Anatomy of a Murder, Otto Preminger's 1959 film of the novel by Robert Traver (a pen name for a Michigan Supreme Court Justice), was controversial in its day for making frank on-screen use of then-unheard words such as "panties", "rape" and "spermatogenesis"--and it remains a trenchant, bitter, tough, witty dissection of the American legal system. With its striking Saul Bass title design and jazzy Duke Ellington score, Anatomy of a Murder takes a sophisticated approach unusual for a Hollywood film of its vintage. Most radically, it refuses to show the murder or any of the private scenes recounted in court, leaving it up to us to decide along with the jury whether the grumpy and unconcerned Lieutenant Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara) was or was not subject to an "irresistible impulse" tantamount to insanity when he shot dead Barney Quill, the bear-like bar owner alleged to have raped Manion's teasing trailer-trash wife Laura (Lee Remick in unfeasibly tight trousers). James Stewart plays Paul "Polly" Biegler a former District Attorney keen to get back into court to clash with the political dullard who replaced him in office. Biegler is supported by the skills of his snide secretary (Eve Arden) and boozy-but-brilliant research partner (Arthur O'Connell). For the prosecution, the befuddled local DA hauls in Dancer (George C Scott), a prissy legal eagle from the local big city whose sharp-suited, sly elegance makes an interesting clash with Biegler's "aw-shucks" jimmy-stewartian conniving. This is simply the best trial movie ever made, with a real understanding of the way lawyers have to be not only great actors but stars, assuming personalities that exaggerate their inner selves and weighing every outburst and objection for the effect it has on the poor saps in the jury box. On the DVD: The print is letterboxed to 1.85:1, but it's a bit of a cheat since that seems to involve trimming the top and bottom of the image (losing the steps under and the clouds above the Columbia lady in the opening titles), though the film isn't seriously hurt by a tighter look at the action. Also included are: an Ellington-scored photo montage, soundtracks in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish with subtitles in ten languages, filmographies for director and principal cast, original advertising (highlighting Saul Bass' poster designs, a trailer and more trailers for more Columbia Jimmy Stewart or courtroom films. --Kim Newman
Out of the Age of Wonders one of the most wonderful motion pictures of our time! An all-time classic adventure, featuring the pioneering special effects of filmmaking legend Ray Harryhausen, presented here in a stunning restoration on Blu-ray. Extras: 4K restoration from the original negative Original mono audio Alternative 5.1 surround sound track Audio commentary with Ray Harryhausen, visual effects experts Phil Tippett and Randall William Cook, author Steven Smith, and producer Arnold Kuner The Secrets of Sinbad (2017, 11 mins): a new interview with Phil Tippett This Is Dynamation! (1958, 4 mins): original promotional teaser introducing Harryhausen's groundbreaking special effects process Remembering The 7th Voyage of Sinbad' (2008, 24 mins): with Ray Harryhausen A Look Behind the Voyage (1995, 12 mins): with Ray Harryhausen, producer Charles H. Schneer, and actor Kerwin Mathews Super 8 version in four instalments Sinbad May Have Been Bad, But He's Been Good to Me' (1958, 3 mins): promotional tie-in song, sung by Ann Leonardo The Music of Bernard Herrmann (2008, 27 mins): a tribute hosted by Herrmann biographer Steven Smith Isolated score: experience Bernard Herrmann's original soundtrack music Phil Tippett's birthday message to Ray Harryhausen (2006, 1 min) Brian Trenchard-Smith trailer commentary (2013, 5 mins): a short critical appreciation Theatrical trailer Image gallery: extensive promotional and on-set photography, poster art and archive materials New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
A virtuoso JAMES STEWART (Vertigo) plays a small-town Michigan lawyer who takes on a difficult case: that of a young Army lieutenant (The Killing of a Chinese Bookie's BEN GAZZARA) accused of murdering the local tavern owner who he believes raped his wife (Days of Wine and Roses' LEE REMICK). This gripping, envelope-pushing courtroom potboiler, the most popular film from Hollywood provocateur OTTO PREMINGER (Laura), was groundbreaking for the frankness of its discussion of sexmore than anything else, it is a striking depiction of the power of words. With its outstanding supporting cast including a young GEORGE C. SCOTT (Patton) as a fiery prosecuting attorney and legendary real-life attorney JOSEPH N. WELCH as the judgeand influential jazz score by DUKE ELLINGTON, Anatomy of a Murder is a Hollywood landmark; it was nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture. Special Edition Features New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition New alternate 5.1 soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition New interview with Otto Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch Critic Gary Giddins explores Duke Ellington's score in a new interview A look at the relationship between graphic designer Saul Bass and Preminger with Bass biographer Pat Kirkham Newsreel footage from the set Excerpts from a 1967 episode of Firing Line, featuring Preminger in discussion with William F. Buckley Jr. Excerpts from the work Anatomy of Anatomy: The Making of a Movie Behind-the-scenes photographs by Life magazine's Gjon Mili Trailer, featuring on-set footage PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Nick Pinkerton and a 1959 Life magazine article on real-life lawyer Joseph N. Welch, who plays the judge in the film
A major Columbia Pictures release in glorious Technicolor, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad was one of Hollywood's first modern fantasy action blockbusters. On a mission to rescue his fiancée, the Princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant), Kerwin Mathews acquits himself well as Sinbad, while Torin Thatcher is a suitably malevolent magician who has shrunken the princess in a bid to get Sinbad to undertake a perilous quest. Truth be told, no one remembers Ray Harryhausen films for the script or the acting; the real stars are the still impressive action set-pieces, a battle with a cyclops, a giant Roc, a dragon, and a duelling skeleton; this last anticipating a much more lavish battle with skeleton warriors in Jason and the Argonauts. The cast may be all-American rather than Arab but even so, everything about this film works, from the fabulous set design of the Sultan's palace which evokes a real fairytale atmosphere, to Bernard Herrmann's truly classic score. On the DVD: The film exhibits a strong anamorphically enhanced 1.85-1 ratio image, with powerful mono sound. At about 80 minutes, the extras last almost as long as the movie. The most important and extensive addition is "The Harryhausen Chronicles", a documentary, while "This is Dynamation" gives an introduction to the stop-motion animation process itself. Ray Harryhausen is an affable host, a modest man who talks engagingly about his work in a way that really makes one appreciate the sheer ingenuity and skill which went into making not just The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, but also Jason and the Argonauts, the subject of a further featurette on the disc. On top of this there are trailers for the aforementioned films, plus one for the disappointing but still fun Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Overall, a first-class film on an equally good DVD. --Gary S. Dalkin
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