The Other Side of the Booth: A Profile of James B. Harris in Present Day Los Angeles

  • MUBI
Courtesy of James B. HarrisIt’s a Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles and 89-year-old writer/director/producer James B. Harris (Some Call It Loving, 1973; Fast-Walking, 1982) has agreed to meet me for brunch at Coogie’s Cafe. Coogie’s is exactly the sort of unassuming American diner where girls in pink velvet jackets and shimmery silver skirts go to blend in with the Pepto-Bismol-colored booths. There are a pair of flat screen TVs on the wall, which are mercifully muted. A radio in some far-off corner of the kitchen can be heard playing inoffensive pop tunes of yesteryear. It is also the sort of quiet place where someone like Harris is well-known, well-liked, and referred to as “Mr. James” by the entire waitstaff. The impression is one of polite reverence and earned familiarity, built up over time and solidified through an appreciation of his impressive filmography, as well as his continued business.
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Touch of Evil

When top-billed Charlton Heston pushed for co-star Orson Welles to direct this late noir, nobody imagined it would emerge as one of the key works in the Welles canon despite being recut and partially reshot by Universal. His last Hollywood studio venture stacks up as probably Welles’ most popular picture although in 1958 it was dumped into theaters as a second feature. Here’s F.X. Feeney with a great breakdown of Welles’ technique in Touch of Evil. And while we’re on the subject of Orson, here’s “The Most Complete Investigation into the Making of Citizen Kane“.
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

"The John Wayne Westerns Film Collection" Debuts June 2 From Warner Home Entertainment

  • CinemaRetro
Burbank, Calif. May 19, 2015 – On June 2, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (Wbhe) will release The John Wayne Westerns Film Collection – featuring five classic films on Blu-ray™ from the larger-than-life American hero – just in time for Father’s Day. The Collection features two new-to-Blu-ray titles, The Train Robbers and Cahill U.S. Marshal plus fan favorites Fort Apache, The Searchers and a long-awaited re-release of Rio Bravo. The pocketbook box set will sell for $54.96 Srp; individual films $14.98 Srp.

Born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, John Wayne first worked in the film business as a laborer on the Fox lot during summer vacations from University of Southern California, which he attended on a football scholarship. He met and was befriended by John Ford, a young director who was beginning to make a name for himself in action films, comedies and dramas. It was Ford who recommended Wayne to director Raoul Walsh for the male lead in the 1930 epic Western,
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The Noteworthy: 6 May 2015

  • MUBI
The poster for Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cemetery of Splendour, bound for Cannes.Great news for fans of Louis Ck the actor and the director: the comedian-auteur is gearing up to make a new feature film, titled I'm a Cop.Producer Bero Beyer has been appointed the new General and Artistic Director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam Above: A vintage nitrate release print of John M. Stahl's Leave Her to Heaven. The print screened at the first ever Nitrate Picture Show at the George Eastman House last weekend. You'll hear more about this wonderful festival soon on the Notebook.A new issue of Film Comment is out, with many articles available online.That's Stanley Kubrick, above, talking to Jeremy Bernstein in 1965.At Reverse Shot, Nick Pinkerton considers under-appreciated French New Waver Luc Moullet's A Girl Is a Gun.Author F.X. Feeney has not one but two videos celebrating
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Blu-ray Review – Thief (1981)

Thief, 1981.

Written and Directed by Michael Mann.

Starring James Caan, Tuesday Weld, James Belushi, Willie Nelson, Dennis Farina, William Petersen and Robert Prosky.


A professional safecracker’s plan for going straight spirals out-of-control when he becomes indebted to a crime boss.

The limited Blu-ray slipcase edition of Michael Mann’s theatrical film début Thief (1981) comprises a whole host of insightful features. Offering an in-depth study and analysis of the starkly morally ambivalent crime thriller, the release is a timely reminder of what a fantastic introduction it was to the stylish and iconic world of Mann. Provided by Arrow Films as another in their series of cult classics, the release shows off the film as a true original and a remarkable piece of inspired visualisation.

Focusing on the professional safe-cracker Frank’s (James Caan) attempts to navigate the modern world after a young adulthood spent in prison, the film itself
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Blu-ray Review – Thief (1981)

Thief, 1981.

Directed by Michael Mann.

Starring James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, James Belushi, Robert Prosky, Dennis Farina and William Petersen.


A professional safecracker starts working for the mob in order to make enough money to quit his criminal lifestyle but things don’t go according to plan.

You have to hand it to director Michael Mann, he knows how to make crime thrillers. A quick trawl through the special features on this Arrow Video Blu-ray release will reveal several tales of a filmmaker who spent a lot of time with professional criminals in his quest for authenticity. Thief is his debut feature film and was adapted by Mann from the novel The Home Invaders by Frank Hohimer (real name John Seybold), himself a convicted thief, and although Mann would go on to perfect his storytelling craft in 1995’s classic Heat it’s quite startling how much of his style is already present here.
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

A Story of Love and Hate: The Night of the Hunter’s Journey from Failure to American Classic

  • HeyUGuys
Director Charles Laughton’s and screenwriter James Agee’s adaptation of the novel The Night of the Hunter has become a reverently admired and extremely influential film in the 60 years since the ‘failure’ of its initial release. The film has placed very highly in many international critical polls, including Cahier du Cinema’s 2007 listing of the ‘100 Most Beautiful Films’, where it sits at #2. Many filmmakers have cited it as a key inspiration, and Steven Spielberg showed it to the crew of E.T. in order to help them understand the child’s perspective from which he wanted the film to be told. It was even re-made as a virtually unwatchable 1991 TV movie with Richard Chamberlain as Harry Powell, and a musical stage version was created in the late ‘90s for which a soundtrack CD is available.

Perhaps the most important indication of the esteem in which the film is now held
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Review: Demille's "Cleopatra" (1934) UK Dual Blu-ray/DVD Release

  • CinemaRetro
(Note: This review pertains to the UK Region 2 Pal format release available on

By Adrian Smith

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Cecil B. DeMille will always be remembered for his lavish historical epics like The Ten Commandments (1923 and again in 1956), Sign of the Cross (1932) and Samson and Delilah (1949). However, with over one hundred and sixty credits as either director or producer, he also worked in plenty of other genres. Following two flops, This Day and Age (1933) and Four Frightened People (1934), Paramount head Adolph Zukor insisted he try to replicate the success of Sign of the Cross with another visual spectacle. DeMille agreed and cast Claudette Colbert in the lead role of Cleopatra (she had already starred in both Sign of the Cross and Four Frightened People and was about to win the Oscar for It Happened one Night (1934)).

The plot focuses on Cleopatra's
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Blu-ray Review: John Ford's "Fort Apache" (1948) Starring John Wayne And Henry Fonda

  • CinemaRetro
By Lee Pfeiffer

While most film historians consider She Wore a Yellow Ribbon to be the best of John Ford's fabled "Cavalry Trilogy", for my money Fort Apache was far and away the strongest of the films. Ribbon and Rio Grande are certainly excellent films but they are primarily compromised by Ford's penchant for overt sentimentality. Fort Apache, however, is a far more sinister look at the West, one that was decades ahead of its time in terms of presenting the case of the Native Americans in a sympathetic fashion. It's ironic that people like Marlon Brando, who extolled the cause of Native American rights, would cite Ford's films as having been detrimental to the Indian cause. In fact, Ford was so highly regarded by the Navajo that he was made an honorary member of the tribe, primarily because of his consistent efforts to improve their lives. Ford became
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Reservoir Dogs Video Tribute

Reservoir Dogs was the first independent film I ever saw, and I remember being completely blown away by it. I think I was around 15 years old when I watched the movie on VHS. I watched it over at a friend's house, and we couldn't believe what we were seeing. I loved this film, and to this day, I still enjoy watching it. The film was released in 1992, and it took movies to a new level. The movie was not only incredibly cool, but at the time it seemed to break the rules of conventional storytelling. 

This tribute includes footage for the film and interviews with people such as Scott Aukerman, Q. Allan Brocka, Edward Bunker, Kevin Eastman, F.X. Feeney, Richard Gladstein, Chris Hardwick, Monte Hellman, Michael Jace, Tad Lumpkin, Christopher McDonald, Drew McWeeny, Gregory Nicotero, Brett Ratner, Andrea Savage, Rob Schmidt, Julie Strain, SuicideGirls, Quentin Tarantino, Judy Tenuta, Steven Wright,
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And Then The Camera Goes Up The Jockey's Ass: A Close Look at "Luck"

  • MUBI
Like the double-wide premiere for HBO's Boardwalk Empire, the pilot for the network's new horse-racing series Luck—first broadcast December 11th, and then re-run this past Sunday—represents a meeting of two distinctive authorial voices. In the case of the Boardwalk Empire pilot—a high-water mark of style and efficiency that the frequently-frustrating series has never managed to live up to, aside from a couple of episodes neatly directed by Carpenterite horror specialist Brad Anderson—it was episode director / series executive producer Martin Scorsese and episode writer / series creator Terrence Winter; in the case of Luck, it's episode director / series executive producer Michael Mann and episode writer / series creator David Milch.

The interplay of low-lifes and big spenders in Luck's pilot is distinctly Milch's. It's clear from the episode's structure alone—a lot of jargony horse-racing intrigue spinning around a story about four track regulars who finally win it
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The two-part PBS special 'Woody Allen: A Documentary' is candy for Woody buffs

The two-part PBS special 'Woody Allen: A Documentary' is candy for Woody buffs
The first thing to say about the two-part, 3-hour-and-15-minute American Masters special Woody Allen: A Documentary, which airs tonight and tomorrow on PBS, is that it mixes things you already know with things you didn’t know in an avidly enjoyable, Woody-nostalgia way. Here’s something, for instance, that I didn’t know: Allen still does all his writing on the same tiny typewriter he has owned since he was 16 — a German-made Olympia portable that he purchased for $40 in 1952. He’s written all his movies on it, all his plays, and all his New Yorker pieces. The typewriter is missing its top,
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Unforgiven is Given a 20th Anniversary Blu-ray Book Release in February

Warner Home Video has announced Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven is returning to Blu-ray on February 21 in celebration of the film's 20th anniversary. The timing also coincides with the Academy Awards, of which Unforgiven won four, and what should be the Blu-ray debut for Eastwood's latest, J. Edgar.

Unforgiven: 20th Anniversary on Blu-ray (Srp $34.99) will be packaged in a Blu-ray book case that includes 54 pages of rare Eastwood observations, filmmaking insight, trivia and more. Bonus features on the disc include the following:

Commentary by Eastwood biographer Richard Schickel All on Accounta Pullin - a Trigger, featuring interviews with Morgan Freeman and others Eastwood A Star Eastwood & Co.: Making Unforgiven Eastwood on Eastwood: A career retrospective from Time critic/biographer Richard Schickel Maverick TV series episode 'Duel at Sundown' (1959), in which Eastwood plays a virtual younger incarnation of his Unforgiven role Theatrical trailer

In addition to Unforgiven, Warner is
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DVD Playhouse: December 2010

DVD Playhouse December 2010


Allen Gardner

America Lost And Found: The Bbs Story (Criterion) Perhaps the best DVD box set released this year, this ultimate cinefile stocking stuffer offered up by Criterion, the Rolls-Royce of home video labels, features seven seminal works from the late ‘60s-early ‘70s that were brought to life by cutting edge producers Bert Schneider, Steve Blauner and director/producer Bob Rafelson, the principals of Bbs Productions. In chronological order: Head (1968) star the Monkees, the manufactured (by Rafelson, et al), American answer to the Beatles who, like it or not, did make an impact on popular culture, particularly in this utterly surreal piece of cinematic anarchy (co-written by Jack Nicholson, who has a cameo), which was largely dismissed upon its initial release, but is now regarded as a counterculture classic. Easy Rider (1969) is arguably regarded as the seminal ‘60s picture, about two hippie drug dealers (director Dennis Hopper
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Blu-ray Review: The Night of the Hunter (Criterion Collection)

If you're a regular reader of this site you're familiar with my weekly What I Watched columns, where I detail the films outside of my regular work schedule that I've watched each week. The primary reasons I started the feature, outside of giving readers a place to discuss and recommend films they've watched, was to begin watching older films I had not seen and creating a starting point with each one. Films are never same the second, third and fourth time you watch them and one thing necessary to gain a better perspective on film's history is to have a greater understanding, and a first-hand understanding, of the film's that came before rather than always relying on what others have said.

As bad luck would have it, I didn't write up my thoughts on Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter when I watched it for the first time a couple of years ago.
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Blu-Ray Review: Criterion Edition of ‘The Night of the Hunter’ is One of Collection’s Best

Chicago – Charles Laughton directed one movie in his entire career, the terrifying and brilliant “The Night of the Hunter,” a modern Grimm’s fairy tale in which the evil witch in the forest has come to life and taken the form of one of society’s most trusted figures. Laughton’s masterpiece was a critical and commercial failure on its release but history has wisely recognized the lyrical power and sheer terror of one of the best domestic horror movies ever made.

Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

The Criterion Collection has had a spectacular year in the world of Blu-ray and their two-disc set for “The Night of the Hunter” stands as one of the best. With hours of fascinating special features, a perfect video transfer, and quite simply one of the best movies of its kind ever made, this is a must-own. The fact that “The Night of the Hunter” was widely-dismissed
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Night of the Hunter: Criterion Collection – DVD Review

The Film:

Love. Hate. Two of the most polar opposite emotions a human has, yet ones that can be interestingly intertwined into a gray area, like how “Preacher” Harry Powell intends to use for evil. Night of the Hunter might be one of the most misunderstood American classics; a critical and box office failure at its time of release, only to find its (and how thematically fitting) resurrection to its masterpiece status. It’s a simple picture, yet its mixture of genres – ranging from horror to black comedy to its Christmas ending – makes for a rich, complex experience, worthy of the time down the river.

With its Southern Gothic style, Night of the Hunter is a horror film with a Recession as its backdrop (well, here it’s the Great Depression), which makes for its horrors to come vividly to life. The “Preacher” uses His word for no good, a clever Father of Lies,
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The Night of the Hunter: Criterion Collection Review | Red Right Hand

  • Pajiba
The Night of the Hunter: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray]

The Film

While researching the aspect ratio of Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter (1955) on, I noticed something rather telling in the review. In each DVDBeaver review, there are links to books related to the film. For instance, if you look at the review of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), you'll find links to books on Kubrick. For the review of Night of the Hunter, DVDBeaver supplied a list of film noir book titles including Alain Silver's appropriately titled Film Noir, which features Hunter's antagonist Rev. Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) on the cover. Re-watching the film, I couldn't help but wonder what classified it as noir (for my classical noir retrospective, click here).

Sure, I can see on the surface where one might brand the film a noir. The film owes its aesthetic to German Expressionism, is shot in black and white,
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DVD Playhouse--August 2009

DVD Playhouse—August 2009


Allen Gardner

Watchmen—Director’S Cut (Warner Bros.) Director Zack Snyder’s film of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ landmark graphic novel is as worthy an adaptation of a great book that has ever been filmed. In an alternative version of the year 1985, Richard Nixon is serving his third term as President and super heroes have been outlawed by a congressional act, in spite of the fact that two of the most high-profile “masks,” Dr. Manhattan (Billy Cruddup) and The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) helped the U.S. win the Vietnam War. When The Comedian is found murdered, many former heroes become concerned that a conspiracy is afoot to assassinate retired costumed crime fighters. Former masks Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and still-operating Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley, in an Oscar-worthy turn) launch an investigation of their own, all while the Pentagon’s “Doomsday
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DVD Playhouse: April 2009

DVD Playhouse—April 2009


Allen Gardner

Milk (Universal) Sean Penn deservedly captured his second Best Actor Oscar (and Dustin Lance Black a statuette for his original screenplay) in director Gus Van Sant’s portrait of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to hold public office in the U.S. Alternately heartbreaking, infuriating and very funny, a film that both captures a bygone era and is still very timely. Fine support from Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, James Franco and Emile Hirsch. Also available on Blu-ray disc. Bonuses: Three featurettes. Widescreen. Dolby and DTS 5.1 surround.

Slumdog Millionaire (20th Century Fox) The Best Picture of 2008 is a kinetic, clever audience-pleaser about a determined lad (Dev Patel) from the slums of Mumbai, who has his chance at literal and financial redemption as a contestant on India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Best Director Danny Boyle dazzles
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