Robson’s Valley of the Dolls (1967) became something of commercial success,
despite being generally panned by the critics. Following the murder of Sharon
Tate, the film was re-released in 1969 and once again proved to be a success
with audiences. In December 1969, filming began on Beyond the Valley of the
Dolls (1970), a film that was intended as a direct sequel to Robson’s movie. Jacqueline
Susann, the original author of Valley of the Dolls had been approached to write
a screenplay, but declined the offer. Instead, director Russ Meyer and film
critic Roger Ebert, took on and completed the task in just six weeks. Ebert
described it as ‘a satire of Hollywood conventions’ while Meyer leant more
towards ‘a serious melodrama, a rock musical […]and a moralistic expose of the nightmarish
world of Show Business’.
film is set around a female band, The Kelly Affair featuring Kelly MacNamara
(Dolly Read), Casey Anderson (Cynthia Myers), and Petronella "Pet"
Danforth (Marcia McBroom). Along with their manager (and Kelly’s boyfriend) Harris
Allsworth (David Gurian) the group set off to Los Angeles to find Kelly's
estranged aunt, Susan Lake (Phyllis Davis), who is heiress to a family fortune.
and her band arrive and are greeted fondly by Susan who informs her that she
will be left a portion of her inheritance. However, Porter Hall (Duncan McLeod)
a financial adviser to Susan, attempts to discredit the band as general
degenerates in order to embezzle the money for himself. Aunt Susan meanwhile
introduces Kelly and the band to a connected producer Ronnie "Z-Man"
Barzell (John LaZar). At one of his flamboyant parties, Z-Man wastes little
time in persuading the band to perform, the result of which is a huge
success. Z-Man becomes the group’s
manager and changes their name to The Carrie Nations which ignites the fuse and
causes a series of clashes with Harris.
of these elements nicely combine to set up a classic and well-rounded piece of
melodrama. Add to the mix a healthy dash of seduction, drugs, alcohol, one-night
stands, a lesbian affair, an abortion and a delicious little twist or two and
you’ll discover there’s more than enough meat on the bone for a fulfilling and
thoroughly magical couple of hours.
have put together a really thoughtful and beautifully presented limited (3000
copies) edition containing two of Russ Meyer’s key Hollywood films. The Blu-ray
(1080p) presentation of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is quite wonderful. The
vibrancy of the film’s colour palette shines through in practically every scene
and is only emphasised by the lush surroundings of the late Sixties hippy
culture. Skin tones (and there’s a lot of it on show) look fresh, but perfectly
natural and free of any forced enhancement. The film retains that comic book colour
freshness that one could perhaps align with in any classic episode of TVs
Batman. Yes, it very hip and very cool. Arrow has also provided an array of supplementary
delights especially in terms of audio options. Aside from the film’s original
uncompressed mono track, there is an engrossing commentary track by
co-screenwriter and film critic, the late Roger Ebert. Ebert’s commentary is a
wonderful listen, a man who knew his stuff and was of course an element of the
film’s DNA. Whist the commentary was initially featured on Fox’s DVD release of
2006; it’s a real treat to have it included here on the Blu-ray. Also featured
is a second audio commentary, courtesy of cast members including Erica Gavin,
John LaZar, Cynthia Myers, Harrison Page and Dolly Read. Again, this commentary
also appeared previously on the Fox DVD, and while it is rather less
streamlined than Ebert’s specifics, it does offer an entirely different
perspective. The two commentaries ultimately complement each other rather well.
On top of the two commentaries is a further music and effects track, which I
believe marks a first for this title on any home cinema format. It’s a very
welcome track, considering the popularity of music and for consumers who might
not have the soundtrack among their collections.
this point it is perhaps best to shift focus towards Arrow’s second disc in
this set, and the film The Seven Minutes (1971). This Russ Meyer directed film
was made directly after Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and was his last
mainstream production for Twentieth-Century Fox. The film consists mainly of
his stable of regular actors and actresses, but look out, too, for appearances
by Yvonne De Carlo and a very young Tom Selleck. Overall, the film was considered
as a rare commercial failure for Meyer, but it’s very welcome here as a bonus
disc. Sadly, it is only included in standard DVD format.
to Arrow’s other bonus material; there is an optional introduction by Z-Man
himself, John LaZa. Much more entertaining is: Above, beneath and beyond the
Valley: The Making of a Musical-Horror-Sex-Comedy, which is a fascinating
retrospective documentary (30 minutes). Look
On Up at the Bottom, with composer Stu Phillips and three members of the Carrie
Nations discussing the film’s music. It’s a nice little featurette which
manages to cram a lot into its relatively short time (11 minutes). The Best of
Beyond features favourite moments from the film selected by cast and crew
members (12 minutes). Sex, Drugs, Music & Murder: Signs of the time, baby takes
a look at the late 1960s social culture that spawned Beyond the Valley of the
Dolls (8 minutes). Casey & Roxanne: The Love Scene is a nice short
featuring both participants Erica Gavin and Cynthia Myers who discuss the
film’s lesbian scene (5 minutes). There is also a very nice collection of screen
tests for Michael Blodgett, Cynthia Myers, Harrison Page and Marcia McBroom, all
of which are presented in relatively nice condition (8 minutes). Also included
is a selection of trailers, one of which is based on a behind-the-scenes photo
shoot with Meyer taking the publicity photos and provides a great ‘sneak peek’
privilege. Finally there is a high definition photo gallery which consists of
approximately 125 images.
packaging is of their usual (and exceptional) high standard. Inside contains an
informative and nicely illustrated 42 page booklet featuring new writing on the
film by critic Kat Ellinger. I was also very happy to see Arrow’s regular
reversible sleeve format containing two original pieces of ‘Beyond’ film art,
rather than an optional piece of ‘new’ art. It’s an option that will arguably
please the purists among film collectors.
was fabulous to revisit what is perhaps Meyer’s most polished piece of work.
