14. BACK DOOR TO HELL (1964) ^ Cult director Monte Hellman shot this low-budget World War II adventure in the Philippines, with the unlikely star pairing of folk singer Jimmie Rodgers (“Honeycomb,” “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”) and a struggling B-Movie actor named Jack Nicholson as American soldiers in the Asian jungles. “Back Door to Hell” follows the fight to liberate a Philippine village occupied by the Japanese during wartime, with the Japanese troops threatening to kill one child per hour if the liberation movement does not surrender. “Back Door to Hell” was actually made simultaneously in the Philippines with another Hellman-Nicholson film called “Flight to Fury” (the duo would return to the U.S. and create another two-films-at-once production with The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind). ^ WHY IS THIS FILM NOT ON VIDEO? There is literally no reason why “Back Door to Hell” is not available on home video. The film turns up on television and its sister production “Flight to Fury” has already been released on video. Hellman and Nicholson have enough star power to warrant a release. The rights to the film belong to 20th Century Fox, but no explanation has been offered regarding its unavailability.
15. THE CAVERN (1965) ^ Director Edgar G. Ulmer was ill-appreciated during his long career, which was primarily anchored in B-Movies, and he only began to receive any degree of respect after his career was over. Ulmer’s last film (co-directed with Paolo Bianchini) was a low-budget Italian-German World War II adventure called “The Cavern,” which focused on six soldiers (four Americans, a German and an Italian) plus a voluptuous Italian woman who are trapped in a cave during a bombing attack and remain imprisoned for months despite repeated attempts to escape. One-time A-list star Brian Aherne plays an American general, with John Saxon, Larry Hagman and Peter Marshall (yes, the original “Hollywood Squares” host) bringing up the American side. 20th Century Fox picked up this film for U.S. release, but the American version inexplicably cut out the co-directing credit for Bianchini. ^ WHY IS THE FILM NOT ON VIDEO? Although Ulmer is now celebrated for creating such noteworthy films as “Detour,” his later work is generally regarded as inferior and is rarely revived. “The Cavern” is regarded by most Ulmer scholars as a fine film, but during its release it was not a critical or commercial success and there has been no special call to dust it off for the benefit of a new generation.
16. DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE FOREST (1970) ^ India’s master director Satyajit Ray created a serene drama of four men who leave their urban office jobs for a vacation in a rural forest and encounter a group of visiting women whom they pursue intellectually and romantically. This small, black-and-white film is widely regarded as one of Ray’s finest works, offering a remarkable blend of quietly intense drama and light engaging comedy as the men learn more about themselves in their attempts to learn more about the women who catch their fancy. ^ WHY IS THE FILM NOT ON VIDEO? Although regarded as one of the world’s greatest filmmakers, Satyajit Ray’s reputation included praise for his artistic vision but not for his box office power. His popularity was primarily beyond his native India (where moviegoers prefer escapist Bollywood epics to Ray’s brand of challenging chamber drama), and among Western audiences his box office power was never truly at a high level; even the much-heralded Merchant-Ivory restoration of several of his classic films during the mid-1990s was a financial disappointment. “Days and Nights in the Forest” is among a shockingly high number of Ray’s later works which is awaiting restoration and re-release, and few major directors are so ill-represented on home video as this great artist.
Get more of the list in the next part of NEVER ON VIDEO: THE TOP 20 “MISSING” MOVIES>>>