Hammer Horror on Blu-ray

The eye of the Phantom (Herbert Lom) in Terence Fisher's Phantom of the Opera (1962)

Hammer Films are, of course, best known for launching the modern era of horror with their late ’50s colour reworkings of the Universal classics from the ’30s, beginning with Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). These movies, colourful, somewhat perverse for the time, and more graphic than earlier films in the genre, inspired Roger […] Read More

Seeing the world in black-and-white … and shades of grey

Time is running out for small-time entertainer Sammy Lee (Anthony Newley) in Ken Hughes' The Small World of Sammy Lee (1963)

The pleasures of black-and-white cinematography are on full display in Ken Hughes’ The Small World of Sammy Lee; shot on the streets of Soho and the East End by the great Wolfgang Suschitzky, this story of a small-time entertainer and compulsive gambler desperately trying to raise cash to pay off a gangster is a finely observed depiction of the seedier side of pre-Swinging London, shot through with bleak humour and the tentative possibility of redemption.

Marlon Brando’s One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

Marlon Brando as Rio, the internalized anti-hero of One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

Criterion’s Blu-ray release of One-Eyed Jacks is one of the disk highlights of the year, its restored image and sound confirming this great western’s stature. Marlon Brando’s sole directing effort is a key transitional moment between the traditional western and the national myth it represented and the modern deconstruction of that myth by filmmakers like Sam Peckinpah and Arthur Penn.