DVDBeaver Newsletter - July 7th, 2006


Hey there! - WOW, what a busy DVD-watching week -  although only 13 reviews again this time around (we seem to have hit our summer stride with this unlucky number) it is a packed newsletter with 3 Fox Classics, 2 Criterions, 2 Boxset collections, 1 classic TV season with films directed by Powell/Pressburger, Yoji Yamada, John Frankenheimer, Louis Malle, Barbet Schroeder, Henry King, Allan Dwan and more.


SALES: A few Criterions on sale at Amazon - Dazed and Confused (42% off), Viridiana (33% off), Night and Fog (26% off), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (27% off), The Sword of Doom (27% off), Le Samourai (27% off), Harakiri (30% off), Masculin Feminin (27% off), Hopscotch (27% off), Fat Girl (33% off), Murmur of the Heart (27% off)


and PRE-ORDERS (30% off or more)

Kicking and Screaming (Noah Baumbach ,1995), Seduced & Abandoned, Six Moral Tales By Eric Rohmer (The Bakery Girl of Monceau, Suzanne's Career, My Night at Maud's, La collectionneuse, Claire's Knee, and Love in the Afternoon), A Canterbury Tale (Powell and Pressburger, 1944) 2-disc, Seven Samurai 3-disc, Amarcord 2-disc, Brazil 3-disc, Brazil 1-disc, and Playtime


STRATEGIES: The best way to take full advantage of Amazon is to use PRE-ORDERs - lock in at the discount price by ORDERING - if perchance you decide against the purchase you have until the release date to cancel - at no charge.

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!


ANTICIPATION: Coming Oct 10th - Motion Picture Masterpieces Five-disc set with five restored and remastered literary classics; $49.92; individual titles available for $19.97. (Warner).
Marie Antoinette (1939) Dir.: W.S. Van Dyke; Norma Shearer, Tyrone Power, John Barrymore, Robert Morley. Extras: Oscar-nominated short "The Great Heart," vintage short "Another Romance of Celluloid."
David Copperfield (1935) Dir.: George Cukor; Freddie Bartholomew, Lionel Barrymore, Edna May Oliver, Maureen O'Sullivan, Basil Rathbone. Extras: Vintage Technicolor musical shorts: "Pirate Party on Catalina Isle" and "Two Hearts in Wax Time," Classic MGM cartoon "Poor Little Me." audio-only bonus "Leo Is on the Air" radio promo.
Pride and Prejudice (1940) Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, Maureen O'Sullivan, Ann Rutherford. Extras: Oscar-nominated "Crime Doesn't Pay" short "Eyes of the Navy," classic MGM cartoon "The Fishing Bear ."
A Tale of Two Cities (1935) Ronald Coleman, Elizabeth Allan, Edna May Oliver, Reginald Owen, Basil Rathbone. Extras: Oscar-nominated short "Audioscopiks," two classic MGM cartoons "Hey, Hey Fever" and "Honeyland," audio-only bonus: Lux Radio Theater radio show adaptation starring Ronald Colman .
Treasure Island (1934) Dir.: Victor Fleming; Jackie Cooper, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore, Otto Kruger, Lewis Stone, Nigel Bruce. Extras: Vintage early three-Strip Technicolor MGM short "The Spectacle Maker" (1934), Oscar-nominated MGM short "Strikes and Spares," classic MGM "Happy Harmonies" cartoon "Tale of the Vienna Woods." .


DON'T FORGET: Craving the stuff you can't seem to get anywhere else? Beavers TOP YesAsia picks are listed HERE


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


New Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER!)

The Humphrey Bogart Signature Collection (3-disc SE of The Maltese Falcon, Across the Pacific, Action in the North Atlantic, All Through the Night and Passage to Marseille)

Will Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 (Steamboat Round the Bend, Life Begins at Forty, In Old Kentucky, Doubting Thomas ) 20th Century Fox

Do You Remember Dolly Bell? [Emir Kusturica, 1981] Artificial Eye R2 UK

When Father Was Away On Business [Emir Kusturica, 1985] Artificial Eye R2 UK

The Sun Also Rises (Henry King , 1957) Cinema Club R2 UK

The Tall Men (Raoul Walsh, 1955) Cinema Club R2 UK

The Black Swan (Henry King,1942) Cinema Club R2 UK


WEEKLY REVISIT - DVDBeaver will give a deserving revisit to a forgotten classic.

