A round-up of recent viewing ranging from classic fantasy to low budget horror to rugged adventure and a western.
An almost lost masterpiece resurfaces in Criterion’s excellent Blu-ray release of Michael Curtiz’ The Breaking Point (1950) starring John Garfield. This Hemingway adaptation fell prey to Hollywood’s post-war Red Scare, but is now revealed as among the director’s and star’s finest work.
Technical accuracy is not necessarily what makes science fiction satisfying; more important is storytelling, as illustrated by two older, and one recent, movies released on Blu-ray: Byron Haskin’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964), Joseph Sargent’s Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) and Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016)..
Criterion’s Blu-ray presents Andrei Tarkovsky’s masterpiece Stalker in a stunning new restoration which does full justice to its rich imagery and subtle soundscape.
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.