Comedy! Romance! Drama! Last month’s Twilight Time releases offer something for everyone.
Twilight Time’s monthly releases, typically four to five titles, never share a common theme content-wise, but they all get the same solid treatment from the label. The variety actually works in its favor as most movie fans will find at least one of the monthly titles up their alley. Their releases from last month include Woody Allen’s Alice, Forever Amber, Paddy Chayefsky’s The Hospital, The L-Shaped Room, and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
Keep reading for a look at Twilight Time’s Blu-ray releases for December 2017.
The Hospital (1971)
Dr. Bock (George C. Scott) is at a loss. His family has fallen apart, and the hospital where he works seems to be heading in the same direction. There’s chaos in the halls and parking lot as protesters complain about expansion plans, but the more immediate concern is growing number of bodies being discovered — is someone murdering hospital employees?
Paddy Chayefsky will always be best known for Network, but his wit extended beyond that television satire to include the likes of Altered States, Paint Your Wagon, and Marty. It also gave us the sharp and blackly-comic delight that is The Hospital. The film paints a horrifyingly accurate portrait of a health care system more interested in the system than it the care, and while it’s nearly half a century old today’s medical world is every bit as messed up.
Scott gives a commanding performance weighted with drama, angst, and an appreciation for the ridiculous, and Chayefsky’s script — which won the Oscar for Best Screenplay — plays out with equal parts comedy, condemnation, and mystery. We’re occasionally bogged down in the protest subplot, but most of the film flies along with a biting edge and a cynical awareness that something big is amiss in a system meant to keep everything under control.
The disc includes an isolated music and effects track.
Buy The Hospital from Twilight Time.
Forever Amber (1947)
A young woman (Linda Darnell) living in 1660 England wants more than the simple rural life being prescribed her, and she sees opportunity in a military man (Cornel Wilde). He’s not of the same mind, though, and after a brief exchange the pair go their separate ways. That’s when Amber’s life gets even more interesting.
This romantic drama takes some faced outage in its time, both as a novel and as a film, and it’s easy to see why the central character’s life would have upset the delicate sensibilities of the 1940’s. Sixteen year old Amber pursues a man, gets knocked up, becomes a thief, and even spends some time in jail, and while the times were chaste she most definitely wasn’t.
There are some action beats along the way, but it’s far more of a troubled tale of love than it is an exciting romp. Amber’s broken but hopeful heart fuels her journey with more than a couple men along the way, and like Letter from an Unknown Woman the film recognizes that not all romances end happily. Director Otto Preminger delivers a lush tale, and the always fun George Sanders makes an appearance too.
The disc includes an isolated music track and a featurette, “Linda Darnell: Hollywood’s Fallen Angel.”
Buy Forever Amber from Twilight Time.
The L-Shaped Room (1962)
Jane is almost thirty, single, and possibly pregnant. Turned off my both the father and the doctor she first visits, Jane decides she’s going to have the child… but she knows it won’t be easy. Her only real support comes in the neighbors who share her small apartment building.
Leslie Caron takes the lead here with a character and a situation that found some controversy upon release. A single mother to be, Jane is at first unsure about whether to keep or abort the growing life within, and she’s uninterested in staying with the father. Her choices lead to conflict, and therein lies the story.
The film applies a heavy dose of social realism to its narrative, and while it moves around a little the action remains mostly set in her apartment building which lends the proceedings the feelings of a play. It’s essentially an indie film feeling as tone and commentary on the times takes center stage away from a more traditional narrative. It’s very much a drama, and while it offers no easy answers for poor Jane it works well to capture the questions she faces.
The disc includes an isolated music and effects track and a commentary track with film historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman.
Buy The L-Shaped Room from Twilight Time.
Wuthering Heights (1970)
After being welcomed into a family as a young boy, Heathcliff grows to love his “sister” Cathy, but what begins in innocence becomes romantic. As adults the pair seem destined to be together, but fate intervenes leaving Heathcliff heartbroken and determined to prove his worth. He does, but at what cost and in what time?
Emily Bronte’s classic and beloved novel has been brought to the screen numerous times, and this early 70s adaptation remains one of the less appreciated versions. Timothy Dalton takes the lead as Heathcliff and remains the most recognizable face in the film, and he does solid work as the struggling lover.
The film leaves some novel fans cold in a pair of changes it makes to the narrative, both of which help it stand apart from the crowd. For one, Heathcliff’s “brother” is a supportive and less antagonistic soul than in other versions, but it’s the ending that seals the film’s fate as Heathcliff’s death comes in a wholly different manner and time leaving the dramatic denouement noticeably less weighty. The very end is the same, but getting there is a less emotional journey.
The disc includes an isolated music track and a commentary track with film historian Justin Humphreys.
Buy Wuthering Heights from Twilight Time.
Alice (Mia Farrow) has everything she could possibly want — money, a husband, kids, money — but she realizes one day that she wants something else. She’s not sure exactly what at first, but it could be love. Or it could be purpose.
Woody Allen’s films are an acquired taste at times, but while the ones I appreciate most are his earlier, broader comedies, there’s personality to be found in this slice of magical realism. Alice is a character on a journey of enlightenment, even if she doesn’t know it, and the lesson is one applicable to all of us. Sure it’s somewhat simple in its “materialism is bad” summation, but it finds enough nuance to recognize that it’s about what we do with the things and time we have that matters.
Farrow is the main reason to watch as she gives an engaging performance that finds humor, charm, and concern in the character of Alice. The supporting cast includes other highlights like Joe Mantegna, William Hurt, June Squibb, Bernadette Peters, Bob Balaban, Alec Baldwin, and Keye Luke (Gremlins) in his final role.
The disc includes an isolated music and effects track.
Buy Alice from Twilight Time.