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DVD Savant 2016 Favored Disc Roundup

by Glenn Erickson Dec 17, 2016

or, Savant picks

The Most Impressive Discs of 2016

Above, from 1989: In Bronson Caverns, Savant and the intrepid
Todd Stribich encounter an omen from the menacing future.

I guess 2016 is going down on the record books as an, ‘interesting’ year, for reasons that are all too evident. Whenever some sage survivor has to recall a social debacle or catastrophe, like the Black Plague or the McCarthy Era, we’ll hear them say something like, God protect us from ‘interesting’ times.

On the personal level, it was a very good year, with a wedding in the family, some great new friends and personal associations through my interests and those of my spouse – more opportunities to practice my Spanish, too. The most obvious item was a great work assignment. Last summer I got a fine assignment editing the video accompaniments and embellishments for Barbra Streisand’s big Encore concert tour. The producers came up with video concepts made to order for the great lady, about forty minutes worth, and I simply had to make them flow as smoothly as possible. Some of the videos played solo and others were shaped as background material, to illustrate her songs as she sang them. It was a dream project, working with a group of experts adept at formatting all kinds of odd sources for display on a giant concert screen – two screens, actually. It all went very well and it was a fine experience all around. I was able to attend the first show, and finally see how the compositors and engineers made it all work: two tremendous screens opened and closed for Barbra Streisand to make her entrances and exits.. when they came together the video blend was seamless – a perfect ultra-wide hi-def video panorama.

If that wasn’t good enough, I was lucky in that the busy weeks editing the concert videos didn’t interfere with my ongoing TCM work. Their schedule paused just when the concert work began, and picked up again as soon as my cuts were turned in. All freelancers know that it never happens that way.

June 2016: With Robert Fischer, taping a talk about Night and the City.

Meanwhile, the mood around Savant Central is still Bullish on Blu-ray for collectors. If hard media movies are in decline, you could have fooled me. My take on streaming is that it works quite well but it has its limitations. How many monthly subscriptions do you want, to access a full range of content? And I keep hearing about quality issues for old film on the streaming services, as well as time limits for their viewability.

Not that collecting is recommended for everybody. People without the needed space probably find that the decision has been made for them. I’m making inroads organizing the Savant disc library, but it’s still on the unwieldy side.

I enjoy the collection now more than ever, and unless I undergo a major lifestyle change, they’re here to stay. If Blu-rays do become obsolete, I’ll need to rush out and buy a half-dozen discontinued players for the future.

Viewers that have tried Blu-ray 3-D, the newer 3-D with the passive glasses, loves it: with the consistent alignment and brightness, the depth effect at home is likely to be more perfect than in the theater. It’s always something to surprise guests with, even if they would rather see a sample of something like Mad Max: Fury Road instead of a Savant-ish choice, like It Came from Outer Space. Some things never change.

A close associate broke down and got a new set this year, a 4K with 3-D too. He at first bought an Ultra-HD player but was frustrated when it wouldn’t play correctly. I haven’t bought an Ultra-HD player because I have yet to hear of a title I really want to see. So neither of us is diving into that new format as of yet. When I get an Ultra-HD disc to review, I run it down to another friend to sample. He has a machine but is not really using it.

Super presentations are fine, but the real joy for this old Film Student is the expanding breadth and depth of what’s available. More silent and early talkie material is coming out all the time. With an all-region player, plenty of foreign pictures are now available that might never be released in America’s Region A. As a lover of old studio pictures and arcane rediscoveries, restorations and resurrections, I’m loving what’s happening right now. A whole flock of top-quality disc companies are licensing from the majors, with interest in just about every level of production, from the glossy One-Eyed Jacks to the humble Invisible Invaders. We’ve also seen a few pre-Code movies from the 20th Fox library showing up… to see those one must usually attend a rarified screening convention like Cinecon.

