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Tuesday, Jan 27, 2015
Although their DVD releases are bare-bones, Island in the Sky and Betrayed both benefit from their recent restorations from Fox and Warner archives.

Island in the Sky and Betrayed, both very good B pictures, each run at only 67 minutes. The films feature heroines navigating through tricky murder mysteries. They’re examples of the obscure little gems you find on demand from various studio catalogues, and both films look good in their bare-bones releases.


Gloria Stuart, most famous as the old lady in Titanic, is an excellently game and vivacious secretary to the District Attorney (Michael Whalen) in Island in the Sky. When he prosecutes a poor sap (Paul Kelly) for killing his rich dad, the man’s guilt looks as open and shut as if it were a Perry Mason case, and you know what that means. Our strong-minded gal Friday starts snooping with method and intelligence and finds all kinds of information, facing her own murder attempt along the way.


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Monday, Jan 26, 2015
by Steve Leftridge and Steve Pick
Double Take examines Errol Flynn's classic take on this vigilante archer: a bold, impudent rascal that speaks treason fluently, capturing hearts when he isn't shooting arrows into them.

One Steve’s violent vigilantism is another Steve’s interesting open rebellion to a repressive government.


Steve Leftridge: I first watched The Adventures of Robin Hood sometime as a child, but I haven’t watched it since. I’ve seen Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood, Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (a real chore, that one), Mel Brooks’ Men in Tights, and the Disney animated version (with those great Roger Miller tunes) all since seeing the Errol Flynn classic way back when. Still, it strikes me after revisiting it again this week that essentially every concept I have of Robin Hood comes from this 1938 film—or from the Daffy Duck spoof, which itself features a brief clip of Flynn from the movie. There’s a lot to cover here: Flynn, Michael Curtiz, the Golden Age of Hollywood, the swashbuckling genre, Olivia de Havilland’s hair, socialism, Claude Rains, violent vigilantism, the Great Depression, Technicolor, Paleo diets, to name a few. So let me throw it you first, Mr. Pick. What’s your history with this one, and what did you most enjoy about watching it anew?


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Friday, Jan 23, 2015
In its examination of issues of multiculturalism, The Emerald Forest continues to acquaint complacent Americans to troubling geopolitical issues 30 years after its release.

John Boorman has stated that the myth of King Arthur informs his filmography, and that’s not hard to see in The Emerald Forest, scripted by the same Rospo Pallenberg who wrote Boorman’s Excalibur. As with Arthur, a special boy (director’s son Charley Boorman in a striking performance) has the magical power to lead his people. Instead of drawing a sword from a stone, he draws stones from a river and ends up going on a quest to a strange, forbidding land. That land is what most of us call “civilization”, and it’s a savage place, as represented by a modern city on the Amazon. The boy’s quest is the inversion of the quest by his father (Powers Boothe) through the jungle in search of his son, so the movie gives us two quests and two irreconcilable viewpoints for the price of one.


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Friday, Jan 23, 2015
Ralph Fiennes holds civilization together with little more than his impeccable manners and mustache in Wes Anderson’s absurdist dollhouse of a tragicomedy.

Wes Anderson isn’t our greatest living filmmaker; his style is too narrowly defined for such a grand title. We tend to think of our greatest directors as both having a signature style but also being flexible enough to tackle many styles: Howard Hawks could move from urbane comedies to Westerns and epics, Martin Scorsese from urban grit to musicals and children’s’ fantasias, and so on. By contrast Anderson has one style, and each of his films simply refine it. All those twee little trinkets and fussy outfits could drive you mad, were one to watch too many in a row. But as perfectly Andersonian a spectacle as The Grand Budapest Hotel is, it also expands his reach in surprising ways. Being one of the year’s most unique spectacles, it’s also the first Anderson film made up of tragedy as much as it is comedy.


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Thursday, Jan 22, 2015
Robert Altman's '70s noir is a terrific, sad, and mischievous movie.

It’s 3 AM, and Marlowe’s sleeping with the lights on, fully dressed. He’s also forgotten to feed his cat, who jumps on him in remonstrance. We don’t know if he’s hung over or what, but Marlowe’s definitely going to seed. After trying and failing to feed the cat some cottage cheese with egg and salt, he finagles something morally questionable. He tries to fool the cat by substituting another brand in the old brand of cat food. Finding this a breach of contract, the cat dumps him, splits the scene, slips out the back. There are 50 ways to leave your owner.


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