(2014/*all Corinth DVDs)/Sunrise
(1942/MGM/**all Warner Archive Blu-ray)
C+/C+/B/C+/B-/B Sound: C/C+/C+/C/B-/C+ Extras: D/D/C/C/C-/C+
Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their
Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
the pandemic, it is still awards season of some kind and that means
more dramas on home video, even if they are all older ones in this
case, they are all worth knowing about...
start with a very interesting film, Viestur Kairish's The
Chronicles Of Melanie
(2018) about the title character (Sabine Tomoteo) being pushed out of
her home and community in Latvia in June of 1941 as WWII escalates.
You may know the many comments about the USSR/Soviet Union/Russia
sending people to Siberia, with the implication that it is an
extremely cold place and people are sent there for the worst possible
reasons. This film actually, accurately, portrays the nightmare this
real life Melanie eventually wrote a book about this banishment,
which left here there for 16 years (!!!) and this film sometimes
reminded me of a Terrence Mallick film in the best way. Though some
spots did not work as well as others, this was often effective,
always consistent and may cover some ground we've seen before, but is
good for what we get. The acting is fine and locales convincing.
Those interested will not be too disappointed.
are no extras.
up is a film with an odd title, but it is also not bad. Renars
(2016) may remind one of Roeg's Walkabout
(reviewed on Criterion Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) as a
17-year-old gal and her younger brother are abandoned by their
parents and have to fend for themselves. She is in school and is
trying to win a trip to London, so it becomes more stark and even
ironic, then another relative disappears, so this is almost a mystery
of some sort.
it is really a portrait of how society makes children too disposable
and how child labor laws did not stop this, nor did other laws that
were intended to protect children. They do have a social worker they
also deal with, but these many side events do not always lead to
anything. This does not necessarily mean we get missed opportunities
here, but I did not think the film added up in an even abstract way
to make any points, larger points or work overall. At least it is
ambitious and tries something different.
are no extras.
(1940) is one of Hollywood's best anti-Nazi, anti-fascist, anti-Axis
Powers films as a German family with a fine life is about to have it
pulled out from under them and worse as Hitler starts to take power.
The script pulls no punches and you even get to see some big stars
and familiar faces become Nazis!
Morgan (now best known for The Wizard Of Oz) is the elder of
the family, a respected teacher and then everything gets dark. We
have no less than Jimmy Stewart, Robert Young, Margaret Sullivan,
Robert Stack, Gene Reynolds and Bonita Grandville rounding out the
extensive cast. Still with shocking moments and bold criticisms by
showing how ugly things got, this film crosses the Hollywood
Production Code in some rare ways at the time and rightly so.
powerful and relevant as ever, the Nazis were furious at the film and
banned ALL films from MGM adding to their war on American Studio
System (they spend a ton of money developing Agfacolor 35mm negative
film to have all the color in one strip of film when that did not
exist yet to challenge and surpass legendary U.S. dye-transfer
formats like Technicolor and Kodachrome; they failed to conquer the
color green before the Allied victory ended their reign of terror)
and I was thrilled to see this film again. Especially restored as it
is, it is as vivid and powerful as ever. Definitely recommended!
include an Original Theatrical
Trailer, Christmas-themed MGM cartoon Peace
and live-action color short Meet
(2014) is a very interesting tale of going from power and riches to
rags as we visit the title character (a dictator, played well by
Misha Gomiashvill) and his grandson (Dachi Orvelashvili) have fun
ordering all the lights shut down in the entire country without
notice late at night, no matter how irresponsible or dangerous.
Soon, however, that turns out to be the tip of the iceberg as a coup
attempt succeeds and they are on their own with zero resources and
thousands who could care less if they die or not.
fugitives, the film asks (in its decent 115 minutes) should we have
any sympathy for these two and their friends or do they deserve
everything they get, even the child? The film is not exactly an
empathy test and does not necessarily offer illicit appeals to pity,
but it does ask and/or suggest all this and more. Whether it answers
some or all possibilities, well.... you'll have to see the film, but
it sure is timely.
include an Original Theatrical Trailer, two Deleted Scenes and a
Making Of featurette: Making
Of The President.
J. Donehue's Sunrise
(1960) is the brainchild of Dory Schary, one time head of RKO Studios
(gone by this time) who protected Citizen
from destruction, then moved to run MGM and did so very well as they
transitioned out of Musicals as the genre was winding down. This was
like the many dramas he green-lighted, but in this case, he wrote the
play it was based on!
biopic about the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Ralph Bellamy in
a fine turn where he is well cast) how he went from a simple life to
one of the most important Presidents of The United States as WWII was
approaching and he was one of the best men to meet the challenge and
this long 143 minutes tries to show why.
it still falls into some traps of the biopic (like portraying the
subject as almost saintly, but not as bad as it could have here) and
makes certain not-too-subtle appeals to patriotism, this is a smart
film that covers the life of a very important man who helped save the
free world and 60 years later, is not as well discussed or remembered
as he should be. Thus, this is a great time for this restored
edition to arrive on Blu-ray.
the attention to period detail and there is some money in the film,
it also has a fine supporting cast including Greer Garson, Hume
Cronyn, Jean Hagen, Joan Shoemaker and an interesting music score by
Franz Waxman. Definitely worth a look, but be sure to be awake
enough because it is a long one.
only extra is the Original Theatrical Trailer.
(1942) has the always interesting journeyman filmmaker pulling off a
decent, if sometimes saintly, biopic of legendary politician Andrew
Johnson, played here by Van Heflin. He was Abraham Lincoln's Vice
President, then eventually succeeded him after the assassination of
Lincoln, only to face impeachment by those who did not want
Lincoln's ideas of law, equality and progress, yet he stood up
against the worst and this film mostly portrays what happened
accurately. Its just not a documentary.
course, Heflin was a rising star at MGM and they pulled out all the
stops for what they saw as an awards film, especially since Heflin
had just won a Best Actor Oscar, so the supporting cast includes
Lionel Barrymore (now seen as typecast, thanks in part to the belated
success of It's
A Wonderful Life,
which he made a few years after this film) as his biggest opponent,
Ruth Hussey, Regis Toomey, Marjorie Main and other faces you might
recognize. Though not a profound biopic, it has its moments and is
always, eventually interesting.
include the half-hour radio drama version of the film from 7/5/43
from the Screen
series with Gary Cooper and Ruth Hussey, the Original Theatrical
Trailer, classic Technicolor Tom & Jerry cartoon Baby
and black and white MGM comedy/fantasy short Heavenly
for playback performance. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white
digital High Definition image transfers on Storm
look great, have been nicely restored and have some depth and detail
you might not expect, while the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High
Definition image transfer on Sunrise
also looks fine and was originally produced and issued in
dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor. This can look that good much
of the time, but not always, yet enough to really enjoy this
restoration as well. Yes, the three films can show the age of the
materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous
releases of the films and are more enjoyable than ever. It is also
because the theatrical monophonic sound in all three cases has also
been restored and cleaned up, presented in all three cases in DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes.
it is the newest of the three films, Sunrise
sounds the best, though the other two have their moments, they still
show their age sonically.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 black & white image on the
DVD, the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the Mud
DVD and the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on The
DVD are all recent HD productions and look good for their formats,
has black & white that only looks so authentic. Maybe this
format is part of the problem. Save some stylizing, they could not
look better in this format and all deserve Blu-ray editions at some
point. All three also feature lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes,
which disappoints a bit in the 5.1 and 12-track age, but Melanie
especially suffer by sounding too lite, so be careful of high
playback volumes and volume switching.
order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, Mortal
go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases