February 2017 is looking to be another hot month for cinephiles as Arrow Academy release a slate of Blu-rays that show off the best of Woody Allen and John Ford.
Woody Allen: Seven Films – 1986-1991 | Blu-ray | 20th February 2016 | £69.99
Arrow Academy’s third Woody Allen collection spans 1986-91 and the bulk of his work with Mia Farrow, who is featured in all seven of these films. They start with the much-loved family saga Hannah and Her Sisters, a warm and witty return to Allen’s beloved Manhattan, and the nostalgic Radio Days, a collection of stories from the time of Allen’s own 1930s/40s childhood.
More sombre fare comes with the Chekhov-influenced ensemble piece September and Another Woman, with a tour de force role for Gena Rowlands as a middle-aged philosophy professor whose accidental eavesdropping makes her reassess her life. And with Crimes and Misdemeanors, Allen made one of his greatest films, a multi-layered and almost Dostoyevskian reflection on guilt that also finds room for some of his funniest one-liners.
The box concludes with two of his more fantastical films, the romantic comedy Alice, in which relationships are guided with the aid of mysterious ‘invisibility herbs’, and the black-and-white, star-studded Shadows and Fog, an homage to Kafka and German Expressionism that was based on Allen’s own one-act play Death.
- Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
- Radio Days (1987)
- September (1987)
- Another Woman (1988)
- Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
- Alice (1990)
- Shadows and Fog (1991)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) | 20 February 2016 | Blu-ray | £17.99
One of Woody Allen’s best-loved films, this won three richly deserved Oscars (for Michael Caine, Dianne Wiest and the screenplay), and is a joy from start to perfectly judged finish.
Hannah (Mia Farrow) is a devoted wife, loving mother and successful actress. She’s also the emotional backbone of the family, and her sisters Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest) depend on this stability while also resenting it because they can’t help but compare Hannah’s seemingly perfect life with theirs. But with her husband Elliot (Michael Caine) becoming increasingly interested in Lee, it’s clear that Hannah might have problems of her own.
An unusually strong supporting cast includes Allen himself as Hannah’s existentially conflicted
ex-husband and Max von Sydow as a perfectionist artist, but it’s Caine who practically steals the film as a middle-aged man behaving like a lovesick teenager. It also has some of Allen’s greatest one-liners, with a philosophical discussion about the nature of good and evil getting shot down with “How should I know why there were Nazis? I don’t even know how the can opener works.”
Radio Days (1987) | 20 February 2016 | Blu-ray | £17.99
Woody Allen grew up during the golden age of American radio, and this tapestry of heartwarming and hilarious vignettes is one of his most richly nostalgic films, its reconstruction of the late 1930s and early 1940s earning an Oscar nomination for its art direction.
Gripped by wild radio stories about bloody wars and beautiful celebrities, ten-year-old Joe Needleman (Seth Green) longs for adventure and dreams of spotting his first enemy spy, German submarine, or even his sexy substitute teacher as he’s always imagined her. Meanwhile, his various family members have their own radio favourites, fantasies fuelled by hard-working actors with lives, careers and concerns of their own, especially about whether the medium has a long-term future.
In his rave review, Roger Ebert described Radio Days as “so ambitious and so audacious that it almost defies description. It’s a kaleidoscope of dozens of characters, settings and scenes, and it’s inexhaustible, spinning out one delight after another.” It’s also crammed with countless actors familiar from earlier Woody Allen films, piling nostalgia upon nostalgia in one of the loveliest films he ever made.
My Darling Clementine (1946) | Blu-ray | 27 February 2016 | £19.99
Wyatt Earp has long fascinated filmmakers. Actors from Burt Lancaster and James Stewart to Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner have played the legendary gunfighter, but no portrayal is more definitive that Henry Fonda’s in My Darling Clementine.
John Ford’s first Western since his seminal Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine ranks among the director’s finest. Telling the story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and the friendship between Earp and Doc Holliday, Ford renders this famous tale into a lyrical masterpiece, filmed in his beloved Monument Valley and full of iconic moments.
Special Edition contents:
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the 4K digital film restoration
Original uncompressed PCM mono 1.0 sound
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Commentary on the theatrical version by author Scott Eyman and Earp’s grandson, Wyatt Earp III
John Ford and Monument Valley – a 2013 documentary on the director’s lifelong association with Utah’s Monument Valley containing interviews with Peter Cowie (author of John Ford and the American West), John Ford, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, James Stewart and Martin Scorsese
Movie Masterclass – a 1988 episode of the Channel 4 series, devoted to My Darling Clementine and presented by Lindsay Anderson
Lost and Gone Forever – a visual essay by Tag Gallagher on the themes that run through My Darling Clementine and the film’s relationship with John Ford’s other works
eversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw