Category Archives: Must-See

Scum | Alan Clarke’s brutal borstal drama still shocks 40 years on!

After the banning of their original 1977 BBC TV version, director Alan Clarke (The Firm) and writer Roy Minton (Funny Farm) set out to remake their drama, Scum. The resulting film, released now in a special UK Blu-ray edition to mark its 40th anniversary, was an even more vitriolic portrait of a corrupt and violent institution which stunned cinema audiences and caused outrage…

Scum (1979)

IN BORSTAL SURVIVAL RULES!
Young offenders Carlin (Ray Winstone), Angel (Alrick Riley) and Davis (Julian Firth) are sent to a tough British borstal in the country where they are brutalised by inmates and governors alike. After being singled out by Banks (John Blundell), the existing ‘Daddy’ on his wing, Carlin fights back, rising to the top of the prisoner heap. But for Angel and Davis life behind bars is much harder to take, especially so for Davis who takes his own life after a terrifying gang rape…

Scum (1979)

I’M THE F***ING DADDY NOW!
Roy Minton‘s script lays bare the brutal reality of British borstals, which were intended to reform young offenders, but ended up becoming breeding grounds for the next generation of hardened criminals. From the fire and brimstone governor (Peter Howell), sadistic wing head Mr Sands (John Judd) and his thuggish officers to ineffectual house master Goodyear (John Grillo) and an uncaring matron (Jo Kendall), there is not one sympathetic character amongst the staff in charge of the boys, who are so desperately in need of guidance, understanding and discipline, but end up being treated with brutal force and intimidation.

Set essentially in a boarding school with bars, Clarke’s film evokes the rebellious ‘two-fingers up at the establishment’ spirit of Lindsay Anderson’s If… (1968), and this is perfect captured in the film’s (improvised) riot scene in which the inmates vent their anger in response to Davis’ suicide. There are also shades of A Clockwork Orange in there, especially in Grillo’s greasy house master, who reminded me of Anthony Sharp’s sleazy Minister of the Interior in Kubrick’s film. Cinematically, the film is shot with a documentary flair, while its wintery exterior scenes are reminiscent of the paintings of LS Lowry.

Scum (1979)

Grim and overwhelming in its squalid sense of reality, the film is a fist in the face in terms of its foul language, racial and religious taunts (politically incorrect by today’s standards), graphic violence and male rape scene, while the acting from the young cast, including future famous faces like Mick Ford, Phil Daniels and Ray Burdis, is uniformly excellent. 40 years on, Scum still resonates (the snooker ball in a sock scene is iconic). But how much has really changed with regards to how we treat our young offenders?

The Indicator Limited Edition Blu-ray release includes the following special features…

• 2K restoration from the original negative, newly re-graded and approved by director of photography Phil Méheux
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with actor Ray Winstone and film critic Nigel Floyd (2006)
No Luxuries (2019, 20 mins): actor Mick Ford looks at his character of Archer
An Outbreak of Acting (2019, 16 mins): actor Ray Burdis on returning to the role of Eckersley for the feature film
Smashing Windows (2019, 12 mins): actor Perry Benson recalls the daily experiences of being on set
Continuous Tension (2019, 18 mins): director of photography Phil Méheux analyses the documentary approach of his cinematography
Criminal Record (2019, 10 mins): associate producer Martin Campbell on remaking the banned teleplay for the big screen
Back to Borstal (2019, 32 mins): executive producer Don Boyd reflects on his efforts to reinvigorate British cinema in the late 1970s
Concealing the Art (2019, 30 mins): veteran editor Michael Bradsell recalls collaborating with Alan Clarke
That Kind of Casting (2019, 22 mins): casting director Esta Charkham on the influence the Anna Scher Theatre had on production
• Interview with Roy Minton and Clive Parsons (1999, 16 mins)
• Interview with Roy Minton (2005, 20 mins)
• Interview with Davina Belling and Clive Parsons (2005, 9 mins)
• Interview with Don Boyd (2005, 13 mins)
• Cast Memories (2005, 17 mins): archive interviews with Phil Daniels, Julian Firth, Mick Ford and David Threlfall
• Original ‘U’ and ‘X’ certificate theatrical trailers
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles
• Limited edition collector’s book
• Limited edition exclusive double-sided poster

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The Woman in the Window | Fritz Lang’s influential 1940s film noir on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes Fritz Lang’s The Woman in the Window (1944), starring Edward G Robinson and Joan Bennett, as part of The Masters of Cinema Series for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK.

Robinson plays Richard Wanley, a psychiatrist biding his time while his wife and children are on vacation when he encounters Alice (Joan Bennett), who bears an uncanny resemblance to the subject of a portrait he is fascinated by. When Richard and Alice retire to her home, her wealthy, jealous boyfriend intrudes, and is killed after a struggle.

Alice convinces Richard to cover up the crime, but as Richard’s district attorney friend (Raymond Massey) investigates and the boyfriend’s bodyguard (Dan Duryea) begins to apply pressure to Richard, the walls begin to close in…

The Woman in the Window is a fantastic thriller made by Fritz Lang at the end of a very profitable decade in Hollywood, years which had already yielded Fury, You Only Live Twice, The Return of Frank James and Hangmen Also Die.

Considered as one of the most important examples of the genre, it was a triumph for Lang, writer/producer Nunnally Johnson (The Grapes of Wrath), and Edward G Robinson, and remains a classic nail-biter.

Bennett is in top form as the slinky femme fatale, while Duryea is at his silkily treacherous best as the blackmailer. Bennett and Duryea re-teamed with Robinson and Lang the following year for the equally exciting Scarlet Street.

Available to order from: Amazon

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
• LPCM audio (original mono presentation)
• Optional English subtitles
• Video essay by critic David Cairns
• Audio Commentary by Film Historian Imogen Sara Smith, author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City
• Original theatrical trailer
• Collector’s booklet featuring new essays; alongside rare archival imagery

The Grand Duel | Lee Van Cleef’s last great western gets a 2k Blu-ray release

Genre stalwart Lee Van Cleef stars as a gnarled ex-sheriff called Clayton who comes to the aid of young Philipp Wermeer (Alberto Dentice), a fugitive framed for the murder of a powerful figure called The Patriarch. Clayton helps Philipp fend off attacks from bounty hunters in a series of thrilling shootouts before the two make their way to Jefferson to confront the Saxon brothers, the cunning David (Horst Frank), the hotheaded Eli (Marc Mazza), and depraved psycho Adam (Klaus Grünberg), and reveal who really killed The Patriarch.

Penned by giallo writer Ernesto Gastaldi, The Grand Duel is one of the best Spaghetti Westerns of the 1970’s, featuring a superb central performance from Lee Van Clee, assured direction from Giancarlo Santi (a former as assistant-director to both Sergio Leone and Giulio Petroni), and a soaring tuneful score from composer Luis Bacalov (Django).

Add in some knock-out action sequences, a bunch of colourful characters, and a touch of giallo-noir in the second half and this forgotten gem really is one of the grandest of all the Italian westerns. But the highlight for me was Klaus Grünberg’s pockmarked villain Adam Saxon. Dressed in white, with matching gloves, he is truly despicable – especially when he massacres a group of Dutch immigrants just for the fun of it.

The Grand Duel is out on Blu-ray from Arrow Video from 6 May 2019.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• New 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio
• Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits
• Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the English soundtrack
• Audio commentary by film critic, historian and theorist Stephen Prince
An Unconventional Western: interview with director Giancarlo Santi
The Last of the Great Westerns: interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
Cowboy by Chance: interview with the actor Alberto Dentice (aka Peter O’Brien)
Out of the Box: interview with producer Ettore Rosboch
The Day of the Big Showdown: interview with assistant director Harald Buggenig
Saxon City Showdown: video appreciation by the academic Austin Fisher
• Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
• Extensive image gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork by Matt Griffin
• Collector’s booklet (First pressing only)

The original Twilight Zone gets a 60th anniversary UK Blu-ray release

2019 marks the 60th anniversary celebration of Rod Serling’s original Twilight Zone TV series and on 15 April, Mediumrare Entertainment is releasing an exclusive limited edition Blu-ray box set in the UK, which will include all 156 episodes of the original classic cult TV series, which was first broadcast on 2 October 1959 and ran for five seasons.

Included in the box set are a host of goodies, including an 80-page companion book written by Marc Scott Zicree, a 60-page episode guide, two reproduction Gold Key Comics, two post cards.

There’s also a host of extras (including audio commentaries, interviews, vintage radio dramas and the unaired pilots), plus a bonus disc which includes a new biography of the show’s creator, American Masters Presents: Rod Serling Submitted for Your Approval, and a new documentary, Timeless As Infinity: Entering the Twilight Zone, featuring interviews from Serling’s family, as well as interviews from the likes of Wes Craven and Joe Dante.

The fifth dimension has never been better than with this bumper box set on one of the most unique and inventive television shows ever created.

To pre-order the exclusive limited edition 60th Anniversary Blu-ray box set, which is priced at £149.99, and is not available from any other stockists, head over to: www.thetwilightzone.co.uk

Twilight Zone 60th Anniversary Box Set

Sebastiane (1976) | Derek Jarman’s first feature on Blu-ray and iTunes from BFI

Sebastiane

Derek Jarman’s first feature, Sebastiane, directed with Paul Humfress and released in 1976, presents the controversial, sensual and sexualised story of the 4th century Praetorian Guard whose human goodness leads to humiliation and martyrdom.

On 18 March 2019 Sebastiane comes to stand-alone Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, and iTunes, released by the BFI. Extras include Sebastiane: A Work in Progress (c1976) and The Making of Sebastiane (1975) and an illustrated booklet.

In Sebastiane, the heat of the Sardinian desert is powerfully captured on film – both cast and crew go through their paces, sweating it out Herzog-style – while Brian Eno’s distinctly moving score beautifully complements the superb framing and stunning slow-motion photography.

Sebastiane is a glorious hymn to the very real, living, breathing, male body and is presented here in a new digital version remastered from the original camera negative by the BFI National Archive.

Special features
• Presented in High Definition
• Jazz Calendar (1968, 36 mins): footage of the Royal Ballet in rehearsal featuring scenery and costumes by Derek Jarman
• Sebastiane: A Work in Progress (c1976, 62 mins): an incomplete, black and white and un-subtitled work-in-progress cut featuring alternative music
• The Making of Sebastiane (1975, 23 mins): Super 8 making-of, shot by the feature’s sound assistant Hugh Smith, along with Jarman
• John Scarlett-Davis Remembers Sebastiane (2018, 7 mins): artist filmmaker John Scarlett-Davis talks about his experiences on the set of Sebastiane
• Stills Gallery
• Illustrated booklet with writing on the film by BFI curator William Fowler, original review by Tony Rayns and full film credits

Out on Blu-ray and iTunes release on 18 March 2019

Class of 1984 & Class of 1999 | Mark L Lester’s cult high school thrillers make an explosive return – on Blu-ray

From 101 Films and Lionsgate UK comes a double-bill of high school trouble with the Limited Edition Blu-ray releases of Mark L Lester’s futuristic high school thrillers, Class of 1984 and Class of 1999.

Idealistic music teacher Andy Norris (Perry King) moves to the inner city with his pregnant wife Diane (Merrie Lynn Ross) and is shocked to find his new school is plagued by drugs and violence. Refusing to turn a blind eye like his fellow teachers like science master Terry Corrigan (Roddy McDowell), he soon clashes with gang leader Stegman (Timothy Van Patten), setting off a chain of escalating events that puts himself and his wife in mortal danger…

Class of 1984 is one of the seminal cult movies of the 1980s and is director Mark L Lester’s contemporary take on the 1955 delinquent drama The Blackboard Jungle. Scripted by Tom Holland (who had just completed The Beast Within and The Initiation of Sarah), it still packs a punch after all these years.

Van Patten’s pretty boy Stegman and his gang (which includes a Stefan Arngrim from Land of the Giants fame) may look cartoonish in their Starlight Express-looking faux punk gear, but the bullying that they inflict on fellow students (including a chubby Michael J Fox) is all too real and still very relevant today – as is the drug-dealing, sexual grooming of underage children, and the wanton acts of physical ‘and mental’ assault on teachers. Alice Cooper supplies the theme song, I Am the Future, Roddy McDowall’s meltdown will break your heart, and it still has one of the coolest poster designs of the era.

Class of 1984 makes it UK Blu-ray debit from 101 Films with this Limited Edition release, and it looks and sounds terrific – boasting some great extras…

Life is Pain… a brand-new career retrospective interview with writer Tom Holland (Fright Night)
And Pain is Everything: An interview with director Mark L. Lester
• Audio commentary with director Mark L. Lester
Do What You Love: A career retrospective of Perry King
History Repeats Itself: An interview with director Mark Lester and composer Lalo Schifrin
Blood and Blackboards: Interviews with cast and crew
Girls Next Door: Interviews with actors Erin Noble and Lisa Langlois
• Trailer and TV spots
• Stills gallery
• Collector’s booklet

Lester’s sequel, Class of 1999, is also getting a new term on Blu-ray, as it joins Lionsgate UK’s Vestron Collector’s Series.

It’s 1999, and youth gang violence is so high that the areas around some US schools have become ‘free fire zones’ into which not even the police will venture. When principal Miles Langford (Malcolm McDowell) decides to take his Seattle school back from the gangs, robotics specialist Dr Robert Forrest (Stacy Keach) steps in and introduces three android educators. But when the units revert to their original military programming and turn deadly (equipped with some powerful state-of-art weapons), former Blackhearts gang member Cody Culp (Bradley Gregg) must join forces with the rival Razorheads to stop the ensuing carnage…

I don’t recall seeing this first time round, but Lester’s futuristic sequel ain’t half bad. Yes, its all very cheesy, with more hideous Mad Max meets Flashdance costuming, cartoon violence and scenery chewing acting (I’m looking at you Stacy Keach! with your mullet and contacts), but it moves at a great pace and has some impressive physical effects and pyrotechnics – which all look pretty effective in this new transfer. Playing the droids are Patrick Kilpatrick, Pam Grier and John P Ryan – who all gets some suitably OTT Terminator-style demises.

The Lionsgate Blu-ray includes the following extras…

• Audio commentary with producer/director Mark L Lester
• School Safety: interviews with director/producer Mark L Lester and co-producer Eugene Mazzola
New Rules: an interview with screenwriter C Courtney Joyner
• Cyber-Teachers From Hell: interviews with special effects creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton
Future of Discipline: an interview with director of photography Mark Irwin
• Theatrical trailer
• TV spots
• Still gallery
• Video promo

Jarman – Volume Two (1987-1994) | The BFI presents six final features from the iconoclastic artist, plus 66 superlative special features, on Blu-ray

It has been 25 years since British filmmaker Derek Jarman died, aged 52 (on 19 February 1994), and yet his artistic legacy continues to live on. Embracing the experimental, the political and the artistic, his cinema was fearlessly unique but also touchingly personal and truly inspirational.

The BFI’s second Limited Edition Blu-ray collection brings together Jarman’s final six features, made during a prolonged burst of creativity and political activism that followed his HIV diagnosis in 1987, and all of them featuring his artistic muse, Tilda Swinton.

These include The Last of England (1987), War Requiem (1989) with Laurence Olivier in his last screen performance, The Garden (1990), Edward II (1993) with Steven Waddington, Wittgenstein (1993) with Michael Gough, Blue (1993) with composers Brian Eno, Coil, Scanner and Simon Fisher Turner, and the posthumously-released elegy to Super 8, Glitterbug (1994), with music from Brian Eno.

All the films are presented in High Definition for the first time in the UK, and the box-set includes 66 amazing special features – both new and archival, plus trailers, galleries of rare stills and promotional materials, and a 100-page collector’s. This truly is a must-have, and a perfect companion to the BFI’s first volume (1972-1986), which contains In the Shadow of the Sun (1974), Sebastiane (1976), Jubilee (1977), The Tempest (1979), The Angelic Conversation (1985) and Caravaggio (1986).

•••THE FILMS AND THOSE EXTRA FEATURES IN DETAIL•••

THE LAST OF ENGLAND
Jarman’s highly personal allegory of England in the 1980s. The film combines images of inner-city decay, footage from home movies of three generations of Jarman’s family and a post-apocalypse vision of London ruled by a para-military authority.

Dead Cat (1989, 20 mins): Derek Jarman and Genesis P-Orridge feature in this startling surrealist film in which a young man is terrorised and humiliated, later engaging in a mechanised, industrial sexual encounter
Isle of Sheppey (1984, 7 mins): edited highlights from a VHS video shot on a location-hunting expedition, featuring Derek Jarman and cultural historian Jon Savage
Depuis le jour (1987, 5 mins): Derek Jarman’s sequence from the anthology film Aria
Depuis le jour: audio commentary by producer Don Boyd
Remembering Derek Jarman (2014, 13 mins)
• James Mackay Remembers The Last of England (2019, 14 mins)
• Don Boyd Remembers The Last of England and Aria (2019, 16 mins)
• Homemade Stuff and Wild Ideas: Simon Fisher Turner on Derek Jarman (2019, 16 mins): the composer looks back on his involvement with Derek Jarman’s art
• Another Derek: Jarman’s Life Away From the Limelight (2019, 5 mins): interview with artist filmmaker John Scarlett-Davis
• An Odd Morality (2019, 4 mins): interview with Lee Drysdale
• Another World for Ourselves (2019, 9 mins): director John Maybury on meeting Jarman
• David Lewis Remembers Dead Cat (2019, 15 mins)
• Audio commentary on The Last of England with James Mackay, Christopher Hughes, Christopher Hobbs and Simon Fisher Turner
• Galleries

WAR REQUIEM
A must-see for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in Benjamin Britten’s choral masterpiece, Jarman’s film interpretation includes readings of Wilfred Owen’s World War One poetry and disturbing images of wars since. Tragedy without the triumph, in other words. Features Nathaniel Parker (as Owen), Laurence Olivier, Sean Bean, Patricia Hayes and Nigel Terry.

Books By My Bedside: Derek Jarman (1989, 25 mins)
Derek Jarman in Conversation with Simon Field (1989, 32 mins)
Requiem For Jarman (2008, 37 mins): recollections on the making of War Requiem
• Don Boyd Remembers War Requiem (2019, 38 mins)
• John Maybury Remembers War Requiem (2019, 8 mins)
• The Nature of Super 8 (2019, 8 mins)
Caravaggio was Accidental (2019, 10 mins): Simon Fisher Turner remembers his first feature soundtrack for Derek Jarman
• Before The Last (2019, 15 mins): James Mackay recalls working with Derek Jarman on The Angelic Conversation and Imagining October
•Derek Jarman Presents (2019, 27 mins): John Maybury remembers the Super 8 filmmaking scene
War Requiem trailer
· Audio commentary on War Requiem with Don Boyd
War Requiem image gallery

THE GARDEN
In the last of three very personal films, Jarman used an explosive combination of scenes and images to bring together his loves, hates and desires – united by his imagery of the Passion.

Derek’s Shoot in Dungeness (1990, 6 mins): rare behind-the-scenes Super 8 footage shot on location at the time of The Garden
The Wanderer (1991, 30 mins): experimental film by David Lewis based on the Anglo-Saxon poem of the same name, featuring Michael Gough and Michael York
Kiss 25 Goodbye (1991, 7 mins): experimental short on the 1991 OutRage! ‘kiss-in’ protest at Bow Street police station
Clause and Effect (1988, 19 mins): the gay community unites against Clause 28
Orange Juice (1984, 41 mins): Derek Jarman’s location shoot for the promo for ‘What Presence?!’ by post-punk band Orange Juice, fronted by Edwyn Collins
Shooting the Hunter (2015, 5 mins)
• James Mackay Remembers The Garden (2019, 15 mins)
• Anything Can Happen (2019, 11 mins): Richard Heslop on working with Derek Jarman
• David Lewis Remembers The Garden (2019, 15 mins)
• The Other Great Masterpiece (2019, 6 mins): John Maybury considers Jarman’s enthusiasm for gardening
The Garden trailers
• Life with Derek (2018, 44 mins): Composer Simon Fisher Turner’s collage of audio clips

EDWARD II
Jarman’s trenchant sort-of-modern-dress adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s play about the downfall of the medieval monarch, richly-textured with atmosphere, but with the homosexual content expanded, embellished and politicised.

