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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Backstage > Show Business > Great Depression > Melodrama > What Happens Later (2023/Bleecker Street/Decal Blu-ray)

Day Of The Locust (1975/Paramount/Arrow Blu-ray*)/I Can (2023/Mill Creek DVD)/Madame Bovary (1949/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Sting Of Death (1990/Radiance Blu-ray/*both MVD)/War Blade (2023/101 Films DVD)/What Happens Later (2023/Bleecker Street/Decal Blu-ray)

Picture: B-/C/B-/B-/C/B- Sound: B-/C+/C+/B-/C+/B- Extras: B/D/C/C+/D/C- Films: C+/C+/B-/C+/C+/C+

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

Now for a new set of dramas, half of which are solid restorations...

John Schlesinger's The Day Of The Locust (1975) is an epic film based on the dark Nathaniel West novel about the dark side of Hollywood in its pre-WWII Golden Age when it was on a huge roll in the face of The Great Depression and all the studios were growing at rapid rates with hit after hit after hit after hit. That was a big attraction that drew people from all over the country and even all over thew world to go there and try to make it, but the book is the semi-true story of how ugly the dark side of the town was at the time. No one wanted to touch it, but Schlesinger was one of the hottest filmmakers around, coming off of the five big hits in a row.

The recent six feature films in a row he had just helmed included A Kind Of Loving, Billy Liar, Darling, Far From The Madding Crowd, Midnight Cowboy and Sunday Bloody Sunday. With his Cowboy producer Jerome Hellman and its legendary writer Waldo Salt, Paramount could not resist making the film, despite the hugely successful studio head Robert Evans not wanting to make the film. After the owners wanted to shut the studio down, he revived it with a huge string of hits and his instincts were still in top form. This film was made in the last Golden Age of the 1970s when Hollywood would still spend the big money on big movies by adults, for adults that were smart, about something, mature, intelligent and built to last.

William Atherton is a sketch artist trapped in a lesser job at a local movie studio, looking for more breakout work, but happens to live in a complex with its share of eccentrics, movie hopefuls and a few combinations of both. He becomes interested in a beautiful model who is starting to get speaking lines (Karen Black) and is not the only competition for her. Things are half-promising at first, then several events and incidents kick in and things descend into a huge mess that shows the dark underbelly of both Tinseltown and The American Dream.

I had not seen the film in eons and started remembering the parts that never worked for me, despite the great acting talent and intents of certain scenes and pieces of dialogue throughout. The film pulls no punches in showing darkness and ugliness. Unfortunately, it lands up wallowing in some of it too long in its 144 minutes length. Instead of cutting those bits, they should have used the time and money on other aspects of the book and story, especially with how great this looks and how authentic it all feels and plays. Many of the stories within are true ones and the cast has chemistry.

Atherton (later of Real Genius and the Die Hard films) and Black (Five Easy Pieces, Altman's Nashville, the 1974 Great Gatsby, Easy Rider, Burnt Offerings) are joined by Burgess Meredith, Donald Sutherland, Bo Hopkins, Geraldine Page, Billy Barty, Richard Dysart, Gloria LeRoy, Nita Talbot, William Castle, John Hillerman, Paul Jabara, an uncredited Morgan Brittany as Vivian Leigh, Pepe Serna, Natalie Schafer (the Gilligan's Island alum back to playing the rich women that put her on the map decades ago in the first place) and Jackie Earle Haley. What a cast and there are others who are also int the film that were a big part of the town too!

Evans was correct, it cost a small fortune and was too dark to be a hit and bombed. Now however, you get all kinds of dark films, but they are just dark to be dark with no point. Despite its issues and flaws, this is the best film that will ever be made of the book and unless you get someone who comes along with rare, huge clout, you cannot get any such film made today. That is why saving, restoring, and reissuing Day Of The Locust reminds us what real, mature, dark cinema of substance and taking risks is all about. When it does hold up, it is remarkable.

Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and a reversible sleeve, while the disc adds three Stills Galleries, a feature length audio commentary track with new and vintage audio, Radio Spots, visual essay Jeepers Creepers, Where'd You Get Those Eyes? by Lee Gambin and two Making Of featurettes: Welcome To West Hollywood with Glenn Kenny showing how much he likes the film and Days Of The Golden Age with movie costume and costume historian Elissa Rose discussing and explaining the wardrobe in great detail.

Tyler Sansom's I Can (2023) is another tale of triumph in sports being personal, which can be formulaic and often is, but this film tries to be different. At first, but seems to appear to be about a young gal breaking into baseball, still very male dominated. In this case, she has a issues with her arms that she is able to overcome played by an actress who has these in real life, but does not let that stop her.

So the trick here is to deliver something good and different as not to be like previous such films, so it takes extra effort from the acting cast, director and script. It is almost as much of a hard challenge as what the main character faces, but they do come up with the energy and just enough heart to distinguish themselves, so this is not bad. However, it just cannot beat the odds of sports film cliches, no matter what physical shape anyone on screen is in, but cheers to all involved for their best shot and they at least made something they can be proud of and has some good moments.

There are no extras.

Vincente Minnelli's Madame Bovary (1949) remains one of the best and most authentic adaptions of the Gustave Flaubert novel, still a classic piece of literature after all these years, as the rightly legendary director has the underrated Jennifer Jones in the title role. The woman who marries one man thinking it will make her happy (Van Heflin here) only to be miserable again until another, more exciting man (Louis Jordan, known for his romance films, romance persona and later as the villain in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy) shows up and offers her what she wanted in the first place.

MGM does go all out budget-wise on costumes, sets, production design and got some great talent here that all melds very well, even all these years later. It is also one of the high watermarks by which all other versions are matched to and judged. No, it is not a perfect film and has some off moments, but having James Mason playing the author in court was a smart move, then he goes into the story and questions the oft-banned book being judged.

Warner Archive has once again delivered another great restoration for Blu-ray, you can see all the shot Minnelli was going for as vividly as ever and more effective as a result. Running just under two hours, it is not able to cover all of the book, but totally understands it and all involved pull off a fine film, a real piece of pure cinema form the Classical Hollywood period. Cheers to the supporting cast too that also includes Christopher Kent, Gene Lockhart, Gladys Cooper, George Zucco, Ellen Corby, Alf Kjellin, Paul Cavanagh, Harry Morgan and Frank Allenby. When they say 'they don't make them like this anymore' or the like, this is the kind of film they mean. It is also the best entry covered here.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, MGM short promo film Some Of The Best (1949) showing MGM's lineup for the year and an animated MGM Technicolor short in HD, Love That Pup. You can read about other adaptions of Bovary at these links, starting with the 1991 version with Isabelle Huppert on Blu-ray...


The 2000 Frances O'Connor/Hugh Bonneville BBC telefilm version on DVD...


And the sexed-up
Sins Of... version on DVD with Edwige Fenech...


Kohei Oguri's Sting Of Death (1990) takes place in 1950s Japan and has a husband having an affair his wife finds out about, but they agree to try to keep the marriage going, no matter if it will work out or not. Considered a key drama in its time due to an apparent lack of them when released in theaters, the goal of the film is to show how this does and does not work out, succeeding often.

Unfortunately, it is also more predictable than expected, but what could we expect. It is honest, realistic and somber, so that all works, along with references to conformity in the society at the time, only years after the end of WWII. The actors are fine, but we get plenty of talking in confined locations, usually indoors. Based on a novel by Toshio Shimao, it is apparently very close to the book. Keiko Matsuzaka and Ittoku Kishibe are convincing enough as the leads and those interested should check out this new restoration. Others might not be as impressed.

Extras include a reversible sleeve featuring designs based on original theatrical release posters, Limited Edition booklet featuring a newly translated interview with director Kohei Oguri and the Limited Edition of 3000 copies are presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of certificates and markings, while the disc adds a documentary on the Japanese film renaissance of the 1990s featuring interviews with Kohei Oguri, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Kaneto Shindo and others (Hubert Niogret, 2011, 52 minutes,) a separate interview with film scholar Hideki Maeda (2023) and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Nicholas Winter's War Blade (2023) is another war rescue film, this time taking place during WWII when a British soldier has to go in and save a French resistance fighter who may have some valuable film the Allies need ASAP. He'll have help from others to do this, but it will be on the fly and very dangerous, as you would expect.

Not badly directed, the cast of unknowns is not bad here at all and when you add the costume design, pace and production design, it feels and plays period authentic enough and has some realistic moments. Yes, there is too much CGI visual work and this is a digital shoot, but the makers keep the tone consistent and those interested will find it worth the look.

There are no extras.

Meg Ryan's What Happens Later (2023) is a new drama/comedy with the director returning to acting as the ex-lover of an old flame (David Dochovny) at the same airport, trying to get to their destination. Unfortunately, they have to deal with each other when a storm cancels their flights for a while and strands them with almost no one else around. Now, they have to deal with unfinished feeling and the like, whether they like it or not.

Based on a play by Steven Dietz, it is yet another stuck-in-a movie, but Ryan was smart to pick a strong new male counterpart when she could have fell back on old friends she had previous big screen success with (Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal or even Dennis Quaid) and has chosen well, because the two have chemistry and are totally convincing. Usually a major comedy actress, she more than proved her dramatic ability in Courage Under Fire, while Duchovny is generally all-around underrated and more than just his highly successful X-Files character.

They are good together, I like them together and though the film is not a big success overall, they are and those interested will want to give it a good look. Glad Ryan is back!

The only extra is an Original Theatrical Trailer for the Helen Mirren film Golda, but you can only see it before the film starts.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Locust is from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative and looks the best I have seen it in eons, but it can still be a bit soft, though the whole film as shot through various forms of gauze to make it look older. Thus, this is how the film should look, but there are still shots that are a little off and it may be the format or just age in the negative. We'll compare wherever they get to a 4K version. The sound is here in three versions of DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless sound: 1.0 Mono, 2.0 Stereo and 5.1, but I thought the 2.0 Stereo was the most detailed, effective, warmest and most convincing. The film was originally theatrical mono and though we have had some mono films upgraded to 12-track sound (DTS: X and Dolby Atmos,) this is a film that could only handle a simple stereo upgrade as far as I am concerned. John Barry's music score is a big plus.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Bovary can, of course, show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and Minnelli definitely was using diffusion in some form throughout being it is a melodrama and literary adaption. The results are nice and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is the best this theatrical monophonic sound will likely ever sound down tot he Miklos Rosza score, but it shows its age and has sonics that go so far. Otherwise, a great restoration job.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Death show the age of the materials used a little and it is a little soft, again because it too is a melodrama, but it looks fine overall for the format and the lossless Japanese PCM 2.0 Mono sound is not bad. The film may be quiet, but has its share of sound and is as good as this film will ever sound.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Later is a little of the soft side, which is odd for a new HD shoot, but color is not bad and not too dull. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is dialogue/joke-based and they talk often, but it has a consistent enough soundfield and is the best-sounding release here by a very, very narrow, slim margin.

The anamorphically enhanced image on both DVDs (2.00 X 1 on Can, 1.78 X 1 on War) are a bit soft, though color is not bad in either case, but I wish these were both a little clearer. Both have lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and War adds a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, but they are about sonically even with their dialogue and other sounds. Both could use lossless and maybe HD presentations.

To order the Madame Bovary Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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