What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Blu-ray Roundup #1

Welcome to my new way of doing my “Whats Old Is A New Release Again” series! As I mentioned in my post Upcoming Changes For The “Thoughts From The Music(al) Man” Blog earlier this year, life has forced some changes upon how I have to do my blog (at least, if I am to continue). As such, I will now be doing quick blurbs on each of the new releases that I try. Of course, the posts will differ, depending on what I am covering. With regard to new releases on Blu-ray, I will do posts on four films, which will not change (outside of adding in links to full reviews when they get written later). On the other hand, I will have posts on 4K UHD releases and some of my featured Stars/Screen Teams, which will be posted when I have at least two films to talk about (and those posts will be updated if more films get released throughout the year). Now, this post is my first focusing on some of the movies released on Blu-ray in 2022 (and therefore will not be updated). So, let’s dig into the movies Edge Of Darkness (1943), The Three Musketeers (1948), Black Magic (1949) and The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962)!

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Table Of Contents

Note: Initially, this post will have my comments on four different shorts, but when I eventually get around to writing individual reviews for any of these films I am looking at here, I will remove my thoughts on the shorts from this post and add them to the new post.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Birthday Blues (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 31 seconds)

Dickie’s (Dickie Moore) father forgets to give his wife a present for her birthday, so Dickie decides to earn some money to give her a dress. He decides to bake a cake full of prizes, with some help from Spanky (George McFarland) and Stymie (Matthew Beard), and charge the rest of the gang for it. This one was quite a bit of fun (with a little bit of heart thrown in)! Much of the humor stems from the way they bake the cake, taking some instructions quite literally, as well as some of the “prizes” that get thrown in when the two kids baking it aren’t looking! A very enjoyable twenty minutes, and one well worth seeing again and again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Lad An’ A Lamp (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 17 minutes, 17 seconds)

After hearing the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp, the Gang all try to find a lamp with a genie. When circumstances lead them to believe that they found it, they try to figure out what to wish for. This one was a very entertaining short! Watching the kids try to find the lamp was fun, but so was seeing all the various situations that make it appear as if the lamp was genuine! Of course, we don’t see too many “wishes” come true, but Spanky (George McFarland) wishing for Stymie’s (Matthew Beard) little brother to turn into a monkey results in some of the short’s funniest moments! All in all, a lot of fun to be found with this one, and I certainly look forward to seeing it repeatedly!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Fish Hooky (1933)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 18 minutes, 31 seconds)

Some of the gang decide to play hooky from school when Joe (Joe Cobb) and Farina (Allen Hoskins) invite them to go fishing. However, their teacher, Miss Kornman (Mary Kornman) has decided to close the school and take the students out to the beach for the day. This one was quite an entertaining entry in the series! It was fun seeing Joe and Farina again (however briefly), and the short also brings back earlier members Mary Kornman as the teacher and Mickey Daniels as the new truant officer. Most of the humor is derived from Mary and Mickey conniving to get the kids to regret their decision to play hooky (with Mickey constantly laughing to himself as he pretends to chase them in order to send them to reform school). A lot of good, clean fun, and certainly one I look forward to revisiting in the future!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Forgotten Babies (1933)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 16 minutes, 58 seconds)

It’s Saturday, and the Gang wants to go swimming, but they’re all stuck taking care of their younger siblings. So, they decide to stick Spanky (George McFarland) with babysitting duties while they all go have fun. This one was fairly entertaining, getting to see Spanky take care of all the little kids. His version of the Tarzan story was one of the more memorable moments, as were the antics of the babies as they all quickly got away from him (and way out of hand). This short may not have been one of the more memorable entries in the series, but it was still fun.

