Category Archives: The Beatles

Blu-Ray News #91: The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961).

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Directed by Val Guest
Starring Janet Munro, Leo McKern, Edward Judd

The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961) is an almost impossibly good science fiction movie from Val Guest. It’s coming to Blu-Ray, with a new 2K restoration, in 2017 from Cohen Media Group.

The premise is very simple. Nuclear blasts at the North and South Poles knock the Earth off its axis and send it headed straight for the sun. Sweating and panic ensue as London prepares for what may be The End.

Seeing it as a kid, in a crappy pan and scan late-night TV airing, I was glued to the screen — wanting to throw a brick through the tube when the station went to a commercial break. Back then, I knew Leo McKern from Help! (1965) — “Psst! Hey, Be-a-tle! You shall have fun, yes?” — and Janet Munro from The Crawling Eye (1958) and Darby O’Gill And The Little People (1959). I was surprised to see them in something so dark and intense — and her so near-naked.

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Val Guest’s direction here is top-notch. He got a tremendous amount of movie out of his paltry budget, masterfully using stock footage and matte paintings (by Les Bowie) to create London’s brink-of-desctruction weather. Today, we’d just throw CGI at this story and render it soulless — in 1961, writing, acting and craftsmanship came together to create something really special.

Also of note is Guest and DP Harry Waxman’s use of Dyaliscope, a French anamorphic process. The thought of their work in high definition has me giddy. As you can tell, I am a big fan of this movie. Can’t wait to slide this thing into my Blu-Ray player. As I see it, this one is essential.

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Filed under 1961, DVD/Blu-ray News, The Beatles, Val Guest

DVD/Blu-Ray News #85: Dimension 5 And Cyborg 2087 (Both 1966).

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Dimension 5 (1965)
Directed byFranklin Adreon
Written by Arthur C. Pierce
Starring Jeffrey Hunter, France Nuyen, Harold Sakata

United Pictures Corporation produced nine films between 1966 and 1968, with the idea that they’d quickly make their way to TV, where they’d be attractive thanks to name actors (even if past their prime) and color photography. Two of those nine UPC pictures, Dimension 5 and Cyborg 2087 (both 1966) have been announced for DVD and Blu-Ray release early next year.

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Cyborg 2087 (1966)
Directed byFranklin Adreon
Written by Arthur C. Pierce
Starring Michael Rennie, Wendell Corey, Warren Stevens, Eduard Franz, Harry Carey, Jr.

Both films were directed by Franklin Adreon from time-traveling scripts by Arthur C. Pierce. Pierce wrote a slew of low-budget sci-fi pictures: The Cosmic Man (1959), Beyond The Time Barrier (1960), Women Of The Prehistoric Planet (1966) and more. A weekend retrospective of his work would be a real hoot — and would allow you to spend time with the likes of John Agar, Mamie Van Doren, Scott Brady and John Carradine.

1966 was quite a year. You had Pet Sounds, Revolver and Blonde On Blonde to listen to and cheeseball movies like these to watch. Those were the days.

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Filed under 1966, John Agar, John Carradine, Kino Lorber, Television, The Beatles

RIP, George Martin.

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Sir George Henry Martin CBE
(3 January 1926 – 8 March 2016)

George Martin, who produced all those wonderful Beatles records, has passed away at 90.

I’ve probably spent more time in the presence of George Martin’s work than any other human — except for The Beatles themselves. One of the things that always struck me about Martin was that as much of a genius as he was, he seemed so humble — never really taking credit for his monumental contribution of the human experience. We should all learn something from that.

Hard Days Night 35mm

This being a movie blog, here are some frames from a 35mm print of A Hard Day’s Night (1964) — which Martin scored.

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Filed under 1964, The Beatles

DVD/Blu-ray News #39: The Beatles’ 1+.

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Here’s something Beatle geeks have been waiting for — a compilation of The Beatles’ promo films and TV appearances. Included will be the 1966 film for “Paperback Writer” (above), shot at London’s Chiswick House, one of the flat-out coolest two-and-a-half minutes of film I’ve ever seen. (The fact that “Paperback Writer” is my all-time favorite song makes me a bit biased.)

The Beatles were at the top of their game in 1966. Come to think of it, everyone was: Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, etc.

Its release date is November 6 for both DVD and Blu-ray, with a deluxe edition available for good measure.

 

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Filed under 1966, DVD/Blu-ray News, The Beatles

Blu-Ray News #34: How I Won The War (1967).

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Directed by Richard Lester
Starring Michael Crawford, John Lennon, Roy Kinnear, Lee Montague, Jack MacGowran, Michael Hordern

How I Won The War (1967) is a very funny, very dark anti-war comedy from Richard Lester. It’s known primarily as the “solo” movie John Lennon made while in The Beatles — and as the source of his little round glasses. Oh, and he wrote “Strawberry Fields Forever” while shooting in Spain.

It’s based on a funny novel by Patrick Ryan that I read as a young Beatle geek (had to, Lennon was on the cover). There’s a scene in the book where two old officers hurl their false teeth at the wall to see whether civilian or government-issue dentures are more durable. It’s hysterical.

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Lennon and the film were featured on the cover of the first issue of Rolling Stone. And it’s coming to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber before the end of the year.

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Filed under 1967, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Richard Lester, The Beatles