Hey folks, Harry here with a DVD column that isn’t making anything up, nor is it late! Woo-hoo! I’m going to try to get next week’s done this week – as after BNAT is a dangerous time for me. Next week’s column is a doozy though. As with all the columns, this one features images and links that take you to Amazon’s page where you can learn more on a title or purchase the item. If you do make use of this, thank you. It helps more than you know. Enjoy the column and get back to preparing for the holidays!
Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
This and THE 39 STEPS are my two favorite Hitchcock films of the British Era. One of the key reasons I love them is that both of those films just have a delightful proper mystery at their core. The British spirit, no matter where it finds itself is so damn entertaining. I love Margaret Lockwood, she’s just got an indomitable spirit – and Michael Redgrave is so happy go lucky… and Dame May Whitty? Such the British Badass Old Lady! The film feels like a modern Aardman animation in the delightful spirit they share. If a film can be a page-turner, this flick is worth a read! Criterion did an excellent job with this release and filled it with extras – in addition to the stunning print transfer.
High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Crook's Tour, a 1941 feature-length adventure film, that features Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne… the pair of British blokes from THE LADY VANISHES as they reprise their characters in CROOK’S TOUR! I love these guys and their passion for cricket… a sport that really makes me scratch my bulbous head!
Audio commentary by film historian Bruce Eder
Excerpts from Francois Truffaut's 1962 audio interview with Alfred Hitchcock
Mystery Train, a video essay about Hitchcock and The Lady Vanishes
Stills gallery of behind-the-scenes photos and promotional art
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by Geoffrey O'Brien and Charles Barr
I still haven’t seen David Fincher’s adaptation, but I really do love the original Swedish – I’ve only rewatched the first film thus far, but I really liked it quite a bit. I’d need to rewatch the original to compare and contrast the differences, but I will say that the first film didn’t seem to drag at all, rather I was simply more captivated. I love Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist in these roles and every additional scene with them just made me like them more. I’m probably going to find another home for the original set. This is how I’ll watch this from now on. I assume I will probably feel the same about the next two chapters – which I’ll get to at some point.
I watched the extended edition of this – and it just played better. But then, I’m not someone that frets as much over pacing as some folks. I love to spend time in the worlds filmmakers create. Unless I just hate that world. Now, I have to say something about the Blu Ray. I saw COWBOYS & ALIENS with Yoko and a pair of BNATTERS after it was released. Couldn’t make the press screening due to REHAB, but watching the Blu Ray at home… everything genuinely felt crisper, sharper and tighter. In particular the night time stuff in the town, firelit, and that attack – it just worked better. The actual image seemed improved. I certainly liked the look of the film better on Blu. Very strange. It might just be that I really love my home screening situation, but I swear. The whole movie just looked better. On repeat viewings, I find myself really loving what Daniel Craig is doing with his amnesiac ex-criminal trying to turn over a new leaf… but finding out not only what the thing on his arm is, but who he is and seek revenge on the creatures that seemed to have put him in his predicament. Plus, I really do love Harrison Ford in the film.
It’s that, “Remember Pearl Harbor-time of the year,” again – and TORA! TORA! TORA! Is the premiere release this time out. If you like your Historic Films historic, then TORA! TORA! TORA! is for real. The scale of the film feels like it is an actual reenactment of the entire affair. No silly melodrama about the lives of the people on the island and their passion, this is a military operation and execution of the material – and I love it. But I do love FROM HERE TO ETERNITY more, because at heart I’m a humanist. To each their own. That said, I’m dying to see this Blu Ray. I’ll be picking it up tomorrow. But it’ll probably be a bit till I get to see it.
Commentary by Director Richard Fleischer & Japanese Film Historian Stuart Galbraith IV
Day of Infamy Documentary
History vs. Hollywood – TORA! TORA! TORA!: A Giant Awakes
AMC Backstory®: TORA! TORA! TORA!
FOX Movietone News
Original Theatrical Trailer
Collectible Hardcover Book
I’m pretty easy. The drug dealing monkey was exactly the addition that made me cackle through a lot of the movie. Now, is it disappointing how repetitive the structure and plot of the film is? Absolutely. BUT… I fully expected it. In the same way that you kind of have to wonder how the fuck Bruce Willis ever travels or allows his family to travel at Christmas again. After the first one. But it is a necessary convention for a quick sequel that is meant to sell more tickets. It isn’t about originality, it is the comfort of familiarity that many in the audience seek. Thus SitCom television. This is simply a raunchier television and on a much larger scale usually. I personally felt this film could have been raunchier and a bit more dangerous given the locale. Quite a bit of fun!
I don’t know a thing about this, but Yoko says that I’m going to probably witness some of this. Seems like it is a sketch comedy show involving Portland hipsters. Seems mainly liked. We’ll see. It is only here because… well, I do comment on the stuff I am intending to see, as well as have seen. Like the talent involved.
Witchcraft and the Giallo genre should be a sure thing, and as this film in concerned it really is. With a title this exploitive, it is a real wonder that the film isn’t better known. It is a superb giallo. I love that it takes place with a childhood murderer/Horror film actor as the gruesome chief suspect. The gore is pretty crazy. The turns and blindsides that come throughout are pretty damn fun. If you’ve ever enjoyed the genre – you should definitely check it out!
Ok – it is official. I just love Emma Stone. I’ll watch any film with her from now on. So guess I’ll see THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN after all. Heh. I don’t know about you, but I really do like women. I like chatting with them, reading stories about them and the actresses that play them. This isn’t aimed at me, but it is aimed at gals and it does have some great ladies in it. This is a good film.
Ernst Lubitsch’s DESIGN FOR LIVING – a comedy about a woman that loves two men and wants to love two men… The men? Gary Cooper and Fredric March… perfectly lovable men. Both scrappy Bohemian artists living the starving artist life of a would be playwright and a wannabe great painter. Miriam Hopkins plays their MUSE. She’s a woman decades ahead of herself… living in an era where she takes men and molds them into the dreams she has for them. She’s amazing. Famed Chicago reporter, Ben Hecht adapted Noel Coward’s play and Ernst Lubitsch made an amazing film from it. Reminds me of Truffaut’s JULES ET JIM – but in a 30’s theatrical fashion…. But dealing with the exact same situation… really. Criterion did a wonderful job on the disc.
New high-definition digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
The Clerk, starring Charles Laughton, Gary Cooper, George Raft, Jack Oakie, W.C. Fields, Frances Dee in an episodic film by Ernst Lubitsch which is all about what a whole bunch of different folks and how they would individually handle inheriting a Million Dollars! Raft will kill ya! He rules in this movie. Lubitsch basically got the right to make a film with all the major stars at Paramount of the early 30’s. The result is fantastic. Be sure to watch it too!
Selected-scene commentary by film professor William Paul
Play of the Week: A Choice of Coward, a 1964 British television production
New interview with Joseph McBride on Lubitsch
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Kim Morgan
John Madden, director of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and PROOF – my two faves of his, has made an Israeli historic spy thriller with an excellent cast. I haven’t seen the original Israeli film from which this is adapted. But I imagine it is probably pretty damn good. Here Madden has two sets of casts… one playing the Israeli agents out to capture and bring to justice an evil doctor that performed experiments during the Holocaust in the camps. The mission goes awry – and it creates a bond between these characters that ties them back together half a century later. Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman’s script keeps this thriller cracking! Excellent movie, not quite in TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY’s class, but very little is.
I love Rondo Hatton aka “The Creeper”. Just the other day, I received the Blu-Ray for THE ROCKETEER and enjoyed Rick Baker’s make-up tribute to Dave Steven’s illustrated tribute to the great Rondo Hatton. But THE BRUTE MAN probably has more from Rondo than any other flick. I really enjoy the film, mainly because it brings me joy to see Rondo on screen. I’ve known a couple of men that have had acromegaly, I’ve sold Rondo Hatton movie paper to them – and other genre works. I sort of dream of a big Rondo Hatton movie directed by Guillermo Del Toro starring Ron Perlman in the greatest film biopic ever. But it’ll never happen I fear. It should. THE VIOLENT YEARS is one of the more interesting products from Ed Wood’s skull… a juvenile delinquent flick. I saw the film once, back when I was going through me completist streak where I would just watch everything from an acclaimed auteur – and in his own particular way, Ed Wood was an auteur – you can sense you’re watching something that he had something to do with – simply due to the fun way in which it watchably sucks. That’s a type of talent to be sure. Of course these are MST3K-afied. I’ve never really dove into these versions. MIGHTY JACK and TIME OF THE APES I haven’t experienced yet, but from looking at some YOUTUBE of them – they seem worth checking out. If you love MST3K – you probably could give a shit what I think. I get the entertainment value, I just prefer the actual films sans the schtick.
This amazing work from Jean-Luc Godard and offers an artistic montage of hundreds of films, I find it just amazing to just watch how Godard makes use of the imagery of a century of cinema. As someone that loves film from all its eras and genres – something like this plays with a particular resonance. And as I’ve seen it over time – I find myself seeking out filmed referenced in Godard’s work. Not for everyone, but if it even sounds intriguing – you should probably give it a shot. It really is quite a document of the 20th Century according to Godard. That’s worth checking out!
Really, It just made me laugh that I had a 12th and a 14th of something on either side of Godard’s cinematic history project… which makes me think of BUTT-NUMB-A-THON as a whole. Given that we’re now in the 13th year! There was a point in time where I never missed an episode of the SIMPSONS – now I just occasionally check them out. You know if you have to have this. Me, not so much any more.
If you have these 3 films already, there’s nothing really new here. In fact, it’s the exact same thing, just at a better price break. If you don’t have them and you want them, it’s a good deal. Just not anything to upgrade for. It’s the same thing.
THE FALCON MYSTERY MOVIE COLLECTION: Volume One (THE GAY FALCON / A DATE WITH THE FALCON / THE FALCON TAKES OVER / THE FALCON’S BROTHER / THE FALCON STRIKES BACK / THE FALCON IN DANGER / THE FALCON AND THE CO-EDS)
If you love George Sanders in films like ALL ABOUT EVE or THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY or VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED or IVANHOE or his many other great roles in cinema, but you’ve yet to discover his Falcon or his Saint series for that matter. Well, there’s 7 films in this set. Beginning with Sanders’ first, THE GAY FALCON. I can hear your snickering, but Gay is literally The Falcon’s first name. Gay Lawrence. In all, they made 16 Falcon movies… he’s suave, acerbic and just a whole lot of fun to watch solve mysteries. They’re all just over an hour long, essentially the TV shows of their era… pre-TV. This is a really solid series! They are filled with interesting talent like Turhan Bey or James Gleason or Keye Luke. At THE FALCON’S BROTHER – they handed the reins over to Gay’s brother Tom, played by Tom Conway – beginning with THE FALCON STRIKES BACK directed by the great Edward Dmytryk! You may recognize Tom Conway from his Val Lewton roles in flicks like CAT PEOPLE or I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE or THE SEVENTH VICTIM… This is a good series and these first 7, I feel is the cream of the run.
If you love action films and foreign film sensibilities and love it when art & the action film fuck and make an awesome baby you can show to everyone and seem like the badass friend that keeps finding awesome… Show them this. It’s really good. Really!
If you feel there’s never been a great movie made of the story of MEDEA, you haven’t seen this… and before I saw this, I always counted Harryhausen’s JASON & THE ARGONAUTS. MEDEA is pretty amazing – so glad to have discovered it on Blu!
From the producer’s of PIECES. That is pretty much all I need to know. I’ll check it out. With the right friends. It does have a Santa Claus killer – so if you want to program your young and impressionable children against Santa Claus – this is one of the many great deadly Santa movies out there. Can’t wait to see it this holiday season.
This time of the year, the enormity of the job of watching everything before the column is tough. This is one of the titles I’ve been looking forward to checking out. I’ve heard it is fantastic. Based on a real life kidnapping of a French Industrialist from the late seventies. This is sure to be a terrific watch, I love true crime flicks when they’re done right – and this has all the earmarks of a suspenseful flick.
Next week, I’ll be looking at KUNG FU PANDA 2, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, FRIGHT NIGHT remake, THE ROCKETEER on Blu, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS Blu, THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN, GODZILLA VS MEGALON Blu, THE EXPENDABLES Extended Director’s Cut, HEAVENLY CREATURES Blu, CITY OF GOD Blu, INTRUDER Blu, STARS & STRIPES FOREVER Blu, VELVET GOLDMINE Blu, CIRCUMSTANCE, DETECTIVE DEE & THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME Blu, TOKYO DRIFTER Criterion Blu, SEVEN CHANCES Blu, 99 AND 44/100% DEAD and THE NICKEL RIDE, BRANDED TO KILL Criterion Blu, LITTLE DEATHS, John Barrymore’s SHERLOCK HOLMES Blu, TANNER HALL, THE CANDY SNATCHERS. Oh, and HARDWARE WARS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL! Till then my friends… happy watching!