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Dorothy Arzner, Hou Hsiao-Hsien & Charles Laughton from Criterion in June

26 March 2021

The Criterion Collection and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment have confirmed the titles to be released on Blu-ray in June 2021. A scathing early feminist commentary on modern marriage Dorothy Arzner's Merrily We Go to Hell is available on 14 June. Also launching on 14 June, Flowers of Shanghai, Hou Hsiao-Hsien's intoxicating, gorgeous period piece, evoking a vanished world of decadence and cruelty. Following on 28 June, The Night of the Hunter is the standalone masterwork from Charles Laughton.  Starring Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters, this horror movie has all the qualities of a Grimm fairy tale and is cinema's quirkiest rendering of the battle between good and evil.

 

Merrily We Go to Hell Blu-ray cover art

MERRILY WE GO TO HELL (USA 1932) | Blu-ray | 14 June 2021

Addiction, nonmonogamy, and female sexual liberation: decades before such ideas were widely discussed, Dorothy Arzner (Dance, Girl, Dance), the only woman to work as a director in 1930s Hollywood, brought them to the screen with striking frankness, sophistication, and wit – a mature treatment that stands out even in the pre-Code era. A Star Is Born’s Frederic March (in one of four collaborations with Arzner) and Sylvia Sidney (Sabotage) turn in extraordinary performances as the urbane couple whose relationship is pushed to the breaking point by his alcoholism and wandering eye – leading them into an emotionally explosive experiment with an open marriage. Exposing the hypocrisies and petty cruelties simmering beneath the surface of high-society elegance, Merrily We Go to Hell is a scathing early feminist commentary on modern marriage.

SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY FEATURES:

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Dorothy Arzner: Longing for Women, a 1983 documentary by Katja Raganelli and Konrad Wickler
  • New video essay by film historian Cari Beauchamp
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Judith Mayne

 

Flowers of Shanghai Blu-ray cover art

FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI (Taiwan 1998) | Blu-ray | 14 June 2021

An intoxicating, time-bending experience bathed in the golden glow of oil lamps and wreathed in an opium haze, this gorgeous period reverie by Hou Hsiao-Hsien (Three Times, The Assassin) traces the romantic intrigue, jealousies, and tensions swirling around four late-nineteenth-century Shanghai “flower houses,” where the courtesans live confined to a gilded cage, ensconced in opulent splendour but forced to work to buy back their freedom. Among the regular clients is the taciturn Master Wang (In the Mood for Love’s Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), whose relationship with his long time mistress (The Mystery of Rampo’s Michiki Hada) is roiled by a perceived act of betrayal. Composed in a languorous procession of entrancing long takes, Flowers of Shanghai evokes a vanished world of decadence and cruelty, an insular universe where much of the dramatic action remains tantalizingly offscreen – even as its emotional fallout registers with quiet devastation.

SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY FEATURES:

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Hou Hsiao-hsien and director of photography Mark Lee Ping-bing, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • New introduction by critic Tony Rayns
  • Beautified Realism, a new documentary by Daniel Raim and Eugene Suen on the making of the film, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Lee, producer and editor Liao Ching-sung, production designer Huang Wen-ying, and sound recordist Tu Duu-chih
  • Excerpts from a 2015 interview with Hou, recorded for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oral History Project
  • Trailer
  • English subtitle translation by Rayns
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Jean Ma and a 2009 interview with Hou conducted by scholar Michael Berry

 

The Night of the Hunter Blu-ray cover art

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (USA 1955) | Blu-ray | 28 June 2021

The Night of the Hunter – incredibly, the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed – is truly a standalone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum (Cape Fear, The Friends of Eddie Coyle) as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles), whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters (A Place in the Sun, The Diary of Anne Frank) are uncovered by her terrified young children. Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humour, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic – also featuring the contributions of actress Lillian Gish (Intolerance, Duel in the Sun) and writer James Agee – is cinema’s quirkiest rendering of the battle between good and evil.

SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY FEATURES:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Audio commentary featuring assistant director Terry Sanders, film critic F. X. Feeney, archivist Robert Gitt, and author Preston Neal Jones
  • Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter,” a two-and-a-half-hour archival treasure trove of outtakes from the film
  • New documentary featuring interviews with producer Paul Gregory, Sanders, Jones, and author Jeffrey Couchman
  • New video interview with Simon Callow, author of Charles Laughton: A Difficult Actor
  • Clip from The Ed Sullivan Show, in which cast members perform live a scene that was deleted from the film
  • Fifteen-minute episode of the BBC show Moving Pictures about the film
  • Archival interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez
  • Gallery of sketches by author Davis Grubb
  • New video conversation between Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin about Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter”
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow