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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Phoenix Tapes (Christoph Girardet and Matthias Muller, 1999)

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

criterion logoCut together from 40 of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, Christoph Girardet and Matthias Müller’s 6-part Phoenix Tapes is a surreal collage of the master director’s themes, motifs, gestures, and objects in a pure cinematic experience.  More than a mere catalogue of Hitchcockian fetish objects and complexes, Girardet and Müller reconnect us to original experience of Hitchcock’s films by removing the familiar context of those sounds and images.  In doing so, Phoenix Tapes examines the uncanny fear specific to the master of suspense and through those Oedipal traps, guilty consciences, maternal obsessions, and murderous desires, explores the dark recesses of cinema’s own collective unconscious.

Disc Features:

  • New high-definition digital restoration, approved by Christoph Girardet and Matthias Müller, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New interviews with Girardet and Müller on selected works
  • Short films by Girardet and Müller, including Manual (2002), Beacon (2002), Play (2003), Mirror (2003), Kristall (2006), Maybe Siam (2009), Contre-jour (2009), Meteor (2011) and Cut (2013)
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film scholars Thomas Elsaesser, Dominique Païni, Sally Shafto, and filmmaker Guy Maddin

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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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