Yes, there’s no denying it, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is trashy, dirty and
totally unscrupulous… and exactly why I find it so lip-smacking good. Everything
considered, it’s probably the best piece of exploitation ever committed to
film. So miss this wonderful cult classic at your peril…
Though the 1966 space-age vampire flick Queen of Blood is not new to home video,
it has been one of the more elusive science-fiction titles of the 1960s. Issued on VHS as Planet of Blood back in the early 1980s on the budget “Star
Classics” label and later in 1990 on a much improved laser disc from Image (paired
with Mario Bava’s similarly-themed Planet
of the Vampires), Queen of Blood has
been mostly unavailable to collectors for nearly twenty-five years. In March 2011 MGM finally re-issued the title
as part of its Limited Edition Collection,
but only as a made-on-demand release. In
2015, Kino Lorber has – very happily for genre fans and collectors - rescued
this title from the wasteland of cult-film marginalia with their superb Blu-Ray
release of this Roger Corman-Curtis Harrington classic.
of Blood (for reasons we’ll get into a little later on) more
resembles a 1950s sci-fi B-film than one from a decade on. Astronauts Allan Brenner (John Saxon) and Laura
James (Judi Meredith) are co-workers at the International
Institute of Space Technology. The
agency is developing plans to send a spacecraft to Mars and Venus but James’
works seems terribly mundane: she sits
in the radio room diligently monitoring the stream of white-noise signals
emanating from outer-space. Listening
for endless hours at this “music of the spheres” (as Brenner describes the monotonous
stream), James might be doing important work; but it doesn’t seem – at first – that
she enjoys a particularly exciting forty-hour work week. That is not until the radio she monitors starts
picking up an unusual transmission.
Expert cryptographists and cipher analysts are brought
in and quickly decipher the spectral message from the cosmos. They’re excited to learn that seemingly
friendly and curious ambassadors from an un-specified planet are en route to visit
planet earth. The scientists are obviously
thrilled by the prospect, and one can appreciate the excitement of the
world-renown Dr. Farraday (Basil Rathbone) as he triumphantly crows via a loudspeaker
that the greatest of historical summits is imminent. But the euphoria on campus is short-lived. The planned meeting seems to take an unpredicted
turn for the worse when a second message is received. It seems the alien’s spacecraft has
crash-landed on a Martian moon and its surviving single occupant asks that a
space craft be dispatched to collect. This is where, of course, the trouble begins.
A rescue mission is arranged, with Brenner, James, Paul
Grant (Dennis Hopper) and Dr. Anders Brockman (Robert Boon) in tow. The alien spacecraft has crashed on the
Martian moon of Phobos and it’s there that the crew will have their first
face-to-face meeting with the titular Queen
of Blood (Florence Marley). With her
green skin, crimson red lips, and mod bee-hive hair-do (initially hidden by the
rugby-ball shaped leather helmet she wears), it must be said that the visitor
cuts a startling figure. Brockman
suggests the space-ambassador’s green-tint is likely due to the presence of chlorophyll
in her genetic make-up, that the emissary’s DNA might be more akin to that of a
plant. If the Queen is a sophisticated plant, as the astronaut opines,
it’s safe to say she’s more Venus fly-trap than sunflower.
Paul’s gentle entreaties to the alien are both warm and
genuine. He tries to get her to sip some water but her disingenuous eyes
are mistaken as windows of affection. In reality, the Queen is not
displaying any romantic interest in Paul (as embodied by the still strikingly
young Dennis Hopper). She is, in fact, sizing up the naive astronaut as a
possible future meal. We soon learn the reason the Queen has not partaken
in any of the previous meals offered; she’s more intent on feeding on the warm
blood of the crew. There haven’t been any screams in the night to alert
them to the menace. The Queen first hypnotizes her intended prey and then, much
like a vampire bat, uses her saliva to serve as a numbing agent, dulling the pain
of the incisors as they stab into her victim. Once wise to the treachery,
the astronauts – still determined to bring her back to earth as the scientific
find of the ages – feeds her the ship’s store of blood plasma. This works
out OK until that limited supply is exhausted and they’re still far from earth.
The back-story to this film is nearly as interesting as
the film itself. The imaginative and extraterrestrial scenes were Soviet in
origin, the outer-space sequences shot entirely at the Odessa film studios in
the Ukraine, just off the shoreline of the Black Sea. The space-footage featured in Queen of Blood had been primarily sourced
from the 1963 Soviet film Mechte
Navstrechu (“A Dream
Come True”) (1963), directed by Mikhail Karzhukov and Otar Koberidze. In what would prove to be the first salvo of
the C.C.C.P. vs. U.S. space-race, the Soviet Union would launch Sputnik in
October of 1957. It was the first
successful satellite launch in world history and Soviet filmmakers were
encouraged to celebrate this glowing achievement of socialism with Eastern bloc
neighbors in the form of cinematic paeans. The multitude of imaginative space-age film tapestries created in the
wake of the Sputnik launch were truly impressive; the Soviet depictions of space-ways
were majestically conceived presentations combining vibrant colors, eerie
Martian landscapes, rotating spherical objects, state-of-the-art visual
effects, and futuristic set decoration.
happened upon seeing several of these magnificent space-epics in a cinema in
east Hollywood. Thrilled by the
sophistication of the on-screen imagery, Corman would travel to the Soviet
Union and arrange licensing rights for a package of Soviet sci-fi films through
Mosfilm, the official-organ of the state-run motion-picture industry. Corman wasn’t interested in releasing the
films in the U.S. in their original – and very political - forms. He recognized the Soviet films were littered
with heavy-handed doses of anti-Americanism and thinly disguised metaphorical proselytisms
of socialist-internationalism. Corman
was primarily interested in re-cutting and re-dubbing the Soviet films for
consumption by a decidedly non-ideological U.S. audience. Queen
of Blood would not be Corman’s first experiment with such
re-constitution. Two of his earliest
efforts in re-dubbing and incorporating new footage to westernize his package
of Russian sci-fi films were Voyage to
the Prehistoric Planet (1965) and Battle
Beyond the Sun (1962).
In the case
of Mechte Navstrechu, a film mostly
plundered for use in Queen of Blood,
its rosy scenario of peaceful co-existence between the planets was not commercially
viable. Instead Corman envisioned the film
as a space-age version of a “traditional gothic vampire story.” As he was busy working on other projects, Corman
arranged for director Curtis Harrington to shoot new scenes with an American
and British cast and then seamlessly blend these segments into the existing
Russian space-footage. In one of the
supplements, Corman mildly boasts that many scholars have mused that the
low-budget Queen of Blood might have
very well been the template for the big-budget box-office smash Alien (1979). This is at least partly true, but Queen of Blood itself was largely a
re-working of the It! The Terror from
Beyond Space” (1958). Sci-fi and horror film buffs will also detect the
not-so-subtle allusions to the famous Twilight
Zone episode “To Serve Man” (broadcast March 2, 1962) as well as Mario
Bava’s Planet of the Vampires (1965).
Having already made a considerable investment in his licensing
of the Soviet films, executive producer Corman was rather stingy with the
financing of its American cousin. Harrington was only apportioned somewhere in
the region of $40,000 to $65,000 – depending on what source you’re to believe -
to re-constitute the original Soviet production into a commercial commodity. Though John Saxon had earned a reputation for
professionalism as an actor – he already had two-dozen or so films to his
credit - his star had not yet completely risen. Seventy-three year-old Basil Rathbone was brought in for a day’s work to
augment the bill as the seasoned actor enjoyed name recognition amongst genre
There’s no trouble identifying the Harrington-shot
footage from the original Soviet - and this is not a knock against his
direction. To keep production costs down the U.S. control-room sets had
been, very clearly, constructed from wood elements purposefully painted silver
as to project a metallic sheen. As seamless
merging of the original film with new footage was paramount to the film’s
success, a great amount of attention – and budget - was given to the art department
to authentically mimic the design of the original space-suits and helmets worn
by cosmonauts in the original film.
Regardless of such penny-pinching shortfalls, Queen
of Blood is one of the more eerie space-films of the era. This is
mostly due to Harrington’s ingenious use of shadowy silhouettes as an
inexpensive but effective method to convey tension and suspense. Most of the memorable on-screen gloominess of
Queen of Blood is the result of the
unblinking, emotionless eyes of Czech actress Florence Marley. It was a
masterstroke not to give Marley’s green-tinted alien any dialogue – it would
have surely diluted the effect of her menacing countenance. Watching her cold
eyes follow the doomed crew-members aboard the spacecraft with a cold,
reptilian-like disengagement is positively chilling.
The Warner Archive has delved into its vaults to release some WWII-era American propaganda films. One of the more interesting titles is "Hitler's Madman", a 1943 exploitation piece directed by Douglas Sirk, who would go on to become an esteemed filmmaker whose work is still revered today. The movie was made on shoestring by an independent production company and was considered marketable enough for MGM to make a rare acquisition of a film made outside of the studio's control. The "quickie" nature of the production was designed to capitalize on one of the most horrendous war crimes in history: the systematic destruction of an entire village, Lidice, in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. The film centers on the ordeal suffered by the peasant population of the village when Nazi rule becomes increasingly more oppressive under the command of "Reich Protector" Reinhard Heydrich, a Hitler favorite because of his unquestioning loyalty to National Socialist dogma. Even by Nazi standards Heydrich was considered a brute and was feared by both the people of Czechoslovakia and Germans who interacted with him. Heydrich was a man without conscience who believed in suppressing dissent by use of ruthless methods. He is played very well in the film by John Carradine, whose dyed blonde hair renders him virtually unrecognizable. Its doubtful that the real Heydrich engaged in the kind of Prof. Moriarty dialogue and mannerisms that characterized so many cinematic villains of the period, but Carradine does manage to evoke some truly sinister and creepy forms of behavior, all the time exuding a pretentious charm that makes those on the receiving end of his icy stare realize they might well be doomed.
The script personalizes the ordeal of the people of Lidice by following the story of Jarmilla Hanka (Patricia Morrison), a young woman who is shocked to discover that her former boy friend Karel Vavra (Alan Curtis) has secretly arrived back in town on a mission for the Allies to organize the locals into an underground movement to disrupt Nazi activities. He gets a less-than-enthusiastic welcome by the men of the village who are understandably reluctant to give Heydrich an excuse to unleash a widespread crackdown on the population. Jarmilla's own father Jan (Ralph Morgan) is an advocate for conformity and warns against the consequences of opposing the Nazis. However, Heydrich and his goons ratchet up the pressure by arresting and executing professors and other intellectuals, then forcing the male students to "volunteer" for service on the Eastern front. Adding insult to injury, he announces that girls between the ages of 16-19 will be forced into bordellos to pleasure the stressed out German troops. in one of the film's most daring and unnerving scenes, Heydrich has the young women line up in a perverted version of a beauty pageant as he personally decides which girls have the necessary "qualities" for this degrading assignment. In fact the film abounds with sequences that are shocking in their implications. It was pretty strong stuff for 1943. However, there is a good deal of Hollywood hokum attached as well as the expected distortion of historical events. It is true that Heydrich was assassinated and, in revenge, Hitler ordered every male in Lidice to be shot; every adult woman sent to a concentration camp and all young children sent to state-run orphanages. He then ordered that the entire village be razed to the ground and that any historic or geographical reference to its existence be eliminated. The film attributes Heydrich's murder to Jamrilla and her father who assassinate him on a country road. This is pure baloney. Heydrich was actually mortally wounded by a team of highly trained commandos who carried out the deed as Heydrich's car drove through the streets of Prague. Historical liberties aren't the only problem with the film. The acting tends to be of the "over-the-top" variety that was frequent in Poverty Row productions of the era. Not helping matters is the distraction of having some actors utilize exotic European accents while others sound like they are from New Jersey. This "Tower of Babble" effect undercuts the dramatic aspects of the performances. However, the film retains much of its power in the jarring sequences of Nazi oppression and the human toll it took on the population of the lands areas they occupied. There is also the considerable presence of John Carradine, whose performance transcends some of the weaker aspects of the production. Director Sirk also rises above the material and, given the minimal clout he must have had at this point in his career, manages to make a "B" exploitation flick into something more meaningful.
The Warner Archive region-free DVD looks fine but contains no extras.
If you never heard of the controversial 1982 futuristic thriller "Turkey Shoot" it may be because the film's release was largely botched especially in the United States where Roger Corman picked up distribution rights and re-titled the movie "Escape 2000" (despite the fact that the story is set in the year 1995!). The film's troubled production history is graphically outlined in the impressive Blu-ray special edition from Severin Films. But first let's examine the premise. "Turkey Shoot" is among the countless forerunners of "The Hunger Games" in that it uses the time-honored concept of presenting helpless humans as prey in sadistic "sporting" contests. From "The Most Deadly Game" to Cornel Wilde's superb "The Naked Prey", the concept seems to be a favorite for screenwriters and directors. "Turkey Shoot" started as a promising venture for director Brian Trenchard-Smith. His two leading actors, Steve Railsback (who had recently made a splash in the acclaimed film "The Stunt Man") and Olivia Hussey (of "Romeo and Juliet" fame) were enthused about the premise. The film presents them in a futuristic society in an unnamed country where totalitarianism is prevalent. (How come we never see an optimistic view of a futuristic society?) Railsback is Paul Anders, an admitted dissident against the police state who is busted when he makes repeated radio broadcasts denouncing the government. Hussey is Chris Walters, an apolitical young woman who gets arrested when she tries to aid someone who is being brutalized by the state security forces. The two find themselves whisked to a "re-education" camp in a remote jungle setting. The place is actually a concentration camp run by a sadist named Thatcher (Michael Craig, whose character's name is a not so subtle rebuke of the British prime minister of the era. In fact, in some countries the film was released with the alternate title "Blood Camp Thatcher"). Anders continues to defy authority and Thatcher delights in torturing him. Chris tries to keep a low profile but it isn't long before the predatory guards headed by Chief Ritter (Roger Ward) have targeted her and other young women for chronic sexual abuse. The nightmarish situation only becomes worse when Paul, Chris and two other inmates- Rita Daniels (Lynda Stoner) and Griff (Bill Young)- are chosen to be prey in a high stakes game of life or death. The four prisoners are sent unarmed into the wilds with a bit of a head start before Thatcher and some elitist cronies begin hunting them with hi-tech weaponry as well as a crossbow, wielded with deadly skill by Jennifer (Carmen Duncan), a vivacious but particularly cruel woman with lesbian tendencies who has some distasteful plans for Rita, to whom she is sexually attracted. It takes quite some time to get to the main theme of the film which is the "turkey shoot" of the hapless prey, all of whom delight the hunters by proving to be especially inventive in their methods of staying alive. The victims also prove to be masters of turning the tables on their pursuers and killing several of them. Things tend to get very bizarre when, out of the blue and without explanation, a half-man, half-beast creature is unleashed by the hunters to help track down the exhausted fugitives. It's like someone inserted some outtakes from the 1977 version of "The Island of Dr. Moreau" into the movie. Along the way viewers are treated to an unending feast of sadism, sexism, and all-around general cruelty complete with torturous deaths, some of which are over-the-top and seem included only for the sake of the gore factor.
When "Turkey Shoot" was originally released it apparently was the subject of quite a bit of controversy in Australia and the UK, where critics and media watchdogs griped about the film's violent content. Over the decades, however, the movie seems to have built a loyal cult following that may have been at least in part attracted by the film's back story, which is more compelling than what ended up on screen. All of this is explored in Severin Films' outstanding bonus features, many of which were imported from a previously released edition from another company. Combined with some fascinating interviews culled from the acclaimed documentary "Not Quite Hollywood" (an excellent history of the Australian film industry by director Mark Hartley), this hodge podge of bonus features adds up to one of the most compelling special editions I've experienced. Most of the major participants are seen reminiscing about the movie. Since they were interviewed separately there wasn't the stigma of offending another participants sensibilities. The interviews play out like a real-life version of "Rashomon" with so many distinctly different versions of the same experience that you wonder if these folks are referring to the same movie. Their candor is both amusing and fascinating as they mostly recall their work on the movie as a very unpleasant experience. (Olivia Hussey is notable by her absence from the extras and this is perhaps the reason why.) The real fun starts when the blame game goes into effect with various actors, producers and Trenchard-Smith assigning responsibility for a film most consider to be least somewhat of a disaster. Trenchard-Smith points out that just before shooting started his production funding was cut substantially. This resulted in key sequences being scrapped. He could have quit there but you have to admire the guy. As a true professional he stuck with the truncated version of the script and began shooting in an inhospitable climate with an unhappy cast and trying to cope with often sub-par special effects caused by the budget cuts. He admits that the negative reaction to the film derided his career (although apparently it made a good deal of money.) There is a new round table discussion with Trenchard-Smith, producer Anthony Ginanne and cinematographer Vincent Monton (who did not film "Turkey Shoot" but who had worked for Ginanne on other productions.) The discussion is polite but leaves little doubt that both Trenchard-Smith and Ginanne both harbor different views about who is to blame for the film's artistic failings. Steve Railsback, seen in a separate interview, implies that even with a reduced budget of $2.5 million, it should have bought a more opulent production for its era and insinuates that some hanky-panky may have caused some of the funding to mysteriously disappear. Lynda Stoner remains especially bitter about her experience on the movie and is still angry that she was pressured into doing a nude scene. Hussey was, too, but stuck to her guns only to have a completely unconvincing body double play the scene. Stoner also harbors resentment toward actor David Hemmings (who did not appear in the film, but who served as one of the producers) for being a dictatorial presence on the set and even insisting upon directing some sequences.
For all its faults there is much to admire in "Turkey Shoot" especially when one becomes aware of the extreme obstacles that the director and cast had to overcome. The gore factor has become somewhat less shocking in our desensitized era and the good things about it (notably the performances and direction) hold up well. The movie is definitely an acquired taste for select viewers but the Severin special edition should be recommended as a "must have" for anyone who wants an insightful look at how major productions can be sabotaged by factors that neither the case or crew have any control over.
In the 1970s and 1980s director Brian De Palma had some high profile hits with Hitchcockian thrillers such as "Sisters", "Obsession", "Dressed to Kill", "Blow Out" and "Body Double". De Palma's defenders extolled the virtues of these films as clever homages to Hitchcock while detractors accused De Palma of using The Master's formulas to make a fast buck. In 1982 director Robert Benton jumped on the same bandwagon with his own Hitchcockian project, "Still of the Night", which was shot under the title "Stab" before the marketing campaign had been re-evaluated. A few years earlier Benton had triumphed at the Oscars with "Kramer vs. Kramer", taking home the Best Director Oscar. That film also provided an important career boost for Meryl Streep, who also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The two were reunited for this project which stands out on both of their credentials as an odd choice. Chances are that when you think of Streep's exalted status in the film community today, the thriller genre is unlikely to come to mind. (Though she did also appear in "The River Wild" and the remake of "The Manchurian Candidate".) Benton, who had directed relatively few films to date, was more accustomed to the genre and perhaps his involvement with this flawed production can be explained by the fact that the basis for the story (which he collaborated on with David Newman) was a real life experience that found him obsessed with a woman who simultaneously excited and frightened him. Certainly it's a sold premise for a thriller and through much of the movie Benton provides a compelling scenario complimented by two excellent actors: Streep and Roy Scheider. The film falls apart in the final act when it begins to resemble less of a homage to Hitchcock than an homage to De Palma's homages to Hitchcock- with a dose of "Play Misty for Me" thrown in (i.e knife wielding killer attacks protagonist on a balcony that overlooks the churning sea.) It's not that "Still of the Night" is bad (though Streep has gone on record as saying it is), it's simply that it hardly seems like it would ever have been compelling enough to attract two recent Oscar winners.
The film opens in the office of New York City psychiatrist Sam Rice (Scheider). Like most cinematic headshrinkers, he appears to need psychiatric care more than his patients do. He's going through the miseries of a divorce and seems bored and depressed. The only significant female relationship he has is with his mother (Jessica Tandy, who perhaps not coincidentally starred in Hitchcock's "The Birds".) Sam's mundane daily routine takes a dramatic turn when he discovers that a long-time patient, businessman George Bynum (Josef Sommer) has been found stabbed to death in his car on a Manhattan street. From this point some key elements of the story are told in flashback sequences. Sam remembers Bynum as a sexual predator who had been having an affair with one of his staff workers. Then he meets Brooke Reynolds (Streep), a gorgeous thirty-something blonde who seems both alluring and vulnerable. Bynum confesses that he is obsessed with her and cut off his previous affair in order to engage in one with Brooke. Shortly after Bynum's death, Sam is shocked when Brooke appears at his office, nervous, unsettled and chain-smoking. (Yes, you could smoke in an office in those days.) In the awkward conversation that follows she says the purpose of her visit is to return a wristwatch that Bynum had accidentally left at her apartment. She doesn't want to return it herself for fear of alerting Bynum's widow about the affair he was having with her. From minute one Sam is smitten and intrigued by this quirky, jittery- and stunningly beautiful- young woman. He also realizes that her cover story about the watch is thin. She actually wanted to meet him. Shortly thereafter Sam is visited by Detective Joe Vitucci (Joe Grifasi, channeling every personality cliche you can think of when it comes to a New York City cop). He asks Sam if he can shed any light on who might be Bynum's killer. Sam informs him that anything he had discussed with Bynum would be protected under doctor/client privilege...but he also finds himself unable to inform Vitucci about Bynum's affair with Brooke. He realizes he is now obsessed with her, just as Bynum was. He strongly suspects that Brooke is Bynum's murderer but can't get her out of his mind. Like Bynum, he's simultaneously sexually stimulated and terrified of her. Nevertheless, he begins finding excuses to see her and his presence seems to have a calming effect on Brooke. The friendship goes to another stage when she responds to his kiss but Sam is too lacking in self-confidence to actually seduce her. Meanwhile he begins to experience some eerie occurrences. He believes someone is stalking him in the basement of his apartment building. As he follows the mysterious Brooke on a nighttime walk through Central Park (a chilling scenario for anyone in those days), he finds himself alone and so unnerved that when a man jumps out of the shadows to mug him, he is actually relieved to have another human being on the scene. Director Benton knows that a sure-fire way to ratchet up suspense is to put the protagonist in a creepy dark house or in an equally unnerving location. However he goes to the well with this plot device a little too often. For a man who lives in the heart of Manhattan, Sam seems to wind up repeatedly in eerie, isolated places. However, some of the sequences are genuinely suspenseful as in the scene in which Sam is in the laundry room of his apartment building, deep in the bowels of the basement. No one is around. There is total isolation when suddenly the lights in an adjoining room inexplicably go out. You can share his sense of increasing panic as he knows someone is stalking him...but who and why? Refrehingly, Scheider portrays Sam as an everyday guy, not a tough-as-nails hero. He's vulnerable both physically and emotionally throughout.
The film's primary asset is its two stars, both of whom give intense and very convincing performances. There are also the usual plot twists and red herrings one would expect to find in a movie of this genre and Benton for the most part manages to wring some genuine suspense out of it even when he resorts to old gimmicks that include a dream sequence in which Bynum is menaced by an eerie little girl (are there any other kinds of little girls in dream sequences?) It's straight out of "The Shining" but then again just about everything in "Still of the Night" seems recycled, even though it manages to be engrossing right up until the climax when Benton the screenwriter resorts to every time-worn cliche imaginable: an old dark house, a sacrificial lamb character, a vulnerable hero, a knife-wielding maniac...you get the picture. About all that is missing is John Carradine as a mad scientist. The weak ending feels like it was tossed together at the last minute and doesn't retain the suspense or logic that Benton has managed to build heretofore. Nonetheless, "Still of the Night" is still worth a look if only for the performances and those few genuinely spooky sequences.
The Blu-ray edition from Kino Lorber includes the original trailer and trailers for two other Roy Scheider films, "Last Embrace" and "53 Pick-Up."
protest has been part of human society going back to Paleolithic times when the
first homo-protestapien complained "What, nuts and berries again?"
The response was most likely either "Go out and kill something,
then," or "Discover fire and I'll make a casserole." Admittedly,
I loosely translate from the original "ogg," "ugh" and
the year 1968 the earth was awash with protesters (for good reason) who had
developed protesting into an art form. The art form of choice was the protest
song. From Arlo Guthrie to John Lennon, Country Joe McDonald to Marvin Gaye,
Bob Dylan to The Plastic People of the Universe, Phil Ochs to Jimmy Cliff, the
airwaves were filled with politically charged lyrics that stirred the souls of
the youth of the world. Americans like to think they had a patent upon it but
Eastern Europe was at the forefront of something other than Vietnam, their own
had been over for more than twenty years but there still were countries in
upheaval. The Prague Spring had come to Czechoslovakia
and led to another Communist invasion. Yugoslavia was beset with protests from
ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and Western Macedonia that led to concessions that
angered Serbians and Montenegrins. This caused not only a Serbian emigration
from Kosovo but also further religious tensions as Macedonians created their
own Orthodox Church and Muslim nationalism rose in Bosnia irritating Serbian
churchmen. And, of course, the Cold War was in full swing in Germany with the
Berlin Wall, just seven years old, still 21 years away from demolition. It is
in the politically turbulent year of 1968 that "Fatherland," aka "Singing the Blues in Red" begins.
meet protest singer-songwriter Klaus Drittemann (Gerulf Pannach, whose
biography mirrors his character's) as he is interrogated by officials of the
Stalinist-Communist East German government who look to convict him of crimes
against the state and exile him. Drittemann (whose name translates from the
German as "third man," make of that what you will) is a
Marxist-socialist whose criticism leads to being denied to perform any longer
and eventually, at the age of 40, gets him a one-way exit visa to West Germany
and he leaves his son and an ex-wife behind.
some people may think that a good thing with the opportunity to make a living
again and become a success in the west - there is already a record company
waiting to sign him, Klaus does not. In his, and "Fatherland's" world
view capitalism is just as terrifyingly corrupt as hard-line Communism. He is
besieged as soon as he steps into the west, turned into a celebrity and faces a
choice of signing his life away to the record company or maintaining his
ethics. At his press conference in West Berlin he is asked a number of times
about his father (Sigfrit Steiner) who was also a musician forced into exile
back in the 1950s. When he opens a safe-deposit box in a bank there (the key to
which was passed to him by his mother back in East Berlin) he discovers
personal effects from his father that turn his life upside down. He now wants
to find his father and with the assistance of Emma, a French-Dutch journalist
(Fabienne Babe) who seems to be withholding information, he begins his journey
and heads to England.
made mostly in Germany and in German, "Fatherland" is an English
film. Written by Trevor Griffiths, who collaborated with Warren Beatty on
"Reds", it was directed by Ken Loach who made a number of politically
charged films in the 1980s that ran him afoul of the Conservative Margaret
Thatcher government. That government influence extended to the film and
television industries and Loach found it harder and harder to work in the UK.
This film could be viewed as Loach's and Griffith's response. The dichotomy of
Germany's two faces (materialistic consumerism v. slapstick communism) mirrors
the divided Great Britain of the late 80s where Thatcher's Tory government of
opportunists held sway over a divided Liberal party.
eventually found partners in West Germany and France. "Fatherland" is
as straightforward as good Rock ‘n Roll music, it doesn't pull many punches and
delivers a philosophy of life that sounds pretty bleak here: "The man born
to be hanged need not fear drowning. The ones that are ruled carry others; the
ones who rule are carried by others. Any life is better than no life." But
if I delivered these lines in context it would amount to a 'spoiler' and if
"Fatherland" teaches anything it is that context is everything.
"Fatherland" has been released by Twilight Time as a limited edition (3,000 units) Blu-ray. The disc contains an isolated score track and an informational collector's booklet.
Cinematographer Carl Guthrie opens “Fort Massacre” (1958)
with a widescreen cinemascope desert vista – mountains in the background, and a
rock formation shaped like a vulture perched on a rock in the foreground. The
vulture seems to be looking down at a group of soldiers on a burial detail. Private
Robert W. Travis (John Russell), a member of the troop, in a brief bit of
opening narration, tells what happened. “C” Troop, Sixth Cavalry was ambushed
by 50 apaches and only a dozen men survived. The commanding officer was killed,
and a lieutenant is badly wounded, leaving non-commissioned officer, Sgt. Vinson
(Joel McCrea), in command. Vinson is a tough man who says he makes his
decisions based on what he thinks Army regulations call for. But before long,
as they start the 100-mile journey to Ft. Crain, his men begin to wonder if
there isn’t something deeper and darker motivating him.
McCrea gives a grim, tight-lipped performance as Vinson, the
sergeant who has command of the troop suddenly thrust upon him. His mission is
to find the main column of soldiers they were separated from or failing that to
proceed by themselves to the fort. Among the other survivors is Travis, the
chronicler of this story, a young recruit who tells Vinson that he joined the
Army to become a man. Before that he was just a 28-year-old “baby,” unable to
make any decisions for himself. Educated, he could have been a doctor or a
lawyer but couldn’t decide, so he drifted. Pvt. McGurney (Forrest Tucker) is an
Irishman who’s seen a bit of life, and has found his home in the cavalry. He has
some serious concerns about Vinson’s ability to command. Next is Pvt. Pendleton (George N. Neise), one
of the wounded men, a coward constantly challenging Vinson’s decisions. There
are several others who all play a part in the drama, with Pawnee (Robert
Caruso), the Indian scout, an important and pivotal character.
Vinson decides to lead the troop toward a waterhole
ahead, but Pawnee returns from a scouting mission to report that 20 Apaches
have stopped there. Vinson, despite the strenuous objections of his men, orders
the troop onward. They will take the waterhole from the Apaches, even though
they are outnumbered at least 2-1. It’s on the way to this fight that McGivney
tells the other men he suspects the Sgt. doesn’t give a hoot about the safety
of his men, but is obsessed with hatred for the Apaches. He informs the others
that Apaches killed Vinson’s wife and now all he wants is revenge, even if he
has to sacrifice the entire patrol.
When they get to the waterhole, a fierce battle ensues,
and the troopers are victorious. However, Travis witnesses Vinson’s cold-blooded
murder of an Apache who had tried to surrender. When Travis questions him about
it, Vinson goes off the rails, ranting that the Apaches “hate us,” and you have
to “feed them bullets.” From this moment on even Travis begins to doubt his
sanity, and we watch as a tormented man battles his inner demons.
“Fort Massacre” was directed by Joseph M. Newman (“This
Island Earth”) from an original screenplay by Martin Goldsmith (“Detour,” “The
Gunfight at Dodge City”). It’s an unusual story for a western. While there’s
plenty of action, the focus is on the inner turmoil of the tormented character
played by McCrea, a man torn between his responsibility to his men and his
fierce hatred of his wife’s killers. The central question Goldsmith poses is “Which
side will win out?” The story moves with the inevitability of a train heading
toward a collision, culminating in a battle that takes place in an eerie ancient
Indian cliff dwelling, which Pvt. Pendleton sarcastically dubs “Fort Massacre.”
And, in an ironic twist, it is Travis, the young man who could never make a
decision, who provides the film’s shattering climax. “Fort Massacre” is a film
well worth watching.
Kino Lorber has done another admirable job bringing this
Cinemascope feature to Blu-ray. The film is for the most part exceptionally
clean with rich colors and the 2.35:1 aspect ratio for Cinemascope gives us
every millimeter of Carl Guthrie’s beautiful cinematography. The soundtrack is
DTS Stereo. There’s no surround sound, and the soundtrack is not all that
dynamic, but Marlin Skiles score is heard to good advantage throughout. As
usual with these Studio Classics Blu-rays the only bonus features are some
trailers for other films in the company’s catalog. It’s too bad. Commentary on
Goldsmith’s screenplay alone would have been worth whatever the extra cost. Nevertheless,
for anyone interested in westerns, particularly the westerns of Joel McCrea
this Blu-ray is a must-have.
(or “RIFFRAFF” as it appears in the titles) opens on a rainy night at the El
Caribe aircraft hanger in Peru. The pilots, ticket agent and a passenger await
the arrival of a man who rushes to the ticket agent and enters the plane
clutching his attaché case as he finds a seat among the cargo and livestock. Midflight,
a buzzer sounds and a pilot discovers the cargo door gone. The remaining
passenger, Charles Hasso (Marc Krah), says the other man jumped. Hasso arrives
in Panama and is briefly interrogated by Major Rues (George Givot) who advises
him to remain in town for further questioning.
the attaché, Hasso makes his way to detective Dan Hammer’s office and hires him
to protect him and asks to meet later at his hotel. Before leaving he pins a
map from the attaché to Hammer’s wall hiding it in plain site among all the
other items where it remains unseen by everyone. Meanwhile, Hammer is hired by American
oil company executive Walter Gredson (Jerome Cowen, Dagwood’s boss George
Radcliffe in the “Blondie” movie series) who owns the map. He wants Hammer to
find Hasso and the map. It turns out the map is worth a fortune in South
American oil revenues.
O’Brien is terrific as Dan Hammer, an American ex-pat living in Panama. He’s as
hard-boiled as private detectives get and is soon approached by pretty blonde
nightclub singer Maxine (Anne Jeffreys), the requisite femme fatal and
girlfriend of the oil executive seeking the map. Walter sends her to watch over
Hammer and follow his progress. Meanwhile, Eric Molinar (Walter Slezac) is also
seeking the map. He has his thugs murder Hasso and traces him back to Hammer
and the oil executives.
has a friend and side-kick, a cabbie named Pop, played by Percy Kilbride.
Kilbride would soon become famous playing Pa Kettle in eight widely popular movies
between 1947 and 1955. Kilbride provides just the right level of laid back comic
relief in an otherwise dark detective thriller. Hammer also has a lazy shaggy
dog which sleeps outside his open office door and Major Rues is on hand
throughout the movie. The relationship between Hammer and Maxine is strictly professional
and Hammer quickly realizes she’s sent to spy on him, but they soon fall for
each other. Hammer takes quite a beating at the hands of Molinar’s thugs until
Maxine discovers the map while helping Hammer get cleaned up.
movie comes to a satisfying conclusion after 80 hard boiled minutes filled with
lots of snappy dialog. The 1947 RKO production was directed by Ted Tetzlaff,
better known as a cinematographer in over 100 movies and director of a handful of
movies. He put his camera skills to good use here as director creating just the
right atmosphere of light and dark and shadows. The black and white image is
well preserved on this burn-to-order DVD released as part of the Warner Archive
Collection. The disc is bare bones, but the movie is worth checking out for the
outstanding black and white photography, terrific story, great cast of
character actors and of course that great title. “Riff-Raff” is a true gem
among 1940s crime thrillers.
Alec Guinness gave so many brilliant dramatic screen performances that many
moviegoers forget that he was also one of the most accomplished comedic actors
the British film industry had ever seen. Although Guinness first gained fame
with star-making roles in David Lean's "Great Expectations" and
"Oliver Twist" (playing Fagin), the bulk of his successes in the
1950s were in classic British comedies such as "The Lavender Hill
Mob", "Kind Hearts and Coronets", "The Ladykillers",
"The Horse's Mouth", "Our Man in Havana", "All at
Sea", "The Captain's Paradise", "The Man in the White
Suit" and "The Lavender Hill Mob". By any standard, a remarkable
roster of great comedies. By the 1960s, however, Guinness concentrated
mostly on dramatic roles. Who could blame him, with prime appearances in David
Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Doctor Zhivago"? In 1965
he did make one screwball comedy, "Situation Hopeless..But Not
Serious", a WWII-era film that co-starred young up-and-coming Robert
Redford in a supporting role, but the movie didn't particularly resonate with
critics or audiences. His only other concession to the genre of cinematic
farce was "Hotel Paradis0", filmed in 1966 by writer/director Peter
Glenville, who only sporadically made movies. Glenville's most recent cinematic
excursion had been his highly acclaimed 1964 film version of Jean
Anouilh's play "Becket". "Paradiso" was as far away from
that dramatic achievement as one could imagine. It returned Guinness to a genre
that allowed him to re-tune his considerable skills at playing overt
comedy. In fact, Guinness had starred in the original London production of the play in 1956.
The film is adapted from the play "L'Hotel du Libre
Echange", whichwas co-written by Georges Feydeau (who Glenville appears as
in the film, albeit in an uncredited role.) In fact, Alec Guinness had starred in the original London production of the play in 1956. Like the play, the movie is set in the suburbs of Paris in the early 1900s. Guinness plays Benedict Boniface, a sophisticated
milquetoast who lives a comfortable existence with one glaring exceptional
factor: he is constantly henpecked by his shrewish, dominating wife Angelique
(Peggy Mount), who oversees his every move. Benedict suffers in silence, finding a bit of solace by puttering around his garden which adjoins the home of Henri and Marcelle Cotte (Robert Morley and Gina Lollobrigida).They have their own problems: Henri is a negligent husband who is more obsessed with his career as an architect than he is with the considerable charms of his gorgeous wife, who is frustrated by his neglect and who is desperate for some romantic attention. One sunny afternoon when Henri leaves for an overnight business trip to the city, Benedict summons the courage to drop in on Marcelle and express his love for her. She is shocked but doesn't lose any time in agreeing to explore the possibility of an affair with him. Fate favors the would-be lovers when Angelique announces that she, too, is leaving on an overnight trip to look after an ailing sister. Things almost go awry when an unexpected house guest, Mr. Martin (David Byng), arrives to take up the Boniface's on a long ago offer they made to have him stay with him. The trouble is that Martin, a widower, has in tow his brood of four young daughters and their enormous amount of luggage. The Benedicts are horrified and inform Mr. Martin in the most polite manner possible that they simply don't have space to lodge the entire family and that he she consider taking rooms at a hotel in Paris. Through a misunderstanding, the name of Hotel Paradiso is mentioned. This happens to be a sleazy establishment that stays afloat by catering to illicit lovers. It is precisely the place where Benedict intends to spend the night with Marcelle. However, unbeknownst to him, Mr. Martin has mistakenly assumed that Benedict has recommended the hotel as a place for him and his daughters to stay. Benedict and Marcelle meet for dinner at a local restaurant where they briefly enjoy a rather saucy stage act before realizing they might be recognized. They then head off to Hotel Paradiso where they rather awkwardly enter the bedroom in anticipation of carrying out their plans for engaging in the kinds of activity that would surely cause a public scandal if they were to be discovered. Things get complicated quickly. Every time the would-be lovers are about to get down to business, another remarkable coincidence occurs. They include the arrival of Henri, who is staying at the hotel to examine the plumbing. Then Mr. Martin arrives with his four daughters. Even the Benedict's flirty maid shows up with Henri's nephew, who is about to be seduced by the amorous domestic servant. Playwright Georges Feydeau is on hand as he silently observes the goings-on. The film quickly becomes a classically-styled bedroom farce with Benedict and Marcelle now trapped in their room and deftly trying to avoid being seen. There are countless near-misses and close encounters and the inevitable face-to-face meetings that require explaining their presence at the hotel by employing incredulous excuses. Before long, the police end up the hotel and Benedict and Marcelle are arrested, which adds another obstacle to overcome in their unconsummated love affair.
The film was greeted with tepid reviews at the time, with critics citing Glenville's propensity to direct films as though he was still working in a theater. It's true that Glenville does have a somewhat heavy hand in terms of directing lightweight comedy scenarios.However, the movie certainly plays better today simply because no one makes films like this anymore, least of all with the caliber of stars like Guinness and Lollobrigida, who was also quite adept between dramatic roles and lightweight farces. Both actors are at their best here, especially as the pace of the farce picks up pace and the coincidences and obstacles that their characters have to deal with become more incredible and amusing. There is able support from the always-reliable Robert Morley and Akim Tamiroff turns up as the hotel's sleazy manager. However, the show-stealing performance is the hilarious turn by David Byng, whose Mr. Martin is a naive eccentric with a sporadic speech impediment that comes and goes depending upon the state of the weather! It plays a pivotal role in the film's climax. The concluding sequence takes place at the opening of a new play by Georges Feydeau which the principal characters attend together. It leads to a very amusing "sting-in-the-tail" finale with ironic consequences. "Hotel Paradiso" benefits from a lavish production design and a good score by Laurence Rosenthal. It also marked an early career achievement for legendary film editor Anne V. Coates. In summary, a most entertaining film from an era in which there was a place for sophistication in cinematic comedies.
The Warner Archive DVD is region-free and includes the original trailer. The packaging also retains the wonderful original poster art by Frank Frazetta.
“He Ran All the Way” (1951) was forties’ tough guy John
Garfield’s last cinematic performance. It’s a taut, tense, claustrophobic drama
about Nick Robey, a cop-killer who takes a family hostage in a small apartment,
as he tries to figure a way to lam out of town. As Garfield’s swan song it’s a
compelling performance, and ironically there are eerie hints throughout the
film of the real life crises he was facing at the time. More on that later.
The film begins with Robey’s mother (Gladys George)
hollering at him to get out of bed and go look for work. She talks to him like
a worthless bum and the first time we see him, Robey is a harassed, seemingly
helpless character without a clue what he ought to be doing with his life. When
he leaves his apartment his friend, Al Molin (Norman Lloyd) catches him on the
street and reminds him they do have
something to do. Almost as if against his will, Robey finds himself with a gun
in his hand, as they march into a warehouse and rob a guy carrying a briefcase
full of money. The job is botched from the start. A cop shoots Molin in the
back and Robey plugs the cop and runs for it.
James Wong Howe’s stark black and white close up cinematography
showing the sweat on Garfield’s face and the look of fear in his eyes and John
Berry’s close, unyielding direction perfectly convey the rage and paranoia of a
desperate man on the run. Robey stays on the crowded city streets as long as he
can, then ducks into an indoor swimming pool where he picks up Peggy Dobbs
(Shelley Winters). He figures if he has a girl with him, he has a better chance
of not being spotted by the cops. He manages to take her home, where
unexpectedly he learns she lives with her mom (Selena Royal) and dad (Wallace Ford)
and kid brother (Bobby Hyatt).
The family, seeing that Peggy has a new boyfriend,
obligingly goes to the movies, leaving them alone. Peggy is hopelessly na?ve as
Garfield grills her about the family and her life. When she turns on the radio
and they start to dance, she tells him to loosen up. “I dance the way I wanna
dance,” he snaps and turns the music off. That’s the kind of guy he is. When
the family members come back from the movies, he looks out the window and sees
them on the street talking to two men. He thinks they’re cops and he pulls a
gun on mom, pop and the kid when they come upstairs. That’s when the trouble
starts and unfortunately that’s when the story starts to unravel.
After keeping them hostage overnight, he lets the old man
and Peg go to work next morning so as not to arouse suspicion, threatening to
kill the others if they give anything away. Frankly, at this point, the
situation becomes too contrived and the characters, Robey included, too unbelievable
and too unlikeable for anyone to really care what happens to them. The Wallace
Ford Character and his wife are too cowardly, Peggy is at first too na?ve and
then later too daring or foolhardy to be believable. And Robey is at turns too
much of a whiner on the one hand and too much of a thug on the other.
As noted earlier, “He Ran All the Way,” a movie about a
man hounded by authorities and grim fate, mirrors in many ways the real-life
situation Garfield was living through at the time. His career was on the skids,
he had a bad heart condition, and he was being investigated by Joe McCarthy’s
House UnAmerican Activities Committee for his involvement with the Communist
Party. Like Nick Robey, Garfield was trapped in a web of circumstances from
which he would never escape. Garfield would be dead of a heart attack a year later
at the age of 39.
This film generally gets great reviews, in part, I
suspect because it was Garfield’s last, and also because, in another ironic
twist, it was written by Dalton Trumbo, who had his own troubles with the
McCarthy Committee. He went to jail as one of the famous Hollywood 10 for not naming
names. Trumbo and co-writer Hugh Butler had to use the name of Guy Endore in
the credits as a front. Working from a novel by Sam Ross, they tried to keep
the tension high, but in the end it all sort of comes apart, and by the time
it’s over you’re sorry more of the characters don’t suffer Robey’s fate. They
just plain get on your nerves. But maybe that was the point. The world created
by Trumbo, Butler and Ross, was a world you wouldn’t want to live in anyway. Maybe
you’d be better off dead. Come to think of it, wasn’t that the point of most of
Kino Lorber has outdone themselves with this stunning Studio
Classics Blu-Ray presentation of “He Ran All the Way.” The restored transfer is
absolutely flawless. The picture is crystal clear and the crisp black and white
photography is rendered in film-like detail. Sound is mono. Unfortunately there
are no extras except for a trailer for the film and for two others, including
“A Bullet for Joey.”
Overall, I can think of several other Garfield films I’d
recommend over this one, including “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” and “Body
and Soul.” But despite its flaws, I’d recommend getting this one just to round
out your Garfield collection and to enjoy, perhaps, one of the best black white
Blu-ray discs on the market.