The Criterion Collection presents a new 4K restoration of Elia Kazan’s best film, A Face in the Crowd (1957). The excellent image showcases two of the finest performances of the 1950s: Andy Griffith in his screen debut as the countryboy-turned-demagogue Lonesome Rhodes and Patricia Neal as the smalltown radio reporter who discovers him and facilitates his rise to national stardom.
For the first time on home video, Edgar G. Ulmer’s minimalist film noir masterpiece, Detour (1946), gets the treatment it deserves; a stunning 4K restoration brings out every nuance in this story of a man and a woman ensnared by a malevolent Fate.
Three very different features – Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946), John Guillermin’s Town on Trial (1957) and Wolf Rilla’s Village of the Damned (1960) – illuminate the varied pleasures offered by genre in the hands of seriously committed filmmakers.
Olive Films’ Signature edition of Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) does full justice to this classic of 1950s sci-fi/horror with an excellent transfer and a rich collection of extras, which include two commentaries and a stack of featurettes about the film, director Siegel and producer Walter Wanger.
Despite continuing rumblings about the demise of movies-on-disk, numerous companies continue to produce excellent editions on disk of a vast range of movies covering the entire history of cinema. Once again in 2018 there were far more releases than even an obsessive viewer could keep up with.
Criterion have continued their efforts to restore the reputation of eclectic French filmmaker Julien Duvivier by following their Eclipse set of features from the 1930s with a stunning Blu-ray edition of his first post-war feature, Panique (1946), adapted from a very dark novel by Georges Simenon.
More brief notes on recent random viewing choices; another mixed bag of classic fantasy, generic thrillers, dramas drawn form real life, spectacular martial arts and gritty war action, and a scattershot, off-the-wall satire by “the world’s worst living director”.
The limited 50th anniversary re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a reminder of the power of grand, ambitious filmmaking to transport an audience into complex imaginary worlds.
A critical, but long-suppressed film from the New German Cinema, Volker Schlöndorff’s adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s first play Baal (1970) gets an impressive release on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. This aggressively unsettling film is packaged with an excellent selection of contextual supplements.
Criterion’s new Blu-ray of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) affords this scrappy, independent production the high degree of respect it has earned not only as one of the key American films of the 1960s, but as a work which almost single-handedly redefined the horror genre.