There are plenty of studio films that still haven’t gotten the restoration nod because of funding or technical issues — Raintree County, The Alamo, The Thing ’51, The Big Sky. But a lot of great product that has. I reviewed a pretty mangy DVD-R of the original Something Wild a few years back, the great film with Carroll Baker and Ralph Meeker. The director Jack Garfein wrote and thanked me for the review, which complained of the disc quality: a flat transfer probably made in the 1990s. Well, it’s coming from Criterion fairly soon, so we’ll finally be able to see Eugen Shuftan’s widescreen B&W cinematography in HD, and hear Aaron Copland’s music score in decent condition.


Long-haired Savant, around 1974. Rugged, fearless, nearsighted.

An intact printing element for the once-lost Sci Fi epic Deluge has been recovered, which is due early next year from Kino. What’s next, RKO’s long-lost The Monkey’s Paw, perhaps? Kino has also just announced Tobor the Great in Blu-ray, which, being a Republic picture, I would have expected from another company. Cohen Media, Olive Films, Milestone, Flicker Alley, have all come up with surprise titles. Twilight Time will be bringing us How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Our Man in Havana, two titles that ought to look much better in HD.

There have been so many good discs this year of older movies, that I don’t think I’ve included more than one or two recent pictures for my ‘most impressive’ list. And they’re both documentaries. I saw and reviewed a number of good new movies this year, but fans already know about them. I hope to review Arrival next year, but it’s not likely to end up on the 2017 best disc list. My aim is not to be obscure, but to tease mainstream viewers to try something new or different, or even in Black and White. I have a philosophy about what appeals to me, and I’m happy when someone discovers a favorite film through my recommendation. I know I’ll never lose interest. There are so many great older pictures to see that aren’t yet available, that even if I keep seeking them out at my present pace, I still will see only a fraction of them.


Bored yet? I will desist. Here’s the boilerplate text I place in front of every list:

The pictures are taken from what I’ve seen and reviewed. It is not a list of the best-looking discs or the most expensive restorations, although titles like that are represented. It’s a subjective grouping of what releases meant the most to me, and why. Some are old favorites, some offered major revelations and others were just movies that I’m really glad I saw. It’s a recommendation list — if you know my taste you can filter out my subject affinities and political bias to fit your own temperament. Note that each disc title is a link to the original review.


And Now…

Savant’s picks for 2016

 

1.
Cinelicious
Private Propery
Blu-ray + DVD
The top slot this year goes to a new label with a wild title from Leslie Stevens, a filmmaker that never made anything ordinary. Imagine how daring it must have been in 1959 to make a psychodrama about two vagrants maneuvering to rape a well-heeled housewife in the Hollywood Hills. When a ‘lost’ film shows up, we usually find out there’s a good reason it got shelved, but this is one of the best movies of its year, for writing and direction (Stevens), camerawork (Ted McCord, Conrad Hall) and especially acting (Corey Allen, Kate Manx & Warren Oates). It’s not that raw by today’s standards, but in terms of honesty and credibility with such a testy subject, I’ve never seen anything so accurate and sensitive. Includes an interesting interview with filmmaker Alexander Singer.


2.
The Criterion Collection
The Executioner
Blu-ray
Unknown here, director Luis Garcí Berlanga is a cherished artist in Spain; this is said to be one of his best movies. This supposed cry against capital punishment is also a wicked sideways jab at the Franco regime, using sly allegory so cleverly that we hardly know we’re watching a black comedy. Forced by his marriage situation, a mortician’s assistant is slowly drawn into taking a job that horrifies him. Under the foolish notion that he’ll never have to actually perform his duty, he lets himself take the easy road to bourgeois security and comfort. Berlanga and his screenwriters present a trap that many of us fall into — it’s not simply about jobs we hate, but an entire mindset. The director is kind of a humanist Luis Buñuel — it’s horror with warmth, not icy irony. Berlanga’s approach has been compared with that of Ernst Lubitsch. For this viewer this is a major discovery — riches keep arriving from enexcpected directions.


3.
Flicker Alley / Film Noir Foundation
Woman on the Run
Blu-ray
Three cheers for The Film noir Foundation, which in this case pulled a terrific film back from the brink of extinction, officially lost, and rescued through a quasi-legal maneuver that Eddie Muller calls ‘benign film piracy.’ What they saved is a dazzler, a chance for actress Ann Sheridan to shine. I think it’s one of her best films — basically a trick noir story except the twists are based in believable characters and not Woolrich-like plot boomerangs. Followed by the cops and pursued by a killer, a woman must locate her husband in the dreamy 1950-era streets of San Francisco because… well, it’s too complicated to explain. Director Norman Foster’s dramatic scenes really shine; the movie creates powerful feelings about people, beyond the thriller mandate. It should be up there with the key noir greats.


4.
The Criterion Collection
Chimes at Midnight
Blu-ray + DVD
This year’s list is top-heavy with movies once difficult to see. Campanadas a medianoche rates right up with the top three or four Orson Welles pictures. Those of us who saw it the last time it was readily viewable — around 1975 — were knocked over by its fine drama, its beauty and the great performance of Welles in a part that doesn’t seem like a vanity choice. The soundtrack back in 1975 was so poor that this sharp & clear new Blu-ray is the first time we’ve really heard the movie, and I can report that it’s a great, funny, entertaining picture (the subtitles help with the arcane dialogue). Keith Baxter, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford and John Gielgud co-star. Apparently Welles never had a happier cast or a less-troubled shoot. The problems began only in post-production, with the film’s ownership divvied up in a way that prevented a decent release.


5.
Twilight Time
The Gang’s All Here
Blu-ray
This one is pure musical joy, above and beyond the old assessment that it was Camp and could only be appreciated by gays. Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, Benny Goodman, Charlotte Greenwood and Edward Everett Horton are the musical performers, lovers and clowns in what is the most dazzling of the wartime morale-boosters, thanks to Busby Berkeley, Technicolor and some fantastic musical arrangements. Berkeley’s camera never stops moving — it spins around Goodman’s clarinet and dive-bombs Carmen Miranda’s tutti-frutti hat. Stylized to the nth degree, the art direction & Berkeley style resemble a giant kaleidoscope, until the whole movie dissolves into a real kaleidoscope. Hint — those ‘camp’ visuals + the music + plus the color are all an expression of sex! And if you don’t believe that, ‘you’re a snake in the bush!’ An apt description of this show’s impact is Pre-Psychedelic.


6.
The Criterion Collection
Carnival of Souls
Blu-ray
A true miracle of regional filmmaking, in which sincere performances top professional acting every time. The perfectly realized theme of Herk Harvey’s haunted zombie picture is the ultimate in 2 a.m. nightmare movies. Lonely Candace Hilligoss has a secret, but she hasn’t figured it out yet. She must confront a waking nightmare made of homegrown elements: a sad, haunted woman with bright eyes and an open mind; organ music that suggests the spiritual — or the life beyond death; a mysterious zombie man who appears when she least expects him. It all finishes at the best haunted location of all time, a desolate, abandoned fun-fair pavilion on the edge of a dead lake, that stands in for the end of the world. Revived around 1992, this is another arcane winner given a new life — it’s no longer ragged and contrasty.


7.
The Criterion Collection
One-Eyed Jacks
Blu-ray
And they keep coming, these M.I.A. wonder movies. Marlon Brando’s solitary fling at directing was under-appreciated when new, and unless you were around in the early ’70s before the last Technicolor prints turned into splice-ridden eyesores, you have no way of knowing how the beautiful images add to its entertainment quotient. Brando, Karl Malden, Katy Jurado and Pina Pellicer offer fine performances, while cowboy greats like Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens turn in what might be career bests. But it’s the images that matter — a desert in a dust storm; Brando’s bandit stealing a ring back from a foolish señorita. And the beauty of the Big Sur beach country gives the movie the feel of a western on the edge of paradise. Once abandoned to the faux-Public Domain, the movie is back better than ever. Just restore the original logos, dang-nab it.


