Criterion celebrates Delmer Daves and Haskell Wexler

Criterion Collection’s May releases include three films I wanted to highlight since they haven’t been on the label until now.

Delmer Daves was one of the most accomplished filmmakers of his time. His directorial debut was Destination Tokyo (1943) starring Cary Grant. He then made the film noir classic Dark Passage in 1947 with Humphrey Bogart. Throughout the 1950s he worked in several different genres but became best known for his westerns including Broken Arrow (1950), Jubal (1956), The Last Wagon (1956) and 3:10 To Yuma (1957). One of his final films was Spencer’s Mountain which became the basis for the popular 70s TV series The Waltons.

Haskell Wexler began his career working on documentaries, shorts and television throughout the late 40s and 50s. He then became a much sought after cinematographer getting behind the lense for such classic films as America America (1963), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), In The Heat of The Night (1967), American Graffiti (1973), One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Bound For Glory (1976) and Days of Heaven (1978).

JUBAL (1956, Dir: Delmer Daves) – Based on a 1939 novel, Glenn Ford plays Jubal Troop a cowboy who is discovered in bad shape and given a place to recuperate by rancher Shep Horgan (Ernest Borgnine). While staying at Horgan’s place Jubal makes an enemy of Pinky (Rod Steiger) the main foreman. Horgan’s wife Mae (Valerie French) who is secretly cheating with Pinky takes a liking to Jubal but he sets his sights on young Naomi (Felicia Farr) one of the group of travelers passing by. A lone drifter who has straggled along with them, Reb (Charles Bronson) is befriended by Jubal and is later hired on at the ranch thanks to his recommendation. Meanwhile, the conflict between Jubal and Pinky becomes more tense as time passes leading the two on the path to a deadly face off. NOTE: If while watching the plot seems familiar to you, that’s because it is essentially a reworking of Shakespeare’s Othello set against a Western backdrop.

SPECIAL FEATURES
– New high-definition digital restoration, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
– PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones

3:10 TO YUMA (1957, Dir: Delmer Daves) – Based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, Glenn Ford plays Ben Wade an outlaw who is captured by Dan Evans (Van Heflin) an Arizona rancher that takes the job because he needs money due to a long drought. Evans becomes an unlikely hero as he guards Wade while the gang he’s led try to free him. Ford was known for playing good guy roles so his turn as Wade makes the film rather unique. While he is “the villain” of the film, you always kind of know he’s not all bad. The striking black and white cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr. gives the movie a visual boldness making it one of the best looking Westerns of its day. The film was remade in 2007 by James Mangold.

SPECIAL FEATURES
– New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
– Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition
– New interviews with author Elmore Leonard and Glenn Ford’s son and biographer, Peter Ford
– PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones

MEDIUM COOL (1969, Dir: Haskell Wexler) – A powerful experimental film that mixed cinema verite and fictional drama together creating an intriguing, groundbreaking outcome. Robert Forster plays a TV news cameraman who becomes disallusioned after discovering his company is providing the FBI with information taken from different journalists. The most memorable scenes were filmed during a real riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago which was set within the story.

SPECIAL FEATURES
– New 4K digital restoration, approved by director Haskell Wexler, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
– Two audio commentaries, one featuring Wexler, actor Marianna Hill, and editor Paul Golding, the other featuring historian Paul Cronin
– New interview with Wexler
– Look Out Haskell, It’s Real!, a fifty-five-minute documentary about the making of Medium Cool, produced by Cronin and featuring interviews with Wexler, Golding, actors Verna Bloom, Peter Bonerz, and Robert Forster, Chicago historian Studs Terkel, and others
– Excerpts from Sooner or Later, a documentary by Cronin about Harold Blankenship, who plays the adolescent Harold in the film
– Original theatrical trailer
– PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic and programmer Thomas Beard

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Peter

Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database/Furious Cinema contributor. Pete is a rabid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation/cult flix to big budget mainstream classics. His other interests include: graphic design, cartooning and music.

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