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Classic Coming Attractions by Barrie Maxwell

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Barrie Maxwell - Main Page

DVD Reviews (Standard DVD)

To complete the DVD Reviews section, here are standalone reviews of The Left Hand of God, Back Street, Housewife, Stagecoach, Juarez, and several partial seasons of TV westerns (Bonanza, Rawhide, Gunsmoke).

The Left Hand of God (1955) is a 20th Century-Fox Cinemascope production that comes to DVD courtesy of Twilight Time. It reduces further the number of Humphrey Bogart films not available on DVD.

The Left Hand of God (DVD)

The film is somewhat of an unusual one for Bogart. He is a man of action, but the film has precious little action itself. Bogart's background is that of an American pilot, Jim Carmody, forced down over China during World War 2. He is initially saved from his downed plane by Chinese warlord Yang (Lee J.Cobb) for whom he acts as a military advisor. Becoming disenchanted with Yang, Carmody assumes the identity of a murdered priest and takes on his duties as a replacement priest at a small mission. Carmody manages to carry off the impersonation, but a developing relationship with a nurse (Gene Tierney) prompts him to seek guidance from the area bishop as to how to deal with his situation. Yang re-enters Carmody's life and then an emissary from the bishop arrives, both events serving to resolve Carmody's dilemma. Despite the lack of action, the film provides an interesting journey that's well acted by Bogart with some good support from E.G. Marshall as the mission doctor and Tierney, the latter despite emotional problems in her personal life at the time. The Chinese trio of Victor Sen Yung, Philip Ahn, and Benson Fong, commonly cast in films requiring oriental characters, is a strong component of the cast too. Director Edward Dmytryk makes good use of the wide Cinemascope image. Twilight Time provides a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer that is quite clean and delivers good colour fidelity. There is a slight hint of heightened edge effects, but never strong enough to cause annoyance. Black levels are fairly deep. The stereo sound exhibits good directionality during the dialogue and a fairly dynamic feel to Victor Young's impressive score. There are no subtitles. Supplements include an isolated stereo track and an 8-page pamphlet that provides production information and a number of both black & white and colour still reproductions. Recommended.

Filming a remake of a classic evergreen item such as John Ford's Stagecoach is almost a prescription for failure, and so it mainly is with Fox's 1966 Stagecoach remake that Twilight Time has just released on DVD.

Stagecoach (DVD)

Here's a rundown of the actors in the 1966 version that replaced those in the 1939 one - Alex Cord for John Wayne, Bing Crosby for Thomas Mitchell, Ann Margret for Claire Trevor, Slim Pickens for Andy Devine, Michael Connors for John Carradine, Van Heflin for George Bancroft, Bob Cummings for Berton Churchill, Stephanie Powers for Louise Platt, Red Buttons for Donald Meek, and Keenan Wynn for Tom Tyler - enough said! The 1939's emphasis on character interaction amongst the passengers on a stagecoach bound for Lordsburg (Cheyenne in the remake) is weakened in the 1966 version and more unnecessarily brutal violence is substituted along with an extra 20 minutes of running time to little discernible advantage. The 1966 film's main disadvantage is the comparison to the Ford classic. Viewed in isolation, one would likely conclude that it's a passable western entertainment as the various principals do give it an earnest effort. Filming was done in Colorado as opposed to Ford's use of Monument Valley. Twilight Time gives the Cinemascope production a nice 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. The image is crisp and free of untoward digital manipulation. Colours are bright and accurate. The mono sound balances dialogue and sound effects well and Jerry Goldsmith's score is conveyed strongly. There are no subtitles. An isolated score is the only supplement. I'd try a rental on this one.

Fannie Hurst's novel "Back Street" about a woman's love for a married man has received several filmings by Universal over the years, including versions in 1932 (Irene Dunne, John Boles), 1941 (Margaret Sullavan, Charles Boyer), and 1961 (Susan Hayward, John Gavin).

Back Street (DVD)

The latter two versions have been packaged together in a two-DVD set and issued as part of the TCM Vault Collection by TCM and Universal jointly. The two discs are pressed DVDs, as is common with the initial offerings of titles in the TCM Vault series. It's too bad that the 1932 version was not included in the set, but what we do get is very nice indeed. Both the 1941 and 1961 films (both titled simply Back Street) have points to recommend them. Both Boyer and Sullavan are a treat to watch in the black & white 1941 effort although the script is infuriating at times. Script improvements in the 1961 version that provide a more solid characterization of the married man's wife (in the person of Vera Miles) are weighed down by the less attractive pairing of Hayward and Gavin. It also has a Douglas Sirk feel in its lush melodramatics presented in colour and produced by Ross Hunter and starring the Rock-Hudson-like John Gavin, though actually directed by David Miller. Both films look pretty good in their DVD transfers. The 1941 film is presented full frame as originally delivered theatrically and offers good contrast throughout with some deep blacks evident. There are a few speckles and scratches, but nothing to cause any great concern. The 1961 film has been given a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer that exhibits good colour fidelity and a generally sharp image. The mono soundtracks are both quite acceptable in terms of dialogue clarity. Hiss and distortion are not issues. There are no subtitles. Each title is supplemented by a selection of galleries of poster, publicity and behind-the-scenes stills, and lobby card reproductions. Recommended.

In the early part of Bette Davis's career at Warner Bros., she starred in numerous films that have since been forgotten by all but her most ardent devotees. One such effort is 1934's Housewife, in which she plays Pat, the other woman in a triangle involving advertising executive Bill (George Brent) and his wife Nan (Ann Dvorak).

Housewife (DVD)

Complicating things is one of Bill's clients played by John Halliday. The cast is an attractive ensemble and the principals work at the material earnestly, but the script is a silly one that makes one roll one's eyes more often than not. The goings-on that Nan puts up with from Bill and Pat are simply not to be believed. While not the greatest of films, Housewife does offer an interesting picture of society at the time, however. It is also good to see Davis and Brent working together. They had a fair degree of on-screen chemistry that led to their being co-starred numerous times in the 1930s and early 1940s at Warners. The film has been released in a remastered edition on a MOD disc by the Warner Archive. The image is full frame as originally released theatrically and looks quite attractive. It's sharp and bright, offering very good contrast, deep blacks, clean whites, and good shadow detail. There are a few speckles, but nothing of significance. The mono sound is in good shape. There are no subtitles and no extras. I'd try a rental on this one, unless of course you're a real Bette Davis aficionado.

Juarez (1939) was one of the later entries in Warners' line of prestige film biographies, earlier entries having dealt with the likes of Emile Zola and Louis Pasteur.

Juarez (DVD)

Following the trend of Zola and Pasteur, the title role of the Mexican 19th-century president Benito Juarez was Paul Muni's, but many of the other major Warner players found themselves involved too. Coming off best were Bette Davis as the Empress Carlotta (a scene in which she appeals to Napoleon for aid is particularly affecting), Brian Aherne as Emperor Maximilian, and Claude Rains as Napoleon III. Less effective is John Garfield as General Porfirio Diaz ( a role that Garfield never seems real in). The film looks expansively mounted and delivers enough action and interest to keep one watching. The Warner supporting stock company is well represented by the likes of Donald Crisp, Henry O'Neill, Harry Davenport, Vladimir Sokoloff, and Monte Blue among others. Direction is by William Dieterle who was well-versed in handling these sorts of epics, and maintains a sense of time and purpose throughout. Erich Wolfgang Korngold provides a fine music score that is integrated with a fine degree of restraint. The Warner Archive MOD release provides a pleasing full frame image that looks sharp and bright. Blacks are very deep, though sometimes swallowing up shadow detail excessively. Modest grain is evident. There are a number of speckles and scratches, but they're never really intrusive to the point of distraction. The mono sound is quite satisfactory in its handling of both dialogue and music. There are no subtitles and the only extra is the theatrical trailer. Recommended.

After concern earlier in 2011 over Paramount's commitment to the TV western series it had been releasing in conjunction with CBS DVD, fears have been allayed by the appearance of Bonanza: The Official Second Season, Volume 2; Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 1; and Rawhide: The Fourth Season, Volume 2.

Bonanza: The Official Second Season, Volume 2 (DVD)Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 1 (DVD)Rawhide: The Fourth Season, Volume 2 (DVD)

I've been able to sample each of them and can confirm that the same high standard of release that characterized the earlier seasons in each series has been maintained on these latest offerings. Bonanza: The Official Second Season, Volume 2 is a four-disc set that contains the final 16 one-hour episodes of the 1960-61 season. The template laid out in the first season and continued pretty much unchanged to the end of Bonanza's long run is fully evident in the second half of the second season - opportunities for each of the series' stars to have their characters take the lead in various episodes; a healthy mix of action, Cartwright family values and unity, and personal interaction; and frequent guest stars (Leif Erickson, James Coburn, Robert Lansing, Martin Landau, Peggy Ann Garner, George Kennedy, Claude Akins, and Edgar Buchanan). A number of directors try their hand at an episode including a chap named Robert Altman. The full frame images are strong, looking bright and sharp, with colour fidelity usually quite good. Speckling and debris are minor indeed. English SDH subtitling is provided. There is a nice package of supplements including audio commentaries on four episodes, an archival interview with producer David Dortort, photo galleries, and cast portraits. Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 1 is a three-disc set containing the first 20 half-hour episodes of the series' 1959-60 season. Production of the long-running series this year saw series star James Arness credited as an associate producer and the usual lengthy list of familiar director names continue (Andrew McLaglen, Jesse Hibbs, Arthur Hiller, Stuart Heisler, and Ted Post, for example). The half-hour format worked reasonably well for Gunsmoke in this fifth season, but only with the later hour-long format of the later 1960s and 1970s, did it really hit its stride as a fully effective adult western drama. The series had the usual fine selection of guest familiar faces for the fifth season too, including James Drury, John Carradine, Darryl Hickman, Jack Elam, Robert Wilke, Elisha Cook Jr., Vaughn Taylor, Percy Helton, Harry Lauter, Dabbs Greer, Josephine Hutchinson, and Simon Oakland. Paramount/CBS's full frame images are quite sharp and notably clean, with superior contrast evident and modest grain present. The mono sound is in good shape and English SDH subtitling is provided. Supplements include a welcome modest tribute to Arness (who died late this past spring) and various sponsor spots (including one featuring Arness himself). Rawhide: The Fourth Season, Volume 2 continues that fine dramatic western series' appearance on DVD. The four-disc set contains 14 hour-long episodes that maintain the series' high standard. The three principal characters of trail boss Gil Favor (Eric Fleming), ramrod Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood), and cook Wishbone (Paul Brinegar) remain intact although trail hand Pete Nolan (Sheb Wooley) is on his way out of the series as a regular. Familiar names in guest star performances continue to abound (Walter Pidgeon, Mercedes McCambridge, Harry Carey Jr., Debra Paget, Buddy Ebsen, Hugh Marlowe, Victor Jory, Cesar Romero, for example). Though there's no discernible drop-off in the series' entertainment value either in story interest or acting quality, the Paramount/CBS full frame DVD transfers, as with Volume 1 of The Fourth Season, lack the consistent sharpness and cleanliness of earlier Rawhide seasons or of other western series that Paramount is handling for CBS. The mono sound is clear enough, but some hiss and crackle is uncharacteristically present too. Supplements include a bonus episode from Season Five, a couple of episode previews, and some original sponsor spots. I'm recommending all three of these western series from Paramount/CBS, but the Bonanza and Gunsmoke ones most highly of the three.


Blu-ray Reviews

A movie like Breakfast at Tiffany's is balm to soothe any savage beast or provide solace to any human in discomfort.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Blu-ray Disc)

One can truly say of it that "they don't make them like that anymore" and more's the pity. It's a beautiful love story that draws immense benefit from the presence of the radiant Audrey Hepburn as our heroine Holly Golightly (a carefree ingenue on the prowl in Manhattan for a dream millionaire to marry), the evergreen strains of Henry Mancini's glorious "Moon River" theme (with Johnny Mercer), the somewhat surprisingly effective work by George Peppard as Hepburn's male counterpart in the love story, and the inventive work by director Blake Edwards in bringing to life vignettes merely alluded to in the script (such as the party in Holly's apartment). The work of the principals is enhanced by a solid supporting cast that includes Patricia Neal, Martin Balsam, Buddy Ebsen, and Mickey Rooney (despite the unfortunate decision to cast him as a buck-toothed, "l"-challenged Japanese neighbour of Holly's). Paramount has delivered stand-out work in its restoration and Blu-ray presentation of the title. The 1.85:1 image is amazingly clear throughout and offers superb cleanliness. Image detail is commendable and there's a real sense of depth to the image. Colour fidelity is very strong and modest grain is evident. There is absolutely no sign of untoward digital manipulation. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is fully a match for the video, delivering Mancini's classic music with an intensity that delivers every nuance without overwhelming us at any point. Surround activity is evident but usually subtly employed. English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese mono tracks and subtitles are also provided. Supplements are highlighted by a good audio commentary by producer Richard Shepherd, a quarter-hour making-of documentary that's informative while avoiding excessive back-patting, and a very fine HD featurette on Henry Mancini's life and family. Other short featurettes provide a tour of Paramount studio, an evaluation of Audrey Hepburn's style, and a tour of Tiffany's department store. There are also several picture and poster galleries and the original theatrical trailer. Very highly recommended.

