1950s, Action Adventure, Adventure, Blu Ray, CLASSIC, Classic Hollywood, cult, film, FILM HISTORY, genre, Horror, monsters, Phyliss Coates, Republic, review, reviews, serial, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized

PANTHER GIRL OF THE KONGO (Republic,1955){Olive Films Blu Ray,2017}

PANTHER GIRL OF THE KONGO (REPUBLIC,1955) {OLIVE FILMS BLU RAY,2017} 2 HRS 48 Min. B&W. DTS-HD Master Audio English. Optional English subtitles. $29.95. https://olivefilms.com/product/panther-girl-of-the-kongo/ (Also on DVD for $19.95

 

Olive Films has done a masterful job of releasing Republic’s penultimate movie serial (the final and 66th one, KING OF THE CARNIVAL, was released later in 1955).

 

Filmed between 16 August and 4 September 1954 as “Panther WOMAN of the Kongo”, the 12-chapter serial was filmed on a budget of $179,341. To put it in perspective, Roger Corman filmed the 69-minute APACHE WOMAN (ARC) that same year for $80,000 and Ed Wood shot his 75-minute BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (Banner) for $70,000.

 

To stretch their budget, Republic had star Phyllis Coates (Lois Lane for the first season of T.V.’s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (Motion Pictures for Television,1952) wear the same outfit as Frances Gifford wore in the earlier 22nd Republic serial JUNGLE GIRL (1941) and a lot of footage was lifted from this earlier serial. By the way,14 years earlier the 15-chapter JUNGLE GIRL had cost $177,404!!

Jean Evans is a jungle adventurer who is handy with both a rifle and a camera. Due to a past incident wherein she saved the village, the Utanga tribe refer to her as Panther GIRL (Ms. Coates, who is still alive today at age 90, was 28 at the time.). While out on a photo shoot for a foundation, they spy some very large crustaceans. The natives suggest she get Larry Sanders (Myron Healey in a rare good guy role), a great white hunter.

 

Evil chemist Dr. Morgan (Arthur Space, a nicer doctor on T.V.’s LASSIE (20th Century Fox,1954-71)) has discovered an abandoned gold mine in the area is full of diamonds (when life gives you lemons….) which he covets. To scare of the natives and interlopers, he has developed is “hormone compound “(steroid abuse even then??) to turn ordinary crawfish into the giant ‘Devil Beasts”.

Since the monsters do not scare off Evans and Sanders, Dr Morgan enlists human goons Cass (character actor John Day) & Rand (Mike Ragan, more commonly seen in westerns) who use the personal touch of shooting at, and knock down fights with Sanders, with heroine often knocked out or tied up.

The Lydecker Brothers, wizards of special effects, did what they could to make crawfish look gigantic. Mostly it involved the hard-shelled stars on miniature sets or people against rear screen projections. The interaction involves one giant claw reaching from above rocks of from off frame to grab Panther Girl or some poor native. I wonder if Roger Corman somehow got it and used the claw for his late ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS(A.A.,1957). Probably inspired by the giant ants in THEM! (WB,1954), these creatures also have a mighty roar. Bert I Gordon must have studied this serial, as many of his effects seem to be inspired by the techniques used here (his first film KING DINOSAUR, Lippert,1955, used a lizard magnified via rear projection and double exposure).

What is interesting for a film of the period is that there is no romance between the two leads. Maybe the studio felt that the youngsters would not put up with “icky kissing” getting in the way of the monsters, fistfights, and perils. The villain, too, is not out to rule the world as many serial villains seemed to be trying to attempt, but was motivated by old fashioned greed.

 

What does date the film in many cringe worthy ways are its portrayal of the natives. Easily frightened and superstitious, they are often reliant on the white actors to protect them. They speak in pidgin English, and another tribe (The Returi) is bribed to attack the heroes after being bribed by an elixir (alcohol!).

Plus, for the title character, Panther Girl seems to spend a lot of time tied up, screaming, or knocked out while Sanders punches and shoots his way out of the situation. She is also grabbed by the claw at one point and later ape handled by a murderous gorilla (ape specialist Steve Calvert). A lot of Jean Evans‘ action are lifts from JUNGLE GIRL of her swinging from vines and riding an elephant. She does save Sanders (the name maybe a reference to “Sanders of The River” by Edgar Wallace (U.K. first edition by Ward, Lock & Co. (1911))?) from quicksand*, so she is not completely unhelpful.

The production has a very studio bound feel to it, like many television productions of the time. Republic, through its subsidiary, Hollywood Television Service, had been involved with the earlier COMMANDO CODY (1953). The 12-part serial had been originally envisioned as a television series with each chapter running about 25 minutes. The serial finally aired on NBC television in 1955, the year PANTHER GIRL OF THE KONGO was released. One wonders if this too was planned as a television series?

During the 1950s up to the 1970s, movie serials, especially those from Republic, were aired on television regularly. In 1966, it was edited into a 100-minute feature called THE CLAW MONSTERS. When Super 8 home theatre came out, it was released in silent and sound edits. In the 1990s, they started to receive less air time. The home video market kept the titles out in front of fans for many years thereafter, but few have been released in their entirety on DVD and Blu Ray.

The print quality is of the high standard we have come to expect from Olive Films. The picture is quite sharp with few blemishes. The sound is DTS-HD Master 2.0, though the sound has not been remixed to make use of the new sound systems but instead is a clear replica of the original track. The optional yellow English subtitles are very legible and follow the dialogue and action.

Oddly, there were no extras, not even a trailer. It is a shame, as the trailer is unique, with the star narrating part of it before an announcer takes over:

 

For fans of Republic Serials or the lovely Phyllis Coates, this is one you will want to add to your collection.

Kevin G Shinnick

*- Coates once recalled in an interview that after filming in the swamp, Healey insisted the two of them go get penicillin shots!

 

 

No animals were harmed during the making of the film, though I assume many of the monsters met a boiling pot of water for the wrap party .

Standard
1930S, Blu Ray, Classic Hollywood, dvd, film, Nazi, obscure, OLIVE FILMS, rare, Republic, review, thriller, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized

SABOTAGE (1939)

sabotage

SABOTAGE(Republic,1939) B&W.67 minutes – Blu Ray released by Olive Films. $29.95 http://olivefilms.com/product/sabotage/ (also available on DVD $19.95 )

 

 

SABOTAGE is one of those films that very few film fans may be aware of. Not to be confused with Hitchcock’s earlier SABOTAGE (aka A WOMAN ALONE, General Film Distributors,1936) or his later SABOTEUR (Universal,1942), it does have certain parallels with those two films, especially the latter film.

 

While not a classic, it is a solid example of film making that came out of the Hollywood Dream Factory regular to fill cinemas.

title

Filmed under the title ‘HEADLINE NEWS’, it had been announced that Sidney Salkow was supposed to direct. When it went into production on August 12,1939 (wrapping by the end of the month), it was under the direction of Harold Young (who had directed the Leslie Howard THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL (London Films,1934) and later several Universal horror films like THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1942).

 

At the time, studios were being cautious of making product that might end up banned in Europe, and the U.S. was going through an isolationist mood.

 

republic

Republic made most of their films for rural America, keeping their budgets low to make profit easier. Not being as dependent on overseas income, they were freer to tackle issues of spies. They may also have been encouraged by the box office returns by the then daring CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY (Warner Brothers, released in May,1939), which did outstanding business despite being banned in certain countries.

 

War began September 1,1939 when Germany invaded Poland and in response England and France both declared war in response. Within a month and a half (October 13,1939) SABOTAGE was on movie screens.

 

While the Republic film does not name who is doing the espionage (as the United States would not officially enter the conflict for over two more years), audiences would infer that it was German interference going on in American factories.

arlene

Tommy Grayson(Gordon Oliver ,a good looking character actor who later switched back and forth from acting and producing for television on shows like PETER GUNN(Spartan,1958-1961) ,a mechanic at the Midland Aircraft Corporation ,has convinced actress Gail(Arleen Whelan, who played Sarah Clay in YOUNG MR LINCOLN,Fox,1939) to leave showbiz and marry him .She was afraid of the small town reaction to actors (we see later how they look down on her, so she was not being paranoid) but is convinced to stay when Tommy’s family goes out of their way to embrace her and welcome her.

 

The day before their marriage, a new plane is being tested, and the whole town turns out to watch the test flight. However, the test ends in disaster, with the plane crashing and burning (superb as always model work by the uncredited Lydecker brothers).img_20170118_150639

 

There have been other failures due to engines from the plant, and tests point to Tommy, as all the failing pistons came from his bench.

 

img_20170118_150750

Major Matt Grayson (Charley Grapewin,most beloved as Uncle Henry in THE WIZARD OF OZ(MGM) from the same year) , and his Civil War Vet friends Mel(J.M. Kerrigan, THE INFORMER(RKO,1935)) ,Smitty (Frank Darien (Uncle John in THE GRAPES OF WRATH ,Fox,1940),and Eli (Lucien Littlefield(Dr Horace in SONS OF THE DESERT (Hal Roach,1933)) investigate to clear Tommy’s name .

 

The film surprisingly shows the dark side of Middle America (they readily turn on the Grayson family, blaming them for the factory closing). However, it also shows that when we work together we can defeat evil (subtly done by having vets from both side of the Civil War working together).

 

 

SABOTAGE is full of wonderful character actors, including Joe Sawyer as Gardner, who also works at the factory with Tommy. Sawyer is one of those actors who could go from good guy to bad guy with ease, and be acceptable as both.

 

img_20170118_151026

Towards the end of the film, there is a scene that harkens back to the underworld capture of M(Nero-Film,1931), though here it is the vets from the various wars who capture the spies and bring them to the factory. Extra tension is within the scene as there is a bomb planted by the terrorists that is set to go off shortly.

The old vets are played very slapstick to provide comic relief throughout the movie so that they solve and fix everything is a nice twist.

img_20170118_150825

One little continuity goof at the very end of the film has the happy hero & heroine flying off for the honeymoon. You see that a string of pots and pans afe attached to the tail as it taxis for takeoff, but when the plane is in flight the items are not there.

Olive Films has released a superlative clean and sharp print of SABOTAGE. The mono sound is pop and hiss free. The optional English subtitles ae clear and easy to read. There are no extras, though that such an overlooked film is released in such a magnificent print is reason enough to buy it.

I don’t recall seeing this film airing on Turner Classics Movie, so for many, this will be the discovery of a small gem of a film.

Recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick

(note -frame grabs are not mine and do not do justice to the sharpness of the actual print).

 

PS- for those surprised that there were still Civil War Vets in 1939, here is a photo from that same year of an actual Civil War Survivor .http-%2f%2fa-amz-mshcdn-com%2fwp-content%2fuploads%2f2015%2f04%2fcivil-final-15

Standard
1950s, Academy Award Winner, Art house, Blu Ray, CLASSIC, Classic Hollywood, cult, genre, humor, Ireland, John Ford, John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, OLIVE FILMS, Republic, review, romance, studio history, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, Victor McLaglen

THE QUIET MAN ( Olive Films Signature Blu Ray)


161916_large

THE QUIET MAN (1952) –Olive Films Signature Series Blu Ray $39.95 Color 129 minutes. Region 1. 1.37:1 mono release date October 25,2016 .
http://store.olivefilms.com/Drama.56/Olive_Films.38/The_Quiet_Man___Olive_Signature__Blu-Ray_.6308.html     

One of the most beloved films of all time gets a wonderful and superlative release from OLIVE FILMS as part of their  inaugural ‘Signature “releases (along with HIGH NOON, covered previously( https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/high-noon-olive-films-blu-ray-and-dvd-signature-release/      ) and the quality and respect that these masterpieces have received from the studio should make movie lovers rejoice.

 

Coming from the original camera negative, the transfer received a 4 K scan and the results are amazing.

 

The Technicolor no longer has that slightly muddy look that the film had for many years. Maureen O’Hara ‘s fiery red hair blazes with the passion that also illuminates her performance. The greens fields make you want to pack your bag and ‘teacht ar ais go hÉirinn” (“come back to Ireland”).

hombretranquilo04

The story by Maurice Walsh first appeared in the February 11,1933 edition of the Saturday Evening Post, and was later published in a collection called The Green Rushes (1935, Frederick A. Stokes Co.) .
http://dukefanclub.weebly.com/uploads/1/0/9/9/10994017/the_quiet_man.pdf

68-6813-xdpi100z

 

downloadJohn Ford ‘s love of the story involved him having to first do a western for Republic (RIO GRANDE 1950). That film was successful enough that the studio approved location filming in County Mayo and County Galway while shooting in the more expensive Technicolor (most of their color films were shot in the cheaper Tru Color Process). Then interiors were shot back at the studios in Hollywood.

 

the-quiet-man-french-movie-poster-1952

American Sean Thornton (Shawn Kelvin in the original story), played to perfection by John Wayne, returns to his ancestral home in Inisfree. He begins to fall for the beautiful colleen, Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), but she wishes to observe the local matchmaking principals, and obstacles and cultural differences keep getting in the way.

 

 

Also, a huge block is her brutish protective brother, Squire ‘Red “Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen, Oscar winner in 1935 for RKO’s John Ford classic THE INFORMER, wherein he played another slow witted but brutish fellow during the Irish Revolution). He cannot stop the couple from falling in love but he can deny them her dowry. Instead, the Squire challenges Thornton to fight, but the Yank walks away. Mary Kate thinks that Sean is a coward, but as the film unfolds we find out he has a dark secret.

 

The film ends with one of the best and most exciting and funny fight scenes ever committed to celluloid.the-quiet-man-005

 

Onto this slim framework, John Ford (via a screenplay adaptation by Frank S. Nugent, who wrote some of Ford’s best films) populates the film with almost every Irish character actor from Hollywood as well as several locals. The film makes the countryside also as much a character, and when the storms and rains hit, we are treated to one of the most electric screen kisses of all time.thyat-kiss

                           289b56170f14917f9a1284f1c4ba237d

 

In 2013, OLIVE FILMS released the film on BLU RAY and DVD. While the film has hardly been out of the public eye since its release (a yearly March must show on television, as well as various releases on VHS by Republic as well as DVD releases by Artisan), the current incarnation from OLIVE FILMS is the must own version.

 

quie2

As mentioned, the film has been given a beautiful video upgrade. I do not have the previous Olive Films release for comparison, but must reiterate that this print is flawless. Colors leap out and the mono sound is ultra clean and hiss free.

7330_1_large

 

The English optional subtitles follow the action and dialogue precisely. Kudos to whomever is charged with this important option for the hard of hearing audiences.

 

Ported over from the previous 2013 release is
The Making of The Quiet Man – a documentary that originated in the 2002 Artisan release. Leonard Maltin as always guides us through the history of this classic film in his usual fun and informative style.

fda2c4d3edfd8113cfa3f930551bee69

New to this release is

Audio Commentary Track by Joseph McBride, author of two John Ford books. The love of his subject comes throughout his feature, dropping facts and info in an easy and informative fashion. It is so informative about the film and Ireland in 1951 that this is a track you will want to listen to it  several times to get the full effect.2995768_orig

Free Republic – a brief little history of the studio as to how a film processing company got into producing no nonsense and profitable films but somehow made films like Orson WellesMACBETH (1948, coming from Olive Films on Blu Ray    http://www.olivefilms.com/films/macbeth-%E2%80%93-olive-signature/         ) and of course THE QUIET MAN. This short is hosted by by Marc Wanamaker, a co-author (along with E.J. Stephens) of EARLY POVERTY ROW STUDIOS (Arcadia Publishing,2014). Mr. Wanamaker is also a founder of the Hollywood Heritage Museum.

1952-baja-republic-el-hombre-tranquilo-ret

A Tribute to Maureen O’Hara – actresses Juliet Mills, Hayley Mills, and Ally Sheedy share their memories and tributes to the actress. Besides her beauty, they make sure that people are aware of her strong personality, her charm, her career, her grace, and most of all her great talent. The warmth of their memories is truly moving.

18633b21fce0eda50b47c7980aeaf884

The Old Man- Director Peter Bogdanovich (TARGETS, Paramount,1968) shares his thoughts on Ford and his career. From interviewing Ford for Esquire, the two directors developed a lasting friendship. I enjoyed Bogdanovich’s story of visiting Ford just before his death, along with Director Howard Hawks, and instead of hello Ford barked out how could Hawks stand all the questions that Bogdanovich’s had!

 

 

Don’t You Remember ,Seánín?
– A visual essay using footage from the film by quite voiced Tag Gallagher, film and John Ford expert. I do love his opening comment: “Every Irishmen is an actor “said John Ford, “And how flamboyant they are about it. Exhibitionists, like dancers. Their body language makes emotions vivid, palpable.”

 

12992

The booklet enclosed has a few photos but no real information besides the cast listing, chapter stops on the disc and listing of the extras.

 

 

The slipcover can be reversed to show a beautiful black and white photo of the courting ride through town. The cover is a shot of the same sequence, with the two lovers walking in front of the carriage driven by Barry Fitzgerald. That shot captures the beauty and the romance of the film, and kudos for this original choice. It is also used for the hardcover cardboard case that it comes in.

 

 

The only way that I could see this release being any better is if they had also added a second disc to include the 2010 documentary DREAMING THE QUIET MAN (available from OLIVE FILMS http://www.olivefilms.com/films/john-ford-dreaming-the-quiet-man-blu-ray/ ) .

 

dreaming

I could go on and on as to why this film deserved to be chosen by the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2013, but if you have ever seen the film you have no need for convincing.

 

MOLADH AIRDE! (HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!)

Kevin G Shinnick

quietman2

Standard