Olive Films releases of The Madness of King George and Stay Hungry

The B-Movie Isle: An Olive Films Double Feature

The B-Movie Isle a small written (sometimes) weekly companion piece to the B-Movie Podcast.

Every B-Movie is an Isle onto itself.  The B-Movie Isle recommends a few films either being released or already released in theaters, VOD, streaming or on Blu-Ray/DVD.  These are not going to be blockbusters but those movies you’ll probably find in the door buster clearance bin.  Films that people told you weren’t worth your time or you may have not heard about.  You and I know they’re just un-enlightened to the beauty of a killer B-Movie!!!  This issue we’re looking at two wonderful Blu-Rays from Olive Films!


The Madness of King George – Blu-Ray

The Film: What a delight when you realize that a film is as good as you remember it being.  The Madness of King George is the sort of light on its feet costume drama that transcends the genre to be something more than awards bait.  I still remember seeing the film at 16 years old and being blown away by how unconventional it was to the genre.  Those expected some sort of stuffy, stogy film can look elsewhere.  This is as punk rock as costume dramas get.

The film is about the Regency Crisis of 1788.  This political “crisis” was essentially a power play by different parties in Parliament that’s partially triggered by the loss of America a little over a decade in the past and the King’s increasingly erratic behavior.  This sounds dreadfully boring, I know, but in the hands of director Nicholas Hytner it’s truly great cinema.

The film is anchored by two amazing performances in Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren as King George and Queen Charlotte.  Though Hawthorne has the showier role, Mirren is just as good if not better than Hawthorne.  Mirren makes her thankless role look effortless and meatier than it really is.  Both actors were nominated for Academy awards for their work.

From the opening moments with the King using the bathroom, one will delight in how much this film subverts your every expectation.  Hytner’s knowing direction.  A strong screenplay by Alan Bennett, who adapted his own play. Great historical locations.  Exception performances.  All make this a film a great nearly forgotten jem.

The Transfer: The transfer procured by Olive Films is beautiful.  Its razor sharp and black levels are perfect.  Much of the film is shot in shadow and by candle light, which is perfectly represented here.

The Extras: No special features were included on this release.

The Bottom Shelf: The Madness of King George is a film for those that have a distaste for stuff costume dramas as it manages to be anything but.  The dark humor and great performances lift this way beyond your normal costume drama.  Highest possible recommendations.

Stay Hungry – Blu-Ray

The Film: Stay Hungry is one of those deceptively good crime caper comedies that are in short supply nowadays.  Nimble on its feet with a great younger Jeff Bridges performance and the true beginning of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career, the film is designed to be entertaining.  The film doesn’t really show the Governor to be as the Action Superstar he would be.  As depicted through Rob Rafelson’s lens Joe Santo (Schwarzenegger), the Austrian body builder is like Kane from Kung-Fu.  It is to say that Santo is also the antithesis of what we of the Schwarzenegger in his early career.

Part of the fun of the fun of the entire enterprise is Schwarzenegger’s performance which is so different than the work the action films even early in his career the legend was known for. The other half of the fun is seeing Bridges at maximum youthful charm as the very definition of a rapscallion or as Princess Leia is fond of saying a scoundrel.  Bridges as Craig the loutish rich kid should be the very definition of awful and unwatchable but Rafelson and Bridges manage to create a character that’s infinitely watchable as he tries to con and scheme his way to fortune.

Part of the brilliance of Rafelson’s film is that it plays both the crime portions deadly serious not to make it anything less than dangerous.  Because he respects both the comedy and the crime in the film Stay Hungry is made all the better for it.

The Transfer: The transfer is solid.  The film shot in the same sort of documentary-style that Rafelson preferred looks great in High Definition.  There’s a nice sheen of grain to the transfer to make you feel like it’s a freshly struck archival print.

The Extras: No special features were included on this release.

The Bottom Shelf: Stay Hungry is one of those unexpectedly great 70’s era gems that have become all but a footnote in everyone’s career.  Recommended.

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