Robert Furmanek of The 3-D Film Archive is the author (with Ron Palumbo) of one of my all-time favorite film books, Abbott & Costello In Hollywood. He recently kicked off a Kickstarter campaign to restore one of Bud and Lou’s funniest films, their independently-produced Africa Screams (1949). It’s one of the team’s absolute best, released right after Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). They were really on a roll.
My love of this movie stems from Bob’s terrific, extras-packed laserdisc from the late 80s. I played that thing about a million times. And I’m really stoked about the opportunity to take a part in this restoration.
The existing 35mm material (camera negative and fine grain positive) is on nitrate stock, which is difficult, dangerous and expensive to work with, but can make for stunning results. The plan is to do 4K scans of these reels, then do a thorough clean-up for a DVD and Blu-Ray release. When I checked, Bob was over halfway to his goal of $7,500, and we have till the end of December to help make this happen. Click on the image up top to do your part.
Not sure what’s more exciting about this — being able to help preserve a movie I adore, or the thought of seeing it look like a million bucks on Blu-Ray.
UPDATE: In a little over a day, the goal has been met. Thanks to everyone who pledged to bring Africa Screams to Blu-Ray.
The Abbott & Costello movies offer up some of the great joys to be had in this world. Their “Who’s On First?” routine (found in The Naughty Nineties) is timeless — and runs constantly in the Baseball Hall Of Fame. Me, I simply cannot be down if Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) is on.
Shout Factory has announced The Complete Universal Pictures Collection, that puts their 28 Universal pictures (they say they saved the studio from bankruptcy) on 15 Blu-ray Discs, packed with hours of extras and a collectible book. It’s coming in November. What a great big box of Wonderful this will be!
Filed under Abbott & Costello, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Douglass Dumbrille, DVD/Blu-ray News, Frank Ferguson, Glenn Strange, Hillary Brooke, Jack Pierce, Lon Chaney Jr., Mari Blanchard, Marie Windsor, Shemp Howard, Shout/Scream Factory, Universal (-International), Vincent Price
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.