Forthcoming from Network, Arrow and Eureka

Network is to issue the last film to star Steve Cochran, the colorful thriller Mozambique, in its Brtish Film series. From Eureka, the splendid The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), a beautifully understated version of the classic George V. Higgins novel, with a perfectly judged, world-weary performance by Robert Mitchum as an ageing gunrunner. After the recent release of Requiescant, Arrow Video is pleased to announce Carlo Lizzani’s Wake Up And Kill, which comes to Blu-ray and DVD in a brand-new 2K transfer taken from the films original negative. Scored by Ennio Morricone Wake Up & Kill tells the true story of the notorious Italian bank-robber Luciano Lutring, who committed more than 100 armed robberies during the 1960s

Outlaws, Sado-Masochism and Saga

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DAY OF THE OUTLAW Andre De Toth, director/Eureka Blu-Ray The reputation of the last western made by Andre De Toth – and, for that matter, of the director himself — has risen in recent years; he is now achieving the auteur status several of his colleagues have enjoyed for years. Day of the Outlaw is a gem – one of the best westerns not directed by such masters as Antony Mann or John Ford. The setting is a snow-bound Wyoming town; the film stars Robert Ryan and Burl Ives, and as in George Stevens’Shane, the theme is once again the contested land of the homesteaders. Day of the Outlaw was one of Westerns at the twilight of the studio era in which anything might go, and director De Toth, the creator of two infamous idiosyncratic films — the groundbreaking 3D House of Wax and the naturalistic Sterling Hayden-starring noir Crime Wave— here firmly established his pedigree as one of the maverick directors such as Nicholas Ray for whom boundaries proved only elastic consequence. Robert Ryan portrays Blaise Starrett (surname itself an evocation of the family in the earlier Stevens film Shane) who comes between a landowner (Alan Marshal) and his wife (the voloptuous Tina Louise). But after a band of outlaws ride into town headed by Jack Bruhn (Burl Ives), Starrett must rise to the occasion and defend the hostage townsfolk while redeeming his own advances towards the landowner’s wife. Filmed on a shoestring budget, Day of the Outlaw proved to be an enduring touchstone for the directors of the French New Wave; it came to exemplify De Toth’s resourcefulness around budgetary limitations and the (here often snow-strewn) difficulties of the shoot.

THE WHIP AND THE BODY, Mario Bava, director/Odeon Entertainment Blu-Ray With the interest in sadomasochistic practices kindled by the book and the film of 50 Shades of Grey, what better time to look at the film, which explored such territory – the obtaining of sexual satisfaction buddies and punishment (as is made perfectly clear by the expression on Darley a lovely space when she’s being whipped by Christopher Lee) in a film which only appeared in this country in a heavily Form, but is now available uncensored. The second part, it is the amazing look of the film which is characteristic of its director. From the hypnotic black and white cult classic Black Sunday (La Maschera del Demonio, 1960) onwrds, Bava’s films feared fluid camera and brilliant use of atmospheric sets to create a haunting sense of unease in the viewer, and his years of experience as a lighting cameraman result in what has justly been called the finest photography in the horror genre. The Whip and the Body mixes twisted eroticism with Bava’s customary supernaturalsim.

PASOLINI, Abel Ferrara, director/BFI Blu-Ray Starring the reliable Willem Dafoe and written and directed by cult filmmaker Abel Ferrara (who we first noticed with the scabrous Driller Killer, but who moved into more mainstream – but still confrontational — directions with Bad Lieutenant and Welcome to New York), this unsparing drama tells the story of the fateful final day of the controversial filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. Released by the BFI in cinemas in September, it now comes to Blu-ray and DVD with special features which include a filmed conversation with Abel Ferrara and the cast of Pasolini. Having recently finished Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, Pasolini tackled audiences, critics and politicians with his outspoken views, overt sexuality and the scandal that surrounds his films. Focusing on both his private and professional life, Pasolini explores the inner world of the filmmaker in the hours leading up to his devastatingly brutal death. Featuring Ninetto Davoli, who acted (or appeared to act, ‘acting’ is too strong a word for what he did) in many of Pasolini’s films, Pasolini is a powerful and evocative look into the dark world of one of cinema’s most controversial figures, as seen through the eyes of one of modern cinema’s most surprising directors.

