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by Michael Barrett

15 Feb 2017


Alain Delon in The Italian Job (1969)

The Sicilian Clan is a late ‘60s heist caper boasting three major stars of the Eurocrime genre. Kino Lorber has performed a service for film buffs by making this “lost” film available at last, not only in Blu-ray but in two distinct versions.

Elder statesman Jean Gabin exudes his distinctive weary, grizzled authority as Vittorio Malanese, the patriarch of a family whose criminal activities are somehow too careful and clean to get them caught. It’s implied that they don’t like to kill anybody, and it’s not entirely clear what they do besides sell legitimate pinball machines. Apparently, they’re not on police radar.

by Michael Barrett

6 Feb 2017


James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich in No Highway in the Sky (1951)

Freshly Blu-rayed is an excellent drama that balances several elements into a suspenseful brew that’s generally considered an early airplane disaster picture.

Shot in England by 20th Century Fox, No Highway in the Sky (1951) showcases excellent performances by James Stewart as an absent-minded boffin convinced the plane he’s riding in is going to crash, Marlene Dietrich as the glamorous movie star who believes him, Glynis Johns as the stewardess who doesn’t know what to think, child actress Janette Scott as a lonely genius of a little girl, and a bevy of British character players as the chorus of officials exasperated by it all.

by Danny Furey

2 Feb 2017


Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

The following is a commentary on the titular character of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), not Roald Dahl’s character (which differs from Gene Wilder’s cinematic portrayal), and certainly not Johnny Depp’s interpretation of the character, which is just the worst. But that’s a topic for another day….

“Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three.”

by Michael Barrett

1 Feb 2017


Carroll Baker in Something Wild (1961)

Something Wild is an unusual independent drama that blipped briefly below the public radar in 1961, then largely disappeared apart from occasional TV appearances. In the last few years, this restored item has resurfaced for sightings at art houses and on TCM, thanks partly to the efforts of critic/programmer Kim Morgan, and was issued in MGM’s on-demand Limited Edition DVD series.

Now it’s elevated to the ranks of Criterion Blu-ray for the widest possible access to curious connosseurs. More than 50 years after it bewildered critics, it remains a strange and provocative button-pusher.

by Michael Barrett

30 Jan 2017


Rugged, weatherbeaten, conventionally unhandsome, even funny-looking enough to play his own comic sidekick to his own manly hero, William S. Hart was justifiably the most famous western star of the silent era. Now on Blu-ray as a welcome surprise is Wagon Tracks, one of at least half a dozen features he made in 1919 and among his most popular epics, in a tinted Library of Congress print in beautiful shape.

The visual style is entirely modern, with the action cutting between concurrent scenes in different locations and lots of close-ups to showcase Hart’s camera-ready command of expression, always vivid and direct without overplaying. Hart’s paradox is that although he’s a very expressive actor, it’s at the service of his character’s essentially taciturn, isolated image of “true manhood”.

//Mixed media