Insane! In a single word we have Yuichiro Miura’s 1970 skiing expedition to the top of the world … Insane! This bit of insanity just happens to be the subject of documentary filmmakers Bruce Nyznik and Lawrence Schiller’s 1975 Oscar-winner for Best Documentary, The Man Who Skied Down Everest.
Word arrived this past week that The Film Detective has restored and re-mastered this breathtaking adventure saga for release as both DVD and Blu-ray product offerings on Dec. 13.
You don’t just climb up Mount Everest and ski back down. You form an expedition and you haul tons of supplies up the mountain to support the needs of that expedition. Indeed, according to the original Specialty Films/Crawley Films theatrical press release, that expedition involved over 800 people and something like 27 tons of equipment. Along the way six members of the expedition died — Everest can be an unforgiving place.
The documentary, with narration provided by Douglas Rain (based on a translation of Miura’s diary), is absolutely gorgeous; stunning in its beauty. And why not, this is Mount Everest — beautiful and deadly. We follow the progress of the expedition, the background of Miura (he wasn’t new to this sort of ski-stunt) and finally, on May 6, 1970, he and his crew film the impossible.
The descent is from roughly 27,000 feet down a sheer ice face and everything has to be just perfect — including the camera positioning. Miura knew from experience that once he got going he’d never be able to stop with his skies alone and so he tethered himself to a drogue parachute (think: space shuttle; drag racer … you will get the idea), which no one had experience with at this altitude! He’s going to be traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour. If he goes airborne, he’s dead. If it doesn’t deploy properly, he’s dead.
The descent — a one-shot deal — is both breath-taking and absolutely, magnificently insane!
Also announced by The Film Detective are ten new film restorations heading to DVD on Nov. 15.
Included in the eclectic mix of titles is director W. Lee Wilder’s 1954 sci-fi thriller, Killers From Space, starring Peter Graves as Dr. Doug Martin, a nuclear whiz, who miraculously survives a fighter jet crash and is found wandering in the desert shortly thereafter.
As his memory returns — through a little help from truth serum — he begins to weave a fantastic tale that he was captured by bug-eyed aliens and subjected to clinical examination. Of course he’s crazy.
“Bug-eyed” aliens? Aliens from another world with plans to use the energy released by our nuclear testing to turn ordinary insects and lizards into a vanguard of giant human-devouring beasts … please, who is going to believe that sort of hallucination!!
There’s just one little problem. The aliens of his confused mind actually brought him back to life — he didn’t survive that jet crash — and their plans are real. The little problem for him is that no one believes him!
Also in the mix are a trio of Westerns — Kentucky Rifle (1956, Lance Fuller, Cathy Downs and Chill Wills), the ironically-titled 1935 film release of The Last of the Clintons (starring Harry Carey as “Trigger” Carson) and director Harry L. Fraser’s 1932 Bill Cody/Andy Shuford Western, Law of the North (part of a series of Monogram-produced Westerns featuring Bill Cody and his kid sidekick Andy Shuford).
Rounding out the Nov. 15 DVD releases from The Film Detective are The Lady Says No (1951, teaming David Niven with Joan Caulfield), Here’s Flash Casey (1938, directed by Lynn Shores and starring Eric Linden as would-be photo-journalist Flash Casey), Jungle Bride (Anita Page stars in this 1933 shipwreck adventure) and Jaws of the Jungle (a 1936 adventure short filmed on location in Ceylon).