Clint Walker and the Flying Dutchman

Some end-of-the-summer cleaning up here, as I backtrack a bit for reviews of Kino’s slightly disappointing Blu-ray edition of Albert Lewin’s hallucinatory “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman” (1951), and a quick look at “Yellowstone Kelly,” one of the three nifty little westerns that Gordon Douglas made with the Warner Bros. TV western star Clint Walker. It’s recently been released in a restored edition from the Warner Archive Collection; the very fine “Gold of the Seven Saints,” with its highly Hawksian Leigh Brackett screeplay, slipped out earlier this year. The New York Times link is here.

A reminder to folks in the Los Angeles area that “Upstream,” the long-believed-lost 1927 John Ford feature that turned up in the New Zealand Film Archive, will receive its American re-premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 1, at 7:30 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater, at 8949 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills. Admission is a modest $5, and tickets can be ordered online here. I know a few of our regulars will be in attendance, so I’ll put up a new topic on Wednesday, ready to receive what I hope will be a flood of first impressions. Wish I could be there!

24 comments to Clint Walker and the Flying Dutchman

  • Wow! That’s the best definition I’ve ever read of my favorite film category, film maudit.

  • Arthur S.

    The thing about film maudit is that its one term that has little equivalent in the other arts. Partly because ambition and grandeur has resonance in terms of the cost and scale of the materials involved. It’s closer to architecture in that sense.

    PANDORA is one of those psycho-surreal romances like PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, it touches on the erotic side of art and its relationship to death. Jean Renoir wrote about Albert Lewin, with whom he was friends, in his memoirs. He noted that he was friends with Breton and Eluard and that he was one of the few genuinely educated and cultured people working in Hollywood. He quotes one of Lewin’s maxims, “the closest groups were nothing but solitudes brought together.”

  • Mike Grost

    My sister and I enjoyed BEL AMI (Lewin) on TV when we were kids in the 1960’s.
    Then it disappeared from view!
    This is just one of countless films that are inaccessible. How could they do this to Maupassant?

    Am looking forward to the Clint Walker features (Gordon Douglas).
    Walker’s TV show Cheyenne is suprisingly enjoyable. Haven’t seen all 106 episodes, for sure, but around 35 are pretty good. Many of the better episodes on this show and Maverick are directed by Leslie Martinson, a director with a light comedy touch and good story telling. Everyone would enjoy THE IRON TRAIL, a dandy mystery-on-a-train episode, and THE CONSPIRATORS, with Walker in a dual role as a stage entertainer (he sings, and pretty well, too). Characters who assume new identities are a Martinson theme.
    Also outstanding: BIG GHOST BASIN (Joseph Kane), an eerie mystery about an (apparent) killer monster animal. This is the same premise as LE PACT DES LOUPS, but a different solution. This episode is atmospheric and filled with off-trail events.

  • Barry Putterman

    Dave, yes I am one of the regulars who expects to be at the UPSTREAM screening as a Cinecon eve bonus. However, I don’t expect to have internet access again until I return to our fair city, so I will have to be part of the drizzle which follows the flood.

    One would fervently hope that an east coast screening will soon follow in order to accomodate the non-L.A. area riff-raff. Not to mention our compadres in the heartland. In the meantime, you can console yourself with being one of the chosen few to have the Clint Walker autograph; while the rest of us seethe in envy.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    I would assume this will be shown in NY at some point before long.

    Guessing it might be showing at Telluride as well.

    I’ll be there tomorrow night (for those curious, it looks like the film is just over an hour; they will also have a Ford trailer and a 1912 short, probably with 10-15 minutes of an intro, my guess is Peter Bogdanovich.)

  • Rick K.

    I’ve watched the PANDORA blu-ray twice now, and for those who feel the image has been somewhat bleached by the restoration process, I’ve been able to camouflage that issue a bit by reducing the brightness and increasing the contrast during video projection, which yields a “deeper” Technicolor representation … whether this simply masks the problem or serves to “correct” it is debatable (perhaps someone with more technical knowledge of the digital enhancement process can weigh in on this), but from the perspective of a former museum projectionist who spent a lot of time exhibiting classic film, it creates a far more satisfying presentation.

    Noticed a recent Warner Archive batch of releases slipped in another Lewin, SAADIA, which I’ve never seen, but would definitely like to (waiting for their next sale … Christmas? … to order it). Anyone out there familiar with it? It doesn’t appear to have much of a reputation, but it IS Technicolor (Christopher Challis) and sounds most intriguing (the website doesn’t offer a preview clip on this title, so can’t sample the print quality).

    Meantime, I’ve ordered the Montez/Hall ALI BABA blu-ray from U.K. (which DVD Beaver reports is all region), although once again their screen grabs look a bit on the pale side compared to the standard DVD … is this going to be a trend among blu-ray classic releases? On the other hand, just received the new PSYCHO blu-ray, which looks absolutely SENSATIONAL (no video projector adjustments needed in this case!!). So I guess that’s a good omen for Hitchcock buffs awaiting VERTIGO etc. on blu-ray!

  • David Boxwell

    Lewin’s SAADIA (54) also just released on on-demand DVD at Warner Home Video. Republic Home Video last released THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI (47) on video in the mid-90s.

    I thought fondly of Lewin’s rendition of Dorian Gray while watching the latest version, a gaudy CGI schlock-horror spectacle made for the TWILIGHT Generation (Parker, 08).

  • Peter Henne

    Rick K., I’m glad to hear about SAADIA, as this has been very hard to catch up with and I’ve never watched it. No matter what cautions Susan Felleman puts in her book about the film, as Lewin’s last and as you point out another Technicolor, it’s a must-see to me. Schedule and ticket availability permitting, I will be attending tomorrow night’s screening of UPSTREAM at the Academy in Beverly Hills.

  • david hare

    Rick K this is what I thought about the Pandora Blu on August 20 at Criterionforum in an argument with Nick Wrigley about this and the British Park Circus Bluray: “My real issue is with the restoration itself, at least as it’s sustained in the BD presentations. There’s an underlying “bleachiness”, as though the restorers were striving to regain shadow detail but have simply gone too far (Rosenbaum suggests as much..) and this probably affects the color tonality – there’s an overlying pinkness, even to whites, and primaries like blue and green don’t look like Technicolor to me, or indeed to the sorts of tones Cardiff would have photographed. Does anyone know if they actually had three strip negs for this?”

    Answering my own question there are apparently no three strip negs. So there was no way to engage the sorts of individual trichrome digital scanning for correction, and then the reproduction of a new correctly balanced and registered matrix, a la Technicolor negative printing to yield a positive. Unfortunately this restoration looks like they didnt even have the money to do YCM separations from an existing positive whcih might have benefited it greatly. And apart from problems with depth or gamma, the biggest loser in the washup is the primary color values in this new print which to me look plainly dirty. Rick, I’ve tried different gamma settings on the projector and they bump the contrast slightly, but nothing can overcome the very ugly color reproduction of wedgwood blue skies and hospital ward green seas.

    If you want to see something to take the breath away, the new Gaumont BluRay of French Cancan had me gasping, it’s so beautiful. Once again the restorers had access to three strips and were able to go through the same sorts of digital processing as the Red Shoes restoration to get to this. I grew up with the joy of a first run 35mm IB print of Cancan from the sixties, but this is better than Technicolor, as they say. As is Red Shoes. But not Pandora, alas. The movie is subtitled on the Gaumont, but none of the extras are. To me it’s the most beautiful and important BluRay released so far.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Going off topic – tomorrow is the first of the month, and often September 1 is effectively “new year” for TV networks.

    Anyway, I just noticed that Encore Western is showing at least four Universal films tomorrow that they haven’t previously shown (at least in years), including George Sherman’s quite decent Black Bart (one of his first color films).

    Encore has in the last few months been showing some older, including b&w, films not seen for awhile on some of its stations. (Don’t recall seeing as many Paramounts from their collection). Anyway, some of the unseen backlog might being finally getting some play.

  • Peter Henne

    David, I’m in no position to meet you on technical grounds for restorations, digital or otherwise. But “wedgwood blue” sky suggests a pale color, and in the many sea/sky combinations I found the color of the ocean to be a deep blue, boldly and almost simplistically so: for example, in a stationary shot, when Pandora plays her piano while we view a static, painted backdrop of the bay through her window for what seems like an eternity, but which is actually about 12 seconds (a little more than 41 minutes into the Kino blu-ray). Given the strong tone of the ocean, I can’t really imagine making the sky more brutal. I’ll add that certain colors, such as the amber-hued lights we see in captain’s quarters and elsewhere in the film, are just what Cardiff would render or pretty close. I’m not questioning that there is some evening out of the palette running through the film, just that I wonder if there could have been an overall improvement given the condition of the materials.

  • david hare

    Peter it must be the elements. The whole color palette needed re-adjusting for color IMO but that’s really impossible to do without three strips or seps.

    I agree the CUs, and “portrait” shots look lovely, and much of it does, but too much of it looks just plain wrong. The opening shot after the credits of the sea, and the waves breaking, in which the white foam looks like it’s been flooded with pink dye for instance. It doesn’t really scrub up so well against the other three Cardiff restos, and now the Renoir on Blu.

    Wedgwood to me is a sort of dirty hard blue…but Im no expert on these fancy decorator colors!

  • Brian Dauth

    Wedgewood Blue is a pale gray blue. David: an Australian representative from The Committee will be calling on you to check your credentials. “Fancy decorator colors” is a 101 Level class.

  • Mike Grost

    Am reading a new sf novel, THE BLU-RAY OF DORIAN GRAY. Dorian is a handsome young man who never looks any older, despite his dissolute life. Meanwhile, locked in his attic, is a Blu-ray disc that gets ever more washed-out, Wedgewood and filled with decadent fancy decorator colors…
    A true horror story for our times.

    @Tom, thanks for the tip on Black Bart!

  • david hare

    Mike, that’s great!!!!

    Brian, it’s just my innate butchness. Can’t tell peuce from lavender!

  • Rick K.

    david hare: Thanks for your comments on PANDORA image issues … on the plus side, its one of those titles (a filmic orphan) that I would never have EXPECTED a major restoration and blu-ray, so that the opportunity of seeing a much clearer/sharper print is a joy in itself. But if, as you suggest, the restorers were pushing the gammas for shadow detail which was probably NOT intended, then they are not serving the film (or its future appreciation) in a responsible manner. Much like the controversy about retaining sufficient elements of film grain on blu-ray, restorers should be curbed from taking unnecessary liberties. The color status of source materials would be a separate, if not unrelated issue … I too felt that there was some inaccuracy in the hues on view (distinct from ”bleaching”), though after years of lamenting the fading of dyes from color stock on film prints (non-3-strip) am more inclined to accept subtle anomalies at this stage … though I’m sure, as you point out, more money on the restoration could have corrected even this flaw (the one irretrievable aspect, alas, bringing Jack Cardiff back to approve the final product!).

    Thanks, too, for the recommendation for FRENCH CAN CAN … keeping up with fruits of technology can be a daunting task. Indeed, upgrading a Criterion for an import blu-ray make it an expense requiring the full-fledged support of an expert like yourself to make it happen (though it will probably need to wait till October).

  • Brian Dauth

    Mike: you are too good! Bravo!

    David: all the old verities fall to the wayside one by one. Next thing you know, married Tory ministers in the present British government will be accused of having gay affairs. Does nothing hold to form anymore?

  • david hare

    Rick, if you require further convincing I put some screengrabs up from the Cancan BluRay here, towards the bottom of the page.

    http://www.criterionforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=5015&start=625

    Brian, Gay Tories aside for the moment (although one can never leave them alone, especially together), I recommend re-reading Jack Cardiff’s chapter in Magic Hour on Pandora, Ava, Lewin and Spain generally. He of course also shot Manks’ Ava as goddess/witch picture (which I wildly prefer to the Lewin and in which poor blessed Marius Goring again kills himself for spurned love of Ava/Goddess) and indeed the current DVDs of that are quite lovely. Cardiff relates a wonderful memory of taking Ava to see Margot Fonteyn dancing in Sleeping Beauty with the Royal Ballet, throughout which Ava sat, rapturously, chewing gum in time to the rhythm of the score. Cardiff’s book is a complete joy. He lives on for the ages!!

  • David H., All of the screengrabs on that page are magnificent.

    Jack Cardiff is a wonderful cinematographer, though I have yet to see “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman”, I really liked how he makes the technicolor just pop in “Black Narcissus” and “The Red Shoes.” His forestry is both enchanting and claustrophobic in “”The African Queen” and “War and Peace”. I do not think I would ever be able to forget the fly episode in “The African Queen”, though I desperately wish I could forget Bogart’s stomach grumbling. Why John Houston?! Anyways, the Jack Cardiff book “Magic Hour” sounds like a must. Other good books and readings on cinematography that I have done include John Alton’s “Painting with Light”, maybe also Bresson’s “Notes sur le Cinématographe” and Tarkovsky’s “Sculpting in time” though they are more philosophical then technical. Sidney Lumet’s “Making Movies” is pretty good too as he thoroughly describes his working method in “Twelve Angry Men” in regards to focal lens and camera placement and its effect on visual storytelling and building intensity. Sight & Sound recently had a good issue (Ap. 09) on the subject “Seeing the light, Cinematography Special” where they interview a variety of DP at Polands Camerimage festival. I am still at odds with how to regard cinematographers in terms of a films final product. I tend to usually seek and asses a film more by directors. Though there are some DP superstars. Two contemporary films that I have seen with some dazzling and innovative cinematography are “The White Ribbon” (DP: Christian Berger) and “Wild Grass” (DP: Éric Gautier).

  • Rick K.

    Does anybody know anything about the DVD-R (made on demand) releases at Deep Discount and Critics Choice Video, which appear to be licensed by Sony? Mostly Columbia titles (though I’ve been unable to muster a complete list on either site) set to be released on 9/21, retailing for $24.95, currently reduced to $21.21 at Critics Choice, and $17.86 at Deep Discount. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to the selections, other than being semi-outcasts which probably wouldn’t find a home in any box set to speak of. A few samples: ADDRESS UNKNOWN (1944, Menzies), NO GREATER GLORY (’34, Borzage), HOT BLOOD (’56, Ray), MAN ON A STRING (’60, DeToth), MICKEY ONE (’65, Penn), SONG WITHOUT END (’60, Vidor/Cukor). Actually, Charles Vidor seems better represented than most (SONG TO REMEMBER, OVER 21), along with Fred F. Sears (CRASH LANDING, NIGHT THE WORLD EXPLODED, CELL 2455 DEATH ROW), there’s a smattering of British pics (PUMPKIN EATER, FOOTSTEPS IN THE FOG), and perhaps the highlight for some, the DVD debut of Jungle Jim (PYGMY ISLAND, JUNGLE MOON MEN).

    One title particularly interests me, THE SPIRITUALIST (’48) an Eagle-Lion release heretofore only available in public domain versions, but one of the most stunningly photographed B films ever made (John Alton). Since Sony has restored Anthony Mann’s BLACK BOOK (aka REIGN OF TERROR), likewise an Eagle Lion of this period, perhaps they have done the same with THE SPIRITUALIST (aka THE AMAZING MR. X), in which case it might be the much-needed upgrade this film so richly deserves. At any rate, its among the titles set to be released 9/21, with a few other cult/genre titles of note like A STUDY IN TERROR (Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper), 711 OCEAN DRIVE (film noir), STORM CENTER (Bette Davis), THE 27TH DAY (fascinating red scare/sci-fi item by Wm Asher), Asher’s SHADOW ON THE WINDOW, David Bradley’s TWELVE TO THE MOON, VALLEY OF THE DRAGONS and Lou Costello’s last, THE 30 FOOT BRIDE OF CANDY ROCK.

  • Susan Felleman

    Unfortunately, I have seen neither the restored PANDORA–although I will in Europe in November–or the Blue Ray, so cannot weigh in on the color issues. But I can clarify one thing, Peter Henne: SAADIA was not Lewin’s last film; THE LIVING IDOL (1957) was. I do have reservations about SAADIA, but it’s certainly worth seeing. The central performances are weak. The character parts are fun, if over the top. The color, costumes and locations are beautiful.

  • By all rational standards “Saadia” is a better-made film than “Pandora” — much tighter construction, more psychologically plausible characters, far less obtrusive symbolism — but it has none of “Pandora”‘s mad ambitions and dreamlike qualities. It’s a fairly conventional “exotic” romance, untouched by Lewin’s usual hints of decadence, with Rita Gam as a beautiful Berber tribeswoman disputed by the enlightened local chieftain (Cornel Wilde, alas) and the French doctor (Mel Ferrer, even more alas) who is trying to bring modern medicine to Morocco. The Warner Archive disc is of good quality, though the colors track a little toward the warm side.

    Rick K, there will be an announcement soon about those Sony titles, so stay tuned.

  • Peter Henne

    Susan, What was I thinking? I haven’t touched “Botticelli in Hollywood” in too long of a time. Thanks for your correction.

  • david hare

    Rick, and others, here’s a complete list of the Sony DVDR on demnd titles released 21 September:
    Address Unknown (William Cameron Menzies!)
    Apache Territory
    Arizona Raiders
    Battle of the Coral Sea
    Birds Do It
    The Black Arrow
    Blame It on the Night
    A Bullet Is Waiting
    The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (Robert Altman TV-Movie)
    The Canterville Ghost
    The Case Against Brooklyn (Excellent little thriller)
    Cell 2455, Death Row
    Charge of the Lancers
    City Streets
    Conquest of Cochise (William Castle)
    The Contract on Cherry Street
    Counter-Attack
    Crash Landing
    Criminal Lawyer
    A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
    Detour to Terror
    Doctors’ Wives
    Duffy
    The Executioner
    Family Reunion
    Father Is a Bachelor
    Fire on the Mountain
    Five Finger Exercise
    Flight of the Doves
    Footsteps in the Fog
    Forbidden Trail
    Fragment of Fear
    Fury of the Congo
    Genghis Khan
    The Guilt of Janet Ames
    Hart to Hart: Crimes of the Heart
    Hart to Hart: Home Is Where the Hart Is
    Hart to Hart Returns
    Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Hart
    Hoedown
    Hot Blood
    Hot Stuff
    I Never Sang for My Father
    The Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel
    The Interns
    Johnny Allegro
    The Juggler (Underrated drama with Kirk Douglas)
    Jungle Manhunt
    Jungle Moon Men
    The Long Haul
    The Love-Ins
    The Love Machine
    The Mad Room
    Man on a String
    The Man Who Turned to Stone
    A Memory in My Heart
    Mickey One
    The Mind of Mr. Soames
    Miracle of the Heart: A Boys Town Story
    The National Health
    New Orleans Uncensored
    The Night the World Exploded
    Nightwing
    No Greater Glory (I love this film… maybe it deserved better?)
    No Time to be Young
    Nobody’s Perfekt
    Otley
    Over 21
    Pickup Alley
    The Pumpkin Eater
    Pygmy Island
    A Reflection of Fear
    Saddles and Sagebrush
    Sahara (1995 TV-Movie remake of Bogart movie… with Jim Belushi in the role!)
    711 Ocean Drive
    A Severed Head
    The Shadow on the Window
    A Song to Remember
    Song Without End
    The Soul of a Monster
    The Spiritualist
    Storm Center
    A Study in Terror (Another excellent little thriller)
    Surprise Package
    Swing Vote (1999 Andy Garcia TV-Movie)
    Synanon
    The Take
    Tarawa Beachhead
    10 Rillington Place
    Terror Among Us
    Thieves (Andre Techine!)
    30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock
    Three Stripes in the Sun
    To Sir, With Love II
    Twelve to the Moon (Hilariously bad cheapie with Francis X. Bushman… I first saw it on MST3K)
    The 27th Day (Creepy Sci-Fi thriller with Rod Serling overtones)
    Undercover With the KKK
    Valley of the Dragons
    Violets Are Blue
    Winter a Go-Go