'His Girl Friday' gets Criterion treatment + 10 titles that deserve to be released


Courtesy of this late afternoon's Criterion press release:

"In January, we’re releasing the groundbreaking ["Black Girl"] debut feature of African cinema master Ousmane Sembène, ["Fox and His Friends"] a controversial portrait of 1970s gay life from Rainer Werner Fassbinder, ["Something Wild"] a harrowing work of psychological realism by Actors Studio pioneer Jack Garfein, and ["His Girl Friday"an endlessly quotable Howard Hawks classic.

This got me to go back to a very popular article I wrote for IndieWire back in the summer of 2015. Notice how one of the entries is David Lynch, who's "Eraserhead" and "Mulholland Drive" just got Criterion treatment recently. The whole article can be read HERE. Or scroll down to find an abbreviated version:

There are currently over 800+ films in The Criterion Collection, but not every movie on cinephiles' wish lists will get the much prized Criterion treatment. For the time being, however, the following movies seem to be tailor-made for an eventual restoration and release, many of which have been long rumored to be next for the Collection but to no avail.

"Beau Travail" (1999)

How can it be that Clair Denis' "Beau Travail" is only sporadically in print and that you can't find it on any streaming service? It's no coincidence that this war movie bears many similarities to another female-directed dissection of male ego and testosterone: Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker." This is an artsier film through and through, but no less remarkable; just the thought of its lingering final shot, which poses a turbulent, uncomfortable question, will give anybody – especially men – nightmares. Criterion has already released Denis' "White Material," an arguably lesser film compared to "Beau Travail," which has stood the test of time and now needs to be immortalized in proper fashion.

"Enter the Void" (2010)

Gaspar Noe's surreal nightmare was, once upon a time, rumored to get the full Criterion treatment; however, the story goes that "Enter the Void" was rejected by them and audiences ultimately ended up with a normal, token Blu-Ray/DVD release that could have been so much more. Noe's film is divisive, but it's garnered an immense cult following over the years, with many proclaiming it is ahead of its time. You can fault or insult the 51-year-old French filmmaker all you want, but he had the chutzpah to make a modern day "2001," full of intense visual treats and thought-provoking questions about life, death and the afterlife. 

"Bamboozled" (2000)

Most people have forgotten how groundbreaking, political and philosophical Spike Lee's work in the late 80's and early 90's really was. "Bamboozled" came out in 2000, when the director was about to enter a new, albeit confusing, phase of his filmmaking career. It would be the last explicitly political movie Lee would make about race in America. Starring Damon Wayans and Savion Glover, the film was pure Lee: Over the top, angry and ready to throw darts at its audience. Lee's film is as relevant as ever, dealing with an African American's frustration with a blindly racist country. All hell breaks loose when a black minstrel show becomes a primetime television hit. The film wasn't an easy watch, but it’s become a summary of Lee's strengths as a filmmaker, encapsulating a time when his anger translated into celluloid. A few years later he'd follow it up with the masterful "The 25th Hour," which couldn't have been more tonally or texturally different.

 "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" (1927)

It is criminally unfair that one of the greatest movies of all-time did not get the proper DVD treatment. The images in "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" simmer into your head and stay there for years on end. F. W. Murnau's visual poetry was second to none, and "Sunrise" has always been the runaway winner for greatest silent movie ever made. Its DVD and Blu-ray releases until now have been mostly pitiful, bland and uncared for. What gives? It's mind-boggling that there are self-proclaimed "cinephiles" out there who have never seen this movie, and its DVD treatment is to blame.

"Freaks" (1932)

Tod Browning's visceral, pre-code horror film still shocks audiences today, so imagine what it must have been like to watch his masterful freak show 83 years ago, when audiences were much more sensitive to grotesque imagery. Then again, the original version was considered too shocking to even be released and basically ruined Browning's career. Based upon his own experiences as a runaway teenager with a travelling circus, Browning was one of the first mavericks to push the envelope to the very extreme. "One of us, one of us" is a chant that evokes the spirit the filmmaker was going for; he was trying to get the audience to understand his circus performers, when in fact the despicable people in the movie were the "normal" circus performers. The DVD release has a decent amount of extra footage, but this movie is the stuff that Criterion dreams are made of.

"Blow-Up" (1966)

Will Michelangelo Antonioni's "Blow-Up" ever get properly released? Has Warner Bros. forgotten that they own the rights to this incredible film? There are some used copies of the film on Amazon for $50, but the film transfer is terribly primitive and the extras are nowhere to be found. A re-release is rumored to be in the works, but isn't a film like this one meant for a more in-depth treatment? Just recently, Criterion released Brian De Palma's homage to Antonioni's film, "Blow Out," a great movie that stands along the best 1980's cinema had to offer. You'd think it would only be a matter of time before we finally got what we wanted, but not so much. There is absolutely no indication this will be coming out in the near future via Criterion.

"Atlantic City" (1981)

In an American Film magazine critics poll of the best movies of the 1980's, Louis Malle's "Atlantic City" was named the fifth best movie of the decade. The film is criminally underrated and one of the great achievements of American cinema, and yet time has not been kind to Malle's film, but for all the wrong reasons. It is not a showy, bombastic picture, but instead quiet and cerebral in its approach to organized crime on the boardwalks of Jersey. The way this movie has been released is a crime, whether it'd be on VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray – the film is almost ghostly in its absence and availability. The film transfer is underwhelming and the extras are pitiful, that is, if you can find a copy. What exactly happened to Malle's landmark movie? Criterion has released 17 of his movies, and it's time for his best movie to be the 18th. 

"All About My Mother" (1999)  & "Talk To Her" (2001)

It has always been a toss-up as to what is the best Pedro Almodóvar movie: "Talk to Her" or "All About My Mother." Why can't Criterion just release them all? We'll be first in line to buy the 30-disc package of every Almodóvar movie out there, and even if we can probably pass on "I'm So Excited," we'll still take that one as well. The man is a genius, and his movies haven't had much luck when it comes to DVD/Blu-ray releases stateside. A proper release is almost inevitable, but we just hope we won't be waiting another decade for it.