Category Archives: George Pal

4K News #400: When Worlds Collide (1951) And War Of The Worlds (1953).

Paramount is bringing George Pal’s masterpieces When Worlds Collide (1951) and War Of The Worlds (1953) to 4K as a double bill — which is how I saw these back in 1977. They were re-released, with the poster above, when everybody went sci-fi nuts over Star Wars (1977). Those of us who were lucky, got to see original IB Tech prints. They were glorious!

These pictures have already made it to Blu-Ray and they both look great. This 4K bump sounds exciting.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1951, 1953, DVD/Blu-ray News, Gene Barry, George Pal, Paramount, Paul Frees

Blu-Ray Review: The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962).

Directed by Henry Levin (& George Pal)
Produced by George Pal
Screenplay by Charles Beaumont & William Roberts,
based on the stories of Wilhelm & Jacob Grimm
Cinematography: Paul Vogel
Film Editor: Walter Thompson
Special Effects: David Pal, Tim Barr, Wah Chang, Robert Hoag, Gene Warren
Music by Leigh Harline

Cast: Laurence Harvey (Wilhelm Grimm/The Cobbler), Karl Bohm (Jacob Grimm), Claire Bloom (Dorothea Grimm), Barbara Eden (Greta Heinrich), Yvette Mimieux (The Princess), Jim Backus (The King), Russ Tamblyn (The Woodsman/Tom Thumb), Buddy Hackett (Hans), Terry-Thomas (Ludwig), Beulah Bondi (The Gypsy), Ian Wolfe (Gruber)


The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm premiered in the US in August of 1962, with the distinction of being “the first dramatic film in fabulous Cinerama” — shot and exhibited in the original three-panel format. Next came How The West Was Won (1962), again with the three-panel setup. (Grimm was actually shot after West.) These things were expensive to shoot and hard to exhibit, so beginning with It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), non-travelogue films for Cinerama exhibition were shot in things like 70mm Ultra Panavision.

The one time  I saw The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm was on laserdisc. And while I was thrilled to be seeing it in something widescreen-ish, the merging of the three Cinerama panels was a mess and incredibly distracting. I was not impressed, though Buddy Hackett and the dragon (my reason for watching it to begin with) really knocked me out. Hooray for Jim Danforth!

All these years later, a truly gargantuan restoration of The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm has come to Blu-Ray, and it’s a really remarkable thing. The picture had been declared un-restorable, its elements too far gone. Luckily, David Strohmaier and Tom H. March, the folks responsible for the Blu-Ray of How The West Was Won, really outdid themselves here to give Brothers Grimm a new lease on life. The panel lines are practically gone, the color’s near-perfect and it comes complete with overture, intermission and all the trimmings. Even a few glitches in the original effects have been repaired, not in a revisionary way — just a subtle patch here and there.


Producer George Pal used the story of Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey) and Jacob Grimm (Karl Bohm) as a backbone for a series of Grimm’s fairy tales: “The Dancing Princess,” “The Cobbler And The Elves” and “The Singing Bone.” It’s pretty ingenious, with some nice effects and beautiful locations, but you might could argue whether this was a good fit for the mammoth Cinerama screen.

The cast in impressive. Russ Tamblyn reprises his title role from Pal’s Tom Thumb (1958) and Yvette Mimieux had been in Pal’s The Time Machine (1960). Pal was able to revisit his Puppetoon days (above) for “The Cobbler And The Elves.” It’s interesting that Jim Backus, Buddy Hackett and Terry-Thomas would soon be back on the Cinerama screens in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. 

For movie nerds like me, the real story is the miracle this Blu-Ray pulls off. The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm looks marvelous, whether you choose the standard widescreen version or the “smilebox” setup that approximates the feel of the curved screen (and gets rid of the odd bowl-shaped effect that comes with these three-panel films). The sound has been spiffed up, with plenty of punch. My favorite thing was the documentary, which shows just all the work, and all the technical whatzits, that were needed to get Pal’s picture looking better than ever. I’ve watched it twice.

As a movie, The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm is cute, but as an example of yesterday’s roadshow exhibition and today’s film restoration, it’s nothing short of a miracle. Highly, highly recommended.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1962, Buddy Hackett, Cinerama, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Film Preservation, George Pal, Henry Levin, Jim Backus, MGM, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #374: The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962).

Directed by Henry Levin and George Pal
Starring Laurence Harvey, Karlheinz Böhm, Claire Bloom, Yvette Mimieux, Russ Tamblyn, Jim Backus, Terry-Thomas, Barbara Eden, Buddy Hackett

After an extensive (and expensive) digital restoration, from 4K scans of the original Cinerama camera negatives, The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) is coming to Blu-Ray from Warner Archive. 

It played at the Museum Of Modern Art a few days ago.

Originally shot and exhibited in the three-panel Cinerama process, spiffing this thing up was no easy task. The Blu-Ray sounds like it’s really gonna be something. From Warner Archive: “…this Deluxe Two Disc Edition gives the viewer the opportunity to watch the film either in a traditional letterbox format, or in the Smilebox format which attempts to re-create the immersive Cinerama experience with a simulated curve to the screen. Both versions bring together the three original Cinerama panels with virtually no trace of the lines that joined them together when originally projected in theaters back in 1962.”

The set will come with a hefty batch of extras. Can’t wait. When it comes to film restoration, this is a real fairy-tale ending!

3 Comments

Filed under 1962, Buddy Hackett, DVD/Blu-ray News, George Pal, Henry Levin, Jim Backus, MGM, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #296: The War Of The Worlds (1953).

Directed by Byron Haskin
Starring Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Les Tremayne, Jack Kruschen, Henry Brandon

The Criterion Collection has announced that they’ll unleash a Blu-Ray of the 4K restoration of George Pal’s The War Of The Worlds (1953) in July. In typical Criterion fashion, it’ll be piled high with extras.

Saw this in a re-release in the late 70s, paired with When Worlds Collide (1951). The War Of The Worlds was terrific — one of the best science fiction films of the 50s (hell, ever!), and they were both beautiful to look at. Can’t wait to see how that incredible Technicolor will look after a 4K touch-up. Absolutely essential.

2 Comments

Filed under 1953, Criterion Collection, DVD/Blu-ray News, Gene Barry, George Pal, Paramount

Blu-Ray News #286: The War Of The Worlds (1953).

Directed by Byron Haskin
Starring Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Les Tremayne, Jack Kruschen, Henry Brandon

Here’s one we’ve all been waiting for. The Australian label Imprint has announced a brand new 4K restoration of The War Of The Worlds (1953), coming to Blu-Ray on May 27.

This is one of the films caught up in the widescreen push of 1953-54. Wonder how it’ll be presented? Sounds like it’ll be piled high with extras. Not sure about its Region status, but this will be essential.

2 Comments

Filed under 1953, DVD/Blu-ray News, Gene Barry, George Pal, Imprint Films, Paramount, Uncategorized

Blu-Ray Review: Doc Savage – The Man Of Bronze (1975).

s-l1600-10

Directed by Michael Anderson
Produced by George Pal
Cinematography: Fred J. Koenekamp
Film Editor: Thomas J. McCarthy

Cast: Ron Ely (Clark “Doc” Savage Jr.), Paul Gleason (Major Thomas J. “Long Tom” Roberts), William Lucking (Col. John “Renny” Renwick), Michael Miller as Lt. Col. Andrew Blodgett “Monk” Mayfair), Eldon Quick (Professor William Harper “Johnny” Littlejohn), Darrell Zwerling (Brigadier Gen. Theodore Marley “Ham” Brooks), Paul Wexler (Captain Seas), Pamela Hensley (Mona Flores), Bob Corso (Don Rubio Gorro), Federico Roberto (Presidente Don Carlos Avispa), Janice Heiden (Adriana), Robyn Hilton (Karen), Paul Frees (Narrator)

__________

“Don’t look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find.” Dr. Zaius says that toward the end of Planet Of The Apes (1968). You probably know what the line leads to — one of the great gut-punches in all of film.

