Castle Keep, The 5000 Fingers of Dr T and Mickey One, 3 new releases from Indicator

Castle Keep

During the Battle of the Bulge, an anachronistic count shelters a ragtag squad of Americans in his isolated castle hoping they will defend it against the advancing Germans.

Never quite reaching the complex absurdity of Catch 22 (a feat that even escaped the film version), this feels like a work made by an enthusiastic forger. Based on a novel by William Eastlake, this film may just prove that this is an area more suited to literary rather than cinematic investigation, with only M*A*S*H coming close to that rare balancing act of horror and humour that can seem so tasteless in a real-world setting.

Part of a cycle of films and novels dealing with War as both existential crisis and psychotropic comedy, Castle Keep falls between two stools, never sure if it’s an old-school movie about a group of disorganised grunts defending a strategic target point during World War II under the steely avuncular gaze of old school Major Falconer (Burt Lancaster) or a biting satire of the absurdity of conflict. As such, it ends up feeling a bit like being cornered in a room by an accountant who has dropped acid for the first time.

Comedy, Drama | USA, 1969 | 15 | 24th July 2017 (UK) | Powerhouse Films | Dir. Sydney Pollack |Burt Lancaster, Patrick O’Neal, Jean-Pierre Aumont| Buy:Castle Keep (Dual Format Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] [Region Free]

Special Features:
• The John Player Lecture with Burt Lancaster (1972): audio recording of an interview conducted by Joan Bakewell at the National Film Theatre, London
• The Lullaby of War (2017): a new interview with actor Tony Bill about his experiences making Castle Keep
• Eastlake at USD (1968): an archival, videotaped interview with the acclaimed author of the original Castle Keep novel, William Eastlake
• Original theatrical trailer
• Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Brad Stevens, archival interviews with Sydney Pollack and Burt Lancaster, and original press book material

The 5000 Fingers of Dr T

A young boy named Bart (Tommy Rettig), being forced to learn the piano by his well-meaning single mother (Mary Healy) and terrifyingly strict, authoritarian piano instructor Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried), falls asleep while he’s supposed to be practicing, and has a very strange dream that becomes the movie we’re watching.

This is the kind of film that more or less plays fine for kids (despite its darker qualities), but when you watch it as an adult, you truly get to savour it’s surreal, occasionally wonderful, and rather mind-boggling strangeness. For instance, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so (unintentionally) homoerotic in a children’s film than the musical number in which the mincing, foppish Dr T is dressed by a group of male underlings while he sings about his “undulating undies.”

The film is too much of an unfocused oddity to be a real classic, but there is a lot to savour here, particularly for fans of weird and cult cinema. The expressionistic sets are impressive, as are many of the musical numbers. And as far as live-action Seuss adaptations go, it’s certainly one of the better ones.

Family, Fantasy, Musical | USA, 1953 | PG | 24th July 2017 (UK) | Powerhouse Films |Dir.Roy Rowlands | Mary Healy, Hans Conried, Tommy Rettig |Buy:5000 Fingers of Dr T (Dual Format Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] [Region Free]

Special Features:
• Audio commentary with film historians Glenn Kenny and Nick Pinkerton
• Crazy Music (2017): a new interview with musician, singer and archivist Michael Feinstein on his obsession with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
• Father Figure (2017): a new interview with Steve Rowland, son of director Roy Rowland
• Karen Kramer introduction (2007)
• Dr. T. on Screen (2007): Cathy Lind Hayes, George Chakiris and others talk about the film
• A Little Nightmare Music (2007): an examination of the film’s ground-breaking music score
• Original theatrical trailer
• Joe Dante trailer commentary (2013): a short critical appreciation
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Peter Conheim, and extracts from the original press kit, advertising and promotion guide

Mickey One

We see a fantastic opening montage of Mickey living fast with gambling, girls and fancy cars when we find out he is in debt to the mob and will pay them by plying his trade for them. But he never is able to find out who he owes money to, how much and how he ended up with such a tab. After he flees there is a constant refrain of paranoia from Mickey worried someone is out to end him. Who? He has no clue. What crime is he guilty of committing? Mickey has no clue, but he knows he also is not innocent of that potential crime either.

Even though it’s aesthetics may look French, the heart of Mickey One is still very much an American story. The performance on stage of Mickey evokes all the entertainers of the by gone era, the unseen villains are the classic American mob cinematic creation whose imagery you already picture once you hear their name and the Chicago cityscape and a kinetic sculpture entitled “Yes” which is the perfect representation of consumerist spirit of devouring everything.

All of this is enhanced by a hair-trigger of a performance by Warren Beatty. He will be charming and acting like a wise guy one moment, and then become a paranoid and ranting manic the next. Anything can and will set off that fear of an impending doom. And what better way to depict all of the guilt, uncertainty and paranoia that goes along with all the social upheaval taking place at America at the time than with a character like Mickey.

Crime, Drama | USA, 1965 | 12 | 24th July 2017 (UK) | Powerhouse Films |Dir:Arthur Penn |Warren Beatty, Alexandra Stewart, Hurd Hatfield | Buy: Mickey One (Dual Format Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] [Region Free]

Special Features:
• Alexandra Stewart on ‘Mickey One’ (2017): a new interview with the celebrated actress
• Matthew Penn on ‘Mickey One’ (2017): a new interview with the son of director Arthur Penn
• The Guardian Lecture with Arthur Penn (1981): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Richard Combs at the National Film Theatre, London
• Joe Dante trailer commentary (2013): a short critical appreciation
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet featuring a new essay on the film by Nick Pinkerton, Richard Williams on the film’s Sauter/Getz score, archive interviews with director Arthur Penn, and historic articles on the film


Peter Fletcher