The Awful Truth: Criterion Collection (1937)

5 Reels

Video: 5 Reels

Audio: 4 Reels

Special Features: 4 Reels

If you ever get a hankering for some solid improvisational comedic skills on display throughout a major motion picture, look no further then director Leo McCarey’s slapstick comedy, The Awful Truth.  It might have been his first film for Columbia Pictures, but that didn’t stop McCarey from doing what he does best: allowing his actors to freewheel snappy dialogue and come up with some wild situations right there on the spot.

And Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, who would team up again in My Favorite Wife (1940) and Penny Serenade (1941), were all for it.  Want proof, just look at their reactions to the improvised dance number with Ralph Bellamy.  They can barely keep a straight face.

The Awful Truth is that Jerry (Cary Grant) and Lucy (Irene Dunne) Warriner absolutely love each other.  They just don’t believe the stories they are hearing when they suspect each other of having affairs.  On the day that Jerry returns from Florida without a tan (where he wasn’t), Lucy arrives home wearing the evening gown she had on the night before and blames her voice teacher’s car trouble for causing her to be out all night long.  Neither one believes each other’s story and thus begins the hilarity in this screwball classic from 1937.

Director Leo McCarey’s black-and-white comedy firmly establishes the Cary Grant persona we all know and love and, with the easiest of motions, Grant dives into the role, recognizing his chance to fill the demands of the part definitively.  He delivers with scene stealing moments that have him getting a supremely dark tan to disguise that he was really on the opposite coast, fighting with the voice teacher, reacting to a hilarious nightclub performance, and sharing vocal duties as he duets while playing the piano with Skippy (also scene in The Thin Man and Bringing Up Baby) as the couple’s dog, Mr. Smith, which they share visitation with when they decide - rather suddenly - to get a divorce.

Divorce?  Yes, that’s at the center of this classic comedy as Jerry, claiming he can’t trust Lucy anymore, keeps pushing the envelope with her about her night with the handsome music teacher, Armand Duvalle (Alexander D'Arcy).  His suspicion annoys her and her suspicion about the California oranges he bought for her to hide the fact that he wasn’t actually in Florida like he said he was annoys her.  So, the two - in a hilarious courtroom scene - go about getting a divorce and moving on with their lives.

Except they keep trying to ruin each other's chances with new love interests.

Jerry takes up a relationship with a sexually suggestive singer, Dixie Belle Lee (Joyce Compton), and Lucy finds herself the apple of Oklahoma oilman Dan Leeson’s (Ralph Bellamy) eye, much to her own chagrin.  The two fools - that being Jerry and Lucy - are obviously still in love with each other, but much of the hilarity in The Awful Truth comes from the lengths they will go to try and deny that they have a mutual affection for each other.

The trouble is that the truth keeps rearing its ugly head as innocent social invitations lead to complicated and hilarious tensions because the two stubborn leads keep bumping into each other, traveling the same social circles and not prepared to give up the other one to someone new.  

Fast-paced and fun, thanks to editor Al Clark, The Awful Truth is a film you don’t dare look away from as it plays.  You might miss something the actors are doing in the scene.  Everyone brings something to this charming yarn.  It is also charged with great acrobatics from Grant and singing from Dunne, it will have you teary-eyed in no time thanks to the comedy on display as a husband and a wife learn the hard way about what keeps them together: their own stubbornness.  

The Awful Truth, a true REEL CLASSIC, is on blu-ray thanks to the Criterion Collection’s 4K restoration.  

Blu-ray Specifications:

In this Oscar-winning farce, Cary Grant (in the role that first defined the Cary Grant persona) and Irene Dunne exude charm, cunning, and artless affection as an urbane couple who, fed up with each other’s infidelities, resolve to file for divorce. But try as they might to move on, the mischievous Jerry can’t help meddling in Lucy’s ill-matched engagement to a corn-fed Oklahoma businessman (Ralph Bellamy), and a mortified Lucy begins to realize that she may be saying goodbye to the only dance partner capable of following her lead. Directed by the versatile Leo McCarey, a master of improvisation and slapstick as well as a keen and sympathetic observer of human folly, The Awful Truth is a warm but unsparing comedy about two people whose flaws only make them more irresistible.

Video:

The grace!  The elegance!  Dunne and Grant together again in 4K!  Criterion Collection, with a 1.37:1 aspect ratio, presents The Awful Truth with a glorious 4K transfer that sweeps away sour memories of watching the old DVD copies of the film.  Thank goodness!  This crisp transfer absolutely crackles with depth, definition, and details as we get looks at nightclubs, apartment buildings, and even a courtroom and it all looks amazingly handled.  Even the night scene in the cabin is pocketed with details.  The black-and-white photography here sizzles and the blacks and grays are handled expertly by the transfer. 

Audio:

You’ll be heard laughing over the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which accompanies this film.

Special Features:

Including an essay from author and critic Molly Haskell, the Criterion Collection’s release of The Awful Truth features a video essay, an audio interview, and an interview with critic Gary Giddins about the improvisational style that McCarey used throughout the film.

4K digital restoration of the feature

Video essay on Cary Grant before The Awful Truth and McCarey’s impact on the actor’s theatrical persona, from critic David Cairns

Audio interview from 1978 with actress Irene Dunne, illustrated with film stills & clips

Interview with critic Gary Giddins about director McCarey’s improvisational style and the creation of The Awful Truth

Essay from author and critic Molly Haskell

Shivers: Vestron Video Collector’s Series (1975)

4 Beers

Video: 4 Beers

Sound: 3 Beers

Special Features: 4 Beers

Release the blood parasites!

One of the images that has long haunted my dreams and nightmares is that of a shirtless man bent over a nude woman’s body - which is placed on a desk in an office - as he opens up her stomach, pours acid into her open chest cavity and then, taking the same instrument that he cut her open with, kills himself.  It’s a frightening series of images in its own right, but - seeing as how this is in the opening moments of David Cronenberg’s Shivers - this scene makes for startling horror

Parasites that can take over human organs?  Sign me up! I mean, all they want to do is have sex . . . well, violent sex, but . . . STILL.

Writer/Director David Cronenberg, even early on in his career, was definitely out there with his ideas of science fiction and body horror.  His films have long been dominated by body horror and strange science fiction, but each one - including Shivers - is marked with his unmistakable style and auteurship.  And, truly, it is fascinating to watch that theme develop, mature, and turn into the controversial Crash and, most recently, Maps to the Stars.

But here, in 1975, Cronenberg, with his third film, is all about the shock and awe of puking up blood parasites from a high rise onto an old woman’s clear umbrella down below.  The scene is both hilarious and revolting and, as the man who pukes up the parasite saw the murder depicted at the beginning of this review but didn’t inform the authorities, leaves viewers with the understanding that something seriously fucked up is happening on Nun’s Island in Montreal.  

Starring Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry, and Barbara Steele, Shivers is fascinatingly strange as blood parasites descend from mailboxes, human mouths, and inspire them to have orgies.  It is all by design as it is discovered that Dr. Emil Hobbes, the man who dumped the acid into the stomach of the woman, has created (yet can’t control) a parasite that can take over human organs and cause them to do all manner of things.

And it does not matter how they get into the body!  Just witness what happens to Steele while she’s bathing.  A parasite slithers in from the drain and inches closer and closer to her whoo haw.  Shot with Cronenberg style, the scene of the bathtub entry of this parasite is made complete by Steele getting out of the tub and walking across broken glass to drive the point home that she is no longer in control.  

Frightening and wicked smart; that’s the Cronenberg way.  Shivers is now on blu-ray as part of Lionsgate’s ongoing Vestron Video Collector’s Series.  Own this ode to sex-craved blood parasites today!

Blu-ray Specifications:

After a scientist living in a posh apartment complex slaughters a teen girl and kills himself, investigators discover that the murderer had been carrying on experiments involving deadly parasites. Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton), a doctor living in the building, and his aide, Nurse Forsythe (Lynn Lowry), then realize that the parasites are on the loose, attacking fellow tenants. And those who become hosts turn into erotically obsessed maniacs who pass the bugs on through violent sex.

Video:

Offered courtesy of Lionsgate Films and its new handling of the Vestron Video imprint in 1.78:1, the AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is a relative goldmine of previously unseen details and colors. This is EASILY the best the film has ever (and probably will) look. The clothing and some of the items in the apartments are a reason to appreciate the visual “pop” throughout the high definition transfer, too.  While this is a low budget shocker, there are some details that this transfer picks up on, especially in close-ups of the parasites.  The atmosphere is especially nice. The crisp image quality is the best you’re going to get with a film like this and, admittedly, even a bit better than expected. Colors are perfect. Blacks are solid. Skin tones are detailed and appropriate. 

Audio:

The original 2.0 Stereo Audio is included, as well as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Audio.

Commentary: 

The NEW commentary from writer/director David Cronenbeg and co-producer Don Carmody is worth the price alone.

Special Features:

There are lots of NEW supplemental items which makes this title one to own.

Audio Commentary with Writer-Director David Cronenberg and Co-Producer Don Carmody

“Mind Over Matter” – An Interview with Writer-Director David Cronenberg

“Good Night Nurse” – An Interview with Actress Lynn Lowry

“Outside and Within” – An Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Joe Blasco

“Celebrating Cinépix” – An Interview with Greg Dunning

Archival 1998 David Cronenberg Interview

Still Gallery with Optional Archival Audio Interview with Executive Producer John Dunning

Theatrical Trailers

TV Spot

Radio Spots

Violence in a Women's Prison (1982) - Blu-ray Review

Kitty’s back on the cell block!  Woot! Woot!  Let the sweat-dripping orgies begin! Violence in a Women’s Prison, originally released in 1982, is a damn ugly exploitation flick. Even when you lower the bar when it comes to Women in Prison flicks, this ...

Becky (2020)While browsing through your favorite streaming service last week, you probably flipped past the title card for the little-known Canadian thriller called Becky. Big mistake. Need convincing? It stars Kevin James as a swastika-tattooed neo-Nazi murderer. Yes, that Kevin James ...

Little Monsters: Vestron Video Collector's Series (1989)

4 Beers

Video: 4 Beers

Audio: 3 Beers

Special Features: 4 Beers

Family cult classics?  Sure!  Little Monsters is back in action because knowing that urine and apple juice are interchangeable is something one needs to know early on in life!

It might be the film that bankrupted Vestron Pictures, but Little Monsters - a wildly imaginative comedy which brings together The Wonder Years’ Fred Savage and Daniel Stern, who did the narration on the show as the adult version of Kevin Arnold (Savage’s part), on-screen for the first time - is a definite keeper.

Especially if you had any part of your childhood in the 1980s.  From Howie Mandel’s manic performance as Maurice, the punk-rock monster that Savage befriends, to the sense of loneliness that all kids feel when, friendless, they try to survive a brand-new town and school, Little Monsters is a wickedly fun flick that is both morbid and manic as a monster befriends a kid, but doesn't tell him why.  Plus, it answers the age old question of what exactly it is that monsters do.  

There’s no such thing as monsters.  That’s what the parents of Brian (Fred Savage) and Eric (Ben Savage) keep telling their kids.  Of course, they are wrong.  The poor kids have been uprooted into a new town and a new house due to their parent’s troubled marriage and now - thanks to a series of unfortunate incidents around the house - they are taking out their frustrations on Brian, blaming him for leaving his bike out, leaving melted ice cream in the cupboard, and so on.

Except Brian’s not the bad guy.  It’s Maurice (Mandel), the monster that lives under his brother’s bed.  Because according to writers Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot (Pirates of the Caribbean), monsters really DO exist and they can be lured out from beneath the beds of children everywhere with Doritos.  

Which is exactly what Brian does in Little Monsters, befriending the blue-skinned monster who takes him to the monster world which is EVERY kid’s wildest dream full of endless amounts of junk food and video games.  The two fast friends find they can’t contain their excitement on having met each other and begin to play pranks on other kids, thanks to staircases in this underground world of monsters which lead to other kids’ bedrooms throughout the world.

This family friendly comedy might come across as Beetlejuice for kids, but that’s not nearly as awful as it sounds thanks to the fun that Savage and Mandel appear to be having while pulling pranks on other kids, especially the bully at his school.  But these pranks have consequences and Brian discovers that the “magic of the night” is slowly turning him into a monster, too.  And, when he wises up to their appeal, he's going to have to fight to keep his family together.

Brian Stevenson, come on down!  Brand new to the Vestron Video Collector’s Series at #19, the family-friendly gateway to young horror fans, Little Monsters is now on blu-ray thanks to Lionsgate as part of its Vestron Video Collector’s Series. 

Blu-ray Specifications:

New to the Vestron Collector’s Series, Little Monsters is the story of Brian (Fred Savage), a sixth-grader who’s recently moved to a new town and made friends with Maurice (Howie Mandel) — the monster who lives under Brian’s bed! Maurice introduces Brian to the world of monsters, where junk food rules, adults aren’t allowed, and the fun and games never end. But when Brian’s brother is kidnapped, it’s time for Brian to get serious and fight the monsters on their turf in this zany cult favorite.  With some great supplemental material - most of it new - Little Monsters makes for a seriously fun cult flick.

Video:

Offered courtesy of Lionsgate Films and its new handling of the Vestron Video imprint in 1.85:1, the AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is a relative goldmine of previously unseen details and colors. This is EASILY the best the film has ever (and probably will) look. The details in the school and in the monster underground streets are strong. The clothing and some of punked-out items are a reason to appreciate the visual “pop” throughout the high definition transfer, too.  The atmosphere is especially nice. The crisp image quality is the best you’re going to get with a film like this and, admittedly, even a bit better than expected. Colors are perfect. Blacks are solid. Skin tones are detailed and appropriate. 

Audio:

The original 2.0 Stereo Audio is included, as well as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Audio.

Commentary:

There is a NEW Audio Commentary with Jarret Gahan, Editor-in-Chief of Cult of Monster.com, who puts the film in a great context, explaining why it ought to have the appreciation it deserves.

Special Features:

The Little Monsters Blu-ray release from Lionsgate includes a new commentary, score selections and commentary from David Newman, a NEW interview with Howie Mandel, and much more!

Audio Commentary with Jarret Gahan, Editor-in-Chief of Cult of Monster.com

Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer David Newman

"Call Him Maurice" - An Interview with Actor Howie Mandel

"Beneath the Bed" - An Interview with Producer Andrew Licht

"Monsters Big & Small" - An Interview with Special Makeup Effects Creator Robert Short

Vintage Interviews with Actors Fred Savage, Ben Savage, Special Makeup Effects Creator Robert Short, and Director Richard Alan Greenberg

Behind-the-Scenes Footage

"Making Maurice" - Vintage Footage of Howie Mandel's Makeup Transformation

Vintage EPK & VHS Promo

Theatrical Trailer

Still Gallery

Masked Mutilator - Blu-rayYou say want sex and violence?  Well, the Masked Mutilator has EXACTLY what you are looking for.  Just be respectful because this house parent will definitely kick your ass ...

The Hunt (2019)

What if they made a movie and nobody came? That was the fear when the horror satire The Hunt was scheduled for release last fall before being delayed by a series of unfortunate events. First, it was the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings. Then a tweet about the film from our ...

Cary Grant Collection: Wedding Present

Sometimes the road to the altar - or in this case, the justice of the peace - is fraught with unexpected unexpected bumps along the way, like a fun media-frightened Archduke, saving a gangster from drowning, rescuing a missing cruise liner, and prank calling an insane asylum ...

Ghost Breakers (1940)It’s the simplest twist of fates as Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard return to do battle with the supernatural in The Ghost Breakers!  Voodoo, ghosts, and island-bound zombies!  Add in a criminally underrated performance from Willie Best and you have the makings of another REEL CLASSIC! ...

Knives OutKnives Out (2019) is a clever murder mystery from writer and director Rian Johnson, the best quality of which is its awesome ensemble cast: Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon and more. Everyone seems to enjoy their juicy  ...

Cary Grant Collection: Ladies Should Listen (1934)

The Awful Truth might have been Cary Grant’s first SUCCESSFUL screwball comedy, but Big Brown Eyes - with its witty dialogue and snappy performances - is, for my money' worth, the FIRST screwball comedy that he starred in.  Never heard of it?  Change that.  Quick ...

The Cat and the Canary (1939)Swamp gators (with their mouths taped shut as evidenced by this crisp 4K handling!), dead lawyers, and mighty sums of money!  Such frightful delights await those that can stay sane in the Norman clan.  ...

JawsWith streaming now taking the lion’s share of the average household’s attention, it is getting harder and harder for the studios to entice us for yet another dip at their titles; especially when a great many of them are but a single click away on our smart TVs. It is wildly believed that physical home media ...

Cary Grant Collection: Ladies Should Listen (1934)

“How could it be hot when it’s Chile?” Businessman Julian De Lussac (Cary Grant) is back in Paris and he doesn’t know what he’s doing.  At all.  Which makes this Grant-centered film, his 17th film, a fun jaunt down the romantic comedy aisle of a bygone era.  Ladies Should Listen, only ...

Ad AstraFilms of the ilk of last year’s Ad Astra are always a quandary for me to write about. With the output of most of Hollywood’s efforts being what some might sarcastically call formulaic and digestible, it is both a blessing and a curse when something is offered to buck the trend. James Gray’s science  ...

Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)Cinephile Kiddies and Cretins, come gather round and let me tell you a story about two bumbling reporters who, on an assignment to Dracula’s home turf, uncover the continuing reign of a bi-polar mad scientist who experiments on people, turning them into crotch-grabbing swamp monsters ...

The Invisible ManThough more than eighty years have passed since Claude Rains donned the dark sunglasses, smoking jacket, and yards of ACE bandages in 1933’s The Invisible Man, the character still holds a firm place in the pantheon of Universal’s classic movie monsters. That’s not only a testament to the legacy of the studio’s monster ...

Flash Gordon: Limited Edition Ultra HD 4KEmperor Ming the Merciless (a very FUN Max von Sydow) of the planet Mongo is bored.  In the famous opening of Flash Gordon, he admits of his boredom and decides to play with Earth and causes widespread destruction . . . like floods, heavy winds, and a hellish barrage of flaming meteors ...

Sonic The HedgehogThe new comedy starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson called The Hustle is an almost identical remake of the 1988 classic comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin - itself a remake of Marlon Brando’s Bedtime Story. I say “almost” because  ...

Pitch Black

And with Pitch Black, Vin Diesel arrives! “They say most of your brain shuts down in cryo-sleep. All but the primitive side, the animal side. No wonder I'm still awake.”  That opening line of voice-over narration is our first introduction to criminal Richard B. Riddick ...

Onward (2020)What's the first question everyone asks whenever you’ve just watched a new Pixar film? “Where does it rank?” Of course, they’re asking where it fits within the hierarchy of Pixar films. And let’s face it, even a bad Pixar film tops most cinema fare these days, so when we say that Onward ranks ...

Universal Horror Collection, Volume Five

AS I have previously stated, Pre-Code Hollywood fascinates me.  There are a lot of grand and wonderful films reflecting the true culture of the time period from 1930 – 1934.  Man, it must have been a wild time. These films, featuring strong sexual innuendos, different races mingling  ...

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley QuinnWhen Harley Quinn has a bad day, it’s a good day for the rest of us. And Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is the proof. The very bad, rotten day had by Harley (Margot Robbie, I, Tonya), is told in side-splitting detail in the 24-hour comical frenzy ...

Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)Suspense! Action! And GIANT telepathic crabs!  What more could you ask for in a B-movie?!?!  Absolutely nothing and that’s why Attack of the Crab Monsters, now on blu-ray with a brand-new 2K transfer thanks to Shout! Factory, continues to rule when it comes to non-stop Z-grade motion  ...

Gretel & HanselWho wasn't frightened as a child by the horrifically grim childhood fairy tale about an evil witch who bakes pastries to lure children into her home so she can cook and eat the youngsters for dinner? It’s a wonder any of us made it out of childhood without totally losing all of our marbles ...

Caged Heat/Jackson County JailShout Factory is back at it with their HUGE collection of Roger Corman titles and, while these limited releases are only available through their store (www.shoutfactory.com), the titles are definitely worth owning, making these releases a lot like crate-digging for jazz records.  Fans obsess about them and for ...

Bad Boys For Life (2020)What does a filmmaker do when attempting to revive a franchise that has lain dormant for more than a decade? In the case of Bad Boys For Life, directors Adil and Bilall do what most other filmmakers have done: they adapt the story to fit a new cultural landscape, they riff  ...

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)In what might be one of the most exploitative openings in Hammer’s 1970 era, we see a grave robber (Doctor Who's Patrick Troughton) struggle mightily with a corpse in a grave and, after a police officer falls in the now-empty grave, we see a jar of gooey, squishy eyeballs (looking very  ...

The GentlemenWhere have you been, Guy Ritchie? We’ve missed your language, your punch, your sleight of hand, and that self-referential swagger that defined your early days as a filmmaker. We got hardly any of that as you set out for more commercial ventures like Swept Away, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,  ...

Split Second

Big gun! Number one! Maybe it’s the heavy biker boots announcing his thunderous arrival to all lawbreakers in a post-global warming world.  Maybe it’s the dark, circle-framed sunglasses through which he sees all varieties of criminal behavior in ...

Movie Reviews

Our Tweets

 

You are here: Home Home Video
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Google+
Letterboxd
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes