The CBS Home Entertainment S2 CS DVD set of the CBS reboot of the CBS '80s phenom "Magnum P.I." awesomely hits all the right notes as to the original, modern CBS procedurals, and reboots. The bright and bold shot-on-location Hawaiian scenery when many of use are entering our (seemingly eternal) sixth month of virtual home arrest helps slow our descent into almost-certainty madness.
Limited memories of "Magnum" OS hinders comparing it to the neo-modern version of the adventures of the titular security consultant/investigator Kato Kaelin, who lives rent-free on the estate of best-selling author Robin Masters, One blatant difference is that major domo/Magnum frienemy has gone from an uptight middle-aged British man to a younger and friendlier former MI-6 agent (Perdita Weeks). Additionally, S2 episodes lack OS speculation as to Higgins being an alter-ego of Masters.
The new Magnum/Higgins relationship takes a page from the Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson partnership in the (reviewed) CBS procedural "Elementary." The S1 cliffhangers include whether Higgins will formally join Team Magnum in a partnership capacity. A subsequent immigration issue leads to the possibility of a green card marriage of our leads. The efforts to keep Higgins around are central to the S2 cliffhanger that S3 will address when the pandemic facilitates resuming the action-packed fun.
The most obvious parallel is between "Magnum" TNG and the CBS "Hawaii 5-0" reboot. The similarities extend beyond the common setting to both series having Eric Guggenheim and Peter M. Lenkov as show runners. This leads to the inevitable cross-over episode. The common thread this time is the threat that a list of undercover CIA operatives will be divulged. (The "Magnum" DVD set does include the cross-over "5-0" episode as a special feature.)
"Magnum" having a similar vibe as the CBS reboot of "MacGyver" is attributable to Lenkov helping to run both series. Both reboots are more of ensemble programs than the originals; this includes episodes of both often ending with the gang hanging around drinking beers and rehashing their most recent adventure. This is not to mention both Higgins and Magnum separately "Macgyvering" themselves out of tough spots by cleverly repurposing common items.
"The Man in the Secret Room" arguably is the best S2 outing if only due to having Larry Manetti of OS join former hunks Lee Majors and Corbin Bernsen as guest stars. This one involves a planned easy temporary gig for Magnum as a resort security director becoming not-so-easy starting with the violent death of a hotel guest. The fun begins with discovering the concept of off-the-books accommodations for very special guests. The "MacGyver" element shows that it is easy to check out if the seemingly pristine comforter in your hotel room actually is covered with stains from bodily fluids.
"Room" additionally follows the "Magnum" pattern of virtually every discovery leading our hero and his volunteer squad down a totally unexpected path. We further come to wonder how any real or fictional detective ever solved a case in the era before cell phones and the Internet.
The copious special features extend well beyond the "5-0" episode. We get deleted scenes galore, a gag reel, and several behind-the-scenes featurettes. These include "Better Together," which gives even those who have a bit part (little more than a cameo) in the life of Magnum his or her time center stage.
The bottom line this time is that there is nothing to not like about a beautifully shot series about a charming bright guy and his equally appealing friends who strongly care about seeing that truth, justice, and the American way prevail.
The Universal Pictures Home Entertainment separate DVD and DVD/BD sets of the John Stewart ("The Daily Show") joint "Irresistible" (2020) provides a great chance to see a film that truly is one for our dystopian times. The extreme divisiveness regarding every aspect of American society screams now more than ever for the impish wit and charm of writer/director Stewart.
Casting "Daily" veteran Steve Carrell as prominent Democratic campaign manager/spin doctor Gary Zimmer is the icing on this tasty cupcake. This "Office" guy puts his deadpan wit and condescending arrogance/exasperation to good use as a DC insider essentially living a self-imposed exile in Hooterville. Think Michael Scott in a town full of Dwight Schrutes,
The quasi Mary Matalin to Zimmer's James Carville is his Republican counterpart Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne). This "Irrestistible" aspect aptly adds a '90s vibe to this film that is a a mash-up of the politicom "Wag the Dog" and films"loosely based" on the Matalin/Carville relationship.
The following "Irresistible" trailer provides an excellent "25-words-or-less" synopsis of the wonderfully cynical themes of the film; we also get good doses of the well-produced humor that make this one worth adding to your home-video library.
Our story begins on election night 2016 with the upset victory of Trump over Clinton; we all know how that worked out. Four years later, Zimmer finds a potentially game-changing online video of democrat/veteran/farmer Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) raising a fuss at a council meeting in his rural Wisconsin town, Zimmer makes the hastings decision that his getting that man elected mayor will be an important step toward turning that swing state to the Democratic side in the upcoming presidential election.
Hilarity ensues as we witness the political games that are par for the course inside the Beltway but not the Bible Belt. We also see the aforementioned patronizing attitude of Zimmer towards the "hicks," and said "real Americans" show up that city slicker.
The success of Zimmer brings Brewster to town to create bad faith as to Hastings. This leads to Zimmer v. Hastings: This Time It Is Especially Personal. The fun here includes a manufactured scandal and a perfect example of the risks of relying on general demographics. All of this makes Topher "Dumb Ass" Grace ("That '70s Show") being a member of Team Zimmer apt.
Stewart saves the very best for last ala a series of twists that are straight out of Golden Age Hollywood. This awesome cynicism shows that you truly cannot trust or underestimate anyone.
The copious home-video bonuses include deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a couple of "making of" features.
The CBS Home Entertainment August 25, 2020 three-disc DVD release of "Gunsmoke Movie Collection" is an awesome followup to the recent EPIC (reviewed) CBSHE 65th Anniversary "Gunsmoke" CS DVD set. The big picture is that the films wrap up a franchise that begins with a radio show (1952-61) and continues with the aforementioned 1955-75 television series.
The overall message is the same one that it is to every post on Western films and television series. This advice is "try it; you'll like it." Discovering that the genre is not boring and does not offer substance beyond saloon fights, high-noon showdowns, cowboy v. indian battles, and cattle rustling has greatly enhanced the life of your not-so-humble reviewer.
"Collection" begins with "Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge," the best of a stellar lot. Retired marshal Matt Dillon is enjoying his golden years when his noble instincts lead to the "Gunsmoke" theme of his being ambushed and left for dead, This leads to Dillon returning to his old stomping grounds to be patched up so that he can live to fight another day. This leads to former saloon owner/confidante/"its complicated" significant other Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) coming back from the Big Easy to reunite with the man who is the opposite of easy in every sense.
The regular "Dodge" and series theme of a man whom Dillon brought to justice coming gunning for revenge leads to one of many awesome developments in "Return." This leads to Dillon cutting his bed rest short to hit the trail in pursuit of justice. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the big bad arrives in Dodge to terrorize the town while he waits for Dillon to return.
"Gunsmoke" flashbacks reveals why these events highly upset Miss Kitty; her actions then and in the future reminds us that the tremendous appeal of Kitty includes her being just as tough as the men.
Dedicating "Gunsmoke: The Last Apache" to then-deceased Blake nicely reflects the love of both the "Gunsmoke" family and the fans to this "cousin" of Barbara Stanwyck. This excellent outing fills many squares on both "Gunsmoke" and "classic television" bingo.
Our story begins with once-again retired Dillon travelling to Tombstone, Arizona in response to a summons from lost-love "Mike" Yarnard (Micheal Learned of "The Waltons"). We (and Dillon) meet Mike in a "Gunsmoke" episode that finds her nursing a nearly dead and suffering from severe amnesia Dillon far from home. That story continues with a blissfully ignorant Dillon falling in love and enjoying a peaceful existence until his rude awakening that brings him back to his old life.
"Apache" finds Dillon arriving at the ranch of Yarnard only to find it destroyed, He also receives a special motivation to take off after the half-breed renegade who has run off with the daughter of Yatnard. The Dodge ending this time has Dillon get his man, and the girl.
"Gunsmoke: To The Last Man" is a sequel to "Apache" and is even more of a "ripped from the Old West" headlines film that the last one. The perspective of the indians in this one can be thought of as the white man has taken your land and confined you to slum conditions reservations; what are you going to do? I'm going to Disney World!
Of course, this involves Dillon hitting the trail in search of frontier justice with extreme prejudice. The body count this time is above average.
All of this shows that "Gunsmoke" star James Arness still has it after all those years in the saddle and that a quality Western never goes out of style. This is not to mention the franchise achieving the show business ideal of leaving them wanting more, much more.
The Corinth Films August 25, 2020 DVD/BD combo release of the 1979 BBC/PBS documentary "Einstein's Universe" fully is in the spirit of remote-learning during this Covid-19 era. This documentary based on the Nigel Calder book of the same name can be considered Einstein for Relative Dummies. The crystal-clear restoration further enhances this experience.
Host Peter Ustinov puts his charming quirkiness to good use as a dream team of physicists gather at the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas to teach him (and the audience) everything that he ever wanted to ask about the theories of Einstein but was afraid to ask. The overall look at this film that equally entertains and educates is that of science-fiction of the era down to the futuristic-looking motorcycles.
The segment that resonates most with those of use who have ever been pulled over for speeding (sometimes right across from our own houses) is the one that shows how cops use the Einstein principle as to the sound that an engine make changes as a vehicle approaches Smokey to clock how fast it is traveling, The aforementioned motorcycles are an integral part of that demonstration that will provoke many variations of "thanks, Einstein."
Another portion of the film shows how Einstein is the father of weapons of mass destruction. The message, which includes the correspondence that starts all of it, once again is that even the best intentions can have unintended negative consequences,.
Ustinov seems to take the most glee in a demonstration on the slower rate of aging in space that utilizes him and his "twin." This also includes a brief tour of time and space,
Much of the focus is on gravity. A table-top model illustrates the pull of a black hole, and we learn of the potential for our moon to go off the leash.
The bottom line is that "Universe" teaches its lessons without insulting the intelligence of the viewer. The photos of Einstein at an age before it seems that he is too busy for a trip to Super Cuts provides additional entertainment.
The term "uncut and uncensored" fully applies to the DVD set of the sublimely ridiculous Del Shores joint "Sordid Lives: The Series" and partially applies to supporting cast member Jason Dottley. Disdain for Dottley does not preclude speculating that the camera adds 10 inches; another possibility is that Shores got his hands (pun intended) on the famous Dirk Diggler prosthetic. That full-frontal and other racy content suggests that these versions of the episodes did not air during the top-rated run of "Series" on basic cable.
This new addition to the catalog of DelShores.com provides a good chance to add a DVD of a series that is not widely syndicated to your home-video library. The general cred. of this one extends beyond auteur Shores putting his Freddie Mercury Players to good use.
"Series" additionally has a strong live-stage vibe, and Shores has enough faith in the intelligence of the viewer to not include a laugh track. The series highlights include GROSSLY obese convenience store clerk Vera of "32.09" fame falling on the floor and Shores doubling down by the next shot being the legs of Vera flailing above her counter.
All of this illustrates the Rule of Three as to television and film. The theory is that a single individual cannot produce, direct, and act well. Shores shows that there are exceptions to that rule,
Shores does follow the rule of Brticoms; that wisdom is that making 12 exceptional episodes a season is better than producing 22 mediocre ones.
The wish fulfillment aspects of "Series" extend well beyond providing a prequel to Shores' (reviewed) opus film "Sordid Lives." Both works depict the trials and the tribulations of the working-class rednecks of Winters, Texas whose local dive actually is called Bubbas. Their story continues with the (reviewed) "Lives" film sequel "A Very Sordid Wedding." One can only hope for "Sordid Lives: Electric Boogaloo."
Delkies know that the entire "Sordid" franchise is based on the life of son of a preacher man Shores. Delkers know enough to cringe when the pet of the neighbors of chain-smoking Aunt Sissy (PERFECTLY cast Beth Grant) gets the goat of that ripped-from-the-headlines "Mama's Family" caliber character. The same principle applies as a reference to a little person.
Soapcom "Series" aptly begins its continuing story, complete with episode-ending cliffhangers, on April 6, 1998. This death date of Queen of Country Tammy Wynette has a large impact on Queen of the Mental Institution Earl "Brother Boy" Ingram (Leslie Jordan). Brother Boy constantly dresses in drag as Wynette and amuses the maddening crowd by lip-synching to Wynette records.
It all comes together when Wynette daughter Georgette Jones sings along. That relates to a transvestite in a coma storyline. I know; I know; its serious. "Lives" removes any doubt at whether he will pull through. We all would hate anything to happen to her,
"Lives" provides the full exposition as to how Brother Boy finds himself to be a decades-long guest of the state. This cult classic also allows Jordan and Rosemary Alexander (as "Shrinkie Dearest" Dr. Eve) to fully play off of each other when Brother Boy fully digs in his stilettos regarding his "failure to participate in his own recovery." Whether resistance is futile as to this Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd dynamic remains to be seen.
Another strong prequel element occurs as to family matriarch Peggy Ingram engaging in a long-term sordid affair with Nolette spouse GW, whom Beau Bridges masterfully portrays in the stage and film versions of "Lives." Shores does friends of both Dorothies a HUGE solid by casting "Maude"/"Golden Girls" star Rue McClanahan as Peggy.
The icing on the cake is Shores helping McClanahan get a leg up (pun intended) on co-star/rival Bea Arthur, who is known for saying that she has done everything except rodeo and porn. The salacious content of "Series" warrants giving McClanahan, who has a few PG-13 sex scenes, the win as to one of those genres.
Considering that a swan dive that McClanahan takes in "Series" is highly significant to the franchise, it is apt that this show is her swan song. It is beyond awesome that Golden Boy Shores writes her such a well-suited role for her final regular gig.
Additional star power comes in the form of Shores recruiting his fan Olivia Newton John to reprise her role as honky-tonk singer/convicted arsonist Bitsy Mae Harling, who (like Sissy) has a cute and sassy real-life namesake. Seeing that Bitsy-Mae and Peggy are two-of-a-kind and that Heaven can wait because they're gonna get it right this time is another of the plethora of Southern-fried treats that Shores dishes out.
The "and the rest" fun of "Series" includes a prescription drug addiction, hilarious mutual spousal abuse between GW (who does not have a leg on which to stand) and Noletta, and a crazy ex-girlfriend, We also get Shores friend and confidante Emerson Collins (who is must-see in the (reviewed) Shores opus"Southern Baptist Sissies") as a hilarious psycho one-night-stand to the max whose money shot comes in the series finale.
All of this makes for an awesome marathon (rather than "binge") viewing accompanied by Lone Star beer, pork rinds, and deep-fried Twinkies.
The Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray (BD) release of the 1980 Olivia Newton-John/Gene Kelly musical fantasy "Xanadu" excitingly exceeds high expectations regarding this feel-good scifi musical fantasy comedy of the '80s. It is almost guaranteed that you will not check the time or see how much longer the movie has to go and will shake your self out of a near trance and say "it's over?" at the end of the movie.
A funny aspect of this review considering the magical element of the film is that your sometimes humble reviewer got the BD essentially for free when factoring in the value of a movie money promotion while shopping at a normally avoided big box store. Thinking that Kira the muse of the film is behind this provides pleasure.
The following YouTube clip of video for the titular song provides a perfect sense of the spirit and themes of "Xanadu." You simply cannot help but feel really good while watching it and the film itself.
One of the more prominent attributes about this highly infectious film from future Hollywood royalty Joel Silver, Brian Grazer, and "High School Musical" choreographer Kenny Ortega is that it (largely) adheres to an awesome philosophy that 80s comedy darling Tracey Ullman stated before the premiere of her '80s sketch comedy show that brought "The Simpsons" to life. Ullman declared that the musical numbers in her show would makes sense and not merely be people bursting into song in the middle of the street. "Xanadu" stays true to that with the exception of an elaborate song-and-dance number during a stereotypical "shopping for a new look" number at an '80s style boutique.
Other overall totally tubular (pun intended) aspects of "Xanadu" include "Tron" style neon special effects and an extended musical number with New Wave gods "The Tubes." These keyboard kids totally rock out in their orange neon jumpsuits.
The film opens with frustrated painter Sonny Malone, whom Michael Beck of the terrifically uber-violent literally banned in Boston film "The Warriors" portrays, throwing the pieces of his latest sketch out the window. This inadvertently summons the nine Greek goddess sisters who are the muses who inspire artists. This coming-to-life sets the scene for the first of several musical numbers featuring songs by ELO and/or Olivia Newton-John.
Sonny coming out to plaaay by roller skating a short while later has muse Kara, whom Newton-John plays with great spirit, literally bump into him for a quick kiss only to dash off. This (along with another magical encounter with Kira) inspires an ultimately successful pursuit of his dream girl. A later rollerskating scene features an amusing nip slip,
Sonny also befriending '40s-era clarinetist Danny McGuire (played by Kelly) puts the rest of the puzzle together. The need of Danny for help fulfilling his dream of opening a night club and the desire of Sonny for a feasible creative outlet provide a basis for their beautiful friendship. Kira covertly guiding the enterprise greatly contributes to the fun.
Classic movie fans further will enjoy the homages to the Kelly classic "Singin' In the Rain." On bringing Danny home with him, Kelly remarks that a a silent film star once owned the house. A later scene has Sonny and Kira putting an '80s slant on a classic "Singin'" number.
Seeing Danny and Sonny work well together and mutually enjoy the music from their generations is both charming and a nice reminder of friendlier times. Millennials typically see even Gen Xers as fossils, and those of that demographic often consider the "kids" of today as ADHD morons who lack a work ethic and spend their whole lives looking at their phones. As in all things, the truth lies somewhere between those extremes.
One scene in which Sonny tries a little magic of his own perfectly illustrates how "Xanadu" grabs you and is oh so different than the movies of today. Anyone with a heart wants him to succeed and thinks that he will do so. A modern film would have him literally fall flat on his back and obtain a positive audience response.
The arguably cutest scene is also one of the most memorable. A music video that animation legend Don Bluth (whose work includes "The Secret of N.I.M.H." and "Anastasia") draws has our young lovers start as human and morph into fish and fowl while retaining a great deal of their human characteristics. Birdie Sonny stumbling and falling is hilarious.
All of this amounts to a fun film that looks very dated but allows escaping into a bright sunny world full of music that looks and sounds wonderful in BD format.
The "making of" feature meets the definition of the best of features and the worst of features. Director Robert Greenwald, Bluth, Ortega, and many behind-the-camera folks offer interesting insight into the humble beginnings of "Xanadu" and share how the interest of Newton-John and initially less enthusiastic involvement of Kelly helped the film develop.
We also learn of the impact of limited distribution by the studio affecting the preliminary response to the film. It soon making the art-house circuit and later becoming a Broadway musical shows the American public ultimately knows a good thing when it sees it.
The "worst of " aspects involves the lack of participation by Newton-John and Beck. Even if Universal offered little or no money, it seems that our former young lovers could show fan love by taking a couple of hours to discuss the film. We always root for your characters and bought the BD (if not the Newton-John soundtrack), a little reciprocation would have been nice.
A review-ending invitation regarding "Xanadu" is that any muse who comes across this post should feel free to show up and do her thing. Some of us do still believe in fairies.
The inspiration for this detour into Blogland dates back several years; one thing that always has bothered me about "Superman" incarnations is that Lois Lane makes a big show of being so fearless but puts herself in precarious situations knowing that Superman will show up and save her. I always have believed that people should make their best effort to be self-sufficient before relying on the kindness of strangers.
Another pop culture phenomenon is highly relevant to the topic of good faith as to contending with the economic impacts of Covid. An episode/failed spinoff pilot of the long-running NBC '80scom "The Facts of Life" has post-adolescent prep school girl/doctor's daughter Natalie abandoning Westchester to live La Vie Boheme in NYC. The response of this sheltered girl to a financial crisis of one of her many roommates in a one-room apartment is that no one likes asking their parents for money but that it sometimes is necessary. The reply to that suggestion makes it VERY clear that not everyone can go running to Daddy when they lack money for last year's rent, this year's rent, next year's rent.
The recent expiration of the $600/week federal unemployment supplement is behind the current musings on reliance on a bailout. The unpredictable, rapid, severe nature of the shutdown justifies the additional benefit at a time that the consequences of losing a McJob are far more dire than merely getting comparable work at a competitor.
The July 31, 2020 cut-off of the additional amount reflects the belief of both the pols and the hoi polloi that our long national nightmare would have ended by then. Looking back two weeks, some form of additional aid seems reasonable.
The other side of the coin is that it is known that some people took undue advantage of the supplemental benefits to either not return to their former employment when doing so was an option and/or did not look for alternative work when it became available. It is equally probable that a large percentage of people relied on an extension of the extra $600 after July.
This is a factor both as to many unemployment recipients being in a tough position and many Republicans advocating a more tempered response to the current need for this aid.
Practicing what I preach has included cutting back and regularly taking short-term jobs during periods of unemployment. I also diligently applied for permanent work. I admit that even cold calling companies is better than a shift at McDonalds or WalMart. However, the principle of due diligence to earn a paycheck applies.
A side note is that I worked at Crate and Barrel style store and caterwaitered several times a week despite having a full-time job in the first few years after college. I did the extra work so that I could have some "wants" and would be in a better position if I lost my job.
The big picture is that the "us" versus "them" mentality that pervades modern culture is more powerful than kryptonite as to "killing" a superhero.
No one should have to beg for anything, but the same "kids" who often literally shout when they feel that the "adult" on the other side of the counter is asking for too much should realize that showing good faith in the form of demonstrating a willingness to do that part is a more effective way to get a raise in their "allowance" than sitting around texting and refusing to even try to do their fair share.
Bullfrog Films, which services both the general and educational home-video markets, provides substantial food for thought as to the DVD release of the 2017 documentary "Like Any Other Kid." The underlying theme of the "Kid" is the debate almost as old as time regarding the extent to which prisons should punish in contrast to rehabilitate the folks who are guests of the state.
"Kid" studies young offenders who commit a variety of offenses; the focus is on "The Missouri Method," which believes that sparing the rod does not spoil the delinquent.
The film visits several juvenile facilities that take the talking cure to heart; through this, we met both the troubled youth and the guards who are highly dedicated to finding out how they can reach their kids so that they do not embark on a life of crime.
One of the most entertaining scenes has two teen boys act out a "use your words, not your fists" improv that is as amusing to them and their peers as it is to those of us at home. Despite the flawed delivery, the message that asking for money owed rather than coming to blows (or worse) over the dispute is highly valid.
One excitable boy gets more screen time than most; he is distinguishable both for essentially "going over the wall" during a trust-based furlough and for subsequently breaking down in a discussion with guards and therapists. One of the guards previously having his time in the spotlight adds a good perspective.
The bigger picture, which is highly relevant at a time that COVID-19 has amped hostility among "us" and "them," is that "we" always respond better when "they" are reasonable and compassionate. A more basic way of understanding this is that one dog simply barking at an already agitated dog only will lead to both dogs increasing their volume and enhancing the possibility that one or both of them is going to walk away with a chunk missing out of his or her body.
Film Movement division Omnibus Entertainment reminds folks who realize we've come a long way, Baby where it all begin; this herstory lesson comes in the form of the DVD release of the 2018 documentary "Holly Near: Singing for Our Lives" by 4-time Emmy winner Jim Brown.
Readers to whom this release seems to be a case of herstory repeating herself may recall that "Near" has run on the PBS series "American Masters."
The following Movement trailer for "Near" provides a glimpse of both the star-power of the talking heads and the life, the music, and activism of the subject.
At the root (pun intended) of the matter, the Near style is a blend of country, folk, and gospel with a strong feminist message. The feature music includes a song about the love that Near feel for a woman decades before Katy Perry sings about kissing a girl and liking it.
"Hanoi" Jane Fonda discusses meeting Near when the later joins the former for a Vietnam-era anti-war traveling show that intentionally is the polar opposite of the Bob Hope USO tours. Clips of the Fonda revue shows the designing women who put them on had as much fun as the audience.
We also learn how Near develops a close friendship with legendary feminist Gloria Steinem after being among the first group that Steinem publication Ms. magazine honors as a woman of the year. The comments of Steinem extend to discussing how Near provides the feminist movement its anthems.
The arguably brightest star power in the form of Kevin Bacon inarguably is relative; his DVD bonus interview discusses how his cousin Holly making it big is his first introduction to show business. His segment in the main portion of the film includes a clip in which their family recently performs a show in which they cut loose, footloose. One spoiler is that they do not kick off their Sunday shows.
We get an glimpse of another family that sings together to help stay together ala a few clips of a guest appearance of Near as a pudgy feminist high-school classmate of Laurie Partridge on the '70scom "The Partridge Family." The self-depricating fat jokes that prompt smiles from the cast further show that we have come a long way, Baby, since the era of bell-bottoms and puka-shell necklaces. (Yes, at least one very young boy wore one because Keith Partridge did.)
The copious DVD extras extend beyond 30 minutes of interviews; we get live performances of the Near songs "One Good Song" and "Somebody's Jail."
The The Film Detective separate DVD and BD July 29, 2020 releases of the pre-Code 1933 melodrama "The Sin of Nora Moran" shows what becomes Golden Age legend Zita Johann ("The Mummy") most. The cred of this release includes it being a collaboration between Detective, film historian Sam Sherman, the independent-international Pictures team, and the UCLA Film and Television Archives.
This dream team shows both that the Sherman-owned print of "Moran" is in the right hands and that the pristine BD restoration, which looks and sounds crystal clear. is a labor of love. The BD being limited to a run of 1,500 copies screams to order yours today. One lucky cinephile will find a golden ticket that can be redeemed for a lithograph of the original theatrical poster.
As the bonus must-see Sherman-narrated original documentary "The Mysterious Life of Zita Johann" states, the elements that set "Moran" apart from its peers include the performance of the star, the numerous surreal techniques, and the noteworthy orchestration. This documentary also includes the tales of how "Moran" gets on the radar (and in the collection of) Sherman and how he coaches his friend Johann through her final film performance.
The BD has the additional treat of a booklet that provides further insight as to the film and the star.
The following Detective promo for the home-video releases of "Moran" provides a good sense of the classic melodrama noir style of the film.
The clever exposition begins with a highly distraught Edith Crawford coming to brother/DA John Grant with love letters from the titular tart to Edith spouse/governor Dick Crawford. A clalm and collected John enlightens his sibling on the special relationship between her husband and the former circus performer/current death-row inmate.
For her part, Nora is dazed and confused in her cell ahead of her impending execution for what inarguably is a crime of love. Her life flashing before her eyes and John telling his sister of the role of her husband in the events leading up to the imposition of the death penalty provide the framework for the film.
A series of unfortunate circumstances leads to a relatively content Nora knowingly becoming the other woman as to her relationship with Dick. The past of the former coming crashing in on her ends her honeymoon period with the latter. For his part, John both wants to fulfill his family duty and to not lose his political investment in his brother-in-law.
For his part, the feelings of guilt that John is experiencing extend well beyond his adultery. He knows all the facts regarding the crime for which Nora is about to pay the ultimate price and must decide the extent to which he is going to stand by his woman. A last-minute visit essentially from the Ghost of Christmas Past combined with a disconnect seals the fate of all concerned.
As touched on above, the surreal elements that depict the angst of the players are part of what make all this special. The aforementioned "haunting" evokes especially strong thoughts of the highly stylistic Shakespearean films of the era.
The bottom line this time is that "Moran" reminds us of the dividends that audiences reaped when studios did not place commerce above art. Further, Johann illustrates the difference between an actor and a movie star.
The Icarus Films DVD of the 2106 "ripped-from-the-headlines" French film "Down By Love" is a perfect example of the beautiful friendship between Icarus and Distrib Films from which North American audiences benefit. Like most Icarus/Distrib Films, this tale of the illicit affair between post-adolescent inmate Anna Amari and married middle-aged prison director Jean Firmino could be made word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the US.
The following Distrib trailer for "Love" offers a good sense of the apt level of drama that conveys the tale of this unusual triangle.
Our story begins with Anna en route to the facility run by Jean as the next stage of her unfortunate incarceration ahead of her trial for the offense of this young offender. She soon catches the eye of Jean, and they experience a form of love that dare not speak its name if they know what is good for them, An especially precious moment has Anna creating a fantasy world in which she and her "teacher" essentially move to Westchester together. The ambiguity as to the extent to which Anna looks to Jean for the forms of escape that should be higher priorities is part of what makes "Love" special.,
In true fashion as to this type of story. the truth comes out roughly halfway through the film. The surprising twist is the extent to which Jean risks his career and his family life to be with "the other woman."
One of the mot memorable scenes begins with Jean providing a form of wish fulfillment by taking Anna away during a weekend furlough; the ensuing awkwardness and tension illustrate the principle of being careful for what you wish.
All of this culminates in a not-so-grande finale with a neo-modern twist on a Golden Age trope. If nothing else, it shows that equality has been achieved.