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Favorite Discs of 2014

[Savant Links] [Year Five Report]
Write Savant (Glenn Erickson) at
dvdsavant@mindspring.com!
(dvdsavant@mindspring.com)

Tuesday April 26, 2016

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Savant's new reviews today are:

Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents
Film Movement
Blu-ray

 These are the Eyes that Satirize! Everybody's seen their imagery but few know the story of these anonymous performance artists and their avant-garde music. Their highly creative songs and videos satirize the commercialization of art and music, and they've chosen a real 'you'll never get rich' way to stay clear of the commercial undertow. Don Hardy's feature documentary is accompanied by galleries of uncut videos and samples of unfinished projects. On Blu-ray from Film Movement.
4/26/16




Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
Olive Films
Blu-ray

 The irrepressible Samuel Fuller takes on a murder and extortion saga for German TV, and comes up with an eccentric mix: old-fashioned hardboiled scripting, free-form direction and odd bits of visual graffiti from the French New Wave. Christa Lang is the femme fatale and Glenn Corbett is the two-fisted American hero, whose name is NOT Griff. And yes, a pigeon does bite the pavement on Beethoven Street, and I tell you, that's one dead pigeon. With Sieghardt Rupp, Anton Diffring and Stéphane Audran. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
4/26/16



and

When You're Older, Dear Adam
&
Berlin Around the Corner

Separate Releases
The DEFA Film Library

DVD

 East German filmmakers literally toed the Party line for 44 years of Communist rule, but there were those that dared to leave the confines of social realism. From 1966 come two productions that were banned and shelved before they could be finished -- and weren't seen until they were patched together 25 years later. One color fantasy is about a boy who finds a flashlight that makes liars float in the air. The second is a terrific drama about a disenchanted 20-something factory initiate who has trouble with his bosses, his union, his to-die-for new girl friend, and the fact that he and his best pal regularly pull off petty crimes. Think that might get your movie banned in East Germany? Separate Purchases on DVD from The DEFA Film Library.
4/26/16




Hello!

I've got an interesting international update from correspondent Stefan Andersson:

"Hi Glenn! Some news I've found: Milestone Films will release Daughter of the Dawn (1920), a silent drama starring two of Chief Quanah Parker's children. Mysteriously, the film was only shown in a couple of previews and never released. Milestone also has Vol. 4 of their Shirley Clarke project upcoming, including short films, dance films, her Robert Frost docu and much more.


Most of the rest will presumably be formatted Region B.

Regarding restored Universal monster films, Elephant Films of France has both The Son of Frankenstein and Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman out on Blu, though I'm not sure the masters are from the most recent restorations. Elephant also has a bunch of Douglas Sirk titles released, or upcoming, on Blu:

Thunder on the Hill, Sign of the Pagan, All That Heaven Allows, Imitation of Life, Written on the Wind. They also have upcoming Alexander Korda's Jungle Book, plus David Lean's Blithe Spirit, This Happy Breed and The Passionate Friends on Blu.


A special note, Marcel Pagnol's Marseilles Trilogy: Marius, Fanny, César is now restored and released on Region B Blu w/ English subs. Always wanted to see that, but it looks really pricey...


And not a disc announcement but of great interest is the large slate of restorations 'premiering' at Cannes this year : Marlon Brando's One-Eyed Jacks, (Film Foundation), Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu, Roger Corman's Pit and the Pendulum, Jindrich Polák's Ikarie XB 1 (!!!), Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris, Jean Grémillon's Gueule d'amour, Jean Luc Godard's Masculin-Féminin, Jacque Becker´s Rendez-vous de juillet. Best, Stefan"


You know, I couldn't watch this all the way through, and I'm not sure why. Joe Dante has circulated a link to an Atlas Obscura page with a short but truly horrendous Workplace Safety Video. I've been this route before, with Fantoma's Safe, Not Sorry and Bret Wood's Hell's Highway, but now my tolerance for workplace horrors has gone way down. The likelihood of my being mangled in an industrial machine is really low. What's my problem, awareness of mortality?


Gary Teetzel steers us in the direction of a Museum of Modern Art Calendar for a season of new Universal Pictures: Restorations and Rediscoveries, 1928-1937 to be screened in New York in May and June. It includes just about every early Universal title we've read about but not seen, with restored titles by Edward L. Cahn, Paul Fejos, John Ford, Frank Borzage, William Wyler, John M. Stahl, Tay Garnett, Monta Bell, Lew Landers and James Whale. Make that four full features by James Whale, including two different versions of the elusive The Road Back (1937). Even I'd get out to the museum for a few of those.


And finally... For a long time I've been wondering about the source of a lot of footage of people running in fear in the 1957 science fiction movie Kronos, a B&W 'Regalscope' movie. The fleeing citizens are supposed to be Mexicans, but they looked like Hawailans to me, and in my old review I noted that a shot of what had to be pineapple fields showed Kolekole Pass, on Oahu, with Kronos and his force waves matted in. I thought, what Cinemascope Fox movie could have been the source of this stock footage? I wondered about this back in my original Kronos review from 2000.

I found it last night -- it's Fox's The Revolt of Mamie Stover, from the year before, 1956. All the Kronos shots are there in the movie's Pearl Harbor attack scene -- the wide views of the valley with the pineapples (above, in B&W and with Kronos added), and shots of panicky people running in the Honolulu hill streets. There's even the down angle in the middle of a city street. In Kronos, they matched the street shot to show the giant robot's foot squashing some people.

The Mamie Stover cuts are all in bright color! All those Hawaiian shirts... the reason they fixated on citizens fleeing the Japanese attack is to motivate the panic selling of real estate, which the character Mamie Stover (Jane Russell) invests in and becomes rich.

Another arcane sci-fi matinee mystery solved. Maybe I'll get an attaboy from Bill Warren.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson


Saturday April 23, 2016

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.
What is it? It's my view every time I go to the grocery store,
courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright and tangentially, William Castle.

Savant's new reviews today are:

In the French Style
Twilight Time
Blu-ray

 It's a genuine forgotten gem: American student Jean Seberg's five-year adventure in Paris is a period of romantic frustration and personal discovery. Irwin Shaw and Robert Parrish's look at the problems of a pre-feminist independent woman is remarkably insightful; the chronically miscast and underused Ms. Seberg is luminous, enchanting. With an impressive performance by Stanley Baker, and beautifully filmed in the City of Light. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
4/23/16



Three Brothers
Arrow Academy U.K.
Region B Blu-ray + PAL DVD

 Italian director Francesco Rosi's warm, thoughtful tale sees a family gathering observe grievous modern problems -- in the midst of so much violence in Italian politics people are still seeking humanistic solutions. The conflict is in the gap between their dreams and daily reality. Philippe Noiret heads a great cast in this mellow reflection on 'the things of life:' Charles Vanel, Michele Placido, Vittorio Mezzogiorno. On Region B Blu-ray and PAL DVD from Arrow Academy U.K..
4/23/16



and

The Second Civil War
Savant Second Look
HBO Video

DVD

 Is satire obsolete? Appalling present realities have surpassed some of the wildest jokes in director Joe Dante's 'exaggerated, outrageous' 1997 cable movie, which is why I'm reviewing it now. An immigration squabble snowballs until a renegade state governor closes his border and threatens to secede from the Union. The big-scale political disaster comedy stars Beau Bridges, Elizabeth Peña, James Coburn, Phil Hartman, Dan Hedaya, Joanna Cassidy, James Earl Jones, Kevin Dunn, Denis Leary and Ron Perlman. On DVD (2005) from HBO Video.
4/23/16




Hello!

A great week in warm California, where things aren't as fuzzy as the photo above... I just don't have the desired long lens for my camera. I almost had a fourth review finished for today, but had to hold it for next time.

Gary Teetzel forwards some odd links: Does the idea of a 2/3 scale Psycho House atop the Metropolitan Museum of Art appeal to you? The illustrated story by the Wall Street Journal is right here. Now all they need is a 4-and-a-half foot Anthony Perkins.

And 'Toy Ranch' has unearthed some Monster Heads used to promote Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman from back in 1943. That fully illustrated rundown is viewable at the Universal Monster Army Forum.

Thirdly, Gary points us to a full album of Vincent Price Souvenir Audio, taken from a 1962 recording to promote the Seattle World's Fair. Vincent reciting airy futuristic wish fulfillment ... he's pretty effective, even if it sounds like he's speaking from inside a crypt.

And thanks to Facebook, I also connected with artist Mark Maddox, an accomplished illustrator who seems to share both my background as a military dependent, and that youthful love of good old monster movies. I've swiped thumbnails of two of his colorul paintings; you can see more of Mark's arresting graphics at his page, Maddox Planet - The Art of Mark Maddox.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson


NEWEST FEATURE ARTICLES
Father of the Bride
  This is one of Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor's best, written and directed by the classy MGM team of director Vincente Minnelli and writers Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett. It inspired a decade's worth of TV family sitcoms and set the benchmark for weddings for generations. Great fun and solid sentiment without mugging or exaggeration. With Joan Bennett and Don Taylor, plus Leo G. Carrol as a wonderfully officious wedding planner. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
4/19/16

Cutter's Way
 "Sorry, I just slashed my wrists." "Well, tape 'em!"   This is the aftermath of the '60s protest movement. Ivan Passer's riveting murder mystery of flakes and losers in sun-drenched, guilty Santa Barbara expresses the rage of radicals faced with the growing class divide, and the arrogance of the wealthy. Plus great roles for Jeff Bridges, John Heard and Lisa Eichhorn. It's an incredible character study and one of the few pure expressions of radical alienation in early '70s California. Glowing cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth and truly strange, brilliant music by Jack Nitzche -- listenable on an Isolated Music Track. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
4/19/16

Dillinger
 Guns! Guns! Guns! John Milius' rootin' tootin' bio of the most famous of the '30s bandits has plenty of good things to its credit, especially its terrific, funny cast, topped by the unlikely star Warren Oates. The battles between Dillinger's team of all-star bank robbers and Ben Johnson's G-Man aren't neglected, as Milius savors every gun recoil and Tommy gun blast. With Ben Johnson, Harry Dean Stanton, Michelle Phillips, Geoffrey Lewis, Steve Kanaly, and as Baby Face Nelson, s baby-faced Richard Dreyfus. Also, some good interview extras. On Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Video U.S..
4/19/16

Try and Get Me!
 This noir hits with the force of a blast furnace -- Cy Endfield's wrenching tale of social neglect and injustice will tie your stomach in knots. Sound like fun? An unemployed man turns to crime and reaps a whirlwind of disproportionate retribution. Frank Lovejoy falls in with Lloyd Bridges' psychotic armed robber and the horror begins, capped with a scene of mob violence guaranteed to make you squirm. There's no law against what's right! With Kathleen Ryan, Richard Carlson, Adele Jergens, Katherine Locke, Art Smith and Renzo Cesana. It's surely the most powerful of all filmic accusations thrown at the American status quo. A great disc release, on Blu-ray from Olive Films.
4/15/16

The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates
 Take a look at the roots of American campaign image consciousness, and the then-new techniques of cinéma vérité to bring a new 'reality' for film documentaries. Four groundbreaking films cover the Kennedy-Humphrey presidential primary, and put us in the Oval Office for a showdown against Alabama governor George Wallace. Filmed by a dream team of cinéma vérité: Richard Leacock, Albert Maysles, D.A. Pennebaker. With terrific extras, about the filmmakers and President Kennedy. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
4/15/16

The Gallant Hours
 Director Robert Montgomery's last is a war movie like no other, a study in leadership and command with no combat scenes. James Cagney leads a huge cast to tell the story of Admiral Bull Halsey, the commander who turned the tide of the war in the Pacific. Removed from typical war-movie action, the film becomes a rumination on the caliber of great men doing a desperate, crucial job. Cagney uses none of his standard personality mannerisms; the result is something very affecting. And that music! You'll think the whole show is the memory of a soul in heaven. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
4/15/16

Exodus
 "This land is mine, God made this land for me." Those are just song lyrics, while Otto Preminger's politically daring 70mm mega-production is a lot more subtle in its presentation of the 'Palestinian problem' that led to the formation of the State of Israel. It's all a bit ponderous, but Dalton Trumbo's screenplay avoids the pitfalls -- 56 years later, the story is still relevant. Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint and Sal Mineo head an enormous production filmed where it happened, on Cyprus and Israel. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
4/09/16

The City of the Dead
 This horror almost classic has Christopher Lee and great atmosphere. Keep a sharp lookout for All Them Witches: they're not easy to spot... especially if you're as unobservant as Venetia Stevenson's sexy grad student. If she were studying sharks, this girl would wrap herself in fresh meat and jump into the middle of a mess of 'em. Betta St. John and Patricia Jessel mix it up with Chris in the haunted burg of Whitewood. Bring your hood and sacrificial knife! On Blu-ray from VCI.
4/09/16

April 2016
 Suspicion  Blu-ray  Blue Denim  DVD  Panic in Year Zero!  Blu-ray  The Stuff  Blu-ray  Alexander the Great  Blu-ray  Journey to the Seventh Planet  Blu-ray  "Manos" The Hands of Fate  Blu-ray
March 2016
 The Purple Plain  Blu-ray  Anastasia  Blu-ray  Brooklyn  Blu-ray  Susan Slept Here  Blu-ray  Dreams Rewired  DVD  The Hateful Eight  Blu-ray + DVD  A Brighter Summer Day  Blu-ray  Kill Me Again  Blu-ray  Vessel  DVD  The Manchurian Candidate  Blu-ray  Losing Ground  Blu-ray  Spies (Spione)  Blu-ray  Michael Collins  Blu-ray  Paris Belongs to Us  Blu-ray  Her Majesty, Love  DVD  I Knew Her Well  Blu-ray  The Trip  Blu-ray  Psych-Out  Blu-ray  Spring Takes Time  DVD  The Strangler  DVD  When Eight Bells Toll  Blu-ray  Murders in the Rue Morgue &  The Dunwich Horror  Blu-ray  The Big Heat  Blu-ray  Bad Boy  DVD  The Decline of Western Civilization + Part II The Metal Years  Blu-ray  Contagion  Blu-ray  Donovan's Brain  Blu-ray  The Hawaiians  Blu-ray  Revolt of the Slaves  DVD
February 2016
 The Vincent Price Collection III :
Master of the World, Tower of London, Diary of a Madman, Cry of the Banshee  Blu-ray  Cowboy  Blu-ray  The Graduate  Blu-ray  Key Largo  Blu-ray  Childhood's End  Blu-ray  The Black Sleep  Blu-ray  5 Dolls for an August Moon  Region B Blu-ray + DVD  Oh! What a Lovely War  DVD  L'Inhumaine  Blu-ray  Spotlight   Blu-ray + DVD  Where the Sidewalk Ends  Blu-ray  Millennium + R.O.T.O.R  Blu-ray  The Vikings  Blu-ray  Inside Llewyn Davis  Blu-ray  All Things Must Pass, The Rise and Fall of Tower Records  DVD  The Big Sleep  Blu-ray  The Emigrants & The New Land  Blu-ray  The Happy Ending  Blu-ray  GOG 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Woman in the Moon  Blu-ray  Deep Red  Blu-ray  Station West  DVD  Harlock: Space Pirate 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Crimson Peak   Blu-ray + DVD  Bridge of Spies   Blu-ray + DVD  Death By Hanging  Blu-ray
January 2016
 Gilda  Blu-ray  The Last Detail  Blu-ray  The Wrong Man  Blu-ray  Hawaii  Blu-ray  Beyond the Valley of the Dolls  Region B Blu-ray  The Southerner  Blu-ray  Curse of the Faceless Man  Blu-ray  I Confess  Blu-ray  The Undesirable  Blu-ray  Ex Machina  Blu-ray  Let There Be Light: John Huston's Wartime Documentaries  Blu-ray  Wind Across the Everglades  DVD  From the Terrace  Blu-ray  Figures in a Landscape  Blu-ray  Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things  Blu-ray  Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)  Blu-ray  The American Friend  Blu-ray  Bitter Rice  Blu-ray  Hitler's Children  DVD  Everest 3-D  3-D Blu-ray + Digital HD  The Look of Silence  Blu-ray  The Complete Lady Snowblood  Blu-ray  Four Men and a Prayer  DVD  The Captive City  Blu-ray  The Beginning or The End  DVD  Mysterious Island Encore Edition  Blu-ray  Nightmares  Blu-ray  Born Free  Blu-ray  Faust (1926)  Blu-ray  The Girl Most Likely  DVD


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A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2014
... and for 2013 ... 2012 ... and 2011
Use the search function at the top of the page for individual titles -- it's new and improved and works well.

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