Tag Archives: Olive Films

Cecil B. DeMille’s 102-year-old silent finds a “Captive” audience among cinema fans

Olive Films, truly a company to be revered for its interest in restoring and releasing films thought lost, has come up with yet another real winner.  The Captive, directed by a 34-year-old Cecil B. DeMille, is an amazing time capsule, showing a film maker’s early steps to understanding and exploiting  the new art form.

Image result for the captive demille poster

This is not a sword-and-swashbuckling lust-and-religion epic that modern audiences have come to expect from DeMille, but a small and delicate story about the triumph of love against all odds.

Older brother Marko, younger sister Sonia and cute little brother Milos live in a Balkan country at war with the Turks.  The older brother is killed. However, the conflict goes against the Turks, and prisoners are forced to aid families of the country where the older sister and little tyke live.  A Turkish nobleman, Mahmud Hassan, Bey of Karvan, is charged with serving Sonia and her young brother.  Yet DeMille steers the film into compelling territory: The sister and the nobleman fall in love, the Turks attack their cottage, threaten to kill and eat the tyke’s baby goat, as well as the usual rape and pillage.

How else can this end? The Turkish nobleman saves the day, clobbers a couple of Turks, and proposes to Sonia, who rejects him because he is of noble birth and she a simple peasant. Crushed, the Turk returns home, only to be stripped of all honors because of the aforesaid clobbering, so he hits the dusty road. Our heroine’s home is destroyed by more marauding Turks, and she hits the same dusty road with tyke and adorable goat, and, with the magic of cinema, they meet, embrace and  live happily ever after.

This rather ponderous detailing of what is an amazingly fast film— well under an hour—shows DeMille’s narration pile scene upon scene to construct the narrative.  The realism is amazing, the Turkish hoards are of reasonable  size, and the characters and relationships are developed, like building blocks, with nary a tease or  jump in logic, clearly the touch of genius is there.
Blanche Sweet and Page Peters (no relation to House), who plays her older brother.

The now-forgotten Blanche Sweet is a revelation in realistic film acting. The camera adores her; she is radiant in her every scene . Neither cloying nor plucky, she is completely convincing as the peasant girl who grows up and finds love.  The amorous Turk is played by House Peters, and the little tyke by Gerald Ward, two names perhaps even more obscure than Sweet.  The goat is suitably sympathetic.

For a film made 102 years ago, Olive has done a masterful job recreating the original color tinting on what appears to be a complete print thought lost for years. The Blu-ray is brilliant. If you enjoy silent films, get this, and if you have little experience with these period films you’d go far to find a better film reproduced in better condition.

Cheesy, cheap and a true cult classic: Olive Films brings “Panther Girl of the Kongo ” to Blu-ray and DVD

Patty, Maxene and LaVerne promised that bongo, bongo, bongo, I don’t want to leave the Congo, oh no no no no no/Bingo, bangle, bungle, I’m so happy in the jungle, I refuse to go.

Spelling aside, we can’t wait to spend 12 chapters with Panther Girl of the Kongo that, at a cost  of $179,341, was the most expensive Republic serial of 1955.

When we say this is cheesy and cheap and oh-so-cultable, we mean it. The series was the penultimate ( 65 of 66) Republic serial, and was filmed in about two weeks. In order to make it possible to use significant stock footage from the earlier serial Jungle Girl, and cheaply pad out Panther Girl of the Kongo, a duplicate costume was used; as a result, Republic’s last female lead wore the same costume as its first!

The plot was a meld of serial fodder. Dr. Morgan is a mad scientist who is trying to nab sole access to secret African diamond mines (by way of the Republic backlot). In order to accomplish this he breeds giant “claw monsters to scare away any other inhabitants. Jean Evans, the Panther Girl, and her friend Larry Sanders encounter this plot while on a photo safari in the region.The star was Phyllis Coates, who played Lois Lane in the first season of the television series Adventures of Superman. Dr. Morgan was played by Arthur Space, best known as veterinarian Doc Weaver in 39 episodes of the TV series Lassie.

Olive Films releases release Panther Girl of the Kongo to Blu-ray and DVD.  Even audiences unfamiliar with serials can find plenty to enjoy. You may just not want to leave the Congo . . .

Danny DeVito’s lost film and fan favorite, “The Ratings Game,” gets much-needed new life

Olive Films continues playing the game, and they remain the winner in the victorious game known as Rare, Forgotten and Lost Movies That Must Be Seen and Owned.

Witness: Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Showtime’s first original movie, The Ratings Game, actor-director Danny DeVito and producer David Jablin sought to finally bring their passion project to the home video market. “Being collectors of special edition discs of our favorite films, we decided that if we were going to do it at all, we’d want to give our ‘baby’ the same kind of loving treatment and do it in a way that would appeal to comedy fans and video collectors like ourselves,” says DeVito.

“In looking for a distributor, we specifically wanted a filmmaker-friendly company that would recognize and respect that this was a passion project for Danny and I and still is” explains Jablin. “It’s been great dealing with everyone at Olive who have truly cared about getting all the details right as much as we have. Danny had the one print ever made of the film for its 1984 big-screen premier party in storage all this time and Olive Films has done an absolutely beautiful job restoring it in full HD.”unnamed

See what we mean? Olive played, they won, Danny and David won. And we won.

In 1984, Showtime Networks made their first foray into original movies with The Ratings Game starring Danny DeVito and his wife Rhea Perlman. The hilarious and biting take-down of the ratings-obsessed network television industry, which also marked DeVito’s feature directing debut, was greeted with love-letter reviews from critics and fans alike. The feature also boasts an eclectic comedy ensemble with performances from Gerrit Graham, George Wendt, Vincent Schiavelli, Ronny Graham, Steve Allen, Huntz Hall, Michael Richards and Jerry Seinfeld. Unfortunately, after its premiere, the film slipped through the cracks of the network’s slowly evolving distribution channels and fell into obscurity as a result, “except with its many fans who continue to hound us for copies to this day” adds Jablin.

MV5BMTkxNjYwMjA0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjgwODI0NDE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_With some notoriously bad, foreign-made bootleg versions floating around under the name The Mogul, the film has remained essentially lost for more than 30 years. “The mere existence of those totally crap bootleg copies really stuck in our craw and definitely motivated us to set the record straight and put out our film in all of its original glory,” adds DeVito.

In addition to the film itself, the DVD and Blu-ray includes a liner notes booklet with photos and art from the film, as well as a rare collection of four early short films directed by DeVito. “The bonus materials we included have also never been distributed on disc and were fan favorites from our early work,” says Jablin. Altogether they tell the story of Danny’s journey as a film director of distinction.”

Olive Signature releases two films in pristine prints and essential extras

Olive Films continues its tradition of releasing lost, little-known films . . . even films that have had DVD life, but are resurrected through 4Ks scan of original camera negatives and crammed with essentials extras.

The next titles to be included in Olive Signature, a new series of DVD & Blu-ray releases offering deluxe editions of time-honored classics, fan favorites and under-appreciated gems from the Olive catalog. Olive Signature titles feature pristine audio and video presentation and an abundance of bonus material that will delight fans, collectors, and cinephiles. They continue the series with two distinct, but beloved classics. Save the release date: October 25.

The Quiet Man (1952)unnamed (14)
Sean Thornton (portrayed by John Wayne), an American boxer with a tragic past, returns to the Irish town of his youth. There, he purchases his childhood home and falls in love with the fiery local lass, Mary Kate Danaher (the lovely Maureen O’Hara). But Kate’s insistence that Sean conduct his courtship in a proper Irish manner with matchmaker Michaleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald) along for the ride as chaperone is but one obstacle to their future together; the other is her brother, “Red” Danaher (Victor McLaglen), who spitefully refuses to give his consent to their marriage, or to honor the tradition of paying a dowry to the husband. Sean couldn’t care less about dowries or any other tradition that might stand in the way of his happiness. But when Mary Kate accuses him of being a coward, Sean is finally ready to take matters into his own hands. The Quiet Man would go on to win two Academy Awards in 1953, including Best Director (John Ford) and Best Cinematography and received five more nominations including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (McLaglen).
Bonus tracks abound!

  • Mastered from 4K scan of original camera negative
  • Audio commentary with John Ford biographer Joseph McBride
  • Tribute to Maureen O’Hara with Ally Sheedy, Hayley Mills and Juliet Mills
  • Don’t You Remember It, Seánín?: John Ford’s ‘The Quiet Man’ – A visual essay by historian and John Ford expert Tag Gallagher
  • Free Republic: The Story of Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures
  • The Old Man: Remembering John Ford – An appreciation of the director with Peter Bogdanovich
  • The Making of The Quiet Man – Written and hosted by Leonard Maltin

The Night of the Grizzly (1966)
Adventure is the name of the game in this action-packed, western-tinged adventure. Clint Walker stars as “Big Jim” Cole, a former lawman who trades his badge for rancher duds when he inherits land in Wyoming. But no sooner has the Cole family begun settling into their new life when nature—in the form of a blood-thirsty grizzly bearrears its ugly head. Adding to the terror and tension are a group of envious neighbors who want the Cole property for themselves, and the unwelcome return of an outlaw from Big Jim’s past who’s out for revenge.unnamed (15) Directed by Joseph Pevney, The Night of the Grizzly features a who’s-who of great character actors including Keenan Wynn, Jack Elam, Leo Gordon and Ron Ely.

  • New High-Definition digital restoration
  • Audio Commentary by film historian Toby Roan
  • Blood on the Claw: How Cheyenne Bodie Became a Movie Star – An essay by C. Courtney Joyner
  • The Legend of Big Jim Cole – Interview with Clint Walker
  • The Night of the Grizzly World Premiere archival footage
  • At Home with Clint Walker and His Home Gymnasium – Archival interview