Friday, June 08, 2007


DVDs of films old and new are tumbling into the marketplace faster than we can keep up with them, even with our movie-a-day habits. But there are still scores of reputed movies that show little sign of ever making it to DVD anytime soon. Some of those movies are still available on VHS, but only barely, at just a few places around the country (if that). I'm taking out a membership to Facets in Chicago so I can rent some videotapes by mail-order before my chances of seeing these movies evaporates entirely. I just made up a rental list for the next several months. None of these films is available on region 1 DVD as far as I know.

-- Bunuel: Death in the Garden; Fever Mounts in El Pao; The Great Madcap; Mexican Busride; Susana; El Bruto; A Woman Without Love.

-- Godard: Numero Deux; Comment Ça Va; Ici et Ailleurs; La Chinoise.

-- Rossellini: Age of the Medici; Blaise Pascal; The Messiah; Socrates; Era Notte A Roma; Augustine of Hippo; Amore; Fear; The Machine to Kill Bad People; Vanina Vanini; Return of the Pilot.

-- Hawks: A Girl In Every Port; Red Line 7000; Land of the Pharaohs.

-- Ruiz: The Golden Boat; On Top of the Whale; Three Lives and Only One Death; Life Is A Dream.

-- Ophuls: La Signora Di Tutti; The Bartered Bride.

-- Von Sternberg: Shanghai Express; Underworld; Crime and Punishment.

-- Rocha: Antonio Das Mortes; Black God, White Devil.

-- Antonioni: Identification of a Woman; The Mystery of Oberwald.

-- Becker: Rendezvous in July; Antoine and Antoinette; Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves; Modigliani.

-- Boris Barnet: By The Blues of Seas; The House on Trubnaya; Patriots.

-- Lubitsch: The Doll; So This Is Paris; Lady Windermere's Fan.

-- Tourneur: Experiment Perilous; Circle of Danger.

-- And several single titles: Marker's Le Joli Mai; Fuller's China Gate; Suwa's H Story; Renoir's Tire-Au-Flanc; Sirk's La Habanera; Murnau's City Girl; Dovzhenko's Zvenigora; Robert Kramer's Route One USA; Rivette's The Nun; De Toth's Pitfall; Van Der Keuken's Big Ben; Dos Santos' Memories Of Prison; Varda's Lion's Love.

Here's the Facets catalog search page.

The membership costs $24 a month for unlimited VHS or DVD rentals, and there is a shipping charge for VHS but not for DVD. Membership and rental details are available at this page.

* * *

A few links:

-- Robin Wood recently announced his retirement. DK Holm has a tribute to him at Screengrab. Holm also maintains an exhaustive Robin Wood bibliography on the Internet.

-- Acquarello posts a list of current and upcoming DVD releases.

-- David Bordwell on anthology (or omnibus) films.

-- The Siren on Albert Lewin's Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951).

-- Tucker Teague on Cindy Sherman.

-- Jonathan Rosenbaum blogs: "Goofus: a Latin declension of the middle-class Disney mutt, best known for his unbuttoned longjohns and his stammering, guttural dim-wittedness. McPherson: the lovesick, necrophiliac cop played by Dana Andrews in Laura. Let's suppose for the sake of argument that Walt Disney hired Otto Preminger to remake his own noir as a cartoon, a sort of animated True-Life Adventure."

pic: Godard's La Chinoise (1967).


Anonymous Kristin Thompson said...

Hi, Girish. I know some of the films on your list are available on DVD, though in some cases only from abroad, and there are probably others. You may well already own LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN, which is in the MORE TREASURES FROM AMERICAN FILM ARCHIVES set. Barnet's THE HOUSE ON TRUBNOYA is available in France as LA MAISON DE LA RUE TROUBNAIA (assuming you can read French and have a multi-standard player). It's hilarious--my favorite Barnet film.

June 08, 2007 1:46 PM  
Blogger acquarello said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 08, 2007 2:49 PM  
Blogger acquarello said...

I've had Rossellini's Fear and Marker's Le Joli Mai on my "send when available" list from Facets years now, and they keep telling me they're out, even when the're listed as "available". I think those two titles are actually lost, despite what the database is indicating.

Incidentally, be sure to check out their avant-garde/experimental selections too: Michael Snow, Barbara Hammer, Peter Rose, Valie Export...

June 08, 2007 2:52 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hi, Kristin and Acquarello. Thanks so much for those useful tips! All of them were news to me...

June 08, 2007 2:55 PM  
Blogger cineboy said...

I used Facets quite a bit when I was writing my thesis on Jon Jost and the social politics of independent cinema aesthetics – that was 15 years ago. Even on a tight student budget it was worth getting those gems in the mail. I have tried to find Jost’s films on DVD, but most are not available anywhere – but Facets has 18 matches for Jost! (one DVD, two NLA, and the rest VHS, for purchase, I don’t know about rental.)

btw – thanks for the link!

June 08, 2007 4:17 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

Girish, I'll bring you a little Godard care package next week. :)

June 08, 2007 4:30 PM  
Anonymous andyhorbal said...

Ah! I just (about three hours ago) bought every available Buñuel film that we don't already have for my library (one of our professors is doing work on Lynch and Buñuel, presumably something having to do with the "surrealist" angle) and I can help you out with some of those titles! There's a new line of his "Mexican" films that's available from the website You can get Mexican Bus Ride (search for Subida al Cielo) and The Great Madcap (search for El Gran Calavera) for around $10 each.

You can also find a Region 1 DVD of El Bruto at, but you'll have to pay about $100.

The other items on your Buñuel list are all available on VHS. If you want to know about the quality of the DVDs, ask me in about 3 weeks and I'll let you know how they look!

June 08, 2007 5:14 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I feel very lucky to live in a city where there are still a number of brick-and-mortar video stores with a large inventory of eclectic VHS selections available to rent. I haven't checked for all these titles, but I know I've seen most of the Bunuel, Godard, Hawks, Ruiz, and Antonioni titles, either at Lost Weekend or Naked Eye or Le Video, or all of the above.

However, just yesterday I got a reminder that I ought to use these resources now, and not just think of them as an archive/storehouse for later. I was at the shop I most often frequent for its convenience, though its selection is more DVD-centric than the other three I mentioned, and noticed that their VHS Silent Film mini-section had disappeared. This small store's selection had included several important films never released on R1 DVD (Seastrom's the Wind, Vidor's Show People, and Gance's Napoleon, for three). I pressed a clerk on the matter, and learned that the tapes were still available in the basement- for now, anyway. But you could comb the store and never know it.

June 08, 2007 5:42 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Facets has had two copies I don't know in what condition or what their sttus is now, of Lino Brocka's Orapronobis (one of his best works, produced by Pierre Risseint and partly funded by French money because the Aquino government (of all people) refused to support the film) and Macho Dancer (homoerotic melodrama, not his best, but compelling viewing nevertheless).

Also, Chang Cheh's The Assassin is available. Terrific stuff.

June 08, 2007 7:23 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tucker, Darren, Andy, Brian, Noel -- Thank you!

Tucker ~ I will add Jost to my list when I'm looking up the a-g filmmakers Acquarello suggested at Facets.

Darren ~ I'm looking forward to seeing you and hanging out next week. And not just coz of the care packg. :-)

Andy ~ That's a huge help! I might email you in a few weeks to follow up on the Bunuel DVDs. Of all the filmmakers on my rental list, Bunuel is probably the one I'm most psyched about.

Brian ~ I have both Seastrom's The Wind and Vidor's Show People on VHS (good-quality recordings off TCM), so if you ever feel like seeing them and you can't get them locally, do drop me a line.

Noel ~ Finally, I can see some more Brocka...

June 08, 2007 8:21 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for the offer, girish. I'm not too concerned about seeing those particular titles right now but I might be in the future. I've seen both in cinemas in recent years (still waiting on Napoleon in that regard) and I was really mentioning them as examples of films I think ought to be available in any good rental shop, even if it means resorting to VHS.

