The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Bandits of Orgosolo • Ten Documentary Shorts by Vittorio De Seta.
Heralded by Martin Scorsese as “an anthropologist who speaks with the voice of a poet,” Italian director Vittorio De Seta produced a string of extraordinary short documentaries in the 1950s that distill their subjects to pure cinema. Shooting in vivid color in the rural villages of Sicily, Sardinia, and Calabria, De Seta captured the rhythms and rituals of everyday life among the fishermen, miners, shepherds, and farmers who continued to live and work according to the preindustrial traditions of their ancestors. These shorts were followed by Bandits of Orgosolo, which presented with neorealist authenticity the tragic plight of a poor Sardinian shepherd unfairly accused of rustling and murder. Together, these miniature marvels and this hardscrabble feature-film debut stand as essential, ennobling records of a vanished world.
New, restored 4K digital transfers of all eleven films, overseen by the World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays:
The Age of Swordfish (1954 • 11 minutes • Color • Monaural • 2.35:1 aspect ratio) Vittorio De Seta’s rhythmic editing adds drama to this chronicle of a Sicilian spearfishing expedition.
Islands of Fire (1954 • 11 minutes • Monaural • 2.35:1 aspect ratio) This prize-winning short is a poetic portrait of life on the coast of Sicily before, during, and following a volcanic eruption.
Solfatara(1955 • 11 minutes • Color • Monaural • 2.35:1 aspect ratio) Harshness and beauty exist side by side in this look at the lives of sulfur mine workers and their families in southern Italy.
Easter in Sicily (1955 • 10 minutes • Color • Monaural • 2:35:1 aspect ratio) De Seta captures the music and pageantry of an Easter celebration in Sicily.
Sea Countrymen (1955 • 11 minutes • Color • Monaural • 2.35:1 aspect ratio) The rhythms of the sea set the tempo for this vivid account of a day in the lives of Sicilian fishermen.
Golden Parable (1955 • 10 minutes • Color • Monaural • 2.35:1 aspect ratio) Filming amid the flaxen wheat fields of Sicily, De Seta documents the everyday rituals of farmers during harvest time.
Fishing Boats (1958 • 11 minutes • Color • Monaural • 2.35:1 aspect ratio) The unpredictable nature of the sea governs the world of Sicilian fishermen as they work, rest, and seek refuge from a storm.
Orgosolo’s Shepherds (1958 • 11 minutes • Color • Monaural • 2.35:1 aspect ratio) The striking landscapes of rural Sardinia provide the backdrop to this lyrical look at the hard-earned lives of the region’s shepherds in winter.
A Day in Barbagia (1958 • 11 minutes • Color • Monaural • 2.35:1 aspect ratio) From sunrise to sunset, De Seta chronicles the lives of Sardinian women who look after both home and fields while their shepherd husbands are away tending their flocks.
The Forgotten (1959 • 21 minutes • Color • Monaural • 2.35:1 aspect ratio) De Seta travels to a remote province in southern Italy to capture a unique celebration known as the “Feast of Silver.”
Bandits of Orgosolo (1961 • 95 minutes • Black and White • Monaural • 1.37:1 aspect ratio) Returning to the Sardinian countryside, De Seta presents a ruinous portrait of a poor shepherd wrongfully associated with some bandits and forced to flee, taking his flock and his younger brother into remote, inhospitable lands.
Introduction by Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival chief Gian Luca Farinelli
New interview with director Martin Scorsese
Détour De Seta, a 2004 documentary by Salvo Cuccia
The Filmmaker is an Athlete: Conversations with Vittorio De Seta, Vincent Sorrel and Barbara Vey’s 2010 interview with De Seta
New English subtitle translations
PLUS: Essays by scholar Alexander Stille and critic J. Hoberman
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Winchester ’73.
A one-of-a-kind rifle, the Winchester ’73, passes through a diverse group of desperate characters, summarizing the Western genre while also revitalizing it. In his first of eight indelible collaborations with director Anthony Mann, James Stewart is cast against type as Lin McAdam, an upright frontiersman obsessed with tracking down murderer Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally) and always finding himself a step behind the iconic rifle wrongfully stolen from him. Featuring Shelley Winters as a saloon girl looking to settle down, Dan Duryea as a crazed outlaw, John McIntire as a sly gun trader, Rock Hudson as an aggrieved Indian chief, and a young Tony Curtis in an early screen role, Winchester ’73 ushered in a new era for the Western that replaced squeaky clean heroes with flawed, complex protagonists and re-made James Stewart into a mature, complicated screen presence.
New 4K digital restoration, undertaken by Universal Pictures in partnership with The Film Foundation and in consultation with filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New introduction by Scorsese
Audio commentary with actor James Stewart and film historian Paul Lindenschmidt
Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1951, featuring actors James Stewart and Stephen McNally
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Sarah Hagelin and an except from firearm historian R.L. Wilson’s Winchester: An American Legend
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Phenix City Story.
Corruption, brutality, and vice plagued Phenix City, Alabama, for 100 years, so who would dare to change it? Based on real-life events and filmed on location in what was called Sin City USA, director Phil Karlson’s semi-documentary tears this jolting tale from its Pulitzer Prize-winning headlines and tells the story of those citizens who risked their lives to bring down the burg’s syndicate of thugs and murderers. Signalling the end of stylish film noir and pointing to the crime-busting exposés that followed, this classic B-noir remains indelible for its shockingly transgressive violence, its unsettling authenticity, and its subtextual awareness of the struggling civil rights movement.
New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents A Matter of Life and Death.
As 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.
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
Edinburgh. 1827. The Scottish capital is the world leader in medical research but a scarcity of legally available cadavers has caused medical schools to turn to “resurrectionists,” grave-robbers selling freshly buried (and not so freshly buried) bodies liberated from local graveyards. Irish immigrants Burke (George Rose) and Hare (Donald Pleasence) join the ranks of the body-snatchers, striking up an uneasy business relationship with eminent surgeon Dr. Robert Knox (Peter Cushing) and quickly deciding to speed the process along by murdering the poor and the homeless. Men and women, old and young, everyone becomes a target for the deadly duo, but even as the body count rises, Knox turns a blind eye to their methods in order to further his research. When Burke and Hare go too far and murder a well known figure of the Edinburgh slums, the public goes mad for the killers’ blood and Dr. Knox’s conspiracy is revealed with harrowing consequences.
John Gilling’s The Flesh and the Fiends is a forgotten and under-appreciated classic of British horror, a historical thriller with a disturbingly black heart that is made all the darker for having told the true account of Scotland’s most famous serial killers. Violent and salacious, yet grand and expressionistic, The Flesh and the Fiends is presented here, for the first time, in high-definition presentations of both the British and the infamous “Continental” cuts of the film.
New high definition digital transfer of the British cut of The Flesh and the Fiends and of the “Continental” version with added scenes of nudity and violence shot for the more permissive European market
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
Uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
New interview with director Joe Dante and graphic artist Charlie Largent on The Flesh and the Fiends and its subsequent versions
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Forty Guns.
Jessica Drummond (Barbara Stanwyck) rules over her county in Arizona with an army of forty gunmen until gunslinger-turned-US Marshall Griff Bonnell (Barry Sullivan) and his brothers arrive, bringing law and order to Drummond’s corrupt empire. But when Jessica and Griff fall in love and Griff’s brother is murdered, loyalties become divided between romance, family, justice, and revenge. Written, directed, and produced by Samuel Fuller, Forty Guns explodes off the screen with audacious cinematography, psychosexual energy, and a hyperbolic story that unites style and substance in a muscular Western classic.
New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Audio commentary by Sam Fuller biographer Lisa Dombrowski
A new video essay on the film’s pre-production featuring filmmaker Jim Jarmusch reading archived memoranda from the 20th Century Fox archives
Stills gallery of photos, posters, lobby cards for American and international promotion
Original theatrical trailer
PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by filmmaker Allison Anders, Jean-Luc Godard’s 1957 review for Cahiers du cinéma, and excepts from Fuller’s autobiography, A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking