Category Archives: United Artists

RIP, Lewis Gilbert.


Lewis Gilbert (left) directs Sean Connery and Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice

Lewis Gilbert
(March 6, 1920 – February 23, 2018)

Lewis Gilbert, who directed the underrated James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967), has passed away at 97. In a couple more weeks, we would’ve been 98. You Only Live Twice gets a lot of flack, but to me it’s a knockout — from the incredible sets by Ken Adam to one of John Barry’s best Bond scores to the fact that Sean Connery hits a guy with a sofa! It’s big, loud and a bit obnoxious, and I love it.

He also directed the hip and influential Michael Caine movie Alfie (1966). Then there’s the terrific Sink The Bismark! (1960), with Kenneth Moore, Dana Wynter, Michael Hordern and some outstanding model work — all in black and white CinemaScope. It’s just a great thing all-around.


1 Comment

Filed under 1960, 1966, 1967, James Bond, Lewis Gilbert, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, United Artists

Blu-Ray News #152: Five Steps To Danger (1957).

Directed by Henry S. Kesler
Starring Ruth Roman, Sterling Hayden, Werner Klemperer, Richard Gaines, Charles Davis, Jeanne Cooper

I can’t get enough of Sterling Hayden — I’d watch a film of him brushing his teeth. Five Steps To Danger (1957), a cool Cold War espionage story, has been a hard one to track down over the years. All that’s about to change with a new 4K restoration and Blu-Ray from ClassicFlix. Judging from their previous releases, we can count on it looking like a million bucks.

So far, the only release date from ClassicFlix is early 2018. Man, I’m really looking forward to this one.

1 Comment

Filed under 1957, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Sterling Hayden, United Artists

Blu-Ray News #150: Irma La Duce (1963).

Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Lou Jacobi

Kino Lorber has announced a Blu-Ray of Billy Wilder’s Irma La Duce (1963), from a recent 4K restoration. While I love Wilder and Jack Lemmon, and this is certainly a funny movie, I have to admit that I wanted to post something on it so I could mention the great Saul Bass, who did the poster.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1963, Billy Wilder, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Lemmon, Kino Lorber, Saul Bass, United Artists

Blu-Ray Review: The Killer Is Loose (1956).

Directed by Budd Boetticher
Screenplay by Harold Medford
From a story by John Hawkins and Ward Hawkins
Cinematography: Lucien Ballard
Music by Lionel Newman
Film Editor: George Gittens

Cast: Joseph Cotten (Det. Sam Wagner), Rhonda Fleming (Lila Wagner), Wendell Corey (Leon Poole), Alan Hale (Denny), Michael Pate (Det. Chris Gillespie), John Larch (Otto Flanders), Dee J. Thompson (Grace Flanders)


To me, there’s nothing more satisfying than a little movie that pays off big. And Budd Boetticher’s The Killer Is Loose (1956) is that in spades.

Detective Joseph Cotton accidentally shoots Wendell Corey’s wife while arresting him for bank robbery. On his way to prison, Corey swears he’ll get his revenge. And when he escapes, his only thought is to put Cotton through the same pain he suffered: the loss of his wife.

Where do you begin with this thing? From Lucien Ballard’s cinematography to Budd Boetticher’s crisp direction to the editing by George Gittens to the terrific cast, this movie knocks everything out of the park. Wendell Corey was never better than he is here as the milquetoast banker turned robber and murderer. You somehow feel sorry for him, even as you wish they’d hurry up and blow him away. Rhonda Fleming is quite good as Cotton’s wife, Corey’s target. It’s a part that’s pretty unlikable — she hates her husband being a cop, forcing Cotton to not only search for Corey, but conceal the fact that Fleming is who he’s after. Then there’s the great use of LA locations and the decision to set some of the film’s tensest scenes in the most mundane of places (kitchens, suburban neighborhoods, lettuce fields, etc.).

1956 was a great year for movies, and many of the folks behind The Killer Is Loose were on a roll. Boetticher was about to begin his superb Ranown Cycle with Randolph Scott — Seven Men From Now would arrive in a few short months. Rhonda Fleming’s next picture was Allan Dwan’s Slightly Scarlet (1956). And Lucien Ballard would continue working with Boetticher on the Ranown pictures and shoot The Killing (1956) for Stanley Kubrick.

Ballard (beside camera with scarf) and Boetticher (in front of Ballard) shooting on an LA bus.

Ballard’s camerawork not only sets this movie apart, it allows the new Blu-Ray from ClassicFlix to really shine. This is exactly how a black and white film should look in high definition. Film grain is present throughout, in a good way. Contrast levels are near-perfect, the blacks are very true and the proper 1.85 aspect ratio is preserved (the full-frame DVD looks awful clunky in comparison). And the lossless audio is rock solid.

The Killer Is Loose is a picture I’ve been lifting up for years, and this Blu-Ray is just as easy to recommend. Trust me, you need this.


Filed under 1956, Allan Dwan, Budd Boetticher, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Joseph Cotton, Rhonda Fleming, Stanley Kubrick, United Artists, Wendell Corey

Blu-Ray News #123: Death Rides A Horse (1967).

Directed by Giulio Petroni
Starring Lee Van Cleef, John Phillip Law

I’m rather picky when it comes to Spaghetti Westerns. While some of them are brilliant, you have to wade through a lot of crap to get to them. Death Rides A Horse (1967) is one of the brilliant ones. Van Cleef is excellent; John Phillip Law was about to make Danger: Diabolik (1968), so he’s at his supercool best; Giulio Petroni is one of the better directors for these things; and this has to be one of Ennio Morricone’s best Western scores.

It’s been available on DVD for ages, often pan-and-scan and looking like crap, so the upcoming Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber is good news indeed. They say to look for it this summer. Highly recommended.


Filed under 1967, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ennio Morricone, John Phillip Law, Kino Lorber, Lee Van Cleef, Spaghetti Westerns, United Artists

Blu-Ray News #113: The Killer Is Loose (1955).


Directed by Budd Boetticher
Starring Joseph Cotten, Rhonda Fleming, Wendell Corey, Alan Hale, Jr., Michael Pate, John Larch

Now we’re talking! Budd Boetticher’s The Killer Is Loose (1956) is coming to Blu-Ray from ClassicFlix. The release date evidently hasn’t been nailed down.

Ballard (beside the camera) and Boetticher (in front of Ballard) shooting a scene on a bus.

This terrific noir shows that Boetticher’s mastery of the movies wasn’t limited to Westerns or Randolph Scott. It’s tight, tense and terrific — with Wendell Corey giving a very creepy, career-best performance. Joseph Cotton and Rhonda Fleming are good, too. Lucien Ballard’s cinematography is top-notch with some great location work. The Killer Is Loose is a really good one.

Budd Boetticher (from his book When In Disgrace): “The Killer Is Loose was a good film with Joseph Cotton, Rhonda Fleming and Wendell Corey, who were wonderful to work with. But I don’t think they appreciated what Lucien and I did. We made that picture in 15 days on a 20-day schedule.”

This came out the same year as Budd’s Seven Men From Now (1956). Boy, was he on a roll! Way overlooked — and way overdue on Blu-Ray.


Filed under 1956, Budd Boetticher, DVD/Blu-ray News, United Artists

Blu-Ray News #108: The Four Skulls Of Jonathan Drake (1959).


Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Starring Eduard Franz, Henry Daniell, Valerie French, Grant Richards, Lumsden Hare, Paul Wexler

If people would stop and think for a second that we live in an age when an Edward L. Cahn picture like The Four Skulls Of Jonathan Drake (1959) gets a high-end Blu-Ray release, maybe they’d quit freaking out about the sorry state our world is in. There is hope indeed. (However, if someone wants to organize a Cheap Movies Matter march, I’m in!)

Fake politics aside, this is one of those movies I saw repeatedly growing up, and it left quite an impression on me. Paul Wexler with his mouth sewn shut is an image seared into my brain — thanks to the stills in all the monster movie magazines and books I hoarded as a kid.


Edward L. Cahn is a director whose work I adore — from stuff like Girls In Prison (1956) and Dragstrip Girl (1957) to cheap Westerns like Flesh And The Spur (1956) to all those terrific monster and sci-fi movies — Creature With The Atom Brain (1955), It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958), Invisible Invaders (1959) and so many more. I’ve never seen his 1933 picture Laughter In Hell, but it boasts one of my all-time favorite movie titles. Cahn doesn’t transcend his material the way Fred F. Sears or Paul Landres sometimes do, but he goes at these silly things absolutely seriously, and it always seems to work for him. (He would’ve been an ideal director for the Batman TV show.)

Shout Factory have this listed for a Spring release. I can’t wait to butt heads with The Four Skulls Of Jonathan Drake again.

1 Comment

Filed under 1959, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edward L. Cahn, Shout/Scream Factory, United Artists