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August 25, 2015

Hello!

Until things return to normal, all new reviews for the week will arrive on Tuesdays, but tonight's column is a special report on the Asssociation of Moving Image Archivists' annual convention The Reel Thing from two weeks ago, a quick run-down of some the highlights. The AMIA is a non-profit professional association that has been very gracious to DVD Savant. The convention gathers every August at the Academy's facilities in Hollywood.

The opening night reception for The Reel Thing saw a screening of Sony's new 4K restoration of John Huston's Fat City (1972), which is incidentally soon to become a new Blu-ray from Twilight Time, on September 8, I believe. The stars are Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges, Susan Tyrell and Candy Clark. The remaster looked excellent; TT's Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo were in attendance.

The day saw several presentation seminars devoted to color. James Layton and David Pierce, the authors of the book The Dawn of Technicolor did two presentations, one on the history of 2-strip Technicolor up to 1930, the other on 2-strip Technicolor musicals. During the former they discussed the troubled history of MGM's 1929 The Mysterious Island, directed by Lucien Hubbard, Benjamin Christensen and Maurice Tourneur. They screened a color sequence recently found in Finland, among rolls of censor trims. It showed Lionel Barrymore tied up and being tortured, and then being confronted by the villain. The quality of the color was good by 2-strip standards. They mentioned that the color print reportedly found in the Czech Republic was incomplete.

Mysterious Island came up again, albeit very briefly, during the presentation on 2-strip musicals made by Richard Dayton and Eric Aijala of YCM Laboratories. They ran some color sequences from the 1930 Wheeler and Woolsey comedy The Cuckoos, including the film leader, which contained brief test snippets from other films. One was a shot of Barrymore from Island.

Also shown during the musicals presentation were some recently rediscovered color sequences from 1929's The Show of Shows, ("My Sister") and The March of Time.

There was also a separate presentation of the new restoration performed on the color sequences from The King of Jazz (1930). The makeup used on Bing Crosby is grotesque, horrifying. (note, if it's what I'm thinking of, the scene makes Crosby look like a shaved monkey.)

There was a salute to The Film Foundation, including the screening of a new restoration they did of a short B&W documentary on rebel fighters resisting the Chinese in Nepal. According the presenters, it was hated by both the Chinese -- and the CIA -- and had been long suppressed.

The evening's screening was a new 4K restoration from Fox of Otto Preminger's 1950 Where the Sidewalk Ends, scanned from the original nitrate neg. Fox's Shawn Belston said the movie was only one of nine or so for which Fox possesses nitrate negs. It looked great!

Day two of The Reel Thing kicked off with a look at The Film Foundation's ambitious restoration of the respected Marcel Ophüls' The Memory of Justice, from 1976. Almost nobody has seen the nearly five-hour documentary on war atrocities. In addition to restoring the film, the Foundation had to re-do the legal clearances on all the clips, stills and music in the documentary -- an epic chore in itself. The presenters were Jennifer Ahn and Kristen Merola of The Film Foundation, and Michael Pogorzelski and Heather Linville of the AMPAS Film Archive.

Next was a presentation by the Walt Disney Studios' Jayson Wall on a new restoration of Dateline Disneyland, the 90-minute live TV special on the opening of Disneyland in 1955. Most of us have seen this, or at least excerpts from it, on DVD or TV, sourced from a 16mm kinescope owned by Roy Disney. Well, two years ago the studio discovered that UCLA held a 35mm kinescope. This is not a blow-up from the 16mm, but a separately created 35mm kinescope. Naturally, it has all the usual problems associated with kinescopes, but it does have improved detail over the 16mm. It's been scanned at 4K and 16-bit color. The Disney rep admitted this was probably overkill, but they wanted to make sure they captured every bit of information on the film. Three versions have been created: a 100% complete version including commercials, for the Disney archive; a 'distribution' version with commercials removed; and a 16-minute reel of highlights, which was screened as part of the presentation. There are no plans to release the new restoration on home video at this time.

Next was a presentation on some software that is supposed to allow for inexpensive restoration with the click of a single button; it does dirt and dust removal, image stabilization, etc., with the ability to easily undo fixes that were perhaps made in error. They showed as a demo the opening to White Zombie from 1932. It may have been the Roan/VCI restoration released on Blu-ray in 2014.

John Polito of Audio Mechanics gave a presentation on the deterioration of polyester-based magnetic film, the standard film stock for audio. Then, after lunch, three presentations about 8mm, by Rhonda Vigeant of Pro8mm. These were followed by a speech about an ISBN-style numbering system developed for movies and TV. The last presentation was with Wojtek Janio of a Polish company called Fixafilm, who discussed their complex restoration of Andrzej Wajda's The Ashes, and a 16mm American independent short. Intriguingly, they casually mentioned they were working on a 4K restoration of the 1963 The Day of the Triffids. We're hoping to learn more about that later, from another source.

The farewell screening for the evening was a new 4K restoration of Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar. The Paramount rep explained that the original negative no longer exists, so the restoration is from separations. It looks good, if not spectacular. But then again, Consolidated Film Industries' TruColor process probably never looked all that great. Dark areas tended to be a little murky, but otherwise it looked as good as one could expect. Savant readers will be happy to hear that it screened at 1.66:1; the existing Olive Films Blu-ray is open-matte flat.

Due here sometime on Tuesday, September 1: five new DVD Savant reviews! Thanks for reading, Glenn Erickson




August 25, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

Mad Max: Fury Road
Warner Home Video
3-D Blu-ray, 2-D Blu-ray,
Digital HD, DVD

  This year's hottest action movie revved up audiences more than anything since, well, since 1982's The Road Warrior. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron share top gun status in a sustained chase-gauntlet run-survival ordeal back and forth across 200 miles of post-apocalyptic Namibia. Ace director George Miller transcends genre limits, yet assembles a finely crafted epic in which CGI effects are subordinated to real-life daredevil stunt work. Even the corny stuff grabs us. The 3-D is sensational (and very smartly used); the extras made a big difference in my appreciation. I had assumed that most of the stunts came out of a computer, and that just ain't so. A Multi-Format edition on 3-D and 2-D Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD from Warner Home Video.
8/25/15

and

War-Gods of the Deep
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

  Vincent Price!  Tab Hunter!  Susan Hart!  David Tomlinson!  Herbert the Rooster!  American-International's London-shot grab bag of genre flotsam is one of the best-looking, carefully-directed and most ill-judged fantasy films ever. American babe Hart is kidnapped by the ruler of an undersea kingdom, who commands soggy but fierce Gill-Men to enforce his perverted will. But wait -- are the citizens of the undersea city really immortal? Will everyone escape before the underwater volcanoes blow the forgotten city Mayonnaise Lyonesse back to the deep end of the pool? And what of Tomlinson's pet chicken, Herbert? He's the most important character in the movie, interrupting every grim Vincent Price speech and pulling off the darned-est cut-ups, Disney style. Who can resist? On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
8/25/15




Hello!

More changes, more excitement. The vaunted Trailers from Hell page has stepped up and offered to guest-host DVD Savant while waiting for DVDtalk to renew access to the site. This is fun, being handed from one gracious group of online entrepreneurs to another. Trailers from Hell is of course a major web destination; I link to its contents often. I even like TFH's weekly quizzes, even though I don't score so highly. Anyway, my links here today will redirect readers to a galaxy website far, far away. Traveling without moving.

As for Stuart Galbraith IV and his page World Cinema Paradise, they have been a regular life preserver. I met Stuart in 1998, through completely selfish means: Gary Teetzel introduced us at a time when Stuart was living in Los Feliz. I think he was working for Warner Bros. as an archivist. He'd later do some film element research work at MGM as well. I found out that Stuart not only had written a book about Kaiju called The Monsters are Attacking Tokyo, but that he possessed a huge library of expensive Japanese laserdiscs of all the original Toho Kaiju and sci-fi thrillers. Years before most were made available on Region 1 DVD, I was able to finally see things like The Secret of the Telegian, Mothra and Gorath uncut, in widescreen, with their proper soundtracks and sometimes in stereophonic sound. The catch: no English subtitles. When begged, Stuart would comment on screenings for us and answer our questions about what was happening. Stuart has now become better known as an expert on the entire field of Japanese cinema, having written books about Akira Kurosawa and others. He's always been supportive of DVD Savant, we've written for each other's sites, etc. He's perhaps the most respected reviewer to appear regularly at DVDtalk.

