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New on Disc: 'Cameraman' and more …

22 Aug, 2011 By: Mike Clark

Cameraman: The Life & Work of Jack Cardiff

Strand, Documentary, B.O. $0.02 million, $24.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, NR.
It’s almost inconceivable that anyone could ever demur from the widely held assertion that Cardiff was the greatest color cinematographer who ever lived — what with a filmography that includes Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, Stairway to Heaven (also from the Shoes/Narcissus team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger), Scott of the Antarctic, Hitchcock’s underrated Under Capricorn, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, The African Queen, The Barefoot Contessa, The Prince and the Showgirl, The Vikings, Legend of the Lost (lousy movie, fabulous lensing) and the King Vidor version of War and Peace (in VistaVision). And speaking of lookers, you can also address this point from a slightly different direction — one that Craig McCall’s loving documentary made me think about to a degree that hadn’t quite hit me before — which is that Cardiff’s work also represents the apogee — or pretty close to it — of color glamour photography (moving-image category). Working with some admittedly great raw material, he conjured up breathtaking visages of Ava Gardner (twice), Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn (or as much as that War and Peace costuming would allow), Janet Leigh and even Deborah Kerr in those Narcissus fishing-stream flashbacks before her character became a nun. Interview subjects are top of the line: Martin Scorsese, Lauren Bacall (along with Bogie on the Queen shoot) and Charlton Heston are just a few.
Extras: Cardiff liked to shoot home movies on the set, and both the documentary itself and its copious bonus extras (among the most enjoyable I’ve seen in a while) incorporate a lot of this material. A highlight is some fabulous stuff from the set of The African Queen taken before cast and crew took ill from impure drinking water that spared only two of the principals (Humphrey Bogart and John Huston), who ignored water from the get-go in favor of booze.
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The Colossus of New York

Olive, Sci-Fi, $24.95 DVD, NR.
Stars John Baragrey, Mala Powers, Otto Kruger, Ross Martin.
In this twisted pretzel of a domestic drama, sibling scientists John Baragrey and Ross Martin are in a kind of Smothers Brothers situation over the affections of their brain surgeon father (Otto Kruger). You see, dad loves the latter more (winning a Nobel Prize probably helped). When the favored son is killed, the father determines he can take his dead son’s brain and implant it into a giant robot. But the robot is discomforted and confused (this is not a normal state) on his way to a psychotic state. The robot costume, if that’s the word, is pretty cool, and Colossus has a spare and very effective piano score, which, when juxtaposed against this behemoth, is substantially eerie. As these things go, Colossus is pretty decent of its kind — with a 70-minute running time that keeps the picture from wearing out its welcome, especially when the print looks as clean as it does here.
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Where the Boys Are

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Dolores Hart, George Hamilton, Yvette Mimieux, Paula Prentiss.
As it turned out, the Glendon Swarthout novel upon which this film was based was more hard-edged than the resulting movie. Still, the movie has a little more edge than expected (maybe 5% to 10%) in addressing the pressures and even psychological abuse young women endured at the outset of the Pill — everyday, but in this specific instance, during college vacations where there were going to be a lot of men who didn’t want their time to be exclusively spent tossing footballs on the beach. But given its release date during the period when JFK had been elected but Eisenhower still was in office, the movie makes it clear that the women are always back in their motel (with pool) by evening’s end — and sleeping six or seven to a room.
Extras: Uncommonly for a made-to-order release, Boys is a re-issue of an out-of-print onetime retail title — complete with carried-over bonus extras that include a Paula Prentiss commentary.
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