Best of the 2nd Quarter 2022 : Best Classic TV Show – ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR’s ‘RIDE THE NIGHTMARE’

ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR was a followup to the far more well known ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, except true to this revival’s name it offered hour long tales of mystery and suspense.

Rarely seen, or referenced, this series tends to languish in obscurity in comparison to its far more popular and well remembered sibling, AHP. Which is unfortunate because, for the most part I am finding the hour long time-frame (that could easily feel padded) being effectively used by the host of talented writers, directors and stars involved. Not in all cases of course, some episodes do fail or feel overlong, but so far the majority of the ones I have seen, are satisfying and compelling additions to the output of the great Alfred Hitchcock.  

While few of these are directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the best of them live up to the high bar of cinematic mystery and suspense that Alfred Hitchcock helped set.

Case in point, RIDE THE NIGHTMARE.

Directed by Bernard Girard (an unknown to me Director, who seemingly spent the bulk of his career directing various Television shows, the movies that are credited to him at the end of his directing career, seem poorly received critic wise, but all sound intriguing to me, and worth a look, especially based on how impressed I am with the visuals in RIDE THE NIGHTMARE) and with a screenplay by the great Richard Matheson, that he adapted form his own novel, RIDE THE NIGHTMARE is a gripping, exciting, amazingly directed episode of television.

Beautifully lensed by cinematographer William Marguiles (a relatively prolific DP in late 50s thru the early 70s, primarily in television) , from the first shot I was asking myself, “who the heck directed this? It looks stunning!”

From evocative low angle shots, that make the ceilings loom above us like the hand of doom, to 270degree close-up pan around an embracing couple, to a series of doorways the character walk through as they quietly discuss their relationship’s immolation (the doorways at dutch angles to represent a world no longer reliable and steadfast, but rather menacing and predatory)… the episode enthralls.

And for an unknown tv episode from 1962, to invoke those impressions on someone watching it for the first time, 60 years later in 2022… I think says much about the visual language of the episode. It also says much about its star, Gena Rowlands.

Known for her later lauded pairings with her husband and paramour (their relationship had that type of oxymoronic duality, and iconoclastic fire, both on and off screen, that he could at once be her husband, and at once be the seducer who swept her away) John Cassavetes; Gena Rowlands, who at the time of this writing is still with us, in this episode (the first of three yearly episodes she would do for ALFRED HITHCHCOCK HOUR) commands the screen with her beauty and her presence. In RIDE THE NIGHTMARE she offers a beguiling performance, that well foreshadows, while giving us a less damaged version, of those later legendary pairings with Cassavetes.

Also with great performances by genre stalwarts Hugh O’Brian and John Anderson — this is a brutal little bit of unheralded television noir, that builds to a [mild spoiler, skip to next paragraph to avoid it] surprisingly near apocalyptic ending.[end spoiler]

The plot has in the 60 years from there to here, been reused countless times, even in 1962 was slightly formulaic, but what was not and is not formulaic… is the craft that it is told with. That had, and still has, the power to rivet.

These shows can be viewed via streaming. Either free if you can deal with the criminal # of commercials (I can not), or via purchase on (typically) an episode by episode basis. I chose neither of those routes and purchased the entire series on DVD to watch at my leisure.

To get your copies go here:

Thanks for looking, and click the image above to purchase. you get a great item, and this blog earns a few appreciated pennies to keep the proverbial lights on.

a win, win!

that’s it for this segment. Oh, and for those of you staying for my rant… read on. The rest of you come back next time, and be well!!

 

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“What did he say “DVD”? HaHa!! What a geezer!! Wake up Grand-pa! There’s this thing called streaming!! Ha! Ha!”

Yes, thank You.

Very enlightening. I happen to be a big fan of digital and streaming… In its place.

I like streaming for discovering things I want to revisit or own (if ownership by individuals is not a forbidden word in this new age of solely corporate ownership and corporate freedoms), however for revisiting these things, or owning these things, or enjoying these things, I want it in a format where I can enjoy it whether or not I have an internet collection, whether of not a corporate site is down, whether or not that corporate gatekeeper has decided to stop serving that particular show or episode or album or video game.

As the whole world races to embrace ever more gatekeepers on everything the individual touches, it increasingly becomes clear that you can not buy, or sell, or read, or watch, or listen to something whether in your house or your car, without a log of what you have consumed and when you consumed it being stored somewhere, approved somewhere. Something about that does not agree with me.

Something about not being able to buy or sell without having the mark, whether the mark digital or the mark proverbial, something biblically off-putting about that :).

I tend to like being off grid for my entertainment when I can, when I choose. It is the iconoclast in me. I resist the religion of hegemony and the glory of social media in all things.

 

Here Endeth the Recommendation and the Rant!

