Blu-Ray News #352: Columbia Noir #4.

Indicator/Powerhouse’s terrific noir series continues with Volume Four, and I’m proud to be playing a tiny part in this one. All six films are coming to Blu-ray for the first time anywhere. Among the extras are commentaries, documentaries, trailers, six Three Stooges shorts and a 120-page book.

Walk A Crooked Mile (1948)
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Starring Dennis O’Keefe, Louis Hayward, Louise Allbritton, Carl Esmond, Onslow Stevens, Raymond Burr, Art Baker. Frank Ferguson 

The Commies have infiltrated an atomic research center in California. It’s up to an FBI agent (Dennis O’Keefe) and a Scotland Yard detective (Louis Hayward) to find ’em. Gordon Douglas directed. Look at that cast. It’s gotta be good.

Walk East On Beacon! (1952)
Directed by Alfred L. Werker
Starring George Murphy, Finlay Currie, Virginia Gilmore

This time the FBI agent is George Murphy, and he’s after Commies in Boston, trying to stop ’em from snagging a top scientist. 

Pushover (1954)
Directed by Richard Quine
Starring Fred MacMurray, Phil Carey, Kim Novak, Dorothy Malone, EG Marshall

Fred MacMurray’s a cop tempted by $200,000 in bank heist loot and one of the robbers’ girlfriend, Kim Novak (in her first movie). Can you really blame him?

A Bullet Is Waiting (1954)
Directed by John Farrow
Starring Jean Simmons, Rory Calhoun, Stephen McNally, Brian Aherne

Rory Calhoun’s a prisoner who gets away from sheriff Stephen McNally after a plane crash. They both end up in a cabin with Jean Simmons. She doesn’t know who to trust, and the tension builds for a solid 90 minutes.

Chicago Syndicate (1955)
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Starring Dennis O’Keefe, Paul Stewart, Abbe Lane, Allison Hayes, Xavier Cugat

An accountant (Dennis O’Keefe) helps the FBI crack the Syndicate in Chicago. A solid crime picture from Sam Katzman and Fred F. Sears, with a terrific performance from Paul Stewart as a mob boss and great location work. The commentary for this one comes from some clod named Toby Roan.

The Brothers Rico
Directed by Phil Karlson
Starring Richard Conte, Dianne Foster, Kathryn Grant, Larry Gates, James Darren, Paul Picerni

Eddie Rico (Richard Conte) is a Mob bookkeeper, and his plan to go straight does not go over well with his brothers (James Darren, Paul Picerni) or his boss (Larry Gates). Another tough, essential movie from the great Phil Karlson.

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Filed under 1954, 1955, Allison Hayes, Columbia, Dennis O'Keefe, DVD/Blu-ray News, Frank Ferguson, Fred F. Sears, Fred MacMurray, Gordon Douglas, Paul Picerni, Rory Calhoun

Blu-Ray News #351: The Amazing Mr. X (1948).

Directed by Bernard Vorhaus
Starring Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O’Donnell, Richard Carlson, Donald Curtis, Virginia Gregg

There’s a lot of good stuff on the way to Blu-Ray these days. Among these riches is The Amazing Mr. X (1948), also known as The Spiritualist, coming from The Film Detective in October.

Turhan Bey plays Alexis, a phony spiritualist who gets in way over his head with his latest con — convincing a widow that he’s in contact with her late husband.

Bey is terrific as the bogus medium. The picture’s got noir regulars Lynn Bari and Cathy O’Donnell, horror/sci-fi favorite Richard Carlson and the great Virginia Gregg (who Jack Webb must’ve had on retainer).

But the real attraction here is the cinematography by John Alton. Alton was a real master, and his book Painting With Light is a classic for both filmmakers and movie geeks. To have Alton’s work in high definition is a real treat. The Amazing Mr. X is a cool little movie and given that The Film Detective is promising a restoration, it’s highly recommended indeed.

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Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Eagle Lion, John Alton, Richard Carlson, The Film Detective

Blu-Ray News #350: I Wouldn’t Be In Your Shoes! (1948).

Directed by William Nigh
Starring Don Castle, Elyse Knox, Regis Toomey, Charles D. Brown, Bill Kennedy, John Doucette, Ray Teal

A Monogram picture making its way to Blu-Ray is always a reason to rejoice. This one, a fairly obscure noir picture based on a Cornell Woolrich story, it’s a really big deal indeed. Thank you, Warner Archive!

I Wouldn’t Be In Your Shoes! (1948) is one of those Poverty Row pictures where everything came together just right, from the lack of money to the chintzy sets to the no-name stars to the great character actors, to create something really memorable. Don Castle plays a dancer who’s convicted of murder (that he didn’t do). Elyse Knox is his wife, who’ll do just about anything to get him off Death Row. I’m not gonna spoil things by going any further.

This was one of director William Nigh’s last pictures. He was a prolific Poverty Row man, and he gave us some real favorites — Mutiny In The Big House (1939), Doomed To Die (194o), The Ape (1940) and Black Dragons (1942, one of “the Monogram Nine”). I Wouldn’t Be In Your Shoes! has the usual Monogram feel, stagy and a bit hurried, but it makes quite an impression. I’m a sucker for DP Mack Stengler, who shot everything from Sagebrush Law and Ghosts On The Loose (both 1943) to episodes of The Lone Ranger and Leave It To Beaver.

I Wouldn’t Be In Your Shoes! gets a big fat recommendation.

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Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Monogram/Allied Artists, Regis Toomey, William Nigh

Blu-Ray News #349: Objective, Burma! (1945).

Directed by Raoul Walsh
Starring Errol Flynn, James Brown, William Prince, George Tobias, Henry Hull, Rodd Redwing, Hugh Beaumont

Raoul Walsh’s Objective Burma (1945), starring Errol Flynn, remains one of my favorite war movies — and it’s coming to Blu-Ray from Warner Archive.

It’s a hard-hitting picture, loosely based on the exploits of Merrill’s Marauders in the Burma Campaign — which also inspired the 1962 Sam Fuller picture, Merrill’s Marauders. While it might be hard to imagine Flynn as an Army paratrooper, he pulls it off effortlessly (he tried to enlist but was declared unfit due to a medical condition).

Paired up, Walsh and Flynn were a movie-making force of nature (I even like 1948’s Silver River). Get Objective, Burma! on Blu-Ray. That’s an order!

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Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Errol Flynn, Raoul Walsh, Warner Archive, Warner Bros.

RIP, Ned Beatty.

Ned Thomas Beatty
(July 6, 1937 – June 13, 2021)

He’ll always be remembered for Deliverance (1972), his first movie, but Ned Beatty was terrific in all sorts of things. He passed away yesterday at 83.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Beatty was in some key films of the 70s — Deliverance, White Lightning (1973, above), All The President’s Men (1974), Network (1976, which landed him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor), Superman (1978) and 1941 (1979). The decade was loaded with great character actors, and he was at the top of the heap.

More good stuff followed, from Hopscotch (1980) to Toy Story 3 (2010). He’s a lot of fun in a pretty terrible thing called Rolling Vengeance (1987).

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Filed under 1973, Ned Beatty

Blu-Ray News #348: Arabesque (1966).

Directed by Stanley Donen
Starring Gregory Peck, Sophia Loren

Stanley Donen directed a couple of my favorite films of the 60s, Charade (1963) and Bedazzled (1967). In between, he did Arabesque (1966), a fun piece of Hitchcockian eye candy starring Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. It’s coming to Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber.

Donen offered the lead to Cary Grant, who’d starred in Charade. Grant turned it down, and the part went to Peck. He’s a hieroglyphics expert who can decode a secret message — and who ends up pursued by sinister agents with Sophia Loren in tow. The story’s slight, but Donen and cinematographer Christopher Challis more than make up for it with all kinds of Technicolor-Panavision loveliness.

Henry Mancini cooked up a great score, which The Ventures covered (only released as a 45). Robert McGinnis did the terrific poster art (up top) between his work for Thunderball (1965) and You Only Live Twice (1967).

Flashy 60s pictures like this are perfect for Blu-Ray, and this one comes highly recommended.

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Filed under 1966, DVD/Blu-ray News, Gregory Peck, Kino Lorber, Robert McGinnis, Sophia Loren, Stanley Donen, Universal (-International)

Happy Birthday, Vincent Price.

Vincent Price
(May 27, 1911 – October 25, 1993)

Here’s the great Vincent Price having a drink during the shooting of Roger Corman’s Pit And The Pendulum (1961). You get so thirsty in those crypts!

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Filed under 1961, AIP, Roger Corman, Vincent Price

Texas 6.

The newest we get on this blog is 1980. That’s a limit I set when I started this thing, and to my mind, it sometimes feels too new.

Well, why make a rule if you can’t have the fun of breaking it? Texas 6 is an eight-episode documentary series about the six-man high school football team in Strawn, Texas.

Strawn’s a tiny town about two hours west of Dallas. My grandparents lived there, and I spent a lot of summers and Christmases there growing up. It’s one of my favorite places on this earth. My grandpa, Flint McCullough, trained cutting horses. My grandma, Zelma McCullough, worked at the bank and the grocery store.

Six-man football is plain old American high school football, adapted for just six players — since little bitty towns don’t have enough kids to field a regular team. It’s fast and it’s fun. The Friday night lights burn just as bright, and the good people of Strawn take their Greyhounds very seriously. 

I just became aware of Texas 6. Haven’t seen anything but the trailer. But I felt compelled to plug it anyway. It’s a Paramount+ show, and it can be tracked down somewhere somehow. I’ll be figuring all that out real soon.

And if you find yourself in Strawn, or even somewhat near it, try Mary’s Cafe. You won’t regret it, I promise.

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Filed under Television

Blu-Ray News #347: The Abbott & Costello Show, Season One (1952).

Bob Furmanek of The 3-D Film Archive has announced their most ambitious and labor-intensive effort yet — working with TCA Television Corp. and the Lou Costello Estate to restore and preserve The Abbott & Costello Show from its original 35mm camera negatives! This mammoth project is being propelled by a Kickstarter campaign. Click the title card above to participate.

What we see today comes from standard-definition transfers done back in the 80s, that have been “sharpened” and monkeyed with over the years for DVD release. (My old 16mm prints were better-looking!)

For this new release, the 26 Season One episodes will be scanned from 35mm master elements in 4K resolution — and each episode will be digitally cleaned, frame by frame.

These shows are terrific — it’s still considered one of the greatest TV shows ever, and I’m so stoked The 3-D Film Archive is giving them the four-star treatment they did for Africa Screams (1949) and Jack And The Beanstalk (1952). Can’t wait to see Stinky, Mike The Cop and Hillary Brooke in all their 4K glory. Essential.

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Filed under 1952, Abbott & Costello, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Film Preservation, Television, The 3-D Film Archive

Blu-Ray News #346: Corruption (1968).

Directed by Robert Hartford-Davis
Starring Peter Cushing, Sue Lloyd, Noel Trevarthen, Kate O’Mara, David Lodge, Antony Booth

Corruption (1968) is a weird one, placing Peter Cushing in the swinging London of 1967, up to the nasty business we’re accustomed to him doing in a more Gothic setting. His fiancee (the terrific Sue Lloyd) is scarred and Cushing goes about all sorts of butchery to set things right. It was seen as rather lurid and gory back in the day, and it’s still a bit jarring to see Mr. Cushing involved in something like this (which Columbia slapped a “Suggested For Mature Audiences” banner on).

Indicator/Powerhouse Films is bringing Corruption to Blu-Ray in August, giving us two versions of the film — the 92-minute theatrical version and the more graphic international one. They’re also piling on the extras: commentary, interviews, trailers, TV and radio spots, galleries and more. 

A good friend mentioned this the other day, that they saw this in the theater as a kid. This Blu-Ray sounds pretty exhaustive and definitive. Recommended, as is anything Peter Cushing touched. 

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Filed under 1968, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Indicator/Powerhouse, Peter Cushing