9 items from 2016
Tuesday, July 5th is looking to be a busy start to another month of horror and sci-fi home entertainment releases as there seems to be something for everyone coming to Blu-ray and DVD this week. Arrow Video has given Mario Bava’s Giallo classic Blood and Black Lace the royal treatment with their new two-disc special edition release and for those of you in the mood for an anthology film, Holidays is making its way to DVD on Tuesday.
Six Models. Six Victims For A Crazed Masked Killer. The Cristian Haute Couture fashion house is a home to models... and backstabbing... and blackmail... and drug deals... and Murder.
Having established a template »
- Heather Wixson
Mario Bava turns from spooky gothic tales to a relentlessly violent murder spree in the glossy world of high fashion. The large cast gives us a fistful of prime suspects, while the main draw is Bava's powerful direction and razor-keen images - and in this excellent transfer, the colors can only be described as hallucinatory. Blood and Black Lace Blu-ray + DVD Arrow Video U.S. 1964 / Color / 1:66 widescreen / 89 min. / Sei donne per l'assassino / available through Mvd Entertainment / Street Date July 5, 2016 / 39.95 Starring Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Ariana Gorini, Dante Dipaolo, Mary Arden, Franco Ressel, Claude Dantes, Luciano Pigozzi, Lea Lander, Massimo Righi, Francesca Ungaro, Giuliano Raffaelli, Harriet White Medin. Cinematography Ubaldo Terzano Editor Mario Serandrei Original Music Carlo Rustichelli Written by Marcello Fondato, Giuseppe Barilla, Mario Bava Produced by Alfredo Mirabile, Massimo Patrizi <Directed by Mario Bava
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
When Arrow Video released a U.K. Blu-ray »
- Glenn Erickson
John Ford's best war movie does a flip-flop on the propaganda norm. It's about men that must hold the line in defeat and retreat, that are ordered to lay down a sacrifice play while someone else gets to hit the home runs. Robert Montgomery, John Wayne and Donna Reed are excellent, as is the recreation of the Navy's daring sideshow tactic in the Pacific Theater, the 'speeding coffin' Patrol Torpedo boats. They Were Expendable Blu-ray Warner Archive Collection 1945 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 135 min. / Street Date June 7, 2016 / available through the WBshop / 21.99 Starring Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed, Jack Holt, Ward Bond, Marshall Thompson, Cameron Mitchell, Paul Langton, Leon Ames, Donald Curtis, Murray Alper, Harry Tenbrook, Jack Pennick, Charles Trowbridge, Louis Jean Heydt, Russell Simpson, Blake Edwards, Tom Tyler. Cinematography Joseph H. August Production Designer Film Editor Douglass Biggs, Frank E. Hull Original Music Earl K. Brent, Herbert Stothart, Eric Zeisl Writing credits Frank Wead, Comdr. U.S.N. (Ret.), Based on the book by William L. White Produced and Directed by John Ford, Captain U.S.N.R.
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
They Were Expendable has always been appreciated, but hasn't been given a high roost in John Ford's filmography. Yet it's one of his most personal movies, and for a story set in the military service, his most serious. We're given plenty of service humor and even more sentimentality -- with a sing-along scene like those that would figure in the director's later cavalry pictures, no less. Yet the tone is heavier, more resolutely downbeat. The war had not yet ended as this show went before the cameras, yet Ford's aim is to commemorate the sacrifices, not wave a victory flag. By 1945 Hollywood was already rushing its last 'We're at War!' morale boosters out the gate and gearing up for production in a postwar world. Practically a pet project of legendary director John Ford, They Were Expendable is his personal tribute to the Navy. Typical for Ford, he chose for his subject not some glorious victory or idealized combat, but instead a thankless and losing struggle against an invader whose strength seemed at the time to be almost un-opposable. They Were Expendable starts at Pearl Harbor and traces the true story of an experimental Patrol Torpedo Boat unit run by Lt. John Brickley (Robert Montgomery), his ambitious second in command Lt. Ryan (John Wayne) and their five boat crews. The ambience is pure Ford family casting: the ever-present Ward Bond and Jack Pennick are there, along with youthful MGM newcomers Marshall Thompson (It! The Terror from Beyond Space and Cameron Mitchell (Garden of Evil, Blood and Black Lace) being treated as new members of the Ford acting family. Along the way Ryan meets nurse Sandy Davyss (Donna Reed). Despite their battle successes, the Pt unit suffers casualties and loses boats as the Philippine campaign rapidly collapses around them. Indicative of the unusual level of realism is the Wayne/Reed romance, which falls victim to events in a very un-glamorous way. There's nothing second-rate about this Ford picture. It is by far his best war film and is as deeply felt as his strongest Westerns. His emotional attachment to American History is applied to events only four years past. The pace is fast but Expendable takes its time to linger on telling character details. The entertainer that responds to the war announcement by singing "My Country 'tis of Thee" is Asian, perhaps even Japanese; she's given an unusually sensitive close-up at a time when all Hollywood references to the Japanese were negative, or worse. MGM gives Ford's shoot excellent production values, with filming in Florida more than adequate to represent the Philippines. Even when filming in the studio, Ford's show is free of the MGM gloss that makes movies like its Bataan look so phony. We see six real Pt boats in action. The basic battle effect to show them speeding through exploding shells appears to be accomplished by pyrotechnic devices - fireworks -- launched from the boat deck. Excellent miniatures represent the large Japanese ships they attack. MGM's experts make the exploding models look spectacular. Ford's sentimentality for Navy tradition and the camaraderie of the service is as strong as ever. Although we see a couple of battles, the film is really a series of encounters and farewells, with boats not coming back and images of sailors that gaze out to sea while waxing nostalgic about the Arizona lost at Pearl Harbor. The image of civilian boat builder Russell Simpson awaiting invasion alone with only a rifle and a jug of moonshine purposely references Ford's earlier The Grapes of Wrath. Simpson played an Okie in that film and Ford stresses the association by playing "Red River Valley" on the soundtrack; it's as if the invading Japanese were bankers come to boot Simpson off his land. Equally moving is the face of Jack Holt's jut-jawed Army officer. He'd been playing basically the same crusty serviceman character for twenty years; because audiences had never seen Holt in a 'losing' role the actor makes the defeat seem all the more serious. The irony of this is that in real life, immediately after Pearl Harbor, Holt was so panicked by invasion fears that he sold his Malibu beach home at a fraction of its value. Who bought it? According to Joel Siegel in his book The Reality of Terror, it was Rko producer Val Lewton. John Wayne is particularly good in this film by virtue of not being its star. His character turn as an impatient but tough Lieutenant stuck in a career dead-end is one of his best. The real star of the film is Robert Montgomery, who before the war was known mostly for light comedies like the delightful Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Montgomery's Brickley is a man of dignity and dedication trying to do a decent job no matter how hopeless or frustrating his situation gets. Whereas Wayne was a Hollywood soldier, Montgomery actually fought in Pt boats in the Pacific. When he stands exhausted in tropic shorts, keeping up appearances when everything is going wrong, he looks like the genuine article. Third-billed Donna Reed turns what might have been 'the girl in the picture' into something special. An Army nurse who takes care of Wayne's Ryan in a deep-tunnel dispensary while bombs burst overhead, Reed's Lt. Davyss is one of Ford's adored women living in danger, like Anne Bancroft's China doctor in 7 Women. A little earlier in the war, the films So Proudly We Hail and Cry 'Havoc' saluted the 'Angels of Bataan' that stayed on the job, were captured and interned by the Japanese. Expendable has none of the sensational subtext of the earlier films, where the nurses worry about being raped, etc.. We instead see a perfect girl next door (George Bailey thought so) bravely soldiering on, saying a rushed goodbye to Wayne's Lt. Ryan over a field telephone. Exactly what happens to her is not known. Even more than Clarence Brown's The Human Comedy this film fully established Ms. Reed's acting credentials. The quality that separates They Were Expendable from all but a few war films made during the fighting, is its championing of a kind of glory that doesn't come from gaudy victories. Hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, the Navy, Army and Air Corps units in the Northern Philippines that weren't wiped out in the first attacks, had to be abandoned. The key scene sees Lt. Brickley asking his commanding officer for positive orders to attack the enemy. He's instead 'given the score' in baseball terms. In a ball club, some players don't get to hit home runs. The manager instead tells them to sacrifice, to lay down a bunt. Brickley's Pt squadron will be supporting the retreat as best it can and for long as it can, without relief or rescue. Half a year later, the U.S. was able to field an Army and a Navy that could take the offensive. Brickley's unit is a quiet study of honorable men at war, doing their best in the face of disaster. According to John Ford, Expendable could have been better, and I agree. He reportedly didn't hang around to help with the final cut and the audio mix, and the MGM departments finished the film without him. Although Ford's many thoughtful close-ups and beautifully drawn-out dramatic moments are allowed to play out, a couple of the battle scenes go on too long, making the constant peppering of flak bursts over the Pt boats look far too artificial. Real shell bursts aren't just a flash and smoke; if they were that close the wooden boats would be shattered by shrapnel. The overused effect reminds me of the 'Pigpen' character in older Peanuts cartoons, if he walked around accompanied by explosions instead of a cloud of dust. The music score is also unsubtle, reaching for upbeat glory too often and too loudly. The main march theme says 'Hooray Navy' even in scenes playing for other moods. Would Ford have asked for it to be dialed back a bit, or perhaps removed from some scenes altogether? That's hard to say. The director liked his movie scores to reflect obvious sentiments. But a few of his more powerful moments play without music. We're told that one of the un-credited writers on the film was Norman Corwin, and that Robert Montgomery directed some scenes after John Ford broke his leg on the set. They Were Expendable is one of the finest of war films and a solid introduction to classic John Ford. The Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray of They Were Expendable looks as good as the excellent 35mm copies we saw back at UCLA. This movie has always looked fine, but the previous DVDs were unsteady in the first reel, perhaps because of film shrinkage. The Blu-ray corrects the problem entirely. The B&W cinematography has some of the most stylized visuals in a war film. Emphasizing gloom and expressing the lack of security, many scenes are played in silhouette or with very low-key illumination, especially a pair of party scenes. Donna Reed appears to wear almost no makeup but only seems more naturally beautiful in the un-glamorous but ennobling lighting schemes. These the disc captures perfectly. Just as on the old MGM and Warners DVDs, the trailer is the only extra. We're told that MGM shoved the film out the door because victory-happy moviegoers were sick of war movies and wanted to see bright musicals instead. The trailer reflects the lack of enthusiasm -- it's basically two actor name runs and a few action shots. The feature has a choice of subtitles, in English, French and Spanish. On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, They Were Expendable Blu-ray rates: Movie: Excellent Video: Excellent Sound: Excellent Supplements: DTS-hd Master Audio Deaf and Hearing Impaired Friendly? Yes; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish Packaging: Keep case Reviewed: June 6, 2016 (5135expe)
Visit DVD Savant's Main Column Page Glenn Erickson answers most reader mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Text © Copyright 2016 Glenn Erickson
- Glenn Erickson
Bernard Herrmann music + weird landscapes = Nirvana. This big-star western tale has an unbreakable story but terrible dialogue and weak characters... yet for fans of adventure filmmaking it's a legend, thanks to a thunderous Bernard Herrmann music score that transforms dozens of uncanny, real Mexican locations into something other-worldly. Garden of Evil Blu-ray Twilight Time Limited Edition 1954 / Color / 2:55 widescreen / 100 min. / Ship Date May 10, 2016 / available through Twilight Time Movies / 29.95 Starring Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward, Richard Widmark, Hugh Marlowe, Cameron Mitchell, Rita Moreno, Víctor Manuel Mendoza. Cinematography Milton R. Krasner, Jorge Stahl Jr. Art Direction Edward Fitzgerald, Lyle Wheeler Film Editor James B. Clark Original Music Bernard Herrmann Special Effects Ray Kellogg Written by Frank Fenton, Fred Freiberger, William Tunberg Produced by Charles Brackett Directed by Henry Hathaway
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
"The Garden of Evil. If the world was made of gold, I guess men would die for a handful of dirt. »
- Glenn Erickson
Arrow Video announced an early July Us release of Blood and Black Lace (1964) on Blu-ray and DVD as well as a limited edition Steelbook. Directed by Mario Bava, the Blood and Black Lace Blu-ray / DVD is packed with features including, but not limited to, a 2K restoration of the original film and a new documentary exploring the giallo genre.
