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,
The Warner Archive August 28, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Lucifer" S3 is part of the recent embarrassment of riches regarding such releases of the most recent seasons of procedurals ahead of the upcoming new seasons. Lukewarm off the presses examples include a review of the Archive BD release of "Riverdale" S2 and a post on this week's Warner Prime BD release of "Supergirl" S3.
In the case of the Jerry Bruckheimer series "Lucifer," Netflix is resurrecting this Fox cancelled show. A downside of this bonanza is that it requires basing this review on 23 of the 26 S3 episodes. Things really heating up toward the season (and anticipated series) finale is prompting watching the final three during the next several weeks. All signs point to complete reveals and a satisfying climax that is worthy of The Prince of Darkness.
The underlying "Lucifer" premise of the titular literal handsome devil/night club owner (Tom Ellis) teaming with L.A. detective/former T & A actress Chloe Decker (Lauren German) to solve the murder of the week makes the S3 episode "The Angel of San Bernardino" especially awesome. This one is notable for the somewhat similar long-running Fox procedural series "Bones" playing an integral part in solving this "Lucifer" case involving a TFB who is found DOA.
Having a civilian with a unique expertise and a law-enforcement officer of the opposite sex and temperament join forces (and ultimately naughty bits) is an increasingly common basis for shows such as "Bones." Lucifer seeing the similarities between that fiction and his reality leads to an "Angel" solution that demonstares that there are not any coincidences.
The review of the S1 "Lucifer" BD release provides a good primer on this show that has the King of Hell come to Los Angeles for a vacation five years ago and decide to stick around. The series starts with a combination of our hero wanting to punish the guilty and having some form of Hell hound in the race. The post on the S2 BD shows how the lore expands.
S3 opens in the immediate aftermath of the S2 cliffhanger that finds Lucifer half-naked, alone, and as afraid as the devil can get. The means by which he execrates himself from his immediate predicament sets the stage for the S3 theme of old foes, friends, and characters with elements of both reappearing in the lives of our main ensemble. Another throwback element is an episode that shows the early days of Lucifer on earth and proves that when he met Decker it was murder.
The element of unwanted seeming divine intervention adds fuel to the hellfire in the form of the daddy issues that Lucifer has with God.
S3E1 also marks (hilarious pun for those familiar with these episodes) the addition of "Smallville" Clark Kent Tom Welling to the cast. He plays tough new police lieutenant Marcus Pierce, Although Welling portrays Pierce well, a mid-season reveal regarding Pierce suggests that "Lois and Clark" Clark Kent Dean Cain may have been a better choice.
The first few S3 episodes revolve around the hunt for the Sinnerman, who is a person of interest regarding a mission from God. This introduces a villain who gives truly bedevils our hero.
Lucifer being an especially tortured soul during S3 provides entertaining irony. He struggles with showing his father essentially that he is not Little Nicky and will not eat his vegetables if he does not want to do so. He also has special and undisclosed reasons for objecting to Pierce and Decker dating.
The efforts of Lucifer to impose his version of what is right on what he considers wrong drives his involvement in several S3 cases. A prime example of this is his frustrating inability to find an effective solution for a problem has him investigating the murder of the author of a successful YA book series so that he can learn the approach of the deceased to writer's block. Another case has him unsuccessfully presenting a facade of focusing on the needs of Decker for an allegedly altruistic purpose.
A very clever standout S3 episode has a star newspaper reporter/ex-husband of group confidante therapist Linda Martin pursue a vendetta against Lucifer. The narrative technique and awesomely unexpected surprise ending earn this one its 9.4 rating on IMDb.
The prime time broadcast network version of edge (and the related elan of Ellis regarding his devilish role) is what makes "Lucifer" must-see TV. A hilarious sequence begins with Lucifer misinterpreting the purpose of the swear jar of the young daughter of Decker and ends with his showing the girl a loophole. Another episode has a demonic influence responsible for the elderly teacher of the daughter unwittingly eating pot brownies. This is on top of roughly one-half of the cast gleefully running with the Satanic concept of the series.
"Lucifer" does equally well skewering the absurd L.A. lifestyle. Plot points include a company that kidnaps a "victim" for fun and profit, another business that allows hiring failed actors to play the real-life role of a friend or a family member, and a dating app. that only allows beautiful people to join. On a related note, the bright lights and the big city look fabulous in Blu-ray.
The special features include the Comic-Con panel that Archive faithfully provides in every set of a show that participates in such events. There also is a "Tom and Tom" extra with Ellis and Welling, a Gag Reel, and deleted scenes.
Owning "Lucifer" S3 on Blu-ray may not be your deepest desire but does merit a place on the Top 100 list of such wants.
The Warner Archive August 28, 2018 Blu-ray release of the star-studded 1958 Technicolor drama "The Naked and the Dead" proves that war pictures are far more than stories about groups of men shooting each other in the same manner that quality film and television westerns demonstrate that that genre extends beyond stereotypical action that includes saloon fights and cattle stampedes. "Naked" is based on a Norman Mailer novel that examines how an armed conflict can prompt a war of wills with intense collateral damage.
The first note is that seeing a scene that highlights the beauty of Hawaii and another moment in which a grenade creates a large fireball eliminates any doubt regarding whether buying "Naked" in Blu-ray makes sense and as to the skill of Archive regarding restoring films.
The second note is that this cast that includes Aldo Rey, Cliff Robertson, and Raymond Massey also has the lesser-known Jerry Paris, Paris is best known as the director of the classic sitcoms "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Happy Days;" he also plays neighbor Jerry Helper on "Van Dyke." All of this is a far cry from Helper playing Jewish WWII foor-soldier Goldstein in "Naked."
"Naked" opens with the dogfaces enjoying risque entertainment at a Hawaiian den of ill repute. Hillbilly enlisted man/moonshine distiller Woodrow "Woody" Wilson is the life of the party due to his enthusiastic (and requited) love for star "exotic dancer" Lily. The hilariously rude, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior of Sgt. Sam Croft (Rey) clearly establishes that he not only is not one of the boys but does not work or play well with others. We do later learn why he is so bitter and believes that dames ain't nothin' but trouble,
The party winds down as our excitable boys board a ship for a Japanese-occupied island. Their journey provides the exposition that establishes the characters. This essentially is the cross-section of young American men of that era.
The real drama begins on the group capturing a Japanese soldier on the island. The horrific manner in which Croft treats that POW and his brothers-in-arms justifies giving him the same treatment. However, his men remain loyal.
Much further up the food chain, commanding officer General Cummings (Massey) is practicing his related philosophies of flaunting his power/privilege and making the enlisted men fear him more than they fear the enemy. His reasoning is that this will cause the soldiers to fight harder.
Lt. Robert Hearn (Robertson) first gets caught up in all this on getting the outwardly desirable assignment of being the aide to Cummings. The perks include some prestige and luxuries. The costs include an expectation that he will be completely loyal to Cummings and not challenge any of his decisions or way of thinking.
An aside is that messing with guys such as Cummings whom the military perfectly brainwashes can be great fun. A highlight of conducting computer training for Air National Guard soldiers was responding to a joking threat by recent OTC graduate that I might have been scared if he was a Marine. He immediately jumped up, and the guys on either side of him almost as quickly stood up ready to grab him. We all were laughing a second later,
The inevitable absurd showdown between Hearn and Cummings PERFECTLY illustrates the military mindset and literally put Hearn on the front line with Team Croft. An exchange in which one soldier comments that the Army should have promoted Croft if it wanted his platoon to have a lieutenant is just as insightful. A comment in the film that the winning side in a war is the one that kills the most people echoes an oft-stated perspective of your not-so-humble reviewer.
Hearn leads the group on a scouting mission that is intended to end a Japanese standoff; as predicted, the threat level escalates both regarding the mission and the differing styles of Croft and Hearn. One gist regarding this conflict is that Croft agrees with Cummings that a certain number of deaths are acceptable and that some risks are worth the probability of some of his men getting killed.
The truly bittersweet outcome of that mission also reflects the flaws of military thinking. Achieving what arguably can be considered a success reinforces what most people deem to be a reckless risk. Hearn essentially gets the last word and is the true voice of reason; of course, no one listens to him.
The outward value of "Naked" is the seemingly overall realistic depiction of an experience that is foreign to most of us. At the very least, this is not a John Wayne War Hero film.
Digging a little deeper., many of us have worked for someone like Cummings. This is the manager who has an employee get him or her coffee just to show that person who's the boss. On a literally and figuratively higher level, the man or woman in the corner offices generously doles out lavish executive perks while not issuing even COLA raises. Another aspect of this is laying off people to improve profitability and then being lauded as a corporate savior.
The bottom line is that "Naked" provides an insightful that remains relevant 60 years after its release. An added thought is that it will evoke thoughts of the classic film and television series "M.A.S.H."
The Warner Archive September 28, 2018 DVD of the director's cut of the 2004 TV movie "Helter Skelter" does not quite put the viewer inside the head of cult leader/serial killer by proxy Charles Manson; it does provide good insight into the life of Manson and the members of his "family" at the time that his "children" kill pregnant actress Sharon Tate (a.k.a. Mrs. Roman Polanski), her house guests, and a couple of guys who stop by on the worst possible night.
The cred. of this equally entertaining and educational docudrama includes attorney/screenwriter Vincent Bugliosi basing the film on his insight as the real-life prosecutor in the case. Another notable aspect of "Helter" is that is offers the flip side perspective of the equally good film "Wolves at the Door." "Wolves", which is another (reviewed) member of the Archives catalog, largely is from the perspectives of the Manson Family victims.
Director John Gray ("The Ghost Whisperer") and Bugliosi start off strong with family members putting the fear of Charlie into someone whom the group concludes done them wrong, Manson (Jeremy Davies of "Lost") then shows up in a manner that suggests that Davies is basing his performance on Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." It is equally plausible that close Roman Polanski friend Nicholson bases his "Shining" performance on the rel-life Manson.
This opening confrontation in "Helter" establishes three key elements of the Manson story; Manson is violently psychotic, his "children" are fanatically devoted to him, and "Dad" is smart enough to leave the real dirty work to the kids.
The fun continues with seeing newly single mom/lost soul Linda Kasabian (Clea DuVall) get adopted and move to the western-style film lot that serves as the family home. Linda meeting future wannabe presidential assassin Squeaky Fromme (Mary Lynn Rajskub of "24) is one highlight. The minimal worldly goods of Kasabian quickly being absorbed into the Manson Family treasury reminds viewers of the modus operandi of communes/cults.
Exposition during this period includes depicting the mysterious charisma of Manson and his outlook on life. One can understand how young folks who feel unloved respond to the affection that Manson shows his offspring; it is equally predictable that the turmoil of the late '60s get them to buy into his belief that the titular race war will lead to black people dominating white people. Accepting his exit strategy of escaping into essentially a magical Sid and Marty Krofft land when the race war fully commences reflects that these disciples are enjoying the '60s too much.
The story take a more familiar turn when the friendship/collaboration between Manson and Beach Boys member Dennis Wilson goes south. Advanced-beginner Manson scholars know about this relationship and that Manson is a house guest of that teen idol until the drug use and other weirdness get to be too much even for Wilson. The events of "Helter" fill in the picture in manners that include showing the connection between that falling out and turning Chez Polanski into a murder house.
A particularly interesting aspect of the Beach Boys element is that we learn that music producer Terry Melcher plays a key role in the mayhem. A fun aside is that Melcher is the real-life son of Doris Day and the producer of her eponymous '60scom. A related bit of Hollywood history is that mismanagement by the then-husband of Day forces her to do the program. The final note is that all this reflects the que sera sera philosophy for which Day is well known.
The Tate killings and other felony-murders by family members in the same period receive surprisingly little screen time in "Helter."
The subsequent focus on the investigation of the aforementioned crimes (including the LaBianca murders) reflects "Helter" being the work of a prosecutor. Another strong reference point is that the military-style raids on Manson Family homesteads evoke thoughts of the more recent confrontation at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.
This all begins when common elements of the crimes cause light bulbs to belatedly go off in the heads of law-enforcement folks. This leads to the national obsession trials of Manson and his family. Manson insisting on defending himself will trigger memories for folks old enough to recall these proceedings.
Seeing how Bugliosi builds his cases is fascinating to both true-crime and television procedural fans. This includes get cooperation from Charles "Tex" Watson and other inner circle members. These sessions also provide a good narrative technique to provide a more detailed look at the commissions of the crimes. Learning more about the killing of Tate highlights her caring nature and the degree to which the Manson controls his followers.
Gray ending "Helter" with the standard "where are they now" inter-titles is predictable. The depth in terms of the included family members and level of detail regarding their fates goes well above and beyond the typical made-for-TV (or even theatrical) film.
Warner Archive does what it does best regarding the Blu-ray release of the 1947 noir film "Dark Passage" starring the Humphrey Bogarts. This film is among the cult classics from the Golden and Silver Ages of Hollywood that comprise a significant portion of the Archive catalog. We further get the good remastering for which Archive is known, The final piece is the bonus features that Archive typically provides and that always are excellent when they do.
"Passage" writer/director Delmar Daves of "such films" as "Destination Tokyo" and "A Summer Place" does well by Bogart and Bacall by providing them a good story and literally expert direction. The latter commences with most of the first roughly 30-minutes of the film being POV shots from the perspective of Bogart character Vincent Parry. A particularly memorable example of this is an early shot in which Parry is rolling down a hill in a barrel.
"Passage" opens minutes after Parry makes a prison break that is a not-so-great escape from San Quentin. Exposition in the form of a news bulletin heard on the car radio of good Samaritan Baker (former Little Rascal Clifton Young) tells the audience that Parry until recently being a guest of the state is because of a conviction for killing his wife.
Baker and Parry soon parting ways leads to a fateful encounter between Parry and sympathetic heiress Irene Jansen (Bacall). An essentially "come with me if you want to live" moment leads to the pair enduring challenging gauntlets before Parry obtains asylum in the luxurious San Francisco apartment of Jansen.
The intrusion of acerbic, cruel, and ruthless Madge (Agnes Moorehead of "Bewitched" playing to type) and unlucky-in-love Bob (character actor Bruce Bennett) further stir the potboiler. Madge coincidentally is the one whom Parry threw away, and Bob is the ex of Madge and currentish of Irene. On a basic level, the pair separately and collectively calling on Jansen while Parry is her house guest complicates things far beyond being potential witnesses to his presence.
The next noirish bit that comes out is that Jansen is a long=term member of Team Parry. We learn that she feels that the conviction of her father for a crime that is completely unrelated to the murder of the late Mrs. Parry is the source of Jansen attending the trial of Parry and a significant factor regarding her conclusion that his conviction is wrongful. Her being near San Quentin at the time of the break, learning of that unauthorized early parole, and making the deduction that leads to her finding the fugitive all are the type of coincidences that make noir entertaining.
The perspective changes when another chance encounter leads to Parry undergoing mob-style plastic surgery that the (reviewed) biodrama "Young Dillinger" indicates is a real thing. Not previously showing the face of Parry in "Passage" solves the problem of Bogart not looking like himself in the period before the procedure that results in his having the face that only a cinephile (and Bacall) can love.
A subsequent encounter with a former acquaintance ultimately changes everything for Parry and leads to a dramatic confrontation that also has both good and bad results for this wanted man. The manner in which Daves stages this shows why he earns the big bucks.
The final five minutes or so of "Passage" particularly aptly highlight the exceptional chemistry that shows why Bogie and Bacall warrant having it all.
The highlight of the aforementioned special features is mini-documentary "Hold Your Breath and Cross Your Fingers." This short discusses "Passage" in general with an emphasis on the location shooting; as aspect of this is stating how the beginning of the end of the studio system affects taking film crews and casts on field trips. We also hear a little about the career of Bacall and her relationship with Bogart. The highlights include having the late great Robert Osborne and film critic extraordinaire Leonard Maltin being the primary talking heads.
An even more entertaining bonus is the 1947 Bugs Bunny cartoon "Slick Hare." This one parodies both the real-life Mocambo nightclub in Los Angeles and the equally actual celebrity patrons of that establishment. A cartoon Bogart fully employing his tough-guy persona to get waiter Elmer Fudd to improvise when the club runs out of rabbit, The typical mayhem ensues and ends with Bugs expressing love that hold true in 2018.
The numerous awesome aspects of the Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1979 scifiromdramedy "Time After Time" hinders deciding where to begin, The audio commentary provides a good starting point both because it reflects the exceptional track record of Archive regarding getting principals of a film into the sound booth decades after a theatrical release and because these extras are an important part of film history. Star Malcolm McDowell and writer/director Nicholas Meyer team up this time to provide the "true Hollywood story" of this classic.
The musings in the commentaries are comparable to Hollywood royalty attending the annual TCM Film Festival; both provide a chance to get insights from the lions' mouths before they pass away. Thinking of Adam Sandler and Robert Downey, Jr. being the TCM headliners is enough to strike dread in the hearts of cinephiles, The practiced preaching this time is having attended the 2017 festival.
Another very special aspect of "Time" is that this tale of scifi writer/social activist H.G. Wells (MCDowell) using his 19th-century time-machine to pursue Jack the Ripper (David Warner) from Victorian England to 1979 San Francisco is part of a scifi renaissance of the era. "Time" can arguably thank the "Star Trek" OS films (Meyer is a writer/director or "II") , "Star Wars," and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" for being greenlit.
The cred. of "Time" includes winning three Saturn awards and the USA National Board of Review naming it one of the Top 10 Films of 1979.
It is worth noting as well that the amped up audio and video of Blu-ray particularly enhances the bright on-location San Francisco scenes, the 70slicious special effects when the time machine is being used, and the mood-setting soundtrack. One of the most cool moments is watching the machine travel through a subspace-style dimension accompanied by audio from the eras that is is passing.
Our story begins in Victorian England with Jack the Ripper cutting the night of a lady of the evening short. Meanwhile, Wells is entertaining gentlemen callers when Dr. John Leslie Stevenson literally arrives late to the party. The next few minutes allowing anyone with enough grey matter to solve a "Scooby-Doo" mystery both to figure out that Stevenson is the Ripper and how things are destined to play out does not (ala "Columbo") diminish the joy related to seeing how we get there,
Stevenson soon puts the bragging of Wells regarding his new solar-powered ride to good use by jacking the time machine to escape to 1979 San Francisco, which also is the 1986 destination of the Enterprise crew. This is not to mention that The City by the Bay is the ultimate destination of a "Trek" crew and a "Stargate" team that are lost in space trying to return home.
Social commentary enters the picture in the form of Wells considering his atonement for aiding and abetting Stevenson having the upside of seeing his envisioned Utopia of a world in which love is free, war is no more, and everyone is thriving and happy. Even 1979 audiences know that Wells is in for a rude awakening. One cannot imagine him being able to handle our 2018 existence.
An amusing aspect of the restrained wonder of Wells on encountering the tech. of the late '70s is that it looks primitive 39 years later. There are clunky landlines, huge counter-top microwaves, CRT televisions, and very outdated cars in which cassette players likely are considered luxury items.
McDowell particularly shines as Wells simultaneously tries to curb his enthusiasm regarding the plethora of modern marvels, focuses on not letting his mannerisms betray him, and does his best to properly respond to social cues.
The flip side is that Stevenson considers the '70s his Utopia. Making his point only requires flipping the channels when Wells initially tracks him down. Every network is showing war, contact sports, Yosemite Sam taking a dynamite blast to the face, etc. Similarly, Stevenson showing Wells his true colors makes it clear that the latter is bring an etiquette book to a knife fight.
Wells gets a less rude awakening on meeting liberated middle-management bank employee Amy Catherine Robbins. An interesting aspect of this is that Robbins portrayor Mary Steenburgen marries McDowell in 1980.
A slip of the tongue putting Amy at real risk of a slit of the throat makes things that much more personal for Wells. This leads to the inevitable showdown that concludes with the fate of Stevenson that is clear within 15 minutes of the beginning of "Time."
The marketing genius of this is that "Time" has something for everyone without emphasizing one element so much that it offends anyone.
'2 Stupid Dogs' V1 DVD: '90s Neomodern Approach to Retro Cartoons Proving Ground for Best 21st Century Animators
The Warner Archive August 14, 2018 three-disc DVD release of "2 Stupid Dogs" V1 coinciding with the (soon-to-be-reviewed) Blu-ray S2 release of the current CW edgy teen drama "Riverdale" is an iota of the buckets of proof that the Archive catalog extends far beyond DVDs of Golden Age films. As the "Warner Archive" category of this site shows, that distributor truly has something for everyone.
A post on a past Norman Rockwell Museum exhibit of Hanna-Barbera animation provides includes information that enhances appreciation for "Dogs." The gist of this is that the concept, the style, and the format of the 1993-95 TBS series "Dogs" pays homage to the Hanna-Barbera mid-60s "talking animals" fare with three shorts, as least one of which features the star anthropomomphic critter. This give ways to super hero fare that includes reviewed sets of "Space Ghost" and "Bird-Man" that the "Architects of Saturday Morning" produce in response to Spider-Man and his amazing friends invading the turf of Secret Squirrel and his peers.
Speaking of Squirrel, updated adventures of this cool 000 gadget inspector from the Golden Age of Bond occupy the center square of "Dogs." The tales (pun intended) of the titular talking canines sandwich the exploits of Squirrel.
The general idea of "Dogs" is that these nameless pals have hilarious misadventures that typically ensue as a result of the dachshund, who is the excitable "Little Dog," seeking food. Future "Everybody Loves Raymond" star Brad Garrett puts his trademark deadpan style to good use as the very chill sheep dog "Big Dog." For his part, Squirrel continues his tradition of battling the Bond-style super-villain of the week.
The retro vibe commences in cold opens in which legendary narrator/"Laugh-In" star Gary Owens announces developments that fit right in with the clips from that episode but that have nothing to do with the plots. Further retro fun comes via essentially "We'll be right back" and "We're back" bumpers that appear immediately before and after commercials during the broadcasts.
The following YouTube clip of the opening credits for "Dogs" illustrates (pun intended) the '50s/early '60s animation style of the series.
The animation-yet-to-come aspects of "Dogs" is just as amazing as its nod to the past. Creator Donovan Cook goes on to bring us the edgy and subversive "Duckman" starring Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld." The other "Cooks" include Genndy Tartakovsky of subsequent "Dexter's Laboratory" fame and "Powerpuff Girls" "dad" Craig McCracken, The influence of "Dogs" on these series extends beyond the similar drawing visual style and overall tone. "Powerpuff" fans will recognize the exaggerated sound effects that are more prominent in the later series.
The modern sensibility is apparent right at the outset with "Door Jam" in the first episode. The tin can of Big Dog rolling behind an electric eye door of a department store leads to Little Dog concluding that getting the door to open requires wearing shoes. The genuine hilarity that ensures includes a trip to a strip club in which Little Dog urges the human "exotic dancer" to take off her high heels,
A notable later change-of-pace episode has a geeky elementary school boy bringing the dogs in for Show and Tell. The absurd approach of Little Dog regarding getting down off a coatroom hook demonstrates how our boys get labelled as stupid. A later back-view scene in which the aforementioned dork proves to his peers that Little Dog is a boy in a manner that traumatizes the pooch establishes that these are not your father's Hanna-Barbera cartoons; not that there is anything wrong with that.
One more typical outing has the dogs having an incredible winning streak while in Vegas for a hot-dog buffet. One with a nice bit of edge with a great surprise ending has pursuit of ice cream leading to our temporary far-out space nuts launching a space shuttle.
The primary manner in which Squirrel shows that he is all grown-up is that his sadistic treatment of nerdy sidekick Morocco Mole is much more overt than in the earlier incarnation of their adventures. This begins with making fun of a temporary lisp and coercing him into donning a wig in their initial adventure. Their nemesis this time is Goldflipper, who is using a very powerful magnet to extract gold teeth from victims.
A "nuts" joke is apt regarding Squirrel facing Queen Bea involving an effort to pollinate. A tamer but very clever outing has 000 using his brains rather than his toys to outwit a subatomic bad guy named Quark. The outcome should endear "Squirrel" to both Trekkies and Trekkers.
The special feature is a series of "2 Stupid Facts Collection" that are amusing short shorts that provide filler.
'Village of the Damned' Blu-ray: Masterful Restoration of Thrilling Tale of Immaculate Misconception
Warner Archive provides a good candidate for a Saturday Thriller Theater matinee with the July 31, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1960 classic British horror movie "Village of the Damned." Speaking from personal experience, folks who already own the "Damned" DVD will love the greatly enhanced video and audio of this remastered release. The contrast is much sharper, you literally can see every detail, and the audio that helps set the creepy tone is crystal clear,
The most awesome thing about "Damned" from a modern perspective is that it is a probable inspiration for most Stephen King fare. (It also is recalled that "The Simpsons" parodies "Damned" once or more.) The English rural village of Midwich stands in for the small Maine communities that attract big bads in King novels, Also ala King, a sudden eerie event early in "Damned" triggers the ensuing well-crafted terror.
"Damned" opens innocently enough with man of letters Gordon Zellaby having a routine telephone conversation with brother-in-law Major Alan Bernard (Michael Gwynn). The aforementioned surprise occurence is Gordon suddenly seemingly dropping dead. The typically British response of Alan is puzzlement but not especially strong concern; he merely mentions to his superior that his duties are taking him near Midwich and that he would like to ensure that the husband of his wife is not a rotting corpse.
On arriving at the outskirts of Midwich later that day, Alan discovers that the area is littered with people who apparently fell in their tracks. Gordon and his neighbors subsequently waking up does not lead to any explanation for the mass narcolepsy.
The real fun begins on the townfolks learning that Gordon spouse Anthea (Barbara Shelley) and every other woman physically capable of giving birth has a hot-cross bun in the oven. Trauma and drama ensues regarding women such as the "innocent" who claims that she "has never been touched" and the wife whose husband is on a year-long absence when she receives news of the impending birth.
An abbreviated gestation period and the little surprises physically maturing at an accelerated rate are additional early indications of something weird. The good people of Midwich also soon learn that other communities are having a similar phenomenon.
Early indications of sinister elements occur when the kids likely are biologically in their terrible twos but seem like roughly 10 year-olds. These youngsters having straight platinum blonde hair, blank stares, a creepy voice pattern, and ability to make their eyes glow begin boldly demonstrating their abilities to read minds and to use mind control to exact revenge on those who purposely or inadvertently do them wrong do not endear them to their elders . The only disappoint in "Damned" is a girl being stopped from putting a bully in his place.
Popular (and talented) British child actor of the era Martin Stephens plays leader of the wolf pack David Zellaby. He shows far more poise and understanding of his role than adult thespians. You really would not like him when he is angry.
The underlying dilemma is that the kids simply want to protect themselves and to understand what makes us foolish mortals tick. The related problems are that the kids merely looking and behaving weird is a large strike against them. Their lack of hesitancy to use their powerful mind-control powers to inflict karma on those who harm or otherwise mistreat them is an additional issue.
The "enemy" both being children and coming from the women of the village complicates things; their practice of attacking only when provoked is another factor, The Cold War era of the film is reflected regarding the underlying consideration being that the threat seemingly is currently controllable. The debate includes whether to imprison, kill, or find another option regarding the menace.
The Superman element is finding the equivalent of Kryptonite in dealing with a foe that literally knows your every thought and can directly turn your attack against you. The fact that there is the sequel "Children of the Damned" indicates the effectiveness of the final assault. One need not be a mind reader to anticipate that Archive is releasing a Blu-ray of the sequel by the end of 2018.
The Warner Archive July 17, 2018 DVD release of the 1965 bio-noir film "Young Dillinger" is part of the recent biopics leitmotif of some new additions to the Archive catalog. These include the (reviewed) John Huston directed Paul Newman bio-western "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean."
Nick Adams of the television series "The Rebel" stars as the titular Depression Era Public Enemy Number One who is a weak-willed young man in love when we first meet him. Former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley stars as rich girl femme fatale Elaine, who starts our boy on his life of crime before becoming his moll.
These small-town young lovers ala Jack and Diane of the John Cougar Mellencamp song of the same name are dreaming of wedded bliss when Elaine suggests robbing the safe of her father to finance their elopement and subsequent new life. Her method of persuasion includes that Daddy will not prosecute them if they get caught.
One interesting aspect of this is the ambiguity regarding the motives of Elaine. She seems more interested in escaping a privileged but dull life and in sticking one to Daddy then in becoming Mrs. Public Enemy Number One.
A reluctant Dillinger goes along; the heist hitting a snag provides him his first taste of clearly liked violence., A subsequent confrontation with a not especially peaceful justice of the peace and his brutish wife turns Dillinger into a rebel with a cause. This also leads to the first of several police chases.
The honeymoon that Dillinger and Elaine are enjoying without benefit of marriage is cut short when the cops knock at the door and begin searching for their ill-gotten booty. Doing this without benefit of a warrant or a warning illustrates how search-and-seizure requirements have evolved since that era.
Dillinger once again proves himself to be a sap in agreeing to chivalrously take the full rap for the caper. The outcome justifies adding reassurances from a dame or her old man to statements regarding a promise of help from the government and pledges of agreeing to stop before completion if provided oral gratification to the list of particularly big lies.
Dillinger soon falls in with a bad crowd, who manipulate him just as effectively as Elaine does, This leads to his facilitating a prison break and subsequently going into business with "Pretty Boy" Floyd (Robert Conrad) and "Baby Face" Nelson. By this time, Dillinger is fully feeling the effects of the literal and the figurative hard knocks he is enduring.
Wonderful camp includes Dillinger meeting the brains of the operation, This portion of the film in which the gang plans their next job clearly shows where writers of pulp fiction and B-movies of the era get their inspiration.
Even tastier cheese comes when a sleazy doctor manipulates Elaine into taking morphine so that he can receive payment-in-kind for the procedure that he is performing on an incapacitated Dillinger.
Dillinger fared better regarding having one of the best ever reasons for not putting a ring on it; this involves reminding how making an honest woman out of his partner-in-crime likely will lead to a long-distance marriage.
The brilliance of all this is that "Dillinger" use a true story of a good boy turned bad as the basis for the type of social commentary film that addresses youthful offenders and related ills. The chases and gun fights simply makes it fun for the kids.
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean: Paul Newman in Star-Studded John Huston Bio-Western of Hanging Judge Dispensing Frontier Justice
Warner Archive continues following leitmotifs with two recent releases of docu-dramas about nefarious types. A separate post on the DVD release of the 1965 bio-noir film "Young Dillinger" chronicles the progression of noted Depression-era gangster John Dillinger from lovestruck hick to hardened criminal. Our current topic is the exceptionally remastered Blu-ray of the 1972 bio-western "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean."
Paul "Butch Cassidy" Newman plays the titular self-appointed jurist, who brings law and other elements of civilization to the frontier west of the Pecos River in 19th-century Texas. Comparing that territory to the unsettled land beyond the Appalachian Mountains during colonial days a century earlier provides a good perspective. Fellow Hollywood royalty John Huston directs.
The recent (personally mourned) passing of matinee idol (and gracious man who thanks reviewers for interviews) Tab Hunter warrants discussing his cameo as killer Sam Dodd. Hunter largely is physically unrecognizable under the dirt, hat, beard, and long hair. He is even less recognizable playing a guy who richly deserves hanging. His moment in the spotlight in the form of a voice-over monologue that many characters get is one of the best in the film.
The Hunter connection extends to his real-life former secret boyfriend Anthony Perkins playing Rev. John LaSalle. Perkins utilizes his quirky persona well in portraying this frontier minister.
The overall theme of this movie seems to be that any similarity between it and the adventures of the real-life Bean are purely coincidental.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Bean" nicely shows that westerns are much more than cattle stampedes and high noon showdowns.
"Bean" opens with a here come da judge moment in the form of the man of the two hours riding into Vinegaroon, Texas to provide his form of justice. His first case literally puts him in the position of judge, jury and executioner.
Newman soon better demonstrates his well-known gruff charm on settliung down a little bit in several senses of the word and setting up shop in the local saloon/brothel. He further makes this place a shrine to stage actress Lillie Langtry with whom Bean is obsessed.
The Langtry element is especially strong in one segment in which Bean travels to the big city of San Antonio to see her perform. She further has a perfect role in the epilogue that cleverly wraps up our story.
The early scenes also establish the unorthodox method that Bean uses to hire marshals. His issuing a judicial decision in what can be considered the Hos for Bros case has an element of the vintage television dramedy "Here Come the Brides." Future "Dallas" star Victoria Principal plays the booty call babe who becomes the lady of every evening after a form of shotgun wedding that involves a Mexican standoff.
Other exceptional casting has Roddy McDowall playing to type as perpetually uptight and peeved attorney Frank Gass with a valid claim on what essentially is an actual Beantown. Bean soon putting Gass in accommodations that only provide the bare necessities sets the stage for conflict that ultimately leads to a dramatic confrontation.
More fun comes via having Ned Beatty play barman/right-hand man/father figure Tector Crites. One spoiler is that none of the frontier justice that Bean dispenses includes making Beatty squeal.
Huston has a cameo as real-life historical figure John "Grizzly" Adams. The amazing on-screen chemistry between Huston and Newman makes their interaction one of the best scenes in the film. Adams becoming unbearable is a perfect touch.
Stacy Keach gets to play in the role of fictional psychotic gunfighter Bad Bob, He does make Tector squeal, and his literal calling out Bean for a showdown proves the truth of the saying "no guts no glory."
The combination of the richness of the copious source material and the talent of the "who's who" (and other stars) cast mentioned above is why "Bean" succeeds so well. The real Bean is larger than life, the wild west is the stuff of which fiction is still made of 150 years after this era, and Texas has an equally grand tradition of tall tales. This become actual gold in the hands of masters such as Huston and the worst form of fool's gold in the hands of one-trick ponies such as Seth MacFarlane, who rely on crude humor.
The Warner Archive DVD release of the early Mark Hamill film "Corvette Summer" makes a PERFECT '70s film available to 21st century audiences. At the outset, this movie that is billed as a comedy is amusing but has the gritty look and dramatic overtone of similarly billed fare of the era. A good example of this is the (soon-to-be-reviewed) Archive release of the Peter Falk "comedy" "...All the Marbles."
Seeing Hamill play moderately sullen L.A. white-trash recent high-school graduate Kenneth W. Dantley, Jr. is amusing regarding his phenomenal fame as Luke Skywalker. Seeing that he has 321 roles on his IMDb profile compared to Michael Caine having 169 parts listed is amazing.
The opening scenes of "Corvette" evoke strong memories of the Sid and Marty Krofft live-action Saturday morning series "Wonderbug" for children of the '70s. Newly minted high-school senior Ken and his fellow auto-shop students (including a boy whom a slimmed-down Danny Bonaduce of "Partridge Family" fame portrays) are at a car graveyard looking for a car to spend the year rebuilding. A variation of divine intervention calls the attention of Ken to the titular Stingray, which is minutes away from being flattened. Of course, Ken rescues this piece of junk in the nick of time.
The '80s vibe of these scenes and of the subsequent montage and other action over the next 12 months of reel-time is of "The Greatest American Hero." That one also starts with a father-figure teacher to a group of under-achieving losers taking his kids on a life-changing field trip.
"Smokey and the Bandit" and "Breaking Away" moments come later in "Corvette."
Ken experiences the absolute worst nightmare of any new car owner when his wheels are stolen the first time that Teach takes the kids on a field trip to take turns driving the 'Vette on the strip, Ken much later learning more about the circumstances of the theft provides the best twist in the film.
The diligent efforts of Ken to find his baby leads to a tip that put him on the road to Las Vegas; the subsequent multiple ways in which he loses his innocence illustrates the meaning of the term "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." One disappointing aspect of the film for fans with less-than-pure hearts is that this coning-of-age does not include a "Midnight Jedi" experience for Ken. The audience similarly learns that yelling at Ken to use the Jedi mind trick is futile.
The Sin City adventure begins in earnest when aspiring lady of the evening (and afternoon and morning) Vanessa (Annie Potts) picks up a hitchhiking Ken on the road to Vegas. The best moments regarding Vanessa involve separate occasions on which Ken effectively pays two-bits for services rendered and she literally takes a whore's bath.
The arrival in Vegas finds Ken on his own and looking for his car; the good news is that he has reason to hope for a a reunion; the bad news is that his rite-of-passage includes living rough. His subsequent reunion with Vanessa further makes his life a little better.
This leads to Ken being persuaded to go over to the dark side; his Yoda not being a righteous dude increases the odds that our boy will not see the light.
This being a '70s film (rather that a light '80s teencom) makes it likely (but uncertain) that the final scenes will be of Ken and Vanessa running out of a Vegas wedding chapel and driving away in the Stingray with a "Just Married" sign on the back of the car and tin cans tied to the rear bumper. The sad truth is that real-life D students with deprived childhoods almost never get Hollywood endings.
Warner Archive makes July 24, 2018 a day that will live in infinity (and beyond) with the (reviewed) separate but equal Blu-ray release of the universal cut (with bonus DVD of the director's cut) of "Supergirl" and the DVD release of the 1943 Errol Flynn WWII drama "Edge of Darkness." This nail-biter stars the dashing Flynn as Norwegian fisherman Gunnar Brogge who leads the resistance effort of his small town against the Nazi occupation. The depth this time comes in the form of the character studies of the townfolks.
"Darkness" opens in a thoroughly modern manner in that German aviators flying over the aforementioned burg make an observation that prompts a closer look. That leads to an investigation in which it is discovered that streets literally are littered with dead German soldiers and that the same is true regarding a hotel that we soon learn is the former local German army headquarters,
The 21st-century movie aspect comes next when the action shifts backwards several weeks. Gunnar, and Karen Stensgard (Ann Sheridan), who is the main squeeze of Gunnar and the daughter of town doctor Martin Stensgard (Walter Huston), are keeping a low profile while waiting for news of a shipment of guns from the British army.
Martin Stensgard is not so fond of the Nazis but is staying neutral, his wife Anna (Ruth Gordon) is dazed and confused, and son Johann (John Beale) is a low-level collaborator who arrives home from Oslo in the middle of the film. Cannery owner Kaspar Torgerson (Charles Dingle) is the friendly collaborator who also is the brother of Anna.
An amusing element of "Darkness" is a connection with the sequel to the '*80s comedy film "Mannequin." "Mannequin on the Move" (1987). The titular store display in "Move" is from the Bavarian kingdom of Hauptmann Koening, which is the name of the German commander in the "Darkness" town.
The prelude to the primary action in "Darkness" is a nearby town getting the aforementioned allied support. The resulting armed conflict with the Nazis not ending well for the villagers provides some neighbors of Gunnar to believe that resistance is futile.
The tension mounts as the Germans amp up their defenses against an anticipated attack by the occupied. Things fully come to a head when the occupiers make an example of a local who stands up to them.
Oscar-winning director Lewis Milestone ("All Quiet on the Western Front") superbly orchestrates the ensuing melee in which the Germans figuratively (and presumably literally) lose their feces in direct proportion to the villagers becoming emboldened. These events also reignite feels of revulsion regarding a report of a particular atrocity that supports the understated observation that Nazis are not nice.
The first larger perspective this time is the fascinating look at where the villagers fall along the Kinsey Scale of collaboration, One can understand how folks such as Gunnar and Karen feel obliged to mount active resistance and others such as Martin Stensgard choose to simply wait things out. It even is understandable that folks like Johann present an appearance of cooperation. Full-on collaborators such as Kaspar have more 'splainin' to do.
A cooler larger perspective is the parallel with the American Revolution. The patriot militia is like that of the villagers in that they are an informally organized covert group literally outgunned by a larger and formally organized and trained occupying enemy.
Archive further excels in outdoing itself regarding the always exceptional special features in its releases. The treat this time is a plethora of vintage shorts grouped under "Warner Night at the Movies." We get two cartoons, the theatrical trailer for "Darkness" and "The Hard Way," a newsreel, and other equally good retro fare.
The summer blues cure that the Warner Archive July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 1982-83 third season of the CBS hitcom "Alice" provides is roughly 20-minute morsels of "unreal" entertainment until the fare that passes for 21st-century network sitcoms return in September. The integrity of Archive extends to including a few episodes produced for S7 that air in other seasons.
This workplace comedy set in greasy spoon Mel's Diner aptly serves up tasty "junk food" that still satisfies after so many visits to the same joint. The quality is consistent and enjoyable to the extent that you look forward to returning for another meal the next week.
The titular waitress is Jersey girl Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin) on an extend detour from her move to La La Land to seek fame and fortune as a singer. Alice being an actual (rather than a grass) widow is one nod of this '80scom to the sitcoms from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
One big S7 change for Alice is that teen son Tommy (Philip McKeaon) is making her a quasi-empty nester by being a freshman at nearby Arizona State University. The proximity of that school to Phoenix facilitates Tommy keeping up his "Hi Mom," "Hi Mel," etc. routine as he strolls into the diner with his most recent adolescent problem.
The owner of thew eponymous eatery is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable cheapskate Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback). Things do not change much for him in S7. He still faces losing the diner for one reason or another, He additionally continues snatching defeat from the jaws of victory regarding opportunities for an improved lifestyle. These include an executive position with a catering company and a treasure hunt in the diner.
Fan favorite "dinghy" waitress Vera Louise Gorman ("Beth Howland") largely is in the background this season. Her big adventures include getting her own hope for a better life and having her "radical" past come back to haunt her. Of course, she gets through her difficulties with a little help from her friends.
Sassy hillbilly Jolene Hunnicutt (Celia Weston) continues her efforts to fill the shoes of uberfan fave Texan Flo, who leaves earlier in the series for a spinoff. Jolene has her own variation of Flo catchphrase "when donkeys fly" and further channels Flo in directing unprovoked zingers at Mel.
The regular "A Listers" who appear as themselves and other household names who show up in character greatly distinguishes "Alice" from the competition. This begins with the S7 premiere in which Debbie Reynolds plays Golden Age film star Felicia Blake. The "sit" this time is that Mel believes that he is the man to whom Felicia refers in her recent memoir that includes the story of a highly memorable kiss. "Com" fully ensues when Felicia comes to the diner to reunite with the one who got away.
An oddly dazed-looking Joel Grey appears as himself in a special two-part episode about Alice appearing in a local music revue. The "com" this time relates to Mel outdoing "The Producers" in his sabotage of the production., Springtime for Sharples truly is winter for Hyatt and Grey.
We also get former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon to give Tommy a pep talk.
The "B Listers" include Richard Deacon of "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" as the owner of aforementioned catering company and future "Star Trek: Voyager" doctor Robert Picardo in an increasingly regular role as a local cop. We further get a cameo by "Night Court" star Richard Moll.
The nicest thing about this set is that it shows that "Alice" has not jumped the shark. No cute young Cousin Oliver joins the cast to offset McKeaon aging, we do not get a stunts wedding, and any upward mobility becomes a reversal of fortune before the final credits commence,
Warner Archive once again provides an interesting film history lesson with the May 8, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1950 noir "Gun Crazy." This entertaining morality tale on gun violence is a prime example of pulp fiction sociology tales, such as "Blackboard Jungle," from early Baby Boomer days,
The central victim of society this time is problem child Bart Tare (John Dall). The awesome opening scenes have a crazed teen Tare (Russ Tamblyn of "West Side Story" and the reviewed "Son of a Gunfghter") being drenched in the rain when his eyes glaze over on seeing a revolver in a hardware store window. This leads to one of the clumsiest reel-life burglary attempts ever.
The action then shifts to one of the most inadvertently amusing judicial proceedings in film history. A kindly judge is responding to the need to talk about Bart by conducting a trial in which there apparently is no prosecutor, no defense attorney, and no guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of this orphan who is living with roughly 18 year-old engaged sister Ruby.
It is equally amusing that the judge allows Ruby, buddies of Tare, and his kindly teacher to testify without any prior notice and without taking any form of oath. The gist of all their statements is that Bart is obsessed with guns but that a traumatic experience picking off a chick eliminates any possibility of his being a threat to himself or others.
Bittersweet humor comes via the testimony of the teacher, She shares the story of entering the classroom to find the students surrounding Tare because of the revolver that he brought for show-and-tell. Her confrontation of him is calm, and the incident concludes without any mayhem or bloodshed. This illustrates one way that things have deteriorated in the 68 years since the debut of "Crazy," which looks and sounds brand-new in Blu-ray.
Particularly blatant sociology enters the picture on the judge carefully explaining to Bart that a reform school sentence is intend to be for his own good, rather than to punish him. The unspoken aspect of this is that the rationale for the decision is completely irrelevant regarding the wisdom of quiet and quirky Bart accepting the inevitable by showing up at juvie with a Catholic school skirt and a large supply of lipstick and other makeup. There is no doubt that he will end up in the bottom bunk.
The action quickly moves forward 10 years to a happy and well-adjusted Tare testing the theory that you cannot go home again. The aforementioned chums, who respectively are a respected newspaper journalist and the new sheriff in town, welcome him with open arms.
The friends inviting Tare to a carnival turns out to be as ill-advised as unwittingly handing an alcoholic a Jager Bomb. This outing leads to attending a sharpshooting demonstration by modern-day Annie Oakley Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins). The primary problem is that this femme fatale is more of a natural-born killer than a Wrangler Jane.
