Another Tuesday is before us, with brand new Criterion Collection titles. It appears that with each pair of the April new releases, we’re treated to films separated by several decades, in both color and black & white. This week Criterion releases the first Sidney Lumet directed film in the Collection, featuring Marlon Brando’s first appearance in the Collection as well. The Fugitive Kind, Criterion # 515, is being released as a 2-Disc DVD. We’re also getting a brand new cut of Ang Lee’s Ride With The Devil, Criterion # 514, on DVD and Blu-ray. To read Travis’ initial thoughts on these releases, check out our announcement for the April Releases here.
After we watched Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm for the podcast, I decided that I had not see enough of Lee’s films. I decided to give The Hulk another chance, after several attempts to get through the comic book adaptation left me fast asleep on the couch. It’s safe to say that my newly kindled love of Ang Lee was not enough to make me enjoy The Hulk. You can hear Travis and I rail against the film on a previous Disc 2 episode. Next up I decided to check out Ride With The Devil from my local library, as it had just been hinted at in the New Years Drawing that Criterion had released. Again, I was not a fan of this film either. I felt the weight of the film start to buckle under it’s melodramatic narrative. While it certainly was well photographed, and the art direction was commendable, I just could not get behind any of the character motivations, and I found the plot and dialog to be tiresome. I am looking forward to adding this film to my Netflix queue, now that we are getting a longer, directors cut of the film. To be honest though, while watching it initially, I can’t say that a longer cut would be something I’d want to fix my problems with the film. For a full review of the Blu-ray release of Ride With The Devil, I’d highly recommend checking out Thomas Spurlin’s review over on DVD Talk, he goes in depth as to what has been changed with this release, along with detailing his thoughts on the special features.
Next up, we’re treated to a Marlon Brando’s and Sidney Lumet’s first appearances into the Criterion Collection. I’m ashamed to say that I have not gone very far back in Brando’s filmography, apart from A Streetcar Named Desire. The Fugitive Kind is another adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play, Orpheus Descending. This is a film that was nowhere near my radar, as Travis had earlier gone so far as predicting that Lumet’s mysterious visit to Criterion might indicated a Rashomon special feature in the works. This is another title that I will certainly be adding to my Netflix Queue, but I’m seriously considering purchasing it, based on Jamie Rich’s review over on DVD Talk, the clip on the Criterion page, and the bonus features included on the second disc, such as the Three Stage Play’s By Tennessee Williams. Looks like a winner to me, although it is very curious as to why Criterion is not releasing this film on Blu-ray. It seems that each month we have at least one title that is holding down the DVD format, making sure that Criterion completists keep their hands in both pies.
Which of these titles are you planning on picking up this week? Discuss in the comments below.
Images and Trailers: Courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
Criterion # 514 (Available on DVD and Blu-ray)
“With this new director’s cut, Ang Lee reconstructs his original vision for his Civil War epic, Ride with the Devil, an intimate, harrowing look at a country torn in half, told from a daringly unorthodox perspective. Set in 1862, during the Kansas-Missouri border war, the film stars Tobey Maguire as Jake and Skeet Ulrich as his friend Jack Bull; they join the Confederate-sympathizing Bushwhackers after Jack’s father is killed by marauding members of the abolitionist Jayhawkers. But Ride with the Devil is also the story of their unusual ally Holt (an astonishing Jeffrey Wright), who’s fighting for the South despite being a former slave. A rumination on identity and loyalty, both political and personal, Ride with the Devil is a provocative challenge to preconceptions about America’s bloodiest conflict.”
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:
- New director’s cut of Ride with the Devil, featuring thirteen minutes of added footage
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Ang Lee and director of photography Frederick Elmes (with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
- Two audio commentaries, one featuring Lee and producer-screenwriter James Schamus and one featuring Elmes, sound designer Drew Kunin, and production designer Mark Friedberg
- New video interview with star Jeffrey Wright
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Godfrey Cheshire
Criterion # 515 (Available on DVD)
“Four Academy Award’“winning actors’”Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward, and Maureen Stapleton’”sink their teeth into this enthralling drama, which brings together the legendary talents of director Sidney Lumet and writer Tennessee Williams. A smoldering, snakeskin-jacketed Brando is Val Xavier, a guitar-strumming drifter trying to go straight. He finds work and solace in a southern small-town variety store run by Lady Torrance (Magnani), who’s lonely, sexually frustrated, and abused by her vile, deathly ill husband, and who proves as much a temptation for Val as local wild child Carol (Woodward). Lumet captures the intense, fearless performances and Williams’s hot-blooded storytelling and social critique with his customary restraint, resulting in a drama of uncommon sophistication and craft.”
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DVD SET
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Sidney Lumet
- New video interview with Lumet
- New documentary featuring Tennessee Williams scholar Robert Bray and film historian R. Barton Palmer discussing Williams’s work in Hollywood and The Fugitive Kind
- Three Plays by Tennessee Williams, an hour-long television presentation of three one-act plays by Williams, directed by Lumet in 1958
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Thomson