'The Best of the Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition' DVD: Timeless Tribute to True American Idol
The Time Life August 6, 2019 release of its best ever DVD tribute to "The Carol Burnett Show" awesomely provides a good reason to stay inside during the hazy, hot, and humid summer of our discontent. The gift-worthy. "The Best of the Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition" shows that Time Life is not a three-trick pony as to similar deluxe massive sets to Burnett pals (and guest stars) Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, and Jackie Gleason. This is not to mention giving "Burnett" admirer Robin Williams similar (reviewed) royal treatment.
"Burnett" show by the numbers is 11 seasons, 279 episodes, 8 Golden Globes, 25 Emmys, and numerous other awards and nominations. A very incomplete list of the pop-culture contributions of "Burnett" begins with the "Family" sketches, which get their due in the "Burnett" set, that beget the sitcom "Mama's Family" that has its own deluxe (reviewed) Time Life CS set. A cool tie-in with the "Burnett" set is an included modern interview in which Burnett discusses how a combination of her perfect comedic instincts and her childhood tweak the concept of "Family" in a manner that shows that Mama Burnett knows best.
Other "Burnett" memories that remain fresh in the minds of fans several decades include the "Gone With the Wind" and "Sunset Boulevard" sketches, which this set includes, that show that parody IS the sincerest form of flattery. Other highlights include Burnett playing a dim-witted bimbo secretary in the "Mrs. Wiggins" sketches and improv. master Tim Conway claiming to have gotten PEER Harvey Korman to laugh so hard that he pees his pants in the "Dentist" sketch.
The "Burnett" set by the numbers is 60 hand-picked episodes (including the two-hour series finale) that span all 11 years and 21 discs. The three sets that comprise these discs in a literal box set include the (reviewed) "The Best of the Carol Burnett Show."
We also get a truly collectible booklet (avec photos) that includes a timeline of the series and a paragraph by Burnett as to each season. The icing this time is a partial listing of the notable guests each season.
The series-finale aptly gets its own set; Time Life further gives this Golden Age classic its dues by presenting it in its original broadcast version avec bumpers but sans commercials. Stating too much would spoil sharing in the glee of Burnett on discovering the surprises that Conway et al have planned for her.
Things start out strong with Burnett introducing audience member First Lady of American Cinema Lillian Gish during the final of so many truly iconic show openings that are notable for (often hilarious) Q&A sessions. Commenting that Gish looks as if she is a resident of Grey Gardens is fully in the spirit of Burnett good-naturedly spoofing the greats.
Watching numerous clips that remind audiences of the '70s and of 2019 of the loss as to the series ending is a highlight. We also get an apt good-bye as to Wiggins and a (temporary) equally good send-off for Mama and her family.
Burnett letting Conway steal the show as they and co-star Vicki Lawrence demonstrates the class and the wisdom as to Burnett allowing herself to be upstaged for the good of the show, Conway returns this love by blindsiding Burnett with a very special guest star who leaves her speechless. This expression of fandom for this Hollywood royalty who NEVER becomes box-office poison expresses the love of the greats that allows Burnett to honor them so well.
The next big surprise comes at the end as the (yes again) iconic charwoman character of Burnett cleans up backstage one last time. This again is too special to spoil and REQUIRES paying attention.
This leads to Burnett providing the best-ever final scene in any television series. Still dressed as the charwoman, she explains her decision to head up before the lights go up for last call., Her subsequent exit is far from a walk-of-shame, and she leaves all of us wanting far much more.
The most apt final word regarding all this is that Burnett points out in the aforementioned interview that funny always is funny and that making people laugh does not require going "blue." Sadly, very few realize and achieve this.
The plethora of special features in the Warner Archive July 16, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1933 James Cagney musical-comedy "Footlight Parade" is the most obvious bonus regarding this highly enhanced film. This movie-industry history lesson in this film ala the theme in "Singin' in the Rain" of the transition from silents to talkies is the icing on the cake as to "Footlight."
The overall quality of the all-star "Footlight" earns it inclusion in the National Film Registry in 1992.
The following clip of a "Footlight" trailer does the film justice. This begins with including a cat fight that unarguably is the best moment in the whole movie. We further get a sense of the grand-scale of this let's put on three shows extravaganza courtesy of Busby Berkeley complete with an Esther Williamsesque water ballet number years before she begins her career.
One relevant context for "Footlight" is that the central story reflects the increasingly popular film industry being the video that kills the "radio star" in the form of live-stage productions that cost Depression-era audiences much more to attend. Another driving force is making and setting "Footlight" in the period in which the 1930 Hays Code is beginning to be enforced.
We meet musical-comedy producer Chester Kent (Cagney) as he is beginning to realize that he is facing obsolescence. His first saving grace is forming a partnership with a couple of shrewd businessmen. The brilliant idea behind making these men unlikely bedfellows is making live-stage prologues a lagniappe to help fill movie theaters.
Things first get amped up when an Eureka moment causes Kent to realize the benefits of economy-of-scale. A series of unfortunate circumstances related to corporate espionage leads to a do-or-die effort to produce three lavish numbers in as many days and to prevent "Gimbel's" from discovering what "Macys" is up to. The tactic of Kent includes a literal lock-down to prevent any loose lips from sinking his ship.
Other backstage drama includes the same form of creative accounting that has made headlines in the modern era, Ruby Keeler playing stenographer turned star/love interest Bea Thorm to crooner with his own backstory Scotty Blair whom Dick Powell portrays, Joan Blondell as Gal Friday/potential love interest to Kent, and Claire Dodd as tough broad/gold-digger Vivian Rich.
It is equally amusing that Code commentary includes objection to a wholesome (but thoroughly silly) alley-cat number of Keeler and Powell but not a peep as to a bit involving Powell and comic-relief Francis (Frank McHugh) demonstrating a number intended for Thorn and Blair.
All of this culminates in the aforementioned lavish number. "Honeymoon Hotel" is the most entertaining in that it is the most racy and perverse. The overall theme is that the titular lodging establishment facilitates extra-marital activity. The fun includes a troupe of "brides," and much of the perversion comes ala Krofft lttle person Billy Barty playing an odd child whose frantic antics include scurrying away after accidentally ending up in bed with Thorn,
"By a Waterfall" is an elaborate water ballet that provides the aforementioned Williams vibe; this easily has the most precise and impressive choreography of the three.
The grande finale "Shanghai Lil" plays very true to the "show must go on" spirit of both "Footlight" and the era. This one has the leading man singing and dancing his way through a dive bar in search of the titular soulmate. It is highly suggested that the other women in the joint have plenty of two bits for their brews. This leads to a "Coyote Ugly" style dance number on top of the bar.
Considering many of the themes of "Footlight," it is highly apt that the audience is exhausted and satisfied at the end of this never-a-dull-moment film.
The Blu-ray extras start out strong with a 15-minute documentary titled "Footlight Parade: Music for the Decades." Gleeful King of Raunch John Waters and others share their perspectives, which largely mirror those in this post. We also get several highly relevant interesting factoids.
A quartet of vintage Warner cartoons ties into the documentary by illustrating the comment that that studio gets good use from songs created for musicals by also centering animated shorts around them. Archive providing the standard disclaimer regarding the racist nature of older cartoons does not prepare the audience for the scene in the highly offensive "One Step Ahead of My Shadow" in which two of the Orientals (my people call them Asians) that populate most of this one double down by doing an Amos and Andy impression; they do stop short of using blackface.
"Vaudeville Reel #1" includes the standard acrobats, child star, etc of this form of entertainment. The absence of the act titled "The Aristocrats" is an obvious omission.
An amusing aspect of all this is that Archive honors a major theme of "Footlight" by making this masterfully restored release a bargain for movie lovers or simply anyone who is seeking roughly 2.5 hours of escapist fun that includes an epilogue.
'The World According to Spider-Man' Awesome Life Guide Makes Perfect Dad Day Gift Ahead of 'Homecoming'
The hardcover Insight Editions hardcover book "The World According to Spider-Man" is an incredibly fun read that WILL delight EVERY fanboy dad next Sunday; thoughtful offspring who buy it have the permission of your friendly neighborhood reviewer to read it before giving it to his or her male parental unit. The cherry on the webbing is that the July 7, 2017 theatrical release of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" makes this a particularly good year to give this book.
On a very large level, Spider-Man is a marvel (pun intended) because he gives flavor-of-2016 Deadpool a run for his money regarding hysterical irreverent humor and his origin story is one of the more believable ones out there. (Super sorry, Barry.) Additionally, alter-ego Peter Parker is a nice, sweet, handsome arachnid who lacks the overbearing earnestness of a fellow newspaper professional/superhero one could name. Joining Mr. Parker's Not-So-Vicious Circle would be an incredible delight.
As author Daniel Wallace writes in a pitch-perfect Peter Parker voice, "World" provides a hilarious primer on EVERY aspect of being a superhero down to hints regarding witty banter while battling the super villains that this book addresses. The terrific graphic novel style artwork and numerous cool surprise gifts are awesome bonuses. This is not to mention the "guest authors."
Wallace kicks things off with a brief synopsis of the Spider-man origin story. The trademark clever sarcasm is fully displayed, and the bonus is a ranting letter by Parker boss/nemesis/Daily Bugle Publisher and Editor-in-Chief "Jolly" J. Jonah Jameson.
Wallace goes on to share practical aspects of costume design and care; the suggested concerns include the presence of household pets. The image below is of that section.
Readers further learn about the crime-fighting gadgets that Spider-man uses, discover his web-swinging hints, gets low-down on Marvel heroes, and obtains insights related to changing into a super-hero costume. The surprise gifts include business cards and a special recipe.
This truly is a delight because Wallace masterfully keeps the humor flowing with truly unexpected quips and Marvel insider jokes. A spontaneous smile and/or laugh is worth a great deal in our dystopian era.
The qualities described above fulfill the basic requirements that a gift be something that the recipient probably will like and is highly unlikely to purchase for himself or herself. It being a surprise is a plus, and an item such as a book is particularly great because it effectively has a literally infinite shelf life and is the type of thing that the owner can pull out and share that it is a present from the giver.
An introduction to the wit and wisdom of producer/writer/director Quincy Rose regarding his hilarious and insightful (reviewed) indie flick "Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends" led to nice online communication with him. This led to a recent chance to watch the DVD release of his 2012 romantic drama "Miles to Go," which Indiewire states is "one of the 12 indie films to watch."
The following YouTube clip of the "Miles" trailer nicely informs without hyping. The wry low-key style of this promo. provides an excellent sense of the film with minimal spoilers.
Rose, who is producer/director/writer, shines as the titular nerdish 30-something Los Angeles writer. His black plastic rimmed glasses and poster for the vintage Woody Allen film "Take the Money and Run" in his reel-life living room reinforce the strong vibe from "Miles" and "Friends" that Rose is the rightful heir to the kingdom of Woody Allen. Much of this relates to Rose wisely emulating (but not parodying) Allen. This homage includes opening and closing credits that are simple white letters against a black background.
The oozing symbolism in "Miles" extends well beyond the title referring to our hero being neurotically pessimistic regarding any relationship passing the test of time. This is in the context of Miles frequently frequenting massage parlors and engaging in other unhealthy pursuits of a happy ending in the five months since a break-up with long-time repeatedly on-again off-again girlfriend Julia.
Other symbolism relates to this relationship-impaired man creating permanency in the form of several tattoos. The ink that he receives during the film is the most meaningful one of all.
The current state of Milia is that a combination of loneliness, horniness, and attraction has them alternatively reaching out to the other in ways that more often then not lead to sex. The only thing keeping those crazy kids apart is both of them wanting a commitment to a long-term relationship but Miles being unsure of his ability to provide that stability.
The aforementioned wit and wisdom includes the inner high-school boy comments regarding which Rose is a master. A hilarious bit in "Friends" relates to a character sharing that the nature of his penis warrants giving that love muscle the name of a well-known supermodel. "Miles" has similar commentary regarding the (briefly glimpsed) love organ of our hero.
