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December 27th 2003

Two new releases from the Film Score Monthly label come highly recommended. The first, On Dangerous Ground, is part of their Golden Age Classics range, and is a bona fide classic. The score, by Bernard Herrmann, represents the composer's only work in the film noir genre. The score was composed during the end of a particularly tempestuous period of the composer's life, during which his marriage had crumbled, and a once-flourishing career away from film music had begun to peter out. FSM's CD presents Herrmann's score for the 1951 RKO film from the only surviving master recordings: acetates made by and for the composer. As such the audio quality is less than pristine, but the brilliance of the music shines through. Also of note is the disc's twenty-page booklet, which recounts the story behind the scenes of the film in compelling detail, and provides a detailed track-by-track breakdown of the music. The disc contains all the material that could be rescued, including an alternate take of the Prelude, and an interesting two-minute section of outtakes, in which you can hear Herrmann berating his orchestra in typical style. 

Film Score Monthly's second release this month, Elmer Bernstein's score for John Wayne's 1974 contemporary cop thriller McQ, is a marked contrast to On Dangerous Ground. Bernstein had scored many of the classic 60s and 70s John Wayne films (True Grit, Big Jake, Cahill - US Marshal and The Commancheros, for example), but McQ required something radically different, something akin to the funky vibes that Lalo Schifrin had written for Don Seigal's Dirty Harry. Bernstein's grand orchestral score is a shade darker than is usual for the genre, punctuated with bold, brutal big-band-style brass. FSM's CD presents the film's entire score, taken from the original three-track half-inch master tapes. The audio quality is excellent, and will certainly thrill fans of the genre. As usual the disc comes supported by fulsome liner notes, and a detailed track-by-track breakdown.  

Both discs are limited editions of 3000 copies. The discs can be obtained from specialist retailers, or directly from FSM's own website.

While I'm in the mood to plug stuff, I'm sure many Zeta Minor visitors will enjoy the latest book from Headpress, Creeping Flesh - The Horror Fantasy Film Book - Volume 1, edited by David Kerekes. 

The book contains a series of essays, featuring a wide range of subjects, encompassing things as diverse as Paul Morrissey's dire adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, to an interview with Ray Brady, the director of BBFC bête noire Boy Meets Girl. It's a wonderfully eclectic collection, but what sets it apart from similar tomes is the amount of space devoted to British TV horror (more than a third of its 160 pages). Several BBC productions are featured, including of the A Ghost Story For Christmas series (including The Signalman and A Warning To The Curious),  The Stone Tape, Ghostwatch and Whistle and I'll Come To You. It also features the Hammer House of Horror series and Steve Coogan's patchy Dr Terrible's House of Horrible. The essays are always interesting, and several will spur you to watch an old favourite again, or seek out something you've not seen. The book also includes a fascinating pair of articles related to The Wicker Man: one exploring a 1967 novel that may have inspired the film, and another about Robin Hardy's follow-up movie The Fantasist. The only downside to the book is the mediocre quality of the paper it's printed on, and the subsequently poor reproduction of the pictures. This is a minor grouch, though, since many of the photo's are simply screen-grabs (some even feature on-screen graphics!) 

More details are available from the Headpress website.

December 25th 2003

A Merry Christmas to you all!

December 22nd 2003

Ceri has updated and overhauled the Forthcoming and Offers pages, and has submitted the following summary...

For the first update to the Incoming list there’s a bumper crop of titles added, so I’ll just cover the highlights.

First up are new titles from Network, Special Branch – Series 1, The Sweeney – Series 2, Soldier Soldier – Series 1 and Peak Practice – Series 2 all scheduled for 19th January, but I expect this will be a provisional date for these titles. Choices Direct has also  confirmed that the Public Eye release with be the fourth series, originally broadcast in 1969, as previously rumoured.

HMV have some interesting exclusive releases lined up, Funeral in Berlin (one of Michael Caine's Harry Palmer films) for 5th January and the Alan Pakula directed conspiracy thriller The Parallax View for 2nd February. The Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple Collection Box Set (see the News entry for the 24th of November) has been withdrawn from other retailers as it has now become an HMV exclusive, but its RRP and release date remain the same. It may have a wider release at a later date.

Twentieth Century Fox have the Angel - Series 4 Box Set and The X-Files Series 8 Box Set listed for the 1st March, M*A*S*H Series 3 and NYPD Blue Series 3 for 15th March, and Alien, Aliens,  Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection as individual releases in there extended and theatrical versions also listed for 15th March. It is expected that these will contain the same extras that accompanied each film in the recent Quadrilogy Box Set. (The bonus materials on the ninth disc in the set will remain exclusive to the Box Set).

As a follow-up to the report by Julian last week, the Universal Playback releases of A Touch Of Frost Series 1 and Series 2 have been added for 19th January, with Series 3 and  Series 4 being listed for 16th Februrary, Series 5 for 1st March and a Complete Series 1–5 Box Set for 15th March. The first series is currently available exclusively from Choices Direct. Also from Universal Playback is Hi De Hi: Series 3 & 4 listed for 8th February.

Prime Suspect 6 – Last Witness is being listed for 16th February, Poirot – Five Little Pigs and Poirot – The Hollow for 23rd February, all from VCI’s Cinema Club label.

Swiss Toni – Series 1, the recent BBC 3 spin-off from The Fast Show, is being listed for 3rd April from BBC Worldwide. Wild West – Series 1, also from BBC Worldwide, looks like it has again been put back, as some of the retailers are showing a new date of 15th March.

Two Jim Henson TV series are also being listed. Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, the 1987 series with John Hurt as the Storyteller, for 22nd March. Columbia Tristar have moved the release date for a Fraggle Rock DVD several times. Amazon and Blackstar are currently listing it for release in January, but it's more likely to appear on the 26th of April.

And as a final round-up: Starsky and Hutch - The Complete First Season is listed for 8th February from Columbia Tristar; the 1972 Lindsay Anderson directed TV play, Home, starring Sir John Gielgud, Sir Ralph Richardson, Dandy Nichols and Warren Clarke for 23rd February; and Black Books – Complete Series 2 for 15th March from Channel 4 Video.

Also added to the Incoming page is an In the Pipeline section, covering titles which have been rumoured to be in preparation for release, but which haven’t been announced or listed by retailers.

The Offers page has been updated as well to include sales by the supermarket chain Tesco and WH Smith, and two releases with good pre-order prices, E.R. - Complete Series 1 for £29.99 (£15.00 off RRP) and Jonathan Creek - Series 1 & 2 Box Set also for £29.99 (£10.00 off RRP), both at HMV.

Finally, fans of National Lampoon's Animal House can sneak a peek at the Collector's Edition menus here. If you missed the announcement of its release, check out last week's News page

Previous News entries can viewed be by following this link.



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