1930S, 1940s, 1950s, 1980s, Blu Ray, Classic Hollywood, comedy, cult, dvd, film, Hal Roach, https://www.facebook.com/scarletthefilmmagazine/, humor, Kit Parker, Laurel & Hardy, MVD, review, reviews, SCARLETTHEFILMMAGAZINE.WORDPRESS.COM, studio history, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized

LAUREL AND HARDY: THE DEFINITIVE RESTORATIONS

LAUREL & HARDY: THE DEFINITIVE RESTORATIONS (Blu-Ray) (MVD /Kit Parker Films/Sprocket Films) B&W, Color .4 Discs. 511 Minutes. Not Rated. Release date June 30,2020. $79.95 srp. (also available on DVD). REGION FREE.
https://www.amazon.com/Laurel-Hardy-Definitive-Restorations-Blu-ray/dp/B084P3S7NJ

         BUY IT. A MUST HAVE COMEDY COLLECTION.

       What? Oh, you need more in a review. Oh, very well.

Laurel & Hardy remain iconic touchstones of cinematic comedy. As recently as January 2020, Stan Laurel (and Charlie Chaplin ) were the subjects of a London stage show (https://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/the-strange-tale-of-charlie-chaplin-and-stan-laurel-review-at-wiltons-music-hall-london–expressive-physical-comedy ) as well as magnificent tribute film in 2018 (STAN & OLLIE ,BBC FILMS). Their body of work inspires and continues to influence comedians and comediennes.

recent London Mime Show

A comedy duo (officially since DUCK SOUP, Roach,1926, even though they had appeared together in THE LUCKY DOG, 1921,Sun-Lite) who remained friends until Oliver Hardy’s passing in 1957,and who will forever be linked in the minds of film fans as a tandem force.


Their films can be watched and enjoyed by all ages, due to their child like innocence as well as their constant battles with everyday events. 



Now, a collection of their works has been restored and presented to both new and old fans alike in a release that should please all. The shorts are well represented, with some odd omissions. For example, they do a magnificent job on the one silent presented, THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY (Roach/MGM,1927),but skip their first talkie (UNACUSTOMED AS WE ARE, Roach/MGM ,1929),as well as many other classics . Were there legal issues or lack of acceptable elements, or just the ones that UCLA has restored so far? Perhaps if this set sells well, we might expect a second edition, or even a third that would include their silent (yes please).



The restorations of these films are nothing short of miraculous. New 2K/4K masters have been made from the best elements available, and while they still have a few specks here and there, plus the sound is variable due to the technology of the time , one is doubtful one will ever see these classics in any better presentation.


THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY (Roach /MGM ,1927), on Disc One, to me, made the disc a special delight. Robert Youngson used the remaining footage available in his 1965 compilation LAUREL & HARDY’s LAUGHING 20s (MGM,1965). For years, that tantalizing footage had fans wishing to see the entire short.

 

In the 1980s, most of the first reel was discovered. Missing still is a sequence wherein Eugene Pallette (best known as Friar Tuck in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, WB,1938) is an insurance agent who sells Ollie a policy ,wherein if Stanley sustains injury, there will be a nice payout. This footage is set up nicely with a few remaining stills and a title card explaining the set up. It then jumps to Ollie dropping banana peels to make Stan fall, only to have it backfire and make long suffering foe Charlie Hall as a pie man topple, leading up to the huge street filling pie fight. In the extras, Anita Garvin identifies herself as the woman who falls and sits upon a pie, stands, and tries to regain her dignity. She did this brilliant comic gem of a moment in an unpaid appearance during her lunch break as a favor to Stan!

 


Also, on Disc one, there is BERTH MARKS (Roach/MGM,1929) their SECOND talking picture. Even though sound had just become popular and wider used just two years earlier, the team was already using it and drawing attention to its humorous potential. Notice how they use the stationmaster (Pat Harmon, a familiar face in films ,often in unbilled roles) who yells out the train destinations in an incoherent though loud way, then asked if Pottsville is one of the stops, he yells louder and even less coherently!


BERTH MARKS is available in two versions on this disc ; the 1929 release version with original sound, as well as the 1936 re issue with added music and different sound effects. The 1929 version has not been seen for 84 years so it is a real significant find.


The brilliant fourth L&H feature, SONS OF THE DESERT (Roach,MGM ,1933) was called “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2012 and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Once you watch this pre-code comedy, you will see why. The print is so much sharper than previous releases, with nice shades of gray and good sound.



There are extras galore on this and the other discs .

There are fact filled running commentaries by either Randy Skretvedt or Richard W. Bann on the various shorts and films. Seriously, you will learn about where certain sequences were shot, actors who appear, often as uncredited extras, just a wealth of information.

Also included are video interview from the 1980s.


Actress Anita Gavin (1906- 1994) gushes with real affection for her time at Roach, and of her working with Stan.


Producer/actor/director Joe Rock (aka Joseph Simberg,1893-1984). Rock basically saved Stan from an unhappy marriage that was ruining his career. Freed of her, Stan starring silent vehicles included the wonderful spoof DR PYCKLE AND MR PRIDE (Selznick,1925). It is too bad that the sound is so terrible in this interview, with a buzz so loud that words are often drowned out.


Roy Seawright (1905-1991) was Hal Roach Studios Head of Animation , the man responsible for all of those animated effects in the films, as well as the stop motion in BABES IN TOYLAND /MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS (Roach /MGM ,1934) .

(not from the blu ray, but an interesting bit of film history below )

https://www.pbs.org/video/appraisal-1934-babes-toyland-stop-motion-soldiers-xfnzcd/

A shipboard interview with Oliver Hardy (1950). This was when the boys were going with such high hopes to film ATOLL K/UTOPIA (1951), a disastrous final film for the comedy team.


The only known existing  original trailer from SONS OF THE DESERT (Spanish).


A plug for Skretvedt’s book (which appears on several of the discs.)?

That is just the first disc!


Extras on Disc 2 include audio interviews with many associated with the comedy team, while disc 4 has several of the comic duos’ feature trailers, as well as music tracks from Marvin Hatley (1905-1986), best known for his work for the team.


There are also thousands of rare photos posters, scripts, and production notes from their many shorts and features.

  (TWICE TWO ,1933 )


Disc 2 also has BRATS (1930, available in two versions) ,HOG WILD (1930) ,COME CLEAN (1931), ONE GOOD TURN(1931),and ME & MY PAL (1933)  ,all Roach/MGM releases , all looking vastly sharper than they have in other releases.

 


Disc 3 has 8 shorts, including THE MUSIC BOX (Roach/MGM,1932), winner of the FIRST Academy Award for Best Short Live Action (Comedy) and was preserved in 1997 in National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The other shorts on Disc 3 are HELPMATES(1932) , THE CHIMP (1932) ,COUNTY HOSPITAL (1932) ,SCRAM! (1932), THEIR FIRST MISTAKE(1932) ,THE MIDNIGHT PATROL(1933) ,and BUSY BODIES (1933) (all Roach /MGM ).


Disc 4 has the feature WAY OUT WEST (Roach/MGM,1937). This is the comedy which will have your sides ache in the sequence where they chase each other around the room with a purloined deed. This is the film that is referenced so perfectly in the beginning of STAN & OLLIE, with an exact copy of their dance.

It also has three other Hal Roach produced shorts(TOWED IN A HOLE(Roach/MGM 1932) ,TWICE TWO(Roach /MGM 1933),THAT’S THAT(1937 , a private reel of out-takes compiled for Stan’s birthday and was not publicly distributed), as well as their only existing professionally shot color footage in TREE IN A TEST TUBE, a 1942 short made for the U.S. Dept of Agriculture!


The  packing really beings up my one tiny nitpick – the case has a flip book to hold the various discs, which often shift making the box  hard to close. Be careful so as not to scratch or damage the discs.


This is hours and hours of entertainment and information in a well-made release. Hopefully, it will be a success so that we may see 4 K releases of their other Hal Roach films (including the silent era)  to Blu Ray.


Stan: What do you want?
Policeman: I don’t want you. I want that other monkey.
[Stan whistles to Ollie]
Ollie: What?
Stan: He doesn’t want me! He wants the other monkey!
[Ollie looks around]
Stan: You!
Ollie: Oh.
-from THE MUSIC BOX


You don’t want that other monkey. You want this collection!! Must own.

Kevin G Shinnick

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Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker

Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker
Roberto Curti Price: $45.00 40 photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
376pp. softcover (7 x 10)McFarland  2017                                                http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-1-4766-6970-0

Like many American film fans, my knowledge of director Ricardo Freda was mostly limited to his
Horror films I Vampiri /THE DEVIL’S COMMANDMENT (Titanus,1957),Caltiki il mostro immortale /CALTIKI,THE IMMORTAL MONSTER(Lux,1959),L’orrible segreto del Dr. Hichcock /THE HORRIBLE DOCTOR HITCHCOCK(Panda,1962) and Lo specttro /THE GHOST (Panda,1963).

• However, Freda had a career in cinema that lasted from 1937 (Lasciate ogni speranza /LEAVE ALL HOPE ,Juventus Film) until 1994 (La fille de d’Artagnan /REVENGE OF THE MUSKETEERS ,Canal+ )starting and ending his career as a writer.

• Writer Roberto Curti of Cortona Italy has done a remarkable job tracking down an amazing amount of information on Freda’s life and career.His love for the subject comes though with his very detailed synopses of these rarely seen (outside of certain countries), providing the history behind many of them, production facts, and their success or failure in various territories as well as changes made to them .

Curti uses Freda’s memoir Divoratori di celluloide (Emme Edizioni (1981),164 pages)as a starting point ,but also researching though film magazines and newspapers from several countries, as well as tracking down and watching the titles from the director’s long career. Curti points out that the director could often be petty and recall incidents that might not always match the facts.Curti’s interviews and research sometimes contradicts what Freda put into his book.

• Still ,the Egyptian born Italian director lived La Dolce Vita, being an extravagant personal spender and gambler as well as womanizer. It is ironic that he despised films like Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (Riama,1960) as well as the entire neo-realist movement of films like Ladri di biciclette/THE BICYCLE THIEF(Ente Nazionale,1948).

He was more a storyteller who felt that film should be escapist,and take us out of reality. Not only did he have those skills, he was also able to make limited budgets look richer than they were, due to his understanding of film editing and camera placement ,as well as working with innovators like the great Mario Bava. Indeed, the short tempered Freda walked off the set of a I Vampiri ,leavinng it to be  finished by Bava. We see throughout the book that Freda had a habit of walking off set, much to the detriment of his films and career.  I Vampiri has an important place in Italian horror films ,as it was the country’s first true sound horror film (the first Italian horror film may have been Il monstro di Frankenstein(1920) a now sadly lost silent picture).

Freda had prior to I Vampiri had done a lot of regional comedies ( he cared little for the comics in many of his films ,but put in many physical gags inspired by the likes of Buster Keaton ,historical dramas and swashbucklers . Indeed ,his love of classic novels and adventure tales seemed to have merged into Caccia all’umo /LES MISERABLES( Lux,1952) ,making it more of an action thriller!

His swashbucklers seemed to have broken new ground in storytelling in Italy, being more inspired by American filmmakers than the home grown artisans. His love of tracking shots to get a lot of detail within a long take was developed during this period .Having reviewed the Italian historical drama La cena delle beffe / THE JESTER’s SUPPER* (Società Italiana Cines,1942 ,not by Freda, but by a contemporary),I would love to see more these  rarely motion pictures                (see review at https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/the-jesters-supper-dvd/ ) .

Freda also was one of the first to leap into the sword and sandal films ,even telling an earlier version of the tale of SPARTACUS(Spartaco(API,1953),released in the U.S. by RKO as SINS OF ROME ). He hopped from genre to genre with various budgets and varying success. Comedy (at which he seemed to have a lot of success),drama ,spy thrillers ,Krimi( he faced off and WON against the antagonistic Klaus Kinski) ,swashbucklers,historicals, and of course horror.

His indifference to some parts of the movies he made show with some sloppy work (in ROGER LA HONTE( Comptoir Francais du Film Production ,1966,one of his later films with a decent budget, he allows a major stunt to show clearly that a “woman” passenger is actually a stunt man since his trousers are clearly visible ),as well as his indifference to actors (he was notorious for using doubles when actors gave him any grief). Yet in staging ,he often surpassed the budget with strong imagery and tracking shots that convey a lot of information .Plus several actors who worked with him praised the director .

Curti’s book makes me want to revisit several of Freda’s films and seek out some of his rarities. Curti has done what any film researcher should do, and that is evaluate and place into historical context the work of the subject.

McFarland is to be commended once again for putting out such a detailed volume about a filmmaker not as well known as perhaps he should be. Each film has b&w illustrations of the film posters or on set photographs, The graphics are sharp and easy to see.

This is a MUST HAVE for lovers of film, especially for those who love Euro-Cinema.

Highly Recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick

 

                  "Acquista il libro o ti farò del male ..."

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The Jester’s Supper (DVD)

SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE DVD REVIEW
THE JESTER’S SUPPER (La Cena delle Beffe) 1942 Italy 82 minutes B&W –Historical Drama – $19.95 from CAV Distributing Corp / One 7 Movies. Region 0 DVD available through http://www.oldies.com/product-view/83234O.html as well as Amazon and others.

 

 
Thanks to Turner Classics, I have been on a foreign film binge of late so the arrival of this DVD could not have been better timed.

 

 

 
The film THE JESTER’S SUPPER (la Cena delle Beffe) was an extremely popular costume drama produced during WWII. For those who think Italian Cinema began with the neo- realists after the war, this film will come as something of a revelation. With the output from Hollywood cut off, the Italian populace truly embraced their home grown productions. The Fascist government, under son, Vittorio, realized the power of film, sponsor movies (even constructing Cinecittà studios) but their films were mostly of a propaganda nature. However, they also produced comedies and historical dramas that rivaled American productions with their artistry and skills.

 
THE JESTER’S SUPPER is based upon a popular play by the Italian writer Sem Benelli, which was first staged in Italy in 1909. In 1919 the play was put on in New York City . The play was the basis for an opera La cena delle beffe composed by Umberto Giordano with a libretto written by Benelli himself. It premiered at La Scala Opera House in 1924.

 

 

 

The film was shot at Cinecitta using leftover sets from a previous big budget epic from 1941 La corona di ferro (The Iron Crown). Set in Renaissance era, two aristocratic brothers, Neri (Amadeo Nazzari) & Gabriello (Alfredo Varelli ) Chiaramantesi, have been abusing the people of Florence with impunity due to their power and station. Things begin to change when Neri dares to ravage Ginevera (Clara Calamai) in front of her lover Giannetto Malespini (Giannetto Malespini) then toss him into the river. He survives, and what happens next is a tale of revenge best served Italian style.

 

 
Amadeo Nazzari, usually a hero, was cast against type and played the lecherous villain here. He usually sported a mustache and I could see why .Even clean shaven, here he resembles Errol Flynn. Amazingly, he turned down Mussolini’s request to join the Fascist Party and yet continued to have a successful career during the War years. He played a movie star (!) in Fellini’s classic Le notti di Cabiria/ NIGHTS OF CABRIA (1957).

 
Valentina Cortese, then 19, appearing as Lisabetta, is perhaps best remembered (she is still alive at this writing, age 94!) for her Oscar nominated turn in Truffaut’s La Nuit américaine /DAY FOR NIGHT (1973).

 


THE JESTER’s SUPPER boasts one of Italian Cinema’s first topless nudity scenes, when actress Clara Calamai has her top torn from her by the lustful Neri. In interviews, Calamai had not wanted to do the scene, but felt compelled to by the director. That quick flash of nudity is a reason that people went to see the film again and again. Though often cited as the first bit of nudity in an Italian sound film, Vittoria Carpi showed a bare breast for a moment in THE IRON CROWN/La corona di ferro  (1941)   which was also directed by Blasetti. Horror fans may recall Calamai from Dario Argento’s Profondo rosso /DEEP RED (1975) coming out of retirement to portray the eccentric matriarch, Marta.

A kissing scene and the topless scene both appear in the final montage of CINEMA PARADISO (1988).( http://www.filmsite.org/cinemaparadisokisses.html )
Some of the performers did not live long after WWII. Due to their Fascists leanings, both Osvaldo Valenti and his pregnant mistress Luisa Ferida, who appeared in several movies together, were executed without trail on the streets by partisans.


Director Alessandro Blasetti was called the father of Italian Cinema because he led to the revival of Italian Cinema in the 1930s and becoming one of the leading figures during the Fascist era. He is also known as one of the first directors of what became Italian neorealism with his 1942 film Quattro passi Fra le nuvole /FOUR STEPS IN THE CLOUDS. Amazingly, even though he seemed to have strong ties with the Fascists government, it does not seem to have affected his career, as he is listed as having made films after the War from 1946 to 1969.

 

 
The print used by ONE7 MOVIES is incredibly sharp, with just a little digital artifacting appearing on certain shots. The subtitles (which have an on/off option) are quite easy to read .The sound is clear and the score by Giuseppe Becce sounds rich even in its original mono sound. The only extra is a brief photo gallery that appears to be frame blow ups.

 

 

 
Raccomandato (recommended!).
-Kevin G Shinnick

(originally published on SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS FACEBOOK PAGE,May 18, 2015. Updated May 7,2017)

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THE VAMPIRE BAT(Restored)

THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933) –FILM DETECTIVE (BLU RAY ) $19.99. Restored. Release date : April 25,2017 . 63 min. Region 1. B&W with tinted sequences. https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Bat-Special-Detective-Restored/dp/B01LTIAUJ2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490377335&sr=8-1&keywords=vampire+bat+the+film+detective+restored+version

Also available on DVD for $14.99.
Throw out those other public domain videos and DVDs that you may have of this 1933 film. Film Detective has just released a magnificent UCLA Film and TV Archive restoration that reveals details often lost in murky and dark copies of this film. Not only that, there is an hereto unseen (at least by this writer) hand tinted sequence that alone makes this disc a must have.

Majestic Pictures began releasing films in 1925 under the state’s rights system of distribution. Unlike the major studios who had hubs throughout the country ,smaller independents would sell or lease their product on a local, territorial basis . The distributors would each handle a certain region (or sometimes just a certain state) and release the films in that territory.

In 1935, Herbert J Yates, who owned the Consolidated Film Industries film developing laboratories, decided that he wanted to get into direct film production .Six smaller independents were forced to merge under the new Republic banner or face foreclosure on outstanding lab bills. Among the studios that were folded under the new banner was Majestic. Until then, Majestic produced slicker fare than many of their other rivals, using bigger name stars and renting out space from larger motion picture companies.

Among Majestic’s releases were THE SINS OF NORA MORAN (1933) starring Zita Johann (best remembered for starring in Universal’s 1932 classic THE MUMMY), THE WORLD GONE MAD(also 1933, with Pat O’Brien,Evelyn Brent ,and Neil Hamilton (later tv’s Commissioner Gordon on BATMAN) and the first sound version of THE SCARLET LETTER(1934) starring Colleen Moore and Henry B Walthall (a D.W. Griffith stock company star,who had played the same role of Chillingworth in the 1926 silent version). Certain Majestic Pictures were produced by real estate developer Phil Goldstone . Goldstone was wealthy enough that he could invest in movies while the rest of the country was suffering through the effects of the Stock Market Crash and Depression.

That may be one of the ways that he was able to afford to rent the Universal European Street sets (destroyed in a fire in 1967) as well as many studio interior sets, giving their low budget THE VAMPIRE BAT such a polished look. Also helpful was their hiring of such well known stars as Fay Wray and Lionel Atwill (making this their third hiss and scream pairing, the previous being W.B.’s DOCTOR X (1932) and MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1933),as well as Dwight Frye (Broadway star now doomed to forever play variations of twitchy half mad characters due to his outstanding performance in Universal’s DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN (both1931) )and Melvyn Douglas (fresh off of Universal’s THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932) and playing in a similar light disbelieving manner) .

Director Frank R Strayer had been directing films since the mid 1920s and had done the poverty row THE MONSTER WALKS (Ralph M Like Productions,1932) prior to getting this assignment. He directed in a fast ,no nonsense style, but also had some fairly elaborate camera set ups and moves in this picture that are quite effective .

Later, Strayer would direct CONDEMNED TO LIVE (Invincible ,1935 )another vampire film variant that like THE VAMPIRE BAT also at one point used Bronson Canyon.

 

Screenwriter Edward T Lowe,Jr had written the earlier mentioned WORLD GONE MAD and later moved up to bigger studio productions, writing several Charlie Chan and Bulldog Drummond films , before returning to vampires with his one two punch of HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (Universal,1944)and HOUSE OF DRACULA (Universal ,1945).

 

Cinematographer Ira H. Morgan had begun with Gaumont News before switching to lensing features . His sound era films seem all to be for smaller studios like PRC (FOG ISLAND,1945),his last work being for Bert I Gordon,THE CYCLOPS(Allied Artists,1957),filming once again around – Bronson Canyon!! His other work is always competent, but never as assured as it seems to be in THE VAMPIRE BAT.

 

Charles D Hall is credited with art direction, but his work on this project may have been minor, as again it mostly standing sets on the Universal backlot.

 

Set in a fairytale -like Teutonic Village of Kleinschloss (German for small castle,so even the budget affected the name ! ),the setting,like many Universal horror films of the 1930s, is a mix of modern day (the outfits and medical equipment )and unnamed past era (the village and villagers).

 

Several of the local villagers have been found drained of blood with two puncture marks upon their throat. The Burgomeister (Lionel Belmore, the Burgomeister from FRANKENSTEIN, and a council member in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN(1939,Universal),talking of type casting!)and the village elders suspect it to be the work of a vampire. The Police Chief Karl (Melvyn Douglas) pooh poohs these notions . He turns to Dr Niemann (Lionel Atwill) . Niemann does not dismiss the villagers ideas out of hand ,much to Karl’s annoyance. Making it easier is Karl’s romance with the lovely Ruth (Fay Wray).

 

Suspicion falls on village simpleton Herman (Dwight Frye)who has the innocence of a child ,but has an odd habit of keeping bats as pets .

 

Padding the film out to a feature length is (not very) comic relief is Karl’s hypochondriac Aunt Gussie (Maude Eburne,theatre trained actress who often played humorous characters, and appeared in films like THE BAT WHISPERS (United Artists,1930)and the little seen Columbia thriller FOG (1933). Here, you really want the killer to get her,though it is more the writing than her performance.

THE VAMPIRE BAT title is a bit misleading, as the ending veers a bit into a science fiction explanation. Still, it remains a superb example of early Gothic horror,and at a crisp 63 minutes, does not overstay its welcome.

As stated earlier ,the FILM DETECTIVE print comes from a restored fine grain print and it is indeed a revelation.The image is incredibly sharp ,and details often lost in more murky prints now stand out. For example, early in the film, the town lamplighter Kringen (George E Stone) looks up at the rooftops late at night. In the past, we could never see what he was staring at, but now we see a shadowy leap from one roof to another ! Miss Wray is photographed beautifully,with her natural red hair rather than the blonde look so familiar to all from KING KONG (RKO,1933).

 

 

Most interesting is seeing a sequence with the villagers carrying torches ,the flames of which have been hand tinted red yellow and orange. It is quite eye catching and I was unaware that it had ever been done to this film. Hand tinting had been used in other films to give them a bit of punch . Bela Lugosi’s THE DEATH KISS (K.B.S.,1932)hand tinted a few frames of a gun firing for a shock effect . Other films were often tinted for effect, but not so easy was the hand tinting used in these films.

 

Besides the magnificent print, FILM DETECTIVE has also for the first time that I am aware of added a commentary track. They have chosen film historian (he had worked on the film magazine SCREEN THRILLS ILLUSTRATED) and film producer/director Samuel M Sherman (Independent International). Sam is a very nice and knowledgeable man, but he needed a co-commentator to keep him focused. His commentary track is quite monotonic and often sounds as if he is reading from notes ,and for lengths of time does not comment on the action on screen.

 

What he does do is provide incredible research on producer Phil Goldstone (how he generously allowed soldiers to stay gratis in his hotels rather than have them stay on the streets,as well as how he got into film production) as well as who did the actual hand tinting of the film (Gustav Brock).

The other extra is a newly shot featurette with the son of Melvyn Douglas, Gregory Hassleberg.
(Melvyn) Gregory Hesselberg was born in 1926 to Douglas and his first wife Rosalind Hightower .When they divorced, Gregory stayed with his mother and did not see his father for years. Douglas married actress Helen Gahagan (SHE ,RKO,1935)and later Douglas petitioned and won the right for Gregory to live with them . Gregory Hassleberg has fond memories of his father,coming to discover how truly talented he was by watching him perform. It is a nice little insight into the fine actor.

FILM DETECTIVE is to be highly commended for this release, and it deserves to be added to the collection of every classic horror film buff.

Recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick

Don’t forget to vote for SCARLET for this year’s RONDO AWARDS (2016) under category #17, best website or blog of 2016. Thank you.

http://rondoaward.com/rondoaward.com/blog/

 

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When Comedy Was King

when comedy was king

WHEN COMEDY WAS KING (VCI) DVD $19.99 DVD | 1 DISC | 81 minutes | 1960 | B&W | NR | English language | 1.37:1 | Dolby Digital Mono | All REGION /

http://www.vcientertainment.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=1096

Back before the easy availability of YouTube, Turner Classic Movies, and Home Video, it was not always easy to see classic films. You had to scour the television guides and hopefully a classic film would be airing on one of the smaller channels. If you lived in a larger city, you might have a revival movie house that would for one or two days show a film made long before you birth.

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Robert Youngson was a documentary film producer who loved bringing the past to movie goers. From 1948 to 1956, he produced a series of nostalgia laden short subjects for Warner Brothers, most often using old silent movie clips. They were popular enough to win Youngson Six Academy Award Nominations for Best Live Action Short Films (One Reel), winning two in the process.

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Youngson made a feature length historical documentary in 1950 for Warner Brothers called FIFTY YEARS BEFORE YOUR EYES. Rumored to have taken three years to make, the look back over the first half of the Twentieth Century was narrated by Arthur Godfrey and came and went with little fanfare.

1996

When Warner Brothers and the other studios began shutting down their short subject departments, Youngson decided to chance another full-length feature. With his contract with Warner Brothers over, he at first contracted with a small distributor, Distributors Corporation of America (DCA). DCA existed from 1952-59, beginning as a releasing company for foreign films like ALRAUNE (1952) and ANIMAL FARM (1954). The company folded after it released PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE (1959). Before that happened, they released Robert Youngson’s  THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY  (1957). The compilation was later picked up and got a wider distribution from Twentieth Century Fox.

The film was successful enough that it brought a renewed popularity for Laurel & Hardy who featured strongly in the documentary. Sadly, Oliver Hardy died in August of that year, and Stan Laurel retired, so they didn’t personally get to take advantage of this renewed interest, though their films were now being shown regularly on television.

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Three years later, WHEN COMEDY WAS KING was released (by Twentieth Century Fox) and was again a popular success. Once again, the film opened with Chopin’s Etude Op. 10, No. 3 that was used under Youngson’s credit on his films from 1957. Many feel that this is the best of his compilation films , though I would say that this and DAYS OF THRILLS & LAUGHTER (Fox,1961,also available from VCI on DVD http://www.vcientertainment.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=507 ) which covers a wider range of films are tied for  his best , but it is nit picking on my part.

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Once again, Youngson put together a wonderful collection of clips from the golden age of silent comedy. While there are clips of Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, the film also brought Ben Turpin, Harry Langdon, and Mabel Normand among others back into the public view. The movie was well reviewed (“Here’s a toast to this sort of comedy !”-Bosley Crowther, NY Times, March 30,1960) and financially successful.

Youngson made six more feature compilations before his untimely passing at age 54 in 1974. His wife Jeanne Keyes Youngson, by the way, has had an interesting career of her own. An animator and documentarian, she produced a short called “MY NAME IS DEBBIE” about a post-operative male to female as well as helping to found The Count Dracula Fan Club in 1965.In 2000 they changed their name to The Vampire Empire.

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V.C.I. has done a marvelous job on this release. Sprocket Vault and Kit Parker Films went out and retimed and corrected footage from the original 35 mm negative (which had been in a series of mislabeled film cans. Having worked in a film storage house, I saw firsthand how common this problem was and how easy it was for films to get lost or dissolving Nitrate films).

I know that Kit has a lot more classic films coming down the pike, so I just want to make sure he gets the credit, where credit is due.

Best regards,

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The picture quality of this DVD is as perfect as one could hope (some film deterioration had already started happening from the original silent elements that Youngson had used, and so this compilation is also important as film PRESERVATION as well).

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A nice new addition is a very informative running commentary by Richard M Roberts, a collector and silent film historian who I first heard of as programmer for Slapsticon, where many a rare two reeler was unspooled. Not only does he speak about the films shown, but also about director Youngson. I kept smiling at our common reference points like Blackhawk Films, where many a collector could buy many a classic film on 8mm and 16mm. I also chuckled at how his detestation of collector Raymond Rohauer is palpable. Rohauer (or as my friends referred to him*** You Raymond Rohauer”) was falsely claiming to own rights to certain classics, which kept many like Universal’s THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932) out of the public eye, as well as nuisance lawsuits on films like BIRTH OF A NATION (D.W. Griffith/Epoch,1914).

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If that was not enough, Richard M Roberts has added three rare bonus short silent, with a piano score by Donald Sosin, who has been providing music for silent films for 45 years! Roberts provides more informative commentary on these shorts.

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AN ELEPHANT ON HIS HANDS (Security ,1920) Hughey Mack gets a letter that he is getting an inheritance which turns out to be TWO elephants. The title card is different from the rest of the titles, making me think that it was from a 16mm home collector release. His wife is not amused. This film is not restored, but is such a rarity I am grateful that it exists at all. Dot Farley plays a comic maid.

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FAST & FURIOUS (Educational,1924) seems to be complete with original titles. Director Norman Taurog had a long film career, including directing several Elvis movies! Star Lige Conley somewhat resembles Chaplin when he was out of his Tramp makeup and does some amazing physical work, including a high fall from a ladder onto a countertop. . Nothing to do with later Vin Diesel films, Conley works in a store and his misadventures. There is a cute bit of stop motion in the short. The films second half earn the film its title with chase by motorbike, car and even atop a moving train (so maybe it did inspire Vin Diesel =)). It reminded me of the short PLAY SAFE (Pathe,1927) starring Monte Banks that appears in DAYS OF THRILLS & LAUGHTER.

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Finally, A TON OF FUN in HEAVY LOVE (Standard,1926), a Joe Rock produced comedy. Joe Rock, a former stunt man/comedian, he had produced several of the early Stan Laurel solo comedies. The Three Fatties (as they were referred to) Frank Alexander, Hilliard Karr and Kewpie Ross are carpenters. The big men do some very physical comedy that belies their size, though their weight is often the catalyst for much of their comedy. This film seems to be in the best shape of the three (some frame jitter appears). It reminded me of the Buster Keaton comedy ONE WEEK(Metro,1920).

 

You must play the three shorts in order, without the option of picking and choosing. A minor problem, as you will want to see them all.

If you are a lover of classic silent comedies, or want to introduce someone to them, WHEN COMEDY WAS KING is the film you need.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

-Kevin G Shinnick

March 8,2017 UPDATE :  I gave VCI most of the credit for this new release. However, I was informed that most of the credit for this new DVD release should go to Kit Parker’s new DVD LABEL : THE SPROCKET VAULT . 

 VCI did work with Kit to digitally restore the new HD master and authored the DVD, but this is a Sprocket Vault release. Thank you to those involved for the correction .

VCI is the releasing company of DAYS OF THRILLS AND LAUGHTER though.

Kit Parker, I am also told,  has a lot more classic films coming ,and I look forward to seeing.

PSThe 2017 Rondo Awards were just announced .

http://rondoaward.com/rondoaward.com/blog/

SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS (https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/) was somehow overlooked.

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When you vote, would you write in SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS ( https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/)
under the category #17 BEST WEBSITE OR BLOG ?

Thank you .

Deadline to vote April 17,2017.

*REST IN PEACE ROBERT OSBORNE *

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VOTE FOR SCARLET

The 2017 Rondo Awards were just announced .

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SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS  (https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/)  was somehow overlooked.

When you vote, would you write in SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS                                     ( https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/)

under the category #17 BEST WEBSITE OR BLOG ?

Thank you .

Deadline to vote April 17,2017.

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ANY WAY I CAN: 50 YEARS IN SHOW BUSINESS by John Gay with Jennifer Gay Summers

SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE BOOK REVIEW

ANY WAY I CAN: 50 YEARS IN SHOW BUSINESS by John Gay with Jennifer Gay Summers

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$19.95 BEAR MANOR MEDIA 240 pages

Available via

http://www.jennifergaysummers.com/book.php

or
Available at BEAR MANOR MEDIA

 http://www.bearmanormedia.com/any-way-i-can-50-years-in-show-business-by-john-gay-with-jennifer-gay-summers

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Many people know the actors who star in their favorite shows and movies, and others know the directors. The person who is most forgotten is the writer, the person who basically creates the world in which the stories take place.

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One of these artists is screen, teleplay, and stage play writer John Gay. Now Mr. Gay, with the assist of one of his children, daughter Jennifer Gay Summers, has put out his autobiography.jennifer-gay-summers1

 

And what a fascinating life it is. The California born Mr. Gay talks about the lure of acting and how it drew him across country (after serving our country in WWII ) to become an actor. Working in summer stock, he soon gained a great deal of experience as well as meeting his partner and wife Barbara “Bobbie” Meyer.

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Venturing to New York, their attempts at gaining acting work led them to entering the new media of television ,broadcasting live several nights a week from the top of the New Amsterdam Theatre (the former home of the Ziegfeld Follies and now the House of Mouse where the hit musical ALADDIN currently resides).o

 

The show, APARTMENT 3C had only two actors (the husband and wife team) and due to the low budgets, Gay had to also write the shows himself! The program became the second show broadcast from fledgling station WOR in 1949. A modest hit, it gave John Gay not only an extra avenue for revenue but a career for which he would greatly excel.brewster_fig35

Their second show ,MR & MRS MYSTERY had a larger budget (they were allowed to hire other actors ) and Mr. Gay was able to parlay those into other writing assignments for the Golden Age of Television (KRAFT TELEVISON THEATRE ,PLAYHOUSE 90 )and crossing paths with such greats as Rod Sterling and Sidney Lumet.wor_tv_xmtr_room_color

 

His first screenwriting assignment was for the Burt Lancaster /Clark Gable submarine drama RUN SILENT RUN DEEP (1958/UA). His second screenplay earned him an Oscar nomination (along with co-writer Terrence Rattigan) for SEPARATE TABLES (1958/UA).h

 

From there he was now a full-fledged screenwriter, working with the likes of Vincente Minnelli (twice, neither of which were happy experiences) as well as actors like Rod Steiger (twice, in two gems well worth seeking out (NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY (1968 Paramount) and HENNESSY (AIP 1976)) and Paul Newman (SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION 1971/Universal).gd

 

He nearly worked with science fiction great Ray Bradbury on the troubled production of WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART, which remained unmade until Clint Eastwood and different writers turned it in a feature.

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In the 1970s, when television really began turning out movies of the week and adaptations of classics, Mr. Gay seemed to have been involved with almost every great production. Many of my well-remembered favorites had a title mentioning John Gay as the Adaptor or Teleplay By credit. KILL ME IF YOU CAN (NBC,1977) had Alan Alda embody killer Caryl Chessman ; Anthony Hopkins as THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (CBS HALLMARK ,1982) ; LES MISERABLES (CBS HALLMARK 1978) and so many others. Plus he did superior TV remakes of mystery classics DIAL M FOR MURDER (ABC, 1981) WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (CBS HALLMARK 1982), and SHADOW OF A DOUBT (NBC HALLMARK 1991). The list goes on and on .f

 

 

He took his skill as a story teller to the stage, having VINCENT PRICE remind people what a brilliant and versatile actor he truly was in DIVERSIONS & DELIGHTS, a play about Oscar Wilde. Price took the play all over the world, doing well everywhere but NYC (when the New York Times critics could still kill a show).

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Mr. Gay is a wonderful writer, telling his life story with wit, good grace and honesty. Indeed, it is one of the few books that I have read lately that I wish had been longer (Mr. Gay dismisses his work on the troubled George Pal science fiction film THE POWER (MGM, 1968) with just a line or two).b

Having turned 92 this past April,2016 , we are pleased that he and his daughter have shared his wonderful story with us. I have been careful not to give too much away so that you can discover the wonderful life of John Gay within the pages of ANY WAY I CAN.a

 

RECOMMENDED.

Kevin G Shinnick

Full Disclosure: I have been in contact with the author and his charming daughter for several years now as I attempted and finally successfully directed the first NYC Equity Production of DIVERSIONS & DELIGHTS in 35 years. The chapters 40 and 43 deal with this wonderful gem of a play.

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originally published March 30,2015  SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE Facebook page

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LOST SOULS: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR MOREAU

SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS BLU RAY

LOST SOULS: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR MOREAUSeverin BLU RAY $20.00 -2014 – 100 Min.

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Order direct at https://severin-films.com/product-category/blu-ray/

This documentary rates up there with LOST IN LA MANCHA (2003) on the horrors and misadventures of filmmaking and what might have been.

 

 
Director David Gregory (the underrated PLAGUE TOWN,Severin 2008) has tracked down many of the players in the production that became a John Frankenheimer (SECONDS, 1966) movie and in Rashomon fashion, we hear of the genesis of the project to what was finally released.

 

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Gregory also explores the history of the 1896 H.G. Wells novel ‘Island Of Doctor Moreau “, which even in itself was surrounded by controversy and Wells’ accusing Joseph Conrad of plagiarism for his 1899 work “Hearts of Darkness”.

 

 

Coming off the relative success of HARDWARE (1990, available from DVD from Severin) and the studio interference on DUST DEVIL (1992, seek out Subversive Cinema Director’s cut which is the most extant version), Richard Stanley was a relatively hot property.14

 
Stanley, then in his 30s, was excited when New Line Cinema greenlit Stanley’s proposed remake. The film that he had proposed from existing drawings would have been a hellish present day reflection on God and Religious ideals (one sketch has Moreau holding a new born creation with the operating light forming a halo around his head as in the background his creatures in surgical gear lick the blood off the instruments.).

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(Doc says no to  AIP version-nom nom nom nom)

The director hated the 1977 version that AIP had released (no footage is used from this version) and his version seemed to want to create the entire world that the creatures lived in.

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Problems began when the studio attached big name stars like Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer, whose egos ballooned as fast as the budget for the film. Due to them, other actors left (James Wood, replaced by David Thewlis, and Rob Morrow, who saw the train wreck about to happen).

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Nature seemed to conspire against them too, as the locale chosen and weather conditions threatened several times to shut the production down. Finally, the studio decided to remove Richard Stanley as director, and desperately sought out a replacement. With only a week prep, John Frankenheimer who had stayed away from the genre since the disastrous mutant bear horror PROPHECY (Paramount ,1979), took over with a new cinematographer and rewrites happening constantly during the course of the remaining filming.

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(I’m sure John Frankenheimer wasn’t smiling often on this set)

This documentary is actually longer than the released ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU (New Line 1996) but has a much more involving story to tell.

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(Director Richard Stanley before the purge)

16Several of the participants had passed on before this documentary was shot (Brando ,Frankenheimer, the 2’4” Nelson de la Rosa(the inspiration for the later Mini Me in The Austin Powers films )) while Val Kilmer seemingly declined defending the myriad comments that showed him to be a “dick” .Also M.I.A.  is Mike Thewlis, but almost everyone else in front and before the camera still with us ,from background Aborigine performers, to the makeup team to the production office to stars ,the charming Marco Hofschneider (EUROPA EUROPA,Orion,U.S.release 1990) and Fairuza Balk, (RETURN TO OZ,Disney 1986) .

 

 
Also on this must have disc is  a lot of amazing behind the scenes video footage shot at the time during production captures the madness and creativity that went on for the six month gestation of the beast that was ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU.

 
Director Stanley seems to have gone into seclusion in France since the madness and frustrations of that film, working on some shorts and screenplays in the interim. Let us hope that he might be tempted back to make an independent production.13
Extras on the blu ray include extended interviews , Graham Humphreys concept drawings, an archive John Frankenheimer interview, a Barbara Steele interview(yes at one time she was involved),and more.

 

 
This is a must have item for general film fans and horror collectors. I have been cautious not to give away many of the surprises in the production as you should discover them for yourselves and shake your head in disbelief that films get made at all!

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Two hoofs turning into thumbs up!!HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.

-Kevin G Shinnick

Other versions of ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU:
ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932) CRITERION Blu ray and DVD .
TERROR IS A MAN (1959) Alpha dvd
TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1972) VCI DVD
ISLAND OF DR MOREAU (1977) MGM DVD
ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU (1996) New Line DVD

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED https://www.facebook.com/SCARLETreviews/posts/1605625319676422

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THE QUIET MAN ( Olive Films Signature Blu Ray)


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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”).

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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

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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.

 

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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

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

 

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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/ ) .

 

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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

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ROCK ‘N’ROLL MONSTERS: THE AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL STORY

ROCK ‘N’ROLL MONSTERS: THE AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL STORY by Bruce Hallenbeck (Hemlock Books) paperback pages 280 published August ,2016

rock-n-roll-monsters-the-american-international-story-2016-book-bruce-g-hallenbeck
U.K. £16.25 http://www.hemlockbooks.co.uk/Shop/category/7
U.S.: $47.85   https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Monsters-American-International/dp/0993398936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477073892&sr=8-1&keywords=rock+n+roll+monsters

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Author /film historian Bruce Hallenbeck has published another must have book for lovers of movies. After giving us wonderful books on many of the British companies Amicus and Hammer, Bruce Hallenbeck turns his focus on the little upstart company that grew and challenged the majors in areas where they could not or did not compete. American International Pictures finally began to become a major, only to find that the other studios were now churning out higher end versions of the type of movies that AIP had done, and so the studio vanished into corporate buyouts after 26 years.aiplogo001

AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES began when studios began to lose audiences to television. Small independent producers began to create their own films outside the studio system after the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., 334 US 131 (1948) forced theatres to divest themselves from owning theatres and keeping out other producers.aip_logo_2_4200

Rock ‘n’ Roll Monsters: The American International Story is a 2016 book by Bruce G Hallenbeck (The Amicus Anthology; The Hammer Frankenstein; The Hammer Vampire), published by British-based Hemlock Books.
In the early 1950s, the traditional American film industry was facing a crisis due to one thing: television. Two men from totally different backgrounds pooled their talents and tapped into the burgeoning ‘teenage’ market, and American International Pictures was born.gw228h126

Founded by James H. Nicholson, a fantasy /science fiction horror fan (he had known Forrest J Ackerman since High School and had even published an early fanzine together) who had worked his way through the industry up to writing campaigns for Realart’s re-releases of Universal horror classics.

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When Realart distributed MAN MADE MONSTER (Universal,1941) under the title ATOMIC MONSTER*, producer Alex Gordon had a script with the same title, he sought a legal settlement. The lawyer he brought had been seeking an entrance into film production by the name of Samuel Z. Arkoff. Arkoff got Gordon a $500 settlement but more important the three men all hit it off with their similar love of making movies. In a strange way, Universal had created a monster that rose to challenge their status as a maker of creature features.james
Nicholson and Arkoff sought completed product to start their new company. They had tested the waters with a small documentary in 1953 called OPERATION MALAYA released by their company AMERICAN RELEASING CORPORATION. **     The man credited as producer on that film also became an important component to the company’s development, Herman Cohen.

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However, the company had its first real success when they met the filmmaker who made them a viable entity, Roger Corman. The filmmaker had a film called THE FAST & THE FURIOUS (1954, released nationally in 1955). He had been thinking of having another studio distribute his film, but after being taken around by Nicholson to the various sub distributors, he was so impressed that he decided to take a chance with the new company.

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With borrowed money to keep the doors open, the film became profitable enough that company was off and running. The studio was also smart enough to capitalize on a market that the major studios were neglecting, teenagers.

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While many of their early films starred older performers, as the company developed, younger actors took the spotlight and became the heroes and heroines. Young audiences responded with their newly available dollars.
As the 1960s began, the studios moved into more expensive productions, and made Edgar Allan Poe a hot property.
Bruce Hallenbeck tells the story of the studio with clarity and affection, and has done a lot of research. His choice of mostly British lobby cards is most welcome to an American fan of the genre such as myself.

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Towards the final portion of the book, there is a sense of rushing to the end. That may be because of editorial choices wishing to keep the book under the mass of a Stephen King novel. One wishes that the author had been allowed to expand his research into two books, as there is a very rich history. Also, except for a few brief references, Nicholson’s contribution to the success of the company is often overlooked and Arkoff’s a bit overblown. Several people felt that Nicholson was the creative force behind the studio, and several of the artists disliked dealing with the crude Arkoff.

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That said, the book, like all of Hallenbeck’s studio studies as well as Hemlock Books, is definitely worth picking up.
Recommended.983210008d258dcf6b992681e83b3c4e
-Kevin G Shinnick

 
*-This was a script that Alex Gordon had co-written with Ed Wood that was also known as ‘Bride of The Atom” before finally being titled BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1955, released through Banner Productions, oddly, not ARC / A.I.P.)ghost-in-the-invisible-bikini-still-gorilla

**-if you were not a major company, you had your film distributed by several small regional sub distributors.

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