Links for the day? Well, one's a simple Facebook page where some agreeable person regularly posts images from the golden age of space travel, futuristic iconography and '50s and '60s space fantasy. It's called The Vault of the Atomic Space Age. Typically, I went there only to see that Gary Teetzel has discovered the page before me, like Arne Saknussem.

I received eight full email notes in response to Ken Camp's letter about the old Vagabond Movie theater. I'm going to try to organize them as part of an article about the great days of vintage film-seeking in Los Angeles in the 1970s. I may not find any photos but it'll be easy to add details to make Angeleno film fans wax nostalgic.

Gary Teetzel sent me this boingboing article by Cory Doctorow about the files kept by the Federal Bureau of Investigation against author Ray Bradbury, "Definitely slanted against the United States". The key informant? Good old Martin Berkeley, who's credited on several Universal sci-fi pictures of the 1950s. It's somewhat strange that the author of Tarantula would so fervently denounce the author of the classic book Fahrenheit 451.

And I can say that I think there will finally be some news, perhaps soon, about the 1963 sci-fi gem Day of the Triffids. At the Asssociation of Moving Image Archivists' annual convention The Reel Thing last week, some presenters dropped the word that the film was being mastered on 4K video. Bob Furmanek broke the news online over the weekend. Here's hoping... there's a generation or two that's never seen the Howard Keel epic about galloping broccoli, and it's one of our favorites.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



August 22, 2015


Seas Rise!   Empires Fall!    DVD Savant Soldiers On!    Today's new reviews are:

Videodrome
Arrow Video (UK)
Region B Blu-ray + PAL DVD

  David Cronenberg's mind expanding, brain twisting prophetic sci-fi horror takes a menacingly honest look at the future of man's mingling with his media inventions. James Woods seeks out a mysterious pirate satellite feed, unleashing a channel of forbidden content - which rides on a carrier wave that induces psychophysical changes in anyone who gazes upon it. Deborah Harry is the sensationalist who embraces Videodrome's forbidden sexual unknowns, and enters its world of living hallucinations. This four-disc dual-format edition has unique extras, including a Tim Lucas commentary and a quartet of Cronenberg's early student/underground productions. On Region B Blu-ray and PAL DVD from Arrow Video UK.
8/22/15


Street Smart
Olive Films
Blu-ray

  Christopher Reeve has a notable non- Kal-el role in Jerry Schatzberg's New York- set thriller about an ambitious writer who fakes a story and lives to regret it. The real acting honors and career boost go to Morgan Freeman as a crafty pimp accused of murder, and Kathy Baker as the top girl in his stable. The D.A. demands Reeves' non-existent interview notes, while the criminal blackmails the writer's cooperation in establishing an alibi. The trouble escalates from there. With Mimi Rogers and Andre Gregory. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
8/22/15


and

Quick! Before It Melts
The Warner Archive Collection
DVD

 Mid-60s MGM sex comedies rarely play well today -- you know, the kind of adult 'shook up shopping cart' nonsense where the poster illustration promises make-out thrills that the show doesn't deliver. The gimmick in this farce sends George Maharis, Robert Morse and Anjanette Comer to a science research station in Anarctica. They get to watch pet penguins and play games with a Russian scientist and some cute female visitors, but Morse's fianceé Yvonne Craig stays home in New York. It's a weird movie -- everybody tries hard but the magic mostly ain't there. Directed by Delbert Mann, the best thing about the movie is a title, which sounds like it belongs on a Beach Party movie. On DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.
8/22/15





Hello! A couple more fast links this weekend -- !

