Simeon Cinema

 

One of the most beloved detectives in all of narrative fiction, Georges Simeon’s Inspector Jules Maigret, (to many, the French Sherlock Holmes), was also one of the most cinematic.  Star of 75 novels and 25 short stories, Maigret, who took Conan Doyle’s deductive reasoning shamus to the next level – and sought the truth by psychologically getting into suspects’ respective heads – appeared in a seemingly unending string of radio dramas, movies and television series worldwide, scoring high ratings and box-office in the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Germany and, of course France.  Among the more illustrious Maigrets were Charles Laughton, Maurice Denham, Bruno Cremer, Gino Cervi, Kinya Aikawa and, most recently (and bizarrely), Rowan Atkinson!

But perhaps the greatest Maigret was also France’s greatest Jean Valjean, and, for many, the country’s greatest motion picture thespian, Jean Gabin.  As with so many of his other roles, once Gabin slipped into Maigret’s shoes, it was as if they were tailor-made; the character could have been written for him.

The casting of Gabin in a Maigret movie first occurred in 1958, via a splendid adaptation of Simeon’s risqué adventure, MAIGRET SETS A TRAP.  The movie blew audiences and critics away; it became an international sensation, achieving high-end acclaim even in the States (where viewers had the option of seeing it in either the original French with English subtitles, or in a dubbed version, where it was hyped under the moniker Woman Bait!).  Immediately, plans were made to follow-up the pic with a second Gabin-Maigret escapade – MAIGRET AND THE ST. FIACRE CASE, another popular Simeon novel, and another hit in France and abroad.  Sadly, with the exception of one last appearance (1963’s Maigret voit rouge) there would be (for one reason or another, likely the actor’s busy schedule) no further Gabin-Maigrets – indeed a crime in its own right.  Worse, the first Gabin twosome seemed to disappear from American shores (save for some terrible bootlegs).  Thanks to Kino Classics (in conjunction with TFI Droits Audiovisuels), this heinous vanishing act has now been rectified, as both of the 1950’s mysteries are now available in near-pristine new 1080p transfers (in French w/English subtitles).

 

MAIGRET SETS A TRAP, based on Simeon’s 1955 novel, has always been one of the most popular entries in the Maigret library, both as a book AND a movie; in fact, it is one of the works that the recent earlier indicated Rowan Atkinson Maigrets chose for one of their remakes.  And why not?  With its plethora of sex crimes, a serial murderer (The Marseille Killer), a degenerate prominent family – all played out during one hot, sweltering summer – TRAP is a natural for crime buffs and sensation seekers.  Of course, with Gabin psyching out the multitude of suspects (with the killer thinking he’s goading the inspector by contacting and cluing him in on his next moves) and methodically tracking down the vicious psychopath responsible, the movie is A-1 thriller fare from fade-in to fade-out.  Yes, Gabin is the main attraction, but there are other reasons to enjoy this expert nail-biter:  suspenseful direction from Jean Delannoy, the superb black and white cinematography of Louis Page (appended by a moody score by Paul Misraki), a great, snarky script by Delannoy, adapted by Michel Audiard and Rodolphe-Maurice Arlaud; dialog by Audiard (“Love is messy,” quips a character at a gruesome crime scene), and a marvelous cast of supporting players, including early appearances by Annie Giradot and Lino Ventura.  A smash hit worldwide (it won the Edgar Award for best foreign film), MAIGRET SETS A TRAP is the perfect tonic for armchair sleuths in search of a top-notch cinematic puzzle.

 

A kinder, gentler Maigret is on view in the 1959 follow-up, also directed and cowritten by Dellanoy (with Arlaud and dialog by Arlaud), based upon the 1932 novel by Simeon (but updated to the 1950s), MAIGRET AND THE ST. FIACRE CASE.  And with good reason.  St. Fiacre is the fictional small provincial village where the detective grew up.  Not that he carries any love for his hometown, but there is someone there for whom he does carry the torch, the Countess of the hamlet (Valentine Tessier).  The elderly local noble, a former revered beauty, was young Maigret’s first love, ca. the time of the Great War.  Not that they had a relationship, but she remembers the adolescent as a respectful and gracious admirer.  He has never forgotten her; and, she obviously has followed his success as well.  When a disturbing letter announcing her death arrives, she takes the liberty of contacting the country’s finest sleuth.  Maigret, uncharacteristically, drops everything and heads to the town of his birth.  The grateful Countess feels relieved, but Maigret, this time with his emotions not entirely in check, experiences a rare and painful loss.  The woman is found dead – of an apparent heart attack.  Maigret knows better, and the secrets masking a conspiracy of evil are about to be ripped to shreds.  As the ads in 70’s and 80’s exploitation pics blared, “This time its personal!”

Beautifully shot again by Louis Page (this time in widescreen), ST. FIARCE shows us a side to Maigret seldom seem.  The acting is extraordinary; the genuine affection for the detective and the Countess is apparent from their eye contact (no dialog needed); we know he adores this woman, and is cognizant of her handling of his decades-old puppy love, with appreciation and non-ridicule.  She, again, is proud of her platonic conquest – the lady’s high regard being evident by asking him for help.

The Kino Blu-Ray is as good as SETS A TRAP.  An excellent music score by Jean Prodromides nicely supports the visuals.  While ST. FIARCE may not be the typical Maigret adventure, it’s the perfect Gabin-Maigret choice – underlining why many considered the star to be France’s finest screen actor.

MAIGRET SETS A TRAP.  Black and white; Full frame [1.33:1; 1080p High Definition]; 2.0 DTS-HD MA [French w/English subtitles]; Kino-Lorber Classics/TFI Droits Audiovisuels.  CAT # K20888. SRP: $29.95.

MAIGRET AND THE ST. FIARCRE CASE. Black and white; Widescreen [1.66:1; 1080p High Definition]; 2.0 DTS-HD MA [French w/English subtitles].  Kino-Lorber Classics/TFI Droits Audiovisuels. CAT # K20890. SRP: $29.95.

 

 

 

 

Bard and Feathered

A European mystery-thriller in the post-Psycho world, 1962’s disturbing yet engrossing OPHELIA, appropriately helmed by the man dubbed the French Hitchcock, Claude Chabrol, arrives on home video via a splendid Blu-Ray transfer, from the film d’amour crew at Olive Films (in conjunction with Gaumont).

The story, extremely creepy and so very New Wave, begins at a funeral.  All are suitably somber, particularly the twentysomething son of the deceased.  The next scene shows the mourners exiting, ready to party, save the aforementioned young man – now more distraught than ever.

Ivan, the monsieur in question, is heir to the considerable fortune of the Lesurf manufacturing family, who reside in a small village outside of Paris.  His father, the deceased, was strict, cruel and a brutal employer.  Ivan is no different, hated and ridiculed by the villagers, most of who work for the Lesurf family and are in the process of organizing a mass strike.

But pampered Ivan will have none of it; he will deal with his inferiors later (yeah, he’s also a bit of a Nazi); right now, his attention rests upon two other matters.  The first is his beautiful but icy mother Claudia (magnificently played by Alida Valli, who, from what I heard, didn’t have to stretch to step into her character’s sub-zero shoes).  She’s about to marry her longtime lover, Adrien (Claude Cerval) – who just happens to be the deceased’s sibling!  Oh, brother!  And, BTW, (big surprise) mommy and step-daddy are scumbag employers, too.

It doesn’t take long for Ivan to set his sociopathic brain into weaving a scenario about how his mother and uncle killed his father (“There are limits to what the human mind can bear!” he reasons).  Ivan is going to fix that.  But how?

FYI, I didn’t forget that I mentioned two items on Ivan’s mind.  The other is his lust for village goddess Lucy, the naturally stunning daughter of Andre Legrange, a loyal (aka toadying) Lesurf worker.  Widowed father Andre (Robert Brunier), extremely possessive of Lucy, despises Ivan as much as he worships the boy’s family.  He also doesn’t get his sensitive, fragile child; he objectifies her to the point where he believes that men are only interested in his daughter for her physical attributes, that she has nothing to offer other than being a someone’s spectacular whore.

It’s that kind of berg.

Things take a drastic turn when the local cinema offers up a revival of Olivier’s Hamlet – luring the peasants in by promoting it as a sword-and-sandal epic with lots of action.  Ivan is obsessed by the film, and decides to focus his powers and wealth to make his own movie version of the Shakespeare play, using his few friends as actors, and a lusty barmaid (Liliane David) as the female lead.  Off-camera, Ivan now refers to the other woman in his world, wild child Lucy, as Ophelia (much to her chagrin).

The movie becomes the talk of the small…hamlet, and not in a good way.  The whispered rumors become more pronounced.  And several deaths follow, climaxed by Ivan’s finally unmasking his family’s dark secret.  Except it’s not the one he was expecting.

OPHELIA is a moody, sinister chilling piece from Chabrol, one of the director’s best.  Using some of his trademark techniques, with sidebars on epicurean dining (Chabrol, aside from being a master of cinema and Cahier critic, was also a renowned gourmet), le francais Hitchcock weaves a demented tale of desire, forbidden fruit, greed and sadistic revenge.  The cast is aces, with Andre Joceylyn excelling as Ivan (a man whose mother love/hate issues often mirror those of Bruno Anthony’s in Strangers on a Train and, natch, Norman Bates).  Valli, the ice queen, is as resplendent as she is unnerving while Cerval as the adulterous uncle is shameful, but unusually liberal when it comes to dealing with his new step-son.  Brunier is repellent as the awful parent Andre, and, last but certainly not least, Juliette Mayniel is absolutely haunting as the misunderstood/unwilling “Ophelia.”

The movie, like many of Chabrol’s works was written by the director and Paul Gagauff (in collaboration with Martial Matthieu).  OPHELIA’s omnipresent weirdness is reflective of Gagauff’s participation, infusing the writer’s own deranged mental state into the pic’s most crazed characters (suffice to say, he did not end up dying peacefully).

OPHELIA was superbly shot in startling black-and-white by the brilliant cinematographer Jean Rabier.  The jaw-dropping use of rural locations create a mythical fog-bound forest that is simultaneously fetching and foreboding (it frequently resembles an alien landscape like something out of 1930s sci-fi magazine cover).  A wonderful score by Pierre Jansen completes the package.

I first saw OPHELIA over thirty years ago during a fondly recalled Chabrol day with my bestie Ric Menello.  It was at Lincoln Center – a 35MM print sans subtitles.  Prior to that, we had spent the morning and early afternoon at MoMA for a Chabrol double bill of Masques and a pre-release screening of his upcoming flick, the fantastic Story of Women.  What a day!

I mention this to underline how terrific it is to become reacquainted with this gem, and one couldn’t wish for a better rendition than this new Olive Films Blu-Ray.  The visuals in widescreen 1080p are striking, and the excellent translation (via the newly-minted English subtitles) make this platter a must-have (the original trailer is also included, but without subtitles).

OPHELIA.  Black and white.  Widescreen [1.66:1; 1080p High Definition]; 2.0 DTS-HD MA.  Olive Films/Gaumont.  CAT # OF1337.  SRP: $29.95.

OPHELIA_COVER

 

French Twist

An “almost-but-not-quite-there” movie, relegated to the WTF section of celluloid oddities, 2016’s NEVER EVER (aka, a Jamais) arrives on DVD from the cineastes at Film Movement and Alfama Films/Leopardo Films.

So, yeah, the pic isn’t entirely successful, and, for basically two reasons; nevertheless, what remains of NEVER EVER is still quirky and strange enough to warrant viewers’ attention (and, possibly, a purchase) – particularly those aggressively in search of the…shall we say…different?

NEVER EVER is based upon a popular novel (The Body Artist) by Don DeLillo.  It stars the wonderful actress Julie Roy, who also makes her screenwriting debut (that’s one of the reasons, but, with the exception of a singularly glaring missed op, the script is still a fine preamble of hopefully more things to come).  Her top-billed costar is veteran French actor Mathieu Amalric (likewise aces), with stellar support from Jeanne Balibar and Victoria Guerra.

The plot is as mysterious as the bizarre fog-shrouded home the two protagonists end up sharing.  Famed director/writer Rey (Amalric) and his longtime lover/star Isabelle (Balibar) attend a pre-release showing of their latest work at a museum.  Unable to watch their endeavors on the screen, they wait outside, eventually wandering off individually – vowing to later meet up for the obligatory Q & A.

Rey enters a smaller venue where Laura (Roy), a hauntingly beautiful “body artist” is performing her latest piece.  It’s pretentious, but Rey is thunderstruck by the woman’s sensuality; her telltale almost freeze-frame gaze in his direction indicates that the feeling is already mutual.

