Classic Film Buffs Will Appreciate The Film Detective’s ‘The Bat’ Re-Issue

Courtesy: The Film Detective/MVD Entertainment Group

Halloween is just a matter of days away and just in time for the big day, independent movie distribution company The Film Detective will re-issue Universal Studios’ 1959 movie The Bat on DVD and Blu-ray.  The cult classic has been panned by audiences and critics alike, getting a 20% score from Rotten Tomatoes.  Even Vincent Price (who played more of a supporting part in the movie than lead) allegedly said he was ultimately disappointed with the movie in hindsight.  All of this aside, it is still a work that its established audiences will find just as appealing in its latest presentation as in its theatrical premiere.  That is due in part to the movie’s central story, which will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its latest re-issue is far from perfect but does add at least a little something to the presentation.  The audio and video in this latest presentation is also of note and will also be discussed later.  When it is considered alongside the other elements noted here, the whole makes The Film Detective’s forthcoming re-issue of The Bat a welcome addition to this year’s field of new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

The Film Detective’s upcoming re-issue of The Bat is a mostly successful offering from the classic cinema distribution company.  The movie’s success comes in part through its central story.  The story is simple:  $1 million that was embezzled by a bank president is hidden in a house that has been rented by author Cornelia Van Gorder (Agnes Moorehead – Bewitched, Charlotte’s Web, Citizen Kane).  Van Gorder and a group of others are in the house and are well aware of the money, searching for it during their stay.  There’s just one problem, the infamous killer known as “The Bat” is also looking for the money, and will stop at nothing, including murder, to get the money first.  While Moorehead is the lead here, the movie continues to be marketed, oddly, more on the back of Vincent Price (The House on Haunted Hill, House of Wax, The Great Mouse Detective).  That is of note because for all intents and purposes, Price’s character of Dr. Malcolm Wells is in fact more of a supporting character here than a lead.  Not to give it away for those who have yet to see the movie, but he is more or less a red herring and not the star, showing up at only certain points in the story.  The Bat’s identity is eventually revealed in the story’s finale, but only after Dr. Wells ends up being killed by The Bat.  Sorry, folks, that had to be revealed.  The money is also found after The Bat is also killed.  Who finally ended The Bat’s reign of terror (so to speak) and how will be left for audiences to figure out for themselves.  There are some very real plot holes and other problems with the acting throughout the movie, but otherwise, they can be overlooked when looking at the bigger picture of the movie’s story.  To that end, the story here is reason enough for audiences to take in this movie.

While the story at the center of The Bat gives audiences reason enough to makethe movie worth watching, the bonus content that accompanies the movie in its latest iteration makes for at least a little bit more reason to take in the movie.  The most notable of the bonuses featured with the movie’s new re-issue is the essay composed by professor and film scholar Jason A. Ney.  Ney’s essay is presented in a booklet that comes with the package.  He notes in his essay, the roots of The Bat, pointing at that it was author Mary Roberts Rinehart’s debut novel, The Circular Staircase, that paved the way for what would become the stage presentation of The Bat.  That presentation, which apparently Price greatly enjoyed as a child, went on to be made into a movie three times over, the final time with Price as one of its stars.  He also points out the very deliberate choice by Rinehart and those involved in The Bat’s creation.  From there Ney furthers the discussion, pointing out how Moorehead’s character of Van Gorder intentionally takes it on herself to try to solve the mystery of The Bat’s identity and the location of the stolen money.  It really is a reflection of changing roles of women in society and again, Ney addresses this, too.  It could be a starting point on so many discussions on feminism and its role in society and in cinema.  As if all of this background is not enough, Ney also offers audiences a background on Rinehart’s very motivation for becoming an author.  Not to give everything away, but it has to do with her family’s own standing.  Interestingly, according to Ney, Rinehart remains one of the lesser-known figures in the literary world today, despite the maintained popularity of The Bat to this day.  This and so much other background information and history that Ney provides in his essay makes for plenty of engaging reading material, and in turn really the most notable of the re-issue’s bonus content.

Ney also provides a feature-length audio commentary throughout the movie.  The problem though, is that he clearly reads from a script throughout the course of his discussion.  That is clear through his pacing and general delivery.  He is not sitting there watching the movie at the same time as audiences.  It detracts from the viewing experience and leaves one feeling like he only did the commentary to get paid, rather than out of love for the movie.  It all just feels too scripted and fluid rather than organic.  To that end, it really does detract from the movie’s presentation.  Thankfully, the negative impact that the commentary leaves is not enough to doom the presentation.

The career retrospective of Crane Wilbur, who wrote the screenplay for The Bat also adds little if anything to the viewing experience and appreciation for the movie.  That is because of how fast it moves.  It just goes from one movie to the next on which he worked, so rapidly that it makes it difficult to follow even for those who fully engage themselves in the brief presentation.

On the positive side of things, the bonus radio broadcasts, which feature Price, of other programs make for their own enjoyment.  They are not connected in the least to The Bat but are still fun to hear.  They take audiences back to another time and give audiences more of a profile of Price’s work.  Keeping that in mind, this and Ney’s essay do just enough to make the bonus content its own positive overall.

Knowing that the bonus content featured in The Bat’s new re-issue is neither entirely good nor bad, there is one more complete positive to note.  That positive is the movie’s overall production.  The audio and video presented here is so clear, even more than 60 years after the movie made its theatrical debut.  It is unknown if any work was done to remaster the footage for its presentation here, but regardless, the overall presentation looks and sounds so good.  That alone more than wakes for reason to take in the movie, especially among its established audiences.  When this and the story are taken into account with the re-issue’s more notable bonus content, the whole makes The Bat’s new re-issue all the more engaging and entertaining.

The Film Detective’s forthcoming re-issue of Universal’s The Bat is a mostly successful presentation that classic film buffs will find enjoyable.  That is due in part to its story, which is a simple soft-boiled crime tale.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its new re-issue makes for its own appeal, at least to a point.  The movie’s production rounds out its most important elements.  That is because of the high quality of the sound and video.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie in its new presentation.  All things considered they make The Bat a welcome addition to this year’s field of new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

The Film Detective’s forthcoming re-issue of The Bat is scheduled for release Oct. 25 on DVD and Blu-ray.  More information on this and other titles from The Film Detective is available at:

Website: https://thefilmdetective.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/filmdetective

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FilmDetective

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TMG Resurrecting The Rebel This Summer

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group

This summer, fans of the classic western series The Rebel will finally get to see it for the first time again when Timeless Media Group releases the series in its entirety on DVD.

Timeless Media Group announced this week that it will release The Rebel: The Complete Series on DVD on Tuesday, August 18th.  All seventy-six episodes of the classic series will be spread across eleven discs in the soon to be released box set.  The collection will also feature a number of bonus features including the pilot for The Rebel’s companion series The Yank, the retrospective featurette “Looking Back at The Rebel” with the series’ writer and producer A.J. Fenady, and a retrospective interview with star Nick Adams’ children in which they discuss their father both on-screen and off as well as other bonuses.  The Rebel aired on ABC from 1959 – 1691.  Over the course of that short run it featured a slew of well-known guest stars including: Robert Blake (Baretta, In Cold Blood, Lost Highway), Jack Elam (Once Upon A Time In The West, The Cannonball Run, Rio Lobo), Agnes Moorehead (Bewitched, Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons), Dan Blocker (Bonanza, The Restless Gun, Cimarron City), Soupy Sales (Love, American Style, Saturday Supercade, Black Scorpion—TV series), Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Bullitt, The Magnificent Seven), and Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek, Fringe, Mission Impossible—TV Series) among other equally well-known figures.

The Rebel: The Complete Series will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, August 18th.  It will retail for MSRP of $59.97.  Fans of the series can pre-order it for a discounted price of $53.97 online via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://shoutfactory.com/tv/western/the-rebel-the-complete-series-the-collector-s-edition.  More information on this and other titles from TMG is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/Timeless-Media-Group

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Timeless-Media-Group/358391474233364

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Fan Favorites BD Re-Issue A Good Introduction To The Twilight Zone For New Fans

Courtesy:  Image Entertainment

Courtesy: Image Entertainment

Image Entertainment is preparing to re-issue the first three seasons of The Twilight Zone on DVD in May, June and July respectively.  Whether these new lower cost re-issues will be available in stores or exclusively via Amazon.com is still up in the air.  Even if they will be available exclusively online via Amazon, they are still sets that will be worth ordering considering that they will be far less expensive than their previously released DVD counterparts and will allegedly have much the same features as said sets.  In the meantime, audiences who are perhaps new to The Twilight Zone can check out last year’s Blu-ray release of The Twilight Zone Fan Favorites.

The Twilight Zone Fan Favorites is a good introduction for anyone that is new to the world of this classic series.  The recently released Blu-ray collection is a mirror image of its DVD counterpart.  It boasts all of the same episodes in the same order, only in high definition.  For this critic alone, this set is made enjoyable by no fewer than half of the included episodes.  The reason for that is the writing of said episodes.  Among the best of those episodes is: ‘The Monsters are Due on Maple Street ’,‘ The Lonely and what is in this critic’s eyes the series best episode hands down, ‘Night of the Meek.’  The writing on these episodes is just a small sample of what makes this classic show timeless.  In the case of ‘The Monsters are Due on Maple Street’, audiences get a commentary on human nature in dire circumstances that still stands true decades after it originally debuted.  ‘The Lonely’ offers viewers commentary on the basic human need for companionship and what it can do to a person.  And the most underrated of Twilight Zone episodes, ‘Night of The Meek’ is one of very few episodes from the series that has a happy ending.  It’s also the show’s only holiday themed episode.  Now, none of these episodes are the only ones from the series that offer such themes.  But they do offer a solid glimpse into everything that has made The Twilight Zone a hit to this day.

The writing behind The Twilight Zone goes a long way toward the show’s continued success for so many decades.  It’s just part of what makes this latest set of fan favorites a solid release.  Audiences get in this collection, a full set of episodes presented exactly as they had run in their original airings, complete with promo for the next week’s episode of The Twilight Zone and even for other shows on its home network, including The Andy Griffith Show and others.  That Image would strive to maintain the show’s episodes from their original airings in this set is a credit to this company and gives great hope for the upcoming DVD re-issues of the show’s first two seasons over the next two months.  The Twilight Zone Fan Favorites is available now and can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007FZ7LRI/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0X7DGQ8H39NK7G3P4Q4X&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.