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  • Carrie Specht

The Criterion Collection New Releases: September 2020


Let me introduce you to the the September 2020 Criterion releases. Included in the eclectic group of classic cinema is Claire Denis’s long-unavailable masterpiece Beau travail, a fortieth anniversary edition of David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, a never before available full version of Francesco Rosi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli and Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 3. with Pixote, Lucía, After the Curfew, Downpour, Soleil Ô, and Dos Monjes. Finally, there's Brute Force and The Naked City, which will be making their Blu-ray debuts in new restorations. Good choices all that are well worth your monetary investment. However, there are only two on which I feel I can truly speak about with any authority. That's the two hard-hitting noir classics from the genre master Jules Dassin.


At the heart of one of Dassin’s first forays into crime genre is a scathing critique of the American incarceration system. It's a slow burn as Burt Lancaster's Joe and his fellow cell mates weigh the possibly of escape against the grim future facing them. The true catalyst is the sadistic guard who thrives on the power he holds over his charges. Cast against type, Hume Cronyn is absolutely amazing as the sergeant who wields his power as free and loose as his nightstick. It's an impressive performance that deserved more recognition than it received at the time. And of course, Lancaster is his usual brooding self in his smoldering portrayal of Joe, whose dream of escape keeps him and his fellow cell mates going. The story unfolds is a very matter-of-fact presentation building to an explosive climax that perfectly dramatizes the lengths men will go to when given an opportunity to snatch back the freedom taken from them by a society that has disposed of them in the most unforgiving manner.


A year after the 1947 release of Brute Force, Dassin followed up his prison film with the gritty tale of The Naked City.


“There are eight million stories in the Naked City,” as the narrator immortally states at the close of this breathtakingly vivid film—and this is one of them. Master noir craftsman Jules Dassin and newspaperman-cum-producer Mark Hellinger’s dazzling police procedural, The Naked City, was shot entirely on location in New York. Influenced as much by Italian neorealism as it is by American crime fiction, this double Academy Award winner remains a benchmark for naturalism in noir, living and breathing in the promises and perils of the Big Apple, from its lowest depths to its highest skyscrapers.


BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration by TLEFilms FIlm Restoration & Preservation Services, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

• Audio commentary from 1996 featuring screenwriter Malvin Wald

• Interview from 2006 with film scholar Dana Polan

• Interview from 2006 with author James Sanders (Celluloid Skyline) on the film’s New York locations

• Footage of director Jules Dassin from a 2004 appearance at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

• Stills gallery

• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

• PLUS: An essay by author and critic Luc Sante and production notes from producer Mark Hellinger to Dassin


1948 • 96 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.37:1 aspect ratio


• New 4K digital restoration by TLEFilms FIlm Restoration & Preservation Services, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

• Audio commentary from 2007 featuring film-noir specialists Alain Silver and James Ursini

• Interview from 2007 with Paul Mason, editor of Captured by the Media: Prison Discourse in Popular Culture

• Program from 2017 on Brute Force’s array of acting styles featuring film scholar David Bordwell

• Trailer

• Stills gallery

• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

• PLUS: An essay by film critic Michael Atkinson, a 1947 profile of producer Mark Hellinger, and rare correspondence between Hellinger and Production Code administrator Joseph Breen over the film’s content


1947 • 98 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.37:1 aspect ratio

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