Wednesday 2 November 2016

On Blu-ray - David Hare has some thoughts about mid-career Robert Aldrich and HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE

Bette Davis (left, click to enlarge) as the hunted in Aldrich's second Grandes Dames Guignol operetta, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (USA, 1964). Released on Blu by Twilight Time from a first tier Fox 2K remaster. 
Some people feel ambivalent about these turning point 60s Aldriches, and I confess to enjoying not much more than their camp aspects. Although the camp here is less accidental than wrangled into place. Still and all they are a kind of death throe of the studio (and star) system and valuable as such. TT has also released Twilight's Last Gleaming (USA, 1977), and this along with Flight of the Phoenix (USA, 1965) represents possibly more interesting late Aldrich for aficionados. The title I am really holding out for is Hustle (USA, 1975) a remarkably charged and perfectly written and cast neo-Noir with Burt Reynolds and Catherine Deneuve as two damaged souls making the most of their perilous relationship who are ultimately outwitted by fate. Unfortunately for posterity Hustle was filmed in Eastman but processed by Metrocolor in the mid 70s, and was very likely the victim of the dreaded CRI intermediate stock which tended to fade and lose density within months of printing. Whatever the case the existing DVD is barely serviceable and the film's generally invisible reputation guarantees it near oblivion. It would surely be part of a major Aldrich retrospective. 
Meanwhile we have the scream queens in this and the previous Bette and Joan outing with forever memorable moments like, "It's ya lunch Blanche, it's ya LUNCH."

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