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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Serial Killer > Strippers > Drama > Comedy > Crime > Adventure > WWII > Missiles > Character Stud > Hitchhike To Hell (1977*)/Hustlers 4K (2019/STX/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray + Blu-ray/DVD sets)/Jake Speed (1986/*both MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Operation Crossbow (1965/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ra

Hitchhike To Hell (1977*)/Hustlers 4K (2019/STX/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray + Blu-ray/DVD sets)/Jake Speed (1986/*both MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Operation Crossbow (1965/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Where'd You Go, Bernadette? (2019/Fox Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B/B & C+/B/B/B Sound: B/B+ B+ C+/B/B-/B- Extras: C+/C+/B/C/C Films: C+/C+/C/C+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Operation Crossbow Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

This group of dramas are sometimes about acting, sometimes about action, sometimes a mix of both are here in time for awards season. What is interesting is how some of these films, old and now, get mixed.

Hitchhike To Hell (1977) is a low budget indie from the time that isn't anything incredibly groundbreaking in terms of storytelling, but is also very real. (As in it could and has happened many times in America...) Centering around a nerdy looking serial killer named Howard (who happens to be a single white male), the killer goes picks up his prey on the roadside, but it is specifically only after those (mostly women) who have run away from home. Strongly grounded in family values and something of a mama's boy, Howard doesn't like when people disobey their mother and is willing to kill them over it. A cautionary tale for sure, the film is a bit dated, but could be a likely scenario for anyone whose willing to go hitchhiking... you really never know who you're getting in the car with.

The film stars Robert Gribbin, Russell Johnson, and John Harm and is directed by Irvin Berwick, who also directed Malibu High and Piers Blancas.

Special Features include:

Newly-filmed appreciation by Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower

Road to Nowhere: Hitchhiking Culture Goes to Hell - brand new video essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas exploring the dark side of hitch-hiking in the real world and on the screen

Original theatrical trailer

Original press book (BD-ROM Content)

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Heather Drain

While this formula of 'highway killer' has been done in stronger films, Hitchhike to Hell is a fun time capsule piece that was likely screened in drive-ins during a double bill. It's by no means groundbreaking, but fun to watch if you're in the mood for '70s sleaze.

Continuing with some sleaze, Lorene Scafaria's Hustlers 4K (2019) tells a true story of lady strippers over a period of about a decade's time, though some of the sleaze here is crime. Constance Wu is a new gal at a local strip club where big money is bring thrown around in NYC, but she is not getting much of it. Then she realizes the strippers have things going on in advance with a circle of rich clients who keep spending and bringing in more friends, so she decides to find out more. Helping her is one of the top ladies at the club (Jennifer Lopez) who befriends her and helps her learn how to pole dance because hey, what are friends for?

We discover this is all being told in flashback to a reporter (Julia Styles) who is trying to find out what happened later (the 2008 financial crash shakes up the gals on a roll) and we get the rise, fall and other details of what happened. Now this is based on a true story from a newspaper article and much of it is believable, but the film does not make the best of its 110 minutes as the latter half of the film becomes repetitive, Lopez's Ramona repeats herself a little too much in this part, there is limited character study and the occasional attempts to imitate Scorsese (narration and voice over) do not have the impact they could have.

The cast is good and the directing good, but it has the same issues (if not as bad) as The Kitchen in that it is telling the story of a group of women, but cannot find the total way or discourse to do so. In both cases, it is as if no one remembers women directing film more than 10 to 20 years ago. There are some funny moments here, but also, the film is unsure if it wants to condone or condemn the crimes the gals later pull and does not explore (only just keep repeating) how immoral the Wall Street clients may or may not be. That all ultimately holds the film back from being really good or great.

Lopez is good here, though she does not get enough non-romance/musical roles, so it would be nice to see that change. The supporting cast is a plus too including Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, a brief Cardi B and the always underrated Mercedes Ruehl, but it is also a film that sort of keeps winking at the audience and that gets annoying quickly, name dropping and all.

At least for the STX production company, it is one of the best releases they ever had. Let's hope they're turning a corner.

Extras include Digital Copy, while the discs add a feature length audio commentary track by Director Scafaria and two Original Theatrical Trailers.

Jake Speed (1986) is an '80s adventure franchise starter that never became a franchise. While it has all of the ingredients with plenty of action, romance, and a formidable foe in the late great John Hurt (Alien, Hellboy), it must not have had the mainstream appeal at the time to catch much of a following. The film is presented here for the first time on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video with a great looking new transfer and new extras.

When an author (Denis Christopher) meets his own fictional pulp hero character Jake Speed (Wayne Crawford), the two go on a mission to help rescue a girl from white slavers down in Africa. But the head of the operation, Sid (Hurt), has other plans for the young girl.

Special Features include:

Paperback Wishes, Cinematic Dreams, a new interview with co-writer/producer/director Andrew Lane

The Hard Way Reads Better, a new interview with producer William Fay

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing by Mark Cunliffe

Jake Speed is very '80s and is road on the coat tails of Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone in hopes of mirroring that success, only missed by lacking the heart and staying power of those films.

