A precursor to Desperate Housewives, Joe Mankiewicz’s smart and sassy 1949 melodrama concerns three catty upper-middle-class housewives (Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell and Ann Sothern) who receive a letter from their elegant girlfriend who’s left town claiming to take one of their husbands with her. Although Mankiewicz, best known for great intellectual banter, had some of the best Fox crew at his disposal here (headed by cinematographer Arthur Miller, art directors J. Russell Spencer and Lyle Wheeler, composer Alfred Newman and editor J. Watson Webb Jr.), and they deliver an unobtrusive yet wonderful sheen of craft evident in this stunning transfer. Akira Kurosawa’s great comeback epic from 1980 about the end of feudal Japan in the 16th century was made with the support of George Lucas and Francis Coppola. Kagemusha (Shadow Warrior) was produced by Fox and is an exotic and opulent color feast that has had an obvious influence on Coppola’s Dracula and Lucas’s second Star Wars trilogy—particularly Yoshiro Muraki’s art direction and Sejichiro Hagakusawa’s costume design. Extras include an intro by exec producers Lucas and Coppola and a 40-minute doc on the making of the film.
Written by Bill Desowitz