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Harry's September 2004 DVD Picks & Previews!!!

Hey folks, Harry here with September’s DVD preview and picks. Once again making my deadline of pre-first Tuesday of September! Whew. This month had an awful lot of great titles. I really mean it. The past couple of weeks as these titles have begun pouring in here, I’ve been having a great deal of joy in discovering the dvds that are coming. Let’s get to it…

Tuesday – September 7th, 2004


The second this collection arrived – I began devouring it. I began with the titles that are watched least. Like MR AND MRS. SMITH with the wondrous Carole Lombard, queen mother of screwball comedy, and whatta mama. That she was taken early in life was a tragedy. She’s great in this, the least Hitchcock of all Hitchcock movies… on the surface. To me, as great as Hitch was at suspense, his mastery over the absurd, the whimsical and ‘aside’ were what kept him from being too serious, from being over-bearing. This film exhibits Alfred’s skill at comedy which is fantastic. A greatly underrated film. -- Before I continue – all the titles in this set have little documentaries and featturettes – outstanding discs, very well done.

STAGE FRIGHT is a wonderful Hitchcock flick. Jane Wyman is so cute in the film, so precocious – while Marlene Dietrich is such a wonderful foil for her. Worldly to her innocence, sensual to her unassuming… Let’s face it, She’s MARLENE DIETRICH and she’s Jane Wyman. They play perfectly. However two of the men steal the movie… Alastair Sim and Richard Todd. Alastair (aka Scrooge, the definitive Scrooge) Sim is Jane’s father in the film, the Commodore Gill – and one of the great actors to ever grace film… well, Alastair is amongst the best. He’s simply great. Truly Great here. Just watch him trying to win the doll. Lastly – Richard Todd in the final act of this thing… BLISS! The documentary attached… hehehe… wait for Wyman to tell you about Dietrich and Hitchcock on set… CLASSIC STUFF!

I CONFESS is a tough movie. A hard story. There’s a fundamental problem that drives me crazy as I watch it that centers around how easy this story is to just solve. All Montgomery Clift has to do is point at O.E. Hasse and say – “He’s The Murderer” to solve all the problems. O.E. doesn’t have any loved ones held hostage. He isn’t going to kill a little girl if Clift talks. Hasse has nothing on him. It’s so clearly the right thing to do, that you want to scream at Monty to just do the right thing… What’s the hold up? You see, Montgomery Clift plays Father Michael Logan – and the reason he knows O.E. Hasse is the murderer, is he confessed it to Father Logan as a holy act of confession. He’s bound by his sacred oaths to never break that covenant and to preserve that trust no matter what. Fantastic. The tension, you want him to tell, but you don’t want him to betray his faith. Clift is great. Hasse is great. Anne Baxter is fantastic, and as Inspector Larrue – Karl Malden is brilliant. Bogdanovich’s stories in the documentary are quite wonderful regarding Clift. A really great movie.

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT is just further proof of how good Joel McCrea is, and looking at the film, you’ll see McCrea on the tail of World War II setting about to lay claim to England. It is, fantastic. In some ways it has a bit of the feeling of NORTH BY NORTHWEST, minus the “wrong man” theme. McCrea is a tough crime beat reporter given the task of tracking down what was going on with Europe and the dogs of war. A complete greenhorn with fine investigative instincts and derring, he soon gets on the track of what is happening. There’s twists and turns. Laraine Day is one of those wonderful Hitchcock women, and the entire last act is fantastic. Reaching a scale that wasn’t really hinted at anywhere. Wonderful film and the documentary on this one is quite revealing of Alfred.

THE WRONG MAN is one of those films that is sometimes much maligned. However, I love it. This is just an incredibly fucked situation. Henry Fonda is mistook as being the “criminal” and an innocent man is placed in jail… The film is a portrait of how a miscarriage of justice can destroy a man, his life, his world and his dreams. This is based on a True Story that was a huge LIFE magazine tale at the time. Fonda and Vera Miles are fantastic. Much of Hitch’s humor is stripped out of this film and what is left is harsh reality. I find it to be an exceptional film.

DIAL ‘M’ FOR MURDER is such a delicious little Hitchcock film, though I have to admit to being strongly annoyed that the disc isn’t 3D dammit! This is one of the best films that 3D ever produced, mainly due to Hitch’s wondrous camera placement and understanding of space within the world of 3D. There’s a nice 3D documentary on here in addition to the one on the film itself. I love Ray Milland in this film, but let’s face it… the reason this movie owns is Grace Kelly in that negligee backlit from the room headed to answer the phone. What an incredibly luscious bit of film. The use of color in this film is also just stunning. Love this movie.

SUSPICION is a wonderful film, but my least favorite of the “Cary Grant / Hitchcock” team-ups. Grant is sublimely clueless as the ultimate slacker and playboy, who lands Joan Fontaine (droooool), who is constantly forgiving of his boy-ish lack of responsibility till suddenly it leads her to suspect darker, more dire consequences for her and those she cares about around her. Very nice film.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST – writing these little paragraphs about films as great as these feels… well it’s like just using the head of your cock to fuck with, it’s nice but ultimately dammit, there’s sooooo much more. NORTH BY NORTHWEST is genius. As perfect a film as there has ever been. I once had the pleasure to see this film with screenwriter Ernest Lehman in attendance and speaking afterwards and found it to be one of the most perfect evenings of film I’ve ever been lucky enough to live through. This DVD is essentially the exact same one that you most likely already have with only a single new feature added to it’s already impressive disc. An isolated score track featuring one of the greatest scores ever conceived by a human mind, but it actually came from the deity we know as Bernard Herrmann.

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN – I could write for days about this title. It is in my top 3 favorite Hitchcock films (along with SHADOW OF A DOUBT and REAR WINDOW) and depending on my mood, is my favorite. Having just fully explored this two DVD special treatment… I am again at full blown enthusiasm and passion for the film. Robert Walker is simply one of the greatest cinematic characters ever birthed upon film. His Bruno – a joy. That we never meet his father is again blissful. Like the previous disc – this one has both existing versions of the film. The original American release print has a commentary with pieces of a Bogdanovich/Hitchcock conversation they had – including an amazing… AMAZING bit about how he conceived and shot the Carousel sequence of the film… Hearing Peter and Alfred talk about this, and Peter’s disbelief at how he did some of it. JOY! Also on the commentary are Joseph Stephano, Patricia Highsmith and the biographer Andrew Wilson, Hitch’s daughter Patricia Hitchcock O’Connell. The documentary is fantastic – and the interview pieces with Robert Walker Jr are great as he talks of Bruno as merely “Dad”. “SON OF A BRUNO” must become a movie! Heh. Also – the M. Night Shyamalan feature on this film is great… GREAT! Just watching and listening to M. Night totally geek out and lose his composure while talking about this movie… and the genuine sense of being in awe of the film… JOY! A Crown Jewel for any DVD collection!


By no means a great film – but – if you’re a genre make-up fetishist – I just don’t know how one can resist this film. I love watching the actors in the “alligator” make-up. In black & white, the textures and ridges are just so exceptional and lovely. Also for just pure swamp rat exploitation of sweat and funk, ALLIGATOR PEOPLE delivers. I adore Lon Chaney Jr’s funky role in this, and any film that features the intoxicatingly detached Beverly Garland is a must for my collection.


Ok – here’s a film that just took my breath away. I just wasn’t expecting it to be brilliant. Tony Curtis is just brilliant in this film. The whole bleeding thing is just brilliant. Very possibly the best serial killer film ever made and just WOW! Starring Curtis, Henry Fonda and George Kennedy – THE BOSTON STRANGLER was given life by Richard Fleischer whom I should be used to being brilliant, but I have just never had this film even mentioned to me before checking out this preview disc and DAMN! In addition to getting a “GREAT” film – the documentary on the film with Fleischer and Curtis sharing their memories is just great. Curtis really nailed an amazing performance with this one. Oh – I should also mention his great make-up. Wow.


Greatest zombie movie ever made? I don’t know – I believe I will continue to give that title to the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD – having said that… alongside John Carpenter’s THE THING, this is the greatest gross make-up effects film of all time. I love this movie and just the idea of 4 DVDs dedicated solely to one of my favorite movies – well it is enough to make me sing and scream for joy! I don’t have this DVD, yet… Quint has it, and for that he must die! But let’s face it, this is the best release, yet, for this title and if you’re a zombiephile like me, you must own it.


Not a great film in my opinion, but a nicely atmospheric ghost story (natch) with a wonderful cast. This is a film about loving moments in it, more than the entire movie. The walking bride of death is one of those images from my childhood that stuck, know what I’m saying? An image I saw as quite a young boy that haunted my thoughts and gave me pause. Also, since there are not nearly enough films featuring Craig Wasson, this one will have to be added to my collection too.


If you’re a Criterion fanatic like me, then you already have all 4 of these titles, but if for some odd reason you don’t have these titles… GET THEM. Starting with THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME – this is genre film at its best… shot prior to their mounting of KING KONG, Cooper & Schoedsack teamed Fay Wray up with Joel McCrea and put them on an island to be hunted by Leslie Banks. Using gorgeous black & white matte paintings (some reused in King Kong) and just a bristling pacing that gives this film such a sense of urgency that I’ve found myself sitting on the edge of my seat. Really great film. LORD OF THE FLIES – brilliant film. Trust me. GREAT EXPECTATIONS and OLIVER TWIST are both just amazing examples of David Lean’s black & white era, which some love even more than his brilliant widescreen epics. The miniature work and atmosphere of GREAT EXPECTATIONS is beyond compare. Stunning. Just stunning. Lean’s OLIVER TWIST won’t leave you tapping your foot, but it’ll really make you happy about the childhood you did have. Both of these are the absolute best versions of these tales. FANTASTIC!


A film every bit as important today as it was when Stanley Kramer unleashed it in 1961. An amazing cast as you can see from the above art, though they did leave off Shatner, the curs… Here, here’s a taste of the film, “There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. There was, above all, fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: 'Lift up your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once the devils will be destroyed, your miseries will be destroyed.' It was the old, old story of the sacrifical lamb. What about us, who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we participate? Because we loved our country! What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. 'The country is in danger.' We will 'march out of the shadows.' 'We will go forward.' And history tells you how well we succeeded! We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that mesmerized Germany, mesmerized the world! We found ourselves with sudden powerful allies. Things that had been denied us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said go ahead, take it! Take Sudetenland, take the Rhineland - remilitarize it - take all of Austria, take it! We marched forward, the danger passed. And then one day, we looked around and found we were in even more terrible danger. The rites began in this courtroom, swept over our land like a raging, roaring disease! What was going to be a passing phase became a way of life.” --- haunting isn’t it? This is a Great film… GREAT.


I’ve been dying to see this film since I first linked to French trailers for it, what seems like years ago. I really wish I could have seen this on the big screen instead of direct to video. For some reason, the look of the film reminds me of DARK CRYSTAL, but with the French aesthetics of something like FANTASTIC PLANET. I can’t wait to pick this up this Tuesday!


I really like this miniseries. Oh sure, it has problems galore, and definitely screams 1980 television, but as a kid it made me dream of ancient cultures upon a Mars that I could one day set foot upon. Ultimately, the series, as the book, is a sad affair – with many haunting feelings and melancholy regarding the basic nature of humanity. It was the perfect thing for me to see a year before my Dad handed me PRINCESS OF MARS and getting this edition in the mail was a sweet reminder of where my brain first visited Mars.


BLISS – that’s what this set should be called. This is a time machine folks. Literally, step inside and you’ll be taken away to cities and times that’ll just make you smile. Turn of the century New York… Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show… you’ll actually see Annie Oakley perform… That just blew me away. Not some actress, but ANNIE OAKLEY – the legend captured on film. Listen and Watch George Bernard Shaw do his Mussolini impersonation, one of the most surreal experiences that I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch! There’s 573 minutes of treasures on here. A 10 minute WIZARD OF OZ from 1910. A brilliant film called A SYMPHONY OF SKYSCRAPERS which is a taste of heaven. 50 films reside in this collection, a great companion to the original Treasures from American Film Archives which I’ve enjoyed for years.


“Don’t say it, HISS IT!” was the original tagline on the trailer for this film and boy did I love saying that as a kid. As a film, while no doubt funky in many ways, it’s still a pretty damn good little genre film. Mainly, I recommend the movie for Strother Martin fans, like me, because he’s really good here. Besides – it is sooooo much better than these ridiculous giant computer generated snake films we’re getting today. Besides… these are super snakes, and that’s snazzy!


Before there was THE TWILIGHT ZONE or OUTER LIMITS there were TALES OF TOMORROW. Now I know that title sounds hokey, but the series wasn’t. I had 3 episodes from TALES OF TOMORROW on video as a boy and man… they were genuinely chilling and great! I wish they just would put out the entire season. They’ve chosen 10 very good episodes, but my favorite episode “A CHILD IS CRYING” isn’t on here, but I must own it. The first episode is here though, “VERDICT FROM SPACE” along with “ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD,” “WORLD OF WATER,” “FRANKENSTEIN,” “FLIGHT OVERDUE,” “SNEAK ATTACK,” the great “ICE FROM SPACE,” “AGE OF PERIL,” “MIRACULOUS SERUM,” “TEST FLIGHT.” If you’ve never seen an episode, definitely pick this up… besides if enough pick it up, maybe they’ll restore and release all the seasons

Tuesday – September 14th, 2004

DEMONLOVER (Unrated Director’s Cut)

Is this director’s cut worth it. Yes. This is the version of the film I saw at Sitges a couple years back which really made an impression on me. And specifically it was because of the material that was ‘unrated’. I love the Sonic Youth score and Connie Nielson is just wonderful in this film as is Chloe. This isn’t a cookie cutter Hollywood product, it’s quite daring!


From Paul Schrader comes this absolutely riveting film. This film is brutal and from that period in Schrader’s career where he was a dangerous and confrontational writer – and emerging as a director. If you thought 8MM was a decent into the seedy world, just wait till you see this. George C Scott plays a very strict religious man who finds that his daughter disappeared while on a Church trip to California and discovers that she’s runaway and taken refuge into the seedy world of porn. The film is seedy and like the title, HARDCORE. I like 8MM, but that film doesn’t have this performance from George C Scott, which is just amazing. If you’ve never seen this film, now’s your chance!


I know nothing about these films, but if Johnny Legend is putting them out, then I must possess as I trust his tastelessness to guide me through the world of obscure cult cinema that even I have yet to venture through. His last set was wonderful, filled with extras, I’m sure this one will be too.


I love this film. Often times the movie is just written off as a cheesy Jaws ripoff… which it is, but this is one of them fine ass cheeses, not some over-processed crap. This is also one of the great revenge flicks. I don’t root for the human characters in this film. They’re evil mutherfuckers that killed mama whale and forced a bloody whale abortion on a ship… They deserve chomping. Orca is “The Bride” of Killer Whales. Orca doesn’t fuck around, Orca is there to make Richard Harris’ entire existence miserable. Orca systematically takes away anything and everything that Harris cares about. I love this movie so much I have the original windowcard that I got when I went to the theater as a boy on the wall of my room – albeit it’s hard to see, but I know where it is and man do I love this movie. Getting it on DVD is a godsend!

THX 1138 (The George Lucas Director’s Cut)

Just recently had a chance to check this out theatrically here in Austin and I have to say that this is BY FAR the best Special Edition that George Lucas has ever turned out. The film was a great film as was, the additions and modifications are very tastefully done and do not overpower the minimalism that I was terrified he was going to destroy. Now if only the filmmaker behind this movie was still making films. This two-disc edition includes George’s original student film “THX-11384EB” along with several great documentaries about the film and the people behind it.

THX 1138 – Original Theatrical Version

Whoa – looky here! What’s this? For a brief amount of time, I thought George had actually released the barebones original – but actually what we have here is the same film as above, only without any of the amazing extras that the nifty “bald” edition has. So don’t buy both editions thinking this is the original version that was in theaters… looks like that version is gone gone gone.

Tuesday – September 21st

BATTLE OF ALGIERS – Criterion Collection

A harrowing film, a great film and a very powerful and significant film. Again Criterion continues to release the best films and treats them exactly the way they should. Here you see an occupied people forced to resort to terrorism in order to free their country from occupation. Frankly this is a film that must be seen – and that I wish was one 7000 screens with mandatory attendance by the citizenry of this country. There is so much to learn from this magnificent film. One of the greatest docu-dramas ever filmed. My highest recommendation. The best film released on this day.


Man, this month is hitting us with great titles. This is a fantastic set. If you’ve never discovered the cinema of Cassavetes – behold… here he is at his best presented only as Criterion would in the finest possible transfers. I just wish that Criterion would get the rights to his Johnny Staccato and release every episode treated to the same level of perfection. I love that show! If you consider yourself a cinephile, this is a must. I can’t even begin to encapsulate how great these movies are. In many ways, these 5 films represent the birth of the independent American film movement – and in some ways, it never ever got better. Cassavetes is a genius.

LA DOLCE VITA ( 2-Disc Collector’s Edition )

Jesus. Look at these titles on this day! This one would battle toe to toe with BATTLE OF ALGIERS – but the ‘reality’ of that film would triumph for me in declaring it the best title on this day. HOWEVER, LA DOLCE VITA is about as great a film as can be made. This is Fellini’s masterpiece. First, Marcello Mastroianni is just brilliant in this film. I’ve always held this as a companion piece with Capra’s IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. You see, Jimmy Stewart truly had a wonderful life, sure he didn’t see it that way, but then rarely do you find someone truly content with the life they’re leading. Here in Fellini’s “The Sweet Life” you find Marcello indulging in the lonely blisses of bachelordom while still hang-dog with eyes that’ll break your heart. He partakes of the sweet in life, without the meaningful or truly grand aspects. One of the greatest films ever made.


What was 2 great films and a flawed, but triumphant 3rd have been transformed by their Dr Moreau into amalgamated monstrosities filled with “Where’s Waldos” and visual whiz-bangs that were and are entirely unnecessary. Lucas’ vain struggle to find perfection has resulted in refining his diamond to dust. I love this series dearly, but his continual meddling is not resulting in “better” films or finer “art”. Instead, they represent change for changes’ sake and what is lost is the context and time in which they were conceived and made. That being said, I recommend buying this simply for “Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy” though even that is transformed by its conclusion into a corporate infomercial regarding the corporate structure of LucasArts, which is rather sad. However, that documentary’s look at the original Star Wars film is priceless. I’m still hoping for Irvin Kershner to fight for his right to a Director’s Cut and release his original vision for HIS movie. “Weeza Free” indeed…

Tuesday – September 28th, 2004

BATTLE OF THE PLANETS: 25th Anniversary Collection

Crack! That’s what this is for me. A drug I simply can’t stop toking. I remember rushing home for school to catch BATTLE OF THE PLANETS. Watching Mark, Princess, Tiny, Jason, Keyop and 7 Zark 7 kick ass regularly was what getting out of school meant to me. It was decades till I learnt that it was a show called G-FORCE with “Ace Goodheart, Dirk Daring, Agatha June, Hoot Owl and Pee Wee” but ya know what. It’ll always be BATTLE OF THE PLANETS for me! This 2-dvd set rocks. On every episode you have the option of watching it in English like ya did as a kid, or turning on the Japanese and the subtitles for good proper anime goodness. Dolby Digital wall shaking coolness and 325 minutes of delight follow.


That my quote adorns the cover of this magnificent ass-kicking work of David Carradine godliness thrills me to the roots of my short hairs. This is a film about cars going insanely fast and slamming into shit! Director Paul Bartel (genius behind DEATH RACE 2000 & EATING RAOUL) completely gets this movie. Written by Don Simpson (yeah, that one) this represents everything right about high speed car movies. Pedal to the metal coolness. Watch for Bill McKinney, Martin Scorsese, Gerrit Graham, Sylvester Stallone, Mary Woronov, Roger Corman, Robert Carradine, Joe Dante, Dick Miller, Judy Canova, Don Simpson and of course Paul Bartel himself. This movie thrills. So grab some beer and enjoy!


One can only dream what this film would have been had Bruce Lee lived to film it, but with David Carradine – it’s a pretty damn cool film. Originally Lee worked with James Coburn and Stirling Silliphant to create THE SILENT FLUTE, which would be taken 5 years after his death to become CIRCLE OF IRON. A cool cast accompanies David, with Christopher Lee, Roddy McDowall and Eli Wallach, making this one helluva cult film. Blue Underground does their usual wonderful job, including documentaries, director commentary, alternate title sequence and the First Draft Script by Bruce Lee, Coburn and Silliphant. Now this would make a great Jet Li movie!

EASY RIDER (35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

I’m still not entirely sure about the features on this DVD – and I didn’t get a review copy, but keep your eye open for more details on it. Sometime there can be a magnificent addition if they can find the footage, as they reportedly had enough for a 5 hour film. One of the great American films to emerge from the sixties. And Peter Fonda’s Captain America is one of the greatest icons of cinema. Getting to have a conversation with that man is one of the highlights of my life. Too Cool!


Thus far, this is the best film of 2004. However, we are about to get some films by some pretty great filmmakers here soon, so we’ll see how it fares. And the only films that come close is Linklater’s BEFORE SUNSET and Mamoru Oshii’s INNOCENCE. It must share space in the ever growing Charlie Kaufman collection I’m acquiring.


When people talk about being an original fan of Robert Zemeckis, it’s loving this film from the beginning, that they’re talking about. I remember loving this movie as a kid at the Drive-In. Filled with Beatles music from edge to edge and Zemeckis’ trickery even here, long before computers added limitless abilities and tricks to his repertoire. This film is fun, cute and nostalgic to a glee-inducing fever. Nice to finally have it on DVD!


Ahhhhh, classic smut. There’s nothing quite like Joseph Sarno smut. Especially with a gal as lovely as Marie Liljedahl. Most of you will hate it, but those that appreciate this era of odd softcore foreign filmmaking, you’ll dig it. Not for the jerkers out there.


HOLY SHIT – This is a great film! Wow! Known as THEY CALL HER ONE-EYE or HOOKER’S REVENGE, the American release version of this film was nothing compared to it’s original cut. WOW! This is the film that inspired a big chunk of KILL BILL for Quentin. First off, Christina Lindberg is just beautiful. This is the highlight of the year in terms of CULT releases. This is that big gold ring we’re all trying to get. Now first… a warning. This is hardcore. No, really… You will see actual fucking, sodomy and other acts in this film, but they are not in anyway meant for erotic reasons. If you find them as such, I recommend seeking out therapy soon. Sex in this film represents the torment that this girl finds herself in. Progressively, we’re shown her being further degraded even as she is prepping for revenge and freedom. The film is uncompromising and frankly quite powerful. The sex scenes tend to be extremely brief, to just highlight a moment or two of what Christina is enduring. The result is powerful and disturbing, however when she gets her revenge, it truly feels justified. Though… there’s an additional act before the end of the film that makes her unredeemable in any way. However, that just underlines the consumption of revenge in taking over the person seeking it to the bowels of human nature. This dvd is a perfect release by Synapse and Don May Jr. Great work restoring and presenting the film! Fantastic!

There ya go my friends… the end of another great month of cinema releases on DVD. Once again, this does not represent all the releases, merely my recommendations and my picks for what I’m adding to my collection this month. If you want my top picks out of this month, I have to recommend that Hitchcock Box, Thriller and Battle For Algiers. As for October – of course all of you need to see and buy Fahrenheit 9/11.

For August’s picks Click Here!!!

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