#470-Wise Blood/John Houston
In this acclaimed adaptation of the first novel by legendary Southern writer Flannery O’Connor, John Huston brings to life a world of vivid, poetic American eccentricity. Brad Dourif, in an impassioned performance, is Hazel Motes, who, fresh out of the army, attempts to open the first Church Without Christ in the small town of Taulkinham. Populated with inspired performances that seem to spring right from O’Connor’s pages, Huston’s Wise Blood is an incisive portrait of spirituality and evangelicalism, as well as a faithful, loving evocation of one writer’s vision.
New, restored high-definition digital transfer
New interviews with actor Brad Dourif, writer Benedict Fitzgerald, and writer-producer Michael Fitzgerald
Rare archival audio recording of author Flannery O’Connor reading her short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”
Creativity with Bill Moyers: “John Huston,” a 28-minute television program from 1982 in which the director discusses his life and work
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by author Francine Prose
#471-Pigs, Pimps & Prostitutes:
3 Films by Shohei Imamura
Pigs and Battleships
Shohei Imamura, 1962
A dazzling, unruly portrait of American–occupied postwar Japan, Pigs and Battleships details, with escalating absurdity, the desperate power struggles between small-time gangsters in the port town of Yokosuka. The film is shot in gorgeously composed, bustling cinemascope.
The Insect Woman
Shohei Imamura, 1963
Born in a rural farming village in 1918, Tome grows up to survive decades of Japanese social upheaval, as well as abuse and servitude at the hands of various men. Yet Shohei Imamura refuses to make a victim of Tome, instead observing her as a fascinating, pragmatic creature of 20th century Japan.
Intentions of Murder
Shohei Imamura, 1964
Sadako (Masumi Harukawa), cursed by generations before her and neglected by her common-law husband, falls prey to a brutal home intruder. As a result, rather than become a victim, she forges a path to her own awakening. Intentions of Murder is gripping and audacious.
New, restored high-definition digital transfers
Introductions on all three films by critic Tony Rayns
Conversations between Shohei Imamura and critic Tadao Sato about The Insect Woman and Intentions of Murder
“Imamura, the Free Thinker,” a 1995 episode from the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps
New and improved English subtitle translations
PLUS: Booklets featuring essays by film critics Audie Bock, Dennis Lim, and James Quandt
#475-The Friends of Eddie Coyle/Peter Yates
In one of the best performances of his legendary career, Robert Mitchum plays small-time gunrunner Eddie “Fingers” Coyle in Peter Yates’s adaptation of George V. Higgins’s acclaimed novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle. World-weary and living hand to mouth, Coyle works on the sidelines of the seedy Boston underworld just to make ends meet. But when he finds himself facing a second stretch of hard time, he’s forced to weigh loyalty to his criminal colleagues against snitching to stay free. Directed with a sharp eye for its gritty locales and an open heart for its less-than-heroic characters, this is one of the true treasures of 1970s Hollywood filmmaking—a suspenseful crime drama in stark, unforgiving daylight.
New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Peter Yates
Audio commentary featuring Yates
PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Kent Jones and a 1973 on-set profile of Robert Mitchum from Rolling Stone
Wise Blood!! Eddie Coyle!! What a great month from Criterion.
Eclipse Series 16:
Alexander Korda's Private Lives
Though born to modest means in Hungary, Alexander Korda would go on to become one of the most important filmmakers in the history of British cinema. A producer, writer, and director who navigated toward subjects of major historical significance and mythical distinction, Korda made a name for his production company, London Films, with the Oscar-winning The Private Life of Henry VIII. He then continued his populist investigation behind the scenes and in the bedrooms of such figures as Catherine the Great, Don Juan, and Rembrandt. Mixing stately period drama with surprising satire, these films are exemplars of grand 1930s moviemaking.
The Private Life of Henry VIII
Alexander Korda, 1933
Charles Laughton gulps beer and chomps on mutton, in his first of many iconic screen roles, as King Henry VIII, the ultimate anti-husband. Alexander Korda’s first major international success is a raucous, entertaining, even poignant peek into the boudoirs of the infamous king and his six wives.
The Rise of Catherine the Great
Paul Czinner, 1934
A quick-witted and compelling dramatization of the troubled marriage of Catherine II (played by German actress Elisabeth Bergner, in her English-language debut) to Peter III (a randy Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and her subsequent ascension to the throne as Empress of Russia.
The Private Life of Don Juan
Alexander Korda, 1934
Douglas Fairbanks Sr. makes his big-screen swan song with Korda’s deliciously satiric deflation of the Don Juan myth. After having faked his own death and escaped Seville, the aging lothario returns, only to find that he has been forgotten; perhaps Merle Oberon’s beauty can coax him back.
Alexander Korda, 1936
Charles Laughton once again teams up with Korda for this moving, elegantly shot biopic about the Dutch painter. Beginning when Rembrandt’s reputation was at its height, the film then tracks his quiet descent into loneliness and isolated self-expression.
An exciting set from Eclipse as well. Korda is one of the more interesting figures in film history. I'm looking forward to this set of titles.
"The most dementing of all modern sins: the inability to distinquish excellence from success."-David Hare