DVDBeaver Newsletter - October 13th, 2006


Buna ziua! - 24 new reviews this week (2 new Criterion DVDs, 3 comparisons, 3 multi-film boxsets, Noir, musicals, World Cinema etc.).  Bertolucci, Huston, Rosi, Campion, Angelopoulos, Visconti, Hawks and more...  and some new Calendar listings and deals...  


Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this world-renowned distribution company with Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films, an expansive collectors’ box set featuring fifty classic films on DVD. FILMS LISTED HERE   AVAILABLE HERE

For less than $600 you get 46 existing, or upcoming, Criterion DVDs at less than $12 per DVD, plus 4 new discs (3 films) - :

Marcel Carné's Le Jour se lève (1939) aka Daybreak
Alf Sjöberg's Fröken Julie (1951) aka Miss Julie and

Kon Ichikawa's Nobi (1959) aka Fires on the Plain
plus THREE DOCUMENTARIES by Saul J. Turell

plus The hardcover book (selling alone for $65).


Check out Beaver's ESSENTIAL FILM NOIR STORE - many more (with more listing) coming soon...


Sale on many RKO titles at Amazon France HERE!


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


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!


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


The Kremlin Letter (John Huston, 1970) Tcfhe

La Grande Illusion - Special Edition (Jean Renoir, 1937) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment

Loving Annabelle (Katherine Brooks, 2006) Wolfe Video

Oh! What a Lovely War (Richard Attenborough, 1969) Paramount Home Video

Un Coeur en Hiver (A Heart in Winter) (Claude Sautet, 1993) Koch Lorber Films

John Wayne Western 3-pack (The Big Stampede / Ride Him Cowboy / Haunted Gold) - Warner

John Wayne Western 3-pack (The Telegraph Trail / Somewhere in Sonora / The Man from Monterey) - Warner Home Video

Rodgers and Hammerstein Box Set Collection (The Sound of Music, South Pacific , The King and I , Oklahoma! , Carousel , State Fair) 20th Century Fox

Most Beautiful Wife (Damiano Damiani, 1970) No Shame

A Shot in the Dark (Charles Lamont, 1935) Alpha Video

La Commune (Peter Watkins, 2001) First Run Features

Body Heat (Deluxe Edition) (Lawrence Kasdan, 1981) Warner Home Video

Total Recall - Special Edition (Paul Verhoeven, 1990) Lions Gate

The Last Voyage (Andrew L. Stone, 1960) Warner Home Video

BACK - Marlon Brando Collection (5-disc) Mutiny on the Bounty Two-Disc Special Edition (1962), Julius Caesar (1953), The Formula (1980), Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956) - Warner

Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films (50 DVDs) - Janus

R. W. Paul - The Complete Surviving Films 1895-1908 - R2 UK - BFI

Coffret Michael Powell (Oh... Rosalinda!! 1955, A Matter of Life and Death 1946) Warner Fr R2

Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger - Coffret 4X2 DVD (Red Shoes, Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, 49th Parallel) - Warner Fr R2


RECOMMENDATIONS: I'll try not to list too much this week - but top of the list is obvious - The Humphrey Bogart - The Signature Collection, Vol. 2 with The Maltese Falcon Three-Disc Special Edition / Across the Pacific / Action in the North Atlantic / All Through the Night and Passage to Marseille. On top of that both Criterion's - Hands Over The City and Sweetie are great films on complete DVDs. Bertolucci's La Luna is a wonderful curiosity.

NOIR LIBRARY: Outside of the Bogie set - The Great Flamarion and Forgotten Noir Vol. 2 should be welcome to your Noir collection.

GUILTY PLEASURE OF THE WEEK: - an easy choice - Icons of Horror Collection - Boris Karloff

PASS: I haven't seen it, but reviewer Eddie Feng sure seems to dislike Tom Cruise - he says stay away from Mission Impossible III.

YOU MISSED IT: Selling now for excessive dollars the out-of-print Ball of Fire is a grand film. Keep your eyes peeled for a reasonable copy somewhere.


