‘Twilight Time’ Collector’s Label Shutting Down

The sun is setting on Twilight Time.

The boutique Blu-ray label May 10 announced on its website that it would be closing down June 30 after nine years in operation.

Founded by veteran Hollywood studio executives and filmmakers Brian Jamieson and Nick Redman, Twilight Time launched in 2011 with the concept of licensing rare and distinctive films of all genres for release on Blu-ray Disc with limited runs of 3,000 units apiece, available first through Screen Archives Entertainment before the launch of the Twilight Time Movies website.

The venture was named Twilight Time, because, as Redman put it, eventually the concept of film as physical goods would have a ‘sell-by date’ possibly sooner rather than later.

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Twilight time ultimately released 380 motion pictures from the early days of Hollywood through the 2010s on Blu-ray and DVD. The Twilight Time catalog has included films from the libraries of 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, MGM/United Artists, Universal Studios, Film 4, Protagonist Pictures, Toei Company and other entities, and showcased many Academy Award- and international prize-winning titles.

Owing to Redman’s more than 30 years as an award-winning film music historian and preservationist, most of the company’s releases included isolated music tracks, in addition to voiceover tracks featuring Redman and noted film historians. Redman’s wife, Julie Kirgo, also was a frequent collaborator on the Blu-rays, often writing the liner notes.

Redman, who also served prominently as the company spokesperson, passed away in January 2019. The challenges of running the company following his death, compounded by changes in the home video market and the rising costs of title acquisitions were cited as the key reasons for the company shutting down.

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To clear remaining inventory, Twilight Time starting May 11 at TwilightTimeMovies.com is offering deep discount pricing of $3.95, $4.95, $6.95 or $11.95 per title, which were previously priced at $29.95 each. Effective July 1, remaining inventory will be acquired by and available through Screen Archives at ScreenArchives.com.

Beat the Devil

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Available via ScreenArchives.com;
Twilight Time;
Drama;
$29.95 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley.

As one of screen history’s most ticklish of  answers to that oft-asked question, “What did you do on your vacation?”, John Huston’s artfully ramshackle Beat the Devil is propelled by one its era’s most memorable displays of loopy ensemble acting. Which is somewhat surprising given that its top-billed actor was Humphrey Bogart, a superstar of (still) nearly singular status who, by the way, seems really relaxed here. Of course, at this point, the grosses were a long way from coming in.

A flop that became one of the all-time cult movies in about the time, say, it takes to complete a sports season, Devil was the final of six collaborations between Bogart and director John Huston, the previous of which had won Bogart his Oscar (The African Queen) in one of history’s most competitive best-actor years. Devil did not win Oscars, and, in fact, wasn’t even shown that much during its brief March 1954 U.S. run following engagements in London and Italy near the end of ’53. Bogart himself was no fan of it, and I once read a quote where he supposedly said, “Only the phonies like it.” Of course, he had a lot of his own money in the picture, which one has to speculate may have affected his love quotient.

Devil is sometimes called the first spoof of macho adventure movies, but it really doesn’t feel like a spoof of anything — and what’s more, 1951’s His Kind of Woman had already completed the assignment in far more direct fashion. Nor does it really take The Maltese Falcon (which had been a dual Huston-Bogart breakthrough a dozen years earlier) and turn it on its ear. Though this said, Falcon-like echoes can’t help but carry at least some volume here, what with the casting of (a blond) Peter Lorre and the fact that once again, we have nefarious ragtags (plus, in this case, a couple pseudo-polished types) who get embroiled in a shifty scheme they hope will make them rich, as good-guy Bogart tries to figure out how to clean up the mess or, failing that, look out for himself.

Not that he’s any Sam Spade here. A onetime rolling-in-dough type with a voluptuous young wife (Gina Lollobrigida speaking at times phonetically in her first English-language film) — Bogart is now just trying to pay his hotel bill in a no-future, if gorgeous, Italian total town (location site Ravello, photographed by the great Oswald Morris, before tourists took it over). To this end, he’s become a wary associate of physically ill-matched Lorre, scene-stealing Ivor Bernard, Marco Tulli and Robert Morley — the last an actor who, if we’re in a comedy) merely has to walk into a room before I start to guffaw.

This was the ’50s, and even the Bowery Boys (see 1955’s Dig That Uranium) were after you-know-what. So to this mix — all awaiting ship’s passage to British East Africa and some (hopefully) rich deposits — we add an almost aggressively strange couple with severe delusions of grandeur: he a proper Englishman who can’t quite camouflage his modest roots (Edward Underdown); and she a dizzy blonde who gives the impression that the combined label text on her prescription bottles might equal that of any three James Michener novels. Totally nailing this role is Jennifer Jones, an actress became difficult to cast after the 1940s and often seemed too old or otherwise less than ideal for her choice of projects.

But in this case, Jones gives us a thoroughly entertaining nut job who unloads more lies than Donald Trump, though in a way that makes you want to pat her on her head. Until I can finally get around to giving a second viewing to her star-making The Song of Bernadette and its seemingly 87-hour running time for the first time since the early ’60s, I’d have to say that Devil has my favorite Jones performance, along with her Since You Went Away, Love Letters, Portrait of Jennie and maybe (after I see the coming Kino Classics Blu-ray) Gone to Earth, which executive producer Selznick took from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and basically destroyed in the editing for U.S. audiences.

