Bits BD Review – Jim Hemphill on Henry Hathaway’s 1954 western Garden of Evil from Twilight Time https://t.co/1dv9ZM2buy
1. THE BIG SLEEP – Warner Bros did a great job with this classic film noir when they first released it on DVD including the release version we’ve come to know and love and an earlier version which had a plot that made a lot more sense, but a lot less crackerjack dialogue and Bogie/Bacall banter. A great looking film with some of the best dialogue ever to grace the silver screen, it’s time to see this come to BD. And if you think Dick Powell in Murder, My Sweet (albeit, also a terrific film as well) is a better Marlowe than Bogie, you need to hire a detective to find your missing taste.
2. THE COMPLETE WOODY ALLEN COLLECTION – Despite the dearth of special features, America’s greatest living filmmaker has been treated so shabbily on Blu. Random releases occasionally are dropped unceremoniously out, usually before Oscar time. So while Annie Hall, Manhattan, Sleeper and Hannah & Her Sisters have all come to disc, many of his early classics such as Bananas, Love and Death, Zelig, Stardust Memories and Radio Days have not. After the implosion of Orion Pictures, Allen’s films ended up at various studios ranging from DreamWorks (the triumph of Match Point), Miramax (the sublimely brilliant Everyone Says I Love You and the hysterical Bullets Over Broadway) to Fox Searchlight (the underrated Melinda & Melinda) to New Line (the wildly underappreciated Deconstructing Harry and the great Sweat & Lowdown) so it’d be hard to do a license deal that would curate all of them, but even a box set of his United Artists and Orion classics would be welcome. Shockingly, however, Crimes and Misdemeanors, another of Woody’s greatest 80s classics, just got licensed to Twilight Time (as did the slight, but amusing Broadway Danny Rose) which means it’s a limited edition for collector’s only. It does such a disservice to a major work of cinema by relegating to a pricey, limited release specialty label. How Criterion has not gotten a shot at these, I’ll never know, but Woody’s work deserves a major box set collection with substantive liner notes at the very least.
3. THE HUNGER – The late, great Tony Scott’s 1983 adaptation of Whitley Streiber’s novel may not be a classic, but it is a slick and smart adult vampire film. David Bowie gives a memorable performance and the opening montage is one of the great horror film openings ever. Even though it doesn’t make a lot of sense by the end, it’s an important part of the Tony Scott ouvere and deserves to be seen on Blu-ray.
4. MULLHOLLAND DRIVE – While rumors of a Criterion version abound, no official announcement has been made. A David Lynch classic. Twin Peaks would be in this slot, but CBS will be releasing the title later this year and I can’t wait. Lynch mobs are forming already and it’d be great to get a definitive look at how this busted ABC TV pilot became one of the best film releases of 2001.
5. TOUGH GUYS DON’T DANCE – Norman Mailer’s sole directorial outing is perhaps one of the worst and most egregiously over-the-top movies ever made. And for Cannon Films, no less. Go figure. With a laugh-out-loud performance by Ryan O’Neal and a brilliantly testosterone fuelled tour de force by Born To Kill and Reservoir Dogs Lawrence Tierney, Touch Guys Don’t Dance is one of the great unsung pulp noir melodramas that you owe yourself to watch once. I saw it in a theater and am still laughing. And stick it out, the ending’s a classic. Oh man, oh god, oh man, oh god…
6. THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST – James Coburn in this subversive Paramount 60s comedy in which he plays the analyst to a faux JFK president who everyone wants dead. Especially the phone company. And it’s Paramount so they’d probably license it to anyone who wants it since what would they actually want with a genuine cult classic. Criterion, I’m looking at you, baby.
7. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE COMPLETE SERIES (1978) – We won the war. Why does Germany get this first? Shot in 1:85 on film, this series will look striking on HD when, and if, it ever gets to America. Teased with the 35th anniversary release of the 1978 feature, I eagerly await the day I can watch Apollo, Starbuck and Athena (especially Athena) in 1080p. And while you’re at it, we’ll take the less deserving, but enjoyably high camp Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as well for nostalgia’s sake.
8. GILDA – One of the most remarkable film noir’s ever made anchored by a great performance by Glenn Ford and the iconic Rita Hayworth who puts the blame on Mame. A dark, twisted and downright nasty little film that I can’t wait to own. And please, no Twilight Time. I want extras and I don’t want to pay laserdisc prices for a Blu-ray… but I will if I have to, damn you.
9. MUNICH – Steven Spielberg’s greatest, unappreciated masterpiece. As much as I’d love to get 1941 for its minor charms and fitful moments of comic hilarity, Munich is such a compelling thriller anchored by an ensemble of great performances and crackerjack suspense that I’m hoping to see it go Blu in 2014. Not to mention the focus of one of the funniest exchanges in Knocked Up. One of Spielberg’s most undeservedly maligned films which deserves hi-def re-appraisal.
10. THE KILLERS – Criterion did an amazing double feature of both the Robert Siodmak classic and the less impressive, but still fascinating, Don Siegel remake with Lee Marvin. I ask you, nay beg you, Criterion, please, please, please bring this to Blu-ray soon. I just don’t have the time… to wait.
And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t pay lip service to getting Star Wars, the unaltered, original versions; the only way they’re meant to be seen. A guy can dream can’t he?
So get thee to Blu-ray soon… before I start having to clamoring all over again for the 4K releases.
- Mark A. Altman
You can follow Mark's musings on Twitter at @markaaltman.