December is traditionally a lean month for Criterion. With the holidays in full swing and dozens of other high profile holiday releases all battling on store shelves to be the stocking stuffer for the cinephile in your family, the boutique label has traditionally scaled back their releases. However, we've never seen a month as thin as this. Today, Criterion announced their December slate of movies and there is only one new title and three BluRay upgrades.
Marking the only fresh movie to get a wacky C stamped on it, Ernst Lubitsch's "Design For Living" will join the collection, boasting some solid extras. This pre-code comedy, adapted by Ben Hecht from a play by Noël Coward, stars a great trio in Gary Cooper, Fredric March, and Miriam Hopkins as Americans in Paris. The story follows a commercial artist (Hopkins) unable—or unwilling—to choose between two suitors: the dashing painter (Cooper) or a playwright (March). The set will include “The Clerk” starring Charles Laughton, Lubitsch's segment from the 1932 omnibus film "If I Had A Million"; a 1964 British television production of the play "Design for Living" introduced by playwright Noël Coward; scene specific commentary and more.
As for the rest, here's what's getting an upgrade to shiny 1080p: Alfred Hitchock's classic "The Lady Vanishes" will unspool its classic mystery of a missing woman on a train in BluRay while two Seijun Suzuki titles -- "Branded To Kill" and "Tokyo Drifter" -- will go high definition as well. Great new covers for the both of these, too (particularly for 'Drifter').
So you wallet is spared this December, but 2012 will be right around the corner, so you might want to save those Christmas checks from grandma for whatever Criterion has ready for January.