Category Archives: DVD/Blu-ray News

Kickstarter Campaign For Jack And The Beanstalk (1952).

Robert Furmanek restored one of Abbott & Costello’s funniest films, Africa Screams (1949), for its stunning Blu-Ray release, and he and his team have set their sights on Bud and Lou’s Jack And The Beanstalk (1952).

Working with the only surviving 35mm color camera negative footage, this should be incredible. The Kickstarter campaign has already, well, kicked off, so let’s make this happen!

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Filed under 1952, Abbott & Costello, DVD/Blu-ray News, Film Preservation

Blu-Ray News #317: Duel Of The Titans (1961).

Directed by Sergio Corbucci
Starring Steve Reeves, Gordon Scott, Virna Lisi

Germany’s Explosive Media, through Koch, has announced a January release date for Duel Of The Titans (1961, AKA Romulus And Remus). Bringing Steve Reeves (Hercules) and Gordon Scott (Tarzan) together as Romulus and Remus, with Sergio Corbucci directing, and with Virna Lisi — not to mention “primitive passions,” “volcanic thrills” and “pagan worship,” how could it go wrong?

Paramount cut the picture to less than 90 minutes for the States. Koch seems to be offering up the fill 109-minute version. These peplum movies have really suffered over the years, with wretched pan-and-scan transfers and faded Eastman Color. The few that have made it to Blu-Ray have looked splendid. So while the pictures themselves are a matter of taste, it’s hard to knock ’em on Blu-Ray. For fans of this stuff, this one comes recommended.

Thanks to the mighty John Knight for the tip!

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Filed under 1961, DVD/Blu-ray News, Explosive Media, Gordon Scott, Paramount, Peplum, Sergio Corbucci, Steve Reeves

Blu-Ray News #316: The Train (1964).

Directed by John Frankenheimer
Starring Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau

The Train (1965) is a terrific action picture – and though it takes place in the later days of World War II, it’s not a war movie in the usual sense. It was shot on location in France, blowing up real stuff and wrecking real trains, with Burt Lancaster doing his own stunts. 

Lancaster is a railroad worker and part of the French Resistance, near the end of the war in Europe, trying to keep the Nazis from leaving France with a train loaded with plundered artwork. He spends most of the film doing all he can to delay the train — knowing the Allies will arrive soon. Whether he’s wrecking trains, running around with a German MP 40 machine gun, or just standing around smoking, Lancaster is unbelievably cool in this movie.

Lancaster, Frankenheimer and The Train.

Arthur Penn was to direct, but he was fired after a few days. John Frankenheimer was brought in — and he stopped everything to rethink the picture a bit. As much as I like Arthur Penn, I think The Train was better suited to Frankenheimer. It’s a top-notch suspense film.

The B&W cinematography from Jean Tournier and Walter Wottitz is really something — so is the editing by David Bretherton. If the Kino Lorber Blu-Ray (coming in January) looks like the previous Twilight Time release, it’ll be stunning. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1964, Arthur Penn, Burt Lancaster, DVD/Blu-ray News, John Frankenheimer, Kino Lorber, United Artists

Blu-Ray News #315: Hell And High Water (1954).

Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring Richard Widmark, Bella Darvi, Victor Francen, Richard Loo, Cameron Mitchell, Gene Evans, David Wayne

This terrific Sam Fuller Cold War paranoia picture was released on Blu-Ray a few years ago by Twilight Time. Now it’s on the way from Eureka, giving those of us who missed it last time a chance to pick it up.

High And High Water (1954) has so many things going for it. First, it’s a Sam Fuller picture, which is recommendation enough. It’s got a incredible performance from Richard Widmark, who could do just-short-of-unhinged better than about anybody. It’s an early CinemaScope movie, which comes with a particular stack of visual pros and cons — and encouraged longer takes that let the actors really do their thing. And, best of all, it’s a whacked-out anti-commie movie, the kind that could only come from the 50s.

The old Fox DVD left a lot to be desired, with the Twilight Time Blu-Ray treating Joseph MacDonald’s camerawork with respect. We can count on the same thing from Eureka, I’m sure. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1954, DVD/Blu-ray News, Eureka Entertainment, Richard Widmark, Sam Fuller

Let’s Help Bob With Bud And Lou And Jack!

Robert Furmanek restored one of Abbott & Costello’s funniest films, Africa Screams (1949), for its stunning Blu-Ray release, and he and his are are back with Jack And The Beanstalk (1952).

Working with the only surviving 35mm color camera negative footage, this should be incredible. As before, there will a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the restoration costs — and to let you help make it happen. More details to come!

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Filed under 1952, Abbott & Costello, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Film Preservation, Jean Yarborough, Warner Bros.

DVD News #313: The Whistler Film Noir Collection (1944-48).

The_Whistler-Richard_Dix-Title

Columbia’s The Whistler series. Some of the best cheap movies ever made. Some of William Castle’s finest work. And now one of the greatest DVD sets to come out in a long, long time.

Castle’s second film as director, The Whistler (1944) is a tight little mini-noir that put him on the B-movie map. It was a hit for Columbia Pictures and spawned an eight-picture series that’s been on collectors’ Want Lists for decades. They were available through Sony’s on-demand program, but $20 each was pretty steep.