Edge Of Darkness (1943)

  • Plot Synopses: It’s World War II, and the German army has taken over Norwegian territory. In the small village of Trollness, the Norwegian people resent the Nazi menace under the command of Captain Koenig (Helmut Dantine). The Norwegians look to Gunnar Brogge (Errol Flynn) for leadership, but they can’t revolt without any guns. According to Major Ruck (Henry Brandon), an undercover British agent, they can expect arms to come soon. But, with another nearby Norwegian village having failed to rebel against the Germans, can the people of Trollness manage to successfully get rid of the Nazis in their midst without being betrayed by one of their own?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 59 minutes
  • Extras: WB Short Gun To Gun (1944), WB Cartoon: To Duck… Or Not To Duck (1943), Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This film was new to me, and proved to be a very entertaining war drama. While it held back some on the horrors of war (due, as much as anything, to the Production Code in place at the time), it still managed to portray what people went through under the Nazis in such a way as to help garner sympathy for the Norwegian people and hatred for the Nazis. Being made during the second World War, it definitely feels intended to help drum up patriotic support for the Allies, especially with the narration during the film’s ending. The action scenes worked quite well for the film’s big battle, and easily held my attention. Again, a very well-made film that I would highly recommend!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a scan of the best available preservation elements, and it looks wonderful! The picture is crisp and clear, allowing detail to show through, with all dust and debris cleaned up.

The Three Musketeers (1948)

  • Plot Synopses: A young lad from Gascony named D’Artagnan (Gene Kelly) has come to Paris, France, in the hope of becoming one of the king’s musketeers. After a rocky start, he quickly befriends Athos (Van Heflin), Porthos (Gig Young) and Aramis (Robert Coote), three of the best swordsmen in the musketeers. However, they have all run afoul of the king’s prime minister, Richelieu (Vincent Price). With the aid of the Countess de Winter (Lana Turner), Richelieu aims to increase his power in France by starting a war with England. Can the musketeers stop their plans, or will the country have more trouble under Richelieu’s leadership?
  • Film Length: 2 hours, 6 minutes
  • Extras: Fitzpatrick Traveltalks Short Looking At London (1946), Tex Avery Cartoon What Price Fleadom (1948), MGM Radio Promo, Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This is the only one of this batch that I’ve seen previously, and it still holds up for me as a wonderful film! Gene Kelly is the main appeal here as D’Artagnan, in what he considered one of his favorite non-musical roles. His athleticism and dance ability help him out as he proves adept with a sword in one of his rare swashbuckling appearances. While most of the story is familiar to those who’ve seen various adaptations of the material, this version at least attempts to make use of more of the original novel’s story. It’s my favorite Three Musketeers film, and easily recommended!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives. As a result, the film looks much better than it has in a while, with the color popping much better and improved detail in the image. All dirt and other debris has been cleaned up.

Black Magic (1949)

  • Plot Synopses: As a child, young Joseph Balsamo witnesses the wrongful death of his parents at the hand of Viscount de Montaigne (Stephen Bekassy) (and barely escapes with his own life). As an adult, he reinvents himself as Cagliostro (Orson Welles), working as part of a traveling medicine show, until he meets Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer (Charles Goldner), who recognizes that Cagliostro has the power to help people with his ability to hypnotize them with his eyes. With this newfound knowledge, Cagliostro sets out to get his revenge on the Viscount. Opportunity presents itself when the Viscount (who doesn’t recognize him) needs his help in part of a conspiracy to discredit Marie Antionette (Nancy Guild) with a peasant named Lorenza who looks exactly like her. Will Cagliostro get his revenge and successfully gain power, or can he be stopped by Lorenza’s lover, Captain Gilbert de Rezel (Frank Latimore)?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Extras: ClassicFlix Trailers for A Night In Casablanca (1946), The Little Rascals, Volume 3, Stand-In (1937), T-Men (1947) and Tomorrow Is Forever (1946)
  • Label: ClassicFlix
  • My Rating: 7/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This film was new to me, and I will admit that I found it enjoyable! I’m still coming around to Orson Welles as an actor, but he is certainly one of the film’s main strengths, giving a solid performance as a more villainous character. Some of the other aspects don’t work as well, like the love triangle between him, Nancy Guild’s Lorenza and Frank Latimore’s Captain de Rezel; or the story itself after the original conspiracy is derailed upon the death of the king. Still, the film has some nice touches, especially in the way it portrays Cagliostro’s methods of controlling people hypnotically (even if you do question many of the characters not realizing how to stop him from doing so until the very end). It’s certainly a far from perfect film, but I found it entertaining and would certainly suggest giving it a shot!
    • On The Transfer: For the most part, this film looks quite well. The image has been mostly cleaned up of dirt and debris (although a few scratches appear here and there). It’s an overall pleasing image, even with a few moments where the image has some issues with emulsion consistency. It’s not absolutely perfect, but it’s still as good as one can hope for, given what film elements still survive.

The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962)

  • Plot Synopses: The Grimm brothers have been commissioned to write the family history of a local Duke (Oscar Homolka). Jacob Grimm (Karl Boehm) is very dedicated to his work, but his brother Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey) is prone to goofing off. Wilhelm is obsessed with fairy tales and wants to write them down for everyone, but nobody else believes that his idea will have any lasting value. His antics increasingly get the two brothers in trouble with the Duke, until he accidentally loses their manuscript in the process of seeking out more fairy tales. Will this mistake be the end of the brothers, or can they come back together?
  • Film Length: 2 hours, 20 minutes
  • Extras: the movie in both letterboxed and Smilebox aspect ratios (over two discs), Brothers Grimm Announcement Trailer, Brothers Grimm Theatrical Letterbox Trailer, Brothers Grimm Radio Interview with Russ Tamblyn, Brothers Grimm Radio Interview with Yvette Mimieux, Epic Art for the Brothers Grimm, The Wonderful Career Of George Pal, Rescuing A Fantasy Classic, Rothenberg, Germany Location Commemorative Plaque, A Salute To William R. Forman, Brothers Grimm Slideshow
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 9/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This was a new movie for me, and one I very much enjoyed! While your mileage may vary with regards to the main story about the brothers (I personally liked it), the main consensus from what I’ve read is that the movie is at its best during the three fairy tale sections, a point with which I heartily agree! It has a few fun musical moments (with music by Bob Merrill) scattered through the fairy tale segments, plus the main theme is a bit of an earworm itself! There are some scenes that really show off the fact that it was made for Cinerama, such as a ride through the forest in a horse-drawn coach, and Russ Tamblyn doing some tumbling through that same forest (all of which would either be shortened or cut completely for a regular film). It might be a little childish for some during the fairy tale sections, but it’s an overall entertaining movie if you can get past that!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 6K composite scan of the original Cinerama 3-panel camera negatives. Quite simply stated, this movie looks FANTASTIC! All three panels have been put together seamlessly, with no join lines visible, thus giving us a nice, clear image. There are moments where some damage briefly peeks through, but nowhere near enough to mar an otherwise immaculate image (and I highly recommend the Smilebox version as the best way to watch the movie unless you’ve got a curved screen a la Cinerama)!

My Overall Impressions

Well, now that I’ve commented on these four films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (4.)

  1. The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962)
  2. The Three Musketeers (1948)
  3. Edge Of Darkness (1943)
  4. Black Magic (1949)

As you can tell from that list, I regard Black Magic as the weakest of the bunch (both in terms of the film itself and the transfer quality). Now, don’t get me wrong. The movie itself is still entertaining, and the transfer is quite good (after all, ClassicFlix is trying to work with films from smaller entities that haven’t always been able to take care of their holdings as well as the big studios can, and ClassicFlix’s budget is certainly nothing near what the big studios can handle, especially since they’ve had to devote more of their resources of late to their ongoing Our Gang/The Little Rascals project after their crowdfunding attempt failed). It’s just that the other three films are better overall. I think that The Three Musketeers and Edge Of Darkness are the best films of the lot, and their transfers look quite stellar. But, even though I have a slightly lower opinion of The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm as a movie, I would still call that Blu-ray release the best of the bunch (and an early contender for best release of the year). After all, they took a film that, due to the combination of it being a Cinerama film (and therefore, there is three times the film they have to go through and restore, compared to a normal film of the same length) and some water damage that the elements sustained quite some time ago, was long considered too expensive a proposition (compared to its supposed popularity) to be released on DVD, never mind Blu-ray. And yet, now it’s here on Blu-ray, sporting an absolutely fantastic transfer, along with some newly produced extras (a rarity for Warner Archive Collection releases) and a booklet partly replicating a souvenir program originally sold during the film’s original theatrical roadshow engagements. Plain and simple, I can easily recommend all four of these releases, but I think that The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm is a special release that is very much deserving of being in anybody’s collection now!

*The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) = ranked #1 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

**The Three Musketeers (1948) = ranked #8 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

***Edge Of Darkness (1943) = ranked #9 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

****The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) = ranked #8 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

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