Results tagged “Warner Archive”

Lights of New York (1928) DVD Review: The Most Sublime Milestone in Cinema

The Warner Archive Collection brings us the first all-talking motion picture ever, which deserves a look-see for that very reason alone.
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Given that even the cheapest films produced today can be presented in faux widescreen with 7-channel surround sound and special effects manufactured entirely via computer software, it's extremely easy to take some of cinema's most important milestones for granted. Much like the very first motion pictures to be shot digitally as far back as the early 2000s have already faded from the memory of the general public, the movies which introduced the world to surround (let alone stereo) sound and the phenomenon once known as CinemaScope have become little more than mere footnotes in cinematic history. One such milestone ‒

Fireman, Save My Child (1932) DVD Review: Old Hatter Up

It would prove to be the first of a "baseball trilogy" starring iconic comedian Joe E. Brown.
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Admittedly, a movie from the early '30s is bound to feel more than just a tad bit outdated when viewed today. That said, Lloyd Bacon's Fireman, Save My Child ‒ a First National Pictures comedy starring the mouth himself, Joe E. Brown ‒ was already old hat (or old fire helmet, as it were) when it was released by Warner Bros. in late February of 1932, as it had already been made twice before during the Silent Era. The first film to carry the title was Hal Roach's one-reel short from 1918 with the great Harold Lloyd in the lead,

Alexander Hamilton (1931) DVD Review: I Never Expect to See a Perfect Work Anyway

An entirely-too-old George Arliss portrays a much younger Hamilton in this early pre-Code biopic from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Far removed from the musical stage sensation of today, the 1917 Broadway production of Hamilton presented audiences with a condensed version of the first Secretary of the Treasury's battle to pass his Assumption Bill funding act in the years following the end of the Revolutionary War. With very little else in-between. But that didn't seem to matter much to the public, who were probably more excited to see recent Academy Award winner George Arliss ‒ the first (and youngest) English-born actor to earn such an honor in the US ‒ parading about amid a compelling human drama he himself had

The Hanging Tree (1959) Blu-ray Review: Hangin' with Mr. Cooper

The Warner Archive Collection knots it up with this captivating western starring Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden, and first-timer George C. Scott.
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Several years before a more somber wave of performers rode into town, Gary Cooper was ‒ as he had done so eloquently before ‒ pioneering a unique protagonist who would fit right at home in a '70s revisionist western. In Delmer Daves' The Hanging Tree, released two years before one of the genre's quintessential heroes passed away, we witness the stalwart High Noon icon delivering his final lead performance in a cowboy picture. This time, however, Cooper does not play a man haunted by what he must do. Rather, he's tormented over what he has done. Set in the tiny

The Gay Bride (1934) DVD Review: Married to the Flop

Carole Lombard and Chester Morris unite for a well-aged gangster screwball comedy, now available from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Some marriages just need a little time to get things right. Crafted at the tail-end of Hollywood's golden age of gangster pictures, MGM's classic screwball comedy The Gay Bride failed to wed audiences upon its initial release in 1934. But when I first witnessed this union betwixt Carole Lombard (My Man Godfrey, To Be or Not to Be) and future Boston Blackie star Chester Morris (Five Came Back, The She-Creature) 84 years later in 2018, I found this once-dejected Bride to be quite worthy of a suitor ‒ Gayor otherwise. Set in New York (but clearly filmed in Los Angeles),

The Ship from Shanghai (1930) DVD Review: Slippery When Whet

The Warner Archive Collection raises an early Sound Era seafaring thriller featuring Kay Johnson and Louis Wolheim.
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Were you to examine the wake of just about every cinematic maritime thriller pitting a random assortment of passengers against an onboard maniac, the trail will more than likely trace back to 1930's The Ship from Shanghai. As the title may indicate, the story opens in Shanghai. Well, it's technically an assortment of stock footage from the Orient and a Hollywood nightclub set ‒ complete with an all-too lively gweilo playing the drums in yellowface while an otherwise Asian band plays "Singin' in the Rain" in Chinese. Fear not, though, for the film shifts into an entirely different gear soon

MGM's The Big Parade of Comedy (1964) DVD Review: When Compilations Were String

For whatever reason, the Warner Archive Collection releases Robert Youngson's effortless cut-and-paste documentary to DVD-R.
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One would expect a collection of clips featuring some of cinema's greatest comedians and comediennes to be a laugh-a-minute mini-fest; a cinematic party tape devoted entirely to some of the biggest names in comedy during their best moments on-screen. And, while such compilation movies surely exist somewhere, you will not find anything remotely resembling such in MGM's The Big Parade of Comedy ‒ a dreadful cut-and-paste wonder from the once-respected mind of documentary filmmaker Robert Youngson. Beginning his career at Warner Bros. in the late 1940s as the director of documentary shorts ‒ two of which won Academy Awards ‒

A Lost Lady (1934) DVD Review: A Lost Cause

The Warner Archive Collection finds a rare Barbara Stanwyck flick co-starring the famous Emerald City Wizard himself, Frank Morgan.
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After witnessing the man she is due to marry (in just two days) get gunned down in front of her by a jealous husband (the cad!), poor Marian (Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity) becomes a bitter, dejected, clinically depressed recluse. Months later, her family, completely uncertain what to do with her now that she's so very sad and boring, pack up her belongings and ship her off to the Canadian Rockies so she can mope in peace there. And indeed she does, until she decides to run off into the woods after nearly experiencing an emotion, wherein she promptly falls off

The Chastity Belt (1967) DVD Review: As Uncomfortable As You'd Expect

Tony Curtis and Monica Vitti are more than a bit rusty in this appallingly unfunny Italian sex comedy from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Every once in a while, a film critic encounters a difficult obstacle to overcome. The late '60s, Italian-made sex comedy The Chastity Belt ‒ originally given the very late '60s title of On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who… ‒ proved to be one such challenge. Starring Tony Curtis and Italian bombshell Monica Vitti, this 1967 medieval "farce" incredibly credits A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum writer Larry Gelbart, the same man who would later turn Robert Altman's hit M*A*S*H into an even bigger television sensation. After making it into the film

Kind Lady Double Feature DVD Review: Team Sherlock Holmes or Team Dr. Zaius?

The Warner Archive Collection pairs two different versions of the same story ‒ with Basil Rathbone and Maurice Evans taking turns playing the bad guy ‒ on one disc.
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In today's world of cinema, a remake, reboot, preboot, prequel, or sequel is about as easy to find as a pregnant lady in a maternity ward. Ultimately, it's all about branding: a title (or character) studios can mercilessly milk the money of consumers out of until even the most die-hard Transformers fans say "Enough already!", less the studios lose their limited rights to the property in question. And, while it may come as something of a surprise to younger generations, Hollywood has never been terribly shy about remaking a movie in order to keep up with the times. Or at

Summer of '42 (1971) Blu-ray Review: There's a First Time for Everything

The obscured (if slightly controversial now) coming-of-age hit returns to home video courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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An unexpected box office sensation upon its 1971 debut, Robert Mulligan's adaptation of Herman Raucher's Summer of '42 has since become as distant to audiences as has the element of romance to the average Tinder user. Indeed, the advent of modern technology has far-removed the timeless coming-of-age motif from that of younger generations, who will more than likely find the film's characters ‒ to say nothing of their particular plights here ‒ weird, if not completely unsettling. A personal favorite of iconic rogue filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (it's the only live-action film featured in The Shining, I believe), Summer of '42

While the City Sleeps / Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) Blu-ray Reviews: Puttin' on the Fritz

Fritz Lang's final two American films ‒ both starring Dana Andrews ‒ get the much-deserved Warner Archive Collection treatment.
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Metropolis. M. The Dr. Mabuse series. There are so many reasons to love Fritz Lang's early, German-language films, all of which helped define the German Expressionist movement. Following Lang's fleeing of Nazi Germany in the early '30s, the Austrian-German-born filmmaker put his expertise use of light and shadows to become a pioneer in the world of film noir ‒ helming such classics as Ministry of Fear and Scarlet Street, as well as the iconic 1953 masterpiece, The Big Heat. Even as his 20-year-plus Hollywood career began to wrap up in the late '50s, Lang's filmic contributions were as marvelously dark

The Flight of Dragons (1982) Blu-ray Review: Colonel Potter vs Darth Vader?

The Warner Archive Collection clears the runway for this neglected Rankin-Bass animated fantasy.
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Even to contemporary animation fans caught up in the neverending sea of anime, the Rankin-Bass brand is both familiar and holy. Best-known to the majority of the masses as the company which produced two of the most iconic perennial holiday treats ever made ‒ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman ‒ Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr.'s love for family-friendly fantasies stretched beyond the borders of commercialized Christmases. In fact, they were the fellers responsible for the original animated versions of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and Return of the King in the late '70s and early '80s ‒

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) Blu-ray Review: Indie Codependent

The Warner Archive Collection revs up the gas for Jeff Burr's controversial buzzer.
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Bridging the gap between pure psychological horror with a touch of humor and gore into something polarly opposite isn't an easy task. And there is no better example of that in the realm of scary movies than New Line Cinema's maligned 1990 slasher sequel, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Though technically an '80s flick, Jeff Burr's 1990 contribution to the famous film franchise ‒ which still exists today via an occasional, unnecessary reboot every couple of years ‒ became an instant target for fans and foes alike. Several years before, the Cannon Group released Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw

Harper (1966) / The Drowning Pool (1975) Blu-ray Reviews: Newman's Own Detective Series

The Warner Archive Collection brings us two excellent transfers of two contrasting tales starring the great Paul Newman.
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Lew Harper is back on the case ‒ twice over ‒ in these two new Blu-ray releases from the Warner Archive Collection. Adapted from Ross Macdonald's literary adventures of Lew Archer (because who in their right mind could take a character named Archer seriously, especially now?), 1966's Harper brings us a misadventure of a modern-day Southern Californian private investigator. Seemingly inspired by every classic detective from books to film alike ‒ and every bit as cynical, to boot ‒ the role was brought to magnificent life on-screen by the one and only Paul Newman (The Hustler). Nine years later, Newman

Auntie Mame (1958) Blu-ray Review: And It's Completely Lucille Ball-Free, Too!

The Warner Archive Collection brings us a beautiful restoration of Rosalind Russell's original great aunt.
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Beginning as a best-selling novel by Patrick Dennis in 1955, Auntie Mame became a Broadway success starring the one and only Rosalind Russell a few years later. As was customary with just about every (even minor) stage triumph in those days, a film version wasn't too far behind. Released to theaters at the tail end of 1958, Warner Bros.' Auntie Mame became the highest-grossing film of 1959. While that may not seem like much of an accomplishment at first glance, it should be noted the films it vanquished at the box office included North by Northwest, Ben-Hur, Anatomy of a

Doc Hollywood (1991) Blu-ray Review: A Crash, a Clash, a Fox Office Splash

Michael J. Fox goes country in this early '90s rom-com now available on BD from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Doc Hollywood was exactly the sort of early '90s filmfare I recall going to see every weekend at the local cinema in the small hick town I grew up in. In fact, I actually did see Doc Hollywood when the nearby theater of my teen-aged youth, where nary another soul was in attendance, leading me to (falsely) concur the movie must not have made a big splash at the box office. In reality, the film was something of a box office hit, but due to prolonged exposed to something called "aging", very little of that remained in my memory banks.

Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) Blu-ray Review: Another Kind of San Francisco Treat

Alan Ladd leaves his heart in San Francisco in this glorious re-discovery from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Made back when one could still refer to San Francisco as "Frisco" and not catch hell for it, Frank Tuttle's Hell on Frisco Bay is one of several film (noir) adaptations based on the literary work of William P. McGivern (The Big Heat). Filmed (partly) on location in and around California's iconic Bay Area city, the vehicle finds Alan Ladd as a hardened, disgraced former police detective recently released from San Quentin after serving time for a bogus murder charge. As if starting over wasn't a cumbersome ordeal to begin with, contending with the fact everyone on both sides of

Oh God, They're Singing: Three Classic Musicals on Blu-ray

The Warner Archive and Twilight Time give us some old song and dance routines, available in High-Definition (and in one case, widescreen) for the first time.
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You know the feeling. You're sitting there, minding your own business, enjoying the sights and sounds of a classic motion picture. Suddenly, the gears seem to shift: orchestral accompaniment appears out of nowhere as characters begin to step in pace with one another, speaking in lyrical rhymes before breaking out in full-out song and dance routines. "Oh God, they're singing!," you cry out, realizing you have been sucked in once more by a movie musical. But don't worry, I won't judge ye. In fact, after witnessing all of the toe-tapping antics found in these three titles ‒ all of which

The Super (1991) DVD Review: Low Rent Entertainment

The Warner Archive Collection raises the roof on Joe Pesci's flop.
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Epitomizing just about every bad decision made by the world of domestic entertainment in the early '90s to its fullest extent ‒ be it the questionable tastes in fashion and music or the peculiar, career-killing choice to cast movie tough guys in family-friendly comedies ‒ The Super stars the Joe Pesci no one really wanted to see. Cast as the vehemently loathsome spoiled jerk son of a racist ol' New York City real estate magnate (gee, I wonder who served as inspiration for that?), Pesci is at his squirmiest, scene-chewing best here as Louie Kritski ‒ the slumlord of a
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