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2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

7 items from 2016


Invisible Invaders

7 July 2016 8:03 PM, PDT | Trailers from Hell | See recent Trailers from Hell news »

"Earth Given 24 Hours to Surrender!" Invisible murderous moon maniacs invade, with invisible troops and invisible flying saucers! John Agar, Jean Byron and John Carradine do their best to keep this underfed sci-fi turnip on its feet --- and we diehard monster fans love it. Invisible Invaders Blu-ray Kl Studio Classics 1959 / B&W /1:66 widescreen / 67 min. / Street Date July 12, 2016 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95 Starring John Agar, Jean Byron, Philip Tonge, Robert Hutton, John Carradine, Paul Langton. Cinematography Maury Gertsman Film Editor Grant Whytock Original Music Paul Dunlap Written by Samuel Newman Produced by Robert E. Kent Directed by Edward L. Cahn

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

At the tail end of the '50s monster boom the pickings became lean indeed. For every killer matinee filler like The Blob or The Fly, cheap double bills encouraged by American-International's example became even cheaper. Producers at Columbia, Allied Artists and United Artists turned out »

- Glenn Erickson

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Kino Lorber to Release Invisible Invaders (1959) on Blu-ray

20 June 2016 8:51 AM, PDT | DailyDead | See recent DailyDead news »

Invisible aliens from the moon threaten to destroy all humankind on Earth, and it is up to scientist Adam Penner (Philip Tonge) to stop them in Invisible Invaders (1959), being released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber this summer.

On July 12th, Kino Lorber will release Invisible Invaders on Blu-ray. Directed by Edward L. Cahn from a screenplay by Samuel Newman, the film stars John Agar, John Carradine, Jean Byron, Philip Tonge, and Robert Hutton. In addition to a trailer gallery, special features on the Blu-ray will include a new audio commentary:

From Blu-ray.com: “Synopsis: Aliens, contacting scientist Adam Penner, inform him that they have been on the moon for twenty thousand years, undetected due to their invisibility, and have now decided to annihilate humanity unless all the nations of earth surrender immediately. Sequestered in an impregnable laboratory trying to find the aliens’ weakness, Penner, his daughter, a no-nonsense army major »

- Tamika Jones

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Shield for Murder

10 June 2016 7:33 PM, PDT | Trailers from Hell | See recent Trailers from Hell news »

Dirty cops were a movie vogue in 1954, and Edmond O'Brien scores as a real dastard in this overachieving United Artists thriller. Dreamboat starlet Marla English is the reason O'Brien's detective kills for cash, and then keeps killing to stay ahead of his colleagues. And all to buy a crummy house in the suburbs -- this man needs career counseling. Shield for Murder Blu-ray Kl Studio Classics 1954 / B&W / 1:75 widescreen / 82 min. / Street Date June 21, 2016 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95 Starring Edmond O'Brien, Marla English, John Agar, Emile Meyer, Carolyn Jones, Claude Akins, Herbert Butterfield, Hugh Sanders, William Schallert, Robert Bray, Richard Deacon, David Hughes, Gregg Martell, Stafford Repp, Vito Scotti. Cinematography Gordon Avil Film Editor John F. Schreyer Original Music Paul Dunlap Written by Richard Alan Simmons, John C. Higgins from the novel by William P. McGivern <Produced by Aubrey Schenck, (Howard W. Koch) Directed by Edmond O'Brien, Howard W. Koch

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Here's the kind of '50s movie we love, an ambitious, modest crime picture that for its time had an edge. In the 1950s our country was as blind to the true extent of police corruption as it was to organized crime. Movies about bad cops adhered to the 'bad apple' concept: it's only crooked individuals that we need to watch out for, never the institutions around them. Thanks to films noir, crooked cops were no longer a film rarity, even though the Production Code made movies like The Asphalt Jungle insert compensatory scenes paying lip service to the status quo: an imperfect police force is better than none. United Artists in the 1950s helped star talent make the jump to independent production, with the prime success stories being Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. But the distribution company also funded proven producers capable of putting out smaller bread 'n' butter movies that could prosper if costs were kept down. Edward Small, Victor Saville, Levy-Gardner-Laven. Aubrey Schenck and Howard C. Koch produced as a team, and for 1954's Shield for Murder Koch co-directed, sharing credit with the film's star, Edmond O'Brien. The show is a smart production all the way, a modestly budgeted 'B' with 'A' ambitions. O'Brien was an industry go-getter trying to channel his considerable talent in new directions. His leading man days were fading but he was in demand for parts in major films like The Barefoot Contessa. The producers took care with their story too. Writers Richard Alan Simmons and John C. Higgins had solid crime movie credits. Author William P. McGivern wrote the novel behind Fritz Lang's The Big Heat as well as Rogue Cop and Odds Against Tomorrow. All of McGivern's stories involve crooked policemen or police corruption. Shield for Murder doesn't tiptoe around its subject matter. Dirty cop Detective Lt. Barney Nolan (O'Brien) kills a hoodlum in an alley to steal $25,000 of mob money. His precinct boss Captain Gunnarson (Emile Meyer) accepts Barney's version of events and the Asst. D.A. (William Schallert) takes the shooting as an open and shut case. Crime reporter Cabot (Herbert Butterfield) has his doubts, and lectures the squad room about the abuse of police power. Barney manages to placate mob boss Packy Reed (Hugh Sanders), but two hoods continue to shadow him. Barney's plan for the money was to buy a new house and escape the rat race with his girlfriend, nightclub cashier Patty Winters (Marla English). But a problem surfaces in the elderly deaf mute Ernst Sternmueller (David Hughes), a witness to the shooting. Barney realizes that his only way forward is to kill the old man before he can tell all to Det. Mark Brewster (John Agar), Barney's closest friend. Once again one of society's Good Guys takes a bite of the forbidden apple and tries to buck the system. Shield for Murder posits an logical but twisted course of action for a weary defender of the law who wants out. Barney long ago gave up trying to do anything about the crooks he can't touch. The fat cat Packy Reed makes the big money, and all Barney wants is his share. Barney's vision of The American Dream is just the middle-class ideal, the desirable Patty Winters and a modest tract home. He's picked it out - it sits partway up a hill in a new Los Angeles development, just finished and already furnished. Then the unexpected witness shows up and everything begins to unravel; Barney loses control one step at a time. He beats a mob thug (Claude Akins) half to death in front of witnesses. When his pal Mark Brewster figures out the truth, Barney has to use a lot of his money to arrange a getaway. More mob trouble leads to a shoot-out in a high school gym. The idea may have been for the star O'Brien to coach actors John Agar and Marla English to better performances. Agar is slightly more natural than usual, but still not very good. The gorgeous Ms. English remains sweet and inexpressive. After several unbilled bits, the woman often compared to Elizabeth Taylor was given "introducing" billing on the Shield for Murder billing block. Her best-known role would be as The She-Creature two years later, after which she dropped out to get married. Co-director O'Brien also allows Emile Meyer to go over the top in a scene or two. But the young Carolyn Jones is a standout as a blonde bargirl, more or less expanding on her small part as a human ashtray in the previous year's The Big Heat. Edmond O'Brien is occasionally a little to hyper, but he's excellent at showing stress as the trap closes around the overreaching Barney Nolan. Other United Artists budget crime pictures seem a little tight with the outdoors action -- Vice Squad, Witness to Murder, Without Warning -- but O'Brien and Koch's camera luxuriates in night shoots on the Los Angeles streets. This is one of those Blu-rays that Los Angelenos will want to freeze frame, to try to read the street signs. There is also little downtime wasted in sidebar plot detours. The gunfight in the school gym, next to an Olympic swimming pool, is an action highlight. The show has one enduring sequence. With the force closing in, Barney rushes back to the unfinished house he plans to buy, to recover the loot he's buried next to its foundation. Anybody who lived in Southern California in the '50s and '60s was aware of the massive suburban sprawl underway, a building boom that went on for decades. In 1953 the La Puente hills were so rural they barely served by roads; the movie The War of the Worlds considered it a good place to use a nuclear bomb against invading Martians. By 1975 the unending suburbs had spread from Los Angeles, almost all the way to Pomona. Barney dashes through a new housing development on terraced plots, boxy little houses separated from each other by only a few feet of dirt. There's no landscaping yet. Even in 1954 $25,000 wasn't that much money, so Barney Nolan has sold himself pretty cheaply. Two more latter-day crime pictures would end with ominous metaphors about the oblivion of The American Dream. In 1964's remake of The Killers the cash Lee Marvin kills for only buys him a patch of green lawn in a choice Hollywood Hills neighborhood. The L.A.P.D. puts Marvin out of his misery, and then closes in on another crooked detective in the aptly titled 1965 thriller The Money Trap. The final scene in that movie is priceless: his dreams smashed, crooked cop Glenn Ford sits by his designer swimming pool and waits to be arrested. Considering how well things worked out for Los Angeles police officers, Edmond O'Brien's Barney Nolan seems especially foolish. If Barney had stuck it out for a couple of years, the new deal for the L.A.P.D. would have been much better than a measly 25 grand. By 1958 he'd have his twenty years in. After a retirement beer bash he'd be out on the road pulling a shiny new boat to the Colorado River, like all the other hardworking cops and firemen enjoying their generous pensions. Policemen also had little trouble getting house loans. The joke was that an L.A.P.D. cop might go bad, but none of them could be bribed. O'Brien directed one more feature, took more TV work and settled into character parts for Jack Webb, Frank Tashlin, John Ford, John Frankenheimer and finally Sam Peckinpah in The Wild Bunch, where he was almost unrecognizable. Howard W. Koch slowed down as a director but became a busy producer, working with Frank Sinatra for several years. He eventually co-produced Airplane! The Kl Studio Classics Blu-ray of Shield for Murder is a good-looking B&W scan, framed at a confirmed-as-correct 1:75 aspect ratio. The picture is sharp and detailed, and the sound is in fine shape. The package art duplicates the film's original no-class sell: "Dame-Hungry Killer-Cop Runs Berserk! The first scene also contains one of the more frequently noticed camera flubs in film noir -- a really big boom shadow on a nighttime alley wall. Kino's presentation comes with trailers for this movie, Hidden Fear and He Ran All the Way. On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Shield for Murder Blu-ray rates: Movie: Good Video: Very Good Sound: Excellent Supplements: Trailers for Shield for Murder, Hidden Fear, He Ran All the Way Deaf and Hearing Impaired Friendly? N0; Subtitles: None Packaging: Keep case Reviewed: June 7, 2016 (5115murd)

Visit DVD Savant's Main Column Page Glenn Erickson answers most reader mail: dvdsavant@mindspring.com

Text © Copyright 2016 Glenn Erickson

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- Glenn Erickson

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She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

3 June 2016 8:01 PM, PDT | Trailers from Hell | See recent Trailers from Hell news »

John Ford puts a Technicolor sheen on Monument Valley in this second cavalry picture with John Wayne, who does some of his most professional acting work. Joanne Dru plays coy, while the real star is rodeo wizard Ben Johnson and the dazzling cinematography of Winton C. Hoch. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon Blu-ray Warner Archive Collection 1949 / Color / 1:37 flat Academy / 103 min. / Street Date June 7, 2016 / available through the WBshop / 21.99 Starring John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., Victor McLaglen, Mildred Natwick, George O'Brien, Chief John Big Tree. Cinematography Winton Hoch Art Direction James Basevi Film Editor Jack Murray Original Music Richard Hageman Written by Frank Nugent, Laurence Stallings from the stories War Party and The Big Hunt by James Warner Bellah Produced by Merian C. Cooper, John Ford Directed by John Ford

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Have you never seen real 3-Strip Technicolor used for terrific outdoor photography? »

- Glenn Erickson

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Woman on the Run

23 May 2016 9:35 PM, PDT | Trailers from Hell | See recent Trailers from Hell news »

What in the world -- an A + top-rank film noir gem hiding under the radar, and rescued (most literally) by the Film Noir Foundation. Ann Sheridan and Dennis O'Keefe trade dialogue as good as any in a film from 1950 -- it's a thriller with a cynical worldview yet a sentimental personal outlook. Woman on the Run Blu-ray + DVD Flicker Alley / FIlm Noir Foundation 1950 / B&W / 1:37 Academy / 79 min. / Street Date May 17, 2016 / 39.95 Starring Ann Sheridan, Dennis O'Keefe, Robert Keith, John Qualen, Frank Jenks, Ross Elliott, Jane Liddell, Joan Fulton, J. Farrell MacDonald, Steven Geray, Victor Sen Yung, Reiko Sato. Cinematography Hal Mohr Art Direction Boris Leven Film Editor Otto Ludwig Original Music Arthur Lange, Emil Newman Written by Alan Campbell, Norman Foster, Sylvia Tate Produced by Howard Welsch, Ann Sheridan Directed by Norman Foster

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Amazing! Just when one thinks one won't see another top-rank film noir, the »

- Glenn Erickson

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Journey to the Seventh Planet

2 April 2016 9:52 AM, PDT | Trailers from Hell | See recent Trailers from Hell news »

What horrors will we find on the planet Yoo-rah-nuss? A cyclopean dinosaur? Nasty spider monsters? A megalomaniac cerebellum that can turn our X-rated sex fantasies into flesh and blood people? Let's go! Sid Pink's flashy and slightly idiotic adventure stars space cadet John Agar as an average guy willing to have sex with a phantom from his own imagination. Say, doesn't Woody Allen make dirty jokes about that? Journey to the Seventh Planet Blu-ray Kl Studio Classics 1962 / Color / 1:66 widescreen / 77 min. / Street Date April 5, 2016 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95 Starring John Agar, Carl Ottosen, Ann Smyrner, Greta Thyssen, Peter Monch, Ove Sprogoe, Louis Miehe-Renard, Ulla Moritz, Mimi Heinrich, Annie Birgit Garde. Cinematography Aage Wiltrup Visual Effects Krogh, Wah Chang, Jim Danforth, Ronny Scheemmel. Art Director Otto Lund Editor Tove Palsbo Original Music Jerry Capeheart, Ib Glindemann, Mitchell Tableporte Written by Ib Melchior & Sid Pink Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff & Sid Pink »

- Glenn Erickson

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Journey To The Seventh Planet Blu-ray / DVD Release Details & Cover Art

4 March 2016 12:10 PM, PST | DailyDead | See recent DailyDead news »

Mind games are played in deep space in Journey to the Seventh Planet. The 1962 film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber on April 5th, and we have a look at the cover art and release details.

From Amazon: “Newly Re-mastered in HD! You Are in Space… Beyond Space! In futuristic 2001, the United Nations has sent a special team of scientists to explore Uranus. And what this interstellar crew discovers is a planet not unlike Earth-complete with a small Danish village filled with voluptuous women! But underneath the utopian veneer is a so powerful and so heinous that it’s using the crew’s memories against them so it can take their spaceship back to Earth-and conquer it! Wonderfully directed by cult producer, writer and director, Sidney W. Pink (Reptilicus, The Angry Red Planet) and featuring campy performances by John Agar (Invisible Invaders, Miracle Mile) and Greta Thyssen »

- Derek Anderson

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2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

7 items from 2016


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