I well remember my first viewing of Island of Lost Souls.

Island of Lost Souls (Blu-ray Disc)

It was a late morning "matinee movie" film slot on Buffalo's NBC outlet beamed into Toronto sometime in the late 1950s - a slot that with its abbreviated running time (my recollection is that it was only an hour long) and commercial time meant that you only saw an edited version of the movie. Despite the indignity, Island of Lost Souls made quite an impact on a young mind with Charles Laughton's malevolent experimenter Dr. Moreau (the film is based on H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau") and the strange half-men/half-beasts he created (including Bela Lugosi's gruesome creature). Long requested on DVD, it has finally found a place on both DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion (by virtue of its relationship with Universal which owns the rights to the 1932 Paramount production). Created from the UCLA Film and Television Archive's 35mm nitrate positive print and a private collector's 16mm screening print, Criterion's Blu-ray full frame presentation is impressive indeed. The image is sharp for the most part with only a few soft sequences intruding. Contrast is strong on the whole and blacks are quite deep. Modest grain is quite evident. Video transfers in the past have looked rather ragged, but Criterion has managed to clean up the image substantially with only the odd speckle apparent. The mono sound is quite decent, with the bulk of distractions on previous home video efforts nicely excised. The supplement package is impressively deep, including a very entertaining audio commentary from Film Historian Gregory Mank; a discussion of the film by Filmmaker John Landis, Makeup artist Rick Baker, and genre expert Bob Burns; new interviews concerning the film with film historian David Skal, filmmaker Richard Stanley who initially directed the 1996 remake before being replaced by John Frankenheimer, and members of the band Devo; a 1976 Devo short film that draws inspiration from Island; the theatrical trailer; stills gallery; and a 16-page booklet featuring an essay by writer Christine Smallwood. Very highly recommended.


New Announcements (DVD and Blu-ray)

Criterion adds Godzilla (1954) to its Collection in a special edition, on DVD and Blu-ray, on January 24th. Extras will include a wealth of new interviews, commentary, looks behind the scenes, and two versions of the classic film - Ishiro Honda's original Japanese one and the 1956 American reworking. Meanwhile, Luis Buñuel's iconic erotic art-house hit Belle de jour (1967), comes to Criterion on DVD and Blu-ray on January 17th. Italian provocateur Francesco Rosi's rarely shown, devastating bullfighting drama The Moment of Truth (1964) comes to Blu-ray and DVD on January 24th. Anatomy of a Murder (1959, James Stewart) arrives from Criterion on both Blu-ray and DVD on February 21st. February 14th brings Three Outlaw Samurai (1964, Hideo Gosha) on Blu-ray and DVD while Rainer Werner Fassbinder's originally-made-for-German-TV World on a Wire (1973) arrives on both Blu-ray and DVD on February 21st.

Disney adds two classic titles in Blu-ray Diamond Editions to its 2012 release plans. Lady and the Tramp (1955) is set for February 7th while Cinderella (1950) will be forthcoming in the fall.

eOne has announced a revised street date of November 15th for the Robert Wagner late 1960s TV series It Takes a Thief: The Complete Series. It was originally scheduled for October 11th. December 6th brings another release in the series Elvira's Movie Macabre. This double bill includes Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964, Pia Zadora) and Beast from Haunted Cave (1959, Alexander Ward). Medea (1969, Maria Callas) is also coming on the same date, on Blu-ray and DVD.

Hen's Tooth Video will release James Whale's The Man in the Iron Mask (1939, Louis Harward) on DVD only on February 14th, mastered from a 35mm fine grain print.

Inception Media Group has two tribute titles coming on November 15th. Dahling: A Tribute to Zsa Zsa Gabor will include TV's Milton Berle Show (1956); TV's G.E. Theater: The Honest Man (1956); and the cult feature film favorites Mooch Goes to Hollywood (1971) and Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie (1984). Other inclusions will be four original film trailers (1952-1993). The Legacy Collection: Kirk Douglas ( a three disc set) will contain Kirk's debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), My Dear Secretary (1948), The Big Trees (1952), Catch Me a Spy (1971) and The Master Touch (1972); a rarely seen episode of TV's The Colgate Comedy Hour (1952); The Jack Benny Program: The Jam Session Show (1954); and a Kirk Douglas biography. As a bonus, there will also be original film trailers charting Kirk's and son Michael's careers.

Paramount reports that it will release Wings (1927, Clara Bow), the Best Picture Oscar winner for 1927-28, on both Blu-ray and DVD on January 24th. Three featurettes will supplement the Blu-ray release: Wings - Grandeur in the Sky, Dogfight!, and Restoring the Power and Beauty of Wings. Only the first of these will appear on the DVD version.

TCM/Columbia adds Humphrey Bogart: The Columbia Pictures Collection to the TCM Vault series on November 28th. It will be a 5-disc set including Love Affair (1932), Knock on Any Door (1949), Tokyo Joe (1949), Sirocco (1951), and The Harder They Fall (1956). The discs are expected to be pressed ones at least to start, as has been common with TCM Vault releases to date. (The recent Jean Arthur Collection in the same line consisted of pressed discs, for example.) Of the five Bogart titles, Love Affair and Knock on Any Door will be new to DVD.

Timeless Media adds to its Gene Autry releases on November 15th with the Gene Autry Collection 1 containing four fully restored features: Melody Trail (1935), The Big Show (1936), Boots and Saddles (1937), and Rhythm of the Saddle (1938). November 22nd brings The Gene Autry Show: Season Two containing 26 half-hour episodes on a four-disc set. Other Timeless releases include the western series Wide Country: The Complete Series and a 44-episode set of Medic (with Richard Boone) both on November 15th, Arrest and Trial: The Complete Series (Ben Gazzara, Chuck Connors) on November 22nd, Gene Kelly's 1962-63 TV series venture Going My Way: The Complete Series on December 6th, and The Tall Man: The Complete Series (with Barry Sullivan and Clu Gulager) also on December 6th. December 13th brings State Trooper: The Complete Second and Third Seasons (with Rod Cameron) on December 13th. Laramie: The Second Season is on the docket for a February 7th release. Set for February 14th is Overland Trail: The Complete Series (1960 western TV series that lasted only 17 episodes, with Doug McClure).

Universal has announced that it will release Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season 5 on January 3rd. It will be a 5-disc set.

VCI's December offerings constitute box sets of a number of British films that the company has previously released on individual DVDs. December 6th brings The Complete Doctor Collection (all seven titles in the series that mainly starred Dirk Bogarde - Doctor in the House, Doctor at Sea, Doctor at Large, Doctor in Love, Doctor in Distress, Doctor in Clover, Doctor in Trouble); The Rank British War Collection (Above Us the Waves, The Malta Story, Seas of Sand, The Way to the Stars); and Dirk Bogarde Collection (Campbell's Kingdom, Penny Princess, Simba, Agent 8¾ ). The company's Blu-ray release of Santa Claus (1959) has been delayed from November 15th to December 6th, due to replication issues.

Warner Bros. will release Fort Apache (1948, John Wayne, Henry Fonda) on Blu-ray on February 21st. Supplements will include an audio commentary and a featurette on Monument Valley. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942, Tim Holt) finally gets a wide DVD release on January 10th. That's the same day that Warners also releases Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles) in a standalone Blu-ray book edition (as opposed to September's UCE). The latter includes a DVD containing the Battle Over Citizen Kane documentary.

New Announcements (DVD-R/MOD)

The MGM Limited Edition Collection MOD additions for August 9th included: The Broken Star (1956, Bill Williams), One Man's Way (1964, Don Murray), The Revolutionary (1970, Jon Voight), and Tomorrow Is Forever (1946, Claudette Colbert). For the 23rd, they announced: Doomed to Die (1940, Boris Karloff), Hero's Island (1962, James Mason), Hong Kong Confidential (1958, Gene Barry), Master of the World (1961, Vincent Price), and Rebel in Town (1956, John Payne). September 13th brought: Cage of Evil (1960, Ron Foster), Campus Rhythm (1943, Gale Storm), Grayeagle (1977, Ben Johnson), Little Cigars (1973, Angel Tompkins), Mrs. Pollifax - Spy (1971, Rosalind Russell), and Top Banana (1954, Phil Silvers). September 27th saw the release of a whole raft of titles: Act of Vengeance (1974, Peter Brown), The Christine Jorgensen Story (1970, John Hansen), The Dalton Girls (1957, Merry Anders), Five Guns to Tombstone (1960, James Brown), The Living Ghost (1942, James Dunn), The Music Lovers (1970, Richard Chamberlain), No Escape (1953, Lew Ayres), The Quatermass Experiment (aka The Creeping Unknown, 1956, Brian Donlevy), Sugar Hill (1974, Marki Bey), Top Gun (1955, Sterling Hayden), Trooper Hook (1957, Joel McCrea), Valerie (1957, Sterling Hayden), and War Paint (1953, Robert Stack). October additions first arrived on the 11th: The Bandits of Corsica (1953, Richard Greene), The Boy Who Caught a Crook (1961, Wanda Hendrix), Devil's Angels (1967, John Cassavetes), Don't Worry We'll Think of a Title (1966, Morey Amsterdam), Golden Needles (1974, Joe Don Baker), and Incident in an Alley (1962, Chris Warfield). October 25th releases included: Behind the Mask (1946, Kane Richmond), California (1963, Jock Mahoney), Counterplot (1959, Forrest Tucker), Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961, Kieron Moore), Fashion Model (1945, Robert Lowery), Fort Yuma (1955, Peter Graves), Gun Street (1961, James Brown), Gunfighters of Abilene (1960, Buster Crabbe), Kill a Dragon (1967, Jack Palance), The Mugger (1958, Kent Smith), Uncle Joe Shannon (1978, Burt Young), and Welcome to L.A. (1976, Keith Carradine). November 22nd announcements include: The Big Caper (1957, Rory Calhoun), Gog (1954, Richard Egan), Three Came to Kill (1960, Cameron Mitchell), You Have to Run Fast (1961, Craig Hill), Hostile Witness (1968), The 1,000 Plane Raid (1969), The Bed Sitting Room (1969), The First Time (1969), Hannibal Brooks (1969), Impasse (1969), Halls of Anger (1970), Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You (1970), What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? (1970), Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery (1975), and A Small Town in Texas (1976).

August 2nd saw the arrival of nine titles in Sony's Columbia Classics MOD line: Black Moon (1934, Jack Holt), The Captain Hates the Sea (1934, Victor McLaglen), Counter-Espionage (1942, Warren William), A Dandy in Aspic (1968, Laurence Harvey), Obsession (1976, Cliff Robertson), Passport to Suez (1943, Warren William), The Queens (1966, Monica Vitti), The Stone Killer (1973, Charles Bronson), and Young Winston (1972, Simon Ward). Sony released six titles in its Columbia Classics MOD line on September 6th: Berserk! (1967, Joan Crawford), Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961, James Darren), In the French Style (1963, Jean Seberg), Mad Dog Coll (1961, John Davis Chandler), The Quick Gun (1964, Audie Murphy), and Vanina Vanini (1961, Sandra Milo). October 4th saw the addition of: 13 West Street (1962, Alan Ladd), American Madness (1932, Walter Huston), Before I Hang (1940, Boris Karloff), The Black Room (1935, Boris Karloff), Edge of Eternity (1959, Cornel Wilde), Lost Horizon (1973, Peter Finch), and The Night Holds Terror (1955, Jack Kelly), Sony released five Columbia Classics on MOD on November 1st: Boston Blackie's Chinese Venture (1949, Chester Morris), Odongo (1956, Rhonda Fleming), Shadow of the Hawk (1976, Jan Michael Vincent), Storm over the Nile (1955, Anthony Steel), and You Must Be Joking! (1965, Terry-Thomas). For December 6th, Sony have announced eight Columbia Classic releases on MOD: 1001 Arabian Nights (1959, Jim Backus), Beyond Mombasa (1957, Cornel Wilde), Escape from San Quentin (1957, Johnny Desmond), Harmon of Michigan (1941, Tom Harmon), The Missing Juror (1944, Jim Bannon), Island of Doomed Men (1940, Peter Lorre), The Fuller Brush Man (1948, Red Skelton), and Town on Trial (1957, Charles Coburn).

Universal Vault MOD additions arrived on July 27th and included: The Brink's Job (1978, Peter Falk), The Cat and the Canary (1939, Bob Hope), Cobra Woman (1943, Maria Montez), Death of a Gunfighter (1969, Richard Widmark), Games (1967, Simone Signoret), Gun for a Coward (1957, Fred MacMurray), Quantez (1957, Fred MacMurray), Rough Night in Jericho (1967, Dean Martin), The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979, Alan Alda), The Seven Per-Cent Solution (1976, Nicol Williamson), Tarantula (1955, John Agar), Tomahawk (1951, Yvonne De Carlo), and You Gotta Stay Happy (1948, James Stewart).

The Warner Archive of MOD titles kicked off August with 8 titles on the 2nd. Five of them were Debbie Reynolds films, including: It Started with a Kiss (1959, remastered), The Gazebo (1960, remastered), The Catered Affair (1956, remastered), The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), and The Singing Nun (1966). The latter two titles were previously available on pressed discs. Also on offer were The FBI: Season One, Part 2 (1965); by popular demand, Gaslight (1944, Ingrid Bergman, previously available on pressed disc); and The Lucille Ball RKO Comedy Collection, Volume 1 (containing Go Chase Yourself [1938], Next Time I Marry [1938], and Look Who's Laughing [1941]). August 9th additions included two Nelson Eddy/Jeanette Macdonald films - Naughty Marietta (1935) and Sweethearts (1938) - and three western releases - The Burning Hills (1956, Tab Hunter), Dirty Dingus Magee (1970, Frank Sinatra), and The Tim Holt Western Collection: Volume 2. The latter is a 5-disc set containing ten films: Sagebrush Law (1943), Avenging Rider (1943), Guns of Hate (1948), Indian Agent (1948), Brothers in the Saddle (1949), Rustlers (1949), Stagecoach Kid (1949), Masked Raiders (1949), The Mysterious Desperado (1949), and Riders of the Range (1950). August 16th brought Cry Terror! (1958, James Mason), House of Women (1962, Shirley Knight), and Julie (1956, Doris Day). August 23rd's additions included Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973, Kim Darby), The Girl from UNCLE Complete Series Part One and Part Two (1966), The Man from UNCLE 8-Movie Collection (1965-68), and The Venetian Affair (1967, Robert Vaughn). August 30th added Alex in Wonderland (1970, Donald Sutherland). September 13th added The Super Cops (1974, Ron Leibman), Black Eye (1974, Fred Williamson), Shaft The TV Movie Collection (1973), The Snow Devils (1967, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart), Black Zoo (1973, Michael Gough), The Couch (1962, Grant Williams), Moon Zero Two (1970, James Olson), and Hysteria (1965, Robert Webber). September 20th brought: Attack of the 50-Foot Woman (1958, Allison Hayes), Demon Seed (1977, Julie Christie), From Beyond the Grave (1973, Peter Cushing), The Giant Behemoth (1959, Gene Evans), Night of the Lepus (1972, Janet Leigh), The Phantom of Hollywood (1974, Jack Cassidy), The Pack (1977, Joe Don Baker), Queen of Outer Space (1958, Zsa Zsa Gabor), Sweet Hostage (1975, Linda Blair), and Trog (1970, Joan Crawford). September 27th saw the following titles added: It's a Dog's Life (1955, Vic Morrow), Gallant Bess (1946, Marshall Thompson), My Brother Talks to Horses (1947, Peter Lawford), The Hideaways (1973, Ingrid Bergman), and The Courtship of Eddie's Father: Complete Season One (1969). October 4th's additions comprised: Light in the Piazza (1962, Olivia De Havilland), The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968, Kim Novak), The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969, Katharine Hepburn), Travels with My Aunt (1972, Maggie Smith), The Traveling Executioner (1970, Stacy Keach), The Last Run (1971, George C. Scott), Get Carter (1971, Michael Caine), The Carey Treatment (1972, James Coburn), and Fingers (1978, Harvey Keitel). October 11th additions include five Bette Davis titles - The Rich Are Always with Us (1932, remastered), Housewife (1934, remastered), Fashions of 1934 (1934), The Sisters (1938), Juarez (1939) - as well as The Student Prince (1954, Edward Purdom). October 18th celebrated George Sanders with the release of Death of a Scoundrel (1956) and The Falcon Mystery Movie Collection, Volume 1. The latter contains 7 films: The Gay Falcon (1941), A Date with the Falcon (1941), The Falcon Takes Over (1942), The Falcon's Brother (1942), The Falcon Strikes Back (1943), The Falcon in Danger (1943), and The Falcon and the Co-eds (1943). Available on October 25th is the Jean Harlow 100th Anniversary Collection. It's a seven-disc set packaged in a slipcase. Included titles are: (the first three of which are remastered) Bombshell (1933), The Girl from Missouri (1934), Reckless (1935), Riffraff (1935), Suzy (1936), Personal Property (1937), and Saratoga (1937). Special features include: Special features included: a portfolio of seven 5" x 7" MGM studio portraits of Miss Harlow; trailers for six films, including newly discovered trailers for Bombshell, The Girl From Missouri, and Personal Property; rare, never before heard Reckless pre-recording sessions including Jean Harlow's unused vocals captured live on the MGM stage; Lux Radio Theater presentation "Madame Sans-Gene" with Jean Harlow and Robert Taylor (audio only); and two "Leo is on the Air" radio "air trailers". Note that The Archive apparently wanted to include Red Dust (1932) and Hold Your Man (1933) as well, but the original negatives were sadly destroyed in a fire in the 1970s and the surviving elements apparently weren't good enough to achieve acceptable quality for DVD. Warner Motion Picture Imaging is still working on those films (and 1931's The Secret Six) in an effort to create good quality masters, but that work is open-ended and there are no guarantees of success. October 25th also brings four Elizabeth Taylor titles: Julia Misbehaves (1948), The Big Hangover (1950), The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954), and Night Watch (1973). November 1st features Hollywood Party (1934, Jimmy Durante, Laurel & Hardy), along with a Leonard Maltin-hosted tribute to the Three Stooges (The Lost Stooges, 1990) and a 1946 musical that also features the Stooges - Swing Parade of 1946. Also on the docket are three Esther Williams titles: Duchess of Idaho (1950), Texas Carnival (1951), and Skirts Ahoy! (1952), plus three other MGM musicals: Honolulu (1939, Robert Young and Eleanor Powell), Ship Ahoy (1942, Eleanor Powell), The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953, Bobby Van and Debbie Reynolds). The varied November 1st selection also includes the Tim Holt Western Classics Collection Volume 3 [Storm Over Wyoming (1950), Rider From Tucson (1950), Border Treasure (1950), Rio Grande Patrol (1950), Law Of The Badlands (1951), Saddle Legion (1951), Gunplay, (1951) Hot Lead (1951) Road Agent (1952) and Target (1952)] with the promise of more Holt westerns in 2012. Good News (1947, June Allyson) and A Date with Judy (1948, Elizabeth Taylor) return to DVD with MOD Archive versions while Give a Girl a Break (1953, Marge & Gower Champion) has been remastered from new film elements. November 8th features early sound Buster Keaton: Doughboys (1930), Sidewalks of New York (1931), and What! - No Beer? (1933). Three William Wellman films are also on the docket: Safe in Hell (1931, Dorothy Mackaill), My Man and I (1952, Ricardo Montalban), and Lafayette Escadrille (1958, Tab Hunter). Finally November 15th features releases mainly produced by Ivan Tors: Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion (1965, Marshall Thompson), Daktari: The Complete First Season (1966), and Around the World Under the Sea (1966, David McCallum).

Well once again, that's it for this outing. I'll return again soon.

Barrie Maxwell
barriemaxwell@thedigitalbits.com

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