Gary Teetzel sent me to a video interview at Nerdist, about Theo Kalomirakis, a guy who has a $300,000 Movie Collection. We get to see how he stores it -- it must be in the wing of his mansion labeled, 'Videoland.' The stinger -- he doesn't watch them very much.

Chicago Savant colleague and much-quoted film critic Sergio Mims is asked to comment about a resurgence (?) of black-directed films in Renaissance for Black Films Still Waiting. The subject is prompted by the new film Straight Outta Compton.

And correspondent Ken Camp responded to my link to an old review of The Night of the Lepus with a memory-inducing note about movie-going in Los Angeles in the '70s...

"Glenn, What a bizarre memory. Night of the Lepus closed the State Theatre I worked at in Long Beach in the early '70s. As to why it was even made, I didn't "get" it. However, the joke was that for weeks, whenever we would drive by the theatre, the marquee and posters were still advertising this movie, and there was always a line waiting to buy tickets for a screening that would never happen.

Franklin Urbach (sp?) who ran The Vagabond Theatre next to MacArthur Park had taken over the State Theatre. It was one of those huge old movie palaces next door to The Pike in Long Beach. His plan, which never materialized, was to have a team of painters project on the walls frame blow-ups from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and paint those images to the walls. He had already done this at The Vagabond, using frames from Battleship Potemkin. Too bad it didn't happen. The State was one of those big curvy archways type of places and it would have been a strange mind-blower to turn it into Dr. Caligari. -- Ken Camp"

I only remember seeing the State Theater around 1958 while visiting my Uncle in Long Beach, and staring at the giant roller coaster in The Pike. But I was a constant attendee at The Vagabond, which showed one-of-a-kind studio prints, often in original Technicolor. I also went there one night to see about becoming a projectionist. I wisely realized I didn't have enough experience -- I could just see myself mangling the irreplaceable 35mm prints that were screened at The Vagabond. Anybody else remember shows at that small but impressive theater? That's where I saw original nitrate prints of Val Lewton movies, with Rocco Gioffre and Hoyt Yeatman.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



August 18, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

That Guy Dick Miller
Indiecan Entertainment
DVD

  This hugely enjoyable docu-bio gives us a favorite character actor, who could very well represent the ambitions and aspirations of actors everywhere, and especially those that labor on the fringes of movie fame. Dick Miller is wholly recognizable but not often named, and Elijah Drenner's entertaining trek through his life puts us in contact with a tall list of fun movie personalities eager to talk about him. A Roger Corman regular, Miller has meant different things to succeeding generations of filmmakers... and has arguably never turned in anything less than an inspired performance. And it's a happy story, too --- just a little fame & riches-challenged. Great music, amusing film clips and a fine presentation all 'round. On DVD from Indiecan Entertainment.
8/18/15


The Hunger
The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

  Tony Scott's first feature film is a flashy-moody modern vampire epic dressed up in trendy perfume-commercial images and played for atmosphere first and foremost. But it can also boast three very attractive performances from the always-interesting Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon; plus really classy makeup effects that do more than just provide gory shocks. And of course, there's the racy Deneuve-on-Sarandon sex stuff that pulled us all into the theater. A commentary track with director Tony Scott and Sarandon proves an informative listen. It may not be art, but it ain't Kitsch, either. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
8/18/15

and

Nightmare Castle
Severin Films
Blu-ray

  Steele yourself! Mario Caiano's graveyard valentine to the swoon-inducing horror queen Barbara Steele comes back in a visually perfect HD transfer from the original negative. The tale of infidelity, torture and vengeance from beyond the grave, gives us La Babs in yet another dual role, and briefly, in a major horror makeup. The disc generously includes two more Steele Euro-horror opuses, Antonio Margheriti's Castle of Blood and Massimo Pupillo's Terror Creatures from Beyond the Grave They're in HD, from reasonable-to-great quality 35mm prints. Plus, a tall stack of extras, including the best Steele career interview to date and a new audio commentary with Steele and David Del Valle. On Blu-ray from Severin Films.
8/18/15




Hello!

