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filmlover

Criterion titles

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Since Criterion is such an important independent DVD company, I wanted to give them their own thread. Please feel free to rate their DVDs and discuss them here. When reviewing, good things to keep in mind that people want to know: how good was the film quality, was the film itself any good, what were the extras and how good were they, was there a good commentary, etc. You know, stuff you would like to know if you were thinking about buying a particular DVD.

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The Three Criterion DVD sets that I own, " Thieves Highway ", " The Killers" and " The Most Dangerous Game ", are all excellent with plenty of extra. Highway includes an interview with Director Jules Dassin, his comment on Zanuck are alone worth the price.

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I had forgotten that I have a fourth Criterion released DVD> " Unfaithfully Yours ", the last good film by Preston Sturges ( Sullivan's Travels ), and it is funny and the performances by Rex harrison, Linda Darnell ( at her most gorgeous ), and Edgar Kennedy are fine. Good too are Rudy Vallee, and Barbara Lawrence. The picture quality is fine, no "rips ', and for the most part the extra's are excellent, they include an interview with Sturges widow, stills, and production notes/ But, the commentary by " Sturges Scholars ", James Harvey, Brian Henderson, and Diane Jacobs is very boring, and almost ruins the entire DVD experience. The film - Watch it --- The Commentary - Avoid it.

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Le Salaire de la peur or "Wages of Fear" 1953

 

Plot Summary:

Salaire de la peur, Le (1953) Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

 

In the South American jungle supplies of nitroglycerine are needed at a remote oil field. The oil company pays four men to deliver the supplies in two trucks. A tense rivalry develops between the two sets of drivers and on the rough remote roads the slightest jolt can result in death. Starring Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck and Antonio Centa.

 

Criterion Collection Edition. Includes interview with assistant director Michel Romanoff, interview with Clouzot biographer Marc Godin, archival interview with Yves Montand, essay by novelist Dennis Lehane, trailer, and more.

The film blew me away, some issues with the white sub-titles blending in with the back ground. I wish they used yellow lettering instead. But it doesn't take anything away from the intenseness of the film.

147 min. Standard; Soundtrack: French Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles

Great film highly recommended....

 

vallo

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The Criterion dvds I own are:

MY MAN GODFREY

REBECCA

AND GOD CREATED WOMAN

 

I have seen but not yet purchased YOUNG MR. LINCOLN as well as PEPE LE MOKO.

 

The only one that I don't find fabulous so far as "extras" go is And God Created Woman, but then the film doesn't really merit it.

 

The extras on the others are fabulous, including radio broadcasts, classic interviews with the actual movie participants and other bits. The REBECCA dvd even included the screen tests for "Mrs. DeWinter" which was fascinating. I look forward to continuing to add to my Criterion collection. I think HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY deserves one, though the Fox edition is not bad. In fact, Fox are among the better at releasing their titles with significant "extras".

 

Miss G

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I own four classic titles from Criterion (I also own Traffic (2001)). These include the re-release of M (131), The Lady Eve (1941), Sullivan's Travels (1942) and Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)...

 

M: great transfer for a great movie...the commentary from german film scholars is pretty straightforward but I wish it had William Freidkin (Peter Lorre's biographer) providing an American insight to the making of the film and its star...a nice 50-minute Coversation with Fritz Lang film, classroom tapes of the film's editor talkign about the making of the movie, behind the scenes phots and story sketches...my main complaint is that Criterion re-releases some films and doesn't designate them as such on the package...instead of # 30 this 2-disc special edition should be called #30b, as I have some freinds that bought the original version after it had been marked down while being unaware that the 2-disc existed...

 

Preston Sturges films: great films with new digital transfers...commentaries on both, production stills, trailers and publicity materials on both...Eve has Lux radio adaptation; Sullivan has a 76-minute documentary from PBS's American Masters series, vintage interview with Preston Sturges, and new interview with his widow, and audio recordings of Sturges performing a song and a poem... we'll see how Paramount's November releases compare with these (unfortunate because the Paramount Sturges collection features some exclusive films which will force many people to rebuy these same Criterion films in predictably inferior presentations)!!!

 

Young Mr. Lincoln: again great movie, great transfer...great talent in Henry Fonda and John Ford...I enjoyed their other movies "Along The Mohawk" and "The Grapes of Wrath" so I couldn't wait for this movie to be released...unfortunately no commentary, but a nice BBC talk show episode with Fonda and one of the most appealing features I've ever seen on DVD...a radio dramatization DOWNLOADABLE AS AN MP3 FILE!!! So many Warner Bros. DVDs have Lux radio adaptations that I wish I could download them to my i-pod for play in the car on road trips...that would be a lot more enjoyable than having to leave my tv on while I listen to the audio at home...what's the point when I could just watch the movie?? other than that the features are rather bare-bone for a 2-disc dvd...

 

all are highly recommended

 

Nic Orizaga

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So wait, Mr. Orizaga, are you saying there's a two-disc M released by Criterion Collection? That would interest me.

 

I own the following CC discs:

 

8 1/2

Amarcord

Beauty and the Beast

Black Narcissus

Black Orpheus

Brazil

Brief Encounter

A Canterbury Tale

Children of Paradis

The Horse's Mouth

The Importance of Being Ernest

My Life as a Dog

Nights of Cabiria

Le Notti Bianche

Notorious

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Playtime

The Red Shoes

Scarlet Empress

La Strada

Tales of Hoffman

I Vitelloni

 

And I have had Tokyo Story and Peeping Tom on order for months now...

 

All feature great transfers to disk. Some of the earlier CC DVDs have few (if any) additional features. Many times I've started to buy David Lean's Summertime, but in the end I resisted because it looks as if there are no supplemental materials. One of the worst audio commentaries I've heard was on CC's Spellbound, so I've never bought that. In general however, I highly recommend CC releases. The images are rich and beautiful to view.

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You say that William Friedkin is Peter Lorre's biographer? He's the director of "The Exorcist", isn't he?

 

Maybe you mean Stephen D. Youngkin is Lorre's biographer. Mr. Youngkin wrote a book on Peter titled "The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre" (University Press of Kentucky, 2005). You can find out more about that book, and more about Peter himself, on the book's official website: http://www.PeterLorreBook.com

 

There is also a DVD section on this website, with information about Peter's films available on DVD and VHS.

 

Cheryl

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thats what i meant...I wish Stephen D. Youngkin would do a commentary; he hooked it up on the Mr. Moto set from Fox!!! I said Freidkin because he does the 50-minute interview with Fritz Lang on Disc 2...sorry for the confusion!!

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I also meant "Drums Along The Mohawk" directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert and John Carradine...

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Oh, that's ok! I just wanted to make sure I understood.

 

Stephen Youngkin and I have been friends since the mid-1970s, and I know he enjoys participating in the extra features for DVDs. All he needs is an invitation.

 

And since "The Lost One" was published in September 2005, he has been asked to work on several DVDs. The Criterion "M", however, came out in December 2004, about a year before his book, just in time for him to add a discussion of Peter Lorre's appearance in the French version to the manuscript.

 

Cheryl

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yes I was glad to see him on the documentary regarding character actors in the Humphrey Bogart collection...

 

Nic Orizaga

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Oh, good! The production company hired to develop the bonus features interviewed Stephen earlier this year, but we didn't know how or where his material would be used.

 

I have ordered my copy of the Bogart Collection, but it hasn't arrived yet. What are the other documentaries like?

 

Cheryl

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Hi, Cheryl,

 

There is a bit about the Bogart box set in the Upcoming Releases, and I will be posting a review in the next few days in the Box Sets section.

 

filmlover

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they're pretty good...my biggest disappointment and surely your too will be they used him at the beginning talking about "if you were reallygood at something that's all they let you do"....when they get to Peter Lorre, they completely neglect Youngkin...sure Behlmer says some interesting things about him but comparing him to a Boston Terrier and saying he wasn't handsome is a tad mean...and they skipped over Claude Rains when mentioning character actors...

 

the documentaries are really interesting in the beginning but I'm not too sure I like how they all end up focusing on the specific movie they are paired with on DVD...and there are more interesting character actors in "All Through The Night" than Phil Silvers and Jackie Gleason...what about:

 

Edward Brophy who plays Joe Denning?? he was in movies such as Freaks (1932), The Thin Man (1934), Mad Love (1935), China Seas (1935), A Slight Case of Murder (1938), You Can't Cheat An Honest Man (1939), Larceny Inc. (1942) and even supplied the voice of Mickey Mouse in Pluto's Christmas Tree (1952)!!!! he mostly played thugs with name like Joe Morelli, Slugs, Zeke, Rollo, Romo, Buzz, Bugs, Curly, Squinty Butch, Nosey, Dippy, Slats, Fats, Weepy, Ziggy, Roxy or Porky...how could you forget him???

 

nic orizaga

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Thanks for the information, Nic!

 

I'm wondering if the Boston Terrier reference comes from the fact that in the Disney film "The Shaggy D.A.", a Boston Terrier in a dog-pound had a Lorre-like voice. (In that same scene, Bogie "played" a bloodhound and Mae West was a poodle,)

 

I'm anxious to get my copy; Amazon hasn't shipped it yet.

 

And, "filmlover", I'll be watching for your disucssion of the extras, too.

 

Cheryl

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I can get us back to Criterion. I've had two Criterion films on order with Tower DVD for months now: Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and Seijun Suzuki's Tokyo Drifter. With the demise of Tower, it became apparent that I'd never receive my order through them; so I went to a local alternative and just picked them off the shelf.

 

TCM has been playing Peeping Tom, and it's played in local theatres recently; but they've never worked out with my schedule, so I'm excited that I can finally watch this whenever I wish. I'm a big fan of The Red Shoes, Matter of Life and Death,* and Black Narcissus; and recently caught up with A Canterbury Tale. So I'm happy to add this to my Powell playlist. The DVD includes a documentary about the writer (Leo Marks) and making of Peeping Tom and an "audio essay" by Laura Mulvey. I wonder if that's the same thing as an audio commentary?

 

T?ky? nagaremono ("Tokyo Drifter") is a movie that I discovered on TCM a few months ago.** I'm not one for cinematic violence, but the use of color and the eye-popping compositions thrilled me. The DVD includes an interview with director Seijun Suzuki. I look forward to studying this movie and watching out for other Suzuki features.

__________

* It tortures me that this isn't a Criterion Collection feature...

** Thank you, TCM Programmer!

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Akira Kurosawa's "High And Low" (Tengoku to jigoku) from 1963. I rented this Criterion disk from Netflix.

 

Here is my recommendation...rent, or buy, this dvd.

 

I am recommending this disk not for the Criterion extras. Other than a color bar screen (strange addition for a black and white movie) and the usual chapters feature...no extras.

 

I am recommending this disk not for the beautiful, widescreen "Tohoscope" transfer to digital (black and white and 1:2.35 aspect ratio).

 

Get this disk, because Kurosawa's "High And Low" is one of the best crime films I have ever seen. Because I have watched so many crime movies, "High And Low" MUST be one of the best crime movies...ever.

 

I won't go into details about the plot. I just want to write something about Kurosawa's presentation. The director uses the wide screen format to maximum effect. For instance, one scene has eight characters in three groups. The groups of people placed middle of screen, upper right corner of screen and left side of screen. Each group is doing something different, each group is doing something important (plot-wise) and each group is in focus. Kurosawa's composition for my highlighted scene leads the audience (me) to shift attention from one group to the next group to the next group and back again. I thought to myself, "this is like some 'big canvas' paintings I have seen. A work of art having a centrally located focus subject, but several secondary subjects added off center. The primary and secondary subjects work together to give a 'wholeness' to the painting." You know, that sort of thing.

 

I guess I really don't need to say this...but Kurosawa was a master of composition.

 

And a master of action. For instance, the villains trip into the seamy world of dope in a large Japanese city (Tokyo?), circa 1963. Kurosawa makes this like a trip into hell. If you watch this movie, I doubt you will forget the few minutes of the "testing the heroin" scenes anytime soon. I bet the inclusion of the heroin scenes was very controversial in Japan...back in the early 1960s.

 

One more thing. At a run time of 148 minutes (2 hours 28 minutes) you might think the movie might start to drag. No, my attention did not waver from this movie during the entire 2 hour plus run time. Understand, my comment is from someone who is suffering from adult no attention span disorder. No, I don't have anasd...I just have an elderly bladder...I held it the whole 2 hours and 28 minutes.

 

Rusty

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i own Masculin/Feminin, and i used to have ...And God Created Woman

 

so far every Criterion release ive owned, seen or rented has been wonderful

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> so far every Criterion release ive owned, seen or

> rented has been wonderful

 

Ah, but have you watched the Criterion releases of Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula?

 

I won't say they're bad movies, but you kinda have to be in the right mood for those... ;)

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I just watched Green for Danger which had been released on Criterion laserdisc a long time ago, and has just this week been re-issued on DVD.

 

The movie is arguably one of the best thrillers of all time, and this transfer is all but impeccable, for a movie from 1946.

 

The extras include the same audio commentary as the laserdisc, and a new interview with Geoff Brown, a British film historian apparently.

 

More info:

http://criterioncollection.com/asp/release.asp?id=375

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