First Spaceship on Venus (1960) - News Poster

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Held for Questioning (Der Aufenthalt)

Sylvester Groth shines in this East German movie about a luckless private in a Polish prison, thrown in with a group of defeated Nazi war criminals. For a country that usually paints the ideological divide in black and white red, Frank Beyer’s film of Hermann Kant’s semi-autobiographical story is surprisingly even-handed. An excellent addition to films from behind the old Iron Curtain.

Held for Questioning

DVD

The Defa Film Library

1982 / Color / 1:37 flat full frame / 98 min. / Der Aufenthalt, The Turning Point, Staying Alive / Availability noted August, 2017 / available through the Defa Film Library Store / 29.95

Starring: Sylvester Groth, Fred Düren, Matthias Günther, Klaus Piontek, Hans-Uwe Bauer, Alexander Van Heteren, Horst Hiemer, Günter Junghans, Krzysztof Chamiec, Gustaw Lutkiewicz, Roman Wilhelmi, Andrzej Krasicki, Zygmunt Maciejewski, Andrzej Pieczynski.

Cinematography: Eberhard Geick

Film Editor: Rita Hiller

Original Music: Günther Fischer

Written by Wolfgang Kohlhaase, Dieter Wolf from a novel by Hermann Kant

Produced by
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Stalker

Andrei Tarkovsky’s bizarre philosophical science fiction epic may be his most successful picture overall — every image and word makes its precise desired effect. Three daring men defy the law to penetrate ‘the Zone’ and learn the truth behind the notion that a place called The Room exists where all wishes are granted. Plenty of art films promise profound ideas, but this one delivers.

Stalker

Blu-ray

The Criterion Collection 888

1979 / Color / 1:37 flat full frame / 161 min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date July 18, 2017 / 39.95

Starring: Aleksandr Kaidanovsky, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko, Alisa Freindlikh, Natasha Abramova.

Cinematography: Alexander Knyazhinsky

Film Editor: Lyudmila Feyginova

Original Music: Eduard Artemyev

Written by Andrei Tarkovsky and Arkady Struagtsky, Boris Strugatsky from their novel Roadside Picnic.

Produced by Aleksandra Demidova

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

If the definition of film artist is ‘one who goes his own way,’ Andrei Tarkovsky qualifies mightily. Reportedly cursed with a halting career
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The Quiet American (1958)

There appear to be no rules governing tricky politics in movies — Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel about terrorism in French-held Vietnam completely reverses the author’s message. Does a conspiracy theory about a movie still carry any weight, when our daily political life now plays like one giant conspiracy?

The Quiet American

Blu-ray

Twilight Time

1958 / B&W / 1:66 widescreen / 122 min. / Street Date June 13, 2017 / Available from the Twilight Time Movies Store 29.95

Starring: Audie Murphy, Michael Redgrave, Claude Dauphin, Giorgia Moll,

Bruce Cabot, Fred Sadoff, Kerima, Richard Loo.

Cinematography: Robert Krasker

Film Editor: William Hornbeck

Original Music: Mario Nascimbene

Written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz from a novel by Graham Greene

Produced and Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Fans of author Graham Greene know him for his political sophistication and his adherence to Catholic themes; he’s found holy values in a razor-wielding Spiv in Brighton Rock and
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Ikarie Xb 1

For the discerning science fiction fan, this is the best of the Eastern-bloc Cold War Sci-fi epics, a genuinely brilliant and warmly human ‘Voyage to the End of the Universe,’ restored in 4k resolution. It’s from before 2001: A Space Odyssey, and has an equally wondrous but totally different vision of the future.

Ikarie Xb 1

Blu-ray

Nfa (Czechoslovak National Film Archive)

1963 / B&W / 2:35 widescreen / 88 min. / Street Date March, 2017

Starring: Radovan Lukavský, Zdenek Stepánek, Frantisek Smolík, Otto Lackovic, Irena Kacírková Dana Medrická

Cinematography: Jan Kalis, Sasa Rasilov

Production Designer: Jan Zázvorka

Special Effects: Jan Kalis

Film Editor: Josef Dobrichovský

Original Music: Zdenek Liska

Written by Jindrich Polák and Pavel Jurácek, adapted from the novel The Magellanic Cloud by Stanislaus Lem.

Produced by Filmové Studio Barrandov

Directed by Jindrich Polák

The trailer for the new restoration of Ikarie Xb 1 (no hyphen) pretty much tells the story. A shot
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The Savage Innocents

The original Quinn the Eskimo (no kidding) is another life-loving rough portrait from Anthony Quinn, in Nicholas Ray’s rather successful final spin as a writer-director. Despite some technical awkwardness, Ray’s sensitivity to outsider souls finds full expression. Humans don’t get any more ‘outside’ than Inuk, a primitive unequipped to deal with the modern world.

The Savage Innocents

Blu-ray

Olive Films

1960 / Color / 2:35 widescreen (Super Technirama 70) / 110 min. / Street Date June 27, 2017 / available through the Olive Films website / 29.98

Starring: Anthony Quinn, Yoko Tani, Carlo Giustini, Peter O’Toole, Marie Yang, Marco Guglielmi, Anthony Chinn, Francis De Wolff.

Cinematography: Peter Hennessey, Aldo Tonti

Film Editor: Eraldo Da Roma, Ralph Kemplen

Original Music: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino

Written by Nicholas Ray, adapted by Franco Solinas, Baccio Bandini, Hans Ruesch from his novel

Produced by Maleno Malenotti

Directed by Nicholas Ray

It’s arguable that Nicholas Ray’s career began to fall apart as
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Gold (1934)

The Nazis can't even keep the National Socialist propaganda out of a simple science fiction fable. Hans Albers is the Aryan King Midas as a scientist, and gorgeous Brigitte Helm the Englishwoman who thinks he's peachy keen. The climax is pure Sci-Fi heaven, an unstable 'Atomic Fracturing' installation, wa-ay deep down in a mineshaft under the ocean. Gold (1934) Blu-ray Kino Classics 1934 / B&W / 1:33 flat Full Frame / 117 min. / Street Date June 14, 2016 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95 Starring Hans Albers, Friedrich Kayßler, Brigitte Helm, Michael Bohnen, Ernst Karchow, Lien Deyers, Eberhard Leithoff, Rudolf Platte. Cinematography Otto Baecker, Werner Bohne, Günther Rittau Art Direction Otto Hunte Film Editor Wolfgang Becker Original Music Hans-Otto Borgmann Written by Rolf E. Vanloo Produced by Alfred Zeisler Directed by Karl Hartl

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

The Hardy Encyclopedia of Science Fiction still teases Sci-fi fans that want to see everything listed in its pages. Thankfully, videodisc companies catering to collectors make possible the sale of titles that might never show up on some (authorized) streaming service. Video disc has brought us the original Der Schweigende Stern and Alraune from Germany, and I hope to someday see good copies of Kurt Siodmak and Karl Hartl's F.P. 1 Does Not Answer and the Harry Piel Sci-fi trilogy An Invisible Man Roams the City, The World Unmasked (an X-ray television camera) and Master of the World (a robot with a death ray). I've read about Karl Hartl's 1934 Gold for at least fifty years, since John Baxter's Science Fiction in the Cinema told us (not quite correctly) that its final reel had been borrowed for the conclusion of Ivan Tors' 1953 Sci-fi picture The Magnetic Monster. As it turns out, Kino is releasing both movies in the same week. Sometimes referred to as the Nazi Metropolis, Hartl's Gold is a follow-up to the director's very successful F.P.1. Does Not Answer, a spy thriller about a fantastic airport in the mid-Atlantic called Floating Platform One. Both pictures were filmed in simultaneous foreign versions to maximize the box office take. The German original of F.P. 1 starred matinee idol Hans Albers (The Blue Angel) Sybille Schmitz (Vampyr) and Peter Lorre, while a concurrent French version used Charles Boyer, Danièle Parola and Pierre Brasseur. A third English version starred Conrad Veidt, Jill Esmond and Donald Calthrop. The French version starred Brigitte Helm in the same role, but star Hans Albers reportedly rebelled at making two movies for the price of one. According to reports, the exceedingly expensive Gold was in production for fifteen months. We can see the cost immediately in the enormous main set for the 'atomic fracturing' machine built to transmute lead into gold. Otto Hunte and Günther Rittau designed and filmed special effects for Metropolis and the impressive set is very much in the same style. Off the top of my head I can't think of any technical apparatus quite so elaborate (and solid-looking) built for a film until the 1960s and Ken Adam's outlandish settings for UA's James Bond films. Writer Rolf E. Vanloo had worked on the silent classic Asphalt and is the sole writer credited on the popular Marlene Dietrich vehicle I Kiss Your Hand, Madame. His screenplay for Gold is tight and credible, even if its theme is even more simplistic than -- and somewhat similar to -- that of Thea von Harbou for Metropolis. Scientist Werner Holk (Hans Albers) aids the visionary Professor Achenbach (Friedrich Kayßler) in testing what looks like an electric atom smasher. The experiment: to turn lead into gold. The 'Atomic Fracturer' explodes, killing the old genius, whose work is discredited. Holk barely survives, thanks to a blood transfusion from his faithful girlfriend Margit Moller (Lien Deyers). When agents for the fabulously wealthy Englishman John Wills (Michael Bohnen) contact Holk, he realizes that the experiment was sabotaged. Werner allows himself to be taken to a fabulous yacht and from there to a Scottish castle, where, hundreds of feet under the ocean, Wills has constructed his own, far larger atom smasher with plans stolen from Achenbach. Split between his need for revenge and a desire to prove the dead Achenbach's theories, Holk goes through with the experiment. Wills' daughter Florence (Brigitte Helm), a gorgeous playgirl, is attracted to the German visitor, Holk finds that the workers' foreman, Schwarz (Rudolf Platte) is of a like mind on economic issues. But Wills' engineer Harris (Eberhard Leithoff) is jealous of Holk's talent, and cannot be trusted. Gold begins by repeating the 'big money hostile takeover of science' theme from Fritz Lang's Frau im mond: a pioneering German scientific exploit is siezed by an unscrupulous international business entity. The unspoken message is that the weakened Germany is being cheated in the world economy because it lacks the resources to exploit its superior technology. The avaricious John Wills makes big financial decisions all day long. There's no gray area in this conflict, as Wells murders, steals and spies on people to get what he wants. We've seen his ruthless agents wreck Achenbach's original, modest experiment. This 'England plays dirty' theme mirrors Germany's bitterness toward England for at least the better part of a century of colonial, naval and financial competition. Versailles and WW1 aren't mentioned, but that had to be on the minds of the audience as well: Germany innovates and works hard, but is consistently handed a raw deal. The scenes with the sleek, fascinating Brigitte Helm would be better if they went somewhere; her Florence does what she can to entice Herr Holk but withdraws when he declares his love for his faithful girl back home, the one whose life blood now flows in his veins. 'Das Blut' cannot be dishonored, even if Holk is half convinced that Wills is going to have him murdered after the giant machine starts turning out Gold by the ton. Act Two instead becomes a conflict between Big Capitalism and the lowly-but-virtuous Working Man. Down in the underground warren of tunnels (another Metropolis parallel) Wills' Scottish workforce of sandhogs and technicians side with Holk against their boss. After a preliminary test yields a tiny bit of gold, we get the expected montages of worldwide economic panic, standard material in socially oriented sci-fi as diverse as La fin du monde and Red Planet Mars. Wells plans to grow rich by flooding the world with his artificially produced gold, a strategy that will have to be explained to me. Gold is the world's standard of value precisely because it's rare; it can't be printed up like money. Thirty years later, the surprisingly sophisticated scheme of Auric Goldfinger is to increase the value of his stash of gold bullion by rendering America's gold reserves radioactive, and therefore worthless. If scarcity raises the value of the element, making more should do the opposite. (On the other hand, what about artificial diamonds? Is there any correspondence there?) [I'm acutely aware that discussing the subject matter of movies mainly points up how much I don't know, about anything but movies.] The Incredible Holk convinces the mob of workers that he represents their interests better than the greedy John Wills. The idea that rich English capitalists need to be rejected in favor of honest German morality is the only real message here. It's as simple as the 'heart mediating between the hands and the brain' slogan of Metropolis, but with a slightly arrogant nationalism added. The lavishly produced Gold was filmed on a series of truly impressive sets, including Wills' enormous Scottish mansion. But the giant setting for the climax, deep in a mine under the ocean floor, is the stuff of core Sci-fi. Millions of volts of electricity are harnessed to transmute lead into Gold. That's got to be a heck of an electricity bill; factor in the other enormous overhead costs and we wonder if Wills will ever turn a profit. The special effects for this sequence are sensational. The enormous apparatus is suspended on huge oversized porcelain insulators. The giant glass tubes atop the specimen stage are apparently visualized with mattes and foreground miniatures. But the camera pans and trucks all over the hangar-sized set; it all looks real, with bolts of electricity flashing like crazy. It's a dynamic special effect highlight of the 1930s. The actors sell the conflict well. Beefy Hans Albers sometimes looks like George C. Scott. He exudes personal integrity and a calm force of will. Lien Dyers is as wholesome here as she was wantonly sexualized six years earlier in Fritz Lang's Spies. Michael Bohnen is more than convincing as a powerful man trying to corner all business on an international scale. Although mostly in for decoration, Brigitte Helm is a sophisticated dazzler. Those penciled eyebrows remind us that she had become the Marlene Dietrich that didn't go to Hollywood. Although she did have offers, Helm wanted to stay in Germany. The Nazification of the film industry and the appalling political climate motivated her to leave for Switzerland in 1935, abandoning her career. Although the gist of Gold fits in with Josef Goebbels' National Socialist propaganda aims, the movie doesn't attack England directly. Ufa may have held hopes of foreign distribution. The one man in Scotland that Holk knows he can trust is the captain of Wills' yacht, a fellow German. Nine years later, Josef Goebbels' anti-British version of Titanic would make a German the single ethical person in authority on the doomed ocean liner. The fellow is constantly badmouthing the craven captain and the venal English ship owner. When Hans Albers finishes this movie with a ten-cent moral about love being the only real treasure, the show seems plenty dumb. But that amazing special effect set piece is too good to dismiss so easily. Gold is a classic of giddy '30s science fiction. The Kino Classics Blu-ray of Gold (1934) is a good encoding of the Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung's best copy of this once-rare item. The print we see is intact and with has good audio, but the contrast is rough. It shifts and flutters a bit, especially in some scenes in the middle. I did notice that the final special effects sequences looked better than much of the rest of this surviving print. But the parts of the movie repurposed for The Magnetic Monster look better on that 1953 science fiction film than they do here. In his book Film in the Third Reich David Stewart Hull explains that when the occupation forces reviewed the recovered German films, they ordered this one destroyed. They were concerned that the Alchemy / Atomic Fracturing machine might have some connection to Germany's wartime nuclear program. So how could Ivan Tors have bought the footage from Ufa, if the U.S. Army had seized it? I have a feeling - just idle speculation -- that it might have been obtained in a special deal made through government connections. Since the image looks much better on The Magnetic Monster, Ivan Tors might even have cut up Gold's only existing printing element to make his movie. After finally seeing Gold, one more thing impresses me besides the grandiose special effects. It's sort of a 'brain-drain' movie. In the '30s, Germany had a reputation for the best precision engineering in the world. Werner Holk is semi-kidnapped to serve John Wills' greedy science project, which was pirated from Germany in the first place. Also in awe of German scientific prowess is Brigitte Helm's Florence. The playgirl finds Werner Wolk's brilliance and clarity of mission irresistible. He's both smarter and more ethical than her father. Holk just stands there looking like he's posing for a statue, and Florence is carried away. Ms. Helm is terrific, but it would be nice if her character had a more central role to play in the story. On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Gold (1934) Blu-ray rates: Movie: Very Good Video: Fair + This may be a rare surviving print. Sound: Good - Minus Supplements: none Deaf and Hearing Impaired Friendly? Yes; Subtitles: English Packaging: Keep case Reviewed: June 10, 2016 (5137)

Visit DVD Savant's Main Column Page Glenn Erickson answers most reader mail: dvdsavant@mindspring.com

Text © Copyright 2016 Glenn Erickson
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Spring Takes Time

Get yer terrific long-suppressed film history right here, folks -- this is what it takes to get your movie banned in East Germany in 1965: Günter Stahnke makes a drama revealing forbidden capitalist-style competitiveness and dastardly backstabbing in a state-run industry. Think any of those Party censors would object? Spring Takes Time DVD Defa Film Library 1965 / B&W / 1:37 flat / 76 min. / Der Frühling braucht Zeit / Street Date March 2016 / available through The Defa Film Library / 29.95 Starring Eberhard Mellies, Günther Simon, Doris Abesser, Karla Runkehl, Rolf Hoppe, Erik S. Klein, Friedrich Richter, Elfriede Née. Cinematography Lothar Erdmann, Eckhardt Hartkopf, Hans-Jürgen Sasse, Kurt Schütt Film Editor Erika Lehmphul Original Music Gerhard Siebholz; 'The Sputniks' Written by Hermann O. Lauterbach, Konrad Schwalbe, Günter Stahnke Produced by Defa Directed by Günter Stahnke

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

So you think artists over Here have it bad... Günter Stahnke experienced some late-career fame at the 1990 Berlinale film festival,
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Attack The Bloc: Twitch Presents Kurt Maetzig's The Silent Star

The Twitch curated Attack The Bloc series of Cold War era science fiction films from the Eastern Bloc continues tonight at the Tiff Bell Lightbox with a rare screening of Kurt Maetzig's East German effort The Silent Star. Dramatically altered for Us release as First Spaceship On Venus by Roger Corman, this is your chance to see the film as it was originally created and meant to be seen - projected from 35mm.In the year 2003, with communism having conquered the globe and a new era of international peace, prosperity and cooperation secured, engineers discover what appears to be an alien artifact in the Gobi Desert. Scientists determine that the object is some kind of extraterrestrial flight recorder, and a partial decoding of its...
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The Empire Strikes Back as a 50s Sci-Fi Movie

Ivan Guerrero has done something very cool. He’s taken loads of classic sci-fi movie clips and spliced them together to make a 50s-style movie trailer for The Empire Strikes Back. Guerrero has more of these “Premakes”, but this one is a must-see. I just can’t help but marvel at how he was able to find the right old clips to make a reasonable comparison to the iconic imagery of Star Wars. But he did and it’s damn impressive.

Hit the jump to check it out along with a list of all the films he used to put it together.



Here’s Guerrero’s list of films he took footage from (and obviously he did some text and small special effects). Also, if you’d like to see more of his Premakes, click here [via The Awesomer]:

Flash Gordon (“Deadline at Noon”, “Conquers the Universe”), The Phantom Planet, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,
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Sci-fi London 2010: Full Lineup Announced!

Yes we announced the partial lineup a ittle while back, and now we have the exclusive full lineup to share, and boy, is it a doozy. The festival runs April 28th to May 3rd so get your tickets now!

Opening night film: Splice by Vincenzo Natali.

Cosing night film: Cargo (which we loved, review)

TiMER (UK Premier)

Hunter Prey (International Premier) (teaser)

2033 (UK Premier) (Another film we loved, review)

1 The Stanislaw Lem adaptation (UK Premier) (Yes, we loved this too review)

Transmission (A Ballardian telecom malfunction, UK Premier) (review)

Drones

Eraser Children (International Premier, finally I get to see this tonight!) (trailer)

Radio Free Albemuth (Sneak Preview of this Philip K. Dick adaptation! We should have a trailer soon)

Earthling (International Premier) (review)

Depositarios (International Premier, more Mexican scifi) (teaser)

Plug & Pray (UK Premier, documentary)

8th Wonderland (UK Premier)

and much more! You can head over to the festival website for more details and tickets,
See full article at QuietEarth »

Eight Classic MST3K Episodes Available Instantly!

  • Cinematical
Yes, this is a small story that will appeal only to those who subscribe to Netflix. But only if that percentage of our readership also really enjoys Mystery Science Theater 3000. So if you're not a Netflix member or you (somehow) hate MST3K, then I think you should probably skip ahead to some different articles. Today we have stuff about Showgirls 2 and the return of the Griswalds. Seriously.

But I'll let you in on a non-secret: The Mystery Science Theater 3000 dvds are a little pricey. Some collectors grab 'em all, others trade their homemade copies, and still others (like me) own none of 'em but still like to complain that the DVDs are a little pricey. So here's some awesome news, provided you're a Netflix subscriber: Eight, count 'em eight, excellently Mst-ied movies are now available for your enjoyment! Which ones?

Racket Girls! (1951) The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy!
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See also

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