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February 20, 2012


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Oh man. I'm so ordering. Thanks for the heads up!

Robert Cashill

Keep the VCI disc...but know that the Sony line also includes an equally fine transfer of THE SPIRITUALIST, aka THE AMAZING MR. X. Out another $20 (but sometimes the Warner Archive prices the Sony discs it carries at $15).




Those can't be Ventian blinds in 1794?

David Ehrenstein

Whatever version you get your hands on don't miss this. Basehart is wonderful here and so is the fabulous Norman Lloyd who as he edges toward the century mark is still working and still wonderful.

And still playing tennis every day!


Only February, but "the slough of despond known as public domain" is running away with Best-turned Phrase of the Year.

Haven't yet pulled the trigger on a MOD disc, but perhaps this will do it. Thanks for the recommendation!


For my money, the best performance is given by Arnold Moss as Fouche.


As admirably thorough as your Blu-ray roundups are, don't DVD-only MOD releases such as these -- not to mention the Eclipse sets, the BFI's 'The Devils' and early Ozu boxes, Errol Morris' 'Tabloid', etc -- justify an occasional DVD column?


Partisan, yes, there were Venetian blinds in Paris well before 1794:



I went with this burn-on DVD route both with "Devil's Doorway" and "Chimes at Midnight" and both transfers were as crisp as anything I had seen before.

The only downside is that both of these discs do have a somewhat unpleasant odor upon opening the case.


Wow, I was wondering if the new Warner Archive release was worth ordering if I already had the VCI DVD, and here you are: the answer to my prayers. Thanks a lot for the heads up. I'm ordering right now.

Tom Block

>For my money, the best performance is given by Arnold Moss as Fouche.

Seconded. He's Calleia-in-"Touch of Evil" good...

Robert Sweeney

Todd, who is offering CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT as a burn-on-demand disc?


I knew next to nothing about Arnold Moss before seeing this movie; since then, I've enjoyed him in Mann's BORDER INCIDENT, and just last week I caught him in an episode of "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" with James Mason. He was also in an episode of "Star Trek" and co-starred in the original Broadway production of Sondheim's "Follies." His son Jeff was the original head writer for "Sesame Street" and wrote many of the shows signature songs, including the hit "Rubber Ducky." Gotta love show biz.


Robert, my case says "Nostalgia Family Video", but I got it off of Amazon.


Bruce Reid

"The movie represents a total triumph of form over content—or, perhaps, form over lack of content,"

I've not read the Basinger, but wouldn't framing such epochal history as just another grubby tale of dark men hiding in shadows count as content? Or is that what she meant by a triumph of form?

This film contains what's probably the most shocking cinematic moment I've ever seen. Most everything leading up to it is nearly as good.

Bryan S.

You're ignoring the most important difference: the VCI disc was from a censored print. The Sony MOD is completely uncut.

This was purportedly the film the compelled Dore Schary to sign Mann (and Alton) to MGM, as he was bowled over by it. Later, he practically had Mann "remake" it, as "The Tall Target", giving the same treatment to the Baltimore Plot as he did to the Reign of Terror.

Columbia also put out a superior version of "The Amazing Mr. X" under the title "The Spiritualist" (another mysterious title change), completely eliminating the print damage that was in the VCI. I like VCI, and they have my admiration for giving these films the treatment they deserved at a time no one else would, but this is one occasion where you can feel free to unload the original release.

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