January 18, 2022

Sleep

schlaf.jpg

Schlaf
Michael Venus - 2020
Arrow Video BD Regions A/B

Sleep is a psychological horror film that ends with more questions than answers. The film begins with a flight attendant, Marlene, having recurring nightmares that take place in a hotel, with the death of three men. Marlene's daughter, Mona, wants her mother to get a psychological evaluation. Without explanation, Marlene shows up at the hotel of her nightmares, a large resort in a remote village. Marlene has a breakdown and is placed in a nearby hospital. Mona, using clues from a collection of notebooks with various drawings, goes to the Sunny Hill hotel in the village of Stainbach in search of answers. The nightmares of the mother become those of the daughter.

I am not sure if there is really such a thing as "dream logic". What bits I can recall from my own dream are a series of non sequiturs that are unified only as being evens from my point of view. Time and space are flexible with events that may or may not be simultaneous, and may or may not be imagined. Marlene's connection to the hotel may be part of suppressed or forgotten memories. In Sleep, those dreams and memories can be carried across generations. As the film progresses, various distinctions collapse so that the viewer is required to sort out the veracity of the images.

The title could well refer to sleep as a metaphor. The town of Steinbach is nondescript and presented as virtually depopulated. The forty year old hotel was built on the assumption that as part of Germany's economic success, the hotel would be a seasonal attraction for hunters. The town itself lacks any reason to be a destination, with the occasional car passing straight through on the main road. The financial failure of the hotel is just one reason why the three businessmen committed suicide inside the hotel. The current owner, Otto, thinks of himself as a pragmatist, but has convinced himself of bringing the hotel back to a glory it never experienced. Otto, as well as a group of the older townspeople, also have the shared dream of making Stainbach a home for neo-Nazis, although not named as such. From the aerial view, Stainbach and its people seem untouched by the physical damage of World War II. Although filmmaker Michael Venus does not mention it, and the connection may well be unintended, I was reminded of the novel by Hermann Broch, The Sleepwalkers. Broch's novel takes place in a fictionalized Germany between 1885 and World War I during various cultural and political shifts within the country. In discussing the novel, Stephen Spender notes that Broch's " . . . characters are sleepwalkers because their own lives are shaped by the forces of the nightmare reality in which they live."

The screenplay by Venus and Thomas Friedrich subverts conventions with the men proving to be ineffective whether as businessmen or as a potential hero. The casting is somewhat unusual with Sandra Huller, best known as the put upon daughter in Toni Erdmann as Marlene, mostly seen barely conscious in a hospital bed. Most of the film is carried by Gro Swantje Kohlhof, whose much shorter height and youthful appearance made me think she was still well into her teens and not mid-Twenties. Although there are clues regarding the time when certain events take place, they require paying attention to some small details.

As usual with Arrow, there is generosity with the supplements. Horror specialist Kim Newman and writer Sean Hogan have a casual commentary track primarily discussing the connection of Sleep with Grimm's fairy tales, Stanley Kubrick's film of The Shining and the work of David Lynch. The booklet notes by Allison Peirse explore the film through a Freudian perspective. The estimable Alexandra Heller-Nicholas provides a visual essay. Quite fun is the online discussion of the film and the filmmaking process by Michael Venus and the very animated Gro Swantje Kohlhof. The one criticism I have is that Sleep may have benefitted from a supplement by someone who could more deeply explain aspects of German culture and history that are touched on in the film. Very much a plus, and something I would hope other home video labels adopt, is having English subtitles for EVERYTHING. Between my own hearing problems, ambient noise, and technical problems that are not always resolved by turning up the volume, I really appreciate that all the supplements came with subtitles which should be of benefit to many viewers. Thank you, Arrow Video!

January 11, 2022

China

China 1943 39 Alan Ladd and Loretta Young.jpg

John Farrow - 1943
KL Studio Classics BD Region A

While China was in progress, it struck me that World War II era films about the U.S. support for China have to the best of my knowledge never received the kind of treatment given to films that positioned Russia in friendly terms. Farrow's film takes place in 1941 just prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Chinese guerrilla war against Japan is compared by Loretta Young to the American Revolution. The one real life name mentioned is Chiang Kai-shek, who was a unifying force the the country at least through the end of World War II. China is almost as much a work of propaganda when Hollywood was employed to help mold public sentiment regarding U.S. involvement in World War II as it is an adventure film.

