HomeReviewsWorld Cinema Paradise’s Best of Blu – 2014

World Cinema Paradise’s Best of Blu – 2014

Despite widespread claims that physical media was obsolete in 2014, it was a significant year for home video, especially Blu-ray.

Initially slow, the release of classic titles surged, often through boutique labels like Olive Films, Kino, and Twilight Time, sublicensed by significant companies.

Region-free Blu-ray players became essential due to the emergence of top-quality titles from unexpected sources, such as German labels offering exclusive access to ’50s Hollywood Westerns and sci-fi films.

Non-U.S. labels like Britain’s Arrow Films often provided superior video transfers and extra features compared to American counterparts.

Various countries occasionally offered domestic Blu-rays of their classic films with English subtitles.

World Cinema Paradise’s Best of Blu

Notably, the growth of classic 3-D titles and the reemergence of long-lost Cinerama releases were among the most exciting developments in the Blu-ray realm, allowing viewers to experience these movies at home as paying audiences did when they were initially released.

Compiling a list of the top ten Blu-ray titles from 2014 was challenging.

The list focused on the effort put into reconstructing, restoring, and presenting the films, the value for money in terms of the results versus the resources available, and the creativity and ingenuity involved in creating extra features.

Overall, 2014 was an exceptional year for home video, particularly in Blu-ray, offering a wealth of classic titles and innovative developments in the format.

World Cinema Paradise’s Best of Blu
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (Val Guest, 1962)

Also, see Haskell Wexler and the Making of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’

1. The Day the Earth Caught Fire (Val Guest, 1962)

This brilliant and mature science fiction movie was previously seen in a compromised form on commercial television for many years.

However, the BFI’s exceptional Blu-ray presents its remarkable widescreen photography, including special tinting for its opening and closing scenes.

It features vastly improved audio compared to Anchor Bay’s DVD release from years ago.

It retains all the excellent bonus content from the earlier release and introduces several impressive new extras.

Notably, in one of his final interviews, viewers can enjoy Leo McKern delivering a humorous imitation of the film’s star, Edward Judd.

Best of Blu
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

2. It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (Stanley Kramer, 1963)

Enthusiasts of Stanley Kramer’s star-studded comedy have long sought a restoration of the film’s short-lived original roadshow version.

Criterion’s release reintroduces almost all the lost footage, subtly enhancing the film’s pacing despite its extended duration and reintroducing long-lost comedic elements.

The extensive extra features notably include a highly regarded audio commentary from 2014, characterized by deep affection and dense information, making it a delightful listening experience.

 Best of Blu
The Werner Herzog Collection

3. The Werner Herzog Collection (Werner Herzog, 1967-1987)

I admire those who will take a leap of faith and purchase this remarkable compilation of short films and features, as they will experience Werner Herzog’s exceptionally mesmerizing and visionary movies.

Even if this affordably priced set had only included Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), Nosferatu, the Vampire (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), and Cobra Verde (1987), it would have been a worthwhile investment.

However, this boxed set contains numerous additional films and shorts and an extensive array of bonus content that amounts to hours of entertainment.

World Cinema Paradise’s Best of Blu
Seven Wonders of the World

4. Seven Wonders of the World (Tay Garnett & Paul Mantz & Andrew Marton & Ted Tetzlaff & Walter Thompson, 1956)

In 2014, David Strohmaier and his dedicated restoration experts successfully rescued three Cinerama titles from obscurity, the other two being Search for Paradise (1957) and Holiday in Spain (1960).

Among the three, Seven Wonders of the World is the most impressive, offering a visually stunning journey worldwide and showcasing natural and artificial wonders from a captivating 1950s perspective.

The Cinerama format is a remarkable time machine, providing an unparalleled experience. Furthermore, the release has excellent bonus content, making it a must-see cinematic experience from that era.

World Cinema Paradise’s Best of Blu
Pit Stop

5. Pit Stop (Jack Hill, 1969)

Arrow Films’ high-definition transfer of one of Jack Hill’s most remarkable and often surprising films is another stunning release.

While Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider receive widespread acclaim, Jack Hill’s works from the 1960s and early ’70s are equally revolutionary and innovative in their own right.

Despite its low budget, this captivating and intelligent film is a must-see. True to Arrow’s standards, this release is rich with imaginative extra features.

World Cinema Paradise’s Best of Blu
Planet of the Vampires

6. Planet of the Vampires (Mario Bava, 1965)

Mario Bava’s highly influential science fiction horror movie, known for its surrealistic sets, costumes, and special effects, has finally received the treatment it deserves with Scorpion’s new Blu-ray release.

Previously, even in Bava’s home country, the best available version was a widescreen DVD.

This new Blu-ray offers a stunningly vibrant and richly colored transfer that honors Bava’s significantly underrated work.

The release includes a meticulously detailed and insightful audio commentary by Bava expert Tim Lucas, making it one of the year’s standout releases.

World Cinema Paradise’s Best of Blu

7. Inferno (Roy Ward Baker, 1953)

The 3-D release of the classic film “Inferno” initially had a Region B restriction from the British label Panamint Cinema. Still, it has been reissued as region-free, making it accessible to a broader audience.

This outstanding desert noir features Robert Ryan as a wealthy company president who faces a challenging ordeal after being abandoned in the desert by his wife and her lover.

Shot in Technicolor, this release is a stunning display of stereoscopic beauty and is likely one of the most visually impressive 1950s 3-D releases on Blu-ray. This is a must-have for your collection if you have a 3-D setup at home.

Best of Blu
55 Days at Peking

8. 55 Days at Peking (Nicholas Ray, 1963)

In an era dominated by excessive CGI, the exquisite productions of producer Samuel Bronston appear relatively refined and restrained.

Despite some flaws, they remain intelligent, thoughtful, and undeniably impressive in their immense scale.

This particular film, set during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion, showcases a remarkable recreation of turn-of-the-century Beijing, meticulously constructed at full scale on the plains of Spain.

When viewed on large home theater screens – I watched it on a 90-inch screen -the film’s magnificence is a sight, especially given the stunning restoration from its original Super Technirama 70 negative.

Best of Blu
The Mack Sennett Collection

9. The Mack Sennett Collection (various, 1909-1933) Flicker Alley; ALL

The rediscovered collection of silent short subjects and a few feature films showcase the remarkable versatility of producer Mack Sennett and highlight the talents of his ensemble of comedians, gag writers, and directors.

This set offers a surprising and delightful glimpse into the broad spectrum of these charming comedies, which will pleasantly surprise those whose perception of Mack Sennett is confined to the Keystone Kops.

The release is complemented by numerous valuable extras, including a genuinely moving This Is Your Life segment.

10. The Vincent Price Collection, Volume 2 (various, 1958-1972)

Shout! Factory’s second volume is a commendable sequel to its Volume 1 release.

This collection includes notable films such as House on Haunted Hill, Return of the Fly, The Raven, Comedy of Terrors, Tomb of Ligeia, The Last Man on Earth, and Dr. Phibes Rises Again.

While most of the films were licensed from MGM, Shout! Factory went the extra mile by obtaining good Allied Artist Haunted Hill transfers and Fox’s Return of the Fly and sourcing new supplements.

Additionally, other noteworthy mentions include:

The Essential Jacques Demy, The Sicilian Clan, Gravity (3-D), Gulliver’s Travels, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, Tomorrow, Judex, Man Hunt, His and Hers, The Death Kiss, Dragonfly Squadron (3-D), The Bubble (3-D), Last of the Unjust, The Conformist, Judgment at Nuremberg, The Girl Hunters, and The François Truffaut Collection.

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Ashish Maharjan
Ashish Maharjan
Ashish, a seasoned editor and author for World Cinema Paradise, intricately weaves creativity with precision in his writing, establishing himself as a prolific content creator. Renowned for clarity and captivating storytelling, Ashish has cultivated a devoted readership, driven by his unwavering passion for words and commitment to excellence.

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