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Rio Grande (1950) | Jeremy Isaac revisits John Ford’s final entry in his Cavalry Trilogy as it hits the Blu-ray trail

Rio Grande is the third entry in director John Ford’s Western ‘Cavalry Trilogy’ (the first two are Fort Apache and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, released in 1948 and 1949 respectively), and features all the Fordian obsessions found in the earlier films: duty, community, the loneliness of command, career versus family, savagery versus civilisation, the ‘romance’ of the Confederacy, Irish stereotypes, fist fights, and Ford’s customary heavy humour and rollicking adventure scenes. Yet the film eschews both the prickly intensity of Fort Apache and the aching nostalgia of Yellow Ribbon to emphasise the troubled romantic relationship between its two principals, played by John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.

Based on James Warner Bellah’s short story Mission With No Record, the tale is a simple one: young trooper Jeff Yorke (Claude Jarman of The Yearling fame) arrives at a remote cavalry outpost to find the command headed by no-nonsense Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke (Wayne), who also happens to be his estranged father. Yorke has been separated from the boy’s mother Kathleen (O’Hara) since duty to the Union led him to burn her Southern estate during the Civil War 15 years earlier.

Shortly afterwards Kathleen also arrives at the post with the intention of buying Jeff out of his commitment to the army, to which both son and father are vehemently opposed. As the trio struggles over this issue, Yorke and Kathleen try to rekindle their shattered love, something they both want but which they wrestle with because of their tragic past.

This plays out against the backdrop of an Indian rebellion involving several gripping action scenes and the kidnapping by Apaches of the post’s children (one of which is played by 10-year-old Karolyn Grimes, best remembered as George Bailey’s youngest daughter Zuzu in It’s A Wonderful Life; the Apaches are played by members of the Navajo tribe employed by Ford in most of his ‘Indian’ Westerns). Can Yorke and his trusty troopers succeed in rescuing the beleaguered youngsters?

As always, the director’s preoccupations are accompanied by his famous use of the ‘John Ford Stock Company’: Wayne was a longtime favourite of Ford’s; O’Hara had appeared in his Oscar-winning How Green Was My Valley, and would later join him and Wayne for The Quiet Man, as well as appearing in Ford’s The Long Grey Line and Wings Of Eagles in 1955 and 1957. Other Ford regulars include the boozy Victor McLaglen as Irish Sergeant Quincannon, Ken Curtis (lead singer of featured vocal group the Sons of the Pioneers, originally founded in the 1930s by Roy Rogers), former silent actor Jack Pennick, who appeared in all bar two of Ford’s 14 sound Westerns, and – importantly – lifelong Tinseltown pals Harry Carey Jr and Ben Johnson.

Harry Carey Jr’s father had been Ford’s biggest Western star during the silent era. Following his dad’s death the previous year, the director gave the young Harry an early movie break by casting him with Wayne and Mexican actor Pedro Armendariz in his allegorical 1948 oater 3 Godfathers, the opening titles of which dedicated the film ‘To the Memory of Harry Carey, bright star of the Western sky…’. Carey Jr went on to appear in dozens of movies over the next 60 years, many for John Ford, until his death in 2012 aged 91.

Raised on an Oklahoma ranch, Ben Johnson was a gen-u-ine cowboy and rodeo rider who was hired by producer Howard Hughes to ship horses to the West Coast for his controversial 1943 Western The Outlaw starring Jane Russell. In Hollywood Johnson worked as a stunt man in Westerns, and it was while working on Ford’s Fort Apache, the first in the Cavalry Trilogy, that he caught the director’s eye. During shooting, a horse team pulling a wagon bolted with three extras aboard. Seasoned horseman Johnson reacted immediately, racing after the wagon, reining in the team and saving the men’s lives.

Ford cast him as former Confederate officer-turned-US Cavalry Sergeant Travis Tyree in She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. Not only did the role give Johnson a chance to exercise his acting skills, it also allowed him to show off his superb horsemanship, filling the film’s action sequences with scenes of unparalleled equestrian pyrotechnics. His career with Ford seemed set, and he was cast in the lead in the director’s next venture, Wagon Master, in 1950. However, the film failed to make Johnson a star in the John Wayne mould and he returned in Rio Grande, this time as Trooper Tyree, as though demoted for his failure. He continued to make movies (mostly Westerns such as George Stevens’ Shane) for the next 40 years, winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his iconic portrayal of Sam The Lion in Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show in 1971, before passing away in 1996 aged 77.

Harry Carey Jr was no mean horseman himself, as he (as Trooper Sandy Boone) and Johnson demonstrated in Rio Grande in a series of breathtaking scenes, notably one in which the pair rode ‘like them ancient Romans’, that is to say, standing upright atop two horses and straddling the gap between them with one foot on the back of each horse, racing and even jumping fences. However, it wasn’t all bareback for Johnson and Carey Jr, as the pair also played a crucial role as ever-present comedic guardians and protectors of the young Jeff.

Filmed in wild majestic locations in Moab, Utah, Rio Grande is not as intense as its predecessors Fort Apache or Yellow Ribbon. Certainly, it lacks the stress and tension surrounding Henry Fonda’s unyielding Colonel Owen Thursday of the first film, who pays the ultimate price for his relentless adherence to duty and the rituals of social convention, or the sense of mission failure and emasculation by being put out to pasture through retirement as experienced by Wayne’s Captain Nathan Brittles in the second.

Instead, Rio Grande‘s lower-key approach chronicles the angst-ridden contradictions of love, parenthood, family commitment and responsibility. The chemistry between the popular Wayne and O’Hara pairing is engaging and beautifully played as Kirby woos Kathleen all over again; the family is healed and reunited and, amid much galloping, massed war whoops and rapid gunfire, the rebellion providing the action-adventure background is put down, bringing peace to the frontier. It may not be John Ford’s best Western (no pun intended), but it’s still one of his finest, and a more-than-worthy closing volume to the classic Cavalry Trilogy.

[Editor’s note]: This piece was written by Jeremy Isaac, whose knowledge of the Western genre is unsurpassed. A brilliant features writer and sub-editor, Jeremy can be contacted via the following links for any possible freelance work: uk.linkedin.com/in/jerryjourno1 and jerryjourno58.wordpress.com/

Rio Grande is out now on Blu-ray in the UK from Eureka Entertainment as part of The Masters of Cinema Series.

BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Limited Edition O-Card (2000 units only)
  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray, from a new transfer completed by Paramount’s preservation department in 2019
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Brand new and exclusive feature-length audio commentary by western authority Stephen Prince
  • Scene specific audio commentary with Maureen O’Hara
  • A video essay on the film by John Ford expert and scholar Tag Gallagher
  • Along the Rio Grande with Maureen O’Hara – archival documentary
  • The Making of Rio Grande – archival featurette
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: a collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by western expert Howard Hughes; a new essay by film writer Phil Hoad; transcript of an interview with John Ford; excerpts from a conversation with Harry Carey, Jr.

The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse | Your heart might just miss a beat watching Fritz Lang’s thrilling cinematic swansong

From Eureka Entertainment comes The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse (Die 1000 Augun des Dr Mabuse), the final instalment in Fritz Lang’s trilogy and the director’s cinematic swansong on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, as part of The Masters of Cinema Series.

After enjoying success with 1959’s Indian Epic (AKA The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb), German producer Artur Brauner signed Fritz Lang to direct one more film back in his home country. The result would be a picture that brought Lang’s career full-circle and become his final celluloid testament.

Why does it hurt when my heart misses the beat?
The character of megalomaniac criminal mastermind Dr Mabuse (who I will always associate with Propaganda’s 1984 debut song – catch the music video below) was originally made famous by Lang in his pre-Hollywood years. First in the four+ hour long 1922 silent Dr Mabuse (based on the novel of the same name by Norbert Jacques), then in the 1933 sound crime thriller Testament of Dr Mabuse (based on Jacques’ unfinished novel, Mabuse’s Colony). Both films starred Rudolf Klein-Rogge as the titular villain and both were set in the period of the Weimar Republic.

The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse is set in 1960s at the start of the Cold War, and while it is not a direct sequel, it does exist in the same universe. When a TV journalist is killed in his car on his way to an important broadcast, Inspector Kras (Gert Frobe) gets a call from blind psychic informant Peter Cornelius (Lupo Prezzo), who had a vision of the crime but not the perpetrator.

Meanwhile, at the Luxor Hotel (where every room has been bugged), industrialist Henry Travers (Peter Van Eyck) comes to the aid of the mysterious Marian (Dawn Addams), when she attempts to commit suicide in a bid to escape her abusive. Meanwhile, salesman Hieronymus B Mistelzweig (Werner Peters) always seems to be lurking about. Together, these disparate characters come together to work out just who is channelling Mabuse (Wolfgang Preiss).

