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Snapshot

by Glenn Erickson

Pegged as a slasher-type horror, Simon Wincer’s drama hews closer to the emerging ‘artful’ trend in Australian filmmaking — with some of the bigger names associated with fancier exploitation fare, too: Everett De Roche, Brian May. Chantal Contouri gets top billing but the film is carried away by the magnetic Sigrid Thornton, who would later…

They Drive by Night

by Glenn Erickson

Warners star power triumphs in a patched-together screen classic about the hard life of truckers on the road — that turns into a murder ‘n’ madness melodrama. It’s a special picture in terms of career advancement for Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino. The somewhat sexist dialogue feels edgy for 1940, and Ann Sheridan is at…

Suits: The Complete Series

by Glenn Erickson

It was slick, glamorous, sexy — the cable series tickled TV viewers with fantasies of Wall Street wealth and power, adding extra fun with a gate-crashing imposter and his photographic memory. This is how the one percenters wished they lived: beautiful people in killer fashions, in a law firm that settles most disputes out of…

The Panther Women – The Batwoman

by Charlie Largent

The Panther Women – The Batwoman Blu-ray Powerhouse Indicator 1967/1968 Starring Maura Monti, Ariadne Welter, Elizabeth Campbell Written by Alfredo Salazar Photographed by Agustín Jiménez Directed by René Cardona A garden of unearthly delights, Famous Monsters of Filmland was the Cahiers du Cinéma for middle-school monster fans. But 1964’s July issue opened up a different…

The Dresser

by Glenn Erickson

Directed by Peter Yates and performed with great finesse by Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, Ronald Harwood’s adaptation of his own play is great entertainment. Touring the provinces in wartime, an eccentric Shakespearian legend is falling apart in mind and body; only the star’s dedicated, put-upon dresser can get him into a mental shape allowing…

To Die For

by Charlie Largent

To Die For 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray Criterion 1995 Starring Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Phoenix, Illeana Douglas Written by Buck Henry Photographed by Eric Alan Edwards Directed by Gus Van Sant A wide-eyed kewpie doll with the disposition of Lady Macbeth, Suzanne Stone’s only friend is the lens of a television camera—when the…

Sayonara

by Glenn Erickson

This import shows what’s uniquely terrific about a Home Video disc done well — the combined audio commentaries tell us so much I didn’t know about a movie we thought we knew well. Sidestepping some of the conventions of its time, Joshua Logan’s movie is almost unique in the way it speaks truth to official…

Phase IV 4K

by Glenn Erickson

The celebrated filmic designer Saul Bass took on a tall cinematic challenge, directing a cerebral sci-fi thriller designed to rely heavily on his graphic communication technique. He lost the faith of a studio along the way, and perhaps his own sense of ‘directorial imperative.’ What’s left of his unique, post-2001 mindblower barely holds together, even…

The President’s Analyst

by Glenn Erickson

Now available in a domestic Blu-ray — if The Phone Company doesn’t suppress it — is one of the smartest, funniest political satires ever, and James Coburn’s finest hour as an actor & project-chooser. Writer-director Theodore J. Flicker’s movie transcends the spy-craze politics of 1967: the White House shrink knows too many Presidential secrets, making…

LOLA (2022)

by Glenn Erickson

It’s an ‘alternate future’ time warp tale of the kind that seldom works … but this is an exception. Andrew Legge’s modest found-footage movie serves up a rich dose of sci-fi ideas. What would you do if you could listen in on radio and TV signals from the future?  In 1940, two women use their…

Noir Times 3 with Eddie G.

by Glenn Erickson

Film Noir the Dark Side of Cinema XVII  17th time is charmed! Kino’s long running noir series hits a winner: all three pictures are strict-definition noirs and two of them haven’t been easy to see on video. The set is also an Edward G. Robinson festival, charting three years when the grey-listed star was taking…

All That Money Can Buy

by Glenn Erickson

William Dieterle’s film of Stephen Vincent Benét’s Faust-like folk tale is both traditional and experimental, part of a brief wave of ambitious, artistic RKO filmmaking. The agrarian horror-show pits an American statesman against what may be the screen’s best-ever Satan, a rustic tempter of farmers facing hard times. The cast is sensational: Edward Arnold, Walter…

The Abbott & Costello Show – Season 2

by Charlie Largent

The Abbott and Costello Show – Season 2 Blu-ray ClassicFlix 1952-54 Starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Sid Fields Written by Sid Fields Directed by Jean Yarborough Familiarity breeds contempt someone said, but in the case of Abbott and Costello, that familiarity was an essential part of their appeal. In the late fifties the boys were…

The Whip and the Body

by Charlie Largent

The Whip and the Body Blu-ray Kino Lorber 1963 Starring Daliah Lavi, Christopher Lee Written by Ernesto Gastaldi, Ugo Guerra, Luciano Martino Photographed by Mario Bava, Ubaldo Terzano Directed by Mario Bava The title sequence of Blood and Black Lace may be Mario Bava’s defining moment. Staged in a shadowy fashion salon, the cast is…

Faithless

by Glenn Erickson

Leave it to MGM to begin its dark Depression-Era pre-Code drama amid the top hat, silk gown & marble hall crowd. Talulah Bankhead is the wild heiress who loses her millions and then her self-respect; handsome Robert Montgomery is the pink-slipped ad man injured while driving a truck as a scab. Notorious stage personality Bankhead…

The Playgirls and the Vampire

by Glenn Erickson

It’s vintage, it’s trashy, it’s Italian. Bellissima!  A vampire prowls in a castle, but all emphasis goes to cheesecake coverage of the five sexy showgirls he wants to bite, one of whom is the reincarnation of his original victim. By modern terms the ‘just for adults’ horror content is tame, a little silly, maybe endearing….

A Fistful of Dynamite (Duck You Sucker)

by Glenn Erickson

Kino reissues Sergio Leone’s least loved epic, a movie he didn’t want to direct but also the one with the most ambitious theme. A murderous Irish rebel tricks a vulgar Mexican bandit into joining a revolution, and have a rough time dealing with an occupying army that favors massacres of civilians. James Coburn’s dynamiter is…

Nothing But a Man

by Glenn Erickson

This dramatic masterpiece is perhaps the most accurate and compelling account of American racism in the 1960s, despite being made by two Jewish filmmakers from New York. Filming at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Michael Roemer and Robert M. Young stick to a personal story and refrain from viewing the black experience through…

The Shootist

by Glenn Erickson

John Wayne’s final movie is a somber, blood-soaked farewell trimmed with sentimental guest-star cameos and closing-the-book gestures. Wayne is terrific as the gunfighter-at-sunset; Lauren Bacall makes the best impression amid a gallery of old friends that includes James Stewart. Audiences didn’t know what to make of the gory final gunfight … was Wayne giving in…

Inside the Mind of Coffin Joe

by Charlie Largent

Inside the Mind of Coffin Joe Blu-ray Arrow Films 1964-1977 Starring José Mojica Marins Written by José Mojica Marins Photographed by Giorgio Attili, Directed by José Mojica Marins Anthony Shelton’s book on Portuguese folk art, Heaven, Hell and Somewhere In Between, portrays the people of that historically unstable country as struggling “with good and evil…

The Mystery of Marie Roget

by Glenn Erickson

Hiding in a box marked Noir is one of Universal’s horror-adjacent ’40s mystery thrillers, in a terrific new transfer. The talky adaptation retains some of Edgar Allan Poe’s complicated detective ratiocinations, and spices things up with personalities like prickly Maria Ouspenskaya and star-to-be Maria Montez. Paul Dupin must juggle a mysterious disappearance, plus mutilation murders…

Allonsanfan

by Glenn Erickson

All failed revolutionaries take heart: the Taviani brothers’ downbeat yet creatively magical story of the wrong rebels in the wrong insurrection at the wrong time features a disillusioned fighter-of-the-good-fight determined to betray his comrades and abscond with their money. The three women that support and/or double-cross him are Laura Betti, Lea Massari and Mimsy Farmer….

McCabe & Mrs Miller 4K

by Glenn Erickson

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie help Robert Altman fashion one of his best pictures, a story of the Building of the West that meanders off in its own revisionist direction. The West, sayeth Altman, is just the evils of the East transplanted into the wilderness, a massive property grab. The free-form direction and cluttered soundtrack…

Contagion 4K

by Glenn Erickson

If any motion picture can still be called important, this one qualifies. Scott Z. Burns and Steve Soderbergh’s superb ‘extrapolated’ pandemic thriller imagines a virus that spreads like wildfire and kills in 48 hours. Well-cast stars fill a variety of crucial roles: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Marion Cotilliard, Kate Winslet, Jennifer…

Cause for Alarm!

by Glenn Erickson

It’s a micro-scaled domestic noir: Loretta Young’s frantic housewife is tormented by a deranged husband, an invalid gone paranoid and determined to frame her for murder. Tay Garnett directs to spotlight Young’s increasing distress, with Barry Sullivan providing the psychotic menace. As a ‘woman alone’ picture it’s not bad — in Young’s frenzied state, even…

The Roaring Twenties

by Glenn Erickson

It’s all about James Cagney — his every expression commands our attention. Writer Mark Hellinger recaps a decade of gangster tropes in a Cliff’s Notes tour through the underworld racketeering of the Prohibition years. The message is that Crime Does Not Pay, yet audiences love Cagney’s reluctant mobster, carefully adjusted to sidestep Production Code no-nos….