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 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.
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.
Arrow releases yet another impressive limited edition box-set with their dual-format edition of Kinji Fukasaku’s Battles Without Honor and Humanity, a key work in the transition of Japanese cinema from the “classical” post-war period to a more transgressive critique of the nation’s history and culture.