4 items from 2017
Homage in film can be a tricky proposition. Hew too close to the original, and you’re just making copies with no new toner; veer too far away and folks will wonder why you bothered. Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978) is that perfect beast then - a Jaws “rip-off” that bows to its source while winking at the audience, and yet still manages to be a wholly separate, wildly entertaining ride.
Released by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures in North America in early August (capitalizing on Jaws’ still undulating waves), Piranha was that rare New World phenomenon: It made some good coin ($16 million worldwide against a $600,000 budget) And was well received by critics. Steven Spielberg himself was so won over by Dante’s take and talent that it led to collaborations on Twilight Zone: The Movie, Gremlins, and other projects. Piranha proves that you can hug someone, slap a “Kick Me” sign on their back, »
- Scott Drebit
“Before I said I was going to do Finian’s Rainbow I should have read the book.”Finian’s Rainbow (1968)
Commentator: Francis Ford Coppola (director)
1. Regarding the film’s opening frame featuring the word “overture” onscreen, he says it’s because this was what was referred to as a roadshow production. “They were like a night at the theater. You were given a program, it was an event, and as you came to your seat there was an overture playing.” It’s a long absent format, but Quentin Tarantino recently revived it for some screenings of The Hateful Eight.
2. He says a benefit of 70mm productions was that “the soundtrack would be in six-track magnetic stereophonic sound and was very high quality.”
3. The Warner Bros/Seven Arts logo reminds him of his time spent at the latter company working as a staff writer when they bought WB. “It was quite a coincidence related to my directing this »
- Rob Hunter
As a musical it’s excellent — fine tunes and lyrics, great singing and dancing by the ever-youthful Fred Astaire, the glorious songbird Petula Clark, and the impishly weird Tommy Steele cast appropriately as a grimacing Leprechaun. The update of what was a politically acute Broadway hit in 1947 is awkward but the show is a melodious pleasure — great color, fine voices and peppy direction by Francis Ford Coppola on his first big studio feature.
1968 / Color / 2:35 widescreen / 145 141 min. / Street Date March 7, 2017 / available through the WBshop / 21.99
Cinematography: Philip Lathrop
Film Editor: Melvin Shapiro
Original Music: Ray Heindorf
Produced by Joseph Landon
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Finian’s Rainbow is a unique musical with a strange history. »
- Glenn Erickson
Kino Lorber Classics
1974 / Color / 1:78 widescreen / 89 min. / Street Date January 3, 2017 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95
Cinematography: Geoffrey Unsworth
Film Editor: John Shirley
Original Music: Roy Budd
Produced by: Barry Levinson
Directed by Ken Hughes
Don’t let the ugly Italian poster art on the disc box throw you — The Internecine Project is a clever plot-driven murder tale in an espionage vein that gathers a string of B+ stars from the early 1970s for ninety minutes of suspense. It’s not the kind of suspense that makes you wonder what’s going to happen next, but the kind that points to a finish that we know will employ a big surprise, a killer-diller last-minute twist. Or three.
- Glenn Erickson
4 items from 2017
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