Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, everybody, and it’s time to take a look back at the year 2022. The year started off normally enough (although I did try to pull back from doing entries in my “What’s Old Is A New Release Again” series every week like I’ve done in the past, as that had felt like I was doing too much). I renamed my February 1 posts (which have generally been on films starring Clark Gable) as The King Of Hollywood And I: A Birthday Celebration, due to my shared birthday with him. However, that was as far as I got, as I never finished my logo for that series before events at home delayed a number of things I was trying to do (as I hinted at in my Upcoming Changes For The “Thoughts From The Music(al) Man” Blog post), and left me with no choice but to take the month of April off (apart from my Easter Sunday post). In May, I was able to resume my Thoughts From The Music(al) Man and Star/Genre Of The Month series on Sundays (albeit with biweekly posts as opposed to weekly like I had been doing since I started blogging), and I started doing roundups on multiple films (instead of individuals) for my What’s Old Is A New Release Again series.
Regrettably, those changes haven’t quite been enough, as I referenced more recently in my Changes Ahead Again post. I am still trying to continue into 2023, but, like I had thought when I wrote that post, I have to pull back even further by ending the Star/Genre Of The Month series that I’ve been doing since 2021, and just do one regular Thoughts From The Music(al) Man post per month (although there might be a few exceptions here and there). I will be trying to continue my What’s Old Is A New Release Again series as roundups, but with a few new changes. I’m going to finish out the series on 2022 releases the same way that I’ve been doing so far (which at most means one or two new posts along with some updates to the 4K UHD Roundup and Bob Hope And Dorothy Lamour Roundup, since they’re the only two posts with more releases that I haven’t seen yet). Once I start in on the 2023 releases (which is likely to be in May), I will be doing one post per month in the series (regardless of format, star, etc.). The plan will be to do either a regular review if I only saw one new release the month before, or do roundups for two or more titles (still debating whether or not I will impose a maximum of four films per post every month with the possible exceptions of November and March, although multi-film box sets *might* get their own posts). The big change is that this series will no longer be posted on Wednesdays, but Sundays. My plan is to do my Thoughts From The Music(al) Man posts on the first or second Sundays of the month (although there may occasionally be exceptions) and What’s Old Is A New Release Again Roundups two weeks after that, with the exceptions for the roundups in November (where it will be the last Sunday before Thanksgiving) and March (the last Sunday of the month). Outside of special posts (mostly the “Year In Review” and “Top 10 Disc Releases” plus whatever might be centered on special days), all other posts will also be on Sundays from now on. Hopefully, doing things this way will allow me to keep going for a bit longer.
But, enough about the changes to the blog. What we were all here for was the movies, and, even though I had to pull back on how many films I reviewed per month, I still got in a number of good movies for the year. Like in 2021, I spent most of the year focusing on various movie stars every month (albeit not in blogathon form after the first few months), featuring actors and actresses (and screen teams) like Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy (January), Deanna Durbin (February), Bing Crosby (March), Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour (May), Frank Sinatra (June), Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (July), Audrey Hepburn (August) and W. C. Fields (November), with one detour in September focusing on musical screen teams. There really wasn’t much of a focus on anything besides that, since everything that happened forced me to pull back almost entirely in April, and, outside of this month’s two Christmas films and finishing up the Thin Man film series earlier this year, I didn’t really go in for anything specific (just watching a few of the movies I was given for Christmas 2021 and my birthday). I had a handful of big discoveries this year, particularly The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962), a bunch of new-to-me W. C. Fields films and the new West Side Story (2021). Almost everything else was movies I had seen before (or films that I didn’t have *quite* as high an opinion of). But, I still enjoyed watching more movies with familiar stars and genres, so there was that!
And with all that said, here’s my list of the top 10 movies that I watched/reviewed for the year 2022, culled from the list of 2022 reviews, plus 2021 releases reviewed after January 1, 2021 and 2022 releases reviewed before December 31, 2022 (also a few films released on disc in prior years, but obviously they’re included in the 2022 reviews). While I was able to enjoy watching a great many movies, some new and some I’ve seen before, the movies on this list are those I enjoyed the most, and would recommend to anybody that is interested! And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon and support this site!
Top Hat (1935) (Warner Home Video, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
The top spot for 2022 belongs to the one and only Top Hat! Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers play a couple who meet in London, England, but quickly go to Venice, Italy when she mistakes him for the husband of her good friend. The plot may not be the film’s strength, but we’re not here for that, as we want to see Fred and Ginger dance! And dance they do, to a score of some of (in my opinion) Irving Berlin’s best music, including “Cheek To Cheek” and the title tune. Add in a memorable supporting cast, including Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore, and we’ve got a winner that’s always fun to see!
Funny Face (1957) (Paramount Pictures, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
In this musical, Fred Astaire portrays photographer Dick Avery, who convinces Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), an assistant in a Greenwich Village shop, to go to Paris, France as a model for Quality Magazine. It’s a lot of fun, with the beautiful music of George and Ira Gerswhin (and a few newer tunes), plus the dancing of Fred and Audrey in their only film together. With all of that, it’s a film that can’t miss, and is highly recommended!
Monte Carlo (1930) (Criterion Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
In Monte Carlo (1930), Jeanette MacDonald plays a broke countess who goes to Monte Carlo to avoid a marriage to a wealthy duke that she doesn’t love. In the process, she falls for her hairdresser (who is actually a count in disguise). As usual, Jeanette is in fine voice, especially for her signature tune “Beyond The Blue Horizon” (which was introduced here). There are a few other very fun tunes and various bits of comedy to help fill out this wonderful pre-Code, making it well worth seeing!
Can’t Help Singing (1944) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
In her only Technicolor film, Deanna Durbin stars as a senator’s daughter who goes west to marry the soldier she thinks she loves, but finds real love on the way with a card sharp. It’s a fun film, with Deanna singing a number of memorable tunes, including the title song and “Californ-I-Ay.” It might be a little too similar to the classic screwball comedy It Happened One Night (1934), but it’s still entertaining, and worth being recommended!
Kiss Me Kate (1953) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
In this classic musical, Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel star as a divorced couple who co-star (and fight both on- and off-stage) in a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew. It’s an overall fun film, with the benefits of beautiful and/or entertaining music by Cole Porter, plus some fantastic dancing by the likes of Ann Miller, Bob Fosse, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van and others! It’s a well-regarded film musical for a reason, and I can’t recommend it enough!
West Side Story (2021) (20th Century Studios/Disney, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
With regard to this film, the needle may be stuck in a crack, but I can’t help repeating myself. I did not care for the original 1961 film and had no intention of seeing this one. But I decided to give it a shot anyway when it showed up on Disney+, and I was floored by just how much fun this film was! I thought the cast did really well, the songs were fun and memorable (and made me want to get up and dance to them), and the cinematography was beautiful! Plain and simple, this one was a pleasant surprise (and I can’t help but feel like it should have done better, not only financially, but at the Oscars as well), and highly recommended!
Charade (1963) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
In this film, Audrey Hepburn stars as Regina Lampert, who has returned home from a vacation in the Swiss Alps, only to find her husband dead and several men trying to shake her down for some money he had stashed somewhere. I’ve said before that I’m no fan of director Alfred Hitchcock (or the types of films he was known for), but this film, Stanley Donen’s homage to Hitchcock, is a thrill from start to finish! I love seeing Audrey and Cary Grant working together, as she makes us cheer for her, while he manages to stay just mysterious enough that we don’t know whether he is a good guy or a bad one. I know the ending, and yet I still feel the suspense every time I see this film. So this is an easy recommendation because of the leads and the story!
The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm tells the tale of the Grimm brothers Jacob (Karl Boehm) and Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey), as Wilhelm seeks out various fairy tales while his workaholic brother insists on doing their job of writing a duke’s family history. This was very much a new film to me, and it was fantastic from start to finish! The three fairy tale sections were the best part of the movie (especially with their more musical moments), but the film really shines with all of its scenery, filmed in its original Cinerama glory. The recent Blu-ray release of this long-forgotten (and long thought to be too difficult/expensive to restore) movie made me a fan, and I heartily recommend it to others!
Murder By Death (1976) (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
In Murder By Death (1976), a group of famous detectives and their associates are invited to dinner and a murder. After the murder is committed, the race is on to prove who is the best detective! I’ve seen this spoof numerous times over the years, and it’s one that continues to make me laugh from start to finish, with memorable lines and ridiculous situations. It’s not the most politically correct film (as I mentioned in the original review), but it’s enough fun to recommend it with great enthusiasm!
The Ten Commandments (1956) (Paramount Pictures, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
It’s The Ten Commandments (1956). It’s director Cecil B. DeMille at his very best, bringing all the spectacle and drama of the classic biblical tale to life on the big screen. With Charlton Heston in the lead role as Moses and a host of many famous names in support, this film is certainly one of the greats of classic cinema. It may run a bit long for some, but it more than makes up for it in entertainment value in my mind. I would easily classify it as one of the better movies that I’ve seen this year!
So thank you all for sticking with me in 2022, and I wish you a Happy New Year as we head into 2023! And please let me know what movies you’ve enjoyed this year as well (whether those you’ve seen or whatever movies I’ve reviewed, whatever works for you)!
As has long been established here, I very much prefer physical media when it comes to how I like to watch movies. So, to that end, we’re here to look at what I personally consider to be the best releases of 2022! As I remind everyone yearly, I do NOT receive screeners of any kind (nor, quite frankly, would I want to, as I prefer to support the movies I like in the hopes of more of them being made available), so I can only work with what I have seen. I am making this list from all the 2022 releases I have seen as of 11/24/2022. I am, at this point, strictly working from movies that have been released through October 2022 (plus one released VERY early in the month of November) due to constraints of time and budget (plus the fact that, as I said, I don’t receive screeners and therefore can’t comment on anything released in the latter part of November or anything from December). So, this list is what it is (but, I will give a shout-out to some of the others afterwards). And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to use my affiliate links to go to Amazon and buy them!
The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) tells the tale of Jacob Grimm (Karl Boehm) and his brother Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey), as Wilhelm seeks out various fairy tales while his brother works on the family history of a local duke. This may not be the best film on the list, and it may not be the absolute best restoration (due to some VERY minor damage that is visible here and there), but it was the biggest surprise of the year! It’s a very enjoyable film, long thought to be too difficult/expensive to restore due to water damage and being a Cinerama film (meaning it had three times the amount of film to restore that a regular movie of a similar length would have). Now, it looks MUCH better than it has in a long time, and a bunch of new special features were produced for this release. I thought this would be the release of the year when I first saw it, and now, more than half a year later, I still believe it!
Singin’ In The Rain (1952) (Warner Home Video, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
In this classic musical, Gene Kelly stars as silent film star Don Lockwood, who is facing the rise of the talking picture, as he also begins a romance with one of his fans, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). It’s hard to go wrong with this film, in between all the fun music by producer Arthur Freed and his partner Nacio Herb Brown, Gene Kelly’s iconic dance to the title tune and Donald O’Connor doing “Make ‘Em Laugh,” along with many other memorable moments. The new 4K UHD really shines, giving us the best transfer we’ve gotten yet for this film, with less of the yellowish image present from the Blu-ray, and more natural colors! Easily one of the year’s best releases!
Blue Skies (1946) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
In this film, dancer Jed Potter (Fred Astaire) has fallen for Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield), but she’s taken a shine to nightclub owner Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby). In this second film pairing Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, they once again have the music of Irving Berlin to help tell the story. Memorable moments include Fred Astaire dancing with himself via special effects to “Puttin’ On The Ritz” and the two men dancing to “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men.” With a new 2K master that easily improves on previous releases on home video, this Blu-ray comes highly recommended!
Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
In this Busby Berkeley musical, a trio of chorus girls take part in a hit new musical when one member’s boyfriend helps pay for it. Trouble arises when his meddlesome older brother tries to break up their relationship, but he and his lawyer instead fall for the other two girls from the trio. This is a fun pre-Code musical, with Ginger Rogers singing the classic “We’re In The Money” (part of it in pig Latin, no less!), as well as songs like the neon-lit “Shadow Waltz” and the Depression-era “Remember My Forgotten Man.” The new Blu-ray works from a scan of the best preservation elements, and as a result, the film looks fantastic! A wonderful movie with a great transfer to boot (and therefore highly recommended)!
(tie) For Me And My Gal (1942) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
In For Me And My Gal (1942), a pair of vaudevillians team up, hoping to become big enough stars that they can perform at the famous Palace Theater in New York City. However, the war (World War I) throws a monkey wrench in their plans when one of them is drafted. There’s a lot of fun to be had here in the first film that teamed up Judy Garland and Gene Kelly (in his film debut!), from the wonderful period music to the fun dance routines. Now, Warner Archive has done a 4K scan of their best preservation elements for the film, and it looks better than ever! This Blu-ray is certainly the best way to see this film, and comes highly recommended!
(tie) The Clock (1945) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
In The Clock (1945), Robert Walker stars as Corporal Joe Allen, who meets Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland) while on a two-day leave in New York City. This is a fun little drama, which focuses on the growing romance between two characters who meet during wartime. Judy and Robert both carry the film quite well, and give us characters that are easy to invest in as we see their various adventures together. For the Blu-ray, Warner Archive gave us a 4K scan of the best preservation elements, which means that this film looks fantastic, with great detail and nothing to mar the image. Easily a great way to enjoy this wonderful movie!
West Side Story (2021) (20th Century Studios/Disney, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
In this remake of the classic musical, the Jets and the Sharks duke it out for control of the streets of New York. Former Jets leader Tony (Ansel Elgort) falls for Maria (Rachel Zegler), the sister of the Sharks’ leader, which further complicates things. I will readily admit that I did not care for the original 1961 film (and had no plans to see this one), but the new film won me over! The music and dancing are entertaining (and make me want to get up and dance!), and I can’t help but want to see the film again and again! With a beautiful transfer on the 4K UHD, I certainly can think of no better way to see this wonderful film (outside of on the big screen, that is)!
The Three Musketeers (1948) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
In this version of the classic Alexandre Dumas tale, Gene Kelly stars as the young swordsman D’Artagnan, as he and three other musketeers face off against the French prime minister Richelieu (Vincent Price). Obviously, this film hits a number of the same beats as many other filmed versions of the tale, but Gene Kelly alone makes this swashbuckler film fun! His swordfights (including one whose footage was later borrowed for Singin’ In The Rain) are quite entertaining and humorous! Warner Archive has done their usual stellar work with this three-strip Technicolor film, making the Blu-ray a great way to enjoy this movie!
Edge Of Darkness (1943) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
It’s World War II, and the Norwegian village of Trollness has suffered indignity after indignity under the conquering Nazis. Under the leadership of Gunnar Brogge (Errol Flynn), they wait for the opportune moment to strike back against their German occupiers. It’s definitely a film that was meant to help drum up patriotic fervor in the fight against the Nazis, but it’s still a well-made film that builds up the tension to the fight between the Norwegian people and the Nazis (a battle which was done well in and of itself)! Yet another great release from Warner Archive, with the transfer (taken from the best preservation elements) looking crisp and clear and devoid of all dirt and debris! A great release of a very good war film!
You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
Circus owner Larson E. Whipsnade (W. C. Fields) is trying to stay ahead of his creditors, but winds up in enough trouble that his daughter considers a loveless marriage to her wealthy boyfriend to help get her father out of debt. This is a rather fun movie overall, with some of its best bits coming from the running feud between W. C. Fields and ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s dummy Charlie McCarthy (with the exception of Charlie wearing blackface to cover up a black eye)! The new 2K master looks pretty good, as far as I’m concerned (with VERY minor instances of dirt and debris that don’t really take away from the enjoyment of this movie), making this release well worth it!
Special Honorable Mention:
The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6 and The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection Centennial Edition
For the most part, my list tends towards movie releases, as those are the vast majority of what I buy. However, as you may have seen, I also enjoy looking into various theatrical short collections. In 2020, ClassicFlix announced (via crowdfunding campaign) their desire to restore the Hal Roach-owned Little Rascals shorts. While their campaign fell short, they went through with their plans anyway. They now have all six volumes of the Little Rascals talkie shorts available on Blu-ray, uncut and fully restored. In doing so, they’ve released the entire run of the Hal Roach-produced talkie shorts, with all six volumes recently re-released in the Complete Collection Centennial Edition. This set contains all the previously released shorts (now condensed onto five discs instead of six), plus a bonus disc (also available separately for those who bought the individual volumes) that includes several alternate language versions of a few shorts plus three silent shorts that they’ve restored (which will also be available when ClassicFlix starts releasing the silents on Blu-ray and/or DVD at some point next year). I’ve so far had the opportunity to see the shorts from the first five volumes (all of which have looked fantastic!), and I’m currently looking forward to seeing the sixth volume (plus the silents when they get that far)! Easily recommended as some of this year’s best releases, whether you go with the remaining individual volumes or the complete set!
I have to admit, compared to the last few years, 2022 has felt like a bit of a slow and slightly disappointing year where physical media has been concerned. Most of that disappointment is arguably centered around the decreased output from Warner Archive. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to WHAT they have released, I’d still say that they won the year in my opinion. They’ve released some Blu-ray upgrades for a few old favorites, while releasing a few new-to-me titles that I’ve enjoyed (especially, as you can tell from my list, The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm), all of which has certainly made me happy. But I also understand WHY their output has slowed, with almost their entire staff getting laid off in early 2021, including their head George Feltenstein (who was, thankfully, rehired back at Warner Brothers later in the year, thus enabling the Warner Archive program to survive beyond 2021). With a smaller staff to work with, that resulted in there being only 2-3 titles a month from them (compared to about 4-7 a month the last year or two), with there being nothing from them at all for two months. From what George Feltenstein has been saying on some of his various podcast appearances, though, it sounds like things *should* pick up from them in 2023 (with word that the classic 1950 musical Three Little Words is currently being worked on!), especially as the whole studio celebrates the 100th anniversary of Warner Brothers!
In general, I would say that ClassicFlix is right up there with Warner Archive (even if they themselves have only had a handful of releases). Their releases of the Little Rascals shorts have continued to be amongst the highlights of the year as I get to see them for the first time (and looking pretty darn good at that!), and I look forward to their releases of the silents from that series as well! As for feature films, they’ve really only had Black Magic (1949) (which was one of their rare lesser transfers, although to be fair that’s not really their fault, as they could only do so much with the available film elements), Jack And The Beanstalk (1952) (a restoration that was actually performed by the 3-D Film Archive, and, although the film itself is not one of my favorite Abbott and Costello films, it still looks so much better than what I’ve seen previously) and I, The Jury (1953) (I haven’t seen this one yet, but, as their first 3D Blu-ray/ 4K UHD release, which has been reviewed well by others whose opinions I respect, I look forward to seeing it).
With regard to the rest of the boutique labels, the year has left me with a lot of mixed feelings. Kino Lorber Studio Classics has had some good releases this year, with the long-awaited release of Blue Skies (1946), plus some stuff featuring the likes of W. C. Fields, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour from their licensing deals with Universal Studios. They’ve also had some big licensing deals with some of the other major Hollywood studios (including their first with Sony, and Paramount licensing out to them again for the first time in a number of years), although so far they haven’t lived up to the hype (at least, not when it comes to the stuff that I actually want). Universal themselves didn’t impress me as much with their Blu-ray output, as the only real wave of catalog films included three new-to-blu Bing Crosby films (yay!), along with some reissues of titles previously licensed out to Kino Lorber that had only been included in three-film box sets. Criterion has really disappointed me, as they have seemingly decided I’m not their target audience, as their release of Arsenic And Old Lace was really the only title that solidly appealed to me all year (to be fair to them, their price point isn’t as budget-friendly, so I’m not too bothered by that, but it’s still disappointing after being able to count on a good handful of appealing releases every year for a while).
As some may have seen, I finally dipped into 4K tech so as to be able to enjoy some of the various UHDs that actually interest me. So far, I can’t say as I’ve seen much of this year’s releases, mostly because there was one catalog title (of interest to me) for most of the year, plus one modern film (which really, REALLY appealed to me, thus why I brought it up in the first place). Much to my annoyance, the various studios/boutique labels FINALLY got around to releasing some stuff over the last few months of the year (when my budget starts going towards Christmas gifts for others instead of more movies for myself). As I mentioned, ClassicFlix’s I, The Jury (1953) 4K UHD/ 3-D Blu-ray has been receiving rave reviews so far, so I definitely want to plug that one (especially since it is a limited edition). Sony has released their third Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection, which includes titles such as It Happened One Night (1934), From Here To Eternity (1953) and four other films (plus extras), with this release also receiving good reviews. Universal Studios have also released their second Universal Classic Monsters Icons Of Horror Collection (with Phantom Of The Opera‘s transfer getting well reviewed), plus Holiday Inn (1942) (which you’ve seen by now I don’t think came out as well). Paramount Pictures have had a few releases as well, some well-reviewed (the Elvis Presley classic Blue Hawaii, although some have complained about the re-done opening credits with a different font than before), and others not so much. Warner Brothers has recently brought their classic Casablanca (1942) to the format, with that being reviewed pretty well.
That’s all I have to say on 2022’s new releases on disc. There’ve been some great releases this year, and a few not-so great. But, things are looking up from what I’m hearing already about 2023, so hopefully it will be a good year for physical media enthusiasts and film fans!
All Of My 2022 “What’s Old Is A New Release Again” Posts
Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m focusing on titles released on the 4K UHD format in 2022. Due to the slower pace of releases on the format (which is even slower when you account for the number of films that actually appeal to me), I will be starting out with two films, and updating this post as I see more (with the updates showing up on the 2022 Releases page). This post will be completed when I have seen all of the titles that I wanted that were released in 2022, or at the tail end of March 2023 (whichever happens first). So, let’s dig into some of the films that have been released on 4K UHD, starting with Singin’ In The Rain (1952) and West Side Story (2021)!
Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!
Note: Due to the fact that I had already used a short from a different set on my original review of Singin’ In The Rain (1952), I will not be adding another one on that post or this one.
Update: On 11/16/2022, comments were added on the recent 4K UHD release of Holiday Inn (1942). Due to there being a previously written review for that film, the “Coming Up Shorts!” comments were added to that review.
Update: On 3/19/2023, comments were added on the recent 4K UHD releases of I, The Jury (1953) and the 6-film Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3, along with remarks on six more shorts for the “Coming Up Shorts” series (plus comments on another which was added to the previously written review for It Happened One Night). While these may not be all of the 4K UHDs from 2022 that I’ve bought (or that appealed to me), since it is March 2023, this post is completed for the year (with plans for individual reviews of the remaining tites as part of my regular “Thoughts From The Music(al) Man” series throughout 2023 and beyond).
Dorothy (Dorothy DeBorba), Dickie (Dickie Moore) and Spanky’s (George McFarland) mother has received a letter from her brother stating that he is in town with a carnival and wants to meet the kids. The kids go to the carnival, but they mistake the “Wild Man From Borneo” (their uncle’s “sideshow attraction”) as their uncle. This one is a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s pretty good. The short’s main problem is the characterization of the “Wild Man From Borneo” (who is a black man), but the short also makes sure to tell us that he is really not a threat (but the kids themselves certainly don’t know that). One of the short’s more amusing moments is when Spanky is cornered, and feeds this bottomless pit of a man everything in the icebox. It’s not a great short, but it certainly provided a few good laughs throughout.
Spanky (George McFarland), Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) and Buckwheat (Billie Thomas) overhear their teacher ask the superintendent if she can close the school to attend a wedding. When they hear the superintendent say that she would only close the school for an epidemic, the kids decide to create an “epidemic” of their own! This one was quite entertaining! The way the kids portray their “epidemic” is quite hilarious, as is their visit to the veterinarian (who quickly figures out that they’re faking). Of course, part of the fun is what Spanky and Alfalfa overhear when Buckwheat is being “examined,” with them thinking that Buckwheat has been given a monkey serum that turned him into a monkey! This one was worth quite a few laughs, so I would definitely consider seeing this one again!
Tired of the “indignities” that their mothers are subjecting them to (like babysitting and taking dancing lessons), Spanky (George McFarland), Alfalfa (Carl Switzer), Buckwheat (Billie Thomas) and Porky (Eugene Lee) decide to run away from home. When the tired and hungry boys get to a nearby town, they find themselves in trouble with a local shopkeeper (who overheard them discussing their plans and decides to teach them that home isn’t so bad). This one was a bit of fun, especially watching Spanky and Alfalfa try to get some food “for their dog, Pete,” only to wind up with dog biscuits, while Buckwheat and Porky (who found the shopkeeper’s dog) are able to get cakes and other treats. The kids’ attempts to escape (after being captured) were also fun, especially when a chicken was trying to pull Alfalfa’s “personality” (what he called his cowlick). It’s not quite as good as some of the previous shorts, but it’s still good fun, and worth seeing!
Spanky (George McFarland), Alfalfa (Carl Switzer), Buckwheat (Billie Thomas) and Porky (Eugene Lee) entertain Darla (Darla Hood) and her family, but it gets late and a storm starts up, forcing them to spend the night. Darla’s father (Johnny Arthur) gets stuck with the boys, and can’t get a wink of sleep. As usual, this one was quite hilarious! Obviously, the boys’ antics as they try to sleep (and keep interrupting Darla’s father’s sleep) is what makes this one memorable. Of course, the moment you see Darla’s father attempt to sleep on the couch with a bearskin rug as a blanket, you know at least one joke that is coming, but that doesn’t take away from the bit being so funny! This one was a lot of fun, and definitely worth seeing again!
For a show, Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) is pretending to be William Tell by shooting darts at apples, but accidentally hits Butch (Tommy Bond). Alfalfa pretends to faint, but that only delays the inevitable when Butch promises to come back and beat him up. Compared to some of the last few Little Rascals shorts, this one was somewhat disappointing. There’s some humor to be found, mostly in the ways that Spanky (George McFarland) helps him feign a “dislocated leg” (and the circumstances that almost give it away). Still, the jokes didn’t build up well enough and left me cold (but not enough to convince me to never watch this one again).
The Gang have their own voice studio, through which they intend to enter Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) in an amateur radio contest. However, Butch (Tommy Bond) is determined to win, and threatens to give Alfalfa’s manager Spanky (George McFarland) a black eye if he lets Alfalfa take part. This was another entertaining short! What’s fun is seeing the “office” that the kids have put together for their voice studio, and the various contraptions they have that almost make it seem like an adult office. Also, Alfalfa crooning “Just An Echo In The Valley” (with some assistance from a frog) is quite memorable. Overall, a lot of fun in a short time, and one that I would gladly see again!
Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pigskin Palooka (1937)
Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) has been away at military school, but in his letters home, he’s been bragging about his (fake) athletic achievements in American football. When he comes home, the Gang drag him into a game with their rivals, and it’s all he can do to keep from getting creamed! This was another entertaining entry in the Little Rascals series. Obviously, the main fun here is watching Alfalfa try to keep out of the game, only to accidentally help his team win when he is on the field. It’s especially funny when he is carrying the ball (stuck to his hands by a piece of gum) and trailing a bunch of banana peels (with predictable results). I had quite a few good laughs out of this one, which makes it worth seeing again in my book!
Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3
Label: Sony Pictures Entertainment
It Happened One Night (1934)
Plot Synopses: The wealthy heiress Ellen Andrews (Claudette Colbert) has just married famous aviator King Westley (Jameson Thomas) against her father’s wishes. Her father attempts to hold her in Miami and have the marriage annulled, but she escapes. Trying to evade his private detectives, she takes a bus to New York City. On that bus, she meets recently-fired reporter Peter Warne (Clark Gable), who offers to help get her to New York in exchange for the story. But will they successfully get to New York (and her husband), or will everything change for them along the way?
Film Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Extras (on the 4K disc): You Can’t Run Away From It (1956)
Extras (on the included Blu-ray): Frank Capra Jr. Remembers… “It Happened One Night;” Screwball Comedy? A Conversation Between Critics Molly Haskell and Phillip Lopate; Original Live Radio Broadcast; Commentary By Frank Capra Jr.; Vintage Advertising; and Theatrical Trailer
My Rating: 10/10
On The Movie Itself: It’s a wonderful screwball comedy (but don’t let that fool you, as it certainly has its dramatic moments, too)! Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert shine in their Oscar-winning roles as a pair thrown together by her desire to get back to her new husband (against her father’s wishes). There are good laughs to be had here, especially with the film’s famous hitchhiking scene. There’s not a sour performance in the whole film. It comes very highly recommended (but be careful, or you might get “The Daring Young Man On The Flying Trapeze” stuck in your head 😉 )! If you need to know more, you can read my original review here.
On The Transfer: According to the booklet included as part of the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3, the film was given a 4K restoration in 2012 (which was the source of the transfer for the nearly ten-year-old Criterion Collection Blu-ray/DVD). The transfer on the 4K UHD builds on that restoration, taking care of additional flicker and dirt (which was better hidden on the Blu-ray), while adding an HDR color grade. The film’s popularity throughout its ninety years has resulted in sections of the original camera negative being damaged and replaced with duplicate footage (even as early as 1939). As a result, there was only just so much that could be done on those dupe sections even with today’s restoration technology. Some of those sections look a bit rougher (but still pretty good). The vast majority of the film, though, is a thing of beauty, that to me makes this UHD easily worth it. It’s now my preferred method of seeing this great film, and is a very highly recommended release (so get it while it’s still in print, either as part of the set or through eBay, as it may not ever get a solo release via retailers)!
From Here To Eternity (1953)
Plot Synopses: At Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, Captain Dana “Dynamite” Holmes (Philip Ober) is only concerned with his own potential promotion, and he pins his hopes of being promoted on winning the boxing championship with his regimental team (especially now that former Army champion Private Robert E. Lee “Prew” Prewitt, as played by Montgomery Clift, has transferred to his company). However, Prewitt (who had accidentally blinded a former sparring partner) wants nothing to do with the boxing team, even when the other members of the team make his life miserable. The captain’s adjutant, First Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster), warns Prewitt not to buck the captain’s plans, but the sergeant risks his own neck by having an affair with the captain’s wife, Karen (Deborah Kerr). Prewitt enjoys the support of his friend, Private Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra), but Maggio gets into trouble with stockade Sergeant James R. “Fatso” Judson (Ernest Borgnine), resulting in a lot of trouble. Will all these problems resolve themselves, or will something else intervene?
Film Length: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Extras (on the 4K disc): Strength And Sacrifice: The Making Of From Here To Eternity; Eternal History Revisited: Filming The Unfilmable; Eternal History Revisited: Final Victory; From Here To Eternity 1980 TV Pilot; and Trailers
Extras (on the included Blu-ray): Eternal History: Graphics-In-Picture Track; Audio Commentary With Tim Zinnemann And Alvin Sargent; Making Of From Here To Eternity; and Fred Zinnemann – “As I See It” (excerpt)
My Rating: 10/10
On The Movie Itself: This film was new to me via this set (although I had certainly heard of it before), and I will readily admit that I liked it enough that the set was worth it for this film (plus some of the others that I liked)! I think Frank Sinatra’s supporting performance in this one was stellar (and very much deserving of his Oscar win), but I think that ALL the cast did a great job. Each and every character had their flaws, but it was not hard to want to follow their stories. Obviously, this film has some obvious ways in which it got around the Production Code of the day (such as the New Congress Club being a social club with “hostesses” instead of a brothel like in the original novel), but they don’t take away from the experience. All in all, this film is a well-known classic for a reason, and comes highly recommended from me!
On The Transfer: According to the booklet included as part of the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3, the new 4K restoration came from scans of the one surviving reel of the original camera negative, plus a 35mm fine grain master made from the original negative back in 1954 (which they were able to use fully this time, with digital technology allowing them to remove scratches that had previously forced them to use a 35mm duplicate negative for those sections). The image is pristine, and the 4K transfer really brings out the detail. I would definitely recommend this 4K UHD, as it really is the best way to see this wonderful classic!
To Sir, With Love (1967)
Plot Synopses: Unable to find work as an engineer, Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) decides to take a job as a teacher at North Quay Secondary School in London. He finds himself in charge of a very unruly group of students, who pushed their previous (late) teacher over the edge and who also intend to do the same to him. His attempts to teach them don’t go very well at first, until he loses his temper after one of their stunts. Pausing to contemplate the situation, he realizes they are now young adults, and changes his teaching method to reflect that. Will his new idea get through to his students, or will they continue to cause him (and the other teachers) trouble?
Film Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Extras (on the 4K disc): A Tribute To Sidney Poitier and To Sir, With Love TV Pilot (1974)
Extras (on the included Blu-ray): To Sir, With Love II (1996); Look And Learn; Those Schoolboy Days; Audio Commentary with Novelist E. R. Braithwaite and Author/Teacher Salome Thomas-El; Audio Commentary with Judy Geeson and Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman; E. R. Braithwaite: In His Own Words; Lulu And The B-Side; Miniskirts, Blue Jeans And Pop Music!; To Sidney, With Love; Principal El: He Chose To Stay; To Potter, With Love; Beginnings Of An Acting Career; and Theatrical Trailer
My Rating: 9/10
On The Movie Itself: It’s a delightful and timeless story of an inexperienced teacher who is able to get through to a group of unruly kids when more experienced teachers fail. Sidney Poitier’s performance as the teacher makes this movie work, and he is ably supported by all the younger actors and actresses as the “kids.” It’s not a film that I would normally stick on, but I can’t deny that it’s fun to watch from start to finish! I like the title song, although I personally think it might be a little overused in this film (but that’s a VERY minor nitpick with an otherwise wonderful movie). I would highly recommend this film!
On The Transfer: According to the booklet included as part of the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3, the new 4K restoration came from scans of the original camera negative. All I can say is that it looks quite wonderful! The picture still has a healthy level of grain like it is supposed to, and the detail is just superb! The 4K also really brings out the film’s colors quite well, and makes for a very pleasing picture. Quite simply stated, this is another typical (great!) Sony restoration, and this 4K IS the best way to see this wonderful classic!
The Last Picture Show (1971)
Plot Synopses: It’s 1951, and things are slow in Anarene, Texas. High school senior Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) has just broken up with his girlfriend, and begins an affair with his coach’s wife, Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman). Sonny’s friend, Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges) has been going steadily with Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd), although her mother (Ellen Burstyn) is advising her against marrying Duane. Things are already tenuous in the town, and then leading citizen Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson) passes away. Will everybody be able to hold it together without him, or will the town slowly fade away?
Extras (only on the included Blu-ray of the Definitive Director’s Cut): A Tribute To Peter Bogdanovich; The Last Picture Show: A Look Back; A Discussion With Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich; Commentary With Peter Bogdanovich; Location Footage; Theatrical Re-Release Featurette; Teaser Trailer and Theatrical Trailer
My Rating: 6/10
On The Movie Itself: With this film being new to me, I watched both the theatrical and definitive director’s cut (with my preference being for the director’s cut). I admire the film’s set, as the town does indeed look run down and dying, in between the well-worn buildings and the mostly vacant streets. The film’s relationships really show how much the kids are struggling, with most of the adults still acting a bit childish (or missing from the scene entirely), so we have to watch the teens navigate life on their own (except for the advice of Sam the Lion, as played by Ben Johnson in his Oscar-winning role). Personally, I think the movie works better with multiple viewings, so that you can catch more details that you might have missed the first time. When all is said and done, this movie really isn’t my cup of tea (hence my lower rating for it), but I do recognize that, for many others, this is a well-regarded classic. For that reason, I would still recommend it heartily.
On The Transfer: According to the booklet included as part of the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3, the new 4K restoration came from scans of the original camera negative. While I’ve never seen the film before this 4K release, I can say that the transfers for both the theatrical film and the definitive director’s cut look (and sound) absolutely fantastic. The picture looks nice and sharp, readily showing off the detail. There is no damage present, and the audio is as good as you could hope for. Seriously, this is the best way to see this movie.
Plot Synopses: Annie (Aileen Quinn) is living at the Hudson Street Orphanage run by the perpetually drunk and cruel Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett). In order to improve his image, billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks (Albert Finney) offers the opportunity for an orphan to stay at his home for one week, and Annie convinces his secretary, Grace Farrell (Ann Reinking), to take her. In that time, Annie becomes endeared to his whole staff (and him, too), so Mr. Warbucks offers to adopt her. When she declines because she is waiting for her own parents to return for her, he volunteers to help find them by offering a reward. Miss Hannigan’s con artist brother, Rooster (Tim Curry) and his girlfriend seek the reward, enlisting Miss Hannigan’s help to succeed with their ruse. Will their plan work, or will Annie find where she belongs?
Film Length: 2 hours, 7 minutes
Extras (on the 4K disc): Little Orphan Annie (1932)
Extras (on the included Blu-ray): Revisiting Annie with Aileen Quinn; Behind The Music with Charles Strouse; Looking Back; Audio Commentary with Cast Featuring Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry and Rosanne Sorrentino; Sing Along With Annie; My Hollywood Adventure with Aileen Quinn; Musical Performance by PLAY: “It’s The Hard-Knock Life;” and Original Trailers and TV Spots
My Rating: 8/10
On The Movie Itself: First off, I should say that I’ve never seen the stage show, which may affect how I view this film (compared to those who have seen it). This was a thoroughly enjoyable film for me! The music is fun, especially the show’s two most well-known tunes “Tomorrow” and “It’s A Hard-Knock Life” (although “Let’s Go To The Movies” was certainly fun as well). The dancing is pretty good, and the comedy is well worth it, especially when Carol Burnett is onscreen (and Daddy Warbucks’ radio ad for the Bert Healy radio show is itself worth quite a few laughs)! It may not be the best musical ever made, but it’s certainly a good movie to stick on for a rainy afternoon or when feeling low!
On The Transfer: According to the booklet included as part of the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3, the new 4K restoration came from scans of the original camera negative (as opposed to intermediate film elements used on the film’s previous transfer). Not having seen the film before the new 4K UHD, I can’t say how it has looked previously. What I can say about it is that the new transfer looks splendid, with all the dirt cleaned up, and it really shows off the film’s color. As far as I’m concerned, THIS is the way to watch this perfectly charming film!
As Good As It Gets (1997)
Plot Synopses: Romance novelist Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) (who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder) really doesn’t get along with most people and thinks mainly of himself. That starts to change when his gay neighbor Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear) is badly injured in a robbery, and his partner forces Melvin to take care of their dog while Simon recovers. Then Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt), who works as a waitress at the restaurant that Melvin frequents (and is the only one who puts up with his behavior), decides to leave her job for one closer to home (so that she can take better care of her asthmatic son). Both situations disrupt Melvin’s lifestyle, but he starts to care for the dog and attempts to help out Carol by offering to pay for better medical care for Carol’s son. Reluctantly, he also helps out Simon by trying to take him to his parents (with Carol as a chaperone for the trip) when Simon struggles financially. Will Melvin become a better human being in the process, or will he still drive them both away?
Film Length: 2 hours, 19 minutes
Extras (on the included Blu-ray): Commentary (featuring James L. Brooks, Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear); Behind The Scenes Footage; Deleted Scenes; The Making Of As Good As It Gets; Theatrical EPK Selected Soundbites; and Theatrical Trailer
My Rating: 7/10
On The Movie Itself: This was another first-time viewing, and I would say that I did enjoy this comedy. The performances were all spot-on, and felt like real people. The comedy was never uproariously laugh-out-loud, but it still managed to make me laugh and smile. My biggest issue with this movie, though, is Jack Nicholson’s character. Again, his performance was great, but, when all is said and done, his character is so very unlikable and outright nasty to so many people throughout the entire film. Even when he seems to take a step in the right direction and improve as a person, he seems to do or say something that mitigates that improvement (and I don’t blame the character’s OCD). Still, I can understand why this film is well-regarded, and it’s still worth recommending in my opinion.
On The Transfer: According to the booklet included as part of the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3, the new 4K restoration came from scans of the original camera negative (as opposed to a 35mm color interpositive made from the original camera negative in 1997 that had been used on the film’s previous transfers), with all the dust and dirt cleaned up. As a result of going back to the original negative, it really brought out the colors and details in the picture. In this case, the 4K UHD of this film really is “As Good As [This Film] Gets!”
From Here To Eternity 1979 TV Mini-series (3 parts/episodes)
Holiday Inn (1942)
Plot Synopses: A three person song-and-dance team splits up when one of their members, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) gets the urge to buy a farm where he can rest and retire from show business. Farming doesn’t prove to be as easy or as restful as he thinks, and he decides to turn the farm into an inn that is only open for holidays (fifteen days a year). Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) is sent to the inn to audition, and she gets a job there. Jim falls for her, but one of his former partners, Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), finds himself partnerless. Upon meeting Linda, Ted also falls in love with her and wants to dance with her. Will Linda stay at the inn with Jim, or will she become a big star with Ted?
Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Extras (on both the 4K disc and the included Blu-ray): “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men;” “All-Singing All-Dancing;” “Reassessing ‘Abraham;'” Theatrical Trailer; and Feature Commentary By Film Historian Ken Barnes, including Audio Comments From Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby And John Scott Trotter
Label: Universal Studios
My Rating: 8/10
On The Movie Itself: It’s a wonderful Christmas classic (obviously, it covers more than one holiday, but everybody remembers this film for its introduction of the song “White Christmas,” and for good reason)! Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire team up for the first time onscreen, with the resulting fun of “I’ll Capture Your Heart Singing” as the two of them try (and fail) to one-up each other in romance! Besides the two aforementioned songs, we also have some other fun Irving Berlin tunes including “Easter Parade” and “Be Careful, It’s My Heart.” The only real complaint about the film is the blackface number set to the song “Abraham.” The story may not be that great, but, apart from the blackface issues, this is a well-regarded film for good reason, and certainly recommended! If you need to read more on the film, check out my original review here.
On The Transfer: Honestly, this is a bit of a disappointing release. The 4K disc looks terrible, with a picture that is darker at times and loses some of the detail, and grain tends to be very distracting here, as if they are working from elements (or an older transfer) that doesn’t have 4K worth of data, although there are some moments here and there where the 4K disc actually looks good. Frankly, the included Blu-ray (which appears to use the same transfer, or close enough) actually looks better throughout. The Blu-ray is lighter and the grain is nowhere near as prevalent as it is on the 4K. Also, depending on your feelings about this, the film starts with a vintage Universal logo preceding the film’s Paramount logo. I only mention this because the film was originally produced by Paramount, was part of a large group of films sold to Music Corporation Of America (MCA)/EMKA , Ltd. in the 1950s, before becoming part of Universal Studios’ library when MCA took over the studio in the 1960s. Realistically, this release is at best recommended to those who don’t have the Blu-ray already (and even then it is questionable). If you already have the Blu-ray, then don’t bother with this one. If you want either the Broadway show or the colorized version of the film (neither of which is included as extras with this release), then I would suggest going with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.
Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
Plot Synopses: Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are two of the biggest silent film stars in Hollywood. However, an encounter with one of his fans (Kathy Selden, as played by Debbie Reynolds) has left Don questioning whether he really can act. And now he really needs to prove that he can, as sound has come to the movies! He’s got the support of Kathy and his old friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor), but Lina proves to be a problem since she speaks with a heavy accent (not to mention the fact that she can’t sing or dance). Will Don and Lina’s new sound film prove to be a hit with audiences, or a flop?
Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes
Extras (on the 4K disc): Commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann and Rudy Behmer; Musical Numbers
Extras (on the included 2012 Blu-ray): Commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann and Rudy Behmer; Singin’ In The Rain: Raining on a New Generation, Jukebox, Theatrical Trailer
Label: Warner Home Video
My Rating: 10/10
On The Movie Itself: The classic music of Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. Gene Kelly’s iconic dance in the rain to the title tune. Donald O’Connor’s pratfall-filled dance to “Make ‘Em Laugh.” All the comedy and the romance a film could need. What more needs to be said? (If more does need to be said, please read my original full review here).
