Category Archives: Columbia

Blu-Ray News #328: Tales Of Adventure Collection (1942-1957).

Imprint has scooped up five tales of Arabian fantasy, romance and adventure, hailing from Universal, Columbia and Paramount.

Arabian Nights (1942)
Directed by John Rawlins
Starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall, Sabu, Shemp Howard

Universal’s first film in Technicolor — and they made up for lost time by creating a sparkling, eye-popping 87-minute piece of eye candy. It’s not even remotely faithful to its source material, but it’s a hoot and it boasts a Stooge (Shemp).

The Desert Hawk (1950)
Directed by Frederick De Cordova
Starring Yvonne De Carlo, Richard Greene, Jackie Gleason, George Macready, Rock Hudson, Carl Esmond, Joe Besser

For this Yvonne De Darlo showcase, the Richard Greene part was intended for Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Jackie Gleason in Arabia? Yep, with a future Stooge (Joe Besser) thrown in for good measure!

Zarak (1956)
Directed by Terence Young
Starring Victor Mature, Michael Wilding, Anita Ekberg, Bonar Colleano

This has always been a bit of a curio for James Bond fans, since so many of its personnel (director Young, producer Albert R. Broccoli, writer Richard Maibaum, DP Ted Moore) would go on to do the early 007 pictures.

A Thousand And One Nights (1945)
Directed by Alfred E. Green
Starring Cornel Wilde, Evelyn Keyes, Phil Silvers, Nestor Paiva, Rex Ingram

More a spoof of these things than an actual Arabian adventure film itself, with Cornell Wilde as Aladdin, Vasquez Rocks as Arabia (above) — and Phil Silvers with glasses. Gorgeous color art direction.

Omar Khayyam (1957)
Directed by William Dieterle
Starring Raymond Massey, Anthony Caruso, Cornel Wilde, Michael Rennie, Debra Paget, John Derek, Yma Sumac

Cornel Wilde is back for more romance and adventure, this time at Paramount and in VistaVision.

You can always count on Impact for near-perfect transfers and a hefty pile of extras. This is going to be a nice set. Recommended.

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Filed under 1950, 1957, Columbia, Cornel Wilde, Debra Paget, DVD/Blu-ray News, Imprint Films, Nestor Paiva, Paramount, Rock Hudson, Shemp Howard, Terence Young, The Three Stooges, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #323: Peter Falk Comedy Collection (1967-1987).

Mill Creek has scooped up four Peter Falk movies, all done for Columbia, and made a Blu-Ray set out of ’em. Since I love Peter Falk, I see this as a really good thing, even if the movies aren’t his best.

LUV (1967)
Directed by Clive Donner
Starring Jack Lemmon, Peter Falk, Elaine May, Nina Wayne, Harrison Ford

The 60s brought a lot of change to Hollywood, thanks to films like, say, Bonnie And Clyde (1967). It also brought about a lot of weird things like LUV (1967). It’s got Falk and Jack Lemmon in it, and that’s enough.

The Cheap Detective (1978)
Directed by Robert Moore
Written by Neil Simon
Starring Peter Falk, Madeline Kahn, Louise Fletcher, Ann-Margret

Funny stuff, though I preferred Murder By Death (1976), which clearly inspired this one. While Murder By Death spoofed Agatha Christie mysteries, this one pokes fun at Bogart pictures. Bet Neil Simon had a blast writing these things. Peter Falk, Madeline Kahn — can you really go wrong?


Big Trouble
(1986)
Directed by John Cassavetes
Starring Peter Falk, Alan Arkin, Beverly D’Angelo, Charles Durning, Robert Stack, Richard Libertini

The In-Laws (1979) was wonderful, and a big hit, so Falk and Alan Arkin (and Beverly D’Angelo and Richard Libertini and writer Andrew Bergman) were reunited for this one. Falk’s friend John Cassavetes was brought in to direct — it was his last film. The results are mixed, for sure, but I’m really looking forward to seeing it again. And since I saw it on VHS in the early 90s, I can count on it looking 47,000% better this time around!

Happy New Year (1987)
Starring Peter Falk, Charles Durning, Tom Courtenay

A caper comedy with Falk and Charles Durning, and Falk dresses up in all sorts of disguises. I’ve never seen it, but it sure sounds promising.

Thanks to Mill Creek for putting these kinds of movies out on Blu-Ray. It’s sure appreciated, so keep ’em coming!

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Filed under 1967, 1978, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Lemmon, John Cassavetes, Madeline Kahn, Mill Creek, Peter Falk

DVD Review: William Castle Adventures Collection (1953-54).

My copy of the eagerly-awaited Critics’ Choice Collection four-feature, two-DVD William Castle Adventures Collection arrived yesterday. Will have a proper, more in-depth review of one of the titles soon, but thought I’d go ahead and share some thoughts on the collection as a whole.

The four films here are Serpent Of The Nile (1953), The Iron Glove (1954), Charge Of The Lancers (1954) and The Saracen Blade (1954). They were all shot in Technicolor in that crazy transitional period when Hollywood went through all sorts of technical turmoil — Scope, 3D, Eastmancolor, stereophonic sound and a number of spherical aspect ratios. From all that comes the trouble with this set.

The color’s quite nice from one picture to the next. Putting two features on a single DVD may affect the overall picture quality a bit, but I don’t have any complaints there.

Then we get to the aspect ratios, and things get pretty whacked out. Charge Of The Lancers was released in 1.66, and that’s the way it’s presented here. A nice anamorphic transfer — the jewel of this package.

The Iron Glove and The Saracen Blade were both 1.85. That’s how they’re framed here (once you get past the Columbia logo), but they’re not anamorphic. So, as you’re probably aware, that means they appear as a rectangle centered in the middle of our 16×9 TVs. Not ideal, but certainly watchable. (If your TV has a zoom feature, that’ll help.)

The real trouble comes with Serpent Of The Nile. Released in 1953, it was shot full-frame (1.37). Here, it’s cropped for 1.85 (after the titles) and non-anamorphic. There are plenty of heads and titles cut off throughout. It’s a real mess, even though the color is excellent. (There’s currently a decent, properly-framed version on YouTube.)

These goofy little movies from Sam Katzman and William Castle, two my favorite filmmakers, are junk, perhaps, but they’re wonderful junk. Critics’ Choice (and Mill Creek) license these films from Columbia and work with the material the studio provides. Usually, stuff from Columbia is beautiful. In this case, what Critics’ Choice was sent for three of the four films should’ve been sent back. Happy to have this set, but have to admit I’m disappointed.

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Filed under 1953, 1954, Carolyn Jones, Columbia, Critics' Choice Collection, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Julie Newmar, Karin Booth, Mill Creek, Rhonda Fleming, Sam Katzman, William Castle

Forgotten Filmcast #167: The Night The World Exploded (1957).

A while back, Todd Liebenow was the guest on my podcast, The Carbon Arc. We talked about The Great Race (1965).

Now I’m the guest on his terrific podcast, The Forgotten Filmcast. Todd’s up to 167 of these things, quite an accomplishment! We talk about Fred F. Sears’ The Night The World Exploded (1957), an hour-long sci-fi thing from Sam Katzman. Click on the half-sheet above to listen in.

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Filed under 1957, Columbia, Fred F. Sears, Podcasts, Sam Katzman

Blu-Ray News #313: Sci-Fi From The Vault: 4 Classic Films (1955-59).

Mill Creek Entertainment has two new Blu-ray sets coming in December: Sci-Fi From The Vault: 4 Classic Films and Thrillers From The Vault: 8 Classic Horror Films. Here’s a look at the Sci-Fi Vault.

Creature With The Atom Brain (1955)
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Starring Richard Denning, Angela Stevens, S. John Launer, Michael Granger

A scientist has figured out how to reanimate dead people and make them obey his commands. A gangster finds out about the discovery and decides he’ll use the dead for his own purposes. Produced by Sam Katzman.

It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955)
Directed by Robert Gordon
Starring Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue, Donald Curtis

Kenneth Tobey commands a submarine that is attacked by a giant octopus, cooked up by Ray Harryheusen. Before long, Tobey and Faith Domergue are battling it along the Pacific Coast. Produced by Sam Katzman.

The Ymir and Ray Harryheusen. Ray’s the one on the right.

20 Million Miles To Earth (1957)
Directed by Nathan Juran
Starring William Hopper, Joan Taylor, Frank Puglia

When a spaceship crashes on its way back from Venus, some eggs brought back as a souvenir get lost. Soon a really cool, quickly-growing monster from Ray Harryheusen is running loose.

The 30 Foot Bride Of Candy Rock (1959)
Directed by Sidney Miller
Starring Lou Costello, Dorothy Provine, Gale Gordon

Lou Costello’s fiancé Dorothy Provine is exposed to radiation and grows really big. This was Costello’s only solo film after he and Bud Abbott parted ways. Lou died before it was released.

Columbia’s transfers are always top-notch, so expect these pictures to look fabulous. 

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Filed under 1955, 1957, 1959, Abbott & Costello, Angela Stevens, Columbia, Curt Siodmak, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edward L. Cahn, Faith Domergue, Kenneth Tobey, Mill Creek, Nathan Juran, Ray Harryhausen, Richard Denning, Sam Katzman

Blu-Ray News #312: Thrillers From The Vault: 8 Classic Horror Films.

Mill Creek Entertainment has two new Blu-ray sets coming in December: Thrillers From The Vault: 8 Classic Horror Films and Sci-Fi From The Vault: 4 Classic Films. Today, we’ll take a look at the horror one.

The Black Room (1935)
Directed by Roy William Neill
Starring Boris Karloff, Marian Marsh, Robert Allen, Thurston Hall

What’s better than a movie with Boris Karloff in it? Two Karloffs in the same film! He’s Anton and Gregor, sons born to the Baron de Berghman. One brother has some sinister plans for the other.

The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)
Directed by Nick Grinde
Starring Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Robert Wilcox
This set gives you Karloff’s “Mad Doctor Cycle” in high definition. This one is the first. Karloff invents an artificial heart, and after he’s unjustly hung, he uses it to exact his revenge.

Before I Hang (1940)
Directed by Nick Grinde
Starring Boris Karloff, Evelyn Keyes, Bruce Bennett, Edward Van Sloan
Karloff’s anti-aging serum works with one deadly side effect — he used the blood of a homicidal maniac, which sends him on a killing spree.

The Man With Nine Lives (1940)
Directed by Nick Grinde
Starring Boris Karloff,

Karloff has been trapped in a block of ice for 10 years. When he’s thawed out, he uses his enemy’s to continue his “chilling” experiments.

The Devil Commands (1941)
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Starring Boris Karloff, Richard Fiske, Amanda Duff

Karloff’s experiments capture the brain waves of his dead wife. All he needs is a body to put them in.

The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)
Directed by Lew Landers
Starring Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Max Rosenbloom

The fifth, and last of Karloff’s Columbia pictures plays like a spoof of the earlier ones. He’s a mad scientist, of course, trying to create a race of superhumans (for the war effort) in the basement of an old inn.

The Return Of The Vampire (1943)
Directed by Lew Landers
Starring Bela Lugosi, Frieda Inescort, Nina Foch

This time, Bela Lugosi is brought back to life when a German bomb hits his grave and cemetery workers yank the stake out of his heart.

Five (1951)
Produced, Written & Directed by Arch Oboler
Starring William Phipps, Susan Douglas Rubeš, James Anderson

Five people survive an atomic blast and try to figure out how to carry on. This post-apocalyptic story was shot at a number of LA locations, including director Oboler’s own Frank Lloyd Wright house.

The Black Room and the Karloff mad doctor pictures are all great — and will be a real treat in hi-def. The Return Of The Vampire is also a lot of fun. Looking forward to Thrillers From The Vault: 8 Classic Horror Films.

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Filed under 30s Horror, Arch Oboler, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edward Dmytryk, Lew Landers, Mill Creek, Nick Grinde, Peter Lorre, Roy William Neill

DVD Review: Jungle Jim (1948).

Directed by William Berke
Produced by Sam Katzman
Story & Screen Play by Carroll Young
Based on the newspaper feature Jungle Jim
Director Of Photography: Lester White, ASC
Art Director: Paul Palmentola
Film Editor: Aaron Stell

Cast: Johnny Weissmuller (Jungle Jim Bradley), Virginia Grey (Dr. Hilary Parker), George Reeves (Bruce Edwards), Lita Baron (Zia), Rick Vallin (Kolu – Chief of the Masai), Holmes Herbert (Commissioner Geoffrey Marsden), Tex Mooney (Chief Devil Doctor)


After 16 years and 12 movies (six for MGM, six for RKO), Johnny Weissmuller’s days are Tarzan came to an end with Tarzan And The Mermaids (1948). (It was a troubled production, shot in Mexico, well worth reading up on sometime.)

