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New DVDs: Quota Quickies

Two intriguing collections of off-brand British cinema have been issued by independent distributors. MPI’s “Classic British Thrillers” features two of Michael Powell’s quota quickies, “Red Ensign” (1934) and “The Phantom Light” (1935), as well as an ingeniously plotted 1947 thriller directed by Lawrence Huntington, “The Upturned Glass.” The generous “British Cinema Collection” from VCI Entertainment offers six movies on three discs, including an accomplished, noirish thriller by John Gilling, “The Frightened Man” (1952) and two of George King’s hugely entertaining mid-thirties vehicles for Tod Slaughter, Britian’s cackling answer to Bela Lugosi, “Crimes at the Dark House” and “The Hooded Terror.” My NY Times review is here.

107 comments to New DVDs: Quota Quickies

  • nicolas saada

    By the way, We discussed 1:33 and 1:85. 1:66 anyone ?

  • nicolas saada

    “The scholar is respected in every field, except for cinema. That’s kind of sad.” That’s kind of extreme. I meant that sometimes, film is not taken as seriously as other arts.

  • Kent Jones

    NS – what’s so extreme? Sounds right to me. Film scholarship is tolerated, but it’s not respected. Anyone can write or say whatever they want to about cinema, in major newspapers most of all (like that idiot who panned SUNRISE in the LA Times last year – when he was questioned on it, he behaved like Sarah Palin). That’s why Dave’s Times column means so much to people. It’s a beautiful refuge in the midst of a wasteland.

    On the other hand, the fact that everything remains so unsettled in matters of cinema has one single virtue: it keeps everyone who really does care about it alerrt and vigilant.

  • dm494

    Nicolas, it’s not true that nobody complained about the Sistine restoration. There were people who were vehemently against the cleaning on the grounds that it would destroy Michelangelo’s colors, not reveal them, and I don’t think the results have silenced all the dissenters. Generally, when paintings are “restored”, a whole lot of fuss gets made–maybe even more than with film restorations. And unlike in film disputes, where people at least know things like what a movie’s original aspect ratio was, there’s virtually nothing about a 500-year-old painting’s original appearance that scholars can be certain about.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Nicolas, I think that part of the problem comes from the fact that most people (and that includes more than a few critics) don’t really think of film in visual terms, but rather in terms of story,plot,themes, issues etc…Many film reviews read like reviews of novels, with little or no mention of the visual aspects, of what the film looks like. If you don’t care about the look of a movie, you don’t mind seeing it panned and scanned on TV — actually you demand to see it that way because you want your screen full. And now, as you pointed out, Nicolas,the situation has been reversed: every movie had to be squarish on TV, now they all have to be rectangular — and we are confronted with the same indifference, the same ignorance from the general audience. Who’s going to notice that the image in TOUCH OF EVIL is cropped? Who’s going to care?

  • dm494

    The worst has to be pan-and-scanned movies stretched to fit widescreen TVs.

  • Brad Stevens

    “The worst has to be pan-and-scanned movies stretched to fit widescreen TVs.”

    The very worst has to be the version of Roman Polanski’s WHAT? shown on the Australian channel SBS. The broadcasters took a panned-and-scanned transfer of this 2.35 film, and slapped a 2.35 matte over it!