Cinema Retro has just received an official press release from Fox detailing the contents of the 40th anniversary Planet of the Apes Blu-ray DVD collection which will be released on November 4. This initial press release confines itself to the content of the discs themselves and doesn't address the packaging or other bonus items included in the set. It's safe to say Fox has done an outstanding job of amassing vintage rarities and commissioning much-needed new retrospectives on the series. The highlight is the release of an un-rated version of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes that includes never-before-seen footage. Here are highlights from the Fox official press release:
Humans are even
uglier in High-Defwhen Planet Of The Apes: 40 Year Evolution
Blu-ray Collection takes over the Earth November 4th in
North America and throughout the Fall Internationally from Twentieth Century
Fox Home Entertainment. This spectacular set includes all five hair -
raising Planet Of The Apes films on Blu-ray for the first time,
including Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, Escape From The Planet
Of The Apes, Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, Battle For The
Planet Of The Apes, and the 1968 original Planet Of The Apes,
which stunned audiences with its now-iconic conclusion and shockingly dystopian
view of humanity’s fate. From an age of film when science fiction served
as allegory in addition to providing thrilling spectacle and edge-of-your-seat
adventure, the Planet Of The Apes franchise set the gold standard
for Sci-Fi films. Now the films that changed the face of science fiction
forever will be available in the ultimate home viewing format. This
year’s Comic Con International 2008 provided fans a first look at some of the
exciting extras to be featured on the Blu-ray discs.
Planet Of The Apes: 40 Year Evolution Blu-ray Collection is
packed with exclusive new High-Def content. As a special treat for Apes
fans, the collection includes an unrated version of Conquest of the Planet
of the Apes. Previously unreleased in the United States, this version
includes eight minutes of unrated footage. Other new special content includes
an “Evolution of the Apes” documentary chronicling the evolution of the Apes
universe from novel to the big screen, an “Impact of the Apes” featurette
exploring the cultural impact of the franchise and a never-before-seen public
service announcement from ANSA about the seminal flight of the “Project
Liberty” crew. Each Planet Of The Apes sequel included in the
beautifully packaged collection will contain brand new High-Def making-of
featurettes and will be available for the suggested retail price of $159.98 U.S.
In addition, the previously released Limited Edition Planet Of The
Apes Ultimate Collection will be available in the uniquely packaged ape
head just in time for the holidays at a more attractive price.
Of The Apes: 40 Year Evolution Blu-ray Collection Blu-ray Disc Special Features:
Each Planet Of The
Apes Blu-ray Disc will be authored in
Java on a double-layer disc presented in widescreen
(2.35:1 aspect ratio) with newly mastered English 5.1 DTS Master Audio,
English, Spanish and French Mono and includes English and Spanish
subtitles. All new special features will be presented in High-Def. Bonus
? NEW Science
of the Apes BONUSVIEW - Scientists, anthropologists and sociologists
discuss the facts and fiction of the first film
“Beyond the Forbidden Zone” Adventure Game
? NEW “A
Public Service Announcement From ANSA” in HD – A mission report from the agency
regarding their brave astronauts
? NEW “Evolution
of the Apes”- HD featurette tracing the apes story from the original novel to
“Impact of the Apes” - HD featurette on how to market a worldwide pop culture
phenomenon. The story behind the marketing and merchandising of one of the
first ever film franchises and the series’ lasting influence on pop culture
through the years
HD Making-of Featurette for Each Sequel:
? Beneath the
Planet of the Apes – “From Alpha to Omega: Building a Sequel”
? Escape from the
Planet of the Apes – “ The Secret Behind Escape”
? Conquest of the
Planet of the Apes – “ Riots and Revolutions: Confronting the Times”
? Battle for the
Planet of the Apes – “ End of an Epic: The Final Battle”
? NEW Each Apes
sequel will have an isolated score track in 5.1 DTS Master Audio
Commentary by Composer Jerry Goldsmith
Commentary by Actors Roddy McDowall, Natalie Trundy, Kim Hunter and
Makeup Artist John Chambers
Commentary by Eric Greene and Author of “Planet of the Apes as American Myth”
the Planet of the Apes Documentary – Includes all new interactivity and
the Planet of the Apes Promo (1988)
of the Apes Makeup Test with Edward G. Robinson (1966)
McDowall On-set Footage
of the Apes Dailies and Outtakes (No Audio)
of the Apes NATO Presentation (1967)
of the Apes Vintage Featurette (1968)
? A Look
Behind the Planet of the Apes (1972)
Taylor Directs Escape from the Planet of the Apes
? J. Lee
Thompson Directs Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
Sketches by Costume Designer Morton Haack
Planet of the Apes Timeline
? Vintage Apes
Advertising and Lobby Card Galleries
(Note: this is only the first of several official press releases Fox will issuing about the contents of the set. As noted previously on this site, the set will also include a hardcover book by Cinema Retro publishers Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall detailing the history of the franchise. This set is not yet available for pre-order from Amazon. )
Simultaneous to their release of their Western Classics Collection, Warner Home Video is releasing Errol Flynn westerns on DVD for the first time. Titles include Montana, Rocky Mountain, San Antonio and Virginia City. The collection debuts August 26.