Derek’s Edward (2009, 24 mins): the making of Edward II
Ostia (1987, 27 mins): Jarman embodies Pier Paolo Pasolini in this ambitious student film imagining the last hours of the Italian director’s life
Ostia director’s audio commentary
The Clearing (1993, 7 mins): short film by Alex Bistikas starring Derek Jarman and Keith Collins
The Extended Derek Jarman Interview (1991, 70 mins): With Colin McCabe
Cut/Action (2019, 8 mins): Video essay with music and narration by Simon Fisher Turner
• David Lewis Remembers Edward II (2019, 4 mins)
• The Same Spirit (2019, 6 mins): Don Boyd remembers Jarman’s later years
• Truly Beautiful (2019, 19 mins): interview with costumer designer Sandy Powell
Derek Jarman in Conversation with Colin McCabe (1991, 97 mins, audio only)
• Galleries

WITTGENSTEIN
Jarman executed this critically-acclaimed Channel 4 film celebrating the life of Austrian-born philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in just two weeks (on a tiny £300,000 budget). Visually stunning, with some fantastic costumes (from Sandy Powell), it explores Wittgenstein’s repressed homosexuality alongside his reputation as one of greatest thinkers of the century, and features Michael Gough and John Quentin as Bertrand Russell and Maynard Keynes.

• Karl Johnson on Wittgenstein (2007, 9 mins)
• Tilda Swinton on Wittgenstein and Derek Jarman (2007, 10 mins)
• Tariq Ali on Producing Wittgenstein (2007, 9 mins)
Wittgenstein: Behind the Scenes (1993, 22 mins)
Wittgenstein: An Introduction (2007, 4 mins)
Face to Face: Derek Jarman (1993, 41 mins): Jarman discusses his HIV status and sexuality with Jeremy Isaacs
• Producer Tariq Ali on Wittgenstein (2014, 7 mins)
• Jarmanalia with Simon Fisher Turner (2019, 17 mins)
• Films Made by a Painter (2019, 5 mins): James Mackay reflects on Jarman’s distinctive style as a filmmaker

BLUE & GLITTERBUG
Blue – the third film in the highly-personal trilogy begun by The Last of England and The Garden – received a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival for its uncompromising look at what it’s like to live and work as an artist with the emotional and physical agonies of AIDS. A challenge to conventional filmmaking ideas, the film sees Jarman (and friends) musing on life, death and living with AIDS using vocal and musical testimony against a blank blue screen. Its a fitting goodbye from a director who never once compromised his principals or his own vision. The posthumously-released Glitterbug is a wonderful elegy to Super 8, featuring a compilation of shorts in which the likes of Adam Ant, William S Burroughs and Marianne Faithfull all contribute.

21st Century Nuns (1994, 10 mins): A look at the British chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and their ‘colourful’ activist efforts at fighting homophobia. Great to see this included, as it features some dear friends (some of whom are no longer with us), and is a reminder of just how far we have come with gay/lesbian/transgender rights.
Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman (2009, 13 mins)
• James Mackay Remembers Blue (2019, 15 mins)
• Simon Fisher Turner Remembers Blue (2019, 8 mins)
• David Lewis Remembers Blue (2019, 13 mins)
• Hard to Imagine (2019, 8 mins): John Maybury recalls Jarman’s journey towards Blue
• After The Garden (2019, 10 mins): Richard Heslop remembers Jarman’s later days
• Total Magic (2019, 6 mins): production designer Christopher Hobbs looks back upon Jarman’s fascination with occult imagery
• After Neutron (2019, 8 mins): interview with Lee Drysdale
• The Best Mentor (2019, 9 mins): John Scarlett-Davis on Jarman’s artistic legacy
Glitterbug and Beyond (2019, 7 mins): James Mackay on the production of Glitterbug
• David Lewis Remembers Glitterbug (2019, 7 mins)
Bliss (1991, 40 mins, audio only): the London debut of the avant-garde live show that helped raise funds to produce Blue, featuring Derek Jarman and Tilda Swinton. This is another of my personal favourites as I was in the audience for this performance, and ended up meeting and chatting with Jarman after the gig. He later gave me some Super 8mm film to shoot my own experimental short, Cruising Headstones.
• Galleries

Michael Gough in The Wanderer

 

The Boys in the Band (1970) | Mart Crowley’s ground-breaking queer drama still has the power to shock!

Boys in the Band (1970)

The Boys in the Band was one of earliest directorial efforts of William Friedkin (who had impressed with his 1968 adaptation of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, and would next helm The French Connection and The Exorcist), and it proved hugely controversial on its original 1970 release, dividing the gay community across the world. Now, the game-changing queer cinema drama is making its UK Blu-ray debut from Second Sight.

Boys in the Band (1970)

Based on the seminal 1968 Off-Broadway hit of the same name, playwright Mart Crowley adapted his own play for the big screen. The original stage cast including Kenneth Nelson, Peter White and Leonard Frey all starred in the film, one that Friedkin rates as ‘one of the few films I’ve made that I can still watch’.

Famed for its caustic wit, savage put-downs and many expletives, the film follows a group of gay men celebrating the birthday of one of their friends, Harold (Frey), amid much drunken backbiting and, as the drink flows, the evening descends even further…

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The Boys in the Band Special Edition Blu-ray is out on 11 February 2019 complete with a raft of extras, including an exclusive, brand new interview with Mark Gatiss and Ian Hallard (who resurrected the play for a sold-out run in London in 2018), commentary from Friedkin and writer Crowley, as well as features looking at the film, the play it was based on and its cultural impact and resonance in the years since it first caused controversy.

Released 50 years after its theatrical debut – a year before the Stonewall riots – The Boys in the Band still has the power to shock…

Out now on Blu-ray in the UK from Second Sight

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1965) | Robert Aldrich’s splendidly macabre murder mystery on Blu-ray

hush... hush, sweet charlotte-4

From Eureka! Entertainment comes director Robert Aldrich’s brooding murder mystery, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, starring Bette Davis, on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.

Don’t Tell Anyone What Happened In The Summer House!
Tended by her loyal servant Velma (Agnes Moorehead), Charlotte Hollis (Bette Davis) has been closeted in her family’s plantation mansion ever since the brutal murder of her married lover, John Mayhew (Bruce Dern) 37 years earlier. When the local county plans to tear down the house to build a highway, the spinster seeks the help of her New York-based cousin Miriam (Olivia de Havilland), but Charlotte’s mind soon becomes unhinged when she sees visions of John’s decapitated hand and hearing the song he composed for her wafting through the mansion late at night. Has his ghost really come back to haunt her or is someone trying to drive Charlotte insane?

Regarded as Aldrich’s informal follow-up to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, this splendidly macabre psychological thriller deservedly stands on its own merits, especially considering its seven Academy Award nominations, including a Best Supporting Actress gong for Agnes Moorehead. She is simply splendid as the dishevelled Velma, who is quick to alert the authorities and an insurance investigator (a twinkly Cecil Kellaway) about her suspicions. Moorehead’s old Mercury Theatre pal, Joseph Cotton, meanwhile, chews the scenery big time as the bourbon-soaked Dr Drew Bayliss, who jilted Miriam after the murder.

In her last film role is The Maltese Falcon‘s Mary Astor. ‘Turn her loose, Robert, you might learn something!’ was Davis’ famous on-set comment about the veteran actress whose scenes as John’s seriously-ill widow Jewel are the antithesis of Davis’ full-blown hysterics. Nevertheless, Davis brings much pathos to Charlotte (especially in the last half of the film), while Olivia de Havilland (who sensationally replaced Joan Crawford) gives sterling support as the butter-wouldn’t-melt Miriam, who is hiding a few dark secrets of her own.

With its atmospheric black and white cinematography (from Aldrich regular Joseph Biroc), meticulous art direction (from William Glasgow and Raphael Bretton), cracking script (from Baby Jane novelist Henry Farrell), ghoulish special effects and nightmarish set pieces, not to mention the memorably haunting theme tune (from Frank De Vol and Mack David), this is a classic murder mystery of the highest order and one that can be revisited over and over..

Watch out for George Kennedy as the demolition foreman, Ellen Corby as one of the town’s gossips, and a couple of faces from Baby Jane, including Victor Buono as Charlotte’s domineering father whom she believed killed John.

Favourite line: ‘Don’t turn on the light. It’s not real when it’s light. It’s only real when it’s dark… dark and still!’

Eureka! Entertainment presents Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte as part of their Masters of Cinema Series for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK with the following extras…

• 1080p presentation
• LPCM 2.0 Audio
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• Audio commentary by critic Kat Ellinger
• Audio commentary by film historian Glenn Erickson
• Hush…Hush, Sweet Joan: The Making of Charlotte [22 mins]
• Bruce Dern Remembers [13 mins]
• Wizard Work [5 mins] – archival behind-the-scenes look at the film, narrated by Joseph Cotton
• Stills Gallery
• Trailer & TV spots
• Collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Lee Gambin, illustrated with archival imagery

Available to order from Zavvi at http://po.st/vIhZja

DID YOU KNOW?
Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, which was shot on location at the historic Houmas plantation in Burnside, Louisiana, was originally going to be called What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte? However, Bette Davis disliked the title as it indicated a sequel to Baby Jane, so it was she who suggested using Frank De Vol/Mack David’s song title instead. Crooner Al Martino (who sings the tune over the closing credits) released it as a B-side of his January 1965 single release My Heart Would Know, which reached No.52 on the Billboard Hot 100. Bette Davis, Patti Page, Richard Chamberlain and even the UK’s very own Bruce Forsyth all released their own versions of the melody.

Laura (1944) | Eureka Entertainment presents the essential film noir on Blu-ray

Director Otto Preminger’s Laura is one of the greatest and most essential film noirs of all time, and now the deliciously well-crafted murder mystery is heading to Blu-ray as part of Eureka Entertainment’s The Masters of Cinema Series from 14 January 2019.

Police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is drawn into Manhattan high society as he investigates the death of career girl Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), apparently gunned down in her own apartment. The suspects are numerous, led by effete, snobbish columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), and Laura’s philandering fiancé Shelby (Vincent Price), who’s also been cavorting with Laura’s wealthy aunt (Judith Anderson). McPherson begins to fall in love with Laura through a portrait in her home and the memories relayed by those who knew her… just as it becomes apparent that even the basic facts of the case might not be what they seemed.

This 1944 murder mystery classic from director Otto Preminger (replacing Rouben Mamoulian) has grown in stature over the years, with its hypnotic mixture of doomed romantic obsession, dizzying intrigue, and fatalistic cynicism marking it as essential noir.

Peppered with eternally quotable dialogue (“I should be sincerely sorry to see my neighbours’ children devoured by wolves.”), sumptuous, Oscar-winning cinematography by Joseph LaShelle and David Raksin’s haunting theme music, Laura is an undeniable American masterpiece.

Available to order from: Amazon and Zavvi

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray of both the extended and original theatrical versions of the film
  • LPCM mono Audio
  • Optional English SDH subtitles
  • Audio commentary by composer David Raksin and film professor Jeanine Basinger
  • Audio commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer
  • Laura: The Lux Radio Theater broadcasts Two radio adaptations of Laura from 1945 [59 mins] and 1954 [57 mins], starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney and Vincent Price in the 1945 version, and Gene Tierney and Victor Mature in the 1954 version
  • Laura: The Screen Guild Theater broadcast Adaptation of Laura from radio anthology series, The Screen Guild Theater, originally aired in 1945 [30 mins], starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney and Clifton Webb
  • Laura: The Ford Theater broadcast A further radio adaptation of Laura from 1948, starring Virginia Gilmore and John Larkin
  • A Tune for Laura: David Raksin Remembers an archival interview with the renowned composer
  • The Obsession an archival featurette on Laura
  • Deleted Scene
  • PLUS: A collector s booklet featuring a new essay by Phil Hoad, alongside a selection of rare archival imagery

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