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December 30, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Wait Until Dark
The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

 Is this a genuine classic? I think so. Sure, it's the old story of the sightless girl in jeopardy, but it's been worked out so incredibly well. A 'world's champion blind lady' finds herself the target of a pair of conmen led by a vicious killer. We're confined to the apartment of the vulnerable Audrey Hepburn and no aid is on the way, but the woman isn't entirely helpless. Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna and Jack Weston shine in a nail-biter of the first rank. It's a keen adaptation of Frederick Knott's play, which could be fairly re-titled, Dial C for Can't See Nuthin'. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
12/31/16



'Pimpernel' Smith
Olive Films
Blu-ray

 How could England have won the war without him? Horatio Smith sneaks about in Nazi Germany, liberating concentration camp inmates right under the noses of the Gestapo. Leslie Howard directed and stars in this wartime escapist spy thriller, as a witty professor too passive to be suspected as the mystery spy. Mary Morris, Francis L. Sullivan and Peter Tomlinson are in on the fun in a patriotic lark filmed at the height of the war. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
12/31/16



and

Loophole (1981)
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

 It sounds like a winner -- Albert Finney and Martin Sheen team up for daring subterranean bank robbery in the heart of London, tunneling their way into a safety deposit vault via the labyrinthine sewer system. The locations, the sets and the production are all first class. So what happened to this picture? Susannah York and Jonathan Pryce are in on the heist as well, but almost nothing comes together. The movie does look good, on Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
12/31/16




Hello!

2016 winks out with a whimper and a rush of unhappy obituaries. I don't think anybody is going to miss the last twelve months... it's the most desirable year for a reboot & reset do-over since 2001. Just how many times last year were we knocked on our tails by news that couldn't get any worse, and then did?

William Butler Yeats: "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"

Christopher Plummer in The Fall of the Roman Empire: "If you really listen, you can hear the Gods laughing."


Meanwhile, commerce and showmanship continue apace, with lowly DVD Savant waving the flag for a mini-industry that many say is on the wane, just because it isn't booming. If you want to see movies looking the best they can, and want to have a reasonable expectation that the movie will be there for you in the future to view again, hard disc media is the only way to go right now. You know the reasons -- the quality is better, the features are better (like 3-D) and the extras are better. And access can't be yanked away by an arbitrary Netflix decision or an expiring licensing window. No, I don't think everyone should buy a disc of every movie they want to see. The real limit is having enough space to store them... even those fortunate enough to live in houses don't want to fill rooms with discs. If I were not a reviewer I think I might keep maybe four hundred discs, every one of them a hard purchasing choice, something I really want to have.

Anyway, the New Year looms. I've noticed two related things in the last month or so. First, when I get in the car I find myself dialing up the classic music channel from USC more often now... the radio news is just too aggravating as a steady diet. Second, more correspondents are writing in saying they really look forward to reading the opinionated-pushy disc reviews here at Savant. I think it's because they're just like me, they appreciate a little reason and sanity -- or at least consistency -- on any level, about anything. Now, is that breezy and optimistic, or what?

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



December 27, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Deepwater Horizon
Lionsgate/Summit
Blu-ray + DVD

 Does your memory go as far back as 2010, or have too many catastrophes and cataclysms blurred your vision? Peter Berg's tense account of the BP Gulf Oil Spill debacle covers twenty hours of technological peril, as Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell battle idiotic executives and a badly-cemented oil well that's fixing to blow sky high -- and to turn a massive floating oil rig into a hellish inferno. It's a straight action telling that stresses personal stories over politics, but it doesn't let anyone off the hook. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate / Summit.
12/27/16



and

50 Years with Peter Paul and Mary
MVD Visual
DVD

 The immensely popular trio provides an extremely pleasant eighty minutes of musical nostalgia - with plenty of full performances but also the full variety of their music through the years. Interviews with the principals give us the back story, light but not superficial, while film clips show their political activism through the years. Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers make excellent company. The disc company says that clips from a less-seen BBC taping from the early 1960s are included. On DVD from MVD Visual.
12/27/16




Hello!

The Christmas jam is easing up, leaving more time for writing at Savant Central. I'm turning in my OFCS (Online Film Critics Society) ballot today on the best films of the year. It's a good organization that affords plenty of recognition, even though I don't normally review new theatrical releases.

A lot of happy email notes came in from Savant correspondents this week; sometimes I must remind myself that I'm lucky to have such nice readers. I got to go have a piece of pie with writer Shaun Chang yesterday, and hope to hobnob with one or two more of my fellow wizards before the week is out.

A nice gift this year is the first Dr. Mabuse book by Norbert Jacques; much-appreciated giver Gary Teetzel says that it's good, but not to expect great writing. Gary has been systematically reading the pulp greats from the early 20th century, from Burroughs to Sax Rohmer, and has become something of an expert on the cultural underpinnings of lost civilizations, pulp heroes, etc. Now maybe I can go back over my David Kalat articles and commentaries on Mabuse pictures, and be a bit more knowledgeable.

I have to admit that I want to see Kino's announced-for-April Blu-ray of Octaman. A few friends of mine passed the announcement around as something of a joke, but now I'm curious. The picture was made for television release, like one of Larry Buchanan's backyard bargain bin remakes of A.I.P. Corman hits, the ones so weak that they numb the brain. Octaman features a couple of favorite stars seemingly hired as they were circling the career drain. It was written, produced and directed by Harry Essex, whose notable credits on '50s Universal sci-fi pics have been minimized by the research of Tom Weaver and others. In general, checking out those titles familiar from late-night screenings is not very rewarding. A few months back I was intrigued to finally see Ted V. Mikels' Astro-Zombies because I'd read about it in the old Incredibly Strange Films book. Unfortunately, even with a filmmaker commentary there was just nothing of interest to write about -- it was better off left as an odd title.

Like I said, we were writing about Octaman as a bad joke when associate Craig Reardon wrote back with a fascinating note about his experience way back when, witnessing budding monster maker greats Rick Baker and Doug Beswick cobble together the unlikely title creature. I'm hanging on to that note in the hope that I can reprint it in my eventual review.

What's in the review hopper? I very much want to cover a bunch of titles -- Twilight Time's Bullet Train, Gran Bollito, The Keys of the Kingdom and The Barefoot Contessa; The Warner Archive Collection's Battleground and Wait Until Dark; The Criterion Collection's Heart of a Dog; Kino's Revenge of the Blood Beast, David and Bathsheba, The Internecine Project, Loophole and The Lodger; Arrow's The Driller Killer; Olive's Pimpernel Smith. And I still want to get around to Shout!'s Carrie, as well as Olive's Gasss... That title will nicely round out my Roger Corman reviews... it's the movie in which the master's take on youth culture seems to have finally run out of gas, so to speak.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



December 24, 2016

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Savant's new review today is:

Bad Day at Black Rock
The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

 Don't mess with the one-armed man -- did you know that at 56 years, Spencer Tracy could whup Ernest Borgnine to a frazzle? John Sturges knocked this one out of the ballpark and booted his career into high gear. It's well remembered... but does anyone remember that the subject is the murder of a Japanese-American? It's a combo social issue film AND a tough guy western. With Robert Ryan, Lee Marvin, Ann Francis, John Ericson & Walter Brennan. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
12/24/16




Hello!

Taking a break? The day is upon us. Other people cook and bake; I just make myself available every 45 minutes to wash dishes. Otherwise I can't get near the refrigerator, but at least I'm not ruining Christmas. Two straight days of rain in Los Angeles, and now the sun is out and bright... cold but clear.

Shaun Chang of the movie/TV Blog Hill Place has a big interview article up on actress Marianna Hill, she of the eclectic career and intelligent beauty. Shaun's interviews go interesting places -- his subjects seem to feel at home.

TCM's In Memoriam montage is fairly thorough this year -- no glaring omissions leaped out at me. It's still a little odd when, to help identify an actor, they cut to somebody like Jeff Bridges... for a microsecond we think, 'he didn't die, did he?'

Tim Lucas at his Video Watchblog has his own 'best of list' up now, and I like his spin on the practice -- it's an 'overlooked' list. It's a good idea that allows him to bring in unheralded releases.

Gary Teetzel reports on some new fantasy/horror/sci-fi releases coming up. Kino has announced Freddie Francis's The Skull and Terence Fisher's The Man Who Could Cheat Death on March 14, with Tobor the Great coming soon. Arriving first from Kino/Raro Video on January 17 is Michael Reeves' Revenge of the Blood Beast (She Beast) with Barbara Steele. Scream Factory's Spring and Summer will feature Curtis Harrington's What's the Matter with Helen?, Ib Melchoir's The Angry Red Planet, Alex Nicol's The Screaming Skull, Denis Sanders' Invasion of the Bee Girls, Paul Landres' The Vampire (1957) and Albert Band's I Bury the Living

Enjoy! Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



December 19, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Sully
Warner Bros. Home Video
Blu-ray + DVD

 The story didn't end with the Miracle in the Hudson - hero pilot Sully Sullenberger is tried by an investigative committee. Clint Eastwood's film examines and re-examines the 2.5 minutes, as the bureaucrats make the case that 155 passengers were unnecessarily put at risk. Tom Hanks pulls off a fine impersonation in a tightly structured series of inquiries, reenactments, and scary flashbacks. With some interesting extras, including a piece on the real hero pilot and a second-by-second analysis of the crucial -- and very brief -- flight from 2009. With Aaron Eckhardt and Laura Linney. From Warner Bros. Home Video.
12/20/16



The 3 Worlds of Gulliver
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

 Ray Harryhausen eases up for his second color Dynamation feature, restricting the stop-motion and instead utilizing traveling mattes to make a more juvenile adventure movie for smaller kiddies. The big draw is the beautiful music score by fantasy favorite Bernard Herrmann. With a fine repeat performance by Kerwin Mathews, the sweet June Thorburn and a pack of eager English hams doing fine work; plus an excellent monster crocodile for Lemuel Gulliver to battle. The new extra is a commentary featuring animator/director Randall William Cook. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
12/20/16



and

Dreamscape
Scream Factory
Blu-ray

 One of the better-remembered '80s sci-fi horror thrillers is back in an improved Blu-ray, with a pile of extras. Dennis Quaid gets to act with Max von Sydow Christopher Plummer, Eddie Albert and Kate Capshaw, as they deal with a Cronenberg-like device that can invade human dreams. The new scan is no longer overly bright, and several lengthy featurettes give us the full memories of the director, a writer, and a number of effects experts. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
12/20/16




Hello!

Christmas is gearing up -- it's really time for me to get my OFCS ballot in, too. I've seen Jackie, which is good, and I'll be getting to see La La Land in a couple of days, but I have other films to catch up on as well. And trim a tree.


I've gotten some pretty good feedback for my 2016 list so far, which is nice, and even more questions about the top photo on the list, of the two people staring into the cave. That is indeed the redoubtable Todd Stribich, who from 1987 to 1989 served as an assistant with me cutting film at The Cannon Group. We then teamed up together at MGM Home Video, where we put out eight years' worth of video promos and TV spots -- the best of those years were under George Feltenstein, the industry's pioneer in selling library titles to lovers of old movies. At that time most of the Warner and MGM titles were distributed by MGM Home Video as well, but that's another story. The Glenn-Todd story is like Singin' in the Rain: "We were kids together! We grew up together! We came to California and were strand... -- staying..." The resident Cannon trailer department clown Harry Dunn lost no time calling us by the name of two Hollywood audio houses, Todd A-O and Glenn Glenn.

Since both Todd and I were rapt fans of sci-fi and horror, I took him up to see Bronson Caverns, up above Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. He recognized more camera angles used in our favorite movies than I did. We also took my kids up there, aged between ten and four, and always had a good time. I have a great picture, somewhere, of Todd rescuing my youngest after he'd scrambled up one of those completely unstable rocky hillsides, carrying him down from atop one of those caves, slung under one arm. In this photo I think we were trying to pose, so we could later add a generic monster coming out of the caverns' Northern-most small exit cave. My daughter wrote to say that she's pretty sure she took the photo, at age eight. And that's the full story on that one.


Here's a positive plug for a new book release from Alain Silver and James Ursini, for whom I once contributed writing material. I just received a shiny review copy of Film Noir Compendium: Key Selections from the Film Noir Readers. The title is self- explanatory -- I think there were four Film Noir Readers in toto. As opposed to most fan- based film noir books out there, the Reader series collected serious academic essays. This hefty illustrated collection reprints about forty of them, including five relevant articles on the style written before the seminal 1955 Borde and Chaumeton essay, before it had its name, even. The key writers are all here: Nino Frank, Claude Chabrol, Raymond Durgnat, Paul Schrader, Stephen Farber, Robert Porfirio, Janey Place & Lowell Peterson. If you want to read the film studies specialists and classic-era critics that defined noir, this book is sure bet. A couple of articles are as dense as Noam Chomsky, but that only makes me feel more like an intellectual -- they're all highly illuminating. And remember, bright eyes, this noir business is a style, not a genre. Now scram.

Oh, and happy holidays! Thanks for reading --- Glenn Erickson



December 17, 2016

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Savant's new post for today is:

Savant Picks
the Most Impressive Discs of 2016

DVD Savant 2016 Favored Disc Roundup

 Here they are, the picks that motivate Savant readers around the world to roll their eyes and say, 'never again!' Actually, fanatic collectors can't go wrong with this idiosyncratic stack of Blu-ray and DVD goodies... the year's bounty has never been better, and 2017 promises to be great... for discs, that is. Savant also gets to crow his usual 'what I did last summer' talk -- it's been a busy, good year away from the Savant keyboard as well. From Savant Central.
12/17/16





Hello!

It's done! With holiday madness no new reviews got done, and they might trickle in for the next week or so -- Dreamwatch Special Edition, Sully and The Three Worlds of Gulliver are all ready to go, and it's a good idea to dig back as far as September for scattered goodies that were missed.

I am getting some nice back-pats for my header photos up top, the ones that were usually just pictures with links to old reviews. They worked just fine that way, but in the words of Tex Avery, something NEW has been added. Now, through the miracle of unsolicited author comment, I'm having more fun with them than ever. They may go on forever, although I hope not. There could be a break for Christmas... sort of. This is a helluva good year for a Yuletide Miracle, don't ya think?

Let's hope everything in the Savant extended family of disc madness is going well... Thanks for reading! --- Glenn



December 13, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Fellini's Roma
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

 Federico Fellini's best non-narrative feature is an intoxicating meta-travelogue, not just of the Eternal City but the director's idea of Rome past and present. The masterful images alternate between nostalgic vulgarity and dreamy timelessness -- from Federico's memories of two kinds of Rome bordellos to a science fiction-like archeological excavation that opens a virtual time portal into the past. Nobody populates a movie with such an earthy collection of great faces and bodies -- it's like a specially created world, a personal Odyssey across time and memory. Criterion's disc is a new restoration. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
12/13/16



I Want to Live!
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

 It's a powerful plea against the death penalty, but also an Oscar bid for Susan Hayward, a fiery actress who commands the screen as the fatally unlucky real-life convicted killer Barbara Graham. On top of this Robert Wise adds a formerly- taboo sequence, a realistic depiction of an execution in the gas chamber. With Simon Oakland, Theodore Bikel and some of the best-cast cops, crooks, guards and matrons in film history. Of such things were gritty, hard-hitting reputations made. And don't forget the cool jazz music score. The Isolated Track includes a commentary by Mike Matessino. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
12/13/16



and

100 Rifles
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

 A big, loud, lusty western battle movie with sexy stars and zero brains, this was a big hit back in '69, just before The Wild Bunch rebooted the entire genre. Jim Brown, Raquel Welch and Burt Reynolds burn up the screen with action, even though the actual acting is on the weak side. Don't worry, it's 'R' rated. There's plenty of gore to go around, plus something then new in mainstream American-produced films: gratuitous nudity. Co-starring a hot supporting lineup: Soledad Miranda, Dan O'Herlihy, Eric Braeden, Michael Forest and Fernando Lamas. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
12/13/16




