Category Archives: MGM

Blu-Ray News #317: The Long, Long Trailer (1954).

Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Marjorie Main, Keenan Wynn, Bert Freed, Madge Blake, Howard McNear

The Warner Archive has announced The Long, Long Trailer (1954) as an upcoming Blu-Ray release (January). This is a family favorite — and good, good news indeed.

At the time, MGM was concerned that folks wouldn’t pay to see Lucy and Desi, since they came on TV each week for free. But the picture was a big hit — maybe it was the chance to see them in Ansco Color. The picture came long in 1954, as the movies were wrestling with wide screens, curved screens and the final days of 3-D. The “great panoramic screen” was perfect for  the 1953 36-foot Redman New Moon trailer used in the film, as Lucy and Desi set off to see the USA.

The Long, Long Trailer comes highly, highly recommended!

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Filed under 1954, DVD/Blu-ray News, Marjorie Main, MGM, Warner Archive

Happy Thanksgiving From The Hannibal 8!

Maybe Harum Scarum (1965) isn’t the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving (I’d recommend Loving You), but have a good one anyway! 

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Filed under 1965, Elvis Presley, MGM, Sam Katzman

RIP, Jerry Lee Lewis.

Jerry Lee Lewis
September 29, 1935 – October 28, 2022

As far as I’m concerned, one of the greatest single strips of motion picture film in existance is Jerry Lee Lewis banging out the title song to High School Confidential! (1958) — in CinemaScope!

Mr. Lewis has passed away at 87. He was the last of those Sun Records artists who built the prototype for Rock N Roll — Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison have already left this earth.

Jerry Lee’s Sun singles are indeed classics, but I love the country records he made for Smash in the late 60s every bit as much. Guess today I’ll be spinning In Loving Memories, his gospel album from 1971.

You will certainly be missed, Mr. Lewis.

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Filed under 1958, Albert Zugsmith, Elvis Presley, Jack Arnold, Mamie Van Doren, MGM

Blu-Ray Review: Mark Of The Vampire (1935).

Directed by Tod Browning
Produced by E.J. Mannix
Screenplay by Guy Endore & Bernard Schubert
Photographed by James Wong Howe
Film Editor: Ben Lewis
Music by Herbert Stothart & Edward Ward

Cast: Lionel Barrymore (Prof. Zelen), Elizabeth Allan (Irena Borotyn), Bela Lugosi (Count Mora), Lionel Atwill (Inspector Neumann), Jean Hersholt (Baron Otto von Zinden), Carroll Borland (Luna Mora), Donald Meek (Dr. Doskil), Henry Wadsworth (Fedor Vincente)


With Mark Of The Vampire (1935), Tod Browning and Bela Lugosi set out to make their Dracula (1931) lightning strike twice. But since they were at MGM this time around, not Universal, a proper sequel wasn’t to be. Instead, Browning returned to his silent Lon Chaney picture London After Midnight (1927).

When Sir Karell Borotyn (Holmes Herbert) is found murdered, the local physician (Donald Meek) notes a pair of small wounds on his neck and decides a vampire did it. The mysterious Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his creepy daughter Luna (Carroll Borland) are suspected of being the undead, though the local police inspector (Lionel Atwill) doesn’t believe it.

When Sir Karell’s daughter Irena (Elizabeth Allan) falls ill with the same sinister marks on her neck, an authority on the occult and vampires, Professor Zelen (Lionel Barrymore), is summoned to save Irena and destroy the vampires.

Couldn’t resist. Here’s Lon Chaney in London After Midnight (1927).

The working title for Mark Of The Vampire was The Vampires Of Prague, but the setting might as well be Transylvania. The plot is a pretty direct lift from London After Midnight — which like most humans alive today, I’ve never seen. (It’s a lost film.) But the picture’s visual style and having Lugosi onboard as the vampire puts Mark Of The Vampire squarely in Dracula territory. 

Lugosi really doesn’t have all that much to do, but Lionel Barrymore has a field day as Professor Zelen, a standard Van Helsing kind of role. He’s all over the place, and he’s wonderful. 

Scenes that hint at an incestuous relationship between the Count and Luna, and the Count’s suicide, were removed from the script. (The suicide accounts for the unexplained wound on the side of Lugosi’s head.) The finished film runs only 61 minutes. But what glorious minutes they are, with only the trick ending (Spoiler Alert) — with the vampires being actors employed to root out the real killer — threatening to spoil things. (Scooby Doo would do the fake-monster copout in every single episode, which infuriated me as a kid.)

Cinematographer James Wong Howe (sitting on camera dolly) and Tod Browning (in director’s chair) shoot a scene with Carroll Borland and Bela Lugosi.

But real vampires or not, the atmosphere here is very real, thanks to Cedric Gibbons’ art direction, the haunting “score” — which seems to be made up of ghostly moans and groans, and the masterful camerawork of the great James Wong Howe. Howe takes the mood of Dracula, which was shot by the incredible Karl Freund, to an entirely new level. Nobody lights a run-down castle, a rat or an armadillo quite like those two! Howe keeps his camera moving quite a bit, which was really difficult on these early sound films. After all, the camera was the size of a refrigerator! There are tracking shots along the castle’s staircase that will knock you out.

It’s these visuals that truly benefit from the exquisite new Blu-Ray from Warner Archive. They’ve worked their magic again on this one. We have an idea of what a film from 1935 should look like, influenced more by the shoddy ways we’ve seen them over the years. Now, it looks like it was shot yesterday. It’s flawless, letting Howe’s work really shine. There are frames from this movie I’d love to hang on my wall.

The Blu-Ray’s extras include a commentary, a short and a cartoon, but the real jewel is the original trailer. It makes great use of Lugosi, who speaks directly to the audience. He has 10 times more dialogue in this trailer than he does in the actual movie! 

I love 30s horror pictures, and seeing them look like this is a real blessing. A big thanks to Warner Archive for all the work that went into this Mark Of The Vampire. It blew me away. This one’s essential, folks!

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Lon Chaney, MGM, Tod Browning, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #406: Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1931) And Mark Of The Vampire (1935).

Man oh man, am I excited about this! Warner Archive has announced a couple of terrific 30s horror pictures for October release on Blu-Ray — Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1931) and Mark Of The Vampire (1935).

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian
Starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart, Holmes Herbert

Fredric March won an Oscar for this excellent pre-Code horror picture, which came way too close to being a lost film. When MGM started working on their Spencer Tracy version, they bought the rights to the March film and the 1920 silent version with Lionel Barrymore — and destroyed all the material they could find. Luckily, something survived. 

Mark Of The Vampire
Directed by Tod Browning
Starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Jean Hersholt, Carroll Borland

Tod Browning revisits his silent London After Midnight (1927), adding sound and replacing Lon Chaney with Bela Lugosi. (Browning directed the 1931 Dracula.) Lugosi is at his Dracula-y best, Lionel Barrymore is a hoot as an expert on the occult and Carroll Borland is creepy as Lugosi’s daughter.

These played theaters in the early 70s along with Boris Karloff in Mask Of Fu Manchu (1932). What a night of 35mm wonderfulness that would’ve been. (Why didn’t my parents take me to this? I thought they loved me.) That’s the poster for the “terrifying triple show” up top.

You can always count on Warner Archive for exquisite transfers, and I’m really looking forward to seeing these look as good (or better) than they did back in the 30s. This is essential stuff, folks!

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, DVD/Blu-ray News, MGM, Paramount, Tod Browning, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #402: Dr. No (1962).

Directed by Terence Young
Starring Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord

Over the years, I’ve had the Connery Bond movies in about every format there is — film, Beta tape, laserdisc (three different editions of some of them), DVD and Blu-Ray. And while I don’t see that list getting any longer any time soon, this new package is really cool and worth looking at.

Dr. No (1962), the first in the series, is 60 years old. Time flies when you have a license to kill! A new 60th anniversary “steelbook” edition is one the way from MGM UK — and it’s a really terrific package.

The deluxe package gives you:
• Steelbook of Film on Blu-ray
• A Rigid Slipcase (good idea since those steelbook things scuff easily)
• Theatrical Poster
• New 32-Page Booklet
• Dragon Tank Buildable Board Figure
• 4 Lobby Card Reproductions and Envelope

The Dragon Tank model sounds like fun, and the cover reflecting Maurice Binder’s innovative title design (there’s a great story behind those) is a nice touch. If you don’t have Dr. No, this’d be a great way to get it. Coming in October.

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Filed under 1962, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Bond, MGM, Sean Connery, Terence Young, United Artists

Blu-Ray News #394: The Tarzan Vault Collection (1918-1935).

In August, The Film Detective is dragging three early Tarzan pictures out of the deep, dark video jungle and giving them new life on Blu-Ray.

Tarzan Of The Apes (1918)
Directed by Scott Sidney
Starring Elmo Lincoln, Enid Markey, George B. French, Gordon Griffith, Eugene Pallette

The first Tarzan film ever made. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel of the same name was published in 1912, and this is still held up as the most faithful film version of the character. The swamps of Louisiana doubled for the jungles of Africa. The film was a hit, and Elmo Lincoln would continue as Tarzan.

Adventures Of Tarzan (1921)
Directed by Robert F. Hill & Scott Sidney
Starring Elmo Lincoln, Louise Lorraine, Scott Pembroke, Frank Whitson, Lillian Worth

This 15-chapter serial was Elmo Lincoln’s third, and final, time as the Lord Of The Jungle, though he’d have small parts in a couple of the 40s Tarzan pictures.

The New Adventures Of Tarzan (1935)
Directed by Edward Kull & Wilbur F. McGaugh
Starring Herman Brix, Ula Holt, Ashton Dearholt, Frank Baker, Lewis Sargent

This 12-chapter serial was filmed on location in Guatemala, which brought with it a ton of problems, from financial and romantic woes to disease and impassible roads — and interference from MGM, which by this time was in the middle of their Johnny Weissmuller series. (Read up on this one sometime — it’s got quite a production history.)

Herman Brix made a name for himself at the 1928 Olympics, and they say he was considered by MGM before they cast Weissmuller in 1932’s Tarzan The Ape Man. Brix would later go by the name Bruce Bennett and he had a long, successful film career.

You can count on The Film Detective to make things things look as good as possible — and to load ’em up with extras. There are commentaries, documentaries and more. This is gonna be a good one, folks!

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Filed under Bruce Bennett, DVD/Blu-ray News, Johnny Weissmuller, MGM, Serial, Tarzan, The Film Detective

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.

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

4K News #382: Get Carter (1971).

Directed by Mike Hodges
Starring Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, Britt Ekland, John Osborne, Tony Beckley

It’s good to see older films still getting attention from video companies. The BFI has announced a 4K Blu-Ray (from the camera negative) of Mike Hodges’ Get Carter (1971) for later this year. What a movie.

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Filed under 1971, BFI, DVD/Blu-ray News, MGM, Michael Caine

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!

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