Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/The
Stranger Within (1974
Came To Rob Las Vegas (1967)/The
Todd Killings (1970
aka A Dangerous
General/Warner Archive DVDs)
B/B/C/C/C/C Sound: B-/B/C+/C/C/C Extras: B/B-/D/D/D/D
limited edition Blu-rays are
now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to
only 3,000 copies each and can be ordered while supplies last, while
Came To Rob Las Vegas and
Todd Killings are
only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series.
All can be ordered from the links below.
a new set of thrillers from the last few decades for you to know
Foley's At Close Range
(1986) is the pairing of acting legend Christopher Walken (seriously
uncompromising) as a crime boss with then popular star Sean Penn
showing his acting chops early as the son who comes back to deal with
his dysfunctional, even dangerous father again. Coming back home to
his Philadelphia home circa 1978, he gets together with his brother
(real life brother Chris Penn) and a gal (Mary Stuart Masterson) he
gets involved with upon arrival. However, the father's criminal
activities have become, more profitable, more daring and as he and
his brother get re-involved, the authorities are watching them.
know for the #1 hit Madonna record from the soundtrack by Patrick
Leonard (see below) quoted often in the score in good ways, the film
did not do well at first in its theatrical release, then got
discovered on home video and with both growing interest in Penn and
ever-present respect for Walken. The era is mostly brought back to
life convincingly, but some weird 1980s commercial concessions (like
a Toyota ad the actors/characters imitate to the cost of the film's
credibility) throw the film off, not helping it one bit. But it is
better than you'd think, with additionally good acting turns by
Crispin Glover, Eileen Ryan, Millie Perkins, Tracey Walter, David
Strathairn, Candy Clark and an appearance by Kiefer Sutherland. The
film has aged well and in interesting ways, so it is worth seeing or
if you saw it a while ago, catching again.
Fuller's House Of Bamboo
(1955) is both a crime murder drama and an examination of the rough
rebuilding of Japan by the Allies, especially the United States.
Robert Stack is a visitor who falls for a young Japanese woman
(Shirley Yamaguchi) as he starts to cross paths with an American
gangster (Robert Ryan) who is up to no good, forcing himself around
town with no one to stop him. The film opens with a dead body
discovered in the middle of new buildings arising near Mt. Fuji,
serving as an ironic start to a world that is not what it seems on
the surface, though it cannot hide enough of its dark side.
is very effective as the head mobster, racism plays into this, as
does sexism and some oppressed homosexuality. This plays a bit long
at 102 minutes, but Fuller takes his time to show this new Japan
(very well too), focuses on character development and has his usual
shady side of life points to make (semi-Noir here too, for that
matter), so despite some flatness, it is a solid film worth your
time. Nice climax too. Cameron Mitchell also stars.
for both Blu-rays include a DigiPak with a nicely illustrated booklet
on the film including informative text and essays
for each respective film by Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-rays add
Isolated Music Scores, Original Theatrical Trailer and
feature length audio commentary tracks. Range
has an excellent new track with film scholar Nick Redman and Director
Foley that covers the film as thoroughly as it does the industry,
while Redman and Kirgo have recorded a new track for Bamboo,
we get an older audio commentary by film historians Alain Silver &
James Ursini and we get related Fox Movietone Newsreels.
D. Hannah's The Sin Seer
(2014) is an interesting attempt to fuse the supernatural film and
mind reader cycle with the African-American world and religious left
they represent as a woman (Lisa Arrindell Anderson) can look into a
persons soul and see things they do and don;t know about, including
the future. This can make her the target of the mentally ill,
vengeful and haunted, so she hires a body guard (Isaiah Washington)
who happens to be an ex-con. She is now trying to figure out an
older murder that might be a cold case, but her special knowledge is
about to heat it up again.
this can get preachy and miss more than a few beats, the makers are
onto something and it has its moments. Anderson has an interesting
appeal and is good in the role, while this seems franchise-able and a
sequel ought to be attempted. Not bad for a low budget, C. Thomas
Howell, Salli Richardson and Michael Ironside also star.
are no extras.
Stranger Within (1974)
also has supernatural aspirations with Barbara Eden trying for a
tale as she plays a happy wife who suddenly finds herself pregnant,
despite her husband having an operation to stop that. After a fight
over possible infidelity and some doctor's visits, she starts acting
strange, eating all of her food with tons of salt, speed-reading
books and more. Her husband (George Grizzard) hired a hypnotist
(David Doyle of the original Charlie's
to see if he can find out more, but that only brings on more
questions than answers.
not a great film, this low-budget TV movie still manages to be a bit
creepy and seeing the actress who was the title character on I
Dream Of Jeannie
go wild is the biggest curio appeal of the whole 74 minutes. Eden
shows her acting skills here in unexpected ways and when you add
co-stars like Joyce Van Patten and Nehemiah Persoff, this is
definitely worth a look.
are no extras, though more TV movies should have them.
Isasi's They Came
To Rob Las Vegas (1967)
is a co-production between Spain, Italy, France and Germany picked up
by MGM in the U.S. and meant to be a serious international heist
film. Its mix of Italian rough cinema and Hollywood star class makes
it unique in heist films, but it was part of a new cycle still going
on at the time. Gary Lockwood (a year before Kubrick's 2001:
A Space Odyssey)
is a casino dealer with a big plan to steal a fortune from an armed
truck from his boss (Lee J. Cobb) including using his sexy girlfriend
(an irresistible Elke Sommer) to get this done. He has some other
friends and a lavish plan that will eventually take place in the
middle of the desert, but complication will ensue including a
persistent cop (Jack Palance) getting in the way.
or not, the technology here might have been impressive for the time,
but has dated awkwardly and some items (like the way film is
optically printed on then advance television screens) makes this odd
as anything to watch. All is still plausible enough, but its the
stars and actors (including Jean Servais from the heist classic
that are the real reasons to see the film. Uneven, it is still worth
a look and is definitely something different.
are no extras, though even a trailer would have been interesting.
we have Barry Shear's The
Todd Killings (1970
aka A Dangerous
with Robert E. Lyons in the title role, an older guy hanging with
younger teens who trust him and hang with him because of his
knowledge, some money and drug connections. However, when we meet
him, they are so loyal, they have just helped him commit the murder
of a young gal while we crosscut to the mother knowing something has
happened to her daughter. We also find he has a co-dependent
relationship with his mother (Barbara Bel Geddes) who runs an old
folks home, gives him an allowance and makes some good money. He
also is interviewed by a military man being more candid about things
than you'd expect.
get more interesting when an old friend (a young pre-Waltons
Richard Thomas looking better and more alive than he ever did on that
Depression-era show) reuniting, without him knowing what Skipper has
done. The film is also very open about sexuality (gay sex surfaces a
few times), drugs, nudity, date rape, violence and nontraditional
living when it was a new shock to see in any film, let alone a
Hollywood release. James Broderick, Gloria Grahame, Edward Asner and
Michael Conrad are among those representing establishment figures.
this is smarter than your usual film from the time that gave us
Zabriskie Point, The Strawberry Statement and Easy
Rider, but it is very good, has its mystery storyline that run
parallel with the rest of what is being shown, said and is about,
thus more than worth your time as more than just a time capsule film.
I hadn't seen it in a long time and never uncut, so its impact is as
strong as it was when it arrived 46+ years ago and counting. Even
with its flaws, it is definitely worthy of rediscovery.
are unfortunately no extras.
Blu-rays look best with the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition
image transfer on Range (shot in the Super 35mm format) and
1080p 2.55 X 1 digital High Definition image CinemaScope transfer on
Bamboo can show the age of the materials used, but both far
superior a transfer to all previous releases of the films and impress
enough throughout in their big screen intent.
three theatrical films on DVD all happen to be anamorphically
enhanced 2.35 X 1 image presentations shot well, but a little softer
than I would have liked. Sin
just has too much softness from its HD shot, but I wondered if some
of that was from a tradedown. The prints on the other films, plus
the 1.33 X 1 image on Stranger,
sometimes have flaws. However, they are all solid 35mm shoots (yes,
another good-looking telefilm from back in the day) that give us
hints as to how good their color is on film. Even with Vegas
in 2-perf Techniscope, you can see the quality that dye-transfer,
three-strip Technicolor versions of the film had. Todd also had
Technicolor prints, but was shot in the superior Panavision
anamorphic 35mm format.
Blu-rays offer the best sound in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless
codecs, with the original 4-track magnetic sound with traveling
dialogue and sound effects on Bamboo
upgraded nicely to a 5.1 lossless
mix, sporting the best sound here. Not bad for being the oldest film
on the list. Range
has a 2.0
Stereo mix with Pro-Logic surrounds from its original Dolby A-type
analog theatrical release. It can sound good, but also has a little
warping and distortion (the Madonna hit ''Live
sounds great at the end credits on the isolated music track, but not
as well on the film's actual soundtrack). Otherwise, its fine.
is the third best here in a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix
that is not badly recorded, if not perfect. That leaves the rest of
the DVDs with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono that sounds aged,
second-generation and needs a bit of work. Be careful of volume
switching and loud playback levels on those to be on the safe side.
order the At
limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at these
to order any of the three Warner Archive DVDs, go to this link for
them and many more great web-exclusive releases at: