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Dawson City: Frozen Time (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Well-researched, well-presented, “Dawson City: Frozen Time” is a fantastic documentary from Bill Morrison and a true masterpiece!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Hypnotic Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dawson City: Frozen Time

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 120 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 Surround, B&W and Color

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: October 31, 2017


Directed by Bill Morrison

Written by Bill Morrison

Cinematography by Raoul Cotard

Produced by Madeleine Molyneaux, Bill Morrison 

Assistant Producer: Paul Gordon

Music by Alex Somers

Edited by Bill Morrison


Starring:

Bill Morrison

Kathy Jones-Gates

Michael Gates

Sam Kula

Bill O’Farrell

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo


A thrilling adventure through American history, Dawson City: Frozen Time pieces together the bizarre true story of a collection of some 500 silent films. Dating from the 1910s and 20s, they were lost for over 50 years until being discovered buried in a subarctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory in 1978.
Director Bill Morrison (Decasia) uses this extraordinary footage as a conduit to explore the complicated past of Dawson City, a Canadian gold rush town and First Nation hunting camp that was transformed and displaced. Dawson City: Frozen Time is a triumphant work of art that chronicles the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation, discovering another world in the process.


For many silent film fans, before Hollywood, it was known that Fort Lee, New Jersey was once the motion picture capital during the early 1900’s and it is known that 75% of all silent films were destroyed unfortunately by improper storage and the combustible nitrate film.

But how is it that 533 silent film reels were discovered in Dawson City, a town in northern Yukon (Canada) by a construction worker in 1978.

This would be the basis of “Dawson City: Frozen Time” directed by Bill Morrison, who would construct a timeline of Dawson and show its history through photos and also show a timeline of what was going on in America/Canada through various scenes of footage that are from the 533 silent film reels that were discovered.

But also to show how Dawson City brought many people for gold, many people who worked in Dawson and would become tycoons in America. But we see the transformation of Dawson, which was once an entertainment hub to have a population of tends of thousand to technology eventually lessening the role of miners and decreasing the population to a few thousand.

We see the years progress, we see through this footage of the various films that were lost, or films and news reels that only have so much surviving footage due to degradation, film warp/damage due to time and also being thrown in soil for many years and being strewn around.

And through this footage, we see history play out and “Dawson City: Frozen Time” eventually becoming a tale about the American 20th century.  From thousands of people moving to areas where there was gold, these areas becoming business and entertainment hubs, from how people in Dawson received entertainment showing what was going on in America, from the World Series, strikes, celebrity scandals and more.


VIDEO:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio).  This is a film that showcases American history through photography and videos.  For the most part, picture quality is good but depending on the surviving film footage that was found in Dawson, some reels are in good shape, others not so good.  Some footage may show excessive degradation to film damage, while others may look very good with minimal scratches.  But these scenes are short, if anything, scenes to indicate a point or reference.  As I always mention in silent films and when it comes to picture quality, considering nearly 75% of films are lost, the fact that we get to see these surviving films or even glimpses of American history is fantastic. 

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” features haunting melodies created by Alex Somers.  Lossless audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  Scenes with dialogue are crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” comes with following special features:

  • Dawson City: Postscript – (9:54) Michael Gates and Kathy Jones Gates (Yukon Historians) discussing how the premiere showing of the films would be in Dawson City.  Bill O’Farrell (Head of Film Section of the National Archives of Canada) discussed the condition of the reels when they received them.  And how a last resort of rewashing to save the film because they were in bad shape.  And also what happened to the reels after they were rescued (and how many newsreels and documentaries kept in storage vaults at National Archives Buildings caught on fire).
  • Interview with filmmaker Bill Morrison – (8:50) Filmmaker Bill Morrison discusses on the utilization of film footage and how he would create the story as he discovered Dawson City’s history and the changes that would take place.
  • Selections from the Dawson Film Find – Featuring a plethora of news reels (all silent) such as the British Canadian Pathe News from 1919, The Montreal Heral Screen Magazine of 1919, International News issue #52 of 1919, Pathe’s Weekly of 1914, scenes from “The Butler and the Maid” of 1912, D.W. Griffith’s “Brutality” of 1912, “The Exquisite Tief” of 1919, “The Girl of the Northern Woods” of 1910 and more.
  • Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” comes with a 24-page booklet with an essay by Lawrence Weschler and Alberto Zambenedetti.


For many silent film fans, before Hollywood, it was known that Fort Lee, New Jersey was once the motion picture capital during the early 1900’s and it is known that 75% of all silent films were destroyed unfortunately by improper storage and the combustible nitrate film.

But how is it that 533 silent film reels were discovered in Dawson City, a town in northern Yukon (Canada) by a construction worker in 1978.

It sounds hard to believe but while excavation was being done, in order to create a new recreation center, Frank Barrett saw reels of film that were literally dumped in the Earth.

Many were fiction films and newsreel footage from the early 1900s.

But what many people may not know is how this once booming goldmining town had a connection to the early entertainment scene and the location would include people who would go on to do great things in America back then.

In order to showcase clips from films and newsreel footage found in Dawson City but also showcasing the history of the town, filmmaker Bill Morrison created “Dawson City: Frozen in Time”.

The film would go into how an American man visiting a village of the indigenous Han people (First Nations people of Canada) who happened to be mining and discovered gold.  This would lead to other prospectors discovering gold, claiming the land, displacing the Han people and because of the mining, also destroying their hunting and fishing.

While those who came to the Yukon first were able to capitalize, would lead to one of the first restaurant and hotel (created by Frederick Trump, grandfather of U.S. President, Donald Trump and miner Ernest Levin) which offered fine dining and lodging but also scales to weigh gold.

How thousands of people would flock to Dawson to mine gold and many business were opened.  And one of the families that went to Dawson City was Sid Grauman and his parents.  And little Sid saw how people paid a lot for entertainment and Sid Grauman would grow up to open theaters in America, including the popular Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.  To Alexander Pantage who would move to Dawson and eventually found love with brothel-keeper “Klondike Kate” Rockwell and both operated the successful vaudeville and burlesque theatre, the Oprheum.  Pantage would become famous for promoting the “movie palace” concept and creating theatres across the United States and Canada.

How Yukon Gold Company employee William Desmond Taylor would become a famous silent film director but possibly best known for his murder and a cold case which was probably intentionally by the film studios.

For sports, Dawson was host to various sporting events and boxing matches.  But with tens of thousands of people coming to Dawson, eventually bigger companies would find ways to mine for gold with devising new technologies such as floating dredges that would be less reliant on workers and the population would eventually dwindle to a few thousand.

And as time went on, we would see history play out through this film reels.  From strikes, the war to baseball such as the World Series including the Black Socks Scandal in which members of the Chicago White Sox conspired with gamblers to throw the World Series games.

To video footage of multiple film laboratories and theaters that burned (which eventually led to the end of nitrate films and finding safer alternatives to creating film).

But those who stayed would create a community and life in the 1900’s to the teens were captured on nitrate and film reels were distributed around the world but as film companies didn’t feel the need to get the reels back, Dawson City which was so remote, was the last of the distribution line for film companies.

In fact, Dawson City would receive films 2-3 years later but eventually they would have many reels that were stacked up and so, they were either burned, thrown into the river (with other garbage, showing mass pollution being thrown in the river) or buried into the soil.

But it was this discovery in 1978 that would lead to people discovering reels of silent film and news footage that have been long forgotten.  Considering that many nitrate film were lost in fires and 75% of silent film were lost, this discovery was no doubt a significant find.

And I have to applaud filmmaker Bill Morrison who was able to piece together many photos to build a timeline of Dawson City’s transformation with or without the miners, the significance of buildings, especially the pool to various buildings that were destroyed or rebuilt, to those who stayed and worked in Dawson and would become famous and also featuring those who were displaced.  And inter-spread with this historical timeline are footage from various newsreels and film that help capture society during that era (focused between 1900-1919).

Well-researched, well-presented, “Dawson City: Frozen Time” is a fantastic documentary from Bill Morrison and a true masterpiece!

La Chinoise (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“La Chinoise” is Godard’s profound masterpiece in which the filmmaker/writer going through an exploration of ideas through characters, explore actions knowing all too well, the film may not change a thing. “La Chinoise” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: La Chinoise

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1967

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:37:1 Aspect Ratio), 2.0 French Monaural

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: October 10, 2017


Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Written by Jean-Luc Godard

Cinematography by Raoul Cotard

Edited by Delphone Desfons, Agnes Guillemot

Costume Design by Gitt Magrini


Starring:

Anne Wizamsky as Veronique

Juliet Berto as Yvonne

Jean-Pierre Leaud as Guillaume

Michael Semeniako as Henri

Lex De Bruijn as Kirilov

Omar Dip as Omar

Francis Jeanson as Francis

Blandine Jeanson as Blandine

Eliane Giovagnoli as Son Ami


La Chinoise is a pop-art masterpiece by Jean-Luc Godard that both channels and parodies the revolutionary energies of Paris in 1967. Disillusioned by their suburban lifestyles, a group of middle-class students, led by Guillaume (Jean-Pierre Léaud) and Véronique (Anne Wiazemsky), form a small Maoist cell and plan to change the world by any means necessary. After studying the growth of communism in China, the students decide they must use terrorism and violence to ignite their own revolution.


For French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, while celebrated for his French New Wave films, his supporters and even his friends started to see a change with the filmmaker who shifting towards films that were becoming more political and going after government and also society.

While Godard would begin to go full force with his radical films in 1968, two years prior, we started to see Godard’s film shift into this direction beginning with “Made in U.S.A.” and then his two films in 1967, “La Chinoise” and “Weekend”.

The film is written and directed by Godard and would star Anne Wiazemsky (“Au Hasard Balthazar”, “Teorema”, “Rendez-vous), who would become Godard’s wife that very year; Juliet Berto (“Weekend”, “Celine and Julie Go Boating”, “Neige”), Jean-Pierre Leaud (“The 400 Blows”, “Stolen Kisses”, “Masculin Feminin”), Michael Semeniako (“Le Cercle de Minuit”) and more.

“La Chinoise” is considered as one of Godard’s best films and it was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber.

While the film was not supposed to be prescient of what would eventually take place in May 1968 in France, the film no doubt examines New Left activism and the film was didactic in its approach to Maoism.  For those not familiar with Maoism, it is a political theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong and was applied as the political and military ideology of the Communist Party of China and it guided many revolutionary movements around the world.

The film revolves around five university students who represent different ideologies and have different personalities.  They are conspiring to overthrow the Russian Imperial regime through revolutionary violence.

The film is set in Paris and these five students belong to a radical Maoist group known as Aden Arabie Cell and consists of Nanterre University student Veronique (portrayed by Anne Wiazemsky); a young bourgeois actor named Guillaume (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Leaud); the girl from the countryside, Yvonne (portrayed by Juliet Berto); science student from the University of Grenoble, Henri (portrayed by Michel Semeniako) and a Dutch painter named Kirilov (portrayed by Lex de Bruijin).  And a visit from their friend, Omar (portrayed by Omar Dio).

Each of these students are in summer vacation and they spend their time studying political articles, practicing their lectures with one another, inviting guest speakers to their pad and dreaming of a revolution.

And reading text about advocating violence in the name of resolution, these individuals decide to assassinate Soviet novelist, Mikhail Sholokhov, who happens to be in Paris as a cultural ambassador representing the Soviet government.


VIDEO:

“La Chinoise” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:37:1 aspect ratio). This is probably the best I have seen of this classic film.  Presented in 1080p, detail of closeups are well-done and I saw no signs of film damage or any artifact issues while watching the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“La Chinoise” is presented with French with English subtitles. Lossless audio is 2.0 Mono and for those who have never watched a Jean-Luc Godard film, while you will get crystal clear dialogue, expect to hear Claude Channes “La Chinoise” being played multiple times.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“La Chinoise” comes with following special features:

  • Interview with actor Michael Semeniako – (38:28)
  • Interview with Assistant Director Charles Bitsch – (19:49)
  • Interview with 2nd Assistant Director Jean-Claude Sussfield – (17:39)
  • Interview with writer Denitza Bantcheva – (18:55)
  • Interview with film historian Antoine de Bascque – (30:55)
  • La Chinoise Trailer

EXTRAS:

The Blu-ray comes with a 16-page booklet with essays by Richard Hell and Amy Taubin.


The film before filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard would go onto create his more political, radical films, “La Chinoise” was no doubt created during the frustration building in France at the time and a foretelling of what was to come a year later.

“La Chinoise” is a Godard masterpiece that manages to capture cinema, politics and didactic principles that would pave the way to Godard radicalism and non-docile filmmaking.

The film marks Godard pursuing to look into Maoism, while casting Anne Wiazemsky as his main lead and an actress who won audiences for her performance in the 1966 Robert Bresson film “Au hasard Balthazar”, would marry Godard that very year and would later become a successful novelist.

The film would also star two of France’s well-known young talents who have appeared in previous and later Godard films, Jean-Pierre Leaud and Juliet Berto.

What I enjoyed about “La Chinoise” is that it’s a film where Godard is trying to understand and gain knowledge of political ideology through his characters.  In fact, Godard would refer to Wizaemsky as “Cinematographic education” and unlike his previous films that may incorporate some sort of form of love, “La Chinoise” is about students who stay at a friend’s apartment during a summer break from university terms to learn about each other’s ideology and through discussion of violence as a necessity to achieve revolutionary goals.

Reading text about advocating violence in the name of resolution, these individuals decide to assassinate Soviet novelist, Mikhail Sholokhov, who happens to be in Paris as a cultural ambassador representing the Soviet government.

“La Chinoise” represents the intelligent cinema that demanding cinemaeaste want to see.  Wanting to expand their views on cinema, wanting characters that are non-banal, with substance.

You have Veronique (Wiazemsky) who’s appearance of a beautiful, intelligent college student attending University Nanterre but yet wanting to shut down the university with bombs.  Veronique wants a violent revolution.  Going further, Anne Wiazemsky’s real-life philosophy professor at the Paris X University Nanterre, Francis Jeanson is in the film and Veronique and Jeanson are in a discussion in which he tries to argue against the use of violence to shut down French universities.  Jeanson in support of cultural action, Veronique through violence to inspire a revolution.

The real-life Jeanson was committed to the National Liberation Front (FLN) during the Algerian War his appearance in the film  was no doubt fascinating.

Godard and his actors would not know that a year later, protesting students and millions of French workers would go on strike, paralyze the country but in effect, would lead France and liberate French society.

Jean-Pierre Leaud’s character of Guillaume is no doubt a character that is a mouthpiece for Godard.  For those who watch a Godard film, there are always moments where Godard likes to use his characters and allow the character to speak for him.  And in Guillaume’s scenes, Godard goes Brechtian style and one of the most powerful scenes is when Guillaume goes to a blackboard with the names of famous playwrights including Sartre, Giraudoux, Racine, Cocteau, Goethe, Sophocles, Chekhov and Shakespeare and as Guillaume erases each name, one name stays and it is Brecht.

The film is crafted in a way that it doesn’t try to pick which side is right or which side is wrong.  While some may feel that a film about characters who are into Maoism, Marxism, Lennism, makes the film too radical, may not know that after the premiere of “La Chinoise”, those who are Marxist-Leninist Maoists complained and were furious about how they were portrayed.  That “La Chinoise” made them look irresponsible.

Film critics praised the film as a Godard masterpiece and that the film captured the revolt of youth.  The film is may seem too hip for students to pull off such a revolution but it happened in France in 1968.  For something more brutal, Kino Lorber also has a film from Koji Wakamatsu called “United Red Army” which shows how normal university students of the ’60s and ’70s dedicated their lives to communism and also wanting a revolution, chose a path of violence and murder.  Where students were allowed to voice their opinion among the students featured in “La Chinoise”, in Japan, members who were weak-minded were killed and these students chose to become terrorists, recruited by a Palestinian group and attacked Lod airport near Tel Aviv, killing 26 people and injuring 80 others.  Both films about students wanting a revolution.  Godard’s film being surreal without despair, Wakamatsu’s film showing the barbaric nature of homegrown terrorism.

I looked at “La Chinoise” as a flip-flop of “Masculin Feminin” (1966), where the 1966 film was more pop with slight political undertones, “La Chinoise” is slight pop with more political undertones.  Both entertaining, both wonderful films, different execution, different Godard in terms of mind-set but yet “La Chinoise” being more poetic, didactic and experimental.

The film looks great on Blu-ray and the best I have ever seen of the film so far.  Presented in 1080p, the film features a monaural 2.0 soundtrack and numerous interviews.

Overall, “La Chinoise” is Godard’s profound masterpiece in which the filmmaker/writer going through an exploration of ideas through characters, explore actions knowing all too well, the film may not change a thing.

“La Chinoise” is recommended!

Le Gai Savoir (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I am in no way an aesthete when it comes to French history or politics but “Le Gai Savoir” is a complex, abstract and fascinating film but there is a message that even the viewer can deconstruct and ponder about. Anyone wanting to watch a radical Godard film will no doubt enjoy “Le Gai Savoir”.

Images courtesy of © 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Le Gai Savoir

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1969

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:37:1 Aspect Ratio), 2.0 French Monaural

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: October 10, 2017


Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Written by Jean-Luc Godard

Text by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Cinematography by Georges Leclerc

Edited by Germaine Cohen


Starring:

Juliet Berto as Patricia Lumumba

Jean-Pierre Leaud as Emile Rousseau

Jean-Luc Godard (Narration)


While alone in an abandoned television studio, two militants, Émile Rousseau (Jean-Pierre Léaud) and Patricia Lumumba (Juliet Berto), have a discourse on language. Referring to spoken word as “the enemy” – the weapon used by the establishment to confuse liberation movements – the two deconstruct the meanings of sounds and images in an attempt to “return to zero” and truly experience the joy of learning.


For French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, while celebrated for his French New Wave films, his supporters and even his friends started to see a change with the filmmaker who shifting towards films that were becoming more political and going after government and also society.

While his film “Pierrot le fou” touched upon certain themes for very few scenes, his interest in German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht and the thought of alienating a viewer through a separation of elements in the medium.  Characters would address the audience about their thoughts, feelings and more.

And so the period between 1968-1979 is called his “Militant Years” or “Revolutionary Years” in which Godard abandons mainstream filmmaking to pursue low-budget political films and collaborating with Jean-Pierre Gorin.

And Kino Lorber has release two films from this period on Blu-ray, his 1968 film “La Chinoise” and “Le Gai Savoir” (Joy of Learning).

The film focuses on two primary characters, Patricia Lumumba (portrayed by Juliet Berto) and Emile Rousseau (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Leaud).  Narration was done by Jean-Luc Godard.

To provide a background on this film, the film was shot before civil unrest took place in France and after.  In France, there were massive strikes and many people on strikes would occupy universities and factories throughout France.  Students went on strike against capitalism, consumerism, American imperialism and traditional institutions.  This spread to 11 million workers on strike.

So bad were the strikes that the entire country’s economy was brought down and there was fear of civil war or a revolution.

While looked at as one of the dark times in French history, it is also regarded that the events led to a cultural, social and moral turning point for France.

In the film, Emile Rousseau (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Leaud) is the great-great-grandson of Jean-Jacques (Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a Francophone Genevan philosopher, writer and composer of the 18th century) Patricia Lumumba (portrayed by Juliet Berto), Third World delegate of the Citroen auto plant who got caught for giving people with recording devices, come in contact with each other inside an unused TV studio.

Patricia’s goal is wanting to learn and teach everyone that they must turn back against the enemy that weapon which he attacks everyone through “Language”. Emile tells her that because they are on TV, to go into people’s homes and ask them what they want to know.

The two take part in seven late night TV dialogues and eventually the two analyze the relationship between cinema and politics.

The two would then meet up for seven evenings to analyze sound and images.  To decompose and to recompose.


VIDEO:

“Le Gai Savoir” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:37:1 aspect ratio).  The majority of the film features Emile and Pamela surrounded by black backgrounds with lighting on them.  There are then a plethora of classic images shows.  The film received a 2K restoration and you can see details, especially Juliet Berto’s freckles.  With that being said, for the most part, the picture quality is great but it’s not exactly a film that people will be expecting to see a whole lot as it limits visuals to Emile and Patricia.  No backgrounds, just the two performing (like as if they were on a blacked out stage with a spotlight on them).

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Le Gai Savoir” is presented with French with English subtitles.  Lossless audio is 2.0 Mono and for those who have never watched a Jean-Luc Godard film, while you will get crystal clear dialogue, expect to hear a multitude of songs especially annoying sounds but also inclusion of sounds that are being analyzed by the characters.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Le Gai savoir” comes with Godard film trailers (for films released on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber) and a short video by Fabrice Aragno (DP of “Goodbye to Language” and “Film Socialisme”) titled “Promenade Dans Le Gai Savoir”.

EXTRAS:

The Blu-ray comes with a 16-page booklet with essays by Richard Hell and Adam Nayman.


May 1968, France’s economy was shut down. The largest general strike in an advanced industrial country, 11 million workers were on strike for two weeks and student protests ran rampant. It was a blow to President Charles de Gaulle’s government and groups revolted against modern consumer and technical society.

1972. Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard ala the man who was instrumental for Nouvelle Vague was no more. The era from the late ’60s to early ’70s was the filmmaker’s “radical” years. His interest in Maoist Ideology led to his partnership with Jean-Pierre Gorin and together they formed the socialist-idealist Dziga-Vertov Cinema group (named after Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov) and both would go on to create political films and from 1968-1973, the two would create films showcasing their Maoist beliefs.  Also, Godard incorporating his Brecht style to alienate viewers.

“Le Gai Savoir” is a film that you will either love or hate.  As many film critics who championed Godard’s earlier work would distance themselves from reviewing the filmmaker’s films during his revolutionary period, his radical years, because films such as “Le Gai Savoir” are complex and for some, incomprehensible.

Two characters who are literally opposites, wanting to meet each other in a TV studio to analyze film and politics, to analyze sound and images.  To decompose and to recompose.

And knowing that they can get into people’s homes via television, they plan a three-year course to re-educate people through a political program.

Similar to classic Godard films which would often cut away to other scenes, to eliminate sound, bring back sound or throw in other sounds, these two characters want to start from teh beginning and go back to zero.  To start anew and believing a revolution is waiting to happen.

The two read, they listen to radio and discuss the information they come across and eventually developing mutual beliefs.

For all its worth, the film proves to be a didactic style that Godard would be known for.  He was not interested in going back to the days of being popular.  In fact, when “Breathless” became popular, he wasn’t thrilled about it.

So, I am going to tell you right now…If you have never watched a Jean-Luc Godard film, do not start with this film. To appreciate this Godard film, you need to go along with the journey of knowing Godard’s previous films. Seeing how this filmmaker changed from “Breathless” up to “Weekend” and then seeing how the turbulent times had changed Godard.

From what transpired in France in May 1968, the Algerian War to the Vietnam War, those French New Wave years were over and this Maoist Ideological version of Godard is what the late ’60s and ’70s is what had become of the man.  So, if you enjoy “La Chinoise”, enjoy “Le Gai Savoir”, then you will no doubt enjoy “Tout va Bien”, but if you enjoyed “Breathless”, “Band of Outsiders”, “Pierro le fou”, “Masculin Feminin” and want those similar style of films, Godard’s style of filmmaking and creative direction changes completely from “La Chinoise” and “Weekend” and on.

I am able to enjoy Godard films because I was able to go through the journey of Godard films, watching his films over and over and discovering something new each time. While I have no doubt the impact of this film is felt more by the French, especially those who lived during the late ’60s and saw or experienced the political unrest have feelings probably after watching this film.

I am in no way an aesthete when it comes to French history or politics but “Le Gai Savoir” is a complex, abstract and fascinating film but there is a message that even the viewer can deconstruct and ponder about.

Anyone wanting to watch a radical Godard film will no doubt enjoy “Le Gai Savoir”.

KINO Video/KINO International/KINO Lorber (a J!-ENT Listing of All KINO Blu-ray and DVD Reviews)

November 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Kino International was founded in 1977 as a theatrical distribution company specializing in classics and foreign language art films. The company began operation with a license to handle theatrical distribution of the Janus Collection, a library containing over 100 important European and Asian art films of the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Kino now boasts a catalog of over five hundred films — one of the most important libraries of classic and contemporary world cinema titles available to the home video collector — and has been honored by numerous critical accolades, including the prestigious Heritage Award from the National Society of Film Critics for its work in film preservation in 2002 and 2003.


The following is a list of all the KINO VIDEO/KINO INTERNATIONAL/KINO LORBER Blu-ray and DVD’s we have reviewed on J!-ENT thus far.


Note: Reviews are from 1999-Present

5 Broken Cameras

Abraham Lincoln

Amal Akbar & Tony

Anatahan

Avant-Garde: Experimental Cinema of the 1920s and ’30s: Ménilmontant by Dimitri Kirsanoff

Barbara

Battleship Potemkin 

Beggars of Life

Big Joy: The Adventures of Jim Broughton

Bird of Paradise

The Birth of a Nation

Blank City

The Blue Angel (2-Disc Ultimate Collection)

The Blue Angel: Special Two-Disc Collection

Boccaccio ’70

The Bubble

Buster Keaton: The Short Films Collection 1920-1923

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Café de Flore

Casanova ’70 (as part of the “Great Italian Directors Collection”)

The Cat and the Canary: The Photoplay Restoration (as part of the “American Silent Horror Collection”)

The Charley Chase Collection Vol. 2: Dog Shy

Charlotte Rampling: The Look

The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom

City of Life and Death

College

Computer Chess

The Constance Talmadge Collection: Her Night of Romance

The Constance Talmadge Collection: Her Sister From Paris

David Holzman’s Diary: Special Edition

Dawson City: Frozen Time

Destiny

Deutschland 83

The Devil Bat

The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption

Diary of a Lost Girl

Die Nibelungen: Special Edition

Dormant Beauty

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Deluxe Edition

Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler

Drawing Flies: Anniversary Edition

Edge of Dreaming

Elles

The Epic of Everest

A Farewell to Arms

Fastball

Fear and Desire

Film Socialisme

A Fool There Was

Foolish Wives

Fritz Lang: The Earlier Works

Gaumont Treasures Vol. 2 1908-1916

The General

Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould – Director’s Cut

The Gianfranco Rosi Collection

The Girl on a Motorcycle

Giorgio Moroder presents Metropolis

Go West and Battling Butler

Gog in 3-D

Going Places

Goodbye to Language 3D

The Good Fairy (as part of the “Glamour Girls” DVD Box Set)

Great Directors

Great Italian Directors Collection

Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation

– Gueros

happily ever after (Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d’enfants)

Harry Langdon…the forgotten clown: Long Pants

Hell’s House

Himalaya

The Hitch-Hiker

if i were you

Ingrid Bergman in Sweden

Intermezzo (as part of the “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD Box Set)

Intolerance (as part of the Griffith Masterworks DVD Box Set)

It/Clara Bow: Discovering the “It” Girl

It Felt Like Love

Jafar Panahi’s Taxi

June Night (as part of the “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD Box Set)

King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis

Korczak

La Chinoise

La Ronde

The Last of England

Le Gai Savoir

Le Quattro Volte

Les Vampires

Life of Riley

Little Fugitive

Little Lord Fauntleroy

Littlerock

Liverpool

Lost Keaton (DVD)

Lost Keaton (Blu-ray)

Mademoiselle Chambon

Manuscripts Don’t Burn

Marriage Italian Style

Mauvais Sang

The Max Linder Collection

The Messenger

Metropolis: The Complete Metropolis

Metropolis: Restored Authorized Edition

More Than Honey

Mountains May Depart

The Navigator

Neon Bull

The Norma Talmadge Collection: Kiki

The Norma Talmadge Collection: Within the Law

Nosferatu

Nostalghia

Nothing Sacred

Obit.

The Ocean Waif (as part of “The Ocean Waif plus 49-17”)

Of Human Bondage

Our Hospitality

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman

The Penalty

Pig

Rabin, the Last Day

Rapt

The Red Chapel

The Retrieval

The Robber

Russian Ark

The Sacrifice: Remastered Edition

Sample This: The Birth of Hip Hop

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

The Saphead

Scarlet Street

The Scent of Green Papaya

Seven Chances

The Sheik

Sherlock Jr. and Three Ages

Shoot the Sun Down: Restored Director’s Cut

Sidewalk Stories

Sister

The Son of the Sheik

The Sound of Insects

The Spiders (DVD)

The Spiders (Blu-ray)

A Star is Born

Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Story of a Love Affair (as part of the “Great Italian Directors Collection”)

The Stranger

Strike

A Summer in La Goulette

They Made Me a Fugitive

Those Redheads from Seattle

A Touch of Sin

Two in the Wave

United Red Army

Variete

Vice & Virtue

Violette

The Wanderers

Way Down East

We Won’t Grow Old Together

The Well-Digger’s Daughter

Who is Harry Nilsson (and Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?

– Who’s Crazy?

Winnebago Man

Winter Sleep

A Woman’s Face (as part of the “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD Box Set)

The Woodmans

A Year in Burgundy

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Young Doctors in Love

Zaza


Variete (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Variete” is a magnificent film from Ewald Andre Dupont.  Created at the height of German Expressionism, the recently restored film features wonderful staging, lighting and wonderful perfomances from Emil Jannings, Lya De Putti and Warwick Ward.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Weisbaden. 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Variete

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1925

DURATION: 95 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), Color Tinted, German Intertitles with optional English Subtitles, New Musical Score by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra and a 2015 score performed by The Tiger Lillies

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: August 22, 2017


Based on the  Novel by Felix Hollaender

Directed by Ewald Andre Dupont

Scenario by Ewald Andre Dupont

Produced by Erich Pommer

Musical score by Berklee Silent Film Orchestra and also a 2015 musical score performed by the Tiger Lillies

Cinematography by Karl Freund, Carl Hoffman

Art Direction by Alfred Junge, Oscar Friedrich Werndorff


Starring:

Emil Jannings as Boss Huller

Maly Delschaft as Frau Huller

Lya De Putti as Bertha-Marie

Warwick Ward as Artinelli


A rediscovered masterpiece of the German silent cinema, Ewald André Dupont’s Varieté is a visually dazzling tale of love and betrayal, foreshadowing such great works as F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise and Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel. Emil Jannings (The Last Laugh) stars as a carnival spieler who becomes entranced by a waifish dancer (Lya de Putti), and gradually betrays his wife, his honor, and his self-respect in an effort to be the sole possessor of her love. The dynamic camerawork by Karl Freund influenced an entire generation of filmmakers, and can at last be fully appreciated in this exquisite restoration by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung.

Special Features: Mastered from the 2015 restoration by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung and Filmarchiv Austria | New musical score performed by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra | 2015 musical score performed by The Tiger Lillies | Visual essay by Bret Wood | “Varieté: The Making of,” a 7-minute documentary on the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra | Othello (1922, Germany 79 min.), Dimitri Buchowetzki’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s drama of love and jealousy, also starring Emil Jannings and Lya de Putti


German filmmaker Ewald Andre Dupont (or better known as E.A. Dupont) is known as one of the pioneers of the German film industry.

Known for films such as “Piccadilly” (1929) with Anna May Wong and his retelling of the Titanic disaster in the 1929 film “Atlantic”.  But with numerous films in his lengthy oeuvre, one film that stands out and is known among silent film fans is his 1925 film “Variete” during the height of German Expressionism during the Weimar era.

And now the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.

In 2015, the film received a restoration and mastering courtesy of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stifftung and Filmarchiv Austria and the Blu-ray release will also feature two scores.  Which includes the magnificent musical score performed by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, which fans got to experience live at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2017.  And the film includes the 2015 musical score performed by the British musical trio, The Tiger Lillies known for their music, in this case, which brings together macabre magic of pre-war Berlin with a piano score.

“Variete” stars Emil Jannings (“The Blue Angel”, “The Last Laugh”, “Faust”), Maly Delschaft (“The Last Laugh”, “Familie Benthin”), Lya De Putti (“The Informer”, “Buck Privates”), Warwick Ward (“The Way of Lost Souls”, “La venenosa”) and more.

The film begins with prisoner #28, Huller (portrayed by Emil Jannings) meeting with the judge for his parole hearing and wants to know if he is remorseful over the murders he committed ten years ago and why he hasn’t said anything about it all this time (as it could have earned him parole) and while Huller is not interested in talking, he receives a letter from his wife vouching for his freedom and that she and her son are waiting for him.

This leads to Huller telling the judge of his story.  Ten years ago, Boss Huller was in charge of fairground trapeze artists for the carnival.  He and his wife, Frau Huller (portrayed by Maly Delschaft) were once trapeze artists but they have gotten older and stopped after he got injured.

For now, he is busy as a boss, being a husband and being a father to his baby son and taking care of him when his tired wife needs to sleep.

Life changes for the Huller family when a dancer named Bertha-Marie (portrayed by Lya De Putti) is taken in and is asked if Huller can spare a room for her in his home, as she can dance for their show.

Many who come to the show are smitten with Bertha-Marie who is seductive and many are attracted to her.  As for Boss Huller, he often looks at his wife’s rear and compares it to Bertha-Marie’s rear and starts to see the beauty in her.

One day while his wife is sleeping and he is to take care of the child, Bertha-Marie starts to seduce Boss Huller and as Huller at first tries to resist, he is captured by her charms and the two engage in a sexual liaison.

And Frau Huller starts to notice how her husband looks at her, defends her and catches the two making out.  She now knows her husband is having an affair and Huller now knows he must leave his wife and son and together, he and Bertha-Marie begin their new life together as trapeze artists.

Meanwhile, a big-show trapeze artist named Artinelli (portrayed by Warwick Ward) is without his brother who had an accident and he is recommended to bring in two people, Boss Huller and his girlfriend Bertha-Marie.

When Artinelli and his manager offer the two the opportunity, he is immediately smitten by Bertha-Marie.  While the three would become known as the 3 Artinelli and would wow audiences, Artinelli has one thing in his mind and that is to seduce Huller’s woman, Bertha-Marie.


VIDEO:

“Variete” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio) and is color-tinted. The quality of the film on Blu-ray is fantastic compared to any of the previous DVD releases of the film.  Featuring a remastered/restored version of the film done in 2015 courtesy of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung and Filmarchiv Austira, the film looks great without any major signs of film damage.  Quite often you will see a lot of film warping, scratches and nitrate damage but this restored version, while not perfectly pristine, shows no signs of major damage, film warping.  While specks and lines can be seen, for a silent film from 1925, this is one of the better films that have been given the restoration treatment.  And all the hardwork put into restoring this film shows.  It looks magnificent on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Variete” is presented with German intertitles with optional English Subtitles.  While the musical score is presented in LPCM 2.0 and there are two soundtracks.  A 2017 musical score performed by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra and the 2015 musical score performed by the Tiger Lillies.  The Berklee Silent Film Orchestra is magnificent, while the Tiger Lillies is rather interesting and gave a different vibe while viewing, as the song is sung throughout, while a piano score is played.  It’s very different but I actually enjoyed it, because it was so unexpected.  Both soundtracks are great but I definitely have to say that I was captivated by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, while the Tiger Lillies musical score made me want to bob my head as the vocalist would sing “Variete” in various ways.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Varietee” comes with the following special feature:

  • Visual Essay – (10:35) Featuring a visual essay by Bret Wood.
  • Variete: The Making of”– (7:25) Featuring a documentary on the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra creating the musical score for the film and performing it live in front of a live audience.
  • Othello – A 79-minute film from 1922 featuring Dimitri Buchowetzki’s adaptation of the Shakespear dram of love and jealousy, starring both Emil Jannings and Lya De Putti.

When it comes to films that were released during the Weimar era and at the height of German Expressionism, many would often give a nod to films created by Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, Erich Pommer, Paul Wegener, Carl Boese, to name a few.

And while E.A. Dupont was one of the other known filmmakers of German Expressionism, fortunately his 1925 film “Variete” was one of the his earlier films that would entertain fans for decades.

In fact, in America, the film was well-received.  Film critic Carl Sandburg wrote back in 1926 of the film:

“Emil Jannings, the male star, does the best all-around work we have seen from his prolific and changeful face, while Lya De Putti, the new female star, is far out of the ordinary and will be discussed freely among 10 or 20 million moviegoers in this country during the coming year.”

Sandburg would further write in his article, “‘Variety’ is one of the few sure master pieces of filmart.”

And while we have seen Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau films receive the expensive restoration and re-release on Blu-ray and DVD, I was quite pleased to hear in 2015 that “Variete” would receive a restoration and as the film has been screened at various film festivals with different scores.

While the film has been available for many decades, it was only available in a heavily edited, censored version.  That changed in 1995, when a video dealer named Peter Kavel found a complete print from Germany and for the first time, people were able to see a complete version which included the intro.  Prior to that, the intro which featured prisoner #28 is being considered for parole and as he tells his story of how he left his wife, the censors in the U.S. felt the film was too much for American audiences at the time and nearly a half hour of the beginning of the film was deleted from the American premiere.

As the subject of vamps and women who are able to take advantage of men was featured often in silent cinema between ’10s and ’20s, what made interesting about “Variete” is the fact that it was at the height of German Expressionism, the storyline is about a woman who knows how to get her way with her beauty and literally as a performer, this personality of Bertha-Marie would not just be for the stage but extended to the men she comes across.

She knows how to use Huller and knows how to use Artinelli as both men provide her with life and material things that make her happy.  In other words, she has men twisted around her finger and she works it in order to get things going her way.

How E.A. Dupont is able to utilize this with the German Expressionism style is through facial expressions, character placement and the use lightening, camera placement and well-timed edits to create this artful masterpiece.

The acting performance by Emil Jannings, Lya De Putti and Warwick Ward was fantastic.

Emil Jannings was one of the well-known actors of his time, creating films in America for Paramount Pictures but would unfortunately lose popularity as he was active in Nazi propaganda, as his films in the ’30s and ’40s would promote Nazism.

Lya De Putti was no doubt an actress who wanted to be part of movie magic in America and the following year, after “Variete” was released, she starred in D.W. Griffith’s “The Sorrow of Satan”.  With her captivating eyes and just a sight that works remarkably on camera, she played primarily vamp roles and starred in , unfortunately, the actress died at a young age in 1931 after developing pleurisy and pneumonia following an operation to remove a chicken bone stuck in her throat.

While Warwick Ward would experience like many other silent film stars, the inability to transition during the beginning of talkies, fortunately for Ward, he was able to transition from actor to film producer in England.

As for director E.W. Dupont, the success of “Variete” insured him a chance to work in Hollywood and he would receive a lucrative contract from Universal and worked on the film “Love Me and the World is Mine” and would go on to make successful films in Britain.  While Dupont emigrated to the US in 1933, unfortunately, he would be assigned to work on B movies and would become a talent agent in 1940 before returning to films in the early ’50s before his death in 1956.

As for the Blu-ray release, as mentioned, the picture quality to this film is fantastic.  Sure, it’s not pristine but for a silent film, “Variete” looks absolutely magnificent.  And for me, part of the enjoyment, aside from watching this film restored and remastered is having the choice of two musical scores.  The Berklee Silent Film Orchestra score is magnificent but to my surprise, the score by the Tiger Lillies was unexpected because its singing throughout with a piano, drums and cello and the score is no doubt a different vibe from the Berklee score.  But I enjoyed both, as they both bring different vibes to this film.

As for the special features, included is a short visual essay, a making of the score featuring the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra and the 1922 film “Othello” (an adaptation of the Shakespeare drama) starring both Emil Jannings and Lya De Putti.

Overall, “Variete” is a magnificent film from Ewald Andre Dupont.  Created at the height of German Expressionism, the recently restored film features wonderful staging, lighting and wonderful perfomances from Emil Jannings, Lya De Putti and Warwick Ward.  Highly recommended!

Young Doctors in Love (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Review)

October 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a fan of Gary Marshall’s films or a wanting to watch Marshall’s first theatrical film will no doubt want to check out his 1982 film, “Young Doctors in Love”.

