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New DVDs: Halloween Horror

A grab bag this week in the New York Times, covering everything from Albert Lewin’s “Picture of Dorian Gray” to the new Blu-ray release of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” with a lyrical interlude devoted to the fine box of Hammer horrors assembled for Sony Home Video by Mike Schlesinger.

278 comments to New DVDs: Halloween Horror

  • I have no argument with what you just said, Kent! Yes, it’s the ‘telegraphic’/bullying nature of what we all (usually) write in groups like this that sometimes creates the bad and unproductive vibes!

    By the way, because you are no doubt too modest to mention it yourself, I will alert any Spanish-readers on this list to your excellent piece in the latest CAHIERS DU CINEMA: ESPANA, precisely on what you rightly call these “rhetorical fragments of phantom arguments” in various critical polemics down the years. Any chance we will see that one appear in English soon in some form?

  • Kent Jones

    Apart from those really nasty websites that are all about calling people names, the bullying or the insulting tends to happen by accident. And then the old “what I MEANT to say” switch is flipped, duelling defense mechanisms are activated…and everyone else takes a nap.

    Thanks for the kind words, Adrian. No plans for a domestic release on that piece. Is your Manny F. tribute ready yet?

  • jbryant

    All About Eve airs on TCM this Saturday. I’ve been dying to see it again since reading the “All About ‘All About Eve'” last week (not much of a book really, but it whets the appetite for a fresh look at the movie). I own the DVD, but my player just died, so it’s TCM to the rescue.

    Frankly, I’ve always preferred “A Letter to Three Wives,” which I discovered early and may well be the film that prompted my screenwriting ambitions. But I’m looking forward to a long overdue reevaluation of Eve.

  • Kent Jones

    I love A LETTER TO THREE WIVES. I wish the sound on the DVD was a little better.

  • nicolas saada

    LETTER is Manckiewicz best film, I think ! It was ripped off by this stupid tv show called DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, which is to Manciewicz what Cabernet is to Bordeaux.

  • Brian Dauth

    There was a time in my 20’s when I thought LETTER was superior to EVE — the bleakest 15 minutes of my life. LOL.

    I think LETTER is part of the prgression toward EVE (with the superb NO WAY OUT as an intervening step). Mankiewicz was deconstructing the Classical Hollywood film from the inside out, and LETTER is where performativity secures primacy in his work even as the movie maintains the charm/structure of a Classical Hollywood film.

    Nicolas: since I am not an oenophile, could you unpack your wine analogy for me? I thought Cabernets were good wines, just different than Bourdeaux.

  • alex hicks


    Just read your essay in booklet with Criterion’s “Shoot the Piano Player.” Love it on the film, which I LOVE, right down to your insinuation Truffaut must have loved the image of Aznavour at the Piano more even than then that cars approaching the house in the snow that he notedd that he loved. (Not sure I’d agree with you on Truffaut overall, to whom I’m pretty indifferent for films done after “Jules et Jim” (or better put, “La “Peau Deuce.), though I certainly think he did continue to intermittently make strong films (e.g., “The Last Metro,” “The Woman Next Door.”).

    RE PTA, I have this probably entirely eccentric view that “Punch Dunk Love,” which I also love, is the U.S. “Tirez,” a film of a similarly unpretentious, everyday, funny-sad, graceful inventiveness (though inventive in its own ways).

    (Going to let the students choose between “Tirez” and “Blowup” for “art film” class viewing.)

  • c mason wells


    Anderson has acknowledged the influence of Truffaut (SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER, in particular) on his work. The quick cutaway to the burning matches in SYDNEY and the shot of Sandler sprinting — while his shadow runs besides him — are both direct STPP allusions.

  • jbryant

    I think I must’ve been about 15 when I first saw A Letter to Three Wives, and to an impressionable, budding cinephile it seemed quite different from the usual run of Hollywood films seen on the late show (which is probably how I first experienced most classics). Three interconnecting story threads, clever transitions (particularly the use of sound), sharp wit, adult subject matter — the combination struck me as completely original from my admittedly limited perspective. And the presence of gorgeous Linda Darnell didn’t hurt.

  • alex hicks

    c mason wells,

    Never even heard of “Sydney”!

    Thanks a lot.

  • alex hicks

    Ah, “”Sydney” is “Hard Eight.” Seen it — not bad! Thanks again, CMW.

  • Brian Dauth

    jbryant: I felt the same way about LETTER and EVE (though my love for Linda Darnell was not quite the same as yours). Mankiewicz’s narrative construction was unique, and allowing women to be narrators was wonderful to me. It was only later that I realized how innovative Mankiewicz was with space as well, and in the conjoining of the visual with the verbal.

  • c mason wells

    Sorry, force of habit re: SYDNEY — that’s PTA’s preferred title for the film. Much like how this board often refers to PLAYING ‘IN THE COMPANY OF MEN’ — co-written by one Mr. Saada — simply as LEO.

    And speaking of LEO, we just put together a Desplechin retrospective here in New York, and apparently the only English-subtitled print is MIA. Very sad news. Do you know anything about this, Nicolas? I was heartbroken we had to exclude the film (the only one from Desplechin’s fine career, actually) from our series.

  • Sam O. Brown

    Alex: not to imply that you are marching in line with the following; but the academic and theoretical general line on Truffaut is that he is not worth considering after “La Peau Deuce.” (Usually backed by Godard’s statements that the Truffaut of today is making the films the Truffaut of yesterday hated, that Truffaut sold out with “Day for Night” etc…)

    I cannot agree with such a firmly drawn line, because such a position tends to leave out: “Mississippi Mermaid”, “Two English Girls”, and “The Green Room.” (Check out Dave K’s brief review of “The Green Room” on the Chicago Reader website.) The only Truffaut film I have not seen is “The Last Metro” for it strikes me –and has been confirmed by others– as a true “film of quality” that Truffaut was being accused of making back in the late sixties/early seventies. So I find it interesting that you like “The Last Metro”.

  • John M

    Where is the Desplechin retrospective?

  • jbryant

    John M: Don’t know if this is what you’re asking about (and I’m not going to scroll back through 300+ posts to find out), but a Desplechin retro begins this Friday night at the L.A. County Museum of Art with a screening of My Sex Life. Desplechin will appear in person on Saturday night with Kings and Queen. Monday night is La Sentinelle and Tuesday night is Esther Kahn. Friday night (Nov. 7) will be A Christmas Tale, following its L.A. premiere at AFI FEST 2008.

  • John M

    That’s probably not the one.

    I was responding to the preceding post by C. Mason Wells, re: the Desplechin retro he”s putting together in New York…

    Encouraging to see Desplechin retrospectives popping up all over the place!

  • Kent Jones

    The New York Desplechin retrospective is at IFC Center. I believe that LEO began life as EN JOUANT ‘DANS LA COMPAGNIE DES HOMMES and somewhere along the way was dubbed LEO (NS – correct? I don’t remember it being called LEO when it was shown in Cannes). Quite a movie.

    Alex, I think Truffaut made a lot of middling films, stuff like SMALL CHANGE, UNE BELLE FILLE COMME MOI, THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN; some odd and powerfully melancholy films like FAHRENHEIT 451 and THE GREEN ROOM; and some great films, too, like the ones you name, TWO ENGLISH GIRLS, etc. Thanks for the nice comments on the DVD notes.

  • jbryant

    John M: Oh! I guess I wouldn’t have had to scroll back very far after all. 🙂

    I have yet to see any Despleschin, and I fear I won’t make it to any of the LACMA screenings either. I’ll probably have to catch up on DVD at some point.

  • nicolas saada

    Yes, Leo was originally shown in Cannes as “Leo, en jouant Dans la compagnie des hommes”. It was not very warmly welcomed save for the enthusiasm of regular Desplechin followers such as Kent. After a while, we all called the film LEO and it strangely became a sort of cult entry. Jacques Audiard loves it. I remember that the print in Cannes had a “Dune” subtitling. Meaning that there must be a computer file that contains the english subtitles of the film. It’s a must see, and NOT because I worked on it (it’s above all the film adaptation of a great play by Edward Bond).

  • c mason wells

    Yes, the series will be here at IFC Center, starting November 5.

    In late-breaking news, it seems we were able to find the subtitled print of LEO after all. So, happily, this will be a complete retrospective.

  • Alex Hicks

    Sam O. Brown, Well, I have no particualr problem “films of quality” and it seems to me that Truffaut is great as a New Wave director through his first three or four freatures, then intermittently fine precisiely as a director of “films of quality.” I think you’d like “The Last metro” and I should get my eyes on The Green Room.”

  • Alex Hicks

    Sam, I formed pretty stable view of Truffaut’s films seeing thenfirst run in the U.S. I don’t think a contradiction between Truffauts early theories and his latter practice means little for film quality early or late, as Hegel might have said “Inconsistency os the Hobgoblin of little artists” (probably truer for artists than phiosphers). Is prime 30’s poetic- realist Carne and/or Children of Paradise consider cinema of quality?

  • jbryant

    Sam O. Brown: Are you a big Blake Edwards fan? Or do you just happen to have the same name as Edwards’ writing pseudonym on City Heat? (S.O.B., get it?) 🙂

  • jbryant,

    Yes I am. Edwards and Truffaut intersect with “The Man Who Loved Women.” I know Fred Camper considers Edwards’ remake a major film.

  • Swine link! I just outed myself. Back to the Kleenex box I go!

  • John M

    jbryant: do check out Desplechin’s films when you can…they’re fantastic. Unfortunately, a lot of the DVDs for his stuff are of pretty poor quality, but that shouldn’t stop you…

  • Paul

    Cabarnet Sauvignon is a grape variety. Burdeaux is wine produced in the Bordeaux region. Cabarnet is the predominant grape variety in red Bordeaux wines. If “DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES is to Manciewicz what Cabernet is to Bordeaux,” then Manciewicz is mainly DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.

    That’s about right.