Criterion Announces May 2020 Releases

Six titles in May.
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Hold off on that summer vacation budget because Criterion will be releasing six titles in May.  They are John Sturges's The Great Escape; Dorothy Arzner's Dance, Girl, Dance; Paul Dano's Wildlife; John Cassavetes's Husbands; Scorsese Stories, a compilation of five early short films by Martin Scorsese; and given a Blu-ray upgrade Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales collection. Read on to learn more about them.

Six Moral Tales (#342) out May 5

The multifaceted, deeply personal work of Eric Rohmer has had an effect on cinema unlike any other. One of the founding critics of the history-making Cahiers du cinéma, Rohmer began translating his written manifestos to film in the 1960s, standing apart from his New Wave contemporaries with his patented brand of gently existential, hyperarticulate character studies set against vivid seasonal landscapes. This near genre unto itself was established with the audacious and wildly influential series Six Moral Tales. A succession of encounters between fragile men and the women who tempt them, Six Moral Tales unleashed on the film world a new voice, one that was at once sexy, philosophical, modern, daring, nonjudgmental, and liberating. The films are:

  • The Bakery Girl of Monceau
  • Suzanne’s Career
  • My Night at Maud’s
  • La collectionneuse
  • Claire’s Knee
  • Love in the Afternoon (1972)

The Great Escape (#1027) out May 12

cc The Great Escape.jpgOne of the most exciting adventure tales ever told, this action epic recounts the planning, execution, and aftermath of a daring true-life escape from a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, in which 250 men attempted to tunnel their way to freedom. In the role that cemented his superstar status, Steve McQueen plays the motorcycle-racing daredevil who sets out to foil the Nazis, alongside an all-star cast that also includes Charles Bronson, James Coburn, James Garner, and Donald Pleasence. The expert direction of John Sturges, eminently hummable Elmer Bernstein score, and rip-roaring stunts come together in what may just be the most spectacularly entertaining prison-break movie of all time, a rousing ode to the determination, camaraderie, and courage of everyday heroes. The special features are:

  • 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
  • Two audio commentaries, one from 1991, featuring director John Sturges and composer Elmer Bernstein; the other, from 2004, featuring actors James Coburn, James Garner, and Donald Pleasence
  • New interview with critic Michael Sragow
  • “The Great Escape”: Heroes Underground, a four-part 2001 documentary about the real-life escape from the Stalag Luft III prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, including interviews with POWs held there
  • The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones, a 2001 program on the United States Army Air Forces pilot David Jones, the inspiration for Steve McQueen’s character in the film
  • Return to “The Great Escape,” a 1993 program featuring interviews with Coburn, Garner, actors David McCallum and Jud Taylor, stuntman Bud Ekins, and McQueen’s son, Chad McQueen
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Sheila O’Malley

Dance, Girl, Dance (#1028) out May 19

cc Dance Girl Dance.jpgDorothy Arzner, the sole woman to work as a director in the Hollywood studio system of the 1930s and early ’40s, brings a subversive feminist sensibility to this juicily entertaining backstage melodrama. A behind-the-footlights look at friendship, jealousy, and ambition in the ruthless world of show business, Dance, Girl, Dance follows the intertwining fates of two chorus girls: a starry-eyed dancer (Maureen O’Hara) who dreams of making it as a ballerina and the brassy gold digger (a scene-stealing Lucille Ball) who becomes her rival both on the stage and in love. The rare Hollywood film of the era to deal seriously with issues of female artistic struggle and self-actualization, Arzner’s film is a rich, fascinating statement from an auteur decades ahead of her time. The special features are:

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New introduction by critic B. Ruby Rich
  • New selected-scene commentary featuring film historian Cari Beauchamp
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Sheila O’Malley

Wildlife (#1031) out May 19

cc Wildlife.jpgThe directorial debut of actor Paul Dano reveals a filmmaking talent of remarkable intelligence and restraint. Adapted by Dano and Zoe Kazan from the novel by Richard Ford, this meticulously crafted portrait of the American nuclear family in crisis charts the rift that forms within a 1960s Montana household when the father and breadwinner (Jake Gyllenhaal) abruptly departs to fight the forest fires raging nearby, leaving his restless wife (Carey Mulligan, in a performance of fearless emotional honesty) and teenage son (Ed Oxenbould) to pick up the pieces. A deeply human look at a woman’s wayward journey toward self-fulfillment in the pre-women’s-liberation era and a sensitively observed, child’s-eye coming-of-age tale, Wildlife poignantly illuminates the complex ways in which families function, fall apart, and find their way. The director-approved special features are:

  • New 2K digital master, with 5.1 surround DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interviews with director Paul Dano, screenwriter Zoe Kazan, actors Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, cinematographer Diego García, production designer Akin McKenzie, and costume designer Amanda Ford
  • New conversation on the film’s postproduction with Dano, editor Matthew Hannam, and composer David Lang
  • Film at Lincoln Center conversation from 2018 between Dano and novelist Richard Ford about the film’s source material
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Mark Harris

Husbands (#1029) out May 26

cc Husbands.jpgThe trailblazing independent auteur John Cassavetes pushes his raw, uncompromising emotional realism to its limit in this unflinching portrait of masculinity in crisis. Cassavetes joins Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk—both of whom would become key collaborators of the director’s—playing a trio of middle-aged Long Island family men who, following the sudden death of their best friend, channel their grief into an epic, multiday bender that takes them from Manhattan to London in a desperate, debauched quest to feel alive. By turns painfully funny and woundingly perceptive, this self-described “comedy about life, death, and freedom” stands as perhaps the most fearless, harrowingly honest deconstruction of American manhood ever committed to film. The special features are:

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2009 featuring critic Marshall Fine
  • New interviews with producer Al Ruban and actor Jenny Runacre
  • New video essay featuring audio recordings of John Cassavetes in his own words exploring the actor-director’s spirited approach to acting
  • The Story of “Husbands”—A Tribute to John Cassavetes (2009), a half-hour program featuring Ruban, actor Ben Gazzara, and cinematographer Victor J. Kemper
  • Episode of The Dick Cavett Show from 1970 featuring Cassavetes, Gazzara, and actor Peter Falk
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by filmmaker Andrew Bujalski

Scorsese Shorts (#1030) out May 26

cc Scorsese Shorts.jpgThis compilation of five early short films by Martin Scorsese offers a fascinating window onto his artistic development. Spanning the years from Scorsese’s time at NYU in the mid-1960s to the late ’70s, when he was emerging as one of the era’s most electrifying talents, Scorsese Shorts centers on the intimate home movie Italianamerican—a loving snapshot of the director’s parents—and American Boy, a freewheeling portrait of a larger-than-life raconteur. Also included are The Big Shave, a daringly visceral response to America’s involvement in Vietnam, and the bracing student films What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? and It’s Not Just You, Murray!Touching on many of Scorsese’s key themes—Italian American identity, family, his beloved New York City—these are hilarious, candid, and illuminating works from the preeminent American filmmaker of our time. The director-approved special features are:

  • New 4K digital restorations of all five films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray:
    ITALIANAMERICAN (1974 • 49 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio)
    AMERICAN BOY (1978 • 55 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio)
    THE BIG SHAVE (1967 • 5 minutes • Color • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio)
    IT’S NOT JUST YOU, MURRAY! (1964 • 16 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio)
    WHAT’S A NICE GIRL LIKE YOU DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS? (1963 • 10 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio)
  • New conversation between director Martin Scorsese and film critic Farran Smith Nehme
  • New discussion among filmmakers Ari Aster and Josh and Benny Safdie
  • More!
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri and various materials from Scorsese’s archive

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