Star Playhouse, V. 1
(1952 - 55/VCI DVD*)/The
(2018/DVD/**both Film Movement)/Wagon
Crow (2019/Sony DVD)
C/B/B/B-/B/C+ Sound: C/B/B-/B-/B-/C+ Extras: C-/B/C/C/C+/C+
Main Programs: B/B/C/C+/B-/B-
Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
a new set of good and unusual drama releases you should know
start with a new collection of an underrated anthology series that
people should see more of. Four
Star Playhouse, V. 1
collects 8 episodes of the series that included four stars appearing
in the various shows: Dick Powell, Charles Boyer, David Niven and Ida
Lupino. Other stars would show up in some shows, but there are many
fine actors who remained unknown after the series folded that do
solid work here and a young Angela Lansbury has a show all her own
here from the Schlitz
Playhouse of Stars
that is also worth seeing and the ninth program here.
eventually joined the Singer sewing company to back the show, which
was not a huge hit, but did just well enough to survive for four
season in the early days of TV when new shows were scarce and save
old movies and local programming, made it easier to get a show to
show profits. Hope we get more soon.
are no extras, but they kept all the ads of the sponsors from the
film materials and they are all worth seeing.
Alec Guinness stars in Peter Glenville's The
(1955), in the film Guinness plays a Cardinal, who gets arrested by
the police for treason against the state after World War II. In
prison, he ends up subject to torture and goes up against a vicious
Interrogator (Jack Hawkins)
does whatever he must to try to get the Cardinal to issue a statement
renouncing the role of religion in society. The film is loosely
based on a true story of Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty, who was under
Nazi persecution and imprisoned for keeping his own religious ideals.
controversial at the time of its release and banned from the Cannes
and Venice Film Festivals for being anti-Communist and excoriated
elsewhere as pro-Soviet propaganda, experience this heavy film like
never before in this great looking HD edition, which features an
incredible performance by Sir Alec Guinness.
also stars Jack Hawkins, Kenneth Griffith, Wilfrid Lawson, and Ronald
a new video appreciation of the film by author and academic Neil
scene commentary by author and critic Philip Kemp
sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter
Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by
(1990) is a drama that really wants to be an abstract art film that
Miramax issued back in the day to limited success, but it has a
following that has grown, a curio in part as its director wrote the
solid script for Peter Medak's underrated film of The
(1990, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and now that is features
Viggo Mortensen, whose critical and commercial success includes the
Of the Rings
films, recent David Cronenberg films and Academy Award winner Green
only turns up in the middle of the film, which focuses on a young man
(Jeremy Cooper) who lives on a farm with his abusive mother and
hen-pecked father, plus he thinks a lady who lives nearby might be a
vampire and four guys in a 1950s car with leather jackets and
attitudes to match also show up here and there. A good looking film,
writer/director Ridley is trying to make some big statement about the
downside of childhood, maybe sexuality, isolationism and likely not a
fan of Americana or the U.S. as the new world power.
his stance or so, fine, but the film starts out interesting and the
8-year-old has a few friends, but things start to slowly go bad where
they might have helped him do better, then it gets worse and worse
and worse, save the possibility his brother might be helpful.
Unfortunately, without ruining anything, it becomes very predictable
early, might almost be passively sadistic and Ridley still lands up
saying things he only finally knows what he is trying to say.
Otherwise, the film is style over substance with a few problematic
include an illustrated booklet on the film including informative text
and an essay by Travis Crawford & Heather Hyche, while the disc
adds a feature length audio commentary track with director Ridley and
making Of featurette: Angels
& Atom Bombs.
Wolfgang Fischer's Styx
is an interesting independent film that's been released on DVD here
from Film Movement. The film centers around one main character, Rike
(Susanne Wolf), who is a doctor that goes for a solo getaway on the
ocean. As she is marooned in the middle of nowhere, she comes across
a vessel in peril and has to save the 100 refugees on board, using
the keen skills and no nonsense mindset that she uses in her day to
day career. So much for a vacation!
film also stars Alexander Beyer, and Inga Birkenfeld.
minute short film, Ashmina,
Directed by Dekel Berenson (In Nepali with English subs)
is an interesting and well made film that is very realistic in tone
and feel. There isn't a lot of music and plenty of slow moving
moments that help add to the realism. Definitely worth a watch once
and could potentially be remade into an interesting American film
with a high profile lead.
(1950) is one of the best examples of Ford's ability to make
Hollywood-type narrative economy work, as the film starts quickly and
immediately, is moving relatively fast, especially for a Western or
any film of the time as bank robbers go on a spree, but when the law
starts to catch up, they hide in the title convoy for escape. It is
one of the Mormon religion, so they hope that holiness will help.
sort of inverted Stagecoach,
Ford's 1939 classic that made the Western a full genre, the cast has
many of Ford's usual stock players and stars Ben Johnson, Harry Carey
Jr., Joanne Dru, Ward Bond, Alan Mowbray, Charles Kemper and Jane
Darwell. Even if you are not a Western or Ford fan, it is very
consistent and flows very well, with his usually rich compositions
and mastery of the block-style frame. This is not for everyone and
many might not have the patience, but it is worth a look for what
works and this is the best way outside of a high quality film print
to see it.
only extra here is a feature length audio commentary track by
director/film scholar/superfan Peter Bogdanovich and Harry Carey Jr.
on the film and Ford's career, including audio clips Bogdanovich
audiotaped for extensive interviews he conducted with Ford.
we have Ralph Fiennes' White
(2019) proving once again that the actor (who has a good role here)
is also a really good journeyman director, interested in artistic
talent and historic figures the way Ken Russell was, though not
approaching the materials as hyperactively. This one concerns the
life of Rudolf Nureyev, born poor and in trying circumstances in the
Soviet Union, he lands up loving ballet and does everything he can to
become a dancer.
a young adult (played well by Oleg Ivenko), he visits the West in a
trip to Paris by a ballet troop from the USSR and quickly starts to
meet people there and instantly finds his dreams of freedom and a
better life confirmed by the first hours of his visit. It takes its
time for character development, storytelling and some character study
before he decides to defect, which is handled very well and reminds
us of how ugly The Cold War could get.
film looks good enough, is shot well, the cast is solid and why this
film did not get more press and attention is just another failure of
the critical establishment spending too much time on commercial
garbage that is shallow and that no one will remember in a few years.
I miss adult filmmaking for adults and if you do too, you should go
out of your way for this film.
include a Making Of featurette entitled A
Look Behind The Curtain
and a Q&A with Fiennes, Writer David Hare and star Oleg Ivenko.
black and white image on Prisoner
has been remastered in 1080p high definition with a 1.85:1 widescreen
aspect ratio and an original lossless English LPCM Mono mix.
Benjamin Frankel's score is haunting and well suited to the film and
is front and center in the mix. The contrast levels are spot on and
there's no distracting artifacts that take away from the picture.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Skin
has also been remastered and color corrected accurately for the first
time, with Dick Pope's cinematography finally looking as it should,
while the sound is here in a DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix with Pro Logic surrounds
that shows its age, but is not bad for the time and for a film of a
budget this small.
1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfer on Wagon
can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a
transfer to all previous releases of the film and Warner can be happy
that they have restored yet another RKO film. The sound is in a
(Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless presentation that sounds a little
better than I expected, so it is a major restoration that succeeds.
1.33 X 1
black & white on the Four
DVDs come from surviving 35mm (and maybe 16mm) film materials and can
look good, but also have more than their share of flaws and soft
shots, so the results are mixed, but better than I have seen the show
in the past, while the
lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono can be rough and second generation, so
be careful of high playback volumes and volume switching. Otherwise,
it should be fine.
is presented on standard definition DVD anamorphically enhanced with
a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and audio tracks in dubbed
English, and German with English Subtitles. Compression issues are
evident and of the norm for the format and visible here. All things
considered, the film looks and sounds as good as it can.
the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Crow
can be soft and have motion blur, but this is well shot, has an
interesting use of color and the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is good for
a dialogue-driven film.
order the Wagon
Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great
web-exclusive releases at:
Nicholas Sheffo and James