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

Tuesday June 27, 2017

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Savant's new reviews today are:

The Savage Innocents
Olive Films

 The original Quinn the Eskimo (no kidding) is another life-loving rough portrait from Anthony Quinn, in Nicholas Ray's rather successful final spin as a writer-director. Despite some technical awkwardness, the Ray's sensitivity to outsider souls finds full expression. Humans don't get any more 'outside' than Inuk, a primitive unequipped to deal with the modern world. With Yoko Tani as Inuk's wife and partner for 'laughing'; this also has one of Peter O'Toole's first film appearances. Filmed in Technirama. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Hell and High Water
Twilight Time

 That wild man Samuel Fuller sure knows how to turn up the geopolitical tension, especially in a rip-roaring action picture. This provocative atom threat adventure movie might have caused problems, if anybody cared what movies said back when the Cold War was hot. Richard Widmark skippers a leaky sub to the arctic and discovers that the Chinese communists are going to start WW3 -- and blame it on Uncle Sam. No, Quinn the Eskimo is not involved. It's an insane comic-book adventure about very serious issues -- and we love it. With Bella Darvi, Victor Francen, Cameron Mitchell and the absolutely essential gritty sub crewman, Gene Evans. Great atom-age special effects! On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.


Hell in the Pacific
KL Studio Classics

 Class-act director John Boorman continues to mix genre grit with European-flavored art cinema, and the result is another winner. Toshiro Mifune and Lee Marvin fight a miniature two-man war when they're marooned together on the same tiny island. Boorman's strong direction and Conrad Hall's knockout cinematography insure a maximum visual impact; it's great filmmaking all around. KL gives us terrific extras, including a John Boorman talk that's even more fascinating than usual. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


Deadlines loom and there's too much to do, so just one announcement today. Kino Lorber doesn't have a date yet, but they did announce that they're releasing Billy Wilder's Avanti! on Blu-ray. The charming comedy with Jack Lemmon, Juliet Mills and Clive Revill bombed in 1972 yet has a acquired a solid fan base. When this one hits Blu, the only remaining Wilder film controlled by MGM and not yet released on Blu will be 1963's Irma La Douce. Interestingly, the Wilder film being saved for last was the writer-director's biggest theatrical hit, surpassing even Some Like it Hot and The Apartment.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Saturday June 24, 2017

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Savant's new reviews today are:

They Live by Night
The Criterion Collection

  Don't look to this noir for hardboiled cynicism – for his first feature Nicholas Ray instead gives us a dose of fatalist romance. Transposed from the previous decade, a pair of fugitives takes what happiness they can find, always aware that a grim fate waits ahead. The show is a career-making triumph and a real classic from RKO -- which shelved it for more than a year. Starring Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell, with a major assist by the great Howard Da Silva, and Marie Bryant singing Your Red Wagon. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Running on Empty
The Warner Archive Collection

 : These fugitives on the run aren't innocent young lovers. Still wanted for anti-war violence from years before, an ex-radical couple struggles to remain free just as their children become old enough to think for themselves. Screenwriter Naomi Foner and director Sidney Lumet's fascinating movie is a sympathetic look at an untenable lifestyle. Christine Lahti and Judd Hirsch star, with major portrayals from River Phoenix and Martha Plimpton. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.


Comfort and Joy
Studiocanal / BfI

 You never heard of the Great Glasgow Ice Cream Wars? They weren't exactly Armageddon, and the gentle director Bill Forsythe makes a radio personality's involvement with two competing ice cream companies more of a plunge into amiable drollery. If you like Gregory's Girl and Local Hero you'll understand the odd, unhurried attitude of this oddball show from 1984. Likable Bill Paterson is a radio personality trapped in a rigid role, as 'Dickie Bird,' the morning wake-up guy. On Region B Blu-ray from Studiocanal / BfI.


Some screwy links to keep you thinking today. Gary Teetzel forwards us a URL to a 1936 Japanese propaganda cartoon given the makeshift English title Evil Mickey Attacks Japan. That's exactly what it is. Happy Japanese -- people, animal people and quasi- Yokai characters frolic and dance on a tropical island (obviously not Japan) until American monsters bring war -- evil machine-gun snakes, crocodile ships and Mickey M. himself riding a bomber bat with mouse ears. Traditional Japanese characters retaliate. What can we say? We could really use a Japanese culture expert (hey Stuart!) for some insight on all the visual references. From Gary: "The actual title is "Toybox Series 3: Picture Book 1936." Why that particular year? One website speculates that it has to do with the looming 1936 expiration of a Naval Treaty; alarmist Japanese politicos predicted that the U.S. would attack right after it expired. Some speculate that the short thus shows traditional Japanese culture pushing back against the pervasive inroads of western (American) pop culture."