Robert Siodmak helped define that cinehistorical phenomenon of style known as Film Noir. Criss Cross  - perhaps a follow-up film to his success with The Killers - embodies another quintessential pulp story. Lancaster, Duryea and DeCarlo are caught in a web of deceptions built upon greed. A classic of style with an almost perfect DVD transfer.  REVIEW HERE PURCHASE HERE


RECOMMENDATIONS: When we have a new Criterion Powell and Pressburger film-to-DVD - it always makes for an easy recommendation. So A Canterbury Tale is first on the list. Personally, I was blown away by The Louis Malle Collection - Volume 1. He seemed a comfortable master at many genres as the collection proves. I love Frankenheimer and Grand Prix is certainly one of my favorite of his films - the DVD is reference quality - a stupendous package. I seem to be alone in my enjoyment of Perry Mason - Season 1, Vol. 1 but I still recommend - I watched all 19 episodes and still crave more! I keep saying it, but Fox Classics are no-brainer, blind purchases as far as I am concerned (who needs my reviews!) - The Keys of the Kingdom, The Black Swan and The River's Edge should find there way into your collection - without question.

HOLD OFF - Firstly, 5 Fingers is a FABULOUS film! BUT the UK DVD is very weak - there is a French edition that is reportedly much better. We will compare as soon as we can and let you know.

GET ALT VERSION - Yamada's The Hidden Blade on Tartan DVD is not up to scratch - there is a superior transfer from Japan HERE

BAD means GOOD? - If you are into the innocence and poor production nostalgia of Hollywood sci-fi of old (specifically the 50's) then Femme Fatale Collection is for you. I'm draw to this like Garfield to lasagna (apologies for that metaphor). 


New Reviews:


The Keys of the Kingdom - Another fine Fox Classic! - A young priest, Father Chisholm (Gregory Peck) is sent to China to establish a Catholic parish among the non-Christian Chinese. While his boyhood friend (Vincent Price), also a priest, flourishes in his calling as a priest in a more Christian area of the world, Father Chisholm struggles. He encounters hostility, isolation, disease, poverty and a variety of set backs which humble him, but make him more determined than ever to succeed. DVD Release Date: July 11th, 2006


The Hidden Blade - Septuagenarian Yamada Yoji is evidently not afraid of repeating himself. His latest samurai melodrama, the highly enjoyable ‘Hidden Blade’, reworks many of the same themes and narrative forms of his recent Oscar-nominated ‘Twilight Samurai’, but it’s so fluently directed, well acted and emotionally satisfying that its lack of originality can be forgiven. DVD Release Date: August 8th, 2006


Grand Prix - Probably the best of the formula motor racing films, though that isn't saying much. Frankenheimer was a keen fan of the sport, and took great pains to convey the experience cinematically. There are no process shots; a 70mm camera was fixed to Garner's car, and the suspension jacked up on the other side to balance it. Long lenses were used for a slow-motion effect, and split screen boosts the racing footage. But in following an entire season, the movie was always too long, and the bits in-between are the usual soapy off-track drama. DVD Release Date: July 11th, 2006

The Black Swan
- The story and dialogue smack of the Errol Flynn adventure Captain Blood, but the film employs its cliches with such overwhelming vigor and good humor that they seem like old friends. Even though his physique isn't quite up to the more beefcake aspects of the hardsell by the producers, Power is full of marvelous dash and derring-do. Cregar, all hearty bravado, is equally wonderful, his enormous body bedecked in wigs and finery, and the practically unrecognizable Sanders, sporting a thick red wig and beard, is quite effective as a less civilized type of villain than those he usually played. DVD Release Date: July 11th, 2006

The River's Edge
- Low-budget, yet surprisingly effective off-beat western from veteran director Dwan. Quinn is a rancher whose embittered wife (Paget) is the ex-mistress of a killer (Milland at his very nastiest) who takes them both hostage in order to get himself and some stolen loot over the border to Mexico. Along the way, they burn some money to keep warm and the extent of Milland's fiendish plot to get his ex back is revealed. DVD Release Date: July 11th, 2006

A Canterbury Tale
- Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s beloved classic A Canterbury Tale is a profoundly personal journey to Powell’s bucolic birthplace of Kent, England. Set amid the tumult of the Second World War, yet with a rhythm as delicate as a lullaby, the film follows three modern-day incarnations of Chaucer’s pilgrims—a melancholy “landgirl,” a plainspoken American GI, and a resourceful British sergeant—who are waylaid in the English countryside en route to the mythical town and forced to solve a bizarre village crime. Criterion DVD Release Date: July 11th, 2006

Perry Mason - Season 1, Vol. 1 - Perry Mason was more than just the best courtroom television ever made. It ranks as some of the best TV ever broadcast. The frequently used salacious titles (Restless Redhead, Sulky Girl, Vagabond Vixen, Negligent Nymph, and Cautious Coquette) were always at a juxtaposition to the ordered and noble feel of the episodes. I see, especially the early episodes, as having a strong link to Film Noir. The atmospheric criminal capers of the 50's, replace the overly seedy societal anti-heroes with white-collar crime and you have some of the most addictive television ever shown. A true gem of intelligent TV days gone by. DVD Release Date: July 11th, 2006

Femme Fatale Collection - Firstly, Image Entertainment are kind of liberally using the 'Femme Fatale' moniker here. Essentially these are three more 'bad' sci-fi flicks from the 50's (which in DVDBeaver's mind makes them good campy fun!). It is pretty similar to Image's Watch The Skies set (reviewed HERE), where they take 3 previously released of the same genre (or they find a link) and combine them for a handsome discount into one Boxset. Devil Girl from Mars is the best of the three, although I honestly had a ball watching each of them. The Astounding She Monster is just awful. DVD Release Date: July 11th, 2006

The Louis Malle Collection - Volume 1 - A collection of four feature length films and one documentary short from the early career of highly-engaging director Louis Malle. After his role as a camera operator on the Jacque Cousteau documentary THE SILENT WORLD in 1956, Malle directed his debut film Asenseur pour Lenchfaud--known as LIFT TO THE SCAFFOLD in the UK or ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS in the US--in 1958. His second film Les Amants (aka THE LOVERS), again starring Jeanne Moreau, caused some controversy due to its sexual content and ran into trouble with the US censors. Le Fou Follet , 1963, details the troubled life of a recovering alcoholic and his encounters with his old friends. Zazie dans le Metro is a brilliant fast-paced comedy about a young girl’s exploration of Paris and, like much of Malle’s work from this period, has a strong visual style. DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2006


The Noah - Noah, the sole remaining survivor on our planet after a nuclear holocaust, finds himself unable to to accept his unique predicament. To cope with his loneliness, he creates an imaginary companion, then a companion for his companion and finally an entire civilization - a world of illusion in which there is no reality but Noah, no rules but those of the extinct world of his memory - our world. DVD Release Date: June 27th, 2006


The Last Wagon - Like Broken Arrow, a liberal Western, but contriving some complexity around the Widmark character: the son of a white missionary brought up by Comanches, he exacts revenge on the four brothers who raped and killed his Indian wife and children, falls in with the more or less racist members of a wagon train, and is left with the survivors on his hands after an Indian attack. Stylishly directed, superbly shot on location, and with a first-rate performance from Widmark, it retains a certain fascinating ambiguity: its hero, displaying an inflexible sense of purpose and charismatic qualities of leadership, could equally well be defined as an embryo Fascist. DVD Release Date: May 23rd, 2006


Koko: A Talking Gorilla - In 1977, acclaimed director Barbet Schroeder and cinematographer Nestor Almendros entered the universe of the world’s most famous primate to create the captivating documentary Koko: A Talking Gorilla. The film introduces us to Koko soon after she was brought from the San Francisco Zoo to Stanford University by Dr. Penny Patterson for a controversial experiment—she would be taught the basics of human communication through American Sign Language. An entertaining, troubling, and still relevant documentary, Koko: A Talking Gorilla sheds light on the ongoing ethical and philosophical debates over the individual rights of animals and brings us face-to-face with an amazing gorilla caught in the middle. DVD Release Date: July 11th, 2006


5 Fingers - An elegantly witty espionage movie, founded on fact but no slave to the facts as recounted by German military attaché LZ Moyzisch in his account (Operation Cicero) of an Albanian-born valet to the British ambassador in Turkey in 1944 who hawked top secret allied documents to the Germans. In Mankiewicz's hands, characteristically elaborated into a teasing rondo of political and sexual intrigue where each new doublecrossing move is mated by a totally unexpected irony of fate...



Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


Week of July 10th, 2006


Beyond the Rocks (Sam Wood , 1922) Milestone Films

The Black Swan (Henry King,1942) Fox Studio Classics

Femme Fatale Collection (Devil Girl from Mars, The Astounding She Monster, Mesa of Lost Women) Image Entertainment

Grand Prix (Two-Disc Special Edition) (John Frankenheimer, 1966) Warner Home Video

The Keys of the Kingdom (John M. Stahl , 1944) Fox Studio Classics

Koko - A Talking Gorilla (Barbet Schroeder , 1978) Criterion Collection

Perry Mason - Season 1, Vol. 1 (Raymond Burr, 1957)

The River's Edge (Allan Dwan, 1957) Fox Studio Classics

Yi yi (Edward Yang, 2000) Criterion Collection


Week of July 17th, 2006


Asphalt (Joe May, 1929) Kino Video

Bullets or Ballots (William Keighley, 1936) Warner Home Video

City for Conquest (Anatole Litvak, 1940) Warner Home Video

Clean (Assayas, Olivier / 2004) Palm Pictures

Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler (Fritz Lang, 1921) Kino Video

Each Dawn I Die (William Keighley, 1939) Warner Home Video

Film Noir Classics Collection 3 (6pc) - Border Incident, Film Noir: Bringing Darkness Into Light, His Kind of Woman, Lady in the Lake, On Dangerous Ground. The Racket - Warner

G Men (William Keighley, 1935) Warner Home Video

Olivier's Shakespeare (Henry V / Hamlet / Richard III) - Criterion Collection

Passenger (Andrzej Munk , 1963) R2 UK SecondRun DVD

San Quentin (Lloyd Bacon, 1937) Warner Home Video

A Slight Case of Murder (Lloyd Bacon, 1938) Warner Home Video

Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) MGM

Tsotsi (Gavin Hood , 2004) Miramax

Tough Guys Collection (6pc) - Bullets or Ballots, City for Conquest, Each Dawn I Die, G-Men, San Quentin, A Slight Case of Murder - Warner


Enjoy the summer folks,



P.S. - Although the percentages keep juggling around you can still pick up some great deals at Amazon.UK!:

Laurel-Hardy 21-disc collection (42% off),  The Gospel According To St. Matthew (40% off), Jamon Jamon (60% off), Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf (65% off), Girl on the Bridge (70% off), Baise-Moi (56% off), The Seventh Seal (65% off), Central Station (68% off), Kes (62% off), The Adventures Of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert (2-disc) (70% off), Amelie (Two Disc Special Edition) [DTS] (72% off), Pedro Almodovar Collection: Bad Education / Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down / Live Flesh / All About My Mother / Talk To Her (58% off), Visconti's Conversation Piece (61% off), The Fallen Idol (43% off), Sherlock Holmes - The Definitive Collection (54% off), Katherine Hepburn - 6-disc Screen Goddess Boxset (52% off), Rita Hayworth - 6-disc Screen Goddess Boxset (52% off), Barbara Stanwyck - 6-disc Screen Goddess Boxset (52% off), Sophia Loren - 6-disc Screen Goddess Collection (52% off), Marilyn Monroe - 6-disc Screen Goddess Boxset (52% off)