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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Family > Racism > Melodrama > Cable TV > The South > Literature > Coming Of Age > Surrealism > WWII > Here and Now (2018/HBO DVD Set)/Home From The Hill (*)/John From (2015/Altered Innocence Blu-ray)/Never So Few (*both 1959/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-rays)/The Revolt Of Mamie Stover (1956/Fox/Twilight Ti

Here and Now (2018/HBO DVD Set)/Home From The Hill (*)/John From (2015/Altered Innocence Blu-ray)/Never So Few (*both 1959/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-rays)/The Revolt Of Mamie Stover (1956/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

Picture: C/B/B+/B/B Sound: C+/B-/B+/B-/B- Extras: D/C-/C/C-/C+ Main Programs: C+/C+/B/C+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Revolt Of Mamie Stover Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last, while both the Home From The Hill and Never So Few Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's a solid group of dramas with their share of melodrama and going into sometimes unexpected directions...

Alan Ball is a smart writer/creator who has already delivered two hits for HBO: Six Feet Under and True Blood, series that have fans and people still talk about. This time out he goes for a more naturalistic drama with Here and Now (2018) about a family who is about to fall into trouble and a bit of chaos. Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins play a married couple who added three adoptees from other countries to their family that included a daughter they gave birth to themselves. Now they are young adults and after things went smoothly for so many years, here comes conflict.

One young man is gay, another gets involved with a Muslim psychiatrist and there is even more in easily the most melodramatic release of Ball's career. The show has a good pace and the group of mostly unknown new actors are all watchable and have some talent, but the multiple storylines get a little frayed early and this becomes too formulaic with too many appeals to pity for its own good, seeming like a show from ten years ago or so. How it landed up playing that way, its hard to tell, but it goers from frayed, to uneven to having problematic moments by the last few episodes. It is not that Ball is playing it safe, but might have not anted to deal in the semi-fantastic that put him on the map despite tiny shades of it here.

This was a show I was really hoping would get better, but once it started going in poor, obvious directions, it never recovered. It might be getting another season and is set that way, but how it will overcome all this will be interesting. Thus, it is for the very curious only.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image shows a decently shot show, but the transfer is a little softer throughout than it should be, something a Blu-ray edition would likely correct. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix plays better and is well recorded, though the older compressed codec is lacking in this day of 12-track lossless presentations. Digital Copy is the only extra.

We have three big epic CinemaScope grade-A studio productions as three of our next four reviews, so we'll deal with their technical playback at the end of the review. First is Vincente Minnelli's Home From The Hill (1959), his big film after his classic Some Came Running (1958) and a 2.5 hour melodrama that just might be his most syrupy film ever despite all the 'tough guys in Texas' parts as another family is about to be torn by hidden secrets resurfacing. We covered the limited edition original motion picture soundtrack review at this link, touching upon the film here...


Now after all these years since that CD release and even more since I saw the actual film, it is one of those ambitious run-on films that has its moments, but the flat spots you have to sit through to get to them. Robert Mitchum is cast to type as the head of a powerful family about to run into problems, then you have Eleanor Parker, Everett Sloane, Constance Ford, Luana Patten and Ray Teal make for a solid supporting cast, but being the film is not well remembered today, seeing then young and unknown George Peppard and George Hamilton (later stars known for their comedy work and some action and drama) will make this a surprise curio to many.

This was also part of a big money move of MGM to shed their Musicals image (the genre was in decline by then) and show their muscle as a big screen drama factory worthy of past hits like Gone With The Wind, et al. The film goes for broke and all the supposed Southern accents become too much and backfire with the script that goes on and on and on, though I know it is a book adaptation. Those who live the book or the actors will get the most out of this one, but it did not stay with me decades ago and still does not. At least it is very ambitious.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra, but that limited edition CD soundtrack is actually still in print and you can get it while supplies last at this link...


A film about being a teenager in love, Director Joao Nicolau's John From (2015) gets an impressive Blu-ray presentation courtesy of the home video label Altered Innocence. Highly imaginative and shot on gorgeous 16mm film, this is an interesting foreign indie film for those who like coming of age drama mixed with a bit of the fantastical.

John From stars Julia Palha, Clara Riedenstein, and Filipe Vargas.

15-year-old Rita breaks up with her boyfriend during a boring summer. However, she soon develops a crush on her new neighbor, a photographer who is setting up an exhibit of his shots in Melanesia. At first, the crush becomes a game of sort with her and her friend but soon Rita ends up blurring the lines of reality and her fantasies.

The only extra is the Trailer and other Trailers for related films.

Back to the big screen, we have the underrated Director John Struges and his WWII drama Never So Few (1959) whose war battles were mirrored by the expected fireworks of casting Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida (i.e., two fiery Italians) together in a romanic/sexual struggle to fit a world war. Supported by an up and coming Steve McQueen, Peter Lawford, Richard Johnson, Brian Donlevy, Hans Conreid and pre-Disney Dean Jones, it has its moments and a few unintentionally amusing ones, but sometimes the script cannot delineate between the drama and the battles.

Yet, MGM was more than happy to get a movie-hungry Sinatra in anything and there is no denying pairing him with Lollobrigida does set off sparks, if not as many as one would like... or the censors would allow. Still, MGM once again goes for broke bringing a big event film forward and because it takes its audience seriously and respects their intelligence, the film holds up despite being uneven.

We had touched upon the film before, but again, as a limited edition CD soundtrack, so you can read that review (including the 7 Women soundtrack on the same CD) at this link...


An Original Theatrical Trailer is once again the only extra sadly, but that limited edition CD soundtrack is also still in print and you can get it while supplies last at this link...


Finally we have the tough Raoul Walsh taking on the irrepressible Jane Russell in the WWII drama The Revolt Of Mamie Stover (1956), but this time, the studio is Fox. Not necessarily a pre-feminist tale, we see the title character arrive in San Francisco, but she's being tailed by the police. What did she do wrong? What makes her a bad girl, and what kind? Well, the WWII take is then told in flashback as she becomes a performer at a club in Hawaii... near Pearl Harbor!

She's as hot and sexy as any of the other gals at a seedy club run by a no-nonsense woman (Agnes Moorehead, more than holding her own against all here) and as she becomes a popular attraction for the soldiers visiting... you guessed it, the Japanese bomb the island and the U.S.A. is immediately in WWII!

She gets involved with a writer who is about to go to war (Richard Egan) and she expects they'll marry when he gets back (if he survives), but continues to perform for a bigger cut of the profits at the club without telling him, setting them up for a later conflict. There are the other soldiers interested in her, Moorehead trying to hold onto her as a worker because the place is doing better with her and others would would like to take advantage of her. Mamie has even invested in real estate there and is making 'legitimate' money as well.

It has a bit of a case of good gal/bad gal syndrome and the script gets campy at times, but the film is a fun watch when it is not serious (all that process and rear projection work is repetitive and not seen as much in the MGM releases from the same time) and the film has Russell in every scene it can get her into. Joan Leslie, Eddie Firestone, Michael Pate, Richard Coogan, Alan Reed, Jean Willes and Jorja Curtright round out a solid cast that makes this as ambitious as the MGM films, but it also runs on and has aged oddly like the MGM films. Still, you'll love how ambitious it is, even if everything is not explained.

This is a Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray, so get it while you can.

Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray disc adds an Isolated Music Score with Hugh Friedhofer's helpful score in DTS-MA lossless sound and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

John From is presented in 1080p high definition Blu-ray with a 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a Portuguese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix with English subtitles, the Blu-ray presentation here is really top notch. Colors are vibrant and on point and there's little grain or imperfections. This would be a nice candidate for the 4K UHD format.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on all three CinemaScope productions can show the age of the materials used, but these Blu-rays offer far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film as the studios spent some serious time and money restoring and preserving these big productions. There's not much that can be done with some film stock flaws as both MGM and Fox were no longer using the Technicolor lab for their film developing and prints, but their own labs. Nor can anything be done about the flaws the CinemaScope lens system was always know for producing, though many shots look great.

MGM has started their MetroColor lab using Ansco Color/Anscochrome film, but by 1959, Ansco was phased out and Eastman Kodak negative was being used. Fox set up their DeLuxe lab to do color, also saving them money they would spend at Technicolor, yet both studios still retained a unique look for their productions that you could recognize as from their labs if you paid attention to their releases.

Hill was at least a Stereo release, but might have offered 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects like Few and Mamie, but various contradictory records as we post this coverage remain unresolved. We'll update you later on that.

Hill offers a decent DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix, while Few offers a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix and Mamie offers the choice of both. While the 5.1 mixes should be outright superior, they also expose more age flaws than expected, so they sound as good as they can, but Hill is as well recorded for the time and we're lucky the soundmaster materials have survived as well as they have. Cheers to both parties for cleaning, upgrading and restoring the sound as well as they have.

To order The Revolt Of Mamie Stover limited edition Blu-ray, buy it while supplies last at these links along with hundreds of other great exclusives:




...and to order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo & James Lockhart (John)



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