The Criterion Collection has announced its titles for July 2018, which include Ron Shelton‘s Bull Durham, King Hu‘s Dragon Inn, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger‘s A Matter of Life and Death, Steven Soderbergh‘s Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood, a six disc collection.
Take a look below for details about each release and be sure to check criterion.com for more information.
Former minor leaguer Ron Shelton hit a grand slam with his directorial debut, one of the most revered sports movies of all time. Durham Bulls devotee Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon)-who every year takes a new player under her wing (and into her bed)-has singled out the loose-cannon pitching prospect Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), a big-league talent with a rock-bottom maturity level. But she’s unable to shake Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), the veteran catcher brought in to give Nuke some on-the-field seasoning. A breakthrough film for all three of its stars and an Oscar nominee for Shelton’s highly quotable screenplay, Bull Durham is a freewheeling hymn to wisdom, experience, and America’s pastime, tipping its cap to all those who grind it out for love of the game.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
* New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Ron Shelton, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
* Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
* Two audio commentaries featuring Shelton and actors Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins
* New conversation between Shelton and film critic Michael Sragow
* Between the Lines: The Making of “Bull Durham,” a 2002 program featuring interviews with cast and crew, including Shelton, Costner, Robbins, and actor Susan Sarandon
* The Greatest Show on Dirt, a 2008 appreciation of the film featuring former players, broadcasters, and sports-film aficionados
* NBC Nightly News piece from 1993 on the final season of baseball at Durham Athletic Park, where Bull Durham takes place and was shot
* Interview with Max Patkin, known as the Clown Prince of Baseball, from a 1991 episode of NBC’s Today
* PLUS: Excerpts from a 1989 piece by longtime New Yorker baseball writer Roger Angell, with new comments from the author
1988 * 108 minutes * Color * 2.0 surround * 1.85:1 aspect ratio
The art of martial-arts filmmaking took a leap into bold new territory with this action-packed tale of Ming-dynasty intrigue. After having the emperor’s minister of defense executed, a power-grabbing eunuch sends assassins to trail the victim’s children to a remote point on the northern Chinese border. But that bloodthirsty mission is confounded by a mysterious group of fighters who arrive on the scene, intent on delivering justice and defending the innocent. The first film King Hu made after moving to Taiwan from Hong Kong in search of more creative freedom, Dragon Inn combines rhythmic editing, meticulous choreography, and gorgeous widescreen compositions with a refinement that was new to the wuxia genre. Its blockbuster success breathed new life into a classic formula and established Hu as one of Chinese cinema’s most audacious innovators.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
* New 4K digital restoration, supervised by cinematographer Hua Hui-ying, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
* New interview with actor Shangkuan Ling-fung
* Interview from 2016 with actor Shih Chun
* Scene analysis by author and New York Asian Film Festival cofounder Grady Hendrix
* Newsreel footage of the film’s 1967 premiere in Taipei, Taiwan
* New English subtitle translation
* PLUS: An essay by critic Andrew Chan
1967 * 111 minutes * Color * Monaural * In Mandarin with English subtitles * 2.35:1 aspect ratio
A Matter of Life and Death
After miraculously surviving a jump from his burning plane, RAF pilot Peter Carter (David Niven) encounters the American radio operator (Kim Hunter) to whom he’s just delivered his dying wishes and, face-to-face on a tranquil English beach, the pair fall in love. When a messenger from the afterlife arrives to correct the clerical error that spared his life, Peter must mount a fierce defense for his right to stay on earth-painted by production designer Alfred Junge and cinematographer Jack Cardiff as a rich Technicolor Eden-climbing a wide staircase to stand trial in a starkly beautiful, black-and-white modernist heaven. Peppered by humorous jabs intended to smooth tensions between the wartime allies Britain and America, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s richly humanistic A Matter of Life and Death traverses time and space to make a case for the transcendent value of love.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
* New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed
monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
* Audio commentary from 2009 featuring film scholar Ian Christie
* New interview with editor Thelma Schoonmaker, director Michael Powell’s widow
