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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:48 pm 
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Eclipse Series 33: Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr.

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Rarely do landmark works of cinema seem so . . . wrong. Robert Downey Sr. emerged as one of the most irreverent filmmakers of the new American underground of the early sixties, taking no prisoners in his rough-and-tumble treatises on politics, race, and consumer culture. In his most famous, the midnight-movie mainstay Putney Swope, an advertising agency is turned on its head when a militant African American man takes charge. Like Swope, Downey held nothing sacred. This selection of five of his most raucous and outlandish films, dating from 1964 to 1975, offers a unique mix of the hilariously abrasive and the intensely experimental.

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Babo 73

Taylor Mead plays the president of the United Status, who, when he isn’t at the White House—a dilapidated Victorian—conducts his top-secret affairs on a deserted beach. Robert Downey Sr.’s first feature is a rollicking, slapstick, ultra-low-budget 16 mm comedy experiment that introduced a twisted new voice to the New York underground.

Chafed Elbows

This riot of bad taste was a breakthrough for Downey, thanks to rave notices. Visualized largely in still 35 mm photographs, it follows a shiftless downtown Manhattanite having his “annual November breakdown” as he wanders from one odd job to the next, coming across all sorts of sordid types, from a desperate independent filmmaker to a destitute dirty-sock sniffer. And there is something to offend everyone: incest, murder, bad pop songs, you name it.

No More Excuses

Downey takes his camera and microphone onto the streets (and into some bedrooms) for a look at Manhattan’s singles scene of the late sixties. Of course, that’s not all: No More Excuses cuts between this footage and the fragmented tale of a time-traveling Civil War soldier, a rant from the director of the fictional Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, and other assorted improprieties.

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Putney Swope

The most popular film by Robert Downey Sr. is this offbeat classic about the antics that ensue after Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson, his voice dubbed by a gravelly Downey), the token black man on the board of a Madison Avenue advertising agency, is inadvertently elected chairman. Putney summarily fires the whiteys, replaces them with Black Power apostles, renames the company Truth and Soul, Inc., and proceeds to wreak politically incorrect havoc.

Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight

“A film without a beginning or an end,” in Downey’s words, this Dadaist thingamajig—a never-before-seen, newly reedited version of the director’s 1975 release Moment to Moment (also known as Jive)—is a rush of curious sketches, scenes, and shots that takes on a rhythmic life of its own. It stars Downey’s multitalented wife, Elsie, in an endless succession of off-the-wall roles, from dancer to cocaine fiend.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:29 pm 
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Criterion include Putney Swope and kept the price under sixty bucks! They've fulfilled the two biggest wishes I had for this set and didn't expect to get.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:40 pm 
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If only your third biggest wish was that it looked like a box of Nerds candy!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:42 pm 
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It does. You're on a roll with the jokes today man.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:15 pm 
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So we lose the commentary and interview from Putney Swope?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:19 pm 
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I don't get it. It's only 2 discs, so it could easily have been a main line release for the same price. Maybe they don't have HD masters of the films.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:41 pm 
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Matt wrote:
I don't get it. It's only 2 discs, so it could easily have been a main line release for the same price. Maybe they don't have HD masters of the films.

Yeah, makes no sense whatsoever. What is the point of a two-disc Eclipse at all? If they had released it at the same price (even if they couldn't do Blu) on the main line simply as Putney Swope and included the original HVe Putney supplements and all of these shorter films as additional supplements, everyone would be thrilled.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:54 pm 
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No, everyone would be whining about it not being on BluRay. I can see why Criterion might have seen this as the lesser of two evils.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:33 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm
Disappointed by the absence of Pound (and the original version of Moment to Moment?). Pleased that my HVE Putney Swope may become a collector's item.

I think I was the first person to notice that Criterion was on to Downey's early work when a Kim's Video clerk tipped me ... and that was some time before the place closed in December 2008, so that'll give you some idea how long it takes to get one of these sets together. Gorin was even longer, I guess, and I wonder if there are abandoned Downey extras as there supposedly were with Gorin.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:28 am 
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Keep in mind that the Putney Swope release was just nominally an HVE edition. It was released only after Image acquired HVE. Perhaps Image still retains some rights to the commentary and interview and Criterion was unwilling to pay that extra premium.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:38 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:59 pm
This is so exciting! I have been dying to see the restored prints of these. And the re-edit of moment to moment is really intriguing. It's a shame about the commentary on Putney. Although, for those reading who may be torn about it, all though Downey is a really funny and endearing story teller. A lot of the information can be found in other interviews on youtube and such.

One also get's the impression that he doesn't hold his early film work in quite as high regard as some of us. So all though it's great to listen to I wouldn't get too hung up about it. He doesn't reveal his secrets.

But still those who don't own Putney can now obtain it in this attractive set, and the rest of us devout Downey Sr. fans finally get our hands on this stuff. It has indeed been a long time waiting for this one.

My favorite Downey Sr. qoute:

Fan: "Mr. Downey, your films changed my life"
Robert Downey Sr: "I'm sorry"


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:48 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:46 am
So gutted about the absence of Pound. Hopefully this Eclipse set raises Downey Sr.'s profile enough for another company to release that on DVD.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Downey Sr.
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:08 pm 
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The latest episode from The Projection Booth podcast features an interview with Downey where he talks Putney Swope and about the new Eclipse box (among other things).


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 1:28 pm 
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Criterion on Facebook wrote:
In addition to our new releases for August, we've got something else to announce...

We shot a really fun conversation between Paul Thomas Anderson and Robert Downey Sr. that we will be posting to our YouTube channel in four episodes.

Episode one goes live this week. Stay tuned!


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 1:41 pm 
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Thank God they didn't accidentally include a bonus feature on their Eclipse set


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 2:09 pm 
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Ugg, at least they could have used this as a reason to pick up an other of his films and put it on the mainline. So grumpy.


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 2:45 pm 
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I'll take what I can get. I just hope PTA was around to approve new HD masters for Sydney and Punch-Drunk Love Criterions. If only.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:07 am 

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Beaver review

What, no English subs this time?


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 7:10 pm 
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Huh, that's unusual. "Two Tons..." looks like an old analog video master, with those _ _ _ _ on the top and bottom of the screen.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 7:13 pm 
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It is interlaced so who knows? Hopefully the release discusses the nature of the masters in depth because it looks like they have some splaining to do.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 7:27 pm 
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Are they contractually obligated to release something with these films, because this is turning out to be the biggest "We don't give a shit" release from this company in years


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 8:52 pm 
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max_cherry wrote:
What, no English subs this time?

Only looked at the first disc so far but all the movies on it have subtitles.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:09 pm 
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Then Gary seriously dropped the ball here


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:14 pm 
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What else is new?


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:16 pm 
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Its also laced with a lot of misspellings even by Gary's standard unless Criterion really did sue stock footage.


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