On your Facets "queue", I've seen only two: Lady Windermere's Fan (on the DVD mentioned by Kristen Thompson) and La Signori di Tutti.

June 08, 2007 9:10 PM  
Anonymous jesse said...

I'm still holding out hope that those Godard titles make their way to Region 1 DVD. La Chinoise especially--some days that's my favorite of his films.

And I'd welcome any and all Ruiz titles that get a release.

June 08, 2007 9:11 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Brian & Jesse ~ A few of the films on my Facets queue are ones that I saw long ago and loved so much that I want to be able to revisit them every few years. Lady Windermere's Fan (with not one epigram from the Wilde original--how cool is that), La Signora Di Tutti and La Chinoise all fall into this category.

Kristin mentioned More Treasures From The American Archives. I don't own it but I really should buy it (and its predecessor). Put my money where my mouth is, etc. after all this whinging I've been doing...!

June 08, 2007 9:19 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

whinging, huh?

June 08, 2007 10:19 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa, I forgot for a sec that it's a Brit word: "To complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner." We were bequeathed a sizeable Brit vocabulary in India...

David Pratt-Robson has a review of Godard's Histoire(s) Du Cinema at Stylus Magazine.

June 09, 2007 6:30 AM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Oh, I know. :-) I just didn't see the whin(g)ing.

June 09, 2007 9:31 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa, you're too kind...

June 09, 2007 9:34 AM  
Anonymous andyhorbal said...

There are two new volumes of Treasures coming out this fall . . .

June 09, 2007 10:24 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Good to know, Andy. I just ordered vol. 2 at Amazon. They have used copies going for $50.

June 09, 2007 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Filipe said...

It's weirs that Facets has Antonio das Mortes, but doesn't has the far better (an easy to find on foreign DVD with english subs) Land in Anguish.

June 09, 2007 12:10 PM  
Blogger acquarello said...

They have the Rocha film on VHS, it's listed as Terra em Transe.

June 09, 2007 1:09 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

My Spanish is slipping and I can't remember anymore if Cielo (capitalized) meant Heaven. That Bunuel is translated as either Ascent to the Sky or Ascent to Heaven, I guess depending on if I'm remembering correctly and also if it's capitalized only because it's part of the title.

I'm intrigued by the film now, wondering what metaphysical things might transpire on this trip. But my local library doesn't even have most of Bunuel's more widely available films.

June 09, 2007 4:35 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Ah. Google will be my friend, provided I feed it narrow enough right requests.

"Ascent to Heaven" it is.

June 09, 2007 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Land of the Pharoahs will be on R1 DVD on June 26th. It may be worth buying just for the cover art. Incidentally, I saw a horror film with both Joan Collins and Kim Novak that they made in the early 70s, and a critic commented that they way the two actresses aged suggested that Howard Hawks had a better eye for women than Hitchcock.

June 09, 2007 8:31 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Hello girish. Just wanted to mention that Steely Dan were one of those bands I never paid much attention to until you posted them, and then my brother-in-law was listening to them over the Christmas break, and between the two I decided to pick up Aja. And it's very good. So thanks.

June 10, 2007 1:12 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, everyone. I'm out of town and checking in for a quick second--didn't know about the Hawks coming to DVD! And Tuwa, you're welcome...

June 10, 2007 1:37 AM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

If Bill Krohn is right, Hitchcock's first choice for Vertigo was Vera Miles, and it would have been a better film. Maybe...

Land of the Pharoahs is terrific, I think, an underrated Hawks work. Wonderful sequences where they work on the problem of the pharaoh's tomb's design, solved by the application of hydraulics. Collins is first-class here, tho what stays in mind is Hawkins being provoked by her enough to have her whipped. Oy vey.

I don't quite agree that Hawks has the better eye. Between Collins' queenly demeanor and Novak's sensually generous jaguar haunches (accentuated by tight skirts) I can't really choose (never mind how they look now--that's really irrelevant).

In terms of the characters, Collins' ill fated queen is memorable, but Madeleine--no contest.

June 10, 2007 2:50 AM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Gee whiz, g…I announced the Hawks DVD way back on April 16!

I agree with Tuwa about Kim Novak. When she's 'Judy,' Hitchcock underlined her discomfort by having the already self-conscious actress film the scenes without a bra.

June 10, 2007 6:17 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, guys. Flickhead, I'm not sure how I missed your announcement; your blog is in my RSS reader and I read all your posts. But it's good to know that Caged is also coming to DVD...

Noel, Hawks is one of the few filmmakers most of whose films I've seen more than once, except the few I've never managed to lay my paws on, like Pharaohs (which reminds me: where is the George Toles-Guy Maddin favorite with Warner Baxter, Road To Glory?!).

June 10, 2007 8:02 AM  
Blogger girish said...

New releases at Netflix this morning include:
Several Ozus--Tokyo Twilight, Early Spring, End of Summer, Late Autumn, Equinox Flower; plus Sissako's Waiting for Happiness; Frankenheimer's 52 Pick Up; Grbavica; Claude Berri's The Two of Us; Joe Dante's The Screwfly Solution; and an Ahmet Ertegun documentary.

June 10, 2007 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

I wish Facets itself would hurry up and put its back catalogue on DVD. They released the Godard titles listed above, as well as several Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf films on VHS. They've done plenty of worthwhile filmmakers on DVD lately - Raul Ruiz, Kazuo Hara, Johan van der Keuken, Luc Moullet - but where are the DVDs of AND LIFE GOES ON & NUMERO DEUX? Month after month, they release Eastern European films that are almost totally unknown in the U.S., while titles that would presumably have a bigger market languish on their shelves.

June 10, 2007 1:17 PM  
Blogger Ryland Walker Knight said...

How do you guys watch all these films? -- and actually process them? Consider this one awed. I barely have time to watch movies I buy. I guess this whole being in school thing kind of prohibits a lot of cinephiliac activity. That said, I'm off to watch the second half (ep's 5-8) of _Out 1_ at the PFA here in Berkeley. (more on that later...)

June 10, 2007 3:21 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

“How do you guys watch all these films? — and actually process them?”
A valid question, Ryland, and one that’s mystified millions for ages. For secret instructions and further information, consult this film. But try not to imply anyone here on this blog is like anyone in that film, or else the proverbial fur will fly.

June 10, 2007 5:49 PM  
Blogger Ignatius Vishnevetsky said...

Incidentally, I was just at Facets earlier today, picking up the VHS of Land of the Pharaohs.

I work at another Chicago rare video store, by the way, and we've got some alright bootlegs of a lot of the titles you listed--including an R1 transfer of the French DVD of La Chinoise, which is from a beautiful print. Most of them, though, are of pretty low quality, so going with the VHS tapes will get you about the same image.

June 11, 2007 5:28 AM  
Blogger Ignatius Vishnevetsky said...

Also, to Steve's comment:
Facets is owned by an Eastern European--a Czech, specifically--and that greatly affects the DVDs they put out.

Many of the titles Facets carries need to have their prints cleaned up (or new prints need to be struck) before they can be put out on DVD; most of their old DVDs have been VHS transfers, and now they're slowly getting back on the (quality) boat.

The restored films--like the Moullets--have mostly been licensed from other companies (Blaq Out in the case of Moullet), as Facets can't currently afford the technology.

June 11, 2007 5:34 AM  
Blogger Ignatius Vishnevetsky said...

I intended the preceding statement to explain why the Godard films in Facets back catalogue and other works by major directors have not yet been released, not to knock Facets's DVD quality.

The fact is that it's very expensive to put out a DVD by a major director because people expect a certain degree of quality--a Criterion factor--while you can release unknowns with little risk. Give them some time--they're doing their best.

June 11, 2007 5:40 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Okraina seems to be available on Region 1 DVD:

June 11, 2007 9:58 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, everyone.

I had no idea Facets owned the US rights to Numero Deux. And I just rented (but haven't watched) Outskirts/Girl With The Hatbox from Netflix; I didn't know it was the same as Okraina until Dan posted that link.

June 11, 2007 10:16 PM  

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