(1995/Universal/MVD/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/Strawberry
The Great (1925/*both
Undercrank Productions Blu-rays)
Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B-/X/B/B- Sound: C+/B-/B-/C+
Extras: D/C+/C+/D Films: B-/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.
none of the comedies here are musicals, they all demonstrate the
importance music can still play in the genre....
(1926) has Marion Davies in fine form as the title character, filling
in for her cousin (Creighton Hale) who is an actual royal Prince and
heir to a real throne, so she has to pretend to be him and be a man
who is secretly a woman for the money and power. A comedy with some
amusing moments, there are no outright laughs, but it is ambitious
all the amusing identity politics and secrets, the final sequences
are in an older two-strip Technicolor format, which was very
expensive for the time, but Davies (famously the mistress of
ultra-rich William Randolph Hearst) was able to secure the budgets
she needed for her Cosmopolitan Productions company and the
interesting, watchable results were a big deal in their time. Also,
it backed the idea that she here character was going for big money
and wealth when the world suddenly turns into color.
Welles sent her up as a squeaky no-talent in his 1941 masterpiece
but in real lie, she was a groundbreaking actress, producer and
enough of a star that she kept a legitimate career going in the
silent era as the industry become very male-dominated and was getting
final cut on her films in a way anyone at the time was. Because of
her special circumstances, seeing any of her films is always
interesting because even most men at the time outside of the heads of
the studios, had this kind of money or power in the industry. The
camera likes her enough and I hope we see more of her output revived
and reissued like this soon.
are sadly no extras.
(1995) is the first Ultra HD upgrade of any of Smith's films and one
we have covered twice, including this older, defunct HD-DVD
the previous Arrow Blu-ray set that this is the Ultra HD successor
much of a fan of this one, but two things are now more interesting
about it. First, I notice that more of the shots resemble Romero's
Of The Dead
than I recalled and that it is more of an unexpected time capsule
since so many, many malls have closed. They were starting to close
before COVID hit and now, COVID killed them all the more and with the
Internet, killed much of the past mall culture the film sends up.
Mind you, in Europe, they respect their malls more where they have
things like child care and they are generally more friendly and
consumer friendly. Not in the U.S. though.
also uses a good share of rock songs, usually indie releases, in
effective ways to say where he and his film are coming from. It adds
to the culture and scene, but now, also makes Smith one of the last
original rock fans who also happen to be filmmakers. Add the
instrumental music and it makes up more of the film and its humor and
attitude than many filmmakers could or would go for today.
repeat the previous Arrow Blu-ray set.
(1941) has James Cagney in a comedy intentionally styled to be
old-fashioned, set in a recent past before its release. Cagney plays
a newly-married dentist who is still rowdy and after things did not
work out with a now older flame (played by no less than Rita
Hayworth, on the verge of becoming an international sex symbol) when
he hears the song of the title, which reminds him of her.
was a college letterman (soon-to-be Superman George Reeves) who
'strikes up the band' to play it and happens to be next door to where
he and his wife (Olivia de Havilland) live and has him arguing with
the man to have them change the tune. That's the kind of film it
keeps being and when he finds out his former lady love has remarried,
he gets even more ticked.
Archive have saved another gem from their catalog, this time from the
prime time Cagney was a star and far beyond gangster genre films.
Though not the best comedy ever, it is consistent, achieves what it
sets out to do and is worth a good look for those most curious and
interested. Hayworth landed up signing up at Columbia Pictures, a
much smaller studio at the time that Warner and the results were
include two radio-drama versions of the film (at an hour each, from
Screen Guild Playhouse (10/5/41) and Lux Radio Theater
(3/23/42), an Original Theatrical Trailer and two Warner Bros. short
films: Polo With The Stars (live action, black and white) and
the animated Tortoise Beats Hare in three-strip Technicolor.
George W. Hill's Zander
(1925) wants to put Marion Davies in a Mary Pickford-like tale where
her character goes from being a child (played by another actress) to
the young adult her, landing up with a young boy named Zander and
soon, in the middle of The West. They befriend some, but a pair of
criminal robbers are also after them and this is partly a Western,
but mostly a comedy/drama with aspirations of exceeding genre.
who was a successful-enough cinematographer does make this more
visually interesting than expected and that makes it more interesting
to watch. Much of the film gets tinted colors and the early Western
scenes are in a sepia-tone, but that switches to a lite purple or
lavender for the rest fo the film, which is its way of telling us
that it is not just the B-movie, serial fare all Westerns were (or
considered to be at the time) until John Ford's original Stagecoach
arrived in 1939. Davies had the budgets she wanted and you can see
some of that here, making the film a strange mix if genres and
possibly some kind of attempt for more respectability as an artist.
are again sadly no extras.
for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.85 X 1, Dolby
Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition
image on Mallrats 4K looks the best you will see the film
outside of a pristine film print with enough of an improvement in
Video Red and other colors that even put it ahead of Arrow's regular
Blu-ray, but the film has only so much form to it, so you can only
expect so much from it. The 2160p also helps any 'comic book colors'
the film loves.
1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfers on the rest of the regular Blu-ray releases here can show
the age of the materials used, especially the Marion Davies films
with their 2K scans, those films need some more photochemical
archival work. Both have some tinting as well and Beverly
ends with its final sequences in dye-transfer,
two-strip Technicolor that could also use some work. It was from the
brief period where the two strips of color were cemented, but that
cement would melt in projectors and the prints would fall apart, so
you can see why this might not be always as good as it looks.
is all-monochrome and has been restored from the original 35mm
materials in what looks like a 4K scan, so it looks really good and
has aged well.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Mallrats
the same mix from the older Arrow Blu-ray with its sonic limits from
its original theatrical release and many moments of dated fidelity,
though some of it sounds fine. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono
lossless mix on Strawberry
sounds pretty good for its age, the optical soundmaster luckily
surviving as well as it has.
I liked the scores on the two Davies Blu-ray by Ben Model, which is
better than most fo the rescoring I have encountered on silent
feature film revivals, reissues and restorations over the decades.
However, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes are actually
holding back the range and fidelity of what sounds like some very
well-recorded material. Why he did not choose PCM 2.0 Stereo or
something else lossless like DTS-HD MA or Dolby True HD is unclear,
but it holds both back a bit. If he really wanted to get creative
and break some ground, costs notwithstanding, imagine if he did a new
score and presented it with choice silent films like this in DTS: X
or Dolby Atmos? That would be great!
Warner Archive Blu-ray,
go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive