A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1946)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents A Matter of Life and Death.

criterion logoAs his plane is going down in flames, doomed World War II pilot, Squadron Leader Peter Carter (David Niven) meets over the radio the love of his life, an American radio operator named June (Kim Hunter).  He miraculously survives the crash and the pair commence their romance, but Carter is troubled with a life-threatening brain injury treated by a village doctor (Roger Livesey) and a heavenly collector (Marius Goring) intent on escorting his errant soul to the other side.  Originally designed as a propaganda piece to promote better relations between Britain and the United States, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death became an English classic featuring delightful performances by its cast, accomplished Technicolor cinematography by Jack Cardiff, and spectacular production design by Alfred Junge.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary by film historian Ian Christie
  • Martin Scorsese on A Matter of Life and Death
  • Thelma Schoonmaker Powell and Grover Crisp on AMOLAD and its restoration
  • Interview with cinematographer Jack Cardiff
  • A Matter of Fried Onions, Diane Broadbent Friedman on the medical foundation of AMOLAD
  • Behind the scenes footage, filmed during a visit to Denham Studios by Canadian soldiers
  • “The King and the Stars,” a Front Page newsreel by British Pathé on the 1946 Royal Command Film Performance screening, along with unused and unissued footage of the event and the press reception
  • New interview with author J. K. Rowling and actor Daniel Radcliffe in appreciation of the film
  • Two Lux Radio Theatre productions from 1947 (starring Ray Milland, Ann Blyth, and Nigel Bruce) and 1955 (starring David Niven and Barbara Rush)
  • The Hedda Hooper Show – This is Hollywood‘s 30-minute radio adaptation, starring David Niven, Kim Hunter, and Vincent Price
  • Screen Director’s Playhouse radio production from 1951, starring Robert Cummings and Julia Adams
  • Kinescope of the “Stairway to Heaven” TV adaptation for Robert Montgomery Presents, starring Richard Green, Jean Gillespie, and Bramwell Fletcher
  • Parody sketch from Big Train, featuring Simon Pegg, Kevin Eldon, Mark Heap, and Amelia Bullmore
  • Gallery of sketches and stills of Alfred Junge’s production designs
  • Sequence shot for Powell and Pressburger’s unmade The White Cockade, starring David Niven and Pamela Brown
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring behind the scenes photos, the script, and new essays by film critics Dave Kehr, Robert Horton, and Mark Kermode

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Hellzapoppin’ (H. C. Potter, 1941)

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

criterion logoMake way for the nuttiest, zaniest, wackiest film this side of the loony-bin!  Comedy team Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson blast through the fourth wall and demolish the musical-comedy genre, playing Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson, production assistants to a fledgling stage revue.  Hellzapoppin’s screwball romance story takes a backseat to the daffy hijinks and absurdist gags that tear at breakneck speed through this play within a film within a film.  Inspired by the comedians’ highly successful Broadway show and adapted to mock the filmmaking process, Hellzapoppin’ is a singular work of celluloid irreverence where ANY SIMILARITY TO A MOTION PICTURE IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL!

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Introduction by filmmaker and comedian Mel Brooks
  • New interview on the Hellzapoppin’ Broadway musical with Jack Marshall, Artistic Director of The American Century Theater
  • Crazy House, Olsen and Johnson’s 1943 feature film follow-up where the duo attempts to film an independent movie after being fired by Universal Pictures
  • Kinescopes of Olsen and Johnson’s NBC variety show Fireball Fun for All
  • PLUS: An essay by media scholar Henry Jenkins

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Such a Pretty Little Beach (Yves Allegret, 1949)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Such a Pretty Little Beach.

criterion logoPierre, a young and disillusioned man, arrives at a small hotel in a seaside town in northern France.  In the cold, driving rain of the resort’s off-season, he wanders its deserted beach haunted by his past.  His gloomy demeanor raises the suspicions of the hotel’s staff and guests, including an unsavory and mysterious man who arrives shortly after him and who takes a peculiar interest in Pierre.  Yves Allégret’s Such a Pretty Little Beach is a gorgeously melancholic work of film noir aesthetics that evokes the fatalism of French poetic realism, shot by the great cinematographer Henri Alekan and exploring for the first time the dramatic potential of its star Gérard Philipe.

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital film restoration, with DTS-HD Master dual-mono soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Gérard Philipe: The Beginnings of a Child Prodigy, a video retrospective featuring interviews with French writers and filmmakers including Gérard Bonal, Alain Ferrari, Olivier Barrot, and Francis Huster
  • A 1973 episode of Au cinéma ce soir with interviews of Yves Allégret, Jacques Sigurd, and Jean Servais
  • Short, music-only film from the Gaumont Pathé Archives on the children of the state orphanages
  • Alternate ending
  • Photo gallery
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by French film scholar Susan Hayward

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Alias Nick Beal (John Farrow, 1949)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Alias Nick Beal.

criterion logoRay Milland stars in this modernized Faustian tale as the mysterious Nick Beal, a Mephistophelean tempter who emerges from the fog to corrupt District Attorney Joseph Foster (Thomas Mitchell) under the guise of helping him convict an elusive gangster.  Foster’s success turns to a bid for governor and Beal is only happy to help with the uncertain assistance of devil doll Audrey Totter, a fallen woman who has her own issues with Nick.  Little known and difficult to see since its initial release in 1949, the Criterion Collection is proud to present John Farrow’s Alias Nick Beal, a brilliant and atmospheric work of supernatural film noir.

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary by film noir scholar Eddie Muller
  • New interview with John Farrow’s daughter, actress Mia Farrow
  • The Screen Director’s Playhouse 1950 radio dramatization of Alias Nick Beal featuring Ray Milland
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by filmmaker Guy Maddin and film scholar Inez Hedges

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The Chase (Arthur Ripley, 1946)

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

criterion logoA broken-down ex-GI, Chuck Scott (Robert Cummings), returns a wallet to a Miami racketeer (Steve Cochran) and lands a job as his chauffeur, only to find himself in love with his boss’s wife (Michèle Morgan) and planning their escape to Cuba.  Yet however familiar its plot may seem, Arthur Ripley’s The Chase, based on Cornell Woolrich’s The Black Path of Fear, is no conventional crime melodrama and Scott is quickly ensnared in the movie’s nightmarish logic and the unreliability of its surrealist narrative, taking him and audiences on a wild ride out of film noir and into even darker reaches.  Co-starring Peter Lorre (doing a favor for producer Seymour Nebenzal), The Chase is an idiosyncratic crime classic boasting expressionistic cinematography, a desperately haunted atmosphere, and one the most audacious twists in American cinema.

Disc Features:

  • New digital master from the Film Foundation’s 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary by film noir scholar Eddie Muller
  • Woolrich’s World, an interview with film critic Richard Corliss on novelist Cornell Woolrich
  • The Philip Yordan Story, an interview with film historian Alan K. Rode on the screenwriter of The Chase
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by filmmaker Guy Maddin and a new paperback edition of Woolrich’s source novel, The Black Path of Fear

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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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