Once more, friends, we (or rather I) invite you to join me as I poke about a bit with some of the newer Twilight Time Blu-ray releases in another chapter of the Heavenly Shades of Delight series, which started with Volume One and Volume Two earlier this year. For this illustrious third entry, I am taking a peek at seven titles from the exclusive niche label - each of which is available exclusively online from Screen Archives (providing they're not sold out already, that is!).
1. Bonjour Tristesse (1958) (Columbia Pictures, Released November 13, 2012)
Giving up the lifestyle one has become accustomed to is never easy. Just ask any of the greedy, evil, manipulative politicians we have that are supposedly representing us. But if you want a much more dramatic look at such a thing, then Otto Preminger's Bonjour Tristesse should suffice quite nicely. No, it's not in French (though it is pretty artsy), so there's no need to panic, you subtitle-phobes - but it is set in France. The French Riviera, in fact. Anyhoo, taking the leads here are the talents and charms of Deborah Kerr, David Niven, and Jean Seberg - the latter of whom plays the main character: Cécile. Having enjoyed her self-centered, less-than-innocent lifestyle in peace all these years with her widowed playboy of a father (Niven). Actually, both parties enjoy indulging in a bit of this and a lot of that. Soon, though, an old friend of the family (Kerr) arrives - and figures these two scoundrels could use some morally-inclined assistance. Cécile, on the other hand, sees the visiting woman as a threat to everything she and her father have grown used to doing. Georges Auric provides the score to this Preminger masterpiece - which was a huge hit in that Europe place back in the day.
2. The Rains of Ranchipur (1955) (20th Century Fox, Released November 13, 2012)
Yes, it's another drama for you to enjoy, kids. This one, on the other hand, focuses on adults instead of a young woman - and this collection of adults is a real doozy, too, lemme tell 'ya! We open with Lord and Lady Esketh (Michael Rennie and top-billed Lana Turner, respectively) arriving in the small Indian town of Ranchipur at the behest of the community's aging Maharani (Eugenie Leontovich). The couple is anything but happy - and it isn't long before Lord Esketh announces he's ditchin' the ol' ball and chain and returning to Merrie Olde England. So, our mostly-single Lady Esketh reunites with an old flame of hers (Fred MacMurray), who has, sadly, turned into a complete alcoholic. Speaking of alcoholics, The Rains of Ranchipur's official male lead is none other than Richard Burton, who - wait for it - plays a Hindu physician here (in brownface). Complicated relationships and catastrophes from man and nature alike soon hit these poor miserable souls, in this story is based on Louis Bromfield's The Rains Came, and had been previously adapted by Fox in 1939. Jean Negulesco directs his performers, Joan Caulfield co-stars, and Hugo Friedhofer gives us the music score.
3. Beloved Infidel (1959) (20th Century Fox, Released December 11, 2012)
No, it's not that Beethoven movie. You're thinking of Immortal Beloved. This is a flick about F. Scott Fitzgerald - you know, the guy who wrote The Great Gatsby. And if you've never heard of that, you obviously didn't waste time attending any of your high school English classes! Starring here as the latter-day Mr. F. Scott is the great Gregory Peck, who takes his role as a washed-up alcoholic writer very seriously here. With his wife incarcerated in a mental institution, Fitzgerald has very little going on at this point in time (the latter half of the 1930s), and to help pay the ever-rising costs of her care, has resorted to (gasp!) penning screenplays for the movie moguls in Hollywood - for which he goes largely uncredited for. In his spare time, he focuses on his affair with the drink, his rather unstable romance with gossip columnist radio show host Sheila Graham (Deborah Kerr), and working on his latest novel - which he just can't seem to finish. Good times for all who enjoy seeing a once-promising novelist spiral into the ground like a fish that forgot he can't fly in this film directed by Henry King. Music by the great Franz Waxman.
4. The Blue Lagoon (1980) (Columbia Pictures, Released December 11, 2012)
Oh, dear God, no. Despite everyone's best efforts to bury this turkey from the prying eyes of, well, the entire world, Twilight Time - as if they just wanted to yank at our hamstrings like naughty little children wanting to inform you they just carefully stuffed an entire roll of toilet paper down into the u-bend - have gone and brought forth one of those infamously so-bad-it's-still-bad movies from yesteryear and given it the full HD treatment. Frankly, their timing couldn't had been any better: the movie has actually succeeded in growing a fan base over the years from people who really do like it - and not just for its faults. Story-wise, the movie brings us the plight of two young cousins who are shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island with their long-gone vessel's former galley cook (Leo McKern). After their makeshift caretaker passes away, the kids - sadly - grow up to become younger versions of Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. And with no educational short films to show them the sexual dos and don'ts in their seemingly abandoned world, the two dumb kids begin to discover each other. Basil Poledouris provides the music while Randal Kleiser (Grease) produced and directed this - the very first feature to win the illustrious prize for Worst Actress at the 1st Golden Raspberry Awards.
5. Lost Horizon (1973) (Columbia Pictures, Released December 11, 2012)
OK, forget everything I just said about The Blue Lagoon, because this 1973 version of Lost Horizon is far, far worse. The original 1937 cinematic version of the James Hilton novel was nothing short of a disaster for Columbia Pictures, causing turmoil for the studio financially as well as for filmmaker Frank Capra - who lost his screenwriting partner and backer on account of the film. Now, since it seemed as if the first flick had been cursed as a serious, straightforward item, it only made perfect sense to craft the '70s remake as a musical. Mind you, this was at a point in cinematic history well after singing and dancing epics had all but managed to alienate moviegoers across the nation (and world, for that matter). Needless to say, it failed. Big time: so much so, its producer (Ross Hunter) and writer (Larry Kramer) never worked in the big pictures again. Charles Jarrott (who wasable to find work again after this gives Peter Finch, John Gielgud, Liv Ullmann, Sally Kellerman, Olivia Hussey, Charles Boyer, George Kennedy, and Michael York equal chances to embarrass themselves in this epically-awful (in a good way, of course) box office flop with tunes by the dynamic duo of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
6. Experiment in Terror (1962) (Columbia Pictures, Released January 15, 2013)
I'm fairly certain such a thing should go without saying, but one really big asthmatic creep can really ruin your day. Or life, as the wicked villain of Experiment in Terror (aptly played by one Ross Martin) proves to the film's heroine, Lee Remick. In this case, the sleazy bad guy is threatening to kill (or perhaps worse) Remick or her onscreen teenage sister, Stefanie Powers, if she doesn't embezzle $100,000 from the bank she works at. Naturally, the traditional "Don't call the cops!" line proves to no avail - and it isn't long before the always-fantastic (and top-billed) Glenn Ford shows up as an FBI man assigned to protect and track down a sick-bastard of a killer. An exciting thriller, Experiment in Terror was quite a bit ahead of its time for '62, and also served to inspire several of David Lynch's projects. But what's most interesting when looking back on the film now is that it was produced and directed by Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Pink Panther's own Blake Edwards. As he frequently did before and after this beloved classic, Edwards employed the services of Henry Mancini to provide us with the music score. Ned Glass and Clifton James also appear.
7. Our Man Flint (1966) (20th Century Fox, Released January 15, 2013)
In 1966, the world had reached the zenith of the original James Bond film franchise with Sean Connery in the lead. And it was enjoying the rocketing ride down the slopes - so it seemed only natural that imitators would pop up from every corner in the world. As you would expect, this also caused the spoofs to come-a-callin' - and while Our Man Flint wasn't the first film of its kind to parody the seemingly-indestructible, super-intelligent, always-ready-for-action 007, it was certainly able to add its name to the map as a seriously comical contender. James Coburn is American super spy Derek Flint, who doesn't even bother with things like guns in order to save the entire world from the hands of three crazy scientists who are holding all nations of the planet captive with a machine that controls the weather. Lee J. Cobb plays the suffering supervisor of Z.O.W.I.E. (Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage) who does his best to control his former agent - who is chosen by the computers of the world as the only man capable of saving the day. Gila Golan and Edward Mulhare co-star as two upper-crust baddies in Daniel Mann's successful spy spoof, with a riveting score by Jerry Goldsmith.
As always, the presentations on these Blu-ray discs from the fine folks at Twilight Time have been brought to us by the parenting studios who own the rights of each picture - which means there isn't the biggest of consistencies in terms of video, audio, or special features. In terms of video transfers, just about all of the movies in this assortment of odds and ends are pretty darn nice-lookin' - with Our Man Flint probably being the least vibrant (but it's still damn good). Most of the primary soundtracks from this lot are offered up as DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes (titles 4-6), DTS-HD MA 4.0 (2-3) or Mono (1 and 7). English SDH subtitles are provided with all seven titles.
In terms of special features, each title contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (or 5.1) soundtrack with an isolated music score at your disposal, as well as some combination of a theatrical trailers and/or TV spots. Bonjour Tristesse contains an awkward interview with author/co-screenwriter Françoise Sagan. Audio commentaries are available on The Blue Lagoon and Our Man Flint (two for the former, one on the latter), and vintage featurettes are included on both The Blue Lagoon and Lost Horizon. Finally, Lost Horizon and Our Man Flint are loaded with additional bonus materials - most of which have been ported over from previous DVD releases. All of these Twilight Time releases include booklets with extensive liner notes written by Julie Kirgo - and are just as delightfully informative as they have been in the past.
As of this writing, all seven titles are still available for order online from Screen Archives.
Happy viewing, boys and girls.