This past week Criterion put up a ton of new content on their Hulu Plus page, a number totaling 37. What’s even more interesting is that they put 10 films that aren’t in the collection or any of their Eclipse sets either, which is always an exciting time for film fans everywhere. As per usual, I’ll be listing the films with the links to their respective pages. This entry will just focus on the non-Criterion collection films for the moment. Also, to keep this article going, please sign up using this link. I’ve already had one person do so, and every time one of you does so, it gives another 2 weeks. So a huge thank you to anyone who signs up.
Q Planes (1939), a film by Arthur B. Woods and Tim Whelan, stars Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson and Valerie Hobson. Produced by Alexander Korda, it’s about a test pilot and secret service operative who are trying to get to the bottom of disappearing military aircraft. It’s a fun British spy film, one that I can’t wait to check out in a better print now that Criterion has their eyes on it.
The Squeaker (1937) is another British film, this time a mystery about a disgraced alcoholic inspector who goes undercover to get jewel thieves, as a chance to redeem himself. Directed by William K. Howard (who already has one other film Criterion put up on Hulu called Fire Over England worth checking out), this sounds like a great pulpy tale.
We next get a documentary about mankind’s centuries-old quest for flight called Conquest Of the Air (1936), directed by Alexander Esway, Alexander Shaw, Donald Taylor, John Monk Saunders and Zoltan Korda. Another UK entry, I’m noticing a trend of late 30’s films from England.
Another UK film, this time from 1963, is Death Drums Along The River, a fantastic film about a British policeman investigating a murder in an African hospital. Filmed primarily in South Africa, it stars Richard Todd as the policeman Harry Sanders. Glad to see this one getting a bit of notice, by a forgotten director Lawrence Huntington.
Julien Duvivier’s film Lydia (1941) is up next, also from the United Kingdom. Never having seen this film, it sounds like an intense drama, starring the radiant Merle Oberon as Lydia, who is battling the advances of 3 men because she hopes for her first love to return to her. Another Korda produced film, could there be an Eclipse set brewing in the coming months?
Or could there be a Merle Oberon set coming about, because next up is 1939’s Over the Moon directed by Thornton Freeland and again produced by Korda. Really interested in this one because it also stars Rex Harrison as a penniless doctor who is involved with an heiress. He’s not interested in the money at all, but regrets letting her go when he sees the attention she’s getting from suitors and he’s getting from people shaking their heads at him.
The Korda connection continues, this time with another Zoltan directed film, Forget Me Not (1936), a drama about a woman who marries an opera singer and the way she deals with his many fans, especially the seductive ones. What’s exciting is that Korda already has one film officially in the collection, Sanders of the River, which is part of the amazing Paul Robeson box set and there’s been rumors/pictures referencing his 1939 film The Four Feathers and plenty of other films that are part of their Hulu page, one sees a Korda collection having to be in the works.
This time a film that is a bit more on the fanciful and comedic side is Lothar Mendes’ The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936), a film I’ve been wanting to see for years since I had heard about it first in college. A film based on a story by H.G. Wells himself, who wrote the scenario and dialogue and once more, another film produced (and co-directed) by Mr. Alexander Korda. Something big is planned by Criterion and they’re testing the waters right now for these forgotten British classics, which mostly are pre-World War II films.
The Ghost Goes West (1935), a film by René Clair, is yet again another Korda produced film, under his London Film Productions Ltd. company. This one sounds amazing as well: an American businessman’s family convinces him to buy a Scottish castle and to ship it to America brick by brick to reconstruct it here. It’s not the bargain he was hoping for because with the castle comes the ghost who has been haunting it for the last 700 years. A more comedic ghost film, starring the handsome Robert Donat in dual roles as the ghost and his 20th century counterpart. It was the largest grossing film in 1936 in the UK, and one that I’ll be watching this weekend.
The last film I’ll be focusing on is actually not a British or Korda produced film. I know, a surprise (some would have thought this was going to become the Korda-baloo article). But I’m quite happy with this pick up from Criterion, especially if the plan on releasing a special edition with all the supplemental trimmings. The film would be Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 1997 film Cure. Starring KÃ´ji Yakusho (who just starred in Takashi Miike’s amazing 13 Assassins), he plays Detective Takabe who is investigating a series of gruesome murders in Tokyo. The only connection is a bloody X carved into the necks of the victims and the murderer still near the victim and not remembering the crime at all. An amazing depiction of madness, Cure is definitely a horror film in the last 20 years that still shocks anyone who comes to watch it. Manipulation is a constant theme in the film, and hopefully one that will be embraced for the modern classic many believe it is.
This ends part 1, so to speak, of this week’s Hulu-baloo. I wanted to focus on the new releases that aren’t in the collection at all, be it in the Criterion collection or any of the Eclipse sets. Are there any here that you hope enter the pantheon of Criterion? Any other films you wish they could pick up and release? Let us know in the comments below. And again, please sign up to Hulu and continue this series. It’s always a blessing when we see people excited about these films and for the content Criterion keeps putting out every week.
Until next week, keep streaming.