The Criterion Collection has announced the selection of six titles to be released on Blu-ray and DVD in April, 2015. The Criterion editions will feature non-compressed audio files, digital picture restoration and each is accompanied by an essay from a prominent critic. Special edition interviewees and commentators include Martin Scorcese, Noah Baumbach and more. Synopses of the films below are courtesy of Criterion:
Tired of churning out lightweight comedies, Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (“The Palm Beach Story’s” Joel McCrea) decides to make “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”—a serious, socially responsible film about human suffering. After his producers point out that he knows nothing of hardship, Sullivan hits the road disguised as a hobo. En route to enlightenment, he meets a lovely but no-nonsense young woman (“I Married a Witch’s” Veronica Lake)—and more trouble than he ever dreamed of. This comic masterpiece by Preston Sturges (“The Lady Eve”) is among the finest Hollywood satires and a high-water mark in the career of one of the industry’s most revered funnymen.
“Odd Man Out”
Taking place largely over the course of one tense night, Carol Reed’s psychological noir, set in an unnamed Belfast, stars James Mason (“Lolita”) as a revolutionary ex-con leading a robbery that goes horribly wrong. Injured and hunted by the police, he seeks refuge throughout the city, while the woman he loves (Kathleen Ryan) searches for him among the shadows. Reed and cinematographer Robert Krasker (who would collaborate again on “The Fallen Idol”and “The Third Man”) create images of stunning depth for this intense, spiritual depiction of a man’s ultimate confrontation with himself.
This entrancing first color feature from Jean Renoir (“The Rules of the Game”)—shot entirely on location in India—is a visual tour de force. Based on the novel by Rumer Godden, the film eloquently contrasts the growing pains of three young women with the immutability of the holy Bengal River, around which their daily lives unfold. Enriched by Renoir’s subtle understanding of and appreciation for India and its people, “The River”gracefully explores the fragile connections between transitory emotions and steadfast creation.
“The Friends of Eddie Coyle”
In one of the best performances of his legendary career, Robert Mitchum (“The Night of the Hunter”) plays small-time gunrunner Eddie “Fingers” Coyle in an adaptation by Peter Yates (“Breaking Away”) of George V. Higgins’s acclaimed novel “The Friends of Eddie Coyle.” World-weary and living hand to mouth, Coyle works on the sidelines of the seedy Boston underworld just to make ends meet. But when he finds himself facing a second stretch of hard time, he’s forced to weigh loyalty to his criminal colleagues against snitching to stay free. Directed with a sharp eye for its gritty locales and an open heart for its less-than-heroic characters, this is one of the true treasures of 1970s Hollywood filmmaking—a suspenseful crime drama in stark, unforgiving daylight.
“Le Silence De La Mer”
Jean-Pierre Melville began his superb filmmaking career with this powerful adaptation of an influential underground novel written during the Nazi occupation of France. An idealistic, naive German officer is assigned to the home of a middle-aged man and his grown niece; their response to his presence—their only form of resistance—is complete silence. Constructed with elegant minimalism and shot, by the legendary Henri Decaë (“The 400 Blows”), with hushed eloquence, “Le silence de la mer” is a fascinating tale of moral ambiguity that points the way toward Melville’s later films about resistance and the occupation (“Léon Morin, Priest;” “Army of Shadows”) yet remains a singularly eerie masterwork in its own right.
“Eclipse 42: Silent Ozu” The great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu (“Late Spring”) is best known for the stately, meditative domestic dramas he made after World War II. But during his first decade at Shochiku studios, where he dabbled in many genres, he put out a trio of precisely rendered, magnificently shot and edited silent crime films about the hopes, dreams, and loves of small-time crooks. Heavily influenced in narrative and visual style by the American films that Ozu adored, these movies are revelatory early examples of his cinematic genius, accompanied here by new piano scores by Neil Brand. The Ozu 3-DVD Box Set Includes:
“Walk Cheerfully” In Yasujiro Ozu’s “Walk Cheerfully”, which gracefully combines elements of the relationship drama and the gangster story, small-time hood Kenji, a.k.a. Ken the Knife, wants to go straight for good girl Yasue but finds that starting over isn’t as simple as it sounds. This was the Japanese master’s first true homage to American crime movies, and it is a fleetly told, expressively shot work of humor and emotional depth.
“The Night’s Wife” In noirish darkness, a man commits a shocking robbery. But, as we soon learn, this seeming criminal mastermind is actually a sensitive everyman driven to commit desperate deeds for the sake of his family. Unfolding over the course of one night, Yasujiro Ozu’s “The Night’s Wife”combines suspense with the emotional domestic drama one associates with the filmmaker’s later masterpieces and employs beautifully evocative camera work.
“Dragnet Girl” This formally accomplished and psychologically complex gangster tale pivots on the growing attraction between Joji, a hardened career criminal, and Kazuko, the sweet-natured older sister of a newly initiated young hoodlum—a relationship that provokes the jealousy of Joji’s otherwise patient moll, Tokiko (“The Life of Oharu’s” Kinuyo Tanaka). With effortlessly cool performances and visual inventiveness, “Dragnet Girl”is a bravura work from Yasujiro Ozu.