Category Archives: 1957

Blu-Ray News #152: Five Steps To Danger (1957).

Directed by Henry S. Kesler
Starring Ruth Roman, Sterling Hayden, Werner Klemperer, Richard Gaines, Charles Davis, Jeanne Cooper

I can’t get enough of Sterling Hayden — I’d watch a film of him brushing his teeth. Five Steps To Danger (1957), a cool Cold War espionage story, has been a hard one to track down over the years. All that’s about to change with a new 4K restoration and Blu-Ray from ClassicFlix. Judging from their previous releases, we can count on it looking like a million bucks.

So far, the only release date from ClassicFlix is early 2018. Man, I’m really looking forward to this one.

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Filed under 1957, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Sterling Hayden, United Artists

Blu-Ray News #149: Crime Of Passion (1957).

Directed by Gerd Oswald
Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden, Raymond Burr, Fay Wray, Virginia Grey, Royal Dano

ClassicFlix has Gerd Oswald’s Crime Of Passion (1957) on the way, both Blu-Ray and DVD. This was an early direction gig for Oswald, but he did some great stuff right out of the gate, such as A Kiss Before Dying (1956) and Fury At Showdown (1957, a personal favorite). He had a real knack for getting the most out of a tiny budget and tinier schedule — and the results are always stylish. This made him perfect for later TV work like The Outer Limits and Star Trek.

Of course, with a cast like this one — Stanwyck, Hayden, Burr, etc., how could he miss? Crime Of Passion was dismissed as just another B noir back in the day, and it certainly deserves the reappraisal it’s received over the years. It’ll be great to have it spiffed up on Blu-Ray, where Joseph LaShelle’s camerawork can really shine. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1957, Barbara Stanwyck, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Gerd Oswald, Sterling Hayden

Blu-Ray News #148: The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957).

Directed by Jack Arnold
Screenplay by Richard Matheson
Starring Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent, Paul Langton, Raymond Bailey

Arrow Video’s bringing Jack Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) to Blu-Ray in November. It’s one of the best sci-fi movies of the 50s, easy, and Arrow is promising lota of extras. This should be a really nice package.

Special Features and Technical Specs:
• Original uncompressed PCM mono audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Auteur on the Campus: Jack Arnold at Universal – an extended documentary about the early career of director Jack Arnold at Universal-International studios
• There Is No Zero: Writing The Shrinking Man – an in-depth conversation with author Richard Christian Matheson about his father and the creation of the original Incredible Shrinking Man novel
• Super 8 cut-down version
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Teaser
• Reversible sleeve featuring original, newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck
• First pressing: Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kim Newman

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Filed under 1957, Arrow Video, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Arnold

Blu-Ray Review: From Hell It Came (1957).

Directed by Dan Milner
Cinematography: Brydon Baker
Film Editor: Jack Milner
Original Music: Darrell Calker
Written by Richard Bernstein and Dan Milner
Produced by Jack Milner

Cast: Tod Andrews (Dr. William Arnold), Tina Carver (Dr. Terry Mason), John McNamara (Professor Clark), Linda Watkins (Mae Kilgore), Gregg Palmer (Kimo), Grace Mathews (Orchid), Chester Haynes (Tabonga)

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When it comes to 50s sci-fi movies, I find that Quality and Entertainment have an often inverse correlation. (I’m tossing the concept of inverse correlation in here to prove I actually paid attention in those economics classes decades ago.) In other words, the more production values you pack in there, the bigger the budget, the less fun they seem to be. With that in mind, I’m happy to report that the super-cheap From Hell It Came (1957) is largely quality-free.

On some South Seas island, a prince is (unjustly) convicted of murder, and he’s executed with a knife in the heart — all orchestrated by the witch doctor. They bury the prince upright in an old tree trunk. Turns out the place is lousy with nuclear fallout, which reanimates the prince as a walking tree with the ceremonial dagger still sticking out of its chest. Called Tabonga, it quickly sprouts and starts killing people.

Some American scientists are on the island studying radiation levels or something. They get to the bottom of it all after spouting page after page of B-movie scientific nonsense — and putting away an awful lot of booze. And if all that isn’t enough, there’s some quicksand in the Big Finish.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this thing is great. It’s a whacked-out mix of the usual 50s science fiction monster trappings, the goofy pseudo-Polynesian aesthetic of the period, and concern about the perils of the Atom Age.

