From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Best Bets:
This week’s crop of collectible films spans the 50s, 60 and 70s, in joyous counterpoint to the lackluster big screen releases this week. Chronologically:
In celebration of its 65th anniversary, Disney’s beloved flight of fantasy, “Peter Pan” (1953), comes out of the vault for its 65th anniverary and joins the Walt Disney Signature Collection. In “Peter Pan,” fantastic adventures await the Darling children — Wendy, John and Michael — when Peter Pan, the hero of their stories, whisks them away to the magical world of Never Land. After flying with Peter and the delightfully impish Tinker Bell past the “second star to the right and straight on till morning,” they explore the enchanted island and Peter’s secret hideout with the Lost Boys, and leap into high-flying battles with swashbuckling pirates and the infamous villain Captain Hook. This Signature edition appears to be the same as 2013’s Diamond Edition except for the addition of several new bonus featureds and its availability on Movies Anywhere. It’s a difinte must buy for families who don’t already own the film, though the DVD/Blu-ray combo carries a steep retail price. Extras include “Stories from Walt’s Office: Walt & Flight”; “A ‘Darling’ Conversation with Wendy & John: Kathryn Beaumont (the voice of Wendy) and Paul Collins (the voice of John)”; You Can Fly”: A new “Oke” rendition and graphic look of the classic Disney song, “You Can Fly,” with fun lyrics on screen; “Never Smile at a Crocodile” new “Oke” rendition and graphic look of the deleted song, “Never Smile at a Crocodile”, with fun lyrics on screen; legacy “DisneyView”; legacy sing-along version of the film; legacy “Growing Up with Nine Old Men”; deleted songs and scenes; Disney Song Select; commentary Hosted by Roy Disney; backstage Disney, more.
The very traditional but rousingly colorful “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954), making its Blu-ray debut this week, features a new 1080p HD master from a 2018 2K scan in its original 2.55 CinemaScope aspect ratio, with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio (based on the original 4-track magnetic mix, but re-built from recording session masters and original stems). Includes the rarely-seen alternate widescreen (1.77 aspect ratio) alternate version presented for the first time in 1080p HD. Of note is that two versions of the film exist, one in CinemaScope and the other in traditional widescreen. In 1953 when CinemaScope was brand new, MGM was concerned that if it was a fad they would have an unusable film in the long-run, so for protection they shot the film twice. Two different takes of each shot with different staging was filmed which reflect the different frame size of traditional widescreen (which is less wide and more rectangular) and CinemaScope. By the time the film was released, CinemaScope had proven a huge success and the alternate version was rarely seen until its release on DVD in 2004. The story: Adam (Howard Keel), the eldest of seven brothers, goes to town to get a wife. He convinces Milly (Jane Powell) to marry him that same day. After they return to his backwoods home she discovers he has six brothers — all living in his cabin. Milly sets out to reform the uncouth siblings, who are anxious to get wives of their own. Then, after reading about the Roman capture of the Sabine women, Adam develops an inspired solution to his brothers’ loneliness … kidnap the women they want from the surrounding villages. From Warner.
“The Big Country (60th Anniversary Special Edition)” (1958), directed by William Wyler and starring Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford and Chuck Connors, is a bold, sweeping tale of a ship’s captain (Peck) who ventures west to find a hotbed of jealousy, hatred and dangerous rivalries. As the reluctant hero is thrust into the maelstrom, he must summon all of his resolve to save not only his own life, but also the life of the woman he loves. An action-packed adventure that triumphs as a work of art. The film’s legendary rousing score by Jerome Moross was nominated for an Oscar. On DVD, Blu-ray, with audio commentary by noted cultural historian Christopher Frayling; a “Directed by William Wyler” documentary; interviews with Cecilia Peck, Carey Peck and Tony Peck; interview with Fraser Heston; interview with Catherine Wyler; “Fun in the Country featurette; “Larry Cohen on Chuck Connors”; original theatrical trailer; TV spot; two animated image galleries; reversible Blu-ray art. From Kino Lorber Classics.
The landmark Spaghetti Western “The Great Silence” (1968 — Italy), scored by Ennio Morricone, comes out today in a stunning 50th anniversary restoration. Restored in 2K from original elements, the film is directed by Sergio Corbucci and stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Klaus Kinski. The release features both the original Italian and English language versions. On an unforgiving, snow swept frontier, a group of bloodthirsty bounty hunters, led by the vicious Loco (Kinski) prey on a band of persecuted outlaws who have taken to the hills. Only a mute gunslinger named Silence (Trintignant) stands between the innocent refugees and the corrupt bounty hunters. But, in this harsh, brutal world, the lines between right and wrong are not always clear, and good does not always triumph. Featuring superb photography and a haunting score from maestro Morricone, Corbucci’s bleak, brilliant and violent vision of an immoral, honorless West is widely considered to be among the best Westerns ever made. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Film Movement Classics.
And, last but not least, there’s the Blu-ray debut of “Greaser’s Palace” (1972), the surreal and outrageous parable on the life of Christ set in a rundown Wild West town. Robert Downey’s deliciously irreverent film is an acid comedy Western of incredible extremes, playing like a lighter version of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “El Topo” minus the ultra-violence, while still retaining every ounce of religious blasphemy and taboo-smashing absurdity. The cult favorite is the story of Christ’s sufferings, “updated” and set in the wild and woolly Old West, where a zoot-suited drifter named Jessy (Allan Arbus) performs miracles and attracts a large following. But what he really wants to do is sing and dance. He finally gets a chance to bring his act to the The Palace, a saloon run by the ruthless Seaweedhead Greaser (Albert Anderson), and he’s a big hit. But Jessy’s got more miracles to do … like restoring life to Greaser’s son Lamy (Michael Sullivan), who’s been killed by his father, and then contending with Greaser’s envious daughter Cholera (Luana Anders). Meanwhile, an unnamed woman (Elsie Downey) struggles to reach the town after her husband and son are murdered. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Scorpion Releasing and Doppelgänger Releasing.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Freak Show” (2018), starring Alex Lawther, Bette Midler, Larry Pine, Abigail Breslin, Laverne Cox and AnnaSophia Robb, Billy Bloom (Lawther) is one-of-a-kind: a fabulous, glitter-bedecked, gender-bending teenager whose razor-sharp wit is matched only by his outrageous, anything-goes fashion sense. When his glamorous mother (Midler) is forced to send him to live with his straight-laced father (Pine), Billy finds himself a diva-out-of-water at his new ultra-conservative high school. “The Midnight Man” (2016), starring Gabrielle Haugh, Grayson Gabriel, Robert Englund and Lin Shaye, two teenagers discover a mysterious box hidden away in the attic in a sprawling mansion, with instructions for The Midnight Game, an ancient pagan ritual said to summon the player’s greatest fears. It all seems like harmless fun to the pair — until they unleash the terrifying spirit of The Midnight Man, an unholy force who pits them against their darkest demons and dares them to survive. Includes the original 2013 Irish feature film. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Midnight/Shout Factory … “The Rake” (2018), starring Shenae Grimes-Beech, Rachel Melvin and Izabella Miko, is a chilling tale of siblings who return home 20 years after the shocking murder of their parents and discover that the horrible crime may have a startling connection to a local urban legend. From Sony … When the government attempts to produce a designer drug aimed at correcting the false perceptions that people develop during trauma and stress, the implications are deadly in “Altered Perception” (2018), starring Jon Huertas, Jade Tailor, Jennifer Blanc and Matthew Ziff. Advertised as a cure for socio-political tensions, four couples volunteer, but end up with far more than they bargained for as their past and present are examined while taking variations of the new drug. However, this causes them to doubt their own memory, perceptions — and even their own sanity. From Synkronized Films … In “Supercon” (2018), starring Ryan Kwanten, Maggie Grace, Mike Epps, Russell Peters, Clancy Brown and John Malkovich, a rag-tag group of former TV stars and comic book artists, who make their living working at conventions, decide to steal the loot from a crooked promoter and an overbearing former TV icon. From Sony … “Satellite Girl and Milk Cow” (2014 – South Korea) is an animated sci-fi-romance. An out-of-commission satellite picks up a lovelorn ballad on her radio antenna and descends to Earth to find the source of such sincere emotions. But on the way she is caught in a raging magical battle and transforms into Satellite Girl, complete with rocket shoes and weapon-firing limbs. Meanwhile, the balladeer in question — a loser twentysomething at a café open mic — meets the fate that befalls all broken-hearted lovers: he is turned into a farm animal. But love knows no bounds, and aided by the wise and powerful Merlin — a wizard who has been turned into a roll of toilet paper — the duo must evade the all-consuming incinerator monster, the wily pig witch, and other nefarious adversaries in an attempt to be together. On DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo from GKIDS/Shout! Factory … In “Devil’s Gate” (2017), starring Amanda Schull, Milo Ventimiglia, Shawn Ashmore and Jonathan Frakes, when a woman and her son mysteriously vanish, FBI agent Daria Francis (Schull) is dispatched to the small town of Devil’s Gate, North Dakota to investigate the number one suspect: religious fanatic Jackson Pritchard (Ventimiglia), husband and father of the missing persons. But when Francis and local deputy Colt Salter (Ashmore) arrive at Pritchard’s foreboding property, they discover much more than they bargained for lurking in the basement. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Midnight/Shout Factory.