4k slight return – Peeping edition

It’s a good month for 4K releases with some classic titles getting the full upgrade treatment.

PEEPING TOM

My claim to fame other than my natural good looks is I attended a screening of Peeping Tom at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in the late ’80s that was presented by Michael Powell, along with his wife Thelma Schoonmaker.

I had seen the film both in repertory screenings and on VHS previous to that but to see this particular film on the big screen with the director in the audience was a once in a lifetime thrill.

The big reveal in Peeping Tom involves the killer filming his victims with a hand held camera whilst he kills them with a blade hidden in one of the legs of the camera tripod.

Hard to believe that the film was a flop and cratered Powell’s career because it’s a stone cold masterpiece. Peeping Tom was released the same year as Psycho. Both films were ground breaking in ways that are merely pale imitations today.

The restored 4K release from the Criterion Collection pulls out all the stops. Using the original Eastmancolor negative the film was scanned at 6K and rendered at 4K. The monaural soundtrack is uncompressed.

There’s a unique BBC doc that resembles players including star Carl Boehm. Even more interesting is an hour doc on screenwriter Leo Marks who in his younger days oversaw a WWII undercover intelligence unit of the UK. Powell and Marks were originally working on a Freud biopic only to abandon that project because of the similarity to another John Huston film in pre-production. The result, Peeping Tom, has been finding audiences with every new generation.

BLUE VELVET

Extras on the Blue Velvet 4K release (Criterion Collection) perhaps wisely don’t include director David Lynch commentary. Have you ever heard Lynch talk like on his social media postings where he gives daily weather forecasts?

The 4K digital restoration was supervised by Lynch.

But there’s some candid footage of Lynch you don’t often see on the featurettes, a couple which are feature length.

The exceptional Blue Velvet Revisited goes behind the scenes with images that were captured in still photographs, and 8mm footage. Edited to the max the whole affair unwinds like a dream. 

Your privy to an intimate feel of what would today be the equivalent of someone instantly capturing all the backstage action with a cellphone. It unwinds as a combination of film snippets and photo montages.

As many times as I’ve watched Blue Velvet in the past including opening weekend in 1986 and periodically over the years, even once on a double bill at the LACMA with the European film version of Twin Peaks it never gets old or tired.

I rewatched the twisted plot in its glorious color scheme and then wanted to watch it again.

Although never interviewing David Lynch I did interview his daughter Jennifer for Boxing Helena and she related a story how her old man took the “ear” in pre-production and started yelling into it.

As fate would have it in 1993 I was in Chicago having dinner at then swank Planet Hollywood next to the ear mounted above my table. 

CRY-BABY

It’s Mr. Baby!”

For a first time watch since the 1990 theatrical release Cry-Baby (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) provides laughs and fun with a perfect send up of ’50s rocksploitation movies.

The 4K release has the theatrical cut on 4K and John Waters’ director’s cut on Blu-ray along with a ton of brand new interviews.

Waters’ commentary details his extra edits for the director’s cut such as the siren warning with its follow up classroom duck and cover drill. Also the “fucks” are not bleeped. The original release was PG-13 and there could only be two f-bombs dropped, but for the joke in the movie to work you have to say fuck three times. So it was bleeped.

Water’s commentary is R-rated for the PG-13 film. Waters gets downright nasty and the more profane his remakes the better the commentary. Details include how during the “Bunny Hop” musical number down a main street some of the extras were busted for shoplifting during a break.

The recently recorded interviews include Amy Locane recording her contribution from her current prison rec room. It’s also humbling to see actors like Traci Lords, Ricki Lake, Iggy Pop, Patricia Hearst among others. They’ve all aged gracefully and their observations are spot on. A previous making-of featurette from an earlier release has the only Depp interviews.

PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID

The most recent Criterion Collection 4K release features three versions of the classic Sam Peckinhah western Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Released in 1973 the theatrical cut ran 117 minutes.

Peckinpah’s director’s cut ran 122 minutes. The latter would not be screened for the public in over ten years but was eventually released in the 1990s on DVD.

Some of the differences while slight are noticeable. Those include the song “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” in the theatrical version featuring Dylan’s vocals. It’s a crucial scene involving the death of Slim Pickens as Sheriff Baker. Frankly it’s one of the most moving death scenes in all of cinema with silent glances between Pickens and his movie wife Katy Jurado as he bleeds out. Dylans reedy but confident voice drives home the passion with such lyrics as “Mama take this badge off of me, I don’t need it anymore.”

In the director’s cut we hear the same song but it’s the instrumental version. Also in the director’s cut Peckinpah plays the town undertaker in a penultimate sequence before the final shootout.

The third version a 50th Anniversary Release cut running 117 minutes was restored in 4K under the supervision of original editor Roger Spottiswoode and Peckinpah scholar Paul Seydor who directed the short The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage, which was Oscar nommed for best short doc in 1997.

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