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November 29, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

The Asphalt Jungle
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

 John Huston's primal heist film is an almost perfect movie, with a score of unforgettable characterizations. A solid crime noir, it concerns itself with the human ironies in the 'left handed form of human endeavor.' It's got Sterling Hayden's thug, Sam Jaffe's mastermind, Louis Calhern's playboy double-crosser, and is also the breakout picture for Marilyn Monroe. City grime is all over every aspect of the picture, but screenwriter Ben Maddow opts for a tragic conclusion on green grass under an open sky. With Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Marc Lawrence -- all perfect. Criterion's extras include a two hour documentary with Sterling Hayden. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
11/29/16



The Undying Monster
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

 Fox's first official monster movie is a terrific-looking but mostly flat mystery that seems to be trying its utmost not to be a horror film at all. It's a head scratcher that will interest fans of the expressive John Brahm, and help completists scratch another werewolf film off their gotta-see lists. James Ellison and Heather Angel star, but the film's attraction is the impressive studio sets and the beautiful work of the lighting cameraman Lucien Ballard. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
11/29/16



and

The Quiet Earth
Film Movement Classics
Blu-ray

 Remember the warning to avoid 'crossing the streams' in Ghostbusters? Director Geoff Murphy enjoyed a world-wide release for this eerie sci-fi fantasy about a scientist who becomes unstuck in time-space, alone in an empty world. A last-man-on-Earth tale turns into yet another doomsday romantic triangle before opting for a bizarre cosmic finale. Bruno Lawrence delivers a powerful performance, trying to undo the effects of a wild experiment. With a commentary offering the thoughts of Neil deGrasse Tyson. On Blu-ray from Film Movement Classics.
11/29/16




Hello!

More 3-D on the way: Gary Teetzel has tipped me off that another restoration of a vintage '50s three-dimensional release is coming, to be released by Twilight Time. The movie in question is Raoul Walsh's Gun Fury, a Columbia picture starring Rock Hudson and Donna Reed, with Roberta Haynes (Return to Paradise,) and a trio of greats: Leo Gordon, Lee Marvin and Neville Brand. A 3-D 'fifties western, in color! Can't wait. Now where's Hondo?

I've never seen Gun Fury. I find that some people assume I've seen everything, and I of course try to give that impression, but it's far from true. I see very few Asian movies and don't watch most of the Middle Eastern movies that come by. I've also closed the door on most non-classic-era lower-end horror pictures, and won't touch certain directors like Jesus Franco any more. Life's just too short, even though respected people like Nathaniel Thompson and Tim Lucas think Franco is terrific. Tim just touted his discovery of Ikarie XB-1 a couple of weeks back, a title I've been waving the flag about for ten years now. But just as some movies have to trap me into seeing them, I don't expect my recommendations to appeal to everybody. After all, I read Video Watchdog in part to keep up with films I didn't actually want to see. I'm a Pedro Almodóvar fan, but that would never have happened if my wife hadn't dragged me to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown long ago. We also discovered Carlos Saura together, at her instigation.

We all have lists of movies we're supposed to see, but end up avoiding. Some I just never make time for, but for others I've seen only the last scene several times while changing channels. Others I ditched out of after the first scene, back at UCLA's Melnitz Hall, with a disapproving Howard Suber watching me leave. Just so you realize that Nobody Sees Everything, going through the Andrew Sarris book of American classics I've been highlighting since 1972, I spotted a blank spot over Gun Fury right away. As illustrated above. But I also realize I haven't seen all of the following: The Big House, Anna Christie, A Bill of Divorcement, Dinner at Eight, Queen Christina, Cavalcade, Of Human Bondage, Sylvia Scarlet, Babes in Arms, Going My Way, Cobra Woman, Summer Storm, Lady in the Dark, Devotion, Unconquered, A Song is Born, Corridor of Mirrors, Bright Victory, Anatahan, The Naked Dawn, Tea and Sympathy, The Catered Affair, Saint Joan, Porgy and Bess, Light in the Piazza, The Luck of Ginger Coffey, The Whisperers. And there's tons of stuff between 1970 and 1990 I haven't seen, and after that I'm even more spotty.

These days I see what I have to, to vote with the OFCS each Christmas, but I've ditched out of most Marvel movies and I'm not sure I'll even keep up with the Star Wars franchise any more, except as my family wants to see them. I did rush out last week to see Arrival on the big screen, and that was certainly worthwhile. Because i do research work for TCM, I suppose you might call this a profession, but not really. It's like I tell people who seem to be out there buying mass quantities of disc media: do it if you can enjoy it (and you can afford it...). We're all curious about movies in our own way, and in our own direction. And I'm still not ready to watch Going My Way.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



November 26, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Moby Dick
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

  I have a back file of reader notes asking for a Blu-ray for John Huston's Moby Dick, and more pointedly, wondering what will be done with its strange color scheme. I wasn't expecting miracles, but this new Twilight Time disc should make the purists happy -- it has approximated the film's original, heavily muted color scheme. Seen widescreen in such a good scan, Huston's epic merits new appreciation, as do Richard Basehart, Leo Genn and the unfairly maligned Gregory Peck. I'm still impressed with the special miniature and monster effects in this great picture -- as well as the music! On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
11/26/16



C.H.U.D.
Arrow U.S.
Blu-ray

 Can an old-fashioned monster movie still work in the 1980s? The dedicated cast of this overachieving chiller takes a story of Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers in directions most punk-era horrors do not. John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry and Kim Greist are Manhattanites dealing with slimy horrors sneaking up through their basements and creeping out of manhole covers on the streets of Soho. Arrow gives us both the theatrical and 'integral' versions, along with a stack of extras. On Blu-ray from Arrow U.S..
11/26/16



and

The Boston Strangler
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

 True-Crime Terror in Boston town! Richard Fleischer and Edward Anhalt's riveting serial killer story fudges some facts but still impresses as a novel approach to one of the most infamous murder sprees on record. The film is among the few pictures that use split- and multi-screen imagery as a narrative aid, not just decoration: it's a different kind of suspense. Tony Curtis goes all out with his performance as Albert DeSalvo, and the low-key cast includes Henry Fonda, Mike Kellin, Murray Hamilton, Jeff Corey and Sally Kellerman. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
11/26/16




Hello!

A couple of Los Angeles special screenings to mention... On December 6 and 7 the Cinerama Dome will be holding big-screen re-premieres of the new restorations of Cinerama's Russian Adventure and The Best of Cinerama. As explained in my review, Russian Adventure is a best-of compilation feature as well, having been assembled from parts of six different Soviet shows filmed in the compatible Kinopanorama process. There will be speeches and door prizes and discounted discs... the Carpe Diem! page with the key information is here.

Meanwhile, across town at the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre, the next night (December 8) will see the re-premiere of the 3-D Film Archive's September Storm, a restoration done in full widescreen CinemaScope and 3-D. It even comes with its original animated short subject, The Adventures of Sam Space. The show starred Mark Stevens and Joanne Dru, and was directed by Byron Haskin. Actor Asher Dann will join Bob Furmanek and 3-D Space's Eric Kurland in a post- screening discussion. The American Cinematheque's info page is here.

And correspondent Gary Teetzel reports that Kino Lorber has announced the contents of its upcoming Blu-ray of the rediscovered and restored pre-Code post-apocalyptic disaster film Deluge. Its story of compounding natural disasters seems very modern: a massive earthquake and a tsunami demolish New York City, ending civilization as we know it (?). A second feature film Back Page with star Peggy Shannon will be included, but we're also promised an audio commentary from the esteemed Richard Harland Smith. This should be a title worthy of bona fide film historian R.H., as there is a wealth of production history involved, and none of it has been collected in a coherent fashion. The film's been 'lost' ever since the 1940s, when Republic bought it for its special effects. I'm eager to hear about the Lydeckers' special effects, as well as learning how Forrest Ackerman and Wade Williams' names became involved.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



November 21, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Olive Films
Blu-ray

 Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger officially become 'The Archers' for this sterling morale-propaganda picture lauding the help of the valiant Dutch resistance. It's a joyful show of spirit, terrific casting (with a couple of surprises) and first-class English filmmaking. With star Googie Withers, Archers veterans Pamela Brown and Robert Helpmann, and Peter Ustinov in his first movie! On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
11/22/16





