Random Harvest (Mervyn LeRoy, 1942)

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

criterion logoFrom the best-selling novel by James Hilton, author of Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Lost Horizon, comes one of Hollywood’s most sentimental romances and one of 1942’s biggest hits. Ronald Colman stars as Charles Rainier, an amnesiac World War I veteran who falls in love with beautiful music hall performer Paula Ridgeway (Greer Garson) until a sudden accident restores the man’s true identity while erasing from his mind his relationship with Paula. Charles returns to his privileged life to become a successful industrialist but struggles with an unshakeable longing, all while Paula secretly suffers posing as the businessman’s executive assistant. A box-office triumph honored with seven Academy Awards nominations, Random Harvest is a first class melodrama featuring two of the era’s most distinguished performers.

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Miracle on 34th Street (George Seaton, 1947)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Miracle on 34th Street.

criterion logoHired by Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square to be its department store Santa, a jolly, white-whiskered man calling himself Kris Kringle soon has everyone in the Christmas spirit, all except his no-nonsense boss Doris Walker and her skeptical daughter Susan. Kris proves himself a valuable asset to Macy’s until the store psychologist has the kind old man committed to a mental hospital and he becomes the subject of a public trial. With his lawyer Fred Gailey at his side, Kris sets out to prove himself to be the one true Santa Claus, defending himself against Scrooges and skeptics alike. Nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and a winner for Best Original Story, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Edmund Gwenn’s performance as Kringle, Miracle on 34th Street was a summertime hit for 1947 and holiday classic ever after.

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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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Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932)

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

criterion logo“We accept you, one of us.  Gooble-gobble, gooble-gobble.” This is the chant of Freaks, director Tod Browning’s bizarre morality play of betrayal and retribution in a circus sideshow.  In this Pre-Code masterpiece, an evil trapeze artist seduces and marries a small-statured performer in hopes of murdering him and inheriting his secret fortune.  Her plot raises the ire of the other sideshow members and the “Code of the Freaks” demands a harsh and terrible punishment for this “peacock of the air.”  Browning, a former circus contortionist, shocked audiences and his studio by bringing true circus freaks to the silver screen (including a legless boy, a human torso, Siamese twins, a human skeleton, a pair of armless women, and microcephalics – called “pinheads” in the film), and in doing so Browning created a film that effectively ended his career but became a cult classic decades later.

Disc Features:

  • High definition digital transfer with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Audio commentary by Browning biographer David J. Skal
  • Freaks: Sideshow Spectacle, a documentary on sideshow performers appearing in the film
  • 3 alternate endings
  • Special Message prologue added for the film’s theatrical re-issue
  • Kim Newman on the banning of Freaks in the UK for 31 years
  • Photo gallery of production and publicity stills
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by scholar David Church and director Rona Mark, the original short story “Spurs” that inspired the film, and a script synopsis from the MGM archives

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Svengali (Archie Mayo, 1931)

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

criterion logoBased on George du Maurier’s novel Trilby, the great John Barrymore stars as the manipulative but charming music tutor Svengali, who uses his hypnotic powers to entrance a young artist’s model named Trilby (Marian Marsh) and transform her into a European singing sensation.  Archie Mayo’s film reverses the book’s focus, emphasizing the sinister Svengali over his attractive victim, resulting in one of Barrymore’s most critically acclaimed performances.  Anton Grot’s art direction and Barney McGill’s cinematography were each nominated for Academy Awards and are as baroque and creepy as Barrymore’s portrayal of the mesmeric maestro.  Svengali is an under-appreciated classic of Hollywood’s early sound horror films and a tragically tantalizing Pre-Code masterpiece.

Disc Features:

  • High definition digital transfer with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Audio commentary featuring film historian Gregory Mank
  • From Trilby to Today, an interview with scholar Gayle Wald on the Svengali figure
  • The Look of Svengali, an interview with designer and journalist Cathy Whitlock
  • PLUS: A new essay by filmmaker Guy Maddin

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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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