The Criterion Collection announced its selection of new DVD and Blu-ray product offerings for the month of September this past week … as always it is a question of taste as to what is at the front of the pack.
We’re going to go with the Sept. 27 restorations of director Mark Robson’s 1967 film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s best-selling novel about “mother’s little helpers,” Valley of the Dolls and cult filmmaker Russ Meyer’s 1970 satirical follow-up, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (with a script by legendary film critic Robert Ebert).
Valley of the Dolls, starring the late Patty Duke (Oscar-winner for her performance as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker), Barbara Parkins (Emmy-winner for Peyton Place) and the doomed Sharon Tate (she would be murdered by the Manson Family less than two years later), arrives as a new 2K restoration on both Blu-ray and DVD (a double-disc set).
Bonus goodies for Valley of the Dolls include a vintage commentary (circa 2006) featuring Barbara Parkins and journalist Ted Casablanca (“The Awful Truth”), newly-minted video sessions with author Amy Fine Collins and critic Kim Morgan and a pair of vintage short promotional films from 1967.
As to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Criterion has two vintage commentary tracks — one featuring the late Roger Ebert (circa 2003) and the second featuring cast member Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Harrison Page, John La Zar, and Erica Gavin (circa 2006) — plus a new video session with auteur filmmaker John Waters (one of the funniest men on the planet), a vintage video session with Russ Meyer, a Q&A session from 1992 featuring Russ Meyer, Roger Ebert and actors John La Zar, Dolly Read, David Gurian, Charles Napier (who also produced), Michael Blodgett and Edy Williams and five documentaries on the film — Above, Beneath and Beyond the Valley, Look on Up at the Bottom, The Best of Beyond, Sex, Drugs, Music and Murder and Casey & Roxanne.
Criterion goes to the vaults on Sept. 20 for a new 2K restoration of director Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 film masterpiece, Cat People.
The bonus goodies here include a 1977 video session with director Jacques Tourneur, a newly-minted video session with cinematographer John Bailey (Groundhog Day, As Good as it Gets, etc.) and director Kent Jones’ 2007 feature-length documentary titled Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows.
Also on Sept. 20, the Coen Brothers get another Criterion Collection look-see with a 4K restoration of their 1984 film noir treasure, Blood Simple. There will be a Blu-ray and double-disc DVD release on that date.
Bonus features include new video sessions featuring the Coen Brothers and the film’s stars, Frances McDormand and M. Emmet Walsh (among others).
Rounding out the September Blu-ray and DVD selections from the Criterion Collection are Japanese filmmaker Kenji Mizoguchi’s 1939 film, The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (Japanese) — which didn’t wash up on these shores until 1979 — it will be available on Sept. 13 as DVD and Blu-ray selections; a Blu-ray edition of director Carol Reed’s 1940 film release of Night Train to Munich (Sept. 6) and the epic 1988 film series from Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski, Dekalog — five-disc DVD and four-disc Blu-ray sets will be available on Sept. 27.