Warner Home Video has started doing some remastering on the Archive Collection (and charging a tidy premium for it — the list for the remastered titles is $24.95, as opposed to $19.95 for the untouched titles). The highlight of the first batch of three is unquestionably Samuel Fuller’s 1959 “Verboten!”, reputedly the last film produced by RKO (the studio closed before the film could be released, so it went out initially through Columbia); the other two are Mervyn LeRoy’s tight and tawdry newspaper drama “Five Star Final” (1931), with Edward G. Robinson as a conscience stricken city editor, and William Conrad’s “Two on a Guillotine” (1965), a turgid horror film that suggests William Castle on Quaaludes and stars the terminally bland Connie Stevens and Dean Jones.
“Verboten!”, with its extensive documentary and didactic material attached to a love story between an American GI (James Best) and a German Fraulein (Susan Cummings) at the end of World War II, finds many echoes in the recent work of Jean-Luc Godard: an audaciously open form, heavy use of archive footage, boldly stated contradictions and a thematic focus on the Holocaust. Here’s hoping that Warners remasters Fuller’s other great RKO film, the 1957 “Run of the Arrow” — a masterpiece in its own right and one of the most pronounced influences (yes, even more than “Ferngully”) on James Cameron’s “Avatar.”
My New York Times column is here.