If it all sounds ridiculous, and it does, imagine seeing it on screen — somebody shuffling around in a cheap rubber tree costume. The Tabonga is the work of the great Paul Blaisdell, AIP’s favorite (cheap) monster maker, but constructed by Don Post Studios: “I designed the Tabonga the way I thought it should look in terms of the script, and the people that built it did a damn good job of reproducing a prop that was a nice concept and certainly an original one, but one that was very awkward. My hat goes off to the guy who had to act the part of the walking tree (Chester Haynes). I think he did a helluva good job under the circumstances.”

What’s interesting about From Hell It Came is that in some ways, it looks and plays like a fairly-decent movie. The acting is passable, most of the time. The cinematography, from Brydon Baker, certainly seems professional. The editing’s not bad. It’s the premise itself — a revengeful, walking tree — and the godawful dialogue that sink this one, and make it the hoot that it is.

Back in ’57, From Hell It Came played twin bills with The Disembodied. It’s not any good, either, but it features the always-wonderful Allison Hayes as a “killer-witch of the jungle.”

Quicksand is a terrific cheesy movie thing, and I love it. (Do you know someone who perished by sinking into quicksand? Or someone who’s even seen quicksand?) As a kid, I was always on the lookout for it — after all, South Georgia isn’t all that far from Louisiana, where Kharis (Lon Chaney Jr.) had reposed in quicksand in The Mummy’s Curse (1944). Later, Christopher Lee’s Hammer The Mummy (1959) took the Scroll Of Life with him into the quicksand. Movies with a quicksand scene get extra credit from me.

Speaking of extra credit, Warner Archive gets high marks from bringing something like From Hell It Came to Blu-Ray period. Then factor in that it’s a stellar presentation, with its incredible clarity and perfect contrast giving us a chance to really study the rubbery goodness of that Tabonga outfit. You also get a trailer. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1957, Allison Hayes, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Hammer Films, Lon Chaney Jr., Monogram/Allied Artists, Paul Blaisdell, Warner Archive

DVD News # 129: Decoy (1957-1958).

Film Chest Media Group has announced an upcoming set of all 39 episodes of Decoy (1957-1958). This cop show, starring Beverly Garland as policewoman Casey Jones, was shot on location in New York.

Like a lot of 50s TV, some outstanding character actors turn up each week. Decoy boasts Simon Oakland, Martin Balsam, Peter Falk, John Cassavetes, Suzanne Pleshette, Vincent Gardenia, Clifton James, Colleen Dewhurst, Ed Asner, Miriam Colon, Al Lewis, Diane Ladd, Larry Hagman and Albert Dekker, along with many others.

I’ve seen a few episodes of Decoy over the years, and they’re really cool — with a bit of a Dragnet vibe. Of course, the 50s New York locations are terrific. Beverly Garland is one of my favorite actresses, so I’m really excited to see how this set looks. The release date is listed as May 30.

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Filed under 1957, 1958, Beverly Garland, Film Chest Media Group, Peter Falk, Television

Blu-Ray News #119: From Hell It Came (1957).

Directed by Dan Milner
Starring Tod Andrews, Tina Carver, Linda Watkins, John McNamara, Gregg Palmer, Suzanne Ridgeway

From Hell It Came (1957) is a really terrible movie with laughable special effects. I love it and can’t wait to see it in high-definition. It’s coming from Warner Archive — 2017 is really gonna be some year for old movies on Blu-Ray.

The monster was originally designed by Paul Blaisdell, AIP’s favorite (cheap) monster maker, but constructed by Don Post Studios. It looks every bit as ridiculous as you’d imagine a walking tree to look.

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Filed under 1957, DVD/Blu-ray News, Monogram/Allied Artists, Paul Blaisdell, Warner Archive

The Kino Lorber March Madness Sale.

Kino Lorber has a terrific sale going on this month — great discounts on a number of their Blu-Rays, including one of my favorites, The Monster That Challenged The World (1957). Have at it, folks!

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Filed under 1957, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber