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.
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.
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).
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.
A collection of random thoughts about recent viewing and reading, including an ambivalent excursion into Netflix streaming.
Juzo Itami’s international hit Tampopo (1985), a prodigiously inventive comedy about our relationship with food, gets an excellent release on Blu-ray from Criterion.