Cinerama's Russian Adventure
Flicker Alley
Blu-ray + DVD

 The USSR's Cinerama knockoff proved a 'good business' between the rival superpowers, when some producers imported and re-edited six Soviet Kinopanorama travelogues to make an action- & culture-packed 3-panel Cinerama attraction. In some ways it's one of the best -- the circus scenes and animal comedy are terrific. With plenty of David Strohmeier- produced extras. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Flicker Alley.
11/22/16



and

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

 If anybody's dreams are interesting, Akira Kurosawa's should be, and this late career fantasy is a consistently rewarding string of morality tales and visual essays that pop off the screen. Some of the imagery has input from the famed Ishiro Honda. If Federico Fellini can psychoanalyze himself on film for twenty years, why not Kurosawa? With two additional documentaries and extra interviews. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
11/22/16





Hello!

A note from Stefan Andersson answers some questions and raises others about a disc I reviewed just last week, Abel Gance's 1938 version of J'accuse. It looks as if I in no way had a handle on the whole story. In my review I stated that the finish seemed to be a revision, as if Monsieur Gance had prepared a changed version for release after the war. That's an understatement.

Andersson points me (us) to three fascinating and educational online resources. First is a scholarly article comparing the two versions of J'accuse, adding in comments about a Bertrand Tavernier film with a related theme, Le vie et rien d'autre (Life and Nothing But), from 1989. It's long and convoluted; Stefan points us to footnote #35, which talks about a re-cut of J'accuse '38:

The Ambiguity of Individual Gestures by Van Kelly

Next up is a new note on the Home Theater Forum from expert Robert Harris, who reportedly did restoration work on the title in the late 1980s. Harris likes the new disc but is disappointed that the version accessed by Olive and Gaumont is a revision done by Gance himself; the filmmaker dropped a final scene in which Jean Diaz joins the marching undead and returns with them to the massive Verdun cemetery:

A few words about...™ J'Accuse (post 1938 re-issue) in Blu-ray by Robert Harris.

Finally, Stefan Andersson slips us a link to a rough 'n' ragged DailyMotion copy of J'accuse, which includes what Harris and Kelly call the original cut:

DailyMotion: J'Accuse.

I looked at the finish, and the difference is amazing. Abel Gance once again overcooks the stew and goes all 'Christian Symbolism' with his story. Terrified of the marching dead, the angry mob blames Jean Diaz. They seize him, lash him to a stone (cross?) and burn him, as if he were the False Maria from Metropolis. The exaggerated delirium is almost amusing --- Gance's righteous poetic rhapsodizing overloads the film, as if he really expected viewers to stagger from the theater with their souls completely changed. At least it's not as bad as Gance's La fin du monde, where he narcissistically casts himself as a saint-like prophet and savior of the world, who even takes the role of Christ in a passion play.

You heard it last at DVD Savant. It's a lot to absorb. A century from now some dusty film-ologist will be trying to explain to people that George Lucas's Star Wars movies were constantly being revised, while 22nd-century schoolkids pretend to be interested.

Thank you Stefan. Again, Stefan, your email address seems to be blocked -- it keeps getting kicked back.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



November 19, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

J'accuse (1938)
Olive Films
Blu-ray

 World War, a solemn vow, and a promise betrayed lead to a 'night of the living war dead' - all cooked up by the director of Napoleon, Abel Gance. The early, famed pacifist fantasy is back in near-perfect condition and restored to its full length. It's a reworking, not a remake, of Gance's 1919 silent classic. The director is as erratic as ever -- his star Victor Francen holds the drama together with a standout performance. Gance makes use of real disfigured combat veterans to stage his horrific 'march of the dead.' On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
11/19/16



The Magic Box:
Project Shirley Volume 4

The Milestone Cinematheque
Blu-ray

 Milestone wraps up its 'Project Shirley,' an in-depth study of the independent director of The Connection and Portrait of Jason. Practically all of Shirley Clarke's small and experimental films are here from the early 1950s forward, plus a wealth of biographical film. Highlights are a charity film about 'saving the children' that UNICEF thought too extreme to use, and a masterful documentary on poet Robert Frost. On Blu-ray from The Milestone Cinematheque.
11/19/16



and

Rabid
Scream Factory
Blu-ray

 David Cronenberg puts Canada on the horror map yet again with yet another early career ick-fest, about a vampiric woman armed with a new mutant organ -- her embrace has the sting of a honeybee. Former XXX star Marilyn Chambers is the dangerous female who spreads a plague of bloody murder. It's an early, important credit for Ivan Reitman, too -- and plays better than ever. It's billed as a new, 'correct' transfer as well. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
11/19/16




Hello!

