Thursday, June 01, 2006

whither roundup?

I know regular Shelfers have been asking themselves that very question, but never fear- we are here! This has been an unsually week here for us, and we are working on some special posts to come later- so stay tuned. In the meantime, let's get to it.
(Technical note: I have been having some issues with blogger and posting images. This edition of the media roundup will be presented without them, 'cause I am too frustrated to try and figure it out for the third day in a row. Apparently my lovely mug on my signature is the exception. Go figure. We hope you will forgive us, and that things will be back to normal later.)

Top Shelf Pick of the Week
Bette Davis Collection Vol. 2
I am not necessarily the greatest Bette Davis fan. I actually enjoy quite a bit of her early work, and some of her mid career films are incredible- but that depends on the film. Sometimes the director or co-stars don’t seem to quite gel with Bette; but there is no denying that she was one of the greatest actresses to have been on the big screen. When she was over the top, it is a little too much, in my opinion. When she was subtle and strong, she was phenomenal. Her work in films like Now, Voyager, Jezebel, and All About Eve attest to that fact. This collection includes several great films including Jezebel and The Man Who Came to Dinner that are some of my favorites, as well as the great bio- documentary Stardust (which we featured on The Shelf some weeks ago.) Other films in this collection are: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Marked Woman, and Old Aquaintance. I actually don’t care for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, but there is no denying the pop culture influence the film continues to have. Have you had dinner yet?

John Wayne: An American Icon
This is a great time to be a John Wayne Fan. Many of his films are already out on DVD, especially his Westerns. (A lot of his early "B" westerns can be also found on inexpensive DVDs). Next week we have what promises to be one of the best box sets to come down the piek in a long time. This week, not so much. But - that doesn’t mean this is a complete collection of clunkers. These are some of Wayne’s lesser known films when he was away from more familiar pastures and directors. However these films aren't exactly the creme of the crop, but they are an interesting look at Wayne in other roles. Just kinda overlook the Geghis Khan role. The films included are The Conqueror, Jet Pilot, Pittsburgh, Seven Sinners, and Shepherd Of The Hills.

Numb3rs: The Complete First Season
We don't often recommend current network television series, but we do like some shows that are out there- and this is one of them. I liked Rob Marrow in Northern Exposure and the film Quiz Show... and David Krumholtz was also good in Ray and The Santa Clause. And Peter MacNicol and Judd Hirsh are TV icons. All of this plus great scripts, good direction and the Scott brothers producing combine for a great FBI show, with a bit of a twist. Check it out.

Also this week some rereleases and special edition upgrades:
The Sacketts
Smokey and the Bandit Special Edition
The Rough Riders
Marilyn Monroe: 80th Anniversary Collection

Ralph Stanley: A Distant Land to Roam: Songs of the Carter Family
I will openly admit that I am not much of a country music fan. Especially modern country music. However, I am interested in regional folk music, mountain music, and some bluegrass. The music evokes haunting history, spiritual highs and lows and depths of the soul. Some music is almost the equivilant of a history book, or ancient lore passed on to a new generation around a fire. Maybe you know about or are a fan of the music of The Carter Family. Perhaps you are a Ralph Stanley or Stanley Brothers fan, or at least you have heard him on the O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack. (His accapela rendition of "O Death" is lonesome, evokative, and haunting. ) Either way, this CD is an interesting and delightful trip into the roots of American music. Southern Appalachian music has many ties with blues, jazz, and country music. If you would be willing to travel the journey back in time through those different musical threads, you can see the roots they share. Stanley's new album is a examination of the music of the Carter family - spirituals, prison blues, and plaintive songs about loss are present in this journey through the music of an important contribution to America's musical history.

TCM: (Check Local Listings for times)
June 2: Young and Innocent (1937) Early Hitchcock
June 3: The Four Marx Brothers bring their own particular brand of brilliant chaos to college football in Horse Feathers (1932). My Name Is Nobody (1974) starring Henry Fonda and Terence Hill. Later James Stewart, Jean Arthur, and Claude Rains operate the three ring circus that is Washington DC in Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).
June 4: The Nutty Professor (1963) Jerry Lewis' classic film. And a different kind of experiment gone ary in the silent version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920).
June 5: Lana Turner conspires with her lover to get rid of her husband in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) Red Skelton, Esther Williams, and Basil Rathbone make a mess of an all-girls boarding school in Bathing Beauty (1944).
June 6: Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray star in the immortal Double Indemnity (1944).

That's all for this edition of the roundup Shelfers. Prepare yourselves for some great stuff next week. Same Shelf time, same Shelf channel.

Marriage is a wonderful institution. But who wants to live in an institution?

Gentlemen, will you all now leave quietly, or must I ask Miss Cutler to pass among you with a baseball bat?

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