Sunday, March 26, 2017

Tonight's Movie: September Storm (1960) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Mark Stevens and Joanne Dru star in SEPTEMBER STORM (1960), released this week on Blu-ray and DVD by Kino Lorber.

SEPTEMBER STORM was a 3-D film released several years after the 3-D craze hit its peak and quickly died out in the mid '50s. It's been restored by the 3-D Film Archive. The Blu-ray includes the option of watching the film in 3-D or flat; I reviewed the flat version.

The movie has some very interesting names behind the scenes; director Byron Haskin also made the sci-fi classic THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953), while screenwriter W.R. Burnett was behind such crime film classics as HIGH SIERRA (1941) and THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950). The screenplay was based on a story by Steve Fisher, who had some interesting screenwriting credits himself, including LADY IN THE LAKE (1947) and WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED (1953).

The movie was shot in CinemaScope by Lamar Boren and Jorge Stahl. According to Kino Lorber, it was the first film to feature underwater color 3-D footage.

For an adventure film, SEPTEMBER STORM is quite a leisurely 99 minutes. Dru plays Anne, a model vacationing in Majorca. She's romanced by young Manuel (Asher Dann), who tries to impress her by claiming that the yacht he maintains for playboy businessman LeClerc (Jean-Pierre Kerien) is his.

Joe (Stevens) is an adventurer short on funds who quickly figures out that Manuel doesn't own the boat. He agrees not to tell Anne, but in return he wants to use the yacht to hunt for some gold treasure.

Accompanied by Joe's sidekick Ernie (Robert Strauss), the quartet set sail to go after the gold. They run into problems ranging from a violent storm to one of the group being attacked by a man o' war to Manuel and Ernie making heavy moves on Anne...and then there's the problem of LeClerc finding out what they've been up to with his yacht.

The film is a pleasant enough Sunday afternoon time-passer but there's really not much to the movie, which is rather disappointing with the likeable Dru and Stevens as leads, along with the credentials of those behind the camera.

Dru looks stunning and does a lot to make the movie watchable, keeping her character smart and sympathetic despite her willingness to hang out with what are, in essence, a trio of dubious characters.

As I've commented before, at this stage in his career the skinny Stevens, with his thinning hair, wasn't your typical leading man material, yet I find something quite compelling about his personality, and I'm always glad to see him. This week I'm looking forward to revisiting his excellent film noir THE DARK CORNER (1946) at the Noir City Film Festival.

Dann and Strauss aren't very interesting, with Strauss's character somewhat inexplicably shifting from comic relief to violent molester over the course of the film. Kerien's opening narration gets the movie off to a slow start but he's a little more interesting as the film goes on.

The Blu-ray picture looks stunning at times, particularly the opening credits and the Intermission card; Majorca looks beautiful, and I particularly enjoyed the underwater scenes. There are some problems with how the film was originally shot which do detract at times from the film's overall look; most egregiously, some fine flamenco dancers (Charito Leon and Ernesto Lapena) are frequently shown with their feet cut off.

The plentiful Blu-ray extras include a 2016 interview with costar Asher Dann; a trailer for the "flat" release and a TV ad for the 1960 3-D release; THE ADVENTURES OF SAM SPACE, a 3-D short originally released with September Storm; HARMONY LANE (1953), a British short once believed lost; and an interview with Lewis Gilbert, director of HARMONY LANE.

Kudos to Kino Lorber for bringing out this footnote in 3-D movie history in such a nice edition.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


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