These things are addictive. The vintage Japanese animation led me directly to some good old-fashioned Soviet propaganda, a color cartoon translated as Valuable Kopeck. Happy Soviet currency makes friends and dances with (stereotyped) coins from around the world, while the evil, capitalist American penny only brings guns and war. A cute, feminine Kopeck undergoes some kind of currency change. Animated Soviet propaganda can be really scary. This one isn't as dark as Stalin-era pieces but has a pretty steep creep factor. The person who posted the cartoon on YouTube gives it a 1949 date, but judging from the appearance of some passenger jets we see, it must really be from the 1960s.

The Warner Archive Collection has announced its July Blu-ray lineup. I'm told that the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is quite good. Skipper John Wayne is a good German in The Sea Chase and a Commie hater in Blood Alley. And a welcome guilty pleasure is Where the Boys Are with Paula Prentiss, Connie Francis, Dolores Hart, Jim Hutton and Yvette Mimieux. For this kid WTBA is pure nostalgia: at age 8 in 1960 I thought this is what being a swinging student would be like if I went to college. Boy, were things different in 1970.

And the biggest announcement this week is that Kino Lorber will indeed be putting out a 3-D Archive- engineered Blu-ray 3-D disc of William Cameron Menzies' The Maze. The Walter Mirisch production from 1953 uses the depth format well, for an appropriately spooky haunted castle story with a wholly unexpected monster. I got to see this at the Egyptian a few years back, with Walter Mirisch in attendance (and his son, my college friend Larry). 3-D fans will rejoice. It's expected in the Fall.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Brother Can You Spare a Dime

 It's 1930s America as seen in the movies, through music, and the evasions of newsreels. Franklin Delano Roosevelt preaches prosperity while James Cagney slugs out the decade as a smart-tongued everyman -- in a dozen different roles. Director Philippe Mora investigates what was then a new kind of revisionist info-tainment formula: applying old film footage to new purposes. The presentation includes a full hour of non-depressing Depression-era newsreels. On DVD from The Sprocket Vault.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

 This time they may have gotten it right! If a knife or a straight razor won't do, how about killing a victim with 500-pound metal artwork studded with spikes? Dario Argento distilled a new kind of slick, visually fetishistic horror who-dunnit thriller subgenre with this shocker, aided by the dreamy cinematography of Vittorio Storaro. With Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi and Umberto Raho. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Video.

Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy

 Rome Open City, Paisan, Germany Year Zero: Filmed mostly on the streets in newly-liberated territory, Roberto Rossellini's gripping war-related shows are blessed with new restorations but still reflect their rough origins. The second picture, the greater masterpiece, looks as if it were improvised out of sheer artistic will. The disc set comes with more key-source extras than you can shake a grissino at. From The Criterion Collection.

The Man from Planet X

 The first visitor from outer space in the '50s sci-fi boom is one very curious guy, dropping to Earth in ship like a diving bell and scaring the bejesus out of Sally Field's mother. Micro-budgeted space invasion fantasy gets off to a great start, thanks to the filmmaking genius of our old pal Edgar G. Ulmer. With Robert Clarke and the great William Schallert -- and given a fine audio commentary by Tom Weaver and friends. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.

Marcel Pagnol: The Marseille Trilogy

 Marius * Fanny * César . . . No longer out of reach, Marcel Pagnol's stunning 3-feature saga of love and honor in a French seaport is one of the great movie experiences -- and the most emotional workout this viewer has seen in years. The tradition of greatness in the French sound cinema began with gems like these, starring legendary actors that were sometimes billed only with their last names: Raimu, Charpin. Those two, Pierre Fresnay and Orane Demazis are simply unforgettable -- it's 6.5 hours of dramatic wonderment. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

8 Million Ways to Die

 Tonight on 'movies we really want to like' we have Hal Ashby's final feature, an L.A.- based crime saga with a great cast and spirited direction and . . . and not much else. It isn't the train wreck described in Kino's candid actor interviews, but we can see only too well why it wasn't a big winner when new. Any day that a Jeff Bridges picture doesn't shine, is a dark day in my book. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Death Line

 Aka Raw Meat. This early gore-horror picture has a remarkable emphasis on human values, believe it or not, with a 'monster' that nevertheless is a paragon of loving gentleness. Add Donald Pleasance as a surly, posh-hating police inspector, and the shock value makes the Hammer films of the early '70s taste like weak tea. With David Ladd, Norman Rossington, Sharon Gurney, Hugh Armstrong. From Blue Underground.