Rose additionally adds a teen-boy twist to the standard Allen scene of childless yuppie friends conversing during dinner. A discussion of sexual accommodations leads to the topic of women agreeing to engage in anal sex if doing so is adequately important to their man. The spirit of Allen is most present regarding an observation that even highly straight men have a strong enough homosexual urge to want to penetrate someone anally. The Rose side comes through regarding Miles making amusing tasteless jokes on the subject.
Another scene has Miles playing his regular role of providing the male perspective to a woman to with a relationship history that rivals his own. He explains that a man who engages in pre-coitus interruptus in the form of just wanting to snuggle does so only due to embarrassment regarding covertly crossing the finish line during foreplay.
On a more respectable level, Rose further shares his thoughts regarding pretension related to keeping books that you have read on the shelf. This is in line with a real-life independent bookseller observing that Millennials buy hardcover books because that is their only affordable means of expressing their personalities.
In other words, "Miles" works because it is true. Gen Xers and Millennials are from generations in which most relationships do not endure. They further have the blessing and the curse related to casual hookups often being lauded and no dishonor being associated with not marrying until late in life if at all. This simply makes it tough for those of us who want forever after and fear the heartache associated with that not happening.
A personal note regarding the Rose take on relationships is that recently losing a greatly loved (and exceptionally loving) dog renewed always present feelings that we animal lovers fully give our hearts to canines and felines (and get just as much love back) despite knowing that we will lose them within 15 years. At the same time, we are back at the shelter looking for a new "child" no longer than a year later.
The Gravitas Ventures October 11, 2016 VOD release of the 2016 comedy "Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends" is both a good companion to the August 20216 Gravitas release of the Millennial dystopia drama "There is a New World Somewhere" and the early '70s Woody Allen films on which the father of "Friends" writer/director/voice actor Quincy Rose worked.
A personal cool element of "Friends" is finding on reading the statement of Rose in the press materials that thoughts regarding this movie coincide with his mindset while making it. Understanding the artistic vision of a film is always a good thing. This theme relates to the tangled relationships between friendship and sexual desire as well as the theory of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs that essentially shows that man (and woman) is never happy despite how good he (or she) has it.
The Millennial vibe of "Friends" begins with the opening scene in the way cool retro-style bar that looks like the hangout in the 20-soemethings-oriented Foxcom "New Girl." BFFs from childhood openly (and hilariously) discussing their pre-adolescent mutual sex play to the amusement of Steve's live-in girlfriend Laura further establishes that our leads are open-minded close friends.
The catalysts for the ensuing moderately hot drama include Laura introducing freelance editor Jacob to friend/aspiring author Sarah and Steve pushing the limits of his "don't ask/don't tell" relationship with Laura by starting an affair with a woman who is more than Ms. Right Now.
Having the proposed book by Saarh focus on the contributions of her grandfather to the "scale of sexuality" research by Kinsey is very apt for this film.
Good guy but relationship-shy Jacob quickly develops strong chemistry with Sarah but is attracted to her hot and flirty roommate Camille. The encouragement of Steve to pursue Camille does not help matters.
Roughly the next hour of "Friends" focuses on the titular activity of this group and their justifications for the associated directed and indirect betrayals. As Rose observes in the aforementioned statement, we all can justify doing what (or whom) we want to and (in true Allen style) fail to consider the impact of our actions on others. In other words, something feeling good does not always justify doing it. Said consequences adds a deeper meaning to the "effing" portion of the title of the film. It further proves that you can both "ef" 'em and tell 'em a joke.
Highlights include the very live-stage feel to all the dialogue, the brotalk between Steve an Jacob, and a very high school style discussion regarding trying to learn the extent of the sexy activity on a memorable night that three of our Gang of Five share.
This being 2016, the amusing ending reflects modern Hollywood. Everyone is a little wiser but not essentially a happier; one spoiler is that the film does not end with a wedding in which our quintet joins hands and dances or skips around accompanied by a Motown or '70s soft rock hit.