Category Archives: MGM

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)

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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

Blu-Ray News #359: Mad Love (1935).

Directed by Karl Freund
Starring Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive, Ted Healy, Keye Luke

Peter Lorre’s first American film was directed by the great German cinematographer Karl Freund — and Greg Toland worked on it. If that’s not enough to sell you on Mad Love (1935), that photo up top should do the trick. As a kid, I used to stare at it one of my old horror movie books, or maybe a copy of Famous Monsters, and I was dying to see it.

It’s coming to Blu-Ray next month from Warner Archive. An adaptation of The Hands Of Orlac, it stands as another weird, creepy, cool-looking 30s horror movie — and those are always worth seeking out. Seeing this one’s incredible camerawork in high definition is gonna be terrific. Highly recommended!

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Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, MGM, Peter Lorre, Warner Archive

Brilliant!

As someone who grew up watching Tom & Jerry cartoons, I couldn’t believe how great this was.

Then I got to thinking: why’s it take so long for someone to think of this?

Thanks to Jennifer who came across this last night.

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Filed under Cartoons, Hanna-Barbera, MGM

54 Years Ago.

Nobody who went that night had any idea what they were in for.

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Filed under 1967, Angie Dickinson, John Boorman, Lee Marvin, MGM

Blu-Ray Review: It Happened At The World’s Fair (1963).

Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by Ted Richmond
Written by Si Rose & Seaman Jacobs
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Film Editor: Fredric Steinkamp
Music by Leith Stevens

Cast: Elvis Presley (Mike Edwards), Joan O’Brien (Diane Warren), Gary Lockwood (Danny Burke), Vicky Tiu (Sue-Lin), Yvonne Craig (Dorothy Johnson), H. M. Wynant (Vince Bradley), Kam Tong (Walter Ling), Kurt Russell

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After Elvis Presley movies like Blue Hawaii (1960) were big hits while more serious stuff such as Flaming Star (1960) underperformed, the King’s move career settled into a pattern. Give Elvis a unique profession — circus performer, race driver, crop-duster (in this one), rodeo cowboy, Navy frogman, etc., throw in a couple of girls, a handful of songs, color and Panavision. The kids’ll love it.

When that routine worked, it really worked. Viva Las Vegas (1964) or Roustabout (1965), for instance. When it didn’t, well, it was Elvis — and for a lot of folks, that was enough. 

Which brings us to It Happened At The World’s Fair (1963). Elvis and Gary Lockwood are crop duster pilots who end up in Seattle. Thanks to a little girl (Vicky Tiu) he’s babysitting, Elvis meets a lovely nurse (Joan O’Brien). As he tries to get involved with the nurse, he ends up involved with some crooks and smuggled furs, too.

What really sets this one off is its location shooting at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, also called the Century 21 Exposition. It was shot in September 1962, a month before the fair ended. The picture’s like a Metrocolor and Panavision time capsule of a pretty amazing time — monorails, the Space Needle, GM’s Firebird III dream car, the Pavilion of Electric Power, computers and some really cool-looking mobile homes. The Fair footage is gorgeous, and the Blu-Ray’s picture incredible quality gives you a chance to really study all that’s going on. It’s surprising you don’t see people gawking at the King as he makes his way from ride to game to food joint to the dispensary.

By this time, the music in Elvis’ movies could be pretty hit or miss. The best tune here is probably “One Broken Heart For Sale,” which with a bit more bite to it, could’ve been a good one. Written by Otis Blackwell and Winfield Scott, it was the first Elvis RCA single to not hit the Top Five (it made it to 11). I’ve always felt the songs hurt Elvis’ movies as much as anything. If every tune was as good as, say, “Mean Woman Blues,” “Viva Las Vegas” or even “A Little Less Conversation,” the pictures would’ve had more life to ’em. Face it, some of that stuff is embarrassing to listen to — imagine having to get up there and sing it like you mean it. Poor Elvis. Plus, not only are some of the songs pretty lacking, but there’s too many of ’em — two or three strong ones is a lot better than 10 forgettable ones. (Remember, when Elvis staged his comeback in ’68, he did it through great music, not another movie.)

Joan O’Brien, Elvis and Norman Taurog.

It’s really easy to slam these movies. There’s not a lot to them. But you can look at them as the last reel of the studio system — Hollywood was a very different place by the time the 70s came along. These pictures were put together by real pros — from director Norman Taurog to cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg (got an Oscar for ’59’s Gigi). Maybe someone like Ruttenberg was just trying to pay his bills or prepare for retirement (his last picture was Speedway), but he was incapable of making a shabby-looking movie.

Elvis and Yvonne Craig.

And for me, that’s the real benefit of Warner Archive’s Blu-Ray of It Happened At The World’s Fair. The movie just shines. The 1962 World’s Fair was a place of hope and promise for the future, and it comes through perfectly here. This Blu-Ray reminded me how blessed we are to have old movies look this good today. (Do you remember what something like this looked like on your local station’s afternoon movie — or even VHS?) It’s bright and sharp with gorgeous color. The sound rings loud and clear in glorious mono. The DVD looked fine, but this is a whole new level. The only extra is a trailer, which is fun. 

Is It Happened At The World’s Fair Elvis’ best movie? Not even close. I’d put it somewhere in the middle. It’s fun and pretty to look at — and it gives us a great peek at the World’s Fair. And, of course, there’s Elvis. That’s plenty to recommend it.

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Filed under 1963, Elvis Presley, MGM, Warner Archive, Yvonne Craig

Blu-Ray News #345: It Happened At The World’s Fair (1963).

Directed by Norman Taurog
Starring Elvis Presley, Joan O’Brien, Gary Lockwood, Vicky Tiu, Yvonne Craig, Kurt Russell

Warner Archive is bringing Elvis to Blu-Ray this June with Norman Taurog’s It Happened At The World’s Fair (1963). Elvis plays a crop duster pilot named Mike Edwards who ends up at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

This one doesn’t have any of Elvis’ best songs and the plot’s nothing to write home about, but the mobile homes are really swank in a mid-century modern sort of way and the whole thing was shot by Joseph Ruttenburg, who did lots of great-looking movies for MGM. His last was Speedway (1968). It should look terrific on Blu-Ray. Can’t wait!

Dig that original mono copy of the soundtrack LP!

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Filed under 1963, DVD/Blu-ray News, Elvis Presley, MGM, Warner Archive, Yvonne Craig

52 Years Ago Today.

My favorite movie opened in LA on this day in 1969 — in spectacular 70mm!

They say 70mm prints of Where Eagles Dare (1969) were in stereo, while 35mm prints were mono. Not sure if that’s true. However, one thing is certain — the stereo sound on the laserdisc (which includes the intermission) is much better than the Blu-Ray. The Blu-Ray looks wonderful, thankfully.

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Filed under 1969, 70mm, Brian G. Hutton, Clint Eastwood, Ingrid Pitt, MGM, Richard Burton

Blu-Ray News #320: Tex Avery Screwball Classics, Volume 2.

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 was terrific, and here comes number two, which might be even better. It will contain stunning new restorations of:

Little Rural Riding Hood
The Cuckoo Clock
Magical Maestro
One Cab’s Family
Cat That Hated People
Doggone Tired
The Flea Circus
Field And Scream
The First Bad Man
Out Foxed
Droopy’s Double Trouble
Three Little Pups

Dragalong Droopy
Homesteader Droopy
Dixieland Droopy
Counterfeit Cat
Ventriloquist Cat
House Of Tomorrow
Car Of Tomorrow
TV Of Tomorrow

The documentary Tex Avery: King Of Cartoons will be included. Coming in December. Very funny stuff, and absolutely essential.

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Filed under Cartoons, DVD/Blu-ray News, MGM, Tex Avery, Warner Archive