DVDBeaver Newsletter - June 2nd, 2006


Hello! - We are as busy as ever with 28 new reviews this week. Plenty of new digital Noir, a Criterion deviation,  a Batjac Boxset, a DeMille boxset, a John Wayne Boxset, a Navy battles boxset... sales, news and much more.


SAD PASSING: Japanese film-maker Shohei Imamura, a two-time winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, has died at the age of 79... His oeuvre labels him as a gifted auteur often prepared to spread joy as well as impart a serious social message. His films include - 11'09''01 - September 11 (2002) (segment "Japan") , Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001), Dr. Akagi (1998), The Eel (1997), Black Rain (1989), Ballad of Narayama (1983), Vengeance Is Mine (1979). DVDBeaver vows to make Shohei Imamura the next addition to our Director's Chair database. For more on his passing SEE HERE


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


FEATURE DVD for the MONTH of June as been posted for JUNE!


NEWS:  Have Criterion abandoned their pictureboxing practice? See Equinox


The Sales:

For those that take advantage of Amazon's discounts the following Criterion DVDs are on for Pre-order savings of at least 30% or more...

Kicking and Screaming (Noah Baumbach ,1995) Criterion Collection

Seduced & Abandoned (Pietro Germi, 1964) Criterion Collection

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) Criterion Collection

A Canterbury Tale (Powell and Pressburger, 1944) 2-disc Criterion Collection

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

Yi yi (Edward Yang, 2000) Criterion Collection

Equinox (Jack Wood, 1970) 2-disc Criterion Collection

À nos amours (Maurice Pialat, 1983) Criterion Collection

Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993) Criterion Collection


There are 36 FOX STUDIO CLASSICS STILL AT 47% OFF! HERE including The Ox-Bow Incident, The Three Faces of Eve, Leave Her to Heaven, The Song of Bernadette, My Darling Clementine, An Affair to Remember, All About Eve, The Grapes of Wrath, The Day the Earth Stood Still and MORE!


NoShame Film have expanded their sale at Amazon.com (50% off!):

The Railroad Man, The Desert of the Tartars, Love and Anger, Boccaccio '70, Massacre in Rome, Story of a Love Affair, Devil in the Flesh, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, and Partner


SAVE AND HELP A BEAVER: 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 absolutely everything!


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

This Island Earth (Joseph M. Newman, 1955) Universal Studios

Woman Of The Dunes [Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964] R2 UK Bfi Video Publishing

Kicking and Screaming (Noah Baumbach ,1995) Criterion Collection

Seduced & Abandoned (Pietro Germi, 1964) Criterion Collection

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) Criterion Collection


RECOMMENDATIONS:  I'll try to be brief but there is so much. The Fox Noirs are a gimme - I Wake Up Screaming, and House of Strangers. Try to nab Boomerang at your local Borders as we did. The two best from the Batjac suspense Box are Plunder of the Sun and Track of the Cat. But you may as well get the whole package as you might enjoy (I didn't... but you may) the other two (Ring of Fear and Man in the Vault) for only about $3 more. The most complete DVD of the Year is Criterion's unsuspecting Equinox. Two versions of the film - two commentaries and a whole 2nd disc of extras. - Hey, let your hair down. The Cecil B DeMille Collection is awesome value for any true film fan. I enjoyed the John Wayne American Icon boxset - not only for The Duke but there are 2 with Dietrich, one with Janet Leigh and one with Randolph Scott! Plus they end up being about $4 a film.  And maybe my favorite film that I watched in the past 7 day - Morituri. Again it makes sense to buy the Navy Battles boxset because both Sink the Bismarck! and The Enemy Below are very worth owning as well (if you don't already).

PASS: Transparent trash - Firewall, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Syriana. Yuccchhh . Ohh add 16 Blocks to that list - immensely predictable and clichéd as Hollywood attempts to extend the Bruce Willis myth.       


New Reviews:


I Wake Up Screaming - When model Carole Landis is murdered, suspicion falls on an innocent Victor Mature; he manages to convince the victim's sister, Betty Grable, to help him clear his name. But the picture is dominated by Laird Cregar, one of the finest character actors of the 40s (The Lodger, Heaven Can Wait). He plays the cynical detective on their trail, and his well-mannered creepiness was never used more effectively than here. DVD Release Date: June 5th, 2006

House of Strangers -
Robinson is brilliant as the ruthless Italian-American financier attempting to control the lives of his four sons. Conte's also pretty good as the naive and devoted son wanting to retain some faith in his father and bring his family back together, but finally having to concede that he has been as much a victim of his daddy's manipulative character as his brothers. With its flashback structure and densely constructed scenes, what is essentially a simple family drama is given a distinct and effective noir edge. The western Broken Lance adapted the same story, five years later. DVD Release Date: June 5th, 2006

Ring of Fear -
For years this rare John Wayne production, starring mystery writer Mickey Spillane as himself, was around only in a black and white pan-and-scan version. it's a real find for noir fans, mystery buffs and circus freaks. DVD Release Date: June 6th, 2006

Man in the Vault -
There's $200,000 in a Los Angeles safety-deposit box that mobster Willis Trent (Beery Kroger) would like to have, so he gets two-timing, double-dealing Flo Randall (Anita Ekberg) to get the box number for him. He offers locksmith Tommy Dancer (William Campbell) $5,000 to make the key but Tommy refuses. I guess you would consider this a standard low budget noirish crime thriller - it's not all that bad but it tends to get a little derailed in the finale. DVD Release Date: June 6th, 2006

Boomerang -
The first of Louis de Rochemont's documentary-styled dramas (he was the producer of the newsreel series The March of Time). Dana Andrews, the honest DA of a corrupt New England town, defends an innocent man accused of killing a priest. This 1947 film is limited in scope and feeling, but the superficial dramatics work well enough. WITHDRAWN

Equinox -
Deep within the woods and canyons of California, four teenagers happen upon an ancient book containing the secrets of a strange, malevolent world that coexists with that of mankind. This $6,500-budget wonder (originally called The Equinox . . . A Journey into the Supernatural) was picked up for distribution by producer Jack H. Harris (The Blob), who shot new footage for the film with writer-director Jack Woods and released it in 1970 as Equinox. Since then, the film has gained a passionate cult following and inspired succeeding generations of horror/fantasy filmmakers... DVD Release Date: June 19th, 2006

The Magnificent Ambersons -
the movie became the sacred relic of Welles's martyrdom. About 50 minutes were cut, and new material was indifferently filmed and inserted along with several crass reaction shots designed to break the flow and make obvious what particular characters were feeling. DVD Release Date: May 29th, 2006

Silent Britain -
In this pioneering BBC4 documentary, Matthew Sweet takes us on a journey through the first three decades of British cinema, telling the story of one of the most creative, extravagant, pleasurable and yet unknown periods of film history. DVD Release Date: June 5th, 2006

Last House on Dead End Street - While several critics has done so, I see no need to attempt to justify or elevate the film by drawing parallels to Derek Jarman or David Lynch, which in my opinion are non existing. Personally, I like comparing it to Jörg Buttgereit’s "Nekromantik". Both films are no-budget underground amateur gore films, with a clear idea of how to structure the actions their protagonist. Both films are masterpieces of this subgenre of horror. DVD Release Date: May 22nd, 2006

Plunder of the Sun - There may be a strong case that this film's stylistic rigor ventures far enough into Film Noir territory that it deserves to be recognized with that desirous moniker. Even Diana Lynn might be considered a poor-woman's Gloria Grahame. The plotline is expressed through infrequently narrated flashback by Glenn Ford's character Al Colby who is held by Mexican authorities hoping to determine his 'full story'. The atmosphere is thick and even after nearly an hour of shadowy adventure we are still unsure if our protagonist is a typical Noirish anti-hero or the stand-up Hollywood norm.
DVD Release Date: June 6th, 2006

Track of the Cat - An odd but rather wonderful account of a family forced to confront their deepest fears when a mountain lion decides it wants to have them for lunch. Mitchum's performance as the paterfamilias determined to track down the intruder is a tour de force. The hunt reveals his true character as he fights to protect his family from a power which doesn't always seem of this world. DVD Release Date: June 6th, 2006

Cleopatra - Cleopatra gets the typically over-the-top Cecil B DeMille treatment, which, as history lessons go, could hardly be more inaccurate, but it is the business as far as grand spectacle is concerned. Colbert is fun to watch as the Egyptian queen who has to cope with unrest among her closest allies. After her boyfriend Julius Caesar has been killed, she decides it's best to get it on with Marc Anthony in order to keep her options open. Despite the grand settings, this is a surprisingly intimate portrayal of the Queen of the Nile.
DVD Release Date: May 23rd, 2006

The Crusades - Another of Cecil B. De Mille's hallucinatory historical pageants, this 1935 feature gives you sober Henry Wilcoxon as Richard the Lionhearted, a blond and lovely Loretta Young as his bride, Ian Keith as the polished chief infidel, and several billion extras running each other through with plywood swords. Pretty terrific, charged up with De Mille's linear narrative drive and a handsome visual design.
Release Date: May23rd, 2006


Four Frightened People - an extravagant mixture of comedy and melodrama and the terror in some of the scenes stirred up almost as much mirth from an audience yesterday afternoon as did the levity in others. Release Date: May23rd, 2006

Sign of the Cross - The principal rôles are all well played, even though they are more or less in the modern manner. But the outstanding histrionic achievement comes from Charles Laughton, who shoulders the responsibility for Nero.
Release Date: May23rd, 2006

Union Pacific - Terrific western from Hollywood's greatest showman. Plot concerns the bitter competition to build America's first transcontinental railroad in the country's post-Civil War expansion. McCrea plays the chief of the Union Pacific line who has to deal with injuns, rival company Central Pacific's dirty tricks campaign (headed by gambler Donlevy) and the distracting attraction of hardy postmistress Stanwyck. DeMille accelerates the drama throughout the film so that come the spectacular cavalry charge finale it's hurtling at full steam. Most actresses would be swamped by the scale and machismo of the action, but the formidable Stanwyck takes it all in her stride.
Release Date: May23rd, 2006

Seven Sinners - The title refers to the saloon in which the South Sea siren Bijou (Dietrich) asks for her singing job back. She has been deported from one island after another for causing mayhem among the male population. When she and her entourage end up at a new port of call she encounters a handsome naval lieutenant (Wayne) and zing goes the strings of their hearts. It was the first of three movies co-starring Dietrich and Wayne.
DVD Release Date: May 30th, 2006

The Shepherd of the Hills -
Henry Hathaway directs this first talkie remake of two prior films versions of The Shepherd of the Hills filmed in 1919 and 1928. It's based on Harold Bell Wright's novel; the writers are Stuart Anthony and Grover Jones. It's set in the Ozark mountains among a closely knit group of moonshiners that have been poisoned by hatred. DVD Release Date: May 30th, 2006

Pittsburgh -
Having survived their clout-fests in "The Spoilers," John Wayne and Randolph Scott are again throwing their mitts high, wide and handsome for the sake of ideals and the woman—again, naturally, Marlene Dietrich. DVD Release Date: May 30th, 2006

The Conqueror -
A movie that lives down to its reputation. For reasons known only to himself, wilful producer and millionaire Hughes gave this Eastern 'western' to former crooner Powell to direct as his debut. A painfully archaic script in so-called 'period' falls leadenly off the lips of Wayne and Hayward. DVD Release Date: May 30th, 2006

Jet Pilot - Janet Leigh is a busty Russian spy pilot, shot down over the U.S. (her flying suit striptease, punctuated by the roar of offscreen jet engines, is unforgettably outrageous); John Wayne is the American officer who captures and eventually marries her. Their honeymoon includes a faked defection to the USSR, which turns out to be a broken-down boys camp ruled by Commissar Hans Conried. It was Sternberg's only work in color, and for all its silliness it remains fluid, elegant filmmaking. DVD Release Date: May 30th, 2006

Morituri - Fabulous suspense atmosphere with Marlon Brando playing a 'bon vivont' conscientious objector, named Robert Crain, who is blackmailed into a mission to divert a cargo ship, with 7,000 tons of valuable wartime rubber out of German hands and toward the Allies. He poses as an SS officer taking passage on the discreetly camouflaged German ship which is helmed by Capt. Rolf Mueller (Yul Brenner). This is a beautiful atmospheric war drama hinting at morality and driven by amazing performances. One of the best of its kind that I have ever seen.

The Enemy Below - Director Dick Powell was the juvenile or young tenor in many musicals, who made a strange about-face and turned to often convincing tough guy roles. His most memorable one was in the film noir "Murder, My Sweet." Later he produced an directed five features, of which Number Four, "The Enemy Below" is by far the best, and good by any standards.

The Frogmen - In Hollywood, there are hard men and then there's Richard Widmark. Described by filmmaker Don Siegel as "the sort of man who could make you sh*t just by looking at you", Widmark might not have been lauded in the same fashion as Cagney, Bogart and Eastwood, but the star of Madigan, Night And The City and Kiss Of Death was every bit as tough as all of them.

Sink the Bismarck! - Sink the Bismarck is a faithful retelling of the British Navy’s attempts to debilitate the German mega-battleship Bismarck. Based on C.S. Forester’s book and directed by Lewis Gilbert (of James Bond film fame) the real-life naval battle is detailed and fascinating as it delves deep into the successes and failures of one small triumph of the war.

Firewall - For a formulaic and vacuous Hollywood thriller - this is still a very mediocre effort. I mean, I liked it when I saw it the first time - when it was called 'Presumed Innocent'' or was it 'What Lies Beneath'?  Although I am not a big Star Wars fan I still like Harrison Ford. Raiders was great - and his early body of work has some strong appeal - films like Frantic, The Mosquito Coast, Witness, Blade Runner. But... the last decade or so, his choices are becoming almost interchangeable in plot, characterizations, co-star etc. I see he is described by a 'reliable brand of focused intensity' which is as positive a description as any.
DVD Release Date: June 6th, 2006

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - Okay, a cute premise and a shade inventive: A petty thief (Robert Downey Jr.) evades authorities by posing as an actor and is brought to Los Angeles for an unlikely audition and finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation along with his high school dream girl (Michelle Monaghan) and a detective (Val Kilmer) who's been training him for his upcoming role... Sure, lots of L.A. style wit and wisdom - with an over abundance on attempting 'cool' through the snappy dialogue.
DVD Release Date: June 13th, 2006


Syriana - I'm afraid I am not having the best time with the latest batch of Hollywood films that I have been sent on DVD. Advertised as 'From the Academy Award Winning filmmakers of Traffic' - my response, when watching Syriana, was - 'yeah, no kidding'. Same convoluted plot with multiple streams that intersect at the finale. Same cropped headshots (for realism?), same occasional lens tinting, same, same... There really is a void for 'filmmaking' in Hollywood right now. It seems they found wonderful success with 'Traffic' and it bared repeating... to a 'T'. Hey why take a chance? DVD Release Date: June 20th, 2006


Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


Week of June 5th, 2006


Almodóvar Collection Vol. 2: Matador/Law of Desire/Kika/The Flower of My Secret (Almodóvar, Pedro / NA) [Optimum / R2 PAL / UK]

The Batjac Suspense Collection (Ring of Fear / Track of the Cat / Plunder of the Sun / Man in the Vault) - Paramount Home Video

Chaplin Mutual Comedies: Restored Edition (2-disc) - Image Entertainment

Cinema 16 - American Short Films (Gus Van Sant, Todd Solondz, Payne, Sollett, Warhol etc.) Artificial Eye R2 UK

Cinema 16 - British Short Films - Ridley Scott, TonyScott, Chris Nolan, Mike Leigh etc. - With over 3 hours of films and 3 hours of commentaries - Artificial Eye R2 UK

Cinema 16: European Short Films - Lukas Moodysson, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Jean-Luc Godard, Tom Tykwer and Lars von Trier etc. - Artificial Eye R2 UK

Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993) Criterion Collection

Devarim / Zihron Devarim (Gitai, Amos / 1995) [Kino / R1 NTSC / USA]

La Haine (Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995) Optimum Home Entertainment

House of Strangers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz , 1949) 20th Century Fox

I Wake Up Screaming (H. Bruce Humberstone,1941) 20th Century Fox

John Wayne-John Ford Film Collection (The Searchers Ultimate Edition / Stagecoach Two-Disc Special Edition / Fort Apache / The Long Voyage Home / The Wings of Eagles / She Wore a Yellow Ribbon / They Were Expendable / 3 Godfathers) - Warner Home Video

The John Ford Film Collection (Cheyenne Autumn, The Informer, Sergeant Rutledge, Mary of Scotland, The Lost Patrol) Warner Home Video

Louis Malle Collection: Vol.1 (4 Discs) Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (1958), Le Feu Follet (1963), Les Amants (1958), Zazie Dans Le Metro (1960) - R2 UK

Man in the Vault (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1956) Paramount Home Video

Masterworks of Silent Cinema: Erotikon (Mauritz Stiller, 1920) Kino International

Masterworks of Silent Cinema: Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller ,1919) Kino International

Masterworks of Silent Cinema: The Saga of Gosta Berling (Mauritz Stiller, 1924) Kino International

À nos amours (Maurice Pialat, 1983) Criterion

Ring of Fear (James Edward Grant, 1954) Paramount Home Video

Sympathy for the Devil (Jean-Luc Godard , 1968) R2 UK - Fremantle

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Jones, Tommy Lee / 2005) [Sony / R1 NTSC / USA]

Track of the Cat - Special Collector's Edition (William A. Wellman, 1954) - Paramount Home Video

Yom Yom (Day After Day) (Gitai, Amos / 1998) [Kino / R1 NTSC / USA]
You Are Not Alone / Du er ikke alene (Nielsen, Lasse & Ernst Johansen / 1978) [TLA Releasing / R1 NTSC / USA]


Week of June 12th, 2006

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Russ Meyer, 1970) 20th Century Fox

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (Widescreen Edition) (Shane Black , 2005) Warner Home Video

The Quiet Earth (Geoff Murphy, 1985) Anchor Bay

Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims (Yasuki Chiba, 1958) Tokyo Shock



Keep attuned to Beaver for more reviews in the next few days...



P.S. - Although the percentages keep juggling around you can still pick up some amazing 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% 0ff), 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)




Warner's Classics Mega Collection (237 titles!) is now 50% off! A savings of over $2000 - SEE HERE. Assuming you have less than half the titles you could be saving