Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray: July 2017 - Woody Allen, Samuel Fuller, and More

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Specialty reissue label Twilight Time has another batch of eclectic films available as limited edition Blu-rays, each with a total of only 3,000 units issued. The July 2017 offering is headlined by the great Woody Allen comedy Everything You Always Wanted to Know About rsz_everythingyoualwayswantedtoknowaboutsex_bd.pngSex * (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1973). Written and directed by Allen (who also stars in several of the film's short story-style segments), based on the sex manual of the same name by Dr. David Reuben, the laughs still hit hard and frequent—even if the raunch-level seems quaint by modern standards. Organized by seven "chapters," the pièce de résistance is "What Is Sodomy?" starring the late legend Gene Wilder.

Nothing but kudos to Twilight Time for continuing to bring Woody Allen's catalog to Blu-ray. Their numerous limited Allen releases range from classics like Broadway Danny Rose to relative obscurities like Another Woman. Everything You Always Wanted to Know... is another vast improvement over the old MGM standard DVD edition. The film's simple mono mix is upgraded to lossless DTS-HD. In keeping with Allen's traditional avoidance of bonus material, the only supplements are an isolated music track and the film's theatrical trailer.

rsz_thecrimsonkimono_bd.pngWritten, produced, and directed by Samuel Fuller, the 1959 noir The Crimson Kimono debuts on Blu-ray. As edgy and challenging as many entries in Fuller's esteemed filmography, Kimono depicts a murder investigation in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles. Stripper Sugar Torch (Gloria Pall) is the victim. Detectives Joe Kojaku (James Shigeta) and Charlie Bancroft (Glenn Corbett) are on the case. Christine (Victoria Shaw) is the woman who comes between them—she's initially assisting them with the case, but soon both detectives are interested in more. Fuller breaks ground with his examination of racial tension, a topic not often explored in films of that era, between Asian Kojaku and white Bancroft.

In addition to solid A/V specs (true to its original release, the audio is mono—albeit lossless DTS-HD MA), The Crimson Kimono boasts featurettes "Sam Fuller Storyteller" and "Curtis Hanson: The Culture of The Crimson Kimono." Harry Sukman's score is presented as an isolated track and theatrical trailers are included as well.

rsz_tomsawyerhuckleberryfinn_bd.pngA great value can be found with Tom Sawyer (1973) and Huckleberry Finn (1974), since they appear together as a double feature on Twilight Time's Blu-ray. A neat bit of trivia: Sawyer was directed by Don Taylor, who helmed Escape from the Planet of the Apes in 1971 while Finn was directed by J. Lee Thompson, who was Conquest of the Planet of the Apes' skipper in 1972. They followed one another on two separate series for four consecutive years. The connection was producer Arthur P. Jacobs who was behind all four films.

At any rate, both of these musical Mark Twain adaptations were written by brothers Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, who also composed the song scores. While the tunes aren't as memorable as the duo's many inimitable Disney classics (Mary Poppins alone seals their immortality), they go down easily enough. Plus John Williams did the score for Sawyer, which is the superior film. Little Johnny Whitaker as the titular character delivers an irresistibly affable performance, helping to make Sawyer an endearingly charming minor gem.

In addition to isolated music tracks, TT's Sawyer/Finn Blu-ray features audio commentary for both films, the promo featurette "River Song," and a few minutes of vintage rehearsal footage featuring John Williams and the Sherman brothers. Seeing as Tom Sawyer is clearly the better film, it makes sense that it has three lossless audio options ( DTS-HD MA 5.1, DTS-HD MA 4.0, and DTS-HD MA 2.0) while Finn is simply presented in DTS-HD 2.0. Sawyer also boasts the more attractive transfer.

rsz_statefair_bd.pngJosé Ferrer directed the 1962 version of State Fair, a musty relic from a very different era in cinema. It marked the third time Phil Strong's 1932 novel of the same name had been adapted for the big screen, this time featuring a shift from the novel's Iowa State Fair to Texas. The flashy cast is led by Pat Boone, Bobby Darin, and Ann-Margaret. The 1945 version's original songs by Rogers and Hammerstein (including the Academy Award-winning classic "It Might As Well Be Spring") are supplemented by five additional songs composed solely by Richard Rodgers (Hammerstein had passed away two years before).

Twilight Time's Blu-ray offers quite a nice supplements package, led by commentary from star Pat Boone (after sampling the track, I was reminded of why unmoderated actor commentaries are often ill-advised—perhaps a film historian or someone else involved with the production would've prompted a livelier discussion). The other primary inclusions are a half-hour history-based piece ("From Page to Screen to Stage") and the State Fair TV pilot (an on-going series didn't materialize, but the pilot aired as a TV film in 1976).

For ordering information about these and many more limited edition Blu-ray, see the site of Twilight Time's official distributor Screen Archives. Additionally you may choose to visit the official Twilight Time website.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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