The good news is that anyone reading this post on the recent Warner Archive DVD release of the Gary Cooper/Patricia Neal 1949 drama "The Fountainhead" is at least a potential juror regarding the unusual level of preaching regarding the philosophies of your not-so-humble reviewer and of controversial author/screenwriter Ayn Rand. A related note is that the following takes a much more bloggy approach to the topic than is typical for this site. However, better understanding the relevant concepts requires the personal touch.
The bad news is that Archive shows a limited lack of integrity in not releasing this well remastered black-and-white film in Blu-ray. Director King Vidor ("Stella Dallas") tremendously channels Orson Welles in the use of contrasts, shadows, grand sets, and other Kafkaesque elements. This screams for a format that fully showcases this artistry.
Rand being the GOP elephant in the room requires dealing with her first; many people dislike her harsh personality and hard line regarding standing strong and independent; the rest of the story is that she merely calls for a valiant effort to support yourself before relying on the kindness of strangers. Regarding her stern personality, she simply can be considered a right-wing Hillary Clinton or Notorious RBG.
A related note that segues into "Fountainhead" is that central character architect Howard Roark (Cooper) takes self-reliance to an degree that exceeds the requirements of Rand. This man of integrity is down to his last $14.67 when a successful "sell-out" colleague offers a loan that is absolutely no sacrifice to that creditor. Roark declines that offer and subsequently takes a hot and grueling job in a granite quarry.
Roark (and Rand) strongly speak to me because this talented architect finds himself below the poverty level only because he refuses to compromise his integrity. I would not continue writing about "Fountainhead" and other limited-interest releases if the cost of that work included banging away in a quarry (or working at Wal-Mart), but I pay a price both for what I review and how I operate my site.
Just as Roark openly admits his desire for earning a good living, I would love to have more top releases interspersed among the art-house fare about which I write. I also would like to have my very respectable (and valued) readership grow to the point that equally respectable (sorry, Bezos) companies would advertise on my site. However, I feel very strongly about not directly or indirectly buying readers. I think that my posts are informative and entertaining and remain hopeful that more people will discover them and come on board simply because they value my content.
The many woes regarding the corporate site that recruited me in 2006 to write about my field of graduate study and then allowed me to start a section that "examines" TV on DVD developments includes the blatant way that that site inflates numbers. Writers are constantly told to have social media followers simply click on a post and to tell those followers that they do not need to read the content.
A little closer to home, I have a nice online friendship with an intelligent and well-educated guy who is a true blogger. Like me, he writes well and has an interesting perspective. Unlike me, he essentially prostitutes himself in recognition that sex sells.
The social media activity of my peer heavily focuses on his sexual adventures. He also regularly either posts about plans to upload revealing photos of himself or actually shares those images with the world. A recent example is a selfie in which this man is nude and standing in front of a bathroom mirror; the sink blocks everything right below his trimmed short and curlies. Just the other day finds him groping himself inside his designer unmentionables.
For the record, such a revealing photo of your not-so-humble reviewer would drive away the relatively small population of current supporters. Similarly, it is irrelevant 9.9 times out of ten what I am doing or wearing while watching a review DVD; the same is true regarding with whom I am watching the program or film. Such information is shared only in cases such as "Fountainhead" in which it is highly relevant to the topic.
Finally getting down to the film itself, the philosophy of a friend puts the story in perfect context. This belief is that arrogance is not arrogant if adequate talent supports this 'tude.
The opening scene has Roark being ousted from architecture school for refusing to conform to the norm; we then see him receiving similar treatment in the office of eccentric innovative architect Henry Cameron. Cameron does relent and provide Roark (hopefully) gainful employment.
We then catch up with a struggling Roark several years later with the aforementioned pittance in his pocket and colleague Peter Keating offering the loan. This coincides with Roark being offered a job that provides fame and fortune. His refusal to agree to demanded design changes leads to his pulling a Flintstone.
Meanwhile, socialite/newspaper columnist/Keating fiancee Dominque Franchon (Neal) is fending off the civilized advances of boss/tabloid New York Banner publisher Gail Wynand (Raymond Massey). The stresses in her life drive her to the country estate of her father.
It is lust at first site when Franchon finds a sweaty and muscular Roarke in the quarry near the estate; her intentions and clumsy ruse to get him in her bedroom being transparent do not prevent the pair delivering a very steamy love scene by 1949 standards.
Franchon and Roark ultimately return to the real world. Their lives become fully entangled when a series of circumstances lead to Franchon marrying Wynand, who is oblivious to the history of his wife and his architect when he hires the latter to design a house that is a tribute to the tribute.
Another source of drama relates to prissy Banner architecture columnist Ellsworth M. Toohey having a figurative (if not literal) hard-on for Roark. The nature of this animosity is the film-long theme of the refusals of Roark to conform to the norm and to compromise his integrity for the common good. His designing a luxury apartment building at a time that many people struggle to find decent affordable housing is one pretext for this smear campaign, In other words, Toohey is asserting that the needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the individual.
The extended climax awesomely includes Toohey admitting his covert evil scheme. These concepts that you should not believe everything that you read and that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda is highly relevant in 2018.
Meanwhile, Roark agrees to be the ghost architect for Keating on an affordable housing project. Anyone capable of deducing who is the villain in a "Scooby-Doo" episode can predict Keating caving regarding a demand to change the design. This leads to a highly symbolic well-known scene in which Roark demonstrates the extent to which he will protect his integrity.
This turmoil leads to an apt Mexican standoff that is comparable to the current government shutdown; Wynand essentially must decide whether is on Team Roark or Team Keating. An element of this is facing the consequences of creating a monster in a couple of senses of that word.
In what seemingly is obligatory for most movies of the '30s and '40s, the climax includes a highly charged courtroom scene. Of course, Roark makes an impassioned speech, The possibility that the integrity of Rand wins out over the demanded norm of a Hollywood ending leaves the conclusion in doubt until the judge declares the judgment.
The Warner Archive November 20, 2018 DVD release of the 1965 Natalie Wood drama "Inside Daisy Clover" evokes memories of the gritty "tell it like it is" films, such as "Easy Rider" (1969) and "Five Easy Pieces" (1970). of the era. The larger picture is that "Daisy" arguably is a brutal semi-fictionalized portrait of Judy Garland and of Wood herself to a lesser extent. Wood being 26 when she makes this film about America's 15 year-old "little Valentine" is the smoking gun regarding this theory.
Although Ruth Gordon only receives an Oscar nomination for her perfect portrayal of the senile mother of Clover, that role nets her a Golden Globe. Cast member Robert Redford gets a Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer - Male" for his role as macho man movie star Wade Lewis, who is fond of beards. It is interesting that Redford is two years older than Wood but plays a character who is roughly a decade older than Clover.
The following YouTube clip of a '60stastic trailer for "Daisy" uses an entertaining apt newsreel tone to convey the "True Hollywood Story" aspect of the film.
"Daisy" opens in August 1936 with Angel Beach, California tough street kid Clover telling the audience that it is her 15th birthday; the graffiti that she adds to the wall against which she is slouching reflects her disdain for her older sister Gloria; a latter scene establishes that marrying up is the chosen route of Gloria to escape the trailer-trash existence of Clover and their mother.
Other glimpses of the "before she was a star" life of Daisy include her hilarious fending off the advances of her horny teen boy friend. We also see Gordon just now reporting the disappearance of her long-absent husband. The rationale for this delay is one of the best lines in this well-written film by Alan J. Pakula ("To Kill A Mockingbird") and Robert Mulligan ("Mockingbird" and "Summer of '42".)
Stardom literally arrives on the doorstep of the double-wide that Daisy and her mother share when Hollywood producer Raymond Swan (Christopher Plummer) sends a limousine to deliver Daisy to a screen test in response to a record of herself that she submits as an entry in a talent contest.
The realities of fame soon set in for Daisy. Gloria swoops in to get a piece of the action; Ma gets shipped off to Shady Pines, and Swan invents a new life story for his latest discovery. This is not to mention coercing Daisy into adapting her private life to conform with her public image. A notable scene in which the studio goes well beyond having Daisy wearing a Kansas farm girl outfit and toting (pun intended) a terrier is one of the most memorable in this exceptional film,
Redford showing up at just the right place and time leads to sweeping away Daisy; sadly, in true Hollywood style, the honeymoon period is cut short. Additional trauma and drama pushes our starlet closer to the edge.
All of this climaxes with the dam breaking; the final scenes truly show the price of fame.
The appeal of all this is that both Daisy and the audience learn a moral. Resenting a celebrity for earning far more in a few months than most of us earn in a lifetime is reasonable. We must remember that, especially in this Internet Age and #MeToo era, that that compensation includes payment for sacrificing any privacy and for never dropping a facade, Tom Cruise deserves tremendous credit for never responding to a cry of "show me the money" by showing that moron the finger.
Archive lightens the mood by including the 1964 Road Runner cartoon "War and Pieces" as a DVD extra. The epic name for this outing is apt based on it being the last Chuck Jones cartoon for Warner Bros until the '80s. The cleverness of the variations on the theme of traps backfiring on Wile E. Coyote are too amusing to spoil. Suffice it to say that Jones goes way beyond our villain holding a stick of dynamite when it explodes.
The Warner Archive leitmotif to which the January 22, 2019 Archive Blu-ray release of the 1959 movie "The Giant Behmoth" belongs is '50s sci-fi. Although very entertaining based on its own merits, the so-bad-they're-good stock footage and special effects greatly add to the enjoyment of watching this one. Further, the Blu-ray remaster of this low-budget cult classic looks and sounds good.
The addition of "Behemoth" to the Archive catalog follows the (reviewed) Blu-ray release of the Howard Hawks mainstream classic "The Thing From Another World." These releases (and similar fare) facilitate recreating the awesome Saturday afternoon marathons at movie theaters. Watching the films back-to-back on the evening of a horrible day was exactly what the cinephile ordered.
The following YouTube clip of a Archive highlight video of "Behemoth" showcases the aforementioned effects that make the production values of the live-action Saturday-morning series "Land of the Lost" seem like something from a Merchant-Ivory film. A related depicted element is the cool way that "Behemoth" recreates the vibe of the WWII-era blitz.
This "Godzilla" begins with Yank Steve Karnes in King Robert's Court to lecture on little-considered fallout from A Bombs; his topic is how the radiation affects sea life but does not specifically address fish developing a third eye. This scene is particularly notable for a clever narrative technique that identifies Karnes.
Karnes is about to leave England for his home turf when a news report of sea monster who is far from lovin' and laughin' his life away prompts this science guy to head to the coastal scene of the crime. One of the coolest scenes from this portion of the film is discovering a radioactive element in a dissected fish.
Finding radiated Nemo allows narrowing the search for the titular sea monster. Rather than using a dory, our team boards a helicopter to search the targeted area of ocean. The arguably best effect ensues in the form of the Biblical beast swimming just below the surface. This scene arguably inspires similar moments in the awesome Brit series "Primeval" and "Primeval New World" that have prehistoric creatures respectively terrorizing England and Vancouver.
The same in-the-know viewers who yell "don't go in there" during horror movies surely predict that the plan to lower the helicopter to get a better look is a fatal mistake. They may as well have had Henry Blake on board.
The behemoth going on land and leaving behind physical evidence of (presumably) his presence leads to bringing in paleontologist Dr. Sampson. Sampson is a somewhat absent-minded professor who steals every scene in which he appears.
The conclusions of Samson being spot-on does not prevent mayhem that arguably is the most hilariously cheesy scene in the film. Our monster attacks a ferry full of passengers with extreme prejudice,
All of this leads to a literal plan-of-attack that finds the proper balance between ridding the U.K. of the terrible lizard and taking a scorched-earth approach. The ensuing action revolves around getting the rampaging beast to take his medicine.
Hilarity and drama ensue in equal measure as the potential saviors strive to complete their mission; consensus regarding this effort avoids any barney.
As indicated above, the silliness of "Behemoth" provides roughly 90-minutes of unreal entertainment. Ambiguity regarding whether this big guy is a teenage mutant sea creature or a long slumbering dino who is awoken provides a good discussion topic.
Seeing truly is believing regarding the pristine Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1951 Howard Hawks sci-fi classic "The Thing From Another World." The legacy of this tale of a broccoli from another planet terrorizing a group ar the actual Santaland includes the equally classic 1982 John Carpenter film "The Thing."
As indicated above, the video of this crystal-clear remaster of this '50s flick is amahzing. The same is true regarding the audio.
Hawks clearly shows his well-known diversity by hitting a home-run with this one that goes beyond sci-fi to also be a military buddy comedy, a romcom, and a morality tale.
Our story begins with jovial Air Force Captain Patrick Hendry (character actor Kenneth Tobey) joking with his crew and with newspaperman Ned Scott (character actor Douglas Scott) at an Anchorage Air Force base. In a manner that is particularly familiar to fans of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Team Hendry soon is called in to investigate a weird occurrence at a North Pole research center; Scott convinces the crew to let him tag along.
The humor continues with the flyboys and what passes for ground control at the North Pole making light of hazardous landing conditions. One spoiler is that the plane and all souls safely land.
The "rom" element soon enters the picture in the form of awesomely named office worker Nikki Nicholson; Nicholson portrayor Margaret Sheridan is known as the equivalent of a Hitchcock blonde in the eyes of Hawks (pun intended).
The onscreen chemistry and bantering between Tobey and Sheridan help elevate "Thing" from merely being kiddee matinee fare. Sheridan receiving top billing over Tobey, Nicholson being the one to hit it and quit it (and leaving a hilarious "Dear John" letter) in the relationship, and the nature of playful light bondage clearly define that dynamic.
The sci-fi element heats up on the newcomers learning that a UFO has crashed landed and is frozen beneath the ice; discovering the titular alien (James Arness of "Gunsmoke") at the Roswell North site compensates for a glitch while recovering the craft.
The sci-fi staple of a fatal mistake this time consists of bringing this outer-space equivalent of Encino Man inside to slowly thaw him. Inadvertently expediting this process allows the accidental tourist to explore his new surroundings sooner than expected. Suffice it to say both that first contact does not go as planned and that the man with that duty may as well have been wearing a red shirt.
The most awesome thing about this new threat is that it FINALLY introduces real conflict in the film; Dr. Arthur Carrington (character actor Robert Cornthwaite) plays the dual roles of "The Professor" who by far is the smartest guy in the room and the dick who regularly clashes with Hendry. The disagreement relates to accepting the reality that you need to crack a few skulls to make a scientifically important omelet.
An early detection system provides our group an advantage in its effort to find and neutralizes this threat with a somewhat plausible basis for lacking any emotion or compassion. However, this proves to be little help regarding the final mano a mango battle.
This confrontation at the North Pole really going south at one point adds good suspense that contributes to the classic status of the film. A mix of humor and potential for peril enters in the form of speculating about a previously unconsidered advantage of the rampaging rutabaga.
The bigger picture is whether mere mortals can defeat a creature that is bigger, stronger, smarter, and lacks any regard for human life. This provides the rest of the human population reason to anticipate fairly literally becoming cattle.
The epilogue to all this is that "Things" hits all the right notes and speaks to everyone.
The Warner Archive December 4, 2018 DVD release of the 1996-97 S6 of the ABC TGIF sitcom "Perfect Strangers" brings us close to the finish line for this 8-season classic and allows Millennials another chance to see a sitcom done right.
This set, which comes relatively close on the heels of the (reviewed) Archive release of "Strangers" S5, chronicles (pun intended) the further misadventures of uptight Chicago Chronicle reporter Larry Appleton (Mark Linn Baker) and his freshish off the boat cousin Balki Bartokomous. Don't be ridiculous, of course they follow in the grand tradition of Oscar and Felix and Laverne and Shirley.
The sitcom veterans, whose numerous prior credits include "Mork and Mindy" and the "Strangers" esque "Bosom Buddies" with Tom Hanks, behind "Strangers" take a nice "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to the series. These pros begin with standard sitcom plots and amp things up to comic degrees that provide entertaining freshness.
We also get related "Easter egg" references throughout "Strangers." Earlier seasons include mentions of Cunningham Hardware of "Happy Days" fame. The S6 "very-special" two-part episode involving especially serious danger includes a "Laverne and Shirley" mention and a quick shot of the exterior of the Burbank apartment complex where those girls live in latter seasons. The boys go to La La Land on a newspaper assignment, and the encounters include meeting an ice-cream truck driver who claims to be a movie producer.
The validation of the ability of Linn Baker and Pinchot to deliver the goods include Lucille Ball being a fan. The Ball dynamic includes Larry and Balki often including their respective significant others Jennifer and Mary Anne in the fun. An S6 example is the girls working as waitresses when Balki greatly overextends himself regarding catering jobs.
The fun this season begins with Larry behaving in character (pun intended) on overreacting to a relatively minor burglary. He gets a bank-quality security system installed in the mid-sized apartment that he shares with Balki. Yes, that leads to the boys getting trapped and facing punishment with extreme prejudice regarding being considered intruders,
The show runners straddle the line between jumping the shark and having events follow their natural course by having Larry and Jennifer get engaged in response to a serious threat to their relationship. Largely keeping the engagement in the background throughout the season keeps things on the side of natural progression. Limiting the appearance of a rambunctious moppet to one episode shows the same restraint.
Additional restraint is shown regarding the seemingly obligatory episode in which a lead become a star. Creating rapper "Fresh Young Balki B" does not lead to fame going to the head of Balki; instead, we learn once again that you can take the boy out of Mypos but not the Mypos out of the boy.
S6 wraps up with arguably the most predictable episode of the season; Balki administers a compatibility test to nervous Larry and Jennifer. Although the test results and the responses of the loving couple are predictable, the journey to that point is a true joy ride. The bigger picture is equally pure sitcom in that a nottie without any fame or wealth almost never lands a hottie. The perseverance that almost always pays off in TV Land almost always end with a restraining order in the real world.
As oft stated in these posts but never meant more than in this instance, they don't make 'em like "Strangers" anymore. Modern sitcoms either have edge, cruelty, or simply no humor. Conversely, old-school series find decent to good "com" in a slightly exaggerated "sit" to the delight of most.
The recent Warner Archive 6-disc DVD set of the 1963-64 S1 of "Mr. Novak" provides a good chance to start 2019 on the right note. This Peabody Award winning anthology drama about the challenges of the titular newbie English teacher shows us what good television drams used to be and can be again.
We meet titular idealistic young educator John Novak on his first day as an English teacher at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. Fellow newbies include once-and-future teacher (Ed Asner), who is returning to the blackboard jungle after leaving that profession to earn a more lucrative living. The very frank orientation that these rookie faculty members receive provides viewers an education regarding the perspective of the folks who try to cram knowledge into the heads of kids. These pearls of wisdom include observing that every teacher has at least one student whom he or she detests but still must instruct.
This pilot also establishes the mentor/mentee relationship that handsome young blond Novak has with older and wiser principal Albert Vane (Dean Jagger). This is comparable to the relationship between fresh-faced Dr. Kildare and crusty Dr. Gillespie in the film franchise and television series that feature that pair.
Speaking of Vane, we also get insight into the life of a principal. Not many of us think about how these men and women juggle the heavy demands on their time that largely involve meting out discipline that meets the best needs of the malfeasor, refereeing disputes, attending meetings, and ensuring that his ship stays afloat.
The aforementioned first day starts badly before Novak even enters the school; his car is the victim of a hit-and-run by a student seconds after Novak parks that vehicle. The plot thickens on the guilty literal honors student being on the verge of dropping out and his father supporting that decision.
Another early episode creates great expectations of a "Jessie's Song" episode; Novak catching an over-achieving science whiz cheating on an English assignment creates angst regarding whether to follow a procedure that will be very detrimental to the student. Although it is discovered that this model student is greatly over extended, it is disappointing that he does not turn to caffeine pills for relief,
A particularly timely episode has national treasure Lillian Gish playing veteran biology/sex ed teacher Miss Phipps. She is coming under fire for telling the kids the facts of life. A student whom it is highly suggested is the wife in a shotgun elopement helps hit the point home this time. A "do stand so close to me" outing has a young teacher who is the object of a schoolboy fantasy share the affections of that lad.
The first-half of S1 also has a twofer episode that includes the worst nightmare of any teacher. A student who already has a bad relationship with Novak gets injured while the teacher is breaking up a fight. The first part of the story is dealing with the school-related fallout associated with a faulty member using bodily force on a student. The second "fer" relates to the legal system tradition of taking the easy way out by paying a settlement without much thought to actual culpability. A reference to an attorney named Arnie Becker at an L.A. law firm adds to the fun.
The "Novak" writers especially torment Novak with a Friday from Hell that begins with parents (including a father played by Edward Platt of "Get Smart") getting very belligerent and that ends with this newbie getting schooled in the pitfalls of being tardy for committee meetings. A change of pace for Novak and the series occurs when he then accepts a last-minute invitation to a weekend party at the family estate of a wealthy former girlfriend.
Hours of abuse by the rich and powerful finally prompts Novak to give a speech to those privileged elite. This conveys exactly the right message to folks who do not think that teachers deserve much regard.
On the other side of the coin, another episode has Novak challenging the easy life of a teacher who gets by with jokes and helping students cheat. The fun in this one includes watching our fair-haired boy embrace the dark side,
Larger social issues include intense harassment of black students despite ABSOLUTELY no provocation, a problem child from a disadvantaged background, and mainstreaming blind students. We also get looks at teachers battling alcoholism and otherwise contending with the stress of their profession, The message each time is that Novak is committed to putting right what once went wrong.
The value of series such as "Novak" is that they provoke thought and discussion in ways that largely stay away from being preachy. Our hero mostly strikes the proper balance between being a crusader and a realist.
The Warner Archive November 27, 2018 DVD double-feature release "Janie" (1944)/"Janie Gets Married" (1946) provides a much-needed tonic for our troubled times. The back-cover liner notes for this release share that these tales of the titular WWII-era All-American girl are based on a popular Broadway play of the same name.
The opening scenes of "Janie" establish that Hortonville (a.k.a. Anytown U.S.A.) is a peaceful community where Charles Conway (Edward Albert), who is the father of Janie and "problem child" Elspbeth (a.k.a. Elspbitch), is the prosperous conservative publisher of the local newspaper. An indication of the aforementioned wealth is full-time servant April (Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel of "Gone With the Wind).
The chaos at the opening of "Janie" is of the relatively wholesome teenage variety. Our "Gidget" is playing her Top 40 record too loud, tying up the only telephone line in the house with calls to friends, and is plotting to sneak out to a blanket party. Although that party has potential to be a swinging bash, it merely involves young lovers smooching on the grass.
Seeing Richard Erdman of "Community" play high school sweetheart/world-class doofus Scooper Nolan is great fun. This is particularly so when former Yale man/current Army private Dick Lawrence literally and figuratively enters this picture. His subsequent courting of Janie creates an awesome "screw you, Leonard" relationship with Erdman. For his part, Scooper valiantly tries to be a Dick blocker.
The bigger picture is that Dick and his widowed helicopter mother are in town because of a new Army base; this provides hilarity in the form of Charles being up in arms regarding the threat of horny soldiers corrupting Janie and her peers.
All of this culminates in a development that is relatable to modern teens. Janie and Richard planning a quiet evening while her parents are out soon becomes a wild bash with high-school girls, their soldier-boy beaus, and seemingly every dogface on the base. Although no crystal eggs are casualties, there is ample property damage. A sad part is that we are denied hearing April say that she don't know nothin' 'bout throwin' no party.
Of course, everything works out well in the end with Charles having the proper perspective and even achieving a film-long goal courtesy of a bureaucrat whom Alan Hale, Sr. plays to a tee.
"Married" picks up two years later. Nineteen year-old Janie is all-grown up and is a newly-wed with husband Dick. Their twin beds being pressed closed together at the beginning of the film suggests that the honeymoon period is not over.
Dick has a clearly token job at the newspaper of his father-in-law. Taking care of their one-bedroom cottage seems to be too-much for stay-at-home Janie; "wicked witch" housekeeper Mrs. Angles (Margaret Hamilton of "The Wizard of Oz") seemingly comes every day to over-starch the shirts of Dick and to disregard each request of Janie.
Voluptuous Army buddy Spud Lee (Dorothy Malone) coming for a surprise visit prompts most of the ensuing hilarity. That friendship beginning with Dick jumping in the foxhole of Spud does not help matters. Spud sofa surfing at Chez Lawrence really does not help.
In true sitcom fashion, a jealous Janie dupes a clueless Scooper into helping her with her plan to get back at Dick. Of course, this goes comically awry.
The culmination this time is Janie hosting an intimate dinner party for her family and for the straight-laced man to whom Charles wants to sell the newspaper. A put-out Dick, drunken Army buddies, a temporarily homeless soldier, and a wacky misunderstanding creates chaos that the typical last-minute miracle resolves.
The joy of all this is silly light-hearted fun that shows that good humor does not require shock and awe. We also see that teenagers and romantic problems have not changed much in 70 years,
Warner Archive releasing "The 13th Chair Double Feature" on November 13, 2018 continues the grand Archive tradition of releasing two (or more) versions of the same film. In this case, the titular double-bill is two very different approaches to the titular British murder mystery.
Folks who are familiar with "Freaks" and/or other Tod Browning films can accurately predict that his 1929 production is more atmospheric and lurid than the 1937 film by George B. Seitz, whose credits include "Andy Hardy" films. The latter is lighter in tone and gives this work originally presented as play more of a live-stage vibe than Browning.
This post will respect the assumed Archive intent of wanting viewers to get the full impact of the differences in the film. A modern example of this contrast is having Tim Burton and '90s-era Ben Affleck separately direct the same story. Part of this full enjoyment relates to not spoiling the very different casting.
Both films are set in Calcutta and occur in the aftermath of the murder of an expat Brit. who is no gentleman.
The usual suspects for this type of film begins with John Wales, who is the best friend of the deceased. His literally fatally flawed plan to obtain justice for his chum includes staging a seance. Like a good Englishman, Wales hopes that stacking the deck in his favor will result in the culprit becoming a guest of the king.
We also get a royal family in the form of the Crosbys. The secretary of Mrs. Crosby planning to marry into the family contributes to the angst among the group.
The portrayals of medium Mme. LaGrange in the two films are among the most significant differences in the versions. Both are highly entertaining in that this is a very broad character. Additionally, this quirky individual shares some tricks of the trade.
The subsequent seance that inspires the title of the play and the films produces drama that greatly thickens the plot. This results in deduction that leads to the typical drawing-room scene that results in revealing whodunit. A partial spoiler is that the final scene of the Browning film greatly outshines the conclusion of the later version.
The broadest appeal of this release is the aforementioned demonstration of how the same source material can produce radically different results. The narrower focus is that this is another example of Archive facilitating modern audiences getting to see how movies should be made.
Batman: Complete Animated Series Deluxe Limited Edition Tops Holiday Gift Guide in DVD/Blu-ray Renaissance
The response of studios great and still great but small to increasing incursion of streaming into the DVD/Blu-ray/4K market reinforces the belief of Unreal TV that physical media rules and online content drools. The primary principle is that having something physical facilitates being able to watch what you want when desired.
Discs eliminate any chance of buffering, content slowing down other devices, or a streaming service pulling the content. You additionally do not have the aggravation of having to subscribe to multiple services to get the desired content.
The aforementioned defense to the offense of streaming, which has value when you are away from home, is to make physical releases more special. On a basic level, this involves designing new packaging to makes a release look cool and to incorporate it into a series of releases, This marketing may apply to the '80s teencoms, classic horror films, or the CGI-animated movies of a a studio.
Holy Hi-Def, Batman!
The Warner Brothers Home Entertainment October 30, 2018 Blu-ray release of Batman: Complete Animated Series Deluxe Limited Edition is a PERFECT example of the renaissance in the home-video industry. WBHE has expertly remastered every episode in this 1992-95 series. We also get Blu-ray versions of the equally well resurrected (reviewed) "Mask of the Phantasm" and the (also reviewed) "Batman and Mr. Freeze: Subzero."
The set packaging is very stylish, and there are special features galore. WBHE goes further by including three mini-figures, placing the discs in a collectible hard-cover book, and providing 7 lenticular cards with "original animation artwork." This is not to mention limiting the run of the sets to 69,048; I scored the relatively low number of 11,601.
A brief diversion into Blogland is that the TAS set is personally particularly special. It is reminiscent of the even-more special WBHE numbered limited-edition Blu-ray release of the Christopher Nolan "Batman" trilogy, which has better packaging and includes toy cars. This set was the first Christmas gift from the highly significant other who has tolerated your not-so-humble reviewer for six years and counting.
Olive Films Garden
Purveyor of Hollywood classics, cult films, and art-house fare Olive Films takes top honors regarding taking art-gallery-worthy DVD and Blu-ray packaging to the next level. The Olive Signature division of this company does particularly well regarding collector's editions that put a highly arrogant competitor to shame.
Many posts on Olive releases can be found in the Olive section of this new-and-improved site; several more are slowly but surely being copied over from Unreal TV 1.0.
The beautifully remastered collector's edition Blu-ray releases from Signature feature aptly high-end art. Olive supplements this with picture-perfect (no pun intended) remasters. The extra-rich icing on the cake is the copious PBS-worthy documentaries and other features in Signature releases The additional awesomeness is these being limited editions that make them that much more special.
Warner Archive Awesomeness
Archive always will have a special place in my heart. Lovers of television and film can thank Ted Turner buying the video libraries of several studios to provide his fledgling basic-cable networks content for Archive having a seemingly bottomless pit of resources 40 years later. These riches include classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons, all-time favorites and forgotten big-screen gems from every 20th-century era of Hollywood, and some of the best sitcoms and dramas to hit television from the early days of that medium to the present.
Archive reflects the trend toward enhanced packaging by reproducing the theatrical posters for films on the DVD (and increasingly Blu-ray only) releases of those movies. Archive is even more fully getting with the times by fully stepping with special features.
The bigger picture is that Archive is embracing the idea of leitmotifs that scream for bundled gifts . A few of many examples include releasing Christopher Lee "Dracula" films. Hitchcock movies, Silver Age musicals, etc. within several weeks of each other.
Most new releases of Golden Age fare provide a full night at the movies by including a cartoon, a newsreel, and a short from the era. We also often get footage of the premiere of the main feature. Archive releases of films from the '40s through the '70s typically have wonderful making-of documentaries that feature film experts such as Robert Osborne, Leonard Maltin, and Peter Bogdanovich.
The Archive section of this site provides a taste of these releases, including the aforementioned sub-genres; copying over the other 100s of reviews on Unreal TV 1.0 will require years.
Mill Creek Entertainment Springs to Life
Mill Creek Entertainment earns a completely sincere and equally heartfelt "Most Improved" award. No one loved the MCE collections of public-domain content more than your not-so-humble reviewer. Getting to see childhood favorites, such as "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Petticoat Junction" was great fun. This is not to mention the glee associated with watching less-frequently syndicated classic sitcoms that include "Ozzie and Harriet" and "Burns and Allen."
MCE began stepping up in 2017 with Blu-ray complete-series sets of programs such as "Quantum Leap" and "That '70s Show."
MCE built on the foundation of "Leap" and "Show" by fulling with other awesome complete series Blu-ray sets in 2018. The MCE section of this site includes posts of the Showtime series "Masters of Sex," the especially good release of the Hulu animated series "The Awesomes," and the one-of-a kind Denis Leary NYFD firefighter series "Rescue Me."
MCE also is getting into the enhanced packaging/awesome special features game regarding classic '80s and '90s films. The current catalog includes the original star-studded "Flatliners" and the rising-star-laden '90s teencom "Can't Hardly Wait." Mid-January "retro" releases include the Arnold Schwarzenegger action-comedy "Last Action Hero" and the John Candy slapstick-comedy Who's Harry Crumb."
Aptly for this time of the year, the above discussion of the featured studios is only the tip of the iceberg regarding the gift-worthy releases from them. Everyone from a hard-core cinephile to an amateur sofa spud will delight in the initial thrill of seeing an artful set, will love the high-quality production, and will delight in learning more by watching the extras.
The Warner Archive November 27, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1974 musical-comedy "Mame" allows fans to judge this one for themselves. This film is based on the stage-version of the 1958 Rosalind Russell comedy "Auntie Mame," which based on a story by and about Patrick Dennis.
One sadly undisputed aspect of this film is that having Lucille Ball having a very raspy and deep voice at this point in her career should have precluded having her playing any role that requires singing. The same is true regarding Bea Arthur, who reprises her role as best frienemy stage actress Vera Charles from the 1966 Broadway production. (Yes, I know that God will get me for that.)
"Mame" begins at the end of the Jazz Age; the titular society girl is living it up and thinks that the party will never end until she receives an almost-literal wake-up call during The Crash of '29. This sets the stage (pun intended) for Vera to delver one of the best lines in the play by stating that she is glad that she never set aside any money.
The rest of the story is that The Crash also comes soon after prim-and-proper orphaned nephew Patrick and his frumpy nanny Agnes Gooch (Jane Connell) come to live with his auntie. The foresight of his late father allows Patrick to attend a respectable boarding school and largely avoid the bad influence of his only living relative.
Meanwhile, Lucy puts her brand of comedy to good use as Mame is required to cut back and to attempt several jobs to keep the roof of her luxurious townhouse over her head. This quest for full employment brings her in contact with future husband/savior Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, "Music Man" Robert Preston, who is best-known to modern audiences for his role in "Victor/Victoria," excels in every aspect of his performance as Beauregard. He gets the bonus of performing "Loving You," which is written for the film.
Lucy again shines on her trip to the Burnside plantation to meet the mother (Lucille Benson) of Beauregard. Hilarity ensues when a woman scorned and general southern hostility toward damn Yankees combine to set up Mame for a fall. However, that New Yorker wins over the crowd by showing that she is more than a one-trick pony. This leads to the chorus singing the title song that lauds the titular free spirit.
A notable segment that follows is a montage that shows Patrick first growing from a cute and studious lad to a dreamy horndog high school boy and then a skirt-chasing college man. A very cute Bruce Davison of 258 IMDb credits plays that version of Patrick.
This maturity sets the stage for the final conflict. Patrick is engaged to textbook WASP woman Gloria Upson from Connecticut. This Junior League stereotype and her family are ultra-conservative to the extent of only barely concealing their prejudices. Of course, this does not sit well with bon vivant Mame,
Stereotype Lucy once again appears in a scheme near the end of the film. She hilariously exposes the nature of the Upsons both for personal satisfaction and to provide Patrick a wake-up call.
Of course, Mame and Patrick get a Broadway/Hollywood ending.
The special features include the theatrical trailer and an eight-minute promo. that celebrates Lucy starring in the film.
The epilogue is that a mediocre film starring Lucy and featuring Bea Arthur is better than the best film that is a showcase for virtually any current Hollywood royalty.
'Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1' 1st Release of 14 Technicolor Adventures of Spinach-Loving Strongman
The Warner Archive December 11, 2018 Blu-ray release of "Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s Volume i' is the latest example of Archive coming to the rescue. This first-ever release of the first two-seasons (1943-44 and 1944-45) of Technicolor "Popeye" cartoons comes several years after Warner Prime only takes this series of those theatrical shorts up to 1943 in three volumes. This is one of numerous examples of Archive "adopting" abandoned film and television series.
The titular squid is an everyman who temporarily develops super-strength and speed on ingesting spinach. The prelude to this typically involves Popeye stumbling into a bad situation and getting along without his 'roid until he finds himself badly defeated. This setback often comes at the hands of nemesis/antagonist Bluto (sometimes Brutus). The source of their conflict regularly is their concurrent courtship of lanky Olive Oyl.
"Her Honor, The Mare" is the first of the 14 beautifully remastered shorts in Volume One. This somewhat change-of-pace adventure has the Huey, Dewey, Louie, and my other brother Louie style nephews of Popeye first sneaking a horse into his house and then trying to coerce him into letting him keep their new pet. This arguably is the most cute one in the set and establishes that the first several cartoons are the "missing link" between the more crudely animated black-and-white offerings and the more polished color cartoons that many folks remember from after-school airings.
Up next is the "Marry Go Round." The notable aspects of this one include featuring Navy buddy Shorty and a "don't ask, don't tell moment" that is surprising for the '40s. The plot this time is Shorty helping his buddy wok up the nerve to propose to Olive.
This leads to the technicolor-popping "We're On Our Way to Rio." This first Bluto cartoon in "Volume One" has him and Popeye competing for nightclub performer Olive. This time, spinach helps Popeye by turning him into a dancing fool.
One of the strongest offerings comes fairly late in the set. "For Better or Nurse" is one of the first with the more polished look. This especially amusing tale has Popeye and Bluto simultaneously trying to get injured and prevent the other one from getting hurt. Their motive is to be admitted to the hospital where Olive is the titular health-care provider.
"Nurse" is notable for a few twists that all are too good to spoil.
The first side note is that these war-time productions surprisingly have virtually no propaganda; the second side note is that Pop-pie ala Mode sadly more accurately reflects the era. Insensitive depictions of stereotypes can be dismissed as reflecting less enlightened times; however, the presentation of dark-skinned cannibals who are duping Popeye with an eye toward feasting on him pushes the envelope even for the '40s.
The aforementioned vintage animation style and unique characteristics of the early 40s fully prove that they don't make 'em like that anymore. Sets like "Volume One" show we have reason to be glad that Archive brings 'em back.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1956 CinemaScope scifi film "World Without End" once again proves the Archive commitment to releasing DVDs and Blu-rays that fit in awesome leitmotifs. In this case, it is bright and bold CinemaScope scifi B flicks.
The recently reviewed Archive Blu-ray release of "The Queen of Outer Space" starring Zsa Zsa Gabor is another member of the low-budget sci-fi movies section of the seemingly endless Archive catalog. Of course, these releases make a great double-feature gift for fans of good bad '50s scifi movies. A related note is that the back-cover liner notes for "World" state that it is the first CinemaScope scifi thriller.
Warner does its usual excellent job remastering both "World" and "Queen" for Blu-ray. The flawless images are crystal clear and incredibly vivid; the audio literally would allow hearing a pin drop.
The numerous similarities between "World" and "Queen" are attributable to Edward Bernds directing both; he pulls double duty as writer on "World." A synopsis of the films is that red-blooded American astronauts crash their ship and get tangled up with space babes. This screams for a book on the psyche of Bernds.
One difference is that "World" has more of an Irwin Allen feel than "Queen." This begins with a strong lost in space vibe, continues with stronger camaraderie among the macho men leads, and includes the stronger cheesy creature element.
The four astronauts in "World" are on a data-collecting mission when a freak storm near Mars causes their ship to go wildly out-of-control. They awaken to find their vehicle stuck in the mother of all snow banks.
The formulaic fun begins with the quartet discovering a massive spider web and soon wrangling with the not-so-sweet Charlotte who is its creator. The manner in which the group fends off this comical mutant establishes their approach to defending themselves from every savage foe.
The next adventure is straight out of "Queen." The men in both cases pay the price for lacking the foresight to assign someone to stand watch while the others sleep in their alien environment. The rude awakening in "World" comes courtesy of mutated cavemen.
The ensuing cat-and-mouse game results in the astronauts seeking refuge in a cave; that temporary refuge becomes more permanent on this tactic leading to the group entering the fortified underground world of the civilized inhabitants. This leads to reveals regarding where the space travelers have landed in time and space.
The honeymoon period quickly ends on the guests learning that their very timid hosts are unwilling either to help them repair their ship or use the resources that allow establishing an outpost on the surface. The aforementioned eye candy is some consolation; the new arrivals being far more macho in mind and body than the wimps who rule the place further enhances their status.
Of course, things soon come to a head in a manner that requires that every male man up. This initially leads to a wonderfully campy power struggle. This results in which is a happy ending on the surface (pun intended) but is horribly wrong from a more enlightened 21st-century perspective.
The happy ending for us higher beings is that Archive allows us the treat of a "World" and"Queen" double feature. They truly do not make 'em like that anymore.
Warner Archive goes all-out Nightmare Before Christmas in releasing a series of Christopher Lee Dracula horror films from Hammer Studios on Blu-ray in this period of Santa and candy canes. These include "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" and "Horror of Dracula."
The Archive Blu-ray release of "Dracula A.D. 1972" from 1972 is our current topic. The moderately well-known spectacular film chemistry between Lee and co-star Peter Cushing in all their joint projects is the tip of the wooden stake regarding the quality of this one.
Virgins in the context of "1972" are in for an exceptional treat regarding this film far exceeding all expectations. Anticipating an entertaining low-budget production that is equal parts cheese and camp leads to sheer delight in finding a well-crafted film with performances that range from good to excellent and a compelling story that makes sense in the context of Dracula lore. The one exception regarding the production values is a spurting blood scene that is reminiscent of a volcano that is a school science-fair project.
The jazzy soundtrack adds an element of unintended humor; this fast-paced music and the strong early '70s vibe of the film create an expectation of the words "A Quinn Martin Production" appearing on the screen.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that the usual expert Archive resurrection of classic and cult-classic films for Blu-ray releases makes "1972" seem as if it has risen from the grave and been entirely reborn. It truly looks and sounds mahvelous, simply mahvelous.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "1972" is notable for the opposite reason that the film is must-see. This promo. inexplicably underplays the quality of the movie. The narration is thoroughly cheesy and does not properly showcase the production values; it does include a good sense of the plot and the "Clockwork Orange" aspect of the production.
Our story begins in 1872 as a spokesperson narrates a battle between Dracula (Lee) and Lawrence Van Helsing; this high-stakes confrontation concludes with the defeat of Dracula.
We quickly jump ahead a century as a group of uninvited hippies are throwing a wild party in the home of a wealthy woman in London; the planning and the execution of the exit strategy of the young people provides good humor.
The plot begins to thicken on group leader/minor league Manson Johnny Alucard convincing the group to participate in a Satanic ritual at an abandoned church. The naivety of the gang prompts them to go along with this plan for what they think is innocent fun.
Young unwitting Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham of "Dynasty") is unaware both that the rite of passage is intended to raise Dracula and that she is his bride in an arranged marriage courtesy of Johnny. Her rude awakening comes when everything gets very real.
Other good humor enters the picture when Dracula acts like an ungrateful genie freed from a bottle; Johnny expects a major pat on the head and barely avoids a kick in the pants. Dracula finding that his fiancee is not his intended does not help matters.
Current Van Helsing patriarch Lorrimer (Peter Cushing) enters the picture on Jessica acting oddly and expressing an interest in the occult. The police soon coming knocking after finding the mangled body of the most recent Countess Dracula provides the final piece of the puzzle.
Hilarity and horror ensue as Lorrimer confirms to Johnny that you cannot trust anyone over 30. The relentless manner in which the man attacks the boy is highly cathartic for all of us who must deal with Millennials. We also a "Batman '66" style battle as Jessica is lured into a fiendish trap that is designed to get her to the church on time.
All of this culminates in the predicted battle royale between Lorrimer and Dracula that brings the film full circle back to the beginning.
All of the aforementioned aspects of this unexpectedly good film provide a good reminder that horror need not be unduly graphic, exploitive, or otherwise excessively perverse. You simply need good source material and adequate talent on both sides of the camera that can make the story seem plausible.
The recent Warner Archive DVD release of the 1950 Hitchcock melodrama "Stage Fright" allows adding the film that generally-unrepentant Hitch acknowledges betrays the trust of the viewing public to your video library. This is on top of newly-former Mrs. Reagan (and future "Falcon Crest" matriarch) Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, and Alastair Sim perfectly playing their parts in the flick that the National Board of Review, USA includes in its list of the Top 10 Films of 1950.
"Fright" also is notable for joining Archive Blu-rays of two Hitchcock films for Warner. The aptly titled (and reviewed) based on a true story "The Wrong Man" has Henry Fonda portraying a musician who pays a heavy price for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The also reviewed "I Confess" has Montgomery Clift playing a priest with a past who agonizes over letting someone get away with murder. Any cinephile will delight in finding a bundle of these three releases under the Christmas tree or the Hanukkah bush.
The amusingly labeled curtain literally going up at the end of the opening credits sets the stage for Hitchcock to particularly show that he and Orson Welles are cousins in filmmaking; "Fright" being in black-and-white and making good use of shadows and other contrasts is another indication that Hitchcock and Welles influence each other.
Our story begins with Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd) making a run for the border with the assistance of once (and future?) girlfriend Eve Gill (Wyman). An amusing ancedote by Hitchcock daughter/"Fright" actress Pat Hitchcock in a Robert Osborne-hosted "making-of" feature on the Archive release discusses Dad protecting Wyman by having Pat literally sit in for her in the scenes of Cooper wildly driving through the London streets.
Flashbacks establish that this adventure begins with stage star/current object of affection Charlotte Inwood (Dietrich) showing up at Chez Cooper in a blood-stained dress with a tale of accidentally killing her husband.
The tale continues with Jonathan going to the Inwood home to get Charlotte a clean dress. This leads to a series of mistakes that lead to the police showing up at his door. Our excitable boy rabbiting even before confirming that he is a suspect does not help things and leads to heading out of town with Eve to avoid his destruction..
After safely delivering Jonathan to her roguish and quirky father (Sim) with an eye toward Dad smuggling him to Ireland, Eve figuratively and literally returns to the scene of the crime with an intent to convince Charlotte (a.k.a. Lady MacBeth) to clear the name of Jonathan.
An ideal blend of comedy, melodrama, and meta-references ensue as Eve goes undercover as a maid/theatrical dresser. This coincides with her developing a friendship with potential benefits with "Ordinary" Smith (Michael Wilding), whom Eve subsequently learns is a police detective.
Hilarity and suspense fully erupt when Eve struggles to maintain her cover as Smith escorts her among her theatrical colleagues, a "Gaslight" style plot designed to prompt Charlotte to confess hatches, and Jonathan proves that he is his own worst enemy.
Hitch masterfully keeps several plates spinning in the air throughout the climax until the curtain literally falls on our story. We have Eve confronting not-so-sweet Charlotte and Jonathan wreaking havoc; this culminates in the reveal on which the regret of Hitch is based. It is interesting to see that this man who delights in defying conventions and expectations discover that there are some rules that should not be broken and some lines that should not be crossed.
The first big picture is that "Fright" aptly provides a story that centers around the theatrical world with a strong live-stage vibe. The second big picture is that this movie is a prime example of the more artistic and substantive Hitchcock films.
This latest in an ongoing series of reviews on vintage Warner Archive titles further illustrates the unparalleled diversity of the seemingly bottomless Archive vault. The DVD release of the 1981 dramedy "...All the Marbles" is a prime example of the gritty films of that period that are more heavy on the "dram" then the "edy." "Marbles" further is notable as the final film by director Robert Aldrich, who is better known for "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" and "The Dirty Dozen."
"Marbles" stars Peter Falk playing Peter Falk as rumpled and crude manager of female tag-team wrestling duo "The California Dolls" Harry Sears. We meet this group in Akron during a match for promoter Eddie Cisco (Burt Young). Sears playing hardball with Cisco both leaves the team and their manager wondering where their next meal is coming from and Harry spectacularly burning a bridge.
A subsequent bout with the "Really Rottens" in the form of "The Toledo Tigers" leaves the Dolls battered, bruised, and bitter. In comparison, having to resort to the lower form of female mud wrestling where they get their tops ripped off is not much of a downfall.
The match against the Tigers leads to the mother of all grudge matches in true sports film tradition, The victory of the Dolls in the rematch sets the stage for a championship fight at the MGM Grand in Reno. The stakes regarding this event gives the film its name.
The primary depth comes in the character studies of the trio, Sears is completely untrustworthy and seems to actually revel in living in cheap motels and driving a car that is beyond beater. Meanwhile, one of the dolls is addicted to drugs and the other has a clear willingness to take one (or more) for the team. The common element is that all of them are shameless.
Additional substance is in the form of "Marbles" playing the same role as other members of its genre; it shows "respectable people" the life of folks who live and work in the underbelly of society. Most of us give little if any thought to female wrestlers and pay even less attention to their lives.
Although this is not a "grace of God" situation, we still see the realistically sympathetic side of women (and their men) who understandably often are the subject of scorn when they even are thought about. Putting a human face on them and literally seeing their pain and deprivation make them more sympathetic,
Warner Archive releasing the penultimate 1983-84 eighth season of the workplace sitcom "Alice" provides a nice Halloween treat; this DVD set almost guarantees that Archive will release the final season in time to give your favorite sofa spud the complete series on DVD for Christmas. The final holiday note is that Archive deserves thanks for keeping the packing style consistent for every release.
One spoiler regarding S9 is that it follows the modern sitcom trend of a grand finale. Every lead character has a big life change that makes him or her much happier than he or she was when the series began.
A review of the Archive S7 release provides a chance to read about prior adventures of the titular waitress/aspiring singer (Linda Lavin) and her wacky co-workers at Mel's Diner in Phoenix. It is hoped that the posts on the earlier seasons will be copied from Unreal TV 1.0 to this site by the end of 2018.
Archive beginning the S8 set with two S7 episodes that were intended to air in S8 demonstrates the typical Archive integrity. The third episode "Mel is Hogg-Tied" is the actual S8 season premiere; it also is an early cross-over episode. Additional fun comes in the form of this outing being a twofer regarding "Alice" themes.
The cross-over comes in the form of sleazy redneck good ole boy Boss Hogg of the fellow CBS series "The Dukes of Hazzard" visiting the diner. The first half of the twofer is that he is there for reasons that include visiting Southern-fried waitress Jolene Hunnicutt (Celia Weston of "Modern Family). Hogg is one of the long string of relatives who create comic mayhem on coming to visit a relative who works at Mel's. Aptly the mother of all such guests is Carrie Sharples (Martha Raye), who is the mom of diner owner Mel. Carrie makes 12 such visits throughout the run of the series.
The second half of the twofer is in the form of the Mel foolishly losing ownership of the diner; the rest of the story every time is that the gang must join forces to comically put right what once went wrong. The solution this time fully cements that formula.
The two S8 Carrie episodes have surprisingly dark notes. The first one has her apply for a job as a nightclub singer only to blatantly be told that she is too old for the job; one warning is that this one includes a scene with Raye and Lavin in "Flashdance" style aerobics outfits that you never will be able to unsee.
The second Carrie episode begins with that frequent flyer having a near-death experience that profoundly affects her. Her subsequent devotion to telling the truth leads to a revelation that greatly upsets her son. One spoiler is that there are fewer laughs than usual in this one,
We further get Lavin enjoying her occasional indulgence in playing another character. This time it is Debbie Walden, who is the Jewish mother landlady of Vera. The "sit" that leads to "com" is Mel stringing along this lonely lady in order to taste her goodies.
Although we are deprived of an S8 episode in which a celebrity who plays himself or herself paying a heavy price for coming into the diner, we do get Florence Henderson as singer Sarah James. James comes into the diner seeking directions and finding a fiance. One spoiler is that this does not involve Carol Brady getting busy with Reuben Kincaid.
The icing on the wedding cake is that S8 includes the biggest occasion in "Alice" lore since the S4 departure of fan fave. Flo. (A review of the Archive release of the spinoff "Flo" also is near the top of the list of posts to copy over from Unreal TV 1.0.) S8 E7 is a lucky one for ditzy waitress Vera (Beth Howlnd). She meets and soon marries cop/soulmate Elliot Novak. The "com" includes a wacky misunderstanding leading to Elliot being the second husband of Vera.
The two "issues" episodes provide another reason to watch; Mel learns a hard lesson about the importance of making his business handicapped accessible. The other outing is a twofer regarding cruelty to circus animals and the importance of not discriminating against people based on am unusual physical characteristic.
The appeal of all this is that "Alice" reminds us of a kinder and gentler sitcom era in which most characters were likable and the good heart of the "villain" earned that person a great deal of leeway. Further, the writers provided adequately amusing comedy to not have to rely on shock value. Not only can you watch "Alice" with your grandparents, all of you can equally enjoy it,
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1948 Blu-ray release of the 1948 noir classic "Key Largo" provides a chance to add it to your collection of perfectly remastered films (including the recently reviewed "Dark Passage") starring Mr., and Mrs. Humphrey Bogart. The magic of Blu-ray allowing custom-made marathon viewings validates that the sexual chemistry between Bogart and Bacall equals that of Affleck and Damon. One difference is that no pop songs celebrate the magic regarding Batt.
This John Huston film further is notable for having a particularly strong Orsonian quality is that it has the look and themes of a Welles films. This is on top of the live-stage feel that is attributable to "Largo" being based on a play of the same name.
The opening scenes prove that the reputation of Bogart precedes him. The audience believes that his character Frank McCloud is involved when the local po po stops the bus on which he is traveling to search for less than honest injuns who are fugitives from justice. We quickly learn that McCloud is as clean as a brothel on a Tuesday afternoon.
The real fun begins when a hostile motley crew provides McCloud an unfriendly welcome on his arrival at a tourist hotel on the titular Florida island. This shady lot includes drunken floozy Gaye Dawn (Claire Trevor in an Oscar-winning role). Dawn aptly steals the show in a later scene in which mob boss Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) literally makes her sing for her liquid supper.
The reception thaws on the group learning that WWII vet McCloud is there to visit the family of a man who served under him and who died in combat. Bacall plays Nora Temple, who is the widow of the dead soldier. Lionel Barrymore shows much of his broad range in playing the wheelchair-bound father of the man/hotel owner James Temple. The beloved James additionally is the unofficial mayor of Key L:argo.
McCloud shows bad timing for him and perfect timing for the audience in arriving hours before a highly symbolical hurricane is due to hit the island. Everyone in front of and behind the camera plays his or her part especially well regarding the increasing barometic and other pressures ahead of the weather event,
Things escalate to the point of Rocco holding McCloud and the Temples hostage as Rocco, his thugs, and his moll both wait out both the storm and the arrival of a business associate.
Huston PERFECTLY stages the confrontations between Rocco and McCloud and/or Temple. These typically include exchanging philosophies.
The foul weather ceasing does not coincide with the storm blowing over. McCloud and Rocco still have a score to settle and Nora needs to discover if she can connect with her "Nick" in time.
The above discussion of "Largo" provides many reasons why this Blu-ray is worthy of inclusion in your film library. The broader perspective is that the film is a perfect example of how great they used to make them and of they don't make 'em like that anymore.
It is difficult to imagine assembling a dream team that is comparable to a director like Huston working with such a talented cast that both can give nuanced performances and play off each other as well as this group,
The Warner Archive October 9, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1974 TV Movie "Bad Ronald" reminds us of the Golden Age of such guilty pleasure gems. This one has the bonus of the still-modern element of having a psycho covertly living in the walls of your home. This cult status also favors buying the Blu-ray, rather than relying on almost surely spotty inclusion on a streaming service,
This variation of "Psycho" begins with the titular excitable high-school senior (Scott Jacoby) enjoying a birthday party with his domineering mother Elaine (Kim Hunter). She is sharing her high aspirations for her boy when he cuts things short to visit the object of his affection over the objection of his mother.
The reception that dorky Ronald receives on showing up when the girl of his dreams and the other cool kids are swimming is either hilarious or heartbreaking depending on your perspective, It does prove that kids say the cruelest things.
Ronald is fresh off this experience when a subsequent encounter is the straw that broke the camel's sanity in that push comes to fatal shove. This sends Ronald into the arms of the one woman who loves him; Elaine responds in a manner that leads to Ronald simultaneously breaking the records for the amount of time that a teen boy spends locked in the bathroom and goes without changing his tightie-whities.
The plot thickens when Ronald ventures out one day to find Elaine gone and the house empty of all furniture. This changes when Mr. and Mrs. Wood move in with their three teen daughters. Fun casting related to this includes having ubiquitous '80s actor Dabney Coleman play Mr. Wood. We also get Ted Eccles of kidcom "Dr. Shrinker" fame as Duane Matthews, who is the object of the affection of one of the Wood girls and the brother of the homicide victim,
A combination of Duane telling the Wood family the history of the house and of Ronald increasingly haunting the abode particularly puts the younger members of the family ill at ease. A relatable aspect of this is the many times throughout our lives when we are certain that we had now missing food or that an object seemingly has been tampered with.
The aforementioned modern aspect enters the picture in this regard. One sign of our Dystopian Days is the regular urban myths and facts about a former owner of a house restricting his residence to a concealed area out of economic necessity and/or a disturbed mind. The really scary part is that this often can continue for extended periods before being discovered.
The tension nicely builds as Ronald increasingly loses his grasp on reality in proportion to becoming obsessed with the girls next door. Things proverbially hit the fan when the mice going away prompts the cat to prey. A highlight of this is Duane ending up in a position that will delight folks who fall within the overlap between people who enjoy S&M and "Shrinker" fans.
Things rapidly wrap up in an inevitable manner the removes any doubt regarding the erroneous belief of Elaine that Ronald is destined to be a brain surgeon.
The twofer that Warner Archive provides regarding the September 18, 2018 DVD release of the 1938 prison drama morality tale "Over the Wall" begins with this movie being a textbook example of the lost gems Golden Age B-movies that comprise a significant portion of the Archive catalog. The "two" begins with this release continuing the tradition of Archive leitmotifs. The theme this time is prison dramas, and the set includes the reviewed Warner Bu-ray release of the 1973 classic film "Papillon" about the obsessive efforts of the boy with the butterfly tattoo to escape from Devils Island.
The first of the numerous elements that make "Wall" Archive worthy begins with the unusual source material. This tale of hot-tempered brawling Irishman Jerry Davis is based on a book by real-life Sing Sing warden Lewis E. Lawes. The clear message that that well-known prison strives to rehabilitate, rather than punish, establishes both that it is the polar opposite of Devil's Island and that Davis either is going to be a better man for a dead one at the end of film.
"Wall" further reflects the studio system. The liner notes on the DVD back cover share that "Warner Bros.' celebrated 'Singing Cowboy' Dick Foran trades in his leathers for a prison jumper" to play Jerry. It is highly likely that most (if not all) the supporting characters and all the extras are largely selected based on who is available during the time allotted for making "Wall."
"Wall" not being shy about depicting the stereotypes of the era is another source of entertainment. Jerry is a perfect depiction of a 20-something New York punk who needs very little provocation to bust a window or a head; his much-younger brother Jimmy seems destined to head down the same road. Jimmy additionally represents the humorous stereotype of a prepubescent boy of the '30s who looks and sounds like a grown-ass man. This makes a scene in which the lad must relinquish the death seat and move to the bitch seat in the car of Jerry funny.
The Irish stereotype continues with the father of Jerry and Jimmy having a brogue that makes him sound as if he is fresh of the boat even though his wife lacks any Irish accent, The man who is at least in his 60s picking a fight with Jerry helps complete the picture.
Other period-specific glee relates to the spinning headlines that provide substantive exposition and a swinging pendulum of a clock accompanying months flying by to indicate the passage of time.
True to form with this type of film, Jerry barely avoids becoming a guest of the state the first time that he gets his Irish up. Of course, he ignores the advice to temper his temper.
The impetus for the events that lead to the unfortunate incarceration of Jerry is his sleazy fight manager setting him up for a literal fall in a fight that is the venture of a legitimate businessman. Emotional and physical pain prompts our raging bull to track down his manager. That altercation leads to the manager pushing up daises.
The judicial proceeding that concludes with convicting Jerry of manslaughter occurs in what aptly can be described as a boxing kangaroo court. This leads to his getting locked up in the aforementioned correctional institution.
The arrogance and related defiance of Jerry on going inside figuratively (and hilariously) places him in the bitch seat in a manner that provides numerous highlights, Modern audiences know that the real-life wake-up call would have involved a badly bruised body and Jerry becoming the wife of one or more inmates.
Prison chaplain Father Neil Connor is the primary force behind the effort to provide Jerry a form of deliverance other than the type described above. Of course, that initial effort fails.
The first turning point occurs when Jerry passes a test of character. His showing his true nature reaps immediate benefits, We next get a '30s version of a jailhouse rock that lets Foran showoff his singing voice. A positive aspect of this is that his songs provide the same type of pleasant surprise as when Jim Nabors demonstrates that his singing style is nothing like the high-pitched Southern accent of Gomer Pyle. A less-nice aspect of this scene in "Wall" is that a stereotype involving two black inmates is not laughable but is excusable in the context of the era.
The climax commences with Jerry getting a chance to prove his innocence; this results in a fast-paced final 10-minutes as Connor and other supporters try to prevent Jerry both from reverting to his old ways and from being his own worst enemy, Seeing these men team up in the name of truth, justice, and the American way strongly suggests that they would go on to star in a television series about street-wise detectives if "Wall" was made in the '70s.
Additional appeal of this highly dated fable is that it reminds us of a much happier time in which prisons had some success at rehabilitating inmates and did not just release them on the streets stronger and more crime savvy than when they entered. On the "order" side of things, this period also is known for having a judicial system with proper due process, participants who favored justice over wins and/or expediency, and in which one went wrong was more easily put right,
'Perfect Strangers' S5 DVD: Odd Couple Cousins Find Themselves in More Sublimely Ridiculous Situations
The Warner Archive September 25, 2018 DVD release of the 1989-90 fifth season of the ABC sitcom "Perfect Strangers" brings us over the hump regarding home-video sets of this eight-season show. This release also provides hope regarding every season being available as snow begins melting roughly six months from now. People interested in learning more about "Strangers" things are encouraged to check out the Unreal TV 2.0 review of the third season and post on the fourth one.
The pedigree of "Strangers" producers Robert L. Boyett and Thomas L. Miller including the "Strangers" spinoff "Family Matters" shows that the team both knows what the public wants and has a talent for catch-phrases that delight fans and annoy less-enamored folks. Trust me; I know what I'm doing.
The S5 "Strangers" episodes provide the perfect context for discussing the talent of Boyett and Miller for producing a likable TV show that enhances tried-and-true elements with nice surprises. The tried-and-true begins with the odd couple roommates concept of high-strung 20-something Appleton, Wisconsin native Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) sharing a Chicago apartment with his laid-back and childlike fresh-off-the-boat naive cousin/co-worker Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot). The writers deserve great credit for keeping the "Beverly Hillbillies" style element of "Strangers" fresh after four seasons. An example of this is an S5 episode that has Balki seeing a dentist for the first time.
We also get a nice twist on the evil twin cliche. Even fresher off-the-boat cousin Bartok (Pinchot) visits from Los Angeles, He is a smooth talker who quickly and repeatedly takes advantage of Balki. This adds a "Its A Wonderful Life" element to the episode in that we see how Balki may have turned out on moving to America but for relatively (pun intended) patient and kind Cousin Larry mentoring and supporting him.
"Strangers" shines even better than it knows regarding a very special two-part episode that offers a treasure trove of sitcom gems. The bonanza begins with Larry hoping to make his visiting father (a.k.a. Uncle Walter) proud of his boy. Having James Noble, who is best known of playing the governor on the fellow ABC sitcom "Benson," checks the box for having a popular actor guest star.
The familiar elements continue with the underlying "sit" leading to the regular "com" in the form of Larry ignoring a warning of Balki leading to mayhem that includes two characters in conflict getting locked in a room. Having the "how many times have you ..." joke turn against Larry later in the episode is even more awesome.
The placing of beloved characters in mortal danger that delights viewers comes when the boys and Dad get trapped in a basement that is filling with water. The bonus is an enhanced ticking time bomb in the form of a electrical box that will fry our friends when the water level reaches it. Several decades of television shows and the fact that "Strangers" gets an additional 3.5 seasons makes the fact that the boys escape not much of a spoiler.
The episode title provides the presumably unintended bonus. The words "Father Knows Best?" obviously refers to the '50s nuclear-family sitcom of that name that lacks punctuation in its title. The tidbits from a vintage interview with "Best" star Billy Gray includes that "Dad" Robert Young wanted the title to include the question mark to indicate that his family guy character was not necessarily the smartest guy in the room.
The bonus fun in the interview relates to Gray, who is well-known for a marijuana bust, once laughing and saying "you don't smoke, do you?" The only admissions regarding that are once finding the pot holder in the kitchen of a high school friend hilarious and going to great lengths to avoid my mother on some Friday nights while living with her for a few months after college.
"Strangers" fans further get the "Larry plans a vacation from Hell" episode. The well-intentioned amateur travel agent books the boys and their girls a stay at the worst-ever Caribbean resort. Of course, this includes a strong risk of not making it back alive,
Another outing sets the stage for the sitcom staple of a Rashomon episode in which characters tell different accounts of the events that lead to the interaction in the opening scene. In this case, the drama relates to a bad dude crashing a corporate retreat.
The bigger picture is that the shrewd instincts that keep "Strangers" on the air so long (and warrant a tie-in to the HBO drama series "The Leftovers") include a respect for tradition that largely avoids the series looking dated. The absurd native garb of Balki is amusing in any era and the business casual attire of Larry is adequately timeless. Further, most plots avoid '80s (and '90s) centric references. As the few episodes described above show, the "sits" could mostly occur during any era. One exception is that Trip Advisor protects against staying at dumps,
The final word is time is don't be ridiculous, buy the DVD.
'Papillon' '73 Blu-ray: 'Butterfly' McQueen Shows He Does Know Plenty About Birthing Devil's Island Escape Plans
The disappointment regarding the Warner Archive September 18, 2018 Blu-ray release of the epic 1973 Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman docudrama "Papillon" has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the quality of the film or the incredibly clear Blu-ray remaster. The negative aspect is that the titular boy with the butterfly tattoo (MacQueen) and his well-heeled counterfeiter friend/fellow prisoner (Hoffman) do not adequately bond with a third character to warrant a Devil's Island triangle reference.
Archive continues its solid tradition of leitmotifs by pairing this Blu-ray with a DVD release of the (soon-to-be-reviewed) 1938 B-movie "Over the Wall" based on a story by real-life Sing Sing warden Lewis E. Lawes. "Papillon," which is a '70s sensation based on the film and the massively best-selling memoir on which is based, chronicles the incredible efforts of safecracker Henri Charriere to escape the aforementioned French Ghana prison camp. The nickname of this man relates to the aforementioned ink on his chest.
Writing the book makes sharing that Charriere ultimately succeeds not much of a spoiler. However, like most film and television stories, the entertainment value is watching the compelling story of his prison break.
Adding horrific abuse that includes sadistic starvation of prisoners who must wear filthy pajama-like striped uniforms contributes a disturbing concentration camp vibe to this classic film. Of course, McQueen doing his usual excellent job portraying an obsessively determined tough guy and Hoffman channeling creepy scumbag Ratso Rizzo to play Louis Dega superbly bring the script by famously blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo to life.
The impact (which includes the concentration camp vibe) begins with the naked new fish assembled in a courtyard. They are instructed about what lies ahead before being told to dress just ahead of a heavily guarded walk of shame through crowded city streets. The spectacle/ritual aspect of this greatly establishes the tone of the film.
Some of the limited but very good humor of "Papillon" relates to the conviction of that man. He is an admitted safecracker but is convicted for murdering a pimp. The response to that alleged crime makes it seem as if France puts men who keeps both whores and tricks in line on the same social level as Nobel Prize winners.
The prisoners then board a sea-worthy vessel that evokes thoughts of a slave ship; they are herded aboard and crammed into locked below-deck cages; their bathing consists of a fire hose blasting water through the bars. We additionally see them being served what already likely is watered-down soup on the deck in in the pouring rain.
The savvy Papillon uses this time to begin plotting his escape; learning that Louis is a good candidate to provide the capital for that venture is the start of a beautiful friendship,. Louis realizing that Papillon can help assure living to bride guards another day seals the deal.
One of the best scenes in the film revolves a scheme for desired employment. Our boys are a heartbeat away from literally making the best of a bad situation when Louis experiences karma. Stating that Papillon and Louis end up to their elbows in alligators is not far from the truth.
Subsequent events result in Papillon experiencing a massively unfortunate incarceration; his adhering to the principle of snitches get stitches is what makes that particularly bad situation worse. These scenes additionally prove that McQueen waz robbed regarding not even being nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award.
The nature of the extended absence makes the heart of Louis grow much fonder for his protector. Things quickly going awry with their Plan C for escape turns this film into a dark variation of a Bob Hope and Bing Crosby road movie, This also provides the context for additional beautiful travelogue scenery that makes good use of Blu-ray technology.
The end of this portion of the adventure will make you want to shout "that bitch" despite fully knowing that doing so ensures that you will go to actual Hell. The self-righteous betrayal of Papillon is bad enough; the insult that is added to the injury reinforces what virtually every Catholic school student has ever asserted.
This leads to resuming the battle of wills regarding which the guys in charge seem to not realize that someone with nothing to lose has no reason to stop trying to get away. Making it clear that punishment, rather than rehabilitation, is the goal of the imprisonment does not help matters.
As stated above, this 20th-century Hollywood movie delivers a happy ending. Determining how Charriere becomes one of the few men to ever beat the house and whether Louis makes it as well requires watching the film. One hint is that Papillon shows that he is more resourceful than the professor of "Gilligan's Island" fame.
The 12-minute bonus feature "The Magnificent Rebel" greatly enhances the "Papillon" experience. This making-of documentary from the time of filming the movie introduces us to the real Charriere and shows how the filmmakers boldly go where no man has gone before. We further get to see the state of the prison facility in the early '70s.
The bottom line regarding all this is that the biggest reason that the film continues to thrive to the extent of warranting a recent remake is that all the folks in front of and behind the camera realize that the devil is in the details.
'Queen of Outer Space' Blu-ray: Zsa Zsa Gabor Dispels Myth Men Are From Mars and Women From Venus Do Not Want Them
Warner Archive belatedly goes to camp in releasing the 1958 CinemaScope film "Queen of Outer Space" on September 25 2018, rather than during the summer. The better news is that this wonderful blend of '50s kiddie matinee serials and "Star Trek" OS (in addition to a strong dose of the Hanna Barbera cartoon "Josie and the Pussycats") is well worth the wait. Further, the literally and figuratively alien landscapes and the bright and bold (pun intended) "Trek" style clothes and interiors look fabulous in Blu-ray.
The lack of references to probing Uranus or other mentions of that planet is the only one of two disappointment regarding "Queen." The second letdown relates to star Zsa Zsa Gabor, who is well known for slapping a police officer in 1989, not slapping any of the men in the movie.
It is hoped that feminists take the amusing chauvinism of the era in context. The literal battle of the sexes and the humor related to the titular monarch and her subjects being voluptuous females are very amusing from the perspective of someone watching the film 60 years after the release.
Knowing that a JOKE that we get a look at a Hillary Clinton administration is sure to cause great offense reflects that our time lacks a sense of humor regarding many topics. Archive deserves tremendous credit for not slapping (no pun intended) the same "reflects the less-enlightened society of the time" disclaimer on "Queen" that are placed on some DVD sets of vintage cartoons.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Queen" includes every element described above. The video being standard-def. and seemingly not remastered highlights the awesome job with the Blu-ray version.
The kiddie-matinee vibe begins when Captain Nel Patterson (Eric Fleming who is born on the Fourth of July), de facto second-in-command Lieutenant Mike Cruze (cartoon voice actor and comic character actor Dave Willock), and hunky womanizing Lieutenant Larry Turner get the grunt duty of providing harmless middle-aged Professor Konrad Uber service to the "Deep Space Nine" space station regarding which he literally and figuratively is a principal architect. This occurs in the far-off future of 1985.
The Saturday afternoon at the movies sense continues with the cheesy effects associated with our quartet approaching the aforementioned space station while that facility is under attack from a ray. That beam hitting its mark destroys the station and makes the ship the next target.
The aim of the weapon of mass destruction ultimately being true disables the ship and has it crash in one of the best comically low-budget special-effects scene in "Queen." The men soon determine that they are on Venus.
A literal rude awakening occurs when a group of women dressed in knockoffs of '60s-era Starfleet uniforms captures the men and takes them to their titular leader. One spoiler is that no red skirt is harmed in the filming of this scene,
The glee of our testosterone-fueled heroes on finding themselves the only males among a group of space babes lessens on learning that the queen has made Venus a true matriarchy and comes to the table with an actual feminazi attitude of extreme prejudice regarding earth in general and men specifically. Her policy is to eliminate the threat of the men and their planet before they can attack.
The literal saving grace of the skipper, the first mate (and the professor) is the character whom Gabor portrays, Talleah is a scientist who is among a group that does not consider men evil per se and does not advocate blowing up a planet as a preventative measure. The potential for offensive humor this time relates to the opening to comment that Talleah and her followers advocate a coup d' tata.
These covert agents aid and abet the enemy noncombatants in a manner that will put the bubble-gum chase music from "Josie" and "Scooby-Doo" in the heads of every child of the '70s. A scene in which the pursued and the pursuing duck in and out of doors in a long hallway is especially awesome in this regard.
This leads to the inevitable Venusian standoff. Our bros and their hos face off against the ruling party. Suffice it to say that that outcome involves very masculine behavior. The epilogue perfectly reflects the time and shows that Kirk is not the only pig in space.
The best of times element regarding the Warner Archive September 18, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1981 Michael Crichton scifi thriller "Looker" is that this chance to see this prime example of late '70s and early '80s lurid noir is a real treat. The worst of times element is Archive making rare gaffes in the presentation of the film.
The first odd choice of Archive is not at least offering the option of watching the network broadcast version of "Looker" that includes an eight-minute deleted segment that is a Blu-ray extra. Archive typically provides an alternative version option in these cases, Additionally, this segment includes the always entertaining villain monologue that ill-advisedly reveals the evil scheme to the hero, who invariably escapees in the next scene.
The other arguably bad choice is not providing the option of watching the modern introduction by Crichton. This spoiler-free statement puts "Looker" in good context.
The most cool thing about "Looker" is that it is a film that both perfectly reflects its time in style and content and is ahead of its time in portraying what evolves from the tech. and the marketing of the dawn of the computer era. This is not to mention the element of weaponizing television.
The underlying concept of seeking absolute perfection for fun and profit is as solid as much of the science that pursues it in the film. Additionally, the collateral damage in the form of the deaths that trigger the central events fall within the range of possibility regarding this type of film. The flawed execution in the form of framing plastic surgeon Larry Roberts (Albert Finney) enhances the entertainment at the expense of credibility.
The underlying '70s wealthy husband-and-wife procedural "Hart to Hart" style premise is that three of four gorgeous television commercial models whom Roberts put under the knife die via a car accident or apparent suicide, The other common element is that these "It" girls consult Roberts at the recommendation of the tech. marketing firm Digital Matrix. The similarities continue with the procedures calling for very minor alterations. Having Roberts explain that he agrees to do the surgeries to avoid the girls resorting to quacks establishes him as a good guy.
The third death literally brings police detective Lieutenant Masters to the door of Roberts, This prompts Roberts to simultaneously begin investigating the crimes and to take former patient Cindy (real-life model Susan Dey) under his wing to help her avoid getting her killed in this year's model from Detroit,
The first not necessarily nefarious plot that Roberts discovers is that legitimate businessman John Reston (James Coburn) and Digital Matrix executive Jennifer Long (Leigh Taylor-Young) are teaming up to create the perfect spokesmodel to appear in commercials. The realized futuristic element is this including CGI.
The really goofy part enters the picture (pun intended) as Roberts learns of the progress of Reston and Long regarding using television to get the EXACT desired response from viewers. The social commentary includes reaching a point of essentially turning sofa spuds into zombies.
Roberts approaching the truth prompts arming muscle with thoroughly goofy tech, and sending that hired gun after our hero. Of course, Cindy literally is in tow until she almost as inevitably handcuffed to a railing. One spoiler is that she does not break a heel during a chase,
The final battle awesomely incorporates every element of "Looker" and includes plenty of dark-humor laced social commentary. The numerous rude awakenings are one of the best aspects of this film.
The additional prophetic element is making television a critical element of presidential elections. This shows that Crichton gets it right regarding how far we come even after the flop sweat of Nixon is a large factor in the 1960 presidential election and Bill Clinton profits from playing the saxophone on "Arsenio Hall" in 1992.
The bigger picture is that this good blending of elements achieves the scifi ideal of good creativity and a morality tale,
Over analyzing the Warner Archive separate September 4, 2018 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the first season of the CBS sitcom "Young Sheldon" is consistent with the premise of this amusing program. The titular boy genius is the nine-year-old incarnation of pop culture god DR. Sheldon Cooper ("Young" producer Jim Parsons) of the companion CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory." "Theory" is commencing its 12th and final season as "Young" enters what one hopes is not a sophomore slump that sophomoric humor characterizes.
Like his 40-year-old version, "baby" Sheldon (Iain Armitage) is a brilliant outcast who is much more project than people oriented. Unlike "Theory" in which adult Sheldon has the support of a group of like-minded (and somewhat similarly attuned) friends, "Young" focuses on the related themes of odd boy out Sheldon and his overall average family often struggling with achieving mutual peace, love, and understanding. His mother trying to get this younger son to work and play well with others provides additional fodder for "sits" that create "com." A second-season episode of "Theory" that reflects a common element of both series (and sets the stage for the S10 season-finale cliffhanger) has adult Sheldon compare the intellect of graduate students to that of labradoodles.
In this regard, the dynamic of "Theory" and "Young" is somewhat akin to the relationship between the companion CBS '60scoms "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres." The analogy continues with the evolution of the modern series,
Just as the redneck Clampetts slowly adjust to life in Beverly Hills and transplanted (pun intended) white-shoes attorney Oliver Wendell Douglas comes to better understand and accept his hick neighbors in "Acres," young Sheldon starts learning how to better interact with his older high school classmates and adult Sheldon increasingly understands the value of illogical social conventions that include giving a friend a birthday gift in exchange for receiving an item of equal value from that person.
The following YouTube clip of the CBS extended promo. for "Young" offers a good primer on the characters and the themes of the program. It also demonstrates that the range of series creator Chuck Lorre extends beyond the crude shock-value humor of "Two and a Half Men" and "Mom" that is kinder and gentler in "Theory."
The bigger picture begins with "Young" reflecting the wisdom of a real-life boy genius. Alan Spencer is a teen when he creates the HILARIOUS ABC '80s com "Sledgehammer," which is a parody of the "Dirty Harry" films about a violent rogue cop. "Sledeghammer" helps pave the way for "Young" to have neither a live (as opposed to dead) studio audience nor a laugh track. The reasoning of Spencer regarding not using canned laughter is that viewers are smarter than labradoodles in that humans have the necessary intellect to know when something is funny without the producers making it obvious.
The broader perspective is that "Young" more closely represents the nuclear (pun intended) families around which many traditional '50scom revolve than "The Simpsons," which satirizes that dynamic. This is nice in an era in which broadcast and cable networks largely reject "TV Land" style shows. Placing the Cooper clan in the not-so-enlightened region of East Texas in the Bible Belt contributes additional humor that traditional sitcoms literally or figurative set in the everytown of Springfield lack. On a related note, "Young" explains why adult (and boy) Sheldon lacks a Texas accent.
"Young" dad George Sr. (Lance Barber) is a brighter Homer but still no theoretical physicist. This high school football coach can relate to elder son "Georgie," who is a smarter and more athletic Bart but far from a Rhodes scholar.
Like many reel and real father, George loves the son regarding whom he struggles to relate. In this case, it is because Sheldon is much smarter and does not share any of the interests of his father. The broader perspective encompasses a father who is prejudiced against gay men struggling with his thoughts on learning that his boy likes other boys.
Sheldon twin sister Missy reflects the young girl side of Lisa while Sheldon represents the advanced intellect of that bright girl. The sassy nature of Missy contributes to the traditional sitcom vibe of "Young." She also is an element of an odd (and arguably creepy) aspect of the series, Although the pilot explicitly states that the testicles of Sheldon are undescended, it seems more apt to have Sheldon and Georgie share a room than have the former and his sister bunk together.
Mother Mary aptly is the Marge of "Young." The analogy extends beyond Mary being religious up to a point and getting married after George knocks her up in high school. Her labors of love include being the glue that tries to keep her actual kids and childish husband happy and compatible.
A cool casting note is that Mary portrayor Zoe Perry is the real-life daughter of "Roseanne" and "The Conners" actress Laurie Metcalf, who plays older (and seemingly more religious) Mary on "Theory." The history of this mother-daughter dynamic continues with Perry playing a younger version of the Metcalf character Jackie on flashbacks during the original broadcast run of "Roseanne."
Like this fan favorite from the '70s, Cooper family grandmother Meemaw (a.k.a. Connie Tucker) clearly is the Fonzie of the series. This analogy continues with the dating life of this senior citizen being age-adjusted equivalent to that of that mechanic/diner owner/high school teacher/fixer. This character being the zany oddball neighbor makes perfect use of the quirky talents of Annie Potts, who is best known for the original "Ghostbusters" film franchise and the CBS '80scom "Designing Women." The final note in this regard is that Meemaw being oft mentioned in "Theory" but only appearing once makes her a sitcom staple, ala Jenny Piccolo in early seasons of "Happy Days."
This aforementioned lengthy discussion of the concept of "Young" and how it reflects television history precludes discussing the dimwitted "Nelson" and the nerdy "Millhouse" who provide the stereotype of weird sidekick as proudly as Skippy Handleman of the classic '80scom "Family Ties," We also have very limited room to discuss the episodes themselves.
"Young" being a consistently amusing series that typically has at least one hilarious moment per episode puts it ahead of most modern broadcast and cable sitcoms. Further, the stories and the action seem credible.
This is not to mention Lorre et al. deserving credit for including elements of the 1989 time frame without either being satirical or unduly bashing the viewer over the head regarding this element. The bigger picture this time is that setting the series in the past reflects the wisdom of "Days" creator Garry Marshall that setting a '70scom in the '50s and the '60s precludes having that show ever look dated.
The arguably best "Young" episode has Meemaw gleefully tormenting George regarding not sharing her recipe for what apparently is the best ever brisket. Watching her mercilessly dangle this secret in front of him and making him literally and figuratively go to great lengths pursuing this knowledge provides numerous hilarious moments. This resulting in serious family conflict brings in a disturbingly dark note, but the clever comeuppance in the resolution is very true to the series and awesomely satisfying.
Meemaw further is featured in INARGUABLY the MOST hilarious S1 moment. Sheldon and Missy being left home alone aptly leads to setting up booby traps, Meemaw getting caught in one is priceless for reasons that include seeing the reaction of Potts. The extra analysis this time begins with the classic rule that watching someone get seriously hurt in a comical situation delights the viewer. The bonus observation is that this reflects the philosophy of comedy legend Carol Burnett.
Burnett repeatedly notes in discussions of her CBS variety series that the humor of the show holds up because it reflects concepts that are funny in any era As aspect of this in "Young" is not having episodes that revolve around plots such as Georgie emulating MC Hammer or Sheldon commenting that he is much more qualified than Dan Quayle to be vice-president.
The biggest picture of all is that "Young" is one of the few modern sitcoms that the entire family can watch and enjoy together. Kids may consider it cool that Mom and Dad (or Mom and Mom or Dad and Dad) remember "Theory" premiering. Additionally, the minimal adult content is as family friendly as the numerous references to the "dating" life of Fonzie, not to mention the expression "sit on it" having the EXACT same meaning as go fuck yourself.
The delightful bonus feature "Young Sheldon: An Origin Story" has Lorre and Parsons discuss how a real-life science fair inspires the series. We also hear from the cast regarding their relationship with the characters. This shows that that seemingly illogically named Texan Montana Jordan IS Georgie.
Speaking of Jordan, this teen largely sits and rolls his eyes in the "Sibling Revelry" bonus. It has Jordan, Armitage and Missy portrayor Raegan Revord discuss their roles and their relationships with each other. The biggest treat is seeing Armitage drop his rigid facade and act like a typical kid; Jordan making Armitage seem like a labradoodle is a highlight.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1969 scifi film "The Illustrated Man" aptly is a time capsule of that film genre from that era. It has the distinctive wonderful earth tones and surreal quality that makes classics such as "The Omega Man" so timeless.
"Man" is the film version of the book of the same name by peerless scifi author Ray Bradbury. This film about body illustrations (do NOT call them tattoos) with minds of their own is based on the novel of the same name by peerless scifi author Ray Bradbury.
"Man" simultaneously sets the scene by having young Depression-era drifter Willie arrive at a pond to bathe and swim while voice-over narration makes a prophetic statement regarding the nature of knowledge. Titular inked-up middle-aged drifter Carl (Rod Steiger) soon shows up with a bloodlust for the femme fatale who put him in this condition.
The aforementioned tale is one of boy gets horny; boy goes on what he hopes is a booty call; boy meets girl; girl grotesquely inks up boy; girl puts out to persuade boy to let her finish the job; boy endures walk-of-shame marked torso to feet with tramp stamps.
The rest of the story follows the format of the anthology horror series "Night Gallery" in that Carl calling the attention of Willie to a particular living illustration on his body leads to a story that it represents. The theme of these tales either is the encounter of Carl with the woman who done him wrong or a futuristic story.
One of the best tales of the future is the Bradbury story "The Long Rain." This has Steiger playing the leader of a space expedition that gets stranded on a distant planet, Rather than fire, the quest is for the sun domes that promise shelter from the storm and longed-for pleasures.
We also get two "Jetsons" style tales of a nuclear family with a husband (Steiger), a wife, and two children. The first installment has the kids in trouble both for using the tech, in a playroom to transport themselves to the African jungle and then lie about it. The lesson for 21st century teen boys is to ALWAYS clear your browser history and delete any incriminating texts and e-mails right before logging off.
The second installment of the "Jetsons" is a bit darker. It is the end of the world as the clan knows it and Dad does not feel fine.
"Man" has an epic ending on a couple of levels. A gap is filled, and the aforementioned prophecy comes true in a wonderfully graphic manner. One moral of this is heeding the wisdom of pop star Rick Springfield and not talk to strangers.
The extra special bonus feature is the short documentary "Tattooed Steiger" that discusses the making of the film in general and the massive inking of the star in particular,
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