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[Savant Links] [Year Five Report]
Write Savant (Glenn Erickson) at

Thursday July 2, 2015 Back in Action Again

Savant's new reviews today are:

Kern & Hammerstein: Show Boat

  From the San Francisco Opera comes this colorful presentation of one of Broadway's most famous musicals, with the accent on the music, the singing and the dancing. Patricia Racette is Julie La Verne, while Heidi Stober, Michael Todd Simpson, Bill Irwin and Morris Robinson carry the other biggest roles. Taped (apparently) during real shows, this feels live, which only makes the voices (non-amplified) seem stronger and the performances more energetic. Great color, and a lavish production. On Blu-ray from EuroArts.

The Warner Archive Collection

  Pat O'Brien and Anne Jeffreys are a sleuth and a femme fatale caught up in an oil scheme in Panama; the screenplay would seem tailored for Robert Mitchum, and the lively Jeffreys at times seems to be imitating Lauren Bacall. It's clever, witty, and is directed in great style by Ted Tetzlaff, who gives us an extended opening sequence on a fateful plane trip, completely without dialogue. Also with Walter Slezak, Percy Kilbride and Jerome Cowan. This who-ever-heard-of-it film noir is very entertaining. On DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.


The Killers '46
The Killers '64

The Criterion Collection

  Returning to a dual-version DVD from fourteen years ago, Criterion gives them both excellent new transfers, and some new extras. Robert Siodmak's 1946 noir masterpiece enlarged Ernest Hemingway's short story, and made instant stars of Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner. Don Siegel's 1964 remake updated things, and also changed the point of view -- the 'investigators' into the mystery are now the killers, played by Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager. Siegel's update sizzles with fine work from John Cassavetes and Angie Dickinson, plus the final performance of Ronald Reagan -- as a miserable, vicious gangster. He's great! On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.


It's good to be back up again -- but disappointing that it took so long. Not a subject for popular discussion... the DVDtalk people are great, though.

In the news, Gary Teetzel informs me that Warner Home Video, which distributes the Paramount library on home video, has announced a Blu-ray release of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance for October 13. Other Paramount titles coming the same day are Witness, Escape from Alcatraz, The Core, Along Came a Spider and Team America: World Police. So be happy -- we're waiting for the timeless Paramount sci-fi classics The War of the Worlds and When Worlds Collide to appear on Blu, but the sci-fi box-office dud The Core is coming right up. I remember an audience laughing at the trailer for that one.

Gary saw this old ad for Anak ng Bulkan, a Filipino movie about a giant monster bird, and wasn't sure it was even real. The title apparently translates to "Sons of the Volcano." Then he found a YouTube link to the whole movie. We don't have any subtitles, so can't say if anybody in the film describes the giant bird as being, 'As big as a battleship.' Chapters six and eight are recommended for miniatures and monsters-versus-the-military action. The plot blurb reads: "The story revolves around the friendship of a small boy with a gentle giant bird which is mistaken by people as an evil creature." The movie is ... lively.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Thursday July 2, 2015

Hi all, thanks for all the notes about Savant being down. The IT people hashed it around yesterday, and I think they might find the solution today. Can't discuss the details, but it's not anybody's fault, it's part of the system. I have some posts ready to go and more discs to review, a batch of Criterions, Twilight Times and and a new stack of KL Studio Classics. I can't even post any photos, or I'd put reviews right on this Column while I'm waiting. So we have to stare at a picture of a bloody-face Marlon Brando a little while longer.

In case this fix doesn't work out, I'm open to other opportunities... discreetly. DVDtalk has been a good hosting partner.

Thanks again, Glenn

Monday June 29, 2015

Hi again from Savant --

It's sort of an old story: Savant has been down since last Wednesday, and I'm still waiting for a help response from the IT folks at DVDtalk. Too bad -- I'm hopeful that something will break today. They've been very conscientious the last few years, so they must be overloaded at the moment. It's strange, but when I can't post I just don't feel like writing reviews, and I always feel like writing reviews.

--- Thanks for your patience, Glenn

Tuesday June 23, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

Report to the Commissioner
KL Studio Classics

  Times Square street detective Michael Moriarty is sent on a dishonest mission, and to the regret of everyone on the force, carries it to its logical end. Susan Blakely is the undercover cop trapped by dirty politics in this superior '70s crime picture, also starring Yaphet Kotto and featuring Bob Balaban, Hector Elizondo and Tony King. Includes an unequalled action scene -- a chase over the rooftops and down on the city streets, with the quarry barefoot and in his underwear, carrying a pistol. Everybody's good in this show, and Moriarty and Blakely are terrific. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Absolute Beginners
Twilight Time

  Julien Temple's extended music video musical is a riot of color and motion, music and dance. The setting is great too - the exploding youth-marketed street culture in London in the late 1950s, with Teddy Boys, Mods and Trads. Eddie O'Connell, Patsy Kensit, David Bowie, James Fox and Ray Davies mix it up in an unending string of creative musical numbers. It's an expensive, 'big style' fantasmagoria, with gaudy costumes and long uncut moving sequence shots. It's all about being innocent, being real vs. becoming a plastic fake and selling out. Now that's original! The racial tensions of the time are reflected in a half-danced, half-fought race riot and rumble. With an Isolated Score Track for Gil Evans' music. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.


The Incredible Shrinking Man
Koch Media GmbH (German Import)
Region B Blu-ray

  "Die unglaubliche Geschichte des Mr. C."  Universal won't release our favorites so we look to Deutschland to give us our Uni Sci-fi fix -- and this is one of the top titles of the 1950s. Savant's essay on Richard Matheson's ethereal, existential paradox covers the surreal metaphysics of a man stripped of all the things by which he defines himself; the superb widescreen B&W transfer makes Jack Arnold's overachieving thriller look like a million. Universal's prop and set shops outdid themselves, and producer Albert Zugsmith slipped past the front office a cosmic finish that still makes kids rock back in wonder. We're ready for Region 1 Blu's of these, Universal... and goes for your remaining 3-D pictures, too! Nyahh! On Region B Blu-ray from Koch Media GmbH.


Here's how to spend a Father's Day -- watching important world cinema in comfort, with good company. Now let the little princesses out of their cage, already, Nelson.

It's a quick note today, as a certain job is winding up and a growing boy (well, aged fossil) needs his sleep. Coming DVD reviews are the Warner Archive titles --here's a long list: Our Mother's House, The Clay Pigeon, Come and Get It, Escape from East Berlin, Quick Before It Melts, Riffraff, Robin Hood of El Dorado and Viva Villa!

Pending Blu-ray reviews include Twilight Time's Mississippi Mermaid and The Young Lions; Kino's Harry In Your Pocket, Deranged, The Crimson Cult and Miracle Mile; Criterion's Five Easy Pieces and The Fisher King.

And a second-hand announcement: Gary Teetzel tells me that Kino has announced a Blu-ray of the rare Andre de Toth domestic murder film noir, Pitfall. It stars Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr and Jimmy Hunt. Savant has waxed critical over this one forever; it's that rare noir that reaches down into ordinary suburbia, to find the source of marital discontent. It's also a rumination on the cost of cynical thinking, and the non-forgiveness of marital forgiveness. It's a real chiller.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

3-D Rarities
 The secondary title reads "A Collection of 22 Ultra-Rare and Stunningly Restored 3-D Films," and that's exactly what we get -- a tall stack of 3-D wonder and fun from 1923 to 1962. The mix incudes experiments, demos, promos, sales films, exhibition films, animation, stop motion animation, cartoon animation, 3-D movie trailers, an atom bomb docu, some striptease delights and one of the first bits of film directed by Francis Ford Coppola… a girlie movie. Plus bonus 3-D stills and comics! It's all curated, annotated restored and fine tuned to look great on your 3-D home system, with commentaries and an informative, illustrated booklet. The lovingly produced 3-D Film Archive/Greenbriar Production is in 3-D Blu-ray from Flicker Alley.

The Golden Year: 5 Classics from 1939
  WHV slays us with five restored scans of pictures from what 'Life' magazine touted as the apex year for Hollywood movies. The lineup is a special one: Bette Davis fans get what they want with the ultimate women's weepie Dark Victory; Charles Laughton is amazing as Quasimodo in the superb, beautifully remastered The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Billy Wilder contributes classy comedy to Ernst Lubitsch's Greta Garbo masterpiece Ninotchka; with a six-gun and Technicolor, Errol Flynn cleans up Dodge City; and in the only repeat in the box, something funky happens below the Mason-Dixon Line in Gone With the Wind. Plus WHV's hour-long docu on the golden year of 1939. On Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.

The Thing with Two Heads
  It sounds like someone scraped the bottom of the barrel from the lowest vintage of the year of the worst movies ... but this horror pastiche turns out to be competent, non-insulting, amusing and reasonably well done. Who'da thunk it? Ray Milland takes the assignment as an opportunity to make a coherent statement about bigotry, and succeeds; Rosey Grier is engaging and funny as the death row convict who thinks he can escape the gas chamber by volunteering for some crazy surgery. It's exploitative fluff, but it works -- especially if you like a movie that takes a fifteen-minute break for an extended car crash-o-rama scene. If you remember having fun at this, you got nothing to be ashamed about. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

The Night of the Generals
 Anatole Litvak directs and co-produces this mega-production from the middle 1960s, filmed in France, Germany and Poland. Omar Sharif's German crime investigator finds that a top general may have committed a gruesome murder in the middle of the Warsaw campaign. He pursues his leads despite the chaos of war, preparing to accuse men that commit war atrocities as a daily activity. His suspects are Donald Pleasence, Charles Gray and the main star Peter O'Toole. His General Tanz is a barely functioning psychotic obsessed with cleanliness -- and exterminating enemy civilians. The impressive cast for this 'Murder in the High Command' drama includes Tom Courtenay, Joanna Pettet, Philippe Noiret, Coral Browne and Christopher Plummer as Rommel; a big part of the story concerns the attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1944. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

Pandas: The Journey Home
  They're big, they're cuddly, and plenty dangerous, but this 3-D IMAX short feature is a glimpse at the work being done at a Chinese Panda centers, where Pandas are bred, raised and trained to fend for themselves in the wild. The entire process -- even some of the icky aspects -- is depicted, by a staff that's the pride of the Chinese ecological effort (not to mention of great international PR value). The 3-D images are relaxing and all real -- no special effects to confuse us. The extra is a 1983 National Geographic TV special on Pandas. On 3-D + 2-D Blu-ray + DVD from Virgil Films & Entertainment.

Monte Walsh
  I reviewed a German Blu of this last year but domestic buyers will be happy to know that Bill Fraker's elegiac western will soon be available locally. Lee Marvin and Jack Palance are cowboy holdouts, riding the range while the companies from back East are closing down ranches left and right. Jeanne Moreau is a lady of the night who would like Marvin to settle down; Palance is great as a sweet guy who means no harm to anyone -- a welcome change for the actor. This is one beautifully filmed movie, so the Blu-ray encoding really makes a difference. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

The Hound of the Baskervilles
  At last, a proper color home video version of one of Hammer Films' classics, a horror-inflected spin on Sherlock Holmes starring what many feel is the best screen Sherlock, Peter Cushing. André Morell is an ideal Watson and Christopher Lee puts in a welcome appearance as the leading man! It's properly framed for widescreen and given a transfer that reminds us of original Technicolor prints. With plenty of extras old and new, several with input from the great Christopher Lee. On Region B (UK) Blu-ray from Arrow Films (UK).

John Ford: Dreaming The Quiet Man
 Sé Merry Doyle's feature documentary on the making of John Ford's classic digs way down into several subjects -- all having to do with the director's enigmatic personality. Ford's obsession to make the picture is more than an effort to recapture a lost past or reconnect with his Irish roots. We see how the film's locations have been turned into quaint tourist stops and see how Ford got around the film's censor problems. With definitive interviews, location shooting in Ireland, New York and Monument Valley, a wealth of research material and some revealing memories from Maureen O'Hara, who is almost the only Quiet Man participant left standing. On Blu-ray from Blu-ray from Olive Films.

June 2015
 Monte Walsh  Blu-ray  The Hound of the Baskervilles  Region B (UK) Blu-ray  John Ford: Dreaming the Quiet Man  Blu-ray  Mississippi Burning  Blu-ray  Vincent & Theo  Blu-ray  The Sunshine Boys  Blu-ray  The Onion Field  Blu-ray  American Guerilla in the Philippines  DVD
 The Bridge  Blu-ray  Tentacles &  Reptilicus  Blu-ray  Show Them No Mercy!  DVD
May 2015
 State of Siege  Blu-ray  The Island of Dr. Moreau  Blu-ray  Magician: The Astonishing Life & Works of Orson Welles  Blu-ray  Wolfen  Blu-ray  Shy People Savant Revival Review  A Man for All Seasons  Blu-ray  Carla's Song  Blu-ray  Cops and Robbers  Blu-ray  The Best House in London  DVD  1776  Blu-ray  Face to Face and  The Tramplers by Lee Broughton  DVD  The First Deadly Sin  DVD  Jamaica Inn  Blu-ray  The Confession  Blu-ray  Hombre  Blu-ray  Moonlighting  Blu-ray  Thank Your Lucky Stars  Blu-ray  Tarantula  UK Region B Blu-ray  It! The Terror from Beyond Space  Blu-ray  Ladyhawke  Blu-ray  The Midnight Special  DVD  Make Way for Tomorrow  Blu-ray  Seven Angry Men  DVD  The Beyond  Blu-ray  Richard III 1995  Blu-ray  The Premature Burial  Blu-ray  The Long Good Friday  UK Region B Blu-ray & PAL DVD
April 2015
 The Secret Invasion  Blu-ray  A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night  Blu-ray  Face of Fire  DVD  Mr. Turner  Blu-ray  Mysteries of the Unseen World  3-D Blu-ray  Blood and Black Lace  Region AB Blu-ray & DVD  Inherent Vice  Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD  42nd Street  Blu-ray  April Love  Blu-ray  Le Silence de la mer  Blu-ray  "X"  Blu-ray  Dance with Me, Henry  Blu-ray  That Man from Rio and  Up to His Ears  Blu-ray  Invaders from Mars 1986  Blu-ray  Zardoz  Blu-ray  Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas: Walk Cheerfully, That Night's Wife, Dragnet Girl  DVD  The Way Things Go  Blu-ray  The Friends of Eddie Coyle  Blu-ray  Why Be Good?  DVD  Blue Sky  Blu-ray  Hoop Dreams  Blu-ray  A Most Violent Year  Blu-ray + Digital HD  Solomon and Sheba  Blu-ray  Sullivan's Travels  Blu-ray
March 2015
 Odd Man Out  Blu-ray  Massacre Gun  Blu-ray  U Turn  Blu-ray  Hand of Death  DVD  Without a Clue  Blu-ray  The White Buffalo  Blu-ray  The Day Mars Invaded Earth  DVD  The Imitation Game  Blu-ray + Digital HD  The Babadook  Blu-ray  Journey to the Center of the Earth  Blu-ray  First Men in the Moon  Blu-ray  The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry  Blu-ray  Miami Blues  Blu-ray  Day of Anger  Blu-ray + DVD  The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies  3-D Blu-ray  Goodbye to Language  3-D Blu-ray  Forbidden Hollywood Volume 8: Blonde Crazy, Strangers May Kiss, Hi Nellie!, Dark Hazard  The Soft Skin  Blu-ray  The Falcon and the Snowman  Blu-ray  Alice's Restaurant  Blu-ray  Like Water for Chocolate  Blu-ray  Musicals: 4-Movie Collection: Kiss Me Kate  3-D, Calamity Jane, The Band Wagon, Singin' in the Rain  Blu-ray  Kiss Me Kate  3-D Blu-ray  The Liberator  Blu-ray  Muscle Beach Party  Blu-ray  Ride the Pink Horse  Blu-ray  The Manchurian Candidate  UK Region B Blu-ray & PAL DVD  Dear Heart  DVD
February 2015
 In the Land of the Head Hunters  Blu-ray  The Prowler  Blu-ray  The End of Violence  Blu-ray  The Sure Thing  Blu-ray  Incident  DVD  To Sir, With Love  Blu-ray  Caveman  Blu-ray  A Day in the Country  Blu-ray  Stormy Weather  Blu-ray  The Night They Raided Minsky's  Blu-ray  The Killing  UK Region B Blu-ray  The St. Valentine's Day Massacre  Blu-ray  Syncopation  Blu-ray  How to Murder Your Wife  Blu-ray  Black Sunday  Blu-ray  The Connection  Blu-ray  Rabid  UK Region B Blu-ray  Lust for Life  Blu-ray  The Wild Angels  Blu-ray  Watership Down  Blu-ray  Kiss Me, Stupid  Blu-ray  The Day They Robbed the Bank of England  DVD  Nightcrawler  Blu-ray  The Purple Rose of Cairo  Blu-ray  A Hole in the Head  Blu-ray  Don't Look Now  Blu-ray  Far from the Madding Crowd  Blu-ray  God Told Me To  Blu-ray
January 2015
 Why Don't You Play In Hell?  Blu-ray  Running On Empty  DVD  55 Days at Peking  UK Region B Blu-ray  Pork Chop Hill  Blu-ray  The Palm Beach Story  Blu-ray  The Black Scorpion widescreen  DVD  No Highway in the Sky  DVD  The Weapon  Blu-ray  The Bride Wore Black  Blu-ray  May in the Summer  Blu-ray  World for Ransom  Blu-ray  Breaking Away  Blu-ray  The Night Porter  Blu-ray  The Girl Who Knew Too Much  Blu-ray  The Russians are Coming the Russians are Coming  Blu-ray  Fury  Blu-ray  Bloody Sunday  DVD  52 Pick-Up  Blu-ray  Till the End of Time  DVD  Into the Woods  Blu-ray  The Twilight Samurai  Blu-ray  The Ultimate Invaders from Mars Savant Article Reboot  Ten Seconds to Hell  Blu-ray  Adua and Her Friends  Blu-ray  Kinoshita and World War II  DVD  The Boys from Brazil  Blu-ray

  Reaching further back in time?
A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2014
... and for 2013 ... 2012 ... and 2011

 Savant's DVD Wish List FINAL NOTE 2012

Hundreds more Savant reviews at the Other End of this Link!


Don't forget to write Savant at dvdsavant@mindspring.com.

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