Michael Anderson is a one of those journeyman filmmakers people do not hear enough about these days. His 1956 70mm version of Around The World In 80 Days remains the best version of that book and a blockbuster hit that won the Academy Award for Best picture, while his 1976 hit Logan's Run (reviewed elsewhere on this site) was one of the last pre-Star Wars hits that is sometimes imitated and also not discussed as much. In between, another one of his larger productions was Operation Crossbow (1965) produced by Carlo Ponti at MGM at the same time they made one of the all-time hits: David Lean's Dr. Zhivago.

Taking place during WWII, the Nazis are trying to find out why a small bomber that launches small bombs keeps killing their pilots, a precursor to the work they are doing with the V-2 rocket, et al. If they can fix the flyer, attacking and bombing Britain will be much easier, but the Allies find out they have the secret flyer by chance from aerial spy film stills and start a spy operation to infiltrate the Nazi missile base to disrupt it all.

George Peppard and Tom Courtney play the spies pretending to be supporting the Axis project and when the former pretends to be another man, the man's real life wife (Sophia Loren) shows up at the hotel they are staying at. Besides some good suspense and some good action, we get some cold moments from the Nazis and some great acting from a supporting cast that also includes no less than Trevor Howard, John Mills, Richard Johnson, Jeremy Kemp, Lilli Palmer, Anthony Quayle, Paul Henreid, Sylvia Sims, Richard Todd, Maurice Denham, John Fraser, Patrick Wymark, Robert Brown, Ferdy Mayne, Karel Stepanek and Allan Cuthbertson. Also look for uncredited turns by Anton Diffring, Jeremy Spencer, Charles Lloyd Pack and Philip Madoc.

That's an insanely excellent cast and one you'd be hard to find today in any film, no matter how high the budget, but this is serious filmmaking by serious talent. Though it is based on some serious history and some actual people who helped win the war, the film still had some budget limits here and there, plus in the last reel or two, it cannot help looking more like a James Bond film than a serious war drama.

I still prefer this over what we might get today, though some of the visual effects, editing and a bit of the sets date the film, it is still very ambitious and definitely worth your time. I give MGM credit for making this one of their bigger British productions.

Extras include a rough Original Theatrical Trailer and vintage featurette A Look Back At Crossbow (about 10 minutes long in black and white) that talks about the real history behind this movie and has a few pan and scan clips from it in the end.

Finally we have Richard Linklater's Where'd You Go, Bernadette? (2019) with Cate Blanchett as the title character, a neurotic mother/wife who used to be an architect, but left the business after sexism, disappointment and other reasons has led to have had it with everything. She still loves her daughter and husband (Billy Crudup from After The Wedding) but it has gotten to her as has her neighbor (Kristen Wiig, more than holding her own here) so what will she do to break the monotony?

Based on a best-selling book, the film has some good moment,s but it eventually becomes a mixed bag, also a bit repetitive and never adds up to what it could have, so it is more of Linklater in freestyle and some of it I simply did not buy. The actors are good and it is not bad visually, but maybe it is a little too comical for its own good and that does not help it focus like it needed to. Now, you can see for yourself.

Extras include Digital Copy, while the disc adds a stills gallery and two short featurettes: Bringing Bernadette To Life and Who Is Bernadette?

Now for playback quality. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1 HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Hustlers was hot on a more advanced Arri Alexa HD camera and has a nice, smooth, colorful look throughout. It is easily the best-looking disc on the list, though many of them look fine, and also outdoes its 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the decent, regular Blu-ray. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the DVD version is on the soft side and is not easy to watch, especially after seeing the 4K version in action.

Hitchhike to Hell is presented in 1080p high definition with the option to watch the film in either 1.33.1 full frame or 1.78:1 widescreen and has been remastered in 2K from the original film elements. The audio mix is an original uncompressed mono track that sounds fine considering the nature and age of the film. The presentation is as good as it can be, but some scenes are a bit rougher looking than others, with heavy film noise and grain due to the condition of the source print. In this case, it adds to the 'grindhouse' style feel to the movie and works for it rather than against it. Arrow has done a nice job here making do with what they have.

Jake Speed is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an original lossless 2.0 stereo audio mix in PCM as well. For being an older film, it looks and sounds fine here with nothing that hinders the performance. Originally shot on 35mm, the money is on the screen in this film.

Operation Crossbow was shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision and is here in a new HD master in 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition that looks good and may show a few flaws (like editing between scenes), but looks consistent otherwise and Director of Photography Erwin Hiller (The Quiller Memorandum, The Dam Busters) often uses the widescreen frame to its best advantage, but stock footage that is obviously not scope does get in the way a bit.

The the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Bernadette is also just fine as you'd expect from any Linklater film, with some interesting shots and compositions. Its DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is dialogue-based and well recorded, but surrounds are for music, outdoor sequences and a few surprises.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Crossbow apparently comes from its original 6-track 70mm blow-up magnetic soundmaster and can show its age in some sound effects and older audio effects, but its a fine upgrade for the most part with some traveling dialogue and sound effects.

Both the 4K and regular Blu-ray editions of Hustlers offer Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for older systems) and it has the best sound here, again as expected, with the tracks emphasizing the club atmosphere, the music and a few other details. That means the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD is very reduced and passable at best. Dialogue is well recorded too.

To order the Warner Archive Operation Crossbow Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Arrows)



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