Category Archives: 1964

Blu-Ray News #126: Seven Days In May (1964).

Directed by John Frankenheimer
Starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Martin Balsam

Warner Archive has announced a summer Blu-Ray release of the John Frankenheimer suspense/paranoia classic Seven Days In May (1964) — with Burt Lancaster as a general leading a plot to overthrow the President (whose talks of disarmament has some in the military fearing a Russian attack). The cast is outstanding — Fredric March (as the President), Kirk Douglas (as a general who uncovers the plot), Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Martin Balsam, Andrew Duggan and on and on. Rod Serling’s script is a masterpiece — this is an idea that remains topical and will probably never be handled better.

Black and white really looks terrific in high definition, and director of photography Ellsworth Fredricks’ work here certainly deserves the boost in clarity. Good stuff.

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Filed under 1964, Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster, Edmond O'Brien, Hugh Marlowe, John Frankenheimer, Paramount, Rod Serling, Warner Archive, Whit Bissell

Blu-Ray News #98: The Pink Panther Film Collection.

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Directed by Blake Edwards
Starring Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk, etc.

Shout Factory has announced the arrival in April of a very, very funny thing — The Pink Panther Blu-Ray Collection. It gathers up all six of the Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau films, from The Pink Panther (1963) to the after-his-death thing, The Trail Of The Pink Panther (1982), and presents them in hi-def.  We all have our favorite of these films, and our favorite gags — mine is A Shot In The Dark (1964) and the gag with the parallel bars in Strikes Again (1976).

The Pink Panther (1963)
Starring Peter Sellers, David Niven, Robert Wagner, Capucine
“Oh well, if you’ve seen one Stradivarius, you’ve seen them all.”

A Shot In The Dark (1964)
Starring Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer
“Yes, it is my coat.”

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The Return Of The Pink Panther (1975)
Starring Peter Sellers, Christopher Plummer, Catherine Schell, Herbert Lom
“Swine bird.”

The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)
Starring Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk, Lesley-Anne Down
“It is obvious to my trained eye, that there is much more going on here than meets the ear. ”

Revenge Of The Pink Panther (1978)
Starring Peter Sellers, Dyan Cannon, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk
“Ooohhh, sixteen chests on a dead man’s rum, Yo-ho-ho in the bottle of the chest.”

Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)
Starring Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk
“I am André Botot, mustard salesman from Dijon.”

Personally, I’m glad they left out the non-Sellers pictures. This set is coming from Shout Factory’s new Shout Select line, and they promise a slew of extras. Funny as all hell, and absolutely essential.

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Filed under 1963, 1964, 1975, 1976, 1978, Blake Edwards, DVD/Blu-ray News, Peter Sellers, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray Review: The TAMI Show (1964)/The Big TNT Show (1966).

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I’m a big fan of 60s music by the likes of Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, James Brown, The Rollings Stones and Roger Miller, and the concert movies The TAMI Show (1964) and The Big TNT Show (1966) have been on my Must See List for decades (the combine-the-two-into-one-VHS-tape thing, This Was Rock, doesn’t count.)

Both shows were shot on an early hi-def TV system, then transferred to 35mm for theatrical release — thanks to a process called Electronovision. So while I knew the music was great, I’ve always wondered how good they’d look when I finally got the chance to see them.

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There was no reason to worry. The new Shout Factory Blu-Ray package gives us both films, The TAMI Show and The Big TNT Show, looking splendid — taking into consideration that these are basically high-end kinescopes. They’re widescreen (1.78 for TAMI, 1.85 for TNT), as they were in theaters, and the monophonic sound is absolutely glorious.

Which performances you like best is a matter of personal taste, with the fabled James Brown/Rolling Stones sets being obvious standouts. (The Stones do “It’s All Over Now!”) Roger Miller really knocked me out in the second picture — it’s a real treat to see him in these prime years — and The Byrds are really cool (the image is sharp enough for us to see the sweat pouring off of David Crosby, who’s wearing a cape/coat/wrap thing during their handful of songs). It’s a really diverse mix of incredible talent — so many of these acts have made their way into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

These movies serve as a remarkable time capsule, documenting a time when popular music was on fire. If the music of this period is your bag, this double feature is essential.

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Filed under 1964, 1966, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray News #87: Nightmare (1964).

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Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Jennie Linden, Moira Redmond, Brenda Bruce, David Knight, George A. Cooper, Clytie Jessop

It’s a Hammer horror movie. It’s directed by Freddie Francis. It’s in black and white CinemaScope. Those are plenty of reasons to be excited about its upcoming Blu-Ray release in the UK from Final Cut Entertainment.

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Filed under 1964, DVD/Blu-ray News, Freddie Francis, Hammer Films

CD News: Jonny Quest Soundtrack.

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La-La Land Records and Warner Bros. is about to release the original television score to the Hanna-Barbera adventure series Jonny Quest (1964-65). This deluxe 2-CD tribute to the musical genius of Hoyt Curtin is something a certain demographic has been waiting for for years.

La-La Land has brought out a lot of really great stuff — their complete score to It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World is terrific, but this might be the best yet.

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Filed under 1964, 1965, Hanna-Barbera, Television

Blu-Ray News #81: The TAMI Show (1964)/The Big TNT Show (1966).

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Shout Factory has announced a twin-bill Blu-Ray of two of the greatest concert films ever made: The T.A.M.I. Show (1964) and The Big T.N.T. Show (1966). Both were shot on videotape and transferred to 35mm for theatrical release by American International. In the 50s and 60s, AIP really had the teenager scene locked down, didn’t they?

The T.A.M.I. Show features The Beach Boys (whose performance was edited out for years), Chuck Berry, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes and Jan And Dean (who emcee the event). It was directed by Steve Binder, who also gave us Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special.

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1966’s The Big T.N.T. Show follows the same basic format as The T.A.M.I. Show. Some say the lineup of acts isn’t as good as the first film, but with The Byrds, Roger Miller, Ray Charles and Bo Diddley on hand, I ain’t complaining. Oh, and Frank Zappa can be spotted in the audience!

I’ve always been impressed by how good these look, given they began as 1960s videotape, and am looking forward to the Blu-Ray. Essential stuff.

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Filed under 1964, 1966, 1968, AIP, Elvis Presley, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray Review: Hammer Films Double Feature Volume 2 — The Revenge Of Frankenstein/The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb.

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Mill Creek’s Hammer Films Double Feature Volume 2 presents a couple more hi-def Hammer horror films — one a classic, one not so much, but both looking great.

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The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)
Directed by Terence Fisher
Starring Peter Cushing, Eunice Grayson, Francis Matthews, Michael Gwynn

The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958) is the second entry in Hammer’s Frankenstein series, coming after The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957). Hammer went a different route than Universal — they follow the Doctor, not the Monster, which lets the stories go in all sorts of different directions. And more important, it established Peter Cushing as a leading horror star through the 70s (then he went and did a little thing called Star Wars).

Revenge picks up where Curse left off. Frankenstein escapes the guillotine, flees to Carlsbruck and builds a successful practice under the name Stein. Of course, he’s conducting his usual experiments on the side — and they go horribly wrong. Frankenstein transplants the brain of a willing assistant into the newly constructed monster, giving the crippled young man a stronger, straighter body. Or that’s the idea anyway.

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This, for my money, is one of Hammer’s finest films. Cushing is terrific as the brilliant doctor completely taken over by arrogance and misguided ambition (making it quite appropriate during this Presidential election). Eunice Grayson and Francis Matthews are good as the nurse and young doctor caught up in Frankenstein’s mayhem. Michael Gwynn is really superb as the monster, perfectly balancing the sympathy and horror the part requires. His performance is what makes the movie work as well as it does. Jimmy Sangster’s script is more disciplined than usual, free of the diversions that can lead his films astray. And Terence Fisher’s direction is as assured as ever.

One thing: why didn’t Hammer put the tattoo on Cushing’s right arm in the later films? What a cool touch that would’ve been throughout the series.

For some reason, The Revenge Of Frankenstein has never looked very good on video. Shot in Technicolor and 1.66:1 by John Asher, it should really pop off the screen, the way The Gorgon (1964) does in Volume 1. But it’s always seemed grainy and a bit blown out, with the color too muted to match the typical late-50s Hammer esthetic. Though not a thing of great beauty, Mill Creek’s Blu-Ray is a huge improvement over the old Columbia DVD. The grain is there to remind you this was once on film, but it’s not a distraction; the color is a lot closer to what it must’ve looked like in theaters back in ’58.

This, folks, is a really good movie.

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The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb (1964)
Directed by Michael Carreras
Starring Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard, Fred Clark, Jeanne Roland

While Hammer knocked Dracula and Frankenstein out of the park, they had a harder time with the Mummy. The Mummy’s an difficult monster on the whole — cool-looking and creepy for sure, but not all that scary. In the Universal Mummy pictures, women have to trip and fall for the Mummy to catch them. Hammer’s The Mummy (1959) was pretty solid, but they seemed to have a hard time figuring out how to work the Mummy into the plots of the later movies. All that said, The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb (1964) still works pretty well.

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A group of Egyptologists bring an exhibit to London, backed by an American showman named Alexander King (Fred Clark). King is determined to exploit the artifacts for maximum profits, which doesn’t sit too well with the revived Mummy. The usual havoc follows.

This is an odd Hammer film. It wasn’t shot at Bray Studios, and there are very few of the regulars among the cast and crew. And while it suffers from the same limitations other Mummy films have (What do you do with this guy?), it has some nice atmospherics here and there. And it’s a thousand times better than the next one, The Mummy’s Shroud (1967).

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It’s easy to sing the praises of how The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb fares on Blu-Ray. It looks fantastic. The Technicolor is nicely presented and the Techniscope framing’s perfect. A big improvement over the DVD. And as with the first volume, you can’t beat the price.

The Revenge Of Frankenstein alone is worth the price of admission — it’s one of Hammer’s best, and it looks far better than previous releases. Think of The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb as a bonus. Recommended. And I hope Volume 3 isn’t too far behind.

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Filed under 1958, 1964, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Hammer Films, Mill Creek, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher