As soon as the opening credits of Bunny Lake is Missing fade in following the perfunctory Columbia lady logo, it's obvious that this is an Otto (Anatomy of a Murder) Preminger film. A hand reaches up onto the completely black screen, ripping pieces of the darkness away to show us just enough for the incredible iconic work of Saul Bass to reveal the men and women responsible for this magnificent work of cinematic art. Likewise, director Preminger only shows us fractions of the light throughout this psychological thriller revolving around a missing child in London during the revolutionary mid '60s
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The only film to ever have employed a couple of Zombies as a Greek chorus hits High-Def courtesy Twilight Time.
Kirk Douglas, Nick Adams, and Robert Walker, Jr. star in a well-made Korean War drama from George Seaton.
George Seaton had quite the varied career. Starting out as a struggling playwright and actor within the theater, the future screenwriter and director also became the first nationally-heard actor to portray The Lone Ranger in 1933, lated alleging he invented the famous "Hi-yo Silver!" catchphrase due to his own inability to whistle. Landing a job at MGM courtesy the legendary Irving Thalberg, Seaton's wit and ability to think up a good gag soon caught the attention of Groucho Marx, and he helped contribute heavily to the jokes seen and heard in A Night at the Opera, and would earn the
Frank Capra's romantic comedy classic shines in new Criterion release.
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time in cinematic history when romantic comedies were extremely rare. That all started to change, for better or worse, with the 1934 release of this Frank Capra gem. The film went on to sweep the five major Oscar categories, netting statues for stars Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, director Capra, and screenwriter Robert Riskin, cementing its status as a Hollywood classic. That classic is now 80 years old and was showing its age, so its recent meticulous restoration and new release on Blu-ray offers a completely refreshed take on the film. Colbert
Is The Graduate still meaningful? Maybe more than ever.
The year 1967 was one of those magical years (like 1972 or 1996) that produced so many groundbreaking movies that I rarely pass up a chance to see one with that copyright date. That year saw the likes of Bonnie & Clyde, Cool Hand Luke, and Bedazzled, and closed out with my own my debut in November and thenThe Graduate came along just before Christmas. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards with Mike Nichols the sole winner for Directing. I was twenty, just like Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) when I first saw the film. Having just graduated from college
The story of musician Jerry McGill in Very Extremely Dangerous makes Behind the Music look like Romper Room.
Three-time felon Jerry McGill (1940 - 2013) was a musician whose life was the stuff of legend. Very Extremely Dangerous (2012) is a documentary that was filmed in 2010 during his battle with lung cancer. In it we meet a man who is described by his own friends as a “rattlesnake,” yet even at that point, his charisma and talent were palpable. The 90-minute film was directed by Irish filmmaker Paul Duane, who also produced, along with author Robert Gordon. Duane was inspired to track down McGill and tell his story after reading Gordon’s book It Came from Memphis. I
The Warner Archive presents the second of three strikes for Jack Webb's failed franchise.
Way back during those far-off days of the very early 1990s (he said in jest), I found myself - along with my peers - choosing an assignment for English from a number of eclectic books our teacher had on-hand. And while my report of The Communist Manifesto, wherein I commented Karl Marx was of no relation to Groucho, Harpo, Chico or Zeppo, was a deliberately dumb affair, it could not compare to the smirking delight that set over my face when the morons on the other side of the room - the "cool, popular" kids, if you will - decided
Missy Franklin strives to make her first while Kara Lynn Joyce aims for her third Olympic Games. Or, why sometimes bronze is just as sweet as gold.
Near the end of Touch the Wall, an engaging new sports documentary—and a rare one about swimming—Olympian Missy Franklin sits and reflects on the meaning of her collection of four gold and one bronze medals from the 2012 London Olympic Games. The magnitude of what she’s accomplished is only slowly sinking in and she makes a point of giving special attention to the bronze medal. It was her first, her favorite, and yet few people ask to see it. The scene has a way of capturing the entire movie—and the entire sport. During the heat of an Olympic year, the
Film critic extraordinaire Roger Ebert gets the compelling documentary he deserves, celebratory but unafraid to show his flaws and weaknesses.
Do you think you know Roger Ebert? Believe me, whatever you know, you know only part of the story. Just a few of the late critic’s achievements: ● Winning a Pulitzer for film reviewing in 1975, the first critic to do so (take that, Pauline Kael!) ● With Gene Siskel, turning film critics into TV stars courted by Hollywood power players seeking the elusive Two Thumbs Up!™ ● Writing the screenplays to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens ● Diving headlong into online and social media venues when illness robbed him of his
A taut, well-crafted Victorian Era heist thriller that forged the way for many crime dramas to come.
Though he had a relatively noted - if short-lived - career in the Hollywood limelight as an A picture actor, it's sometimes hard to imagine the late Aldo Ray as a serious performer when one notes the amount of motion pictures he made in his later years that were preceded B, X, Z, and just about every other letter of the alphabet. Today, he is probably best remembered for not being remembered at all - with an entire legion of mostly clueless Quentin Tarantino followers assuming Brad Pitt's Inglourious Basterds character, Lt. Aldo Raine, is merely just a similarly sounding
Twilight Time brings us a much-needed High-Def release of the Burt Lancaster/John Frankenheimer classic.
November 2014 could truly be one of the most auspiciously underestimated months in the history of home video releases. One of two significantly incredible reasons for my assessment owes to a recent Warner release that many of us never, ever thought we would see, Batman: The Complete Television Series - which not only made it to video in a form other than our terrible VHS recordings from TV, but on Blu-ray even. The second reason this month deserves an asterisk in the annals of history is warranted by the High-Def home video debut of another fellow named after a small
The controversial actor goes from motherless juvenile delinquent to prison revolutionary in these two New-to-DVD rarities from the Warner Archive.
While Robert Blake is unlikely to be on everyone's list of people to meet, the one-time child actor was one of the few of his kind to actually make a successful transition from being a kiddie icon to an adult star. And, while the spotlights for both his professional and private lives have certainly faded out, Blake - one of the few still living actors to have starred in the original Our Gang / Little Rascals short subjects - has nevertheless left a lengthy legacy behind. Starting out as a young doe-eyed Bobby Blake (as he was then known as,
It has dulled a bit over time with other movies building on its formula, but the legacy and impact live on.
I've seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre twice in my life now. The first was sometime in the 1990s, as I was watching a slew of horror movies with friends at the time. It was okay, nothing special, and certainly didn't seem to warrant the hype surrounding it. I simply watched it and moved on. The second viewing was of the new 40th Anniversary Edition a couple of days ago, and while my opinion remains that about two-thirds of the movie is cheesy, trite, and even at times boring, the last 15 or 20 minutes is still a serious head
Turn it on (again) and play it loud.
Available for the first time as a stand-alone DVD and on Blu-ray, Genesis: Three Sides Live was initially released on Betamax and VHS in 1982 as a companion piece to the live album of the same name. The film shows the band (vocals/drums Phil Collins, keyboards Tony Banks, guitar/bass Mike Rutherford with support from touring members guitar/bass Daryl Stuermer and drums Chester Thompson) on their 1981 North American tour promoting their eleventh album, Abacab. The concert performances are taken from two New York shows, primarily from Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, on November 29, 1981 with two ("Me & Sarah Jane"
The first film to have been constructed entirely out of B roll footage finally comes to DVD.
Towards the end of his career in the motion picture industry, director Richard L. Bare - the sole individual behind the camera for virtually every episode of Green Acres ever as well as the same man who penned and directed the Joe McDoakes series of theatrical shorts - hit upon an idea. As he looked down the freeway, he noticed it took on the appearance of being split into two separate screens by the divider. It was then, according to legend, that the filmmaker who had spent darn near the entire span of his métier in Hollywood directing comedies and
A three-hour journey into London's most prestigious art gallery.
Although the documentary genre is a brilliant piece of cinema history, many people haven't exactly embraced it, and that unfortunately includes the distinct work of the legendary Frederick Wiseman, which consists of an almost sixty-year span, including such famous films as Missle (1986), Central Park (1989), La Danse (2009). Two of my favorites of him are the horrifying 1967 film Titicut Follies about the extremely deplorable conditions, and awful treatment of patient inmales of the Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane, and the other is probably his most popular film, the brutally transgressive 1968 high school documentary called High
Joan Crawford takes the wheel in a classic thriller that has received a startling new HD release from the Warner Archive.
It's always the same. One minute, you're wandering aimlessly down the surprisingly empty streets of Los Angeles, searching for a man, mistaking every other stranger you meet for said individual, startling hard-working American folks by meandering into coffee shops and acting strange. The next minute, they're hauling your ass into the psychiatric ward. Well, maybe that's not a common occurrence for you, but I'm sure I have come closer to being in the exact same predicament Joan Crawford finds herself in at the beginning of her 1947 starring role Possessed than most other people who have would freely admit to.
A cocky, real jerk of a truck driver learns the hard way about the evils of milk in this weird, uneven 1934 feature.
Chalk up yet another victory for the Warner Archive, boys and girls. Not only have they given us a new stellar Blu-ray release of Yankee Doodle Dandy recently, but they've filled in several other missing James Cagney film gaps as well, including the riotous comedy Boy Meets Girl with Pat O'Brien. And here, with The St. Louis Kid, I was able to at last pin the tail on the donkey of something else. As a youth, one of the many videocassettes in my always-expanding library was a cheapo blooper tape from an illustrious label that at one point went by
Hiccup and Toothless are still a great team and How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a nice middle chapter in their story.
Fans of Hiccup and his adorable dragon Toothless will be delighted to learn that their second feature, How to Train Your Dragon 2, is now available as a digital download. The Blu-ray/DVD will be released next week, November 11th. This is a review of the digital version of the film, which viewers may be surprised to learn also includes some great bonus features usually reserved just for Blu-ray and DVD. The original DreamWorks Animation film, How to Train Your Dragon (2010), was based on the popular series of books by Cressida Cowell. It was not only a financial success, but
If you consider yourself a Weird Al fan, this is worth picking up.
It has been a big year for Weird Al Yankovic. The world's foremost parody musician, Weird Al's most recent album, Mandatory Fun, rose to the top of the charts, and he released a series of music videos featuring celebrities and hilarity and good times. Now, Shout! Factory has re-released The Compleat Ai on DVD, giving fans a chance to check out some old fashioned Weird Al comedy. This is very much old school, and very much just for the big time Yankovic fans. This faux biography came out in 1985, which was still quite early in his career. This is,
Film Chest brings us a "digitally transferred" re-release of the Public Domain cult classic. But just what exactly does "digitally transferred" mean?
After Toho unleashed its monstrous creation Gojira upon the world in 1954 - itself a metaphor to the bombing of Hiroshima and the radioactive horrors that were born that day towards the end of World War II - America couldn't help but jump in on the fun (again). And so, one mutated critter after another began to emerge, whether it be a creature spawned from the uncharted depths of the Salton Sea due to nuclear testing, alien monsters from the vast vastness of vast space come to teach us a lesson, or the (sometimes) accidental creation of something from some
Original Hip-Hop culture and graffiti documentary gets well deserved restoration.
“Is that an art form? I don’t know I’m not an art critic, but I can sure as hell tell you that that’s a crime.” That’s Detective Bernie Jacobs, a crime-prevention coordinator for the New York City Transit Authority being interviewed for the PBS documentary Style Wars. The groundbreaking documentary, beloved for capturing hip-hop culture close to its inception, is now out in a beautifully restored Blu-ray edition, complete with forty minutes of well-worth-it outtakes, commentary, and behind-the-scenes videos. The year was 1983 and Jacobs was talking about the cat-and-mouse game between graffiti writers bombing trains and the cops chasing
James Cagney gets born of the fourth of July for the Warner Archive's dynamic HD release of the already exceptional George M. Cohan biopic.
Generally, as I have pointed out in a previous article, biographical motion pictures are something of specialty items - usually commissioned, produced and released in order to cash-in on the death of a celebrity. But in the instance of 1942's Yankee Doodle Dandy, we have a biopic that is a whole different affair altogether. Although the subject of the picture itself, the iconic patriotic American Broadway composer/playwright/performer George M. Cohan - conceived and brought to the attention of studio executives by the man himself (!) - was still alive at the time the film was made, he did not fall
From lite BDSM affairs of the late '60s to bloody splatter flicks of the mid '80s, here's a little bit of everything from one of cinema's most inimitably imitative industries.
The bulk of Italian cinema is generally recognized by the average American viewer as little more than a number of classic neorealism features. Maybe a mafia movie made by a US filmmaker of Italian descent. And the occasional film by that guy who paved the way for a classic Tom Cruise interview by going berserk and climbing over (and atop) seats at the Oscars that one time. But for the cult/trash film enthusiast, Italy is perhaps the best known supplier of gory guilty pleasures, sinfully sultry sleazefests, and some of the most rockin' (or at least completely funky and groovy)
Planes: Fire & Rescue may be a spin-off from Cars but it lacks the Pixar magic.
Planes: Fire & Rescue is the second of three movies planned for the Planes trilogy which is a spin-off from Pixar's Cars. After becoming a success on the racing circuit, Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) is getting ready for his biggest race to date. During a flight, his gear box gives out and he is told that it cannot be replaced. Not understanding his own limits, Dusty ends up causing damage to a local business and gets pushed in the world of Aerial Firefighting where he learns that being a real hero means checking your ego at the door.
What we project onto our relationships can become a reality.
Films about couples on the brink of losing their relationship are nothing new. We go to the theater to see if they will make it out alive and stay together because we hope in turn our own relationships will make it out alive. But if you are looking for a film to reinvigorate your relationship with your signifigant other, The One I Love is not that film. The One I Love starts as a film about Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss), a couple trying to save what is left of their marriage after Ethan has an affair. Their
In case you weren't sure whether Hef's life was awesome, here he is to tell you how awesome it is.
Tony Palmer's 1973 Film About Hugh Hefner, the Founder and Editor of Playboy -- henceforth known as Hugh Hefner -- seems to be something of a cultural enigma. It was originally recorded in 1972 and presumably screened (at least in some limited capacity) in 1973, yet has no IMDB listing that I can find. This new DVD isn't being billed as a remaster or an anniversary edition or anything, which also makes it sound like it never saw the light of day before, yet there are quotes from the likes of Mary Whitehouse, The Times, and The Daily Express lambasting
Tati's own brilliantly satirical spin on the mechanical age
As we film buffs know the works of Chaplin, Godard, Dreyer, and Antonioni, we are able to see their versions of the stormy side of human nature, but no one in film history has quite of an effect on presenting the dark side of the mechanical age as legendary French director, Jacques Tati, whose classics somehow tend to get lost in the shuffle, especially talking about movie history. In a way, Tati is the "French Chaplin," since Chaplin's own Modern Times described the new harsh reality of the 1930s Depression era, while adding comical touches to surface the difficult situation.
James Cagney and Pat O'Brien pull no punches in this biting satire of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
When one hears a saying like "boy meets girl", an instant (usually negative) image of a sappy Hollywood romantic comedy - or worse, a sappy coming-of-age sitcom - is almost immediately conjured up. Fortunately, the 1938 satire Boy Meets Girl more than exceeds any preconceived notions those of us who have lived that same Hollywood film ten times before (thank you, Mr. Bowie) may hold. At the same time, Boy Meets Girl represents two styles of comedy we genuinely do not see in the world of American film anymore: the screwball comedy (which essentially died in the '40s) and the
Come sail down the Amazon with the Rifftrax crew!
Attending a Rifftrax Live show is fun, no matter the film being lampooned. The amount of like-minded individuals who love to attend and laugh creates an infectious atmosphere that can elevate the ridiculous to levels of sheer insanity. After the grandiose riffing of Godzilla a few months back - a film Rifftrax leader, Mike Nelson said presented a challenge in sustaining laughs due to length - audiences were hoping for a return to form, and boy did we get it! Anaconda is a throwback to the creature features of 1950s with a group of misfits riding a dilapidated boat
Olivia de Havilland encounters the plights and perils of a gold rush, a wartime rush, and rushed productions in a trio of forgotten films.
In the middle of October 2014, Olivia de Havilland found herself having outlived her frequent, iconic on-screen romantic interest from motion pictures of the '30s and '40s, one Mr. Errol Flynn, by five-and-a-half decades. Oddly enough, despite the fact that she retired from the film industry nearly thirty years after her famous leading hero passed away in 1959, Ms. de Havilland nevertheless managed to tally up the same amount of acting roles for film and television as he did. And yet, despite a relatively brief legacy in Hollywood - a career that waned in the '50s due to motherhood and