We live amid a glittering parade of classic films resurrected, remastered, restored, reconsidered, and reissued on Blu-ray or DVD. All we can do is cite our favorites from those we’ve had a chance to see. We encourage you, Dear Readers, to seek out these films and many others. Keep film history alive in your mind, and you’ll be smarter, healthier, cheerfuller, and more impervious to aesthetic ennui.
Cinema of Discovery: Julien Duvivier in the 1920s
Director: Julien Duvivier
First, we offer a profound apology for not delivering a full review of this important box. Julien Duvivier is among the cinematic giants who have been overlooked and forgotten for various reasons, but he was a master of visual technique and emotional impact. As far as silent cinema is concerned, that’s the old one-two. Flicker Alley, Lobster Films of Paris, and Blackhawk Films have curated this dazzling assemblage of nine films across five Blu-rays.
The first film here, Carrot Top (Poil de carotte, 1926), is simply one of cinema’s most heart-rending films about childhood and kicks off French cinema’s tradition on that topic. When PopMatters previewed The Divine Voyage (La divine croisière, 1929) for this year’s San Francisco Silent Film Festival, we declared, “this mixture of sea adventure, mysticism, and human agony loves glorious skyscapes and human close-ups, and both are breathtaking.” The other seven films are equally worthy of your time.
Other notable silents came out this year, including Alexandre Volkoff’s Casanova (1927, Flicker Alley), H.P. Carver’s Native American drama The Silent Enemy (1930, Flicker Alley), and Undercrank Production’s release of the Marion Davies vehicles Zander the Great (George Hill, 1925) and the lavish Beverley of Graustark (Sidney Franklin, 1926).
Director: Stanley Kwan
Hong Kong in 1934 and 1987: Stanley Kwan’s elegant, romantic ghost story slips between eras to present a meditation on change and history from the point of view of a doomed courtesan of exquisite demeanor, played by Anita Mui.
PopMatters reviews Rouge here.
Although Jacques Doniol-Valcroze was almost as important to the French New Wave as his colleagues, he’s been overlooked outside of France. These DVDs are the first Region 1 releases of two of his early sleek, modern, intelligent entertainments. PopMatters discusses them here.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
Directors: Ozzie and David Nelson
(MPI Home Video)
For 14 seasons from 1952 to 1966, this popular and long-running sitcom became a byword for a certain cozy vision of Eisenhower America. Now that the series has been restored at long last by UCLA Film & Television Archive, we see why its legacy is more complex and influential than that. For example, it’s one of the original shows “about nothing”. MPI’s putting out the seasons at a rapid clip, with the first eight already released. Check out PopMatters‘ brilliant analysis here.
Miracle in Milan
Director: Vittorio De Sica
There weren’t exactly fistfights among doctrinaire critics over whether Vittorio De Sica‘s gentle satirical fable of postwar reconstruction and the plight of the homeless counted as Neorealism or merely escapist fantasy. Still, this was a serious topic of discussion, and that’s a classic example of missing the beautiful forest of wisdom for the trees of generic labels. As PopMatters mentions, De Sica’s film is a wistful work of humanism under any label.