on amorality and murder.   On the other end of absurdity is Warner's equally excellently presented The Unsinkable Molly Brown, an MGM musical that Savant admits is livelier than most, even if Debbie Reynolds shrieking for two hours seems a sophisticated form of torture.  It's back to the security of gory horror films for Savant!


March 24, 2001

Savant reviews two longish but attractive sagas this week, Fox Home Video's 'Five Star Collection' version of Cleopatra, and Artisan's DVD version of the Sci Fi Channel's Frank Herbert's Dune.  Both were pleasant surprises.  Savant didn't expect much of Cleopatra, never having been able to sit through the whole thing before.  It turned out to hold together rather well, and to have qualities beyond the Liz Taylor ga ga appeal.  Dune started with problems, but became more entertaining in the second half, when the comparisons between it and the David Lynch version faded as it entered story material the 1984 film had no time to cover.  Dune gets a vote of approval for ambition as well; it's easily the best-looking miniseries Savant's ever seen.

 Coming up, a fistful of variety: Criterion thrillers, Fox Science Fiction, another Hitchcock, and the Cinema Europe documentary. See ya soon, Glenn


March 18, 2001

A passel of new reviews - a preview of the great Columbia Tristar A Passage to India disc coming out next week, Anchor Bay's great Selznick Hitchcock Notorious, and three image discs, a a pair of Best of the Best Animation Discs, and the Roger Corman juvenile crime opus, Teenage Doll.  Sharks eat, swim and make little sharks; this week Savant eats, edits, and writes little reviews.  Bon Appetit, as Bond said to the piranhas.  GE


March 15, 2001

A new review is up for Fox Lorber's Pola X, a sexed-up art film that helped make the reputation of trendy director Leos Carax.  Even working a hardcore sex scene into the scenario, it didn't do much for Savant, but a worthy attempt at objectivity has been attempted in the review.

A helpful reader has pointed out a compiled column of bulletin board responses made by one of Stanley Kubricks daughters, where she tries to sort out some of the myth and muckraking that was flying around the web last summer about her celebrated father.  It makes for good reading at This link.

And finally, Savant can't help but reveal the mystery editing assignment he's been working on.  For years I've watched the Oscar broadcast and itched to get the chance to cut one of the montages featured during the show ... and a few weeks ago my wish came true.  A special Oscar for a legendary cameraman will be illustrated with a 145-second tribute to his career that we're putting the finishing touches on right now.  Not only that but Savant just got back from picking up his hi-tech facial recognition security backstage pass that is supposed to get me where everyone wants to be ... although I'll just be using it for a rehearsal.  So pity is squandered on Savant this month .... feeling no pain in Hollywood.  Back soon, Glenn.


March 13, 2001

A new review is up for Breaker Morant, a title Savant remembers well from the first days of cable television.  It was his first look at actor Edward Woodward before seeing him in THE WICKER MAN.

Savant just learned that he'll be reviewing the new miniseries version of DUNE in a few days, and can't wait to see how this Vittorio Storaro - lensed show stacks up against the David Lynch version, which Savant always liked.

Back in a couple, Glenn


March 7, 2001

Well, let's see here ... Savant's excited about some of the great discs coming up, like A PASSAGE TO INDIA, but he's still working on the current batch of winners, trying to keep a good spread on the kind of disc reviewed.

Just up and ready to offend review readers near and far, are the next Hitchcock title, Anchor Bay's Rebecca, and Image Entertainment's surprising, surprisingly good Chushingura, a two-bladed samurai epic that got my gray matter grinding, to coin a mixed metaphor.

Other notable issues:  I understand that FILMFAX magazine has an article on Darren Gross' work on NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS and HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, a restoration he's been working on for years now, that is finally coming to pass.

Some readers have been asking me why the email at MGM Video Savant, or Cinema Savant, as it's called now, plumb don't work no more.  The answer is contained in the fact that Glenn don't work there no more either ... the February issue is the last that will have original, factory-guaranteed Savant input.  There's more on this a couple of entries back in the column, below ... and don't worry, the break was Savant-initiated and a good thing all around.   MGM will be happier, and the only thing I'll really miss is the carte-blanche access to the stills and the files, to snoop out good stuff on missing scenes and rare photos that they probably wouldn't let me print anymore anyway! (lawyers, you know.)

Coming up, two weeks from tonight at THE AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE, is Savant's favorite (yep, he's got one) movie, kind of a personal quest, a holy grail, a baby with bathwater, a gravy train with biscuit wheels ... you know the film I'm thinking of, yes, MAJOR DUNDEE.  The unenlightened see a lopsided, marginally incoherent movie with a bad mix and worse music, clunky continuity and not the best directing job from Sam Peckinpah.  Savant sees the great American National Epic, the CHUSHINGURA of the sagebrush, a monumental saga that fate, bad producing, stubborn directing and just plain Bad Karma did not allow to come to full fruition.  Savant got ahold of an original screenplay in 1979 and has treasured it ever since, warts and all.  Want to get your ears talked off, just bring it up in conversation or an email and Savant will annoy the bejumpinjehovah outta you.  And I'll be there on Hollywood Boulevard on the 24th at 9 O'clock, to see MAJOR DUNDEE, too!

Thanks again, for the fun and the films.  Glenn


March 7, 2001

Happy Wednesday ... there's a new review up for Paramount's fine disc, Alfie.  The movie that confirmed Michael Caine's status as a real movie star, it's dated not one week since it opened 35 years ago!

A brief plug for a bit of daring booking going on at a local repertory movie house:  Los Angeles readers have an opportunity to see a truly rare movie in LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FABULOUS STAINS!,  a 1982 film that Paramount refused to release about the rise and fall of a rock 'n roll band.  It stars Diane Lane and Laura Dern.  It was directed by rock legend Lou Adler (UP IN SMOKE, producer of ROCKY HORROR and Carole King's "Tapestry" album) and has gained a massive reputation over the years as the best rock drama of the '80s.  Yet few have seen it except for a few mangled and censored screenings on the old USA channel.  Savant's been told that it's going to start screening as a midnight show at the Nuart Theater in West LA beginning Friday, March 16th.   More information can be had on the title through this link, or by going to the Landmark website and checking the movie index.


March 5, 2001

A new review is up for Image Entertainment's The Brain From Planet Arous, a notorious 1958 monster movie that Savant never gets tired of ... because it's funny and well-made.

Savant just got back from his SAVANT SECRET CINEMA screening of VOYAGE TO THE END OF THE UNIVERSE, the A.I.P. recut of the 1963 Czech film IKARIE XB-1.  We chose it for screening because it's virtually unseeable, and will remain so until the Czech original is re-imported (hint hint).  It's a serious film that won some festival prizes in Europe when it was new.  The story is about a spaceship en route to a 'green planet', and the episodic adventures it has on the way.  There's a nice section just about life as usual aboard the giant Enterprise-like ship, with its elevators and public rooms.  People take video calls from back home on giant wall screens.  An alarm is sounded during a dinner-dance party (the minimalist dancing to the avant-garde score is amusing) and everyone rushes to their emergency stations in ball gowns and tuxedoes.  The ending episode, about a mysterious sleeping sickeness that overcomes all aboard the ship, is rather slow and unexciting, but it's the famous middle section that everyone wants to see.  The ship comes across a derelict craft and boards it to investigate, and finds what seem to be a bunch of dead American capitalists who've been preserved just as they died 700 years before.  All the signage in the ship is in English!  When they touch one corpse, its face breaks away revealing a skull ( a detail that brought squeals from the kiddie crowd I saw it with in 1964).  This sequence is lit only by the lanterns brought by the astronauts, and is very atmospheric - very much like ALIEN and extremely successful.  Elsewhere the production design is equally excellent, especially the convincing spacesuits and the corridors which look remarkably like those for 2001.  The black & white 'scope photography is beautifully composed, often with vast expanses of graphically arresting set decoration with the subject at one extreme of the screen.

Unfortunately, this last surviving A.I.P reference print was in terrible shape.  Stored on steel reels for 40 years, the reels rusted and the last ten feet of film on each simply disintegrated; the last 30 feet or so of each reel were so brittle they just broke off.  And the last five minutes of each reel was shrunken and warped, so that it kept popping in and out of focus.  So about 20% of the screening was hard to see.  The American version of this movie is a totally abandoned item (no rights), so it's too bad that this last print is only 70% screenable.  We have access to a lot of movies but we still try to choose rare items like this rather than titles we've all seen twenty times!

Next review up, ALFIE ... and the weekly Newsletter too!  Glenn


March 3, 2001

Various news, along with a new review:  Anchor Bay's DVD of Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case, a melodrama that didn't quite gel for Savant, but no doubt has a fan following of its own.

A thoughtful reader has informed me that KISS ME DEADLY will be released by MGM on DVD in June.  That sounds about right, although I've seen no official word.  Since the original elements were restored to the original longer conclusion in 1997, the disc will either omit the clunky butchered ending predominantly seen for 42 years, or include it as an extra (perhaps with the disclaimer graphic intro edited by Savant).  MGM's copy of DEADLY is nigh perfect, so the DVD should be a stunner, but don't toss those 1997 laserdiscs with the handsome album artwork, because the music score on them is isolated and contains several cues not in the final mix!

Another development:  the final Erickson-written MGM VIDEO (now CINEMA) SAVANT has just been uploaded.  Savant didn't renew his contract due to a number of differences, but my relationship with Tim, Whitney, Deborah and the rest of MGM Online was a good one and I wish the site well.  There will be a different writer from now on, and all Cinema Savant mail will be going to him/her from now on, whoever that is.  I've asked them to let people know that the MGM Savant is no longer me, so hopefully there won't be much confusion.  The only regretful thing about this turn of events is that the (limited) access to rare MGM graphics for articles on missing scenes from titles like FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES and KISS ME STUPID! will end.  The trend was to make the MGM column more about recent releases and upcoming movies and their stars, not about the arcane and the legendary movie past.

Next time up, I'll have another review and word on the Savant Secret Cinema screening!  Glenn


March 1, 2001

A new review is up for Criterion's new disc of I Know Where I'm Going!, a Savant favorite from way back.  It's a retread of its earlier excellent laserdisc special edition, with no new surprises, but very welcome just the same.  As this was first announced for last October, it's about time. Glenn


February 27, 2001

The new review, or preview review, that is, for Rear Window is up and rolling.  What with discs from Universal and Anchor Bay, Savant will have ten complete Hitchcock reviews up very soon.  Back to editing, thanks for the feedback on THINGS TO COME! Glenn


February 24, 2001

There's a new review up for a favorite Savant's been waiting for, for a long time: Things to Come.  Savant gives you the lowdown on the quality of this Image disc, and adds a little- discussed backstory on its famous author, H.G. Wells, whose socialist philosophy reads more like proto-Hitler than enlightened futurism.

Also of interest: at the bottom of this index page, there's now a Search Engine, courtesy of Savant's new Fearless Leader Geoffrey Kleinman here at DVDTalk.com .  A year ago Savant spent about 20 hours making an (almost immediately obsolete) subject index.  This feature makes it totally unnecessary.  Want to know if Savant had anything to say about, say, June Lockhart, or income tax, or film blanc?  just type it in and every reference to your word or phrase in these 197 articles appears in a fast list.  I'm actually having fun doing it myself.

Whole buncha new discs in:  TEENAGE DOLL, BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS, CHUSHINGURA, BEST OF THE BEST:ROMANCE, NOTORIOUS, REBECCA, THE PARADINE CASE.   I'm reviewing them as fast as I can, and still do a decent job!  Thanks,  Glenn Erickson


February 22, 2001

Savant has startling news from not one but two associates who have seen yet another restoration of METROPOLIS, the 1927 Fritz Lang classic that's existed only in broken, digest versions for 74 years.  Aitam Bar-Sagi, the Israeli fan who runs the The Metropolis Restoration Page website, made a special trip to Berlin last week to see a special screening of the Berlin Filmmuseum's new version of the movie.  It was also caught by MGM Archivist and longtime Savant collaborator John Kirk, who managed to squeeze into the sold-out auditorium as well.  Forget the Moroder 1984 version, forget even last year's PAL DVD ... the word is that this new piece of restoration, overseen by the museum's Martin Koerber, comes mostly from original elements from the Bundesfilmarchiv, and is almost complete and practically pristine.

Aitam reports:  "You can sum it up as this:  Amazing image quality.  It had the original intertitles.  Only three stills were used in place of footage, two of Hel's Memorial and one of a book Freder is reading.  Lost scenes were represented by intertitles with normal font.  If you've seen all the earlier restorations, then you have seen most of it.  This new version had minor things not in any of the 3 previous versions.  It's 3341 meters long, which is 146 min., 30sec. at 20 fps.  The soundtrack at the premiere wasn't very good."

The three earlier restorations: 1) the FSF DVD is that Silver PAL DVD which contains a very early version of the Filmmuseum version, from somewhere around 1980/1.  2) The Australian tinted copy is from 1928, around 93min, and has a lot of small bits and pieces not in other versions, variations of existing scenes.  However it lacks important material presumably cut by Aussie censors: the robot's dance and Freder's visit to the cathedral. 3) Giorgio Moroder's 1984 pop revision, besides its disco soundtrack, has fluctuating quality and a lot of spurious choices - adding new altered footage and deleting shots that were always there before.

John adds:  "Instead of the original score, the soundtrack of this new version is a new atonal piece that nobody seemed to like much.  The big surprise is the image quality.  The restoration work was done in Paris, where the whole film was digitally reprocessed.  It looked fantastically good; only the last reel couldn't be finished in time for the festival screening, so the quality drops somewhat at the very end. It should be all finished very soon."

NOW for the even better good news ... this new restoration is slated to show here in the United States, in Los Angeles at the very least, this fall as part of an all-inclusive Fritz Lang retrospective to be held at the Los Angeles County Art Museum. The Deutsche Kinemathek has put together a travelling retrospective that official word claims will travel to "Vienna, Los Angeles and Paris."  The Summer will be programmed with Lang's American movies;  and in the fall will come METROPOLIS and other pristine German originals.  According to John, in addition to Los Angeles, the Fritz Lang Tour will also be at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley sometime later this year. LACMA and PFA are working together to bring the series to a lucky US of A.

John Kirk saw one of the silent MABUSE films while in Berlin, and also one half of Lang's late-career Indian adventure movie, DAS INDISCHE GRABMAL.  Hopefully it and others will be shown over here as well.  Savant's never seen most of them, and is informed that the German originals of things like SEIGFRIED are longer and better than anything shown here.  Having read about an erotic dance by Debra Paget in DAS INDISCHE GRABMAL that reddened the ears of English critics Robin Wood and Raymond Durgnat way back when, Savant's definitely got some screening plans this year!

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Frequent correspondent J. Swindol writes in about two new MGM Midnight Movies:  "Finally the two Vincent Price DR. PHIBES Movies are on DVD. ABOMINABLE looks excellent, great print.  RISES AGAIN is an ok print, but the restoration of the "Over the Rainbow" ending (and methinks another scene with Phibes & Vulnavia dancing aboard ship) is most welcome.  Very short on extras (trailers only) and having some of the ugliest menus I've seen (being in love means not having to say you're ugly I guess ;) ).  Glad to have them on DVD but it would've been nice to have a director's commentary and some nice animated/musical film themed menus.  However, since they're so economical, I can't complain too loudly. Cheers."

Savant thinks we should be grateful (not necessarily to MGM) that genre movies are starting to get decent DVD releases.  There are individuals this year trying to get MGM to spring for commentaries, documentaries, etc., for groups of Midnight Movies.  More power to them, if MGM's structured DVD release system can yield to include such audience- pleasing extras.

This may be heresy to DVD aficionados, but Savant says, if the movie on the DVD is of decent quality, the balance of what we're owed by the producer is level ... that's the 'unspoken contract."  If there are extras, well, they're extra!

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The editing ball is still rolling and being good to Savant - he's starting another assignment, but will keep the reviews coming on! GE


February 20, 2001

A long-delayed review of Anchor Bay's Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! disc from wildman Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar is up, a great disc that goes well with last year's ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (Savant's favorite film from 1999) and WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, soon to be out from MGM.  Hopefully TIE ME UP! will be just the first of a string of Anchor Bay Almodóvar films, as they've done so well with Werner Herzog.

For those of you in the New York City area, the fabulous Wim Wenders' UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD, the 3 movie, 4.5 hour version Savant talks so much about, will be screening in the Big Apple very soon, and Savant wants every possible person to be informed about the opportunity:

"The American Museum of the Moving Image has announced that Wim Wenders will introduce a screening of the 280-minute version of UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD on Saturday, February 24 at 7 p.m. at the DGA Theater, 110 West 57th Street.  Tickets are $15.  The telephone number of the Museum is 718-784-0077."

There, you've been informed.  There's little likelihood of this superlative movie either coming out on DVD or being screened much in the future, making the screening we saw last month here in L.A. something of a legendary memory.  Anybody in the NYC vicinity inclined to check it out, is heartily encouraged.

Stanley Kramer passed away yesterday.  Savant had mixed feelings about this aggressively liberal producer-director, always having liked some of his films and being highly suspicious of others.  His pictures were always better as ideas and most have dated badly, but he was quite a unique character and even his worst were fun to watch.  Savant has always loved ON THE BEACH, but thought his other serious issue films INHERIT THE WIND, JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG, THE DEFIANT ONES and GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER were pretty rough sledding.   I realize HIGH NOON is a landmark classic, but looked at without all the hoop-la, it's only a so-so film with a lot of clichés and some great finishing work.  On the other hand, it's impossible not to like IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD despite itself.  It's a terrible conception saved by the affection we have for all those comedians marooned without a joke.  With Ethel Merman along for the ride, it should have had at least one musical number!  Kramer came to UCLA in the early 1970s to show us BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN, a dreary movie with a message even more obvious than usual.  He was proud of his filmography though, and spoke to us as if he indeed thought that filmmaking was some kind of ideological war.  A very forceful man, even when his movies were not. - GE


February 16, 2001

This year the Cinematheque is really outdoing itself. Last month it was the long UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD, and last night I got to see THE FABULOUS WORLD OF JULES VERNE. Actually, what I really saw was VYNALEZ ZKAZY, the original Czech film from 1958, minus the annoying Art Linkletter introductory opening imposed on it for American release. It was also in Czech with subtitles, in a beautiful 35mm print.

You probably haven't heard much of this film unless you are a Science Fiction fan. It's a Jules Verne story with airships and submarines and pirates and a (very atomic-sounding) secret explosive invention. The kicker is that filmmaker Karel Zeman's unique Melies-like style of animation brings the whole show together emulating the look of 19th-century woodcuts and engravings. People are walking around in sets that are half animated, half diorama-like props, all with lots of parallel lines on them! The whole movie is charming, but the highlight I remembered from 1962 was a little submarine that moved with little finned appendages that dog-paddled through the water! Following the feature they showed an early 60's short docu on Zeman that was simply terrific, showing the props from his movies and scenes from ZKAZY, BARON MUNCHAUSEN, and other films. I had no realistic hope of ever seeing this film in its original version (even though Wade Williams distributes the American cut on vhs, and it might come to DVD) and it might never come this way again. The Cinematheque announcer said the same Karel Zeman series was moving on to some venue in New York City very soon, for those of you in that area.

My Hitchcock discs arrived, so hopefully there'll be a flurry of reviews oozing out of Savant this weekend .... GE


February 15, 2001

So, how about those Kubrick titles ... seriously, folks ... Everyone's going out of their way on the web to say that it was the Kubrick estate that 'required' Warners to release all those crummy obsolete masters on DVD last summer. Not only have I argued that the speed at which the collection came out indicated a rationale more to do with marketing plans (the King is dead, get those discs out now!) than 'director's wishes, but the story that the Kubrick heirs were the roadblock to good versions of the films doesn't wash either. Savant believes Kubrick didn't have TIME to devote any attention to Home Video with his schedule on EYES WIDE SHUT, and was too much of a micro-manager to let anyone else approve new transfers. Savant also believes the Kubrick heirs would be the FIRST to say, "remaster the works, and damn the torpedoes," even before Stanley was gone, if they could have gotten away with it ... Say what you will about Kubrick, he was NOT the kind of director to lend his work to commercial exploitation, as he proved when he pulled A CLOCKWORK ORANGE from English release for years, eschewing the $ in favor of what he felt was doing the right thing. In the long run, Warners surely had no emotional problems whatsoever putting out the inferior discs, because it allowed them to do what they're doing now, which is reissuing the films all over again, less than a year after the first box set!

This may seem outrageous to DVD fans who paid retail, but veteran laserdisc buyers won't be fazed - we're the ones who bought multiple discs of movies like GOLDFINGER every time there was a new edition or another, and are looking at hundreds of dollars of lasers on our shelves that will be quaint props for 'remember when' stories to the grandchildren in 2020. Savant welcomes the new Kubrick editions, and certainly hopes they have civilized features like 16:9 enhancement and real-world aspect ratios. They don't have to be 1:85 ... 1:66 will do nicely. There are only three or four I'm sufficiently ga-ga over to want to buy again, anyway, but the important thing is that there is a CHANCE that Kubrick will be represented on DVD in top form. Resenting a studio for wanting to maximize profit from your favorite cinema art may be righteous, but it's not a fun way to spend your life, Homey. If this retread means a fab 16:9 remaster of the incredibly worthy 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, Savant will parrot the company line too!

Tonight Savant is going to brave the wilds of Hollywood Boulevard to see Karel Zeman's THE FABULOUS WORLD OF JULES VERNE at the American Cinematheque, that is, IF it's going to be in 35mm. Since most video looks better than 16mm, I'll pass. Wish there were a way to determine the gauge of the shows before we go - it's the only real complaint I ever had about the Cinematheque. At any rate, I'll be reporting on the show tomorrow!  Glenn


February 10, 2001

The first newsletter will be going out shortly ... besides informing about the site, there's a couple of interesting newsy items in it.  The initial sign-up in just four days was a flattering 987 requests!

Savant's editing diet has changed from DVD Docus back to old-fashioned trailers for a few weeks, which is exciting because I get to work with two of the best in the business.  This is the perfect way to catch up with the trends in trailers ... about which I tend to be very critical, don't I?

Savant just found out about a surprising phenomenon in Preston Sturges' classic SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS. Bill Blackwell has apparently known about this for a long time, and thoughtfully shared it with us, in the article Sullivan's Corpse.

Babette's Feast is a great disc, but probably not the kind of movie you're rushing to the stores to get.  Surprise yourself and rent it sometime when you need to show a serious 'nice' movie.  Next up, TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! and the Hitchcock discs, when they arrive ... Glenn


February 5, 2001

Happy Monday .. new reviews are up for From Mao to Mozart and La Guerre est Finie. The first is an independently released, academy award- winning documentary about violinist Isaac Stern's trip to China in 1979, just three years afte the official end of the repressive Cultural Revolution. The second is a very good Image Entertainment presentation of a seldom- screened Alain Resnais film from 1966, starring Yves Montand, Ingrid Thulin and an incredibly young Genviève Bujold.

Savant started a new job today, cutting a theatrical promo for a very front-line editorial company - after a year in documentaries, it will be a good change of pace to be concentrating on only two intense minutes of screen time again.

If you read the Alice's Restaurant review as soon as it went up, it's been revised with a really good rebuttal letter. I like getting these kinds of Email.

There's now a Newsletter Button on this page - if you want to get a weekly newsletter from yours truly with a prompt toward new content on the page, and other Savantly issues, please click for it, and see what happens ... thanks, Glenn


February 3, 2001

New reviews are up for Cats, the commemorative edition and Alice's Restaurant, one interesting disc over a year old, and another brand new. To Savant's thinking, Alice's Restaurant represents a good example of what MGM could do with many a film deserving some special content, short of involved documentaries, etc., and it's an encouraging sign for that studio.

AMC showed the 1959 Hammer The Mummy twice last night, once in a regular pan-scan, but later in a very handsome letterboxed version. The existing video transfers of The Mummy and Warners' other two Hammer greats, Horror of Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein were blurry, lacklustre eyesores, and it's been greatly lamented for years that nothing was happening to bring these earliest, most celebrated Hammer classics to DVD (or laser, or anything) in decent transfers. Both Horror and Mummy were originally presented in wonderful Technicolor prints ... Anyhoo, the fact that a re-transferred Mummy is being shown hopefully indicates some movement in the iceblock surrounding those titles. Look to Fox, you Warner folk, and see what they're doing with their Fly and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea / Fantastic Voyage double features!

DVDTalk will soon start sending out invites to be included on a DVD Savant mailing list. This will mainly be a weekly-or-so update of what's new on the site. These daily columns might be moving there permanently, so as to make the index page easier to download. (Please let me know your opinions about these things, as I might be breaking up the index page. The last thing I want to do is bury DVD Savant content any deeper than it is. I know that I sure don't do any in-depth exploring on many sites, and I want DVD Savant to remain as accessible as it can!)

Note also that the Email link atop this page is a-working now ..! Glenn


February 2, 2001

"Hey, bundle up warm kiddies, cause it's Co-o-old out there!" Yes, it's Groundhog Day, and besides recommending that unappreciated, brilliant comedy (Savant thinks its a more rational, useful version of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE), Savant has a couple of new reviews up.  One is for Warners' colorful, old-fashioned 1947 musical Good News, which pays off with one of the most fun musical numbers Savant can remember.  There's also extra clips of songs from an 'all talking, all singing' 1930 version of the film that are funnier than anything in the main feature.  From the North of England, Lee Broughton offers a region 2 review of a music video disc called Underworld Live, Everything, Everything.  Lee contributes to Savant from time to time;  if you haven't read his concise history of the Spaghetti Western Genre, it's there waiting for you, Ringo.

Yes, Savant is breaking down and buying a new DVD machine - nothing fancy, just one that will play Anchor Bay's TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! so I can finish the review!  My old player isn't one of the 1st generation clunkers that hangs up on everything.  It is, however, a 2nd generation, late 1977 semi-clunker that occasionally balks at accessing some added value material.  It refused to play a disc last summer, and now this.  Since my wife can't live without Antonio, and I want to see Victoria Abril and the Nazi television commercials again ... well, the time has come.

The American Cinematheque in Los Angeles is showing some hot stuff in a couple of weeks - most of the films of Czech director Karel Zeman, whose BARON MUNCHAUSEN is well-known here.  Savant saw bits of that from television, but mostly remembers his VYNALEZ ZKAZY from 1958, which came out as THE FABULOUS WORLD OF JULES VERNE in about 1963 or so, with an added intro by Art Linkletter.  It's an incredible half-animated film that combines live action, animation, and stop-motion animation to bring to life images that look just like the old-fashioned illustrations that appeared in books circa 1860.  Just amazing.  Zeman did several other similar Verne tales, and Savant isn't going to miss ON THE COMET (1970) either ... having remembered the wonderful Classics Illustrated comic book from the novel as a kid!  The series starts February 14 ... GE

New reviews are up for the superlative Michael Powell - Emeric Pressburger movie Black Narcissus, and the Film Board of Canada's Best of the Best, Especially for Kids! collection of short subjects.


January 27, 2001

New reviews are up for the superlative Michael Powell - Emeric Pressburger movie Black Narcissus, and the Film Board of Canada's Best of the Best, Especially for Kids! collection of short subjects.

The first of the recent batch of Criterions is up, Fiend Without a Face, a title and genre that is not Criterion's cup of tea. The movie looks great, and there's a fine Tom Weaver commentary, but Criterion's cinematic taste seems prejudiced against the film, as the usual insightful extra content is marred by a shoddy piece on Sci Fi history. Fiend is a fan favorite, and Savant wanted to express his disappointment with some the extras, not the presentation of the film itself, which is first-class.

Hammer fans take note, the always-on-point The Mobius Home Video Forum has tipped us to AMC's promised showing of the Hammer/Christopher Lee THE MUMMY next Friday night - letterboxed! If this isn't a typo, it may signal the breaking of the dam at Warners, which has pretty much ignored its Hammer library. THE MUMMY has looked bleary and cropped for twenty years, when it should be a knockout. The laserdisc even has audio warbles in its track, and a big rip in its title sequence ... hopefully this will be superceded next Friday night.

On a minor note, Savant favorite VERA CRUZ is coming to DVD next month. It also has a big audio warble, right at the first notes of music at the beginning, that Savant hopes will be cleared up (along with a cleaner audio track). Also finding out how they matte this initial SuperScope movie will be fun to see.

Now over a bout with a cold, Savant is whipping himself into a writing frenzy (pant, pant)... and should have a string of less-wordy reviews up very soon. Thanks for all the interesting letters last week. GE


January 22, 2001

If everything loads up properly, there should be new reviews for Ring of Bright Water and Manhunter available online now.  Both are excellent discs.  Anchor Bay came through with some hot titles, including Pedro Almodóvar's TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN!  Unfortunately, it wouldn't get past the Anchor Bay logo in Savant's late 1997 Mitsubishi player ... which may put Savant in line for a new machine.  What do you do when the review is half written, but you can't watch the movie?  I've been trying to find a way to blame it on George Bush, Jr., with no luck.

New DVDTalk fearless leader Mr. Kleinman is organizing an interesting DVD Savant newsletter idea, that hopefully will be a desired addtion to the working of the page.  So many people have written to me asking where DVD Savant ended up that I was having a hard time understanding it, until I realized the Meta Tags and Keywords on this main index page didn't feature the words DVD Savant.  So that's been fixed.  Another organizational thing; for those of you who can't sleep nights, the archived older Savant Columns are now in order and reachable on this new page, via the link here and at the bottom of the front-page columns immediately below.  More reviews soon ... Glenn


January 21, 2001

Savant has a new review up for Image Entertainment's NOVA: Faster than Sound.  More are coming - GE


January 20, 2001

The hot announcements from FOX and MGM got Savant's attention:  MGM has some great foreign films coming up in excellent-sounding 16:9 editions:   FELLINI'S SATYRICON,  FELLINI'S ROMA, and Almodóvar's LIVE FLESH  and WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.  Being able to see the Spanish films without subtitles will be wonderful!   FOX promises VON RYAN'S EXPRESS and a special edition of TORA! TORA! TORA!.  The 1970 saga of Pearl Harbor is doubtlessly timed to coincide with the theatrical release of PEARL HARBOR.

Speaking of PEARL HARBOR, I caught the marathon-length trailer while watching TRAFFIC the other day (TRAFFIC is very good & recommended, by the way).  Two years ago my son did a high school field trip to a computer animation/special effects house, where he saw an animatic of a particular shot from the film.  The crude rendering showed a Japanese zero loosing a bomb, which flew past the camera.  The camera pivoted with it and then chased it downward, á la DOCTOR STRANGELOVE, as the background became a ship flying up toward us, men running every which way on its deck.  It was the same shot my son saw, the 'showoff' cgi shot probably pegged all along for the trailer.   The other angles with effects looked pretty good, although there were some mastershots that were so chock-full optimized with action that they HAD to be entirely cgi.

It really reminded me of all the showoff cgi work that play like burnt holes of boredom in '90s pictures:  the pointless ballet dance around the rocket in APOLLO 13, the endless overhead shots of the TITANIC that look like they're made from a 1912 television helicopter.  PEARL HARBOR, the movie, seemed (judging by its trailer) to be turning the Day of Infamy into another INDEPENDENCE DAY, what with the anachronistic-looking lovers caught in the chaos of the attack.  It also obviously includes the Doolittle raid made a couple of months later, as it shows B-25s taking off from the decks of aircraft carriers.  Naturally I hope it's a good film.  I definitely want one of those beautiful posters.  Hopefully PEARL HARBOR will not be to TORA! TORA! TORA! what TITANIC was to A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, mainly, an embarassment.  Will the makers of PEARL HARBOR dedicate their movie to the dead of Dec. 7, as the King of the World dedicated his TITURKEY Oscar to the victims of 1912?  We'll have to stay tuned, folks.  Savant will be there opening day, probably, as googleyed as the next guy to see all the action, and hoping it won't look like an anime;.  Come to think of it, if it does look like an anime, we'll finally find out who won the war, culturally.   Seeing the bombs falling intercut with people jitterbugging to swing music reminded me of old times, namely, 1979's 1941. New review tomorrow, hopefully ... Glenn

The new Savant review of The Mario Bava Box Set is up.


January 17, 2001

It's Wednesday, and Savant is finishing up a trio of essays on the new Mario Bava Box set from VCI. Last Sunday, we spent the evening at the Cinematheque watching UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD, the three movie, 280 minute marathon of an epic that I've written so much about. It was a great experience I was happy to share with friends and family, and a truly privileged one. Wim Wenders talked for about an hour after the show, and he said that the possibility of a DVD release in the US was not good, citing problems with the "Completion Bond people ... the books are closed and they want them to stay closed." A very strange state of affairs. He said he could put the movie out on DVD in France and Germany later in the year ... but nothing sounded final or certain.

Mr. Wenders talked very fluidly. His English has improved since the last big California screening of this epic in 1997. I was conflicted somewhat during the question and answer session because I really wanted to ask the question about the relationship between UTEOTW and Bertrand Tavernier's DEATHWATCH that I detailled in the Until the End of the World Part 2 Article; but it wasn't the right venue for a question that might be taken as some kind of half-baked criticism. Blurting out such a pointed question in the formal setting also seemed far too egotistical. I'll figure it out someday.

This may be old news already, but Marc Walkow of Image Entertainment gave me what I thought were a couple of nice scoops concerning future Image releases: They are working on a full restoration of a rarely seen 1959 English movie called THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS. It's a version of the Burke and Hare tale also told in THE BODY SNATCHERS and THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS, and stars Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasance as Doctor and Body Snatcher respectively. It's supposed to be as good or better than many a Hammer production. FLESH AND THE FIENDS was a production of the Baker/Berman team, who were famous for doing staid English versions of movies like THE HELLFIRE CLUB, and shooting alternate nude scenes for export to the rest of Europe. The planned disc will be a special edition; it might be a double feature of both the English and sexed-up Continental versions, or if the differences are slight, the extra scenes may only be supplements. But the disc will definitely have a 16:9 transfer at the film's original 2:35 aspect ratio, and will be the original British version, not the cut-down American variant called MANIA.

Remembering that Baker/Berman also produced THE CRAWLING EYE, I was about to ask if that were a possible part of the deal, when Walkow let me know that that hot title is also planned, but as part of the Wade Williams collection. The interesting news is that Image is searching for the best elements available, which is good news. The previous Williams editions on tape and laser were not of particularly noteworthy quality.

To wrap up, Gary Teetzel tipped me off to an interesting Elmer Bernstein website run by the composer himself. Gary said Bernstein is putting together a record deal and has a list asking readers to vote for the scores they'd most like to hear on CD. Included on the list is Robot Monster! It's actually refreshing to see a major artist who's not trying to pretend his early, less prestigious work never existed! Back Soon, GE


January 12, 2001

Happy Friday! Savant just got back from the movie ANTITRUST, which was a little oversimplified, but rather entertaining. Tim Robbins makes an excellent Bill Gates type, if you want to believe Bill Gates is a cross between Dr. Mabuse, Mister Rogers, and the Devil incarnate. I'll be writing a review of it for MGM Video Savant over the weekend .... when I'm NOT at UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD, the long 3-movie version at the Cinematheque here on Hollywood Boulevard. The latest review up is for MGM's new non-flipper disc of The Best Years of Our Lives. It's still one of the finest movies ever made. See you on Monday! GE


January 7, 2001


Savant has more reviews up, for the superior 1956 William Wyler movie Friendly Persuasion, and John Wayne's epic saga of The Alamo. GE


January 04, 2001

Hello again from Sunny California. Savant has a new review up for two versions of Nosferatu, the 1922 F.W. Murnau silent from Image Entertainment, by way of archivist David Shepard, and the 1979 Werner Herzog color remake, with Klaus Kinski as the loathesome vampire with the rat-like teeth (actually, Herzog in his commentary calls them viper-like). I'll be back soon; a mystery box of review discs just arrived from DVDTalk's remote headquarters, and Savant is typing as fast as he can to get this update in place so as to be free to rip the package to shreds and find out what's inside. A reminder for Los Angeles-locality readers: Wim Wenders 280 minute, 3 feature version of Until the End of the World is indeed going to have a one-time only screening at the American Cinematheque on Sunday, January 14! Glenn


January 03, 2001

Three days into the new year and Savant has already been hit with a nice stack of titles to review for DVDTalk, which will throw some variety into the stew on these sticky pages. But the strange and weird will continue to flourish here, what with a couple of new Mario Bavas to ponder over, and the ability to compare the 1922 and the 1979 versions of NOSFERATU. With Academy screenings in full swing, opinionizing on new films will probably seep into these updates as well. Lastly, the classy new formatting of DVDTalk has made it obvious that there are a lot of older articles here that need rewriting, or just trawling for typos that survived 20 illiterate Savant readings. I'm still partial even to pix unavailable on video or DVD, and it's time to give them some attention too! Thanks for all the encouragement! Excelsior! Glenn


January 1, 2001


Happy New Year and a happy new start for DVD Savant! Geoffrey Kleinman quite literally floored me with the most attractive and rewarding inquiry ... that plus a raft of recommendations steered me to toss my hat into the ring here at DVDTalk. I'd visited DVDTalk a zillion times checking out the bargains on the web, which are still considerable. I hope the enormous traffic here at DVDTalk will result in enhanced visibility for DVD Savant. Geoffrey has very interesting plans to keep Savant busy, and I can only wish myself the best luck for the whole enterprise.

If all the old links aren't up yet, I apologize. I have some time off from editing so I'll be doing them as fast as I can. I'll also be trying to send out as many notices as I can, to make up for the move announcement back at DVD Resource only being up for 24 hours. But I think the word should get around ... I think.

Thanks ... here's to a New World of Gods and Monsters! Glenn


December 17, 2000

DVD Savant will definitely have a home and continue. After the solicitation of interest, 27 varied offers came in fairly quickly. Hopefully there will be time next week to contact some of them and see what's possible for Savant in the wild webby world out there.

No confirmation yet from the American Cinematheque about the UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD screening, so Savant hopes this isn't some kind of private show, that the Wenders aide definitely said would happen on January 14.

TCM is showing Kubrick's 2001 - A SPACE ODYSSEY twice for New Year's - at midnight both for Eastern time and Pacific time. Thirty two years ago, I watched the movie like everyone else of my generation and couldn't wait for regular flight service to orbiting space stations and moon colonies. Besides the general tepid pace of our real space exploration, a lot of the political predictions of 2001 have been superceded by history. With the cold war extinct, the hushed non-cooperation between Russians and Americans in the film is no longer correct. We just have a general arrogance toward everyone now. Pan Am no longer exists to fly orbital clippers, unfortunately. And plans for the atomic engines of the Jupiter ship Discovery are probably sitting in some underfunded NASA file cabinet.

Strange that 1936's THINGS TO COME, as inaccurate as it is, has spiritually not yet been bested. I first screened it at UCLA in 1970, to a crowd of dormie kids astonished at its prediction of the mass bombing of a London-like city in 1940. And its 1970 warlord-tyrant, "The Boss" was for us Richard Nixon. I believed we showed it only a few weeks after the major Cambodia fracas that shut down the campus a week before Spring break.

H.G. Wells' technical future is of course a hoot - we aren't on our way to shimmering cities of techno-communist peace and tranquility. But his endearing sentiment, contrasting unending war with the prospect of a destiny of peace and scientific exploration, pretty much sums up science fiction's recipie for the hopes of man. 2001's destiny is a fate totally beyond Man's own understanding. It places zero value on our present evolution, socially or spiritually. Outside forces will take us under their wings. It's as good a thesis as any, but not one particularly useful in a personal philosophy. THINGS TO COME, on the other hand, is about the 20th century dreaming of something better. Wells got it right once again when he pegged the last century as the Age of Terror - even now the greater mass of humanity lives desperate lives of want and insecurity, often under threat of violence of one kind or another. THINGS TO COME is a simpleminded fairy tale, but it's still the dream that animates Savant's greater hopes, and still the 'auld lang syne' Savant favorite for milestone moments, as the coming of 2001 will be.

Savant doesn't expect it to mean much to his children (let alone our children's children's children). His sons and daughter consider themselves 21st Century people. Turn the clock back 100 years, and they might be the generation who came into their own in 1905 or 1910. I'm the old fellow who just missed serving in the civil war, and who somehow scraped through the intervening years to reach the turn of the century in one piece. Savant uses computer technology in his job and in his home, but his roots are still in film as film and editing as an artisan craft. For my 21st Century children, the computer is a much more ingrained part of their lives, like a bicycle was for me. Son David creates original animations like I made plastic models. Son Daniel organizes complicated Dungeons and Dragons games, like I made little index files of movies.

Savant is looking forward to becoming a 21st Century citizen too!

Extra time is going toward evaluating choices (which I'd better get cracking on, out of simple courtesy) but hopes to have a couple of longer reviews before the New Year - and more frequent updates before The DVD Resource Page winks out on the 31st. If the page mysteriously disappears ahead of schedule, I think I'll be able to notify my regular readers by email, and start rebuilding at the new home, wherever it may be. GE

A reportedly good DVD of THINGS TO COME is promised from Image Entertainment in February.


December 09, 2000

Semi-breaking news - Savant has just been tipped to an American Cinematheque screening this January 14 of the 4 hour, 40 minute Until the End of the World, Wim Wenders' largely unshown, legendary long version of the 1991 movie that most of us have only seen at 2 hours, 40 minutes. Savant will definitely be there. The Wenders website promises a DVD, perhaps later this year, but the 3 movie, 6-hour experience of seeing UTEOTW on a big screen was one of the movie highlights of Savant's last ten years, and he's anxious to drag everyone he knows to it.

I've been going through the older articles here on Savant. You know, I consider myself a good proofreader, but proofing one's own work in the heat of uploading is not a good thing. I promise to re-read and correct as many of the misspellings, extra words, lack of agreement, and general goofery on this site. Savant gets very huffy about lame flubs, but doing this column on his own seems to generate them like flies. Apologies to my readers, when they run into a sentence that plain doesn't make sense because I've got too few or too many words in it!

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN came in ... but as an Xmas gift. Such are sacred around stately Savant manor, so I won't be seeing this disc or reviewing it until guess when.

Changes coming for DVD Savant ... should have news later in the week. Glenn


December 02, 2000

A new review is up for The Bridge on the River Kwai, which turned out to be a disc of very high quality. The docu on the special edition 2-disc set is very good as well, and worth the extra expense. Savant remembers seeing the movie flat on a black & white television on a Sunday night in 1964. Immediately after the devastating finale, the picture faded back up again, on nothing less than Lyndon Johnson's notorious 'little girl and the bomb' Presidential campaign ad. It made the vicious, election-winning slur of Goldwater twice as effective as it might have been! Was ABC in cahoots with the Democrats?

The new MGM Video Savant for December is the best yet, with articles on SID & NANCY, Blockbuster Roadshow movies, and an interview piece on MGM's award-winning DVD Menu designer, Sharon Braun. There's also a contest for a tagline for Savant's new name on a coming redesign, with some attractive prizes.

Thanks, Glenn Erickson


November 30, 2000

Just launched a review for Image Entertainment's Spaceways, a budget-challenged curiosity that Savant knows a lot of sci fi addicts have not yet seen. Next up, BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI.

Savant went to Arizona for Thanksgiving .... and found out by watching PBS that THE BEST OF COSMOS is supposed to be on this weekend. It's a 'teaser' compilation of the highlights of the (fairly famous) 1980 13 hour Carl Sagan documentary, and Savant had the pleasure of editing half of it this summer for some very sharp and professional producers. I hadn't seen most of the show when it came out, but Sagan (much maligned by Johnny Carson for his 'billions and billions' phraseology) is the genuine article when it comes to scientists, and there's almost nothing dated about his visionary messages, which seem as fresh now as twenty years ago. Fresher, perhaps. In 1980 you could still come out and support evolution in the media; Sagan gives a potent argument for rationalism and against creationism. A perfect show for everyone, including kids, COSMOS has some very creative conceptualizing, with terrific recreations of period scenes and a surprise visit from the prop Time Machine from the George Pal film.

Savant still hasn't gotten ANNIE GET YOUR GUN yet, shame, shame. I don't think holding out for a freebie from Warners is going to yield anything so when Xmas shopping becomes too much of a strain this weekend I'll probably break down and pick it up, and we'll get to reviewing it.

If you've been tuning in and finding the same ol' SISTER GEORGE REVIEW as the newest thing here at Savant, I can at least promise some steadier updates, as the editing schedule has calmed down somewhat. Happy last month of the year 2000. GE


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