If you read me often enough you know this article is usually called New This Week on Blu-ray & DVD, but all the releases I have for January 5, 2021 are Blu-rays and they all come from the same company Kino Lorber. I’m sure there are other films/TV series coming out this week, but these are what I received to review. I’m also assuming some others will arrive late because everything shipped in the past month is late.
Up first is The Secret War of Harry Frigg, from 1968 starring Paul Newman, Sylva Koscina, Tom Bosley, Norman Fell, Buck Henry, and Andrew Duggan. Newman plays a soldier whose one gift is escaping prisons. He hasn’t advanced in his military career, but is offered a high rank if he can help 5 generals escape from a lush villa in Italy where they are being held prisoner. While there he finds the generals living comfortably with the Italian commander being extremely nice. He also falls for an Italian Contessa, but when the Germans take them to a real military holding, Newman comes up with a plan of escape. Newman is so easy to watch. He really was Mr. All-American and he’s extremely charming in this despite the fact that he’s pretty much a deserter and doesn’t take his military duty seriously. I hadn’t seen the film before, but I enjoyed it and I’m sure it has a ton of fans out there.
Second we have The Train. Burt Lancaster stars as a Frenchman who must stop a train filled with famous artwork that a German commander wants sent to Germany. The Allies are closing in on the area and the German wants the art moved so Germany can have the valuable work for themselves. Lancaster with a small group of resistors come up with a plan to stop the train, but it doesn’t go as planned so Lancaster must make one last effort to stop the prized artwork from leaving France. I wasn’t familiar with the film and it was pretty interesting. The train scenes were very good especially for 1964. Lancaster was very much leading man material and he’s very good in this.
Sticking with military settings, third is Captain Newman, M.D. starring Gregory Peck, Tony Curtis, Angie Dickinson, Robert Duvall, Bobby Darin, and Eddie Albert. Peck plays Captain Newman who runs a stateside military hospital’s psychiatric ward during World War II. Angie Dickinson is a nurse with Tony Curtis as a fellow doctor, Darin as a young patient as well and Duvall as soldier who was alone for months. The film was nominated for 3 Oscars and I enjoyed it. Like the previously reviewed two films, Peck is very much the leading man with Curtis equally charming. Dickinson is delightful, but it was Darin who was the surprise to me (he was nominated for Supporting Actor). My parents remembered enjoying this one back in the day and I can see why. With so much talent involved, it’s a very entertaining film.
Last for the war movies is Beach Red. This opens with American troops trying to take a beach on a Japanese held island. When successful, a smaller group is sent out to find the Japanese headquarters. I liked the action of the film a lot. It’s in your face and feels authentic. It has a great feel to it and you feel like you’re there. What I didn’t like is that it flashbacks to personal situations involving the soldiers on both sides. I’m sure it’s to show the humanity of war, but I honestly felt like it took me out of the movie too often. Sure you want to give the audience a reason to care about the men, but it was used too often for my liking. But the action scenes are pretty top-notch.
Now for some westerns. First is Rough Night in Jericho starring George Peppard, Dean Martin and Jean Simmons. This 1967 film sees Martin as a crime boss in the town of Jericho which he once helped as a lawman. The town turns to Peppard, a former US Marshall for help, but at first he wants no involvement. Once Simmons helps sway him, it comes down to a showdown between Peppard and Martin. There is some good action, drinking, card playing, some nice sweeping shots and everything else you expect from a western. I liked this one more than the next one.
Texas Across the River also stars Dean Martin along with Joey Bishop, Alain Delon and Rosemary Forsyth. After a wedding is stopped, Martin helps Delon get away along with Bishop playing an Indian. It was 1966 people, that’s what they did. Along the way they all bond with Delon learning real cowboy ways and hopefully winning back his girl. My parents remembered this one and didn’t particularly like it and I can see why. It’s not bad or anything, but it’s played for laughs unlike Rough Night in Jericho. But I’m sure Deano fans will want to snag this one.
Next is Tintorera…Tiger Shark which sounds like an awesome creature feature, but it’s not. It’s actually more a bromance about two men hooking up with women in Mexico. One is an American who is there to hunt sharks and the other is a Mexican more interested in women. Of course like any shark movie it becomes personal, but a good chunk of the movie has nothing to do with sharks. There is some good gore when the shark is involved, but looking at the Blu-ray cover art I expected something much different than what I got. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if this is considered a cult classic to those who will eat up this new release.
Speaking of creature features, next is Ingagi
(Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of the Exploitation Picture – Volume 8). If you aren’t aware of this film, it’s one of the greatest movie hoaxes of all-time. When it was released in 1930 people thought it was a real movie, but it turned out to be a hoax primarily shot in a studio. It’s about men that go on a safari where they encounter all sorts of tribes, animals and a gorilla that they sacrifice women to. Except all that stuff was made up. It splices in real footage of Africa with women in blackface and the hunter and camera crew footage to make a giant hoax. People honestly thought they were witnessing men killings lions, hippos and a gorilla taking women. It’s pretty genius considering it’s 90 years old. It’s been banned and disavowed, but it has a cult following and is laughably great.
Last we have Mario Ruspoli, Prince of the Whales. This documentary takes a look at filmmaker Mario Ruspoli and also includes 8 of his shorts. His films have been restored so you can see what unique techniques he brought to filmmaking. He very much helped bring documentary style filmmaking to light using minimal equipment, but with a photographer’s eye and artist’s touch. I knew some of his work, but not a lot. Many people talk about what he meant to them, have first hand experiences with him and his work and help explain who he was and how he worked. The shorts included are: The Whalers (1958), The Earth’s Forgotten (1961), A Look at Madness (1961), Captive Feast (1961), The Last Drink (1964), Chaval (1970), Le Chavalanthrope (1972), Three Cheers for the Whale (1972). If you know of his work, you’ll enjoy this.