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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Fox Horror Classics

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    John Brahm was an interesting filmmaker with a 35 year career.

    Born in Germany, and with a brief stop working in England, he came to the U.S. as a director first at Columbia, and then moving to Fox in 1941.
    His work, especially The Lodger must have some roots in German expressionism.

    Some of his best work is included in this small, but important boxed set from Fox Home Video strangely titled Fox Horror Classics.

    Of the three films included, only one would fall under the "horror" category, while the other two, both starring the brilliant, but ill-fated Laird Cregar, are psychological dramas.

    And they are brilliant filmmaking of the period.

    The Lodger, based on the book by Marie Belloc Lowndes about Jack the Ripper, (also the basis of the 1927 Hitchcock classic) is a short, elegant film that looks acceptable on video, considering that by legend the Fox nitrate negatives no longer survive.

    This means that whatever is still in the vaults, and how well it lends itself to being digitally cleaned, is what we have. Fox has recently done a wonderful job of getting more than acceptable images from these dupes.

    The Lodger looks rather good, and with the exception of an occasional washed out dupe, is quite acceptable. One cannot help but wonder, as even in it's current state the cinematography of Lucien Ballard (The Wild Bunch, True Grit, Ride the High Country) is so extraordinary, what it might have looked like in a nitrate print derived from the original negative.

    The most interesting of the film, and possible both Brahm and Cregar's best work is Hangover Square, the tale of psychologically challenged composer and his rather split personality.

    Hangover Square was Mr. Cregar's final film. He died before it's release at the age of 28.

    The best film of the three, Hangover appears to have an over-processed look, which makes bright, and sometimes higher contrast items tend to break up and "swim" as pieces within themselves, looking quite like parts of a puzzle that fit together and then break apart. The processing has seemingly removed high frequency information. Not knowing the state of the elements, this may have been the only way to achieve a reasonably good looking image on video.

    The film itself totally outweighs any digital downside however.

    The last of the three, the "horror" item, is The Undying Monster, an elegant little 63 minute film, which may have been Fox's attempt to cash in on what is now considered to be Universal's Lon Chaney, Jr. classic, The Wolf Man.

    I've personally been waiting for decades for the two Cregar films to finally arrive in decent condition and in a home video format of better quality than VHS.

    Any technical issues aside, I'm thrilled that Fox has released their "Horror" boxed set, which comes Highly Recommended.

    All three discs, which come in slim cases, are inclusive of commentary tracks, and other extras, inclusive of a well put together 20 minute profile on Mr. Cregar. Of the dozen films he made for Fox, 8 are now available on DVD. All are worthy of your attention, especially at a street price which works out to about $7 per title. This is a bargain of incredible proportions.

    RAH
     
  2. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    Nice review on this one! I watched both the Cregar films and really enjoyed them. I still have to get to the monster movie. Great stuff, nice to ses you pump up the set!
     
  3. CineKarine

    CineKarine Supporting Actor

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    Just noticed this set is $13.49 on Amazon...
     
  4. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    The Fox Horror Classics is really a John Brahm collection. Taste, style and class describes this overlooked visual stylist. His films were impeccably staged, composed, lit and edited. Brahm's films are calm on the surface, with dialog delivered in hushed voices, and tumultuous underneath. I've been a fan of his films for many years. Check out more of his films on DVD:

    Amazon.com: Tonight We Raid Calais: Annabella,John Sutton,Lee J. Cobb,Beulah Bondi,Blanche Yurka,Howard Da Silva,Marcel Dalio,Ann Codee,Nigel De Brulier,Robert Lewis,Richard Derr,Leslie Denison,William Edmunds,Lester Matthews,Reginald Sheffield,John

    Amazon.com: Guest in the House: Anne Baxter,Ralph Bellamy,Aline MacMahon,Ruth Warrick,Scott McKay,Marie McDonald,Jerome Cowan,Margaret Hamilton,Percy Kilbride,Connie Laird,John Brahm,André De Toth,Lewis Milestone: Movies & TV

    and let's not overlook the under-rated:

    Amazon.com: The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima: Susan Whitney,Carl Milletaire,Sherry Jackson,Sammy Ogg,Gilbert Roland,Angela Clarke,Frank Silvera,Jay Novello,Norman Rice (II),Frances Morris,Wesley Morgan,George Keymas,Mae Clarke,Richard Hale (II),Paul

    Two of Brahm's best films THE LOCKET (1946) and THE BRASHER DOUBLOON (1947) are long overdue from Fox. Seriously good noirs, both of them. If you like FOX HORROR CLASSICS, you'll also appreciate Brahm's other work.

    He also directed some of the moodiest and atmospheric episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and THE OUTER LIMITS.

    The years must have overtaken Brahm when he directed HOT RODS TO HELL in 1967, about out-of-control teens who disrupt the lives of a decent family out for a pleasant drive. Impeccable direction, but the film is an unintentional hoot.
     
  5. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    DOUBLOON is one of those films that apparently is tied up in rights issues with the Chandler estate. If anymore who knows more about this, please share. I'm not sure why Warners had no trouble releasing their Chandler based Marlowe films (Lady in the Lake, Murder My Sweet and Big Sleep) but Fox can't clear this title? This issue may also explain why Vol 2 of the Michael Shayne (Lloyd Nolan) films may never appear as one of the unreleased films is based on the same story as DOUBLOON.

    Steve
     
  6. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Me thinks you are referring to TIME TO KILL (1943) with Lloyd Nolan as Michael Shayne who is substituted for Philip Marlowe. They took Chandler's story and changed the name of the private eye to the character created by Brett Halliday. I guess they needed a plot, and Chandler provided a good one in his novel THE HIGH WINDOW (published in 1942). It later became the basis for THE BRASHER DOUBLOON. I've got TIME TO KILL on a tape somewhere. It's an okay B movie, but THE BRASHER DOUBLOON is the more faithful of the two and a much better film.
     
  7. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    It is worth it for Hangover Square alone at this price.
     
  8. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    Let's not forget about THE MAD MAGICIAN...not a classic, but great fun. I taped it uncut years ago from either TCM or AMC, can't remember which now. The first time I saw it was when they broadcast it in anaglyph 3-D on TV in the early '80s. A DVD would be nice.
     
  9. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Can anyone address Steve...O's question about rights issues for THE BRASHER DOUBLOON?
    It would be nice, but THE MAD MAGICIAN is a Columbia film, so a DVD is unlikely. But it does show director John Brahm in good form.

    Anaglyph gives 3-D a bad name. It is an inferior and inauthentic process. That anaglyph broadcast made THE MAD MAGICIAN look wretched. I've seen a pristine 35mm print projected twice in authentic double-interlock for polarized glasses, at the World 3-D Expo in Hollywood in 2003 and again in 2006. What a difference authentic 3-D makes! An extremely engaging and effective stereoscopic experience, THE MAD MAGICIAN, even in black and white.
     
  10. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    I agree, anaglyph sucks. I've caught quite a few classics on the big screen in real 3-D courtesy of film festivals; HOUSE OF WAX and DIAL M FOR MURDER among them.
     
  11. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    Hopefully Fox will be soon release WINTERTIME, one of Sonja Henie's final musical films.

    John Brahm directed it and after seeing his other films I can see his influence.

    While it is still very much a Sonja Henie ice skating musical with a typical
    1940's-era plot, this one has some very strikingly staged musical numbers, especially one with just the film's musicians and band singers. It also touches on the invasion of Europe by the Nazi's, and it is handled quite well.
     
  12. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    hmm thanks for the information posted about these 3 movies.

    Very tempted indeed
     

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