Leapin' Lizards! The original cavemen vs. dinosaurs saga is a winner -- if viewer involvement trumps visual effects, it's got a narrow lead over the Hammer/Harryhausen remake. Victor Mature, Carole Landis and Lon Chaney Jr. all made career hay out of their weeks spent running in loincloths, out in the desert. And the new is a terrific UCLA Archive restoration, with an informative commentary by Toby Roan. On Blu-ray from VCI.
This modern romantic comedy about stand-up comedians generates a genuine warmth about people, the ones-who-need-people kind. Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon's comic dramatization of the way they became a couple is a big winner, with heart-tugging performances from Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan, and fine characterizations by Holly Hunter, Zenobia Shroff, Ray Romano, and Anupam Kher. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate.
Ray Bradbury adapted to the screen is always something to check out; this Jack Smight- directed trio of stories bound together by a mystery man wearing the graffiti of the title at least works up a little ethereal-cereal excitement. Husband and wife Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom spout ominous dialogue as they face various futuristic threats. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
Gary Teetzel links us to the world today, starting with two Metropolis- themed items. A Smithsonian Magazine article by Matt Novak from 2012 takes a look at a vintage explanation of the film's effects: 1927 Magazine Looks at Metropolis, 'A Movie Based On Science'. Then, in Wired Magazine from the same year, Geeta Dyal displays another rare item: Recovered 1927 Metropolis Film Program Goes Behind the Scenes of a Sci-Fi Masterpiece. My only comment is about the method used to create the 'electric bolts' in the machine room -- the article implies that they were shot live on the set, like a foreground miniature, when they were double-exposed at a later time. Just a detail. The second document was for years the main source of technical info on the film, so it's nice that it was so carefully written.
Film collector Wade Williams, over at the Home Theater Forum, is saying that he's contributed a film source to a Warners restoration of the long version of Howard Hawks' The Thing From Another World, a show long in need of a visual reupholstering job. When the show plays on TCM now, the long-version scenes drop to a low-quality 16mm source. It would be nice if a smart new restoration were indeed on the way, but Williams' note mostly clouds the issue. He says he loaned his print to WB ten years ago, and recently as three years ago I was told that WB still lacked decent elements with which to 'fix' the movie -- a collector's print might or might not be good enough, and WB has pretty high standards. When Williams says the film is 'newly restored,' is he saying that something new and unannounced has happened? Only when Warners issues a confirmation will we know.
Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson
NEWEST FEATURE ARTICLES
The Emperor in August This great recent Japanese epic is all but unknown here -- and is the kind of adult historical show that we seem incapable of these days. The intense diplomatic storm at the end of WW2 with an Army command willing to sacrifice the country in a national suicide pact, is given an exciting, thoughtful treatment. Tokyo is all but ashes, yet the militarists want to fight on. Directed by Masato Harada, starring Koji Yakusho, Masahiro Motoki and Tsutomu Yamazaki. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
David Lynch: the Art Life Trailers From Hell's Charlie Largent takes a look at David Lynch's other job: that of the painter in his studio. There are similarities between the canvases and the films and it all adds up to an intriguing portrait of a great artist, by Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard-Holm. Charlie also adds insights to the just-completed Twin Peaks Showtime miniseries. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
The Love of a Woman Welcome to the world of Jean Grémillon, where adult characters work through adult problems without benefit of melodramatic excess. The impressively directed experiences of Micheline Presle's lady doctor on a storm-swept island opts for a progressive point of view, not sentimentality.Co-starring Massimo Girotti and Paolo Stoppa. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Academy.
Love with the Proper Stranger What are two individualistic, highly motivated movie stars supposed to do when faced with an unimaginative studio system eager to misuse their talents? Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen collaborate with a great writer, director and producer for an urban romance with an eye on the sexual double standard. It's a hybrid production: a gritty drama that's also a calculated career move. Street reality guides Robert Mulligan's direction, but he keeps one foot in pure romantic escapism. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
The Lost World (1925) It's the wonder movie of the silent era, which pits five intrepid explorers against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fantastic South American plateau where marvelous animals from the dawn of time still live. Blackhawk Films and Lobster's latest digital restoration includes footage never before seen in its original tints; it's dedicated to film restorer David Shepard. Extras include an excellent commentary by Nicholas Ciccone, and a new restoration of the silent short subject The Ghost of Slumber Mountain. Starring Wallace Beery, Bessie Love and Lewis Stone. On Blu-ray from Flicker Alley.
La Poison Yes, Love is Definitely a Battlefield and Charlie Largent reports from the front line. Writer-director Sacha Guitryâ€™s caustic 1951 black comedy is about a bad marriage gone worse, and it appears to be a forerunner of How to Murder Your Wife, but with the gloves off. Starring the great Michel Simon, with Jean Debucourt and Jacques Varennes. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
Flipper Season One Back in 1964 a lot of people still thought dolphins were fish, but by the time this TV show was finished, we all knew that our happy undersea friend was smarter than the average bear and lives in a world full of wonder. Ivan Tors' grandly successful Florida-shot family show kept a lot of seagoing movie veterans in green seaweed, including both original 'Creature' Gill Men. With Brian Kelly, Luke Halpin and Tommy Norden, plus a long list of guest stars. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
A 'Close Encounters' Example of Forced Perspective -- Savant Article -- 'Close Encounters' awareness is up this week, what with a national mini-release of the 1977 Steven Spielberg hit, so I reached into the bottomless Savant archives for something to show-and-tell. This might be educational for fans of old-school visual effects, in this case, I focus on the miniature-making genius of Gregory Jein.
Reaching further back in time? Chronological 2015 and 2016 can't be uploaded yet, but you can search back in the archives, immediately below. Available now is
A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2014 ... and for 2013 ... 2012 ... and 2011 Use the search function at the top of the page for individual titles -- it's new and improved and works well.