8.
KL Studio Classics (Kino Lorber)
GOG 3-D
3-D Blu-ray
That brings us to the happy work of the folks at the 3-D Film Archive, which has been building up momentum the last few years and now has a busy schedule revitalizing old 3-D pictures for Blu-Ray 3-D (a terrific format, BTW). This early science fiction picture is a somewhat childish murder mystery in an underground government lab (Area 51?) where everything is controlled by computer. The secret agent hero discovers little remote control devices everywhere, but nobody can fathom how scientists are being killed by their own runaway science project. The movie’s Tinkertoys de resistance are a pair of shiny blue robots that say ‘future peril’ all over them. The 3-D Archive’s task wasn’t easy, as the film elements for one eye had been tossed away, and the collector’s print that was located had extremely faded color. But they brought GOG back to tip-top condition anyway. I think this was the job that convinced vendors that the Archive’s experts had the right 3-D stuff, restoration-wise.


9.
Subkultur
Mill of the Stone Women
Blu-ray (Region B)
Gothic horror fans with all-region equipment will be tickled by this back-to-basics bit of medical Guignol that pretends to be based on ‘an old Flemish tale.’ The setting sounds like tourism horror: a quaint Dutch windmill with a musical carillon connected to a mechanized parade of wax figures of beautiful women — all associated with evil or torture. The mad sculptor and his demented doctor cohort are both obsessed with the sickly daughter, played by the hauntingly fetching Scilla Gabel. And our hero dallies with the daughter instead of his own girlfriend, leading to a nightmare of drug dreams and mad surgery, all presented in soft-hued colors unlike any horror picture before or since. Director Giorgio Ferroni made mostly Italo Westerns; this release contains three separate language versions. It’s one of the four titles that really launched Eurohorror in the year 1960.


10.
Flicker Alley
L’Inhumaine
Blu-ray
Say ‘silent experimental art film,’ and the seasoned fan will think of a mangled remnant where one must read a book to find out what was really going on. Marcel L’Herbier’s delirious 1924 tale has a half-dozen crazy things on its mind, including a machine that raises the dead. But the main motivator is the director’s notion that an eclectic mash-up of the artistic movements of the time would create powerful emotions. Thus the super-vanity production is a mix of architectural and graphic ideas familiar to students of European art; some of the visuals are unforgettable, like a banquet space that floats in the middle of a swimming pool. The wild romantic storyline brings in elements of science fiction and spiritualism. It’s… you have to see it, and then watch the documentary that explains it. The clincher: someone located an original negative in practically perfect condition. One of the audio potions for the film is a score by the Alloy Orchestra.


11.
The Criterion Collection
Paris Belongs to Us
Blu-ray
It’s all been done before, and usually better — Jacques Rivette got elbowed out of the spotlight by the flashier New Wave critics-turned directors, but there’s nothing like this journey back to Paris of 1958. The 2-plus hour interpersonal mystery keeps threatening to become a political conspiracy thriller… or is it just the paranoid ravings of a group of young artists and students afoot in Paris? This is a non-existential thriller, yet for fuel it uses uncertainty and doubt, and the nagging adult reality that the people we deal with are complex and furtive, not ‘characters’ that run to type, whose every move can be predicted (see the new Bull TV show for that). Typical mysteries clarify, but this film reminds us how real life refuses easy simplifications. My review compares the show’s you-can’t-pin-it-down quality to The Seventh Victim and Cutter’s Way. There’s no way film school would have shown us this, but it’s got a lot more to say than yet another Godard postcards ‘n’ slogan entry, or François Truffaut saying he’s New Wave while emulating mainstream movies. I may never see Paris, but pictures like this show me the magical city one can no longer visit.


12.
Olive Films
J’accuse
Blu-ray
I guess this year’s list is pretty artsy… first L’Herbier and now the King of artistic vanity Abel Gance. Posed stylistically between the sublime Napoleon and the bungled manic-religious sci-fi epic La fin du monde is this re-thought 1938 remake of Gance’s own 1919 anti-war picture of the same title. Expect more delirious Christian symbolism in the service of pacifism, and a totally goofy plot in which a demented scientist survivor determines to end war by creating an impenetrable armor. Why didn’t he just invent something really pacifistic, like Napalm? The film has a stunning WW1 sequence, a thoroughly muddled middle, and it concludes with the horrific tour-de-force of a genuine ghost apocalypse. The massed dead of Verdun rise to accuse the living of betraying their sacrifice by preparing once again for war. It’s powerful as only a really naive allegory can be. Gance’s idea of audacity is to use real mutilated veterans in the zombie horde sequence, back when such graphic images were considered taboo, beyond the pale. Is the movie great social cinema or merely Gance once again showboating his ‘genius?’ It does contain the brilliant performance of Victor Francen, whose non-stop rage against fate and injustice would give any normal actor a heart attack.


13.

Cinema Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood
Blu-ray
Yes, we still appreciate documentaries here at DVD Savant. This year we especially loved Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next? This class-act 2009 docu about movie history has a winning human dimension — it’s about the thousands of ‘movie refugees’ from Nazi Germany who took root in Tinsel Town. The show starts with people like Ernst Lubitsch, who arrived much earlier; he and other established German-speaking directors, actors, writers and musicians were able to help the flood of displaced people that came later. Joseph Goebbels ‘drained the swamp’ by firing every Jew employed in the German film industry. Some like Billy Wilder came over here right away and learned the language, some barely made it and others practically had to be smuggled out. We learn from Lupita Tovar Kohner how she and her studio exec husband aided the refugees. The personal stories tie together a tall stack of admired names: Marlene Dietrich, Franz Waxman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Peter Lorre, Salka Viertel, Joe May, S.Z. Sakall. The home movies of ’30s and ’40s-era Hollywood are a wonderment. The surefire hook that leads off is a glimpse at a single scene in ‘Rick’s’ in Casablanca, where practically every colorful supporting actor in sight is a newcomer to our shores, either waiting out the war or putting down new roots. Kudos to director Karen Thomas.


14.
Shout Select (Shout! Factory)
The T.A.M.I. Show & The Big T.N.T. Show

Blu-ray
Must viewers be my age or older to appreciate this? These two mid-sixties rock concert pictures were concocted to promote Electronovision, a great proto- hi-def B&W TV system that enabled film transfers that didn’t look like blurry kinescopes. The talent lineup for T.A.M.I. is sensational: The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, The Blossoms, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Lesley Gore, Jan & Dean, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Supremes, The Rolling Stones. That plus a fantastic corps of oversexed go-go dancers! It all came together in 1964, before rock was ruined by big business egos and greed. Made just a year later, T.N.T. is an entirely different animal, with producer Phil Spector ‘shaping’ the material, injecting an orchestra into the works, and making performers adapt their styles as if on a TV variety show: David McCallum, Ray Charles, Petula Clark, Bo Diddley, Joan Baez, The Ronettes, Roger Miller, The Byrds, Donovan, The Ike & Tina Turner Revue. When it’s straight up ‘come out and knock ’em dead’ performing, these pictures are a terrific, unrepeatable Return to The Garden. Hey, our novelty-driven ’60s pop scene was great!


15.
Icarus Films
Dreams Rewired
DVD
Art-film brilliance isn’t limited to vintage efforts from France — the writing and directing team of Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart and Thomas Tode have constructed a ‘future shock’ essay on technological change, or, more accurately, how technological change has changed us. It’s made 97% from ancient film clips in excellent condition. We learn that the way we envision the world and our place in started being redirected from the very first experiments in electrical communications. A slightly humorous narration by Tilda Swinton pulls us in, while the old film clips illustrate the seductive magic of talking to someone far away, and the recording of audio and image rapidly redefines how we relate to one other. The film shows us that filmmakers from 1910 understood concepts that the Internet has made part of our internal wiring — the vanquishing of space and time to make all events happen simultaneously. And it also asks the big questions: “Does seeing the world bring it together?” We’re immediately reminded that the Internet promised to create a world community of idea sharing, understanding and harmony; instead we have the unfulfilled promises of the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement. The picture is a visual marvel of rare film clips, bolstered by a terrific non-melodic score by Siegfried Friedrich. It’s sensational; someone bring it out in Blu-ray.


16.
The Warner Archive Collection
On Dangerous Ground
Blu-ray
Some movies I’ve seen a dozen times over and simply accepted that they aren’t going to look or sound any better — the negatives are missing or the studio threw out the audio masters. The Warner Archive Collection has been shifting its emphasis to Blu-ray in the last three years, and is now bringing out great library titles, many of which are listed below. Nicholas Ray’s 1952 noir classic was previously always on the dull side, but now its icy images are as sharp as a tack. Its superb Bernard Herrmann music score rages across the screen, fighting for attention, sounding clearer than the CD soundtrack release. Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan are heartbreakingly honest under Ray’s sensitive direction. Ryan’s violent, out-of-control city cop must take on a sex murder case way out in the snow country. To his surprise, the rogue cop is now the one sane person among vigilantes, and his conversion back to humanity feels truly profound. The production was a mess and the upbeat ending was tacked on totally against Nicholas Ray’s plan, yet the end result is sublime. It transcends the hardboiled story, with unabashed romance.


17.
Kino Classics (Kino Lorber)
Pioneers of African-American Cinema
Blu-ray
Everybody says they’re for the preservation of regional and ethnic filmmaking, but only companies like Milestone do anything about it. For this 5-disc set Kino Classics steps up to the plate and hits us with hours of restored features and shorts from the long-gone Black Theater Circuit — movies made specifically for black audiences, with black casts, black stars and more than a few black directors that can be called film artists. And it isn’t the same five titles that used to show every year on PBS during Black History Month. Quite a few new items are here, handsomely restored, with new music scores for silent features. Writer-director Oscar Micheaux is well represented and the range of content is fairly wide, encompassing ‘moral dramas’, musicals, westerns, even an aviation story. The comedy is good and the performers interesting — even when the films seem homemade, the talent on hand is impressive. The set contains commentaries, essays and film featurettes to explain context and arcane references.


18.
Kino Classics (Kino Lorber)
Gold
Blu-ray
And now we get exotic. This propagandistic Hitler-era German sci-fi picture uses sophisticated effects camerawork to bring to life a giant alchemy machine, supposedly in an undersea cave off Scotland. An English tycoon has stolen the secret from honest Germans, in the process murdering one scientist. His agents now kidnap another heroic scientist (Hans Albers) to finish the job. Albers connects with the tycoon’s decadent daughter (Brigitte Helm, wow) but saves his heart for his pure Mädchen back home. Who will help Hans defeat the capitalist criminals? A decent workingman who believes in good National Socialist values! The fantastic special effects are still stunning; the reason the film is so obscure is that the U.S. Army seized it because somebody thought the alchemy machine looked like an atom smasher. But the fabulous effects finale was somehow filched and ‘borrowed’ for an Ivan Tors 1953 sci-fi melodrama The Magnetic Monster — which Kino has released on Blu-ray concurrent with this exotic gem.


19.
Arrow U.S.
Blood Bath
Blu-ray
The inclusion of this less-than-stellar movie is based not on its own merit, but on the historical-editorial discoveries inherent in its crazy evolution. Basically, it takes us back to 1990-1991 or so, when the new magazine Video Watchdog grabbed our attention: we were fascinated at how VW used research and keen observation to discover how our favorite strange movies got to be so strange. A multi-article examination of three (or is it four?) movies that Roger Corman, Jack Hill and Stephanie Rothman made from the same Serbian murder thriller was an early highlight of the magazine. The tale of reshooting and re-cutting in search of yet another release-able variant would boggle the mind if it didn’t make perfect sense with Corman’s philosophy of getting something on screen with a minimum of expense. We’ve all seen movies made by cannibalizing an earlier feature and slapping on a flashback, but this goes further. A long-form docu on the disc set gives us Tim Lucas spelling out the whole complicated chronology of editorial transformations. It’s highly entertaining, for what Lucas can’t get from direct evidence he has to deduce from hints in the films themselves. It’s a marvelous exercise in film archeology, totally divorced from any merit the film may have in itself. By the final version the fairly straight mystery story is a crazy mess of supernatural hauntings, a goofy vampire, and an ending that could be called ‘Zombies In The Wax Museum.’


20.
Twilight Time
Garden of Evil
Blu-ray
And finally, here’s one for sentimental value — ever since Home Video appeared I’ve been lusting for a way of seeing this early CinemaScope, Technicolor and Stereophonic Sound western in a top quality presentation. The stars struggle through a sticky script that’s never as intense as it wants to be, with Gary Cooper barely trying, Susan Hayward in search of the right attitude and Richard Widmark blathering on about ‘human nature.’ But Henry Hathaway’s movie works on its own odd level — it’s a wedding of strange music and a weird landscapes, a trip into a lost world that’s partly a region of Mexico buried in volcanic cinders, and partly a concoction of the special effects department. An impossible trail along a cliff side is so extreme that both horses and men ought to be crawling along on hands and knees. Bernard Herrmann’s ominous music provides the drama and urgency the story lacks, and Hathaway’s strange ultra-wide images of the eerie landscape do the rest. Movies can be fascinating for so many reasons, especially when they veer far afield of what can happen on a stage, or be written in words in a screenplay.

 



 

So that’s that – twenty great releases that made it well worth staying alive in 2016. What follows are the titles that made the short list — I’ve already watched most of them more than once. These are all highly recommended. All are linked to the original reviews.

 

*McCabe and Mrs. Miller  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*Pretty Poison  Blu-ray Twilight Time
*Strategic Air Command  Blu-ray Olive Films
*It Came from Outer Space 3-D Blu-ray Universal Studios Home Entertainment
*The Human Condition  Blu-ray Arrow Academy U.K.
*Canadian Pacific  Blu-ray KL Studio Classics
*Stakeout on Dope Street  DVD The Warner Archive Collection
*Patterns  Blu-ray The Film Detective
*Johnny Guitar Widescreen  Blu-ray Olive Signature (Olive Films)
*The People v. O.J. Simpson  Blu-ray Fox Home Video
*The Magic Box: The films of Shirley Clarke  Blu-ray The Milestone Cinematheque
*Cat People  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*Tab Hunter Confidential  Blu-ray FilmRise
*Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*The Wave  Blu-ray Magnolia Home Entertainment
*Le Amiche  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*La fièvre monte à El Pao  Blu-ray Pathé France
*The Private Affairs of Bel Ami  Blu-ray Olive Films
*The Chase (1946)  Blu-ray Kino Classics
*Phoenix  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection

*Try and Get Me!  Blu-ray Olive Films
* The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*A Brighter Summer Day  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*The American Friend  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*The Captive City  Blu-ray KL Studio Classics
*Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte  Blu-ray Twilight Time
*Fixed Bayonets!  Blu-ray KL Studio Classics
*Losing Ground  Blu-ray The Milestone Cinematheque
*Susan Slept Here  Blu-ray The Warner Archive Collection
*In the French Style  Blu-ray Twilight Time
*Let There Be Light: John Huston’s Wartime Documentaries  Blu-ray Olive Films
*Fellini’s Roma  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*The Exterminating Angel  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*Bad Girl  Blu-ray KL Studio Classics
*Cry of the City  Blu-ray KL Studio Classics
*The Asphalt Jungle  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*Cutter’s Way  Blu-ray Twilight Time
*It’s Always Fair Weather  Blu-ray The Warner Archive Collection
*One of Our Aircraft Is Missing  Blu-ray Olive Films

