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

Saturday September 24, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

Canadian Pacific
KL Studio Classics

 Randolph Scott fights so the railroad can go through in this old-fashioned rip-snorting action adventure movie, the kind where shooting bad guys dead means never having to say you're sorry. Jane Wyatt gets top billing but the big burner on the prairie is newcomer Nancy Olson, who puts more sex appeal into her homegrown heroine than all of her later roles combined. The disc is in a screwy color format called Cinecolor with a limited spectrum of hues; the disc contains a long-form (one hour) highly technical docu on the restoration. Ya learn something new every time out. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Stakeout on Dope Street
The Warner Archive Collection

 With a title like Stakeout on Dope Street you know it has to be good: three guys try to sell the mob's heroin, and find out the hard way what a lousy idea that was. Irvin Kershner got his start directing on this small-scale tale of kids and crime. Jonathan Haze and to-die-for Abby Dalton are standouts in the cast, while the uncredited executive producer who put up the cash is said to have been Roger Corman. It's a beautiful widescreen transfer -- the film was one of the first features shot by Haskell Wexler, who is also uncredited. On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.


Twin Peaks
The Original Series, Fire Walk with Me & The Missing Pieces

Paramount / CBS

 David Lynch and Mark Frost's 1990 TV series looks better than ever, while the 1992 feature prequel digs deeper in Laura Palmer's unpleasant final days without as many rewards. CBS's nine-disc set is a setup for delayed series continuation expected in a few months -- 25 years later. It's a repackaging of the 2014 restoration, one disc shorter and with fewer extras. But everybody looks great: Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sharilyn Fenn, Peggy Lipton, Mädchen Amick. Plus that great Angelo Badalamente music score. On Blu-ray from Paramount / CBS.


A few new links today, mostly from Gary Teetzel and Joe Dante. This UCLA page is an interesting article by Molly A. Schneider about the Golden Age of Television: Playhouse-90-at-60: A Giant-Step-and-a Last-Gasp.

For you real estate types, a prime purchase opportunity: Count Dracula's Castle Is Up for Sale. Make sure you hide your diary in a tree before you go in.

Gary has the perfect gift for you heavy drinkers with lots of extra cash: Godzilla ice cubes (with video). Each one custom-made with a computer-driven lathe-mill?

Mr. Teetzel also forwards this link to a Leonard Maltin article about special French-language radio broadcasts of Hollywood show-biz programs. Fave Marsha Hunt (Just saw her in Joe Smith, American) does some of the explaining: Hollywood Speaks French: Undiscovered Radio Discs.

And finally, Bob Furmanek is dropping hints about another prime-1950s 3-D picture in the pipeline for Blu-ray 3-D through the 3-D Film Archive. The title hasn't been announced, but the best guess so far is Victor Saville's 1953 Mickey Spillane/Mike Hammer cop noir I, the Jury.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

September 20, 2016

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Savant's new reviews today are:

The Film Detective

 Is this Rod Serling's best teleplay ever? A year after it aired live on TV, Serling and director Fielder Cook filmed this United Artists theatrical version. Van Heflin, Everett Sloane and Ed Begley are at the center of a business power squeeze. Is it all about staying competitive, or crushing the ethics of the team players? With terrific early performances by Elizabeth Wilson and Beatrice Straight. This is one of the highest titles on Savant's old wish list; it's a shame it isn't better known. And is or isn't that Lauren Bacall in the lobby? On Blu-ray from The Film Detective.

Free State of Jones
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray + DVD

 Writer/Director Gary Ross constructs a miracle: a meaningful historical tale about the Civil War that doesn't bog down in details or ideology. Rebel deserter Matthew McConaughey leads a wartime insurrection against both the South and the North, and inaugurates a provisional breakaway nation. It's hard to believe that it really happened -- or that a film dares to tackle the sticky history of the South during the first couple of years after the surrender. On Blu-ray and DVD and Digital HD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.


Johnny Guitar
Olive Signature

 Olive's new branded line reissues the Nicholas Ray classic with a full set of authoritative extras, plus a never-before-seen 1:66 widescreen transfer, in all of its Trucolor glory. Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden never looked better -- we can all compare theories about color-coded costumes. Just how masculine is Vienna supposed to be? She's a stranger here herself. On Blu-ray from Olive Signature.


This is not directly film related... but I'm going to go there anyway, what with a photo sent to me today by friend Steve Nielson. It brings back memories of my long-gone friend Terry Schoonhoven, the famous fine arts muralist. Some of Terry's marvelous murals still look as good as when they were new, but other earlier major works were never expected to last this long. Coming to UCLA way back when and paying my first West L.A. parking ticket, I saw Terry's Isle of California (made with his L.A. Fine Art Squad partner Victor Henderson) on a wall behind the courthouse and stared at it for at least five minutes. I don't think they had finished painting it yet, and it was already as legendary as the graffiti around campus reading "Free the UCLA 30,000." Here's what it looks like now (above). All those rusted 'dots' are the result of bolting done for an earthquake upgrade. A good image of the glorious 'before' version can be seen at a nice little Federico de California blog entry called L.A. Urban Visionaries ~ A Fading Muralist Art Form 1969-2011.

If you can get your hands on it, the 1980 documentary Murs Murs in the Eclipse Series 43 disc set Agnès Varda in California is a splendid tour of the work of Terry and many others -- public art we too often take for granted. During the ten years before he died, Terry perfected a process where he made murals out of tiles, with pigments that don't fade. He had a kiln and a little factory behind his house a block away from me in Larchmont, and I got to see some of his experimentation, which went on for quite a while. When a batch of tiles was baking, he'd 'relax' by working on an ancient motorcycle. The resulting artworks done with this process are scattered around the Southland. The easiest to find are major ornamentation in our new (1995) subway. The little image just to the left is a detail of the wide mural just above, Traveler. The colors in those tiles should be permanent.

Anyway, that's my culture lesson for the week.

Correspondent Guido Bibra alerts me to a BBC radio show called The Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox and Robin Ince, who welcome Noel Fielding, evolutionary biologist Nick Lane and Sir Christopher Frayling for a half-hour discussion of Mary Godwin Shelley's Frankenstein. The humor is... British, for certain, and even Frayling displays some! (I always thought he had a touch of John Cleese about him.) The level of discourse is high, even if the speakers open up trying to be as silly as possible. I learned a lot about Dr. Frankenstein's basic technical challenges... enough to put a halt to any personal plans to sew parts of cadavers together. The show is called 200 Years of Frankenstein. Thanks Guido!

Thanks for reading --- Glenn Erickson

The People v. O.J. Simpson
 The crime of the century became a media circus, with no sleazy stone unturned -- yet behind what we saw on TV was even more conflict and consternation. This eight-hour miniseries is a beautifully constructed recreation with excellent casting, even though its O.J. doesn't remind us much of the original. It's highly absorbing stuff to anyone who lived through it. Starring Sarah Paulson, John Travolta, Sterling K. Brown, Courtney B. Vance, Kenneth Choi, Christian Clemenson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Nathan Lane, David Schwimmer and Robert Morse. On Blu-ray from 20th Fox Home Video.

Blood Simple
 Neo-noir got a major boost with this splendid first outing for the Coen Brothers, who planned to produce something commercially viable but broke through with a new style in fashionable genre mayhem. A fantastic cast helps, including the auspicious debut of the great Frances McDormand. With Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh and John Getz. Criterion's extras include great, serious input from the filmmakers. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

 James Cameron's superb spacemen vs. monsters siege battle epic is back in a reissue with an extra or two, still looking good on Blu-ray for its 30th Anniversary. That heroine Ripley is still the most battle-worthy space cadet in the galaxy, and the special effects combat still hasn't been bettered for excitement. Beware -- the 'new featurette with James Cameron' touted on the package front, is actually something one must download from the web. With Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton; on Blu-ray from 20th Fox Home Video.