* New interview with film historian Craig Barron on the film’s visual effects and production design
* Interview from 2009 with filmmaker Martin Scorsese
* The Colour Merchant, a 1998 short film by Craig McCall featuring cinematographer Jack Cardiff
* PLUS: An essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek
1946 * 104 minutes * Color/Black & White * Monaural * 1.37:1 aspect ratio
sex, lies, and videotape
With his provocative feature debut, twenty-six-year-old Steven Soderbergh trained his focus on the complexities of human intimacy and deception in the modern age. Housewife Ann (Andie MacDowell) feels distant from her lawyer husband, John (Peter Gallagher), who is sleeping with her sister (Laura San Giacomo). When John’s old friend Graham (a magnetic, Cannes-award-winning James Spader) comes to town, Ann is drawn to the soft-spoken outsider, eventually uncovering his startling private obsession: videotaping women as they confess their deepest desires. A piercingly intelligent and flawlessly performed chamber piece, in which the video camera becomes a charged metaphor for the characters’ isolation, the Palme d’Or-winning sex, lies, and videotape changed the landscape of American film, helping pave the way for the thriving independent scene of the 1990s.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
* New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Steven Soderbergh, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
* Audio commentary from 1998 featuring director Steven Soderbergh in conversation with filmmaker Neil LaBute
* New program by Soderbergh, featuring responses to questions sent in by fans
* Interviews with Soderbergh from 1990 and 1992
* New documentary about the making of the film featuring actors Peter Gallagher, Andie MacDowell, and Laura San Giacomo
* New conversation with composer Cliff Martinez and supervising sound editor Larry Blake
* Deleted scene with commentary by Soderbergh
* PLUS: An essay by critic Amy Taubin and, in the Blu-ray release, excerpts from Soderbergh’s diaries written at the time of the film’s production
1989 * 100 minutes * Color * 5.1 surround * 1.85:1 aspect ratio
Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood
Tasked by studio executives with finding the next great screen siren, visionary Hollywood director Josef von Sternberg joined forces with rising German actor Marlene Dietrich, kicking off what would become one of the most legendary partnerships in cinema history. Over the course of six films produced by Paramount in the 1930s, the pair refined their shared fantasy of pleasure, beauty, and excess. Dietrich’s coolly transgressive mystique was a perfect match for the provocative roles von Sternberg cast her in-including a sultry chanteuse, a cunning spy, and the hedonistic Catherine the Great-and the filmmaker captured her allure with chiaroscuro lighting and opulent design, conjuring fever-dream visions of exotic settings from Morocco to Shanghai. Suffused with frank sexuality and worldly irony, these deliriously entertaining masterpieces are landmarks of cinematic artifice.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
* New 2K or 4K digital restorations of all six films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays
* New interviews with film scholars Janet Bergstrom and Homay King; director Josef von Sternberg’s son, Nicholas; Deutsche Kinemathek curator Silke Ronneburg; and costume designer and historian Deborah Nadoolman Landis
* New documentary about actor Marlene Dietrich’s German origins, featuring film scholars
Gerd Gemünden and Noah Isenberg
* New documentary on Dietrich’s status as a feminist icon, featuring film scholars Mary Desjardins, Amy Lawrence, and Patricia White
* The Legionnaire and the Lady, a 1936 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of Morocco, featuring Dietrich and actor Clark Gable
* New video essay by critics Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López
* The Fashion Side of Hollywood, a 1935 publicity short featuring Dietrich and costume designer Travis Banton
* Television interview with Dietrich from 1971
* PLUS: A book featuring essays by critics Imogen Sara Smith, Gary Giddins, and Farran Smith Nehme
With this romantic reverie, Marlene Dietrich made her triumphant debut before American audiences and unveiled the enthralling, insouciant persona that would define her Hollywood collaboration with director Josef von Sternberg. Set on the far side of the world but shot outside Los Angeles, Morocco navigates a labyrinth of melancholy and desire as the cabaret singer Amy Jolly (Dietrich), fleeing her former life, takes her act to the shores of North Africa, where she entertains the overtures of a wealthy man of the world while finding herself increasingly drawn to a strapping legionnaire with a shadowy past of his own (Gary Cooper). Fueled by the smoldering chemistry between its two stars, and shot in dazzling light and seductive shadow, the Oscar-nominated Morocco is a transfixing exploration of elemental passions.
1930 * 92 minutes * Black & White * Monaural * 1.19:1 aspect ratio
In Josef von Sternberg’s atmospheric spin on the espionage thriller, Marlene Dietrich further develops her shrewd star persona in the role of a widow turned streetwalker who is recruited to spy for Austria during World War I. Adopting the codename X-27, Dietrich’s wily heroine devotes her gifts for seduction and duplicity-as well as her musical talents-to the patriotic cause, until she finds a worthy adversary in a roguish Russian colonel (Victor McLaglen), who draws her into a fatal game of cat and mouse and tests the strength of her loyalties. Reimagining his native Vienna with customary extravagance, von Sternberg stages this story of spycraft as a captivating masquerade in which no one is who they seem and death is only a wrong note away.
1931 * 91 minutes * Black & White * Monaural * 1.19:1 aspect ratio
An intoxicating mix of adventure, romance, and pre-Code salaciousness, Shanghai Express marks the commercial peak of an iconic collaboration. Marlene Dietrich is at her wicked best as Shanghai Lily, a courtesan whose reputation brings a hint of scandal to a three-day train ride through war-torn China. On board, she is surrounded by a motley crew of foreigners and lowlifes, including a fellow fallen woman (Anna May Wong), an old flame (Clive Brook), and a rebel leader wanted by the authorities (Warner Oland). As tensions come to a boil, director Josef von Sternberg delivers one breathtaking image after another, enveloping his star in a decadent profusion of feathers, furs, and cigarette smoke. The result is a triumph of studio filmmaking and a testament to the mythic power of Hollywood glamour.
1932 * 82 minutes * Black & White * Monaural * 1.33:1 aspect ratio
Josef von Sternberg returned Marlene Dietrich to the stage in Blonde Venus, both a glittering spectacle and a sweeping melodrama about motherly devotion. Unfolding episodically, the film tells the story of Helen (Dietrich), once a German chanteuse, now an American housewife, who resurrects her stage career after her husband (Herbert Marshall) falls ill; she then becomes the mistress of a millionaire (Cary Grant), in a slide from loving martyr to dishonored woman. Despite production difficulties courtesy of the Hays Office, the director’s baroque visual style shines, as do one of the most memorable musical numbers in all of cinema and a parade of visionary costumes by von Sternberg and Dietrich’s longtime collaborator Travis Banton.
1932 * 94 minutes * Black & White * Monaural * 1.37:1 aspect ratio
The Scarlet Empress
Marlene Dietrich stars in Josef von Sternberg’s feverishly debauched biopic as the spoiled princess Sophia Frederica, who grows up being groomed for greatness and yearning for a handsome husband. Sent to Russia to marry the Grand Duke Peter, she is horrified to discover that her betrothed is a half-wit and her new home a macabre palace where depravity rules. Before long, however, she is initiated into the sadistic power politics that govern the court, paving the way for her transformation into the imperious libertine Catherine the Great. A lavish spectacle in which von Sternberg’s domineering visual genius reaches new heights of florid extravagance, The Scarlet Empress is a perversely erotic portrait of a woman-and a movie star-capable of bringing legions to heel.
1934 * 104 minutes * Black & White * Monaural * 1.37:1 aspect ratio
The Devil Is a Woman
Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich went out with a bang in their final film together, The Devil Is a Woman, a surreal tale of erotic passion and danger set amid the tumult of carnival in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Spain. Through a series of flashbacks, Captain Costelar (Lionel Atwill) recounts to the young Antonio Galvan (Cesar Romero) the story of his harrowing affair with the notorious seductress Concha Perez (Dietrich), warning his listener to gird himself against her charms. Despite his counsel, Galvan falls under Concha’s spell, leading to a violent denouement. Ever the ornate visual stylist, von Sternberg evokes Spanish culture with a touch of the luridly fantastic, further elevated by Travis Banton’s opulent costume design and award-winning cinematography by von Sternberg himself.
1935 * 79 minutes * Black & White * Monaural * 1.37:1 aspect ratio