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Warner Home Video debuts six westerns on DVD in August under the banner Western Classics Collection. That's stretching it a bit as none of them are regarded as classics, but all of them will be welcomed by fans of the genre. Robert Taylor stars in three of the movies. The films are:
Escape from Fort Bravo starring Willam Holden
The Law and Jake Wade starring Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark
The 1960 remake of Cimarron starring Glenn Ford
Many Rivers to Cross starring Robert Taylor
Saddle in the Wind starring Robert Taylor
The Stalking Moon starring Gregory Peck in the best film of the lot, a drastically under-rated 1969 suspense drenched movie that finds Peck stalked by an unseen murderous Indian chief.
Ahoy, mateys! Sony has just released a great new DVD collection titled Icons of Adventure that showcases three films top-lining Christopher Lee: Pirates of Blood River (1962) , Devil Ship Pirates (1964)and Terror of the Tongs (1961) all from Hammer Film Studios, which was primarily known for its legendary horror movies. The set also features one movie that Lee doesn't appear in, Stranglers of Bombay (1960), the only black-and-white title in the collection. If you can get past the God-awful packaging that makes the DVD look like one of those public domain releases you find in the dollar stores, this is a very entertaining set. I confess to not having seen a single one of these films before and I was prepared for the possibility that they had not held up well over time. However, each title is very well made and extremely enjoyable in its own way. Most surprising is the outstanding production values of both of the Pirate films. These are among the most expensive looking movies Hammer ever produced (despite the fact they were shot at Bray Studios and in Black Park, England) and, contrary to popular belief, the two movies were not related and had completely independent characters and storylines.
The Pirates of Blood River begins with Kerwin Matthews being sentenced to a penal colony by his religious zealot father for having a romantic relationship with a married woman. In the course of a daring escape, he encounters Christopher Lee and his band of pirates who act as benign saviors, but who ultimately take over and terrorize Matthews' home village. Lee is outstanding in the principal role as the erudite, yet cold-blooded murderer. This is no "shiver-me-timbers" character or performance and he's abetted greatly by a good supporting cast that includes Andrew Keir, Marla Landi, Michael Ripper and young Oliver Reed. There's even a brief appearance by Desmond Llewelyn. The only weak point is the casting of American actors Kerwin Matthews and Glenn Corbett as the main heroes. Both look like they just stepped out of a lunch at Sardis and neither makes the slightest attempt to emulate the accents of the other actors.
The Devil Ship Pirates casts Christopher Lee as a mercenary who is fighting for Spain in the Spanish Armada's ill-fated invasion of England. When the battle ends in disaster, Lee betrays the Spanish and ends up secreting his damaged ship off a rural part of England where he desperately seeks to get necessary repairs done. He concocts an audacious plan to convince local villagers that the English have lost the battle and that he is leading a victorious occupation force. The ruse works -at least at first and Lee uses brute force and public executions to suppress any chance of revolt and to enlist the local men to do repairs on his ship. Lee gives a particularly powerful performance in this film. His character is a man of culture and education, but does not stint on using barbaric tactics to keep innocent people in line. The film also gives Lee, who is an accomplished fencing artist, plenty of opportunity to display his swashbuckling skills in the film's exciting dueling sequences.
The Terror of the Tongs is actually the weakest of the films in the collection with Lee giving a credible performance as a mysterious, Fu Manchu-like Chinese master criminal who traffics in graft and prositution in Hong Kong. Geoffrey Toone is a sea captain who declares war on Lee and his murderous Tong Society after they murder his daughter in their quest to obtain secret information. The film is well-scripted but suffers from meager production values (there are virtually no exterior sequences). The claustrophobic production cries out for more sweep but has all the scope of a live TV production. Yvonne Monlaur is a fetching Chinese girl rescued from forced prostitution by Toone. The leads all give reasonably good performances, but there is the age-old conceit of having the major roles of Asian characters played by Caucasian actors. (The film does feature Burt Kwouk as one of the few genuine Asian actors in the cast).
Though largely unheralded because of its lack of marquee names, The Stranglers of Bombay is arguably the most impressive film in the collection due to a literate script and a fine leading performance by Guy Rolfe as a British army officer assigned to safeguard trade caravans in India during the era of colonial rule. Rolfe is convinced that a secret cult has been responsible for kidnapping the many Indians who have mysteriously vanished. However, his superior ignores his warnings until the truth emerges with disastrous results. The script is based on the true actions of the dreaded Thugee cult that used kidnap victims as human sacrifices. The film is intriguing and exciting on every level and remains one of Hammer's most underrated productions.
