Wednesday, October 18, 2006

the stuff dreams are made of

Looking around at this semi-lackluster week, I'm a little reluctant to name a Top Shelf pick of the week. There are some good items out there to be sure, as you will soon see, but nothing just grabbed me. Then I remembered that a couple of weeks ago, when we had no roundup, there were several items that would have easily been a Top Shelf pick. So, in an amazing time-bending feat, we give you our Top Shelf picks from two weeks ago, and then the rest of today's roundup.

Top Shelf Pick of the Week:
Humphrey Bogart The Signature Collection Sets, Volume 1 and Volume 2
When I was in high school and just starting to discover great movies existed beyond my few years, I had a poster of one actor who I considered to be one of the best: Humphrey Bogart. I loved his films and watched as many as I could find. I read books about him, drooled over Lauren Bacall, perfected some of his signature lines. Heck, during my days as an actor, I subtly worked in a Bogart mannerism into my character. I though it was a great piece of business and interpreted it into my character's way of thinking. I thought it wouldn't be really picked up, until someone from the audience approached me at the reception after the show and said, "I see you're a Bogart fan! Me too!" I guess in some ways many of us are. We love his unflappable spirit, his independence, his determination that things would get done his way, his toughness, and his way of getting the girl. The actor was all of that and more.
Bogart was named top male actor in an AFI poll. It was not far off. Starting in some great films, memorable films, and arguably some of America's greatest films, his range and the breadth of his work often eludes many people. He is most well known for his role in Casablanca and his marriage to Lauren Bacall. He is also associated with tough guy movies, gangster films or film noir. What some people perhaps don't know is he was a Broadway actor before he came to Hollywood, and that he actually enjoyed doing light comedy, or that he had been in a western. He acted against type in some films, but still even in more traditional roles he brought something unique or personal touches. Directors such as John Huston and Howard Hawkes loved working with him. Actors respected him. Actresses wanted to play opposite him. Bogart was a great actor and a great talent. I think these DVD sets offer a glimpse beyond the Bogart of Casablanca, or even beyond The Maltese Falcon. Sure these films are included, but the other films offer different glimpses at Bogart as an ensemble actor, an actor using stereotypical role as humor in a comedy, an actor demonstrating humanity and duty from some of the unlikeliest of characters. I love the films in these sets. In fact, I cut my classic film teeth on many of them. Casablanca is perhaps one of my all time favorites. That and Treasure of the Sierra Madre are previous releases. High Sierra and Across the Pacific are great films of Bogie at his toughest. One of his most underrated films is All Through the Night, a comedy, in which he plays a crime boss who leads his boys to take out the Nazi's on the home front. Of course perhaps one of the biggest parts of the second set is the three disc special edition of The Maltese Falcon, which includes the two previous versions and tons of extras. This has been a set I've looked forward to since its announcement. These are most definitely, highly recommended.

Another can't miss item from this month:
Abbott and Costello: 100th Anniversary Collection, Season One and SeasonTwo
These sets present a bit of a problem. This is the Abbott and Costello show, sure enough, but there was no television 100 years ago. Of course the "100th Anniversary" part refers to Abbott and Costello themselves. But don't let the word games dissuade you from picking up these sets. Most budget price DVDs of A &C are The old Colgate Comedy Hour shows, which are usually in terrible shape. These sets are from the self titled show Bud and Lou had later that also costarred future Stooge Joe Besser. The prints look great and there is some good extra material including some rarely seen home movies and interviews with Lou's family.

DVD releases this week worthy of your attention:
Icons of Horror: Boris Karloff
Could you get more masterful than Boris Karloff? Movies, television and radio- he really had a steadier career than contemporary Bela Lugosi, but was equally pigeon holed into a genre. Thank goodness for some of the Abbott and Costello films, or I would think that this guy didn't have a sense of humor. Nonetheless, for your Halloween pleasure, four lesser known films from Karloff's talented career are in this set (some are funny!): Before I Hang, The Black Room, The Man They Could Not Hang and The Boogie Man Will Get You. Good scary stuff. For more great lesser known Karloff give the great Tower of London (also with Basil Rathbone) from the recently released, Boris Karloff Collection a try. It's not what you'd expect.

TV on DVD:
Charmed: The Complete Sixth Season
Also great for this time of year, is the highly enjoyable Charmed series, which finished it's last season this past television season (and we covered in a previous roundup here) . I started watching around season 5, then the wife and I began watching the reruns when we could catch them on TNT. When the season sets came out, this was something we both sat down to watch together and enjoyed. I used to ascribe this as a guilty pleasure, but I don't anymore. I like what I like, and this is great entertaining television.

Hitchcock Presents: Season 2
Perfect for Halloween, of course. Alfred even directed a few himself. If you have season 1, then this is a no-brainer. Pick it up and enjoy some old fashioned suspense. A little murder never hurt anyone.

In addition to must-see's like this week's South Park, The Amazing Race, NCIS, The Unit and so on, there is also TCM!

Shelf Picks for Turner Classic Movies
Keep in mind these aren't the only good films listed for their day, only our picks for each day. We love 'em all. It's just sometimes, you need to change it up a little. Besides, we might have picked one last week that's also on this week. You just gotta spread the love.

October 18th: Lady Killer (1933), The Heiress (1949), and Mildred Pierce (1945)

October 19th: The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947), Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Philadelphia Story (1940), and Woman Of The Year (1942).

October 20th: The Horn Blows At Midnight (1945), Mark Of The Vampire (1935) and The Return of the Vampire (1944)

October 21st: Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), The Ghost Breakers (1940), Shenandoah (1965), and Anatomy Of A Murder (1959)

October 22nd: High Society (1956), Going My Way (1944), Marie Antoinette (1938), and Tower of London (1939)

October 23rd: The Producers (1968), Captains Courageous (1937), and The Champ (1931).

October 24th: The Big Street (1942) and Scaramouche (1952)

That's it for this week kiddies. It' s getting close! If you haven't put out the decorations in the yard or bought the candy, it's time to go out and get it done. To help get you in the spirit, Wolf will be around later with this week's Halloween Candy Review. Stay tuned.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

I don't mind dying, but I hate to be divided up into small pieces.

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