Well, here's a chance to catch up on some links:

Favorite commentator Brian Trenchard-Smith checks in at Trailers from Hell with his candidate for TFH's 'Movies You Never Heard Of' series, an Australian entry called 40,000 Horsemen. He's right -- I never heard of the movie, and the story Trenchard-Smith tells about it is fascinating. Recent gotta-see TFH entries have been Get Crazy, Johnny Cool, Eyes without a Face and X-The Man with the X-Ray Eyes. The dependable Trenchard-Smith will be back soon with trailers for Ice Cold in Alex and the amazing Went the Day Well?

Edward Sullivan sends proof of how the reported 'ghostly hand' of the demonic Quint was filmed for Jack Clayton's The Innocents. Ed writes: "Hi Glenn, I don't have the Criterion Blu-Ray of The Innocents, so this may be old-hat, but for years I've wondered about the ghostly hand that appears on the edge of the frame (in some transfers) during the climactic scene between Miles and Miss Giddens.

This film still pretty much answers that question, and backs up some of the claims made by Peter Wyngarde during that 2013 British radio program Night Waves discussing the making of the film -- e.g., the trouble Wyngarde went through to be made up for scenes that never made the theatrical cut."

Correspondent Hank Graham found this neat re-evaluation of Savant favorite Until the End of the World, written by Aaron Stewart-Ahn. No domestic release of the long cut is being talked about, but director Wim Wenders says he's going to go on tour with it. I'm ready to see it in a theater again.

And finally, a Sam Fuller screen test has been making the rounds -- it's a video of Al Pacino reading lines with the famed director for Godfather II: The Fuller/Pacino Screen Test.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



August 15, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

Burn, Witch, Burn
Kino Lorber
Blu-ray

  Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont's slick screenplay combined with great acting by Janet Blair, Peter Wyngarde and Margaret Johnston raise this witchcraft-in-academia tale to a high level of quality. A skeptical professor destroys his wife's occult amulets and other supernatural bric-a-brac, leaving him open to the evil spells of a college rival. It sounds like SOP back at the UCLA Film School. Very effectively filmed, this one pays off nicely with some good scares. With a commentary by Matheson and a new interview with star Wyngarde. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.
8/15/15


House of Bamboo
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

  Sam Fuller's best movie? Well, it's probably his most lavish production. Thug Robert Stack muscles in on the mob of Robert Ryan, pushing out previous lieutenant Cameron Mitchell. The big deal is that the gang of thieves is operating out of a swank house in postwar Tokyo, each with a 'kimonah girl' by his side. High drama, terrific color, CinemaScope visuals and Fuller's terrific critical eye really make this one sing. With Shirley Yamaguchi, Brad Dexter, Sessue Hayakawa, DeForest Kelley. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
8/15/15


and

Citizenfour
Anchor Bay / Radius
Blu-ray

  Laura Poitras' Oscar-winning documentary is more than an exposé -- watching it makes one realize that any notion of personal privacy is now fast disappearing into history. The show doesn't preach, but just follows Edward Snowden as he prepares to leak a wealth of NSA documents proving that America spies on its citizens, its allies, everyone... for the benefit of...? Believe it or not, the carefully conceived docu simply shows us what's Snowden's doing, what kind of person he is, and how crucially important what he's done may be for the future. With some good extras as well. On Blu-ray from Anchor Bay / Radius.
8/15/15




Hello!

Hi ... with DVD Savant down for a week, the DVDtalk people spent an hour with me online yesterday, trying to give me the ability to upload reviews. That didn't work, which puts me on my second week of being Stone Cold Dead in the Water. So with the help of a friend (a friend indeed) I've found a way to proceed: Stuart Galbraith IV's World Cinema Paradise page has volunteered to host my reviews until I'm back in business. Since Stuart's got a blog format going there at WCP, I've done my best to make his pages look like mine. Considering my maladroit computer skills I'm quite proud of myself.

DVDtalk has been very gracious to host DVD Savant all these years, but the complexities (no details) of the technical arrangement can be frustrating. Like I've said before, this page attracts a lot of readers, and if this is the time for a migration somewhere else, I'd be very happy to hear from any potential new homes. Who knows, maybe the generous Mr. Galbraith will take in an indigent web reviewer.

