Directed by Charles B. Pierce
Starring Lee Majors, Cornel Wilde, Mel Ferrer, Jack Elam, Susie Coelho, Christopher Connelly, Jimmy Clem, Deacon Jones
When it comes to costume films, I tend to prefer the cheap, cheesy exploitation pictures to the serious epic ones. And they don’t come much cheesier than the gloriously stupid The Norseman (1978) starring Lee Majors.
The premise is pretty simple: the Six Million Dollar Man is a Viking who comes to North America about 500 years before Columbus got here — and has to fight it out with the Indians. And in a subplot that’s never fleshed out, the Viking Jack Elam must’ve fraternized with the Native American ladies, since his wild-eyed bloodline turns up in lots of Westerns in the 1950s.
Lee Majors did The Norseman between The Six Million Dollar Man and The Fall Guy. He got half a million bucks and a percentage. Cornel Wilde and Mel Ferrer round out the cast. Charles B. Pierce (The Legend Of Boggy Creek, The Town That Dreaded Sundown) wrote, produced and directed it, and American International handled the distribution. It’s pretty terrible, but that’s of little consequence here.
I love to see anything bearing an AIP logo make it to Blu-Ray, and Kino Lorber and Scorpion Releasing are bringing The Norseman to the format in February of 2021. See, once we get out of 2020, things are gonna get better.
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.
Directed by Jack Webb
Starring Jack Webb, Ben Alexander, Richard Boone, Ann Robinson, Stacy Harris, Virginia Gregg, Victor Perrin, Georgia Ellis, James Griffith, Dennis Weaver, Dub Taylor
Update: Kino Lorber has announced a November 17 release date for their Blu-Ray of the 1954 Dragnet feature. They’ve also provided some info about what’s coming.
Special Features and Technical Specs:
• NEW 2K RESTORATION
• TWO PRESENTATIONS OF THE FILM: IN 1.75:1 & 1.37:1 RATIOS
• Audio Commentary by Toby Roan
• Theatrical Trailer
• Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature
When you do one of these commentaries, of course, you end up going through the movie many, many times. You can get kinda sick of it by the time you’re through. Not with this one. There was always a rant from Jack Webb, a cool LA location or something around the corner to look forward to. It never got old.
It’s easy to recommend this one, and if you get it, I encourage you to stick to the 1.75 widescreen version. It gives it a fresh, crisp look — and it’s what Webb and DP Edward Colman were going for. Highly, highly recommended.
Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Clint Eastwood, Shirley MacLaine
Kino Lorber has announced an October Blu-Ray release of Don Siegel’s Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970), his second picture with Clint Eastwood (from a story by Budd Boetticher).
Kino Lorber has promised 4K restorations of both the US cut and the longer international version, along with a host of extras.
Directed by John Gilling
Starring Peter Cushing, June Laverick, Donald Pleasence, Dermot Walsh, Renee Houston, George Rose, Billie Whitelaw
The Flesh And The Fiends (1960) — aka Mania, aka The Fiendish Ghouls, aka Psycho Killers — has been sitting near the top of my Blu-Ray Want List since, well, Blu-Rays first started showing up. By whatever name you want to call it, The Flesh And The Fiends is a wonderfully nasty telling of the Burke and Hare story. This was Peter Cushing’s first non-Hammer horror film after becoming a star in the genre with pictures like Curse Of Frankenstein (1957) and Horror Of Dracula (1958). He’s terrific in this one. It was produced by the Robert Baker – Monty Berman team that gave us Jack The Ripper (1959).
Kino Lorber has given their upcoming Blu-Ray, with two cuts of the film and other extras, a release date of July 7.
Directed by Bob Clark
Starring Christopher Plummer, James Mason, Donald Sutherland, Geneviève Bujold, John Gielgud
Pitting the brilliant Sherlock Holmes against the insidious Jack The Ripper is an inspired idea, and it’s been the basis of some good books and movies. Bob Clark’s Murder By Decree (1979) is a really good one. (Saw it in the theater back in ’79, and it boosted a fascination with the Ripper that I still can’t crawl out from under.)
Christopher Plummer plays the great detective and James Mason is wonderful as his trusted friend Watson. Peter Cushing will always be my favorite Holmes, but Plummer is very, very good. Frank Finlay, who played Inspector Lestrade in a previous Holmes/Ripper picture, A Study In Terror (1966). Murder By Decree walks the line between mystery and horror perfectly.
Kino Lorber has announced a Blu-Ray for Murder By Decree, with a hint at some really cool extras. The mileage I put on my old laserdisc of this one confirms that I recommend it very highly.
I’ve never been a Dr. Who fan. But I absolutely adore Peter Cushing.
So I was really stoked to learn that Kino Lorber is bringing both of the Cushing Dr. Who theatrical films — Dr. Who And The Daleks (1965) and Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966) — to Blu-Ray in July.
These used to turn up on TV a lot in the 70s, where their Techniscope photography suffered quite a bit. It’ll be cool to see them in high definition — the Technicolor was gorgeous.
One more thing: wouldn’t that have been a fun night at Austin’s Longhorn Drive-In?
Directed by Sidney J. Furie
Starring Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Guy Doleman, Sue Lloyd, Gordon Jackson, Stanley Meadows
Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray of the third, and last, Harry Palmer film, Billion Dollar Brain(1967), was very nice. And I’m so glad to hear they’re coming through with the first one, The Ipcress File (1965). I love this film.
I was 10 and had just gotten my first pair of eyeglasses when I came across The Ipcress File, and a smartass secret agent with glasses and a machine gun (and Sue Lloyd) gave me hope. Maybe it was going to be OK after all.
Directed by Sergio Corbucci & Giacomo Gentilomo
Starring Gordon Scott, Gianna Maria Canale, Jacques Sernas, Leonora Ruffo, Annabella Incontrera, Mario Feliciani
After their terrific Blu-Ray of Mario Bava’s Hercules In The Haunted World (1961), I was hoping Kino Lorber would keep the peplum coming. Well, with Goliath And The Vampires (1961) coming in early 2020, there’s at least one more in the works. This one has Gordon Scott as Goliath and was co-directed by Sergio Corbucci (there’s some debate about how much input he actually had). Dino De Laurentiis is credited as executive producer — I think it’s the only one of these pictures he did.
AIP released it here in the States, but didn’t get around to it until 1964. Reynold Brown’s poster art was typically beautiful. Like Hercules In The Haunted World, Goliath And The Vampires stirs a little Gothic horror into the usual peplum stew, which I always appreciate.
These movies looked like crap when I saw them on TV in the late 70s and early 80s — usually faded color and always a brutal pan-and-scan job on the ‘Scope camerawork. Can’t wait to see this one looking like it should. Recommended.
Directed by Fritz Lang
Starring Louis Hayward, Lee Bowman, Jane Wyatt
Another great filmmaker heads to Republic Pictures after getting the shaft by the majors — and knocks one out of the park.
Like Orson Welles and John Ford, Fritz Lang found Republic a friendlier place to make movies than the major studios had been. His House By The River (1950) is a terrific period noir/melodrama with incredible cinematography by Edward J. Cronjager. It should be stunning on Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber (we’ve seen Kino’s beautiful transfers of Republic pictures). Coming in January 2020.
I’m a huge fan of Lang’s Hollywood movies and it’s great to see some of his more obscure pictures, like this one and Moonfleet (1955), make their way to Blu-Ray. Highly recommended.