Criterion’s August Releases To Include Altman, Welles And A Taste Of Honey

This August the famed Criterion Collection is giving us a double dose of Orson Welles, Robert Altman’s memorable western, and some 1960s art-house faves from Britain and Japan. We start with Orson Welles and his Shakespeare adaptation Chimes at Midnight, which was sought to be lost, then found and restored. Next is The Immortal Story, a film never-before-released on DVD or Blu-ray in the U.S. and the first color production from Welles. Probably the most recognized August title is Robert Altman’s deconstructed western McCabe & Mrs. Miller starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. Across the globe we have offerings in the form of Britain’s A Taste of Honey from Tony Richardson and new DVD and Blu-ray editions of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Woman in the Dunes, a black-and-white feature that was a sensation upon its arrival in theaters in 1964. Finally, the most recent release is the 2015 documentary Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words, a film that was made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Bergman’s birth. Full of archived materials, including photos and home movies, this looks to be a treasure trove to those who wanted to know more about the great actress.

Artwork and details on titles mentioned can be found below.

McCabe and Mrs Miller

MCCABE & MRS. MILLER – Blu–Ray & DVD Editions
This unorthodox dream western by Robert Altman (Nashville) may be the most radically beautiful film to come out of the New American Cinema that transformed Hollywood in the early 1970s. It stars Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde) and Julie Christie (Don’t Look Now) as an enterprising gambler and a bordello madam, both newcomers to the raw Pacific Northwest mining town of Presbyterian Church, who join forces to provide the miners with a superior kind of whorehouse experience. The appearance of representatives of a powerful mining company with interests of its own, however, threatens to be the undoing of their plans. With its fascinating flawed characters, evocative cinematography by the great Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Heaven’s Gate), and soundtrack that innovatively interweaves overlapping dialogue and haunting Leonard Cohen songs, McCabe & Mrs. Miller brilliantly deglamorized and revitalized the most American of genres.

1971 • 121 minutes • color • MONAURAL • 2.40:1 aspect ratio

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary from 2002 featuring director Robert Altman and producer David Foster
• New documentary on the making of the film, featuring actors René Auberjonois, Keith Carradine, and Michael Murphy; casting director Graeme Clifford; and script supervisor Joan Tewkesbury
• New conversation about the film and Altman’s career between film historians Cari Beauchamp and Rick Jewell
• Featurette from the film’s production, shot on location in 1970
• Q&A from 1999 with production designer Leon Ericksen, hosted by the Art Directors Guild Film Society
• Archival footage from interviews with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, in which he discusses his work on the film
• Gallery of stills from the set by photographer Steve Schapiro
• Excerpts from two 1971 episodes of The Dick Cavett Show featuring Altman and film critic Pauline Kael
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by film critic Nathaniel Rich

In Her Own Words

Whether headlining films in Sweden, Italy, or Hollywood, Ingrid Bergman always pierced the screen with a singular soulfulness. With this new documentary, made on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of Bergman’s birth, director Stig Björkman allows us unprecedented access to her world, culling from the most personal of archival materials—letters, diary entries, photographs, and Super 8 and 16 mm footage Bergman herself shot—and following her from youth to tumultuous married life and motherhood. Intimate and artful, this lovingly assembled portrait, narrated by actor Alicia Vikander, provides luminous insight into the life and career of an undiminished legend.

2015 • 114 minutes • Color/Black & White • 5.1 surround • In Swedish with English subtitles • 1.78:1 aspect ratio

• High-definition digital transfer, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interview with director Stig Björkman
• Super 8 home movies shot by Bergman in the 1930s
• Two deleted scenes, showing Bergman’s daughters reading an essay she wrote at age seventeen and an interview with film historian and Bergman scholar Rosario Tronnolone
• Extended versions of scenes featuring interviews with actors Sigourney Weaver and Liv Ullmann and Bergman’s daughter Isabella Rossellini and with the three Rossellini siblings
• Clip from the 1932 film Landskamp, featuring Bergman in her first screen role
• Outtakes from Bergman’s 1936 film On the Sunny Side
• Music video for Eva Dahlgren’s song “The Movie About Us,” which is included on the film’s soundtrack
• Trailer
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Jeanine Basinger

A  Taste of Honey

A TASTE OF HONEY – Blu–Ray & DVD Editions
The revolutionary British New Wave films of the early 1960s were celebrated for their uncompromising depictions of working-class lives and relations between the sexes. Directed by Tony Richardson (Tom Jones), a leading light of that movement, and based on one of the most controversial plays of its time, A Taste of Honey stars Rita Tushingham (The Knack), in a star-making debut role, as a disaffected teenager finding her way amid the economic desperation of industrial Manchester, and despite an absent, self-absorbed mother. With its unapologetic identification with social outcasts and its sensitive, modern approach to matters of sexuality and race, Richardson’s classic is a still startling benchmark work of realism.

1961 • 100 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • 1.66:1 aspect ratio

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interviews with actors Rita Tushingham and Murray Melvin
• Audio interview with director and coscreenwriter Tony Richardson, conducted by film critic Gideon Bachmann at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival
• New interview with Kate Dorney, curator of modern and contemporary theater at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, about A Taste of Honey’s onstage origins
• Excerpt from a 1960 television interview with A Taste of Honey playwright Shelagh Delaney
• Momma Don’t Allow (1956), Richardson’s first theatrical film
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Colin MacCabe

Woman in the Dunes

WOMAN IN THE DUNES – Blu–Ray & DVD Editions
One of the 1960s’ great international art-house sensations, Woman in the Dunes was for many the grand unveiling of the surreal, idiosyncratic world of Hiroshi Teshigahara (The Face of Another). Eiji Okada (Hiroshima mon amour) plays an amateur entomologist who has left Tokyo to study an unclassified species of beetle found in a vast desert. When he misses his bus back to civilization, he is persuaded to spend the night with a young widow (Kyoko Kishida) in her hut at the bottom of a sand dune. What results is one of cinema’s most unnerving and palpably erotic battles of the sexes, as well as a nightmarish depiction of the Sisyphean struggle of everyday life—an achievement that garnered Teshigahara an Academy Award nomination for best director.

1964 • 147 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Japanese with English subtitles • 1.33:1 aspect ratio

• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Video essay on the film from 2007 by film scholar James Quandt
• Four short films from director Hiroshi Teshigahara’s early career: Hokusai (1953), Ikebana (1956), Tokyo 1958 (1958), and Ako (1965)
• Teshigahara and Abe, a 2007 documentary examining the collaboration between Teshigahara and novelist Kobo Abe, featuring interviews with film scholars Donald Richie and Tadao Sato, film programmer Richard Peña, set designer Arata Isozaki, producer Noriko Nomura, and screenwriter John Nathan
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Audie Bock and a 1980 interview with Teshigahara

Chimes at Midnight

The crowning achievement of Orson Welles’s extraordinary film career, Chimes at Midnight was the culmination of the filmmaker’s lifelong obsession with Shakespeare’s ultimate rapscallion, Sir John Falstaff. Usually a comic supporting figure, Falstaff—the loyal, often soused friend of King Henry IV’s wayward son Prince Hal—here becomes the focus: a robustly funny and ultimately tragic screen antihero played by Welles with looming, lumbering grace. Integrating elements from both Henry IV plays as well as Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, Welles created a gritty and unorthodox Shakespeare film, one that he intended, he said, as “a lament . . . for the death of Merrie England.” Poetic, philosophical, and visceral—with a kinetic centerpiece battle sequence that rivals anything else in the director’s body of work—Chimes at Midnight is as monumental as the figure at its heart.

1966 • 116 minutes • BLACK & WHITE • MONAURAL • 1.66:1 aspect ratio

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary featuring film scholar James Naremore, author of The Magic World of Orson Welles
• New interview with actor Keith Baxter
• New interview with director Orson Welles’s daughter Beatrice Welles, who appeared in the film at age seven
• New interview with actor and Welles biographer Simon Callow
• New Interview with film historian Joseph McBridge, author of What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?
• Interview with Welles while at work editing the film, from a 1965 episode of The Merv Griffin Show
• Trailer

The Immortal Story

Orson Welles’s first color film and final completed fictional feature, The Immortal Story is a moving and wistful adaptation of a tale by Isak Dinesen (Babette’s Feast). Welles stars as a wealthy merchant in nineteenth-century Macao, who becomes obsessed with bringing to life an oft-related anecdote about a rich man who gives a poor sailor a small sum of money to impregnate his wife. Also starring an ethereal Jeanne Moreau (Jules and Jim), this jewel-like film, dreamily shot by Willy Kurant (Masculin féminin) and suffused with the music of Erik Satie, is a brooding, evocative distillation of Welles’s artistic interests—a story about the nature of storytelling and the fine line between illusion and reality.

1968 • 58 minutes • Color • MONAURAL • 1.66:1 aspect ratio

• New, restored 4K digital transfer of the English-language version of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Alternate French-language version of the film
• Audio commentary from 2005 featuring film scholar Adrian Martin
• Portrait: Orson Welles, a 1968 documentary directed by François Reichenbach and Frédéric Rossif
• New interview with actor Norman Eshley
• Interview from 2004 with cinematographer Willy Kurant
• New interview with Welles scholar François Thomas
• PLUS: An essay by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum

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