Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Studio Classics - ROAD HOUSE, DADDY LONG LEGS and BEWARE! THE BLOB on Blu-ray ""

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Kino Lorber Studio Classics - ROAD HOUSE, DADDY LONG LEGS and BEWARE! THE BLOB on Blu-ray

ROAD HOUSE (1948; Jean Negulesco)
Let's just get down to it - Ida Lupino is a badass. Actress, writer and director - she did it all. I'll sometimes go for long stretches without seeing her in something and then, "Bam!", she shows up and blows me away. In ROAD HOUSE, she plays a nightclub singer who has been around and seen a world full of situations and men that have made her a tiny bit cynical. A small town road house-owning rich kid (Richard Widmark) finds her and ropes her into playing his place for six weeks - at a hefty price. The fella that manages the road house (Cornel Wilde) is just as cynical about songbirds being brought back to the joint (as it's happened more than a few times). The rich kid loves the singer, but the singer has a crush on the road house manager. The triangle goes round and round and things get complicated. Complicated in that special way that film noir tends to do it. One of the things I love in noir is that sense of, "What am I getting into here?" as the characters take their positions and begin to reveal who is playing what angle. The lovely dreadfulness that starts setting in whenever anything seems to be going remotely right. 
Richard Widmark has been on my radar since I first saw a clip of his maniacal turn in KISS OF DEATH. That laugh. That lunatic laughter. My first impression was that he looked incredibly annoying as an actor and I didn't think I'd like him. Then along came PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET and I did a complete one-eighty. Soon after that, Widmark became one of my favorite actors. Here, he's given a nice, almost subtle role that allows him to play borderline sleazy at first and outright nutty later. He's right at home in the land of film noir - as are Cornel Wilde and Ida Lupino. They make a nice trio and the movie is an enjoyable surprise for folks looking for a lesser-seen, but solid entry in the genre. Also, a great "smoking movie" if you're into such things. I still think that OUT OF THE PAST tops it for smoking, but there's lots of good noir smoking to be enjoyed here too. Plus, if you haven't checked out some of the films of Mr. Jean Negulesco (THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, THREE STRANGERS, THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS), you really owe it to yourself.
Special Features:
The big one here is an audio commentary, by not one but two of my favorite commentators -both Eddie Muller and Kim Morgan. A great, informative track and an excellent supplement.
-Also included is "Killer Instinct: Richard Widmark and Ida Lupino at Twentieth Century Fox"

Get ROAD HOUSE on Blu-ray Here:

DADDY LONG LEGS (1955; Jean Negulesco)
Speaking of Jean Negulesco, here's one of his later entries that I never got around to seeing until now. He made films right up until 1970 and he made a lot, so there are many I've yet to get around to. It's odd too, because I am a die hard Fred Astaire fan and I always meant to check it out for him if nothing else. It's obviously a somewhat later movie for Fred as well as he was around fifty-six at the time it came out. His lovely co-star Leslie Caron had done AN AMERICAN IN PARIS with Gene Kelly only a few years prior and she was still looking lovely as ever. She still had GIGI on the horizon too and was only about twenty-four for this movie, making her more than three decades Fred's junior (while still playing his love interest). What's neat about this movie is that it was not only one of Astaire's personal favorites, but for once, it was a film that actually addressed the complications involved with a love affair between two people who are so far apart in age. Normally, the older man's age would be somewhat ignored and we'd be asked to gloss over it as something that wasn't even remotely an issue. May-December romances were quite common in the films of the 1950s, but this one stands out a bit for it's self-awareness. That makes the movie no less creepy from a modern viewpoint, but I do give it credit for trying to do something a bit different and more "real" of you will. This was apparently the only movie musical that Astaire did for Twentieth Century Fox and one of only a handful of Cinemascope movies he made as far as I can tell. It's always a pleasure to watch Fred do his thing, but it's even nicer to see him do it in a wider frame. I personally have never been totally blown away by Caron, as good as she is, but this ended up being one of my favorites of her films that I have seen so far. Other highlights include the inimitable Thelma Ritter and also the gorgeous Terry Moore in supporting roles and music by the venerable Johnny Mercer to boot.
The transfer appears ever so slightly washed out, but the film looks much better than it had previously - so this is a worthy upgrade for fans.
Special Features:
-An Audio Commentary by Film Historian Ken Barnes and Ava Astaire McKenzie (Fred's granddaughter)
-Movietone News with Optional commentary by Film Historian Ken Barnes and Ava Astaire McKenzie.
-DADDY LONG LEGS London Premiere

Get DADDY LONG LEGS on Blu-ray here:

BEWARE THE BLOB (1972; Larry Hagman)
So my wife and I did a little "BLOB fest" mini festival of the three BLOB films. This was partially for fun, but also to help in an old investigation that she and I have been working on. You see, she has had vivid memories of one BLOB film in particular and since I hadn't seen them all in a while, I could tell which one she was talking about when she described it to me. We first watched the original 1958 classic starring a very young Steve McQueen. My wife remembered the blob coming out of the movie theater, but some of the other scenes that she had in her head weren't there. Right away when we put on BEWARE THE BLOB, my wife lit up a bit as she immediately recognized the (rather lengthy) opening shots of a kitten playing. She remembered the baby cat and what happened to it. She also recalled a few other scenes perfectly. The 
movie itself was a slight step down from the other blob flicks, but there's still some fun to be had with it. First off, the cast is kinda neat. Both Carol Lynley (BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING) and Cindy Williams (LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY) star in this one, which is fascinating. Also Dick Van Patten as a Boy Scout leader. Godfrey Cambridge is featured prominently at the front and this movie actually made me realize that I'm not as big a fan of sone of the acting choices he often makes. The who's who continues with Burgess Meredith, Gerrit Graham, Sid Haig, Robert Walker Jr. and Larry Hagman. Hagman actually directed the movie as well and it was put out by its distributors with the tagline, "The Film that J.R. shot!". Whereas the original had an effective blob attack scene at a movie theater, this film has set pieces at a bowling alley and an ice rink among other locales. My feeling is that if you're into the blob as a monster - and let's be honest, it's a kinda cool and yet simple creature - you may enjoy checking this film out. My wife remembered it best under another title - SON OF BLOB - which is a I kind of like a little better honestly.
Special Features:
BEWARE! THE BLOB comes with a solid commentary track from Film Historian Richard Harland Smith which I quite enjoyed and an Alternate Title Sequence as well.
Get BEWARE! THE BLOB on Blu-ray here:

No comments: