Category Archives: Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #317: The Long, Long Trailer (1954).

Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Marjorie Main, Keenan Wynn, Bert Freed, Madge Blake, Howard McNear

The Warner Archive has announced The Long, Long Trailer (1954) as an upcoming Blu-Ray release (January). This is a family favorite — and good, good news indeed.

At the time, MGM was concerned that folks wouldn’t pay to see Lucy and Desi, since they came on TV each week for free. But the picture was a big hit — maybe it was the chance to see them in Ansco Color. The picture came long in 1954, as the movies were wrestling with wide screens, curved screens and the final days of 3-D. The “great panoramic screen” was perfect for  the 1953 36-foot Redman New Moon trailer used in the film, as Lucy and Desi set off to see the USA.

The Long, Long Trailer comes highly, highly recommended!

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Filed under 1954, DVD/Blu-ray News, Marjorie Main, MGM, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray Review: Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman (1958).

Directed by Nathan Hertz
Produced by Bernard Woolner
Written by Mark Hanna
Director Of Photography: Jacques R. Marquette
Film Editor: Edward Mann
Music by Ronald Stein

Cast: Allison Hayes (Nancy Fowler Archer), William Hudson (Harry Archer), Yvette Vickers (Honey Parker), Roy Gordon (Dr. Isaac Cushing), George Douglas (Sheriff Dubbitt), Ken Terrell (Jess), Otto Waldis (Dr. Heinrich Von Loeb), Eileen Stevens (Nurse), Frank Chase (Deputy Charlie)


First saw Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman (1958) when I was 12. I was already pretty entrenched in horror and sci-fi movies from the 30s to the 60s, and while this one wasn’t much to write home about, I loved it. Still do, and there’s even more to love with the new Blu-Ray from Warner Archive.

The lovely Nancy Fowler Archer (Allison Hayes) seems to have pretty much everything. $50 million bucks (in 1958 money). The famous Star Of India diamond. A swank second home in the desert. A loyal butler (Ken Turrell). And a gorgeous 1958 Imperial Crown convertible.

She also has some mental health issues, a drinking problem, and a real dirtbag of a cheating husband (William Hudson). Those three things come to a head one night when she comes across a huge, glowing orb from outer space — and the bald giant (with an effeminate, but insanely hairy arm) who lives inside it.

No one believes Nancy, naturally, but her husband decides to use it for all its worth — a way to send her away forever while assuring his access to all that money. This pleases his boozy, floozy girlfriend, Yvette Vickers.

Eventually, Allison Hayes, the orb and the giant come together again — and she’s soon 50 feet tool and sleeping on top of the pool house. As doctors (played by Roy Gordon and Otto Waldis) discuss her predicament, all we see is a very large, very unconvincing fake hand — probably the same hand we saw as the giant, now de-haired. Some effects are not special.

The actual “attack of the 50 toot woman” is limited to the last 10 minutes, with regular-sized people pointing upward and telling is what Miss Hayes is doing, as she heads toward the bar to find William Hudson and Yvette Vickers.

It’d be really easy to laugh off Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman as a ludicrous piece of junk if it wasn’t for the pros that put it together. Director Nathan Juran (using the Nathan Hertz pseudonym he reserved for really cheap movies) and editor Edward Mann keep things quick and snappy. There’s a tongue-in-cheek approach to the whole thing that really works in its favor. And it doesn’t play at all like a normal 50s sci-fi film — the scheming, philandering husband features almost as much as the mysteriously growing wife.

Some may feel the movie could be better (I love it just as it is), but we’ll probably all agree this Blu-Ray can’t be improved. The transfer is up to Warner Archive’s typical exacting standard — framed and dialed-in perfectly. We get the wonderfully overstated trailer that promises far, far more than the film delivers. And it picks up the commentary from Tom Weaver and Yvette Vickers (RIP) that graced the original DVD release. Plus, they let Reynold Brown’s original poster art shine on the cover.

I grew up on movies movies like this. And thanks to Warner Archive, I’ll grow old seeing this one look absolutely splendid. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1958, Allison Hayes, Monogram/Allied Artists, Nathan Juran, Warner Archive, Woolner Brothers, Yvette Vickers

Blu-Ray News #314: Attack Of The 50 Ft. Woman (1958).

Directed by Nathan H. Juran (as Nathan Hertz)
Starring Allison Hayes, William Hudson, Yvette Vickers

Warner Archive has announced Nathan Juran’s Attack Of The 50 Ft. Woman (1958) as one of their December releases. I’m sure there are some folks out there asking, “Why?” If you don’t get it, I don’t think I could ever explain.

No one has ever accused this of being a good movie. The director Nathan Juran even decided to use a pseudonym, Nathan Hertz, the same name he used for Brain From Planet Arous. And like Arous, 50 Ft. Woman is a hoot, its entertainment value is in no way related to its budget (just $88,000, they say) or its quality as a film. Me, I’ll watch anything with Allison Hayes in it, from Chicago Syndicate (1955) and Gunslinger (1956) to Zombies Of Mora Tau (1957) and The High Powered Rifle (1960). Oh, and Tickle Me (1965) with Elvis.

Attack Of The 50 Ft. Woman was originally released as half of an Allied Artists twin bill with Roger Corman’s War Of The Satellites (1958) starring Dick Miller. Must’ve been a fun afternoon at the movies. By the way, this was remade in 1993, starring Darryl Hannah.

Haven’t seen any specs for the Blu-Ray, but I’m sure it’ll be widescreen and will look terrific. Hope they keep the commentary by Yvette Vickers and Tom Weaver that was on the old DVD. It was cool to listen to Ms. Vickers.

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Filed under 1958, Allison Hayes, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray News, Monogram/Allied Artists, Nathan Juran, Roger Corman, Warner Archive, Yvette Vickers

Blu-Ray Review: Mark Of The Vampire (1935).

Directed by Tod Browning
Produced by E.J. Mannix
Screenplay by Guy Endore & Bernard Schubert
Photographed by James Wong Howe
Film Editor: Ben Lewis
Music by Herbert Stothart & Edward Ward

Cast: Lionel Barrymore (Prof. Zelen), Elizabeth Allan (Irena Borotyn), Bela Lugosi (Count Mora), Lionel Atwill (Inspector Neumann), Jean Hersholt (Baron Otto von Zinden), Carroll Borland (Luna Mora), Donald Meek (Dr. Doskil), Henry Wadsworth (Fedor Vincente)


With Mark Of The Vampire (1935), Tod Browning and Bela Lugosi set out to make their Dracula (1931) lightning strike twice. But since they were at MGM this time around, not Universal, a proper sequel wasn’t to be. Instead, Browning returned to his silent Lon Chaney picture London After Midnight (1927).

When Sir Karell Borotyn (Holmes Herbert) is found murdered, the local physician (Donald Meek) notes a pair of small wounds on his neck and decides a vampire did it. The mysterious Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his creepy daughter Luna (Carroll Borland) are suspected of being the undead, though the local police inspector (Lionel Atwill) doesn’t believe it.

When Sir Karell’s daughter Irena (Elizabeth Allan) falls ill with the same sinister marks on her neck, an authority on the occult and vampires, Professor Zelen (Lionel Barrymore), is summoned to save Irena and destroy the vampires.

Couldn’t resist. Here’s Lon Chaney in London After Midnight (1927).

The working title for Mark Of The Vampire was The Vampires Of Prague, but the setting might as well be Transylvania. The plot is a pretty direct lift from London After Midnight — which like most humans alive today, I’ve never seen. (It’s a lost film.) But the picture’s visual style and having Lugosi onboard as the vampire puts Mark Of The Vampire squarely in Dracula territory. 

Lugosi really doesn’t have all that much to do, but Lionel Barrymore has a field day as Professor Zelen, a standard Van Helsing kind of role. He’s all over the place, and he’s wonderful. 

Scenes that hint at an incestuous relationship between the Count and Luna, and the Count’s suicide, were removed from the script. (The suicide accounts for the unexplained wound on the side of Lugosi’s head.) The finished film runs only 61 minutes. But what glorious minutes they are, with only the trick ending (Spoiler Alert) — with the vampires being actors employed to root out the real killer — threatening to spoil things. (Scooby Doo would do the fake-monster copout in every single episode, which infuriated me as a kid.)

Cinematographer James Wong Howe (sitting on camera dolly) and Tod Browning (in director’s chair) shoot a scene with Carroll Borland and Bela Lugosi.

But real vampires or not, the atmosphere here is very real, thanks to Cedric Gibbons’ art direction, the haunting “score” — which seems to be made up of ghostly moans and groans, and the masterful camerawork of the great James Wong Howe. Howe takes the mood of Dracula, which was shot by the incredible Karl Freund, to an entirely new level. Nobody lights a run-down castle, a rat or an armadillo quite like those two! Howe keeps his camera moving quite a bit, which was really difficult on these early sound films. After all, the camera was the size of a refrigerator! There are tracking shots along the castle’s staircase that will knock you out.

It’s these visuals that truly benefit from the exquisite new Blu-Ray from Warner Archive. They’ve worked their magic again on this one. We have an idea of what a film from 1935 should look like, influenced more by the shoddy ways we’ve seen them over the years. Now, it looks like it was shot yesterday. It’s flawless, letting Howe’s work really shine. There are frames from this movie I’d love to hang on my wall.

The Blu-Ray’s extras include a commentary, a short and a cartoon, but the real jewel is the original trailer. It makes great use of Lugosi, who speaks directly to the audience. He has 10 times more dialogue in this trailer than he does in the actual movie! 

I love 30s horror pictures, and seeing them look like this is a real blessing. A big thanks to Warner Archive for all the work that went into this Mark Of The Vampire. It blew me away. This one’s essential, folks!

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Lon Chaney, MGM, Tod Browning, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #406: Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1931) And Mark Of The Vampire (1935).

Man oh man, am I excited about this! Warner Archive has announced a couple of terrific 30s horror pictures for October release on Blu-Ray — Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1931) and Mark Of The Vampire (1935).

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian
Starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart, Holmes Herbert

Fredric March won an Oscar for this excellent pre-Code horror picture, which came way too close to being a lost film. When MGM started working on their Spencer Tracy version, they bought the rights to the March film and the 1920 silent version with Lionel Barrymore — and destroyed all the material they could find. Luckily, something survived. 

Mark Of The Vampire
Directed by Tod Browning
Starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Jean Hersholt, Carroll Borland

Tod Browning revisits his silent London After Midnight (1927), adding sound and replacing Lon Chaney with Bela Lugosi. (Browning directed the 1931 Dracula.) Lugosi is at his Dracula-y best, Lionel Barrymore is a hoot as an expert on the occult and Carroll Borland is creepy as Lugosi’s daughter.

These played theaters in the early 70s along with Boris Karloff in Mask Of Fu Manchu (1932). What a night of 35mm wonderfulness that would’ve been. (Why didn’t my parents take me to this? I thought they loved me.) That’s the poster for the “terrifying triple show” up top.

You can always count on Warner Archive for exquisite transfers, and I’m really looking forward to seeing these look as good (or better) than they did back in the 30s. This is essential stuff, folks!

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, DVD/Blu-ray News, MGM, Paramount, Tod Browning, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #401: King Kong (1933).

Directed by Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack
Starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot

I’ve seen King Kong (1933) countless times, and it never ceases to knock me out. If there’s any single film that demonstrated to the world what the movies were capable of, it has to be this one. We can thank Mr. Willis O’Brien for that.
Warner Archive is bringing this incredible film back to Blu-Ray. This is the way you need to see it — unless it hits your local theater in 35mm (don’t hold your breath). Essential.

My movie-geek advice: watch this one and The Most Dangerous Game (1932) as a double feature. Same sets, much of the same cast, both terrific!

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Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Fay Wray, RKO, Warner Archive, Willis O'Brien

Assignment: Outer Space (1960, AKA Space-Men).

Directed by Antonio Margheriti (Anthony Dawson)
Screenplay by Antonio Margheriti & Ennio De Concini
Cinematography: Marcello Masciocchi
Music by Lelio Luttazzi

Cast: Rik Van Nutter (Ray Peterson, IZ41), Gabriella Farinon (Lucy, Y13), David Montresor (George the Commander), Archie Savage (Al, X15), Alain Dijon (Archie, Y16), Franco Fantasia (Sullivan)


Antonio Margheriti worked on documentaries, did special effects work and wrote screenplays before directing his first feature, Assignment: Outer Space (1960). This kicked off a career that went from whacked-out Italian science fiction and spaghetti westerns to peplum and horror movies to spy movies and action films.

When you crank out more than 50 fad-chasing genre pictures, it’s understood that quite a few of them will be less than great. But Margheriti had a real knack for no-budget special effects — and he loved science fiction. He certainly knew how to get a movie done quickly and efficiently — using multiple cameras to get everything from master shots to closeups at the same time. With the Gamma One series, for instance, he shot four films simultaneously, using the same actors, props and sets — shooting scenes from four color-coded screenplays each day. Margheriti’s ingenuity and love of cinema is baked into most of his films, especially the ones from the 60s, and it helps put a lot of them over.

Space-Men — or Assignment: Outer Space, as it’s known in the States — is a picture with more ideas and scope than its budget could bankroll, but Margheriti manages to make it work.

Antonio Margheriti (from a 1970 interview): “Back then, Titanus was a big production company and one day they asked me if I wanted to make this film. I said yes, obviously… I made the film in 14 days and I spent 41,000,000 lire, which is very little money.”

The story is pretty basic — a broken-down spaceship is on a collision course with Earth, and the team on a single space station are mankind’s only hope. The special effects are passable, nothing more. And its pacing is pretty leisurely for a story with so much natural suspense.

But these liabilities become assets in Margheriti’s hands. The story serves as a framework for some imaginative sequences that may, or may not, advance the story. Margheriti devotes lots of screen time to showing us the (speculative) ins and outs of space travel, in a way that plays a bit like a precursor to Kubrick’s 2001: a space odyssey (1968) — with a waking-up-from-suspended-animation scene that was clearly an influence on Alien (1979). The special effects are quaint, cool, surreal and charming — especially for those of use who consider CGI a nail in cinema’s coffin. (Larger models would’ve made a big difference, no pun intended.) It’s a very visual experience throughout, which makes it a real shame that it looks so consistently, and internationally, lousy on video.

They say that while Margheriti was shooting Assignment: Outer Space, Mario Bava was hard at work on Black Sunday (1960) on the soundstage next door at Scalera Film studios. One thing I found brilliant was the use of letters and numbers on the characters’ uniforms and space suits, so we know who’s who in longer shots — much like numbers on a baseball jersey. And one more thing: Rik Van Nutter would go on to play Felix Leiter in Thunderball (1965) — and was married to Anita Ekberg.

Antonio Margheriti would follow this with Battle Of The Worlds (1961), which is on its way to Blu-Ray from The Film Detective, and a few years later would come the Gamma One pictures (available from Warner Archive). In between, some spaghetti westerns and gothic horror — all of it worth your time. And though his work from the 70s and 80s doesn’t have the same ingenuity and creativity, it’s a real shame that Margheriti isn’t better known, and appreciated. 

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Filed under 1960, Antonio Margheriti, Mario Bava, The Film Detective, Warner Archive

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)


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

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 #360: The Ghost Ship (1943) And Bedlam (1946).

Warner Archive has announced a double feature Blu-Ray of two Val Lewton horror pictures, The Ghost Ship (1943) and Bedlam (1946), both directed by Mark Robson.

Happy Halloween, indeed!

The Ghost Ship (1943)
Directed by Mark Robson
Produced by Val Lewton
Starring Richard Dix, Russell Wade, Edith Barrett, Ben Bard, Edmund Glover, Skelton Knaggs, Lawrence Tierney

Shot for $150,000 on ship sets left over from for Pacific Liner (1939), this spooky little picture, starring Richard Dix, was unseen for decades after a plagiarism suit filed against Lewton over the screenplay. To see this one, you had to pay too much for a horrible-looking bootleg VHS tape (I’m guilty as charged). Having it in high-definition is gonna be great.

Bedlam (1946)
Directed by Mark Robson
Produced by Val Lewton
Starring Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, Billy House, Richard Fraser

Bedlam was the last of Lewton’s films at RKO (and the producer’s last time working with Boris Karloff). Lewton would head off to do other things, ending with a terrific Western at Universal International, Apache Drums (1951). He died before that one made it to theaters.

There’s nothing supernatural going on in this one. The conditions are appalling at an insane asylum run by Boris Karloff, where ironically, Anna Lee is sent after she campaigns for better care for the mentally ill. Karloff is really creepy and the cinematography from Nicholas Musuraca is really effective — which is why this Blu-Ray release is gonna be a real treat.

Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, Mark Robson, RKO, Val Lewton, Warner Archive