Monday, May 07, 2007

the duke. 'nuff said.

We know you've been missing the roundup. And we know that some great stuff has come out in the past month. The James Cagney and Errol Flynn Signature Collections, the Tyrone Powers Collection and the Planet Earth series are just a few. Not to mention the third season of NCIS, and the first season of WKRP. But let's not look to the past. Those are all Top Shelf Picks without question, and signature sets in particular are Shelf favorites. Now the job ahead is for us to press forward and bring you more Shelf picks this week and in the weeks ahead. I will say this, perhaps my favorite new DVD set of the past week or so has been the second season of MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. If you don't have it - get it. If you're familiar with the sense of humor here at The Shelf, you know what you are in for, so don't delay! Get yours today! Right you are, Ken.
Without further adieu let's plunge right in. Keep in mind this is a special month- it's the 100th anniversaries (birthdays) of both Katherine Hepburn and John Wayne. Celebrate in style.

Top Shelf Pick of the Week:
John Wayne Collections Vol.1 and Vol. 2
Last years Top Shelf Pick of the Year would've had to have been the John Wayne/ John Ford Film Collection. It was Wayne and Ford fan's dream. Special editions of The Searchers and Stagecoach really put it over the top and the long awaited appearance of Fort Apache on DVD sealed the deal. Dare we ask for more? We dare. And it seems that it will pay off in time for his 100th birthday celebration. To kick things off we've got two nice sets of films the Duke made for Republic pictures. These films have been released previously, but several are no longer on store shelves. If you've missed them before, here's a chance to fill the missing spots in your collection. Volume 1 includes the war films Sands of Iwo Jima and Flying Tigers, Wake of the Red Witch and the seminal The Quiet Man. Volume 2 is a western set including Dakota, The Fighting Kentuckian, A Lady Takes a Chance, and one of my personal favorites, Rio Grande. Each set retails for around 20 bucks, and can be found cheaper online. Not bad for some really good films from one of the greatest movie stars of the last century. The sets don't seem to include many extras and the distributor, Lions Gate, is not known for extraordinary DVD releases. I've got the previous Rio Grande and The Quiet Man Collector's Editions, which had some great extras on them. I'm not ready to give those up yet, but I look forward to adding these classic Wayne movies to my collection. Stay tuned to the Shelf in the next few weeks for even more John Wayne DVDs in the few weeks.

Pirates of the Golden Age
Avast me hearties! Man, with the Tyrone Power set coming out last week, this is a boon for Swashbuckler fans. This set includes:
Against All Flags starring Errol Flynn, Maureen O'Hara and Anthony Quinn in a good ol' pirate adventure they are known for.
Buccaneer's Girl stars Yvonne DeCarlo as a showgirl who falls in love with a pirate, played by Philip Friend.
Double Crossbones is perhaps self explanatory, but wait - it's a comedy starring Donald O'Connor who somehow goes from shopkeeper's apprentice to the most feared pirate off the Carolina coast.
Yankee Buccaneer stars Jeff Chandler as a US Naval Frigate Commander sent to the Caribbean, disguised as a pirate, in order to defeat the Buccaneers. All good adventures for classic film fans.

Worthy Double Dips:

There are some excellent DVD special editions coming out that are worthy improvements over previous editions. The Guns of Navarone, To Catch a Thief, and The Caine Mutiny are wonderful flicks and each special edition includes great features and documentaries. We don't often recommend double dips, but in this case it is definitely worth the upgrade.

Michael Buble: Call Me Irresponsible
If you are a regular shelfer (and you know who you are), then you know we love the greats like Dino, Sinatra and Nat King Cole. You also know we also dig the modern cats like Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Buble. Well, it's Christmas come early, cause Buble has a great swingin' CD out this past week. I listened to it all last week, and it's great. If you love this kind of music, then this is must have.

History of The Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer
I feel strongly about education and history education in particular. Lately, I have been studying the connections of Western Civilization from the Greeks to the foundation of the United States. Seeing the current sad state of liberal arts education (and if you need an eye opener- check out Who Killed Homer by Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath), its no wonder that there is a disconnect with many people and the values and principles the country was founded on. The reasons why films like 300 resonate with people, is because it speaks to things that are such a part of our common culture, of who we are; and yet many do not understand why. It is time to bridge that gap. What better place to start than this recent wonderful book by Susan Wise Bauer, The History of the Ancient World. Bauer's book is the first volume in a planned four volume series on the history of the world. This is indeed a history of the peoples of the world, but there is so much to learn about Western Civilization as well as Eastern Civilization. Bauer's background is firmly rooted in classical liberal arts education and she gives such a great presentation with excellent maps, time lines, examples, and she does a great job of pulling altogether to present the common threads and important themes that resonate through history. I'm still reading this as of this writing and it's a pure joy to read. It's time to bring the classics back and reconnect our present with our past so we can understand ourselves and go forward to a better future.

Turner Classic Movies:
Man great flicks, great tunes and a great read. What more could you want? More great classic films? Who am I to deny you? TCM's star of the month is Katherine Hepburn, and this being the 100th anniversary celebration of both Hepburn and John Wayne, you can expect some great must see flicks this month. We know there is just not enough time in the day to watch them all, so we present to you some of our favorites and some rarely seen classics.

May 8th: Kick it off with some early Hepburn: Alice Adams (1935), Sylvia Scarlett (1936), and Mary of Scotland (1936) . And don't miss an excellent documentary on one of the first ladies of film: Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993).

May 9th: More Hepburn, this time with frequent guest star Cary Grant: Stage Door (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Holiday (1938) and The Philadelphia Story (1940).

May 10th: To me, romantic comedy doesn't get any better than Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn: Woman Of The Year (1942), Keeper Of The Flame (1942), Without Love (1945), The Sea Of Grass (1947), and one of my personal favorites: Adam's Rib (1949).

May 11th: OK one more great Hepburn and Tracy flick: Pat and Mike (1952). And don't miss the worst case of great mega-classic not on DVD: The African Queen (1951).

May 12th: If you missed the great Brando documentary that premiered on TCM last week (and which we previewed here) you get a second chance today: Brando Part 1 and Part 2 (2007). Also don't miss the must see musical My Fair Lady (1964).

May 13th: It's Mother's Day! Why don't you handle the cooking and cleaning and let mom sit back and relax with some great classic films: Bachelor Mother (1939), Mildred Pierce (1945), I Remember Mama (1948) and Stella Dallas (1937). Just don't forget to provide the snacks and a fresh box of tissues.

May 14th: Film Noir is the order of the day: The Killing (1956), Angel Face (1953) and Orson Welles' underrated classic: Mr. Arkadin (1955).

Well, it's great to be back. And don't forget to stay tuned. Coming up we have looks at some upcoming DVDs that you need to plan for during the summer months, the continuation of our Read a Great Book Lately series, a preview of yet another new original TCM Documentary and much, much more. Same Shelf time, same Shelf channel.

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.

No matter what you think you think, you think the same as I think.


Stacy said...

It's no wonder that the Duke is still in the Top Ten movie stars today- his films still rock all these years later, and people look for a genuine hero. We're tired of all this touchy feely stuff.
Interesting about the classics. I've been looking for a beginners book for myself, and I'll have to check it out, along with Buble.

juliasmile said...

Looking forward to a great Katherine Hepburn week on TCM! I've already set my TiVo- thanks for the schedule.


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