A series of seemingly fortunate incidents leads to Tare and Starr hitting the road and his quickly agreeing that he should make an honest woman of her. The problem is that (akin to the presumed hierarchy while Tare is a guest of the state) Starr clearly wears the pants in the family.
This dominance extends to Starr coercing Tare into a Bonnie and Clyde style travelling crime spree. Although she keeps up that end of the bargain, Starr soon breaks the vow to not kill anyone in the line of booty. One such death involving Starr literally wearing pants has strong symbolic value.
The Bonnie and Clyde vibe extends to our couple hiding out with family; the symbolism here relates to clearly showing that Tare cannot be pulled back from the darkside and to the extent to which Starr is ruthless.
Of course, this leads to a dramatic chase and subsequent shootout. The morality tale aspect continues with Tare and Starr facing the inevitable fate of all those who live by the gun,. They ether end up behind bars or six-feet under.
The Blu-ray special features include the documentary "Film-Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light" and commentary by noir expert Glenn Erickson.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1942 George M. Cohan bio-musical "Yankee Doodle Dandy" starring James Cagney as the titular patriot is a recent edition to the impressive Archive BD library of classic musicals.
Unreal TV has reviewed the release of the 1962 Doris Day musical "Billy Rose's Jumbo"and shared thoughts regarding "Hit the Deck." A review of the BD release of "Pete Kelly's Blues" starring Jack Webb is scheduled for the week of December 15, 2014."
"Dandy," which covers the life of song-and-dance/composer Cohan literally from his birth on July 4 (though records indicate that he was born the day before), 1878 until just before his 1942 death, is one of the more macho musicals ever made. Seeing the chorus boys in the plethora of recreations of the grand numbers for which Cohan is famous look more like chorus men is amusing from a 2014 perspective.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the original trailer for "Dandy" shows all that is special about the film. Further, the portion devoted to promoting the musical numbers is awesomely reminiscent of the cheesy (often greatest hits) records that '70s television advertised.
The film opens on a 1942 evening with Cohan being called from the theater where he is depicting FDR to meet with the real big deal in the White House. The next roughly 100 minutes consists of Cagney-introduced flashbacks telling POTUS the story of the entire life of arguably the most patriotic performer of the early 20th century.
One underlying theme in "Dandy" is "the family that plays together stays together." Young actors portray Cohan traveling and performing with his parents and sister from Cohan being a toddler right through adulthood. This includes a scene with the entire family doing a number in blackface that is unfortunate by today's standards.
A highlight from that era of Cohan's life (and from the film itself) is seeing the already large ego of a roughly 10 year-old Cohan swelling even more on starring in play called "Peck's Bad Boy." The series of comeuppances that immediately follow a performance truly are must-see.
The audience also learns of the circumstances of the breakup of the family troupe and the subsequent rise to fame that Cohan experiences. Discovering that some genuine chestnuts such as "Give My Regards to Broadway" are Cohan compositions is as fun as seeing spectacular stagings of songs, such as "Dandy" and "You're A Grand Old Flag" that modern audiences more closely associate with Cohan.
Other highlights include a 39 year-old Cohan trying to enlist in the Army to fight in The Great War (a.k.a. World War I) and an older Cohan contending with sassy teens who are unaware of his work.
Archive facilitates describing the awesome job that Cagney does with his role by quoting the statement in a Pauline Kael review that "Cagney is so cocky and sure a dancer that you feel yourself grinning with pleasure at his movements." The same is true regarding his entire performance.
The aptly described "Star-Spangled Extras" include (and go way beyond) a documentary on making "Dandy" and a Leonard Maltin-hosted recreation of a night at the movies in 1942. The latter includes the trailer for "Casablanca," a newsreel consisting entirely of WWII propaganda, a short, and a hilarious Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Not only do they not make 'em like "Dandy" anymore, not many home-video companies invest the care and love that Archive devotes to making the BD such a spectacular tribute. "Dandy," Cohan, and Cagney truly deserve no less.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Dandy" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
The void that the Warner Archive June 26, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1961 Sergio Leone gladiator film "The Colossus of Rhodes" fills in this meh season of summer movies is for a big-budget action-adventure spectacular that is the guiltiest of pleasures. Fans of spaghetti westerns know that Leone goes on to make the Clint Eastwood "Dollars" trilogy and similar fare.
A technical note is that this epic with a cast of 1,000s of extras is crystal clear and has perfect sound in Blu-ray; the bigger picture is that Archive never fails to deliver regarding its remastering of films.
The titular Rhodesian idol is a mammoth statue that the current (but not necessarily future) monarch has slave labor construct for the dual purposes of representing his great power and to express "don't fuck with me boys; this isn't my first rodeo" to any visitor who harbors (of course, pun intended) an ill intent. All of this occurs on the Mediterranean island of Rhodes (presumably Mypos adjacent) in 280 B.C.
One of best early scenes has a clumsy regicide attempt turn sour on the would-be assassin. This leads to the hero of the film learning words literally to live by.
Greek soldier/Athenian war hero Dario (Rory Calhoun) gets the proverbial more than he bargains for while on the island initially as a guest of the state in a positive sense of that term. A faction that is attempting a coup d'isle make an initial snatch-and-grab effort that proves that you do not bring an ornamental pillar to a dagger fight.
Dario subsequently discovering that he is a guest of Hotel Rhodes in that he can check out but can never leave prompts him to rely on the kindness of a stranger who carries a torch for him. This leads to an ancient version of the Boat People of Cuba. The humor this time relates to our military genius belatedly learning that he is being shanghaied. He just wants to get home, and his hosts want him to deliver a strong message.
The aforementioned colossus soon serves one of its purposes in raining on the plans of the would-be fleers. This results in an incredibly sadistic torture scene that shows both for whom the bell tolls and that the powers-that-be have ways of making Dario talk. We also soon learn that the threat to the the current power structure is more serious and widespread than initially believed.
The background of all this is that the local populace obtains an increasingly strong sense that the new gigantic addition in the harbor and other factors has made the gods crazy mad; the ultimate lesson is similar to the one that is imposed on Pompeii that you do not fuck with Zeus.
A common element throughout all this is the wrestling and close-contact battling between muscular tanned (oft hairy chested) men wearing tunics with plunging necklines and short skirts that makes the line from "Airplane" "Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?" so amusing,
Folks who wish to learn more about "Rhodes" can listen to the commentary by film historian Christopher Frayling that is a Blu-ray special feature,
Unreal TV 2.0 evolves from http://classictvdvdreviews.blogspot.com/ (which still is up.) Both sites are labors of love dedicated to preserving the golden and silver ages of television and film and celebrating new content that values art over commerce. The same principle applies regarding boutique hotels.