George A. Romero, who died on July 16, a master of the horror film, was influential far beyond the movies, having originated the now-ubiquitous zombies of pop culture in his best known films, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead.
The BFI Blu-ray release of Arthur Robison’s The Informer (1929) offers a fascinating glimpse of the sometimes rocky transition from silent cinema to sound, with restorations of the original silent version and the partial Talkie made simultaneously.
Some brief comments on several recent movie-related deaths, plus random observations about an eclectic group of recently watched Blu-rays in various different genres.
Criterion’s Blu-ray edition of Marcel Pagnol’s Marseilles Trilogy is a revelation, a vibrant, humanistic display of the dramatic possibilities of sound cinema.
Two recent Twilight Time Blu-ray releases – Roy Ward Baker’s Inferno (1953) and Don Siegel’s Edge of Eternity (1959) – place film noir narratives in bright desert landscapes, one in 3D, the other in panoramic widescreen.
Severin’s Blu-ray showcases the low budget art of independent filmmaker Frederick R. Friedel with excellent transfers of his two mid-’70s movies, Axe (aka Lisa, Lisa) and Kidnapped Coed (aka The Kidnap Lover).
Arrow Video’s commitment to genre releases is on full display in a selection of recently viewed Blu-rays, each featuring informative supplements: the Japanese juvenile delinquent series Stray Cat Rock, Don Coscarelli’s epic Phantasm series, a pair of Gothic gialli from Emilio P. Miraglia, and Spanish director J.P. Simon’s adaptation of Brit author Shaun Hutson’s gross-out novel Slugs.
Criterion’s World Cinema Project 2 box set opens windows on a number of unfamiliar national cinemas with an eclectic selection of six distinctive features.
Four Twilight Time releases showcase exceptional acting in a variety of styles: Spencer Tracy and Frederick March in Stanley Kramer’s Inherit the Wind (1960); Jeff Bridges, John Heard and Lisa Eichhorn in Ivan Passer’s Cutter’s Way (1981); Sean Penn and Christopher Walken in James Foley’s At Close Range (1986); and David Thewlis in Paul Greengrass’ Resurrected (1989).
A pair of made-in-Germany genre-bending thrillers are well-served by excellent Blu-ray editions: Sam Fuller’s Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1972) from Olive Films and Wolf Gremm’s Kamikaze ’89 (1982) from Film Movement.