Sony Pictures Home Entertainment announce next-generation 4K Ultra HD™ Disc format

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) have announced the studio’s first releases in the next-generation 4K Ultra HD™ Disc format, which will arrive 23rd May 2016. SPHE’s first 4K Ultra HD releases will include The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Salt, Hancock, Chappie, Pineapple Express, and The Smurfs 2, followed by a growing roster of titles that will include new releases. SPHE’s 4K Ultra HD Discs will feature four times the resolution of HD and include high dynamic range (HDR), which produces brilliant highlights, vibrant colours and greater contrast on compatible displays. Many titles will also support next-generation immersive audio formats. Sony Pictures has an extensive library of 4K content, including newer films and television shows, as well as classic catalogue films restored from original formats. Titles include Captain Phillips, Men In Black, Ghostbusters, Bad Boys, The Da Vinci Code, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Lawrence Of Arabia

 

New UK Titles from Criterion

The Criterion Collection have annouced several new UK titles, due in June and July. All are blu-ray releases featuring the restored US editions of the films with their exclusive rtwork and comprehensive supplementary material. The next film to emerge from the Criterion archives is OVERLORD from John Alcott – Stanley Kubrick’s long-time cinematographer – on 6th June. 20th June brings the Academy-award winning HERE COMES MR JORDAN, a 1941 romantic comedy starring Robert Montgomery (which was remade in 1978 by Warren Beatty as ‘Heaven Can Wait’). 30th June sees the release of Rita Hayworth’s most iconic film GILDA in which she plays the ultimate femme fatale. In later life, Hayworth reflected on the incredible impact of the film – “Every man I knew went to bed with Gilda… and woke up with me.” On 11th July: BURROUGHS, a one-of-a-kind revelatory portrait of the legendary author and poet followed by Stanley Kubrick’s subversive masterpiece DR STRANGELOVE on 25th July.

New DVDs & Blu-rays from Network, Simply Media, Screenbound & Fabulous Films

professionals MkIV BD 2D big

THE PROFESSIONALS various directors/Network Blu-Ray it’s interesting how history can judge popular crime thriller shows from the past. Some (such as Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner) rapidly acquire cult status and never lose it; others have to fall out of favour before they are rediscovered — sometimes for the wrong reasons (e.g. ‘camp’ status – as with The Professionals). But for whatever reasons, this spruced up new Blu-ray set of the fondly remembered thriller series gives viewers the chance to get beyond some of the derision the show originally accrued (mostly for Martin Shaw’s now-quaint footballer’s bubble perm, flat performances and almost ludicrously hard-boiled dialogue and action). But a lot of talented people were involved with the show, and it certainly moves like an express train – anchored by Gordon Jackson’s no-nonsense ‘M’ figure. The digital restoration has the show looking better than it ever did in its original transmissions. It may be a guilty pleasure, but it’s a fun one.

RESPECTABLE – THE MARY MILLINGTON STORY, Simon Sheridan, director/Simply Media   How times have changed. In the 1970s, filmgoers of both sexes were invited to watch the naked female body on film and TV with very little guilt, but now such displays have become politically incorrect, while the well-toned male torso has replaced the nubile female body as an acceptable object of lust. That change of attitude is pointed out by this intriguing issue. In the 1970s one woman broke all the rules and became the biggest box office star of the decade (despite being, as she herself said, flat–chested — which she wasn’t quite), before arriving (to the quiet satisfaction of tongue-clucking moralists) at a sticky end. She seduced Britain with a meteoric rise to the top filled with controversy and scandal; her name was Mary Millington. Now in a new feature documentary Respectable – The Mary Millington Story, narrated in blue-collar argot by actor and director Dexter Fletcher and written and directed by Simon Sheridan, the truth behind Britain’s only genuine sex superstar is detailed by those who knew her best. Mary Millington was a pretty English girl-next-door who became the most famous pin-up of the decade and had a racy reputation that could shift a million newspapers and ensure a movie’s cinematic success, including the maladroit hit 1970s sex comedy Come Play with Me, which went on to become the longest-running British movie of all-time despite its deeply threadbare quality. Her fame fuelled a lavish lifestyle and lead to an affair with a serving Prime Minister. Her sexuality was accessible, and her personality addictive, but Mary’s sexual bravado hid a darker side. Persecuted by the authorities, Mary was tortured by self-doubt and she died at her own hand at the height of her fame in August 1979. She was just 33. Shot on location in London, and at the legendary Pinewood Studios, this documentary reveals the truth behind a real British icon by those who were closest to her including former boyfriend, publisher David Sullivan actor Dudley Sutton (neither shown to flattering advantage here) and former model/actress Linzi Drew. Respectable – The Mary Millington Story is a tale stranger than any fiction – of lost innocence, sex, fame, fortune and, ultimately, tragedy.

THE ZERO BOYS, Nico Mastorakis , director/Arrow DVD/Blu-Ray Nico Mastorakis’s The Zero Boys may be something of a dog’s dinner with its wildly eclectic mix of elements and jarring changes of tone, but admirers of the outré will find plenty to divert them here. From the man behind such eclectic offerings as the controversial Island of Death and the crass Oliver Reed thriller Hired to Kill, this genre-bending ’80s classic features gruesome sequences that anticipate the torture porn horrors of Hostel and Saw. This director approved edition come packed with bonus content including newly recorded interviews and with cast and filmmakers, alongside a commentary with star Kelli Maroney and the directors own inimitable take on the interview format, in which he interviews himself. For a group of young friends, a weekend of survival games in the wilderness turns into a genuine battle of life and death when one of their number turns up dead. Finding themselves hunted by a bloodthirsty band of maniacs intent on slaughtering them one-by-one, the self-styled “Zero Boys” must now play their war games for real. The film features an early score from Hans Zimmer (Batman V. Superman, The Dark Knight Trilogy), and The Zero Boys is lively enough.

I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND Robert Zemeckis, director/Fabulous Films  Now that Roberts Zemeckis has acquired such a solid reputation as a director, it is perhaps time to look at this early work, which boasts a certain ramshackle charm that is hard to resist “These youngsters are suffering from a highly contagious disease called Beatlemania.” Symptoms include…screaming, over reacting, over acting, hysteria, hyperventilation, fainting fits and loss of bladder control. It’s like a pack of mental cats marking their territory… but to a soundtrack featuring 17 classic Beatles hits, this amiable coming-of-age comedy from 1978 is the directorial debut of Robert Zemeckis and the first film that Steven Spielberg executive produced. Spielberg had to promise studio executives that if first time director Zemeckis was seen to be doing a poor job, he would step in and direct the film himself. As well as being directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film was co-written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale (also producer). They went on to co-write Back to the Future and its two sequels. Despite positive previews the film was not a financial success and was considered a flop, unable to recoup its rather modest $2.8 million budget, but has acquired an enthusiastic following.

FOLLOW THE MONEY Various directors, Arrow Blu-Ray . While it may not exert the same tensile steel grip of such recent offerings as Trapped (or, for that matter, older entries in the Scandicrime genre such as The Bridge), Follow the Money has acquired a strong following, not least for its readiness to take on issues not generally found within the genre. Certainly the reliable cast of actors manages to invest the characters (some of whom, for plot reasons, remain rather too enigmatic) with a kinetic life. In recent months, the Arrow label Nordic Noir & Beyond has continued to grow from strength to strength as market leaders in releasing European TV shows to a wider audience. Following The Bridge III, River and most recently Trapped, their dominance in the Euro-crime sector continues to help finesse their reputation as a key distributor of International TV series within the UK. The latest jewel in their crown? The DVD & BLU-RAY release of the complete first season of this Danish financial crime thriller. The series has aired on BBC Four and comes from DR, the same production company which brought us Borgen, The Killing and The Legacy. The show presents a murky picture of one of Denmark’s leading energy companies, ‘Energreen’, and the endless layers of fraud and corruption which point towards insider trading and the death of an industrial employee. The corporate crime thriller stars the charismatic Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Energreen’s ruthless CEO, who has previously played Mathias Borch in The Killing, along with household names in Danish drama such as Thomas Bo Larsen as the series’ police detective, and up-and-coming talent including Natalie Madueño and Esben Smed Jensen. Production values and cinematography are top-drawer.