Afterward, she tells the celebrity that his movie “stole my audience.”  He apologizes, and offers her a ride on his motorcycle, effectively ditching the post-screening session and his soon-to-be post-paramour.  They end up at his place for a sexual encounter because…well, they’re French.

Soon they find that their strong personalities reflect one another, especially (and ironically) the “do your own thing” not bound to bond part.  Rey, having removed Isabelle from his personal life, now eschews her from their professional one, writing his next movie for/about Laura.  Soon, despite the great age difference, the couple marries and moves into the aforementioned secluded cottage.  The house creeps Laura out, due to the disembodied sounds that seem to come from everywhere.

Rey, at odds with his producer (Elmano Sancho, who insists upon another director/star teaming with Isabelle), finally relents to his former star’s constant phone calls.  Making an excuse (buying meaningless household items), he cycles to the nearest airport, and catches a flight to visit his distraught ex-flame.  Isabelle (exquisitely and marvelously portrayed by Balibar) is the most honest person in the picture.  “Do you want children?” she asks the selfish auteur.  “SHE will, she’s young enough!”  Isabelle then admits she doesn’t care what his relationship with Laura is; she still desires him.  “Things can go on as before.”  A complete reversal of the married man cheating with a younger woman, Rey relents and, in spite of his obsession with his wife, has sex with Isabelle…because, well, they’re French.

The concept of belonging to two beautiful women takes up all of Rey’s attention during his return trip – a tragedy, as he doesn’t watch the road, and is killed in a highway accident.

And that’s just the beginning of the movie.

The final two acts of NEVER EVER revolve around Laura’s obsession/addiction with/to her dead husband.  She can’t give him up.  Soon she’s talking to him (not so uncommon); later, he’s answering back (not so common).  Is Rey a ghost possessing Laura, or is she losing her mind?  This key aspect is never truly explored, as Roy’s script veers off the earlier planted idea of a haunted house. True, in a story about fierce obsession, supernatural elements aren’t needed (unless to faithfully mirror the book), but why then bother setting it up in the first place? So while the ghostly scenario is weak, Roy’s acting as a woman on the brink is quite strong.  She cooks his favorite meals, buys him shoes, repeatedly watches laptop footage of the roadway where Rey was killed, wears his clothes, and eventually (shades of Norma Bates) starts talking in his voice.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t any humor in NEVER EVER.  Case in point: a hilarious funeral sequence.  Laura, aware of the annoying ringtone on Rey’s cell, places the phone in the corpse’s breast pocket before the casket is closed.  As Isabelle delivers a heart-felt eulogy, the widow repeatedly presses “redial.”

Laura’s becoming a pariah; however, is the crux of the story.  Just when you think she’s a woman gone bonkers, a phone call from the producer attempts to resurrect the earlier discarded alternative.  The mogul wants the director’s last script – unfinished or not.  “NO!,” shouts the widow in an ill-fitting but familiar voice.  After a pause, we hear the perplexed producer asking “Rey?” before an unnerved Laura hangs up.

In a final attempt to salvage her sanity, Laura boldly turns her madness into performance art in a climax that simultaneously offers hope and pays homage to Scorsese’s King of Comedy…because, after all…the movie-makers are French.

When premiered a couple of years ago, NEVER EVER quickly became the darling of the international film festival circuit.  This was due to rising actress Roy’s participation coupled with her writing the script, but mostly to the project being directed by the acclaimed creator of The School of Flesh, Sade, A Tout de Suite, Farewell, My Queen, and Diary of a Chambermaid, Benoit Jacquot.  Sadly, it’s Jacquot’s handling of the scenario that causes NEVER EVER to falter.  Refusing to go where the novel went, and relying upon clichéd/ film student techniques, Jacquot’s fumbling is ultimately what causes the pic to fall short of being a great movie.  Had this work been given to a more adventurous and honest director like Talia Lugacy, for example, I think it would be a modern masterpiece (check out her work and you’ll see what I mean).  I think that a screenplay collaboration between Lugacy and Roy would, too, have rectified the previously indicated relevant skirted issue (as well as being more emotionally and spiritually in gear).

That said, the three lead performances are fantastic, the widescreen photography by Julien Hirsch quite beauteous (although I wish there had been a Blu-Ray), and the score by Bruno Coulais, suitably spine-tingling (and, at times, even Herrmann-esque, in that Psycho sort of way).

The fact that I kept thinking about this movie and the main character long after it ended is proof enough that NEVER EVER is a valid way to spend 86 minutes, regardless of its occasional cinematic and mental stumbling blocks.

NEVER EVER.  Color. Widescreen [1.85:1; 16 x 9 anamorphic]; 5.1 or 2.0 stereo [French w/English subtitles]; Film Movement/Alfama Films/Leopardo Films. CAT # FMNEVERFOREVER.  SRP: $24.95

NEVEREVER_COVER

 

 

 

 

 

Sex Education

A bona fide rediscovery, feminist director Jacqueline Audry’s beautifully-made production OLIVIA, comes to stunning (and startling) Blu-Ray from the progressive folks at Icarus Films.

On the fade-in surface, the movie is about a posh boarding school for young ladies in the late 19th century.  But there are as many secrets as there are students, perhaps more.  The picturesque country-set institution is run by partners Miss Julie and Miss Cara.  They are more than mere business associates.  Or, at least, they were.  Miss Julie is the classically alluring and charming, comely matriarch of the school; Miss Cara, the slightly younger, but more sensual cofounder.  Once great friends and lovers, the pair’s ferocious attraction toward one another has cooled to an almost icy animosity.  Julie tells her students that Cara’s issues are in her mind.  And so they are.  Cara has psychologically invented diseases that keep her impaired, and (mostly) confined to her section of the building; she is jealously guarded by the German instructor, Frau Riesener (Lesly Meynard), essentially the Mrs. Danvers character (and hopelessly enamored of Cara herself).

Were this but the entire narrative of OLIVIA, viewers would have enough to be intrigued by.  Ah, but this is merely the appetizer.  The main course/major schism in the two strong women’s friendships is their emotional and sexual tug-of-war with the schools most attractive, intelligent, impressionable and vulnerable students (indeed the women are divided into two camps, Julirists and Cararists).

Key to this is the arrival of the title character, a gorgeous teenager, hand-picked years earlier by Miss Julie.  Like a vampire, scouring for prey, Julie attached herself to an unconventional English family, headed by a single mom with a beauteous young daughter.  Julie spent her time well, basically grooming the pre-teen for eventual “induction” into the school.

Immediately, Olivia is the latest human delicacy, craved by both Cara and Julie.  But the former loses out, as Olivia has been hopelessly infatuated with the older woman since they first met.

As Cara’s ailments move from psychological to physical, events go from dark to pitch black for a gasp-worthy revelation of a climax.

Loaded with subliminal erotic imagery and brutally written scenes (at a holiday party, a slightly tipsy Julie taunts Olivia with the ultimate seduction (“I will come to you tonight and buy you candy”).  Olivia is practically orgasmic and dutifully waits for her desirous deflowering.  But Julie never shows, crisply telling the already-severely damaged young woman the following morning that she ultimately did her a favor.

The production of OLIVIA is virtually flawless, from the immaculate period art and set design (Jean d’Eaubonne) to the script, and to the casting.  With men only rarely acting as background extras (outside of the school), and scant few at that, OLIVIA is a “woman’s picture” in every sense of the word.

The two leads are magnificent, impressive as educators and despicable as predators.  Miss Julie is portrayed by the superb actress Edwige Feuillere, offering up dignity with lust.  And the great Simone Simon (best known here as the star of Jacques Tourneur’s and Val Lewton’s Cat People) delivers perhaps her finest screen performance, tempering pathos with simmering carnality.  Trust me, Cara is far more frightening than shape-shifting Irena.  And as the easily corrupted innocent, Marie-Claire Olivia excels in the title role.

OLIVIA was spectacularly photographed in black-and-white by Christian Matras, with a lovely score by Pierre Sancan.  Audry’s direction is absolutely top-drawer, emotionally running the gamut from incredibly pastoral to intensely passionate (I must check out more of her work).  The suspenseful script by Audry’s sister Colette and husband Pierre Laroche (from a novel by Dorothy Bussy) is perfect as well.  Excellent thespian support is also on-view via the presence of Yvonne de Bray, Suzanne Dehelly, Marina de Berg, Rina Rhety, Tania Soucault, Sophie Mallet, Helene Remy, Chaerine Alba and Christine Carere.

Oh, and, did I mention this?:  OLIVIA was made in 1950 (presented, not suprisingly, on limited release in the States, and not seen in America until 1954; nevertheless, along with Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, the pic forever makes the 1950-1951 international movie season a banner period for queer cinema).

The Icarus Films Blu-Ray of OLIVIA is a terrific restoration, with excellent 35MM visuals accompanying the faux (refurbished from mono) stereo audio (in French w/English subtitles).  Extras include a 1957 interview with director Audry and the trailer.

Whether you consider OLIVIA a fascinating, wayyyy advanced morality play, a twisted love story, or, a jaw-dropping psychological horror tale, it’s certainly a must-see (and must-own) picture to tempt audiences who think they’ve seen it all.

OLIVIA.  Black and white.   Full frame [1.33:1; 1080p High Definition]; 2.0 DTS-HA MA. Icarus Films. CAT # ICARUSOLIVIA.  SRP: $34.98.

OLIVIA_cover

 

Best Spins of the Year

As 2019 draws to a close, I am once again stuck at having to choose the best Blu-Rays and DVDs of the year.  Granted, there’s been a drop-off of 3D titles, and there have been some “adios” company losses in the once-flourishing home entertainment platter arena, but ’19 also gave us a plethora of choice entries, some remastered, others never before on disc.  Even so, what was once the 10 Best has, with judicious editing, been whittled down to about 30+.  Long story short: can’t wait to start reviewing the 2020 crop (which already promises to be outstanding).

 

Kino-Lorber leads the pack in quantity and diversity and nothing better displays that claim than their commitment to silent German Expressionist cinema, aka Fritz Lang’s brilliant DESTINY (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/01/22/dead-end-job/ ).  Not to be outdone, Flicker Alley gave us definitive editions of American works from German director Paul Leni, the classic THE MAN WHO LAUGHS and the obscure THE LAST WARNING (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/expressionism-for-the-masses/ ).  Speaking of Lang, Warner Archive remastered and Blu-Ray-ed the director’s final pair of American pics, two outstanding noirs, WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS and BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/11/19/at-fritzs-end/ ).  Finally, for those who like to add a little surrealism to their silents, we go back to the beginning with Flicker Alley’s fantastic Georges Melies collection (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/02/26/magnifique-melies-melange/ ).  The same company likewise introduced us to a forgotten cinema magician (and a funny one at that), Charley Bowers, a person I’m still not convinced wasn’t sired by Melies himself (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/11/26/when-funny-funny-meets-funny-strange/ ).

 

But comedy wasn’t entirely radical.  For good old wholehearted laughs, nothing can match the pre-Code collection of Hal Roach’s “female Laurel & Hardy,” Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/teaming-with-sex/ ).  One could additionally experience an unusual, but sidesplitting comedy from (of all people) Richard Fleischer in the snarky pip SO THIS IS NEW YORK (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/12/03/dirty-old-men-hattan/ ).  Nevertheless, should viewers prefer the touch of an acknowledged laff master, nothing can compare to rollicking (and poignant) Preston Sturges treat CHRISTMAS IN JULY (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/taint-the-season/).  Finally, if classic schtick is your foray, well, there’s something there for you, too – Kino-Lorber’s Blu-Ray redux of the first four Hope-Crosby-Lamour ROAD pics (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/12/24/road-worriers/).

 

Westerns, war pics and action-adventures weren’t left in the ditch either.  One of the strangest (and often beautiful) oaters, Delmer Daves’ underrated THE HANGING TREE, featuring one of Gary Cooper’s last and greatest performances, got a gorgeous Blu-Ray transfer from Warner Archive (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/03/05/pre-existing-conditions/).  Kino-Lorber went all the way to Europe to give us some eagerly-awaited and much-appreciated U.S. Blu-Rays of classic spaghetti westerns (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/05/07/not-leone-game-in-town/).  That said, they also combed the domestic front to provide superb widescreen Blu-Rays of two Ray Milland-directed flicks, the dark western A MAN ALONE and a pre-Bond scorcher LISBON, both part of a continuing outstanding series of Republic TruColor restorations (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/law-of-milland/).  Twilight Time, meanwhile, dropped a luscious restored CinemaScoped bon-bon in our laps, the erotic Fifties fantasy ADVENTURES OF HAJJI BABA (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/a-babe-ian-nights/).  Warner Archive, in turn, gave us a Tarzan pic for adults with TARZAN’S GREATEST ADVENTURE, an entry made by many future Bond folks, and even costarring Sean Connery (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/stirred-not-shaken/).  In the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction department, Kino-Lorber scored again with their wonderful release of the 1967 heist pic, ROBBERY, produced by and starring the great Stanley Baker (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/05/28/money-train/).   And, for most unfairly maligned movie of 1958, there’s Raoul Walsh’s blistering flawed but oft gripping version of Norman Mailer’s “unfilmable” novel THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, spectacularly restored on Blu-Ray by Warner Archive (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/norman-baits/).

Lastly, if you enjoy your patriotism with music, there’s no excuse for you to pass up Warner Archive’s Blu-Ray editions of YANKEE DOODLE DANDY and THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/07/02/world-warners-ii/).

 

Women rule the TV roost (at least on the foreign front) with the sensational Anna Friel being prime time queen as the frightening yet passionate MARCELLA, SERIES ONE, the riveting Brit drama, now on DVD from Acorn (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/01/15/killer-cop/).   Hans Rosenfeldt, the genius responsible for the above, first gained international attention with his skin-crawling Scandinavian series, THE BRIDGE.  Series One blew us away; SERIES TWO, starring the fascinating Sofia Helin, is now on DVD from MHz Networks (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/06/18/crossing-the-line/).  Back to Acorn and a visit to Manchester’s female-fueled police precinct in the hilarious and frequently terrifying dramedy NO OFFENCE, SERIES 1-3 all now available on DVD (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/06/25/arresting-ladies/).   Can’t bid adieu without mentioning the ladies incarcerated in Australia’s WENTWORTH prison, a shocking and addictive show that had me champing at the bit for more.  Another Acorn delight, let’s hope more seasons are forthcoming than merely the first three series currently available on DVD (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/femme-itentiary/).

 

Anyone who’s been following Supervistaramacolorscope since 2015 knows that my special addiction is film noir (INSERT SHAMELESS PLUG HERE: you’d also know that fer sure if you’ve picked up a copy of my new book Noir Voyager).  Aside from the above Fritz Lang noirs, its with supreme pleasure to herald the releases of the following pantheon classics MURDER, MY SWEET, OUT OF THE PAST, POSSESSED, and GUN CRAZY, which all got the Warner Archive Blu-Ray upgrade; they’re all mandatory purchases (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/07/23/creme-de-la-crime-dark-blu-ray/).  Not far behind is Arrow Video’s terrific B-D transfer of Robert Siodmak’s 1944 masterpiece PHANTOM LADY (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/04/09/gone-dame/).   My personal favorite contradictory sub-genre, color noir, was well represented by Kino-Lorber’s release of the lush 1947 Technicolor Paramount DESERT FURY (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/05/14/hot-n-bothered/).  On the heels of them heels was a twofer from Twilight Time (both in CinemaScope) BLACK WIDOW and THE RIVER’S EDGE (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/indoor-and-outdoor-noir/).  The perfect cherrybomb-on-top homage was Beat Kitano’s 2017 neo-noir OUTRAGE CODA (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/beats-working/).

 

Sci-Fi and horror, two other genres I’m particularly partial to, got marvelous Blu-Ray representation via Olive Films’ Signature Edition of the Don Siegel version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/10/05/americas-original-podcast/).  Remaining titles that MUST find a place in any serious Blu-Ray collections include new Warner Archive transfers of two dinosaur rampage classics (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/07/16/dino-might/),  a stunning evocation of Albert Lewin’s 1945 PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/10/01/a-wilde-and-crazy-guy/),  the ultimate edition of Howard Hawks’ THE THING (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/10/19/frozen-veggies/),  and my favorite and most-watched disc of the year, a breathtaking 1080p rendition of Terence Fisher’s 1958 Hammer stunner HORROR OF DRACULA (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2019/10/29/vamp-champ/).

 

Happy New Year, movie lovers.  New fixes start on Tuesday.