Devil, too, has always been editorially mangled — but before we get to that, remember the creative team in a production so “loose” that Stephen Sondheim (all but young enough to have been wearing swaddling clothes) was operating the clapper board. James Helvick was the walking pseudonym who wrote the source novel but was actually Claud Coburn, a Lefty Brit journalist who so needed the movie sale that he apparently left copies of the book all over his residence when Huston came to visit; it’s one of the stories repeated in a Twilight Time interview featurette with the late Alexander Cockburn, who ended up being cut from the same political/professional cloth as his father. Huston “usual suspects” Anthony Veiller and Peter Viertel took a crack at the screenplay, but it ultimately got credited to Huston and, of all people, Truman Capote, who (as folklore has it) fought Bogart to a draw in hand-wresting challenges on the set. I also once read — somewhere — that there were touch football games between set-ups (though with this movie, it might have been during) on the set. Though I take this assertion with a grain, the image of “Go out for a long one, Truman” or “Can you manage a flea flicker, Bob?” has always stayed with me.

The version of Devil that almost everyone has seen up to now was cut by about five minutes; scenes were slightly shuffled and a voiceover added, all to Huston’s disdain. All the dreadful public domain-level releases on the home market have been of this standard issue, but Twilight Time’s release is of the recent restoration in which many archives had a hand. It gets the running time back to normal, scuttles the voiceover and puts a crucial, narrative-improving scene up front where it belongs: burning in at once that the Jones character is a certain kind of two-syllable crazy, whose first syllable is “bat.” And because this is a crisp 4K mastering of a newly restored print, we can see (not that this is necessarily a plus), actor wig and hairpiece telltales as well as Bogart’s new bridgework that repaired severe damage after he knocked out several teeth in an auto mishap either just before or during shooting.

To me, Beat the Devil has always marked the beginning of Bogart’s astonishingly productive final period: eight high-profile features from late ’53 through mid-’56 plus NBC’s live 90-minute broadcast of him in The Petrified Forest in May 1955. He was probably sick through all of it, and by January 1957 he was gone. So I have to say that it’s poignant hearing bonus-section commentator and Twilight Time co-founder Nick Redman talking here of Bogart’s final days, given that Redman himself succumbed to cancer on Jan 17.

Joined on the commentary by wife Julie Kirgo, whose TT liner notes I love, and their longtime compadre Lem Dobbs, the great Nick (my son’s name, too) does sound fatigued — though every late photo I’ve seen of him still showed off that eye twinkle. An Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker who celebrated Sam Peckinpah and John Ford, plus a soundtrack producer as well, Redman began our strictly-by-correspondence relationship decades ago by calling me at USA Today out of the blue about something. It was an invigorating yak-fest, and after hanging up, I couldn’t figure out why he was so warm and gracious to me. Then, many years later, I found out that he was warm and gracious to everyone. So, I’ll miss you, man — and if I ever get a couple goldfish (about my speed these days), I promise to name them Lyle and Tector in your honor.

Mike’s Picks: ‘Sammy Davis, Jr. — I’ve Gotta Be Me’ and ‘Beat the Devil’

Twilight Time’s Nick Redman Dies

Film historian, documentary filmmaker and soundtrack producer Nick Redman died Jan. 17 at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 63 after a two-year battle with cancer, according to Variety.

Redman in 2011 co-founded Twilight Time, a specialty label known for licensing catalog films and issuing Blu-rays limited to runs of 3,000 copies released through distributor Screen Archives Entertainment’s online store, ScreenArchives.com. Redman was a frequent contributor on bonus commentaries made for Twilight Time Blu-rays. His wife, Julie Kirgo, was a frequent collaborator on the Blu-rays, often writing the liner notes.

Born in Wimbledon, South West London, in 1955, Redman worked for the U.K. Ministry of Defense in the early 1970s, studied drama at Kingston College and took on small roles on British television. He served as an assistant producer on several projects and also worked at the BBC before relocating to the United States in 1988.

As a filmmaker, he earned an Academy Award nomination for producing the 1996 documentary The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage, a retrospective of the 1969 Sam Peckinpah film The Wild Bunch. He also produced and directed 1998’s A Turning of the Earth: John Ford, John Wayne and The Searchers and 2007’s Becoming John Ford.

Redman also produced hundreds of soundtrack albums featuring the music of such composers as John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, Michael Kamen, Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann, Alex North, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lalo Schifrin, Jerry Fielding and more. He earned gold-certification plaques producing a Star Wars Trilogy CD soundtrack boxed set in 1996 and a special-edition Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope soundtrack in 1997.

He helped restore hundreds of film and television scores for 20th Century Fox, serving as a consultant to the Fox Music Group since 1993. For his work, he was given the Film Music Preservation Award by the Film Music Society in 1994.

He also conducted interviews for BAFTA’s Heritage Archive, and wrote for DGA Magazine and Film Score Monthly.

He is survived by Kirgo; his daughter, Rebecca; his brother, Jonathan; and stepchildren Anna and Daniel Kaufman.