Inside scoop on Lenzi extras

Forum member Django Li has confirmed that the forthcoming FilmArt releases of Umberto Lenzi’s poliziotteschi classics THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST and BROTHERS TILL WE DIE will include newly commissioned interviews with the director as well as Sal Borghese, Henry Silva and composer Franco Micalizzi.

The fledgling German DVD distributor has yet to set a date for either  title but their debut will mark the first time that the films have been given an official, English-friendly DVD release.

THE CYNIC, THE RAT AND THE FIST (Il cinico, l’infame, il violento) is top tier Italian crime, featuring the unbeatable triptych of Maurizio Merli, Tomas Milian and John Saxon. BROTHERS TILL WE DIE (La banda del gobbo), co-written by Milian and director Lenzi, sees the actor take on the dual role of two brothers opposite Henry Silva.

Once Upon a Time in America Redux

Sergio Leone’s ill-treated mob movie classic is heading back to the Cannes Film Festival this year in an all-new incarnation. The film has been painstakingly restored from the original negatives and includes a whopping 40 minutes of additional footage.

A labour of love that’s been over a year in the making, the project will be finally unveiled at France’s most prestigious annual event – a fitting debut for the longer cut, as it was in Cannes where the film was initially screened 28 years ago. ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA would sadly become director Leone’s swansong, as his long-gestating World War II epic, LENINGRAD, never got off the ground before his death in 1989 (though the film is currently in pre-production and cameras are set to roll for director Guiseppe Tornatore [CINEMA PARADISO] later this year).

ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA is something of a departure from the Italian westerns with which Leone made his name and is the epic tale of a group of young Jewish boys who become embroiled in New York’s criminal underworld during the prohibition era.  Leone’s film is a sprawling masterpiece but its American distributor, the Ladd Company (who had similarly interfered with Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER), was of the opinion that it was too long and its non-linear structure too confusing, insisting on cuts totaling almost an hour and a half before its release. The film fared better in Europe where it was released in a version that ran for 3 ¾ hours (the version that is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Home Video) but stories have persisted of longer cuts and missing footage for many years.

At present it is not exactly clear what the new material consists of and no announcement has been made relating to a home video release of the longer cut (though it is inevitable). I guess we’ll have to wait until the reviews following the Cannes screening begin to filter through next month.

Tales that Witness Madness Coming to Blu-ray and DVD this June

Olive Films continues to unveil the fruits from its deal with Paramount this June when it releases Freddie Francis’s long lost horror anthology TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS on DVD and Blu-ray.

Olive has been steadily releasing Paramount titles for the best part of a year already, with many coming to disc for the first time.  Previously released titles include Brian Gibson’s BREAKING GLASS, Robert Duvall tough cop drama BADGE 373 and blaxploitation thriller HIT. Olive is also releasing Bernardo Bertollucci’s epic drama 1900 (Novecento) in May.

TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS was made in 1973 at the height of the British film industry’s compulsion to make portmanteau horror films. The film stars Kim Novak, Joan Collins, Donald Pleasence, Suzy Kendall and Jack Hawkins. The forthcoming Olive Films release marks the film’s world premiere on DVD and Blu-ray. It was previously released to the UK VHS rental market by Rank Video in the early 1980s.

The DVD and Blu-ray debut 26th June. The disc specifications have yet to be announced but it’s worth pointing out that Olive’s previous Blu-ray discs have not been region-locked..