Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I saved the best for the last. Not that I don't like Bette Davis or Gangster flicks, but because sometimes you just need a musical to brighten your day. And by getting to the third volume we get some pretty rare stuff that is finally seeing the light of day. Let's run them down, shall we?
HIT THE DECK
DEEP IN MY HEART
NANCY GOES TO RIO
TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE
BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936
BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938
BORN TO DANCE
LADY BE GOOD
These are some great musicals from the wild tale of KISMET with Howard Keel who is great in this flick. Anyone who loves SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS will find this to be just as fun as that one.
And all the stars! I already mentioned Howard Keel, but we also get Russ Tamblyn, Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Jane Powell, Jose Ferrer and many, many more.
Like the rest of the box sets in the Warner Brothers Collections you get a plethora of extras. Each film has a cartoon, some kind of short film, some of them have missing musical numbers that probably haven't seen the light of day in quite some time.
If you're a big musical fan and tired of watching the same old musicals over and over again, then this is definitely something that you will want to add to your collection.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
For those of you unaware of this, Warner Bros. is embracing the concept of PG-13 cartoons with this DVD of Batman. The trailer is quite awesome and can be seen by clicking here .
With a street date of June 28th this movie is going to be just a s cool as the recent Justice League: New Frontier DVD that was released by Warner Bros. Keep watching here for more information as it develops.
Friday, April 11, 2008
In part two of our Warner Brothers Box set overview we hit the career of Bette Davis. As the first two sets have taken more of the popular, well known titles away from the equation, we get some decidedly different films in this set.
As with the Gangsters set each disc comes with commentaries and a news reel and a cartoon that reflects the time period. Each of these discs are packed with some great bonus materials.
Now, on to the films themselves;
IN THIS OUR LIFE Davis plays a home wrecker that runs off with her sister’s husband. And that’s just for starters. The sparks fly in this early Davis effort.
THE OLD MAID gives us a woman who poses as the woman who bore Davis’ child born out of wedlock, but this deception is starting to become unraveled.
ALL THIS AND HEAVEN TOO gives us Charles Boyer as a man so infatuated with Davis that he murders his wife to be with her. Don’t believe for an instant that Bette is as innocent as she acts in this flick. Have you ever known Bette Davis to play the innocent?
THE LIE pits Davis against Mary Astor as a concert pianist. Don’t you know that friends make the best enemies? Davis knows and goes to prove it in this tight little film.
DECEPTION gives us the triple threat of Davis along with Claude Rains and Paul Henreid in a tale of musicians, indiscretions and, of course, murder,
Finally, in a play by Lillian Hellman adapted by Dashiell Hammett we get WATCH ON THE RHINE with a leader of an anti-Hitler underground being hunted by Nazi agents in Washington DC. Probably the edgiest film of the bunch.
This is a great bunch of films that aren’t as well known as some of Bette Davis’ more popular films, but deserve the attention that those films receive. Warner Brothers deserves credit for not only bringing these films to DVD format, but including a plethora of extras that place the films in their timeframe and make them important as a vital part of American film history.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Recently, Warner Brothers has released three box sets that are Volume 3 in a series. From Bette Davis to Gangsters to musicals, these three box sets have it all and we’re going to look at each of them on an individual basis in this article which I have broken up into three parts.
First up is the Gangsters Collection. The nice thing about getting to volume three of this set is that all the expected ones have already been issued and now we get to the little less known, harder to find flicks that have needed a nice DVD release.
First up we have BLACK LEGION. An early, starring role for Humphrey Bogart, BLACK LEGION tells the tale of a group of men who believe that America should consist of free, white Americans. A bold statement in 1937 that still remains relevant in today’s society of white supremacy groups in our nation. In addition to the film we get an excellent, informative commentary from film historians Patricia King Hanson and Anthony Slide.
The disc also includes a vintage newsreel from the time. An awesome short with Cab Calloway entitled Hi De Ho. The Technicolor historical short, Under Southern Stars. A cartoon entitled Porky and Gabby and trailers for the film.
Bogart with Ann Sheridan is amazing to watch in this film. Of all the Gangster flicks in this box set I think this is the most important of the lot.
From BLACK LEGION we go to James Cagney in THE MAYOR OF HELL. Set in the depression, Cagney plays Patsy Gargan who gets a cushy job running a woefully ruin reform school for boys. But, Pasty sees something in the boys that reminds him of himself growing up and he goes from thinking he has this cushy gig to fighting tooth and nail for these boys. This was remade with Humphrey Bogart as CRIME SCHOOL and the film, HELL’S KITCHEN. A fascinating look at a time gone by. This DVD, as all the others contains a newsreel, trailers a short film and a cartoon to reflect the time of the films release.
Up next is another Cagney film in THE PICTURE SNATCHER, with Ralph Bellamy. Interesting is how this film reflects society today. Cagney plays a tabloid photographer who will go to any lengths to get that all important picture. Cagney is a live wire in the portrayal of a man who has gone from the depths of Sing Sing Prison to the mean streets, jockeying for the pictures that he knows he must get. Truly a rare gem of a performance by Cagney.
SMART MONEY gives us Cagney along with the one of a kind Edward G. Robinson. They were just months away from their big, break out roles in THE PUBLIC ENEMY and LITTLE CAESAR, respectively, when they made this film about a couple of barbers who decide to start cutting in on the local gambling racket. A great little flick with two classic actors chewing up the screen in a neat little flick.
Humphrey Bogart returns with Ann Southern and the one and only Edward G. Robinson in BROTHER ORCHID which spoofs the entire gangster genre and is a real fun time. Probably the most recognizable of all the films in this box set.
Finally we have another Cagney flick in LADY KILLER where it manages to combine a filmmaking spoof, a crime thriller and a very well done character study.
Warner Bros. Pictures, GANGSTERS COLLECTION VOL. 3 with it’s lesser known films and all the wonderful extras that come with each disc is a must have for any true fan of classic films and gangster films in particular.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Everyone remembers The Flintstones, but do you remember this show? It gives us Pebbles and Bamm Bamm as teenagers. You get all the prerequisite teen behavior of the time. They hang out at a malt shop, have drag races and play in a band. The show ran for 16 episodes in 1971 and then they did some ten minutes episodes the following year. You would think that a show that incorporated Bedrock and had Fred and Barney guesting in it would do better, but maybe it was just something that people weren't ready for. Fred and Barney were the heart of what made The Flintstones great. We really didn't need to have them in their later years with teen aged kids.
I can remember catching this when I was ten or so and the only way you could watch cartoons was to get up early and watch them on whichever network was your favorite. The timing had to be right or you were stuck with a lame cartoon or, worse yet, you got up too early and were stuck with the last half of The Farm Report.
Rewatching it I can see what they were trying to do and with the voice talents of Sally Struthers as Pebbles and Jay North of Dennis The Menace fame as Bamm Bamm, you would think they couldn't go wrong.
They did. The Flintstones were the trials and tribulations of the working man. Much like The Honeymooners. The Pebbles and Bamm Bamm show was primarily for kids. It never had a chance.
I do still like Bad Luck Schleprock. His weird voice and constant stream of bad luck can still get a giggle out of me. Maybe they should have given him his own show.
Warner Brothers have given this show a two disc release that collects everything in one nice package. It's a shame that the show isn't better and didn't hold up well.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I've decided, for giggles and grins, that I'm going to write this as though I were talking to you, say, during work hours at a lunch break or something. Sounds good? OK, It's much like a call-and-response deal where I'll have my words written normally, but what YOU would say will be parenthetical citations, got it? OK, here we go:
Hey, guess what I watched last night? (I give up, what?) The new Day of the Dead movie. (Oh yeah? How was it?) All in all? It sucked. (No kidding? How come?) Well, first of all, Mena Suvari plays the lead roll... (Seriously? She's pretty hot!) Agreed, and she's actually pretty cool in the movie; totally different from most of her more well-known stuff like American Pie and American Beauty. (Was she like a bad-ass or something?) Oh, yeah, seriously bad-ass, and that really was cool. Her name was sarah and she was a commander in the military that was cordoning off this little town due to some kind of undisclosed outbreak of some kind. (Do you ever find out what's going on?) Oh yeah, but not till later. So she actually lives in the town with her brother and mom, who also happens to be sick... so you can see where this is heading. (Yeah. The mom probably pops up later and one of the kids sees her all messed up, right?) You got it. Anyway, Sarah and her brother, Trevor, take their sick mom to the local hospital -on Elm street, by the way- only to find most of the town their hacking and sneezing... pretty standard procedure for one of these stupid new-wave zombie movies. (Right! Some damn virus messing up some little back-water burg...) Exactly. No exception here, either: Cookie cutter as Hell! As it turns out it's the nose-bleed that sets off the mess, and all of a sudden -literally in unison- all of the sick start to warp into rabid, racing, jittery zombies that can -and this was particularly ridiculous- jump all over the damn place even worse than any other zombie movie I've seen! (HA! Seriously?) Yeah! The things were all over the place in a matter of seconds! (Wait! What happened in the beginning of the movie?) Pretty much nothing. A bunch of kids making out, including Trevor, and one of the girls decides to walk home... bada-bing: zombie food. (OK, go on.) So now the hospital is over run by wacked-out zombies, Sarah and two of her military buddies are running around trying to escape, and -oh yeah- Ving Rhames is back for about fifteen minutes until he, too, is turned into a feasting walking corpse. (No shit?) Yeah, kid of a throw-away roll, though, which kind of sucked since he was so cool and prominent in Dawn. (Yeah, I remember...) Anyway, they need some make-shift weapons to escape and get back to their Hummer and one of the guys -this was pretty cool- fashions a spear out of a bone saw taped to an IV stand and just goes nuts with it! About the best part in the whole movie! (HA! That's pretty sweet!) Yeah, so they all get out, meet the brother inside the building of a local radio station, wipe out a few hundred more zombies, conveniently discover that fire -and this is just about the dumbest thing of all- completely incinerates them! (What? Fire? What about shots and blows to the head like before?) Oh, yeah, they do it, too, so it's like basically anything can stop these things! Eventually they all -well, most- end up at some damn underground lab area only to discover that this whole mess was brought on by the military -of course- and that it was a biochemical neurosystem inhibitor designed to stop the enemy without actually killing them, and it 'got out'. (Good Lord.) Yeah, I know. So it goes on like this for a while with hackneyed quips and bullets and even a scene borrowed heavily from Shaun of the Dead or Fido where they keep one of the zombified soldiers around because he's -get this damn dumb-ass reason- a vegetarian and in love with Sarah. (HA HA!) Yeah, I laughed, too! Well, I won't spoil the end for you, though it was just as ridiculous and recycled as the rest of this mess... but all inall, it was crap over ice. (Too bad, it sounded so promising!) Really? (HA! Kidding!)
Well, there ya go. Not good. Just the same zombie crap different zombie channel.