The Whistler (1944)
Directed by William Castle
Starring Richard Dix, J. Carrol Naish, Gloria Stuart

The Power Of The Whistler (1945)
Directed by Lew Landers
Starring Richard Dix, Janis Carter

Voice Of The Whistler (1945)
Directed by William Castle
Starring Richard Dix, Lynn Merrick

Mysterious Intruder (1946)
Directed by William Castle
Starring Richard Dix, Nina Vale

Secret Of The Whistler (1946)
Directed by George Sherman
Starring Richard Dix, Leslie Brooks

The Thirteenth Hour (1947)
Directed by William Clemens
Starring Richard Dix, Karen Morley

The Return Of The Whistler (1948)
Directed by Ross Lederman
Starring Michael Duane, Lenore Aubert, Dick Lane

Based on the popular CBS radio program, each Whistler movie is a stand-alone story, with Richard Dix starring in all but the last one. He’s a different character every time — sometimes a good guy, sometimes a bad guy.

This Critics’ Choice Collection gives you all of the series, except for Mark Of The Whistler (1944), the second picture in the series. Hate this it’s missing, but this is essential, people!

Thanks to Kevin Deany for the news.

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Filed under Columbia, Critics' Choice Collection, DVD/Blu-ray News, J. Carrol Naish, Lew Landers, Richard Dix, William Castle

Blu-Ray News #312: Rage (1967).

Directed by Gilberto Gazcón
Starring Glenn Ford, Stella Stevens, David Reynoso, Armando Silvestre, Jose Elias Moreno, Dacia Gonzalez, David Silva

Imprint out of Australia has brought out some terrific stuff in recent months, and they’re shining a light on Rage (1967), a film that’s spent way too much time stuck in the dark. This Blu-Ray will be a worldwide first.

Rage is a solid suspense picture. Glenn Ford’s a doctor in a remote construction camp in Mexico. He’s bitten by a rabid dog and has to race to a hospital for the vaccine. Ford is as good as ever, and Stella Stevens is terrific as an “entertainer” who comes to the camp and takes a liking to the doctor. David Reynoso and Jose Elias Moreno are both excellent.

Rage (it was called El Mal in Mexico) was the first true Mexican-American co-production. It was shot entirely in Mexico, in English. And it was one of the first handful of pictures to wear the “Suggested For Mature Audiences” badge in its advertising.

The Blu-Ray has a release date of December 30, 2020.

Special Features:
• Audio Commentary by film historian Toby Roan
• “Stella” a visual essay on Stella Stevens by Critic Kat Ellinger
• Theatrical Trailer
• Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1,500 copies

It’d been decades since I’d seen Rage, and I was really knocked out by it. Recommended.

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Filed under 1967, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Glenn Ford, Imprint Films, Stella Stevens

Blu-Ray News #311: The Flintstones – The Complete Series (1960-66).

The Modern Stone Age family comes to high definition. Warner Bros. has announced the upcoming Blu-Ray set The Flintstones – The Complete Series. You get all 166 episodes and the feature The Man Called Flintstone (1966) on 10 discs. It’s coming in October. Between this and the previously announced Space Ghost and the already available Jonny Quest sets, there’a lot of high-def Hannah-Barbara going on.

The image above is from The Flintstones Viewmaster set.

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Filed under Cartoons, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hanna-Barbera, Television, Warner Bros.

Blu-Ray News #310: Space Ghost And Dino Boy – The Complete Series (1966-68).

Loved these back in the day, and I thought the comic books were even better. So I’m super-stoked about Warner Archive’s upcoming Blu-Ray Space Ghost And Dino Boy – The Complete Series (1966-68).

This was before Space Ghost was shanghai’d by Cartoon Network for Space Ghost Coast To Coast. Space Ghost was created by comic artist Alex Toth. The voice talent was top-notch: Gary Owens (as Space Ghost), Tim Matheson, Keye Luke, Ted Cassidy, Paul Frees and Vic Perrin. Coming October 13.

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Filed under 1966, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hanna-Barbera, Paul Frees, Television, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #309: He Came From The Swamp – The William Grefé Collection.

Arrow’s He Came From The Swamp: The William Grefé Collection offers up seven films produced and/or directed (and often written) by William Grefé, all newly restored from the best film elements around:

Sting Of Death (1966)
Starring Joe Morrison, Valerie Hawkins, John Vella, Jack Nagle

Death Curse Of Tartu (1966)
Starring Fred Pinero, Babette Sherrill

The Hooked Generation (1968)
Starring Jeremy Slate, Steve Alaimo

The Psychedelic Priest (1971)
Starring John Darrell, James Coleman, Joe Crane

The Naked Zoo (1971)
Starring Rita Hayworth, Steve Oliver, Fay Spain

The Jaws Of Death (no Mako) played the Forest Drive-In here in Raleigh, NC.

Mako: The Jaws Of Death (1976)
Starring Richard Jaeckel, Jennifer Bishop, Harold Sakata

Whiskey Mountain (1977)
Starring Christopher George, Preston Pierce, Roberta Collins

Mr. Grefé participated in this from one end to the other. Each picture is packed with extras, from commentaries and trailers to director’s cuts and behind-the-scenes footage to photo galleries and a collector’s booklet. Also included is the documentary They Came From The Swamp: The Films Of William Grefé.

Should be a real hoot, and an exhaustive one at that. Coming in November. Recommended.

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Filed under 1966, 1971, 1976, 1977, Arrow Video, Cannon, DVD/Blu-ray News, William Grefé