Although separated by fifteen years, the Depression and World War Two, Stephen Roberts’ The Story of Temple Drake (1933) and Frank Borzage’s Moonrise (1948) have quite a bit in common, stylistically and thematically; each centres on an outsider character brought low by guilt, who ultimately finds redemption through self-knowledge, and each uses richly Expressionistic black-and-white photography to create a feverishly claustrophobic atmosphere to trap its protagonist in a seemingly hopeless situation.
Criterion’s exemplary Blu-ray release of Alan Pakula’s second feature, Klute (1971), offers a superb 4K scan from the original negative and extensive extras which highlight the film’s importance in the evolution of American cinema at a particularly turbulent time in both politics and popular culture, with a particular emphasis on Jane Fonda’s development as both actor and activist.
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.
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.
Twilight Time has recently released a strong selection of crime-related Blu-rays, ranging from Marilyn Monroe’s debut as a lead in Roy Ward Baker’s Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) to Sam Fuller’s powerful revenge noir Underworld USA (1961), from Larry Peerce’s urban nightmare The Incident (1967) to a pair of ’70s exercises in police realism, Richard Fleischer’s The New Centurions (1972) and Philip D’Antoni’s The Seven-Ups (1973).
Recent Twilight Time releases trace the western from the frontier myth to post-’60s cynicism, with a side trip to post-war racial tension in Los Angeles.
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.
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.
Recent viewing ranges from classic noir to mediocre ’80s thriller, from low budget horror to a documentary about one of the great craftsmen of fantasy film.
Another eclectic selection from my recent viewing, from an old fondly remembered BBC sci-fi series to an unsettling French psychological thriller, from a nasty John Frankenheimer thriller to a pair of atypical Rossellini features striving to break out of the confines of neorealism.