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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: It's All Black And White

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, April 30, 2019 06:24pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

Recently we've been treated to an avalanche of new Blu-ray releases of classic fifties black and white movies. In this article, I'm going to focus on a couple of recent sci-fi and horror classics. In the 1950s, Hollywood turned America’s fear of atomic bombs and their fallout into drive-in movie gold. An endless stream of radioactive monsters invaded movie screens and the public ate them up with a seemingly insatiable appetite. Now, decades later, many of these drive-in classics are being remastered and released on Blu-ray. There are too many to review in one month so I’ll just focus on a couple of the best of them:

The Creature From The Black Lagoon Legacy Collection, Universal:
It looks like The Creature From The Black Lagoon has finally been fixed. This Legacy Collection actually Creature From The Black Lagooncame out in the fall of 2018, but it was one of the most screwed up Blu-ray releases in recent history. The first Creature film has been out on Blu-ray for years but everyone has anxiously been awaiting the remastered sequels. Everything else in the Legacy series had been released on Blu-ray and the Creature set was one of the last two to be put out. The first Creature film looked just fine, but the sequels were a disaster. Universal had completely screwed up the mastering on the disc to the point where the entire run eventually had to be recalled. Here at the store we've had this Legacy set on backorder for months, but we just started getting new copies in the past three weeks. These are finally the corrected discs. There's still some griping online about the quality of the sequels though. I can understand the complaints, some of the scenes still look a little soft, but I'm pretty sure the blurriness one sees here and there was in the original film elements. The majority of the scenes are crystal clear and finally in hi-def. The underwater scenes look especially immaculate and you can see details of the creature costume that were never discernible before. The Creature From The Black Lagoon has always been my favorite Universal monster movie. It's just a perfect little story that is well told. The sequels are pretty great as well even though they kind of retread the original. The gill man has one of the best designs in monster history, he's fearsome yet still slightly human. The story is a simple straight to the point narrative: a team of scientists travel to the depths of the Amazon in search of a fossilized missing link between humans and sea creatures. Instead, they find the still-living real McCoy and all hell breaks loose as they fight for their lives. The film is kind of like the ultimate distillation of man verses nature.

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Irving Gertz 1915 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, November 23, 2008 11:43am | Post a Comment

I am a big 1950’s sci-fi film fan and aficionado of the scores of these classic and occasionally not so classic B-movies. The fact is, more often then not, the music will be oddly brilliant. Another inevitable universal truth is the lower the budget, the better the soundtrack. Some of the very best ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ scores were composed by Irving Gertz. He died on November 14th in Los Angeles at the age of 93.  

The youngest of eight children, Gertz was born in 1915, in Providence, Rhode Island, where he learned to play the piano, clarinet, upright bass and tuba as a kid. He studied composition at Providence College of Music and privately with composer Walter Piston. In 1938 Gertz was hired by the music department of Columbia Pictures, but left to serve during the Second World War. After his tour of duty, he studied with legendary composers Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Ernst Toch before returning to the industry.

Throughout the 1950’s and until his retirement in 1968, Gertz contributed music to more than 200 films, often without screen credit. One of his most recognized early works is the music for the 1955 western Top Gun, but his most notable musical efforts are in the Sci-fi world. Some of his soundtrack work includes The Alligator People, The Leech Woman, The Curse of The Undead, and The Creature Walks Among Us. Gertz also worked extensively with Jack Arnold, the first certified genius of the low budget 1950’s sci- fi genre, scoring films like It Came from Outer Space, The Monolith Monsters and The Incredible Shrinking Man. Gertz also worked extensively in television, composing for Land of the Giants, The Invaders and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

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