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The Curtis Harrington Short Film Collection (Deluxe Combo DVD/Blu-ray Edition) (1942)

Curtis Harrington , Nikolas Schreck , Curtis Harrington  |  NR |  Blu-ray
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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The Curtis Harrington Short Film Collection (Deluxe Combo DVD/Blu-ray Edition) + Nice Guys Don't Work in Hollywood: The Adventures of an Aesthete in the Movie Business + Night Tide: Remastered Edition [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Curtis Harrington, Nikolas Schreck, Zeena Schreck
  • Directors: Curtis Harrington
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Flicker Alley
  • DVD Release Date: July 2, 2013
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00CENU4MA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,288 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

The Four Elements (1966) is a poetic and avant-garde documentary Harrington made for the United States Information Agency.

The Fall of the House of Usher (1942) is the original film—made by Harrington when was in high school—from which Usher is based.

A short interview shot by filmmakers Tyler Hubby and Jeffrey Schwarz, who are responsible for the documentary House of Harrington (2009).

A 2003 interview with Harrington made courtesy of the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. An enclosed booklet contains notes on the films’ restorations by Academy Film Archive preservationist Mark Toscano and an essay by Lisa Janssen.

Editorial Reviews

Curtis Harrington, widely regarded as one of the important avant-garde directors of the 1940 s, as well as an early influential figure in what would come to be known as New Queer Cinema, was born in Los Angeles in 1926. He began making films as a teenager, often deeply surreal, intuitive, and owing much to the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in film studies, his unique career trajectory led him from the academic circles of cinematic criticism (he wrote a publication on the films of Josef von Sternberg); to the Hollywood assistant desk of writer/producer Jerry Wald; to the elite group of independent filmmakers associated with Kenneth Anger (the two remained life-long friends); to the famed film factory of cult icon Roger Corman; then on to his own stint in the world of genre movie-making with Night Tide and Games; and most unpredictable of all, to finding commercial success in television. This publication, a joint effort between Flicker Alley and Drag City featuring restorations carried out by the Academy Film Archive on a single-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo, comprised of six short films by the late experimental filmmaker, as well as bonus interview footage and rarely-seen early works.

Fragment of Seeking (1946, 16 mins.) Harrington plays a young man desperately seeking out the fleeting image of a female companion, and though he never quite catches her, he discovers much more through the surreal explorations of his own sexuality. Made a year before Kenneth Anger's Fireworks, the films contain some similarities in their treatment of homoerotic themes, though Fragment is more restrained and subtle.

Picnic (1948, 22 mins.) Beginning in the reality of American middle-class life, Picnic portrays the idealistic dream-quest of the protagonist, from which he is finally cast off. Harrington himself described the film thus: 'A satirical comment on middle-class life frames a dream-like continuity in which the protagonist pursues an illusory object of desire.'

On the Edge (1949, 6 mins.) In this fragile, yet frightening poetic fantasy, set against a dark industrial landscape, Harrington casts his own mother and father in the lead roles.

The Assignation (1953, 8 mins.) Long considered lost, this was Harrington's first color film. It was shot in Venice, Italy, and not unlike Fragment of Seeking, follows a masked figure through the labyrinthine canals of the city, building to a spectacular climax.

The Wormwood Star (1955, 10 mins) A film study of the artwork of famed painter, occultist and Alistair Crowley-enthusiast Majorie Cameron. Cameron went on to star in Harrington s feature-length Night Tide. It is by far one of his most visually arresting works.

Usher (2002, 38 mins.) Harrington's final film before he died in 2007, Usher is a remake of a short he made in high school based on the classic Edgar Allan Poe story The Fall of the House of Usher. He once again expresses his interest in the occult by casting known members of the Church of Satan, Nikolas and Zeena Schreck.

Bonus Features Also included are four bonus features. The Four Elements (1966) is a poetic and avant-garde documentary Harrington made for the U.S. Information Agency. The Fall of the House of Usher (1942) is the original film made by Harrington when was in high school from which Usher is based. A short interview shot by filmmakers Tyler Hubby and Jeffrey Schwarz, who are responsible for the documentary House of Harrington (2009); and a 2003 interview with Harrington made courtesy of the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. An enclosed booklet contains notes on restorations by Academy Film Archive preservationist Mark Toscano and an essay by Lisa Janssen.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Compilation of Harrington's Early Work February 18, 2014
I was vaguely aware of Curtis Harrington because I'd come across his campy, offbeat What's The Matter With Helen? when I was researching the career of Agnes Moorehead. This dvd, however, gave me lots more insight into the early work of this influential filmmaker.

The dvd includes Fragment of Seeing (1946), Picnic (1948), and On the Edge (1949), The Assignation (1953), The Wormwood Star (1955), along with bonus features.

Fragment of Seeing feels and looks like a student film which it should since it was made when Harrington was only twenty. Still, it shows Harrington has already developed an artist's eye and has an Expressionist tone. Harrington, who stars in this short, clearly demonstrates the frightening alienation of a young man unsure of his sexuality.

Picnic, made two years later, features his parents at a windy Malibu Beach.The most memorable scene for me was the first one, when the family members, one by one, get out of the vehicle. This film has a fresher style, more of a French New Wave style than Expressionistic. It features a strong male point of view, and, again, alienation is a major theme. On the Edge, made in 1949, is set at the Salton Sea and continues the theme of alienation and dissatisfaction.

The Assignation, made in Venice 1953, is a much more professionally-made film. It has a NIght Gallery look to it and is in color and features quicker edits. It's even darker than the earlier stuff as it takes on the theme of death and decay.

The Wormwood Star (1955) is an homage to Marjorie Cameron. Saturated color and her disturbing paintings help create a film that could have easily been produced in the 1960s. The occult and religious symbolism are featured.
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Curtis Harrington had a very interesting career -- he started as an experimental filmmaker working the underground fringes of California and Europe (milieus he shared with a contemporary of his, Kenneth Anger), worked for a while as a director of some very interesting and imaginative thrillers such as Night Tide and Games, worked in television for a short time, and then ended his career with another underground short which appears on this disk.

This collection includes all of his early short films, Fragment of Seeing (a kind of gentler run through the same orbit as the aforementioned Kenneth Anger's Fireworks), Picnic (a disquieting short that could almost be a dry run for some of the horror films Harrington would make later in his career), On The Edge (equally unnerving), The Assignation (beating Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now to the punch by exploiting the creepy side of Venice), The Wormwood Star (a brief, abstract look at the occult icon Cameron) and Usher, the last film Harrington made, starring himself in the title role(s?) that playfully tweaks Poe's tale.

This is worth the price to anyone interested in experimental film or who has somewhat adventurous tastes. The picture quality, considering the age of the elements, is first rate and sitting down and watching all of the films in one swoop could make for a very entertaining afternoon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful look at the American avant-garde September 17, 2013
By Jobla
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This is a marvelous collection of short films by director Curtis Harrington, which spans a 60 year period between his two adaptations of Poe's FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. Dipping into the waters of the avant-garde, the 2002 version of USHER features members of the Church of Satan in the cast, along with Harrington himself. There are also a couple of vintage interviews with Harrington included as supplements.

The Blu-ray/DVD set makes a perfect companion to Harrington's recently released autobiography NICE GUYS DON'T WORK IN HOLLYWOOD. Harrington's major opus NIGHT TIDE (1961) is expected to be released on Blu-ray in October of 2013, remastered in high definition.
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