Hello! Some pleasing news on the Blu-ray front:

Gary Teetzel tips me off to Twilight Time's upcoming 3-D presentation of Columbia's Vincent Price movie The Mad Magician, a horror film that I was too tired to see at UCLA 45 years ago. Gary's seen it; he says that It's not the best picture ever made and describes it affectionately as a rip-off of House of Wax, with one scene stolen from Hangover Square. But, hey, it's got Vincent in d-d-d-depth, and the other 3-D gimmick shots are very good.

Savant thanks go out to Joe Dante, who brightens our email in-box with this link to a Brit TV show starring Charlton Booker that bothers to tell the truth regarding why the Tube makes us think The Sky Is Falling: How TV Ruined Your Life: Fear. I really enjoyed it: it both ignites and soothes my personal predilection toward evil conspiracies: anyone telling the truth these days is welcome indeed. This happy (and funny) mass of wisdom feels like a breath of fresh air in the present climate of stinking mendacity... thanks Joe.

Arrow Academy is coming to the USA, with some, rare, hot items scheduled for March: Luchino Visconti's full-length Ludwig, Elio Petri's Property is No Longer Theft, an interesting-sounding new picture called The Creeping Garden, and..

...and a title that really made me jump, Walerian Borowczyk's amazing Story of Sin, which knocked me out back in the 1970s when I saw it at Filmex. This is the tale of the innocent girl who falls in love with 'Lucash Niepowomski' -- I've never forgotten that name -- and because of that love is thrust in to spiral of degradation and sin that makes Lulu's travails in Pandora's Box look like... like... like the proverbial Sunday School Picnic. It's not a hardcore gross-out like Borowczyk's The Beast, but a famous Polish story, a measured anti- sexual repression period piece set that ends amid swindlers and murderers, and has the impact of an outrage classic. It looks like a vintage French postcard, gone tragic. It's one of the best films I've seen, that I've wanted to catch up with for almost 40 years.

That's enough shameless plugging for the moment, but it's all from the heart. Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



December 09, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Brazil
Olive Films
Blu-ray

 Good neighbor policy? Wartime exigencies inspired an intra-hemisphere cultural exchange, with the movies seizing on the new popularity of Latin music. Republic's contribution gives us the great songs of Ary Barroso and a full soundtrack of his compositions -- in a featherweight musical romance, of course. Starring Tito Guízar and Virginia Bruce, with Edward Everett Horton and Aurora Miranda, the talented younger sister of the more famous Carmen. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
12/10/16




The House on 92nd Street
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

 Just what is the dreaded 'Process 97'?  Henry Hathaway's exciting docu-drama combines newsreel 'reality' with a true espionage story from the files of the F.B.I., creating a thriller about spies and atom secrets that dazzled the film-going public. But how much of it was true, and how much invented? William Eythe, Signe Hasso and Lloyd Nolan star. Actual F.B.I. surveillance footage gives the entire show a feeling of authenticity. Eddie Muller's excellent audio commentary tempers that assessment somewhat. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
12/10/16



and

Short Cuts
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

 After almost a full decade of flops, success in the '90s gave Robert Altman the opportunity to experiment once again. Several short stories by Raymond Carver interlock in a mosaic of Los Angeles populated by scores of actors in ensemble mode. Clocking in at three hours, Altman's epic has all the time and space it needs. It's the culmination of his 'big picture - big cast' epic style. A two-disc set, on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
12/10/16





Hello!

Lots of news and opinion flack here at Savant on a cool Friday in Los Angeles.

The Warner Archive is smacking us with four choice Blu-ray titles in January: Coming in January, Battleground (the 10th), Bad Day at Black Rock (the 17th), Wait Until Dark (the 24th) and Bells are Ringing (the 31st). That's a great slice of titles from the library -- Bad Day at Black Rock was one of the earliest Criterion releases to spring letterboxed widescreen on the home video public back in the late 1980s. I'm hoping this is a new one-a-week policy, as this sampler is a great selection -- the widescreen Bells are Ringing will benefit from the extra resolution, and I can't wait to hear the jarring soundtrack for Wait Until Dark in Blu-ray audio quality.


Joe Baltake over at The Passionate Moviegoer has some bones to pick with this week's 'live musical theater' network TV presentation of Hairspray. The L.A. Times printed rave coverage for it this morning, so I'm looking forward to comparing the two viewpoints. Joe knows his musicals.


I was lucky that correspondent Lee Kaplan tipped me off to this hilarious YouTube special effects political short subject that has already made the rounds of millions of viewers. So hang onto your hats and see the (sort of) Spanish language M.A.M.O.N.. Anybody remember the 'ridiculous' old protest movie Mister Freedom? It's in the same vein.   ¡Que viva México!


Correspondent Gary Teetzel was able to attend the Cinematheque Aero's screening of the 3-D Film Archive's newest restoration, the one I tipped L.A. adjacent residents to a week or so ago. Here's his report, which contains a LOT of good news for fans of vintage 3-D:

"Was at the Aero tonight for the premiere of the 3-D Film Archive's presentation of September Storm, a rare CinemaScope / 3-D feature from 1960. The restoration is excellent. Color, sharpness and 3-D convergence are all as good as could be hoped for coming from a pair of old, faded I.N.'s, and pretty much every scratch and bit of dirt has been cleaned up. The Kickstarter backers (I saw your name in the restoration credits, Craig!) should be very pleased.

During the Q & A afterward, Bob Furmanek confirmed that the 3-D Film Archive will be working with Kino on most of the Paramount 3-D titles. In addition to the already-announced Those Redheads from Seattle they'll be doing Jivaro, Sangaree, Cease Fire, Flight to Tangier and -- hooray! -- William Cameron Menzies' horror opus for Allied Artists, The Maze. WIth those titles, plus Mad Magician and Gun Fury from Twilight Time, nearly a third of the 1950's 3-D features will be available on Blu-ray. -- Gary"


And finally, this link is to Marc Edward Heuck's program notes for a New Beverly Cinema Christmas screening of the 1978 Yuletide-set Canadian thriller The Silent Partner, with Elliot Gould, Christopher Plummer and Susannah York (plus John Candy!). It's being presented in a wild double bill with the equally Christmas-themed and equally wonderful violent thriller Die Hard. I reviewed Daryl Duke's The Silent Partner way back when, (here, actually) and it's terrific -- the screenplay is by the late lamented Curtis Hanson. Marc has dazzled me for twenty years now with his encip -encyclosp -- really big knowledge of films. My review is opinion, but Marc offers detail I've never read before. He's the go-to guy for finding out where to get a print of this-or-that rare item, and really ought to be running somebody's film library or consulting on the payroll of studios and film festivals. Anyway, he's the man for this sort of thing, hands down.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



December 06, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

The Exterminating Angel
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

 El Ángel Exterminador. Luis Buñuel really knows how to disturb people. This, his most characteristic surreal drama proposes an impossible, irrational situation - which isn't all that different from the contradictory social reality we already know. Petty social rules, jealousies and bitterness make life hell for group of dinner guests stuck with each other, caught in an existential trap. And will somebody explain the sheep and the bear? The extras include a feature-length documentary on the quixotic director. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
12/06/16



Bad Girl
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

 All sing the praises of Frank Borzage, a gentle director fully committed to the idea of romance in an imperfect world. Sally Eilers and James Dunn make a go of marriage, despite their personal flaws and difficulties with communication. It's hard to believe that films of this vintage portray such sensitive behaviors -- the show feels almost contemporary. And note the racy poster art, with its upscale lovers -- nothing like that appears in the movie. More Fox pre-Code, please! On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
12/06/16



and

Pretty Poison
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

 Psycho launched a thousand twisted sickos and pathological relationships in films, but none can best Noel Black's fascinating, funny romance between a newly-released arsonist and a fetching high schooler, hungry for freedom and lacking a moral compass. The pairing of Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld is inspired. With John Randolph, Beverly Garland and Dick O'Neil. Today Perkins' industrial saboteur would be hailed as an anti-pollution activist. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
12/06/16




Hello!