La moglie più bella
 Translation: The Most Beautiful Wife. The 'double standard' between men and women has roots in paternalistic barbarism, as demonstrated by this quality Italo crime picture about a young signorina claimed against her will by a Mafia thug. It's essentially date rape, followed by matrimonial slavery. The gorgeous star Ornella Muti makes her debut; the sinister Mafia punk is Alessio Orano. It's strong stuff, but not exploitative. Italo director Damiano Damiani is at his best; he's present on a long making-of interview docu. The Isolated Score Track features music by Ennio Morricone! On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

Comanche Station
 The final 'Ranown' western collaboration between Burt Kennedy, Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott is a minimalist masterpiece, an unusually gentle story about a great westerner on a forlorn romantic quest. It's also a showcase for the underrated Nancy Gates, as the 'wrong' captive rescued from the Comanche tribe. The equally special Claude Akins gives what may be his best performance. The show is a pleasure to watch in wide, wide CinemaScope. Budd Boetticher appears in a taped Q&A session. On Region A+B Blu-ray from Explosive Media GmbH / Alive.

Dr. Mabuse the Gambler
 He's back and as diabolically ruthless as ever! Weimar Berlin cowers under the pernicious influence of a sinister gambler-mastermind, the secret architect of an 'Empire of Crime.' Restored to near its full length (4.5 hours!), Fritz Lang's monumental pulp masterpiece is a Euro-classic lover's delight. Reviewer's confession: in this version I could finally follow the story and understand the characters... which are no longer genre ciphers. A double Blu-ray disc release, licensed from the German Murnau Stiftung. from Kino Classics.

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock
 "Death will take you as you sleep! A sleep as deep as Death!" Barbara Steele doesn't realize that her husband is using her to recover a forbidden sexual thrill. Riccardo Freda's film plays imitation games with Alfred Hitchcock's filmography, but it also generates a Euro-horror spell like no other. Outrageous in 1962, it was a Technicolor ode to funereal surrealism... and perversity. New in this review -- a crazy theory that questions story assumptions about L'orribile segreto del Dr. Hichcock. It's the American Sigma III version, never before on a legit U.S. release. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

The Monster of Piedras Blancas
 Glurg garrgle gurgle raaaaw!  It's the razor-clawed reptile-man that scared the bejesus out of us little kids, way back when. Jack Kevan's basic monster mash drags its feet a bit, but technically it's as slick as they come. Plus, the encoding is perfect. And did I mention the scary parts? This one inspired plenty of gory nightmares. Savant offers some observations about the '50s monster-on-the-prowl subgenre, and the way we once loved them on TV. Plus, the Wayne Berwick connection. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

September 2016
 Night Train to Munich  Blu-ray  Once Were Warriors  Blu-ray  Hammer Films Double Feature: The Revenge of Frankenstein, The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb  Blu-ray  Hammer Films Double Feature: The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Gorgon  Blu-ray  The Glory Guys  Blu-ray  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  Blu-ray  Deadline U.S.A.  Blu-ray  Hardcore  Blu-ray  Cat People  Blu-ray
August 2016
 Fixed Bayonets!  Blu-ray  Tony Rome / Lady in Cement  Blu-ray  American Ninja 3 Blood Hunt  Blu-ray  Chimes at Midnight  Blu-ray  Tab Hunter Confidential  Blu-ray  The Pride and the Passion  Blu-ray  The Ox-Bow Incident  Blu-ray  Wild in the Streets  Blu-ray  The Immortal Story  Blu-ray  Tale of Tales  Blu-ray  Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon  Blu-ray  Love Me or Leave Me  Blu-ray  A Taste of Honey  Blu-ray  Road House (1948)  Blu-ray  Microwave Massacre  Blu-ray  The Spiders (1919)  Blu-ray  Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words  Blu-ray  Chandu the Magician  Blu-ray  These Three  DVD  Woman in the Dunes  Blu-ray  Destiny  Blu-ray  Pioneers of African-American Cinema  Blu-ray  Betrayed  Blu-ray  A Touch of Zen  Blu-ray  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  Blu-ray  The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension  Blu-ray
July 2016
 Muriel, or The Time Of Return  Blu-ray  The Gang's All Here  Blu-ray  Modesty Blaise  Blu-ray  'Neath Arizona Skies  Blu-ray  Miss Sadie Thompson 3-D  3-D Blu-ray  Crimes of Passion  Blu-ray  Mill of the Stone Women  Region B Blu-ray  Gun the Man Down  Blu-ray  Silk Stockings  Blu-ray  3 Bad Men  Blu-ray  Night and Fog  Blu-ray  Scott of the Antarctic  Region B Blu-ray  To Have and Have Not  Blu-ray  Carnival of Souls  Blu-ray  With the Ghouls in Lawrence, Kansas Article by guest contributor Bill Shaffer  Inserts  Blu-ray  Invisible Invaders  Blu-ray  The Daughter of Dawn  Blu-ray  Blood and Black Lace  Blu-ray  The Taking of Pelham One Two Three  Blu-ray
June 2016
 99 River Street  Blu-ray  The In-Laws  Blu-ray  Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan  Blu-ray  The Panic in Needle Park  Blu-ray  The Ninth Configuration  Region B Blu-ray  Forbidden Hollywood Volume 10: Guilty Hands, The Mouthpiece, Secrets of the French Police, The Match King, Ever in My Heart  DVD  Appointment with Crime  Blu-ray  Night Will Fall  DVD  The Hound of the Baskervilles  Blu-ray  Fantastic Planet  Blu-ray  Rollercoaster  Blu-ray  La Chienne  Blu-ray  Gold  Blu-ray  The Magnetic Monster  Blu-ray  Shield for Murder  Blu-ray  They Were Expendable  Blu-ray  Doctor Strangelove  Blu-ray  The Wave  Blu-ray  Hello, My Name is Doris  Blu-ray  Here Comes Mr. Jordan  Blu-ray  Le Amiche  Blu-ray  She Wore a Yellow Ribbon  Blu-ray  Antonia's Line  Blu-ray  The Whip Hand  DVD
May 2016
 The Angry Hills  Blu-ray  City of Women  Blu-ray  The Player  Blu-ray  Cat Ballou  Blu-ray  Hail, Caesar!  Blu-ray + DVD  Dark Passage  Blu-ray  Journey to Space  4K Ultra-HD, Blu-ray + 3-D Blu-ray  Blood Bath  Blu-ray  Woman on the Run  Blu-ray + DVD  The King and Four Queens  Blu-ray  Too Late for Tears  Blu-ray + DVD  La fièvre monte à El Pao  Blu-ray + DVD  Buster Keaton: The Shorts Collection 1917-1923  Blu-ray  Eureka  Blu-ray  The VVitch: A New-England Folktale  Blu-ray  Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy : Alice in the Cities, Wrong Move, Kings of the Road  Blu-ray  Edge of Doom  DVD  The Private Affairs of Bel Ami  Blu-ray  Garden of Evil  Blu-ray  That's Sexploitation!  Blu-ray  The Naked Island  Blu-ray  A Married Woman  Blu-ray  Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood  DVD  The Chase (1946)  Blu-ray  Mustang  Blu-ray  Roman Polanski's What?  Blu-ray  A Kiss Before Dying  Blu-ray  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  Blu-ray  Phoenix  Blu-ray  Candy  Blu-ray
April 2016
 In a Lonely Place  Blu-ray  Janis: Little Girl Blue  DVD  Where to Invade Next  Blu-ray  Julia  Blu-ray   Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents  Blu-ray  Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street  Blu-ray  When You're Older Dear Adam  DVD  Berlin Around the Corner  DVD  In the French Style  Blu-ray  Three Brothers  Region B Blu-ray + DVD  The Second Civil War  DVD  Father of the Bride  Blu-ray  Cutter's Way  Blu-ray  Dillinger  Blu-ray  Try and Get Me!  Blu-ray   The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates  Blu-ray  The Gallant Hours  Blu-ray  Exodus  Blu-ray  The City of the Dead  Blu-ray  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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