Directed by Fritz Lang
Starring Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, Carl Esmond, Hillary Brooke, Percy Waram, Dan Duryea, Alan Napier
There’s something subversive about Fritz Lang’s movies. Maybe subversive isn’t quite the word. As brilliant as they are, and as polished as they might seem, there’s a B Movie vibe running through a lot of them. Stuff like Western Union (1941), Rancho Notorious (1952) and The Big Heat (1953) are like Republic or Monogram pictures with a much bigger budget, while The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse (1933) feels like an art-house Republic serial. (Goebbels had Mabuse banned in Nazi Germany, so it’s got that going for it. Of course, we can thank the Nazis for sending Lang our way in the first place.)
Ministry Of Fear (1944) finds Lang in fine form, turning Graham Greene’s novel into a noir-ish study in paranoia. Ray Milland leaves the nuthouse and is plunged right in the middle of a web of Nazi intrigue. This is the kind of stuff Lang was so good at, offering up one cool sequence after another. I love his American films!
Along with Milland, this one’s got a few of my favorites in it: Dan Duryea (king of the bad guys), Hillary Brooke (who was great on The Abbott & Costello Show) and Alan Napier (Alfred on the Batman TV show).
Anyway, Ministry Of Fear is making its way to Blu-Ray from Powerhouse in the UK in August. Henry Sharp’s cinematography deserves the boost in definition.
Directed by Anthony Mann
Starring Dennis O’Keefe, Mary Meade, Alfred Ryder, Wallace Ford, June Lockhart, Charles McGraw, Frank Ferguson
I’m so glad Classicflix is spiffing up Anthony Mann’s T-Men (1947) for Blu-Ray. It’s one of the most visually striking pictures of the 40s, thanks to the great John Alton. I can’t wait to see his shadows in high definition.
Dennis O’Keefe and Alfred Ryder are treasury agents trying to bust up a counterfeit ring, and they end up trying to infiltrate the Detroit mob. Mann gets things to a full boil almost immediately, and we spend the rest of the hour and a half wondering when it’s all gonna blow apart — and how little of the cast will still be alive.
Anthony Mann: “This is what I really call my first film. I was responsible for its story, for its structure, its characters and for actually making it. This was my first real break towards being able to make films the way I wanted.”
Mann and Alton’s use of LA and Detroit locations and their overall documentary-style treatment really add to the realism and tension of the whole thing. Oh, and did I mention it’s got Charles McGraw, Wallace Ford and Frank Ferguson in it? This movie’s absolutely essential.
Directed by Nicholas Ray
Starring Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond, Charles Kemper, Frank Ferguson, Olive Carey
Seems like every day, another great movie’s being announced for DVD or Blu-ray. We’re on a real hot streak here, folks.
On Dangerous Ground (1952) is a great Nicholas Ray movie that hasn’t gotten its due. I know that’s kinda like saying that water is wet. Warner Archive has announced it for an upcoming Blu-Ray release.
In a way, it’s two movies in one. The first half concerns Robert Ryan’s burned-out New York detective at the end of his rope, then it shifts gears as he’s sent to the country to investigate a murder. There, he falls in love with the killer’s blind sister (Ida Lupino). In less capable hands, such a story could’ve been laughable, but Ray and his cast pull it off with ease. Everybody in it’s terrific.
I saw a 35mm print of this a couple years ago, and George E. Diskant’s cinematography really knocked me out. This one’s essential, folks.
Directed by R.G. Springsteen
Cinematography: William Margulies
Starring Gene Evans, Robert Blake, Timothy Carey, John Qualen, Sam Edwards, Frank Ferguson
Revolt In The Big House (1958) is not a movie you’d call life-affirming. But the fact that it’s made its way to DVD, that is.
Order one before there’s a riot.