Lately, I’ve revisited a number of movies I was drawn to as a kid (they’re turning up on Blu-Ray in droves), and that line keeps coming to mind. “You may not like what you find.” (Does your inner voice speak in movie dialogue?) Nobody wants to discover they had terrible taste as a child, so I’ve sat down with these movies accompanied by a pretty hefty chunk of trepidation. “I haven’t seen this since I was eight.” “Bob (name changed to protect the tasteless) still loves this thing, but he likes a lot of crap.” “Was it the movie I liked, or that it was the first time I went to the theater by myself?” And on and on.

It’s great to be able to say that, for the most part, I’ve been fairing pretty well. The adult me liked The Vampire (1957) much better than the kid me did. King Kong Escapes (1967) is even goofier than I remembered. And over at my Western blog, I’m constantly finding brilliance hiding under the surface of old pictures that have been branded programmers (1957’s Quantez comes to mind). So far, not a bad track record.

duodoc

Things are different when it comes to Doc Savage – The Man Of Bronze (1975). As a kid, I absolutely loved it. Not long after it opened in Raleigh, North Carolina, I was scooping up the Bantam paperbacks like a fiend. And while I now see the movie as a fairly botched adaptation of the original pulp novels, I’ve got a soft spot for it that is a much bigger deal than its actual merits as cinema.

title_doc_savage_blu-ray

Producer George Pal and director Michael Anderson seem to have been conflicted about what kind of Doc Savage movie they wanted to make. There’s plenty of the ’66 Batman camp thing going on. There are serious attempts to create real excitement and suspense. And there’s a solid effort to establish Doc’s art deco world and aides, the Fabulous Five. From one scene to the next, the movie succeeds at one of those tasks or the other — but the end result is disjointed, leaving us wondering how we should take the thing as a whole.

None of that’s a deal-breaker when you’ve got plenty of nostalgia to draw on. I do, and I still wish they’d made the sequel, Doc Savage – The Arch Enemy Of Evil. But like a lot of movies released in the summer of 1975, a shark killed Doc Savage – The Man Of Bronze. You know the one.

I was so stoked walking out of the theater in 1975.

So now, all these years later, Warner Archive brings us a gorgeous Blu-Ray that has the movie looking better than ever. It still looks a bit like a TV movie, but so what? The color’s great, there’s plenty of circa-1975 film grain and it’s so sharp you can really study Doc’s beautiful Cord Model 810. They did a very nice job with it, and if you’re a fan you’ll be blown away.

So to go back to my original thought, revisiting movies from your childhood at your own peril — how does Doc Savage hold up? It’s not cinematic gold, to be sure. Silver? No. But bronze? Yeah, I’d give it that.

1 Comment

Filed under 1975, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, George Pal, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #83: Doc Savage – The Man Of Bronze (1975).

duodoc

Directed by Michael Anderson
Produced by George Pal
Starring Ron Ely, Paul Gleason, Bill Lucking, Michael Miller, Eldon Q, Eldon Quick, Darrell Zwerling, Carlos Rivas, Paul Wexler, Janice Heiden, Robyn Hilton, Pamela Hensley

I saw Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze (1975) during its brief theatrical run, and at 11 years old, I loved it. Of course, it bombed (it was competing with Jaws that summer) and the proposed sequel (Doc Savage: The Arch Enemy of Evil) was never made.

docsavage_29c_bama

Fans of the original pulp novels have lots of problems with the film. But it sent me straight to the Bantam paperbacks with the great James Bama cover paintings (above is a particular favorite).

Like a lot of folks, I have a soft spot for this movie. So I was really stoked to hear that Warner Archive’s giving it a Blu-Ray release in November. Have no fear — Doc Savage is here!

3 Comments

Filed under 1975, DVD/Blu-ray News, George Pal, Warner Archive