No links today-- I barely have energy to clack out this message. I have seen and reviewed for next time the funny docu That Guy Dick Miller as well as Severin Film's latest classic offering of Barbara Steele Euro-hits, Nightmare Castle. Until then --

Thanks for reading! Glenn Erickson



August 07, 2015

Hello All ....

Well, I'm on task again regarding my reviews, but I can't add anything to my page. DVD Talk is working on giving me the ability to upload reviews. It's been back and forth all day, which means little writing is getting done, so this 'interruption in service' continues. I know that at least some of the appeal of DVD Savant is that 'it's always there, with something new" -- I myself am attracted to some sites for that reason. So I mentally see myself losing readers left and right.

I'm working on reviews for three winners: KL Studio Classics' Burn, Witch, Burn, Twilight Time's House of Bamboo and Anchor Bay's Citizenfour. They're all good... Next up might be The Hunger, Quick Before It Melts, Summer Lovers, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? and/or Daniel. On the way is the documentary That Guy Dick Miller and maybe I, Madman; various people have been trying to get me that one. And I even have a shot at a 3-D disc of Mad Max Fury Road, so we'll see. Arrow supposedly has Videodrome and Eaten Alive on the way, and I don't know what happened to Warners' Innerspace and Kino's The Front Page.

Usually after I write a report like this, my connection problem is suddenly fixed before I can post ... so I'll keep my fingers crossed. Thanks for reading, Glenn


August 8, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Andromeda Strain
Universal Home Video
Blu-ray

  It's germs from outer space, I tell you. Savant takes a good hard look at a favorite, a sci-fi picture with integrity. Michael Crichton's debut technothriller is packed with narrative problems, only partly solved -- it's a movie made 80% of technical exposition, and it's still fascinating. Arthur Hill, James Olsen, David Wayne and Kate Reid star. Robert Wise's pricey production doesn't cut corners, especially not with Douglas Trumbull and Jamie Shourt's advanced special effects. Savant has the inside story on the scenes with the monkey, that looks like he's being killed on-screen. On Blu-ray from Universal Home Video.
7/08/15


Message from Hiroshima
Cinema Libre Studio
DVD

  A former resident of Hiroshima constructs an ode to the memory of what was destroyed, employing the testimony of citizens that survived, and visual aids to reconstruct the little mercantile area that once existed directly under the air blast, at ground zero. Beautiful digital reconstructions bring a lost borough back to life; the survivors tour the memorial park at the site, speaking of their long-lost relatives buried underground. Masaake Tanabe's documentary is a personal statement to preserve memories. Actor George Takei provides the narration. On DVD from Cinema Libre Studio.
7/08/15


and

Viva Villa!
The Warner Archive Collection
DVD

  How does one approach a movie that, more than most any other, has formed a negative stereotype of an ethnic minority? MGM's quality production has star Wallace Beery portray Mexico's revolutionary hero as an infantile, gross degenerate -- not a vital political figure, but a sentimental moron. Sidekick Leo Carillo is there to prove that Mexicans don't place any value on human life, while Fay Wray's genteel señora suffers a fate that the movie implies will happen anywhere that the lower classes aren't suppressed. The smart screenplay mixes comedy with a condescending political attitude that's stuck to Hollywood for decades: history is only a matter of 'good' versus 'bad.' Beery is certainly effective; Carillo and Stuart Erwin score as 'good' guys and Joseph Schildkraut is a hiss-able villain. On DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.
7/08/15




Hello!

It's a quick hello today, as I have a side job to run off to and better get a move on. My next post may be delayed by a day or so, but I'll check in if that happens. I certainly enjoyed writing up The Andromeda Strain after waiting so long to find the disc.

Here in Los Angeles we had a much-liked longtime local TV celebrity, a sort of travelogue host and greeter ("Golly!") by the name of Huell Howser. Joe Dante has passed around this link of a Youtube excerpt of one of his TV shows, Visiting with Huell Howser: The Ackermansion. Yes, readers, Forry was just like you see him here. I spotted him at a screening way back in 1971 and not four seconds later he stuck the genuine original Bela Lugosi Dracula ring in my face. He was an original.

