Articles by Glenn Erickson

Secret of the Incas

Behold — it’s Indiana Jones in embryonic form. Paramount’s South American adventure exploits Peruvian scenery and the ’50s exotica phenomenon that was the unique songstress Yma Sumac. The production receives hearty input from Charlton Heston, Nicole Maurey and Thomas Mitchell, but it’s mostly a relic today. Not because the Raiders films have stolen its thunder…

Married to the Mob

Many gangland parodies fall flat, but not Jonathan Demme’s marvelous combo of high spirits and murder. Mafia spouse Angela de Marco’s story is goofy comedy with an edge of economic reality: how does one newly-impoverished New Yawk dame make a living for her orphaned son, while avoiding the adulterous attentions of the Big Boss who…

George Pal Sci-fi Double Feature 4K

It’s one of the year’s most awaited discs: the recent restored and remastered The War of the Worlds ’53 in a glorious 4K Ultra HD edition. A second Blu-ray disc of When Worlds Collide ’51 is too good to be called a bonus extra: this edition looks better than anything seen since original Technicolor prints….

The Scarlet Hour

Producer-director Michael Curtiz’s femme fatale noir has a lot going for it — high production values, VistaVision, and new film talent in Tom Tryon, Carol Ohmart, Elaine Stritch & Jody Lawrance. Excellent location shooting and a Nat King Cole song provide authentic Los Angeles atmosphere. But the storyline is ten years out of date. The…

Rain (1932)

The effort to restore neglected films doesn’t get more rewarding than this 4K rebirth of Lewis Milestone’s version of the acclaimed Somerset Maugham story. Loaned from MGM, Joan Crawford tries on the role of Sadie Thompson and holds her own opposite Walter Huston’s fire & brimstone preacher. It’s still a major achievement of the pre-Code…

Orders to Kill

Anthony Asquith’s unusual look at wartime espionage garnered good notices in 1958, perhaps from reviewers rebelling against the trend toward ruthless screen violence. Star Paul Massie is fine as an emotionally-stricken Allied assassin who balks at carrying out his mission; the acting support from Irene Worth and Leslie French is superb. Screenwriter Paul Dehn was…

The Cop (Un condé)

The tough guys in Yves Boisset’s crime drama answer revenge with revenge, and Michel Bouquet’s rogue cop commits outrageous acts of lawlessness to nail his partner’s killer. The French censors were up at arms over Boisset’s slight to police honor, yet the subject isn’t corruption — everything is ‘honor and decency.’ A fine gallery of…

Le Corbeau

As an artist Henri-Georges Clouzot was fearless: in the darkness of the German occupation he made a movie about the social crime of informing. Poison Pen accusations destroy trust, bringing out the worst in the people of a small French town. Who is The Crow and how many will suffer before the letters stop?  It’s…

So Proudly We Hail

If a single WW2 Hollywood war epic can sum up the complexity of homefront morale-building, this one is it. Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard and Veronica Lake enlist as Army nurses and are plunged into the disastrous opening onslaught in the Philippines. Adroit screenwriting and direction use the clichés of Hollywood glamour to give mom &…

Essential Film Noir Collection 3

The third ‘Essential’ noir collection is easily [Imprint]’s best, with two genuine classics of the style plus two excellent and equally entertaining thrillers. The directors are first-rank: Lewis Milestone, Mitchell Leisen, William Dieterle and William Wyler. Top stars are present too: Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lisabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas, William Holden, Alexis Smith, Edmond O’Brien,…

A Fugitive from the Past

Arrow Video floors us with yet another well-curated Japanese masterpiece. For practical purposes, this disc might represent the Western premiere of Tomu Uchida’s three-hour ‘crime and punishment’ saga. Unfolding like a novel and filmed with an unusually gritty visual scheme called ‘the Toei W106 method,’ the story’s timeline is split between 1947 and 1957. It…

On the Beach

End-of-the-world Sci-fi went mainstream with a heavy message about human extinction in John Paxton’s all-star adaptation of Nevil Shute’s best seller. Always controversial and often derided as ‘glamorous obliteration chic,’ Stanley Kramer’s film plays better than ever. The possibility of Nuke Doom could be ignored back then, but we’ve since gained a more apocalyptic outlook…

Abe Lincoln in Illinois

Plenty of actors have played Abraham Lincoln well, but the actor still most associated with the role is Raymond Massey, who starred in Robert E. Sherwood’s Pulitzer Prizewinning play. The film version was not a hit, as Sherwood’s aim is to capture the melancholy, even the foreboding, of a man who was a natural for…

Rachel, Rachel

Now that’s dedication in marriage: Paul Newman’s first directed feature film is a drama showcase for his spouse Joanne Woodward, one likely to garner critical attention. A small-town teacher deals with boredom, isolation, repression, and dwindling hope; the carefully measured conflicts allow good input from actors Kate Harrington, Estelle Parsons, and James Olson as the…

He Who Must Die

Jules Dassin’s powerful picture was a hit in Europe but remained mostly obscure here, despite featuring the great Melina Mercouri and a score of Continental stars. Adapted by two blacklistees in exile it doesn’t try to hide its revolutionary aims — Nikos Kazantzakis’s uncompromised storyline places The Church as a main obstruction to social progress,…

Nobody’s Fool

Director Robert Benton and Paul Newman come through with an extremely pleasing small town story. Snowy North Bath New York would seem a pit of failures big and small, until we begin to appreciate its social web of ‘support relationships’ that fill in for broken family connections. Newman’s injured laborer can’t get a fair shake,…

The Tenth Man

This lesser-known suspense thriller is an excellent adaptation of a novel by Graham Greene, and a fine showcase for actor Anthony Hopkins and the upcoming Kristin Scott Thomas, with an able assist from Derek Jacobi. A Paris lawyer is sentenced to die as a random hostage of the German occupiers, but swaps with another prisoner…

The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz

Luis Buñuel’s Mexican masterpiece embraces truly edgy content: morbid comedy, anti-social satire and a strong streak of anarchist surrealism. His ‘adventurer into the unknown’ this time is no ordinary pervert, but a privileged delinquent in pursuit of a childhood sex fantasy: killing a beautiful woman just for the thrill. Naughty Archibaldo’s rehearsals are an unending…

Hôtel du Nord

Take a refreshing plunge into classic French Poetic Realism — pre-noir drama with softer edges and a touch of romantic fatalism. A low-rent hotel on a barge canal is the gathering point for a cross-section of quasi- undesirables. Scandals and crimes aside, they’re a touching, human bunch, as performed to perfection by Louis Jouvet, Annabella,…

Samson Double Bill

Pepla! Pepla! Rah Rah Rah!  These two remastered Italo muscleman pix could be the start of something big. A pair of relatively early Maciste epics became Samson vehicles in American-International’s Hollywood-ized revisions. Mark Forest & ex-Tarzan Gordon Scott overthrow tyrants in Egypt and Cathay, while hurling boulders and kissing exotic damsels like Chelo Alonso, Yôko…

Madigan

It’s one of the best cop shows of the 1960s! Detective Madigan’s police .38 is stolen by a mad-dog killer, forcing him to take extra risks just as more problems personal and professional close in on him. Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Inger Stevens and Harry Guardino give sterling performances, and the assured direction of Don…

The Beast

Director Kevin Reynolds’ graphic, gritty desert combat movie is about a lost tank in the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Besides being 98% an unpleasant downer, it now reminds us that we got into the exact same fix just a decade after the Russkis threw in the towel. Cruel Russki soldiers commit atrocities against vengeful…

Paths of Glory 4K

Kino boosts the third United Artists Stanley Kubrick classic to 4K clarity, bringing out every nuance of the director’s fine B&W imagery. Kubrick’s major career achievement this time was forming a mutually positive relationship with a big star. Their show is an artful anti-militaristic shout that accuses the French officer corps of willful murder. Producer-star…

Heartbreakers

The words offbeat, personal and edgy used to be a draw for movie fare — we’d check out a new relationship picture based only on an actor or two that we liked. Bobby Roth’s semi-autobiographical buddy story has a good stab at the early ’80s art + singles scene in Los Angeles, with a dash…

The Virgin Suicides 4K

Who are those eternal dream girls of summer?  Now in 4K . . . Sofia Coppola’s first feature is a head-swirling poetic essay about adolescent angst and tragic self-annihilation. Some families are balanced, others are dysfunctional and some are just plain toxic. Ms. Coppola sticks close to the source book, looking for visuals to express…