The Return of Violent Saturday

August 4, 2014 | By


Twilight Time’s started to reissue some prior DVD-only titles on Blu-ray with new extras, and Violent Saturday (1955) makes its debut in a sparkling new HD transfer + commentary track by producer Nick Redman and film historian Julie Kirgo.

I’ll let the revised review do the talking, but I will add that as DVD producers take on the challenges of adding value-added features like commentaries, they’re also preserving views and some needed details on talent that’s soon to be ignored by further generations of film fans.

Those who regard anno 2000 as old may well dismiss anything from the seventies and sixties, and the fifties might be seen as creaky pure museum pieces… but for younger film fans exploring the treasures of classic noir and melodrama for pleasure, course studies, or research projects, the rewards of these releases includes a film + contextual commentaries, and something more.

I’m a few generations behind Kirgo and Redman, but I grew up watching classic Fox ‘scope movies on TVOntario’s Saturday Night at the Movies, so names of stars like Victor Mature, Richard Egan, Lee Marvin, Sylvia Sydney, J. Carrol Naish and many others are instantly recognizable to me, having appeared in so many studio films over several decades. My affection for these long-gone stars is on par with Violent Saturday’s commentators, and it’s that personal connection which makes many of these classic films so important to those who grew up with them, or saw them theatrical in their original release, or in rep cinemas.

That affinity for favourite actors isn’t exclusive to any generation, but perhaps we take it for granted that it’s a new thing, or exclusive to cult stars rather than character actors with 80 films in their C.V., or starlets who made perhaps 10 films for a studio before disappearing into TV mediocrity.


Behold my sadness. Sympathize… NOW !

I’ll watch anything with famous ‘sad eyed’ Sylvia Sydney because she was a very good actress, has a certain radiance in films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Sabotage (1936), and was such a delight to see in her twilight years cast in a pair of memorable bit parts by Tim Burton.

Burton clearly had affection for the former screen beauty, but you could argue that unless someone points out Sydney’s amazing film career in a commentary track or essay or featurette, the actress who played the Slim Whitman-loving grandma in Mars Attacks! (1996) comes off as just an old lady playing a lovable cranky granny who holds the key in destroying little green men. (Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake is an outright piece of crap, but he retains my respect for putting Sydney back on film in Mars Attacks! and Beetlejiuce.)

I guess this editorial’s more of a statement of gratitude for the film historians, authors, biographers, producers, and uber-fans who take the time – paid, and often not – to preserve their affection and knowledge of names that would otherwise be forgotten, or not get more than a cursory IMDB look-up.

It’s also a wake-up to labels who don’t bother adding anything to their own Blu-ray premieres of classic films licensed from studios: if you want fans to drop $29+ on your product, you gotta give more that the movie, because that price point presumes you’re close to the Criterion realm, and to earn even a fraction of fan respect (and fan dollars), you have to invest in genuine extras.

This is what keeps physical media alive, and makes purchase & ownership viable over recording the same film from specialty HD channels for pennies. You may not like it, but in taking on a movie in what may be its last appearance on disc, you’re a steward to an aging component of film history. So don’t screw it up.

Coming shortly: soundtrack reviews.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor
Big Head Amusements

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