Bargain Therapy

It’s been a strange and none too pleasant couple of days.

My daughter Lauren and I were in HMV this afternoon, buying a birthday present for a friend of mine when I found a little gem that has gone some way to lifting my spirits. Browsing the shelves for something interesting I could call a gift, a plain white box with plain black lettering and a Hollywood legend’s face shown in close up without any decoration came into view. It was THE EDWARD G ROBINSON COLLECTION, 3 discs for a mere £10.

Not bad I thought…. It was on discovering what 3 films were contained within that the excitement kicked in.

First up is:

THE RED HOUSE, Delmer Daves (1947)

I’d been looking for this film since seeing it referenced in the essential Martin Scorsese documentary A PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH MARTIN SCORSESE THROUGH AMERICAN MOVIES and was finding it impossible to source, that is until the good people at Elstree Hill Entertainment saw fit to put this neat little set together. My only previous exposure to director Delmer Daves has been the excellent DARK PASSAGE which “stars” Humphrey Bogart, although you don’t actually see his face until half way through the film. It had got the point where I was going to watch THE RED HOUSE in it’s entirety on Youtube, which should always be the last resort, and only employed by people doing serious time in jail with no access to a decent selection of DVD’s.

SCARLET STREET, Fritz Lang (1945)

I know very little about this picture other than it’s a remake of Jean Renoir’s LA CHIENNE, which I’ve also not seen. I’ve done a little research and there seems to be a raft of opinion that this is one of Robinson’s finest performances. This coupled with Fritz Lang at the helm should make this interesting viewing. Talking of Fritz Lang, I read a while ago that the lost sections of METROPOLIS had been found in the archives of a tiny cinema in Argentina. Exciting stuff as, for the time, METROPOLIS is genuinely stunning.

THE STRANGER, Orson Welles (1946)

This is Welles’s third feature (discounting JOURNEY INTO FEAR) following CITIZEN KANE and THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS. It was apparently his first commercial success with Robinson again turning in a fine performance. The synopsis makes for interesting reading…
“Wilson of the War Crimes Commission is seeking Franz Kindler, mastermind of the Holocaust, who has effectively erased his identity. Wilson releases Kindler’s former comrade Meinike and follows him to Harper, Connecticut, where he is killed before he can identify Kindler. Now Wilson’s only clue is Kindler’s fascination with antique clocks; but though Kindler seems secure in his new identity, he feels his past closing in”

……. So. Daves, Lang and Welles for only a tenner. Maybe the world isn’t such a bad place after all.


3 responses to “Bargain Therapy

  1. I know this is an Edward G post, but as soon as I heard that Welles had originally wanted to cast Agnes Moorehead in his role in “The Stranger”, I’ve found it hard not to be frustrated by the film. Another “what if” Welles film after “Ambersons” was too much for me.

    Is the print any good? My version is public domain and a bit manky.

    Another spurious Welles link – “Dark Passage” – the subjective POV device was something he was originally going to use in his first RKO film, which was going to be an adaptation of “Heart of Darkness”, but it all fell through…

    Hope you’ve enjoyed your box set.

    Oh, and what happened to all the people who used to do all these posters? They’re so much more interesting than the ones we get now. (sigh)

  2. The Workplace Adversary

    The classic design of the movie poster is trully something of a lost art and we are the worst for it.
    Big title so the thing stands out in the multi-plex with the ‘stars’ names in bold and jobs done.
    Sorry to hear you’re having it rough bud but good of you to be getting my gift with so much time to spare before the 17th 🙂

  3. I’m going to have a look at THE STRANGER tonight. The “what if’s” of cinema are numerous, could be a seperate post…. Bette Davis as Scarlett in GONE WITH THE WIND would have been interesting as would W.C. Fields as THE WIZARD OF OZ….

    The print of THE STRANGER isn’t too bad by the looks of it. THE RED HOUSE however looks pretty awful. I quite like a ropey print. (within reason)

    I remember going to see JAWS at midnight and the print was so bad the 2nd reel was pink. The best bit though was the scene where Brodie is spooning fish guts into the sea and we see the shark for the first time, spawning the famous line “we’re going to need a bigger boat”. The print was so bad that the entire incident had been cut out, it cut directly from Brodie spooning to the scene after the line. The gasp from the audience was huge, bigger probably than the original audience would have let out on seeing the film for the first time with the scene intact, really interesting I thought.

    And yeah, as Matt says, they don’t make movie posters like that any more, it’s a damn shame.

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