1950s, CARL FOREMAN, CLASSIC, cult, dvd, FLOYD CROSBY, Gary Cooper, genre, GRACE KELLY, HIGH NOON, LON CHANEY JR, review, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, UNITED ARTISTS, Western, westerns

HIGH NOON – Olive Films Blu Ray and DVD Signature Release

high-noon-boxHigh Noon -1952 United Artists. b&w 82 minutes. – (Olive Films Signature Edition) Blu-ray $39.95

http://store.olivefilms.com/Western.68/Olive_Films.38/High_Noon___Olive_Signature__Blu-Ray_.6289.html

Also on DVD $19.95 http://store.olivefilms.com/Classic_Cinema.62/Olive_Films.38/High_Noon__DVD_.5412.html

HIGH NOON to me is one of the great westerns yet until the very end it has little in the way of out and out action. Instead, the film is a very tense thriller that literally uses a ticking clock leading up to an explosion of violence. Instead the movie is a tense character study of what makes a hero.maxresdefault-1

The film was done on a modest budget ($750,000) on a 31 day shooting schedule, by a behind the camera team who had never done a western before. The modest film upon release became the 8th most profitable films of 1952 (in a year that gave us SINGING IN THE RAIN(MGM), THE BAD & THE BEAUTIFUL (MGM)THE QUIET MAN (Republic), and THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (Paramount).

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Then fifty-one-year-old star Gary Cooper was in poor health (yet continued to star in 14 more films and one uncredited cameo over the next nine years) and took a pay cut for a percentage of the profits when he took the role of Sheriff Marshall Will Kane. His 22-year-old leading lady (Grace Kelly) had made only one film prior (and several TV roles) to starring with this cinematic icon, yet her personal charm kept her from becoming a merely decorative character.9402c4104d6186400401d879d33830e5

The filmmakers surrounded the leads with marvelous supporting players, such as veterans like Lon Chaney Jr (in one of his most subtle and moving performances that it still surprises me that he was not even nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar) and Thomas Mitchell as well as rising character performers as Jack Elam (here playing a town drunk) and making his film debut in a silent but important role, Lee Van Cleef.high_noon_lon_chaney_jr

The production partnership of Stanley Kramer and Carl Foreman, as well as writer Herbie Baker, publicist George Glass formed Screen Plays, Inc. in 1947. Their first film SO THIS IS NEW YORK (MGM,1948) flopped but their second CHAMPION(U.A.,1949) was a big hit both critically and financially. CHAMPION won an Academy Award for film editing as well as nominations for star Kirk Douglas and screenplay writer Carl Foreman (both of their first two films were Foreman’s adaptations of two Ring Lardner stories).

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The team went on to produce HOME OF THE BRAVE(U.A.,1949), the first of the social dramas that Stanley Kramer would be known for and again written and co-produced by Foreman. Next came THE MEN(U.A.,1950), with an original screenplay by Foreman and the first time that Kramer would work with director Fred Zinnemann. Their string of hits continued with CYRANO DE BERGERAC (U.A.,1950), based upon the 1897 Edmond Rostand, translated by Brian Hooker and a screenplay by Carl Foreman and an uncredited Orson Welles. The film flopped at the box office but earned an Oscar for star Jose Ferrer.

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Columbia Pictures offered the production team a five-year contract to form a production unit to make films of their choosing for roughly a million dollars each movie. The offer was accepted but first they had to complete their final independent production,
HIGH NOON.high-noon2-1952Ironically, for a film about a man who stands up for what he believes in as others abandon him, Kramer abandoned his partner Carl Foreman and his personal ideals for commerce. Foreman had been a member of the Communist Party ten years earlier and was called before the House of Un-American Activities (HUAC). He was considered an “uncooperative witness” by the committee. To save his deal with Columbia, Kramer dissolved their partnership. He still gave Foreman credit for his screenplay, but did not let him get a producer’s credit.

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Kramer went on to be a major Liberal voice in his films until 1979, making many films that have become classics of cinema. His treatment of his former partner is a black eye to his memory, though, to be fair, few could stand up to the monster that was HUAC. The partners never spoke again. Foreman took his family to England, as did many who were blacklisted, and continued to write screenplays for such classic as BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (ironically for Columbia ,1958, and Foreman was only awarded his Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay posthumously).

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(producer Stanley Kramer)  

The film’s story is simple enough. Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald, who had appeared in WHITE HEAT, WB ,1949, as the truck driver who recognized undercover agent Edmond O’Brien), a criminal whom Sheriff Will Kane (Cooper, looking world weary) sent away is being released from prison and will be arriving in the small town that day on the noon train. He has vowed to kill Kane in revenge. Kane has also just married his Quaker wife Amy (Grace Kelly) who urges him to leave the town. Kane wants to stand his ground, and ties to organize the townspeople to stand up to the criminal and his gang. However, the town is more than willing to leave Kane handle things alone if it will ultimately bring peace to the town. Only a shaky eye patched man is willing to stand by Kane and he of course would be of little help. The former sheriff, Martin HoweLon Chaney Jr )would like to help but his illnesses prevent him from being of any use either. Kane sends his wife away as the time for the confrontation draws near. The sheriff now must stand alone against the murderous outlaws as the time arrives.

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The simple description above does not do justice to this wonderful film. The acting, the direction by Fred Zimmerman , the cinematography (by Floyd Crosby, who won a Golden Globe for his work on this classic, later ended up lensing a lot of A.I.P.’s horror and science fiction classics, and by the way is the father of David Cosby of THE BYRDS fame), the editing and the music all work perfectly to tell this tale of courage.

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Critics at the time were rather mixed in their reception to the film. Even John Wayne (who turned down the role of the Sheriff) attacked the film, and often said that he and Howard Hawks made RIO BRAVO (WB,1959) in response.fred-zinnemann-seated-floyd-crosby-gary-cooper-and-the-crew-ofhigh-noon-michael-j-cinema

 

Audiences, however, flocked to the film, and the film made $3.4 million dollars on its $730,000 investment. The film also won many awards, including four Oscars (Best Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Music (Dimitri Tiomkin) and best song (Dimitri Tiomkin & Ned Washington for “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’”, sung by Tex Ritter). Incongruously, John Wayne accepted the Oscar for Gary Cooper. Here is a clip from the 25th Academy Award, held March 19,1953, and the first one televised:

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The film was nominated for but lost Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing/Screenplay. Katy Jurado won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Helen Ramírez, the first Mexican actress to receive the award. Crosby’s cinematography also was a Golden Globe recipient.

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The OLIVE FILMS BLU RAY reviewed here puts CRITERION on notice that there is another company that knows how to give classic films the Deluxe Treatment they deserve. HIGH NOON and JOHNNY GUITAR (not seen by this reviewer) are the premiere films from Olive Films’ Signature series, and if this film is any indication, film lovers will be happily paying to get these collectible treasures for their collections.

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HIGH NOON has been beautifully presented in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. You will note black bars or both the left and right side of the screen but after a few moments, you will cease noticing them. The 1080p 4 K scan brings out the very rich black and white details, letting you see the beads of sweat on Cooper as he desperately seeks out his posse, as well as detailing in the costuming and the sets clearer than they have been seen in years.

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The sound is presented in its original mono audio in a hiss free DTS-HD Master Audio track. Whether using the television sound or outside speakers, the sound is rich and clear. The yellow subtitles are clean and follow the action and dialogue perfectly.

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The work above would make the Olive Films Signature Release worth having, but they have added some superior extras.

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Inside the cardboard cover is a clear digipack slipcase containing the single disc. The cover art can be reversed and used with a panoramic view of Cooper walking the town’s empty streets.

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Besides the disc is a nice little booklet written by Nick James of Sight & Sound Magazine called ‘Uncitizened Kane “wherein it talks about Cooper in THE VIRGINIAN (Paramount,1929) and the Cooper in this classic film. This is also available on the disc to read by skimming through using your directional arrows.

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Also on the Disc:

“A Ticking Clock” – Director (THE PUNISHER, New World,1989) / Editor Mark Goldblatt talks in detail about the importance of the editing of HIGH NOON.

 

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“A Stanley Kramer Production”-Producer Michael Schlessinger (DARK & STORMY NIGHT, Shout Factory,2009) talks about Producer/Director Kramer and his career.

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Ulcers & Oscars: The Production History of High Noon” – the late Anton Yelchin (Chekov in STAR TREK: BEYOND, Paramount ,2016) narrates this marvelous behind the scenes story.

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Trailer – Not the original 1952 trailer (“Stanley Kramer’s Masterpiece of Suspense!”, Presented by World Entertainment Corp.), this gives you an idea how the film used to appear before the painstaking restoration.

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The only quibble (am I too greedy?) that I had is that I wish that they had found and added the 2 hour PBS documentary “Darkness at High Noon: The Carl Foreman Documents “(PBS,2002), though it was made when all the people involved were long dead, and perhaps unable to defend themselves against various charges (it was not very favorable to Kramer). Perhaps someone will release the documentary as its own separate disc.

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Still, this is a must have for any collector of classic American Films.

HIGH NOON continues to resonate in society today. A Polish Political Poster in 1989 even used the iconic Cooper sheriff image.w_samo_poludnie_4_6_89-tomasz_sarnecki

There have been indirect sequels and remakes for television, and it was recently announced that Relativity Pictures is remaking the film, though setting it Present Day. http://variety.com/2016/film/news/relativity-remaking-high-noon-present-day-1201862842/

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However, none of these have come close to the film that was the first film selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

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Rush out and get the Olive Films Signature Release of HIGH NOON.

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HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.

-Kevin G Shinnick

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1970s, BLUE UNDERGROUND, CAMP, Canadian, Carol Lynley, cult, Harry Alan Towers, international, Jack Palance, John Ireland, SCIENCE FICTION, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, wierd

Shape Of Things To Come(79)Blu Ray – Blue Underground

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SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979)98 mins. Color. BLUE UNDERGROUND BLU-RAY. ALL REGION. Release Date: September 27, 2016 PRICE: $29.98 http://www.blue-underground.com/product.php?product=272

Many years ago, John Mathews (the News Hound) & I took a 45-minute walk to a now long demolished theatre in Hackensack NJ to see a new Science Fiction film. It was the height of the great science fiction craze that had exploded in movies, books, comics and television since STAR WARS( Fox ,1977) hit the scene.images
We should have known something was up when the two of us were the ONLY audience members. However, we settled back to have our private showing, hoping for the best. Well, we enjoyed, but for all the wrong reasons. Remember the audience reaction in THE PRODUCERS(Embassy,1967)? tumblr_n2evlqgunn1sbf1mqo5_500I am sure that our faces somewhat resembled that. About 45 minutes in, the screen suddenly went black, and the manager came down and said if we would take two tickets for a future film, they could all go home early. John & I happily accepted.

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Now, in 2016, I finally get to see the entire film. There was no offer for a refund this time, though, even though I got through the entire picture.
H.G. WELL’S THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME, to give the film it’s full onscreen title, was a film that referenced the great writer’s 1935 treatment that became the Alexander Korda THINGS TO COME. *

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Released in 1936, the film was the 16th most popular U.K. film of 1935-36. However, the film fared less well at the U.S. box office and so was viewed as a box office failure. Now it acknowledged as a classic and admired for how prophetic Wells was at his prediction of a second World War (he was only off by a few months).
The 1979 film was a Harry Alan Towers (international film producer whose product ran the gamut  of quality from classic TEN LITTLE INDIANS(WB,1965) to dire (SHE,Prophecy,2001)production funded using private investors and the Canadian Capital Cost Allowance of 1974.

 

This allowed investors to deduct 100% of their investment in feature films that were certified Canadian. To earn that designation, a film had to be at least 75 minutes long, have at least one producer and 2/3 of the “above the line” creative team be Canadian as well as 75% of production and post be done in the country. **

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Canada had had some science fiction tv in the 1950’s (a young James Doohan starred briefly in SPACE COMMAND(CBC,1953) which also had a guest appearance by William Shatner! ) but for the most part there was not a lot of Canadian film science fiction product. Their previous science fiction “epic”, STARSHIP INVASIONS (1977, Hal Roach/W.B.) had an inflatable spaceship and Christopher Lee in a very unflattering spandex outfit and Robert Vaughn missing the high standards of TEENAGE CAVEMAN (A.I.P.,1958).f468f96c9cdb160d7b6f0e0a576be273-1

Photo: Andrew AnthonyPhotography Date: November 1953.

Photo: Andrew AnthonyPhotography Date: November 1953.

 

 

SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME was not a lot better. The film has almost NOTHING to do with Wells, except having a Dr. John Caball (Barry Morse), wherein there was Raymond Massey as John Cabal/Oswald Cabal (one” L”).

 

The “plot” set in the future has Earth recovering from devastating war, forcing the human race to flee and inhabit the moon. To survive mankind needs an anti-radiation drug called ‘Raddic-Q2”, produced only on a faraway planet called DELTA 3 (as opposed to spice from Dune?).

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A cargo ship from Delta 3 is deliberately crashed into New Washington by self-proclaimed New Emperor Omus (Jack Palance, who must have been in deep to H.A. Towers, having worked for him since 1969’s JUSTINE(AIP) and later in the misogynistic GOR (Cannon,1987)).

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The master computer Lomax (voiced by the Laurence Olivier of Canadian theatre, William Hutt) feels a counter -strike would be imprudent.screen-shot-2010-10-25-at-3-27-33-pm Senator Smedley (John Ireland, THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES, Int. Amusement Corp,1974 ),however, secretly disagrees , and sends a crew off in the space vessel Starstreak to stop Omus .

The crew is made up of  Dr Caball(Barry Morse ,who had appeared in the Canadian WESTWORLD(MGM, 1973) rip-off ,WELCOME TO BLOOD CITY(EMI,1977)with Palance, but is best known for chasing Richard Kimble on t.v.’s THE FUGITIVE (Q.Martin,1963-1967) and, perhaps the reason he was hired for this film, SPACE 1999 (1975-77,ITC ) ),hqdefault-1Caball’s son Jason (Nicholas Campbell, later quite effective in David Cronenberg’s THE DEAD ZONE ,Paramount,1983)and Smedley’s daughter Kim (Anne-Marie Martin billed here as Eddie Benton .Later Ms. Martin starred in the cult horror film THE BOOGENS(Taft Int.,1981)).

 

Caball is accidentally exposed to radiation within the ships reactor room but keeps this information to himself as to not jeopardize the mission.
Also on the ship is “Sparks”, a malfunctioning robot rescued from the crashed spaceship from Delta 3. Sparks ranks among the most annoying robots in film history, or as a friend called him,”the Jar Jar Binks of mechanicals“.vlcsnap-00005
Starstreak malfunctions (this film is full of malfunctioning machinery, making one suspect that writers Martin Lager, Mike Cheda, and Joseph Glazner were secret neo-Luddites) and the vessel is forced to land upon Earth. There they find  children who have survived on Earth  after the Robot Wars. Finishing their repairs, the space voyagers  promise to return once their mission is complete.

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Meanwhile, back on Delta 3, the rightful Governor Nikki (Carol Lynley, a long way from THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, Fox,1972) is trying to lead a revolt against Omus and his robots.the-shape-of-things-to-come-20 However, her inept fighters are soon overcome by the clunky collection of clanking  robots controlled by the evil Omus.
Starstreak is racing towards Delta 3 at light speed, when it encounters a space anomaly that threatens to destroy the ship. The weightlessness scene does not even go for wire work, but instead as a slightly tilted camera angle as the actors WALK to the other side of the shot.shape_05
They survive (you doubted it?) and finally reach their destination, only to be surrounded by Omus’ robots, while a giant Hologram of Omus appears in the sky above them (an effect that appears as if a video camera was used as Palance sat in a chair slowly spinning in a chair reciting his threats).shapeofthingstocome3 Caball demands to meet with Omus and the villain surprisingly agrees. Caball is bought to Omus who does stock villain rant #3 that fails to move the Doctor to join the dark side. So, Omus dons a helmet and turns torture device whose sound will painfully kill Caball. The device- a spinning disco light (no kidding).

