Twilight Time in July is where historical epic consequentialness bumps up against everyday struggles to stay alive, where horrors of war share space with the wounds of romance, all in diverse Pacific locations that include Seattle, Hawaii and the Chinese mainland. Directors Roger Spottiswoode and Henry Levin give us distinctive readings on eras of great turmoil in the battle for control of Asian territories six centuries apart. Directors Mark Rydell and Raoul Walsh serve up fascinating studies of 20th-century ladies of easy virtue and proudly independent stripe who must decide whether to override their distrust of the opposite sex or go it alone to seek happiness on their own lonely terms. Lovingly shot in widescreen Cinemascope or Panavision or Super 35 by masters (Xiaoding Zhao, Leo Tover, Geoffrey Unsworth, Vilmos Zsigmond) and dynamically scored by celebrated maestros (Hugo Friedhofer, David Hirschfelder, Dušan Radić, John Williams), they are feasts for the eyes and ears in the crystalline clarity of 1080p hi-def. Preorders open today at 4 PM EDT/1 PM PDT for the July 17 TT Blu-ray issuance of The Children of Huang Shi (2008), Cinderella Liberty (1973), Genghis Khan (1965) and The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956) at www.screenarchives.com and www.twilighttimemovies.com.
Film historian David Thomson wrote of Warren Oates (1928-1982), born 90 years ago today, that the actor most fondly remembered for four Sam Peckinpah films was “narrow in range, until you got into those narrows, and then you felt depths of humor, ferocity, foolishness and honor.” That would account for the resonant impact of Oates’ most noteworthy lead role of the profane yet valiant mercenary wastrel Bennie, in which, according to Thomson, his work riffing on the filmmaker’s mien and attitude “effortlessly raises a scruffy little adventurer to legend” in Peckinpah’s personal and powerful Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974). So thorough is Oates’s bond with the Peckinpah legacy – via Ride the High Country (1962), Major Dundee (1965) and The Wild Bunch (1969) as well as Alfredo Garcia – that one might hesitate to take issue with Thomson’s assertion that “it’s hard to think of Oates playing an unqualified optimist. There's something in his face, the way he looks at things, that suggests a readiness for failure or darkness.” Yet the year before, the brooding man of narrows was fleet and frolicky as Mark Twain’s Hannibal, MO, resident Muff Potter in the Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman musicalization of Tom Sawyer (1973), wherein his portrayal of the genial and wily town drunk and steadfast Sawyer and Huck Finn compatriot was hailed as “charming, quietly complex” (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner), “sympathetic and colorful” (Los Angeles Times) and “the most authentic person in the film” (Variety). In dedicating today’s Preorder Opening Date to this highly regarded and marvelously adaptable birthday honoree, the TT tribe encourages sampling both the Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn (1974) Double Feature and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia hi-def Blu-rays to decide for yourself. After all, A Man’s Gotta Be What He’s Born to Be.