Storms and cold weather might be getting us down, The Criterion Collection know how to cheer us up. Today they announce their May slate with three releases which include a showgirl, comedic western and a Indian Arthouse trilogy.
On 11 May we welcome LOLA MONTÈS, a visually ravishing, narratively daring dramatization of the life of the notorious courtesan and showgirl. The film is a magnificent romantic melodrama, a meditation on the lurid fascination with celebrity, and a meticulous, one-of-a-kind movie spectacle.
Following on 18 May is DESTRY RIDES AGAIN. This superb comedic western, both a boisterous spoof and a shining example of the genre it is having fun with is an irresistible, oft-imitated marvel of studio-era craftsmanship.
On 25 May THE APU TRILOGY arrives, SATYAJIT RAY’s breathtaking milestone of world cinema. Featuring PATHER PANCHALI, APARAJITO and APUR SANSAR, the films are among the most achingly beautiful, richly humane movies ever made—essential works for any film lover.
LOLA MONTÈS 11 May
Lola Montès is a visually ravishing, narratively daring dramatization of the life of the notorious courtesan and showgirl, played by Martine Carol. With his customary cinematographic flourish and, for the first time, vibrant colour, Max Ophuls charts Montès’s scandalous past through the bombastic ringmaster (Peter Ustinov) of the American circus where she ends up performing. Ophuls’s final film, Lola Montès is at once a magnificent romantic melodrama, a meditation on the lurid fascination with celebrity, and a meticulous, one-of-a-kind movie spectacle.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Audio commentary featuring Max Ophuls scholar Susan White
“Max Ophuls ou le plaisir de tourner,” a 1965 episode of the French television program Cinéastes de notre temps, featuring interviews with many of Ophuls’s collaborators
Max by Marcel, a new documentary by Marcel Ophuls about his father and the making of Lola Montès
Silent footage of actress Martine Carol demonstrating the various glamorous hairstyles in Lola Montès
Theatrical rerelease trailer from Rialto Pictures
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Gary Giddins
FRANCE | 1955 | 115 MINUTES | COLOUR | 2.55:1 | IN FRENCH & GERMAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
DESTRY RIDES AGAIN 18 MAY
MARLENE DIETRICH (Blonde Venus) and JAMES STEWART (Vertigo) ride high in this superb comedic western, both a boisterous spoof and a shining example of the genre it is having fun with. As the brawling, rough-and-tumble saloon singer Frenchy, Dietrich shed her exotic love-goddess image and launched a triumphant career comeback, while Stewart cemented his amiable everyman persona, in his first of many westerns, with a charming turn as a gun-abhorring deputy sheriff who uses his wits to bring law and order to the frontier town of Bottleneck. A sparkling script, a supporting cast of virtuoso character actors, and rollicking musical numbers — delivered with unmatched bravado by the magnetic Dietrich — come together to create an irresistible, oft-imitated marvel of studio-era craftsmanship.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
New 4K digital restoration by Universal Pictures in collaboration with The Film Foundation, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with critic Imogen Sara Smith
New interview with Donald Dewey, author of James Stewart: A Biography
New video essay featuring excerpts from a 1973 oral-history interview with director George Marshall, conducted by the American Film Institute
Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1945, featuring actors James Stewart and Joan Blondell
PLUS: An essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme
USA | 1939 | 94 MINUTES | BLACK AND WHITE | 1.35:1 | ENGLISH
THE APU TRILOGY 25 MAY
Two decades after its original negatives were burned in a fire, SATYAJIT RAY’s breathtaking milestone of world cinema rises from the ashes in a meticulously reconstructed new restoration. The Apu Trilogy brought India into the golden age of international art-house film, following one indelible character, a free-spirited child in rural Bengal who matures into an adolescent urban student and finally a sensitive man of the world. These delicate masterworks—Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished), and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu)—based on two books by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee, were shot over the course of five years, and each stands on its own as a tender, visually radiant journey. They are among the most achingly beautiful, richly humane movies ever made—essential works for any film lover.
PATHER PANCHALI The release in 1955 of Satyajit Ray’s debut, Pather Panchali, introduced to the world an eloquent and important new cinematic voice. A depiction of rural Bengali life in a style inspired by Italian neorealism, this naturalistic but poetic evocation of a number of years in the life of a family introduces us to both little Apu and, just as essentially, the women who will help shape him: his independent older sister, Durga; his harried mother, Sarbajaya, who, with her husband away, must hold the family together; and his kindly and mischievous elderly “auntie,” Indir—vivid, multifaceted characters all. With resplendent photography informed by its young protagonist’s perpetual sense of discovery, the Cannes-awarded Pather Panchali is an immersive cinematic experience and a film of elemental power.
INDIA | 1955 | 125 MINUTES | BLACK AND WHITE | 1.37:1 | BENGALI WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
APARAJITO Satyajit Ray had not planned to make a sequel to Pather Panchali, but after the film’s international success, he decided to continue Apu’s narrative. Aparajito picks up where the first film leaves off, with Apu and his family having moved away from the country to live in the bustling holy city of Varanasi (then known as Benares). As Apu progresses from wide-eyed child to intellectually curious teenager, eventually studying in Kolkata, we witness his academic and moral education, as well as the growing complexity of his relationship with his mother. This tenderly expressive, often heart-wrenching film, which won three top prizes at the Venice Film Festival, including the Golden Lion, not only extends but also spiritually deepens the tale of Apu.
INDIA | 1956 | 110 MINUTES | BLACK AND WHITE | 1.37:1 | BENGALI WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
APUR SANSAR By the time Apur Sansar was released, Satyajit Ray had directed not only the first two Apu films but also the masterpiece The Music Room, and was well on his way to becoming a legend. This extraordinary final chapter brings our protagonist’s journey full circle. Apu is now in his early twenties, out of college, and hoping to live as a writer. Alongside his professional ambitions, the film charts his romantic awakening, which occurs as the result of a most unlikely turn of events, and his eventual, fraught fatherhood. Featuring soon to be Ray regulars Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore in star-making performances, and demonstrating Ray’s ever more impressive skills as a crafter of pure cinematic imagery, Apur Sansar is a moving conclusion to this monumental trilogy.
INDIA | 1959 | 106 MINUTES | BLACK AND WHITE | 1.37:1 | BENGALI WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
SPECIAL EDITION COLLECTORS SET FEATURES
New 4K digital restorations of all three films, undertaken in collaboration with the Academy Film Archive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and L’Immagine Ritrovata, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays
Audio recordings from 1958 of director Satyajit Ray reading his essay “A Long Time on the Little Road” and in conversation with film historian Gideon Bachmann
New interviews with actors Soumitra Chatterjee, Shampa Srivastava, and Sharmila Tagore; camera assistant Soumendu Roy; and film writer Ujjal Chakraborty
New video essay by Ray biographer Andrew Robinson on the trilogy’s evolution and production
“The Apu Trilogy”: A Closer Look, a new program featuring filmmaker, producer, and teacher Mamoun Hassan
Excerpts from the 2003 documentary The Song of the Little Road, featuring composer Ravi Shankar
The Creative Person: Satyajit Ray, a 1967 half-hour documentary by James Beveridge, featuring interviews with Ray, several of his actors, members of his creative team, and film critic Chidananda Das Gupta
Footage of Ray receiving an honorary Oscar in 1992
New program on the restorations by filmmaker :: kogonada
New English subtitle translations
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Girish Shambu