Of course, I’m referring in the literal platter sense; after all, this year’s events make the Black Death look like a Felix Ungar sniffle. How else can one describe the loss of so many actors, actresses, musicians, directors, writers and – what’s that thing called again – oh, yeah, democracy?
Well, the fairly good news for movie/TV collectors is that 2016 gave us addicts a lion’s share of magnificent DVDs and Blu-Rays. Truth be told, some of my favorite pics of all time made it to the format, as well as a variety of titles I’ve been wishing for…well, for decades. Sidebar: three studios, in particular, have made this past year a mini-homage to Sam Fuller, a very good thing. Another two brought a pair of my favorite Robert Mitchum flicks to light.
In the past, I used to sweat out a selection of the Ten Best. So much groovy stuff has been passed down the pike this year that I find that task to now be impossible. What I’ve done is to go through the various distributors and pick their cinematic crème de la crème (each title will be accompanied by the link to my review/article).
Acorn/RJL Entertainment. TV buffs’ greatest ally, Acorn continues to not only provide superb choices in the best of British and Australian television fare, but presents them in optimal-quality transfers. Here are their 2016 breadwinners: Doc Martin, Season 6 (as funny as ever): https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/impatience-and-out-patients/; the original Australian version of The Slap (the one for adults): https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/greeks-bearing-rifts/; the continually chilling and thrilling The Fall, Series 2: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/deeper-and-deeper/; the thoroughly riotous and quirky Detectorists: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/battle-of-the-metal-bands/; and the third (and possibly last) season of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (plus the complete series boxed set): https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/the-fisher-queen/.
Glitteratti. Why, it’s Her, and not a disc at all, but a beautifully produced coffee table photo volume from one of the last I-Can-Hold-It-In-My-Hands publishers. Inspired photog Marjorie Salvaterra’s hilarious look at relationships, feminism and American life in the crashed lane. I can’t get by one week without picking Her up (so to speak) and laughing like a loon. And, oy vey, do we need that now! https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/387/ .
Kino-Lorber. Mucho releases from this major player in the industry, just gonna list ‘em: the jaw-dropping noir Big House, USA: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/despicable-meeker/; the brilliant spaghetti western Face to Face: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/those-who-cant-kill/; Robert Parrish’s greatest movie, The Wonderful Country, starring Robert Mitchum: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/backhanded-continent/; the genuinely creepy McCarthy-era noir The Captive City, directed by Robert Wise: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/election-of-the-body-snatchers/; the restored version of the 1931 pre-Code The Front Page: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/fast-talkin-talkie/; the likewise remastered edition of the 1925 Phantom of the Opera: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/silent-screams/; the 1962 British horror classic Burn, Witch, Burn: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/blairs-witch-project/; and the 1974 giallo/horror hybrid Mimsy Farmer triumph Perfume of the Lady in Black https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/flights-of-mimsy/.
Olive Films. Another year and another terrific roster of titles from this cooler-than-cool company. First up, an early Robert Aldrich thriller that prefigures elements of Kiss Me Deadly and The Dirty Dozen, 1954’s A World for Ransom: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/lady-o-active/; Sam Fuller’s fantastic, funny, suspenseful and all around grand Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street, the director’s 1972 neo-noir German coproduction pip, spectacularly brought to Blu-Ray in its complete, uncut version with wunderbar supplements: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/pigeons-birds-of-prey/; Cy Endfield’s riveting 1950 noir Try and Get Me: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/catch-of-the-day/; Douglas Sirk’s 1947 delightful, urbane and snarky George Sanders masterpiece The Private Affairs of Bel Ami: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/men-behaving-cadly/; and last (but certainly not least), the marvelous 4K remaster Blu-Ray of Nick Ray’s 1954 revisionist western Johnny Guitar, starring Joan Crawford, and crammed with extras; part of Olive’s new Signature line: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/joanie-express/.
Twilight Time. The selections one must watch and acquire with special collector savvy, as they’re all limited-edition Blu-Rays. This year had some prime beauties, just made for a movie buff’s library shelf. A very welcome addition was Robert Aldrich’s underrated 1973 violent Depression drama Emperor of the North, featuring masterful performances from costars Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/rail-and-farewell/; Sam Fuller’s 1955 color and CinemaScope noir House of Bamboo, pitting Robert Stack against Robert Ryan, and filmed nearly entirely in Japan, was a particular Twilight Time treat: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/stacked-deck/; the much-coveted Blu-Ray re-issue of the company’s long out-of-print 1953 Fritz Lang noir The Big Heat was a big plus for fans of Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin and mocha java: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/caf-fiends/; Halloween saw the ultimate home-vid edition of the 1959 Terence Fisher/Hammer pic Hound of the Baskervilles, with genre superstars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/the-moor-of-menace/; and the December holidays couldn’t have had a better pick than the joyous 1964 Peter Sellers romp The World of Henry Orient, a nice way to go out in an otherwise real-world crummy year: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/12/27/stuck-on-crazy/.
Warner Archive/Warner Home Video. The biggest of the home-video companies, encompassing exclusive libraries from (natch) Warners, but also MGM, RKO plus choice tidbits from Allied Artists, Paramount and others, likewise didn’t disappoint. My frequent repeat views for 2016 kicks off with 1928’s The Cossacks, an exciting lavish action-packed romance featuring John Gilbert, Renee Adoree and a cast of – you guessed it – thousands: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/the-pig-parade/; Sam Fuller’s fascinating 1957 western Run of the Arrow, with Rod Steiger heading a bravura cast, including Brian Keith, Ralph Meeker and Charles Bronson: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/if-first-you-dont-secede/; one of my personal favorite movies ever, Nick Ray’s 1952 modern-day western The Lusty Men, starring Robert Mitchum, Susan Hayward and Arthur Kennedy, at last made it to disc and to the top of my platter pantheon. Yay!: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/bucking-crazy/; Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 9 arrived with pre-Code braggadocio (and five tempting titles, including three hoots Big City Blues, Cabin in the Cotton and Hell’s Highway). Hey, I was happy. https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/4-bad-boys-purple-hays/; the dessert topping was provided by a little-seen but fetching 1954 Frank Tashlin laff pic Susan Slept Here teaming Debbie Reynolds with Dick Powell (plus predatory Anne Francis, “a cute angle” end of a human triangle). The movie looks glorious in the Warner Archive Blu-Ray widescreen re-master, and gave us mourners an underlined reminder of how good Reynolds was with comedy. https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/breakfast-with-dick-and-debbie/.
Well, off to Google “How to Build a Bomb Shelter.” Hopefully, see ya soon!