Blue Collar (Paul Schrader, 1978)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Blue Collar.

criterion logoWhen Detroit auto workers Jerry (Harvey Keitel), Smokey (Yaphet Kotto), and Zeke (Richard Pryor in a rare, but unforgettable dramatic performance) find bills piling up and pressures bearing down, they decide to rob their corrupt union office.  In a cruel twist, their meager haul contains far more than they expected and the three friends find themselves at odds while facing danger, betrayal, and murder.  Paul Schrader’s début directorial effort surmounted bitter tensions amongst his stars to showcase the dark side of the American working class, creating a brutal vision of the low wages and huge debts that trap workers between big industry and big labor.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by filmmaker Paul Schrader, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Introduction by comedian Patton Oswalt
  • Audio commentary with co-writer and director Paul Schrader and journalist Maitland McDonagh
  • Interview with musician Ry Cooder on the recording of “Hard Working Man” by Captain Beefheart and the music of Blue Collar
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by filmmaker and curator Brecht Andersch

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Perils of Nyoka (William Witney, 1942)

Eclipse LogoPerils of Nyoka is an action-packed cliffhanger classic that chronicles the efforts of an African expedition to locate the fabled lost Tablets of Hippocrates, golden artifacts that contain a cure for cancer.  Former Powers model Kay Aldridge stars as Nyoka in this sequel to Republic Pictures’ 1941 serial Jungle Girl.  Nyoka joins the expedition while attempting to find her lost father, but the beautiful Arab ruler Vultura and her cutthroat servants seek the tablets and the riches that accompany them for herself and will do anything to beat Nyoka to the treasure.  Hailed as the best of the Jungle serials, Perils of Nyoka is a fast and furious treasure hunt boasting an enthralling cast of characters, spectacular sets, and an array of fearsome deathtraps.

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Spy Smasher (William Witney, 1942)

Eclipse LogoRepublic Pictures brought the defender of democracy to life in one of the finest serial ever made. Sprung from the four-color pages of Whiz and Spy Smasher, action is abundant in this sensational serial saga concerning Spy Smasher’s efforts to prevent his Nazi nemesis, the Maskfrom crippling America’s defense effort shortly before its involvement in World War II.  Dual star Kane Richmond faces ray guns, firing squads, submarines, futuristic aircraft, and motorcycle chases all under the capable hand of veteran serial director William Witney.  From Mort Glickman’s title music reworking Beethoven’s 5th Symphony to its final fade-out, Spy Smasher represents the serial form at its most energetic and thrilling.

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Adventures of Captain Marvel (William Witney and John English, 1941)

Eclipse LogoConsidered by many as the finest serial ever made, Adventures of Captain Marvel chronicles the exploits of “The World’s Mightiest Mortal” as he combats The Scorpion, a hooded villain intent on obtaining 6 optical lenses that, when aligned properly, can turn ordinary stone into gold or destroy their target completely.  Radio reporter Billy Batson (Frank Coghlan Jr.) is granted the ability to transform into Captain Marvel (Tom Tyler) by the wizard Shazam and is tasked to protect the lenses, facing all manners of danger including hails of bullets, electrocutions, and cave-ins.  Marking the very first time a comic book superhero’s adventures appeared on the silver screen, William Witney and John English’s 12-chapter serial is an achievement in effects, excitement, and entertainment still capable of inspiring belief that a man can actually fly.

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The Heroic Serials of Republic Pictures

Eclipse is a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple affordable editions.  Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer.

Eclipse LogoMovies serials were an iconic part of the cinema experience and none did it better that Republic Pictures and filmmaker William Witney.  Filled with spectacular stunts, break-neck editing, and iconic clashes of good and evil, these serials entertained young and old and their legacy is still felt in the summer blockbuster, special effects bonanzas that sell-out theaters today.  Collected here are three of Republic’s greatest efforts adapted from comic books and inspired by pulp literature, sure to entertain with their daredevil feats, magnificent sets, and cliffhanger endings.

Adventures of Captain Marvel

Radio reporter Billy Batson works to keep a powerful weapon out of the hands of evil mastermind the Scorpion, needing only call out the magical word “SHAZAM!” to transform into the nigh-invulnerable Captain Marvel when fists are thrown and bullets fly.

Spy Smasher

America may not yet be at war, but that is no deterrent to independent agent Spy Smasher fighting the Mask and his Nazi agents both at home and abroad in this jaw-dropping, stunt-filled spectacular by William Witney.

Perils of Nyoka

Nyoka, while searching for her missing father in northern Africa, agrees to join an expedition searching for the lost Tablets of Hippocrates and finds herself and her colleagues racing  against the wicked queen Vultura and her conspiring mole Count Benito Torrini through a series ancient traps that protect untold treasure.

With notes of the films by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin.

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Invasion (Hugo Santiago, 1969)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Invasion.

criterion logoIn 1957, a small group of middle-aged men fight a clandestine battle against forces quietly invading and taking control of their city, Aquilea.  Enigmatic in its story-telling, Hugo Santiago’s once-lost film obscures the motivations of either side, leaving only a series of moves and counter-moves that evokes past dictatorial oppression and those still to come.  With stark, spare cinematography by Ricardo Aronovich, a lively and unnerving score by Edgardo Canton, and a screenplay written by Santiago with Argentine literary titans Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares, Invasion is a tense and timeless portrait of resistance and an unheralded classic of international art house cinema and Latin American filmmaking.

Disc Features:

  • New, digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary by Richard Peña, program director of New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center
  • New interview with Hugo Santiago
  • Los Contrabandistas (1967) and Los Taitas (1968), two short films by Santiago
  • The Others (1974), Santiago’s follow-up feature to Invasion, also co-written with Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares
  • Profile of a Writer: Jorge Luis Borges, an 80-minute documentary on the writer including dramatized sequences from his stories and interviews with Borges in the author’s home
  • Bioy, a 38-minute interview with the author
  • PLUS:  A booklet featuring a new essay by Argentinian film scholar Maria de los Angeles Sanz

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