DVDBeaver Newsletter - April 2nd, 2007


Ba'ax ka wa'alik! - 10 new reviews this week - 5 of which are comparisons. Once again we are all over the board from Bresson to Spaghetti's westerns, Spanish auteur to 50's classics gone by, student films to star-infested...


Feature DVD of the Month (April) - Criterion's Brute Force - As hard-hitting as its title, Brute Force was the first of Jules Dassin’s forays into the crime genre, a prison melodrama that takes a critical look at American society as well. Burt Lancaster is the timeworn Joe Collins, who, along with his fellow inmates, lives under the heavy thumb of the sadistic, power-tripping guard Captain Munsey (a riveting Hume Cronyn). Only Collins’s dreams of escape keep him going, but how can he possibly bust out of Munsey’s chains? Matter-of-fact and ferocious, Brute Force builds to an explosive climax that shows the lengths men will go to when fighting for their freedom..  REVIEWED HERE  PURCHASE HERE




Easiest way to catch up is simply read the new Newsletter Archive HERE.


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AND  if you will purchase more than 35 DVDs (or anything) in a 365 day period (and live in the Continental US) it makes excellent financial sense to subscribe to Amazon Prime! You will get Free 2-day shipping on your purchases!


LATEST Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER!):

EYE FOR: WOW - some upcoming gold - Harold Lloyd - The Short Films. I've always had my eye on Irving Reiss' The Big Street  - Lucille Ball goldigging Hank Fonda. Personally Perry Mason - Season 2, Vol. 1 is a no-brainer - I LOVE that series. Two redone westerns I'll have to nab - Rio Bravo: Ultimate Collector's Edition and a favorite film - The Cowboys: Deluxe Edition. Let's see how Region 1 treats Duck, You Sucka (A Fistful of Dynamite) in the Sergio Leone Anthology. Criterion don't often let us down so Sweet Movie, Two of Us and La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962) / Sans soleil (Chris Marker, 1983) will be reviewed (compared). Seems we've been waiting a while for an exemplary Invasion of the Body Snatchers - let's hope this is it.


The House By The River - 2-disc (Fritz Lang, 1950) - R2 FR Wild Side Vidéo

The Big Street (Irving Reis, 1942) Turner Home Ent

Roots (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Warner Home Video

Perry Mason - Season 2, Vol. 1 - Paramount Home Video

The John Wayne Film Collection (Without Reservations / Allegheny Uprising / Tycoon / Reunion in France / Big Jim McCain / Trouble Along the Way)

Lucille Ball Film Collection (Dance Girl Dance / The Big Street / Du Barry Was a Lady / Critic's Choice / Mame)

Rio Bravo: Ultimate Collector's Edition (Howard Hawks, 1959) Warner Home Video

The Cowboys: Deluxe Edition (Mark Rydell, 1972) Warner Home Video

Sergio Leone Anthology (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly / A Fistful of Dollars / For a Few Dollars More / Duck, You Sucker) MGM, Mysteries of the Organism (Dusan Makavejev, 1971) Criterion

If.... (Lindsay Anderson, 1968) Criterion

Sweet Movie (Dusan Makavejev, 1974) Criterion

Two of Us (Claude Berri, 1967) Criterion

La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962) / Sans soleil (Chris Marker, 1983) Criterion

Bobby (Widescreen Edition) (Emilio Estevez , 2006) Weinstein Company

Harold Lloyd - The Short Films 2-disc (Two Gun Gussie, The Non-Stop Kid, Captain Kidd's Kids, Get Out And Get Under, Now Or Never, The City Slicker, Ring Up The Curtain, From Hand To Mouth, High And Dizzy And Among Those Present) R2 UK Cinema Club

All Night Long (Basil Dearden, 1962) R2 UK Network

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956) R2 UK Universal Pictures UK


RECOMMENDATIONS:  In a kind of mixed DVD the new The Thing From Another World is one of the best of the great sci-fi classics - and a fair commentary on the DVD to boot! 

FIND OF THE WEEK...: Bresson's Les Anges du péché is the most joyful discovery this week - thanks to the gatekeepers of Robert-Bresson.com for alerting us to this revelation.

WEAK DVD - MASTERPIECE FILM: The DVD doesn't shine but the film is like a supernova - Still Life is a must own at the price offered.

PURE FANTASY!: I give myself over to The Natural but realize that many cannot. The new Director's Cut has 20 minutes added (and 14 removed from the theatrical).

BAD, BAD... BAD : I LOVE bad 50's cinema and King Dinosaur reaches the zenith of that infamous rating scale.


New Reviews:


50s Sci-Fi Double Feature: The Jungle/King Dinosaur - Fans of the 'Drive-In' 50's Sci-fi/Horror/Fantasy genre may have fun with these two: 'King Dinosaur: A scant ten million miles away, astronauts travel to another “earth” inhabited by huge animals, reptiles, dinosaurs, and a giant antisocial iguana. The Jungle: A Princess, her advisor, and an American hunter trek deep into the jungles of India seeking the source of elephant raids on native villages. What they find are wholly mammoths!'

Royal Flash - Fraser's tales of Harry Flashman, a 19th-century British naval officer who always manages to come out on top despite being a bit of a rogue and a lot of a coward, formed a series of much loved comic novels which had always seemed to offer themselves for film adaptation. DVD Release Date: April 3rd, 2007

Still Life - Mainland Chinese director Jia Zhangke's Still Life (aka Sanxia Haoren), a last minute entry into the 2006 Venice Film Festival, eventually won the Golden Lion award thanks to its top-notch cinematography and wonderful storytelling. Still Life interweaves the story of a miner (Han Sanming) who travels thousands of miles to a town near the Yangtze River to look for his ex-wife and a nurse fetching her husband who has been working at the river without sending a single word home. While the film does not let these two characters cross paths, together they reflect changes in people's lives brought by the Three Gorges Dam, which flooded villages near the Yangtze River and led to the emergence of some new settlements. DVD Release Date: January 2nd, 2007

Les Anges du péché - One of the most astonishing film debuts ever, made while France was still under Nazi occupation. Bresson chose an apparently timeless subject: the way that people affect each other's destinies. Based on the real convent of the Sisters of Béthany, a secluded order of nuns are minutely observed in their rehabilitation of women from prison. If the salvation is tangibly close to a Resistance adventure, it is the simple human confrontations that fascinate Bresson - the consuming desire of secure, bourgeois-born Anne-Marie to save the unrepentant Thérèse, wrongly imprisoned for the sake of her criminal lover. Concentrated dialogue (with a little help from Jean Giraudoux) and moulded monochrome photography by Philippe Agostini contribute to an outstanding film. Rarely have the seemingly opposite worlds of the spiritual and the erotic received such sublime, ennobling treatment. DVD Release Date: February 12th, 2007

Following Sean - In 1969, student filmmaker Ralph Arlyck released the short documentary “Sean” to much acclaim and controversy. The title character, a four year growing up in the now legendary Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, spoke openly about his hippie Communist parents, his hatred for cops and even claimed to smoke pot, though he said he preferred to eat it. “Sean” played widely at festivals and prompted viewers to predict that little Sean would grow to be either a serial killer or a stock broker (one of which generally involves being a sociopath.) DVD Release Date: March 27th, 2007

All That Jazz - Apparently Bob Fosse thought it 'foolish' to call All That Jazz self-indulgent. But he did direct, choreograph and co-write this musical comedy; it's about his life; it's very pleased with itself. As translated onto screen, his story is wretched: the jokes are relentlessly crass and objectionable; the song'n'dance routines have been created in the cutting-room and have lost any sense of fun; Fellini-esque moments add little but pretension; and scenes of a real open-heart operation, alternating with footage of a symbolic Angel of Death in veil and white gloves, fail even in terms of the surreal. Music Edition DVD Release Date: April 3rd, 2007

The Natural - This upbeat adaptation of Bernard Malamud's gritty allegory of the world of baseball is one of those test cases for the mood or generosity of the spectator: give yourself over completely to its wide-eyed brand of mythologising, and it will reward you with a tidal wave of emotion, hero-worship and strange medieval morality tale; a flicker of disbelief, however, and you'll see nothing but its faults. The Arthurian basis to Redford's rise to baseball stardom means that the narrative can include very un-Hollywoodlike devices such as an unexplained 16-year gap when he is out in the cold, expiating his fall from grace with a murderous femme fatale. Moreover, this mythological basis releases the cast from the necessity for naturalism (despite the title). Director's Cut DVD Release Date: April 3rd, 2007

Volver - You'll need a scorecard to keep track of all the folks making their way homeward in Volver, Pedro Almodóvar's latest and most affecting tribute to the beauty, resilience and compassion of all womankind. His title, taken from a ballad performed midway through the film, is the Spanish infinitive "to return," and the narrative involves two sisters, Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and Sole (Lola Dueñas), whose lives are thrown into (further) disarray by the spectral appearance of their late mother, looking bedraggled and apologetic. That the ghost is played by Carmen Maura, who hasn't worked with Almodóvar since 1988's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, constitutes another reunion; furthermore, a good hunk of the movie takes place in La Mancha, the director's provincial hometown. And then there's Cruz's belated return to respectability after several misguided years spent as Hollywood's generic Latina eye candy. Sony - Region 1 DVD Release Date: April 3rd, 2007

The Thing From Another World - One of the great sci-fi classics, a Hawks film in all but director credit (he produced, planned the film, supervised the shooting). The gradual build-up of tension, as a lonely group of scientists in the Antarctic discover a flying saucer and its deadly occupant, is quite superb; while The Thing itself (played by Arness) is shown sufficiently little to create real menace. As in most of Hawks' work, the emphasis is on professionalism in a tiny, isolated community, on a love relationship evolving semi-flippant fashion into something important, and on group solidarity. Also characteristic is the contrast with a film like Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still (made the same year), which took a liberal stand in exposing the stupidity of men when confronted with an alien. Hawks rejects out of hand the idea that the alien might be worth trying to understand or communicate with; in fact, the scientist who tries to do this is made to seem feeble and even inhuman, so that the overall message of The Thing emerges as distinctly hawkish. Reactionary or not, though, it's still a masterpiece. The Universal 2-disc DVD Release Date: March 19th, 2007

Texas, Adios - Ultrascope spaghetti Western in which Texas sheriff Burt Sullivan (Nero, standard issue laconic) crosses the border with kid brother Jim (Kitosch) to square matters with Cisco Delgado (Suarez), the outlaw who murdered their father. Blue Underground DVD Release Date: March 27th, 2007


Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


Week of April 2nd, 2007


All That Jazz - Music Edition (Bob Fosse, 1979) 20th Century Fox

Backstage (Emmanuelle Bercot, 2005) Strand Releasing

Bedazzled (Stanley Donen, 1967) 20th Century Fox

Breaking and Entering (Anthony Minghella, 2006) R2 UK - Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Cobra Woman (Robert Siodmak, 1944) - R2 FR - Carlotta Films

Death of a President (Gabriel Range, 2006) Lions Gate

Godzilla Raids Again (Motoyoshi Oda, 1955) Genius Products

The Good Shepherd (Widescreen Edition) (Robert De Niro, 2006) Universal Studios

The Killers 2-disc SE (Robert Siodmak, 1946) - R2 FR - Carlotta Films

The Lost Room (2-disc - Mini-series 2006) Lions Gate

The Mario Bava Collection, Volume 1 (Black Sunday / Black Sabbath / The Girl Who Knew Too Much / Kill Baby Kill / Knives of the Avenger) Anchor Bay

Mothra Vs Godzilla (Ishirô Honda, 1964) Genius Products

The Natural - Director's Cut (Barry Levinson, 1984) Sony Pictures

The Natural [Blu-ray] - Director's Cut (Barry Levinson, 1984) Sony Pictures

Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak, 1944) - R2 FR - Carlotta Films

Robert Siodmak Collection (Cobra Woman, The Killers, and Phantom Lady) - R2 FR - Carlotta Films

Royal Flash (Richard Lester, 1975) 20th Century Fox

S*P*Y*S (Irvin Kershner, 1974) 20th Century Fox

The Silent Partner (Daryl Duke, 1978) Lions Gate

The Streets of San Francisco - Season 1, Vol. 1 (1972) - Paramount Home Video

Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2007) Sony Pictures

Volver [Blu-ray] (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006) Sony Pictures


Week of April 9th, 2007


36th Chamber of Shaolin (Chia-Liang Liu, 1978) Weinstein Company

Blood & Sand (Rouben Mamoulian, 1941) - 20th Century Fox

Bobby (Widescreen Edtion) (Emilio Estevez , 2006) Weinstein Company

Doris Day Collection 2 (Romance on the High Seas/My Dream Is Yours/On Moonlight Bay/ I'll See You in My Dreams/By the Light of the Silvery Moon/Lucky Me) - Warner Home Video

El Aura (Fabián Bielinsky, 2005) IFC

My Dream Is Yours (Michael Curtiz, Friz Freleng, 1949) Warner Home Video

My Father, the Genius (Lucia Small, 2002) New Yorker

Sleeping Dogs Lie (Bob Goldthwait, 2006) First Look Pictures

Little Murders (Alan Arkin, 1971) 20th Century Fox

Petit Lieutenant (Xavier Beauvois) Koch Lorber Films

Twin Peaks - The Second Season (1990) - Paramount Home Video

Yang Ban Xi (Yan Ting Yuen, 2005) Home Vision




50 CLASSIC TV SHOWS ON DVD - best of vintage TV!






- Best of the Best!



This will be a great week,




P.S. The TOP 100 DVDs in Existence still remains a popular place to peruse.