*Moby Dick  Blu-ray Twilight Time
*The Chase (1966)  Blu-ray Twilight Time
*The Monster of Piedras Blancas  Blu-ray Olive Films
*Comanche Station  Blu-ray Exposive Media / Alive
*Chandu the Magian  Blu-ray KL Studio Classics
*The Daughter of Dawn  Blu-ray The Milestone Cinematheque
*3 Bad Men  Blu-ray KL Studio Classsics
*The Whip Hand  DVD The Warner Archive Collection
*Forbidden Hollywood Volume 10  Blu-ray The Warner Archive Collection
*99 River Street  Blu-ray KL Studio Classics
*Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  Blu-ray The Warner Archive Collection
*Mustang  Blu-ray Cohen / Entertainment One
*Too Late for Tears  Blu-ray Flicker Alley / Film Noir Foundation
*Exodus  Blu-ray Twilight Time
*In a Lonely Place  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*When Eight Bells Toll  Blu-ray KL Studio Classics
*The Purple Plain  Blu-ray KL Studio Classics
*The Big Sleep  Blu-ray The Warner Archive Collection
*The Vikings  Blu-ray KL Studio Classics
*All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records  Blu-ray FilmRise
*Childhood’s End  Blu-ray Universal Studios Home Entertainment
*Gilda  Blu-ray The Criterion Collection
*Cat Ballou  Blu-ray Twilight Time
*Sweet Adeline  Blu-ray The Warner Archive Collection

 


 

So 2016 winds up. I won’t offer any more thoughts about the uncertain future — whatever we may find inside the ghostly cave marked ‘2017.’ I think that the things this website and column are concerned with are important to aficionados of film. For me, studying the ideas they carry is still important. Even more rewarding is the connection I’ve made through DVD Savant with a pleasant group of correspondents. I regularly exchange long notes with people I barely know by name. I have little idea how they live or what they look like, yet I jump when I see their notes in my in-box.

I’m also grateful for the patience and tolerance of web manager John Sinnott, and my Trailers from Hell connection Charlie Largent, and to the friendly staff at the Academy Research Library. I remember how eagerly I once awaited my issues of The Laserdisc Newsletter and Video Watchdog, so I hope that on a less lofty plane there will continue to be readers out there looking forward to DVD Savant.

Thanks again, Glenn Erickson, December 17, 2016

1997: With A.I. ‘Buzz’ Bezzerides at the LACMA re-premiere of the restored Kiss Me Deadly.


 

Nostalgic? Check out previous DVD Savant Favored Disc Roundups:
Savant’s 2015 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2014 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2013 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2012 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2011 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2010 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2009 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2008 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2007 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2006 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2005 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2004 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2003 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2002 favored disc roundup
Savant’s 2001 favored disc roundup
This has been a yearly tradition since 2001. Happy Holidays!

April 24, 2016: L.A. City Hall goes purple in memory of Prince.

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Text © Copyright 2016 Glenn Erickson

About Glenn Erickson

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Glenn Erickson left a small town for UCLA film school, where his spooky student movie about a haunted window landed him a job on the CLOSE ENCOUNTERS effects crew. He’s a writer and a film editor experienced in features, TV commercials, Cannon movie trailers, special montages and disc docus. But he’s most proud of finding the lost ending for a famous film noir, that few people knew was missing. Glenn is grateful for Trailers From Hell’s generous offer of a guest reviewing haven for DVD Savant.