Thursday, May 08, 2008
Michael Powell Under the Radar
A favorite topic of mine is finding buried treasures by great directors amongst the current trend of packaged DVDs. For example, a Cary Grant set hides a possible treasure by Raoul Walsh (Big Brown Eyes from 1936), and a Randolph Scott Western set quietly features two André de Toth films (Thunder Over the Plains  and Riding Shotgun ). Or how about a Classic Western Roundup Vol. 2 featuring The Man from the Alamo (1953, Budd Boetticher) and The Cimarron Kid (1952, Budd Boetticher)? In many cases, the directors aren't mentioned on the packaging. Even on Amazon the information is frequently missing, and I have to look the titles up individually on IMDB.
Recently I spotted another, courtesy of DVD Beaver's upcoming releases section, which does the great work of preventing these from slipping through the cracks. Classic British Thrillers features two early Michael Powell films flying in under the radar: The Phantom Light (1935) and Red Ensign (1934), plus The Upturned Glass (1947, Lawrence Huntington). In this case, the films are probably in less good hands with MPI than Universal or Warner Bros., but the release of these rare films is significant and the title "Classic British Thrillers" and cover art do not let you know what potential treasures are hiding inside.