BRIEF NOTICES  Screenbound continues to unearth some neglected titles from the past, putting admirers of such fare in their debt. Recently this includes the solidly made Rock Hudson drama A GATHERING OF EAGLES, which features (along with the reliable Hudson) the underrated British/South African actress Mary Peach. Perhaps its strongest element today is the powerful score by the great Jerry Goldsmith. Also from Screenbound, A WOMAN’S VENGEANCE has Charles Boyer and Jessica Tandy in a piece notable for Cedric Hardwicke’s scene-stealing hypnotist and an early score by Miklos Rozsa. Eureka has reissued on Blu-Ray the Luchino Visconti classic ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS; any recommendation is unnecessary. Dazzler Media has made available a very handsome Blu-ray set of another Nordic Noir drama OCCUPIED (from an idea by the king of Scandinavian crime Jo Nesbo). Film scores seem to be a motif of this particular column, so let’s note Malcolm Arnold’s striking score for the David Lean classic THE SOUND BARRIER (Studios Canal) which is particularly impressive in this Blu-ray incarnation. And CSI SEASON 15 (Entertainment One) brings the long-running police procedural to a satisfying conclusion.

Network issues The Professionals on Blu-Ray

Crime-busting duo Bodie and Doyle have never looked as good as they do in this brand new, digitally restored, High Definition release of The Professionals: MkIV (15). This five-disc set featuring 18 episodes will be available to own from 25 April 2016 on Blu-ray, RRP £49.99, from Network Distributing.Starring Lewis Collins and Martin Shaw as hard-hitting special agent duo Bodie and Doyle Continue reading

Universal Pictures/Hollywood Classics on DVD for the first time

Starring Hollywood legends Rock Hudson, Rory Calhoun and Walter Brennan, seven classic features from the Universal Pictures/Hollywood Classics stable come to DVD for the very first time in the UK. Chief Crazy Horse, College Swing, Corvette K-255, Dawn at Socorro, Dear Ruth, The Desert Hawk and Four Guns To The Border are all released on 9 May 2016 courtesy of Simply Media. The titles are… Continue reading

New DVDs & Blu-Rays from Screenbound, Network, Fabulous Films, etc.

trapped_2d_dvd

TRAPPED, Baltasar Kormákur, director/Arrow Blu-Ray Arrow Films’ label Nordic Noir & Beyond is the natural home for the critically acclaimed Icelandic crime drama Trapped after its successful BBC Four outings. And any new edition of the present writer’s Death in a Cold Climate would have to include this most snowbound slice of Nordic Noir, with its acute (and frigid) send of place. The burly Ólafur Darri Ólafsson is beleaguered local police chief, Andri, and the drama is the creation of director Baltasar Kormákur. In a remote Icelandic town, a mutilated and dismembered body washes on the shore, an unidentifiable corpse murdered only hours ago. The local police chief, Andri (Ólafsson), whose personal life is in shatters, realises a killer may be hiding in his town. As word spreads, order disintegrates into chaos as the town’s residents realise they are all possible suspects. The series had money  thrown at it, and it shows: Trapped enjoyed the highest budget invested into an Icelandic series and premiered to 1.2 million viewers on BBC Four. Kormákur o helmed last year’s true-story epic Everest. The series takes its time, but nevertheless exerts a considerable grip, not least for Ólafsson’s taciturn, out-of-his-depth copper.

