Tuesday, July 18, 2006
ready for the roundup tough guy?
Well, are ya' tough guy? You'd better be, cause we're busting out with the goods this week. Do you have what it takes to stick with us punk? You'd better, cause we're not taking any chumps along for the ride. That's the way we're playing it. We've got a lot of ground to cover, so you'd better hold your own. And don't go falling for no dame. They're no good I tell ya, no good! Next thing you know you'll slip up and we'll all be back in the clink. On second thought, maybe all dames ain't so bad. Things get all crazy in stir, ya know.
Top Shelf Pick of the Week!
Warner Brother's Tough Guys Collection
Otherwise known as Gangsters Vol. II, this great volume is destined to be right up there in our top ten box sets for 2006. We loved the Gangster's Collection, and WB Changed the name of this set in light of the fact that some of the films deal with G-Men and cops as well as gangsters; therefore: The Tough Guys Collection. The films in this set include:
Bullets or Ballots: Edward G. Robinson stars as a tough as nails cop who goes deep undercover in the gangworld to bring down some big heavies. Costarring Humphrey Bogart as the crime boss' top henchman who knows something is fishy with Robinson, and Joan Blondell as the mob girl turned good who helps Robinson.
City for Conquest : James Cagney is boxer who is hit with acid-laced gloves during a fight and tries to exact his revenge on the gangster who set it up, and is shot in the process. Visually impaired and handicapped, Cagney operates a newstand and uses it to finance his brother's musical education. Costars: Ann Sheridan, Anthony Quinn, and Donald Crisp. The film was cut when reissued in 1948, this is the original uncut 1940 version.
Each Dawn I Die: Cagney is a newspaper man wrongly convicted and sent to prison by a corrupt D.A.. While in jail, Cagney befriends a con played by George Raft who eventually helps him to prove his innocence.
G-Men: Cagney is back again as a young lawyer whose friend is killed in gangland attack. Cagney decides to become a government agent, a "G-Man", in order to bring the killers to justice and to destroy the gang. He isn't completely trusted, as his fellow G-Men discover that not only was his education financed by a rackateer who wanted to see Cagney rise above his poor cirumstances, but that old friends and old loves from the old neighborhood are involved in the underworld.
San Quentin: Pat O'Brian stars as a former Military officer who is brought in as a warden to tame the San Quentin prison. His tough tactics and military training help him do just that, but problems start when he falls for a girl (Ann Sheridan) who has a secret. Her secret? Her brother (Humphrey Bogart)is a prisoner in San Quentin. When the brother finds out about his sister, revenge and escape are on his mind.
A Slight Case of Murder: This is the oddball of the bunch. It's a comedy, but its a tough guy comedy, so to speak. Edward G. Robinson stars as a bootlegger trying to go legit after the repeal of Prohibition. Then the problems begin to pile on as his homemade brew doesn't sell, because it's terrible, he finds out that he is still being watched carefully by the cops, and a killer has dumped some corpses in his home.
Extras abound with Warner's Night at the Movies feature. Several cartoons,including Porky's Double Trouble and The Night Watchman, with musical and comedy shorts as well as newsreels and several Bobby Jones Golfing Shorts. There are also several featurettes and full length documentaries on Hollywood and Gangsters, Prohibition, and The Big House. Commentary is provided, of course, by several film historians. One welcome addition is the inclusion of some of the Warner Brother's end of the year blooper reels, called Breakdowns. Also included are several Lux Radio Theater adaptations of the films. This set is highly recommended. If you can buy just one right now, and you already own the John Ford/John Wayne Collection, make this your purchase- you will not be disappointed.
Film Noir Collection Vol. 3
If you already have the first two volumes in this series from Warner Brothers, you know what to expect. While Warner's pretty much mined most of the gold from their vaults for the first two Film Noir collections, there are still some gems here. One particular film of interest, especially for Raymond Chandler fans, is Lady in the Lake. Directed by and starring Robert Montgomery, the film is notable for it's first person camera perspective, telling Philip Marlowe's usually complicated tale of deceit and murder. Other films are: On Dangerous Ground, His Kind of Women, The Racket, and Forbidden Passage. WB also includes a sixth disc which has the feature lenght documentary Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light, and five shorts from the Crime Doesn't Pay series. I haven't seen the set yet, so I can't speak to several of the films. I have seen Lady in the Lake, and recommend it, especially to Marlowe fans. The first two collections were excellent, with some films that are wonderful discoveries for those, like myself, who hadn't seen them. We've been told the films are exclusive to the box set only, and will not be sold separately.
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and Jack of All Trades :The Complete Series
Fans of Bruce Campbell will very glad to see two of his short-lived television series are hitting DVD this week. If you aren't familiar with these two series, you are in for a treat. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. sadly only lasted one season, but left a huge fan base in it's wake. The series follows bounty hunter Brisco County Jr. and his highly intelligent horse Comet travel the west catching bad guys and completing secret missions given to him by government agent and tenderfoot, Socrates Poole. Brisco is intially rivaled by, then teamed up with fellow bounty hunter, Lord Bowler as Brisco seeks to bring down arch enemy John Bly. The series is equal parts comedy, western, buddy action series, science fiction, spy...well you get the point. It was hard to label, which is why it was so good. It borrows a little bit from the different genres, and throws in a little Wild, Wild West for good measure.
Jack of All Trades stars Campbell in an equally quirky, but not quite as good series. Campbell stars as American secret agent, Jack Stiles, sent by President Thomas Jefferson to spy and fight against Napoleon's forces in the East Indies. Stiles teams up with the beautiful counterpart British agent, Emilia Rothschild. He also dons the secret identity of The Daring Dragon, a local folk hero, in order to get around and further protect his true identity. It sounds a little quirky, but it works on a very comedy adventure level. Also stars Verne "Mini-me" Troyer in a recurring role as Napoleon.
Many of you may have never heard of these films. If you have seen any of the work of German silent film directors like Fritz Lang, then you know these films are dark and very stylized. Metropolis or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (a Shelf Halloween classic)contain some examples of the early German style from the 1920s and early 30s. These directors and some of the stars made their way to Hollywood in light of the Nazi domination of Germany, and brought some their style and vision to American films. These three films deal somewhat with the Berlin underground and with very grity and dark emotions. The work of these directors, in some way, are precusors to American Film Noir style. German and English subtitles are included, but should not dissuade you from experiencing the style and stories that make these very entertaining films. The Films include Fritz Lang's Dr. Marbuse, The Gambler, Arthur Robinson's Warning Shadows, and Joe May's Asphalt.
The Adventures of Flash Gordon: The Complete Series
If you missed Wolf's recent piece on Saturday Morning cartoons, go ahead and check it out. I'll wait....
Back already? Good. Now, I am a bit older than Wolf, so some of the cartoons that I remember predate his list. This is one of them. I loved 1979's The New Adventures of Flash Gordon. This is just one of the great action adventure animated series by Filmation. Others I really liked were Zorro and Tarzan. Some great classic stories! Nothing wrong with that- but as a kid, I didn't realize these were characters that had been around for years. To me, I was just discovering them. I was surprised when I was a little bit older to discover that old Flash had been around for a while, which led me to read his and some of the other characters adventures. Not many animated series like that around anymore. During the late 70s, Flash was undergoing a period of renewed interest. Let's not discuss the feature film though, shall we? ("Flash! Ahhh- Flash! Ahhh") Anyway, this was a great adventure series that was somewhat patterned after the orginal comic strip. This is definitely a Shelf favorite.
More Great Television:
Amazing Stories: The Complete First Season
Steven Speilberg's great series that owed a nod to The Twilight Zone, with a bit more nostalgia and sentiment thrown in. One of my favorite episodes, The Mission, is included here. Very well written and directed series, that featured many guest stars and directors. Two episodes were directed by Speilberg. If you remember the show, you know this was perhaps it's best season. If you've never seen it, you're in for a treat.
The Incredible Hulk: The Complete First Season
C'mon man! if you were a kid in the late 70s, you watched The Hulk. That was some freaky special effects back then! Ok- not really, it was just make-up, double exposures and sound effect. Still- it was the Hulk! You know the deal, Bruce Banner is hitchhiking to god knows where and along the way he helps people. Oh, and when he gets pissed off, he turns into the Hulk and saves the day. You really wouldn't like him when he's angry. Instead of the General from the comic book and his love interest Betty and his sidekick Rick, the series worked up a different story that worked the outcast angle.
Big Brother 7 All-stars:
This week Kaysar is HOH. Nak and Diane are on the block. If you watch the show you know exactly what I'm talking about. If not- check it out, it's only week two. Not much catching up required.
Comedy Central Sunday Line-Up:
Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes, Mind of Mencia, and Reno 911!
This coming Sunday is the last of the "lost episodes". Don't miss it.
Turner Classic Movies
Shelf Picks for TCM:
July 19th: It's a night of Film Noir with Follow Me Quietly (1949), The House Across The Street (1949), Born To Be Bad (1950), and On Dangerous Ground (1951).
July 20th: Tribute to Elizabeth Taylor tonight with: Beau Brummell (1954), Ivanhoe (1952), and Little Women (1949).
July 21st: Love blooms during Nero's persecutions in Quo Vadis (1951). Later Bogie is head of a gang whose patriotism leads them to flush out Nazi Spies on the homefront in All Through The Night (1942). Stick around for a Hitchcock double bill with The 39 Steps (1935) and Young and Innocent (1937).
July 22nd: A night for essentials! The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Wings Of Eagles (1957), and To Kill A Mockingbird (1962).
July 23rd: Charles Laughton in his legendary performance as The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1939). Cary Grant raises Joan Fontaine's Suspicion (1941).
July 24th: Don't miss some shadowy suspense with Sherlock Holmes and the Woman in Green (1945) and Orson Welles' The Third Man (1949). Later be sure to catch a Jack Benny double feature: To Be or Not to Be (1942) and George Washington Slept Here (1942).
July 25th: It's a long day, so set the TiVo! Spencer Tracey brings the action and drama with Northwest Passage (1940)and Bad Day At Black Rock (1955). Still two more can't miss classics later: Meet John Doe (1941), To Have And Have Not (1944). Then Bob Hope brings the laughs with My Favorite Brunette (1947) and My Favorite Spy (1951).
Bird Dog over at Maggie's Farm sent us a link to a fan-riffic site for Adam West. Check it out!
Thanks Bird Dog, for the link.
Also we would like to thank the brewmasters, Amid Amidi and Jerry Beck over at Cartoon Brew. They were very kind in linking to one of our previous posts about the current state of animation. We are grateful for the link and the many new visitors it brought. We hope you like what you see and will continue to come back.
Well, Shelfers, the gig is up. Reckon it's time to give ourselves up and return to the real world.
Did we miss anything? See a favorite of yours in the roundup? Disagree with a pick? Sound off in the comments section. As always, your comments are welcome.
I distrust a close-mouthed man. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says the wrong things. Talking's something you can't do judiciously, unless you keep in practice.