Thursday, March 08, 2007

roundup, literary edition

What ho, Shelfers! It's the return of the roundup. And if we are looking a little classy today, it's because we are, in a literary way. Perhaps the smoking jacket is a tad too much, but nonetheless, it makes us look - erudite. That's upiddty to youse guys. That's alright though, clothes makes the critic. We have some great films, of the literary classic adaptation variety, so put on the kettle, ma- these films are your cup of tea.

Top Shelf Pick of the Week!
Literary Classics Collection:
This is an excellent set of a variety films all connected with one theme- they were adapted from famous novels. But it's more than that. These are great films that many have been looking forward to seeing released on DVD. Included in the set (which are available for purchase as "standalone" releases as well) are:
The 1949 film version of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary starring Jennifer Jones in the title role and James Mason as Flaubert, recounting his own story.
The 1962 film of Herman Melville's short novel, Billy Budd, starring Terence Stamp as Billy Budd, impressed into service on a British ship during a war between France and England in the late 1790s. Although Budd is forced to serve, he adapts to his new life and quickly proves to be an able sailor and fighter and becomes popular with his crewmates. Robert Ryan and Peter Ustinov co-star.
Captain Horatio Hornblower is the 1951 film based on C.S. Forester's swashbuckling novel. The film stars Gregory Peck as Hornblower in this tale of war and duty to country on the high seas.
The Three Musketeers is just one of many film versions of Alexander Dumas' famous novel. This is the 1948 MGM Technicolor version featuring a stellar cast including Gene Kelly. June Allyson, Lana Turner, Gig Young, Vincent Price and Angela Lansbury.
Finally- a film that many have been waiting to be released on DVD: The Prisoner of Zenda. This disc includes both the 1937 film of Anthony Hope's novel, starring Ronald Coleman; and the 1952 version starring Stewart Granger.
Extras include several radio adaptations, cartoons, several Traveltalk and Pete Smith shorts, and lots of commentaries. This set has a little something for everyone: drama, comedy, action and historical adventure. Pick it up today- you won't be disappointed.

Ernest Hemingway Film Collection
This is another set of literary adaptations of film, but featuring one author: Ernest Hemingway. The films included in this set are: Adventures of a Young Man, A Farewell to Arms, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Sun Also Rises, and Under My Skin. Most are worthwhile efforts, but The Sun Also Rises is the standout of the set. An excellent film starring Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner, and Errol Flynn; it's a fairly faithful adaptation of Hemingway's story about the American expatriate "lost generation" in post World War I Paris. Several titles are available as stand alone DVDs as well.

Jesse James Films
Several Jesse James films hit the shelves from 20th Century Fox this week. The first is the 1939 film, Jesse James starring Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda. The James boys of history were fairly bad fellows, but the James boys of legend are more Robin Hood type figures. This is the Hollywood version of the legend. The Return of Frank James is Fritz Lang's follow-up, again starring Henry Fonda as Frank James, determined to get to the bottom of his brother's death. The film costars Gene Tierney is her first costarring role. Lastly, The True Story of Jesse James is a remake of the first film starring Robert Wagner. Sort of a psychological remake. Sort of. Yeah... Anyway, The Return of Frank James is the real winner of the bunch, and you don't need to see the first one to understand the story.

Moonlighting: Season 5
Fans were demanding that this series hit DVD for a long time. When it finally did, it didn't take long for them to release all five seasons- within about a year. I like that when it comes to TV on DVD. Why wait so long between seasons. Most serious fans who are going to buy them are going to burn through the episodes in a quick manner anyway.
This was the last season of the funny, quirky, and groundbreaking show; and it was perhaps the least of all. The show famously jumped the shark at the end of season 3, limped along through a Maddie/David relationship in season 4, and then went back to the detective plots for season 5. It was too late. The well known backstage squabbles with the costars and directors and producers pretty much ended the season, and the series, at 12 episodes. It was a great show while it lasted.

Patti Austin: Avant Gershwin
Smooth, sultry Patti Austin. Pure, genuine Gershwin. The combination results in a great album that is so elegant and simple, yet so beautiful. Jazzy and soulful. This is a no-brainer. You've never heard Gershwin like this before. You'll bless your ears and you'll thank ol' Uncle Loophole. Aww, Shucks. T'wernt nothing.

300: The Soundtrack:
I am looking forward to seeing this movie, especially after these reviews from classicist Victor Davis Hanson. It will be interesting to see how the film meets up to all the buzz. In the meantime you can enjoy the soundtrack to the film. It's a throwback in some ways to the epic soundtracks of old, but it delivers a twist with some new age, kind of Mediterranean vibe. You can check it out this week on AOL Music. By the by, you can read this interview with 300 author and artist, Frank Miller, and 300 director Zack Snyder here.

Turner Classic Movies:
You would think after a straight month long marathon of blogging our Oscar picks in celebration of TCM's 31 Days of Oscar, that we would lay off. But we can't, we must go on. It's our favorite channel after all. So while a lot of shows are in reruns, we'll gladly turn the dial (or press the button on the remote) to our favorite station and give you our picks for the week! (All times are EST dontcha know? Check local listings for all times.)

Shelf Picks for this week on TCM:

March 8: The Westerner (1940), The Princess and the Pirate (1944), My Favorite Brunette (1947) and Zorba the Greek (1964)

March 9: Two Girls On Broadway (1940), Grand Central Murder (1942) and Last Train From Gun Hill (1959).

March 10: The Sea Hawk (1940) , The African Queen (1951) , and Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)

March 11: Man Of The West (1958) Shane (1953), The Benny Goodman Story (1956) and The Glenn Miller Story(1954).

March 12: The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), Singin' In The Rain (1952), On the Town (1949) and Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)

March 13: Private Screenings: Stanley Donen (2006), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Naked City (1948) and He Walked By Night (1948).

It's a great week for great flicks- old and new. Check out some classics this week, then check out 300 this weekend to see if it's a modern classic. In the meantime, stay tuned for more Shelf madness...

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.

Fate doesn't always make the right men kings.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Only TCM would have a tribute to director S. Sylvan Simon (GRAND CENTRAL MURDER, TWO GIRLS ON BROADWAY). My DVR is going like crazy today, and I'm then transferring them over to "long-term storage" -- lots of fun old Lana Turner as well as early Kathryn Grayson (RIO RITA).

Lots of great stuff in this post! My final MOONLIGHTING set just arrived. I'll be getting that LITERARY CLASSICS set soon.

Have a good weekend,


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