Christmas and the other holidays approach, and Savant is hunkered down trying to get a stack of TCM work done. I have patched together a temp list of discs for this year's Savant 'Best of' article, which I promise will be as eye-rollingly unpredictable as in years past.

The good news is that a handful of valued correspondents and collaborators are drifting into town in the next couple of weeks; I'll try to report if and when I make contact. This was a rough year for losing old friends and loved ones, so my New Years' resolution is to maintain at least a vestige of a social life. I've also been offered many screening opportunities that I haven't been able to take advantage of... with vendors, disc producers and technical-expert acquaintances in town with their special 3-D and Cinerama showings. That's why I try to point out the screenings to any and all in the Los Angeles area. When I peek online, so many of my fellow film writers seem to be attending (or hosting) screenings several times a week. I don't think I could take the strain!

Both DVDtalk and Trailers from Hell have been great to DVD Savant this last year. World Cinema Paradise is always ready to help out, and I'm grateful. I believe that the cross-pollination between those sites has upped my readership. I know I require a certain kind of reader, but I've found that a lot of mine are pretty faithful, at least judging by the responses on Facebook, which I'm finally using with some consistency. For those of you who use the Savant Review Index, be aware that I haven't been able to update its three pages since September of 2015. It has almost 400 newer reviews by now. If you know you've seen a review but can't find it, please ask -- I'll look it up.

Thanks for all the encouragement and personal support, and your interest in the new quote-driven 'comment' link photos at the top of the bi-weekly column. They still link to older reviews of interest. To misquote Jonathan Demme, La lucha continua.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



December 03, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Sudden Fear
Cohen Film Collection
Blu-ray

 Joan Crawford executive-produced and controls every aspect of this glamorous, Oscar nominated noir about a murderous marriage double-cross. Good acting enlivens a by-the-book, gimmick-laden plot, with every moment designed to flatter the star. With Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame are in great form; the disc is a welcome restoration. A full commentary by Jeremy Arnold. On Blu-ray from Cohen Film Collection.
12/03/16




Cry of the City
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

 Robert Siodmak's superb noir classic pits two graduates of Little Italy against one other: a crook who can deceive relatives and seduce strangers into helping him, and the cop who wants to put him out of business. Starring the great Richard Conte, with Victor Mature in what might be his best role. Also terrific performances from Debra Paget, Berry Kroeger, Betty Garde and Mimi Aguglia, and the great Hope Emerson. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
12/03/16



and

Pete's Dragon
Walt Disney Studios
Blu-ray + DVD

  Does anybody still care about great movies for small children? If so, here's a good one. It's neither an outright musical nor a comedy but this big furry green remake is great for sensitive small fry -- plenty of heart and not too violent. The fantastic dragon Elliot is the kind of playmate every lonely kid wants. The discovery of a feral child in logging country leads a forest ranger and her family to realize that a legendary magical dragon is real. It's better than a remake: a smart and thoughtful re-think, tailored for small kids. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Walt Disney Studios.
12/03/16




Hello!

Gary Teetzel sends us a link to a web episode of Adam Savage's Tested that visits Peter Jackson's collector's vault to see the original armature of King Kong. It's big and heavy and there's only one other, which we're told is in possession of monster maker and collector Bob Burns.

'Best of' lists for the year will all be arriving soon. Because of some work that has piled up, my ideosyncratic list of favorite Savant discs may be out a little later this year, before New Years instead of Christmas. So many favorites...

Gary's report also tells me that Kino Lorber is planning a Blu-ray of Howard Hawks' late career car racing drama Red Line 7000. I have memories of that film playing numerous times on network television, with commercials that made it seem to last forever. My memory is only seeing parts that takes place in motels -- I'll be curious to find out how it ends. A young James Caan, Laura Devon and Marianna Hill -- how bad can it be?

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson


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

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