Colleague John Mc Elwee flattered me last week by following up my Thunder Road review with his own report on the Robert Mitchum film's undying popularity in the South. It's a good read, under the date August 3, 2015 over at Greenbriar Picture Shows.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



August 03, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

For Whom the Bell Tolls
Koch Media GmbH (DE)
Region B (Germany) Blu-ray

  (Wem Die Stunde Schlägt)  What's with American studios, that we have to sneak away to foreign countries to get quality transfers of Hollywood classics? This German Blu-ray of the Ernest Hemingway / Sam Wood / Dudley Nichols / William Cameron Menzies epic has been digitally polished, in its original 165-minute Road Show cut comes complete with concert-like bookends and intermission music for Victor Young's romantic music score. Gary Cooper is Hemingway's Robert Jordan, a volunteer dynamiter for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War; Ingrid Bergman is the traumatized survivor who falls in love with him. The intensely visual, action-oriented saga has terrific acting by a supporting cast of 'Spaniards' from all over the map: Akim Tamiroff, Katina Paxinou, Vladimir Sokoloff, Joseph Calleia and Mikhail Rasumny. The two-disc set has two encodings and other extras as well. On Region B (Germany) Blu-ray from Koch Media GmbH (DE).
8/04/15


Baby It's You
Olive Films
Blu-ray

  It's not easy to get a quality writing & directing career going when you're a Hollywood outsider, but John Sayles just kept coming out with too many good movies, to be ignored. This drama of romance gone crazy sees high school achiever Rosanna Arquette get tangled up with bad boy Joe Spano, an irresistible nonconformist. He dresses like Frank Sinatra and thinks he's headed for a life in show business... when he's not stealing cars. Sayles captures a little bit of the chaos and confusion that results when people try to live real lives instead of stick to the straight and narrow; the film also has an interestingly negative view of a college experience. Due to some conflicting sources, we're not quite sure if several Bruce Springsteen cues were dropped from the picture; authoritative input would be appreciated. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
8/04/15

and

Our Mother's House
The Warner Archive Collection
DVD-R

  Director Jack Clayton was apparently drawn to weird stories involving children. This oddball thriller has a gothic - Dickensian feel but comes off as a horror subject with only a bit of horror. Pamela Franklin is one of seven children left behind when a religiously strict mother dies from a prolonged sickness; her very young older kids scheme to keep the authorities from finding out, so the family can stay together. Pretty soon they're enforcing Bible law in the house, and exacting a terrible punishment on their tiny, inoffensive little sister. Then their long-absent father (Dirk Bogarde) returns, and sees in his childrens' situation a greedy opportunity. So-so as an allegory and excellent for acting, there's still something clammy and unhealthy about the whole business. On DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.
8/04/15




Hello!

Here be the links. They're amazing! They're self-promotional!

Gary Teetzel tips Savant's 20,000 rabid Godzilla fans to a rare film clip: monster actor Haruo Nakajima in a Godzilla suit in 1983 doing a special photo shoot for a magazine: "Nakajima Tries On the Godzilla Suit 0ne Last Time." I think the direction given by the still photographer was, "Try to step on as many people as possible."

Meanwhile, dapper web radio host Dick Dinman continues with his popular series of film-related audio programs. This week he's doing his usual roundup of Blu-ray releases, and across two shows concentrates on Criterion's newer and Bluer disc of Jules Dassin's noir masterpiece Night and the City. And who should Dinman get to discuss it with him than yours truly; it's one title that I've done full research on, besides remembering how it chilled me to the bone when I saw it at the newly-opened UCLA FIlm Archive in (year deleted to protect the innocent). Dick calls my commentary 'incisive and revelatory,' which I take to mean that my remarks are cutting and spiritually delirious. Actually, Dick works up a pretty good discussion of the unheralded actor Richard Widmark, and I chime in well enough to convince you I'm sober. Thanks Dick -- the shows come in two parts, Part One and Part Two.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson


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

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