On The Transfer: I had always thought that the earlier Blu-ray (from 2012) looked pretty good, but the new UHD blows it out of the water! The resolution is certainly much improved, allowing us to see better detail in the image (and all this from a film whose original camera negative was mostly destroyed, save for one reel, in the infamous 1978 Eastman House fire, and which has relied mostly on dupe negatives ever since). The colors are much improved by the HDR, toned down from the slightly yellowish image on the Blu-ray and DVD (and, according to the experts on the subject that I’ve read, the UHD is closer to being what it is supposed to look like). Of course, if you’re looking to “future-proof” this film, then do know that the Blu-ray included with the UHD is still the 2012 release, and not a remastered Blu-ray with a new transfer (which admittedly does allow you to see just how different the UHD is from the older Blu-ray). I’ll certainly recommend the 4K UHD quite heartily as the best way to enjoy this wonderful classic!
I, The Jury (1953)
Plot Synopses: Insurance investigator Jack Williams (Robert Swanger) is murdered. His old friend and war buddy, private investigator Mike Hammer (Biff Elliot) is angry, and is determined to catch his friend’s killer, one way or another. His main suspects are a group of people that were at a party that Jack had recently hosted. Mike tries to question everybody, but soon finds them all dropping off like flies. With an increasing body count, can Mike manage to catch the killer before everybody (including himself) gets killed?
Film Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Extras (on the 4K disc): Commentary by Max Alan Collins and Archival Commentary with Biff Elliot
Extras (on the included Blu-ray): Commentary by Max Alan Collins; Archival Commentary with Biff Elliot; Archival Interview with Biff Elliot; Deep In The Shadows – The 3D World Of I, The Jury; Television Episodes: Unaired Mike Hammer TV Show Pilot, O. Henry Playhouse TV Episode Starring Preston Foster, O. Henry Playhouse TV Episode Starring Peggie Castle, and Public Defender TV Episode featuring Biff Elliot; and Trailers for Michael Shayne Mysteries, O Henry Playhouse Clip – “The Reformation Of Calliope,” Raw Deal (1948) and T-Men (1947)
My Rating: 7/10
On The Movie Itself: It’s a decent film noir-type of movie. Biff Elliot’s performance isn’t the best, as he mainly tends towards being either angry or horny (at least, as much as he could be for the time that this movie was made), but he carries the movie well enough. The movie certainly leans towards being sexist in its portrayal of all the female characters (many of whom are almost purely out to seduce the film’s leading man), but that’s probably the film’s biggest sin. The mystery is decent (even if it is semi-easy to solve). The film doesn’t make much use of its Yuletide setting, but its use of holiday greeting cards when transitioning from one location to another makes it worth seeing around the Christmas holiday. Its main appeal is going to be for 3-D enthusiasts, but it’s still worth recommending to everyone else.
On The Transfer: This film has been “Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with PKL Pictures Ltd. and Romulus Films Limited,” both in 3-D (on the Blu-ray only) and 2-D. First off, I haven’t got the tech to watch this film in 3-D, so I cannot comment on that version myself. I can only say that most of what I’ve heard is overwhelmingly positive (and therefore the 3-D Blu-ray, available either individually or with the 4K UHD, is probably the best way to watch this movie). As for the 4K UHD, I think it looks pretty good. It’s not the best black-and-white presentation I’ve seen on the format, as it does have a few (very, VERY minor) issues, but I don’t think they take away anything from the overall presentation. As best as I can tell, there is no HDR, so it becomes your own choice as to whether to you want to watch it on the Blu-ray (which has both the 3-D and 2-D versions) or the 4K (which will be my personal choice for future viewings).
West Side Story (2021)
Plot Synopses: In the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the Jets are fighting for control of their territory with the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. The Jets’ former leader, Tony (Ansel Elgort), is trying to stay out of it, but he finds himself drawn in when he falls for Maria (Rachel Zegler), the sister of the Sharks’ leader, Bernardo (David Alvarez). This really angers Bernardo, pushing the Jets and the Sharks into a big all-out fight, with control of their territory at stake. Neither Maria nor Tony nor the police want this to happen. But, with all the hatred going around, can they stop the rumble before any blood is shed?
Film Length: 2 hours, 36 minutes
Extras (only on the included Blu-ray): The Stories of West Side Story, The Songs
Label: 20th Century Studios/Disney
My Rating: 10/10
On The Movie Itself: Plain and simple, I did not expect to like this version since I essentially hated the 1961 film. Boy, did that opinion prove to be wrong! The cast did right by their roles. The music and dancing proved to be very entertaining and memorable! Even the cinematography left an imprint on me! I would go so far as to argue that this may be the best film musical I’ve seen made within my own lifetime (if not the best movie made within my own lifetime, it’s so enjoyable)!
On The Transfer: I thought the accompanying Blu-ray for this film looked pretty good, but the 4K UHD blows it out of the water! The detail is exquisite and the color pops, especially for the extremely colorful “America” song and dance! The transfer really shows off the excellent cinematography here! A highly recommended release!
My Overall Impressions
Well, now that I’ve commented on all of these films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (5, although in this case, the last spot is a two-way tie at 4.) (note: all box sets are ranked by the set as a whole):
Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
West Side Story (2021)
Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3
(tie) Holiday Inn (1942)
(tie) I, The Jury (1953)
Plain and simple, I think that Singin’ In The Rain is the better film of the whole bunch. It’s been a beloved classic for a long time (for good reason!), so it’s an easy choice (at least, it is for me since I prefer musicals). My own opinion is that the 4K UHD for the 2021 West Side Story is right behind it. I think that film looks better, but I would also say that that has to do with modern filming technology which allows it to have much better detail, which is combined with the fact that the original camera negative for Singin’ In The Rain no longer survives (but, as I said, that film still looks great on the 4K UHD, too). Next up would be the six films included in the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3, all of which look very good (even the weakest-looking film in the bunch, It Happened One Night, is still a great transfer). The only thing there is how you feel about any of the films themselves, as they won’t appeal to everybody (and, for those that don’t want all six of them, they probably can be found individually on places like eBay, if you so desire). Of course, here’s my own personal ranking of the group, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (6.):
It Happened One Night (1934)
From Here To Eternity (1953)
To Sir, With Love (1967)
As Good As It Gets (1997)
The Last Picture Show (1971)
Last up, we have a tie (or at least, close enough to one) between Holiday Inn and I, The Jury. As a movie, Holiday Inn easily bests I, The Jury, as it’s a well-regarded classic that doesn’t need to rely as much on a gimmick. As far as the transfers go, that’s where I, The Jury shines more. I, The Jury is still not perfect, with a few minor issues (and no HDR on the 4K UHD, for those that care about it), and the reality is that more will care about the 3-D version of the film that is only on the Blu-ray (at least, those that actually have the equipment to watch it that way). Obviously, some of these films are easier to recommend than others, but each has at least something to make them appealing.