New Reviews:


The Maltese Falcon - Huston's first film displays the hallmarks that were to distinguish his later work: the mocking attitude toward human greed; the cavalier insolence with which plot details are treated almost as asides; the delight in bizarre characterisations, here ranging from the amiably snarling Sam Spade ('When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it') who opened a whole new romantic career for Bogart, to Lorre's petulant, gardenia-scented Joel Cairo, Cook's waspishly effete gunsel, and Greenstreet's monstrously jocular Fat Man ('By gad, sir, you are a character'). DVD Release Date: October 3rd, 2006

All Through the Night - An excellent Warner Brothers actioner from 1942--completely inconsequential, but so what? It uses nearly every member of the Warner stock company as goodhearted gangster Humphrey Bogart leads his boys (Frank McHugh, Jackie Gleason, Phil Silvers) against a band of Nazi spies (Judith Anderson, Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre). The director, Vincent Sherman, never amounted to much, but he does a bang-up job here--a fine example of what studio support could do. DVD Release Date: October 3rd, 2006

Across the Pacific - Slow to begin, this accelerates into a fine, noir-ish thriller, set on the eve of Pearl Harbour and pitting Bogart against Jap spies plotting to destroy the Panama Canal with aerial torpedoes. Featuring the same irresistible mixture of darkness, double-cross and quirky humour as The Maltese Falcon, it again boasts - in addition to some superbly laconic intimations of violence - the inimitable Greenstreet, at his silkiest as a turncoat given to justifying his treachery by discoursing on the arts of judo and the haiku. But the real delight is the wisecracking relationship between Bogart and Astor, who pull a brilliant switch on their earlier romantic partnership. DVD Release Date: October 3rd, 2006

Action in the North Atlantic - Tough, pacy tribute to the American Merchant Marine, with a convoy en route to Russian waters being attacked on all sides by Nazi submarines and aircraft. The rather fine special effects of explosions and fires tend to overshadow characterization (the crew of the main ship are the usual mix of ethnic stereotypes), while the blatantly propagandist nature of the film means that the enemy are portrayed as vicious, inhuman, smiling sadists. But the performances are strong, and there is considerable curiosity value. DVD Release Date: October 3rd, 2006

Passage to Marseille - Something of a follow-up to Casablanca, but without that movie's deft and evocative script. Bogart plays Jean Matrac, a journalist converted, by a confrontation at sea with Greenstreet's elegant fascism (shades of Huston's Across the Pacific), from bitterness against a France that has wronged him to self-destructive patriotism with the Free French. DVD Release Date: October 3rd, 2006

Mission Impossible III - I liked the first two Mission: Impossible movies, so I was willing to give the third entry a chance despite my misgivings about Tom Cruise the person. However, J.J. Abrams was unable to contribute anything new to the material. MI3 is a re-hash of its predecessors in the worst possible way. The visual scheme has the same silver metallic sheen as the first movie without Brian DePalma’s sense of style or elegance. Abrams used slow motion very poorly, making me yearn for the breath-taking poetry of John Woo’s choreography. DVD Release Date: 30 October 2006

The Cruel Sea - A sterling, old-fashioned war film of the type too readily devalued these days. Jack Hawkins gives perhaps his most notable performance as the captain of a Royal Navy corvette, suggesting as much life above as below that stiff upper lip, while Eric Ambler's adaptation of Nicholas Monsarrat's book gives the minnows their due as the enlisted men face storms and German U-boats with more courage than experience. Best of all, Frend's documentary style puts us smack in the middle of the Atlantic - the cruel sea indeed. DVD Release Date: October 17th, 2006

Icons of Horror Collection - Boris Karloff - Boris Karloff was to the Horror Movie what Fred Astaire was to the Musical: the epitome of class and style. No matter how grisly the circumstances, he'd rise above them with talent, poise and even charm. And here, for the first time on DVD, are four of his finest chillers from his peak years in the 1930s and 1940s, all demonstrating his amazing range. In The Black Room, he plays twin brothers -- one good, one evil, naturally -- in a small country where beautiful women seem to turn up missing. The Man They Could Not Hang and Before I Hang present him in his classic "Mad Doctor" persona as forward-thinking scientists who run afoul of the law and become crazed killers. And in The Boogie Man Will Get You, he sends up that image in a delightful farce that also stars Peter Lorre (M) and Larry Parks (The Jolson Story). DVD Release Date: October 17, 2006

When the Sea Rises - Irène wins over audiences with her off-beat costuming, funny lines and bizarre approach. Moreau is fascinating, a heavy-set woman who is extremely charming in the role. Although married, Irène meets Dries (Wim Willert), a virile-looking man with whom she gradually moves toward a relationship. Willert, a most compelling actor, adds considerably to the chemistry. DVD Release Date: October 17, 2006

Hands Over The City - Rod Steiger is ferocious as a scheming land developer in Francesco Rosi's Hands over the City, a blistering work of social realism and the winner of the 1963 Venice Film Festival Golden Lion. This expose of the politically driven real-estate speculation that has devastated Naples's civilian landscape moves breathlessly from a cataclysmic building collapse to the backroom negotiations of civic leaders vying for power in a city council election, laying bare the inner workings of corruption with passion and outrage.
DVD Release Date: October 24th, 2006

Sophie Scholl - Sophie Scholl -- The Final Days is yet another German cinematic soul search. After WWII, the Germans were basically forced to say, “We’re sorry for being the bad guys” over and over again. The Germans essentially weren’t allowed to mourn for their losses (since their soldiers died for the “wrong” cause), and the Allies decided that there weren’t any “good” Germans between 1930 and 1945. Still, the remarkable story of Sophie Scholl and The White Rose began to surface, and at least two movies were made about Scholl and her brief life. Sophie Scholl is the first of these biopics to be based on recently released documents that were locked away by the East-German government. DVD Release Date: 14 November 2006

Sweetie - Though she went on to create a string of brilliant films, Jane Campion will always be remembered for her stunning debut feature, Sweetie, which focuses on the hazardous relationship between the buttoned-down, superstitious Kay and her rampaging, devil-may-care sister, "Sweetie"--and by extension, their entire family's profoundly rotten roots. A feast of colorful photography and captivating, idiosyncratic characters, Sweetie heralded the emergence of this gifted director as well as the breakthrough of Australian cinema, which would take international film by storm in the nineties.
DVD Release Date: October 24th, 2006

La Luna - is as aesthetically bold as any film Bertolucci has made, with cinematography by Vittorio Storaro and an original score by Ennio Morricone. As cinema, it is lush and appropriately operatic, and its evocative visual images often border on the outright exotic. It's debatable whether or not they correspond to the emotional landscapes of the characters or simply exist independently, but they certainly deepen the already portentous narrative, showering its urgency with a certain sad indifference -- the indifference of gaudy spectacle. The performances by Jill Clayburgh and Matthew Barry as mother and son, respectively, are nothing if not intense, and while both actors often hit wrong and contradictory notes, the film succeeds at illustrating the almost spiritual depth of the intimacy between a mother and her son (established with immense grace by the opening scene), so that when it does become sexual, it is indeed more Oedipal than incestuous -- that is to say, Bertolucci's willingness to shock here is legitimized, at least, by his representation of The Human Condition as Bertolucci sees it. That the film is finally so devoid of insight is the real shocker.

A Walk In The Sun - The film moves around Tore, a 43 year old sports journalist who's depressed after his girlfriend's left him. He decides to take a vacation to Cyprus where most of his fellow travelers are middle aged and retired people. It doesn't bother Tore too much as he's mostly drinking heavily to forget. The guide is Norwegian and her name's Marion. Tore asks her to go to hell as he wants to be alone, and then goes to swim nude in the sea. He's picked up by the police but released and put to medical care in a quiet hospital/asylum where he's only allowed to drink mineral water, eat regularly and take long walks.

Damsel in Distress - When Fred & Ginger went splitsville after Shall We Dance, Astaire decided that he didn’t really need a dame, an idea that tends to work better in theory than practice. Instead of searching for Ginger II, he chose to make his next film, Damsel in Distress, with a leading lady who couldn’t dance, twenty-year-old Joan Fontaine, as Lady Alyce Marshmorton. Damsel in Distress, which features a Gershwin score, a script by P. G. Wodehouse, and inspired support work from George Burns and Gracie Allen, is sumptuous moviemaking, and the film is always firing on at least eight of its sixteen cylinders, but it lacks the dance/romance combo that made the great Astaire/Rogers films the classics they are.

Down in the Valley -(COMPARISON) In writer-director Jacobsen's delineation of a warped range rider, we're mesmerized by how far his crafty anti-hero's pretenses can take us and remain plausible. Harlan's insistence on his good intentions to Wade, who is brought to ordering him off his property and away from his daughter... at gunpoint... is a gem of logic-denial and character audacity. He's a man who has fabricated a belief in his ability to convince an adversary of his fine qualities.

Eternity and a Day - (COMPARISON) Eternity And A Day follows the final days of Alexandre (Bruno Ganz), a celebrated Greek author as he prepares to leave his seaside home for what he feels is the last time. While preparing to depart, he finds a letter from his long-dead wife, Anna (Isabelle Renauld), who wrote about a memorable summer day they spent over thirty years ago. From that point, Alexandre embarks on a metaphysical journey through his past and present with the help of a young street urchin boy that crosses his path. Realizing that after spending his entire life chasing after the words of poems and novels, Alexandre wants one final chance to capture the lost precious moments of the true happiness that he know realizes, even if only for one day.

Rocco and His Brothers - (COMPARISON) The last gasp of the neo-realist spirit in Visconti's work, Rocco chronicles at length the misfortunes that befall an Italian peasant family when they move to The Big City. There's a grey conviction about much of the scene-setting and the location shooting, but the film gathers interest as it escalates into melodrama; the tragic climax is pure opera. Delon is unconvincing as the saintly Rocco, but Renato Salvatori makes the thuggish elder brother who falls in with a gay boxing promoter his best part ever.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Lorelei and Dorothy are just "Two Little Girls from Little Rock", lounge singers on a transatlantic cruise, working their way to Paris, and enjoying the company of any eligible men they might meet along the way, even though "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." Based on the Broadway musical based on the novel.

Things To Come - A global war begins in 1940. This war drags out over many decades until most of the people still alive (mostly those born after the war started) do not even know who started it or why. Nothing is being manufactured at all any more and society has broken down into primitive localized communities.

Threads - This chilling film tells the story of a nuclear strike on Britain. Through the eyes of two Sheffield families we witness the immediate after effects of the attack - the shock, grief, radiation sickness, hypothermia and starvation. In the months that follow, hideous injuries remain untreated. Looters are shot on sight, food supplies run out and many die in the intense cold of the nuclear winter. Thirteen years on reveals a depopulated Britain living below subsistence level - a devastated economy where money has no value, crops fail through lack of pesticides, no fuel and machinery, and a brutalized post war generation grows up stunted mentally, physically and emotionally

Ball of Fire - Marvellous performance from Stanwyck, all snap, crackle and pop as the brassy nightclub entertainer Sugarpuss O'Shea who seeks refuge with seven crusty old professors (plus Cooper) to escape unwelcome attentions from a gangster, and whose vocabulary (not to mention charms) excite delighted wonderment in the professors since they have just reached 'Slang' in the encyclopedia they are compiling. Rather surprisingly, Hawks slightly muffs the sequence in which the gangster and his aides get their comeuppance; otherwise his handling of the sparkling Brackett-Wilder script and its subversions of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is pure joy.

Forgotten Noir Vol. 2 - Volume 2 of VCI's Forgotten Film Noir series includes Loan Shark and Arson, Inc. Short take: I think these two films are appropriate for being listed as Film Noir although Arson, Inc. is probably on the outside edge. Both support a shadowy atmosphere with crime the main plot element, and some hints of thriller-dom mood. Loan Shark seems to be highly rated, but I think I enjoyed Arson, Inc. a bit more not being a huge Raft fan. Both films share the 'under-cover' aspect by the protagonist. They both hold together adequately and its great to have them available digitally to add to the ever-growing Noir library. DVD Release Date: September 26th, 2006

The Great Flamarion - “The Great Flamarion,” released by humble Republic studios in 1945, is a brilliant study of low-life sexual politics, directed by the great Anthony Mann. It stars Erich Von Stroheim, then sixty, in the title role of a dedicated master marksman, reduced to headlining a novelty act in a succession of cheap theatres. His assistants are Connie and Al Wallace, (played by two much underrated actors, Mary Beth Hughes and Dan Duryea) whose marriage clearly hit the skids in the middle of the first night. While Al nurses his bitterness and frustration in a string of bars, Connie chases after power in the only way she knows how: seducing guys, and the more reluctant the guys are, the better she likes it.

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


Week of October 16th, 2006


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Two (5-disc) - Universal Studios

Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol 2 - Carefree, Flying Down to Rio, The Gay Divorcee, Roberta, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle - Warner

Amazon.com Exclusive Astaire & Rogers Partial Ultimate Collector's Edition - Note: This edition is designed for customers who already purchased Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1. It contains all the content of Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collection except the actual DVDs of Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, and The Barkleys of Broadway. However, the Thinpak cases for those discs are included in this set. - Warner Home Video

Clean, Shaven (Lodge H. Kerrigan, 1994) Criterion Collection

Colonel Redl (István Szabó , 1985) R2 UK Ind DVD Ltd

The Cruel Sea (Charles Frend, 1953) Anchor Bay

The Dam Busters (Michael Anderson, 1954) Anchor Bay

Deadfall (Bryan Forbes, 1968) 20th Century Fox

Icons of Horror: Boris Karloff The Black Room (1935), The Man They Could Not Hang (1939), Before I Hang (1940), The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942) - Sony Pictures

The Magus (Guy Green, 1968) 20th Century Fox

Norman McLaren: Masters Edition - 7-disc - Homevision

The Other (Robert Mulligan, 1972) 20th Century Fox

Peeper (Peter Hyams, 1975) 20th Century Fox
Sólo con tu pareja (Alfonso Cuarón, 1991) Criterion Collection

They All Laughed (Peter Bogdanovich, 1981) Warner Home Video

When the Sea Rises (Yolande Moreau, 2004) New Yorker Video


Week of October 23rd, 2006


Body Heat (Deluxe Edition) (Lawrence Kasdan, 1981) Warner Home Video

La Commune (Peter Watkins, 2001) First Run Features

The Francois Truffaut Collection - 6 Disc Box Set (Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) R2 - UK Cinema Club

The Ultimate Hammer Collection 20 disc (She, The Nanny, Dracula Prince of Darkness, The Plague of the Zombies, Rasputin the Mad Monk, The Reptile, The Witches, One Million Years B.C., The Viking Queen, Frankenstein Created Woman, Quatermass and the Pit, The Vengeance of She, The Devil Rides Out, Prehistoric Women, Scars of Dracula, The Horror Frankenstein, Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, Straight on Till Morning, Fear in the Night, Demons of the Mind, To The Devil A Daughter) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment

Hands Over the City (Francesco Rosi, 1963) Criterion Collection

Hangmen Also Die (Collector's Edition, 2 DVDs) Fritz Lang - R2 Germany - EMS

Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films (50 DVDs) - Janus

The Last Voyage (Andrew L. Stone, 1960) Warner Home Video

Rediscover Jacques Feyder (1925) - 3-disc - Homevision

Regular Lovers - R2 UK Artificial Eye

The Complete Buster Keaton Short Films - R2 - UK - Eureka MoC

A Shot in the Dark (Charles Lamont, 1935) Alpha Video
(Jane Campion, 1989) Criterion Collection

Total Recall - Special Edition (Paul Verhoeven, 1990) Lions Gate



Criterion's October lineup
Sólo con tu pareja
(Alfonso Cuarón, 1991), Clean, Shaven (Lodge H. Kerrigan, 1994), Hands Over the City (Francesco Rosi, 1963), Sweetie (Jane Campion, 1989), The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed, 1948) Criterion Collection, The Double Life of Veronique 2-disc (Krzysztof Kieslowski,1991) Criterion Collection, Pandora's Box 2-disc (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929) Criterion Collection


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


Have a great weekend!,