In October, Criterion Marries a Witch, Gets Uninvited, Loses Face, and More


You know those movies your cinephile friends geek out about? The Criterion Collection is their steward. They've spent years curating a selection of classic and contemporary films that have been deemed significant to the craft of filmmaking for one reason or another, and every month they bring four to five new titles into the modern age with new DVD and Blu-ray releases sporting extensive extras and the best remasters you can find. This month, the Criterion Collection honors brings us Michelangelo Atonioni's La Notte, and then dives into the spirit of the Halloween season with René Clair's I Married a Witch, Lewis Allen's haunted house pic The Uninvited, and Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face. We also get a box set of five films by John Cassavetes. For a full breakdown of each release, just keep reading.

marriedwitch_bluI Married a Witch

Veronica Lake (Sullivan’s Travels) casts a seductive spell as a charmingly vengeful sorceress in this supernatural screwball classic. Many centuries after cursing the male descendants of the Salem puritan who sent her to the stake, this blonde bombshell with a broomstick finds herself drawn to one of them—a prospective governor (Design for Living’s Fredric March) about to marry a spoiled socialite (I Want to Live’s Susan Hayward). This most delightful of the films the innovative French director René Clair (Le million) made in Hollywood is a comic confection bursting with playful special effects and sparkling witticisms.

1942 • 77 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.33:1 aspect ratio

• New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Audio interview with director René Clair
• Trailer
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by filmmaker Guy Maddin and a 1970 interview with Clair

SRP - $39.95

eyeswoface_BluEyes Without a Face

At his secluded chateau in the French countryside, a brilliant, obsessive doctor (Children of Paradise’s Pierre Brasseur) attempts a radical plastic surgery to restore the beauty of his daughter’s disfigured countenance—at a horrifying price. Eyes Without a Face,directed by the supremely talented Georges Franju (Judex), is rare in horror cinema for its odd mixture of the ghastly and the lyrical, and it has been a major influence on the genre in the decades since its release. There are images here—of terror, of gore, of inexplicable beauty—that once seen are never forgotten.

1960 • 90 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.66:1 aspect ratio

• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• New high-definition digital restoration of Blood of the Beasts, Georges Franju’s 1949 documentary about the slaughterhouses of Paris
• Archival interviews with Franju on horror, cinema, and the making of Blood of the Beasts
• New interview with actor Edith Scob
• Excerpts from Les grand-pères du crime, a 1985 documentary about Eyes Without a Face writers Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac
• Trailers
• PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by novelist Patrick McGrath and film historian David Kalat

SRP - $39.95

cassavetes_bluJohn Cassavetes - Five Films

John Cassavetes was a genius, a visionary, and the progenitor of American independent film, but that doesn’t begin to get at the generosity of his art. A former theater actor fascinated by the power of improvisation, Cassavetes brought his search for truth in performance to the screen. The five films in this collection—all of which the director maintained total control over by financing them himself and making them outside the studio system—are electrifying and compassionate creations, populated by all manner of humanity: beatniks, hippies, businessmen, actors, housewives, strippers, club owners, gangsters, children. Cassavetes has often been called an actor’s director, but this body of work—even greater than the sum of its extraordinary parts—shows him to be an audience’s director.

John Cassavetes’s directorial debut revolves around a romance in New York City between Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), a light-skinned black woman, and Tony (Anthony Ray), a white man. The relationship is put in jeopardy when Tony meets Lelia’s darker-skinned jazz singer brother, Hugh (Hugh Hurd), and discovers that her racial heritage is not what he thought it was. Shot on location in Manhattan with a mostly nonprofessional cast and crew, Shadows is a penetrating work that is widely considered the forerunner of the American independent film movement.
1959 · 82 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · 1.33:1 aspect ratio

John Cassavetes puts a disintegrating marriage under the microscope in the searingFaces. Shot in high-contrast 16 mm black and white, the film follows the futile attempts of the captain of industry Richard (The Godfather’s John Marley) and his wife, Maria (Taking Off’s Lynn Carlin), to escape the anguish of their empty relationship in the arms of others. Featuring astonishingly nervy performances from Marley, Carlin, and Cassavetes regulars Gena Rowlands (A Woman Under the Influence) and Seymour Cassel (Rushmore), Faces confronts modern alienation and the battle of the sexes with a brutal honesty and compassion rarely matched in cinema.
1968 · 130 minutes · Black & White · Monaural · 1.66:1 aspect ratio

This uncompromising portrait of domestic turmoil details the emotional breakdown of a suburban housewife and her family’s struggle to save her from herself. Gena Rowlands (Faces) and Peter Falk (Wings of Desire) give unforgettably harrowing performances as a married couple deeply in love but unable to express their ardor in terms the other can understand. This landmark American film is perhaps the most beloved work from the extraordinary John Cassavetes.
1974 · 147 minutes · Color · Monaural · 1.85:1 aspect ratio

John Cassavetes engages with film noir in his own inimitable style with The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Ben Gazzara (Anatomy of a Murder) brilliantly portrays a gentleman’s club owner, Cosmo Vitelli, desperately committed to maintaining a facade of suave gentility despite the seediness of his environment and his own unhealthy appetites. When he runs afoul of loan sharks, Cosmo must carry out a terrible crime or lose his way of life. Mesmerizing and idiosyncratic, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is a provocative examination of masculine identity. It is presented here in two versions: Cassavetes’s original 1976 edit and his 1978 one, nearly thirty minutes shorter.
1976 version · 135 minutes · Color · Monaural · 1.85:1 aspect ratio
1978 version · 108 minutes · Color · Monaural · 1.85:1 aspect ratio

While in the midst of rehearsals for her latest play, Broadway actor Myrtle Gordon (A Woman Under the Influence’s Gena Rowlands) witnesses the accidental death of an adoring young fan, after which she begins to confront the chaos of her own life. Headlined by a virtuoso performance by Rowlands, John Cassavetes’s Opening Nightlays bare the drama of a performer who, at great personal cost, makes a part her own, and it functions as a metaphor for the director’s singular, wrenched-from-the-heart creative method.
1977 · 144 minutes · Color · Monaural · 1.85:1 aspect ratio

• High-definition digital restorations of all five films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
• High-definition digital restoration of Cassavetes’s 108-minute 1978 version of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
A Constant Forge: The Life and Art of John Cassavetes (2000), a 200-minute documentary by Charles Kiselyak
• Interviews with actor Lelia Goldoni and associate producer Seymour Cassel aboutShadows
• Silent footage from the Cassavetes-Lane Drama Workshop, from which Shadowsemerged
• Restoration demonstration for Shadows
• Alternate eighteen-minute opening sequence for Faces
• Episode of the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps from 1968, dedicated to Cassavetes
Making “Faces,” a 2004 documentary featuring interviews with actors Cassel, Lynn Carlin, and Gena Rowlands and director of photography Al Ruban
Al Ruban on Lighting and Shooting “Faces,” a new program
• Audio commentary for A Woman Under the Influence by sound recordist and composer Bo Harwood and camera operator Mike Ferris
• Conversation between Rowlands and actor Peter Falk from 2004 about A Woman Under the Influence
• Interviews with actor Ben Gazzara and Ruban on The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
• Conversation between Rowlands and Gazzara from 2004 about Opening Night
• Interview with Ruban from 2004 about Opening Night
• Audio interviews with Cassavetes from the 1970s about A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Opening Night
• Trailers for Shadows, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie,and Opening Night
• Stills and poster galleries
• PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by Gary Giddins, Kent Jones, Charles Kiselyak, Stuart Klawans, Dennis Lim, and Phillip Lopate; writings by and interviews with Cassavetes; and tributes to the filmmaker by director Martin Scorsese; actor and writer Elaine Kagan, Cassavetes’s former secretary; and novelist Jonathan Lethem

SRP - $124.95

uninvited_BluThe Uninvited

A pair of siblings (Ministry of Fear’s Ray Milland and The Philadelphia Story’s Ruth Hussey) from London purchase a surprisingly affordable, lonely cliff-top house in Cornwall, only to discover that it actually carries a ghostly price; soon they’re caught up in a bizarre romantic triangle from beyond the grave. Rich in atmosphere, The Uninvited, directed by Lewis Allen (Suddenly), was groundbreaking for the seriousness with which it treated the haunted-house genre, and it remains an elegant and eerie experience, featuring a classic score by Victor Young (Written on the Wind). A tragic family past, a mysteriously locked room, cold chills, bumps in the night—this gothic Hollywood classic has it all.

1944 • 99 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.37:1 aspect ratio

• New 2K digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New visual essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme

SRP - $39.95

lanotte_bluLa Notte

This psychologically acute, visually striking modernist work was director Michelangelo Antonioni’s follow-up to the epochal L’avventura. Marcello Mastroianni (Divorce Italian Style) and Jeanne Moreau (Jules and Jim) star as a novelist and his frustrated wife who, over the course of one night, confront their alienation from each other and the achingly empty bourgeois Milan circles in which they travel. Antonioni’s muse Monica Vitti (Red Desert) smolders as an industrialist’s tempting daughter. Moodily sensual cinematography and subtly expressive performances make La notte an indelible illustration of romantic and social deterioration.

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New interview with film critic Adriano Aprà and film historian Carlo Di Carlo
• New interview with professor Giuliana Bruno on the role of architecture in La notte
• Trailer
• New and improved English subtitle translation
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Richard Brody and a 1961 article by director Michelangelo Antonioni

SRP - $39.95

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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