While Madigan is racing against the clock on the gritty streets of Spanish Harlem and Russell is stationed in his plush office or making appearances at PR events, the tension between the two men is always palpable. Madigan has never perched near the top of the Siegel canon, and in terms of raw craftsmanship or personal expression, it has nothing on more provocative works like Riot in Cell Block 11 , Invasion of the Body Snatchers , or even The Beguiled.
Perhaps a less intrusive producer than Frank P. Excluding a trailer and a few TV spots for other Don Siegel films, the lone extra here is an audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell, and Nathaniel Thompson. Scene-specific analysis alternates evenly with broader contextual discourse, broaching everything from the television cop dramas of the era to the studio practices of Universal. Set in rubble-strewn Berlin—and featuring, like The Third Man , an abundance of location photography, unique in a studio film of the era— The Man Between likewise addresses the conflicted postwar European character through a morally ambivalent but seductive male protagonist.
A former lawyer and, as a soldier in the Germany Army, a participant in war crimes, he now conducts kidnapping operations on behalf of the East German authorities, clandestinely bringing refugees or wanted men back to the Russian-occupied territory. Quite the clever voyeur, as it happens, Susanne peeks unobserved around corners, from behind doors, and via angled mirrors to try to catch glimpses of the mysterious figure that the visibly distressed Bettina is in contact with.
Until Ivo takes over the narrative reins and Susanne is settled into her ultimate position as love interest, it almost seems as though the film should be called The Woman Between. After all, Martin is a nonentity, and the drama of the early scenes plays out entirely between Susanne and Bettina.
After Susanne comes in contact with Ivo, however, the narrative shifts focus. Despite strong performances from Mason, Bloom, and Neff, many of the characters here exude a bland, studio-manufactured quality.
The exploration of the female characters ends about a third of the way through the film, while most of the supporting characters lack distinguishing color Berlinerisch or otherwise. Despite the evident similarities between The Third Man and The Man Between , their differences paint Vienna and Berlin as distinct places—and and as distinct moments in history. While the purportedly easygoing Vienna of The Third Man turns out to be suffused with an inescapable fatalism, the famously hardnosed Berlin of The Man Between represents the very possibility of flight from the cynicism and regret of postwar Europe, identified with the dilapidated and unfree East, into its democratic, morally rehabilitated future.
Subtle film grain is preserved in the image, and the transfer is clearly based on a print that was either exceptionally well preserved or expertly restored, given that there are almost no pockmarks or other flaws on display. This release lacks any accompanying booklet but includes an impressive set of extras on the disc itself.
A well-researched audio commentary by critic Simon Abrams draws upon the biographies of the stars and filmmakers, as well as contemporary critical reactions of The Man Between , to offer background on the film. She does, though, speak admiringly of Reed and co-star James Mason. As a production, the interview is rather slapdash: At one point, Bloom recounts working with Charlie Chaplin on his late-period film Limelight and the picture spliced into the video is, amusingly, a black-and-white still of Robert Downey Jr. Much more polished is Carol Reed: A Gentle Eye , a minute documentary on the career of the filmmaker, featuring surviving collaborators discussing his versatility and his impact on British cinema.
B y the time the Rumble in the Jungle heavyweight world championship bout took place in Kinshasa in October , Muhammad Ali was considered past his prime, standing almost no chance against a ferocious George Foreman, then 24 years young and undefeated. Ali was a 7-to-1 underdog heading into the fight, and his arrogance in the face of those odds, along with his wit, eloquence, and sense imagination, makes him a compelling, complicated, and compulsively watchable screen presence.
And his fearless, vociferous activism in black communities and political dissent to American imperialism made him a fitting hero to his thousands of African fans, who swarmed him everywhere he went in the weeks leading up to the main event. Ali also serves as the embodiment of black unity, the de facto face of the Rumble in the Jungle; the fight was paired with Zaire 74, a music festival that featured all-black musical acts, including James Brown, B. King, Bill Withers, and a slew of African musicians.
The American negro could never dream of this.
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Lurking beneath this fascinating, one-of-a-kind event, though, lies an undercurrent of nefariousness. The ultimate goal of putting artistic, organizational, and monetary control into the hands of black talent certainly created a general sense of harmony and some genuinely inspirational moments, such as when dozens of African-American musicians jam and dance together during their flight to Africa. But the film also acknowledges the complicated and, perhaps necessarily, compromised nature of such a bold undertaking. With everyone from Norman Mailer and George Plimpton, who covered the fight from Zaire, to black artists, Spike Lee and Malick Bowens, on hand to offer fascinating and divergent perspectives on the events as they occurred and attest to their lasting importance, When We Were Kings provides a prismatic view of one of the biggest sports spectacles of the 20th century.
Clarity is also incredibly erratic, with certain shots exuding a sharpness and depth of detail that one expects from a 4K restoration, while others are quite hazy and soft, even for 16mm footage shot on the fly over 40 years ago. Fortunately, the 5. The behind-the-scenes footage focuses a bit too much on the organization and construction of the festival, but the concert footage itself is impressive, featuring a typically electrifying and sweaty James Brown donning an elaborate black-and-blue one-piece, bejeweled in pearls , Bill Withers, B.
The only other disc extras are a pair of interviews: one with producer David Sonenberg, who delves into the process of getting When We Were Kings made, and another with Gast, who discusses how supportive Muhammad Ali was during filming, in stark contrast to a belligerent and uncooperative George Foreman.
A fascinating essay by critic Kelefa Sanneh susses out both the complexities and contradictions of the Black Power politics espoused by Ali, Don King, and Mobutu Sese Seko, and also touches on the countless challenges of mounting the music festival and, later, getting both When We Were Kings and Soul Power made.
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V iolence and sex are intimately linked in the horror genre, though Hellraiser takes this connection to a remarkably explicit level. Frank, stereotypical in an opposing direction, is the taut stud who has intense sex with Julia immediately upon meeting her. Larry never shares a scene with either the hot or grotesque version of Frank, which feels like a result of narrative pruning as well as, perhaps, a paucity of imagination.
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Nonetheless, what gives Hellraiser its graphic power are the visual metaphors that Baker fashions for the yearning of the annihilation of self. Barker establishes Frank to be a wayward stud who travels the Earth, presumably for the ultimate orgasm. His adventures lead him to a metallic Chinese puzzle cube that, when manipulated correctly, unleashes the Cenobites, otherworldly agents of torture and pleasure who, per the ringleader who would be identified in sequels as Pinhead Doug Bradley , can serve as either angels or demons.
With their rotating wooden pole of disembodied flesh, flesh-tearing hooks, leather gear, and deformities that are the result of hungers that had be actualized at the cost of the corporeal body, the Cenobites are unmistakable symbols of the fear and desire that can afflict those tempted by sadomasochistic sex.
They also suggest debauched rock-stars who are so burned out they must travel all realms of existence to find comparative lambs for induction into their theater of damnation. One suspects that Barker wants the audience to yearn for the Cenobites, a reaction that fosters a kinship between us and the people of the world who have cravings which mainstream society abhors.
Released during the AIDS epidemic, the film offers a nightmare of extremes: Frank and the Cenobites are prisoners of their libertinism, while Larry and Clare are entombed in the bitterness wrought by platitude and politeness. Both existences feel like hell. This new 2K restoration of Hellraiser , approved by cinematographer Robin Vidgeon, is rich and attractive, abounding in deep browns and blacks, garish reds, purposefully shrill whites and silvers, and robust flesh tones. Two sound mixes have been included, an uncompressed PCM 2.
Doug Bradly, the actor who played Pinhead, is an especially memorable interview subject. This cocktail of urbane compassion is a very specific blend—the eye must roll in bemusement, but also twinkle in self-recognition—or, rather, it feels specific when you watch a Lubitsch film, his observations on human experience as seemingly candid as a wicked bon mot murmured into your ear above the din of a cocktail party.
Lubitsch applauds their casting off of ridiculous communal strictures, while also recognizing the sting of rejection and the difficulty of sorting our life—and especially love—on your own terms. These pinpricks of regret and uncertainty ground the lighter-than-air farce in poignant self-awareness without deflating its comic buoyancy: an acknowledgment that being in on the joke often means choosing to separate oneself from the rest of the party—which was probably not worth attending to begin with.
The year is , and anti-Nazi Czech refugee Adam Belinski Charles Boyer has come to prewar London to find safe haven with a professor friend. Finding the apartment occupied by a fussbudget subletter, Hilary Ames Reginald Gardiner , awaiting the arrival of a plumber to fix his stopped-up sink, the wily Belinski nevertheless makes himself at home.
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Belinski and Brown hit it off in their brief—and unexpectedly drunken—afternoon together, and are surprisingly reunited after she gets a job as a chambermaid for the wealthy Carmel family, whose earnest if callow son, Andrew Peter Lawford , takes it upon himself to shelter Belinski at the family estate. Belinski and Brown continually cross paths in the estate, sharing the kind of easy rapport that makes their eventual pairing a sweet inevitability.
If Belinski and Brown dance around romance in a familiarly protracted manner, however, they move more to the rigid waltz of class consciousness than the looser rhythms of personal neuroses that usually drive movie couples apart until the closing act. Few Hollywood films of the time or any time, for that matter foreground the economic barriers between their characters as much as Cluny Brown , even if Lubitsch does so largely in the name of light-fingered satire.
And while Henry can barely muster the interest to keep track of the impending Nazi threat, Andrew twists himself in liberal-guilt knots over the forthcoming crisis, writing irate letters to The Times and threatening to join the RAF—though only after his marriage proposal is rebuffed by the coolly elegant socialite Betty Cream Helen Walker. Wife Alice, played by Margaret Bannerman, has some similarly oblivious moments, but possesses more intrinsic wisdom than she lets on. But Lubitsch chides the Carmels while still casting an affectionate glance at their daily lives and inner workings.
He saves his most barbed humor for Wilson Richard Haydn , a simpering, nasal-voiced pharmacist whose courtship of Cluny includes tea with his sour-faced mother. Belinski remains a respected outcast within these overlapping milieus, a prototypical Lubitsch male who recognizes the blinkered sightlines of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie and gently manipulates them for his own survival.
Aubrey Smith. Cluny energetically chats up the Carmels, commenting on their graciousness and hospitality, until Henry and Alice suddenly realize who she really is. Lubitsch, similarly, offers his viewers low-key pleasures over grand gestures throughout Cluny Brown , admittedly lacking some of the winking verve more prominently displayed in his earlier films. Black levels appear dense and uncrushed. Criterion assembles a slender but informative roster of extras.
If nothing else, this program pretty definitely proves the difficulty of catching comedic lightning in a bottle. This magnificent set of essential restorations is a strong contender for Blu-ray release of the year. The master filmmaker also fuses documentary and fiction, elaborating on the strengths and limitations of each form, suggesting that documentary is fiction and vice versa. And none of these protagonists achieve their quest the way they had imagined, and this frustration acquaints them with the mystery and majesty of the quotidian of their lives, allowing them to integrate with their society.