Arrow Video has released an excellent Blu-ray edition of Georges Franju’s little-known third feature, Plein feux per l’assassin (Spotlight on a Murderer, 1961), which adds surreal touches to a country house mystery centred on the missing body of a dead nobleman and the bickering relatives who gather hoping to inherit.
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.
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.
Rachel Low’s multi-volume History of the British Film, written in the late ’40s and early ’50s, provides a vivid portrait of a new, complex art form being invented moment-by-moment.
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.
A recent trip to England produced stacks of new disks, some interesting books, and several in-flight movies.
With a three disk first volume, Arrow Video embark on an ambitious undertaking with the American Horror Project, which intends to gather together independent, fringe features from the ’70s and ’80s, surrounded by supplementary features which provide context and possibly a cumulative history of this genre niche. Set one gathers three movies of varying quality.
Criterion releases some high-end trash with an extras-packed edition of Valley of the Dolls, and a collection of journalistic reviews by Graham Greene offers interesting insights into movies in the ’30s.
Brief thoughts on some genre movies released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video, plus a couple of interesting books about the making of Cy Endfield’s Zulu and Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.
I recently unearthed a university paper I wrote almost 30 years ago in which I tried to explain why Frank Capra’s work rubbed me the wrong way. It’s a glimpse of where I came from as a writer about film.