Category Archives: Paramount

Blu-Ray News #317: Duel Of The Titans (1961).

Directed by Sergio Corbucci
Starring Steve Reeves, Gordon Scott, Virna Lisi

Germany’s Explosive Media, through Koch, has announced a January release date for Duel Of The Titans (1961, AKA Romulus And Remus). Bringing Steve Reeves (Hercules) and Gordon Scott (Tarzan) together as Romulus and Remus, with Sergio Corbucci directing, and with Virna Lisi — not to mention “primitive passions,” “volcanic thrills” and “pagan worship,” how could it go wrong?

Paramount cut the picture to less than 90 minutes for the States. Koch seems to be offering up the fill 109-minute version. These peplum movies have really suffered over the years, with wretched pan-and-scan transfers and faded Eastman Color. The few that have made it to Blu-Ray have looked splendid. So while the pictures themselves are a matter of taste, it’s hard to knock ’em on Blu-Ray. For fans of this stuff, this one comes recommended.

Thanks to the mighty John Knight for the tip!

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Filed under 1961, DVD/Blu-ray News, Explosive Media, Gordon Scott, Paramount, Peplum, Sergio Corbucci, Steve Reeves

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.

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

Blu-Ray News #289: King Creole (1958).

King_Creole_advertisement_-_Modern_Screen,_August_1958Directed by Michael Curtiz
Starring Elvis Presley, Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau, Dolores Hart, Dean Jagger, Vic Morrow

Paramount has announced “Paramount Presents,” a new line of Blu-Ray releases and limited theatrical runs. Along with Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief (1957), they’ll be launching the line with King Creole (1958). One of Elvis’ better films, with one of his best performances (I’d say Flaming Star is his best), King Creole should make for a terrific Blu-Ray. It’s for a great cast — Carolyn Jones, Walter Matthau are both excellent, good songs (“Hard Headed Woman” is awesome) and fabulous B&W cinematography from Russell Harlan.

They’re promising deluxe packaging and a slew of extras. Watch for ’em in April.

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Filed under 1958, Carolyn Jones, DVD/Blu-ray News, Elvis Presley, Paramount, Walter Matthau

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.

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

Blu-Ray News #278 – Danger: Diabolik (1968).

Directed by Mario Bava
Starring John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell, Michel Piccoli, Adolfo Celi, Claudio Gora

You can have all 57 Avengers movies and those new Batman and Joker things. Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1968) is the best comic book movie ever made. And it’s a Blu-Ray folks (including me) have been screaming for for years.

Shout Factory is bringing Danger: Diabolik to high definition in May — and at this time, the specs haven’t been announced. There’s been some controversy over the years about the two different English dubs, so it’ll be interesting to see what they wind up with. But one thing’s for sure, Bava’s incredible use of color and whacked-out camera angles, along with Ennio Morricone’s fuzzed-out score, will be well-served on Blu-Ray. Highly, highly recommended.

Why take my word for it? A more qualified movie expert, Glen Erickson of CinemaSavant, is just as nuts over this thing as I am.

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Filed under 1968, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ennio Morricone, John Phillip Law, Mario Bava, Paramount, Shout/Scream Factory

Bob Dylan In In Harm’s Way?

From an interview posted on BobDylan.com —

Bill Flanagan: You met John Wayne in 1966. How did you two hit it off?

Bob Dylan: Pretty good, actually. The Duke, I met him on a battleship in Hawaii where he was filming a movie, he and Burgess Meredith. One of my former girlfriends was in the movie, too, and she told me to come over there. She introduced me to him and he asked me to play some folk songs. I played him “Buffalo Skinners,” “Raggle Taggle Gypsy,” and I think “I’m a Rambler, I’m a Gambler.” He told me if I wanted to, I could stick around and be in the movie. He was friendly to me.

Love that poster art by Saul Bass!

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Filed under 1965, Bob Dylan, Dana Andrews, Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Paramount, Saul Bass, Slim Pickens

A Million Feet Of Film: The Making Of One-Eyed Jacks.

A Million Feet Of Film: The Making Of One-Eyed Jacks is the story of Marlon Brando’s One-Eyed Jacks, his first, and only, time as director and a picture that may be better known for its troubled production than its merits as a film.

More than three years from contracts to premiere. Six months of shooting. Almost 200 miles of negative exposed. A revolving door of personnel, including Rod Serling, Sam Peckinpah and Stanley Kubrick — all gone before the first frame was shot. A budget that ballooned from $1.8 million to $6 million. And the eventual takeover of the film by Paramount. Click the cover to order.

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Filed under Ben Johnson, Elisha Cook, Jr., Marlon Brando, Paramount, Rod Serling, Sam Peckinpah, Stanley Kubrick, Timothy Carey

Blu-Ray Review: Jack The Ripper (1959).

Produced, Directed & Photographed by Robert S. Baker & Monty Berman
Screenplay by Jimmy Sangster
Music by Stanley Black (UK); Jimmy McHugh & Pete Rugolo (US)
Film Editor: Peter Bezencenet

Cast: Lee Patterson (Sam Lowry), Eddie Byrne (Inspector O’Neill), Betty McDowall (Anne Ford), Ewen Solon (Sir David Rogers), John Le Mesurier (Dr. Tranter), George Rose (Clarke), Philip Leaver (Music Hall Manager), Barbara Burke (Kitty Knowles), Anne Sharp (Helen), Denis Shaw (Simes), Jack Allen (Assistant Commissioner Hodges), Jane Taylor (Hazel), Dorinda Stevens as (Margaret), Hal Osmond (Snakey), Paul Frees (narrator, US version)

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I’m sure I’m not the only kid who caught Jack The Ripper (1959) on TV and has had a fascination with the murders ever since. Back then, researching a subject wasn’t as simple as typing a few words into Wikipedia, and I’ve got a stack of Ripper books to prove it.

Since Jack The Ripper was never caught, a book or movie or whatever can go wherever it wants, presenting its own theory of what happened — or just using the basic story as a springboard for a bit of violence and sex. This movie sticks to the usual path, and its “solution” is in line with some of the common theories from the “experts.” The Ripper scenes are very well done, and they do a pretty good job of concealing the fact that they walk along the same Whitechapel street set over and over again — the fog machine guy sure worked overtime.

My favorite Ripper picture is Murder By Decree (1978) and this one comes in second. Its Hammer-ish feel — courtesy of writer Jimmy Sangster and producers/directors Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman, who’d done Blood Of The Vampire the year before — suits the subject matter perfectly.

I’ve never seen Jack The Ripper look good, so I was really eager to see how the Severin Blu-Ray turned out, knowing they’d gone to great lengths to find some nice material to work with. And I was hoping to get a lesson in how the various versions of the picture came to be. And while this isn’t a shining example of everything a Blu-Ray can be, it does show what dedication and hard work can accomplish.

So here’s the back story. Joseph E. Levine made a fortune buying foreign films, sprucing them up for American release, and filling theaters through masterful advertising campaigns. Two of his biggest successes were the US versions of Godzilla, King Of The Monsters (1956) and Hercules (1958). Jack The Ripper was given the same treatment.

Wth the Severin Blu-Ray, you get the British cut of the picture, looking pretty good, but cropped to 1.33. Then there’s the US version in its proper aspect ratio, transferred from a vintage, well-used print found in the Library Of Congress. (Wow, Congress is good for something!) It’s got some lines and splices, and the color insert is there. (I actually like seeing an old movie look like it’s been run a few times — that’s how they usually looked when I first saw them.) In short, Severin did a very nice job with somewhat compromised material.

Of the two, I prefer the US one. The widescreen framing is a huge plus, it’s cool to hear Paul Frees over the Paramount logo, and the music is the score I know from the soundtrack LP.

There was a third version — a cut for the rest of Europe with some extra violence and a bit of nudity tossed in for good measure. Some of those scenes are included in the supplemental stuff. You also get a nice little documentary, the US trailer, an expert interview and a still gallery. A nice package.

But for me, however, the real treat is bringing this Ripper out of the fog after all these years. For that, I’m certainly grateful. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1959, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Jack The Ripper, Paramount, Severin Films

DVD/Blu-Ray News #204: Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s, Volume 1.

Well blow me down! The DVD sets of the Fleischer Popeye cartoons have been crown jewels in my DVD collection for years, and I’ve always wondered if more would ever show up. Our friends at Warner Archive have done it again with their upcoming Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s, Volume 1. And they’ll be available on both DVD and Blu-Ray this time around!

Popeye spinach

Who’d eat any other brand?

By 1943, Max and Dave Fleischer had been forced out of their own cartoon business — 1942’s Baby Wants A Bottleship was their last Popeye picture, and their animation studio became Paramount’s Famous Studios. The whole Fleischer-Paramount-Famous Studios saga is a tragic mess.

But the Popeye The Sailor series stayed afloat — powered by spinach, no doubt, and the cartoons are wonderful. This set includes shorts produced from 1943 to 1945: Her Honor, The Mare; The Marry-Go-Round; We’re On Our Way To Rio; The Anvil Chorus Girl; Spinach Packin’ Popeye; Puppet Love; Pitchin’ Woo At The Zoo; Moving Aweigh; She-Sick Sailors; Pop-Pie A La Mode; Tops In The Big Top; Shape Ahoy; For Better Or Nurse; and Mess Production.

Warner Archive is promising 4K masters from the original nitrate negatives. These’ll look strong to the fin-ich for sure.

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Filed under Cartoons, DVD/Blu-ray News, Paramount, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #177: Sangaree (1953) In 3-D.

Directed by Edward Ludwig
Starring Fernando Lamas, Arlene Dahl, Patricia Medina, Francis L. Sullivan, Charles Korvin

Kino Lorber Studio Classics and the 3-D Film Archive have announced the upcoming 3-D Blu-Ray release of Sangaree (1953).

Sangaree was to be another Pine-Thomas picture, but Paramount picked it to be their first 3-D production. Shooting was underway when the 3-D decision was made, so some scenes had to be re-shot. Be sure to read all about it here and watch for the Blu-Ray in September.

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Filed under 1953, 3-D, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edward Ludwig, Kino Lorber, Paramount, Pine-Thomas