Category Archives: Paul Frees

Blu-Ray News #231: The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid (1972).

Directed by Philip Kaufman
Starring Cliff Robertson, Robert Duvall, Luke Askew, R.G. Armstrong, Dana Elcar, Matt Clark, Elisha Cook, Royal Dan0, Paul Frees (narrator)

I don’t mean for this to sound negative, but The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid (1972) is one of the few so-called Revisionist Westerns I really like.  From the great cast to the narration from Paul Frees to Bruce Surtees’ terrific camerawork, it’s a picture that really clicks for me.

Shout Factory’s upcoming Blu-Ray should be a real treat. The film deserves it.

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Filed under 1972, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Elisha Cook, Jr., Paul Frees, R.G. Armstrong, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray News #199: The Thing From Another World (1951).

The Thing LC2

Directed by Christian Nyby
Produced by Howard Hawks
Starring Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, Dewey Martin, Eduard Franz, Robert Nichols, James Arness, John Dierkes, Paul Frees

The Thing (1951) scared me to death as a kid. It’s one of my Top 10 favorite films. It’s been sitting at the top of my Blu-Ray Want List since the format was introduced. And it’s finally coming to Blu-Ray from Warner Archive.

It’s basically about some cool military guys and a really cool woman saying and doing cool things as they take on a monster from outer space — and a scientist who’s determined to protect it. Howard Hawks’ stamp is all over it (cool people lumped together to deal with a crisis), whether he directed it or not.

This is essential. And I cannot wait for this Thing!

Keep watching the skies!

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Filed under 1951, DVD/Blu-ray News, Howard Hawks, Kenneth Tobey, Paul Frees, RKO, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray Review: The Cyclops (1957).

Written, Produced & Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Cinematography: Ira Morgan
Music by Albert Glasser
Film Editor: Carlo Lodato
Special Voice Effects: Paul Frees

Cast: James Craig (Russ Bradford), Gloria Talbott (Susan Winter), Lon Chaney (Martin ‘Marty’ Melville), Tom Drake (Lee Brand), Duncan Parkin (The Cyclops, Bruce Barton), Vincent Padula (The Governor)

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The Cyclops (1957) is 66 minutes of one-eyed wonderful-ness. It was the first in a string of pictures from writer/producer/director Bert I. Gordon where regular-sized people became very big, (oftentimes) very ugly, and ultimately very destructive. His other big pictures include The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), War Of The Colossal Beast (1958), Village Of The Giants (1965) and Food Of The Gods (1976). How does all that and Gordon’s initials, B.I.G., figure into the whole auteur theory thing? Of course, let’s not forget his change of pace, Attack Of The Puppet People (1958), where some folks (including John Agar) get smaller rather than larger.

The Cyclops goes something like this. Susan Winter (Gloria Talbott) and a group of three “adventurers” head to Mexico to locate her fiancée, Bruce Barton (Duncan Parkin), who went missing three years ago. They crash their plane in a jungle valley with very high levels of radiation where, you guessed it, all the animals are really, really big. Birds, bugs, snakes, lizards — all huge. Then, along comes a giant bald guy with a really messed-up face and a voice that sounds exactly like Paul Frees grunting and groaning.

The special effects (also by Gordon), well, they ain’t so special. The cyclops and other monsters are often oddly transparent, and it looks like very little thought went into keeping the scale of the creatures consistent from one shot to the next. A papier-mâché rock seems to dress up the oft-used entrance to Bronson Caves, but it actually provides something to superimpose the cyclops behind. (It’s weird to think that the climax of a masterpiece like The Searchers and a slew of movies like The Cyclops were shot in the exact same spot.)

All that, and it’s got Lon Chaney, Jr. in it!

The Cyclops is terrible in all the best ways. There’s a charm to it the movies will never be able to recapture. As Hollywood goes for the bigger, I’m drawn to the smaller (and older). That said, Warner Archive has The Cyclops livin’ large on Blu-Ray. It looks better than I ever thought this cheap picture would ever look. It’s sharp, the contrast and grain are absolutely perfect, and the audio is as clear as it can be. I’m so glad movies like this are getting this level of attention.

In short, The Cyclops on Blu-Ray is easy on the eye (sorry, couldn’t resist) — and highly recommended.

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Filed under 1957, Bert I. Gordon, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Lon Chaney Jr., Monogram/Allied Artists, Paul Frees, Warner Archive