THE NIGHT OF THE BIG HEAT Terence Fisher, director/Odeon Entertainment Blu-ray Despite all appearances to the contrary, this directed by Terence Fisher and starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee is not a Hammer film. A Fisher-directed British science fiction effort (with an alien invasion the theme, and a smouldering Jane Merrow raising the temperature even further) may be one that the director not enjoy making (claiming he had no interest in science fiction), but it nevertheless makes some fascinating viewing; Fisher and this combination of stars could hardly faill to strike sparks together.

THE BRIDGE SEASON 3, director, Henrik Georgsson/Arrow Nordic Noir Blu-ray In many ways, socially challenged Detective Saga Norén’s difficult interaction with other people is even more interesting than the crimes she investigates. At the start of the much-anticipated Season Three, with ex-partner Martin Rohde in prison, Saga is tested both in professional and personal senses, with a new partner Henrik Saboe (played by Thure Lindhart) who has considerable problems of his own, And the crimes ahe encounter here are even more gruesome than before. The British taste for dramatised Scandinavian crime was piqued by The Killing, and, to a large degree, the momentum of this UK enthusiasm was maintained with this later cult series. The Bridge acquired a dedicated following, not least for its infuriating but likable sociopathic heroine. No spoilers –suffice to say, writer Hans Rosenfeldt has found a new way to test Saga – and provides a satisfying surprising third part to the series.

THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 Wes Craven, director/Odeon Entertianment Blu-ray Depite his reputation for extreme violence, the late Wes Craven was one of the most intelligent and inventive of directors, and whiel this sequel to one of the director’s most groundbreaking films doent match the origal (with its skewered view of the American family, ) its stillof interstoteh dretadmirers.

 

 

 

One World, Big Screen: Hollywood, The Allies, and World War II

One World, Big Screen: Hollywood, The Allies, and World War II M. Todd Bennett is a satisfyingly detailed and insightful study of the subject of war as refracted through a Hollywood prism may have been the author’s life work (as he tells us in the introduction), but has a vitality and energy which suggests that it was written in white heat rather than laboured over for years. The book evokes the days when cinema audiences were able to observe the war unfold on the screen in a fashion which could either reflect the realities of the real conflict or move into unlikely, tendentious territory. Bennett’s study is crammed with fascinating, multi-faceted observations on everything from Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca to John Frankenheimer’s later Manchurian Candidate, with a welcome attention to many less familiar items. Noting that Hollywood’s golden age was happening during World War II, Bennett itemises the ideological and philosophical underpinnings of the war films that both transfixed audiences and changed attitudes to the conflict itself. It’s a fascinating read.

One World, Big Screen: Hollywood, The Allies, and World War II by M. Todd Bennett is published by University of North Carolina Press

The Director who Made Hollywood Dance

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Charles Walters: The Director who Made Hollywood Dance Brent Phillips

If you’re an aficionado of the Hollywood musical, you will almost certainly have seen one or all of the following: Good News, Easter Parade, The Berkeleys of Broadway, Summer Stock, The Belle of New York, Lili, High Society, Billy Rose’s Jumbo, all (Lili ) excellent musicals handled by the talented and protean Charles Walters, who also worked uncredited on such films as Gigi and even Anthony Mann’s Western Cimarron (the latter, however, one of the great director’s misfires). Of course, the most acclaimed directors in the musicals field are such names as Vincente Minnelli whose reputation is assured, despite the occasional lapse in judgement. But Walters was generally less acclaimed, and was regarded as something of a journeyman director – talented, but someone who belongs on the lower slopes of Mount Parnassus, rather than with the gods. Whatever your own feelings on this matter are, there is no denying that Walters produced some solid work in the genre, demonstrating an understanding of his material which ensured that the variety of actors, singers, orchestrators and choreographers he worked with were given the best possible conditions under which to create. Brent Phillips’ thorough and enthusiastic book is the perfect testament to a relatively unsung hero of Hollywood, and may go some way towards redressing the esteem in which Walters’ name as a director is held. Certainly, one effect of the book is to make the reader want to see all of these films again.

Charles Walters: The Director who Made Hollywood Dance by Brent Phillips is published by University press of Kentucky