Category Archives: 1973

Blu-Ray Review: The Stone Killer (1973).

Directed by Michael Winner
Screenplay by Gerald Wilson
Based on a book by John Gardner
Cinematography: Robert Moore
Music by Roy Budd

Cast: Charles Bronson (Lou Torrey), Martin Balsam (Al Vescari), David Sheiner (Guido Lorenz), Norman Fell (Daniels), Ralph Waite (Mathews), Paul Koslo (Langley), Stuart Margolin (Lawrence), Jack Colvin (Jumper), John Ritter (Hart)

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Mill Creek’s recent Blu-Ray release, Charles Bronson: 4 Movie Collection, offers up The Valachi Papers (1972), The Stone Killer (1973), Hard Times (1974) and Breakout (1975). There’s some good stuff there, especially Walter Hill’s Hard Times, and they all look terrific on Blu-Ray. It’s a nice set at a great price.

Michael Winner, Charles Bronson and Dino De Laurentis

Charles Bronson made quite a few movies with Italian producer Dino De Laurentis in the 70s. It seems to have been a successful relationship for all concerned. Michael Winner first directed Bronson in Chato’s Land (1972), and they’d go on to do Death Wish (1974), which would send both of their careers in a certain direction. At this point in his career, Bronson was really on a roll.

The Stone Killer has Bronson as Lou Torrey, an undercover cop who comes upon a Mafia revenge plot — with a squad of Vietnam vets assembled by the Mob to pull off a number of hits. That provides a framework upon which shootings, torture, car crashes and other stuff can be hung. Bronson’s cool in this one, and he’s been surrounded by a top-notch cast — Martin Balsam, Norman Fell, Ralph Waite, and a couple of my 70s favorites: Paul Koslo and Stuart Margolin (Angel on The Rockford Files). The action’s very well done, they make great use of New York and LA locations, and there’s that 70s-film-stock look that’s so perfect for things like this.

Speaking of locations, there’s a scene near the middle of the picture, with Bronson visiting a hippie commune, that was shot at Moonfire Ranch outside LA. Built for Harper (1966) — it was the temple where the whacked-out holy man Strother Martin hung out. It’s still there today (the photo above is recent). The Doors and Jimi Hendrix played concerts there in the late 60s.

The Stone Killer looks great on Blu-Ray from Mill Creek. All four pictures in the set do. Columbia’s transfers are typically outstanding, and these are no exception. And these movies are Charles Bronson in his prime. And if the increased definition isn’t enough for ya, this will even save you some shelf space. Charles Bronson: 4 Movie Collection is a winner however you wanna look at it. Recommended.

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Filed under 1973, Charles Bronson, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Michael Winner, Mill Creek

DVD/Blu-Ray News #155: The Night Stalker (1972) And The Night Strangler (1973).

Here’s a couple things I’ve been waiting for — the two Carl Kolchak TV movies coming to DVD and Blu-Ray from 4K scans!

The Night Stalker
Directed byJohn Llewellyn Moxey
Written by Richard Matheson
Starring Darren McGavin, Carol Lynley, Simon Oakland, Ralph Meeker, Claude Akins, Charles McGraw, Elisha Cook Jr., Larry Linville

Both Kolchak films come for that Golden Age of TV movies, when ABC was offering up masterpieces like these, Spielberg’s Duel (1971) or The Legend Of Lizzie Borden (1974). But, really, when you have Darren McGavin spouting words from Richard Matheson, how could they be less than terrific? And look at the rest of these casts?

This Night Stalker (1972) — with newsman Carl Kolchak tracking down a vampire in Las Vegas while writing a story on a series of mysterious killings — scared me as a kid. Bad. But I loved every second of it.

The Night Strangler
Directed by Dan Curtis
Written by Richard Matheson
Starring Darren McGavin, Jo Ann Pflug, Simon Oakland, Scott Brady, Wally Cox, Margaret Hamilton, John Carradine, Al Lewis, Richard Anderson

For me, The Night Strangler (1973) — with a doctor killing to create another batch of his immortality elixir — was less scary, but more creepy. I loved it, too.

Next came the series, with the episode “The Zombie” being one of the scariest things I ever experienced growing up. Remember the zombie sleeping in the back of the hearse in the junkyard? And while the quality of the shows was pretty hit or miss, Darren McGavin is so perfect, he carries the show on his back every week without even trying. It was such a drag when it wasn’t renewed.

The old twin-bill DVDs of these things, from Anchor Bay and MGM, were fine. But new 4K transfers, and stand-alone releases, are gonna be terrific. (Would love to have both the original broadcast (74 minutes each) and extended versions.) My porkpie hat, tape recorder and I cannot wait!

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Filed under 1972, 1973, Charles McGraw, Darren McGavin, DVD/Blu-ray News, Elisha Cook, Jr., John Carradine, Richard Matheson, Television

Blu-Ray News #149: Charley Varrick (1973).

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker, Felicia Farr, Andy Robinson, Sheree North, Norman Fell, William Schallert, John Vernon, Bob Steele

I love the good old US of A, but there’s one thing where the rest of the world has us beat — outside the US, you can find a Blu-Ray of Don Siegel’s incredible Charley Varrick (1973). Still no hi-def release here, and our only DVD release was full-frame. No wonder the rest of the world hates us. I’ve proclaimed my undying love for this movie many times before, it’s one of my favorites, easy, from one of my favorite directors.

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So when I saw it pop up on blu-ray.com, I was overjoyed. This time, Indicator/Powerhouse Films in the UK have announced Charley Varrick on Blu-Ray coming in January with a slew of terrific-sounding extras. The Indicator/Powerhouse release is limited to 3,000 copies. Essentially, this thing is essentially essential.

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Filed under 1973, Andy Robinson, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Joe Don Baker, Universal (-International), Walter Matthau, William Schallert

Roger Moore, RIP.

Sir Roger Moore
October 14, 1927 – May 23, 2017

Sir Roger Moore, who played James Bond throughout the 70s and 80s — and who did a lot of great work for UNICEF, has passed away at 89.

He took over the role of 007 after Sean Connery got sick of it, adding his own tongue-in-cheek flavor to the series. Live And Let Die (1973) was his first Bond movie. Mine, too. And his passing feels like the end of an era.

Of course, Moore’d been on Maverick and The Saint and many other things. He came across as so likable, no matter what he was doing. I really enjoyed Shout At The Devil (1976) and The Wild Geese (1978).

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Filed under 1973, James Bond, Roger Moore

Blu-Ray News #105: The Creeping Flesh (1973).

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Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Lorna Heilbron, Michael Ripper

Mill Creek Entertainment has announced a three-picture Blu-Ray set for April called Psycho Circus. It consists of three features: Torture Garden (1967), The Creeping Flesh (1973) and Brotherhood Of Satan (1971).

For me, The Creeping Flesh is the cream of the crop. It’s a Tigon picture with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, directed by Freddie Francis. What’s not to like? A scientist comes back from Papua New Guinea with some bones. They get wet and flesh forms around them again — with slimy, murderous results.

Torture Garden (1967) is an Amicus anthology film from Freddie Francis again. It stars Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith and Peter Cushing, based on stories by Robert Bloch.  Then there’s Brotherhood Of Satan which I’ve never seen, but am eager to see — it stars Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones, just a couple years after they played Coffer and T.C. in Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969). The recent Mill Creek Hammer Blu-Ray twin bills were terrific, so I’m really looking forward to this set.

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Filed under 1967, 1971, 1973, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray News, Freddie Francis, Mill Creek, Peter Cushing, Sam Peckinpah

DVD News #96: The Blue Knight (1973).

holden-blue-knight

Directed by Robert Butler
Starring William Holden, Lee Remick, Anne Archer, Sam Elliot, Joe Santos, Vic Tayback

Word on the street is that Warner Archive has located decent material for an eventual DVD release of The Blue Knight (1973), the terrific mini-series starring William Holden as L.A. cop Bumper Morgan. It won a few Emmys (including a well-deserved one for Holden), played theaters overseas in a feature-length cut, and spawned the series starring George Kennedy.

Thanks to Graham for the news.

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Filed under 1973, DVD/Blu-ray News, Television, Warner Archive, William Holden

DVD News #44: Tales From The Prison Yard 6-Film Collection.

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Mill Creek Entertainment and Columbia have done us another big favor, this time assembling a big collection from the big house (for a February 2016 release): Tales From The Prison Yard. It gives us six prison movies, ranging from a Sam Katzman quickie to Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail (1973). For me, the attraction is two more Fred F. Sears pictures to add to my collection.

Convicted (1950)
Directed by Henry Levin
Starring Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford, Millard Mitchell, Dorothy Malone, Will Geer

Cell 2455 Death Row (1955)
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Starring William Campbell, Marian Carr, Kathryn Grant, Harvey Stephens, Vince Edwards

Cell_2455_Death_Row LC

Escape From San Quentin (1957)
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Starring Johnny Desmond, Merry Anders, Richard Devon, Roy Engel

City Of Fear (1959)
Directed by Irving Lerner
Starring Vince Edwards, Lyle Talbot, John Archer, Patricia Blair, Steven Ritch

The Valachi Papers (1972)
Directed by Terence Young
Starring Charles Bronson, Lino Ventura, Jill Ireland, Joseph Wiseman

The Last Detail (1973)
Directed by Hal Ashby
Starring Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, Randy Quaid, Clifton James, Carol Kane

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Filed under 1950, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1972, 1973, Charles Bronson, DVD/Blu-ray News, Fred F. Sears, Mill Creek, Sam Katzman