May’s list of rare titles from Alpha Video will delight fans of Euro westerns and vintage blaxploitation movies as well. First off, Nightmare Castle director Mario Caiano takes a liberty with the tired spaghetti western formula and adds a little kung fu into the mix. The result: The Fighting Fist Of Shanghai Joe (1972) (aka My Name Is Shanghai Joe), a favorite amongst late-night TV viewers and Klaus Kinski buffs alike — the latter of whom co-stars along with Chen Lee and Gordon Mitchell. Although it isn’t part of their “Grindhouse Double Shock Show” line-up, Shanghai Joe shares a DVD case with a second feature: Any Gun Can Play (1967), directed by Enzo G. Castellari, the man who also brought us Inglorious Bastards. Also in the same category is The Hellbenders (1967), one of the better Euro westerns with Joseph Cotten and directed by Sergio Corbucci (Django, The Great Silence).
If you love spaghetti westerns, then you probably can’t help but appreciate the vintage Hollywood cowboy movies that inspired them. For May, Alpha Video has released several seldom seen Poverty Row quickies from the Samuel M. Sherman Archives: Rough Riding Rhythm (1937) with Kermit Maynard and Reefer Madness’ Dave O’Brien; and a double feature of Jack Perrin B-westerns from 1936, Gun Grit and Hail-Trigger Casey. Also for the month of May, Alpha has repackaged several older B-western double features with legends Bob Steele and Tom Tyler.
Ah, yes, I mentioned vintage blaxploitation titles, didn’t I? Well, there‘s two of them this month. The Girl From Chicago (from 1932) is one of several films brought to us by an all-but-forgotten Oscar Micheaux, Hollywood’s first feature-length black producer (Spike Lee be damned!). Famed songwriter and actor Spencer Williams writes and directs the 1943 war entry Where‘s My Man To-Nite? (originally released as Marching On!), which is double-billed with Mystery In Swing (1940), a whodunit advertised as having “a 100 per cent all-star colored cast.”
Additional '30s/'40s rarities from Alpha Video this month consist of The Chinese Bungalow (1935) starring Paul Lukas and directed by George King; Isle Of Missing Men (1942) with John Howard and Alan Mowbray; Phil Rosen’s 1935 adaptation of Little Men featuring Frankie Darro and Dickie Moore; On Probation (1935) wherein a corrupt politician falls for the young woman he adopted (sounds like your average politician to me, kids); Rowland V. Lee’s One Rainy Afternoon (1936) starring Francis Lederer, Ida Lupino, Roland Young, and Mischa Auer; Romance On The Run (1938); and Buster Crabbe in She Had To Choose (1934). A few double features include Happy-Go-Lucky/The Devil On Horseback (both 1936), Rich Relations (1937)/Hats Off (1936), and the canine-oriented Sign Of The Wolf (1941)/Crack-Up (1934), the latter of which stars Dave Sharpe, the hero behind Republic Pictures’ amazing stunt work.
A few other titles include a collection of patriotic shorts from WW2 entitled World War II Homefront, Vol. 2; W. Lee Wilder’s mystery drama The Big Bluff (1955); the TV treat The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet, Vol. 12 and, in what must be the crowning gem of Alpha’s releases for the month of May, The Narcotic Story (aka The Dreaded Persuasion), a 1958 shocker about marijuana, heroin, and good ol’ prostitution, too! How can you go wrong with that?
These titles available now from retailers across the States (both on-line and in-store) and at Alpha Video’s website.