Although Christopher Lee's participation is sadly missing, the set does feature informative commentary screen writers Jimmy Sangster and David Z. Goodman as well as Hammer historians Chris Barnes and Marcus Hearn, and art director Don Mingaye. The set also features some nice bonus items in addition to the original trailers for each film. Among them: a wonderful 1930s pirate cartoon titled The Merry Mutineers that features hilarious "starring" roles by the superstars of the day including Fred Astaire, W.C. Fields and The Marx Brothers. There is also a segment of a 1953 serial, The Great Adventures of Captain Kidd that falls into the "so-bad-it's-great" category. There's also a two reel comedy with Andy Clyde as a man who decides to live life to the fullest after being falsely told he's going to die. It's quite amusing, even if it has nothing to do with the theme of the DVD collection. Make sure you add Sony's Icons of Adventure to your treasure chest.- Lee Pfeiffer
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Lionsgate has released a 4-film collection of Sophia Loren titles that is as ecclectic as it is entertaining. This collection demonstrates why Loren remains one of the true living legends of the film industry, as the full range of her exceptional talents is on display. The four films are:
Attila- this 1954 sword-and-sandal epic pairs Loren with Anthony Quinn, who portrays the legendary hun. The movie boasts an exceptionally intelligent script, with young Loren cast as a conniving Roman beauty who seeks to betray her crumbling empire by seducing Attila. Presented in Italian language with sub-titles, the movie has outstanding production values and performances, and feature truly epic battles though the last scene is marred by a religious message that goes a bit over-the-top. Nonetheless, the movie is a reminder of why Italy led the world in the post-war European cinema.
CAROSELLO NAPOLETANO presents Loren in one of her first films, a 1953 musical homage to the folk and musical traditions of Naples. The Italian language film is an acquired taste that won't appeal to everyone, but I found it fascinating. To see a big budget musical made in the aftermath of the devastation Italy suffered in WWII, is quite remarkable. (The exterior sequences make no attempt to mask the bombed-out buildings that still abounded everywhere.) Most of the film consists of unrelated short musical numbers built on Neopolitan myths and legends and features exceptionally impressive sets and costumes. Loren, who was only starting her career, is featured in a musical number that is probably the most impressive sequence in the movie.
Young Sophia on her way to international superstardom.
MADAME SANS-GENE- I can recall seeing this movie on its American release in 1962 (under the title Madame) when I was all of six years old. I hadn't seen it since, but I always recalled the memorable sequence of Loren and Robert Hossein making a humorous escape from a windmill in which they have been imprisoned. The Napoleonic era comedy features Loren as a peasant laundress who is elevated to royalty through her tempestuous marriage to a bumbling solider who wins the favor of Napoleon. The French language production is presented with sub-titles and features a remarkably funny performance by Loren, who eschews the snobbery of the royal court to wreak havoc by exposing the society types as the hypocrites and phonies they are. Loren and Hossein have wonderful chemistry and the movie also benefits from extravagant production values and a very witty script. There are also plenty of scenes with Loren's sweat-drenched cleavage on display to insure commercial viability. (Viva le difference!)
I GIRASOLI- This 1970 film, released in English-language territories as Sunflower, reunited Loren with director Vittorio De Sica, whose Two Women had earned Loren her Best Actress Oscar in 1962. The movie is an under-rated gem on every level and pairs Loren with her favorite co-star Marcello Mastroianni with whom she would make ten films. The two give remarkable performances in a lovely film that never stops surprising the viewer. It begins in Italy during WWII with Mastroianni becoming the reluctant bridegroom of Loren simply to buy a few day's leave in able to forestall being sent to combat. He ends up falling madly in love with her, but is ultimately sent to the Russian Front. Up to this point, the movie is a charming and funny romance. However, it soon turns into a riveting drama when Mastroianni is declared missing in action. Loren is haunted by his absence and years after the war, makes a fateful trip to Russia to search for him - only to learn a shocking secret that affects her life forever. Why this film isn't regarded as among De Sica's best works is truly puzzling. The script is consistently engrossing with the two leads giving superb perrformances. De Sica also managed to get extraordinary footage inside the Soviet Union, which was quite an achievement at the height of the Cold War. The love story is set to a lush and romantic score by Henry Mancini that ranks among his best work. The film is presented in Italian language with sub-titles.
The only extra is a well-made featurette that centers on Loren's work, primarily in the four films presented in the collection. The great lady herself is not present, but her two sons are and give some interesting insights into how their mother managed to give them a normal upbringing despite her being an icon of the international cinema. Put this set on your must-have list. - Lee Pfeiffer
CLICK HERE TO ORDER THIS DVD SET DISCOUNTED FROM AMAZON