Posts Tagged ‘ Criterion Collection ’

The Films of Whitey Herzog

 

[I stayed up late watching the Mets lose, so i didn't get time to write anything, here's a reprint from a couple of years ago]

(Criterion Collection: 2 DVD set, $49.95)

The Criterion Collection has once again gone to the vaults to present an important yet overlooked filmmaker, in this case World Series winning manager Whitey Herzog. While greatly overshadowed cinematically by his brother Werner, Whiteys movies are pivotal in the evolution of filmmaking and they take on subjects that although altered would surface in his brothers films years later. Whitey’s first feature 1948’s Abner: The Anger of God (originally released through Filmtown Studios) is a hallucinatory retelling of the origin of baseball, the film takes place on an abandoned steamboat on the Mississippi river. The film made no money, got horrible reviews, and put the struggling Filmtown Studios out of business. However, an impressed Orson Welles saw the film and declared that it was a masterpiece and financed Herzogs second feature, Mister Hildago (released 1952, Wellfilms Studios). Welles not only financed but starred in Mister Hildago, which told the story of a minor league baseball team with a broken team bus that had to be dragged across the Appalachian Mountains. Mister Hildago was another bomb. Herzog and Welles never worked together again due to a heated argument over the infield fly rule. A disillusioned Herzog left his cinematic dreams to his younger brother Werner and had a hugely influential career in baseball. In Orson Welles autobiography Well, Well, Welles (1976, Remainder & Sons) he called Whitey Herzog “A complete ass, but not an untalented one”. In a 1981 Sports Illustrated interview when asked about his movie making past Herzog responded “I would call Orson Welles a louse but I don’t want to demean louses”.
The Criterion Collection 2 DVD set includes both Abner: The Anger of God and Mister Hildago in newly restored widescreen digital transfer. Also included is the short film, Evolution of the Balk (1949, 22 minutes) , two episodes of the unaired television series Umpy! -”Umpire by Day, Detective by Night”, which starred Larry Storch (1952, 46 minutes) and an interview with both Whitey & Werner Herzog on the David Susskind show (1983, 43 minutes).

The Brothers Herzog, Whitey

and Werner

 

The Films of Whitey Herzog

Whitey Herzog

Werner Herzog

(Criterion Collection: 2 DVD set, $49.95)

The Criterion Collection has once again gone to the vaults to present an important yet overlooked filmmaker, in this case World Series winning manager Whitey Herzog. While greatly overshadowed cinematically by his brother Werner, Whiteys movies are pivotal in the evolution of filmmaking and they take on subjects that although altered would surface in his brothers films years later. Whitey’s first feature 1948’s Abner: The Anger of God (originally released through Filmtown Studios) is a hallucinatory retelling of the origin of baseball, the film takes place on an abandoned steamboat on the Mississippi river. The film made no money, got horrible reviews, and put the struggling Filmtown Studios out of business. However, an impressed Orson Welles saw the film and declared that it was a masterpiece and financed Herzogs second feature, Mister Hildago (released 1952, Wellfilms Studios). Welles not only financed but starred in Mister Hildago, which told the story of a minor league baseball team with a broken team bus that had to be dragged across the Appalachian Mountains. Mister Hildago was another bomb. Herzog and Welles never worked together again due to a heated argument over the infield fly rule. A disillusioned Herzog left his cinematic dreams to his younger brother Werner and had a hugely influential career in baseball. In Orson Welles autobiography Well, Well, Welles (1976, Remainder & Sons) he called Whitey Herzog “A complete ass, but not an untalented one”. In a 1981 Sports Illustrated interview when asked about his movie making past Herzog responded “I would call Orson Welles a louse but I don’t want to demean louses”.
The Criterion Collection 2 DVD set includes both Abner: The Anger of God and Mister Hildago in newly restored widescreen digital transfer. Also included is the short film, Evolution of the Balk (1949, 22 minutes) , two episodes of the unaired television series Umpy! -”Umpire by Day, Detective by Night”, which starred Larry Storch (1952, 46 minutes) and an interview with both Whitey & Werner Herzog on the David Susskind show (1983, 43 minutes).

Movie Chat

boundBound For Glory (1976), Dir. Hal Ashby/Starring: David Carradine
Criterion Collection

The Criterion Collection once again dusts off an underappreciated gem. This time it’s Bound For Glory, Hal Ashby’s biopic of folk singer Woody Guthrie from 1976 with David Carradine as Guthrie. The movie has been cleaned up considerably and the new 5.1 surround sound is a revelation but the best part of the package is found on disc two. Disc two features a short behind the scenes feature as well as a rollicking interview between Ashby and Carradine. The surprise is a few rough cut scenes from from Ashby’s proposed follow up, another Guthrie movie but one with a sci-fi bent entitled This Time Machine Kills Fascists. The title comes from the phrase Guthrie had painted on his guitar “This Machine Kills Fascists” and it tells the story of an unlikely meeting between Guthrie and Science Fiction writer H.G. Wells. In the film treatment (a replica is included with the booklet) Wells travels thru time to 1944 and has a chance meeting with Woody Guthrie at a roadside diner. The two men get to talking and soon Guthrie has convinced Wells to let him go back in time and kill Hitler using a rifle disguised as a guitar (much like the one used in 1968’s Fastest Guitar Alive starring Roy Orbison). The fifteen minutes of rough footage mainly show Guthrie once again played by David Carradine working on the time machine with H.G. Wells who was portrayed by Ray Walston. While the scenes are interesting it’s clear why it was never made. Instead of This Time Machine Kills Fascists Ashby went on to make the Oscar winning Viet Nam drama Coming Home.

Spooning with de Kooning

DVD Corner:
The Criterion DVD Collection has just released the entire television series of the groundbreaking show “Spooning with de Kooning”. A short lived weekly interview program on the old Dumant Network in 1957. The show featured famed artist Willem de Kooning interviewing celebrities and newsworthy figures of the day while spooning them in an oversized bed. Shocking and controversial at the time it only lasted for 18 weeks. Disc one of the DVD features all 18 interviews, including those with Marlon Brando, Peggy Lee, Douglas MacArthur, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Robert Frost. Disc two which has bonus features including the complete uncensored interview between De Kooning and The Kingston Trio and a recent interview with pianist Dave Brubeck who wrote the theme music. The double disc also includes an extensive booklet with many recently unearthed photos and a New Yorker interview with de Kooning that was conducted right after the show was canceled.

dekooning

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