DVDBeaver are proud to announce our voting results for Blu-ray and 4K UHD of the Year - 2021 Poll. I would like to give a very appreciative thank you to those 124 individuals who participated. Everyone's votes were counted in the totals and, like last year, we are adding occasional quote comments!

This Year's Poll is, again, dedicated to... our Patrons - with great thanks. We would not exist without their support! To those that are unfamiliar, Patreon is a secure/verified third-party service where users can agree to a small monthly donation via credit card or PayPal by clicking the button below.

 

 

 

This year the 4K UHD format is gaining significant popularity with more independent production companies embracing and producing content in 3840 X 2160 resolution - with HDR. The playing surface is leveling on Blu-ray with Criterion - high film standard, Kino Lorber - and their prodigious content and numerous audio commentaries - Indicator (the 'Criterion of Region 'B'), Arrow, Warner Archive, Imprint, Second Run, BFI, Eureka (and their sub-label 'Masters of Cinema') and many others creating consistently impressive home video releases.

 

The focus of many comments?:

 

1) Expansion of important films to 4K UHD? What visual filmmakers will get their first release? Antonioni?, Bresson? Tarkovsky?

 

2) Praise for researched commentaries and extensive extras

 

NOTE: Again, this year we didn't publish the vote # totals - it just complicated our already bloated formatting. There were no tiers for top 10 listings.


BIG thanks to our own, and accurately labeled, 'Czar of Noir' Gregory Meshman (take a back seat Eddie) who continues to support us with content lists, updates - Film Noir, and Giallo) and more... Colin Zavitz's well-received reviews, also our friendship with Matt Paprocki over at DoBlu - a super guy and great reviewer!

 

Let's take a look!

 

 

THE TOP TEN BOXSETSs OF 2021

TOP Blu-rays OF 2021

TOP 4K UHD of 2021

 

Gary's 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' list

Favorite Commentaries

LABELS

Best Cover Design

'Black' and Blu (Film Noir on 2021 Blu-ray)

'Yellow' and Blu (Giallo on 2021 Blu-ray)

Notable TV on 2021 Blu-ray

Banner Guessing CONTEST

DVD - 'Will Never Die'

Uncensored Rants and Praise

 

THE WINNERS - BOXSETS

1) First place is Collaborations: The Cinema of Zhang Yimou & Gong Li [Blu-ray] - Red Sorghum (1987), Ju Dou (1990), Raise The Red Lantern (1991), The Story Of Qiu Ju (1992), To Live (1994), Shanghai Triad (1995), Curse Of The Golden Flower (2006) and Coming Home (2014) - Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)
"A great achievement and unique release. My planned gradual viewing, almost immediately became a binge watch as I became more and more immersed in these films." - Tim Leggoe

"Eight essential films, none available (reasonably) on blu elsewhere. Gorgeous box. I'm hopeful there will be more "Collaborations:" sets to come!" - Steve Rubin

"Collecting all eight films together in this beautiful set, Imprint really outdid themselves with this release with the presentation and the lengthy extras on all eight films." - James-Masaki Ryan

2) Second Place is World of Wong Kar Wai [Blu-ray] (As Tears Go By / Days of Being Wild / Chungking Express / Fallen Angels / Happy Together / In the Mood for Love / 2046) - Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW)   (BEAVER REVIEW) With his lush and sensual visuals, pitch-perfect soundtracks, and soulful romanticism, Wong Kar Wai has established himself as one of the defining auteurs of contemporary cinema. Joined by such key collaborators as cinematographer Christopher Doyle; editor and production and costume designer William Chang Suk Ping; and actors Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung Man Yuk, Wong (or WKW, as he is often known) has written and directed films that have enraptured audiences and critics worldwide and inspired countless other filmmakers with their poetic moods and music, narrative and stylistic daring, and potent themes of alienation and memory. Whether tragically romantic, soaked in blood, or quirkily comedic, the seven films collected here are an invitation into the unique and wistful world of a deeply influential artist.

"A beautiful boxset from Criterion, collecting some of Wong's most memorable works, even if the transfers are a bit controversial with the color timings and framings." - James-Masaki Ryan

"For all the displeasure expressed at coloring changes, I'm still happy to have all these under one roof." - Steve Rubin

3) This place is Shawscope Volume 1 Limited Edition [Blu-ray] (King Boxer, The Boxer from Shantung, Five Shaolin Masters, Shaolin Temple, Mighty Peking Man, Challenge of the Masters, Executioners from Shaolin, Chinatown Kid, The Five Venoms, Crippled Avengers, Heroes of the East and Dirty Ho) Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW) After an undisputed reign at the peak of Hong Kong’s film industry in the 1960s, Shaw Brothers (the studio founded by real-life brothers Run Run and Runme Shaw) found their dominance challenged by up-and-coming rivals in the early 1970s. They swiftly responded by producing hundreds of the most iconic action films ever made, revolutionizing the genre through the backbreaking work of top-shelf talent on both sides of the camera as well as unbeatable widescreen production value, much of it shot at ‘Movietown’, their huge, privately-owned studio on the outskirts of Hong Kong.
This inaugural collection by Arrow Video presents twelve jewels from the Shaw crown, all released within the 1970s, kicking off in 1972 with Korean director Chung Chang-wha’s King Boxer, the film that established kung fu cinema as an international box office powerhouse when it hit Stateside cinemas under the title Five Fingers of Death. From there we see Chang Cheh (arguably Shaw’s most prolific director) helm the blood-soaked brutality of The Boxer from Shantung and two self-produced films in his ‘Shaolin Cycle’ series, Five Shaolin Masters and its prequel Shaolin Temple, before taking a detour into Ho Meng-hua’s King Kong-inspired Mighty Peking Man, one of the most unmissably insane giant monster films ever made. Chang’s action choreographer Lau Kar-leung then becomes a director in his own right, propelling his adoptive brother Gordon Liu to stardom in Challenge of the Masters and Executioners from Shaolin. Not to be outdone, Chang introduces some of Shaw’s most famous faces to the screen, including Alexander Fu Sheng fighting on the streets of San Francisco in Chinatown Kid and, of course, the mighty Venom Mob in The Five Venoms and Crippled Avengers. Finally, Lau and Liu successfully meld high kicks with humour in two of their masterworks, Heroes of the East and Dirty Ho, also featuring such fan favourites as Wong Yue, Hsiao Hao and Kara Hui.

From kickass kung fu killers to crazy kaiju knockoffs to culture clash comedies, this carefully curated and gorgeously presented selection of all-time Shaw Brothers classics merely represents the tip of the iceberg of the studio’s rich output, making it both an ideal starting point for newcomers and a treat for hardcore fans alike.

"Got this right before the poll ended and it's a beautiful box set. I'm thrilled that 'Volume 1' promises many more of these in the future. " - Jason Overbeck

"Arrow's Shawscope Volume 1 is probably going to win Blu-ray boxset of the year - certainly be high in the voting. Aside from the comical-production of 1977's The Mighty Peking Man, these are all fabulous Wuxia films filled with simple, noble heroes - often embracing extraordinary talents - and scowling evil, contemptuous, villains. Crippled Avengers may be the standout but they are all thoroughly enjoyable. These Shaw Brothers gems in the Arrow boxset are a pure joy. Truly, most fans don't require my endorsement only to tell you that the package completely exceeded by expectations in all areas. Our highest recommendation! We can't wait for Volume 2 and more!" - Gary Tooze

4) Many votes for Indicator's Columbia Noir packages #'s 2, 3 and 4 - that came out in 2021. These packages themselves are irresistible for Film Noir devotees.

COLUMBIA NOIR #2 [Blu-ray] - Framed (Richard Wallace, 1947), 711 Ocean Drive (Joseph M Newman, 1950), The Mob (Robert Parrish, 1951), Affair in Trinidad (Vincent Sherman, 1952), Tight Spot (Phil Karlson, 1955) and Murder By Contract (Irving Lerner, 1958) - RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)

Columbia Noir #3 [Blu-ray] - Johnny O'Clock - 1947, The Dark Past, 1948 - Convicted, 1950 - Between Midnight and Dawn, 1950 - The Sniper, 1952 - City of Fear, 1959) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)

    

Columbia Noir #4 [Blu-ray] (Walk East on Beacon!, A Bullet is Waiting, Pushover, Chicago Syndicate, Walk a Crooked Mile and The Brothers Rico) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)

"Three more reference-level volumes of Columbia Film Noir from Indicator." - Anthony Dugandzic

"Worth the price of admission to see Kim Novak's debut in a starring role, in 1954's Pushover." - Jeff Heinrich

"These noir box sets are fast becoming compulsive for their attractive packaging and fulsome extras including: succinct commentaries, vintage shorts, video discussions and booklets full of thoughtful content. The past twelve months have seen Indicator continue to mine the Columbia and Hammer back-catalogue to produce lavish and irresistible packages curated with care and attention. Indicator maintains a commitment to sourcing titles left of center." - David Redfern

"Columbia Noir #2 - Indicator - The best, so far, of Indicator's excellent Columbia Noir sets, Murder By Contract was a revelation." - Tim Leggoe

"Columbia Noir 3 (Indicator) - The best in the business for boxsets. Great to see The Dark Past released on disc." - BMG

"Columbia Noir #2 - Indicator - I could have picked any of the volumes released this year (and opted for this one mostly because of Affair in Trinidad). Indicator is simply fantastic at box sets." - Steve Rubin

"I love these Indicator Noir boxsets, they look great all lined up on my shelf." - Jason Overbeck

"Stunning transfers, wonderful extras, great movies and excellent value for the money." - Ken Schwarz

5) Fifth place is Mae West in Hollywood, 1932-1943 [Blu-ray] (I'm No Angel, Belle of the Nineties, Go West Young Man, Every Day's a Holiday, Goin' to Town, My Little Chickadee, She Done Him Wrong, Night After Night, Klondike Annie and The Heat's On) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW) When Mae West went to Hollywood in the early 1930s, she was already a major star. Having sensationalized Broadway, it was time for the movies to receive the same. Her fame allowed her control, picking her co-stars (including a young Cary Grant), receiving screenwriter credits, and baiting censors and audiences alike as the pre-Code era gave way to a more sanitized period in American filmmaking. This six-disc collection brings together all ten of West's classic Hollywood features, from her supporting turn in 1932's Night After Night to 1943's musical extravaganza, The Heat's On.
"This voluminous box set is a fine tribute to an icon of pre-Code film." - David Redfern

"A lovingly assembled homage to a Hollywood maverick." - Jeff Heinrich

"It's very appealing to have all these films in one package. Indicator's Blu-ray set, Mae West in Hollywood, 1932-1943, has a great selection of the iconic and unique star's films that include pre-code, comedy, crime, musical genres. Nice to have the inclusion of The Heat's On, albeit in more of a minor role, as her final film until Myra Breckinridge (1970) 27 years later. Mae West's breezy sexual independence was always 'on', quoting her: "I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it." She frequently rewrote portions of her character's dialogue often being severely censored and judged as "vulgar and indecent". The outwardly sexual burlesque of the West characterizations were wildly popular. The dialogue is often filled with supreme feminine confidence and double entendres. She's absolutely marvelous. I love the idea of such a complete package of her films including The Heat's On and the 1982 biopic, the commentaries and other extras. Indicator are the best! Absolutely recommended!" - Gary Tooze

6) Sixth place is Columbia Classics [4K UHD Blu-ray] Collection Volume 2 (Anatomy of a Murder / Oliver! / Taxi Driver / Stripes / Sense and Sensibility / The Social Network) - Sony (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW) Celebrate six iconic films from six visionary directors. Limited Edition gif set includes fully remastered 4K UHD disc debuts for Anatomy of a Murder, Oliver!, Taxi Driver, Stripes, Sense and Sensibility and the Social Network. Gift set also includes an exclusive 80 page full color collectible book with rare photos and insightful history of the included films. Over 30 hours of special features: a mix of rare archival materials and exciting new content, including cast & filmmaker anniversary reunions for Stripes and Sense and Sensibility. Also includes an extra disc featuring 20 acclaimed short films from the studio's library - exclusive to this set

"Worth it for a stunning Taxi Driver and Anatomy of a Murder" - Peter Yacavone

"Preminger looks fantastic and Stripes, with both cuts in 4K is a most delightful surprise" - David Redfern

7) Seventh place is Laurel or Hardy: Early Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy [Blu-ray] - Flicker Alley Tracing the roots of the legendary comedy duo! Laurel or Hardy: Early Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy traces the roots of the legendary comedy duo by offering fans a two-disc set of 35 newly restored films starring either Stan Laurel or Oliver Hardy—all produced before the two genius talents ever joined forces. Laurel and Hardy became cinematic legends together, but before they were ever hauling pianos or throwing pies as a hilarious and unforgettable comedic duo, each had to develop as an individual artist and performer. Laurel or Hardy: Early Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, as proudly presented by Flicker Alley, the Library of Congress, and Blackhawk Films, offers fans new and old the rare opportunity to track the early solo careers of two comedy icons.
Featuring all new 2K restorations sourced from materials contributed by archives and collectors around the world, this comprehensive 2-disc Blu-ray collection features 35 films and includes new scores from some of the best silent film composers working today. Arthur Stanley Jefferson comes from the British vaudeville scene, and was at one time Chaplin's understudy. Oliver Norvell Hardy, a comedian born on film, worked steadily for years in Hollywood and built his notoriety in over 300 roles. Although the two had different styles and distinct backgrounds, they followed similar creative paths, each marked with trials, errors, successes, and the occasional strokes of genius. Along the way, they made millions of people laugh, offering ample evidence of the incredible individual talents that would eventually merge together to create one of the greatest comedy duos in all of film history.

"Nearly 10 hours of slapstick, both good and bad. Outstanding booklet with notes on every film." - Bruce Calvert

8) Eighth place is Inner Sanctum Mysteries [Blu-ray] Calling Dr. Death (1943), Weird Woman (1944), Dead Man's Eyes (1944), The Frozen Ghost (1945), Strange Confession (1945) and Pillow of Death (1945) RB UK Eureka Classics (BEAVER REVIEW) Death, dementia, dark arts... it's just another day in the forbidding and fascinating world of the Inner Sanctum! Get ready for unlimited thrills and chills as all six classic Inner Sanctum Mysteries come to Blu-ray in the UK for the first time ever! Based on the popular radio shows of the 1940's, horror icon Lon Chaney, Jr. (The Wolf Man), gives timeless performances in six spooky feature-length films. Calling Dr. Death (dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1943) A doctor is not sure if he murdered his wife and has his nurse try to find the truth by hypnotising him. Weird Woman (dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1944) While on a trip, a professor falls in love with an exotic native woman who turns out to be a supernatural being. Dead Man's Eyes (dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1944) When an artist is blinded, an operation to restore his sight depends on another person willing to donate their eyes. The Frozen Ghost (dir. Harold Young, 1945) A stage mentalist and a discredited plastic surgeon are involved in mysterious goings-on in an eerie wax museum. Strange Confession (dir. John Hoffman, 1945) Flashbacks reveal the events leading up to a man's revenge on the racketeer who took advantage of his wife. Pillow of Death (dir. Wallace Fox, 1945) A lawyer in love with his secretary is suspected of suffocating his wife, among others.

"Well, the Eureka is the Blu-ray set to own. The Pillow of Death upgrade is notable and Kim Newman, the booklet and on-disc radio programs. No question." - Gary Tooze

"A revisiting of Universal’s little seen 1940s mystery thriller series. Unlike the previous Mill Creek package, Eureka’s extras include several original broadcasts of the radio series from which the films are based on." - David Redfern

9) Ninth place is Hungarian Masters: Three films by Zoltán Fábri, István Gaál and Miklós Jancsó [Blu-ray] Merry-Go-Round (Körhinta), Current (Sodrásban) and Agnus Dei (Égi bárány) - R0 UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW) "Second Run's 'Hungarian Masters' is an absolute gem. I loved 1955's Merry-Go-Round (Körhinta), and especially István Gaál's poetic 1963 Current (Sodrásban) while Agnus Dei (Égi bárány) from 1970 reminded me of Jancsó's The Red and the White - a brutal documentation of war with deep political allegories that will always be relevant. Second Run's Blu-ray package should be very notable in our year-end poll as one of the top boxsets released in 2021. These are masterwork films and it gets our highest recommendation!" - Gary Tooze
Second Run presents a selection of essential works by Hungarian cinema's most renowned filmmakers. This special edition box set contains these celebrated films presented from stunning new 4K restorations and released for the first time ever on Blu-ray. The set includes Zoltán Fábri’s Merry-Go-Round (Körhinta, 1955); István Gaál’s Current (Sodrásban, 1963) and Miklós Jancsó’s Agnus Dei (Égi bárány, 1970). Merry-Go-Round (Körhinta) - Zoltán Fábri's beloved film is considered one of the finest in all of Hungarian cinema. A love story set against the rural backdrop of communist farming collectives, a young girl (the great Mari Törőcsik in her film debut) falls for farm worker Máté, but is betrothed by her domineering father to another man. This pastoral take on Romeo and Juliet is a rich and achingly beautiful work, framed by the turbulent changes in society taking place at that time. Current (Sodrásban) - A group of young friends on the cusp of adulthood decide to spend one last idyllic day together by the river before they depart for jobs and university. When one of them goes missing, a frantic search begins - and recriminations ensue. Often cited as the first film of the Hungarian New Wave, István Gaál’s haunting existential drama contemplates the transience of youth and the impermanence of memory. Echoing Antonioni’s L'Avventura and Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Current is a powerful and lyrical work that serves as a lament for a generation. Agnus Dei (Égi bárány) - Miklós Jancsó’s symbolic re-enactment of Hungary’s 1919 revolution and counter-revolution is another virtuoso display of cinematic skill and artistry, turning history into theatre. The film explores political upheaval, oppression and the complicity of the Church, in this refined, complex allegory of the rise of fascism in Hungary. The dazzling Agnus Dei marks a transition from Jancsó’s more traditional narrative films of the 1960s, to the more experimental and provocative works of the 1970s.

10) Tenth place is Vengeance Trails: Four Classic Westerns [Blu-ray] (Massacre Time (1966), My Name is Pecos (1966), Bandidos (1967), And God Said to Cain (1970) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW) "There are four 60's produced 'Pasta Westerns'; three above average genre films directed by Lucio Fulci, Antonio Margheriti, Massimo Dallamano and a mid-tier effort by Maurizio Lucidi. They are fabulous examples of the genre and star hunky, steely-eyed Franco Nero, Klaus Kinski, George Hilton, Robert Woods, Enrico Maria Salerno, sexy gals like Lucia Modugno, Linda Sini, María Martín, Marcella Michelangeli etc., the films have exquisite sets, revenge themed plots and are dripping with charismatic style, inventive camera angles, extreme close-ups and many of the conventions that Spaghetti western aficionados adore including machismo shootouts, cowardly sneak attacks and chivalrous defenses of women - wrapped in gratuitous vengeful violence. These are housed on individual Arrow Blu-rays with exceptional a/v plus commentaries and hours of impressive supplements." - Gary Tooze

In the mid-1960s, the runaway success of Sergio Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy gave rise to an explosion of similar productions as filmmakers by the dozen sought to capitalize on this new, uniquely Italian take on the western, characterized by their deeply cynical outlook, morally compromised antiheroes and unflinching depictions savage violence. This specially curated selection gathers together four outstanding examples of the genre from the height of its popularity, all centered around a theme of revenge. In Lucio Fulci’s (Zombie Flesh Eaters) Massacre Time (1966), Franco Nero (Django) and George Hilton (The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail) star as estranged brothers forced to band together against the powerful businessman (Nino Castelnuovo, Strip Nude for Your Killer) and his sadistic son who’ve seized control of their hometown. In Maurizio Lucidi’s (The Sicilian Cross) My Name is Pecos (1966), Robert Woods (Johnny Colt) stars as the eponymous Mexican gunslinger, returning to Houston to settle a long-standing score against the racist gang boss (Pier Paolo Capponi, The Cat O’ Nine Tails) who wiped out his entire family. In Massimo Dallamano’s (What Have You Done to Solange?) Bandidos (1967), Enrico Maria Salerno (Savage Three) plays a former top marksman who, years after being maimed by a former protégé (Venantino Venantini, City of the Living Dead), teams up with a fresh apprentice (Terry Jenkins, Paint Your Wagon) to get his revenge against the man who betrayed him. Finally, in Antonio Margheriti’s (Cannibal Apocalypse) And God Said to Cain (1970), the inimitable Klaus Kinski (Double Face) stars as a man who has spent the last decade in a prison work camp for a crime he didn’t commit and who, upon his release, immediately sets out to wreak vengeance on the men who framed him. Featuring a wealth of key Euro cult talent both behind and in front of the camera, Arrow Video is proud to present these four classic westerns in sparkling high definition restorations, three of them produced specially for this release, alongside a plethora of brand new bonus materials.
 

NOTABLE BOXSETs in 2021 (but not in our Top 10) - in no order:

(CLICK Covers for more Information)

   

   

   

     

   

    

   

 

   

BLU-RAYs OF THE YEAR

1) Mirror [Blu-ray] (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) First Place is one of Andrei Tarkovsky’s most influential works, a mesmerizing collage of his own memories and dreams. A subtly ravishing passage through the halls of time and memory, this sublime reflection on twentieth-century Russian history by Andrei Tarkovsky (Stalker) is as much a poem composed in images, or a hypnagogic hallucination, as it is a work of cinema. In a richly textured collage of varying film stocks and newsreel footage, the recollections of a dying poet flash before our eyes, his dreams mingling with scenes of childhood, wartime, and marriage, all imbued with the mystical power of a trance. Largely dismissed by Soviet critics on its release because of its elusive narrative structure, Mirror has since taken its place as one of the director’s most renowned and influential works, a stunning personal statement from an artist transmitting his innermost thoughts and feelings directly from psyche to screen.
"A film that has always been easy to admire but hard to love. A memory piece, Tarkovsky made the shifting chronology doubly difficult by casting the same actress as mother and wife (odd- as they are not genetically linked, but not so odd if the link is oedipal!) and the same boy as son and grandson But then I think we are all embodiments of our parents and grandparents and in our memories keep to no particular chronology anyway. In a way it is right, that in images, the generations merge. This beautifully boxed restoration and its copious supplements helped me understand that. It is now a film I can now love and rewatch without the previous itch of frustration! And what images!" - Billy Bang

"Another stunning package from Criterion, worthy of the film itself." - Tim Leggoe

"We do need to celebrate Criterion’s video restoration of a title that’s been problematic over the years!" - Peter Yacavone

"Just stunning. Breathtaking. Definition of Dreamy. This is the personification of the reason I watch discs over streaming films. One of the very best Blu Ray releases ever." - Neil Williams

"Completing the cycle of quality editions of Tarkovsky's films" - Steve Rubin

"Criterion's Blu-ray is a revelation and a must-own for all cinephiles for a film so visually arresting, filled with art, memory, poetry that you can see is multiple times gaining appreciation each viewing. Criterion Blu-ray is a revelation and a must-own for all cinephiles. " - Gary Tooze

2) High Sierra [Blu-ray] (Raoul Walsh, 1941) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) Second place has Humphrey Bogart’s star-making breakthrough performance. Marking the moment when the gritty gangster sagas of the 1930s began giving way to the romantic fatalism of 1940s film noir, High Sierra also contains the star-making performance of Humphrey Bogart, who, alongside top-billed Ida Lupino, proved his leading-man mettle with his tough yet tender turn as Roy Earle. A career criminal plagued by his checkered past, Earle longs for a simpler life, but after getting sprung on parole, he falls in with a band of thieves for one last heist in the Sierra Nevada. Directed with characteristic punch by Raoul Walsh—who makes the most of the vertiginous mountain location—Roy and Lupino’s Marie, a fellow outcast also desperate to escape her past, hurtle inexorably toward an unforgettable cliffside climax and a rendezvous with destiny.

"A pristine presentation of one of the most important Raoul Walsh films- a beautifully understated gem that bridges the gangster films of ‘30s and ‘40s, setting the coarse for what’s to come, developing the genre themes of Fate, friendship, desire and betrayal that will bleed over into Noir, culminating in Walsh’s own White Heat at the end of the decade. High Sierra also gives us the first iteration of the fully realized Bogart screen persona." - Ken Schwarz
 

"The second feature COLORADO TERRITORY is as good as the Bogart original. Great extras on the disc." - Bruce Calvert

"The inclusion of Colorado Territory was a real bonus!" - BMG

"One of the best Blu-ray packages of the year - an essential Noir, Bogie, Lupino, Walsh - stacked supplements including a second disc with the director's Colorado Territory in HD! and a feature-length documentary. There are interviews, a video essay, booklet, radio adaptation etc. and, especially High Sierra looking (4K-restored) and sounding pristine. It doesn't get much better for cinephiles and dark cinema enthusiasts. Don't hesitate!" - Gary Tooze

3) Third Place is Out of the Blue [Blu-ray] (Dennis Hopper, 1980) RB UK BFI  Cebe (Linda Manz, Days of Heaven) is a teenage rebel obsessed with Elvis and the Sex Pistols. Her trucker father, Don (Dennis Hopper, Easy Rider) is in prison after drunkenly smashing his rig into a school bus, and her mother, Kathy (Sharon Farrell, It’s Aliv) is a junkie waitress who takes refuge in the arms of other men, including Don’s best friend, Charlie (Don Gordon, Bullitt). With Don’s release, the family struggles to reconnect and the trauma of the past looms large as dark secrets slowly begin to emerge. Initially only hired as an actor in the family-friendly drama ‘Cebe’, Hopper took over directing duties a week into production, rewriting the script and starting principal photography from scratch. The bleak punk epic that resulted - Out of the Blue - arguably represents Hopper’s strongest outing as a filmmaker and features an astonishing performance by Manz. Newly restored in 4K, this cult-classic is ripe for rediscovery and is on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.
"With a 4K restoration transfer and over 14 hours of extras, Dennis Hopper's underseen third film as a director is ready for re-evaluation through this packed release from the BFI." - James-Masaki Ryan

"Praise for the BFI - for rescuing Out of the Blue and stacking it with so many fascinating extras." - Nick Garlick

"Two films by the late, great Dennis Hopper. One a certifiable masterpiece (Out of the Blue/BFI); the other, one of the best crime films of the 1990's (The Hot Spot/Kino Lorber), a decade which saw a resurgence in the modern noir film." - Anthony Dugandzic

"'The Last Movie' is often first in my list of Seventies Cinema (I LOVE the Indicator release) so loved the opportunity to see this punky paedo presentation . Linda Manz rocks!" - Neil Williams

"A stunning new 4K restoration of Dennis Hopper's Out of the Blue would have had a chance of making this list regardless, but the BFI have saw fit to release it with eight – yes, EIGHT! – hours of extras. Release of the year." - Calvin MacKinnon

"BFI - the best slate of 2021 featuring cult classics like Out of the Blue" - James Laycock

4) Nightmare Alley [Blu-ray] (Edmund Goulding, 1947) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) In fourth place Tyrone Power stars in one of the most haunting and perverse film noirs of the 1940s
Darkness lurks behind the bright lights of a traveling carnival in one of the most haunting and perverse film noirs of the 1940s. Adapted from the scandalous and renowned book by William Lindsay Gresham, Nightmare Alley gave Tyrone Power a chance to subvert his matinee-idol image with a ruthless performance as Stan Carlisle, a small-time carny whose unctuous charm propels him to fame as a charlatan spiritualist, but whose unchecked ambition leads him down a path of moral degradation and self-destruction. Although its strange, sordid atmosphere shocked contemporary audiences, this long difficult-to-see reflection of postwar angst has now taken its place as one of the defining noirs of its era—a fate-fueled downward slide into existential oblivion.

"Brilliant restoration of a classic movie" - John Ridley

"Nightmare Alley is one of the most beloved, important, grimmest and cult-promoting of all Noirs. The latter because of its lack of availability for years over a legal dispute between Producer George Jessel and 20th Century Fox. It remains a fascinating part of the 'dark cinema' cycle with a touching, complex, anti-hero in the mysterious intriguing world of carnival life and 'mentalists'. Nightmare Alley is one of the most desirable of Noirs to finally come to a legitimate Blu-ray. Kudos to Criterion for its valuable extras and the best the film has ever looked and sounded on digital." - Gary Tooze

"'Has been on my wish list for ages. Would have liked the original poster art on the cover though." - BMG

5) The Bitter Stems [Blu-ray] (Los Tallos Amargos) (Fernando Ayala, 1956) Flicker Alley - Number five is this rarely seen 1956 film was lauded in its day but only recently rediscovered, hidden away in a private collector’s home outside Buenos Aires. Alfredo Gasper, a dissatisfied Buenos Aires newspaperman (Carlos Cores), partners with Paar Liudas, a clever Hungarian refugee (Vassili Lambrinos) who needs money to bring his family from Argentina. Together they create a bogus correspondence school, exploiting the hopes of would-be journalists. As their scheme succeeds beyond their wildest dreams, a mystery woman from Liudas’ past sparks Gasper’s suspicion: his charming colleague may be playing him for a sucker. Soon Gasper finds himself plotting the perfect crime – but fate has many twists in store. This adaptation of journalist Adolfo Jasca’s award winning novel was acclaimed upon its release, earning top prizes in 1957 from the Argentine critics association for Best Picture, with Fernando Ayala named Best Director. The innovative and evocative score, combining elements of tango, jazz, and classical music, is one of the first film scores by legendary composer Astor Piazolla.
Thanks to the diligent efforts of the Film Noir Foundation and Argentine cinephile Fernando Martín Peña, a gorgeous new print of The Bitter Stems (Los tallos amargos) was created, by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, from the reconditioned original negative, now presented in its first ever home video release–with special thanks to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Charitable Trust.

"A noir revelation, and from the southern hemisphere to boot!" - Chris Browne

"A great, restored Argentine film, thanks to Eddie Muller and the Film Noir Foundation, and brilliantly researched commentary by Imogen Sara Smith" - Peter Rist

6) Irreversible [Blu-ray] (Gaspar Noé, 2002) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW) Sixth place perhaps the quintessential exemplar of New French Extremity, Irreversible amazed and outraged audiences across the world upon its release in 2002 with its harrowing scenes of rape and violence. Now Gaspar Noé’s nauseating, thrilling, ingenious masterwork returns in a new 2K restoration, both in its Original Theatrical Cut and a potent new Straight Cut, assembled in 2020.

Irreversible pitches you straight into the abyss, revealing Cassel pounded to a pulp and his assailant's head staved in with a fire extinguisher; then it swivels into the past, negotiating the real-time agony of Bellucci being raped in an underpass, regressing ever backwards into the chaste light of earlier that day. Rest assured it all ends happily ever before. The title doesn't merely toy with the idea of undoing time, corruption, ruin and such shackles; it also brandishes the suggestion that the film itself poses a cinematic breach, a taboo-torching dereliction of no return.

"Worth the wait, although I don't expect I will ever watch the cut of chronological cut of the film." - Jason Overbeck

"Speechless. This is one of the best Blu-ray packages of the year. I was thankful to revisit this polarizing film-experience after requiring more than a decade to recover from my initial exposure to Gaspar Noé's Irreversible. Say what you will, this is a competent, confident and fearless filmmaker. I guess time has made me jaded and less-sensitized to the extreme scene(s) or maybe it was just that I knew what to expect. The film is still brilliantly impacting, unforgettable, creatively realized, unrestrained and eye-openingly unique. It totally deserves this stellar and complete double Blu-ray release from Indicator. It gets our absolute highest recommendation." - Gary Tooze

7) Beauty and the Beast [Blu-ray] (Juraj Herz, 1978) R0 UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW) From Juraj Herz, director of The Cremator and Morgiana, come this singular adaptation of the classic tale - an altogether darker interpretation than we're used to. Light years from Disney, Herz's Beauty and the Beast (also known more provocatively as The Virgin and the Monster) follows the familiar story - innocent girl presents herself as sacrifice to a cursed man-beast hiding in exile, and learns to live with, and eventually love her captor - but is transformed into something entirely more twisted and terrifying in Herz’s macabre re-imagining. Aided by wonderful set and costume design, superb cinematography and evocative score, this is a fairy-tale-turned-horror story from Czechoslovak cinema’s most wryly subversive artist.
"Gloriously realised fairy tale" - John Ridley

"Juraj Herz's Beauty and the Beast is quite a surprise being very horror-oriented, Gothic, atmospheric and dark. I really enjoyed it especially after the commentary highlighted themes that I wasn't aware of. Wow. It can certainly be creepy at times. The Second Run Blu-ray has plenty of value as they continue to expose these highly remarkable gems on Blu-ray. Fans of Czech cinema and those curious as to this suspenseful, unique, fairy tale adaptation should consider indulging." - Gary Tooze

8) The Ascent [Blu-ray] (Larisa Shepitko, 1977) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) Eighth place is the crowning triumph of a career cut tragically short, Larisa Shepitko’s final film won the Golden Bear at the 1977 Berlin Film Festival and went on to be hailed as one of the finest works of late Soviet cinema. In the darkest days of World War II, two partisans set out for supplies to sustain their beleaguered outfit, braving the blizzard-swept landscape of Nazi-occupied Belarus. When they fall into the hands of German forces and come face-to-face with death, each must choose between martyrdom and betrayal, in a spiritual ordeal that lifts the film’s earthy drama to the plane of religious allegory. With stark, visceral cinematography that pits blinding white snow against pitch-black despair, The Ascent finds poetry and transcendence in the harrowing trials of war.

"Another snow bound, but very different allegory. This time a journey into hell. On repeat viewings the frequent framing of the main character's (Sotnikov) face to resemble Christ is its only flaw. But then I suppose the truly heroic deserve their halo." - Billy Bang

"A labour of love by a neglected Russian director & her widowed husband, and a significant upgrade from Criterion's old Eclipse DVD." - Jeff Heinrich

"Another outstanding restoration of WW2 film" - John Ridley

"The Ascent" is a vivid masterpiece, and the Criterion blu-ray edition made justice of the stunning black and white visuals of this movie." - Alfredo Santoro

"Praise for Larisa Shepitko's The Ascent is always stratospheric - an emotionally draining film experience encompassing the beauty of Andrei Tarkovsky - frequently poetic and steeped in religious symbolism - a harrowing masterwork. Considered one of the greatest war films ever made The Ascent gets a stellar 4K-restoration on Blu-ray thanks to Criterion. The package is overflowing with supplements including valuable interviews and insights on Larisa Shepitko including Daniel Bird's selected-scene commentary. Our highest recommendation!" - Gary Tooze

9) Night Has a Thousand Eyes [Blu-ray] (John Farrow, 1948) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) Ninth Place is from John Farrow, the acclaimed director of Five Came Back, Wake Island, The Big Clock, Alias Nick Beal and Hondo, comes this supernatural film noir about a tormented magician played by Hollywood great Edward G. Robinson (Scarlet Street). When heiress Jean Courtland (Gail Russell, Calcutta) attempts suicide, her fiancé Elliott Carson (John Lund, A Foreign Affair) probes her relationship to stage mentalist John Triton (Robinson). In flashback, we see how Triton starts having terrifying flashes of true precognition. His partner, Whitney Courtland (Jerome Cowan, The Maltese Falcon), uses Triton’s talent to make money; but Triton’s inability to prevent what he foresees causes him to break up the act and become a hermit. Years later, Triton has new visions and desperately tries to prevent tragedies in the Courtland family. Can his warnings succeed against suspicion, unbelief and inexorable fate? Noir stalwarts Barré Lyndon (The Lodger) and Jonathan Latimer (The Glass Key) penned the screenplay based on the novel by master of suspense Cornell Woolrich (Rear Window).
"Super Edward G Robinson movie" - John Ridley

"Another noir on my wish list and love the supernatural slant." - BMG

"John Farrow's Night Has a Thousand Eyes is delicious noir-leaning cinema. I agree with Imogen Sara Smith that it requires an inordinate suspension of disbelief, but Edward G. Robinson does a grand job of selling the role of a moral, lonely 'seer of future events' to his own unhappiness. It's such and entertaining film, dipping its toe into the supernatural, as skeptics abound, and the Kino Blu-ray has elevated the image (1080P) and audio (lossless) plus the commentary gives it immense value. Night Has a Thousand Eyes has our highest recommendation!" - Gary Tooze

10) The Long Goodbye [Blu-ray] (Robert Altman, 1973) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) In tenth place Elliott Gould (Busting, The Silent Partner) gives one of his best performances as a quirky, mischievous Philip Marlowe in this fascinating and original send-up of Raymond Chandler’s classic detective story from maverick filmmaker Robert Altman (McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Nashville). Co-starring Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell and Henry Gibson with a screenplay by Leigh Brackett (The Big Sleep, The Empire Strikes Back), The Long Goodbye is a gloriously inspired subversion of the film noir genre with the “sun-baked Sodom” of 1970s Hollywood as its backdrop. Private eye Philip Marlowe (Gould) faces the most bizarre case of his life, when a friend’s apparent suicide turns into a double murder involving a sexy blonde, a disturbed gangster and a suitcase full of drug money. But as Marlowe stumbles toward the truth, he soon finds himself lost in a maze of sex and deceit—only to discover that in L.A., if love is dangerous... friendship is murder.

"Classic Altman Neo-Noir, - a highly intelligent adaptation and deconstructive look at dark cinema mythology. It's a masterpiece and with the Kino Blu-ray 4K look, Tim Lucas commentary and bevy of extras - it gets put in the 'irresistible' category for cinephiles. What an enjoyable package." - Gary Tooze

 

NOTE: Shout out to Warner Archive's 'The Shop Around The Corner' as the Blu-ray technically only shipped out to customers in the first week of January 2021 although officially released in December 2020.

Favorite Commentaries of 2021:

 

There was no shortage of great commentaries in 2021. Kudos to Kino, Indicator and Imprint for their consistent inclusions. Criterion, the pioneer of the feature, still appears to be distancing themselves from new commentary track supplements, with Kino taking up the mantle.

 

I also didn't hear every commentary made in 2021, but I did listen to over 120. I appreciate and respect commentarists very much. We trust you never feel it is a thankless job. We will always support your efforts.

The winner this year, with the most mention-votes, is Imogen Sara Smith. Bravo!

Next 'most mentioned' were Tim Lucas, Tony Rayns, Alex Cox, Adrian Martin and David Del Valle

The trifecta of Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson always get interest and are definitely part of some of my favorite commentaries of the year.

Others include: Alan K. Rode, Barry Forshaw / Kim Newman, Samm Deighan, Daniel Kremer, Bill Ackerman, Eddy Von Muller, Peter Tonguette, Kat Ellinger, Joseph McBride, Toby Roan, Alex Cox, Tom Weaver, Troy Howarth, Steve Haberman, Constantine Nasr, , C. Courtney Joyner, Michael Brooke, Lee Gambin, Farran Smith Nehme, Nick Pinkerton and many others who's efforts we appreciate.

Individual Comments:

 

"Joseph McBride, for Lubistch's Broken Lullaby (Kino Lorber) - A laid-back yet informative tutorial on Lubitsch, the talkies and anti-war films, segueing into a discussion of Frantz, François Ozon's "loosely inspired" adaptation from 2016." - Jeff Heinrich

"Russell Dyball- Nothing But Trouble; Creature With The Atom Brain" - Emily Patella

"In previous years, I always considered Tim Lucas to be the best commentator in the business. I'd make blind buys in he did the commentary. However, at the end of 2021, I now have to consider Imogen Sara Smith to be the new reigning champ. No disparagement intended toward Mr. Lucas, who remains great. However, Ms. Smith's commentaries are always informative and entertaining.
ANYTHING by Imogen Sara Smith.
ANYTHING by Tim Lucas.
Larceny and The Accused; Eddy Von Muller
The Underneath; Peter Tonguette
Emperor Waltz; Joseph McBride
Bedlam; Tom Weaver
" - Gary Slatus

"King Kong (1976) - Commentary with Rick Baker - Shout Factory" - Steve Grimes

"Murder by Decree (Kim Newman & Barry Forshaw)
Major Dundee (Glenn Erickson & Alan Rode)
" - Nick Garlick

"I am so impressed with Imogen Sara Smith, who once Eddie Muller stopped doing them became the Tsar(ina) of Noir voice-over commentaries. I was so impressed by what she did a couple of years ago in researching It Always Rains on Sunday (my favourite British noir). As a person who grew up in post WWII London, I am amazed that she clearly got to understand what was going on there with the black market, etc., and her work is consistently the finest – see The Bitter Stems and City That Never Sleeps (above). If not for her, Tony Rayns would again be number one. He remains the best English voice of East Asian film (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea)." - Peter Rist

"John Waters on Mommie Dearest" - Kevin Oppegaard

"Nora Fiora for her commentary on The Criminal Code. She never stops for breath and is always pertinent in her remarks.
Adrian Martin for Johnny Guitar. Always intriguing and enlightening.
Kim Newman and Stephen Jones for their fun contributions on Karloff at Columbia.
" - David Redfern

"I usually enjoy Lee Gambian's commentaries anyway, but his commentary on Imprint's Body Parts release was definitely my favourite of the year." - Tim Leggoe

"Anything by Eddie Muller and Imogen Sara Smith really." - BMG

"Paul M. Sammon on Dune 4K" - Chris Browne

"Criterion's "High Sierra," with Dave Kehr and Farran Smith Nehme." - Anthony Dugandzic

"SAINT MAUD
Rose Glass and Mark Townes.
Glass offers a cracking critique of her debut feature alongside the film's editor. She is engaging, self-depreciating and offers a fresh, cinephilic view of the filmmaking process. One to watch..... (and listen to)
." - Neil Williams

"The Parallax View (Criterion)" - Richard Burt

"Jonathan Rigby, Kim Newman et al,
Hammer Horror: Four Gothic Horror Films Boxset
Countess Dracula, Hands of the Ripper, Twins of Evil, Vampire Circus - Imprint
" - Harvey Clarke

"Tim Lucas never disappoints, and I loved his Silence of the Lambs commentary for Kino's 4K release.


I really enjoyed Samm Deighan's enthusiastic and informative commentary for The Ebola Syndrome. She made a guilty pleasure seem less guilty.
" - Matt Williamson

"Viva - Kino" - Leif F.

"Anything by Imogen Sara Smith. I could listen to her talk about a grocery list and be both informed and entertained." - Steve Rubin

"I don't have a single favorite commentary but I continue to be a big fan of Kat Ellinger's work, which is both plentiful (she's very busy) but also always illuminating. I especially like listening to her when I've just watched something that didn't really work for me and hearing her contextualize the film in a way that perhaps didn't occur to me. I wish there were more great filmmaker commentaries, but I am thrilled by the abundance of scholarly commentaries." - Jason Overbeck

"WAR OF THE WORLDS by Joe Dante, Bob Burns and Bill Warren" - Gabriel Neeb

"Tim Lucas for The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Kino Lorber)" - Paul Todd

 

Labels

This year we had the most ever "Favorite Label" votes in our poll, so we are using that as the determination of the ranking. If it was simply based on discs voted for - Criterion would have won quite easily. Here are the TOP 10 mentioned Blu-ray Production labels:

1)

In terms of Blu-ray volume, Kino are, again, alone in first place... by a wide margin. They add commentaries to most releases... They cover all genre from silent to vintage, noir to foreign and arthouse, from 70's and 80's to modern film. DVDBeaver-ites frequently mention their prodigious content of vintage films and their 'original poster cover' art!

"The sheer number of restorations they've released this year is impressive." - J. J.

"Although none of their releases were in my top 10, Kino Lorber has been doing an amazing job of releasing catalog titles of every genre out there, with new and vintage extras for almost all their titles. It's hard to imagine that at one time they were releasing titles with burned in subtitles with PAL to NTSC transfers on DVD not so long ago. They seem to be getting better with age, and with their new slate of 4K UHD titles coming soon, they are again a label to watch in 2022." - James-Masaki Ryan

"Range and number of releases - bought more from Kino than anybody" - John Ridley

"Kino because they have released a number of titles this year which have never been on disc before and they are not afraid to release lesser known films. I love their noir titles and plan to pick them all up including the noir box sets. They are also the best when it comes to cover art but would be good if they also had artwork on the disc" - BMG

"Kino Lorber, for doing the LORD'S WORK releasing the bulk of classic cinema in these twilight times." - Chris Browne

"They've finally worn me down. They just keep flooding us with good HD and UHD transfers of movies that desperately need the attention, often including fantastic new commentary tracks, often on movies that wouldn't usually get that treatment. If KL's releases had better art and menus, they'd be a popular choice in this category." - Matt Williamson

"Kino Lorber- not because every disc is magnificent and loaded with extras (though they are usually great on extras) but because the sheer variety is amazing. Silents, TV shows, Robert Aldrich, world cinema titles I never thought would see disc... I want to hug them and buy more of their discs." - Gabriel Neeb

____________________________________

 

2)

 

"Powerhouse - Screening the monthly offerings from the most generous of top-tier distributors is like taking a trip to bountiful, every time. Good taste, great design." - Jeff Heinrich

"Top quality UK company very customer focused" - John Ridley

"Screening the monthly offerings from the most generous of top-tier distributors is like taking a trip to bountiful, every time. Good taste, great design." - Jeff Heinrich

"Powerhouse Indicator - for taking up where Twilight Time left off." - Nick Garlick

"The past twelve months have seen Indicator continue to mine the Columbia and Hammer back-catalogue to produce lavish and irresistible packages curated with care and attention. Indicator maintains a commitment to sourcing titles left of center. The release of two vintage classics from Mexican cinema in March 2022 is illustrative of their policy of bringing esoteric material to a niche market. Their announcement that from January 2022 there is to be a new focus of extending their UK releases to the US and Canada will be welcome news to many discerning international collectors. What’s not to like?" - David Redfern

"INDICATOR, for their commitment to consistent quality output and continually interesting selections (see their 2022 slate so far!). Shout outs to the usual folks too though at Eureka, Second Run, BFI, Arrow and Criterion, who too come out with frequent surprises and keep everyone else on their toes!" - Ben Keeler

 

 

____________________________________

 

3)

 

Criterion is the Gold Standard - with many releases also offered in Region 'B' - and in 2021 they branched-out to produce 4K UHDs!

"As good as they ever have been - superb quality" - John Ridley

"Criterion set the benchmark for boutique home video and they have continued to adapt to become the leader of AV packages. Long may they thrive." - David Redfern

"Criterion is still the king of content. I'm able to approach any new release I've never heard of before with curiosity and hope. No one else has earned that." - Steve Rubin

"Criterion, a good and diverse year, especially for black directors and with fewer blasted double dips" - Peter Yacavone

"My shelves are rapidly resembling the Criterion Cupboard. Never fails to entertain, educate and evoke an emotional engagement." - Neil Williams

____________________________________

 

4)

 

"Gallant Australian company - always interesting stuff" - John Ridley

"Imprint. I like their movie selection and extras." - Steve Grimes

"Just a stellar year. so many surprises and so many long overdue titles and every release given so much care and respect. The Straight Story, Harry Palmer Collection and the Zhang Yimou & Gong Li set are all excellent releases and incredible exclusives for them to get." - Tim Leggoe

____________________________________

 

5)

 

Arrow are an incredible label; boxsets, 4K UHD, genre, Japanese titles...

"Bought a great number of their fine output" - John Ridley

"Arrow Video. Consistent high quality releases. Transparency of people and companies involved in production of video masters." - Kevin Oppegaard

"I love you, Arrow, but the speed at which your Limited Edition Boxsets go out of print is punishing. But great job on getting a US website. And I love all those crazy Japanese titles. Now add in more crazy Korean titles, and some Korean classic titles (AIMLESS BULLET or Im Kwon-Taek films [this is why Arrow Academy existed.]) and you'll get more of my money." - Gabriel Neeb

 

____________________________________

6)

 

"The BFI have had one of the best years in their history – giving us titles like Maeve that deserve to be better known and definitive releases of canonical works like The Seventh Seal." - Calvin MacKinnon

"BFI - the best slate of 2021 featuring cult classics like Out of the Blue, Naked, Jungle Fever and Radio On alongside lesser known masterpieces like Madchen in Uniform and Maeve." - James Laycock

____________________________________

7)

 

 

"Warner Archives absolutely blew the doors off their completion in 2021.

WA's streak of superb releases actually started in the autumn of 2020 and there has been no letup since then. In late 2020, they released Sergeant York, The Mortal Storm, The Pirate, Libeled Lady, Mr. Roberts and the Curse of Frankenstein.

Then in 2021, The Shop Around the Corner, The Pajama Game, Baby Doll, Crossfire, Damn Yankees, Show Boat, Isle of the Dead, Broadway Melody of 1940, Doctor X, I Wouldn't Be In Your Shoes, Step By Step, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Operation Burma, Santa Fe Trail, The Window, Night At The Opera, Dinner At Eight, The Naked Spur, Mad Love, Fury, Some Came Running, Party Girl, Angels With Dirty Faces, and various Thin Man movies. Damn, just typing out that litany of titles was exciting. And 2022 is starting off with a bang with the long-awaited HD release of Stage Fright.

No studio can really compete with Warner (and RKO and MGM) in terms of breadth and depth of their back catalog. This year the WA selection has been flawless and all their releases have received beautiful, meticulous restorations - - perfect technicolor and nary a scratch nor speckle to be seen on the image. In addition to praying for world peace and good health, I have to pray that Warner Archives continue their superlative efforts in 2022.

Not only were Warner Archives the company of the year, but George Feltenstein gets my vote for Man of the Year
." - Gary Slatus

____________________________________

8)

 

 

In our community, Second Run are know as the good guys... for legitimate reasons. They are good guys and produce some of the most unique fan-favorite content in the Blu-ray sphere. Specialties include Czech new Wave and European content, plus directorial rarities and less-seen documentaries. There release are almost exclusively region FREE and we love to help expose their product to the entire world.]