As Thanksgiving rolls in -- now where are those Christmas lights? -- so do the Academy screeners, which doubles up on my movie viewing. I didn't get a review screener of the new Captain Fantastic, but now I'll be able to see the Academy's disc. I can tell I'm going too fast on the reviews by the number of corrections coming in, things like saying that a film was released in 2026 seem to stand out to everyone but me. I shall slow down!

The number of unexpected restorations is soaring: today's J'accuse is a good example, and next up will be Powell & Pressberger's One of Our Aircraft is Missing, a real delight. Cohen films has David Miller's Sudden Fear coming December 13; I've never seen that in decent condition. Twilight Time has John Huston's Moby Dick already on order, and it will be interesting to see what has been done with the transfer. I guess I'm most curious about the rescue and restoration of the old RKO sci-fi disaster movie Deluge, listed as coming from Kino at the tail end of January. Kino also has the spectacular French crime movie The Sicilian Clan down for the same date -- for the sake of Region A buyers, I hope it has the original French version, the good one.

Anxious times! --- Glenn Erickson



November 15, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Hell or High Water
Lionsgate
Blu-ray + DVD

 Sheltered in my Los Angeles bubble, I can't believe that this crime movie had an accurate measure of the true pulse of the country. Outlaws rob banks to fight what they've decided is a rigged system; the Texas Ranger who tracks them realizes that much of the population feels the same exact way. Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster lead a crime spree through a depressed, forgotten America. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate.
11/15/16




Runaway Train
Twilight TIme
Blu-ray

 Cannon Films knocks one out of the park: Jon Voight and Eric Roberts escape from prison only to end up on a huge, speeding, out of control juggernaut of a freight train plowing through the Alaskan wilderness. It's both an action bruise-fest and an existential statement, and it's still a wild thrill ride. With Rebecca De Mornay, John P. Ryan, Kenneth McMillan, and about 200 miles of frozen train tracks. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
11/15/16



and

Boomerang!
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

 Elia Kazan's second picture is a hard-hitting noir, a true story that honors the efforts of a noble States' Attorney when confronted with a murder case that was a little too open-and-shut. But a close read of the movie uncovers a miasma of social criticism, hiding behind the self-congratulating official narration. A great show with a terrific cast: Dana Andrews, Jane Wyatt, Lee J. Cobb, Sam Levene, Arthur Kennedy, Cara Williams and Ed Begley. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
11/15/16




Hello!

Here's to Lupita Tovar, a great lady I've often admired. I've told parts of her story here and there at Savant. I love the constancy of her romance and marriage with the idealistic showbiz agent and film executive Paul Kohner, and of course she's fun in the Spanish version of Dracula,, Drácula. The obituaries picked up on the multigenerational aspects of Ms. Tovar's life, with her daughter Susan Kohner playing the important black-passing-as-white role in Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life. What we don't hear very much of is Lupita's key role in the making of John Huston's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: Author B. Traven was such a recluse that agent Paul Kohner couldn't reach him; for some time he and Lupita were convinced that the lawyer representing Traven in Mexico city was really Traven himself. Then Kohner mentioned that he was married to Lupita, and everything changed: a German émigré, B. Traven was a totally-sold fan of the actress. He showed up to eat with them and gave permission for his novel to be filmed.

Even more important were Lupita's efforts with her husband to aid Jews fleeing Germany in the 1930s. As movie business people they could go in and out of the country at will. Lupita frequently smuggled out jewelry and valuables that various refugees couldn't possibly take out themselves. Imagine the courage that must have taken.

Their work continued as war loomed, and they became organizers of Hollywood groups raising money to 'ransom' Jews and to support those that could be gotten out, often to a Latin American country first. I once worked on a movie with Lionel Stander, and I wish I'd known then more about his activities back then too -- he was a big organizer of this anti-Nazi, humanitarian activity as well. They didn't hand out awards for this kind of work, quite the contrary. After the war much of this anti-Nazi crowd became suspect.

Although Ms. Tovar (or Kohner) did come to several revival screenings in the last twenty years or so, I was never able to attend one. I'm glad she lived to such an old age -- in her interviews she seems quite content and happy. Because she was such an important witness to the era, her interviews are used extensively in the 2009 docu From Hitler to Hollywood. What a charmer. Que descanse en paz.

Thanks for reading. --- Glenn Erickson



November 12, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

One-Eyed Jacks
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

 Marlon Brando put his all into this impassioned, expertly acted and crafted VistaVision western spectacle. Has it been overlooked because of the scarcity of quality presentations? Karl Malden, Katy Jurado, Pina Pellicer, Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens are unforgettable, as are the Big Sur locations. The roster of writers and directors that helped prepare it is amazing in itself; Criterion's extras tell the whole tale. It's the year's most prestigious -- and desired -- restoration. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
11/12/16



Time After Time
The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

 Nicholas Meyer's first directing effort is a classy science fiction thriller best remembered for a charming romantic angle, and for introducing many of us to the marvelous Mary Steenburgen. Clever storytelling pits Malcolm McDowell against fellow time tripper David Warner, in a fourth-dimensional pursuit of none other than Jack the Ripper. Miklos Rozsa's lush music score lends suspense and emotion to a terrific tale of two Victorians that make themselves into literal anachronisms -- except that Jack the Ripper is delighted to find that, 85 years later, his atrocious criminality has become the norm. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
11/12/16



and

The Killing of America
Severin Films
Blu-ray

 In Japan Leonard Schrader's docu about real-life American horrors was called Violent America. The decidedly unflattering picture couldn't find a U.S. distributor when new but accrued a reputation as the ultimate compilation of violent historical images. It's now filed with cannibal and zombie pictures in exploitation movie catalogs, yet it's a legit docu and stylistically has more in common with Paul Schrader's Taxi Driver. This newly scanned edition contains both cuts of the film -- the English-language import version, and the original Japanese, which is a full twenty minutes longer. On Blu-ray from Severin Films.
11/12/16




Hello!

Just for the sake of getting a column out I'm going to stick with home video talk as best I can. Actually, what with the schedule running late and the usual film-speak communications out there being pre-empted by the week's big subject, I think I'm going to give it all a break today and just get the reviews out early. In terms of exciting news for Blu-ray collectors, this is a great week. It was easy to put an enthusiastic spin on today's reviews. The trick is to get enough reviews out to stay abreast of the tide of fine product... all I can do is make sure that I choose wisely. I do respond to email requests when I can refer to a screener, even if it's to discuss a release or verify an extra or subtitle track. But I prefer email for that, not facebook. So let me know if you're dying to know something about one title or another, for I may have gotten a chance to look at it -- or may be already writing it up.

Just in the door: Milestone's The Magic Box: The Films of Shirley Clarke, Shout's Rabid and Carrie, Lionsgate's Hell or High Water, and Criterion's Akira Kurosawa's Dreams. I've got a stack of Kino noirs, and more on the way: Boomerang, The House on 92nd Street & Cry of the City, and some special & rare items are expected shortly from Olive as well -- Pimpernel Smith, One of Our Aircraft is Missing and J'accuse.

Hang in there and thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



November 07, 2016
Tuesday November 8, 2016    Election Day!

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Savant's new reviews today are:

It's Always Fair Weather
The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

 When MGM was almost a ghost town, the Arthur Freed unit hit one last 'special' factory musical out of the park with this strangely melancholy ode to faded ambitions. Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd put in great, memorable work, while the glorious Dolores Gray is practically a living Tex Avery cartoon. And it's designed in wide, wide CinemaScope. Betty Comden & Adolph Green's theme, unusual for a musical, is about the commercial degradation of American life in the booming 1950s. An extra is a 1955 MGM cartoon in CinemaScope and Color --- about nuclear annihilation. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
11/08/16



Lone Wolf and Cub
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

 You'll be more careful with knives after seeing the outrageous, impossibly gory violence of this brain-warping samurai series from the early 1970s. Tomisaburo Wakabayashi rolls his tiny tot Daigoro through feudal Japan, looking for trouble. There's simply been nothing like it: breathtakingly beautiful images aestheticize bloodletting as never before or since. Look out for that baby cart, for Ogami Itto uses it to wipe out hundreds of foes. The set includes the six original films plus the first American digest cut-down, Shogun Assassin. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
11/08/16



and

Daisy Kenyon
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

 What? A movie where adults behave like adults? Otto Preminger showcases a quiet maturity in this story of an independent woman caught between two men, adulterous lover Dana Andrews and conflicted suitor Henry Fonda. The script is witty and the people believable -- this is one of Joan Crawford's best performances. It's hardly recognizable as a soap or as a Crawford picture, with its characters behaving like well-meaning but flawed people, not constructs in a tawdry love triangle. With a commentary from Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
11/08/16





Hello!

Waiting out the suspense for tomorrow... what do you say that we make the entire campaign time for any election be less than six months? Our system isn't rigged, but the government needs to do some work, not simply sharpen swords for the next big voting showdown. Yes, elect Savant, I've got really really good ideas, trust me. Best ideas ever.

Ever-helpful Gary Teetzel sends along three links to sample cues, plus orchestra video, from a new recording of Miklos Rozsa's The Thief of Bagdad, which is some of the most beautiful film music ever composed. They don't properly identify the album being promoted, but it says it's performed by the City of Prague Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Nic Raine. The YouTube links are: Market of Basra, Love of the Princess and Silvermaid's Dance. The 'silvermaid' is the deadly six-armed statue illustrated to the left. Wonderful stuff, that music. Enjoy.

Even more inspiring is stumbling upon Mireille Mathieu singing Maurice Jarre's main liberation theme from Is Paris Burning? I didn't know it had lyrics. She's pretty wonderful.

Reviews to come: Shout! Factory's Rabid and Carrie (a little late on that one, and probably with an unpopular opinion), Kino's Boomerang!, Twilight Time's Runaway Train and Boxcar Bertha, Olive's Gasss..., and the Warner Archive's Time after Time -- with another emotional Miklos Rozsa music score.

May your favorite candidates win. Vote early, vote often. Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



November 05, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Private Property
Cinelicious
Blu-ray + DVD

 Is this once-lost film the apex of obscure independent Hollywood filmmaking? Made way outside the limits of the Production Code, it's even better than I hoped it would be. Leslie Stevens' 'backyard movie,' is the work of a directorial wunderkind with an inspired crew. Totally original, with three unforgettable performances: Warren Oates, Corey Allen and the ill-fated Kate Manx. The story is edgy enough, but the film's emotional tension is totally unexpected. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from a new company, Cinelicious.
11/05/16



Strike Me Pink
The Warner Archive Collection
DVD

 Neurotic coward Eddie Cantor decides to defend an amusement park against gangsters, and nothing but fun ensues! Ethel Merman has a small role here, but we're more than entertained by a gallery of supporting wild men -- Parkyakarkus, Brian Donlevy, William Frawley, Jack LaRue. Plus Sally Eilers, the Goldwyn Girls and a terrific forgotten talent, billed in this movie as Rita Rio. The show has some of the most glamorous music numbers of the post-Code decade.. On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.
11/05/16



and

The T.A.M.I. Show
&
The Big T.N.T. Show

Shout Selects
Blu-ray

 For nostalgic excitement there's no better '60s pop compendium than this! An impossibly eclectic mix of talent at the Santa Monica Civic, giving their all in a brilliantly produced live show recorded in Electronovision, an early hi-res TV system designed to turn live events into films. The lineup is incredible: the Rolling Stones on the same stage as James Brown and Lesley Gore ... something that doesn't seem possible. The disc has great extras and a commentary and insert essay with the full details of this slice of Rock 'n' Roll history... that was unavailable for over 40 years. On Blu-ray from Shout Selects.
11/05/16




Hello!

I re-read my review of Strategic Air Command last night, and although I still like what I say, what the article mostly proves is that I have some very tolerant readers -- I'm shocked at how many typos it has, mostly missing articles. I'll fix it soon, but can't immediately. I swear I go over these things carefully; it must be a form of error-blindness.

For TCM viewers not likely to buy expensive discs of rare Sci-fi items, I point to their cablecast this weekend of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's World on a Wire. It's a nearly four-hour Sci-Fi TV show that basically scoops The Matrix by 25 years, and does a better job of a reality-within-a reality setup, even without any special effects. I'm glad I caught up with it.

And the Warner Archive Collection has three new Blu-rays out, all at once. Two are real favorites: Kelly and Donen's It's Always Fair Weather and Nicholas Meyer's Time After Time with its Rozsa music score. The third is The Goodbye Girl, which has always been a mixed bag for me. It's Always Fair Weather really benefits from the HD encoding -- at its full C'scope width, all those wide scenes of three guys dancing in a row didn't hold up well in standard def.

Thanks for reading -- I'm going to go back and watch some more of The T.A.M.I. Show and pretend I'm 13 years old again --- Glenn Erickson



November 01, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

The Sea of Trees
Lionsgate
Blu-ray

 Where's M. Night Shyamalan when we need him? Gus Van Sant's eerie, spiritual journey through a death forest is well directed and acted, and pretty to look at... and Trite with a capital T. It's one of those pictures where the story 'twist' is a major disappointment. Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts are prominent on the marquee, but co-star Ken Watanabe gets shunted aside. The setting is original -- a 'death forest' below Japan's Mt. Fuji, where our despondent American goes to die. Where's Dr. Shatterhand? On Blu-ray from Lionsgate.
11/01/16



Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

 Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland and Agnes Moorehead play it nasty, chop-chopping their way through a Grand Dame Guignol epic of 'sixties Hag Horror. Ace director Robert Aldrich's big success handed the deserving Davis a big role, and it looks better than ever on this razor-sharp remastered edition. Also starring Joseph Cotten, Bruce Dern, Cecil Kellaway, Victor Buono and Mary Astor. With good original film promos as well as a lively new commentary. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
11/01/16




Western Union
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

 Wow! Fritz Lang's second western is a marvel -- a combo of matinee innocence and that old Germanic edict that character equals fate. It has a master's sense of color and design. Robert Young is an odd fit but Randolph Scott is nothing less than terrific. You'd think Lang was born on the Pecos. A nice Technicolor sheen, plus great supporting contributions from Dean Jagger, John Carradine, Chill Wills and Slim Summerville. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
11/01/16



and

John Carpenter's The Thing
Scream Factory
Blu-ray

 Look out: John Carpenter's chilly tale of shape-shifting chaos at the South Pole creeps back with a new transfer and two fully stocked discs of extras old and new, including the bowdlerized Network cut, just for laughs. The picture still works like gangbusters -- the best monsters are still the gooey, rubbery pre-CGI kind. It's surely Carpenter's most exciting picture, and for shape-shifting biological grotesquery, it still hasn't been outdone. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
11/01/16




Hello!

I had an interesting Halloween this year -- we don't celebrate because it's a work night, but we did pass by a couple of residential blocks in Hancock Park that were more densely packed than Disneyland -- obviously rich movie folk were putting on incredibly elaborate haunted houses, with tons of decorations, etc. I'm sure the neighbors hired security and shook their fists at the horde of outsiders. My more modest neighborhood suddenly has at least ten more houses with kids this year -- generational turnover, methinks -- so when I had to drive to Santa Monica I crept out of the driveway and down the street. The little ankle-biters are all about two feet high and wearing black.

We had rain on Friday and Saturday, but pleasant cloudy skies for Saturday's Day of the Dead celebration at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, a few blocks away. We were involved in a traditional altar-memorial for a departed friend, and I was the designated driver to take people and items there -- there's no parking to be found anywhere around. It's a huge, colorful celebration with great costumes, musical performances, etc. I found a tombstone with the name of a favorite former boss, and was going to send him a snapshot of it as a joke, but thought better of it -- what if he had a loss in his family recently?

Lots of fun email gab with readers over the weekend; one sent in a fan cut of Blood and Roses that combines French and German versions, and tweaks the colors. I helped two readers recall obscure horror pictures that they half-remembered, and one was able to find his movie on Netflix for Halloween viewing. And of course I wrote the better part of night and day, stepping up the reviews to keep up with the input of great titles.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson


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

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