3/30/16 – Specialty label Twilight Time in its “3000 Edition” series of Blu-ray titles has recently released the following feature films:
Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950). Dir: Otto Preminger. Noir thriller features Gene Tierney, Preminger’s lead actress in Laura (1944). With Gary Merrill and Karl Malden.
The Big Heat (1953). Dir: Fritz Lang. Violent film noir starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin.
From the Terrace (1960). Dir: Mark Robson. Stars Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward with score by Elmer Bernstein.
In the French Style (1963). Dir: Robert Parrish. Jean Seberg and Stanley Baker star in drama about art student in Paris.
Hawaii (1966). Dir: George Roy Hill. Epic fictionalized history starring Julie Andrews, Richard Harris and Max von Sydow with score by Elmer Bernstein.
The Happy Ending (1969). Dir: Richard Brooks. Relationship drama starring Jean Simmons, Shirley Jones and John Forsythe with score by Michel Legrand.
Chato’s Land (1972). Dir: Michael Winner. Western starring Charles Bronson and Jack Palance.
The Last Detail (1973). Dir: Hal Ashby. Land-locked profane Navy drama starring Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid and Otis Young.
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974). Dir: Michael Cimino. Bank heist thriller starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges marked Michael Cimino’s directing debut.
Bound for Glory (1976). Dir: Hal Ashby. Woody Guthrie biopic stars David Carradine.
Julia (1977). Dir: Fred Zinnemann. Stars Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave in 1930s drama based on memoir of playwright Lillian Hellman.
Cutter’s Way (1981). Dir: Ivan Passer. Underrated murder mystery/drama starring Jeff Bridges, John Heard and Lisa Eichorn.
A Prayer for the Dying (1987). Dir: Mike Hodges. IRA bomber drama starring Mickey Roarke, Bob Hoskins and Alan Bates.
Most Twilight Time releases include a commentary and other extras. All titles are limited to a run of only 3000 copies so order any movies you want quickly. Once they are gone the discs command astronomical prices online. More details can be found at the Screen Archives website (screenarchives.com).
3/30/16 – The great Warner Archive has been busy the last few months. The label has recently made available several Humphrey Bogart movies on MOD (made on demand) Blu-ray. The Bogart classics are Passage to Marseilles (1944) with Claude Raines directed by Michael Curtiz, The Big Sleep (1946) with Lauren Bacall directed by Howard Hawks and Key Largo (1948) with Edward G. Robinson directed by John Huston. Other recent classic releases include the Hitchcock films I Confess (1953) starring Montgomery Clift and The Wrong Man (1956) starring Henry Fonda and Vera Miles with a score by Bernard Herrmann. The Doris Day original movie musical Calamity Jane (1953) is another recent addition along with Christopher Guest’s mockumentary folksinger satire A Mighty Wind (2003) starring Guest, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey and Jane Lynch. More information about these and other titles can be found at the Warner website (www.wbshop.com).
3/28/16 – In late 2015 Olive Films released the British horror anthology Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965). The movie became the first in a series of horror anthologies produced by British Milton Subotsky (who also wrote the screenplay) and American Max Rosenberg under the Amicus Productions banner. The framing story concerns a group of men on a train trip and the mysterious stranger (Peter Cushing) who begins to tell the possible futures of each man using a deck of Tarot cards. Following in the tradition the classic British anthology Dead of Night (1945), some of the tales are serious and others are in a lighter vein. Other actors appearing in the film are Michael Gough (Horrors of the Black Museum and Alfred the Butler in the Tim Burton Batman movies), British horror legend Christopher Lee, Bernard Lee (“M” in the Sean Connery James Bond movies) and a young Donald Sutherland in one of his earliest film appearances. Cinematographer Freddie Francis (Academy Award-winner for Sons and Lovers and Glory) served as director of the movie. Francis directed several horror films for Hammer, Amicus and other independent companies. More information can be found at the Olive Films website (www.olivefilms.com).
3/29/16 – In the latter half of 2015 three classic horror titles were released by Kino Lorber in time for Halloween. The company came out with Blu-rays of Burn, Witch, Burn (1962), Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath (1963), and Burnt Offerings (1976). Burn, Witch, Burn was adapted from a Fritz Leiber novel by Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, both of whom wrote classic Twilight Zone television episodes. The movie was directed by Sidney Hayers (Circus of Horrors, 1960) and starred Peter Wyngarde and Janet Blair. Produced by AIP veteran Samuel Z. Arkoff and Albert Fennell (The Avengers television series), the story involves a college professor who discovers that his wife has been practicing witchcraft. Kino Lorber released Black Sabbath in both the American AIP version and the international European version on separate discs. The European version is more violent and is thematically more adult. The American version replaced the original score with music by Les Baxter. The anthology film is made up of three stories. Mario Bava, a former Italian cinematographer who became a stylish genre director, adapted and directed all three stories. The best of these is a period piece,“The Wurdulak,” starring Mark Damon and Boris Karloff. Karloff plays an 18th vampire hunter whose family is attacked by an undead spirit. Burnt Offerings was directed by Dan Curtis, creator of the Dark Shadows television soap opera. The haunted house thriller stars Karen Black (memorable in Curtis’ TV movie Trilogy of Terror), Oliver Reed (Curse of the Werewolf), Bette Davis (Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?), Burgess Meredith and Eileen Heckert. More information can be found at the Kino Lorber website (www.kinolorber.com).
11/13/15 – Among the November releases from Kino Lorber is the Blu-ray of Alan Resnais’ Je t’aime je t’aime (1966) about a man who attempts to travel back in time to prevent a breakup with his lost love only to discover he is in a time loop from which he may never escape. Another film making its Blu-ray debut is The Mask (aka Eyes of Hell, 1962), the first feature length Canadian horror film. The movie is in 3D so a 3D player and screen are required. 3D glasses are included with the disc and the psychedelic 3D sequences are accompanied with a 5.1 sound mix. The story deals with a psychiatrist who comes into possession of an ancient tribal mask which drove one of his patients to an untimely death. Available on DVD only, the he 2015 documentary Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman from directors Adam Carolla and Nate Adams includes interviews with celebrity friends of Newman as well as drivers who raced against him. Already a successful actor Newman began racing at the age of 47 and his racing career lasted another 35 years. More information can be found at the Kino Lorber website (www.kinolorber.com).
10/20/15 – Warner Archive has just released several films on Blu-ray. In chronological order they are The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), the classic western directed by John Ford starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, Escape from Alcatraz (1979), directed by Don Siegel (Dirty Harry) starring Clint Eastwood, Witness (1985), a crime thriller directed by Peter Weir starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis, Kiss The Girls (1997) and Along Came a Spider (2001) both starring Morgan Freeman as detective/forensic psychologist Alex Cross, 15 Minutes, a tense crime drama starring Robert DeNiro, Ed Burns and Vera Farmiga, Matchstick Men (2003), a con man comedy/drama directed by Ridley Scott starring Nick Cage and Sam Rockwell, and Team America: World Police (2004), a send-up of overblown action movies that happens to feature marionette characters in the starring roles from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. More information about these and other titles can be found at the Warner website (www.wbshop.com).
09/17/15 – Kino Lorber will release a two-disc Blu-ray of the silent version of Phantom of the Opera (1925) starring Lon Chaney on October 13, 2015. The following is Kino Lorber’s description of the movie, disc and features: ” A forerunner of the American horror film, and one of the most lavish productions of the silent cinema, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has inspired countless remakes and imitations. But none of its successors can rival the mesmerizing blend of romance and mystery that haunts every frame of the Lon Chaney original. This edition presents the 1929 theatrical version, restored from archival 35mm elements by Film Preservation Associates. It is highlighted by the Technicolor Bal Masque sequence (in which the Phantom interrupts the revelry wearing the scarlet robes of the Red Death), as well as meticulously hand-colored sequences (replicating the Handschiegl Color Process). The film is presented at two different historically-accurate projection speeds, each with two different soundtrack options. Also included is the 1925 theatrical version, which survives only in poor-quality prints, but contains scenes that were removed from the 1929 release version.” Pricing and a catalog of other titles can be found at the website www.kinolorber.com.
09/10/15 – B2MP is a new Blu-ray/DVD company whose first releases include Jerzy Skolimowski’s Moonlighting (1982) starring Jeremy Irons, Tomorrow (1972) based on a William Faulkner story starring Robert Duvall, and Lady for a Day (1933) based on a Damon Runyon story directed by Frank Capra. I hope to interview folks at the company in the near future. In the meantime you can access their site at B2MP.net.
05/05/15 – Warner Home Video (www.wbshop.com) released a Frank Sinatra five-film collection on Blue-ray. The movies are Anchors Aweigh (1945), On The Town (1949), Guys And Dolls (1955), Oceans 11 (1960) and Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964). The collection, spanning three decades, includes some of Sinatra’s best musicals and two “rat pack” caper movies. Anchors Aweigh, On The Town and Robin and the 7 Hoods appear for the first time on Blu-ray. Extras include a 32-page book with photos, commentary from Frank Sinatra Jr., animated short subjects and documentaries.
05/05/15 – Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (www.uphe.com) released three of Steven Spielberg’s early films as stand-alone titles on Blu-ray: Duel (1971), The Sugarland Express (1974) and 1941 (1979). The movies had previously been available on Blu-ray only in the seven-movie set Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Collection. Extras on Duel include Steven Spielberg and the Small Screen, interview with Steven Spielberg, writer Richard Matheson, photo/poster gallery and trailer. Extras on The Sugarland Express are the trailer only. Extras on 1941 are “The Making of 1941”, deleted scenes, production stills and theatrical trailer.
02/13/15 – According to a report by CNET tech writer Geoffrey Morrison, the next step in Blu-ray technology will be Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and players with a handful of titles and players becoming available late this year (in time for the holiday buying season, of course). Pristine 4K images should also provide wider color and audio range. Players will most likely also handle DVDs and standard Blu-ray discs. Current Blu-ray discs have a 25GB capacity. The new 4K UHDBDs are expected to have a capacity between 66 and 100GB. Taking advantage of the amazing Ultra HD 4K quality will also require a 4K screen. For more information read the complete article: www.cnet.com/news/ultra-hd-4k-blu-ray-what-we-know
2014 – In the past few months Warner Home Video (www.wbshop.com) has made available through its Archive Collection Star 80 (1983) directed by Bob Fosse and the Steve Martin horror comedy The Man With Two Brains (1983) directed by Carl Reiner. The previously released DVDs of both movies were in a flat 1.33:1 television format. The new versions are both in their original widescreen theatrical release ratios of 1.85:1. DVDs in the Archive Collection are not mass produced but MOD (manufactured on demand on DVD+R). Therefore no extras are included.