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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Mysterious Island -- in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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Ray Harryhausen's creation, Mysterious Island, based upon the book by Jules Verne, was directed by Cy Enfield, who is probably best known for his work on Zulu and Zulu Dawn.


Twilight Time is presenting the new Blu-ray from a gorgeous HD master from the Columbia library.


As I've noted previously, reviewing the technical attributes of a Columbia transfer is rather like visiting your favorite steakhouse, where the prime offerings are always on target, with the perfect constancy and temperature.


Mysterious Island is another one of those perfect Columbia Blu-rays.


It's a Civil War tale of soldiers escaping by balloon, and landing on an odd Pacific island.


For Harryhausen completists, this is a necessity.


One of the leads is Joan Greenwood, a superb actress, who in my humble opinion, has one of the sexiest voices ever to be captured electronically.


For those unacquainted with her talents, time to check her out.


Image - 5

Audio - 5

4k Up-rez - 5


Pass / Fail - Pass

Recommended

RAH
 

Angelo Colombus

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This movie has one of the best Bernard Herrmann scores and what a great film too. Still have the laserdisc with the stereo sound and did purchase the first release of this Blu-ray and I do kinda wish the new extras were on that one so I will have to give it some thought to double dip.
 

revgen

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^Yes. Pretty much. The major addition is a DTSHD-MA 2.0 soundtrack and some supplemental features not included in the original release.
 
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aPhil

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Both "Mysterious Island" and "First Men in the Moon" from Twilight Time entered my home a few days ago,

and I am amazed at how great they look.


Both are more than small boosts over the standard def DVD's -- These are major upgrades.


While I remember both of them looking great in the theater when I was young, I doubt that they looked as good as these new Blu-rays. Most of "First Men in the Moon" looks like a brand new motion picture.
 

John Sparks

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revgen said:
^Yes. Pretty much. The major addition is a DTSHD-MA 2.0 soundtrack and some supplemental features not included in the original release.

Didn't the original 2011 issue contain a 2.0 isolated soundtrack too? Also, the 2011 issue had a booklet.
 

revgen

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John Sparks said:
Didn't the original 2011 issue contain a 2.0 isolated soundtrack too? Also, the 2011 issue had a booklet.

This has a 2.0 movie soundtrack in addition to the other 3 soundtracks from the last blu-ray.


So there are 4 soundtracks. 5.1 movie, 2.0 movie, 2.0 isolated score, and 1.0 movie.
 

Squire

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Loved this film (and Joan Greenwood's voice) as a kid! Haven't seen it in years but I DVRd it off TCM the other day and will watch it with my kids this weekend! Then I'll order the BD!
 

Charles Smith

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Haven't watched this since getting the first TT release, and I have this reissue, so ..... maybe this evening I'll pop this one open after getting back from a friend's New Year's Day party. Miss Greenwood's voice can be the final welcoming of the new year.
 
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ROclockCK

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Robert Harris said:
One of the leads is Joan Greenwood, a superb actress, who in my humble opinion, has one of the sexiest voices ever to be captured electronically.


For those unacquainted with her talents, time to check her out.

In terms of my favourite performance in Mysterious Island, it's always been a toss-up between Herbert Lom and Joan Greenwood. Given a character written as aristocratic comic foil, which in other hands might have become tiresome caricature, I thought Greenwood and Endfield did wonders to give Lady Mary some warmth, spunk, depth, and surprising emotional development...'class with sass'.


So thanks RAH for noting one of the finest non-FX pleasures of this picture.
 

Dick

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ROclockCK said:
In terms of my favourite performance in Mysterious Island, it's always been a toss-up between Herbert Lom and Joan Greenwood. Given a character written as aristocratic comic foil, which in other hands might have become tiresome caricature, I thought Greenwood and Endfield did wonders to give Lady Mary some warmth, spunk, depth, and surprising emotional development...'class with sass'.
Yeah, Miss Greenwood was sultry as hell. And Mr. Lom is very good indeed. Perhaps easily overlooked is the nice job my old friend Gary Merrill gives here. It is mostly absent the physical shtick of many of his performances (throwing his head to the side in a small jerk to emphasize something he was saying). He was aware of this apparently nervous habit after the fact (while watching rushes or a completed film), but said he never noticed he was doing it while on camera, and no one director tried to stop it...although perhaps Cy Endfield did, as it doesn't show up in much, if at all, in MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. He was a wonderful man and sometime when it is appropriate I will share my memories of him. No matter when I do so, it will seem like name-dropping, but in fact, other than director Arthur Lubin, I never knew any Hollywood luminaries. My guess is almost all of us have met or known a few in our lives.
 

Matt Hough

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Dick said:
Yeah, Miss Greenwood was sultry as hell. And Mr. Lom is very good indeed. Perhaps easily overlooked is the nice job my old friend Gary Merrill gives here. It is mostly absent the physical shtick of many of his performances (throwing his head to the side in a small jerk to emphasize something he was saying). He was aware of this apparently nervous habit after the fact (while watching rushes or a completed film), but said he never noticed he was doing it while on camera, and no one director tried to stop it...although perhaps Cy Endfield did, as it doesn't show up in much, if at all, in MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. He was a wonderful man and sometime when it is appropriate I will share my memories of him. No matter when I do so, it will seem like name-dropping, but in fact, other than director Arthur Lubin, I never knew any Hollywood luminaries. My guess is almost all of us have met or known a few in our lives.

Anything you want to share would be most welcome, and anyone who thinks it's name dropping is just grappling with his own jealousy. Merrill was an underrated actor who didn't get his due, so any inside information you can give on his work or life is valuable.
 

Race Bannon

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Matt Hough said:
Anything you want to share would be most welcome, and anyone who thinks it's name dropping is just grappling with his own jealousy. Merrill was an underrated actor who didn't get his due, so any inside information you can give on his work or life is valuable.

Yes, please do. I watch old movies like a window through time, and thoroughly enjoy any "scoop" about the people that made them.
 

ROclockCK

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Agree. Go for it Dick!


Long before I ever saw Gary Merrill in All About Eve, he was a 60s staple for me...in both movies and TV shows. I wasn't bothered by the facial 'tick' you mentioned, it just seemed integral to his often gruff, no-nonsense style. He always seemed to be playing the guy who was there specifically to give all the other characters a rude-if-necessary 'reality check'. I can't recall him ever turning in an unconvincing or bad performance.


Believe it or not, the role that really made me take notice of Merrill's acting skills was his psychic swap with madman Harry Guardino in 'The Human Factor' episode of the original Outer Limits TV series. In particular, his scenes with co-star Sally Kellerman were both desperate and moving. Whenever I spin up that series every 5 years or so, it's always one of the first episodes I re-watch.
 

Dick

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Okay.

Gary was familiar to me from my teens, as I was a huge movie aficionado by then. MYSTERIOUS ISLAND was probably the first film of his that I was introduced to. In 1968, he paid a visit to the prep school I attended in Kents Hill, Maine, having been hired to recite poetry to our class (I especially remember his referring to William Shakespeare as "Willie the Shake," which amused us and completely broke the ice). He was a small man, maybe 5'7" or 5.8", which startled me at first, and I was able to schedule an interview with him, which would be published on the front page of the local Kennebec Journal.

During this interview, I asked him rather blithely if he would consider appearing in one of the films I was making, which were primarily 8mm, with an occasional 16mm shoot. To my astonishment and glee, he said he would be glad to do this -- free of charge -- as he was very supportive of young people trying to make it in the arts (Maine was at that time not at all conducive to this sort of thing).

We became friends from this. I visited him at his Falmouth Foreside (Maine) residence, and he wound up appearing in three of my films, two of them Super 8mm, and one 16mm, the latter of which was partially financed by WCHS TV in Portland, but which was never aired, as it was not completed.

Gary spent a night in our home during the filming of one of our movies, and he and my dad hit it off, in a weird opposites-attract sort of way. Dad was a staunch Republican, and Merrill a dedicated liberal (he ran for Congress in Maine in 1968 and lost), so the scene was set for an interesting after dinner discussion. I was kept awake until 2-3 a.m. because their arguments were so loud (and alcohol-driven), but it was clear they were both having a great time and respected each other, and in the morning they were civil and mutually appreciative. That was a great visit!

Having had these experiences with Gary, I of course began seeking out his films. This was way pre-video, so I had to rely on the network and local movie presentations, which is where I caught TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH, DECISION BEFORE DAWN, ALL ABOUT EVE, etc. I felt really privileged to be a friend of this person, with whom I corresponded regularly while attending Rochester Institute of Technology circa 1969-71 (I did not graduate).

Hindsight makes me very annoyed with myself for never having really taken advantage of his generosity and skills. My films to that point were always silent, and Merrill had a deep and resonating voice, gone to waste. Plus, so as not to take too much advantage, I always cast him in small roles that utterly did not play to his strengths. And, I was a terrible director of actors, although my cinematography and editing skills were good.

I maintained this relationship for good ten or twelve years.

In the 1980's I was the leader of a drama program in a residential summer camp, and thought it would be great to have Gary come to do a reading similar to the one he had given at my high school fifteen years earlier. He agreed to do this, so I prepped my drama students for his visit by running several of his best movies. The anticipation was high for all of us.

There have been a few movies made about one's crushing disillusion with a cherished mentor or role model. This turned out to be mine. Gary showed up at the camp with a driver, and he was completely soused, almost unable to stand up. I spent the next few hours prior to his appearance, doing everything I could to assure he would be able to perform (have you seen MY FAVORITE YEAR? It was like that). His half-hour on the stage was rocky, full of slurred words and long pauses. Nonetheless, the audience liked what he had done, and I was simply relieved it was over.

I think that experiences like this test a friendship to its max. None of us is without fault or really embarrassing moments. My dramatics class no doubt understood what they had witnessed, but they took the good parts of Merrill's show and completely vindicated him and me with their enthusiasm.

Gary and I saw each other a few more times before his death in 1990. I have easily forgiven him for that summer camp night, because every other encounter I ever had with the man had been his demonstration of generosity, and a willingness to share his skills with young, complete amateurs for whom he had an innate respect and genuine wish for success.

I do not think, objectively, that Gary was a great actor. But he was a solid one, and rarely turned in a bad performance, even in the crappy sci-fi movies he eventually turned to in order to stay alive. Post-Bette Davis, he was also a quite lonely man, and took to drinking more heavily, but he was not a bad (i.e. violent) drunk. He was a human being who happened to be a movie star with a large void in his personal life. He will remain special to me always, as friends should be, flaws and all.
 

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