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July 29, 2011
Saturday July 30, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

Trust
Blu-ray

An intense family drama that takes on a serious topic: Internet sexual predators. A fourteen year-old schoolgirl finds a great friend online, and finds herself emotionally defenseless when he materializes as a totally different person. Clive Owen, Catherine Keener and Liana Liberato star; this theatrical film needs to be seen more widely. From Millennum Entertainment.
7/30/11

Steven Bingen Talks About
MGM: Hollywood's Greatest Backlot

Savant correspondent and colleague Stuart Galbraith IV interviews Steve Bingen, the author of a new book examining the legendary acres of movie history that once stood in the middle of humble Culver City.
7/30/11

Sands of the Kalahari

Cy Endfield extends his practical cynicism regarding human relations to a survival story that pits man against the elements in an African desert. Six plane survivors must compete for territory with a group of ferocious baboons. Stars Stuart Whitman, Susanna York, Stanley Baker, Theodore Bikel and Nigel Davenport make a motley, dangerous bunch. Looks great in color and Panavision; also available in Blu-ray. From Olive Films.
7/30/11

Another man, another chance

Claude LeLouche's romantic western takes on the frontier experience from a new starting point, a war in France. Genevieve Bujold and James Caan find each other in a remote Arizona town, and begin a cautious courtship amid the harsh surroundings. A charming and original movie that needs a bit of viewer patience but delivers a number of sentimental rewards. From the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
7/30/11

and

Dark of the Sun

Diamonds and refugees need rescuing in a Congo overrun by an army of Simba savages, and Rod Taylor's ruthless mercenary outfit gets the job to bring them back. Jim Brown, Yvette Mimieux and Kenneth More are on board for some surprisingly excessive atrocities and carnage. Directed by Jack Cardiff. A Remastered Edition from the Warners Archive Collection.
7/30/11




Hello!

Four new reviews and an article-interview today, thanks to the generosity of colleague Stuart Galbraith IV. Readers have been asking about Sands of the Kalahari and Dark of the Sun and I'm sorry they took so long to appear. Other Warner Archive Collection major requests coming up are The Breaking Point, Athena and Hearts of the West. Just in are Blu-rays of Life During Wartime, Leon Morin Priest and the special edition of The Big Lebowski, with The Music Room and David Holzman's Diary on the way; DVD reviews of The Atomic City and The Colossus of New York will follow soon. I haven't received them yet, but I already have review outlines sketched for Polanski's Cul-De-Sac and Kubrick's The Killing, both due from Criterion. I see it's also time to double back and review Arrow Video's The Funhouse, which appears to have extensive behind-the-scenes extras.

Summer just got going -- I think I've been outdoors only three or four days -- and soon the semi-vacation will be over. Somebody say it ain't so!

Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson



July 26, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

Source Code
Blu-ray

Duncan Jones tops his sci-fi show Moon with a smart and fast alternate-reality thriller about a man trying to stop the terror bombing of a train. Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga star -- the show wisely puts its personal and emotional themes front and center, topping superficially "deep" role-playing-game shows like Inception. In Blu-ray from Summit Entertainment.
7/26/11

The Blues Brothers
Blu-ray

John Landis's all-star demolition derby musical is the perfect "vehicle" for Saturday Night Live stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Joliet Jake and Elwood tear up Chicago and environs to revive their musical careers and succeed in their Mission from God. James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway and Ray Charles perform powerhouse musical numbers. In Blu-ray from Universal Home Video.
7/26/11

Django Shoots First

UK correspondent Lee Broughton reports on a region one DVD release of one of the numberless Django spaghetti hits -- this is one of many that borrowed the Django name even though the hero is an unrelated gunman. With Glenn Saxson and Evelyn Stewart. From Dorado Films.
7/26/11

and

Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up

A political review of a hot-topic political movie about American policy toward Cuba and the unjust imprisonment of "The Cuban Five". Beautifully produced with reams of news film and video coverage to back its claims, Saul Landau's docu demonstrates all too clearly the fraud that is the "War on Terror". A very informative show, from Cinema Libre Studio.
7/26/11




Greetings!

I'm back and in operation, and pleased to get these reviews out in time for street date. Coming up Friday I'll have the tough-guy thrillers Sands of the Kalahari and Dark of the Sun, plus the Big Box of (Ed) Wood and a special interview piece by guest writer Stuart Galbraith IV. I am skipping the Newsletter this week - next week's will look all the more impressive.

I don't know how much longer it will be up, but the entire PBS Scorsese docu on Elia Kazan is viewable now online ... it's quite good.

"Rob" sends in this vintage 007 Commercial for aftershave. He's pretty sure the model/actress is Jean Shrimpton. (note: reader David Bunch reports that the actress doing the intro is Shrimpton, and the woman in the car with "007" is Camilla Sparv .... !)

Thanks for reading -- I'll be back soon with more. Glenn Erickson



July 18, 2011


Savant's new reviews today are:

The Egyptian
Blu-ray

An ancient epic with an unusual epic theme -- the brief worship of a monotheistic god by the Pharaoh Akhnaton, 1300 years before Christ. Fox put on a classy production for this big CinemaScope and Stereophonic show, with big stars: Gene Tierney, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature. With Michael Wilding, Edmund Purdom and the much-maligned Bella Darvi as Nefer, the courtesan from Babylon with the knowledge of "the divine perfection of love." The line forms on the left. In a dazzlingly restored Blu-ray presentation from Twilight Time.
7/19/11

Buster Keaton
The Short Films Collection 1920-1923

Blu-ray

Kino assembles all 19 of Keaton's independent 2 and three reel short comedies, made after his association with Fatty Arbuckle and before he broke into feature-length comedies. A phenomenal wealth of genius and fun here; we see gags "in development" that appeared again in his famous features, along with celebrated classic titles, oddball experiments and a couple of misfires. Fantastic viewing, all in one box. In Blu-ray from Kino International.
7/19/11

and

Beauty and the Beast
Blu-ray

Jean Cocteau's magical version of the fairy tale is still the best, and far superior to the show-bizzy Disney animated abomination. Josette Day is "La Belle" and Jean Marais is "La Bête" in an utterly fantastic feral makeup job; the whole film glows with joy and wonder. With plenty of fine extras; in Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection.
7/19/11




Greetings!

We escaped Carmageddon, it seems ... everybody stayed home this weekend instead of jamming the roadways with the 40-hour freeway construction underway. Since Savant mainly stays rooted in one place anyway there was no stress here, but it was hilarious watching the local TV news shows put every resource out into the field to report a story that never arrived. The roads were so clear, it was an excellent time to be out driving -- even the busy canyon roads through the Hollywood Hills were wide open. By 9am the news hosts were trying to generate interest (fear) by speculating that something would go wrong with the construction or other unseen events would conspire to keep the freeway closed come Monday's morning traffic rush. The news today is sort of a credibility backlash: the authorities obviously overstated the shut-down, which indeed had a chilling effect on merchants everywhere. For Anglenos, the cynicism is complete -- we now know never to believe any public announcement.

So thanks for putting up with this nonsense, you folk in other parts of the country with real weather and disaster problems. Three fun reviews today, but no big announcements and no fun links, I'm afraid to say. I'll check in with the page a little later in the week. Best wishes and thanks for your patience! -- Glenn Erickson



July 15, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Sacrifice
Blu-ray

Andrei Tarkovsky's final film was produced and shot in Sweden. It's nominally a science-fiction story about the threat of the end of the world, but the Russian artist ignores the genre trappings to concentrate on his personal philosophy: what is man's relationship to God, and is war the result of man's lack of spirituality? An intense, slowly paced experience with a number of extremely long, effective camera takes. Filmed by Sven Nykvist. In Blu-ray from Kino International.
7/16/11

Miral
Blu-ray

Julian Schnabel commits a political no-no by daring to make a mainstream pro-Palestinian film. Freida Pinto is excellent as a Jerusalem schoogirl too sheltered to know she's involved with dangerous extremists. Based on the founding of an institute for Palestinian war orphans, that becomes a noted educational institution, the movie is about political oppression and military occupation and doesn't pretend to present a "balanced" viewpoint. In Blu-ray from The Weinstein Company / Anchor Bay.
7/16/11

Tiara Tahiti

Insecure hotel executive John Mills scouts a location for a new development and runs into a problem from his past in the person of James Mason, a former swell exiled to the Tahitian paradise. An amusing light comedy with Claude Dauphin, Herbert Lom and seductive Rosenda Monteros as a Polynesian who wants to go to Europe as much as the charming, uscrupulous Mason wants to return. Great fun in an uncensored Continental cut from VCI Entertainment.
7/16/11

and

Phaedra

Jules Dassin's Greek valentine to his missus Melina Mercouri stars her as Phaedra, an unstoppable sexual force destined to destroy a family of jet-setting "Kings", starting with her husband and shipping magnate Raf Vallone. Anthony Perkins is the England-raised stepson that Phaedra cannot resist. The lavish production ranges from London to Paris to the island of Hydra; added bonuses are a primo Aston-Martin coupe and Mikis Theodorakis' fantastic music score. From the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
7/16/11




Greetings!

I'm writing this on Friday so I don't know yet whether non-Angelenos will have an opportunity to laugh at the traffic mess predicted for Los Angeles this weekend. For those of you experiencing real weather havoc elsewhere in the country, don't confuse this with a call for sympathy! I have a spouse who will be trying to cross town from Santa Monica late this afternoon, and she'll either have no problem, or will be lost in a maelstrom of gridlock.

I'm hoping that the weekend will not be like the Jean-Luc Godard film, but a repeat of what happened back in 1984 when the experts warned us that the city would go insane with traffic brought on by the Olympics. Those turned out to be some of the most pleasant driving days I can remember -- people didn't take to their cars unless they had a reason. Of course, 27 years later there are probably twice as many cars in town, and even with the media blitz a goodly 15% of the population probably hasn't even heard of the impending crisis. People can't move now in Santa Monica at certain times of the day. We'll just have to wait and see.

Good reviews tonight, and some terrific disc news. Criterion announced its October releases: Zoltan Korda's The Four Feathers, Kaneto Shindo's horror picture Kuroneko, Antonioni's Identification of a Woman and... AND... the long awaited Pre-code vivisection-horror shocker, H.G. Wells' The Island of Lost Souls. It stars Charles Laughton as a gloriously hammy mad doctor and Kathleen Burke as Lota, the Panther Woman. Pictured here is "manimal" Bela Lugosi: What is the Law! Not to spill BLOOD!"

I also have links to three new trailers ... guess which one is a bogus title: John Carter (of Barsoom?), Jack & Jill (with George C. Scott), The Thing (a prequel that looks like a remake) and The Wicker Man (with a new, improved campaign spin). Thanks to Gary Teetzel and 'Rob' for staying on top of all this and keeping me informed.

Real Angelenos will surf to work this weekend. See you at the auto impound lot, or, if civil authority breaks down, on the barricades! --- Glenn Erickson



July 11, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

Skidoo

Otto Preminger gets in way over his head in this enormous comedy misfire, a satire of the hippie scene mixed with gangland clichés and clearly made by someone who hasn't got a clue. The roster of comedians perpetrators features standout eccentric performances from Carol Channing and Austin Pendleton, and mucho burlesque hamming by Jackie Gleason, Groucho Marx, John Philip Law and many others. Features the most elaborate LSD trip on film plus a musical finale with Ms. Channing leading a flotilla of hippie-manned watercraft. Music by Nilsson. For many, this will be a must-see. From Olive Films.
7/12/11

Kongo

A return to the Broadway play on which the Tod Browning & Lon Chaney silent classic West of Zanzibar was based, this is one perverse puppy of a jungle adventure/horror film. Walter Huston is Deadlegs Flint, a sadistic maniac lording it over a tribe in the Congo; he gleefully plans a vengeance that involves drugs, alcohol, brutal tribal rituals, bride-burning and the systematic degradation of his enemy's virginal daughter. Huston is no Lon Chaney but his villain is one of the slimiest, most despicable ever put on film. With Lupe Velez, Virginia Bruce and Conrad Nagel. Produced at the glamorous studio MGM, the movie oozes sick ideas from every sproket hole. Includes a second feature, a jungle adventure docu from 1933 called Untamed Africa. From the Warner Archive Collection.
7/12/11

Tenebrae
Blu-ray

Dario Argento sharpens his knives & razors and waxes his fancy camera crane for a non-supernatural giallo whodunnit in his original Grand Guignol style. Author Anthony Franciosa arrives in Rome just as somebody starts killing beautiful women using ideas from his new book as a guide. The mystery is a muddled mess but it keeps the killings coming on schedule; both the cinematography and misogyny are up to Argento's previous standard. With John Saxon, Giuliano Gemma and the future wife of Italo politician Silvio Berlusconi. In blood-red Blu-ray from Arrow Video (UK).
7/12/11




Greetings! I think I have a genuine Savant Scoop here ...

A couple of weeks ago I received a note from Thomas Bakels of Alpha-Omega Gmbh, the firm that performed the full restoration makeover on both the 2001 and 2010 releases of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. The news is pretty exciting -- it announces the restoration of yet another classic German silent epic:

Alpha-Omega's latest restoration project, the 1922 silent film The Loves of Pharaoh (Das Weib des Pharao) by the famous director Ernst Lubitsch will have its US premiere at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd, October 18th 2011. The theater is excited about this project and has scheduled it for their birthday event this year.

The Loves of Pharaoh has been unviewable for over 70 years. The restoration was begun with just a remnant of original tinted nitrate 35mm found in Russia. In 2004 another tinted element was located in Italy and donated to the George Eastman Archive, which then allowed it to be augment the ongoing restoration. Both nitrates together filled in 90% of the film's storyline. It's a true miracle for lost films.

Alpha Omega will be proudly presenting the film in its final restored form. Several language versions have been created by replicating the intertitles in the language of choice, like it was done in the 1920s. Also restored are the original tint colors, according to the findings in the actual nitrate material. The image restoration has been performed in 2K resolution and also printed back to silent 35mm.

This is really big news -- I have reference books that list The Loves of Pharaoh as a lost film. What Thomas didn't mention is the film's lofty cast: Emil Jannings, Paul Wegener, Lyda Salmonova, Albert Bassermann and Bernhard Goetzke. I've seen some brief clips from the picture and the quality is stunning, both in intimate scenes and in a couple of epic views. Enormous Egyptian structures like those in The Ten Commandment are seen, as is a large-scale battle with armies clashing on giant sand dunes.

Bakels says that the film will be available on DVD and Blu-ray by the end of the year. The release will have multiple sets of intertitles, in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Arabic (Egyptian), Chinese and Thai.

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



July 08, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

Mexican Spitfire
8-Movie Collection

She's loud, she's sexy, she sings and she talks veryveryfast en Español. Lupe Velez is Carmelita Fuentes, a Mexican performer shipped to the Big Apple to perform on the radio; Leon Errol is the scene-stealing Uncle Matt who impersonates a Britisher named Lord Epping. The Girl from Mexico was such a hit that RKO brought Lupe back 7 times. Great fun with a marvelous comic personality; now a full-series disc set from the Warner Archive Collection.
7/09/11

Anti-Nazi Classics

Four East German pictures from the DEFA studios show four different postwar reactions toward the Nazi terror. The Murderers Are Among Us is the classic about rebirth in bombed-out Berlin. The Gleiwitz Case is a stylized semi-docu about the faking of a Polish attack to justify a Nazi invasion. Naked Among Wolves is the true story of a small boy kept hidden in a concentration camp, and I Was Nineteen is the episodic tale of a German-Russian soldier racing through almost-conquered territory, trying to get Nazi soldiers to surrender. From First Run Films.
7/09/11

and

Ring of Fire
Blu-ray

This IMAX presentation takes a tour around the Pacific Rim and to Hawaii to visit active volcanos, earthquake sites, the Mt. St. Helens eruption, ash fallout in Japan and volcano worship in Indonesia. With some very impressive HD volcano footage. In Blu-ray from Image Entertainment/Inception Media.
7/09/11




Greetings!

The latest disc announcement is that MGM's 50th Anniversary Blu-ray of West Side Story will be out on November 15 in two packages loaded with extras. A UK release was announced not long ago, but we didn't know this one was coming until today.

I've been asked why I'm not reviewing the Wal-mart and Best Buy exclusive Blu-rays that are popping up, like The Big Country and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. I have friends who are buying these discs so I've seen some samples and so far they look great. The reason I'm not reviewing them is that they're not yet official releases. Presumably they will be in a couple of months, and I'll be getting in line for a review screener or two. I also don't want to promote them all that much because of the 'disappointment' factor. Friends who have dashed to their local brick & mortar outlets have found the desirable titles sold out, not on reorder or never ordered in the first place. For instance, a rack labeled to hold copies of the 1974 The Taking of Pelham One Two Three contained the new remake version. I've also heard that individuals sometimes buy out the stock for resale at inflated prices on Ebay or Amazon. A reader showed me one example but don't know if this practice is really that widespread.

Savant is furiously cleaning house in prep for guests for the weekend -- which may make my Tuesday reviews a day late. But that's when my Skidoo review should appear. Otherwise, soldier onward and screen 'em if you got 'em. Thanks for hanging in there, and for writing in with suggestions and corrections. -- Glenn Erickson



July 05, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

Insignificance
Blu-ray

Nicolas Roeg's most light-hearted feature is from a play but manages most of the director's time & space-fracturing personal cinematic flourishes. In 1954 New York, a famous blonde movie star meets a famous nuclear theorist, but her famous baseball-player husband gets jealous, while a famous Senatorial Commie-hunter tries for political blackmail. No names, please. With Theresa Russell, Michael Emil, Gary Busey, Tony Curtis and Will Sampson. A visual delight in Blu-ray and DVD from the Criterion Collection.
7/05/11

and

Curse of the Faceless Man

A petrified Etruscan (that's the worst kind, I'm told) emerges from the ruins of Pompeii, gets mistaken for a piece of antique statuary and goes on a madcap killing spree while searching for his lover, lost in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. This highly exploitable concept -- horror, disaster, amour fou -- gets the stock monster romp treatment from budget-conscious director Edward L. Cahn. Lots of dead museum guards and blood on the statue's hands, but the mystery is too much for the local police. With Richard Anderson, Elaine Edwards and Adele Mara; from the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
7.05/11




Greetings! I behaved like a normal citizen this weekend, cleaning up, putting out the flag and entertaining guests ... and did very little writing. That accounts for the two measley reviews this Tuesday (of very entertaining movies, though). I'm also holding off on an interesting announcement of another big-scale silent film restoration, re-premiere that so far is scheduled for this Fall. A title described just a few years ago as an incomplete remnant has been given a major going-over; the few clips I've seen look pretty amazing. More on Friday-Saturday.

I have immediate reviews to get out for Arrow Video's Tenebrae, the Warner Archive Collection's The Mexican Spitfire 8-Movie Collection, Kino International's The Sacrifice and the MGM Limited Edition Collection's Phaedra: that's Argento, Tarkovsky, Dassin and... Lupe Velez. See you on Friday, if the lure of pretending it's vacation time doesn't get me first ...

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



July 01, 2011

Savant's new reviews today are:

People on Sunday
Blu-ray

A made-for-pfennigs docu-drama about young couples spending their day off in a holiday park, this Weimar-era winner launched the careers of five Hollywood film directors: Robert & Curt Siodmak, Fred Zinnemann, Edgar G. Ulmer and Billy Wilder. It's also a valentine to the city of Berlin, before its avenues were festooned with Nazi banners and propaganda posters. Beautifully restored and appointed with fascinating extras. In Blu-ray and DVD from the Criterion Collection.
7/01/11

The Wheeler Dealers

James Garner is a wildcat oilman and high finance dealmaker who captures the venal heart of pioneering lady stockbroker Lee Remick. A satirical farce on the extremes of capitalism that no longer seems far-fetched, with a hero who delights in skirting both the law and the tax man while collecting his millions. Oh, and there's plenty of hanky-panky bedroom comedy, too, with the personable Garner and the lively Remick making a great power couple. From the Warner Archive Collection.
7/01/11/11

The Killer is Loose

Budd Boetticher's psycho killer crime story comes up a winner thanks to a great characterization by Wendell Corey as Leon "Foggy" Poole, a vengeance-seeking madman with a .357 magnum revolver. Foggy's target is Rhonda Fleming, the wife of detective Joseph Cotten, and the entire Los Angeles police force can't stop him. Remember - if you're in a movie and someone is holding a gun on you, never, never hold a bottle of milk in your hand. From the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
7/01/11/11

and

Brazil
Blu-ray

Terry Gilliam's comic masterpiece interpretation of Orwell's 1984 looks wonderful in HD, but it's a shorter cut than can be found on earlier Criterion DVD discs, and devoid of extras. The troubled release of this wonderful movie was one of the most publicized studio-filmaker battles of the 1980s. With Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Bob Hoskins and Kim Griest. In Blu-ray from Universal Home Video.
7/01/11/11




Greetings!

It's shocking, I know, but a Blu-ray Screener of the new film The Source Code arrived, so I'll be covering is soon. It's the setup line for a famous Savant joke: A kangaroo walks into our offices and says, "You don't review very many new releases." And the receptionist answers, "That's right."

More in line with Savant Corporate policy (three of our VPs were canned last week for lack of enthusiasm), I'm told we'll be getting a Blu-ray screener of the upcoming Twilight Time release The Egyptian. As if waiting for the other shoe to drop, I've expected a screener for six years now, ever since I heard that the commentary had been recorded.

Gary Teetzel forwarded this odd YouTube link to a Ray Bradbury TV spot for .... prunes!. Enjoy.

It's been a month without a radio show link from Dick Dinman's DVD Classics Corner, but he's come up with a winner. I'd heard about actor Glenn Ford being a little problematical on a TV show or two, but we get a Hollywood Babylon- version of his life in a new biography by his son Peter Ford. Dick interviews Peter, along with input from Eleanor Parker, uncovering a ton of heretofore unpublicized Hollywood dirt. Titled The Films, Life and (Many) Loves of Glenn Ford, it's a six-show epic: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five and Part Six.

Thanks for Reading! Glenn Erickson


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

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