That same year, Sam Katzman came along to offer Weissmuller the part of Jungle Jim, a big game hunter featured in Alex Raymond’s comic strip. It was perfect for the former Olympic swimmer, now middle aged — a chance to trade his loin cloth for khakis. Jungle Jim had already hit the screen as a 1937 serial from Universal (there was a radio show, too). Katzman had in mind a series of short, characteristically cheap features for Columbia. He’d recently added features to his duties at the studio; he’d been in charge of their serials since ’45. 

In this first picture, called simply Jungle Jim (1948), Weissmuller is hired to help Dr. Hilary Parker (Virginia Grey), a medical researcher, find the source of a rare poison that might point the way to a cure for polio. Bruce Edwards (George Reeves) comes along as a photographer. Jim brings along Kolu (Rick Vallin) and his sister Zia (Lita Baron). As they make their way through the jungle to the temple of Zimbalu and its “devil doctors,” they tackle a crocodile, elephants, a lion and more — including the “devil doctors.” And it turns out George Reeves would rather take the treasures of Zimbalu than take pictures of them. 

Virginia Grey had been in Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942) with Weissmuller. George Reeves was still a few years way from playing Superman. And Lita Baron was Mrs. Rory Calhoun at the time. Of course, Weissmuller gets plenty of chances to swim, and he’s still incredible in the water.

Director William Berke started out writing silent Westerns. He became a prolific B director, cranking out tons of movies and TV shows before having a heart attack on the set of his last film, The Lost Missile (1958). He was only 54. Berke directed several of the Jungle Jim movies, along with Robin Hood Of The Range (1943), Dick Tracy (1945) and Cop Hater (1958).

Carroll Young had written some of the later Tarzan pictures and hopped right into the Jungle Jim series. He also wrote a couple of the better Regalscope pictures, She Devil and Apache Warrior (both 1957).

Jungle Jim was successful enough to spawn 15 more films (1948-1955) and a single-season TV show. Weissmuller would retire after the last one, Devil Goddess (1955), and the series.

The movies are as fun as they are dumb. I love them, even though Weissmuller can’t act and you see the same elephant, monkey and crocodile footage over and over and over. This first one is available in Volume 1 of the three-volume set from Umbrella out of Australia. It looks nice. If you know these films, I don’t need to recommend them — you know what you’re getting into. 

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Filed under Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Johnny Weissmuller, Jungle Jim, Sam Katzman, Tarzan

DVD News #408: Samuel Fuller Collection (1943 – 1960).

There’s so much written about Samuel Fuller (above, with John Ford). My suggestion is just watch his films — they’ll tell you about all you need to know — and maybe read his autobiography A Third Face. Watching his movies is a little easier thanks to a cool little set coming later this month from Critics’ Choice and Mill Creek. He didn’t direct all these films, but his fingerprints are on ’em for sure.

Power Of The Press (1943)
Directed by Lew Landers
Story by Samuel Fuller
Starring Guy Kibbee, Gloria Dickson, Lee Tracy, Otto Kruger, Victor Jory
A corrupt New York newspaperman murders his partner over his pro-war stance. A small town journalist gets to the bottom of things.

Scandal Sheet (1951)
Directed by Phil Karlson
Based on the novel The Dark Page by Samuel Fuller
Starring Broderick Crawford, Donna Reed, John Derek, Rosemary DeCamp, Henry Morgan, James Millican
A newspaperman tries to bury a murder story since, uh, he’s the murderer!

The Crimson Kimono (1959)
Written & Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring James Shigeta, Glenn Corbett, Victoria Shaw, Anna Lee
Two cops — Korean War veterans and friends — wind up in a love triangle with a witness to the murder of a stripper. Into this sordid tale, Fuller deftly weaves a message of racial tolerance. One of his best.

Underworld, USA (1960)
Produced, Written & Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring Cliff Robertson, Dolores Dorn, Beatrice Kay
A young man infiltrates the mob to get the mobsters who murdered his father.

I’m really looking forward to this. Highly recommended if you don’t have ’em elsewhere.

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Filed under 1951, 1959, 1960, Broderick Crawford, Columbia, Critics' Choice Collection, DVD/Blu-ray News, Harry Morgan, John Ford, Mill Creek, Phil Karlson, Sam Fuller

DVD News #404: The Jungle Jim Films (1948-1955).

The Jungle Jim puzzle is complete!

Here in the States, you can get six of Sam Katzman’s Jungle Jim movies in a terrific DVD set from Critics’ Choice. But in Australia, Umbrella has brought all 16 pictures out in three sets (six in Volume 1, five each in 2 and 3).

The Jungle Jim Series
(With Volume # for each title; CC marks the ones in the Critics’ Choice set)
Jungle Jim (1948) V1
The Lost Tribe (1949) V2

Mark Of The Gorilla (1950) V2, CC
Captive Girl (1950) V2
Pygmy Island (1950) V2, CC
Fury Of The Congo (1951) V3, CC
Jungle Manhunt (1951) V2, CC
Jungle Jim In The Forbidden Land (1952) V3
Voodoo Tiger (1952) V1
Savage Mutiny (1953) V1
Valley Of The Head Hunters (1953) V3
Killer Ape (1953) V3

Jungle Man-Eaters (1954) V1, CC
Cannibal Attack (1954) V1
Jungle Moon Men (1955) V3, CC
Devil Goddess (1955) V1

The transfers on these are terrific and these discs are (I’ve heard) Region Free. We’ve been on a real Katzman kick around here of late. These cheesy little films come highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under Angela Stevens, Columbia, Critics' Choice Collection, DVD/Blu-ray News, George Reeves, Johnny Weissmuller, Jungle Jim, Karin Booth, Lee Sholem, Lyle Talbot, Myron Healey, Sam Katzman, Spencer Gordon Bennet

DVD News #403: The William Castle Adventures Collection (1953-54)

We can all use some good news these days, and this is good news indeed. Critics Choice has announced a DVD set featuring four adventure pictures from William Castle and Sam Katzman — The William Castle Adventures Collection — coming in September.

All four films were shot in Technicolor (none were in 3-D). The transfers should be terrific. The 1954 films should be widescreen, either 1.66 or 1.85.

Sam Katzman, Rhonda Fleming & William Castle. Fleming holds the Serpent Of The Nile.

Serpent Of The Nile (1953)
Starring Rhonda Fleming, William Lundigan, Raymond Burr, Michael Ansara, Julie Newmar

Castle’s first film for Katzman (he’d been at Columbia in the 40s), it’s an epic done on the cheap (as you might expect). Rhonda Fleming is Cleopatra, wandering around on sets left over from Columbia’s much bigger (but not nearly as much fun) Salome (1953). Another director from Katzman’s unit, Fred F. Sears, serves as narrator.

The Iron Glove (1954)
Starring Robert Stack, Ursula Thiess, Richard Stapley, Alan Hale Jr.

In this two-week swashbuckler, the Columbia backlot doubles as Scotland. Robert Stack would soon do The High And The Mighty (1954), which would give his career a boost. Katzman wanted Cornel Wilde in the lead, and at one point the title was to have been The Kiss And The Sword.

Charge Of The Lancers (1954)
Starring Paulette Goddard, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Karin Booth

Castle and Katzman raid the costume department again, this time going for the Crimean War of the 1850s (don’t expect any actual historic accuracy). One of Paulette Goddard’s last films. 

The Saracen Blade (1954)
Starring Ricardo Montalbán, Betta St. John, Rick Jason, Carolyn Jones

This was the last of Katzman and Castle’s pictures like this, and this one takes on the Crusades. There was talk of filming this in Italy, but it was probably just that, talk. In his wonderful book Step Right Up! I’m Gonna Scare The Pants Off America, Castle wrote that for “three years I had been up to my ass in queens, kings and jokers.” He’d also been making plenty of Westerns for Katzman, and in 1958, he’d go independent and make his own series of gimmicky horror pictures, most of which Columbia would release.

These cheap and tacky little movies are a lot of fun. I cannot recommend this set highly enough. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Thanks to John Hall for the tip!

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Filed under 1953, 1954, Carolyn Jones, Columbia, Critics' Choice Collection, DVD/Blu-ray News, Fred F. Sears, Julie Newmar, Karin Booth, Rhonda Fleming, Sam Katzman, William Castle