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June 28, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

Kiss Me Deadly
Blu-ray

Robert Aldrich and A.I. Bezzerides take a blackjack to Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer character, stripping away his righteous fervor to reveal the venal, irresponsible thug beneath. The no-nothing Hammer exploits a nuclear secret for a fast payday and for his effort looses a genre-bending sci-fi apocalypse: "Va-va-VOOM, pretty POW!" Remastered in H-Bomb-ready Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection.
6/28/11

The Boy Friend

Ken Russell goes "G"-rated to produce one of his most delightful entertainments -- no monks burned alive in this one. Winsome supermodel Twiggy plays an overstressed understudy rushed into the footlights when star Glenda Jackson breaks her leg. Russell reaches new heights of movie musical delirium, all amazingly choreographed and designed. This release is the full uncut version complete with intermission. From the Warner Archive Collection.
6/28/11

Miranda

What's this? A truly witty and sexy Brit comedy about a doctor who returns from a fishing trip with an unusual invalid patient -- a beautiful woman who can't walk, and whose legs are always kept covered. Plenty of suggestive activity in this charmer, with Glynis Johns as the velvet-voiced siren with an eye for men, and Googie Withers as the wife surprised a her new guest's knack for seducing every man in sight. Great fun that few U.S. viewers know about. With Margaret Rutherford and directed by Ken Annakin. From VCI Entertainment.
6/28/11

and

The Careless Years

Fine acting by Dean Stockwell and Natalie Trundy makes the difference in this early teen-marriage drama, the first feature of director Arthur Hiller and the last by blacklisted John Howard Lawson. Tough-guy John Larch and a pre-Beaver Barbara Billingsley shine as the parents. Small scale, big emotions and good sociology. From the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
6/28/11




Greetings!

The usual couple of links and announcements today ...

I can't recommend one article highly enough: John McElwee has written up a pair of articles over at his Greenbriar Picture Shows blog that dig deep into Robert Aldrich's western spectacle Vera Cruz, coming up with a bunch of angles and production facts I'd never heard of. What's this about a bathtub scene between Gary Cooper and Denise Darcel? -- he has a photo! He also suggests a theory about the final gundown that will send me back to the new Vera Cruz Blu-ray to look for details, like Darcel holding a gun behind her back! Very good show, Mr. McElwee!

Savant correspondent and subtitling activist (I hope that's accurate) Morris Warren forwards this link to a PR Web article about legislation to mandate subtitling for the hearing-impaired, National Association of the Deaf Files Disability Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Netflix. That might get the ball rolling on this issue ...

Just in, Universal has announced a 3-Film Jurassic Park Blu-ray boxed set for October 25. And Warners has two Tim Burton titles, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, coming in Blu-ray for October 4.

Thanks for reading! -- Glenn Erickson



June 24, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

Adua and Her Friends

An insightful drama that gives a quartet of fine actresses -- Simone Signore, Sandra Milo, Emmanuelle Riva, Gina Rovere -- adult roles of great power. When an official edict closes Italy's brothels and grants prostitutes a clean slate, four friends decide to open a restaurant, yet find their path to new lives obstructed. An altogether compassionate picture that dramatizes forces arrayed against women seeking independence. Also with Marcello Mastroianni. From Rarovideo.
6/25/11

The Honeymoon Machine

Steve McQueen tries his hand at screwball comedy with an ensemble of attractive, likeable young MGM stars led by Paula Prentiss and Jim Hutton. A young Navy lieutenant and a civilian computer expert 'borrow' a top secret electronic brain for their scheme to break the bank at a Venice casino. Plenty of laughs; good comic support from Dean Jagger and especially Jack Weston with his masterful drunk act. From Warner Archive Collection.
6/25/11

and

Woman Obsessed

Emotional Susan Hayward takes on hired hand Stephen Boyd to run her farm, falls in love and marries him. But the 'perfect' second husband traumatizes her young son. Effective bucolic soap with travelogue scenery and big-time forest jeopardy action: fire, flood, quicksand, angry wives. With Barbara Nichols; directed by Henry Hathaway. Features a full-feature Isolated Music Score by Hugo Friedhofer. From Twilight Time.
6/25/11




Greetings!

New discs in: Criterion's Blu-rays of Black Moon, Zazie dans le Métro and People on Sunday: DVDs from MGM Limited Edition Collection Curse of the Faceless Man, Phaedra, The Killer is Loose, and Another Man, Another Chance; VCI's Tiara Tahiti, I Was Happy Here and Miranda, Olive Films' Sands of the Kalahari and The Colossus of New York, and Kino's Blu-ray of Tarkovsky's mysterious The Sacrifice. Reviews are written and waiting to go up for Kiss Me Deadly, Insignificance, First Run's DEFA Anti-Nazi Classics and Kino's Buster Keaton Shorts Blu-ray.

I've made some amusing (let's be optimistic, here) typos and errors in a few recent reviews, so thanks for the help and corrections! So far summer in California is ... wonderful -- if you see a funny-looking guy in shorts with very white legs walking to the FedEx box, chances are it's me. I hope you're avoiding the weather problems elsewhere and doing well.

The odd image above is from an upcoming disc release. In keeping with DVD Savant's fine record of high-profile promotions and marketing, readers who can identify it will win absolutely nothing! Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



June 20, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Squall

Gypsy vamp temptress Myrna Loy seduces all the men in a happy Hungarian family, including the fiancé of poor Loretta Young (who may have been all of sixteen when this was filmed). Alice Joyce stars in this very early all-talkie, directed by Alexander Korda. From the Warner Archive Collection.
6/21/11


Priest of Love
Blu-ray

Ian McKellen and Janet Suzman shine in this fascinating, funny and sexy-serious bio of the last years of D.H. Lawrence, dodging censors and publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover on the sly in Italy. With Ava Gardner in a good late-career role; looks great in Blu-ray from Kino International.
6/21/11

Burn, Witch, Burn

One of the top horror titles of the sixties -- Peter Wyngarde and Janet Blair engage in a Black Magic duel that plays out on a college campus. Terrific script by Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson; some great scares and creepy atmosphere. With the infamous Paul Frees Satanic prologue restored, as well. From the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
6/21/11

and

Nénette
+
Animals and More Animals

French documentarian Nicolas Philibert introduces us to the remarkable Nénette, an ourangutan with a charming personality. The second docu chronicles the archival preparations for an enormous natural history exhibition in Paris. The movies offer a reasoned meditation on what it means to be human, and an inside look at an unusual and thought-provoking artistic process. From Kino International.
6/21/11




Greetings!

Not much to say for myself today, except to say tha I like the titles I'm reviewing, and that I'm keeping the 2010 Savant Wish List fairly well up to date. Another reminder -- the log of Reviews By Month below on this page now gives you a way of quickly scanning back over what titles I've written up since last December.

And I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but a hot release on my wanna-see list came out from the Warner Archive Collection about a week ago, Michael Curtiz's The Breaking Point. The 1950 film is the best adaptation so far of the Hemingway story (or stories) that inspired To Have and Have Not, and a great picture for enjoying John Garfield and Patricia Neal -- the action is moved to California and is aligned in a more crime-oriented noir direction. I may not get that one for awhile, as my WAC docket is fairly full right now.

I do have Kino's new Buster Keaton Shorts Blu-ray in hand and am eager to get into it! I've only seen about half of Buster's pre-feature output, and not always in good-quality transfers.

Thanks for reading! -- Glenn Erickson



June 17, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich

Chris Marker's documentary on the films and philosophy of Andrei Tarkovsky includes fascinating footage from the set of his last production. Also with two excellent Russian documentaries selected by Marker. From Icarus Films.
6/18/11

Das Boot
Blu-ray

Jürgen Prochnow and crew set sail again to sink Allied shipping in the best submarine movie ever made. The 1981 film now looks fantastic in HD, in this two-disc edition containing both the Theatrical and Director's Cuts. In Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
6/18/11

The Brass Legend

Gerd Oswald's modest '56 western has an elevated critical reputation and stars Hugh O'Brien, but it remains modest in most other aspects as well. Raymond Burr creates an excellent bad guy and a couple of the gundowns are remarkably effective. From the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
6/18/11

and

Hair
Blu-ray

It's not really the original anti-war theatrical experience that premiered in 1968, but Milos Forman's 1979 movie version is both bigger, more expansive and exhilarating. With memorable input from the talented John Savage, Treat Williams, Annie Golden, and Twyla Tharp's dancers. And it's an even better experience in widescreen HD. In Blu-ray from MGM/Fox.
6/18/11




Greetings!

Some quick links for you tonight ...

Drifting along the internet web-ways is a 3D Movie timeline purporting to show every major 3D production against its date of release and mode of projection. I've been advised that an expert or two have found some errors in this but I think it's pretty useful just the same. You need to click around to make it big enough to read.

For fans of crazy monsters (as opposed to crazy monster fans), Gary Teetzel forwards this link to a SciFi Japan article on the restoration of an almost lost Korean monster epic: Yongary Makes a Belated Domestic TV Debut.

And Savant correspondent Aitam Bar-Sagi forwards a link to a Metropolis Courier article featuring an Interactive Metropolis Newsstand. (Click on "open website" written in gray.) Aitam helped identify a number of the magazine covers -- film detective work never ceases.

Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson



June 13, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

Park Row

Sam Fuller's ode to journalism is a powerfully patriotic and inspirational film about the American institution of the Free Press. Two-fisted editor Gene Evans takes on jealous, tough publisher Mary Welch to make his 1886 New York tabloid into a "newspaperman's newspaper". When's the last time you saw a movie that made printer's ink and extra editions seem masculine and gutsy? From The MGM Limited Edition Collection.
3/14/11

Toward the Unknown

Disgraced airman William Holden returns to the test pilot racket under flying general Lloyd Nolan, and romances beautiful Virginia Leith. But the real stars are the space-age "Right Stuff" jet and rocket hardware out at the USAF Edwards Flight Test Center. From The Warner Archive Collection.
3/14/11

Vera Cruz
Blu-ray

Rogue soldiers of fortune Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper gun down French aristocrats, Juarista rebels and their own band of freebooting pirates in this prophetic precursor to the ruthless, cynical Spaghetti Westerns. With Cesar Romero and Sarita Montiel. In Blu-ray from MGM/Fox.
3/14/11

The Romantic Englishwoman
Blu-ray

Joseph Losey's lavish 1975 domestic thriller is a puzzle of ambiguity, strong personalities and narrative questions. Glenda Jackson, Michael Caine and Helmut Berger form an unhappy trio; their actions (surprise, surprise) parallel the book Caine's character is writing. Beautiful scenery, design, photography; elegant direction. In Blu-ray from Kino International.
3/14/11

and

The Great Dictator
Blu-ray

Charlie Chaplin's lampoon of Hitler, Mussolini and fascist treachery is a comedy riot, but viewers forget what a courageous act of political effrontery it is. Remastered in HD, with plenty of quality extras. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
3/14/11





Greetings!

These are quiet days, except for the parade of good discs that keep being announced. The latest news comes from Warners, which is releasing a fancy multi-disc special Blu-ray edition of Citizen Kane in September. The set contains a wealth of extras including the entire film RKO 281. And the new 4K restoration will surely please Orson Welles fans, who were once riled over a much earlier DVD disc that fell victim to overzealous digital processing back in the early days of the technology. The old release "scrubbed away" many small details in the image, like raindrops!

Also from the Warner Archive Collection is a title that Savant readers have been asking for for years, Jack Cardiff's brutal and PC-challenged African adventure bloodbath epic Dark of the Sun aka The Mercenaries. I'll hopefully be reviewing this title (available now) later in June. I once had the testosterone-overload color poster up on my wall, but the college girls objected. Besides, I was never going to look like Rod Taylor!

Thanks for reading! -- Glenn Erickson



June 10, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

Revenge
(Adauchi)

Director Tadashi Imai drags the mythology of samurai values through the dust in this furious tale of an honorable, but poor samurai caught in a shockingly unjust Catch-22. After star Kin'nosuke Nakamura's loyal retainer refuses to take an insult, the corrupt dispute system sanctions bloody reprisals and finally a duel: Nakamura is expected to allow an untrained foe slay him in front of a large audience. A swordplay picture with an unexpected emotional grip. From AnimEigo.
6/11/11

The Makioka Sisters
Blu-ray

Kon Ichikawa's adaptation of a classic Japanese novel turns four years in an upscale household in wartime Osaka into a great study of family politics and class pretensions in a changing Japan. Keiko Kishi heads a terrific cast in a family saga about marrying off the younger sisters -- in the right order, to acceptable prospects, in just the right way. A marvelous film, highly recommended. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
6/11/11

Marlowe

James Garner tries his luck with a late-'60s L.A. - Bay Cities - Sunset Strip update of the Chandler classic The Little Sister. Good direction, nicely turned dialogue and great performances from Gayle Hunnicutt, Sharon Farrell, Carroll O'Connor and especially Rita Moreno, who is one hot package. Directed by Paul Bogart. From the Warner Archive Collection.
6/11/11

and

New York, New York
Blu-ray

Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli are excellent in Martin Scorsese's ode to big-time Hollywood musicals, but De Niro's perfectly horrible characterization kills all the joy in the marvelous musical performances. The on-stage music in this show is sensational, and the imitations of Minnelli & Donen MGM classics not so sensational. But it's really something to see, visually. In Blu-ray from MGM/Fox.
6/11/11




Greetings!

I've got a full roster of reviews on the way, with discs in hand: Warner Archive MODs of Toward the Unknown, The Boy Friend, Kongo and the Mexican Spitfire Collection; MGM Limited Edition Collection MODs of Burn, Witch Burn, The Brass Legend, The Careless Years and Sam Fuller's wonderful Park Row; MGM/Fox's BDs of Hair and Vera Cruz, Kino's BDs of The Romantic Englishwoman and Priest of Love and a DVD of the Docu Animals and More Animals/Nénette; VCI's DVDs of Tiara Tahiti, I Was Happy Here and the Glynis Johns mermaid movie Miranda; First Run's DVD Set Anti-Nazi Classics and Icarus Films' One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich; and finally Criterion's BDs of Insignificance and Kiss Me Deadly. That's a tall order but they're all great pictures and I'm already a confirmed fan of most.

One cool link for Horror Fans this week; Gary Teetzel tips me off to a posting at the esteemed Classic Horror Film Board by one Dr. Acula: a link to colorful behind-the scenes publicity footage taken on the set of Roman Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers. At this point in the film's progression, it was apparently being called just "The Vampire Killers".

Thanks for reading! -- Glenn Erickson



June 06, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Stunt Man
Blu-ray

Richard Rush's big cult hit makes for a great HD disc, thanks to a generous helping of interview featurettes and other extras. Fugitive Steve Railsback thinks he's lucked into a great job performing stunts for eccentric director Peter O'Toole and carrying on with sexy star Barbara Hershey. Until he realizes that he may be being set up for a fatal accident. In Blu-ray from Severin Films.
6/07/11

The Company Men
Blu-ray

John Wells' story of layoffs in a big industrial corporation takes a look at attitudes and reactions among career men betrayed by their company. Great acting from Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner and Rosemarie DeWitt. One day you're on top of the pyramid with the house, the Porsche, the country club -- and the next step is moving in with the parents. In Blu-ray from Anchor Bay / Weinstein.
6/07/11

I Am the Law & The Mafia

UK correspondent Lee Broughton takes on a pair of very interesting Italo crime pictures, ground-level exposés of the price of corruption. Starring Claudia Cardinale, Lee J.Cobb, Giuliano Gemma, Franco Nero. A double bill disc from Wild East.
6/07/11

and

Solaris
Blu-ray

The HD improvement is notable in Andrei Tarkovsky's philosophical alternative to 2001. An investigator discovers that scientists on the space station Solaris are receiving 'visitors' conjured up by the sentient ocean-being of the strange planet. He wakes up to find that a woman who killed herself over him ten years before is back, alive, with him again and asking what is going on. Freaky, slow-paced and with a conclusion weird beyond words. In Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
6/07/11




Hello once again --

I'm juggling reviews and feeding bread to that lame pigeon in the back yard. I'm sure I'll be rewarded with a lot of pigeon droppings but I don't have anything better to do, and I don't like the way this pigeon's pals just wrote him off after they saw he wasn't going to fly. Much too human behavior, there. I'm not normally this concerned about animals but it was my window and how did this poor cluck know it was a bad idea to party naked and fly at the same time? So we'll see.

Are you aware of Handmade Films, George Harrison's movie company? It made a number of classy, creative pictures in the 1980s and thereabouts, and Image Entertainment has been releasing a few of the bigger ones on Blu-ray. I've just been checking out the transfers on two new Handmade DVD collections for Bob Hoskins and Michael Palin, and they seem to be a good value. The Hoskins disc set contains The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa and The Raggedy Rawney, plus the fairly rare The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, a particularly touching quality show with Maggie Smith. The Palin selection is The Time Bandits, The Missionary and the very odd, very funny A Private Function. They're a good bargain.

A plug a day, I suppose, but I've always liked the idea of a film exec-produced by George Harrison and I've yet to see a Handmade picture that's really bad. Thanks for reading! -- Glenn Erickson



June 03, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

Night Flight

Locked away in legal limbo for almost seventy years, this all-star MGM show turns out to be a pioneering aviation saga about daring mail-plane pilots in South America. A "wow" cast -- Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Robert Montgomery -- are all present and accounted for, but share few scenes together. Still -- when's the last time you saw a new picture with Gable or Loy? A premiere of sorts, in excellent condition, from Warner Home Video.
6/04/11

The Misfits
Blu-ray

A staggering production from a historical point of view -- four acting legends in important performances in a worthy project. Arthur Miller and John Huston's tale of Reno cowboys at the end of their ropes is great drama and a fascinating viewing experience, especially in HD. The lineup is world-class: Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach. The movie has life and vitality but also the aura of death. In Blu-ray from MGM/Fox Home Video.
6/04/11

Papillon
Blu-ray

Franklin J. Schaffner's epic ode to the human spirit is a maybe-true novel adapted to the screen by Dalton Trumbo. Superstars Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman are both in exemplary form; it's the film's advertising that seemed to beg for Oscar nominations. Quite an ordeal in a tropic paradise-hellhole, now finally in Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
6/04/11

and

The Twist

Claude Chabrol's least-praised picture can boast an impressive cast (Stéphane Audran, Bruce Dern, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Ann-Margret, Sydne Rome, Maria Schell) but is something of a stillborn disaster. For Chabrol completists -- the ones willing to sit through a really poor video encoding. From Pathfinder Pictures.
6/04/11





Greetings!

It's a quiet week here but getting these four reviews (and some others) out was taxing enough that I'd like to get right into Tuesday's stack, which starts with Severin's The Stuntman and Anchor Bay's The Company Men. I'm waiting on expected tall stacks of MOD screeners, which, when they come, well... they come when they come. If they don't I'll double back and check out some recent recommended discs that I haven't committed to write about. I review everything I solicit, but other good films come in too.

I had an Alfred Hitchcock episode about an hour ago. I'm typing away when something hits my upstairs window, hard, and makes me jump about a foot in the air. I find nothing in the back yard except some pigeons -- including one that's clearly in pretty sad shape. I took him some water but he hasn't touched it. If he didn't break his neck he certainly smashed himself up pretty badly, so barring a miracle I'll be picking him up tomorrow morning, right where he's sitting now. Los Angeles isn't exactly wildlife central -- few exotic birds beyond a flock of escaped parrots that causes a racket sometime, and nothing bigger than an occasional opossum. No stray dogs or wild cats any more either. I'm kind of glad that the victim here isn't one of the two doves who live in my front yard and are nice to see together. This totally non-DVD moment is here because every twenty seconds or so I peek out the window to see how the unlucky pigeon is doing. His buddies lost interest and left after a couple of minutes, the ingrates. If I have to suffer, you do too.

People here are pretty hepped-up about the museum exhibit Christian Marclay's The Clock, at the County Museum of Art. It sounds pretty exciting! Gary Teetzel forwarded me a YouTube sample that covers the time period from 2:16 to about 2:21. I think the clip of Michael Conrad waiting anxiously in traffic is from Jean-Pierre Melville's Un Flic. Everybody will get Crocodile Dundee, but beyond that I'll be as stumped as anyone else, I'd imagine!

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson


Don't forget to write Savant at [email protected].

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