For those of you who, like us at MovieFanFare, call the Northeast section of the U.S. home, it may seem like Spring is never going to get here (especially after this week’s storms). Warmer weather is, of course, coming along at some point over the next couple of months…as is a slate of new releases on DVD and Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. For true movie fans, these special edition treats–often filled to the rafters with exclusive commentaries and interviews, rare “making of” documentaries, companion booklets and other features–are must-haves for any serious collector’s library. From classic Hollywood favorites and landmark foreign films to more modern titles, there’s truly something here for everyone’s taste.
The following is a sampling of upcoming Criterion releases for the Spring of 2015 (for a more complete list of available Criterion titles, please check out our retail site):
Odd Man Out (1947)(DVD and Blu-ray) — In perhaps his finest film performance, James Mason plays an I.R.A. leader who is shot during an attempted robbery and wanders through the streets of Belfast, slowly dying and trying to stay one step ahead of the police. Kathleen Ryan plays the woman he loves, who conducts her own desperate search for him as the law begins to close in. Carol Reed (“The Third Man”) helms this gripping drama which co-stars Cyril Cusack, William Hartnell. Includes bonus documentaries “Home, James” (1972), “Postwar Poetry”; interviews; radio version.
Sullivan’s Travels (1941)(DVD and Blu-ray) — Preston Sturges’ gem of Hollywood self-satire stars Joel McCrea as a filmmaker who tires of comedies and light entertainment and wants to make “meaningful” tales of human misery. To this end, he disguises himself as a bum and sets out to ride freight trains across America and “experience suffering” first-hand. With Veronica Lake as the gorgeous fellow traveler McCrea meets along the way, William Demarest, and Franklin Pangborn. Includes audio commentary; documentary; interviews; photo gallery; theatrical trailer.
Eclipse Series 42: Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas (DVD only) — Before the “most Japanese” of all film directors secured his reputation as a master of the domestic drama, Yasujiro Ozu dwelled in the realm of the crime film in these three rare silent features. First, “Walk Cheerfully” (1930) tells the story of a small-time crook who attempts to go straight to keep a girlfriend by his side. Minoru Takada, Hiroko Kawasaki star. Next, “That Night’s Wife” (1930) finds a family man driven to criminal acts over the course of a single night. Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo star. Finally, “Dragnet Girl” (1933) spins the complex yarn of a thug whose girlfriend becomes impatient with his attraction to a protege’s sister. Kinuyo Tanaka, Joji Oka, and Sumiko Mizukubo star. Three-disc set.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) (DVD and Blu-ray) — Robert Mitchum delivers a tough, affecting performance as middle-class Boston thug Eddie Coyle, hoping to avoid a two-year jail term even if he must sacrifice his honor by becoming a “stoolie.” As pressures on Eddie mount, his options for salvation diminish and he finds himself struggling to rescue the last shreds of his dignity. Peter Yates (“Bullitt”) helms this gritty filming of the George V. Higgins novel; Peter Boyle, Alex Rocco co-star. Includes audio commentary by Yates; photo gallery.
Le Silence de la Mer (1949)(DVD and Blu-ray) — “Les Enfants Terribles” director Jean-Pierre Melville made an impressive directing debut with this wartime drama set during the Nazi occupation of France. Based on a popular underground novel written at the time, the story follows a German officer as he is assigned to monitor a man and his niece–who rebel against his presence in their home by way of their refusal to speak. Howard Vernon, Nicole Stephane, and Jean-Marie Robain star. Includes bonus short “24 Hours in the Life of a Clown” (1946); interviews. In French with English subtitles.
The River (1951)(DVD and Blu-ray) — Made after his brief sojourn to Hollywood in the ’40s, Jean Renoir’s first color film is a lyric study of a British family living in postwar India, and the effect that a visiting relative, a wounded soldier, has on the household’s three teenage girls. Nora Swinburne, Adrienne Corri, Radha, Thomas E. Breen star. Includes bonus documentary; interviews; photo gallery; theatrical trailer. Filmed in English.
Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)(DVD and Blu-ray) — Serving as an inspiration for Yasujiro Ozu’s classic character study “Tokyo Story,” this classic melodrama from director Leo McCarey tells the heart-tugging story of an elderly couple (Victor Moore, Beulah Bondi) who are forced to live apart when the bank forecloses on their home. While their grown children treat them as a burden, the pair continue to express their profound love for each other. With Thomas Mitchell, Fay Bainter. Includes interviews.
Limelight (1952)(DVD and Blu-ray) — Charles Chaplin tapped into his life experience for this bittersweet tale, playing an aging, once-great vaudevillian who finds renewed purpose when he offers shelter to a suicidal young dancer (Claire Bloom). The two discards gradually give one another the impetus to return to the stage in this moving opus; Nigel Bruce, Norman Lloyd, and (in a memorable shared set-piece with Chaplin) Buster Keaton also star. Includes bonus documentary; featurettes; archival audio; deleted scene; bonus shorts “A Night in the Show” (1915), “The Professor” (1919); theatrical trailers. Two-disc set.
The Rose (1979)(DVD and Blu-ray) — In 1969, rock singer Mary Rose Foster (Bette Midler)–better known to legions of adoring fans as simply “The Rose”–was looking for an out from the grind of the road and the party life. Though she finds honest romance from a grounded chauffeur (Frederic Forrest), the incessant push from her calculating manager (Alan Bates) makes a flameout all but inevitable. Dynamic dramatic debut for Midler co-stars Harry Dean Stanton, David Keith. Includes audio commentary; featurettes; archival interviews. Two-disc set.
The Confession (1970)(DVD and Blu-ray) — In 1952, Czechoslovak governmental minister Artur London (Yves Montand) was one of 13 ranking Communist Party members roped into a show trial for treason by the Stalinist wing. Of those defendants, he was one of three to escape summary execution. Expectedly harrowing and highly charged take on London’s memoir from Costa-Gavras co-stars Simone Signoret, Gabriele Ferzetti, Michel Vitold. Includes bonus featurettes; documentary “You Speak of Prague: The Second Trial of Artur London” (1971). Two-disc set. In French with English subtitles.
The Merchant of Four Seasons (1972)(DVD and Blu-ray) — On the streets of post-WWII Germany, disgraced ex-cop Hans Epp (Hans Hirschmuller) ekes out a marginal living as a fruit vendor, and takes out his drunken frustrations on his long-suffering wife (Irm Hermann). When his business meets with success, all he manages to reap is deeper depression. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s richly layered mixture of soap opera, fantasy, and dark farce co-stars Hanna Schygulla, Gusti Kreissl. Includes audio commentary; featurettes. In German with English subtitles.
State of Siege (1973)(DVD and Blu-ray) — In a Central American nation, leftist guerrillas abduct American contractor Philip Santore (Yves Montand), and grill him about the true nature of the services he provides for the ruling right-wing government. As the media frenzy and political posturing grows, the captors find no successful out from their actions. Costa-Gavras’ gripping, controversial opus inspired by the Daniel Mitrione kidnap/slaying in Uruguay co-stars Renato Salvatori, O.E. Hasse. Includes bonus featurette; newscast excerpts. In French with English subtitles.