This is a thrilling, action-packed crime thriller where Nazi survellious tech, sex crimes, paranoia, psychic powers and classic car chases collide, and its undoubtedly Lang’s final film masterpiece – and your heart might just miss a beat watching it. It also a spawned six Mabuse films in competition with the poplular German Edgar Wallace Krimi films. A must see.

The Masters of Cinema Series Blu-ray is available to order from: Eureka Store and Amazon

SPECIAL FEATURES
* 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
* Original German soundtrack
* Optional English audio track, approved by Fritz Lang
* Optional English subtitles
* Feature-length audio commentary by film-scholar and Lang expert David Kalat
* 2002 interview with Wolfgang Preiss (this is a wonderfully informative piece, and quite poignant as it was filmed two weeks before Preiss’ death in November 2002)
* Alternate ending
* Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned and original poster artwork
* Collector’s booklet featuring a new essays; vintage reprints of writing by Lang; and notes by Lotte Eisner on Lang’s final, unrealised projects

Fritz Lang’s Indian Epic is a ravishingly kitsch 1950s adventure

Best known for his 1920s and 1930s masterpieces Der mude Tod, Die Nibelungen, Metropolis, Women in the Moon and M, and his forays into Hollywood film noir in the 1950s, Fritz Lang was all set to call it a day in 1959 when he was offered the opportunity to remake a film that he and his former wife Thea von Harbou had worked on back in the 1920s. Ahead of the Eureka Entertainment! release of Fritz Lang’s final feature, The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse, on 11 May 2020, I thought it timely to revisit his penultimate picture.

Indian Epic comprises two films – Der Tiger von Eschnapur (The Tiger of Eschnapur) and Das Indische Grabmal (The Indian Tomb) – that tell the tale of a tyrant who turns his fairy tale palace into a prison for the woman who refuses his affections.

In the first film, Chandra (Walter Reyer), the Maharaja of Eschnapur, falls for Seetha (Debra Paget) a young temple dancer who only has eyes for a visiting German architect, Harald (Paul Hubschmid). The couple attempt to flee, but are captured: for Seetha, the palace becomes a gilded cage, while Harald is imprisoned in a secret dungeon.

In the second film, Harald’s sister Irene (Sabine Bethmann) and her husband Walter (Claus Holm) arrive at the palace in search of Harald. Walter is then coerced into building a grand tomb – not for the maharaja, but for Seetha, who has been sentenced to die after she is married to Chandra. With no time to loose Irene and Seetha plot to free Harald, but first they must find their way through the palace’s maze of tunnels, caves, secret temples and leper-filled dungeons, whilst trying to evade Chandra and his palace courtiers.

Wanting to prove to the Hollywood fraternity that a large-scale movie, shot in Europe on the cheap, could return a healthy profit, Lang put his retirement on hold to film his grand exotic adventure. The result is a lush, over-the-top fantasy that recalls old-fashioned Saturday morning serials and Arabian nights adventures.

Kitsch in design, yet totally serious in tone, Indian Epic is a huge departure from the man who wowed us with his mad, futuristic visions in Metropolis and thrilled us with perfectly executed thrillers like Hangmen Also Die! (1943), The Woman in the Window (1944) and The Big Heat (1953). Lang’s double-bill certainly doesn’t attempt to reflect a realistic India, but the films do offer a ravishingly beautiful homage to the exotic East, as seen through Western eyes of the day.

Standing in for Chandra’s palace are the real-life island palaces and gardens of Udaipur in Rajasthan, and it is these shots which give the film its depth. Call it a guilty pleasure, but watching Paget dance in a revealing diamond encrusted G-string (check it out below) while taking in these vibrantly colourful locations is all I needed to be sucked, body and soul, into Lang’s twisted tale about mad love.

Indian Epic is available on DVD, from Eureka Entertainment in the UK with restored transfers of the films; a choice of German and English soundtracks; a making of documentary; vintage 8mm location footage; trailers; and an informative booklet about Lang and his vision.

Fritz Lang’s epic Die Nibelungen is The Lord of the Rings of the silent era

Drawn from German myth, and the basis for Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle of operas, Fritz Lang‘s expressionistic five-hour 1924 epic Die Nibelungen is a must see. And in the lead up to Eureka Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of Lang’s final feature, The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse on 11 May 2020, I thought it timely to revisit his silent fantasy adventure.