Alan Ladd plays oilman David Jones, working in China, but also selling oil to the Japanese. This was still when the U.S. was officially neutral with war going on in Asia and Europe. Jones' outfit may have been the inspiration for another cinematic Jones with the fedora and brown leather jacket. Driving to Shanghai with William Bendix, Ladd gets shanghaied into driving Loretta Young and her group of young female students to safer ground.

Seen almost eighty years later, the cultural stereotyping is more glaring. On the plus side, there are no actors in yellow face. As Japanese-Americans were in interment camps at the time, both Chinese and Japanese characters are portrayed primarily by Chinese-American actors. One notable exception, the Korean-American Philip Ahn. Most of the Chinese characters are not reduced to speaking Pidgin English making the film somewhat progressive for its time. Definitely of its time is one of the Japanese soldiers seen in close-up, glasses and buck teeth. The names and places in Frank Butler's screenplay may sound Chinese to an audience that thinks Chop Suey is authentic cuisine. Glaring is a scene taking place in what is identified as a temple, presumably Buddhist, where Ms. Young recites "The Lord's Prayer" to a dying student. As if inspired by Charlie Chan, three of characters are known as First Brother, Second Brother and Third Brother, with Ladd dubbed as Fourth Brother by the film's end.

China may not have have the status of Farrow's films noir, especially The Big Clock and Alias Nick Beal. Where it especially shines in the opening scene with two complex traveling shots following William Bendix as he walks and runs through a city during an aerial attack. Amid shootings and explosions are large groups of extras sometimes crossing each other from both sides of the frame. The camera weaves in, out and around the remains of buildings while keeping Bendix mostly in medium or full shot. While Farrow's critical reputation has only seen an upswing recently, soft-core maestro Radley Metzger praised the camerawork in China in a 1973 Film Comment interview.

Eddy Von Mueller provided the commentary track. While the source print is not noted as a being restored, it did appear to be of good quality with no scratches or any other obvious flaws.

January 04, 2022

Shake Hands with the Devil

shake hands.jpg

Michael Anderson - 1959
KL Studio Classics BD Region A

Even with a casual review of his filmography, it may be a surprise for some that at least one film critic thought Michael Anderson to be comparable to David Lean and Carol Reed following the release of his debut feature, Waterfront (1950). This was after Anderson had shared directing duties with Peter Ustinov on two earlier films. What I have been able to glean from the few films I have seen from Anderson's first decade is that these were the films where he put more effort into stylized visuals, but his greatest strength was allowing his actors room to create their own characters. Although he did a few more British productions sporadically from the 1960s onward, Shake Hand with the Devil might be viewed as a transitional work bridging Anderson's identity between films primarily produced for British viewers and his better known career as a Hollywood journeyman.

The film takes place in Ireland near the end of the Irish War of Independence in 1921. In our current time of sifting through "culture" and alll that entails, some may find Anderson's film to be a minefield. A story about Irish politics produced (indirectly) by Marlon Brando, with a British director working from a screenplay written by two Hollywood veterans, Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, from the 1933 novel by the Irish Rearden Connor. Some purists may balk at the casting of Michael Redgrave, Sybil Thorndike, Glynis Johns and James Cagney instead of Irish actors in their respective roles. There is Don Murray, perfectly cast as the American medical student of Irish descent who finds himself caught in the turmoil. And while this might not have the classic status of John Ford's The Informer, Anderson's film does have the advantage of on location shooting in Ireland.

Don Murray, as an American World War I veteran, just wants to honor his parents by getting medical degree in Ireland. As sympathetic as he is to the cause of Irish independence, he has no interest in being involved with the Irish Republican Army. Almost shot by Black and Tans during a guerrilla skirmish, Murray discovers that his teacher, James Cagney is secretly a top I.R.A. leader. Initially planning to escape back to the U.S., Murray decides to join Cagney's I.R.A. squad, understanding that once he commits, he cannot choose to resign. The title may have its visual correlation when Murray shakes hands with Cagney. What I have read about Connor's novel suggests that the title is metaphorical, and that the Devil is the medical professor's misogyny, inflexible moral code that he also imposes on others, resulting in a lack of humanity.

Even though he is second billed, this is really Don Murray's film. There is a short, eight minute, interview with Murray that is part of this new blu-ray release. At age 92, Murray looks back at working with Anderson and several of the actors. One of names lower on the roster was Richard Harris, working on his second film. Murray's own best work was during his first decade, probably the least showy of method actors, with a career shifting between westerns and more socially conscious fare. I would not be able to say how authentic James Cagney's Irish accent is, but it did not strike me as calling attention to itself in the way associated with Irish characters in Hollywood movies. Glynis Johns charms as a pragmatic barmaid, while the regal Dana Wynter appears as daughter of a British diplomat, kidnapped by the I.R.A.

For a younger audience for whom the actors may be unknown, there is still the cinematography to be admired. Anderson gets visually stronger as the film progresses, working with favorite cinematographer Erwin Hillier. Hillier has been noted for his black and white cinematography, especially with several films by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The blu-ray is sourced from a 2K restoration rendering very crisp deep focus images. Although Shake Hands with the Devil was reportedly a commercial success in Britain, the modestly budgeted film appears to have been given a half hearted release by United Artists in the U.S. The New York Times review by Howard Thompson noted the film opened as part of a double feature package in neighborhood theaters in the New York City area. Thompson own assessment begins, "One of the fastest, toughest and most picturesque dramas about the Irish Revolution . . . "

December 14, 2021

Ever Since We Love

eversincewelove.jpg

Wan Wu Shengzhang
Li Yu - 2015
Cheng Cheng Films

Ever Since We Love might benefit from a superimposed title indicating that the film takes place in the 1990s. Not that everything would be explained, but it would provide an immediate context as to when the story takes place. To summarize, this is mostly a look at mainland China when there was greater social mobility emerging with an emphasis on material success.

Unlike her previous films, Li Yu has adapted a novel that is told from the point of view of a male medical student, Qui Shui. He is one of a quartet of students who seem intent on prolonging adolescence as long as possible, getting drunk, pulling pranks and hoping to get by just enough to get a degree. The film opens with a large vat of skulls accidentally kicked with enough force to cause glass to shatter into tiny pieces and skulls to fly around the classroom. Initially, the film would appear to be a comedy about sexually frustrated young men, hovering somewhere between Porky's and Animal House. After several comic scenes, the more serious intentions become clearer.

Maybe not the most original of themes, and one probably taken from the novel, is the fragility of relationships with the fragility of the human body. There are two false alarms of unplanned pregnancies followed by a scene with a woman dead from ovarian cancer. That the deceased woman was an early love of Qui causes him to rethink his goal of becoming a doctor. Qui's lack of responsibility gets in the way of his concurrent relationships with two women, fellow student Bai Lu, and a medical supply saleswoman, Liu Qing. The original Mandarin title translates as "Everything Grows", and the film concludes with the fates of the main characters following departure from medical school.

Fan Bingbing is the nominal star here as Liu Qing, at least the best known member of the cast, the older woman who has an uneasy friendship turned romance with Qui. Former boy band singer Gang Han carries most of the film as Qui in what has been noted as his first serious acting role. As he has done before, Jian Zeng does double duty as both cinematographer and editor. Whether it is long traveling shots following Fan Bingbing, or abstract shots of the branches of bare trees, there is a constant sense of visual elegance. The film has also been noted for its depiction of sexuality, essentially pushing the limits as to what was at the time permissible in a mainland Chinese production. While not as personal a project as Buddha Mountain or Lost in Beijing, Li Yu has adapted a novel by a male author to partially comment on the limits of female agency in China.

Ever Sine We Love is available both on DVD and on streaming platforms.

December 13, 2021

Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema V

because of you.jpg
Because of You
Joseph Pevney - 1952

outside the law.jpg
Outside the Law
Jack Arnold - 1956

midnight story.jpg
The Midnight Story
Joseph Pevney - 1957
KL Studio Classics BD Region A Three-disc set

Arguably, to call any of these films classics might be pushing things a bit. Describing them as film noir may also be up for debate among genre purists. These are the kind of films that would show up on late night broadcast television fifty years ago. At the time they were made, they were the bread and butter of Universal-International, modestly budgeted films made by in-house filmmakers and actors. Whatever one might think of the artistry, the professionalism of all involved can not be disputed.

Because of You begins with the camera focused on a pair of women's feet, following up on the seams of her stockings, the shot continuing until to settles on back of the very blonde women. It turns out to be Loretta Young in the clutches of Alex Nicol. In that opening scene, Young is a peroxide blonde, speaking in the kind of breathy voice one might associate with Marilyn Monroe. That scene also takes place in 1942, with Nicol and Young about to get married when the cops show up. It turns out that Nicol is a crook and Young is caught holding the proverbial bag.

That opening scene is really about a noir as things get in this film. Young gets rehabilitated in the poky, eventually working as a nurse in a military hospital, peroxide hair and flashy clothing gone Jeff Chandler is one of the patients there, suffering from what is described as melancholy, or what is currently referred to as Post-traumatic stress disorder. Young avoids revealing her criminal past in order to not trigger Chandler, but even after the two get married discovers that she can not entirely escape her past. The two have a daughter who also goes through trauma although it is not named as such. Because of You was Loretta Young's penultimate theatrical film. Based on that first scene, I wish she had taken more blonde "bad girl" roles.

Samm Deighan makes the unexpected connection between the romantic comedies with married couples having contentious divorces followed by realizing they can not live without each other in the last reel. Loretta Young's own life and tensions between her public image and troubled private life are posed against her character in Because of You.

Universal-International seems to have been the home for cinematic ex-cons to expiate their criminal pasts. Taking place in 1946, soldier and parolee Ray Danton is assigned to help solve the connection between the death of fellow a fellow ex-con and a counterfeiting ring. Danton is under the supervision of his estranged father, a federal agent. Danton falls for young widow Leigh Snowden, and crosses bad guy Grant Williams. Jack Arnold keeps everything to a brisk 81 minutes in an assignment that fells between the more memorable Tarantula and The Incredible Shrinking Man.

Danny Arnold (no relation to Jack) wrote a screenplay where two big clues are presented early on. Danton's character proves a little slow in figuring out what is virtually telegraphed to the viewers. For myself, the fun is seeing the aforementioned stars in their few lead roles as well as a supporting cast that includes familiar faces like Raymond Bailey, Mel Welles, and Jack Kruschen as agent "Phil Schwartz".

And it is the cast the delights Richard Harland Smith in his commentary track. Smith identifies the actor playing the janitor among the players who may just have seconds of screen time. More attention is given to the once promising career of Grant Williams. I share Smith's enthusiasm for Danton's most famous role, as Roaring Twenties gangster "Legs" Diamond. Additionally noted are the double features that packaged Outside the Law, as well as its critical reception at the time of release.

Just as in Because of You, The Midnight Story begins with promise before director Joseph Pevney drops the ball. A priest is walking alone in a studio set identified as the North Beach section of San Francisco. His murder is depicted with an extreme close-up of the priest's eyes, followed by the murder seen as a shadow against the side of a building. Following the opening credits, the camera moves from a full shot to a close-up of the priest's hand clutching his rosary. Tony Curtis is a traffic cop who quits the force to go undercover to discover who murdered the beloved priest. At the funeral, Curtis eyes a very anguished Gilbert Roland as the possible perp. A close-up of Roland's hand gripping a very similar rosary is an echo of the similar shot of the priest's hand.

There is some location shooting in San Francisco, but the effect is jarring when paired with studio sets used for several street scenes. The casting is questionable when 51 year old Gilbert Roland's mother is played by 49 year old Italian actress Argentina Brunetti. Roland also has a teenage brother in the film. Another Italian actress, Marisa Pavan, plays Roland's Italian cousins. The Midnight Story also marked the last time Tony Curtis appeared as a Universal contract player with Sweet Smell of Success released just a month later.

The high point of Professor Jason Ney's commentary track is providing information on the various locations in San Francisco where The Midnight Story was filmed. Also, lots of information on the life and career of Marisa Pavan. The overly familiar Tony Curtis and Gilbert Roland are discussed more fleetingly. Based on the half dozen films seen, I do not share Ney's enthusiasm for director Joseph Pevney. Ney does acknowledge that Pevney gave the studio suits what they wanted with little argument in his position as an in-house director. As a teacher at Colorado Christian University, Professor Ney also provides additional insights into the theological concerns of The Midnight Story.

December 07, 2021

Broken Lullaby

broken_lullaby.jpg

Ernst Lubitsch - 1932
KL Studio Classics BD Region A

Tucked in between two musicals starring Maurice Chevalier, Broken Lulluby is now more easily available to assess as part of Ernst Lubitsch's filmography. Some of the previous available writing emphasizes this as the lone dramatic film from a director known best for his comedies. How much as been deviated from the source play, The Man I Killed by Maurice Rostand, I do not know, but there are two scenes that anticipate the kind of humor that Lubitsch is remembered for.

The opening scene taking place during a parade celebrating the first anniversary of the end of World War I demonstrates that Lubitsch could take the gloves off and force his audience to face some uncomfortable truths. A shot of the parade is taken from ground level, framed from below the knees of a soldier with one leg missing. While we hear the the cheers from the celebrants on the street, Lubitsch does an overhead traveling shot of wounded soldiers in a hospital. The first four minutes are part of the reminder that war is not always over for those who have been affected by it, directly or indirectly.

French veteran Paul Renard feels overwhelming guilt over killing a German soldier in the trenches. At a church, a priest attempts to console Paul by letting him know he was doing his duty as a soldier. Instead of expiating his remorse, Paul is more frustrated, responding, "Is this the only answer I can get in the House of God?". Paul decides he can only resolve his feelings by going to the German village of the soldier, Walter, that he killed. Leaving flowers at Walter's grave, Paul follows up by visiting the home of Walter's parents. A series of misunderstandings follow which eventually result in Paul, the enemy Frenchman, taken in by Walter's family.

Broken Lullaby is less of an anomaly in Lubitsch's filmography when it is understood that the director's films are about misunderstandings and misidentifications. Consider The Shop Around the Corner where the bickering co-workers are unknown to each other as romantic pen pals. Here, Paul presents himself as a friend of Walter's, two violin students who knew each other in pre-war Paris. Also to be considered is that Maurice Rostand was the son of the author of Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand, also a story of false identities.

The best known cast member is Lionel Barrymore as Walter's father. Phillips Holmes as Paul, and Nancy Carroll as Paul's fiancee, Elsa, were two actors with brief film careers, both at their peak of popularity at the time the film was made. Holmes and Carroll both had tendencies to be overly dramatic which may have contributed to their falling out of favor with audiences in the mid-1930s. The screenplay was by two Lubitsch collaborators, Samson Raphaelson and Ernest Vajda, which also explains the continuity in the humorous scenes with other Lubitsch films.

Lubitsch historian Joseph McBride places Broken Lullaby within both the context of when the film was produced and also as part of Lubitsch's career. Also discussed is the director's collaborations with Samson Raphaelson. While there is some time spent also covering the difference between Broken Lullaby and Francois Ozon's remake, Frantz, there is nothing to be said about the source play. Even internet research regarding Maurice Rostand reveals very little about the playwright and nothing about his play. I would hope that the availability of this previously underseen film will inspire further research.

November 30, 2021

Giallo Essentials - Red Edition

Possessed01.jpg

The Possessed / La donna del lago
Luigi Bazzoni & Franco Rossellini - 1965

fifth cord.jpg

The Fifth Cord / Giornata nera per l'ariete
Luigi Bazzoni - 1971

pyjama-girl-case.jpg

The Pyjama Girl Case / La ragazza dal pigiama giallo
Flavio Mogherini - 1978
Arrow Video BD three-disc set Region A

To title this three disc set as essential may be a bit of hyperbole. What we have does chart some of the ways the genre developed over the years. Also the three films in question have in various degrees attracted more critical attention than at the time of their respective releases. I should also note that the three films were previously issued by Arrow and do not have the booklets that accompanied the original separate releases of each film.

The Possessed might be more accurately described as proto-giallo. The violence is suggested by very quick shots of knives and dead bodies. I tend to agree with film historian Richard Dyer that The Possessed is closer in style to the European art films of the mid-1960s than to a more typical murder mystery, which in turn may explain why the film was a commercial failure in spite of the well known cast. A novelist returns to a hotel in a small, unnamed town in winter in hopes of reuniting with a maid who worked there. It is revealed that the maid was murdered under mysterious circumstances. The hotel is on the verge of closure, run by a family that is on the brink of disintegration.

The film itself was something of a family affair with director Luigi Bazzoni's feature debut, with brother Camillo as camera operator. Franco Rossellini, also credited for direction, was the son of the film's composer, Renzo Rossellini. Here is where the family connection gets truly strange, Pia Lindstrom, the daughter of Ingrid Bergman, has a small role. Franco and Renzo were the nephew and younger brother of famed director Roberto Rossellini. Ingrid Bergman abandoned Hollywood to live with and eventually marry Roberto, causing bad feelings between daughter and mother. That in a very brief acting career of three films, Pia Lindstrom would work with members of the Rossellini family might be the film's biggest mystery.

While in his commentary track, Tim Lucas identifies Bazzoni as "the primary director", the proof is in viewing Bazzoni's other films. There are lone figures dwarfed in an empty landscape, the sound of wind in several of the exterior shots, the use of point of view shots, and the protagonist trying to navigate his or her way in a situation that is not fully understood. Lucas explains why he considers The Possessed to be giallo, even though the tropes are not lurid as they would be with other directors. Also covered in the commentary are the film's literary and real life sources, as well as notes on the cast and crew.

In The Fifth Cord, several people who have connections with alcoholic reporter Franco Nero are murdered in mysterious circumstances. The victims are also interconnected in other ways as well. The film is more clearly within the conventional definition of giallo. The cops think Nero is the killer, but solving the mystery almost seems besides the point.

The nudity and violence is still relatively restrained although it does reflect the recent freedom following the end of the old Hollywood production code. Seen back to back with The Possessed, one gets a clearer sense of Bazzoni's visual style and themes, also part of his third giallo, Footprints on the Moon. Several times, characters are visible as silhouettes, at one point literally behind a screen, but usually as black figures on the run. Bazzoni also likes to use lateral tracking shots, most notably in a shot of the mid-century office buildings in Rome. Nero's reporter seems out of place even though he lives in Rome. He is virtually not welcomed wherever he is. The alienated protagonist is also part of The Possessed and Footprints. Voyeurism is also part of Bazzoni's films, with shots of eyes peering through cracked spaces, the act of photography, or simply looking at someone through a window. Nero's character has the Germanic surname of Bild which translates as image. The name of Bild is fitting for someone who is not certain who he is looking for or why the victims are connected.

Travis Crawford points out the use of reflected images and windows in his commentary track. One bit of information of interest is that Bazzoni and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro were cousins. The presentation comes off a bit disorganized. While it makes sense to review the career of star Franco Nero, the rest of the supporting cast gets ignored with the exception of Edmund Purdom. And with the research involved in the cast and crew members, Crawford incorrectly identifies the two movies Pam Tiffin made with James Darren in the mid-1960s as being from A.I.P. (This is where I admit that I have seen For Those Who Think Young twice theatrically, and can tell you the theaters and the co-features.)

The Pyjama Girl Case was made during the waning of giallo as a popular genre. What is of interest is that the film was partially shot on location in and around Sydney, Australia with a story inspired by a true crime history. The real crime took place in Australia in 1934 with the victim still not conclusively identified. Other documented events such as the public exhibition of the body for identification purposes have been included and updated in this contemporary fictionalization. Unlike many of the Australian films produced during this time, Flavio Mogherini presents a country populated by immigrants and outsiders. Ray Milland's retired police inspector is Canadian. An Italian and a German man both compete for the affections of a Dutch woman. Among the people the inspector encounters as part of his investigation are a midget, members of Sydney's Asian community, and a reclusive voyeur living off the grid. The film also is something of documentary of Sydney at the time of production with several shots filmed in or near the famous opera house as well as the Chinatown area.

Pyjama Girl is comprised of two seemingly parallel narrative strands, the investigation of the murder of an unidentifiable young woman, and the story of a waitress wavering between several lovers. The horror is in the victim's face burned beyond recognition. The inspector takes on an unofficial role, a break from retirement, and also a way to prove that some old fashioned pounding of the pavements is more effective than psychological profiling to resolve the mystery.

Definitely the way to watch Pyjama Girl is with the English language track as Ray Milland and Mel Ferrer, one of the waitress' lovers, dub their own voices. Even at age 70, one could see glimpses of the actor who was Paramount's top male actor thirty years earlier. Certainly starring in several film noir classics including Ministry of Fear and The Big Clock makes Milland's appearance here fitting.

I enjoyed Troy Howarth conversationally presented commentary track. Howarth discusses how the film goes against the usual giallo tropes as well as covering information on the prime cast and crew members. What I also liked was that the commentary was addressed in such a way that Howarth assumes the viewer is already familiar with gialli, generally dispensing with explanations and history of the genre or rattling off a bunch of titles. He also points out to the fallibility of IMDb, in this case misnaming several of the characters, as well as not identifying some of the actors listed with their respective roles.

As usual with Arrow, there are loads of supplements on each disc. The interviews cover in part the three films, but as one with interest in film history, what I found more interesting is learning more about the process of making Italian co-productions in the 1970s. One takeaway - it seemed like almost everyone interviewed had worked at least once with Pier Paolo Pasolini. Each disc could have easily received a longer, more detailed review.