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June 29, 2015

Hi all, thanks for all the notes about Savant being down. The IT people hashed it around yesterday, and I think they might find the solution today. Can't discuss the details, but it's not anybody's fault, it's part of the system. I have some posts ready to go and more discs to review, a batch of Criterions, Twilight Times and and a new stack of KL Studio Classics. I can't even post any photos, or I'd put reviews right on this Column while I'm waiting. So we have to stare at a picture of a bloody-face Marlon Brando a little while longer.

In case this fix doesn't work out, I'm open to other opportunities... discreetly. DVDtalk has been a good hosting partner.

Thanks again, Glenn


Monday June 29, 2015

Hi again from Savant --

It's sort of an old story: Savant has been down since last Wednesday, and I'm still waiting for a help response from the IT folks at DVDtalk. Too bad -- I'm hopeful that something will break today. They've been very conscientious the last few years, so they must be overloaded at the moment. It's strange, but when I can't post I just don't feel like writing reviews, and I always feel like writing reviews.

--- Thanks for your patience, Glenn


Tuesday June 23, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

Report to the Commissioner
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

  Times Square street detective Michael Moriarty is sent on a dishonest mission, and to the regret of everyone on the force, carries it to its logical end. Susan Blakely is the undercover cop trapped by dirty politics in this superior '70s crime picture, also starring Yaphet Kotto and featuring Bob Balaban, Hector Elizondo and Tony King. Includes an unequalled action scene -- a chase over the rooftops and down on the city streets, with the quarry barefoot and in his underwear, carrying a pistol. Everybody's good in this show, and Moriarty and Blakely are terrific. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
6/23/15


Absolute Beginners
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

  Julien Temple's extended music video musical is a riot of color and motion, music and dance. The setting is great too - the exploding youth-marketed street culture in London in the late 1950s, with Teddy Boys, Mods and Trads. Eddie O'Connell, Patsy Kensit, David Bowie, James Fox and Ray Davies mix it up in an unending string of creative musical numbers. It's an expensive, 'big style' fantasmagoria, with gaudy costumes and long uncut moving sequence shots. It's all about being innocent, being real vs. becoming a plastic fake and selling out. Now that's original! The racial tensions of the time are reflected in a half-danced, half-fought race riot and rumble. With an Isolated Score Track for Gil Evans' music. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
6/23/15

and

The Incredible Shrinking Man
Koch Media GmbH (German Import)
Region B Blu-ray

  "Die unglaubliche Geschichte des Mr. C."  Universal won't release our favorites so we look to Deutschland to give us our Uni Sci-fi fix -- and this is one of the top titles of the 1950s. Savant's essay on Richard Matheson's ethereal, existential paradox covers the surreal metaphysics of a man stripped of all the things by which he defines himself; the superb widescreen B&W transfer makes Jack Arnold's overachieving thriller look like a million. Universal's prop and set shops outdid themselves, and producer Albert Zugsmith slipped past the front office a cosmic finish that still makes kids rock back in wonder. We're ready for Region 1 Blu's of these, Universal... and goes for your remaining 3-D pictures, too! Nyahh! On Region B Blu-ray from Koch Media GmbH.
6/23/15




Hello!

Here's how to spend a Father's Day -- watching important world cinema in comfort, with good company. Now let the little princesses out of their cage, already, Nelson.

It's a quick note today, as a certain job is winding up and a growing boy (well, aged fossil) needs his sleep. Coming DVD reviews are the Warner Archive titles --here's a long list: Our Mother's House, The Clay Pigeon, Come and Get It, Escape from East Berlin, Quick Before It Melts, Riffraff, Robin Hood of El Dorado and Viva Villa!

Pending Blu-ray reviews include Twilight Time's Mississippi Mermaid and The Young Lions; Kino's Harry In Your Pocket, Deranged, The Crimson Cult and Miracle Mile; Criterion's Five Easy Pieces and The Fisher King.

And a second-hand announcement: Gary Teetzel tells me that Kino has announced a Blu-ray of the rare Andre de Toth domestic murder film noir, Pitfall. It stars Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr and Jimmy Hunt. Savant has waxed critical over this one forever; it's that rare noir that reaches down into ordinary suburbia, to find the source of marital discontent. It's also a rumination on the cost of cynical thinking, and the non-forgiveness of marital forgiveness. It's a real chiller.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 20, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

3-D Rarities
Flicker Alley
3-D Blu-ray

 The secondary title reads "A Collection of 22 Ultra-Rare and Stunningly Restored 3-D Films," and that's exactly what we get -- a tall stack of 3-D wonder and fun from 1923 to 1962. The mix incudes experiments, demos, promos, sales films, exhibition films, animation, stop motion animation, cartoon animation, 3-D movie trailers, an atom bomb docu, some striptease delights and one of the first bits of film directed by Francis Ford Coppola… a girlie movie. Plus bonus 3-D stills and comics! It's all curated, annotated restored and fine tuned to look great on your 3-D home system, with commentaries and an informative, illustrated booklet. The lovingly produced 3-D Film Archive/Greenbriar Production is in 3-D Blu-ray from Flicker Alley.
6/20/15


The Golden Year:
5 Classics from 1939

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray

  WHV slays us with five restored scans of pictures from what 'Life' magazine touted as the apex year for Hollywood movies. The lineup is a special one: Bette Davis fans get what they want with the ultimate women's weepie Dark Victory; Charles Laughton is amazing as Quasimodo in the superb, beautifully remastered The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Billy Wilder contributes classy comedy to Ernst Lubitsch's Greta Garbo masterpiece Ninotchka; with a six-gun and Technicolor, Errol Flynn cleans up Dodge City; and in the only repeat in the box, something funky happens below the Mason-Dixon Line in Gone With the Wind. Plus WHV's hour-long docu on the golden year of 1939. On Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
6/20/15

and

The Thing with Two Heads
Olive Films
Blu-ray

  It sounds like someone scraped the bottom of the barrel from the lowest vintage of the year of the worst movies ... but this horror pastiche turns out to be competent, non-insulting, amusing and reasonably well done. Who'da thunk it? Ray Milland takes the assignment as an opportunity to make a coherent statement about bigotry, and succeeds; Rosey Grier is engaging and funny as the death row convict who thinks he can escape the gas chamber by volunteering for some crazy surgery. It's exploitative fluff, but it works -- especially if you like a movie that takes a fifteen-minute break for an extended car crash-o-rama scene. If you remember having fun at this, you got nothing to be ashamed about. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
6/20/15




Hello!

They were announced the same day I posted last time, so for many readers I'll be the last to report these desirable upcoming disc sets. But it's still worth it.

On October 6, Warner Home Video is releasing eight horror and science fiction Blu-rays, in two sets, or individually. The Special Effects Collection will contain four stop-motion animation greats: The King Kong sequel Son of Kong (1933), The Willis O'Brien / Ray Harryhausen fantasy Mighty Joe Young; Harryhausen's socko solo effects debut The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms; and Warner Bros.' top-earning thriller of 1954, Them!. The 'giant ant' movie will be presented in its original, correct widescreen Aspect Ratio... those ten-foot formic-acid chompers will fill your screen.

Hammer Horror Classics, Volume 1 will contain three Christopher Lee pictures and two Peter Cushing pix: the first, fantastic The Mummy (1959), the Freddie Francis pictures Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968) and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), and a further vampire thriller, Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970). I love the 'volume 1' listing -- that means that a Volume 2 must already be in the works. Maybe the Hammer fans whined, begged, and petitioned WHV enough to make something happen. Or, maybe it was just time.

And although I haven't seen the announcement myself, Kino has let loose the terrifying truth -- I'm doing a commentary for their upcoming Blu-ray release of John Sturges' end-of-the-world techno-thriller The Satan Bug. I asked for the assignment and for my sins because I put forward a good argument, I got it. This is my last weekend getting it into shape -- and working on my voice, which is clenching up after just a half-hour or so of speaking. What's the cure, to gargle with salt water? Anyway, this is a labor of love; it'll be half hard facts and half an examination of the history of chemical- and bio-terror warfare in movies. Any Savant correspondents with suggestions for talking points, or special knowledge of The Satan Bug? I've been pals with Larry Mirisch, now a big talent agent, since my theater usher days in Westwood. All he can remember is visiting a set with a helicopter on it. Would love to hear from folks on the subject.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 15, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Night of the Generals
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

 Anatole Litvak directs and co-produces this mega-production from the middle 1960s, filmed in France, Germany and Poland. Omar Sharif's German crime investigator finds that a top general may have committed a gruesome murder in the middle of the Warsaw campaign. He pursues his leads despite the chaos of war, preparing to accuse men that commit war atrocities as a daily activity. His suspects are Donald Pleasence, Charles Gray and the main star Peter O'Toole. His General Tanz is a barely functioning psychotic obsessed with cleanliness -- and exterminating enemy civilians. The impressive cast for this 'Murder in the High Command' drama includes Tom Courtenay, Joanna Pettet, Philippe Noiret, Coral Browne and Christopher Plummer as Rommel; a big part of the story concerns the attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1944. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
6/16/15


Pandas: The Journey Home
Virgil Films & Entertainment
3-D + 2-D Blu-ray + DVD

  They're big, they're cuddly, and plenty dangerous, but this 3-D IMAX short feature is a glimpse at the work being done at a Chinese Panda centers, where Pandas are bred, raised and trained to fend for themselves in the wild. The entire process -- even some of the icky aspects -- is depicted, by a staff that's the pride of the Chinese ecological effort (not to mention of great international PR value). The 3-D images are relaxing and all real -- no special effects to confuse us. The extra is a 1983 National Geographic TV special on Pandas. On 3-D + 2-D Blu-ray + DVD from Virgil Films & Entertainment.
6/16/15

and

Monte Walsh
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

  I reviewed a German Blu of this last year but domestic buyers will be happy to know that Bill Fraker's elegiac western will soon be available locally. Lee Marvin and Jack Palance are cowboy holdouts, riding the range while the companies from back East are closing down ranches left and right. Jeanne Moreau is a lady of the night who would like Marvin to settle down; Palance is great as a sweet guy who means no harm to anyone -- a welcome change for the actor. This is one beautifully filmed movie, so the Blu-ray encoding really makes a difference. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
6/16/15




Hello! Some quick notes for the evening:

I should be reviewing the 3-D Film Archive's upcoming 3-D Blu-ray 3-D Rarities next time around. I've been reading about the big reception it got at MOMA last weekend, with Savant-friendly folk in attendance like Bob Furmanek, Jack Theakston and John McElwee. You can read about it at this first article and this second one.

Friendly Steve Finklestein sent along a great link to a movie I've wanted to see for years, but was never available, Don Siegel's budget gangster movie with Mickey Rooney and Carolyn Jones, Baby Face Nelson. The quality is pretty poor, but it doesn't matter, as I've finally caught up with the little wonder movie. Rooney, Jones and Leo Gordon are great in it.

And finally, Gary Teetzel steers us to eighteen minutes of interview material with Christopher Lee, posted by VCI, from when they produced a disc of Lee's Horror Hotel.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 12, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Arrow Films (UK)
Region B Blu-ray

  At last, a proper color home video version of one of Hammer Films' classics, a horror-inflected spin on Sherlock Holmes starring what many feel is the best screen Sherlock, Peter Cushing. André Morell is an ideal Watson and Christopher Lee puts in a welcome appearance as the leading man! It's properly framed for widescreen and given a transfer that reminds us of original Technicolor prints. With plenty of extras old and new, several with input from the great Christopher Lee. On Region B (UK) Blu-ray from Arrow Films (UK).
6/13/15



and

John Ford:
Dreaming The Quiet Man

Olive Films
Blu-ray

 Sé Merry Doyle's feature documentary on the making of John Ford's classic digs way down into several subjects -- all having to do with the director's enigmatic personality. Ford's obsession to make the picture is more than an effort to recapture a lost past or reconnect with his Irish roots. We see how the film's locations have been turned into quaint tourist stops and see how Ford got around the film's censor problems. With definitive interviews, location shooting in Ireland, New York and Monument Valley, a wealth of research material and some revealing memories from Maureen O'Hara, who is almost the only Quiet Man participant left standing. On Blu-ray from Blu-ray from Olive Films.
6/13/15




Hello!

There's a lot of blogging going on about the passing of the great Christopher Lee, and Facebook has been overflowing with fans and experts talking about him. I don't use social media to any great degree but feel the same need to say good things about Lee. Like most everyone else, I discovered him at around age twelve in the pages of Famous Monsters. Bela Lugosi was great but he didn't scare me -- only later did I learn to appreciate what Lugosi had meant to an older generation of horror fans. But at a 1964 reissue double-bill of Hammer's first two Technicolor films, I was staggered, stupefied and knocked for a loop. Chris Lee's Dracula had an audience of kids screaming in delight. We followed each 'high-theatrical' moment of his battle with Peter Cushing as if it were the ultimate struggle between good and evil. The reveal of his face as Frankenstein's monster was a real shocker. Were we supposed to be seeing stuff that gory? This was a time when the actors that most kids cared about could be listed on one hand. If Lee showed up as a villain in a sword 'n' sandal movie, he was greeted with cheers of recognition. His presence guaranteed that the excitement level was about to double.

I was never a personal friend of Chris Lee. I never interviewed him or had a long conversation with him. But I did have the fortune to observe him for several weeks on the set of 1941, and interact with him while working.

Except for the final shot in the film, Lee's scenes were limited to the two submarine sets. He was a conscientious player who took movie work, at least on this movie, very seriously. Toshiro Mifune stayed strictly in character at all times as well; it was pretty impressive to see how well those two performers played off of each other. Mifune had acted with James Garner and Alain Delon... but with Christopher Lee? The big laughs all went to Slim Pickens but Lee and Mifune were more than just straight men for the jokes. Between takes they might crack a smile or two, mostly when something went wrong with Pickens, or if Spielberg made a joke. The other Japanese officer in the scene was played by Akio Mitamura, John Milius' doctor, and he was a joker too. Lee was so into his Von Kleinschmid character that when he broke up a little, he still chuckled like a Nazi commander.

Spielberg didn't take this pair for granted at all, as they barely needed any direction. Mifune didn't speak English, but he must have been clued into the 'Abbott & Costello' pattern in the joke dialogue. Nobody could tell what he was thinking although he apparently was having a great time. Chris Lee was truly commanding. He played his part as if the role were his big chance in the movies. I'm glad I was never on the set of something like Charlie Band's The End of the World, to see Lee in a more humbling situation. But I'll bet he was all-pro there as well. The sub interior set was tight and smelly, Lee had that heavy coat to wear, yet he never complained of being uncomfortable.

There were no visitors on stage, and I was often the only person present who could be called an observer. I didn't really approach celebrities to talk. It wasn't the place to introduce one's self. If I talked to anyone, it was the production manager or the script supervisor. But on the exterior sub set at MGM I was suddenly enlisted by Steven one morning to stand on the arm of a cherry picker, with another assistant, to set off flashbulbs to represent the light from anti-aircraft bursts in the sky. So I was there about five feet from Mifune and Lee as they performed, purposely looking up as I set off my flashbulbs, so as not to make eye contact during a scene. In between takes I also tried to be invisible, so as not to distract. I hurriedly loaded and fired flashbulbs, and they ignored me completely. It was felt strange not to be standing still when the camera rolled.

My real contact with Christopher Lee came early on, when he asked Steven if Von Kleinschmidt might be heard humming a German song in a scene. By the time Spielberg said that he thought it was a good idea, Lee was already excited about maybe singing in the movie. An associate producer dispatched me to the L.A. Public Library, and I came back with about thirty xeroxed pages of authentic German drinking songs from the war period. Half had been donated by 20th Fox -- they'd been transcribed for use in the Dick Powell submarine movie The Enemy Below. Back at his trailer, Lee jumped up in enthusiasm and gratitude that I'd fetched the music for him. He knew some of the songs already and insisted that I listen while he sang a few bars from one song or another. His voice was very deep and even when sitting down he seemed to tower over me. When he got called back to the set he turned all-business again. I got a warm thank you, and an added comment that he wanted to be sharp with his German and had been practicing his pronunciation all morning. I don't think I had an opportunity, or even a reason to say anything, but when he saw the variety of songs I'd brought him, I was definitely his best friend for about five minutes.

Other people describe Chris Lee as a warm, casual man with a big smile, graciously meeting people, being social at parties, etc.. The 'working' Lee I met was different: his concentration was total and his presence imposing. In his navy uniform, with his jaw set and his eyes focused, he was a genuinely scary presence, making Toshiro look merely stern and gruff. Their isolated scenes are some of the best in the movie. The two of them inspired Slim Pickens to give a great comedy performance -- Pickens had more lines to read in one go, than in anything he'd done before. Talking to Bob Gale, the old cowboy compared his 1941 scene, with those two big international stars, to working with Stanley Kubrick.

The illustrations today are from my daughter Rebeca Erickson's collection of 'DVD Savant' cartoons from 2003. They represent typical events growing up with a father / film fan. She was born during the filming of 1941.

The word is out that Warner Home Video has just announced four new Hammer titles on Blu-ray, three of which star Christopher Lee: Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), The Mummy (1959) and Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970). Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 08, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

Mississippi Burning
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

  Alan Parker's tale of FBI agents tearing up Mississippi to find three missing Civil Rights workers turns a historical incident into a standard film thriller, with good guys, bad guys, a love story and a feel-good violent retribution ending. What's missing is a meaningful role to play for the blacks that the movie is supposed to be about. Worse, the history depicted is very, very wrong. The FBI actively spearheading the Civil Rights struggle? A liberal firebrand as a high-ranking FBI agent? The movie also finds ways to make church bombings and burnings and attempted lynchings look very pretty on screen. Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe and Frances McDorman are the attractive stars; turn your brain to 'off' and the film is exciting, well paced and very well acted. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
6/09/15

and

Vincent & Theo
Olive Films
Blu-ray

  Robert Altman, with a major assist from his son Stephen, gives us an accurate, fascinating look at Vincent Van Gogh but also his brother Theo, who had serious health and mental problems of his own. Things are gritty and depressed down in the trenches of artistic obsession. With excellent performances from Tim Roth and Paul Rhys, this beautifully filmed account of the painter's short and unhappy career is full of surprises. It's a great Altman film, and one of the best about a painter; it stands completely out of the shadow of the old Minnelli/Douglas biopic. Filmed in France and Holland. Bright color, on Blu-ray from Olive Films.
6/09/15





Hello!


The 3-D Film Archive's upcoming 3-D Blu-ray 3-D Rarities is getting a swank send-off this week. Saturday June 13 at New York's Museum of Modern Art will see a special screening hosted by the 3-D Man himself, Bob Furmanek. And two days before that, in Los Angeles, rarities will be kicking off a 3-D festival at the American Cinematheque in Hollywood at the Egyptian Theater. Rockabilly singer Slick Slaven, who appears in a 1953 short subject among the chosen, will be on hand for the Cinematheque screening. I've heard nothing but good things about this presentation, and hope to be reviewing it soon. 3-D capable consumers need classic product for their setups!

I like Twilight Time's Blu-ray release schedule for September and October: on September 8 they'll be offering John Huston's Fat City and Robert Aldrich's Emperor of the North; then some of the October 13th titles will be John Carpenter's Vampires, Gordon Hessler's Scream and Scream Again, Michael Laughlin's Strange Invaders and Carl Franklin's Devil in a Blue Dress. July and August are still on my mind as well, with Blus of The World of Henry Orient, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Best of Everything, Places in the Heart, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, The Little House and Sam Fuller's House of Bamboo. That's plenty of reasons to hang around the mailbox this summer.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 05, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Sunshine Boys
The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

 George Burns launched a second career as a senior citizen with his part in Neil Simon's play about two Vaudeville stars that work well together but can't stand each other off the stage. Cantankerous Walter Matthau ages himself twenty years to fit in with Burns' less agitated old coot. As expected with Simon, the insults and fury eventually works out in sentimental fashion. Oddly, the only part that seems to be stretched too far is their actual performance, which just doesn't seem right. With Richard Benjamin as the harried nephew-agent trying to keep the old boys together. Benjamin offers an audio commentary. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
6/06/15


The Onion Field
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

  A tragic Hollywood kidnapping-murder involving two police detectives became a frustrating case of a cagey defendant jamming the wheels of justice for years on end. Joseph Wambaugh adapted his own nonfiction novel, which is brought to life through the great performances of John Savage, Ted Danson, Franklyn Seales and especially James Woods, who made a bold impression as a villain who outsmarts himself by killing his kidnap victim over a stupid misinterpretation of the law. With Ronny Cox. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
6/06/15


and

American Guerrilla in the Philippines
20th Fox Cinema Archives
DVD-R

  Fritz Lang's odd-film-out is a semi-documentary (yet filmed in unwieldy Technicolor) shot on authentic locations in the Philippines. The straight story of a Naval ensign who decides to stay on and fight rather than surrender with the rest of the American forces, it covers the usual events -- ambushes, hiding out, dealing with traitors -- from a less glamorous angle than is usual. It's a good film for Tyrone Power; comedian Tom Ewell has a straight role as his sidekick and Micheline Presle is the French-Filipino local who joins the resistance as well. On DVD-R from 20th Fox Cinema Archives.
6/06/15





Hello everybody -- it's a lazy weekend, actually still Friday, and with family in town I'm bugging out early on my column responsibility today.

But Los Angeles-area folk do need to know about The Atomo-Vision of Joe Dante, a four-night Dante-thon to be held at the American Cinematheque from Wednesday June 10 to Sunday June 14. On Thursday the 11th, the show will be a special advance screening of the director's new feature, Burying the Ex. The filmmakers will be there, along with the stars Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene and Alexandra Daddario. It's an excellent reason to drift into Hollywood for the evening.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 01, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Bridge
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

  Bernhard Wiki's 1959 tale of German school kids defending a bridge against Patton's advance has a reputation that won't quit, and delivers a can't-miss gripping story of boys in battle, who literally the day before were running around in short pants. It's acclaimed, it's realistic, it was such a hit that it got an American release -- but Savant was surprised to have a different opinion on it than anything I've yet read. With interviews with the writer (who lived the experience), the director and Volker Schlödorff, who tries not to say so, but can't help averring that this is the kind of film the New German Cinema wanted to sweep away. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
6/01/15


Tentacles  and  Reptilicus
Scream Factory
Blu-ray

  It's low-rent monster time in color and widescreen. The 1977 Italo-American Jaws rip-off is competently shot and graced with a ridiculously classy cast -- Henry Fonda, John Huston, Shelley Winters. All it needs is a better monster. The 1962 Danish opus is the fave inept giant monster epic of all time. Cha-cha to Tivoli Nights and run on the streets of Copenhagen with the smiling Danes happily 'fleeing' the giant marionette. But whatever you do, look out for those gobs of projectile-vomit, leprechaun-green acidic Reptilicus Slime, patent pending. It's the worst. With trailers, stills and radio spots. A Scream Factory Double Feature on Blu-ray.
6/01/15

and

Show Them No Mercy!
20th Century Fox Cinema Archives
DVD

  I thought, "Aw, I'll never see that picture," but here it is. Darryl Zanuck and George Marshall's forgotten vengeance-porn crime thriller surfaces in a good transfer! To circumvent the Production Code, the forbidden kidnapping movie shows no actual abduction, yet puts a 'typical' young married couple and their baby in jeopardy from a quartet of perverted kidnappers: Cesar Romero, Bruce Cabot, Edward Brophy, Warren Hymer. It's a weird FBI-approved picture that presents three out of four bandits as somewhat likeable - and then encourages audiences to cheer as petite Rochelle Hudson blasts a rotten crook point-blank with a machine-gun - complete with visible bullet hits. J. Edgar's name is bandied about, clearly for aggrandizement purposes. It's bizarre to say the least. The sick-o kidnapper goes after the family dog with a gun. Because it's on the 'right' side of the law, the censors look the other way. On DVD-R from 20th Century Fox Cinema Archives.
6/01/15





Hello!

A couple of good links tonight, actually, I'm taking for granted that they're good, due to a plug-in anomaly with my iMac at the moment. But they sound great. We haven't yet been blessed with a disc of any description for Howard Hawks' wonderful proto-western The Big Sky, but Gary Teetzel just came across a well-viewed vintage promo for The Big Sky on YouTube. Quoth Gary: "Lots of footage of the cast and crew on location, including Hank Worden being made up and Kirk Douglas with one of his sons. All this plus some mildly racist jokes (hmm...) and praise for the wonders of DDT." The thing has only twenty hits so far, but maybe it's been up before.




The other link was forwarded by correspondent - advisor Craig Reardon, who describes it as being not lengthy or presented in great depth, but an okay ove view of the story of The Conqueror's shoot on radioactive real estate in Utah. It's called A Radioactive Movie set.

I'm sure I've told this story before, but sometime in the early 1980s the L.A. Times published a big spread on the controversy, talking about the death toll that dragged down Pedro Armendaríz, Susan Hayward and John Wayne. But they also reported that, to finish the picture back at RKO's Hollywood studio, tons of bright red radioactive dirt were trucked all the way from Utah. RKO was at Melrose and Gower - gulp -- three blocks from my house. What did they do with all the dirt once the film was in the can? Why, a studio employee said that they gave it away to various nurseries, to be used on local landscaping projects… in my general neighborhood. At least that's what the article said.

So while we drought-stricken Angelenos are considering ripping up our green lawns and planting vegetation appropriate to our desert climate, maybe we should also be whipping out the Geiger counters to see where that 'hot' dirt went. Yes, 60 years have passed -- but the half-life of that red stuff could be much, much longer than that. Hey, it's perfect material to base a paranoid conspiracy obsession around, so why am I only moderately amused?

It'll be a new tagline for the tony Savant-adjacent Hancock Park neighborhood: we're so glamorous, we Glow.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson


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

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