1900 (NOVECENTO), Bernardo Bertolucci, director/Eureka Entertainment Bertolucci’s attraction to the epic is matched by his fondness for epochal events. Recently this has seen a diverting, if slight, expression in The Dreamers, but in this five-hour epic key events in Italian history are perceived through the eyes of Alfredo (Robert De Niro) and Olmo (Gérard Depardieu), both born in January 1901, following their lives until the Liberation in 1945. The two men come from vastly different social backgrounds (the peasantry and the aristocracy) and Alfredo, whose father is the lord of the manor, is the one least able to deal with the social differences between him and his friend. His father is played by Burt Lancaster, giving the kind of performance he had honed for Visconti. Music is used in a foregrounded fashion here (the score is by Ennio Morricone) and specifically the music of Verdi is utilised emblematically. While the wildly multinational casting generally works well, it is a shame that Donald Sutherland, as a petty Fascist, is encouraged to turn in a one-note performance, almost as if Bertolucci does not trust his audience’s intelligence in responding to the character. Nevertheless, the achievement of the film is considerable, with the visuals often truly breathtaking.

NO EXIT, Norman Lee, director/Network  There are two ways to look at No Exit: as an impossibly dated, highly artificial film from a long-vanished era of British crime, or as a fascinating curio which can afford the viewer (if in the right frame of mind) a series of guilty pleasures. Certainly it is no undiscovered classic (I tried to unearth quite a few of the latter in my book British Crime Film), but its unintentionally acute picture of the British class system (notably the impeccably posh coppers) is fascinating. A crime novelist stages an imaginative prank to prove that the perfect murder is possible – but finds it has catastrophic consequences in this cleverly plotted thriller with a deft humorous touch. Shot in the Autumn of 1936 at Welwyn Studios, No Exit (which was filmed as No Escape before reverting to its original title) is featured here in a brand-new transfer from the original film elements in its original theatrical aspect ratio. Convinced that it is possible to commit a murder and avoid detection, a crime writer wagers a young friend that he can conceal him for a month – he is confident that even if the disappearance is noticed he will be able to hoodwink Scotland Yard. When the ‘victim’ accidentally comes to grief, however, the harmless prank goes disastrously wrong…

THREE BROTHERS, Francesco Rosi, director/Arrow Blu-Ray  As a study of the radically different aspects of North and South in Italy – as well as Rosi’s eternal themes of power and corruption, Three Brothers is paced slowly, but compellingly. There is some ill-judged over-emphasis, surprising from this director. When the humane judge played by a dubbed Philippe Noiret talks sagely of the twin threats of terrorism and organised crime, Rosi slowly moves his camera in to give his words weight – listen to this man! — and there is an inescapable sense of the pedagogic. But performances throughout are solid, and the dramatic choices the director makes are impeccable. Rosi established himself as one of the greatest chroniclers of Italy’s stormy postwar history with such classics as Salvatore Giuliano, The Mattei Affair and Illustrious Corpses. Three Brothers (Tre fratelli) explores similarly provocative social and political areas via the narrative device of three siblings returning to their native southern Italy for the funeral of their mother. However, their various professions – a judge in Rome (Noiret), a spiritual counsellor in Naples (Vittorio Mezzogiorno), a factory worker in Turin (Michele Placido) – have a significant effect on their response to this reunion.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? Massimo Dallamano, director/Arrow Blu-Ray If you’re seeking the time-tested (let’s not say shopworn) ingredients of the classic gialli – colourful visuals, lurid sexualised violence, the amateur sleuth, the black-gloved sadistic killer — not mention a quirky score by Ennio Morricone — they are all present and correct in Massimo Dallamano’s delirious What Have You Done to Solange? Dallamano (who was the cinematographer on both A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More) produced this memorable giallo which comes to Blu-ray and DVD in a new 2K transfer taken from the film’s original negative. What Have You Done to Solange? was the debut feature for actress Camille Keaton (of I Spit on Your Grave fame). The new disc comes with intriguing features including a newly recorded audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman, and an archive interview with actor Fabio Testi. A sexually sadistic killer is preying on the girls of St. Mary’s school. Student Elizabeth witnessed one of the murders, but her hazy recollections of a knife-wielding figure in black do nothing to further the police’s investigations. Why is the killer choosing these young women? And what does it have to do with a girl named Solange? Also starring Cristina Galbo, What Have You Done with Solange? has a more coherent structure than most gialli, where such niceties are not generally a priority.