"Amazing catalogue of East European films - awe inspiring" - John Ridley

"Second Run for maintaining a consistent, strong and immediately identifiable house-style even if there's the occasional: "not sure that quite worked". I suspect, however, that it's a house-style that some do not get on with at all!" - Charles Girdham

____________________________________

9)

 

"Always keen on their catalogue - excellent value as well" - John Ridley

 

"In their Masters of Cinema and Classics imprints Eureka continues to offer irresistible digital restorations for all shades and tastes. " - David Redfern

 

____________________________________

10)

 

"Flicker Alley releases great Film Noir and silent film restorations." - Bruce Calvert

"I am happy that Flicker Alley continue to do DVD/Blu Ray editions (and Criterion and BFI sometimes) because I fear that Blu Ray might disappear one day, and that we are left with just 4K UHD and DVD." - Peter Rist

 

1) The Red Shoes [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1948) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s unforgettable backstage ballet drama—a singular Technicolor fantasia. The Red Shoes, the singular fantasia from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is cinema’s quintessential backstage drama, as well as one of the most glorious Technicolor feasts ever concocted for the screen. Moira Shearer is a rising star ballerina torn between an idealistic composer and a ruthless impresario intent on perfection. Featuring outstanding performances, blazingly beautiful cinematography by Jack Cardiff, Oscar-winning sets and music, and an unforgettable, hallucinatory central dance sequence, this beloved classic, dazzlingly restored, stands as an enthralling tribute to the life of the artist.
"Criterion's 4K UHD release of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Red Shoes is breathtaking in this higher resolution. Every cinephile HD enthusiast should have in his/her digital library. It is the pinnacle, for a film of this stature and era in 4K UHD. The image is as pristine as one could imagine and the Technicolor is as close to theatrical as fans could have hoped. This will get plenty of votes in our year-end poll, and it, obviously, has our highest recommendation!" - Gary Tooze

"4K & 3-strip technicolor = match made in heaven." - Chris Browne

"UHD's high dynamic range does justice to the Technicolor process" - Gregg Ferencz

2) The Thing [4K UHD Blu-ray] (John Carpenter, 1982) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW) "A research team based out in the snowy wilds of Antarctica find themselves besieged by a terrifying, shape-shifting creature which has found its way into their base. When it becomes clear that the creature can take the form of any organism it so chooses, the tension within the team reaches breaking point any one of them could be... The Thing. Critically panned at the time of its release, John Carpenter's The Thing has rightly gone on to become one of the most celebrated sci-fi horror efforts ever made."

"Universal's 4K UHD release of John Carpenter's "The Thing" is a must-own for new adopters - even if to compare to the out-of-print Arrow Blu-ray... seeing for yourself the resolution increase and how it effects the viewing presentation. Colors can be debated ad-nauseam, this looks 'right'. In my opinion it is a highly notable upgrade and the film's status continues to elevate having been initially criticized for the excessive special effects, no women in the cast and being hindered by being released at the same time as, the family film, Spielberg's E.T. Howard Hawks died 5 years before Carpenter's remake and I often wonder what his reaction would have been to this. The price of this 4K UHD is another enticement as it is very reasonable. There is immense value here for fans of John Carpenter's "The Thing". Go for it." - Gary Tooze

"After innumerable releases, the definitive visual record of a modern classic." - Chris Browne

3) Mulholland Dr. [4K UHD Blu-ray] (David Lynch, 2001) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) One of the greatest masterpieces of the 21st century by provocateur David Lynch. A love story in the city of dreams . . . Blonde Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) has only just arrived in Hollywood to become a movie star when she meets an enigmatic brunette with amnesia (Laura Harring). Meanwhile, as the two set off to solve the second woman’s identity, filmmaker Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) runs into ominous trouble while casting his latest project. This seductive and scary vision of Los Angeles’s dream factory by David Lynch is one of the true masterpieces of the new millennium, a tale of love, jealousy, and revenge like no other.
"Criterion's 4K UHD release of David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr." is, not surprisingly, the best home theater presentation of this masterpiece. The many fans of the film should rejoice at this new 4K UHD format transfer. The film occasional ambiguities, unique dream-like affectations and doppelganger themes make it ultimately rewatchable as an unsolvable puzzle of cinema brilliance. You don't require my endorsement - this 4K UHD is a must-own for new adopters and to push those over the edge to indulge in this format." - Gary Tooze

"Maybe a crisper picture will help me figure out what is going on." - Steve Rubin

"The most exciting development in 2021 may be Criterion finally dipping their toes into 4K UHD and the titles they are starting with have been as excellent as expected." - Jason Overbeck

4) Citizen Kane [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1941) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) The most dazzling feature debut in cinema history—Orson Welles’s epic tale of a publishing tycoon’s rise and fall. In the most dazzling debut feature in cinema history, twenty-five-year-old writer-producer-director-star Orson Welles synthesized the possibilities of sound-era filmmaking into what could be called the first truly modern movie. In telling the story of the meteoric rise and precipitous fall of a William Randolph Hearst–like newspaper magnate named Charles Foster Kane, Welles not only created the definitive portrait of American megalomania, he also unleashed a torrent of stylistic innovations—from the jigsaw-puzzle narrative structure to the stunning deep-focus camera work of Gregg Toland—that have ensured that Citizen Kane remains fresh and galvanizing for every new generation of moviegoers to encounter it.

"Despite the error in the first Blu-ray disc, Criterion's release of Citizen Kane is arguably the best release of the year. They managed to include I guess almost every special feature known to man from the three commentaries, to the BBC documentary, The Complete "Citizen Kane"." - David Hollingsworth

"Despite the inevitable rants about the enormous issue with the blu-ray disc of the movie (and about the tortuous but extremely fascinating packaging concept), it inevitable is the release of the year. In his 80th anniversary, the movie find his way back into the collection, and it's a pity Criterion didn't save spine #1000 for it. Forget about the insipid and ubiquitous "Battle Over Citizen Kane" documentary, the two additional extra discs are loaded with contents, towered by the rare and excellent "The Complete Citizen Kane" made by BBC in 1996." - Alfredo Santoro

"By any measure, this probably should be release of the year. I'm sure some people will ding it for the fumbled blu-ray, but Criterion, as always, is making it right." - Steve Rubin

5) Flesh for Frankenstein + 3D [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Paul Morrissey, 1973) Vinegar Syndrome Maverick filmmaker Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein reevaluates the horror film, infusing it with satiric wit and sexuality. Morrissey’s tale of the mad Baron Frankenstein and his perverse creative urges was heavily edited upon initial release; Criterion presents the restored director’s cut—fully intact after 25 years—in a widescreen transfer. 4K UHD (in HDR) edition of the film, and 2-BDs, one containing the NEVER BEFORE ON VIDEO original 3-D version of the film, as well as the Flat version, plus close to 2 hours of newly shot video interviews all housed in a deluxe hardshell case adorned with the classic artwork associated with this iconic film.
"Outstanding 3-D presentation." - Steve Grimes

6) Ran [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Akira Kurosawa, 1985) RB UK Studio Canal - With Ran, legendary director Akira Kurosawa reimagines Shakespeare's King Lear as a singular historical epic set in sixteenth-century Japan. Majestic in scope, the film is Kurosawa's late-life masterpiece, a profound examination of the folly of war and the crumbling of one family under the weight of betrayal, greed, and the insatiable thirst for power.

"Kurosawa's final large scale masterpiece needed the 4K love. A study in color." - Steve Rubin

"The first transfer of this masterwork that does it justice" - Gregg Ferencz

7) The Servant [Blu-ray] (Joseph Losey, 1963) RB UK Studiocanal (BEAVER REVIEW) A stunning new 4K restoration of Joseph Loseys 1963 masterpiece The Servant. Adapted from Robin Maugham's short story, The Servant marked the first of three collaborations between Joseph Losey and celebrated playwright Harold Pinter. Nominated for five BAFTA 's and winning three, including best actor for Dirk Bogarde and Best Cinematography for Douglas Slocombe, The Servant is notable for its ambitious technique and its willingness to engage with issues that were, at the time, never seen in British cinema. Experienced manservant Barrett (Dirk Bogarde) starts working for foppish aristocrat Tony (James Fox) in his smart new townhouse. Much to the annoyance of Tony's girlfriend (Wendy Craig), Barrett slowly initiates himself into the house and begins to manipulate his master.
"An unexpected but terrific choice for StudioCanal. Pinter in 4K!" - Peter Yacavone

"StudioCanal's 4K UHD release of Joseph Losey's masterful The Servant is an amazing release and the director's following, nay cinephiles in general, will want this 4K UHD presentation of such a deeply layered and unique piece of 60's cinema. The fact that it remains relevant, and still in the conversation, today is a testament to its resiliency - as is much of Losey's auteurist oeuvre. Many rank The Servant as his best. Studio Canal's 4K UHD is warmly recommended." - Gary Tooze

8) Invasion of the Body Snatchers [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Philip Kaufman, 1978) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) Though it lacks the awesome allegorical ambiguousness of the 1956 classic of sci-fi/political paranoia (here paid homage in cameo appearances by Kevin McCarthy and Don Siegel), Kaufman and screenwriter WD Richter's update and San Francisco transposition of Jack Finney's novel is a far from redundant remake. The extraterrestrial pod people now erupt into a world where seemingly everyone is already 'into' changing their lives or lifestyles, and into a cinematic landscape already criss-crossed by an endless series of conspiracies, while the movie has as much fun toying with modern thought systems (psychology, ecology) as with elaborate variations on its predecessor. Kaufman here turns in his most Movie Brattish film, but soft-pedals on both his special effects and knowing in-jokiness in a way that puts De Palma to shame; even extra bit appearances by Robert Duvall (Kaufman's Jesse James in The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid) and Hollywood archivist Tom Luddy are given a nicely take-it-or-leave-it dimension.

"Philip Kaufman's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is as rewatchable as the original. I never tire of it. It has a great many horror elements and can be quite a scary film experience with shocking transformation effects. Performances are top notch - Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, the stoic Nimoy (a bit heavy-handed) and I always thought Veronica Cartwright (yes, she was 'Cathy Brenner' in Hitchcock's The Birds!) was great in her limited appearances. Always pleasing to see the respect shown the original with brief cameos with Kevin McCarthy and Don Siegel. Look close enough and you will see cinematographer Michael Chapman as a janitor, Robert Duvall as the 'Priest on Swing' and the voice of Philip Kaufman as the 'City Official on Phone'. I am so pleased with owning the definitive home theatre version thanks to Kino's 4K UHD release. Fans will not need my endorsement to watch this impressive film in the highest resolution." - Gary Tooze

9) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Sergio Leone, 1966) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) For three men the Civil War wasn't hell it was practice! By far the most ambitious, unflinchingly graphic and stylistically influential western ever made, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a classic actioner shot through with a volatile mix of myth and realism. Screen legend Clint Eastwood (A Fistful of Dollars) returns as The Man with No Name, this time teaming with two gunslingers to pursue a cache of $200,000 and letting no one, not even warring factions in a civil war, stand in their way. From sun-drenched panoramas to bold hard close-ups, exceptional camerawork captures the beauty and cruelty of the barren landscape and the hardened characters who stride unwaveringly through it. Hailed as the best directed movie of all time by Quentin Tarantino, this epic masterpiece was directed by the great Sergio Leone (Once Upon a Time in the West) and co-stars Lee Van Cleef (For a Few Dollars More) as Angel Eyes and Eli Wallach (The Magnificent Seven) in the role of Tuco. Music by legendary composer Ennio Morricone (Death Rides a Horse).
"Once more with love, from Kino, the Sergio Leone western masterpiece plays again (by now...) with the definitive and unaltered edition of the international cut of the movie. It was the summer sensation of 2021: Leone's movie finally regraded from the infamous color-corrected restoration made by Cineteca di Bologna, with an original English audio track taken directly from the laserdisc era, and with the contribution of additional unseen lost sequences in the extra section." - Alfredo Santoro

"Props for getting contributions from fans by taking a poll for which version should get the 4K upgrade." - Leif F.

"Kino has so many films to pick from that they could upgrade to 4K UHD and they continue to choose very wisely." - Jason Overbeck

"Yes, the color grading is much improved and Kino deserves heaps of praise for that alone. The original mono track is an upgrade as well, sounding far more robust than the tinnier quality of previous releases. But what makes this release important is that Kino has restored Sergio Leone's 1967 theatrical cut of TGTBATU. Excluding perhaps early pan & scan releases on video cassette, this cut has never been available on home video in the US until now. MGM's 1990 LaserDisc came close but was missing a shot, and by 1998 MGM had introduced editing changes that carried over to Kino Lorber's 2017 Blu-ray release. The 1998 changes were separate from MGM's 2003 extended cut which has been the most widely available version, particularly on streaming platforms. With this release Kino pays proper respect to Leone's vision. For that it's my favorite release of the year." - Paul Todd

10) Deep Red [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1975) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW) From Dario Argento, maestro of the macabre and the man behind some of the greatest excursions in Italian horror (Suspiria, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage), comes Deep Red – the ultimate giallo movie. One night, musician Marcus Daly (David Hemmings, Blow Up), looking up from the street below, witnesses the brutal axe murder of a woman in her apartment. Racing to the scene, Marcus just manages to miss the perpetrator… or does he? As he takes on the role of amateur sleuth, Marcus finds himself ensnared in a bizarre web of murder and mystery where nothing is what it seems… Aided by a throbbing score from regular Argento collaborators Goblin, Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso and The Hatchet Murders) is a hallucinatory fever dream of a giallo punctuated by some of the most astonishing set-pieces the sub-genre has to offer.

"Arrow's magnificent 4K UHD release of Dario Argento's masterpiece Giallo Deep Red is a must-own for new adopters and lovers of this addictive genre. It can be quite graphic - lots of blood and gruesome murders. It's done with such intentional style; precise editing, inventive camera angles, intense scoring etc. that - even as an newly acquired taste - you can embrace its cinematic beauty quite rapidly. Deep Red is actually a great starting pointing for some to embrace Argento's Giallo work. I have watched it three times since the 4K UHD package arrived." - Gary Tooze

 

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Gary's 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' list


Some titles come out late in the year and aren't seen, or just get by the collective radar under a deluge of other releases. This is my 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' list of a few under-announced Blu-rays and a couple of 4K UHD titles that, I think, some genre-fans, cinephiles etc. may wish to take a second look. For myself, they have appeal for various reasons (in alphabetical order):

 

The Accused [Blu-ray] (Jonathan Kaplan, 1988) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - essential Film Noir. It is 'dark cinema' expertly realized by the director's pacing and brilliantly acted by Loretta Young as the confused, guilt-ridden schoolmarm

Adoption [Blu-ray] (Márta Mészáros, 1975) R0 UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW) - This character-centric film is driven by themes of loneliness, sexual identity, strength via a thought-provoking feminist resilient bonding.

Alias Nick Beal [Blu-ray] (John Farrow, 1949) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - retelling of the Faust myth using great sets (seedy bars the lavish apartment) and plenty of fog and shadows.

The Amazing Mr. X [Blu-ray] (Bernard Vorhaus, 1948) Film Detective (BEAVER REVIEW) - a minor masterpiece from the supernatural thriller aspects to the impressionist treatment of light by John Alton adding delightfully to the noirish and Gothic, mansion-on-the-ocean, heavy shadows, a 'seer' bilking the rich and other dark cinema conventions

Among the Living [Blu-ray] (Stuart Heisler, 1941) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - could be considered a horror and melodrama with delicious film noir tropes including a femme fatale (Hayward) and the infectiousness of being overcome by greed.

The Apostle [Blu-ray] (Robert Duvall, 1997) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW) - It took almost ten years for Robert Duvall to make The Apostle until he, eventually, had to fund it himself. Revivalist worship is a unique and fascinating part of Americana

Ashes and Diamonds [Blu-ray] (Andrzej Wajda, 1958) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - This is a masterpiece - Citizen Kane and Gregg Toland's cinematography in particular - was a huge influence on Andrzej Wajda at the time Ashes and Diamonds was conceived.

Back Street [Blu-ray] (David Miller, 1961) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - another Ross Hunter 'weepie' with a sweeping score, gorgeous costumes and a stormy romance of the rich and the beautiful.

Batwoman & The Panther Women [Blu-ray] Double Feature - VCI (BEAVER REVIEW) - I greatly look forward to the superior restorations of these Mexican gems

Beasts of No Nation [Blu-ray] (Cary Joji Fukunaga, 2015) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - so impacting - a powerful film of tragedy, lost youth, corruption, manipulation and much more.

The Birds [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW) - Individual release beats the clunky The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection 4K Ultra HD packaging

Black Sunday [Blu-ray] (John Frankenheimer, 1977) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW) - always a pleasure to see Robert Shaw in such an ambitious effort with a determined, pioneering storyline.

The Bloodhound [Blu-ray] (Patrick Picard , 2020) Arrow Video (BEAVER REVIEW) - I loved the minimalist, claustrophobic spaces, older house decor and themes involving isolation. There is plenty going on as a subtext of the narrative. It increasingly gets creepier and more mysterious.

The Blue Lamp [Blu-ray] (Basil Dearden, 1950) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - Kino leap ahead with the new Reesman commentary duplicating the rest of the Studio Canal Blu-ray edition. Still a wonderful British Noir procedural with a killer on the loose!

Breakdown [Blu-ray] (Jonathan Mostow, 1997) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW) - I was expecting a simple popcorner thriller but it is superbly-crafted beyond that

Celia [Blu-ray] (Ann Turner, 1989) R0 UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW) - The character's fruitful and dark imagination is misunderstood, but fascinating in her odd and intriguing maturation process. Subtle, and not so subtle, themes of communism and its relationship to the exploding rabbit population in Australia - both inciting fear - all expressed as a balance to the awkwardness of Celia's coming-of-age in Ann Turner's delightfully layered debut feature.

Celine and Julie Go Boating [Blu-ray] (Jacques Rivette,1974) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Many cinephiles see Céline and Julie Go Boating, and much of Rivette's oevure, as part of cinema's holy grail - a magical surrealist adventure - and with the essential Martin commentary, improved 1080P appearance and full second Blu-ray of extras make this the definitive package.

Champion [Blu-ray] (Mark Robson, 1949) RB UK Masters of Cinema (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW) - probably considered the film that made Kirk Douglas a star. His intense, arrogant demeanor along with his muscular frame cast him perfectly as an overly ambitious boxer who will stop at nothing to get the approval of the crowd.

Chop Shop [Blu-ray] (Ramin Bahrani, 2007) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - absolutely brilliant - probably the most Dardenne-esque cinema I have seen in a long while. It reminded me very much of La Promesse. This is devastatingly pure and effective film expression making it highly impacting and unforgettable.

Coogan's Bluff [Blu-ray] (Don Siegel, 1968) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) -  'essential Clint' with his loose-cannon cop leaving the rugged west to tangle with the trappings of police procedure of the big city. It's well-crafted by director Siegel.

Corridor of Mirrors [Blu-ray] (Terence Young, 1948) Cohen Media Group (BEAVER REVIEW) - straddles arthouse, romance and supernatural genres. It seems that quite a few critics dismissed it, but I thought the mystery carried the film extremely well - skulking inside a darkly lit Venetian style mansion filled with hidden curiosities of the past.

Corruption [Blu-ray] (Robert Hartford-Davis, 1968) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW) - Cushing (it would have been his 108th birthday this year!) is excellent and, while the film doesn't travel in the directions some would hope, it still has a solid concept and tells a creepy story at a suspense pace. It's a pretty rare-bird and may have appeal from that standpoint alone

The Crimes of the Black Cat [Blu-ray] (Sergio Pastore, 1972) Cauldron Films (BEAVER REVIEW) - a definite Giallo made in the heart of the genre's production glut of the 70s. I was very entertained by this thriller that was filled with mystery around the eventually exposed murderer. The blind pianist as a 'detective' and English accent butler is an appealing, infrequently utilized, trope.

Crossfire [Blu-ray] (Edward Dmytryk, 1947) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW) - deep Noir atmosphere and the desirable "Robert" trifecta leading the way with support from infectious Gloria Grahame. Kudos to cinematographer J. Roy Hunt (Tourneur's I Walked with a Zombie) and director Dmytryk - it's dripping with dark cinema desirability.

The Dark Eyes of London [Blu-ray] (Walter Summers, 1939) RB UK Network (BEAVER REVIEW) - has a lot going for it as an earlier police procedural, a mysterious story including a 'Blind Institute' and a series of increasing murders under a dark London atmosphere.

Dark Intruder [Blu-ray] (Harvey Hart, 1965) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - Odd, appealing TV-esque 60's horror-mystery

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid [Blu-ray] (Carl Reiner, 1982) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - for Noir aficionados who can't get enough. It's a wonderful 'drinking game' identifying the referenced clips as well as seeing so many of the great 'dark cinema' stars of the past. It's pure fun coupled with nostalgia.

Defending Your Life [Blu-ray] (Albert Brooks, 1991) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - more of Brooks' intelligent, reflective, humor, very much worth seeing and re-assessing after 30-years.

The Devil-Ship Pirates [Blu-ray] (Don Sharp, 1964) RB UK Network (BEAVER REVIEW) - a rare Hammer foray in the swashbuckling genre. It has Christopher Lee as the bad-ass Bligh-like, ruthless, villainess Captain. There is a host of solid Hammer support players, charismatic sets and period costumes and a rip-roaring adventure saga with stalwart villagers defending their turf.

Devil Times Five [Blu-ray] (Sean MacGregor, David Sheldon, 1974) Code Red (BEAVER REVIEW) - creepy, effective 70's genre flic - personally evoking Canuxploitation (although it's not)

Devil's Express [Blu-ray] (Barry Rosen, 1976) Code Red (BEAVER REVIEW) - Cult following for its horrible-ness

Drugstore Cowboy [Blu-ray] (Gus Van Sant, 1989) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW) - Van Sant's unique brand of cinema. It is both highly memorable and very re-watchable. The Imprint Blu-ray is easily the best home theater a/v presentation - it has the valuable commentary, a new visual essay, interview and limited edition packaging. This is a keeper for me

Eye of the Cat [Blu-ray] (David Lowell Rich, 1969) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW) - inventive, sexy horror that is realized in very clever ways. I can envision it having a niche following with its unbalanced premise and obtuse dialogue that actually adds to the film's mystery qualities.

Five (Arch Oboler, 1951) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW) - obvious inspiration for Z for Zachariah and many other post-apocalyptic features that followed - centering on the conflict arising from some of the remaining survivors. Notably apparent are the racism themes also found in The World, The Flesh and the Devil made later that decade.

 

Flight To Mars [Blu-ray] (Lesley Selander, 1951) Film Detective (BEAVER REVIEW) - low budget 50's sci-fi... and we love that. It's modest but has inventive effects (constrained by the budget) with later examples extending much further.

 

Flowers of Shanghai [Blu-ray] (Hsiao-Hsien Hou, 1998) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - a beautiful film, shot in a sly, meaningful, manner, that opines the opium-induced catatonic manner in which its characters are expressed - it challenges meaningfulness exposing decadence.

Fool for Love [Blu-ray] (Robert Altman, 1985) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - Altman fans will want to indulge- damaged characters, incest, a lonely night etc. set expertly in a dusty backwater that exudes Americana. 

The Forest [Blu-ray] (Don Jones, 1982) Code Red (BEAVER REVIEW) - Unafraid to murder-off presumed protagonists early, provides the film a nice undetermined edginess.

The Furies [Blu-ray] (Anthony Mann, 1950) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - D'uh - an Anthony Mann western with Barbara Stanwyck on Criterion Blu-ray. I loved the new Imogene Sara Smith piece and revisiting the Kitses commentary.

Fury [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1936) Warner Archive - Fritz Lang's first American film, with Tracy as the man wrongly accused of a kidnapping who escapes summary justice by lynch mob as the jail burns down, then goes into hiding, plants evidence to suggest he died, and sits back gloatingly as his 'killers' are brought to trial.

The Gambler [Blu-ray] (Karel Reisz, 1974) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW) - The Gambler has been a favorite film for decades - and I have seen it multiple times. Reisz has crafted a pure example of the flourishing new expression of Hollywood cinema of the 70s. It's one of James Cann's best roles.

Girl Gang/Pin-Down Girl [Blu-ray] (Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of the Exploitation Picture, Vol. 11) - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - my favorite of Kino's Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of the Exploitation Picture Blu-rays. I loved Girl Gang as a silly, awkward but still titillating effort with unsentimental, non-cloying, representations of its 'bad track' characters. It is ridiculously contrived but still held a weird universal realism at its core. Pin-Down Girl reminded me of the Mexican 'Luchador' films (Panther Women.) This double-bill is remarkable in showing how the world has changed since their production - how we see exploitation, sexuality, sexism, drug use... women's wrestling (UFC and MMA)...

The Great Gabbo [Blu-ray] (James Cruze, Erich von Stroheim, 1929) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - Watching The Great Gabbo, especially in the first half, made me think of Richard Attenborough's "Magic" with Anthony Hopkins and Ann-Margret or Alberto Cavalcanti's segment "The Ventriloquist's Dummy" from 1945's "Dead of Night".

Hercules And The Captive Women [Blu-ray] (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1961) Film Detective (BEAVER REVIEW) - almost shocking in the vast extent of its production values. From that standpoint it is impressive and not a bad sword-sandal adventure as well, if lacking some identifiable cohesion. That, in-turn, gives it kitsch value. It offers the essential Tim Lucas commentary, the complete Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, a worthwhile documentary and a booklet/essay.

The Hills Have Eyes [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Wes Craven, 1977) Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW) - an odd upgrade although it once again proves that you can't beat the 3840 X 2160 resolution when done from the same source as the lower-res options. This is approaching triple the bitrate.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame [Blu-ray] (Wallace Worsley, 1923) Kino (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW) - despite the appearance, damage, sound - there is something so incredibly appealing about watching this amazing Silent Era film in 1080P.

I Married a Monster from Outer Space [Blu-ray] (Gene Fowler Jr., 1958) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW) - Re-issue from 2020 - a bump ahead in SD a/v and the new commentary gives it essential value for fans of the 'Drive-In Monster flics'.

I Start Counting [Blu-ray] (David Greene, 1969) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW) - deviates from a typical serial-killer effort although the tension is always present. We have juvenile infatuation, fantasy and sexual maturity with the subtext of an ever-present crime mystery.

I Was at Home, But... [Blu-ray] (Angela Schanelec, 2019) RB UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW) - one of those rare modern cinema examples that captivates with its own rhythms, delicate pacing while relying far less on the unique eccentricities of its plot. The antithesis of Hollywood, superficial, over-produced movies.

I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes [Blu-ray] (William Nigh, 1948) Warner Achive (BEAVER REVIEW) - a short, economical, noir with a flashback of a man on death row scheduled for immanent execution. We enter as his current wife does all in her power to prove him innocent including flirtation with the inspector involved in solving it

Icy Breasts -aka- Les Seins de Glace [Blu-ray] (Georges Lautner, 1974) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - purposely disorients the viewer. It's refreshing structured in that sense. We don't really know much about what will transpire. I'll always remember Mireille Darc, for the backless dress she wore in "The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe". She's enigmatic and deftly keeps you unbalanced.

Illustrious Corpses [Blu-ray] (Francesco Rosi, 1976) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - If George Lucas did nothing else we owe him thanks for funding this restoration. A film I knew nothing about but the images (cinematography by Pasqualino De Santi) made my jaw drop. The thriller element is less interesting than in how Rosi frames his actors- either in close ups or in the foreground of grand facades. It is a film about expendable people (honest cops, corrupt judges) while unseen, those with real power, pull the strings and run everything. Sound familiar? - Billy Bang

The Invisible Man / The Invisible Man vs The Human Fly [Blu-ray] - Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW) - While The Invisible Man Appears is the more polished film, I really enjoyed The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly. with its inventive and alluring title - crossing over the two sci-fi characters. It's wonderfully bizarre with some unintentionally funny dialogue and absurd plot situations meshing with the unique cultural hybrid differences from the vintage Universal series they are emulating.

Irezumi [Blu-ray] (Yasuzô Masumura, 1966) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW) - puts the 'fatale' in 'femme fatale'. The premise is extremely appealing; "A seductive woman gets kidnapped into prostitution. After getting a spider tattoo made on her back, she grows vengeful, leaving several men in her path." Delicious.

Isle of the Dead [Blu-ray] (Mark Robson, 1945) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW) - poetic realization may take a back seat to some of the producer's other RKO masterwork horrors directed by Jacques Tourneur but this is a unique and atmospheric vampiric mediation echoing a psychological thriller.

Jazz on a Summer's Day [Blu-ray] (Bert Stern, 1959) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - Bert Stern's documentary is the stuff of legend. You only need to watch it once to identify its greatness. It has a perfect blend of the visuals - many could be iconic photography stills - the beauty of Newport, Rhode Island in 1959 - the water - the America Cup trails sailing shots... and some incredible jazz.

Joint Security Area [Blu-ray] (Chan-wook Park, 2000) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW) - Chan-wook Park's multi-layered JSA is perhaps his most political film to date. He addresses the distrust and conflict between North and South Korea. There is a 'who-dunnit' angle to Joint Security Area, with exceptional acting, and an intelligent synopsis of Korean geopolitics.

Karloff At Columbia [Blu-ray] (The Black Room, The Man They Could Not Hang, The Man With Nine Lives, Before I Hang, The Devil Commands and The Boogie Man Will Get You) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW) - a joy for fans of these slap-dash vintage horror cinema crackers with our protagonist usually playing an errant Doctor utilizing unaccepted methods to help humanity.

The Kiss Before the Mirror [Blu-ray] (James Whale, 1933) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - James Whale's The Kiss Before the Mirror is excellent - pre-code adultery, murder with a suspenseful court room drama sequence - all fabulously realized by the director's deft storytelling abilities.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - one of my favorite TV series when I was growing up. Yes, it was an obvious influence on shows like The X-Files. Darren McGavin was perfect in the role of feisty but diligent-truth-seeking reporter Carl Kolchak battling the paranormal on a regular basis.

Larceny [Blu-ray] (George Sherman, 1948) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) -  surely must have influenced David Mamet's House of Games - especially the portrayal of lead character incorporating seduction into the long confidence game. There is deception, sexual-tension, suave John Payne, bad-girl Tory ('Torrid Tory' in the book) played by Shelley Winters, the war-widow 'mark' (Joan Caulfield), mastermind criminal Silky Randall (Dan Duryea), support from familiar Percy Helton, sexy Dorothy Hart and flirty Patricia Alphin.

The Last Man on Earth [Blu-ray] (Ubaldo Ragona, 1964) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - I have a huge soft spot for "The Last Man on Earth" - the pioneer precursor of Matheson's 'zombie apocalypse' story that launched into its entire, own, genre. I could watch this at any time - Vincent Price is great (I can't imagine anyone else in the role). It's modest budget gives it charm and I love the widescreen black and white.

The Last Sunset [Blu-ray] (Robert Aldrich, 1961) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - Dalton Trumbo's script of Robert Aldrich's The Last Sunset is brimming with heavy mix of sexual tensions, revenge, spousal impotence, fatherhood, potential incest, end-of-life acceptance - it was adapted from Howard Rigsby novel "Sundown At Crazy Horse".

A Life at Stake [Blu-ray] (Paul Guilfoyle, 1955) Film Detective (BEAVER REVIEW) - certainly Noir there is some suspicious femme-fatale action, a planned murder, and insurance fraud to wrap the story around. It's actually far superior a 'B' effort than given credit and the commentary is a fabulous addition as is the C. Courtney Joyner piece

Lilies of the Field [Blu-ray] (Ralph Nelson, 1963) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - Ralph Nelson's Lilies of the Field was a real gamble for the director/producer with a modest $250,000 studio budget (down from 1/2 a million) - getting Poitier to accept profit-sharing and the director putting up his house as collateral. Nelson was quite taken with the William Barrett story envisioning it as an important family film with subtext. It's fairly simple - shot in only 14-days and doesn't venture to strongly addressing racial issues.

Little Fugitive: The Collected Films of Morris Engel & Ruth Orkin [Blu-ray] - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) -These collected works, which were an influential link between the New York Independent cinema of the 1950s and the French New Wave, were in turn influenced by Italian Neorealism and perhaps Robert Flaherty. The films themselves, presented here in excellent looking editions, hold up well and generally communicate the auteurs’ enthusiasm for their subject matter. - Ken Schwarz

Macho Callahan (Bernard L. Kowalski, 1970) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - favorite David Janssen playing the least sympathetic western character of all time (as Alex Cox relates in the commentary.) Janssen's Macho is brutal - graphically assaulting heroine Seberg's Alexandra as she seeks vengeance over her husband's death. I suspect this shocking scene was responsible for much of the film's negative critical reaction.

A Man Called Adam [Blu-ray] (Leo Penn, 1966) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - Sammy Davis Jr. playing a real nasty, unsettled, character. A talented, self-destructive musician but misunderstood and generally distancing the people who care about him as he abuses alcohol. There is an obvious racial-tension theme but the jazz may be the bigger draw in the film.

Man Push Cart [Blu-ray] (Ramin Bahrani, 2005) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - certainly recommended - more wonderful Dardenne-esque cinema.

Matt Helm Lounge: The Silencers/Murderers Row/The Ambushers/The Wrecking Crew [Blu-ray] - RB UK Mediumrare (BEAVER REVIEW) - There aren't many sixties film-babes not represented in Deano's Matt Helm series including gorgeous ladies like Ann-Margret, Stella Stevens, Daliah Lavi, Cyd Charisse, Camilla Sparv, Senta Berger, Janice Rule, Elke Sommer, Sharon Tate, Nancy Kwan, Tina Louise and Beverly Adams (as Lovey Kravezit).

Misery [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Rob Reiner, 1990) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - exceptional in terms of the video upgrade. "Misery" is less about the gore and more the psychology, captivity and suspense. It's quite brilliantly crafted as a claustrophobic horror incorporating the hazards of celebrity and minor camp and gallows humor.

Night Terror [Blu-ray] (E.W. Swackhamer, 1977) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - similarities to Spielberg's Duel with Dennis Weaver. There is a ham-fisted expression of Carol (Harper) as a ditzy, protected, housewife but forced to show strength because of the adversity of her terrifying situation.

The Night of the Following Day [Blu-ray] (Hubert Cornfield, 1969) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - not a typical thriller, but I found it nonetheless satisfying. It's very character driven with excellent performances from the cast including Richard Boone's 'Leer' as a particularly unsavory psychopath.

One of Our Aircraft Is Missing [Blu-ray] (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1942) RB UK BFI (BEAVER REVIEW) - Still such a British great war film - the first by "The Archers" with the joint writer-producer-director 'Powell and Pressburger' credit. It has Ronald Neame as cinematographer and film editing by David Lean!

Onibaba [Blu-ray] (Kaneto Shindô, 1964) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - another masterpiece from the director that brought us The Naked Island, and Kuroneko. He frequently depicted the fate of women including their sexual nature. the title Onibaba can be translated as "Demon Hag" or "The Witch". It has elements of both social criticism and an eerie horror.

Panic Beats [Blu-ray] (Paul Naschy, 1983) Mondo Macabro (BEAVER REVIEW) - highly interesting filmmaker in the Euro horror genre. The oddly titled Panic Beats (referring to the wife's heart condition) doesn't have the cache of the actor/director's Count Waldemar Daninsky efforts but it held my attention throughout.

Piccadilly [Blu-ray] (Ewald André Dupont, 1929) RB UK BFI  - One of the pinnacles of British silent cinema, Piccadilly is a sumptuous showbusiness melodrama seething with sexual and racial tension. Chinese American screen goddess Anna May Wong stars as Shosho, a scullery maid in a fashionable London nightclub whose sensuous tabletop dance catches the eye of suave club owner...

Pickup on South Street [Blu-ray] (Samuel Fuller, 1953) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - one of the essential Noirs and its wonderful to have it in a new, improved 4K restored video transfer from Criterion with new extras. Fans of the 'Dark Cinema' will consider this a 'must-own' package. Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter playing the under-seen classes and their struggles - helmed by the great Sam Fuller. What more could we want?

Poison [Blu-ray] (Todd Haynes, 1991) Kino Lorber/Zeitgeist (BEAVER REVIEW) - refreshingly unique. I, of course, loved the homage-y B-movie / mad-scientist "Horror" narrative segment. The three stories are expressed in a variety of styles with the unifying themes involving sex, perversion and toxicity with narration as an explaining function for the plot and inner-thoughts of the characters.

The Psychic [Blu-ray] (Lucio Fulci, 1977) RB UK Shameless (BEAVER REVIEW)  - Fulci's films that have their own style. It is kind of amusing how many extreme close-ups of O'Neill's eyes there are every time she has a psychic impression. Fulci, and Giallo, fans will be enticed by the video upgrade and new extras - plus the attractive case.

Psycho [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW)  - groundbreaking with elements from horror to Film Noir, and is many fans favorite from 'The Master'. Individual release beats the clunky The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection 4K Ultra HD packaging

PTU [Blu-ray] (Johnnie To, 2003) RB Uk Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW) - more of the director's classic Hong Kong crime-thriller, and exceptional, pieces of action cinema. Certainly there are Neo-noir elements - the Police Tactical Unit is having a bad and busy night.

Queens of Evil [Blu-ray] (Tonino Cervi, 1970) Mondo Macabro (BEAVER REVIEW) - delightfully strange and magical. Such and intentionally mysterious film, dropping satire and unexplored fable themes throughout. Wow - this is special.

Ratcatcher [Blu-ray] (Lynne Ramsay, 1999) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - devastatingly human film experience and remains an impacting film expertly exporting grief, poverty, bleakness and resiliency. It's a poetic masterpiece of pure and essential cinema that is strongly recommended!

The Revenge of Frankenstein [Blu-ray] (Terence Fisher, 1958) RB DE Anolis (BEAVER REVIEW) - one of the more re-watchable 'Hammer' films (although - aren't most?) - and it has a uniqueness that is analyzed in the commentaries and extras. The Revenge of Frankenstein has Fisher's fine genre storytelling and abundant Hammer charisma.

The Road to Salina [Blu-ray] (Georges Lautner, 1970) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - another curious film by this impressive director with themes of incest, jealousy, delusion, mental health, deception, desire etc.. It is always exporting a 'mystery' angle of unspoken details through piercing, interpretive, eye contact with the camera or shots through mirrors, unique edits etc.. The commentary will expand your knowledge and spur further interest in Lautner's work.

Secrets & Lies [Blu-ray] (Mike Leigh, 1996) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - remains a wonderful film experience. The deep probing drama is offset with real-life humor, it has fabulous performances - an effective character-driven effort we don't see enough of these days.

Seven Days...Seven Nights [Blu-ray] (Peter Brook, 1960) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - a film of subtleties and emotional whispers. I relished its mysteries in my first viewing and thoroughly enjoyed the illuminating Daniel Kremer commentary in my subsequent exposure.

Shogun's Joy of Torture [Blu-ray] (Teruo Ishii, 1968) Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW) - very harsh. I had to turn it off three times. It seemed like there was a straight hour of torture, leering evil men, and a vengeful damaged woman, bondage, moans, screams, violations etc.. None of it seemed erotic and it would certainly be considered tasteless.

So Evil My Love [Blu-ray] (Lewis Allen, 1948) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - excellent gas-light Noir. I always appreciate seeing it thanks to the murderous-edge, era atmosphere, adept direction and wonderful performances.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold [Blu-ray] (Martin Ritt, 1965) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW) - I have enjoyed Martin Ritt's "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" more each time I see it. The Martin commentary and Cairns' video essay only enhanced it further. The story's inherent theme of deception and how players are essentially pawns in a greater scheme with subtle touches utilized throughout the film - make it a near masterpiece...

La strada [Blu-ray] (Federico Fellini, 1954) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Individual Criterion release - Federico Fellini's La Strada is, a masterpiece - looking marvelous in the new 4K-restoration.

The Straight Story [Blu-ray] (David Lynch, 1999) Imprint (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)  - an ode to small town people and lifestyles with a subtly dark theme (did Alvin, or Rose, cause the fire?). Pure brilliance of a beautifully gentle film.

The Suspect [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, 1944) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - very strong period noir. Laughton is understated but conveys the positive aspects of his character with his usual nobility. Ella Raines is also very good - if not particularly challenged by the one-dimensional 'good-girl' role. Rosalind Ivan is excellent as the bitter, spiteful, wife. Really a great film with plenty of dark cinema overtones.

The Swimmer [Blu-ray] (Frank Perry, Sydney Pollack, 1968) Grindhouse Releasing (BEAVER REVIEW) - A re-release but a wonderful film. It captures the delusion of mid-life crisis and resonates universal appeal for the acceptance age - reflecting on life's positive and negative experiences.

The Swimming Pool aka La piscine [Blu-ray] (Jacques Deray, 1969) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Jacques Deray's La Piscine is a masterpiece of seduction, jealously, lust, flirtation, the competitive nature of men and a sophisticated amoral view of love. It is as stunning as I have ever seen it - looking so rich and gorgeous via Criterion's new 4K restoration

Switchblade Sisters [Blu-ray] (Jack Hill, 1975) Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW) - quintessential classic of the exploitation genre. A decently made film with some sub-themes, good dialogue and a supremely attractive premise. There is a lot here to enjoy from the beautiful a/v transfer.

A Tale of Two Sisters [Blu-ray] (Jee-woon Kim, 2003) Arrow UK (BEAVER REVIEW) - Arrow wins in a walkover with superiority in every area over every digital edition compared. It's another of their complete packages offering the best a/v, a new commentary and visual essays plus most all of the older supplements and a new booklet. Great to revisit Kim Jee-woon's "A Tale of Two Sisters" looking and sounding top-shelf with a bounty of extra features.

The Ten Commandments [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Cecil B. DeMille, 1956) Paramount - Universally recognized among critics as a cinematic masterpiece, this unforgettable motion picture has also been recognized by The American Film Institute as one of the “Top Ten” epics of all time.

Tintorera: Killer Shark [Blu-ray(René Cardona Jr., 1977) - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - mostly what you expect; exploitation nudity - a fair amount - with the shark attacks coming in less-prominently. Susan George fans may appreciate her 1/2 hour's worth onscreen - 27-years old at the time. It may be a little better than you might anticipate for a sexy summer-tease / nature-strikes-back 70's shark thriller.

Under the Sand [Blu-ray] (François Ozon, 2000) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - extolled extensively by the great Ingmar Bergman! It's a film involving one woman’s bereavement and inability to cope after losing her spouse. The film is staunchly unsentimental in its portrayal of Marie and her situation. A complete emotional withdrawal only heightens her insupportable delusions of his potential existence.

The Underneath [Blu-ray] (Steven Soderbergh, 1995) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) -  Tonguette's commentary really added a solid layer of appreciation from Gallagher's protagonist portrayal - and the support from Joe Don Baker, Paul Dooley, Shelley Duvall (briefly as the nurse), Elisabeth Shue (she could have easily been the femme-fatale 'Rachel' character in The Underneath) and Anjanette Comer. Wow - now a favorite!

The Victim [Blu-ray] (Herschel Daugherty, 1972) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - The Victim has appeal with icon Elizabeth Montgomery - the daughter of Robert Montgomery (Ride the Pink Horse.) She has huge nostalgic appeal from her exposure in TV’s Bewitched. Millions of young men had a crush on her including myself. She was remarkably attractive and talented. The Victim is reminiscent of other TV genre-crossovers with female leads.

Walking the Edge [Blu-ray] (Norbert Meisel, 1985) Fun City Editions (BEAVER REVIEW) - a dated genre film - but we love the nostalgia, Forster and lovely Kwan. It holds up to be an enjoyable thriller with a drifting 'hack' teaming with a women bent on revenge. It is films like this, with simple involved characters standing up to criminals, that we reflect back on today with a great appreciation. I wish there were 100 more like this with Robert Forster (RIP.)

The Web [Blu-ray] (Michael Gordon, 1947) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - higher end of the Noir cycle of films. Because it has been out of the conversation for so long it's something to celebrate to have this forgotten and underrated gem surface on Kino Blu-ray. Ella Raines, Edmond O'Brien, William Bendix, Vincent Price... in a tight frame-plotted thriller with wonderful dark cinema characterizations from the bold ambitious everyman, the independent wily female, the studious cop and the nefarious criminal mastermind.

Working Girls [Blu-ray] (Lizzie Borden, 1986) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - almost vérité in its depiction of the subject of sanitized prostitution. It has a 'backstage' feel approaching documentary status. It carries some of the themes of Borden's earlier, and first film, 1983's Born in Flames as a documentary-style feminist fiction exploring racism and sexism.

Film Noir on Blu-ray

Film noir, proto-noir, and near-noir (1936-1965) released on Blu-ray in 2021 (in alphabetical order) BIG thanks to Gregory!


The Accused [Blu-ray] (William Dieterle, 1949) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Affair in Trinidad [Blu-ray] (Vincent Sherman, 1952) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Alias Nick Beal [Blu-ray] (John Farrow, 1949) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Amazing Mr. X [Blu-ray] (Bernard Vorhaus, 1948) Film Detective (BEAVER REVIEW)
Among the Living [Blu-ray] (Stuart Heisler, 1941) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Anatomy of a Murder [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Otto Preminger, 1959)  Sony Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)
Angels with Dirty Faces [Blu-ray] (Michael Curtiz, 1938) Warner Archive
The Beast Must Die [Blu-ray] (Román Viñoly Barreto, 1952) Flicker Alley
Because of You [Blu-ray] (Joseph Pevney, 1952) (BEAVER REVIEW) Kino Lorber
Bedlam [Blu-ray] (Mark Robson, 1946) Warner Archive
Between Midnight and Dawn [Blu-ray] (Gordon Douglas, 1950) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Bitter Stems [Blu-ray] (Los Tallos Amargos) (Fernando Ayala, 1956) Flicker Alley
The Brothers Rico [Blu-ray] (Phil Karlson, 1957) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
A Bullet is Waiting [Blu-ray] (John Farrow, 1954) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Calling Dr. Death [Blu-ray] (Reginald Le Borg, 1943) RB UK Eureka Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
Cast a Dark Shadow  [Blu-ray] (Lewis Gilbert, 1955) Cohen Media (BEAVER REVIEW)
Chicago Syndicate [Blu-ray] (Fred F. Sears, 1955) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Champion [Blu-ray] (Mark Robson, 1949) RB UK Masters of Cinema (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
Citizen Kane [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Orson Welles, 1941) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
City of Fear [Blu-ray] (Irving Lerner, 1959) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
City That Never Sleeps [Blu-ray] (John H. Auer, 1953) R0 Australia Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)
Colorado Territory
[Blu-ray] (Raoul Walsh, 1949) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Convicted [Blu-ray] (Henry Levin, 1950) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Corridor of Mirrors [Blu-ray] (Terence Young, 1948) Cohen Media Group (BEAVER REVIEW)
Crossfire [Blu-ray] (Edward Dmytryk, 1947) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Dark Past [Blu-ray] (Rudolph Maté, 1948) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Dead Man's Eyes [Blu-ray] (Reginald Le Borg, 1944) RB UK Eureka Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
Deported [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, 1950) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Face Behind the Mask [Blu-ray] (Robert Florey, 1941) Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)
Framed [Blu-ray] (Joseph M. Newman, 1947) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Frozen Ghost [Blu-ray] (Harold Young, 1945) RB UK Eureka Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Furies [Blu-ray] (Anthony Mann, 1950) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Fury [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1936) Warner Archive
Ghost Ship [Blu-ray] (Mark Robson, 1943) Warner Archive
The Harder They Fall [Blu-ray] - Umbrella (Mark Robson, 1956) R0 Australia Umbrella
High Sierra [Blu-ray] (Raoul Walsh, 1941) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Hollywood Story [Blu-ray] (William Castle, 1951) R0 Australia Imprint  (BEAVER REVIEW)
I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes [Blu-ray] (William Nigh, 1948) Warner Achive (BEAVER REVIEW)
Isle of the Dead [Blu-ray] (Mark Robson, 1945) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
Johnny O'Clock [Blu-ray] (Robert Rossen, 1947) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Knock on Any Door
[Blu-ray] (Nicholas Ray, 1949) R0 Australia Umbrella
Larceny [Blu-ray] (George Sherman, 1948) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
A Life at Stake [Blu-ray] (Paul Guilfoyle, 1955) Film Detective (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Midnight Story [Blu-ray] (Joseph Pevney, 1957) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Mob [Blu-ray] (Robert Parrish, 1951) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Murder By Contract [Blu-ray] (Irving Lerner, 1958) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Naked Spur [Blu-ray] (Anthony Mann, 1953) Warner Archive
Night Has a Thousand Eyes [Blu-ray] (John Farrow, 1948) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Nightmare Alley [Blu-ray] (Edmund Goulding, 1947) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Outrage (Ida Lupino, 1950) R0 Australia Imprint
Outside the Law [Blu-ray] (Jack Arnold, 1956) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Party Girl [Blu-ray] (Nicholas Ray, 1958) Warner Archive
Pickup on South Street [Blu-ray] (Samuel Fuller, 1953) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)
Pillow of Death [Blu-ray] (Wallace Fox, 1945) RB UK Eureka Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
A Place in the Sun [Blu-ray] (George Stevens, 1951) Paramount (BEAVER REVIEW)
Plunder of the Sun [Blu-ray] (John Farrow, 1953) R0 Australia Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)
Private Hell 36 [Blu-ray] (Don Siegel, 1954) R0 Australia Imprint (BEAVER REVIEW)
Pushover [Blu-ray] (Richard Quine, 1954) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Requiem for a Heavyweight [Blu-ray] (Ralph Nelson, 1962) R0 Australia Umbrella
711 Ocean Drive [Blu-ray] (Joseph M. Newman, 1950) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Sniper [Blu-ray] (Edward Dmytryk, 1952) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
So Evil My Love [Blu-ray] (Lewis Allen, 1948) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Spider Woman Strikes Back [Blu-ray] (Arthur Lubin, 1946) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Step by Step [Blu-ray] (Phil Rosen, 1946) Warner Achive
Strange Confession [Blu-ray] (John Hoffman, 1945) RB UK Eureka Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Suspect [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, 1944) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Suspect [Blu-ray] (John Boulting, Roy Boulting, 1960) RB UK Network (BEAVER REVIEW)
They Won't Believe Me [Blu-ray] (Irving Pichel, 1947) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
Tight Spot [Blu-ray] (Phil Karlson, 1955) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Tokyo Joe
[Blu-ray] (Stuart Heisler, 1949) R0 Australia Umbrella
Walk a Crooked Mile [Blu-ray] (Gordon Douglas, 1948) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Walk East on Beacon! [Blu-ray] (Alfred L. Werker, 1952) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Wanted for Murder [Blu-ray] (Lawrence Huntington, 1946) Cohen Media (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Weapon [Blu-ray] (Val Guest, 1956) RB UK Network (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
The Web [Blu-ray] (Michael Gordon, 1947) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)
Weird Woman [Blu-ray] (Reginald Le Borg, 1944) RB UK Eureka Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Window [Blu-ray] (Ted Tetzlaff, 1949) Warner Archive

Giallo on Blu-ray in 2021

The term "giallo" (translated literally as "yellow") refers to a particular cinematic form of, mostly, Italian-produced murder mystery films that can blur the line between art and exploitation. There are new Giallo Blu-ray releases in 2021 (in chronological order) BIG thanks to Gregory!


The Doll of Satan [Blu-ray] (Ferruccio Casapinta, 1969) RB UK 88 Films (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
Macabre / Shadow of Death
[Blu-ray] (Javier Setó, 1969) RB Germany Cineploit Records
So Sweet... So Perverse [Blu-ray] (Umberto Lenzi, 1969) RB UK 88 Films
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1970) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Cat o' Nine Tails [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1971) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Designated Victim [Blu-ray] (Maurizio Lucidi, 1971) Mondo Macabro (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Fourth Victim [Blu-ray] (Eugenio Martín, 1971) Severin Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Crimes of the Black Cat [Blu-ray] (Sergio Pastore, 1972) Cauldron Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Murder Mansion
[Blu-ray] (Francisco Lara Polop, 1972) Vinegar Syndrome
Naked Girl Murdered in the Park [Blu-ray] (Alfonso Brescia, 1972) Full Moon Features
Puzzle [Blu-ray] (Duccio Tessari, 1974) VCI
Autopsy
[Blu-ray] (Armando Crispino, 1975) Vinegar Syndrome
Deep Red [4K UHD Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1975) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)
Crazy Desires of a Murderer
[Blu-ray] (Filippo Walter Ratti, 1977) Vinegar Syndrome
The Psychic [Blu-ray] (Lucio Fulci, 1977) RB UK Shameless (BEAVER REVIEW)
Nothing Underneath
[Blu-ray] (Carlo Vanzina, 1985) Vinegar Syndrome
Delirium [Blu-ray] (Peter Maris, 1979) Severin
Too Beautiful to Die
[Blu-ray] (Dario Piana, 1988) Vinegar Syndrome
Ttrauma [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1993) Vinegar Syndrome (BEAVER REVIEW)
Sleepless [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 2001) Scorpion Releasing (BEAVER REVIEW)

TV (on Blu-ray or 4K UHD)

Countless TV-based entertainment came to disc this past year - mostly recent series, and Dr. Who etc., we mostly focus on older series. Here are a few that received mention in our poll (and five 70's made-for-TV Movies):

(CLICK Cover for more Information)

     

     

The Abbott and Costello Show - Season 1 [Blu-ray] Classicflix

The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] - CBS

Creepshow: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] - Image Entertainment

I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series [Blu-ray] - Millcreek

The Incredible Hulk [Blu-ray] (Kenneth Johnson, 1977–1982) Universal (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)

Kolchak: The Night Stalker: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] - Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

Night Gallery Season 1 [Blu-ray]  (Rod Serling, 1969) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Stand [Blu-ray] (Josh Boone, Benjamin Cavell, 2020) Paramount

Star Trek: The Original Series: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] - Paramount (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Twilight Zone (1959–1964): The Complete Series [Blu-ray] Paramount (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)  (BEAVER REVIEW)

and Made-For-TV Movies

Night Terror [Blu-ray] (E.W. Swackhamer, 1977) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

Scream, Pretty Peggy [Blu-ray] (Gordon Hessler, 1973) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Screaming Woman [Blu-ray] (Jack Smight, 1972) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Victim [Blu-ray] (Herschel Daugherty, 1972) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

Best Cover Designs:

Another year for impressive artistic covers whether from new inventive artists or replicas of vintage posters! Arrow, Criterion, Kino, Masters of Cinema, Indicator and a few other labels getting a fair share of votes. So many inventive covers, often chosen from extensive, artistic, old poster designs.

 

Some Steelbooks (often exclusive) were chosen, if most not enough votes to make the listing.

 

Many are collectable in their own right. (Mostly in alphabetical order! - each received 3 or more votes!)

 

    (CLICK Cover for more Information)

                                                                                         

 

OUR BANNER CONTEST:

 

(CLICK to ENLARGE)

Kudos to the winner David Hollingsworth who guessed them all correctly - the second year in a row he has won! That man deserves a Blu-ray prize!

FROM TOP ROW (left to right)

1) The Kid Stays in the Picture
2) Mill of the Stone Women
3) Mill of the Stone Women (again)
4) The Far Country
5) The Incredible Shrinking Man
6) Citizen Kane
7) The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
8) Mulholland Dr.
9) Mulholland Dr. (again)
10) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
11) Mulholland Dr. (again)
12) Mulholland Dr. (again)
13) Night Has a Thousand Eyes
14) The Accused
15) The Spider Woman Strikes Back
16) Dementia 13
17) Frankenstein's Daughter
18) Deep Red
19) The Damned
20) The Silence of the Lambs
21) The Incredible Shrinking Man
22) Corridor of Mirrors
23) Unbreakable
24) Columbia Noir #2
25) Every Day's a Holiday
26) Kolchak: The Night Stalker
27) High Sierra
28) Frankenstein
29) A Bullet is Waiting
30) A Bullet is Waiting (again)
31) Chicago Syndicate
32) The Brothers Rico
33) The Servant
34) Johnny Guitar
35) The Naked Spur
36) The Werewolf
37) Mona Lisa
38) Arabesque
39) Vertigo
40) Rear Window
41) The Fourth Victim
42) The Raven
43) Rancho Deluxe
44) Blind Beast
45) Massacre Time
46) Mill of the Stone Women (again)
47) The Brotherhood of Satan
48) B Girl Rhapsody
49) The Dark
50) The Cat O'Nine Tails
51) The Last Man on Earth
52) A Tale of Two Sisters

SECOND ROW (left to right)

53) Ashes and Diamonds
54) No One Heard the Scream
55) Coogan's Bluff
56) Opfergang
57) Alias Jesse James
58) Whirlpool of Fate
59) Irezumi
60) Alias Nick Beal
61) The Love Butcher
62) The Revenge of Frankenstein
63) The Widow Couderc
64) Blue Panther
65) Flight to Mars
66) The Amazing Mr. X
67) Dr. Strangelove
68) Girl Gang
69) Chungking Express
70) The Man with a Movie Camera
71) Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
72) Savage Streets
73) The Designated Victim
74) Dark Intruder
75) The Great Gabbo
76) Night Terror
77) Walking the Edge
78) Mirror
79) Bill Rebane collection
80) Ingagi
81) Mighty Peking Man
82) Irreversible
83) Churalata
84) The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
85) Satantango
86) Pulse
87) The Suspect
88) The Furies
89) Escape from Fort Bravo
90) The Suspect (again)
91) Shogun's Joy of Torture
92) The Great Gabbo
93) Dr. Strangelove (again)
94) The Black Cat
95) Masculine Feminin
96) Switchblade Sisters
97) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
98) Johnny O'Clock
99) The War of the Worlds
100) Buried Alive
101) Chungking Express
102) Castle of the Creeping Flesh
103) The Devil-Ship Pirates
104) So Evil My Love

THIRD ROW (left to right)

105) Mardi Gras Massacre
106) Silent Madness
107) Giant from the Unknown
108) Inner Sanctum Mysteries
109) Heroes of the East
110) House of Cruel Dolls
111) Elvira: Mistress of the Dark
112) That Obscure Object of Desire
113) 20 Million Miles to Earth
114) The Spoilers
115) Each Dawn I Die
116) The Green Man
117) Lilith
118) Desire
119) The Valdez Horses
120) The Swimmer
121) The Flame of New Orleans
122) The Invisible Man Returns
123) Crossfire
124) Fool for Love
125) The Giant Claw
126) Savage Streets (again)
127) The Time Travelers
128) The Night of the Following Day
129) The Black Gestapo
130) Corruption
131) Isle of the Dead
132) Sweet Charity
133) Hercules and the Captive Women
134) Gattaca
135) Brute Force
136) The Suspect (again)
137) The Basher Box Set
138) Irma Vep
139) Ringu
140) The Face Behind the Mask
141) The Gambler
142) The Birds
143) The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (again)
144) Chunking Express (again)
145) Santo in the Treasure of Dracula
146) Giants and Toys
147) Gun for a Coward
148) Schoolgirls in Chains
149) Brute Force (again)
150) The Day of the Beast
151) Predita Durango
152) King Boxer
153) Tintoreta: Killer Shark
154) Ingagi
155) Gattaca (again)
156) A Man Called Adam

CONGRATS DAVID! YOU are the Man!

Thanks to all who participated!
 

 

"Reports of the death of DVD are greatly exaggerated"

 

Again, we only had a few DVDs selected this year but the format is far from dead. I still watch DVDs of new, unseen films, that aren't yet, and may never be, on Blu-ray.

 

       

 

Comments:

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Edward Everett Horton - 8 shorts - Undercrank - There isn't a bad comedy in the bunch. This unknown comedy series is a gem.

- Bruce Calvert

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

- Nick Garlick

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1. ZANDER THE GREAT (1925), Lorusso Kickstarter
2. STRAIGHT IS THE WAY (1921), Lorusso Kickstarter

- Phil Perkins

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Favorite DVD of the Year: I am happy that Flicker Alley continue to do DVD/Blu Ray editions (and Criterion and BFI sometimes) because I fear that Blu Ray might disappear one day, and that we are left with just 4K UHD and DVD. Unfortunately, I must complain that Kino Lorber/Classics have really messed up their British Noir line, with "British Noir III" (2021) including only one "real" noir – The Frightened Lady (1940), where many rarely seen titles remain unavailable on disc, and where the copies of the five films included are extremely poor.

- Peter Rist

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BOX SET: Edward Everett Horton by Undercrank Productions
BEST DVD: Tie: ZANDER THE GREAT and STRAIGHT IS THE WAY on Kickstarter

- David

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I didn't buy a single 2021 release DVD.

 - Tim Leggoe

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The Deanne Durbin box set Vol 1-from Via Vision-was a worthwhile purchase but a bare-bones release.

- BMG

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Unfortunately, I don't have a NEW DVD that I purchased this year, so I'd like to replace it with a trio of "important" Blu-Ray releases, with less fanfare:

Jean-Claude Brisseau's "Sound and Fury," an underrated French film from the late 1980's that was recently restored and given a Blu-Ray release by Vinegar Syndrome/Altered Innocence; Manoel de Oliveira's long-awaited restoration of "Francisca" on Blu-Ray from Grasshopper Films; And, finally, Bela Tarr's "Satantango," arguably one of the most daunting undertakings of the last 30 years.

- Anthony Dugandzic

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I bought a few DVDs this year, but I don't think any were 2021 releases.

- Steve Rubin

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There are no 4K UDH or DVDs on my list because I have purchased neither of these types of media this year.

- Ken Schwarz

Notable Rants and Praise

  

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Rant 1. Steve McQueen's Small Axe Quintet of films were shown by BBC on prime time in 2020. It seemed like an occasion. And what do BBC do with the physical release- a measly DVD in UK with John Boyega's face on the front. As it to say, no one is going to be interested except maybe some Boyega fans. And this year when McQueen also had the documentary 'Uprising' on BBC what a missed opportunity! [It also later turns out- as he admitted on Mary Beard's culture show- that the only reason the BBC showed it at prime time on their main channel (BBC1) was because he insisted that was the only way he would allow his films to be shown. So much for the BBC's enlightenment].

Rant 2. My Criterion Citizen Kane was shipped form US Amazon and was on its way to me when I saw the notice on their website about the fault in the Blu Ray. I watched it for the 30 mins to see what exactly went wrong. Very irritating. Now I have to do a cut up like Mr Burroughs and post my art work back? Thoroughly disappointing to say the least! Criterion claim they have a very small team- well time to hire one more person- someone to actually watch their discs on a Blu Ray player and report back.

Rant 3. Overpriced (in UK) Wong Kar Wai Criterion box set. 7 films for £150.00? No thank you. A few years ago I bought the Eric Rohmer French box set [Potenkime Films] with his entire filmography (22 films + supplements) for that price.

SIGH!

​Been waiting all year to see TSAI MING LIANGS DAYS. Not aware of any streaming platforms that have it. And when are we going to get Liang's THE HOLE on Blu Ray?

Billy Bang

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Warner Archives absolutely blew the doors off their completion in 2021.

WA's streak of superb releases actually started in the autumn of 2020 and there has been no letup since then. In late 2020, they released Sergeant York, The Mortal Storm, The Pirate, Libeled Lady, Mr. Roberts and the Curse of Frankenstein.

Then in 2021, The Shop Around the Corner, The Pajama Game, Baby Doll, Crossfire, Damn Yankees, Show Boat, Isle of the Dead, Broadway Melody of 1940, Doctor X, I Wouldn't Be In Your Shoes, Step By Step, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Operation Burma, Santa Fe Trail, The Window, Night At The Opera, Dinner At Eight, The Naked Spur, Mad Love, Fury, Some Came Running, Party Girl, Angels With Dirty Faces, and various Thin Man movies. Damn, just typing out that litany of titles was exciting. And 2022 is starting off with a bang with the long-awaited HD release of Stage Fright.

No studio can really compete with Warner (and RKO and MGM) in terms of breadth and depth of their back catalog. This year the WA selection has been flawless and all their releases have received beautiful, meticulous restorations - - perfect technicolor and nary a scratch nor speckle to be seen on the image. In addition to praying for world peace and good health, I have to pray that Warner Archives continue their superlative efforts in 2022.

Not only were Warner Archives the company of the year, but George Feltenstein gets my vote for Man of the Year.

***

Rant: Recent difficulty in the USA in purchasing Blu-rays from Amazon UK


Rant: Despite all the magnificent releases from Warner Archives in 2021 and with catalog releases starting to dribble out of Paramount, how many of us are going to die of old age before the films of our choice are released in HD?!


Rant: Criterion really suffered a diminishment in the quality of their output in 2021.
This was disappointing because they have usually been at the pinnacle of the industry and have consistently released films that were of artistic and/or historical value. Generally, such films have been old enough where they can be viewed with some detachment through the prism of history.

Continuing the trend of the past few years, in 2021 Criterion released many modern and even contemporary films that are far too new for it to be known how they will stand the test of time. Many of Criterions releases in 2021 may seem trendy and inclusive today. However, throughout cinema history, many films have been released that have initially been deemed significant, but often as little as one generation later, these same films can seem dated and irrelevant.

There are so many films that history has proven to be of unqualified significance that remain unreleased in HD in the U.S. Movies such as After Hours, The Alamo, Freaks, Adam's Rib, Gunga Din, Stray Dog, Drunken Angel, The Bad Sleep Well, Red Beard, Pink Flamingos, The Thief of Baghdad, Lone Star, Winchester '73, Miracle At Morgan's Creek, Le Deuxième Souffle, I Walked With A Zombie, The Seventh Victim, The Devil And Daniel Webster, Ball of Fire, 49th Parallel, 3 Godfathers, The Search, Devil's Doorway, D.O.A., Cheyenne Autumn, Donovan's Reef, The Shootist, etc. etc. have never been released in HD in the U.S. The list just goes on and on (hopefully Warner Archives will rectify at least some of these in the future). With that in mind, there just isn't any obvious compelling reason for Criterion to be releasing so many movies that are so modern. Whether such recent Criterion releases actually stand the test of time remains to be seen. It is likely that some will and some won't. Hopefully the many less than classic Criterion releases in 2021 were driven by COVID related disruptions and were not the result of a conscious business strategy. Ultimately though, Criterion is in business to make a profit and whether these modern releases prove to be good business decisions also remains to be seen.

Gary Slatus

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I don't purchase a whole lot of newly-released films, so I wouldn't want to comment on anything I don't own. Hence the small amount of nominees on my list. Most of the films I've nominated are old films, newly-restored. For films produced before I was born, these are truly "like never seen before" when great care is put into the restorations.

J. J.

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Thanks for all you do, I really enjoy your website and reviews and am pleased to support it.

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Not really sold on 4K I’m afraid, maybe it’s my set-up but they look so dark…

James Horsfall

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Although none of their releases were in my top 10, Kino Lorber has been doing an amazing job of releasing catalog titles of every genre out there, with new and vintage extras for almost all their titles. It's hard to imagine that at one time they were releasing titles with burned in subtitles with PAL to NTSC transfers on DVD not so long ago. They seem to be getting better with age, and with their new slate of 4K UHD titles coming soon, they are again a label to watch in 2022.

James-Masaki Ryan

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Praise for the BFI - for rescuing Out of the Blue and stacking it with so many fascinating extras.

Nick Garlick

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Thanks for your continued great reviews (and finding the Criterion Citizen Kane glitch). I have been buying more discs than usual during the pandemic, although I continue to be a cinema-going person, and I especially appreciated being able to visit Italy for the silent film festival in Pordenone, which was very safe and brilliantly well-organized. The musicians were especially up for the occasion of in-person screenings. (I really dislike streaming.)

***

I must complain that Kino Lorber/Classics have really messed up their British Noir line, with "British Noir III" (2021) including only one "real" noir – The Frightened Lady (1940), where many rarely seen titles remain unavailable on disc, and where the copies of the five films included are extremely poor.

Criterion continue to be too expensive, and maybe they give notable film directors too much free reign in their "approvals"– see what Wong Kar-Wai did with his colour "corrections," and the weird "French-fold" booklet decision!! I do appreciate his Fallen Angels aspect ratio choice, though. (Once, when we showed a 16mm print of Fallen Angels at Concordia U., we stretched it anamorphically to scope in accordance with Wong's suggestion.)

Peter Rist

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Great restorations with poor scores (e.g., Fanchon the Cricket, Little Andy Rooney); bonus material on COLLABORATIONS without English subtitles (e.g. material by Tony Rayns)

Praise: Unbelievably great restorations (e.g. Tih Minh and Judex from Gaumont)

David T. Steere Jr

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Praise: A bumper year for physical media releases. An staggering variety of films being released by boutique labels. Loads of terrible early blu-ray video masters now being replaced with decent 4K masters. The Paramount Presents... series are releasing a fantastic variety og cult and legacy films with lovely transfers.

Rants: I have purchased every single Criterion Collection blu ray since they started releasing them. 2021 was the year they released the most titles I had no interest in seeing. The greenish tinge on Wong Kar Wai's In The Mood For Love, although approved by Wong Kar Wai, was the single most disappointing film experience of 2021.

Kevin Oppegaard

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Thanks for another great DVDBeaver year!

John Ridley

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Despite the ongoing challenges of a worldwide Covid pandemic vintage digital restorations are still being produced and released at pace. Take a bow guys!
Great to view the rare black and white version of Dr, but spoilt by the use of garish yellow subs instead of the easier to view white font subs available on the Technicolor version.

David Redfern

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Despite the error in the first Blu-ray disc, Criterion's release of Citizen Kane is arguably the best release of the year. They managed to include I guess almost every special feature known to man from the three commentaries, to the BBC documentary, The Complete "Citizen Kane".

David Hollingsworth

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As an Australian, it's great to see Imprint and Umbrella step up and release so many quality blu rays this year. It's unthinkable in previous years that I would have seen so many excellent and exclusive homegrown releases and had so many on my end of year lists.

Tim Leggoe

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Not really a rant but being a fan of old movie posters I wish Criterion would include original poster art on their covers, or at least have reversible sleeves featuring new and old cover art.
Disney and their hold on the Fox titles. It’s criminal.
Praise
I love the labels (WA, Kino) that show the original poster art on their covers. I especially enjoy the Kino covers as they have no advertising on front and the print quality is good.
Good to see Film Detective getting in on the act and putting out some interesting releases with solid extras. Imprint & Flicker Alley continue to impress and Flicker Alley’s Repeat Performance is at the top of my list for early next year.
Despite mainstream physical media being in a decline there is no better time to be a collector of catalogue titles. Already there are some must-have titles in the first few weeks of 2022.

BMG

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PRAISE
-Surely it was the best news of the year (apart from Fields and West on BD at last) that Indicator is now releasing in Region A, and their first titles (two notorious Peter Sellers ‘one-offs’) demonstrate what a joy we have to look forward to.
-I’ve repeatedly said that the BBC is sitting on the most extensive and high quality collections of made-for-television feature films and mini-series in the world. (Examples: Bergman in Hedda Gabbler, Connery in Anna Karenina, Ciaran Hinds and Christopher Lee in Ivanhoe, Patrick Troughton in The Old Curiosity Shop). Barely a portion is available on DVD; it should all be restored on BD, given proper bitrates to breathe. BBC’s Play for Today series is at least the first serious attempt to bring it all out to the public.

MIXED:
-Universal and Sony are still putting out classic catalogue titles (e.g. Trail of the Lonesome Pine), thank god!; but with no publicity or marketing. Nobody know these are out there. It seems unsustainable. Somebody do something!
-Paramount joined the first ranks, but the result is strangely mixed, with many unrestored, basically useless repackages of their most popular and beloved titles, next to lovely expensive restorations of The Court Jester and a handful of others. But why do a 4K restoration of something like Another 48 Hours without giving us the Director’s Cut?

RANTS: -Whatever happened to Olive Signature? If they’re gone, its terrible news. There are so many public domain titles, not to mention their OWN licensed titles (Indiscreet, Hallelujah Trail) that could benefit from better attention.
-Criterion still holds rights to the most amazing collection of Japanese studio films. Come on! Put something out on disc!
-It’s criminal that no one, not even Film Detective has put out a public domain masterpiece like D.O.A. (1950), or similar titles (Captain Kidd).

Peter Yacavone

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S&H costs during the pandemic have made it extremely challenging as I import 99% of my collection being in a disc desert of sorts. Especially bad is Amazon UK which used to get the bulk of my Region B business, only to have increased their delivery costs to near parity with the price of the discs themselves, while Barnes and Noble now refuses to ship to me at all!

Chris Browne

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Quality control over some of the most anticipated releases of the year was at an all-time high. Many are attributing this surge due to work interruptions from Covid. I'm not altogether sold on that! Not from the types of errors we are seeing. It's one thing if the actual pressing of the discs were an issue, and manufacturing was being stressed to the max due to a limited number of employees. No, we're seeing massive errors at the pre-authoring and pressing stages, by colorists and other technical personnel. That aside, it was another stellar year for home cinema enthusiasts!

Some more great discoveries and inspired releases of the year would include:

Two Argentine noir gems, first introduced to me on Turner Classic Movies by Eddie Muller:

Bitter Stems (Ayala) and The Beast Must Die (Barreto), both on Blu-Ray from Flicker Alley.

A trio of Yasuzo Masumura films from Arrow (Blind Beast, Giants and Toys and Irezumi). Moreover, his towering masterpiece, "Red Angel," is on the slate for next month from Arrow.

Three more reference-level volumes of Columbia Film Noir from Indicator.

Two films by the late, great Dennis Hopper. One a certifiable masterpiece (Out of the Blue/BFI); the other, one of the best crime films of the 1990's (The Hot Spot/Kino Lorber), a decade which saw a resurgence in the modern noir film.

Ken Jacobs Collection: Volume 1 (Jacobs) from Kino Lorber.

 

Anthony Dugandzic

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I am very happy that most of the 4k upgrades I've seen this past year have been significant improvements over previously released blu ray discs. UHD has been a revelation.

On the down side, I feel like Criterion, a standard setter and a company I have patronized since the earliest days of Laser Disc, seems to have lost its edge. Monthly releases over the last year have been largely underwhelming and their seeming reluctance to enter the 4k realm is puzzling. I'm able to watch The Irishman in 4k on Netflix. But Criterion only released it as a blu ray. Even now, the upcoming releases feature few 4k titles. I hope this is not a sign of their decline.

Gregg Ferencz

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* Where is Abel Ferrara's oeuvre on Blu Ray?? I am close to completing a journey through his cinema (mainly on DVD)and have enjoyed almost all of his films. Come on Arrow give the 'King of New York' / 'Addiction' treatment to THE FUNERAL, GO GO TALES , NEW ROSE HOTEL & MS. 45 (with trademark Ferrara commentary please). Raw, guerilla, guilt-ridden gems worthy of a retro box set.

* Other Blu Ray wish list:
SLADE IN FLAME (1974) British Social Realist Drama meets Rock Biopic. Obsessed with this film after finding it in a closed public library's rubbish skip. A Kermode favourite also.

* DAU box set
Only because I have seen every second of the 700 hours rushes of these films (I was part of the edit crew) and know that this is a unique piece of Synecdochian Cinema that the world have the opportunity to see. Makes Apocalypse Now look like Bilko.

PRAISE
Fopp / HMV stores in UK continue to push physical media in their collectors corner. Still cannot beat a tactile browse of the shelves. I hope the death of the High Street does not have a negative impact on this particular pleasure.

RANTS
Streaming services bandwidth is sub-standard and worsening plus the NOTFLIX menu is one of the most depressing search tools in the whole digital realm.

PRAISE
DVD Beaver for continuing to fight the good fight and promote the physical world of film.

 

Neil Williams

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Kino's "The Valdez Horses" is the most disappointing release I purchased. The print used for the 1.85:1 transfer looked like a print from a drive-in movie. It had emulsion damage leading up to and after every reel change and was the most terrible element used in a movie transfer. I haven't watched the 4x3 version yet. I've read reviews praising this disc and its transfer. What is this physical media world coming to?

 

John Brune

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Citizen Kane Criterion was a disaster. The sound on the 4K disc I bought is not synchronized. I bought two copies and left one unopened because it will have historical value for Welles critics.


I am on a one-man crusade to boycott 4KUltraHD discs because they, imo, destroy the film by its turning three-dimensional shadows into two-dimensional black smears.

 

Richard Burt

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Why, my warmest thanks to the Beaver, of course!

Next year, perhaps consider giving more time to complete the Year End Poll.

The last week before Xmas can be busy. I would have liked to offer some 'why?' comments.

Harvey Clarke

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Italian distributor Eagle Pictures makes international news with its "4Kult" line and its output on the Studiocanal library capable of surpassing Studiocanal's own effort in the English language market many times. Kudos!

 

In the year of the Warnermedia-Discovery merger, what is going to happen to Warner Archive? What are going to be the future strategies about home entertainment from Warner? Whatever may come, another year is passed without "Greed" and "The Wind" (not to mention some sort of 50th anniversary edition of "The Devils", of course)

 

Alfredo Santoro

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BFI - the best slate of 2021 featuring cult classics like Out of the Blue, Naked, Jungle Fever and Radio On alongside lesser known masterpieces like Madchen in Uniform and Maeve.

 James Laycock

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This year has shown a lot more shameless cash-grabs from companies selling a 4K edition of a prior release with zero new special features. Come on guys, you could at least conduct an interview over Zoom.

Leif F.

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INDICATOR, for their commitment to consistent quality output and continually interesting selections (see their 2022 slate so far!). Shout outs to the usual folks too though at Eureka, Second Run, BFI, Arrow and Criterion, who too come out with frequent surprises and keep everyone else on their toes!

Benedict Keeler (aka rapta)

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Rant: I have love/hate relationships with both Kino and Arrow. The content is excellent. The limited first pressing slipcases/booklets concept has to stop. I'm sure it drives pre-order/week one sales, which seems great. But every other industry I've seen that included this sorts of variations/promotions/exclusives has a reckoning. I'm not sure this industry is in a healthy enough place to experience that. This has to stop.

Praise: To you Gary, for plugging away at this endeavor, every week without fail. Thanks!

Steve Rubin

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Props to Indicator for finally coming to Region A. And I can't wait for their March 2022 titles.

Okay, what's with the blue cases? A couple of my favorite companies have started using blue cases when they previously used clear cases. Please stop that. The blues in boutique titles sends a weird message. I mean, I come to you guys to get away from the blue blus.

I love you, Arrow, but the speed at which your Limited Edition Boxsets go out of print is punishing. But great job on getting a US website. And I love all those crazy Japanese titles. Now add in more crazy Korean titles, and some Korean classic titles (AIMLESS BULLET or Im Kwon-Taek films [this is why Arrow Academy existed.]) and you'll get more of my money.

It's great that Criterion finally went 4K, and the initial selection of releases is amazing, but how do you whiff on that CITIZEN KANE release (and why wasn't it Spine #1000?)? Also, I love that you can do Netflix releases, but can get some in 4K?

Shout! Factory. I love that you guys are pressing Paramount discs, and hope you can work on some Miramax titles like the original cut of CURSED or a Scream box from Scream! (I know, I'm being cheeky) but what happened to QC? The glitch lists some of these titles generate is scandalous.

Most improved label: Paramount. A bummer that a bunch of cool Criterions went OOP, but getting titles like RAGTIME on blu is welcome. A lot of work needs to be done, but I like what I see. Now dig deeper into that archive...

Still Terrible: 20th Century Fox. I blame Disney. You've got this Fort Knox level repository of CLASSIC titles and you're letting them rot. I love the occasional one that makes it to Criterion, but there's so many more that need attention. Set Kino loose in the vault and sit back while you bask in the accolades. And this isn't even touching on the terrible treatment things like THE LAST DUEL or NIGHT HOUSE have experienced at the hands of the Mouse. I shudder at what's going to happen when WEST SIDE STORY or NIGHTMARE ALLEY hit disc.

Bringing on Ash Carter was one of Criterion' best moves in years.

Still waiting on discs for THE ABYSS, TRUE LIES, and STRANGE DAYS. Any time now...

Speaking of "lost" titles... Could someone put INVADERS FROM MARS in blu? There's an entire generation of children that would love to buy a top tier disc of this title.

I'd like to compliment Synapse for taking the time and effort on some near forgotten title. Can't wait for TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD and neither can you.

I know, Disney hates physical media. But they must also hate the hundreds I'd give them for sets of THE MANDALORIAN or FALCON AND WINTER SOLDIER if such things existed. It's only going to get worse, isn't it?

Um, what's going on with Warner Archive? There's so much they have to do and their Amazon "store" is... tough to find. Seriously, do they have a site?

On the other hand this would be the PERFECT time for Warners to release THE DEVILS. With all the cuts.

Gabriel Neeb

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Gary, thank you for all you do in promoting and supporting physical media!

Paul Todd

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The Incredible Shrinking Man (Criterion) - Jack Arnold’s importance to Universal Horror in the 1950s is roughly analogist to that of James Whale in the 1930s. The Incredible Shrinking Man may be his masterpiece. In Arnold’s best 1950’s horror films, we usually have the no-nonsense, straight ahead presentation of a group dynamic, albeit one that is not necessarily cohesive, involved in a situation perceived as threatening. This group may clash over individual perspectives, ethical and moral positions regarding the threat, or just the best way to proceed (as in The Creature from the Black Lagoon, or It Came From Outer Space). This is sort of the opposite of the generally cooperative team spirit on display in a Hawksian group that quickly puts aside any differences when it comes to facing adversity. Sometimes Arnold’s films center on the “threat,” the outsider that opposes the group- like the Jekyll/Hyde paleontologist in Monster on The Campus, the entity communing with The Space Children, or the hive minded aliens in It Came From Outer Space. In The Incredible Shrinking Man we find a unique twist to this theme. The afflicted protagonist, Scott Carey, “The Shrinking Man,” a self-described “freak,” is desperately trying to fit in, to find a cure, to return to normalcy, to regain his status and place in the community. And this time the group is sympathetic to, although not above exploiting, his plight. Turns out that Scott Carey is his own worst adversary. He is painfully alone, and his condition leads to understandable anxiety and self-pity, which in turn further isolate him from his loved ones. As he shrinks he literally diminishes as a person, a “freak” that cannot find his place even in the carnival sideshow. But as his self esteem and ego melt away and he finds himself locked in a primal struggle for survival (largely rendered in silent film technique sans dialogue), he also discovers something much more fundamental than his community sanctioned persona. He experiences his true identity as a being in the meaningful transcendence of a Universal (no pun intended) Purpose beyond himself. The individual dealing with existential crisis, immersed in life to the point of forgetting or shedding their limiting personal identity signifiers, becomes something more than the things that define them to themselves and others.

Ken Schwarz

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Best to us all in 2022!

 

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