The Criterion Collection revealed its June release calendar of new Blu-ray and DVD film selections this past week. Depending on one’s taste, you could make a case for any of the five film restorations, but personal choice at this end has to be the June 27 new 4K digital transfer of auteur filmmaker Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 film adaption of the Gordon Williams novel, “The Siege of Trencher's Farm,” which reached the screen as simply Straw Dogs.
DVD and Blu-ray editions will be available.
If you are a film fan, then the connection between Sam Peckinpah and Clint Eastwood as filmmakers, through their mutual association with Don Siegel, becomes more and more an appreciation of how they learned their craft over time. While Siegel’s film are to be admired for the workman-like quality, Peckinpah, and especially Eastwood, would take that filmmaking tutelage from Siegel to new levels.
Peckinpah, after laboring away as an episode director on numerous television shows in the 1950s (Gunsmoke, The Westerner, The Rifleman, etc.), turned to feature films in the 1960s — The Deadly Companions, Ride the High Country and Major Dundee — and then came the summer of 1969 masterpiece, The Wild Bunch.
Disaster struck the following year (1970) with The Ballad of Cable Hogue, which had production difficulties and failed to find an audience. That left Peckinpah on the outs with Warner Bros. and in search of a job … that arrived in the form of Straw Dogs!
Bonus goodies assembled by The Criterion Collection include the 2003 commentary track bySavage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies” – 1998), two documentary films from filmmaker Paul Joyce — from 1993, Sam Peckinpah: Man of Iron and from 2003 film, Mantrap: Straw Dogs —The Final Cut — newly prepared video sessions with film critic Michael Sragow, filmmaker Roger Spottiswoode (one of the three film editors who worked on Straw Dogs) and film scholar Professor Linda Williams (Film Studies and Rhetoric at University of California, Berkeley) and archival video sessions with Susan George, producer Daniel Melnick (All that Jazz, Footloose, Altered States, etc.) and Peckinpah biographer Garner Simmons (author of “Peckinpah: A Portrait in Montage” – 2004).film critic and writer Stephen Prince (author of “
Another film jewel included in the June DVD and Blu-ray release lineup from The Criterion Collection is a new 2K digital restoration of auteur filmmaker Nicholas Ray’s 1948 film noir adaptation of Edward Anderson’s 1937 novel, “Thieves Like Us,” which was released theatrically as They Live by Night.
DVD and Blu-ray selections will be available on June 13.
This was a film that almost didn’t get made — it was considered too much of a downer — but then a post-war cinematic trend was catching hold and that was film noir and this film is PURE film noir! First time filmmaker Nicholas Ray turned in a gem … he would go on to deliver such films as Rebel Without a Cause, Knock on Any Door and Johnny Guitar.
Bonus features include a vintage commentary teaming Farley Granger with film historian Eddie Muller (author of “Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir”), a new video session with film critic Imogen Sara Smith (author of “In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City”) and more.
Other June DVD and Blu-ray releases from The Criterion Collection are: Ugetsu (June 6), the Marseille Trilogy (featuring three films: Marius, Fanny and Cesar) (June 20) and two silent films from Alfred Hitchcock — Lodger (silent-1927) and Downhill (aka: When Boys Leave Home) (silent-1927) (June 27).