The Lodger (1927)

 Hitchcock's first self-professed 'Hitch' picture is still a silent-screen winner. Many of his recurring themes are present, and some of his visual fluidity – in this finely tuned commercial 'shock' movie with witty visual tricks from Hitchcock's own background as an art director. And hey, he secured a real box office name to star as the mysterious maybe-slayer 'The Avenger,' Ivor Novello. As an extra we also get Hitchcock's 1927 silent Downhill. From The Criterion Collection.

June 2017
 Good Morning (ohayo)  Blu-ray  The Man in the Moon  Blu-ray  Blast-Off  Blu-ray  Joe Versus the Volcano  Blu-ray  Le désordre et la nuit  All-Region Blu-ray  The Paradine Case  Blu-ray  Spotlight on a Murderer  Blu-ray + DVD  The Picasso Summer  DVD  The Gumball Rally  Blu-ray
May 2017
 Dracula Complete Legacy Collection by Charlie Largent  Blu-ray  The Mummy Complete Legacy Collection by Charlie Largent  Blu-ray  The Ballad of Cable Hogue  Blu-ray  Trespass  Blu-ray  Inferno  3-D Blu-ray  One, Two, Three  Blu-ray  Ghost World  Blu-ray  Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project 2: Insiang, Mysterious Object at Noon, Revenge, Limite, Law of the Border, Taipei Story  Blu-ray + DVD  Things to Come (2016) Blu-ray  Who'll Stop the Rain  Blu-ray  Rescuing the Runes: The Almost-Lost Original Long Cut of Night of the Demon Guest Article by Wayne Schmidt  Those Redheads from Seattle  3-D Blu-ray  Night of the Demon (Rendez-vous avec la peur)  Region A+B Blu-ray + DVD  Decoy (TV Show)  DVD  The World's Most Beautiful Swindlers  Blu-ray  Pelle the Conqueror  Blu-ray  Kiss Me Deadly Restoration Savant Article  Blu-ray  The Walerian Borowczyk Short Film Collection  Blu-ray  Marjorie Morningstar  Blu-ray  The Assassin  Blu-ray + DVD  The Loved One  Blu-ray  Broken Arrow  Blu-ray  The Mephisto Waltz  Blu-ray  100 Girls by Bunny Yeager  Blu-ray  Seven Days in May  Blu-ray  How to Steal a Million  Blu-ray  The Indian Fighter  Blu-ray  The Young Girls of Rochefort  Blu-ray  I Am Not Your Negro  Blu-ray  The Accidental Tourist  Blu-ray
April 2017
 The Day of the Jackal  Blu-ray  I Bury the Living + The Screaming Skull by Charlie Largent  Blu-ray  You'll Never Get Rich  Blu-ray  A Farewell to Arms  Blu-ray  The Salesman  Blu-ray  Rumblefish  Blu-ray and  Edgar Wallace Collection Edition 1: The Face of the Frog, The Mysterious Magician, The Hound of Blackwood Castle  Blu-ray by Charlie Largent  Donnie Darko  Blu-ray  Ophélia  Blu-ray  Caltiki, The Immortal Monster  Blu-ray + DVD  The Scar (Hollow Triumph)  Blu-ray  The Rounders  Blu-ray  Buena Vista Social Club  Blu-ray  Chamber of Horrors &  A Game of Death by Charlie Largent  Blu-ray  The Delinquents  Blu-ray  Fahrenheit 451  Blu-ray  The Umbrellas of Cherbourg  Blu-ray  Sunset in the West  Blu-ray  From Hell it Came  Blu-ray  36 Hours  Blu-ray   (The Saga of) Anatahan  Blu-ray  Eyes without a Face UK import  Blu-ray + PAL DVD  Electric Boogaloo  Blu-ray  Property Is No Longer a Theft  Blu-ray + DVD  Lifeboat  Blu-ray  Story of Sin  Blu-ray + DVD  Being There & After the Fox by Charlie Largent Blu-ray  Ride The High Country  Blu-ray  The Russians are Coming and  Career  DVD  The Vampire Bat  Blu-ray  The Skull  Blu-ray  'How to Succeed' -- Take 2  Savant Article
March 2017
 Invisible Ghost  Blu-ray  Blow-Up  Blu-ray &  Elle  Blu-ray by Charlie Largent  Julieta  Blu-ray  Peyton Place  Blu-ray  How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying  Blu-ray  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  3-D Blu-ray  23 Paces to Baker Street  Blu-ray  Tower  Blu-ray  Multiple Maniacs by Charlie Largent  Blu-ray  Fences  Blu-ray  Phaedra  Blu-ray  Our Man in Havana  Blu-ray  Film / Notfilm separate releases  Blu-ray  Summer Storm  DVD  World Without End  Blu-ray  September Storm  3-D Blu-ray  Cinema Paradiso  Blu-ray  Compulsion  Blu-ray  We Are the Flesh & Lovers on the Bridge by Charlie Largent  Blu-ray  RoboCop 2 Collector's Edition Blu-ray  45 Years  Blu-ray  The Valley of Gwangi  Blu-ray  The Man Who Could Cheat Death  Blu-ray  Finian's Rainbow  Blu-ray  Chilly Scenes of Winter  Blu-ray  A*P*E  3-D Blu-ray
February 2017
 The Before Trilogy: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight  Blu-ray  Framed  Blu-ray  Kiss of Death  Blu-ray  Edge of Eternity  Blu-ray  The Tree of Wooden Clogs  Blu-ray  Panther Girl of the Kongo  Blu-ray  Deluge  Blu-ray  3 Classic Films by Claude Chabrol  Blu-ray  By Sidney Lumet  DVD  The Boy Friend  Blu-ray  The Gate  Blu-ray  Breakout / Der Mann Ohne Nerven  Blu-ray  Arrival  Blu-ray + DVD  A Walk in the Sun  DVD  Loving  Blu-ray + DVD  The Edge of Seventeen  Blu-ray + DVD  Manchester by the Sea  Blu-ray + DVD  Hacksaw Ridge  Blu-ray + DVD  Valkoinen Peura The White Reindeer  Region B Blu-ray  One Million Years B.C.  Blu-ray  When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth  Blu-ray  Inferno  3-D Blu-ray  Gabriel Over the White House (revisited)  DVD
January 2017
 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown  Blu-ray  Love in the Afternoon  Blu-ray  What a Way to Go!  Blu-ray  Mildred Pierce  Blu-ray  The Lair of the White Worm  Blu-ray  Dr. Orloff's Monster  Blu-ray  The Yakuza  Blu-ray  Wagon Tracks  Blu-ray  The Sicilian Clan  Blu-ray  No Highway in the Sky  Blu-ray  Seddok, l'erede di Satana  Region 2 PAL DVD  Stanley and Iris  Blu-ray  Who?  Blu-ray  Two for the Road  Blu-ray  Gas-s-s-s –Or– It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It  Blu-ray  The Mad Magician  3-D Blu-ray  Revenge of the Blood Beast  Blu-ray  David and Bathsheba  Blu-ray  Something Wild  Blu-ray  The Accountant  Blu-ray + DVD  The Keys of the Kingdom  Blu-ray  The Barefoot Contessa  Blu-ray  The Internecine Project  Blu-ray  Battleground  Blu-ray  The People vs. Fritz Bauer  Blu-ray  His Girl Friday &  The Front Page  Blu-ray  The Driller Killer  Blu-ray
December 2016
 Wait Until Dark  Blu-ray  'Pimpernel' Smith  Blu-ray  Loophole (1981)  Blu-ray  Deepwater Horizon  Blu-ray + DVD  50 Years with Peter Paul and Mary  DVD  Bad Day at Black Rock  Blu-ray  Sully  Blu-ray  The 3 Worlds of Gulliver  Blu-ray  Dreamscape  Blu-ray  Savant Picks the Most Impressive Discs of 2016  Fellini's Roma  Blu-ray  I Want to Live!  Blu-ray  100 Rifles  Blu-ray  Brazil  Blu-ray  The House on 92nd Street  Blu-ray  Short Cuts  Blu-ray  The Exterminating Angel  Blu-ray  Bad Girl  Blu-ray  Pretty Poison  Blu-ray  Sudden Fear  Blu-ray  Cry of the City  Blu-ray  Pete's Dragon  Blu-ray + DVD

  Reaching further back in time?  Chronological 2015 and 2016 can't be uploaded yet, but you can search back in the archives, immediately below. Available now is
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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