 

:).

 

Movie Diary : 2022 Day 1- 01012022- UNDERWORLD AWAKENING 3D and PINA 3D from Criterion!

 

 

 

So my first movie viewing of 2022 is one that came into my 3D collection in the last couple of weeks of 2021, and I am just now getting a chance to give it a spin on my 3D projection system.

I am speaking of UNDERWORLD:AWAKENING. The 3D Blu-ray reviews on it were mixed, so I thought I would find out for myself. Generally the 3D is very similar to the quality of the movie, okay but nothing great.

I am a fan of a good creature feature, and even CGI laden werewolf transformation scenes are always fun to watch. You kinda know what you are getting with this UNDERWORLD franchise and this one delivers what you would expect.

Regarding the 3D, a couple of things really work against stereo imaging, even for natively shot 3D. Dark or underlit/dreary/ low contrast scenes, particularly night scenes, being one of the nemesis of good stereoscopy and poor shot compositions that flatten out the depth rather than accentuating it, being the 2nd one. A film like the first DOCTOR STRANGE… people tend to confuse great visual effects with 3D, when in actuality DOCTOR STRANGE has (for the most part) deplorable 3D, sporting both dreary, underlit scenes and poor/flat compositions.

This film, UNDERWORLD AWAKENING, is not flawed to that degree; it actually has good shot composition– designed to make use of 3D, but is hampered by the fact that 90% of the film takes place at night or in low light situations, effectively undermining the very separation you are trying to get in a stereoscopic movie.

Still there is enough 3D to be noticeable and given the choice I would much rather watch this film in even muted 3D, then without. So worth a look. Grade: C- for the movie and C- for the 3D.

Now onto PINA.

 

I knew very little about the film PINA, before watching it today. I knew it was the only 3D release that seminal Boutique Blu-ray company Criterion has released. I knew it was in some way to deal with dance.

Now having seen it, I completely do not understand how this film is virtually never mentioned, even by die-hard Criterion experts and fans. This is clearly one of Criterion’s best and most essential releases.

PINA, by the great director Wim Wenders, is at once a love letter to a calling — a vocation, while also being as moving an eulogy as one person has ever had. It is a dance troupe’s love letter to their guiding star, choreographer Pina Bausch, and as great and effective and affecting a use of 3D as I am likely to see all year.

What LIFE OF PI was able to do for a fiction film, PINA does for documentaries/performance art, making the 3D more than a gimmick, but an indispensable part of the storytelling process.

The doorway sequence close to the end is one of numerous excellent uses of stereo imaging, but may be my favorite of the whole film, as they break rules in that shot, moving the camera, as the actors move, as all the layered doorways seem to move, it is a brief moment, but it helps your idea of reality tremble for a moment, and what more is magic but that.

As a fan of theatre, great theater is hard to translate to great film. While a fan of ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI the film, it pales to the power and immediacy of the theatrical presentation I saw. The same with nearly every version of RICHARD THE III I have seen, they pale to the experience of having attended a walking theatrical play of RICHARD III , conducted at night, in the rain, following the actors in an out of decaying edifices, with roofs gone, and nothing to stop the heavens to bearing witness. Great theater is hard to match.

Very rarely does that happen the other way, where the film can capture or surpass the theatrical presentation.

A few come quickly to mind, Branagh’s HENRY THE VTH (1989), Anthony Harvey’s THE LION IN WINTER (1968) and this film, Wim Wender’s PINA (2011) while not an adaption of any one performance, but rather the overview of a troupe’s body of work, offers an immediacy in how the camera is used, and the stereo imaging is used, that allow the artists to communicate with you in a way that transcends, perhaps by a little — perhaps by a lot, anything that you can experience sitting in the best seats of the best traditional theater.

PINA becomes therefore great film, and even rarer a great and essential 3D film. Grade: A. a film that must be experienced in 3D, and a must own film.

p.s. THE CRITERION RELEASE OFFERS A MAKING OF, THAT IS ALSO IN 3D (SOMETHING I HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE), as WELL AS A COMMENTARY. THIS FILM HAS A WEALTH OF CONTENT FOR NUMEROUS VIEWINGS and REVISITS. A RELEASE I LOOK FORWARD TO ENJOYING FOR YEARS.

 

“Dance. Dance! Or otherwise we are lost.”

–Pina Bausch

 

These reviews were conducted using 3D Blu-rays, a region free 3D compatible Blu-ray player, and a short throw, full HD, 3D compatible short throw projector (Essential for a flexible/portable system) offering at least 3000 lumens, and high contrast, and active DLP glasses (one of the most important parts of any system)..

 

 

 

If you would like to purchase your own pre-assembled system you can use this link as well as clicking the images in this post to acquire the items depicted.

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