Images courtesy of © 1982 ABC Motion Pictures, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Young Doctors in Love

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1982

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), 2.0 DTS HD-Master Audio, English subtitles

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: October 31, 2017


Directed by Garry Marshall

Written by Michael Elias, Rich Eustis

Produced by Allan Dwan

Executive Producer: Adolph Zukor

Music Performed by Jeff Rapsis

Cinematography by Harold Rosson


Starring:

Sean Young as Dr. Stephanie Brody

Michael McKean as Dr. Simon August

Gary Friedkin as Dr. Milton Chamberlain

Kyle T. Heffner as Dr. Charles Litto

Rick Overton as Dr. Thurman Flicker

Crystal Bernard as Julie

Ted McGinley as Dr. Bucky DeVol

Saul Rubinek as Floyd Kurtzman

Harry Dean Stanton as Dr. Oliver Ludwig

Pamela Reed as Nurse Norine Sprockett

Taylor Negron as Dr. Phil Burns

Patrick Collins as Dr. Water Rist

Dabney Coleman as Dr. Joseph Prang

Titos Vandis as Sal Bonafetti

Michael Richards as Malamud

Hector Elizondo as Angelo/Angela Bonafetti


There’s almost always something funny at City Hospital, where the amorous young interns think that love – or at least lust – is the cure for everything! Michael McKean (This is Spinal Tap), Sean Young (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), Hector Elizondo (The Flamingo Kid), Harry Dean Stanton (Paris, Texas), Dabney Coleman (9 to 5), Patrick Macnee (TV s The Avengers), Ted McGinley (TV s Married with Children), Crystal Bernard (TV s Wings) and Michael Richards (TV s Seinfeld) star in this refreshingly wacky hospital parody from the director of Overboard, Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride! The new interns at City Hospital are desperately hoping to survive their first year of residency, which could prove difficult, since their minds are on the wrong body parts! Garry Marshall made his feature film directorial debut with this hilarious comedy in a similar vein to Airplane!, Stripes and The Naked Gun.


Before Garry Marshall would be known for his director work on “Pretty Woman”, “The Princess Diaries”, “Runaway Bride” and “Beaches”, Marshall was known as a showrunner creating popular series such as “Happy Days”, “Laverne & Shirley” and “Mork & Mindy”.

Marshall would go on to direct his first film “Young Doctors in Love”.  While not seen as a major film in Marshall’s oeuvre, this comedy is similar to comedy films of the late ’70s and early ’80s that spoof many shows.

In this case, spoofing soap operas such as “General Hospital” which would give attention to the film, but also many soap opera stars making a cameo in”Young Doctors in Love” such as cameo by Susan Lucci, Demi Moore, Richard Dean Anderson, Kin Shriner, Janine Turner, Michael Damian, Jacklyn Zeman, Jamie Lyn Bauer, Steven Ford, John Beradino and many more.

The film would have a cast of popular and also up-and-coming talent who would become major stars years later.

Featured in the film is Sean Young (“Blade Runner”, “Stripes”, “No Way Out”), Michael McKean (“Laverne & Shirley”, “This is Spinal Tap”, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”), Crystal Bernard (“Happy Days”, “Wings”), Ted McGinley (“Happy Days”, “Married with Children”, “Hope & Faith”), Saul Rubinek (“Unforgiven”, “True Romance”, “Warehouse 13”), Harry Dean Stanton (“Alien”, “The Avengers”, “The Green Mile”), Pamela Reed (“Kindergarten Cop”, “Bean”, “Proof of Life”), Taylor Negron (“The Last Boy Scout”, “Nothing But Trouble”, “Angels in the Outfield”), Dabney Coleman (“WarGames”, “Tootsie”, “You’ve Got Mail”), Michael Richards (“Seinfeld”, “UHF”) and actor Hector Elizondo (“The Princess Diaries”, “Pretty Woman”, “Chicago Hope”).

And now, “Young Doctors in Love” will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber.

“Young Doctors in Love” revolves around a group of young trainee doctors.  Dr. Simon August (portrayed by Michael McKean) is a young trainee who is brilliant, smart but has one major fear that prevents him from being great, he can’t stand the sight of blood.   Simon has fallen for Dr. Stephanie Brody (portrayed by Sean Young), who is suffering from some major ailment, while being in love with Simon and keeping her ailment as a secret.

Meanwhile, Dr. Phil Burns is a trainee doctor that is working three jobs and he is trying to romance Nurse Norine Sprockett, but in truth, doing it so he can steal drugs and sell it to a drug dealer (portrayed by Richard Dean Anderson).

Dr. Bucky DeVol (portrayed by Ted McGinley) is often trying to flirt with prostitute Julie (portrayed by Crystal Bernard),

Meanwhile, Sal Bonafetti (portrayed by Titos Vandis) is a gangster who is brought to the hospital after being paralyzed by fear.  Malamud (portrayed by Michael Richards) is trying to kill him, but the doctors mistake him as a patient and start operating him and each time he awakens, he tries to find ways of killing Jacobs.  As Angelo Bonafetti, who works for Jacobs tries to prevent that…but to avoid being caught by authorities, he disguises himself as Angela and Dr. Walter Rist (portrayed by Patrick Collins) falls for Angela.

Will the fellow young trainees graduate, will Sal Bonafetti survive?, will Dr. Walter Rist realize that Angela Bonafetti is a man and will Dr. Phil Burns continue to trick Nurse Sprockett?


VIDEO:

“Young Doctors in Love” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio).  For the most part, the film is not digitally restored nor remastered and is more upscaled to 1080p, so the film does have its share of softness and does look like a film made in the ’80s.  There are scratches on some frames but for the most part, the film looks good in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Young Doctors in Love” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and dialogue is crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Young Doctors in Love” comes with an audio commentary by actor/filmmaker Pat Healy and film curator Jim Healy.


When Garry Marshall passed away in 2016, America lost a talented director/writer who has created television shows and films that have entertained generations.

While Marshall was quite established in the television world with “Happy Days”, “Laverne & Shirley”, “Mork & Mindy”, “The Odd Couple” to name a few, the question was if he could transition into film and sure enough, he did just that.

As many people discover Marshall’s hit films, his earlier films are not as easy to find until now.

While his first film “Young Doctors in Love” will not be a Marshall highlight in his vast oeuvre, the film is noteworthy for showcasing many talent who would become television and movie stars years later, would feature cameos of soap opera stars (especially for “General Hospital”) which in the ’80s were watched by millions of viewers.  And for Gary Marshall film fans, you would see the first major film collaboration with actor Hector Elizondo, who would appear in every Gary Marshall film since “Young Doctors in Love”, as Marshall considered the actor as “good luck”.

The film has the humor of ’80s films at the time and the craziness of films such as “Airplane”.  A parody of “General Hospital” where you have a future great doctor who has the fear of blood, a trainee doctor who keeps passing out due to an ailment (yet no one takes care of her), a trainee doctor trying to steal drugs by romancing a nurse and selling the drugs to drug dealers, a doctor who tries to teach his fellow doctors by drinking urine, a doctor who falls in a mobster dressed like a woman and a mob boss who is trying to be assassinated in his hospital room.

Throw in crazy cameos with soap opera stars, crazy antics and hilarious moments and it makes for an entertaining film.

Sure, it may not have the romantic comedy magic of “Pretty Woman” or the “Princess Diaries” but it does have humor.

“Laverne & Shirley” fans would get to see actor Michael McKean in a role unlike his TV character role of Lenny, Crystal Bernard who was quickly getting known on “Happy Days” playing a bit role with fellow “Happy Days” co-star Ted McGinley, both would be known for their appearance on TV again years later, Bernard with “Wings” and McGinley on “Married with Children” and Michael Richards before playing Kramer on “Seinfeld”.

Surprisingly, two soap opera cameos that were uncredited are talents Richard Dean Anderson (before “MacGyver” and “Stargate SG-1”), Cynthia Geary (before “Northern Exposure”), “All My Children” actress Susan Lucci and actress “Demi Moore” before she would be identified a few years as part of the “Brat Pack”.

As far as the film’s presentation on Blu-ray, the film is no doubt upscaled to 1080p.  Softness is evident, scratches are present but Kino Lorber is a company that has presented its films in 1080p and if anything, picture quality is much better than VHS or DVD.  And its lossless audio soundtrack is presented in stereo DTS-HD Master Audio.  And while the Blu-ray release was released a year later, I felt it was great to have an audio commentary by actor/filmmaker Pat Healy and film curator Jim Healy, who give honor Gary Marshall during the commentary.

Overall, if you are a fan of Gary Marshall’s films or a wanting to watch Marshall’s first theatrical film will no doubt want to check out his 1982 film, “Young Doctors in Love”.

Beggars of Life (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

With the popularity of Louise Brooks, there is no denying that “Beggars of Life” is a must-buy, must-own title.  And for silent film fans, the film is entertaining, suspenseful and action-packed. May you be a Louise Brooks, Wallace Beery or Richard Arlen fan, I can faithfully say that this silent film on Blu-ray is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1928 Paramount Pictures. 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Beggars of Life

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1928

DURATION: 81 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), B&W, 2.0 Stereo, English Intertitles

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: August 22, 2017


Based on the Book by Jim Tully

Directed by William A. Wellman

Adapatation by Benjamin Glazer

Produced by Allan Dwan

Executive Producer: Adolph Zukor

Music Performed by Jeff Rapsis

Cinematography by Harold Rosson


Starring:

Wallace Beery as Oklahoma Red

Louise Brooks as Nancy – The Girl

Richard Arlen as Jim – The Boy

Blue Washington as Black Mose

Kewpie Morgan as Skinny

Andy Clark as Skelly

Mike Donlin as Bill

Roscoe Karns as Lame Hoppy

Bob Perry as The Arkansaw Snake


An American silent film classic, Beggars of Life (1928) stars Louise Brooks as a train-hopping hobo who dresses like a boy to survive. After escaping her violent stepfather, Nancy (Brooks) befriends kindly drifter Jim (Richard Arlen). They ride the rails together until a fateful encounter with the blustery Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery) and his rambunctious band of hoboes, leading to daring, desperate conflict on top of a moving train. Based on the memoir of real-life hobo Jim Tully, and directed with adventuresome verve by William Wellman (The Ox-Bow Incident), Beggars of Life is an essential American original.


From legendary filmmaker William A. Wellman (“A Star is Born”, “The Ox-Bow Incident”, “The Public Enemy”) comes his romantic comedy silent film “Beggars of Life”.

A film that was released in 1928 as a silent film but it was considered lost until an incomplete copy was found in Czechoslovakia.

And now the film will be released as a silent film with English intertitles and a musical score compiled and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Pictures Orchestra, who employed selections from the original 1928 Paramount cue-sheet.

“Beggars of Life”  is based on an autobiography by Jim Tully and would star Wallace Beery (“Grand hotel”, “The Champ”, “The Lost World”), Louise Brooks (“Pandora’s Box”, “Diary of a Lost Girl”, “Miss Europe”), Richard Arlen (“Wings”, “Island of Lost Souls”, “Alice in Wonderland”) and Blue Washington (“Haunted Gold”, “The Butler”).

The film is known as being Louise Brooks best American film and also a film that would feature a Black actor, Blue Washington and one of the first films that would feature a man of color in the opening credits which was not common during that era.

And now the 1928 film will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The film begins with a hungry homeless man named Jim (Richard Arlen) wondering into someone’s property, begging for the owner to please give him food and he would work hard for it.

When Jim sees someone sitting but not answering, he walks inside to find the man shot in the head and dead.  Seeing the deceased man startles him and he hears a young woman named Nancy (portrayed by Louise Brooks) scurrying around.

When Jim asks if she killed the man, she admits to it.  She explains that she was an orphan and taken in by the family but as she got older, the man would sexually assault her and having had enough of being raped, she took his firearm and shot him with it.

The two decide to escape and Nancy disguises herself as a young boy.  Meanwhile, Jim feels he just wants to help her get on the train, so she can get to Canada.  Unfortunately, getting on a train is not so easy for Nancy and she sprains her ankle.  Jim ends up taking care of Nancy and the next day, as they swipe some pastries from a bakery car, he sees a wanted photo of Nancy for murder.

As the two walk, they end up walking into a homeless camp, they meet the blunt and fearsome homeless man that goes by Oklahoma Red (portrayed by Wallace Beery) and they meet gang leader, The Arkansaw Snake (portrayed by Bob Perry).  When the Snake observes Jim and Nancy, he realizes that Nancy is a woman and not a man and wants to have his time with her.  But as Jim tries to come to her rescue, he is overtaken by the other homeless men and is held back.

But Jim ends up showing everyone to Nancy’s wanted poster and everyone steps back, worried about being around a murderer and not wanting to draw authorities to them, so they prefer to distance themselves away from her.

But when the police arrive, they see Nancy and as they are to stop her, all the homeless step in and Oklahoma Red handcuffs them all together, so they are unable to escape.

Oklahoma Red helps Nancy and Jim  but Red also wants to be with Nancy.

Will Nancy be able to escape to Canada with the authorities chasing after her?  Can Jim protect her?


VIDEO:

“Beggars of Life” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio) and is presented in black and white. The quality of the film on Blu-ray is very good in terms of clarity and sharpness.  Considering the film’s age, I didn’t notice any major film warping and while there are scratches that can be seen on various frames, the fact that this film has been lost and was recently discovered, is a major plus and I’m sure glad that what was found is still a good print that was restored from 35 mm film elements preserved by the George Eastman Museum.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Beggars of Life” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and the music presented for this release is a wonderful score compiled and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, employing selections from the original 1928 Paramount cue-sheet.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Beggars of Life” comes with the following special feature:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by William Wellman, Jr.
  • Audio Commentary #2 – Featuring audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz, founding director of the Louise Brooks Society.

EXTRAS:

“Beggars of Life” comes with a booklet essay by film critic Nick Pinkerton.


When it comes to Louise Brooks, many are familiar with her European films directed by George Wilhelm Pabst and of course, her reputation.

Considered an actress that was ahead of her time, she took on roles that were portrayed sexuality that was not common for the era.  She was an intellectual, some considered her a snob, rumors were spread all over Hollywood that she slept with all her actors and facing so much in the U.S., she no doubt developed a tough skin.

For the most part, going to Europe did wonders for her career, especially post-posthumously such as “Pandora’s Box” or “Diary of a Lost Girl” are well-revered today.  But back then, while great films, her loathing of Hollywood and being denied by Paramount for a promised raise was enough for her to leave America which would lead her to become blacklisted.

Prior to moving away from America though, while starring in several silent light comedies and flapper films, it was “Beggars of Life” that would be considered her best American film.

Surprisingly, considering that she never thought about the film positively and not being faithful to Jim Tully’s book, which the film was an adaptation of Tully’s autobiography of the same name.

Nor did Louise Brooks get along with her co-star Richard Arlen and also director William A. Wellman, it’s a sign of a good actress that she was able to take on the role and give a solid performance as murderer on the run, Nancy.

But the tone of the film is set as Nancy was an orphan who was repeatedly raped by the man who took her in and tired of being assaulted, she shot and killed him.  And now she just wants to be free.  Free and happy and Jim, wants to help her escape to Canada but he needs to disguise her as a boy as he knows authorities will be after her.

The film broke new ground, no surprise as William A. Wellman was in an experimentation mode.  You have a woman dressed and disguised like a young man which no doubt, went against Hollywood norm and upset a number of people.  You also have Blue Washington, a Black actor in a major role and also being featured in the opening credits.  While Washington is not featured during the first half of the film, he becomes more prominent towards the second half of the film as a homeless man trying to take care of another sick homeless man.

But along with Louise Brooks, you also have to talk about the two prominent male actors.  Richard Arlen is the main protagonist that is paired with Louise Brooks as the homeless man named Jim who tries to help Nancy escape to Canada.  At first, he just wants to help her get to Canada on train but when he sees that she is not experienced to do much, let alone jumping on trains, he ends up helping her and protecting her from the homeless men who want to take advantage of her.

And of course, the actor who gets top billing, Wallace Beery as Oklahoma Red.  A homeless man who seems like he would be the antagonist, the alpha male among many homeless men, a man with a reputation that some fear him and a homeless man who also carries a heavy wooden barrel wherever he goes.  And he has his eyes on Nancy and wanting her to be his.  But he wants to naturally help her escape as well, just with him and not Jim.

Beery had appeared in many major films and while at that time, it makes sense for him to get top billing and be known as the star of the film.  Since the release of the film and the escalation of Louise Brooks as an actress and has received recognition as an early cinema sex symbol, she has also received respect for her independence as a woman.  Defying Hollywood, defying the norm and some may even make comparisons to modern day stars such as Madonna.

And part of the mystique that surrounds Louise Brooks is that there is much written about her, but yet many of her films are lost.  Fortunately, her key silent films filmed in Europe such as “Pandora’s Box” and “Diary of a Lost Girl” have survived.  And of course, her American film “Beggars of Life” that was discovered in 2016, has finally been released and giving many fans a chance to enjoy an early American film starring Louise Brooks.

And earlier this year, 23 minutes of a long missing 1927 Brooks film, “Now We’re in the Air” was found in the Czech Republic and is another significant film in Brooks’ oeuvre as four of the films she had made in 1927 were considered lost.  And this World War One comedy also features Wallace Beery, and Brooks in two supporting roles.

Going back to “Beggars of Life”, it’s important to note that while this film was released as an early sound film, the original sound recordings have not been found and thus was released as a silent film.  And while it is sad that we don’t have the original audio, considering that this was an earlier film that experimented with sound, the film works much more effectively as a silent and the score by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra was fantastic.

Picture quality on this Blu-ray release was digitally restored from 35mm film elements preserved by the George Eastman Museum and they did a magnificent job.  Scratches are not so evident and there is no major damage or film warping at all.  And you get two audio commentaries and a essay booklet included as well.

With the popularity of Louise Brooks, there is no denying that “Beggars of Life” is a must-buy, must-own title.  And for silent film fans, the film is entertaining, suspenseful and action-packed. May you be a Louise Brooks, Wallace Beery or Richard Arlen fan, I can faithfully say that this silent film on Blu-ray is highly recommended!

 

Who’s Crazy? (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Thomas White’s “Who’s Crazy?” is a fascinating film that captures creative energy on film but also through the mesmerizing music of Ornette Coleman Trio.  A wonderful, frenetic blend of free cinema and free jazz that I highly recommend.

Images courtesy of © 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Who’s Crazy?

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1966

DURATION: 73 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), English 2.0 Stereo, B&W

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: July 25, 2017


Directed by Thomas White, Allan Zion

Written by Thomas White, Allan Zion

Produced by Thomas White, Allan Zion

Music by Ornette coleman, David Izenzon, Charles Moffett

Cinematography by Bernard Daillencourt

Edited by Denise de Casabianca


Starring:

Wimme Andre

Melvin Clay

Tom Edmonston

Carl Einhorn

Michael Elias

Warren Finnerty

Peter Glaze

Gene Gordon

Diane Gregory

Leroy House

Nona Howard

Steven Ben Israel

Gene Lipton

Michele Mareck

Dorothy Shari

William Shari

Barry Shuck

Esther Silber

Luke Theodore

Steve Thompson

James Tiroff

Lester Waldman


Long thought to be lost until the only surviving copy was salvaged from director Thomas White s garage, Who s Crazy? (1966) is a wild, free-form burst of 1960s experimentalism.

Accompanied by an ecstatic original soundtrack by the great Ornette Coleman, and starring actors from The Living Theatre, Who s Crazy? follows a group of mental patients who hole up in a deserted Belgian farmhouse, where they cook large quantities of eggs and condemn one of their own in an impromptu court. The actors don t have much need for words when they can dance around, light things on fire, and drip hot wax on each other instead.

Ornette Coleman and the other members of his trio David Izenzon and Charles Moffett recorded their score for Who s Crazy? in one go while the film was projected for them, and the result feels like a slapstick silent film with the greatest possible accompaniment.


Back in the ’60s, many creative individuals looked towards experimentation with media.  May it be musical or film, it was the sign of the times.

And for Thomas White, who lived in Paris at the time, produced a semi-improvised movie featuring the members of the avante-garde Living Theater and featured the music by the free jazz innovator Ornette Coleman and bassist David Izenzon and drummer Charles Moffett.

While the film was screened at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival, the film was never seen again and was considered as lost.

But filmmaker Vanessa McDonnell, a fan of Ornette Coleman, started a search for the film after Coleman’s death (she saw a short version online via streaming video website Vimeo and found Thomas White’s name) and wanted to find out if a surviving copy exists.  So, looking for a Thomas White, she contacted every Thomas White she can find and managed to find Thomas White in Connecticut and learned that he had a print of the film in the shelf of his garage and has been there for decades.

As White lived a Bohemian lifestyle in Paris, next door to his apartment was a fathering place for musicians, writers and artists.  And that is how he was able to recruit members of the Living Theater to take part of his film in 1964.

And immediately, the film was cleaned and repaired by Anthology Film Archives and the film which was screened in 2016, is now made available to the public via Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The film which was fully improvised begins with a bus transporting psychiatric patients in the middle of nowhere.  When the bus breaks down, an in inmate runs and as the two guards go after him, the rest of the patients escape from their keepers and run to an abandoned farmhouse to take shelter and creating their own new beatnik society.

And as the patients take part in various activities such as playing music, screaming, trying out breathing exercises, staring into one’s eyes, playing with candles, taking part in a ritual or wedding and more.


VIDEO:

“Who’s Crazy?” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:331 aspect ratio) and is presented in black and white. The quality of the film on Blu-ray is very good in terms of clarity and sharpness and Anthology Film Archives did a good job with restoring the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Who’s Crazy?” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and the music presented for this release is a wonderful as the music is a key highlight as it features the Ornette Coleman trio and just listening to the musical soundtrack, it was magnificent.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Who’s Crazy?” comes with the following special features:

  • David, Moffett & Ornett – (28:17) Featuring a 1966 episode of Tempo International.
  • Q&A with Director Thomas White – (27:48) Moderated by Vanessa McDonnell and Nicolas Rapold, courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
  • Trailer – The theatrical trailer for “Who’s Crazy?”.

EXTRAS:

Includes a booklet essay by Adam Shatz, contributing editor at the “London Review of Books”


Call it experimental.  Call it avant garde.  Call it a film that was a sign of the times.

Watching Thomas White’s “Who’s Crazy?” brings us a creative look into a film where everything is improvised, everything goes and while watching these individuals, who happened to be members of the Living Theater, improvising and coming up with things creative and wild.  And while the troupe do their thing, captivating one’s senses it he music by the Ornette Coleman Trio.

What people may not realize is that visually, you are watching actors being creative.  Not knowing what will come next but just running with it while Thomas White captures them on film.  And as wild and crazy they may be, Ornette Coleman and his technique could be seen as the same.  A master of the alto sax (and other instruments), hearing his music sets the mood as these individuals, who happen to be psychiatric patients, enjoying their freedom.

While one must think this is a film about mental health, director Thomas White has said it wasn’t.   While mental health is in the forefront of news today, the mindset towards the mentally ill were different.   This film is not about people suffering but creative freedom, the freedom of expression and free will.

Gone are the prison clothes and when the men and women get dressed up, the group shows us a display of limitless energy.

But as the film will be enjoyed by man, one of the biggest inclusions to the Blu-ray release of “Who’s Crazy?” is the inclusion of “David, Moffett & Ornette”, a 1966 episode in which one see what has taken place behind-the-scenes in the making of this film as the Ornette Coleman and musicians play to what they see on screen but also the mindset of the times and the disagreements that people had.

Watching this featurette alone, you can’t help but be amazed to see the music being played and recorded.  It gave me a deeper appreciation for the music for the film.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray release also features the Q&A with director Thomas White recorded in 2016 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and also included is a booklet essay by Adam Shatz, contributing editor at the “London Review of Books”.

Overall, Thomas White’s “Who’s Crazy?” is a fascinating film that captures creative energy on film but also through the mesmerizing music of Ornette Coleman Trio.  A wonderful, frenetic blend of free cinema and free jazz that I highly recommend.

Zaza (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a silent film fan, definitely consider Allan Dwan’s “Zaza” and discover one of many films featuring legendary actress, Gloria Swanson.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1923 Paramount Pictures. 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Zaza

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1923

DURATION: 84 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), B&W,

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2017


Based on the Play by Pierre Berton and Charles Simon

Directed by Allan Dwan

Written by Albert S. Le Vino

Produced by Allan Dwan

Executive Producer: Adolph Zukor

Music Performed by Jeff Rapsis

Cinematography by  Harold Rosson


Starring:

Gloria Swanson as Zaza

H. B. Warner as Bernard Dufresne

Ferdinand Gottschalk as Duke de Brissac

Lucille La Verne as Aunt Rosa

Mary Thurman as Florianne

Yvonne Hughes as Nathalie, Zaza’s Maid

Riley Hatch as Rigault

L. Rogers Lytton as Stage Manager


Gloria Swanson is all flounce and swagger as Zaza, a street gamine turned music hall star, strutting her stuff, tossing off quips and taunts with her irrepressible backside, which is sometimes adorned with a pert bow for emphasis. Over the course of the film, directed by Allan Dwan (Robin Hood), she engages in two knock-down drag-out cat fights, frisks through playful love scenes, writhes in a hospital bed, nurses a broken heart, and evolves into a soberly dignified woman. Her physicality dominates the film, which does not suffer from being essentially a well-crafted frame for her performance. Swanson s ebullience in Zaza was unfeigned; she called it the fastest, easiest, most enjoyable picture I ever made. Imogen Sara Smith


Back in 1899, the French play “Zaza” had entertained audiences.  So, popular that the play was produced on Broadway and the first film adaptation was released by Paramount in 1915.

While there were a few more adaptations of “Zaza” created, in 1923, a silent romantic drama directed and produced by Allan Dwan (“Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”, “Sands of Iwo Jima”, “Robin Hood”) and executive produced by Adolph Zukor was released.

Starring Gloria Swanson (“Sunset Boulevard”, “Queen Kelly”, “The Trespasser”, “Indiscreet”), H.B. Warner (“It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Sunset Boulevard”, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”), Ferdinand Gottschalk (“Grand Hotel”, “Les Miserables”, “Tonight or Never”), Lucille La Verne, Mary Thurman, Yvonne Hughes, Riley Hatch and L. Rogers Lytton.

And a print of the film is housed at the George Eastman House and the Library of Congress.

During this time, Gloria Swanson was the most sought-after actress in Hollywood and a box office draw for Paramount.  In fact, what she wore on screen influenced fashion  all over the world.

And now the silent classic will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber.

“Zaza” is set in France and begins with showing us how Zaza (portrayed by Gloria Swanson) is a popular performer with a temperament.  Often taking things out on her maid Nathalie (portrayed by Mary Thurman) when she loses things and is frustrated, when she is kind, she can be a major giver of fine jewelry to her maid.

Meanwhile, many men desire Zaza including Duke de Brissac (portrayed by Ferdinand Gottschalk) but the only man Zaza is interested in is Bernard Dufresne (portrayed by H.B. Warner) of the diplomatic corps.  Who often comes to visit the stage as he also fancies Zaza.

While Florianne (portrayed by Mary Thurman), Zaza’s stage rival, was once popular in the Odeon, she also fancies Dufresne.

At the show, it was said whoever catches Zaza’s shoe can be with her and when one man comes to claim his “prize”, he manhandles Zaza, in which Bernard Dufresne comes to her rescue.

But as both Zaza and Florianne vie for Dufresne’s attention, which woman will win?

Meanwhile, what secrets is Bernard hiding from Zaza?  And will the fact that Bernard lives far from Zaza affect any chance of a relationship?


VIDEO:

“Zaza” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:331 aspect ratio) and is presented in black and white. The quality of the film on Blu-ray is very good in terms of clarity and sharpness. The film is does have scratches but for the most part, the film looks very good on Blu-ray considering its over 90-years old.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Zaza” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and the music presented for this release is a wonderful piano score by Jeff Rapsis.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Zaza” comes with the following special feature:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Frederic Lombardi (author of Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the Hollywood Studios)

A silent romantic drama about love discovered, distance that hinders romance but secrets that can tear people apart.

This is the story of “Zaza”, among one of the well-known silent films starring the legendary actress Gloria Swanson and actor H.B. Warner and also one of the last films to star Mary Thurman (who could come down with pneumonia working on a film a year later and would die from complications from the illness the following year), who was also engaged to the film’s director, Allan Dwan.

In some ways, since the film is based on a play, the film can also get a little bit of exhausting wondering if these two individuals, Swanson’s Zaza and Warner’s Dufresne would be together.

While Zaza comes off as impetuous and bombastic early in the film, we see her character transform.  Transformed by love, by jealousy, by anger and by sadness.  Gloria Swanson had to no doubt show various sides of Zaza and for the most part, it was a very well-done performance.  From emotional to even action as she and Thurman’s Florianne engage in a few tussles onscreen.

H.B. Warner plays a stoic Bernard Dufresne.  A man who is captivated by Zaza but there is something preventing him from going to far in his relationship wtih Zaza, which we find out the truth later in the film.

The film on Blu-ray features wonderful detail for the film over 90-years old and for its lossless audio, you get a piano score composed and performed by Jeff Rapsis, adapted from the original 1923 cue sheet.  And also included is a very informative audio commentary by Frederic Lombardi.

Overall, I really welcome Allan Dwan’s “Zaza” on Blu-ray.  One of the things that I hope to see is more silent actresses films on Blu-ray.  There have been so much focus on Chaplin, Keaton, Harold Lloyd, on Blu-ray, which is understandable but it would be nice to see more Pickford, more Swanson, more Gish, Bow, Brooks, Talmadge, Normand, Davies, Bara, Thomas, to name a few on Blu-ray.  So, Gloria Swanson’s “Zaza” on Blu-ray is a major plus and hopefully this means more silent actress greats and their films will be featured on Blu-ray in the near future.

If you are a silent film fan, definitely consider Allan Dwan’s “Zaza” and discover one of many films featuring legendary actress, Gloria Swanson.  Recommended!

Those Redheads from Seattle (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Those Redheads from Seattle” may not be a well-known musical classic, but it is a notable American film as the first ever 3-D musical and the first widescreen film released by Paramount Pictures.  And now, one can enjoy the this wonderful Blu-ray release (in 2D and 3-D) courtesy of Kino Lorber.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Those Redheads from Seattle

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1953

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:66:1 Aspect Ratio

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2017


Directed by Lewis R. Foster

Written by Lewis R. Foster, Daniel Mainwaring, George Worthing Yates

Produced by William H. Pine, William C. Thomas

Music by Sidney Cutner, Leo Shuken

Cinematography by Lionel Lindon

Edited by  Archie Marshek

Art Direction: A. Earl Hedrick, Hal Pereira

Set Decoration by Sam Comer, Ray Moyer

Costume Design by Edith Head


Starring:

Rhonda Fleming as Kathie Edmonds

Gene Barry as Johnny Kisco

Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Edmonds

Teresa Bower as Pat Edmonds

Th Bell Sisters as Connie and Nell Edmonds

Jean Parker as Liz

Roscoe Ates as Dan Taylor

John Kellogg as Mike Yurkil

Frank Wilcox as Vance Edmonds

Walter Reed as Whitey Marks

William Pullen as Rev. Louis Petrie


Newly Restored in HD and 3-D from 2K Scans! A married woman (Agnes Moorehead) takes her four unmarried redheaded daughters (Rhonda Fleming, Teresa Brewer, Cynthia and Kay Bell of The Bell Sisters) to Alaska during the 1898 Gold Rush so they could help their father run his newspaper. All four are members of the singing sister act The Edmonds Sisters, and upon arriving in Yukon they find out their father was murdered. The four heroines get work at the saloon owned by Johnny Kisco (Gene Barry). Kathie Edmonds (Fleming) searches for her father s murderer, who may or may not be Kisco. Hollywood veteran Lewis R. Foster directed this wonderful and colorful musical, which was the first ever 3-D musical and the first widescreen film released by Paramount Pictures.


In 1953, the 3-D American Technicolor film “Those Redheads from Seattle” was released in theaters.

While “Kiss Me Kate”, the November 1953 MGM film adaptation of the Broadway musical, was considered as the first 3-D musical, Paramount Pictures “Those Redheads from Seattle” was released a month before and is now considered the first ever 3-D Musical.  Also the first widescreen film released by Paramount Pictures.

“Those Redheads from Seattle” was directed by Lewis R. Foster (who wrote the film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “The More the Merrier”) and co-written along with Daniel Mainwaring and George Worthing Yates.

The film stars Rhonda Fleming (“Spellbound”, “Out of the Past”, “The Spiral Staircase”), Gene Barry (“Burke’s Law”, “The War of the Worlds”, “Bat Masterson”), Agnes Moorehead (“Bewitched”, “Citizen Kane”, “The Magnificent Ambersons”), music artist Teresa Brewer, singing duo The Bell Sisters, singer Guy Mitchell and John Kellogg (“Twelve O’Clock High”, “The Greatest Show on Earth”).

The 3-D film was remastered in 2K and now “Those Readheads from Seattle” will be released (both 2D and 3-D versions together on Blu-ray) courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The film is set in Alaska during the 1898 Gold rush and Dawson is a booming community. We see an article on the Dawson Daily Bonanza newspaper with the heaadline “No Place in Dawson for Klondike Club – say Law Abiding Ciizens” and how the newspaper would be publishing prison records of Klondike Club employees.  And then we see a man burning the newspaper and then we see the Daily Bonanza warehouse on fire.

Dawson Daily Bonanza publisher, Vance Edmonds (portrayed by Frank Wilcox) and the citizens suspect that someone working for John Kisco (portrayed by Gene Barry), owner of the Klondike Club is responsible.  And Edmonds confronts Kisco’s partner Mike Yurkil (portrayed by John Kellogg) and splashes water on him.

Despite the warehouse being burned down, Edmonds manages to use wallpaper to publish the latest newspaper and goes into the Klondike Club to present that day’s newspaper. Johnny confronts Mike and Mike admits that he burned the warehouse and John warns him to stop because it will give his place a bad name.

Seeing that Vance may pose a problem, while writing his family back home to not visit Alaska (due to the problems), while on his way to mail the letter, he is shot and killed by Mike, who then suddenly disappears.

Back home, we are introduced to the Edmonds family.  Pat (portrayed by Teresa Brewer) is the daughter he saw a burlesque and would love to be onstage doing that type of career, while oldest sister Kathie (portrayed by Rhonda Fleming) is more conservative.  Meanwhile, middle sister Connie (member of the Bell Sisters) has a similarity with her sisters that they each have red hair, with the exception of younger sister Nell (the other half of the Bell Sisters) who has blonde hair and often teased by her sisters because of her hair color and also because she tends to tattle on them.

While the Edmonds live a lavish life and each of them are well-educated, with their mother (portrayed by Agnes Moorehead) worried about her husband, she and the family make the decision to travel to Alaska. When they arrive, the family has been waiting for transportation to take them to Dawson but after a week waiting, they are still stranded in Skagway.

When the ladies arrive, middle sister Connie Edmonds strikes a friendship with Joe Keenan (portrayed by Guy Mitchell), a singer who comes to Alaska to perform at the Klondike Club and wanting to help the Edmonds family get to Dawson, convinces his friend Joe to bring the family and escort them to Dawson.  While John was unwilling, when he finds out that they are the family of Vance Edmond’s, feeling guilty for what his partner did to Mr. Edmonds, he decides to help the Edmonds family get to Dawson.

When the ladies and their mother arrive to Dawson to book a room at the hotel, he is unaware that the family does not know what happened to Mr. Edmonds.  While no one has the guts to tell them that Mr. Edmonds had passed, Johnny has Rev. Louis Petrie (portrayed by William Pullen) tell Mrs. Edmonds and the children the bad news.

But as there is an attraction by Kathie and Johnny, when she finds out that he knew that her father was killed, she wants nothing to do with him.  But to make things worse, while she still has feelings for Johnny, her sister Pat comes in and kisses him and reveals that she has become one of the burlesque dancers at his club (Johnny has feelings for Kathie but due to the circumstances, he knows that the kiss from Pat probably hurt his chances with her).

This leads Kathie to continue the work that her father had done and that is to be the new editor of the newspaper.

But what will happen between John and Kathie?  And will the murderer of Mr. Edmonds ever be caught?


VIDEO:

“Those Redheads from Seattle” maintains the Technicolor look and thanks to the restoration and 2K remastering, the film’s colors are much more vibrant, detail is much more evident.  But while the HD restoration no doubt makes this film look great on Blu-ray, watching the film in 3-D, was quite amazed of how much went into the 3-D of this film in 1953.

Credits are shown in different levels and for an older 3-D film, there is impressive depth, much better than a few modern 3-D films that I have watched.  Overall, a wonderful restoration by the 3-D Film Archive.

It’s important to note that to watch the 3-D version of the film, you must have a 3-D enabled Blu-ray player and 3-D glasses.  Otherwise you can select the 2-D version.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Those Redheads from Seattle” is presented in the film’s original 1953 monaural soundtrack (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0) and also a 3.0 soundtrack.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear through either soundtrack.

It’s important to note that the original 1953 3-channel magnetic stereophonic tracks no longer survive.  So, this is a new 3.0 stereo mix from existing elements.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Those Redheads in Seattle” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by film historians Hillary Hess, Greg Kintz, Jack Theakston and Bob Furmanek.
  • Restoration Demo – (5:25) 3-D Film Archive discusses the restoration demo through comparisons and the challenges they faced for the restoration.
  • 3-Channel Stereo Demo – (3:00) A demonstration via the song “Chick-a-Boom” and how the central channel is utilized with the front channels.
  • Interview with Rhonda Fleming – (8:15) An interview with Rohnda Fleming by Bob Furmanek at the 2006 3-D screening at the World 3-D Expo in Hollywood.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

“Those Redheads from Seattle” will historically be known to be one of the first drama/musical films to be released in 3-D.  In fact, technically it is the first 3-D drama/musical, despite MGM proclaiming “Kiss Me Kate” of being the first 3-D musical, the Paramount Pictures film came out one month before the MGM film.

The film would star the popular Rhonda Fleming (who starred in the Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck, Alfred Hitchcock 1945 film “Spellbound”), while Gene Barry was known for his work on “The War of the Worlds”.

“Those Redheads from Seattle” would also star music artist Teresa Brewer (popular for her hit songs “Music! Music! Music!” and “‘Till I Waltz Again With You”), music duo The Bell Sisters (best known for their songs “Bermuda”, their cover of “Wheel of Fortune”) and music artist Guy Mitchell (known for his hits “My Heart Cries For You”, “Singing the Blues”, “Heartaches By the Number” and “My Truly, Truly Fair”).

The film is quite entertaining and also humorous.  As it deals with a love triangle between sisters Kathie and Pat vying for John Kisco.  Also, drama as Kathie is upset that John never told her that he knew about their father’s murder and that his partner was responsible.  This leads Kathie taking up the newspaper publisher/editor mantle of her deceased father and continuing his goal to stop the Klondike Bar, which is run by John Kisco.  John’s livelihood is the club but he also has fallen for Kathie Edmonds.

Comedy is primarily for younger Bell Sisters, Kay Strother, who places Nell Edmonds, the only sister with blonde hair.  And the treatment the redhead sisters give to their younger sister, treating her that she may not be part of the family, which upsets their very conservative mother, played by Agnes Moorhead.

And while the 2K restoration of this film look great on Blu-ray, what made me watch this film in awe is how well-planned the 3-D was for this film, when it came to how the credits were featured and the depth which was very great for its time and even bests a few of the 3-D films of today.  But of course, the technology of the time was not perfect, as viewers suffered headaches or eye problems during the earlier years of 3-D and not much was known about the technology, other than trying to get people into the movie theater as the theaters saw television being a major threat.  But whichever version you want to see, both 2D and 3-D version of the films are included.

Also, included is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 monaural soundtrack and also a new three channel stereophonic sound soundtrack as well.

As for special features, the Blu-ray comes with an audio commentary by film historians Hillary Hess, Greg Kintz, Jack Theakson and Bob Furmanek, a 2006 interview with actress Rhonda Fleming who plays the role of Kathie, the before/after restoration and a stereophonic sound demonstration.

Overall, “Those Redheads from Seattle” may not be a well-known musical classic, but it is a notable American film as the first ever 3-D musical and the first widescreen film released by Paramount Pictures.  And now, one can enjoy the this wonderful Blu-ray release (in 2D and 3-D) courtesy of Kino Lorber.

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