The Criterion Collection will be celebrating the New Year with a newly minted hi-def restoration of iconic filmmaker Howard Hawks’ 1940 screwball comedy, His Girl Friday. The street date for both double-disc DVD and double-disc Blu-ray editions will be Jan. 10.
So why does it take two DVD discs or two Blu-ray discs for the home entertainment release of this this breezy comedy starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell?
Well, there’s also a new 2K restoration of director Lewis Milestone’s 1931 film adaptation of the 1928 Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur hit Broadway stage play, The Front Page … this was the original film version, so Criterion has gone the extra mile here with a presentation of both 1931 and the 1940 film adaptations of the original stage play (a nice comparison for films fans to enjoy).
Other bonus goodies include a newly prepared video session with film scholar and author David Bordwell (“The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960,” “Film History: An Introduction,” “Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging” and many more), an archival video session with filmmaker Howard Hawks, a trio of 1999 featurettes related to the film, the 1940 radio adaptation of His Girl Friday, two radio adaptations of The Front Page (circa 1937 and 1946) and new featurettes — on the restoration of The Front Page and the second is a look at the life and times of Ben Hecht (he was nominated for six Academy Awards for his scripts, with wins for Underworld in 1927 and The Scoundrel in 1935).
The following week, Jan. 17, 2017, Criterion is back with a new 2K restoration of the ultra-rare 1961 film release of Something Wild, teaming Carroll Baker (as the star) with her then-husband, Jack Garfein (as both director and co-writer).
The 1956 release of director Elia Kazan's Baby Doll catapulted Baker to star status (she was nominated Best Actress … losing out to Ingrid Bergman in Anastasia), but her ability to capitalize on the success was short-circuited by a contract dispute with Warner Bros. — she lost some important roles, including that of Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (one can only wonder).
She was a star in the making — a “real” actor from the “method school” — but caught in a trap. Something Wild, on paper, seemed like a perfect way to escape … after all, she would star, her husband would produce and direct and they would have total control.
The film is something of “Kitchen Sink” drama (think: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, A Taste of Honey, Room at the Top, etc.), very gritty, well-produced and very, very much ahead of its time.
Although you can see the range of Carroll Baker’s acting chops in films such as Baby Doll, The Carpetbaggers, Harlow and How the West Was Won (among others), this film, Something Wild, is a real treasure in that it is so raw; honest.
Bonus features include new video sessions with Carroll Baker, a second featuring filmmaker Jack Garfein (he supervised the restoration), who is joined by film critic Kim Morgan and a third with film scholar Foster Hirsch.
Rounding out the January of 2017 DVD and Blu-ray releases from The Criterion Collection are German auteur filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1975 film release of Fox and His Friends (Jan. 17) and filmmaker Ousmane Sembene’s 1966 arthouse entry, Black Girl (in French/Wolof with English subtitled … available on Jan. 24).