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Devil and the Deep (Blu-ray)

Such a shame about Commander Charles Sturm (Charles Laughton) – as respected and revered a man as the Navy has ever produced, and yet his feckless wife (Tallulah Bankhead) can't even be bothered to hide her many indiscretions. No one's ever seen Diana do anything untoward, no, but everyone knows about her infidelity just the same.

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Cmdr. Sturm shares those same certainties, to the point that he's torpedoed the military career of her suspected lover, Lieutenant Jaeckel (Cary Grant). Diana's assurances of her fidelity are dismissed. Sturm engineers a meeting between the two of them that he covertly listens in on, and even after hearing Jaeckel speak with Diana about the lack of any romantic entanglement between them, he remains unconvinced. His wife surely whispered guidance to Jaeckel upon answering the door. Yes, that must be it!

After striking his wife in frustration, ripping her coat in two, and threatening to kill her, Cmdr. Sturm watches an incensed Diana march out onto the streets of this North African port. As it turns out, Diana has been unwaveringly faithful to her husband all the while, but this relentless torment swiftly pushes her into the arms of Lieutenant Sempter (Gary Cooper). He has no idea that Diana is married, nor is she aware that she's just spent the night with Jaeckel's replacement under her husband's command. Despite the two of them only having spent hours together, such an affair cannot go unnoticed by the deeply paranoid likes of Sturm, and the lengths the commander takes to exact his revenge show how truly insane he is.

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Nearly eighty years after Devil and the Deep first premiered, the film is best remembered for its cast. Though not the first American production to star...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Devil and the Deep]



Pufnstuf (Blu-ray)

Who says flutes can't feel lonely too? As rough a patch as Jimmy (Jack Wild) is going through right now – the only British kid in this sleepy American town; booted out of his school band by conniving bullies – it turns out his flute is having kind of an existential crisis too. Alone...? Sadness. But together, they can do pretty much anything! Before you know it, newest-bestest-pals Freddy the Talking Flute and Jimmy are being whisked away to the magical land of Living Island.

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But come to think of it, a talking, diamond-encrusted, golden flute might be just the thing to cinch Witch of the Year at the annual witches' convention. Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) will do just about anything to get her spindly, clawed fingers on Freddy. Lookee here, Boss Witch (Martha Raye)! Put that in yer pipe and smoke it, Witch Hazel (Mama Cass)! The only hiccup is that Jimmy and Freddy are on the sunnier side of Living Island with mayor/fire brigade leader/all-around-good-dragon H.R. Pufnstuf (voiced by Al Melvin), whose cave is protected against her magic. Pssssh. But when did that ever stop Witchiepoo?

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Quick! What's the first word that springs to mind when you think of Sid & Marty Krofft's run of legendary TV series? Chances are that you're thinking something like "trippy" or "psychedelic", which...yeah, fair enough. What's the first word that springs to mind when I think of this feature film adaptation of H.R. Pufnstuf? "Exhausting."

Part of the problem is that Pufnstuf doesn't really feel like a movie, playing instead like a few episodes of a TV show that've been stitched together. The Kroffts' series on NBC was already filmed on 35mm with these same costumes and very similar sets. Sure, the witches' makeup looks better,...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Pufnstuf]



The Cat O' Nine Tails (Limited Edition) (Ultra HD Blu-ray)

Quick note: This review marks my first attempt at Ultra HD screenshots. Generating SDR images from an HDR source is inherently problematic, so take these screenshots – especially the way colors appear – with more than a couple grains of salt.

Franco "Cookie" Arnò (Karl Malden) refuses to allow his blindness to get in the way of a longstanding passion for solving puzzles. And after overhearing by chance a few unfortunate words, Arnò finds himself ensnared in one hell of a puzzle: one involving corporate espionage, bleeding-edge genetic research, an increasingly large pile of corpses, and, eventually, the kidnapping of his beloved niece Lori (Cinzia De Carolis). Himself a former reporter, Arnò quickly finds a kindred spirit in journalist Carlo Giordani (The Valley of Gwangi's James Franciscus), and the two set out to uncover the secrets of the Terzi Institute and their research into the genetic building blocks of murder.

 Blu-ray      Ultra HD Blu-ray (100 nits)

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A rushed follow-up to his staggeringly successful debut as a filmmaker, The Cat O' Nine Tails is far and away the most lackluster giallo from Dario Argento's golden period. With the caveat that I haven't yet seen Five Days of Milan, this is the only directorial effort of his from The Bird with the Crystal Plumage through the end of the 1980s that I dislike. Argento himself expresses his disappointment with the film twice throughout the bonus material in this limited edition. Its failings are a focal point of the set's audio commentary, and among the essays included here is one effectively arguing "we all know the movie's a bit shit, but there are some things it does well!"

The most frustrating thing about The Cat O' Nine Tails is that it's really not all that...[read the entire Ultra HD Blu-ray review of The Cat O\' Nine Tails (Limited Edition)]



More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 9/24: Devil and the Deep (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 9/23: Devil and the Deep (Blu-ray)
  • 9/22: Pufnstuf (Blu-ray)
  • 9/20: The Gunfighter (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 9/20: Interstellar (Uhd)
  • 9/18: The Thing (1982) (Uhd)
  • 9/16: Hocus Pocus (Uhd)
  • 9/8: Mirror (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 9/7: Pickup on South Street (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 9/6: Hesher (Blu-ray)
  • 9/5: The Brass Teapot (Blu-ray)
  • 9/4: Atonement (Blu-ray)
  • 9/3: The Truth About Marriage (Hdtv)
  • 9/2: The Cat O' Nine Tails (Limited Edition) (Uhd)
  • 9/1: An Honest Liar (Hdtv)
More of my boring video log...
 
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 9/22: The Awakening (Blu-ray)
  • 9/22: Devil and the Deep (Blu-ray)
  • 9/22: Vera Cruz (Blu-ray)
  • 9/22: Pufnstuf (Blu-ray)
  • 9/17: A Clockwork Orange (Uhd)
  • 9/17: Black Widow (Uhd)
  • 9/2: The Cat O' Nine Tails (Limited Edition) (Uhd)
  • 8/25: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Uhd)
  • 8/20: Deep Red (2-Disc Limited Edition) (Uhd)
  • 8/18: Two Evil Eyes (Uhd)
  • 8/10: Carole Lombard Collection II (Blu-ray)
  • 8/10: After Life (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/5: The Seventh Seal (Uhd)
  • 8/4: The Daimajin Trilogy (3-Disc Limited Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/3: Arise, My Love (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...


 
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