Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Studio Classics - THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT, THE PACKAGE, BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS and THE OFFENCE on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kino Lorber Studio Classics - THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT, THE PACKAGE, BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS and THE OFFENCE on Blu-ray

THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955; Val Guest)
From Kino's Site:
"Val Guest (The Day the Earth Caught Fire) directed this chilling film about a spacecraft returning to earth with a frightening surprise on board. Two of the ship's three astronauts have mysteriously vanished, while the third is sick with an unidentifiable illness. While doctors try to help the third man recover, an investigation takes place to figure out just what happened to his comrades. As it turns out, the survivors body has been taken over by an alien fungus that needs blood to survive. After the astronaut escapes from the hospital, he transforms into a monster, attacking everyone who gets in its way. Meanwhile, Scotland Yard detective Lomax (Jack Warner, The Blue Lamp) and Professor Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy, The Glass Key), a determined scientist, attempt to track down the creature before it finds new victims. Also known as The Creeping Unknown."
This is the first Hammer productions genre film that Kino Lorber Studio Classics has put out and it marks an exciting trend. Though I am far from a Hammer devotee, I do appreciate their films quite a bit, especially those in the science fiction arena. QUATERMASS AND THE PIT is actually one of my favorite sci-fi films to this day and it'd be lovely to see KL Studio Classics put that out as well. Anyway, when I was watching the movie (and bearing in mind that John Carpenter likes it) I couldn't help but think of it as one of those classic science fiction movies you used to see characters watching on television in a genre film from the 70s or 80s. Like it seemed like it would have fit right in as part of the movies playing in TV during that fateful night in Haddonfield Illinois. While it's not as good as FORBIDDEN PLANET or THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, it's still a very intelligent old-school sci-fi flick that benefits from being shot in black and white.  

Special Features:
-"Carpenter on Quatermass" (10 mins) - this is a great little extra. John Carpenter is a huge Quatermass fan and it comes through clearly in this interview. He starts with his memories of first seeing the film as part of a double bill and continues on to discuss the atomic age and communist fearing circumstances surrounding films that were coming out then. He talks about his affection for the stylistics, the music, the atmosphere and the combination of genres that he sees the film to be. Myself, I just personally enjoy hearing Carpenter talk about movies he loves. You can tell he's still passionate about movies and perhaps a touch ornery. He's just a character and interviews like this are a pleasure to watch.
-"A Creeping Xperiment - Versions Comparison: THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT & THE CREEPING UNKNOWN" (7 mins) - This comparison shows different titles cards that were used for the film as well as a script page depicting another very dull title that was also considered. It goes on to show the differences in the cuts and which scenes were excised or added to them. 


THE PACKAGE (1989; Andrew Davis)
From Kino's Site: 
"From Andrew Davis, the director of The Fugitive comes a brilliant, explosively entertaining action/thriller featuring powerful performances by screen legends Gene Hackman (The French Connection) and Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men). Featuring a superb supporting cast that includes Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner), Dennis Franz, Pam Grier (Foxy Brown) and John Heard (Cutter's Way), this top-notch thriller really delivers. Sergeant Johnny Gallagher (Hackman) thinks he's been given a routine assignment: to escort a rebellious American soldier (Jones) from Europe to the U.S. for a military court martial. Gallagher soon learns, however, that the assignment is anything but routine, when he uncovers a terrifying military conspiracy. The clock is ticking down to a historic superpower summit, and Gallagher must stop the deadly plot before it's too late...for him and his country."
THE PACKAGE is by no means a forgotten film, but considering the profile of the cast and the director, it's a movie that has certainly dropped out of sight a little bit since it came out in 1989. Andrew Davis had yet to direct THE FUGITIVE, which he may be most remembered for, and was in between a couple successful Steven Seagal movies (ABOVE THE LAW and UNDER SIEGE) when he made THE PACKAGE. I feel like even the Seagal films he made get more love than this does. Don't get me wrong, I actually like those flicks a good deal, but it perplexes me slightly that THE PACKAGE isn't better known. It's a solid conspiracy thriller with a great ensemble  and I can't believe I hadn't seen it prior to this viewing.
John Heard is one of my favorite underrated actors. My love for movies like CHILLY SCENES OF WINTER and CUTTER'S WAY is certainly largely due to his performances therein. Seeing him here in a head-to-head scene with a heavyweight like Gene Hackman only reminds me how great he is and how much I'm a fan. Then there's Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones. Seeing the two of them do their thing in the same movie is really what it's all about. It was also nice to see Hackman and Joanna Cassidy reunited again after UNDER FIRE. Plus, as a lovely added bonus, Dennis Franz is part of this gang too!

Special Features:
-An audio commentary from director Andrew Davis.
-Introduction by Andrew Davis (2 mins) -Davis discusses the changes he proposed to make to the material in making it into a film and also what it was like to work with Tommy Lee Jones.
-An new on-camera interview with actress Joanna Cassidy (6 mins). She has some interesting things to say here about with Gene Hackman, Andrew Davis and others.


BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS OR SITTING BULL'S HISTORY LESSON (1976; Robert Altman)
From Kino's Site:
"From director Robert Altman (The Long Goodbye) comes an uproarious, high-spirited look at "Buffalo Bill" Cody, the legendary Western adventurer. With a fine cast that includes Paul Newman, Harvey Keitel, Burt Lancaster, Joel Grey and Geraldine Chaplin, Buffalo Bill And The Indians is a hilarious yet poignant comedy shown as you've never seen it before! Although Buffalo Bill (Newman) has fought Indians and Civil War battles, nothing can prepare him for his newest challenge; show business! His Wild West Show is hugely popular, but when he signs a former enemy, Sioux Chief Sitting Bull, for a featured role, a hysterical clash of cultures reverberates far beyond the boundaries of their sprawling outdoor theater. And the complications only multiply when the troupe discovers it must put on a special command performance - for none other than the President of the United States!"
While I think of Altman's MCCABE & MRS. MILLER as something of a revisionist western, BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS  goes into an area of meta-commentary that is beyond that. After all, it's a film about a Wild West show that is itself commenting on and perpetuating an idea of the old west based on myths and legends. At the center of the show and the very face of it is Buffalo Bill Cody himself (as played by Paul Newman). When a story like this is filtered through the unique lens of Robert Altman, it becomes something even more tricky to classify. The behind-the-scenes goings on for a show like this become all the more interesting when given the Altman overlapping dialogue treatment. It is a truly splendid thing to see actors I know well and like a lot show up in an Altman film and do their thing. You can truly feel the collaborative environment Altman created on his sets and in his films when you see these actors allowed to often drive their own performances. Not to say this is a totally uncommon occurrence, but it's intriguing within the context of Altman's paradigm for sure.

Special Features:
"From The Prairie to the Palace" (5 mins) A vintage publicity featurette with audio excerpts from an interview with Paul Newman, plus a look at Altman working on a scene with Newman that offers neat insights into how he collaborated and directed his actors.
Newman says he looked upin Bill Cody as the first movie star and went from there. 


THE OFFENCE (1972; Sidney Lumet)
From Kino's Site:
"When is the accuser the accused? Sidney Lumet (Prince of the City) directs Sean Connery (The Great Train Robbery) as a British police detective whose 20 years of handling murder, rape and other violent cases culminate in a deadly loss of control during a routine interrogation. A harrowing and compellingly constructed chamber drama of police brutality and mental anguish, The Offence takes director Lumet's obsession with the policeman's conflicted position as his brother's keeper into the realms of the psychological thriller. Connery is devastatingly desperate as Officer Johnson on the trail of a serial child molester. The Offence was based on a play by John Hopkins entitled This Story of Yours. The stellar supporting cast includes Trevor Howard (The Third Man), Vivien Merchant (The Homecoming) and Ian Bannen (The Hill)."
As much as I love Sean Connery and his films and had done my best to seek out even his obscurer efforts, THE OFFENCE was one that snuck by me somehow until I heard it mentioned by Edgar Wright on the audio commentary for his film HOT FUZZ. When I looked it up I was shocked to learn that I had not only overlooked a Connery film, but also one by dire your Sidney Lumet, who I also like very much. From the disorienting slow-motion opening sequence, it's obvious that Lumet is going for something that will leave an impression. Seeing Sean Connery have a moment of realization in slow motion and in character is a pretty cool thing. I'd put it akin to watching a professional football wide receiver make a great catch in an instsnt replay. I have to admit that I'm a fan of movies where Connery's characters are grumpy and angry and have little patience for the people they are dealing with. In THE OFFENCE, it's not much of a stretch to allow for said impatience, frustration and outright anger from Connery considering the type of criminal he's dealing with.

All of these Kino Lorber Studio Classics titles can be found at Kino's Site:
http://www.kinolorber.com/landing.php?id=16
(and also Amazon and other e-tailers)

2 comments:

beamish13 said...

THE OFFENCE is a brilliant film. Sir Harrison Birtwistle's score contributes so much to its ambience.

I wish KL was a bit more clear on whether or not BUFFALO BILL was Altman's preferred cut (there are 2 different versions of it)

joestemme said...

THE OFFENCE is truly one of the slimiest, gut wrenching, most repellant movies I have ever seen.
And, that's a compliment.
But, boy do I never want to sit through it again.