The Story
In Part One, prince Siegfried (Germany’s answer to Arthur) acquires the power of invincibility after slaying a dragon and sets out to win the hand of the daughter of the king of Burgundy. But his marriage to Kriemhild is cut short when her brother Gunther conspires with a fierce warrior called Hagen to bring about his death. In Part Two, the grieving Kriemhild weds the mighty Attila the Hun in a bid to seek revenge against Hagen and the Burgundy knights, resulting in a terrifying apocalypse.

The Lowdown
With the horrors of World War One still very much alive, Lang filmed the epic legend of Siegfried in a bid to bring a little pride back into a country suffering from pessimistic malaise. But this would be no re-staging of Wagner’s popular 19th-century operas. Instead, the visionary director created a totally new universe. Using massive sets and breakthrough visual effects, nature and myth collided in a highly stylised world that, although kitsch but today’s standards, was a revelation in its day.

Why the Nazis loved it?
The two films, which took nine months to make, were met with huge success in both Germany and wider Europe, and became hugely influential on filmmakers of the period, like Sergei Eisenstein, who drew on the film’s scale and look for 1938’s Aleksandr Nevsky. The film’s images and the epic poem it was based on were also ripe for another kind of appropriation. The rising National Socialists (the film was greatly admired by Hitler and Goebbels) would late re-cut Lang’s film, adding in new titles, dialogue and music by Wagner (also Hitler’s favourite) to give voice to the Nazi race-elimination doctrine.

The upshot
The inspiration for nearly every screen fantasy adventure from The Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones, Die Nibelungen is an extraordinarily ambitious visual piece of cinema history that is must-see for all cinephiles.

Die Nibelungen is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Eureka Entertainment!, featuring a HD restoration of the film by Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, with its original frame-rates and in its original aspect-ratio; newly translated optional English subtitles for the original German intertitles; a one-hour documentary on the film restoration, and collector’s booklet.

Buster Keaton: 3 Films (Volume 2) | The Navigator, Seven Chances and Battling Butler get a 4K restoration on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes a second collection of essential films from silent comedy genuis Buster Keaton, presented as part of The Masters of Cinema Series.

Between 1920 and 1929, Buster Keaton created a peerless run of feature films that established him as ‘arguably the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies’. Collected here are three further films from that era; The Navigator (1924), Seven Chances (1925) and Battling Butler (1926), and each one is presented in 4K restorations.

The Navigator (1924, dir. Buster Keaton & Donald Crisp) – Wealthy Rollo Treadway – a character who forms one of Keaton’s gallery of rich nitwits and was first seen in his first feature The Saphead (1920) – suddenly decides to propose to his neighbour across the street, Betsy (Kathryn McGuire), and sends his servant to book passage for a honeymoon sea cruise to Honolulu. When Betsy rejects his sudden offer, he decides to go on the trip anyway, boarding without delay that night. Because the pier number is partially covered, he ends up on the wrong ship, which Betsy’s rich father has just sold to a small country at war.

When 1924’s Sherlock Jr bombed with critics and public alike, Keaton endeavoured to make a follow-up that was both exciting and successful and so provided himself with the biggest prop he could lay his hands on to show off his comic mastery: an ocean liner. The result was the biggest hit of his career, with glowing reviews – The New York Times called it ‘an excellent panacea for melancholia or lethargy, as it is filled with ludicrous and intensely humorous situations’. It is now widely rated as Keaton’s finest feature apart from The General.

Seven Chances (1925, dir. Buster Keaton) – Jimmy Shannon (Keaton) learns he is to inherit $7million, with a catch. He will only get the money if he is married by 7pm on his 27th birthday, which happens to be that same day! What follows is an incredible series of escalating set-pieces. This one did big business at the box office and includes one of the best chase sequences of any Keaton movie.

Battling Butler (1926, dir. Buster Keaton). Keaton’s character, Rollo Treadway, resurfaces here and this time his dandy pretends to be a champion boxer keen to impress the family of the girl he loves. But when the real champ shows up, he decided to humiliate the imposter by having him fight the ‘Alabama Murderer’! Battling Butler actually did better box-office business than The General, and was one of Keaton’s personal favourites (although the critics were in two minds). It was also one of Martin Scorsese’s inspirations when he was making 1980’s Raging Bull, especially Butler’s final, uncomic fight.

Eureka Entertainment’s limited edition (3000) 3-disc Blu-ray release includes the following special features…

• 1080p presentations from the Cohen Film Collection’s 4K restorations, with musical scores composed and conducted by Robert Israel
The Navigator: audio commentary by silent film historians Robert Arkus and Yair Solan
Seven Chances: audio commentary by film historian Bruce Lawton
• Video essay by David Cairns covering all three films
The Navigator: documentary on the making of the film by Bruce Lawton
• Buster Keaton & Irwin Allen audio interview (1945, 6min)
• Buster Keaton & Arthur Friedman audio interview (1956, 32min)
• Buster Keaton & Robert Franklin audio interview (1958, 56min)
• Buster Keaton & Herbert Feinstein audio interview from 1960 [1960, 48min)
• Buster Keaton & Studs Terkel audio interview from 1960 [1960, 38min)
What! No Spinach? (1926, dir. Harry Sweet, 19min): Comedy short by US actor/director Harry Sweet, that riffs elements from Seven Chances
• Collector’s book featuring new writing and archival writing and imagery

The Dark Half (1993) | A twisted thriller from horror masterminds George A Romero and Stephen King

Horror writer Thad Beaumont (Timothy Hutton) hopes to distance himself from his murder novels and from George Stark, the pseudonymous name he has used to author them. To achieve this, he cooks up a murder of his own: a publicity stunt that should lay Stark to rest forever.

But when the people around him are found gruesomely slain – and his own fingerprints dot the crime scenes – Beaumont is dumbfounded until he learns that Stark has taken on a life of his own… and begun a gruesome quest for vengeance!

The combination of Stephen King and George A Romero had a hit-and-miss film start with 1982’s Creepshow, but it moved up a notch in this clever adaptation of King’s story from 1993 which makes the most of its Jekyll and Hyde storyline by slowly building up the tension and then keeping the suspense aloft rather than relying solely on gory visual shocks.

Hutton gives a bravura performance in the dual role of both Beaumont and Stark, and there’s some strikingly chilling moments (especially the digitally realised flocks of sparrows that permeate the story and are key to the climax). Along for the scary ride are Amy Madigan (Field of Dreams), Julie Harris (The Haunting) and in his final film role character actor Royal Dano.

The Dark Half is available on Blu-ray in the UK in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition from Eureka Entertainment, with the following special features…

• 1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray (with a progressive encode on the DVD)
• LPCM audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray) and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio options
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• Audio commentary with George A Romero (this is a must-listen – but watch the film first)
Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show [38 mins] – A very young Jonathan Ross’ documentary on Gerorge A Romero which originally aired on UK TV in 1989
The Sparrows Are Flying Again! The Making of ‘The Dark Half’ [36mins] – Retrospective with Romero, special make-up effects creators Everett Burrell and John Vulich, visual effects supervisor Kevin Kutchaver, actor Robert Joy, editor Pasquale Buba and more!
• Deleted Scenes
• A selection of Behind-the-scenes and archival video material
• Original Storyboards
• TV spot
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Reversible sleeve
• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase
• Limited Edition Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Simon Ward

Available to order from:
Eureka Store
Amazon

 

The Golem: How He Came into the World | Paul Wegener’s 1920 silent horror classic on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes Paul Wegener and Carl Boese’s iconic silent German horror masterpiece, Der Golem (1920), as part of The Masters of Cinema Series for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK, from a brand new 4K restoration on 18 November 2019.

In the Jewish ghetto in 16th century Prague, Rabbi Low (Albert Streinruck) creates a clay Golem (Wegener) to protect his people from tyrannical Emperor Luhois (Otto Gebuhr). Brought to life with an arcane incantation to the demonic spirit Astaroth and an amulet placed in the centre of the creature’s chest, the Golem begins performing acts of great heroism. But when the Rabbi’s assistant (Ernst Deutsch) attempts to control the Golem for selfish gain, it becomes a terrifying force of destruction…

A landmark film in the horror canon, influencing most notably James Whale’s 1931 adaptation of Frankenstein, Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (aka The Golem: How He Came into the World) as Paul Wegener’s third attempt at adapting the Golem character for the big screen, the other two being The Golem (1915) and the short comedy The Golem and the Dancing Girl (1917).

Based on Gustav Meyrink’s 1915 novel, it serves as prequel to the lost 1915 film and is an important contribution to the golden age of Weimar Cinema. The film’s Plastic Expressionist interpretation of Prague’s labyrinthine medieval Jewish ghetto (after the shapes and textures used in the sets) was designed by famed architect Hans Poelzig, while the interiors were executed by Poelzig’s future wife, sculptor Marelen Moeschke.

Behind the camera, meanwhile, was Karl Freund, who would go on to lens Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), before emigrating to the US, where he would famously helm Universal’s 1930s horror classics, Dracula, The Mummy and Mad Love (which all benefit from a touch of German Expressionism).

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The Masters of Cinema Series presents the film in its UK debut on Blu-ray from a brand new 4K restoration, with the following special feartures…

• Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase (First 2000 copies)
• Presented in 1080p from a stunning 4K digital restoration of the original film negatives, completed by FWMS in 2017
• Original German intertitles with optional English subtitles
• Option of three scores, by composer Stephen Horne; electronic music producer Wudec; and musician and film-score composer Admir Shkurtaj
• Brand new and exclusive audio commentary by Scott Harrison
• Brand new and exclusive video essays by critic David Cairns and filmmaker Jon Spira (Elstree 1976)
The Golem [60 mins]– The US version of the film, also fully restored, and featuring a score by Cordula Heth
• A video piece highlighting the differences between the domestic and export negatives of the film [22 mins]
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Scott Harrison; and reprints of illustrations from the original 1915 novel

Order from: Eureka Store or Amazon

The Holy Mountain | The German silent that launched Leni Riefenstahl’s career on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes The Holy Mountain, the greatest of the German ‘mountain films’ and the film that launched the career of Leni Riefenstahl , digitally restored in 2K and presented on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK as a part of The Masters of Cinemas Series.

German filmmaker Arnold Fanck made this beautifully photographed Bergfilm, or ‘mountain film’, in 1926. Written in three days and nights – especially for Riefenstahl, who would go on to direct the Nazi propaganda films, Der Sieg des Glaubens (1933), Triumph of the Will (1935), and Tag der Freiheit (1935) – The Holy Mountain (aka Der Heilige Berg) took over a year to film at the Atelier Staaken studio in Berlin and on mountain locations in Switzerland, with an entourage of expert skiers and climbers.

Ostensibly a tragic love triangle romance – between Riefenstahl’s young dancer and two mountain climbers, Vigo (Ernst Petersen) and his older friend (Luis Trenker) – Fanck relishes the glorious Alpine landscape by filming death-defying climbing, avalanche dodging, and frenetic downhill ski racing.

Digitally restored in 2K, The Holy Mountain is a visual feast – and a fascinating look at the origin of a genre.

Order via the Eureka Store or Amazon

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation on Blu-ray, from a 2014 2K digital restoration
• Score by Aljoscha Zimmerman, available in both LPCM 2.0 and DTS-HD MA 5.1
• Original German intertitles with optional English subtitles
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (1993, 180 mins) – Ray Müller’s Emmy award-winning documentary on Leni Reifenstahl. In German, with subtitles.
• Audio commentary by film historian Travis Crawford
• Collector’s booklet

The Night of the Generals | The World War Two whodunnit on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes the World War Two thriller, The Night of the Generals, on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, taken from a brand new 4K restoration, as part of the Eureka Classics range.

In 1942 Warsaw, a prostitute is found brutally murdered. Normally, the crime would attract little attention in war, but evidence points to one of three top Nazi generals as the killer. Thanks to German Military Intelligence officer, Major Grau, an epic man-hunt begins, through to Nazi-occupied Paris where, in 1944, an almost exact replica of the crime is committed…

This epic 1967 film, adapted from Joseph Kessel’s novel and directed by Anatole Litvak (making his penultimate picture), has a cast to die for! Not only do you have Peter O’Toole, Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray playing the prime suspects, you’ve got Omar Sharif (as Grau), Tom Courtenay, Christopher Plummer, Gordon Jackson, Coral Browne and many more. Even Juliette Greco gets in a little song.

More whodunnit than full-on war drama (with a Hitler assassination subplot that, frankly, seems a bit of an add-on), it also features a magnificent score from Maurice Jarre and evocative film location camerawork, alongside Litvak’s carefully calculated direction.

The highlight for me, however, was seeing Gray and Browne sparring as the devoted von Seidlitz-Gabler couple – as they would play similar roles on the London stage in 1975 in Jean Anouilh’s Ardèle alongside Browne’s hubby, Vincent Price. But O’Toole really is also totally captivating – even though he looks rather pale, sweaty and ill throughout most of the proceedings.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• 1080p presentation on Blu-ray, taken from a stunning 4K restoration
• Uncompressed LPCM audio (original mono presentation)
• Optional English subtitles
• Brand new and exclusive Audio Commentary by author Scott Harrison
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by author Scott Harrison

 

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

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