KEN RUSSELL: THE GREAT COMPOSERS: ELGAR; THE DEBUSSY FILM; SONG OF SUMMER; THE GRET PASSIONS: ALWAYS ON SUNDAY, ISADORA, DANTE’S INFERNO, Ken Russell, director/BFI These remarkable documentaries (from the misfiring Debussy to the superb Delius) by ground-breaking director Ken Russell were originally broadcast in the BBC TV arts documentary strands Monitor and Omnibus during the 1960s; they are now released together on DVD and Blu-ray in a Dual Format Edition by the BFI. They are unmissable – even when Russell pushes everything over the top (his most consistent manoeuvre), his vision and imagination is unique. Each film has an audio commentary, and in a new filmed interview, film editor Michael Bradsell talks about working with Ken Russell. Also included is rarely-seen archival footage of Sir Edward Elgar. Elgar (1962), Russell’s tribute to the music he loved, is remarkable for its sensitive portrayal of the rise of a young musician from an underprivileged background to international fame. The Debussy Film (1965), co-written by Melvyn Bragg, is an experimental work with a well-cast Oliver Reed. The finest of Russell’s 1960s biographical BBC productions, Song of Summer (1968) is an immensely moving story of sacrifice, idealism and musical genius which charts the final five years in the life of Frederick Delius. As for The Great Passions, these three spectacular documentaries by controversial director Ken Russell (Valentino, The Devils) were originally broadcast in the BBC TV arts documentary strands Monitor and Omnibus in the 1960s. Always on Sunday (1965), a dramatised exploration of the naïf painter Henri Rousseau, sees Russell reunited with Melvyn Bragg and Oliver Reed in one of his most charming and delightful documentaries. Isadora (1966), Russell’s exuberant study of the outrageous American dancer Isadora Duncan, is probably the film that best encapsulates the director’s attitude to art and creativity. In Dante’s Inferno (1967), Oliver Reed gives a smouldering performance as the Pre-Raphaelite poet and painter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. This startling film is one of the most ambitious that Russell made for the BBC.

THE EIGER SANCTION, Clint Eastwood, director/Fabulous Films  This adaptation of the Trevanian thriller appeared at the height of Clint Eastwood’s fame as both actor and director, and expectations were high. The fact that it was something of a disappointment may be put down to the fact that the quirky original novel was largely unfilmable without some major surgery – and the changes made for the cinema rendered it into a fairly ordinary thriller. Nevertheless, it’s a film that should be seen by Eastwood’s admirers, if only for completion’s sake. And there are several plusses: the great George Kennedy in support and an early John Williams score.

THE SOUND BARRIER, David Lean, director/StudioCanal  David Lean’s 1952 classic deserves this Blu-ray wash-and rinse, not least for its splendid score by Malcolm Arnold (a composer who worked several times with Lean, most famously on The Bridge on the River Kwai). The drama also boasts a screenplay by Terence Rattigan and stars Ralph Richardson, Nigel Patrick and Ann Todd. Lean’s dramatic exploration of British attempts to achieve supersonic flight achieved great box office success on release but today remains one of his rarely seen films. Thanks to a restoration by the BFI National Archive in partnership with StudioCanal, and to funding from the David Lean Foundation, this new Vintage Classics edition featuring new extras.The film tells the story of John Ridgefield (Richardson), the self-made wealthy owner of the Ridgefield Aircraft factory. The far-seeing aviation manufacturer is driven toward a significant breakthrough, envisioning a plane that can fly faster than the speed of sound. Lean obsessively researched media reports of jet engines attempting to approach supersonic speed, even going so far as to interview British aeronautic designers and managing to fly with test pilots. Eventually he turned over 300 pages of notes to acclaimed playwright Terrance Rattigan to transform into a screenplay.

I’LL NEVER FORGET WHAT’SISNAME, Michael Winner, director/Screenbound. It may seem strange to viewers in the 21st-century — when the late director Michael winner’s stock is distinctly on the low side — that he was once considered one of the most interesting and innovative of young British directors. This lively piece is a reminder that era, distinguished by a young Oliver Reed’s performance as an ambitious advertising executive and a delicious cameo by Orson Welles as his corrupt (and corrupting) boss.

OCCUPIED, various directors/Dazzler Media Blu-ray  Unquestionably King of the current Nordic Noir wave, Jo Nesbo is a writer whose name can help sell practically anything these days – as it did with an earlier film of his work, Headhunters, in which (in this country) his name was actually used as part of the title. It’s hard to say exactly what he provided for Occupied – his contribution is a matter of some debate — but there is no questioning that the presence of his name will attract many viewers This political suspense thriller is set in the not-so-distant future, when climate change has brought Europe to the brink of war. Henrik Mestad stars as environmentally friendly prime minister Jasper Berg. He has convinced his voters that the best way to tackle climate change is to halt all oil production in Norway, sending the country and the rest of the world into crisis. Unable to ignore calls from the rest of the world to intervene, Russia, at the behest of the EU, stages a ‘silk-glove’ invasion – to secure the oil for the rest of the world. They have, they say, every intention of retreating once this has been accomplished. But it’s not long before events unfold that threaten to change everything. Based on ‘an idea’ by Nesbo, this multi-layered 10-part series examines what happens to a nation under occupation, and explores the themes of loyalty to oneself, one’s family and one’s country.

BANDE-A-PART, Jean-Luc Godard, director/BFI  Many regard Godard’s later films — when his Maoist agitprop philosophy had him instructing his actors to simply lecture the audience, direct to camera — are not much watched these days, but his earlier films bristle with edgy excitement of a young filmmaker exploiting the medium. Bande à part stars Anna Karina, Sami Frey, Claude Brasseur. Shot in just 25 days on the wintry streets of suburban Paris, the film remains one of Godard’s most loved films and is often remembered for its exhilarating café dance sequence and famous race through the Louvre. Released on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, it’s packed with special features including a new interview with Anna Karina and a feature-length audio commentary by film critic Adrian Martin. Godard’s playful reimagining of the Hollywood crime films of the 1940s follows young misfits Franz (Sami Frey), Arthur (Claude Brasseur) and Odile (Anna Karina) as their plan to burgle a rich old lady go tragicomically wrong.

CAPTAIN NEWMAN MD, David Miller, director/Screenbound  This is a most curious film, with Gregory Peck as an army psychologist, assisted by a wacky subordinate played by Tony Curtis. Depending on which character is on-screen, the tone veers wildly from serious to comic, but the film is something of a rarity and is certainly worth catching.

DEATH WALKS TWICE, Luciano Ercoli, director/Arrow Blu-Ray Luciano Ercoli’s gaudily entertaining duo of ambulatory Italian horror outings Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight premiere on Blu-ray in a restored, limited edition collection. Emerging at the peak of the giallo boom of the early ’70s, Ercoli’s Death Walks films are two prime examples of the genre linked by their shared casting of the genre favourite Nieves Navarro (billed under her adopted stage name of Susan Scott) as the lead woman in peril. In Death Walks on High Heels (1971), exotic dancer Nicole (Navarro), the daughter of a murdered jewel thief, finds herself terrorised by a black-clad assailant determined on procuring her father’s stolen gems. Fleeing Paris and her knife-wielding pursuer, Nicole arrives in London (the Italian language version much preferable here, despite the oddity of everyone in the UK capital speaking Italian), only to discover that death stalks her at every corner. Returning in Death Walks at Midnight (1972), Navarro stars as Valentina – a model who, in the midst of a drug-fuelled photoshoot, witnesses a brutal murder in the apartment opposite hers. But when it becomes clear that the savage slaying she describes relates to a crime that took place six months earlier, the police are at a loss – forcing Valentina to solve the mystery alone. Offering up all the glamour, perversity and narrative twists and turns that are typical of the giallo genre at its best, Luciano Ercoli’s Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight anticipate the super-stylized trappings of Brian De Palma’s early psycho thrillers (most notably, Dressed to Kill).

THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS, Herbert Ross, director/Fabulous Films  There is a slightly wistful quality to this charming and wittily written comedy, principally because of the shadowed later careers of its two stars. Michael Fox is still acting, despite a debilitating medical condition, but this is him in his prime with the diminutive actor trading on the charm and impeccable comic timing that was a feature of his early career. Helen Slater managed to survive the poor reception that her debut film Supergirl received, but her later career has been reduced to cameos. Here, she is still a beguiling leading lady: Brantley Foster (Fox), a well-educated kid from Kansas, has always dreamed of making it big in New York. On his first work day in New York, he is fired in a hostile take-over. When Brantley visits his distant uncle, Howard Prescott, who runs a multi-million-dollar company, he is given a job in the company’s mail room. Then Brantley meets Christy Wills, who happens to be one of the top executives. Brantley sees how poorly the company is being run and decides to create a position under the name Carlton Whitfield, to influence and improve the company’s operations. Soon things get unexpectedly out of hand, not in the least because of his aunt, his girl and leading a double life.

FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON, Mario Bava, director/Arrow Video The fashion in which Mario Bava’s influenced the younger Dario Argento may be seen in this curious but intriguing misfire, and despite its restrained bloodshed (not to mention its outrageous, often hilarious 70s fashions), Five Dolls for an August Moon, is not without interest. On Blu-ray and DVD, this dual-format release joins a roster of previous Bava titles released through Arrow Video – A Bay of Blood, Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Lisa and the Devil, Rabid Dogs and Blood and Black Lace. This new disc comes with a wealth of bonus content including the documentary Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre – a profile of the director, hosted by Mark Kermode and featuring interviews with Joe Dante, John Carpenter and Tim Burton). Wealthy industrialist George Stark (Teodora Corràs) has gathered a group of friends – played by a who’s who of Italian genre cinema including William Berger, Ira von Fürstenberg, the sultry Edwige Fenech and Howard Ross – to his island retreat. He hopes to entice them into investing in a new project, but soon the sunbathing and cocktails parties give way to murder, as the corpses begin to pile up one by one. Paying homage to Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, Five Dolls for an August Moon makes up in eye-popping style what it lacks in narrative rigour.

TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS, Freddie Francis, director/Fabulous Films  The presence of Freddie Francis as director and the fact that this is a portmanteau film of several separate horror stories might lead the viewer to think that it an Amicus film, it isn’t. It’s a dud, but has points of interest, not least its impressive cast, including Donald Pleasance, Joan Collins, Kim Novak and Jack Hawkins. The Collins episode, with its ambulatory, menacing tree, is entertaining in utterly absurd fashion.

 

Conversations with Classic Film Stars

50462277 Conversations with Classic Film Stars (University of Kentucky) by JAMES BAWDEN & RON MILLER is subtitled interviews from Hollywood’s Golden Era, this is an extremely cherishable collection of tunes with some vocal and opinionated (read entertainingly unbuttoned) actors and actresses, several of whom (e.g. Audrey Tarter and Jane Greer ) made notable contributions to classic film Noir – their images forever enshrined in the beautiful Keira skewering black-and-white photography of the great cinematography. Better-known stars of that genre. I hear (including Kirk Douglas and Glenn Ford will meet some of the most memorable crime films ), but crime is not the only genre, after this collection. Aficionados need not hesitate .