Jason & Kim get to Caball too late to save the Doctor, but Kim discovers that the scientist had radiation sickness and would soon have died anyway (that makes it better??) Jason is captured by Omus and his robots and was about to be subjected to the same torture disco ball when suddenly Sparks has all of the robots turn on Omus. Donning the helmet, Jason gives Omus get a dose of his own medicine until he discovers that the planet is about to explode.the-shape-of-things-to-come-61

Sparks teleports onto one of Omus’ ships to take over the control system .Sparks takes the cargo ship full of Raddic -Q2 off as explosions begin to rip through the city. The remaining humans get back to the Starstreak just in time and lift off as the planet explodes, taking care of Omus and his evil robots.

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But wait, it has also destroyed the only planet where Raddic -Q2 comes from? What will happen when the cargo ship’s supply runs out? Oh well, don’t think on that, just run the end credits.

The film is definitely a product of the 1970s, with the jumpsuit outfits, the square computer buttons and green computer screens. The space ship model work is surprisingly good shape_07(Wally Gentleman had worked on 2001(MGM ,1968)), but the robots, however, are throwbacks to the arm waving cardboard wearing creations from THE PHANTOM EMPIRE(Mascot,1935), only with less charm in their design.

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shape_11The film has the flat white look of a lot of tv science fiction of the time, most notably the Saturday morning SPACE ACADEMY (Filmation,1977-79, with Jonathan Harris) or JASON OF STAR COMMAND (Filmation,1978, starring —James Doohan).
The acting goes from competent(Campbell) to better than the role  deserves (Ann-Marie Martin) to “I’m just here for the paycheck” (John Ireland) to “Oo I see scenery I’m chewing it “(Palance and Morse).

 

That could be blamed on the indifferent direction by George McGowan (who also directed the cult classic FROGS(AIP,1972) as well as the so so horror film SHADOW OF THE HAWK (Columbia,1976).

 

The music is definitely disco era by Paul Hoffert (who wrote a much more effective score for GROUNDSTAR CONSPIRACY (1972, Universal)), even to the damn drum machines.

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Now, to the Blu Ray, BLUE UNDERGROUND has done an exceptionally fine job of making this film look as sharp and as clear as it has ever looked or sounded. They have created an all new Hi Def print from the original negative and a 5.1. surround sound mix DTS-HD & DTS-HD Mono. There are also optional subtitles in English, Spanish & French.

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Blu Ray Extras include:
JASON’S JOURNEY-Interview with star Nicholas Campbell. (made for the Blu Ray release). The still active actor has fond memories of going from acting with Laurence Olivier to working on this film, with a special note about Jack Palance and his need for “weed”.

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SYMPHONIES IN SPACE- Interview with composer Paul Hoffert (made for the blu ray release) The composer talks proudly of his score, and how his floating in space theme is still used by ice skaters, as well as his use of a then new toy drum machine.

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Additional extras ported over from the DVD release of 2004 are
A French Trailer
A Film Ventures TV Spot (rated PG).
A Posters & Still Gallery

There are those who will appreciate the campy charm of the film and its cheesy effects and hammy acting by some of the stars.

I, for one, am not one of them.
Kudos, though, to Blue Underground for their usual high caliber restoration of an obscure title.

-Kevin G Shinnick

*Wells screenplay of Things to Come was based on two of his books, “Shape of Things to Come “(1933) and “The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind” (1931). He originally titled the screen treatment “Wither Mankind?”.

*- the CCA was reduced to 50% in 1982 and the Canadian film boom was over.

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THEATRE OF BLOOD (Twilight Time Blu Ray)

TheatreOfBlood_BD_HighRes__16152.1469649534.1280.1280THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973) (Blu Ray) Twilight Time Limited to print run of 3,000. Region Code: Region Free (A/B/C). Color. 104 minutes.Rated R $29.95 http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/theatre-of-blood-blu-ray/

1973 was a changing period for horror films. Horror films were becoming more explicit and old style horror was losing its popularity. Hammer films final Dracula film could barely get a release and then from a small distribution company in the U.S. THE WICKER MAN (EMI) was chopped down, edited and also hardly screened. The EXORCIST(Warner Brothers) would debut Dec 26,1973 and become one of the most successful films of all time but basically put an end to Gothic horror. AIP would terminate its successful run of films with Vincent Price in 1974 with the average MADHOUSE. However, with the release of THEATRE OF BLOOD (United Artists) on April 5,1973, Vincent Price starred in one of his best films ever.

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THEATRE OF BLOOD is a wonderful extension to his A.I.P revenge horror films like THE ABOMINABLE DR PHIBES (1971) and DR PHIBES RISES AGAIN (1972), wherein Price enacts nefarious acts of violence upon those whom he feels have wronged him. Indeed, director Robert Fuest was supposedly offered the project but didn’t want to get typecast in this style of film (his next film was the bizarre science fiction film THE FINAL PROGRAMME (New World,1973, a film that would be shorn of 18 minutes from its U.K. release). *

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Enter director Douglas Hickox. Hickox had begun as an assistant director on films like FIEND WITHOUT A FACE(MGM,1958) and HAUNTED STRANGLER (MGM,1958), but had been directing films like an adaptation of Joe Orton’s ENTERTAINING MR SLOANE (Continental,1970) and the action thriller SITTING TARGET (MGM,1972). His films were notable for using many real locations rather than studio sets. I read somewhere (though cannot find the source material at the moment) that his son Anthony (later director of WAXWORKS (Vestron,1988) urged him to take the opportunity of directing Vincent Price.

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Price’s contact with AIP as stated earlier was coming to a close (indeed, he would return to England in 1974 to finish it out with MADHOUSE, which was sort of a “Best of” Vincent AIP film), his long association with Sears as a spokesperson finished, and his relationship with second wife Mary Grant was cooling. Price then for various reasons needed this film. Little did he or anyone else realize that it would spark a new chapter in his life.

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For one thing, it allowed him, however briefly, to perform Shakespeare. It would surround him with many A List British performer (not that Karloff, Lee, Cushing, or Quarry were slouches, but critics wrongly ghettoized them as mere “horror actors”) who actually wanted to work with him. It had a decent budget and was from a major studio (United Artists). Plus, Price found the woman who would be the final great love of his life, even though he had to kill her to find her! From this, Price would experience a renaissance of work in commercials, tv guest spots, and a pop phenomenon (via Alice Cooper and Michael Jackson), as well as a return to the stage in his greatest role, as Oscar Wilde in DIVERSIONS & DELIGHTS.

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The plot has Price as Edward Lionheart, a supposedly dead Shakespearean actor who apparently is killing the critics that denied him an actor award that he had felt was long due to him. Instead, they gave it to a “twitching mumbling Boy who can barely grunt his way through a barely comprehensible performance” (which, having myself seen much Shakespeare of late, feels that he should take out such unclear mush mouthed performers rather than the critics!). His revenge comes in the form of the various murders (and a clever rewrite) of those that appeared in the works of the Bard.

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The film is a delight from beginning to end, with the cast as whole relishing their roles and some wonderful bitchy dialogue. The actual locations (especially the” Burbage Theatre”, which in actuality was the Putney Hippodrome, London**, that Hickox had used in SITTING TARGET) do much to anchor the film in the real world while showing us the overly macabre and theatrical deaths.

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Along with Price for the ride are such luminaries of the British stage and film as Diana Rigg (Emma Peel of The Avengers TV 1965-68), Ian Hendry (the original incarnation of The Avengers,1961), Robert Morley (Oscar Wilde in OSCAR WILDE,20th Century ,1960, (I wonder if he discussed Wilde with Price, as Morley had played the role back in 1936) but probably known to many Americans for his long running ads for British Airways and his phrase ‘We’ll take good care of you!”) , Michael Hordern (Senex in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM; UA  1966),Diana Dors (the former UK answer to Marilyn Monroe ,MAN BAIT, Exclusive,1952),Jack Hawkins (BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI,Columbia,1957, who sadly, due to throat cancer, had lost his ability to speak and was dubbed) -the list goes on and on .

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The original film was known as MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER until Price pointed out that he did a film called COMEDY OF TERRORS(AIP ,1963)whose clever word play on Shakespeare had flopped and thus the title change .The original story idea was by Stanley Mann and John Kohn ( who were co- nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay of THE COLLECTOR (Columbia,1965)),with the final screenplay credited exclusively to Anthony Greville-Bell (who had co-written with John Kohn the bizarre THE STRANGE VENGEANCE OF ROSALIE(20TH Century Fox,1972).6

The lush photography was by Wolfgang Suchitzky, who had lensed HickoxENTERTAINING MR SLOANE as well as the classic GET CARTER (MGM ,1971). The memorable and lush score is by Michael J Lewis, who scored JULIUS CAESAR (AIP,1970) as well as Hickox later tele-version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES(Mapleton,1983). Sadly, director Hickox died way too young, at age 59 from a heart attack. The British Independent Film Awards present The Douglas Hickox Award, given to a British Director on their debut feature. Notable past winners included Steve McQueen (later director of 12 YEARS A SLAVE (20th Century Fox,2013).2

The producers (which included Kohn & Mann) were Gustave Berne (who had produced AmicusASYLUM (1972) and AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS (1973) and former Hollywood agent (The Marx Brothers, Peter Lorre,Humphrey Bogart, ) as well as producing films like BORN FREE (Columbia ,1966). The film got more on screen due to the dollar to pound exchange as well as taking advantage of the Eady Act. ***7

The film did fairly well theatrically, making about $1 million in the U.S. and Canada. The critics at the time, perhaps fearful of the wrath of Lionheart, gave the film acceptable to positive reviews. MGM of course made money through its releases on television as well as cable T.V. in the 1980s, and it released the film on VHS and DVD in various forms and collections over the years, though the colors seemed a bit muddy.$T2eC16NHJGIFFoTmFfWzBS!DeU!sTQ--_35

The Twilight Time Blu Ray is a visual delight. They seemed to have gone to the original negative for their 1080p High Definition 1.66:1 Color transfer. The images are razor sharp and the colors are vibrant. The English SDH subtitles follow the action and dialogue fairly closely. This upgrade is well worth getting.

A

Extras include

-The Original Theatrical Trailer (you can see how the film used to look like before it’s Blu Ray clean up).

MGM’s Anniversary Trailer

Julie Kirgo provides another wonderful fact filled booklet

-the isolated score by Michael J Lewis (which was released on LALA Records CD in 2010, now out of print) Hearing it on its own you realize how beautifully rich the orchestrations are.cvr bck

-Audio Commentary Track by documentary filmmaker and film historian Nick Redman & Vincent Price’s friend and film historian David Del Valle. The two keep a running dialogue throughout the whole run of the film, full of information and personal remembrances of Coral Browne and Price.

Some small cons:

The English 1.0 DTS-HD MA audio is a bit low, but easily corrected by increasing the volume. Oddly, the commentary track is better balanced and you may need to lower the volume should you switch over.

Del Valle seems stunned that while making an earlier film, Morley refused to be filmed in a suggestive scene with another man, though had no such compunctions of his very camp portrayal of Meredith Merridew. Del Valle forgets that The Sexual Offences Act decriminalized homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age in private in England and Wales, but that it was still illegal in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man . In 1936, Morley had also been restricted by the Lord Chamberlain due to the subject matter from performing OSCAR WILDE except for a six week run at the private club London’s Gate Theatre Studio. ****

AA

Also, they describe Lionheart as a bad actor. That is not so. He would not have had such a long career had he been. What he was in fact was an old style Actor /Manager that had all but faded from the scene. Think of Sir Donald Wolfit, the inspiration for Sir in the play and film THE DRESSER. He was a barnstorming performer who refused to accept that acting styles had changed, and thus was larger than life what is now usually accepted.

 

CCC

I wish that another audio commentary track had been added, using a Shakespearean and theatre historian to point out the tiny Shakespeare references in the film (for example, the painting of Caesar’s assassination in Michael Hordern’s apartment, foreshadowing his own demise or that Erik Sykes’ Sgt. Dogge is a reference to thewatchman Dogberry in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING), as well as pointing out how theatre in England had changed /was changing in England at the time. For example, the National Theatre ‘s 14-year journey from the Peter O’Toole’s Hamlet in 1963 until the multi million Pound and long delayed official building opening in 1976. Plus, how Censorship was abolished with the 1968 Theatre Act, Fringe Festivals appeared everywhere and new writers used a rawer language and nudity to tell their tales, while actors began to utilize a perceived more realistic (or the “twitching, mumbling” as Lionheart refers to it. All of this sets the world that Lionheart now resides and performs in.

B

 

Also, ARROW FILMS had some extras on their U.K. Blu Ray (Region B Only) that would have been welcome on this release, including interviews with Madeline Smith, Victoria (daughter of Vincent & Mary Price), Michael J Lewis, and -Gasp-David Del Valle! Plus, the commentary audio features Mark Gatiss and the rest of his League Of Gentlemen (1999-2002, BBC) colleagues .

Neither the Arrow nor the TWILIGHT TIME provide info on the filming locations then and now, which for those interested, can be found at

http://www.movie-locations.com/movies/t/Theatre_Of_Blood.html#.V8dt7fkrLIU

and on YouTube

Also, for those interested, here is the dialogue from the film

http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/movie_script.php?movie=theatre-of-blood

Still, this is quibbling on what is such a beautiful release of such a classic horror film.

Get you copy quickly as it is limited to a pressing of only 3,000.

RECOMMENDED.
-Kevin G Shinnick

*- by the way, has anyone seen “Une Journee Bien Remplie” (A Full Day’s Work) -(Cinetel,1973) it’s a French variant of Phibes, wherein a father plan to kill in the same day the 9 members of the jury who had condemned his son to the death sentence.

AAA

**- The Putney Hippodrome was a 1641 seat variety hall theatre built in 1906. Like many theatres, it became a movie house in 1924, closing in 1961. It remained derelict except for its use in Hickox’ films until it’s demolition in 1975. Today it is a housing project. The photo of the Hippodrome is from http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Putney.htm

Hippodrome, Felsham Road, Putney, London

Hippodrome, Felsham Road, Putney, London

HipExteriorHippodromePoster

***-The Eady Act was a tax on box office receipts to create a fund to stimulate British Film Production. To qualify as a British film a minimum of 85% of the film had to be shot in the United Kingdom or the Commonwealth, and only three non-British individual salaries could be excluded from the costs of the film, ensuring the employment of British actors, technicians and film crew. The Eady Levy was dissolved in 1985.

****-When he brought the same show to Broadway in 1938, it ran for 247 performances

Rachael Stirling (as Miranda Lionheart) and Jim Broadbent (as Edward Lionheart) in the production Theatre of Blood at the National Theatre, London. (Photo by robbie jack/Corbis via Getty Images)

Rachael Stirling (as Miranda Lionheart) and Jim Broadbent (as Edward Lionheart) in the production Theatre of Blood at the National Theatre, London. (Photo by robbie jack/Corbis via Getty Images)

-In 2005, Jim Broadbent portrayed Lionheart with Rachel Stirling (daughter of Diana Rigg) playing his daughter in a U.K. stage production.12 Rachel-Stirling-and-Jim-B-002

 

 

9-In 2010, an Oregon group presented a radio adaptation of THEATRE OF BLOOD.

-In 2011, Distinctive Dummies released an Edward Lionheart figure.10

 

Madeline Smith comments on THEATRE OF BLOOD : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9Lo4Uul7hU

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