I haven’t seen the exact contents of this first volume of the Pete Smith Specialty shorts, but I know there’s gonna be some really funny stuff in there.
Movie Pests (1944) is hysterical — of course, people being a drag at the movies is timeless (unfortunately). Sure hope it’s in there.
No matter. For whatever cinema silliness it contains (75 shorts on four discs), I am truly grateful to the fine folks at Warner Archive — and to a Smith names Pete. Highly recommended.
Directed by Terence Fisher
Screenplay by Richard Matheson
Starrings Christopher Lee, Charles Gray, Niké Arrighi, Leon Greene
1968 was a really good year for Hammer Films — they released Quatermass And The Pit and The Devil Rides Out. 2019 is a great year, too, thanks to Scream Factory — they’re bringing the same two movies to Blu-Ray.
Christopher Lee is terrific and Terence Fischer was really at the top of his game on this one. Known as The Devil’s Bride in the US and based on a novel by Dennis Wheatley, is one of the best occult films ever made, if you ask me. (You didn’t, did you?) Coming in October.
Mill Creek Entertainment will release on Blu-ray Ultra Q: The Complete Series and Ultraman: The Complete Series (both 1966-67). These are the first two entries in Japan’s Ultra Series, and they’ll be out in October in regular packaging and some of those steelbook things (like their Mothra comes in).
Eiji Tsuburaya, the genius behind all the Toho monster effects, developed Ultra Q as an Outer Limits/X Files sort of thing — each week, a team of investigators would tackle a different mysterious phenomenon. Well, when the realized how nuts kids were about giant monsters like Godzilla and Gamera, the weekly stories were jam-packed with monsters, sometimes using suits from the Toho movies (even Godzilla did double duty in an episode).
Ultra Q paved the way for the next series, Ultraman. You see, the Science Patrol keeps the world safe from giant monsters and aliens. When they’re out of their league, which seems to happen quite often, one of their members, Hayata, secretly transforms into the 150-foot-tall Ultraman to duke it out with whatever it is that’s threatening the earth that week. This time, they went with color (Ultra Q is in glorious black and white.)
The Ultra series ran through the 80s and remains incredibly popular to this day, raking in millions in toy sales. To see these things on Blu-Ray, in their original Japanese versions, will be quite a treat. I’m ultra-stoked about these things.
The second volume of Kit Parker’s Noir Archive series showed up yesterday. In a year filled with really great stuff coming out on Blu-Ray, this might be my favorite so far.
Four of my favorite B directors are here: William Castle, Nathan Juran, Phil Karlson and Fred F. Sears. Some of my favorite actors, too — John Agar, Robert Blake, Mari Blanchard, Timothy Carey, Richard Denning, Faith Domergue, Vince Edwards, Beverly Garland, Brian Keith, Guy Madison, Kim Novack and more.
All nine pictures look terrific — the Columbia transfers are almost flawless. Proper reviews will follow, but I can’t recommend Noir Archives Volume 2: 1954-1956 highly enough.
Filed under 1954, 1955, 1956, Beverly Garland, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Faith Domergue, Fred F. Sears, John Agar, Kit Parker, Mari Blanchard, Nathan Juran, Phil Karlson, Richard Denning, Sam Katzman, Timothy Carey, William Castle
Directed by Phil Karlson
Starring Richard Widmark, Sonja Ziemann, Howard Vernon, Senta Berger
Phil Karlson is one of my favorite directors, and it’s always good to see one of his films come to Blu-Ray (from Kino Lorber in the fall). The time, it’s The Secret Ways (1961), a pre-007 spy movie. Karlson and Widmark didn’t see eye to eye on the approach to the movie, and Widmark took over direction of the last week of the shoot. There’s plenty of the typical hard-edged vibe you get with Karlson to recommend this one. A very cool movie.
Directed by Frank Sinatra
Starring Frank Sinatra, Clint Walker, Tommy Sands, Brad Dexter, Tony Bill, Tatsuya Mihashi
None But The Brave (1965) is usually shrugged off as simply “the only picture Frank Sinatra directed,” which it is. But it’s also a pretty solid war movie, a lot better than reviews at the time would have you expecting. Two groups of soldiers, one Japanese and one American, are stranded on the same little Pacific island. They establish a pretty shaky truce in order to survive.
It was shot in Hawaii, and during production, Brad Dexter saved Sinatra (and Ruth Koch, the wife of producer Howard W. Koch) from drowning after getting caught in a riptide. In Japan, it was distributed by Toho, the Godzilla movie people. And Tommy Sands was Sinatra’s son-in-law at the time, and he’d divorce Nancy the same year.
It’s got great Panavision cinematography by Harold Lipstein. Sinatra had cinematographer William H. Daniels working as a producer, and with those two master craftsmen on board, how could it not look great? And that, for me, is why I’m so happy Warner Archive is bringing None But The Brave to Blu-Ray. It’s out next week, I think. Recommended.
Directed by William Asher
Starring Henry Silva, Elizabeth Montgomery, Richard Anderson, Jim Backus, Joey Bishop, Telly Savalas, Sammy Davis, Jr.
William Asher’s 1963 gangster picture Johnny Cool is terrific, and I’m so stoked it’s making its way to Blu-Ray later this year from the folks at Scorpion Releasing.
In the early 60s, the gangster picture enjoyed a small resurgence, thanks to stuff like Budd Boetticher’s The Rise And Fall Of Legs Diamond (1960), Murder Inc. (1960) and Portrait Of A Mobster (1961). Asher’s picture might be the most brutal and violent one of the bunch. Most stylish, too — thanks in large part to the great cinematography of Sam Leavitt.
William Asher was in the middle of his Beach Party movies at AIP when he took on Johnny Cool. He and Elizabeth Montgomery became an item after she auditioned for the picture, they’d marry, and he’d go on to direct the bulk of her Bewitched TV show. The cast is really something, from Henry Silva to Jim Backus to Mort Sahl to Telly Savalas (with hair) — with a great part for Sammy Davis, Jr.
Johnny Cool has a great score from Billy May, with Davis singing the title tune. This is an overlooked, under-seen little movie, well worth (re)discovery in high definition. Recommended.