The team of producer-director Herbert Wilcox and actress Anna Neagle, who would later marry each other, made many English films and, for RKO, three old-fashioned musicals that revived older American hits to mediocre effect. The first of these, Irene, is now on demand from Warner Archive.
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It won’t be remembered as a rumble as royal as Ali vs. Fraizer, but 16 April, 2015 will go down as the day two of the most highly anticipated films of 2015/2016 squared off for their fair share of fawning/frightening fanboy love/hate. First out of the gate was the long awaited second “trailer” for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Featuring more footage from the December release, as well as a final shot that sent aging admirers into a tizzy (more on this in a moment), it was greeted with glee.
It is the rare film that comes out fully formed. One vision, manipulated by one person, is so unusual that many of the most famous movies are considered collaborations before anything else. Actors want to add and/or modify their roles. Suits who provided the necessary greenlight (and funds) want their notes and suggestions. Members of the various crafts—art design, costumers, F/X artists—all hope for a chance to offer up their creative choices, and then the entire package is collected, collated, edited, and focus grouped, allowing even those without a single clue about the art form to determine what stays and what goes. Someone like David Lynch may have “final cut” over his efforts, but more times than not, a movie is not a finished product until it opens at your local Cineplex.
With all its cinematic action, expressionistic designs, and thematic muddle, Metropolis is one of the easiest silent films to sell to contemporary audiences.
Steve Leftridge: Into the depths we go, brother. Oh, that Freder, with his lush hair and winged pantaloons and excruciatingly slow reaction times. Metropolis is rife with a few laughs it never intended to get, but when you compare it to the films of the same period—Chaplin’s The Kid, for instance, which we recently looked at for Double Take—it’s clear that Fritz Lang was working on a whole ‘nother level. Metropolis is remarkably ambitious in scope and design, and it covers timeless and sometimes scarily prescient themes and social concerns.
“The producers of the picture you are about to see feel a moral obligation to warn you that it will shock you as no other film ever has. Because it could be very harmful to young and impressionable minds, it is restricted to only those over 14 years of age.”
This come-on, after we’ve already paid for the ticket, opens American International Picture’s U.S. print of Mario Bava’s classic Italian horror film. Kino Lorber has previouly released the uncut edition on Blu-ray, and now they’ve exhumed the American International version for those nostalgics who grew up with it. You’d have to be a nostalgic or completist to find appeal in the film, and you certainly shouldn’t prefer this version to the original (with its sharper image), but it’s still spooky, clammy, and stylish. Those are all thanks to the gliding camera, Gothic sets, Bava’s expressionism, and Barbara Steele’s evil grins and flashing eyes as the dead, grotesquely deformed witch who tries to resurrect by stealing the youth of her descendant-double.