With HMV Canada going bankrupt and closing down, a disk addict gets a couple of months of increasingly cheap deals, leading to some great and some not-so-wise purchases.
Three more black-and-white movies in excellent Blu-ray editions – Fritz Lang’s Hangmen Also Die!, Robert Wise’s Odds Against Tomorrow and John Baxter’s Love on the Dole – offer yet another reminder of the richness of monochrome film art.
Although it’s impossible to keep up with all the disks from Twilight Time, I’ve recently been binging on some of their newer releases.
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.
Criterion’s release of a key but little-known feature by Jean Renoir, the conceptually and stylistically sophisticated La Chienne, is essential viewing.
Twilight Time have released two very different movies on Blu-ray: Ralph Nelson’s religious parable Lilies of the Field, which won Sidney Poitier the first ever best actor Oscar for a Black star, and Richard Fleischer’s bleak 10 Rillington Place, the true story of British serial killer John Reginald Christie, which features Richard Attenborough’s finest performance.
Britain’s Network are releasing a lot of previously hard to find movies on disk. Two new Blu-rays, Peter Yates’ Robbery and Val Guest’s 80,000 Suspects, resurrect a couple of interesting titles from the ’60s.
The Criterion Collection has released an impressive hi-def upgrade of Leonard Kastle’s gritty, blackly comic true-crime feature The Honeymoon Killers (1979).
A round-up of recently viewed disks from rediscovered classics to throwaway mainstream action; from horror and comedy to documentary.
Arrow Video has become my favourite source for high quality releases of both serious films and exploitation titles. Their special editions rank with the best offered by prestige companies like Criterion and Masters of Cinema.