A Bava classic heading to U.S. shores!
Pre-order the SteelBook here: http://amzn.to/1qy2O9k
Pre-order the Blu-ray here: http://amzn.to/1qy2SpA
U.S. Release Date: 4th July 2016
Region: A+B / 1+2
Six Models. Six Victims For A Crazed Masked Killer.
The Cristian Haute Couture fashion house is a home to models… and backstabbing… and blackmail… and drug deals… and Murder.
Having established a template for »
- Tamika Jones
Update: Alejandro Ramirez Magaña struck an early blow for the theatrical lobby at the annual exhibitors convention on Monday when his comments on the controversial Screening Room proposal drew spontaneous applause.
The Mexican CEO and general director of Cinepolis (pictured) wasted little time making his thoughts known in the week that Prem Akkaraju, Napster co-founder Sean Parker’s business partner on the disruptive day-and-date distribution proposal, was reportedly heading to Las Vegas to introduce the model to select theatre owners in a series of discreet meetings.
The subject resurfaced in panels on the experience economy and collaboration between distribution and exhibition, and again during an on-stage conversation with award recipient and veteran producer Frank Marshall.
“We think that instead of experimenting on how to shorten the theatrical window we should work together to strengthen it and there are many ways to do that,” said Magaña in his keynote address during the International Day Breakfast at Caesars Palace »
- email@example.com (Jeremy Kay)
Merle Oberon films: From empress to duchess in 'Hotel.' Merle Oberon films: From starring to supporting roles Turner Classic Movies' Merle Oberon month comes to an end tonight, March 25, '16, with six movies: Désirée, Hotel, Deep in My Heart, Affectionately Yours, Berlin Express, and Night Song. Oberon's presence alone would have sufficed to make them all worth a look, but they have other qualities to recommend them as well. 'Désirée': First supporting role in two decades Directed by Henry Koster, best remembered for his Deanna Durbin musicals and the 1947 fantasy comedy The Bishop's Wife, Désirée (1954) is a sumptuous production that, thanks to its big-name cast, became a major box office hit upon its release. Marlon Brando is laughably miscast as Napoleon Bonaparte, while Jean Simmons plays the title role, the Corsican Conqueror's one-time fiancée Désirée Clary (later Queen of Sweden and Norway). In a supporting role – her »
- Andre Soares
Like many children growing up in the 1960s, Kenneth Hall loved monsters. Ever since he was a toddler, his mother — who was an especially big fan of Vincent Price — took him and his brother to see films like The Brides Of Dracula, Curse Of The Werewolf, and The Pit And The Pendulum. And that was all it took. At age 10, Hall discovered Famous Monsters of Filmland, and with the help of the trusty TV Guide, he and his brother made a point to watch as many of the films they read about as they could, even if it meant sneaking out of bed and staying up late to catch a showing of The Deadly Mantis. Like many Monster Kids of his time, there was a now-or-never mentality that came with a lack of home video, but growing up in Jacksonville, Fl did give Hall an extra advantage. It was the »
- Caroline Stephenson
Director Greydon Clark is not a name thrown around a lot. Horror fans will know him (probably) for 1977’s Satan’s Cheerleaders. The rest of filmdom need not apply. However, his best film, Without Warning (1980), would end up resonating in such a way as to inspire Predator (1987), Schwarzenegger’s Alien in the Jungle box office smash. And when I say inspire, I mean they stole the concept. But what Without Warning lacks in testosterone and Hollywood bankrolls, it makes up in B movie charm and a winsome personality. You can’t help but fall in love with the damn thing.
Released by Filmways Pictures in New York, in September 1980, Without Warning (Aka It Came…Without Warning) had a scattered release – dribs and drabs in smaller markets, and don’t forget Finland (who could?). Made for a meager $150,000 Us the film was given a real dine and dash release, I’m »
- Scott Drebit
9 items from 2016
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