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June 14, 2011


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Not that I think anyone has to like her or anything. I was merely surprised.

Kent Jones

Tom, I think it's the PD status that's actually keeping BORN TO WIN from getting a good release. A very good movie. I seem to remember it turning up under multiple names at the supermarket of the drugstore in the 80s and 90s, each time with De Niro on the cover.

Theresa Russell - maybe not great, but one of the gutsiest actresses in movies.

Karen Black is something else again - so perceptive, expressive, willing to go into areas many of her contemporaries wouldn't touch.

Tom Block

>willing to go into areas many of her contemporaries wouldn't touch

This is undeniable, but Bruce Dern did the same thing, and he and Black both hit me the same way: an A for effort, but hardly, if ever, right on the button. I never once found myself being leveled by a Black performance the way I was by Duvall in "Thieves Like Us", or leaning back and just basking in her Karen Black glow while she did her thing. Hell, I'm not even sure what her thing was, but I do know it wasn't making me laugh hysterically or freezing my soul with some tossed-off gesture or insight, and at her worst she may as well have had embalming fluid coursing through her veins. It was always just kind of, "Gee, what a surprise. It's Karen Black again..."

And FWIW, these guys have a decent but totally low-res copy of "Born to Win":


So at least a good print exists *somewhere*. (I just watched the first 10 minutes and, naturally, Black's very winning there. But, still!)


I met Theresa Russell at a collector's convention about a year ago, and she was sweet and fun to talk to. And just as sexy as she ever was. I had to restrain myself from shameless flirting (like it would've gotten me anywhere!).

I haven't seen Karen Black in ages, but it looks like she works constantly -- 3 or 4 movies a year, usually independent, probably no distribution or straight to DVD. She's got 4 titles listed for this year, including Christopher Munch's latest. Not bad for a 72-year-old in that biz.


Glenn, what did you think about the weird filtering on the "Betty Blue" disc? It appears the film has been slightly sped up (the running time discrepancy seems to confirm this), and in an effort to reduce motion judder, been given the look of some HD video rather than film.

Michael Adams

Nancy Allen is obviously not on the level of those mentioned above, but until I glanced at her credits sparked by the argument above, I didn't realize how many perfectly acceptable performances she's given, even in the otherwise mediocre Philadelphia Experiment.

I attended a preview screening of De Palma's Home Movies at which she entered the theater and assumed her seat near the front like a diva. Made me like her even more. Hard to believe she'll be 61 next week.

Theresa Russell is terrific is a second-season episode of Fringe.

Kent Jones

Tom, I think I know what you mean, but I'm not sure. I would put it this way. During her heyday, I remember thinking, "Oh, Karen Black again." 40 years later, when almost everyone in movies looks like they work out about 5 hours per day, are surgically updated on a regular basis and spend more time on their "image" than they do on their acting, I put on FIVE EASY PIECES or DAY OF THE LOCUST or DRIVE, HE SAID and am reminded how unusual and talented Karen Black was.

I love Shelley Duvall too, maybe most of all in THREE WOMEN.

Tom Block

I hear that. It wouldn't matter how much personality she could bring, an actress starting out today with Black's mouth and eyes would be lucky to score "Hooker #3" in one of the "Hangover" pictures.

Pete Apruzzese

Great job with the guide as usual, Glenn. Pretty much agree on any of those titles that I've had a chance to view.

Let me throw in a big recommendation for the Best Buy exclusive release of "The Taking of Pelham 123" - it's a superb transfer of a dark and gritty-looking film. Very true to the source and it looks a lot like film on my projector.

Victor Morton

"Still in all, I do not disdain its Blu-ray, which offers a quite nice black and white image in a lovely 1.66 frame."

Are we sure that 1.66 is Kubrick's preferred frame?


KES: What a pain in the ass movie.


I saw The Black Pirate in 16mm at my library when I was 9 or 10. I have a maybe unjustifiable love for it. There are many Douglas Fairbanks films I haven't seen yet, but I still rank it third after The Thief of Baghdad and Robin Hood.


Thanks, Glenn, for this piece! I just went over to Deep Discount DVD and bought a bunch of these at their sale--$11.09 for SOME LIKE IT HOT, $9.20 for HORSE SOLDIERS, etc.

For what it's worth, I did bite on the HD Cinema Classics version of KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, and I thought it looked pretty good. Not reference quality or anything, but definitely worth the price, definitely a step up from standard def.

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