Wednesday, June 20, 2007

here's lucy

The Roundup is here, my friends. And what an eclectic bunch of stuff we have for you today. If you heard our weekly audio version on Geekerati, then you've had a sneak peak at our Top Shelf pick. But as you know, we have the full package on the web version! Lot's of stuff. You'll have to catch both, for we have a few extra items for the radio show only. What's a Shelfer to do? Tune in to Geekerati Monday nights at 7pm PT/ 10pm ET, and then direct yourself to The Shelf the next day in order to get the entire rundown. We've done all the leg work. All you have to do is order your favorites. I mean, we can't do everything for ya! Give a man a fish, and all that jazz. Speaking of jazz- let's get to it, shall we?

Top Shelf Pick of the Week!:
The Lucille Ball Film Collection

You know the old saying from the song..."A pretty girl is like a melody"? Well, we are fairly melodious here at The Shelf. For years, many in my generation only related to Lucille Ball as..., well, Lucy. You know, from I Love Lucy. I saw her in reruns and boy, was she funny. It never crossed my young mind that this person did other things before television. Then one night I caught a late night feature of the film, The Big Street with Henry Fonda and... what? Lucille Ball? That can't be the same person! Sure enough, that was her in a way I've never seen her before. Then, not too long after I thought I recognized her in a Three Stooges short: Three Little Pigskins, and then in Room Service with The Marx Brothers. I was enchanted. Here was a beautiful talented, funny woman who did it all: radio, movies, and television.

This week Warner Home Video releases the five feature Lucille Ball Film Collection. The films are making their way to DVD for the first time, and while a few fall short of greatness, there a quite a few hidden gems in the set. The films included are: Dance Girl Dance, The Big Street, Du Barry Was a Lady, Critic's Choice and Mame. The real treasures here are The Big Street with Henry Fonda and Du Barry Was a Lady with Red Skelton. Critic's choice is a later film (post I Love Lucy) with Bob Hope, a frequent co-star. Dance, Girl Dance is a 1940 romantic comedy starring Maureen O'Hara and Ralph Bellamy. Mame is based on the Broadway Musical of the same name (which, of course was based on the earlier film Auntie Mame). Lucy was perhaps a tad ill-cast in this film, but you'll enjoy the music and the performances nonetheless. One thing is for sure, Lucy sure played against type on I Love Lucy. She didn't need to go through all those schemes just to get on Ricky's show. We all know she had talent in spades.

The Secret of Nimh: Family Fun Edition

This is a re-release of the 1982 Don Bluth classic animated film. Bluth had recently left Disney and struck out on his own. Some of his films have been hit or miss, but this is one that I remember really enjoying. It's different, and it's a bit darker. The children's fantasy features during that time were a bit on the dark, gritty side. Think Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.
This re-release two disc edition may not be worth an upgrade if you own any of the previous editions, just because there is so much more they could have done with it. In fact the audio commentary with Don Bluth and the deleted scenes and making of featurette only really are a tipping point with die hard fans, or with those who don't own previous versions.

Picket Fences: Season One
I remember this odd ball show fondly. It was an early David E. Kelley series, and quite frankly, one of his best. Picket Fences centers on a small town Sheriff (Tom Skeritt) and his wife (Kathy Baker) and three kids. The series introduced future stars Holly Marie Combs (yeah), Lauren Holly and Don Cheadle. By far, my most favorite characters were the judge played by Ray Walston, who always seemed like the most sane, yet exasperated person in the town, and of course the lawyer, Douglas Wambaugh played with great aplomb by Fyvush Finkel. The series combined comedy, family drama and conflict in way that was different and new for its time. I'm glad to see that this show, with it's great writing and wonderful cast, has finally made it to DVD.

Reno 911!: Miami
I have to truthfully say that I have not seen this movie. I love the series, but I haven't seen the movie. Wolf has, and he claims it was pretty good, but almost would've been better if it was condensed into a few episodes of the regular series on Comedy Central. Now is my chance (and yours) to catch it on DVD. Robert Ben Grant, who plays Dep. Travis, Jr. directed the film.
Was the show really ready for a film? It did fairly well at the box office, and the cast has their characters down pat. Look for appearances and cameos by some stars like Danny Devito, Paul Rudd, and The Rock. Also look for some frequent Reno 911 perps and a few Reno 911 regulars, like Patton Oswalt in different roles.

The Card: Collectors, Con Men, and the True Story of History's Most Desired Baseball Card, by Michael O'Keeffe and Teri Thompson
The most valuable baseball card in the world is the Honus Wagner card, which only a dozen or so are known to exist. Most are in terrible shape. But THE card is only one of the Wagner cards, known as the T206 Wagner, which is in excellent condition. It worth over 2 million dollars today. This book not only details the story of the T206 Wagner, but also gives an entertaining and enlightening look into the story of baseball cards, collecting, and the great Honus Wagner himself, whose own card has seemed to eclipse him in fame.

Jazz Trio:
Deborah Cox: Destination Moon
Ron Carter: Dear Miles
Bobby Hutcherson: For Sentimental Reasons
I gotta tell ya, nothing relaxes me more than a little soft jazz, a cool drink and a nice book while sitting in a comfy chair. These discs are perfect for that time you want to unwind, go somewhere else in your mind, or just spending time with your significant other. Assuming they like jazz, that is.
Singer and Broadway star Deborah Cox brings her talent to cover a disc of songs in tribute to one of her greatest influences, the great Dinah Washington. Her vocals and the accompaniment blend perfectly and she does justice to Dinah. My absolute favorite on this album is currently Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Other highlights include Destination Moon and the upbeat and sexy Squeeze Me.

Ron Carter is one of the greatest bass players who ever lived, and perhaps the most recorded one as well. Carter has headlined his own group and has played with some of the best, too numerous to mention all, but including a long stint as a sideman for Miles Davis. This collection brings his world class talent and technique to a set of standards. Highlights are the cuts: As Time Goes By, Bags' Groove and My Funny Valentine.

Bobby Hutcherson is a wonderful musician who plays the Vibes (kind like Xylophones), and whose sound really developed in the 60s. He has been influential in modern jazz and fusion, but is just at bringing his talents to bop and classical jazz. He also has played with many greats including Trumpeter Woody Shaw and Tenor Saxophonist Harold Land and the ubiquitous Herbie Hancock. Album highlights include the title track, What Are You Doing For the Rest of Your Life and I'll Be Seeing You.

Turner Classic Movies
The weekly Shelf picks for TCM
These are our picks for this week and thru Monday of next week. Set the TiVo or DVR.

June 20th:
That Forsyte Woman (1949), Sylvia Scarlett (1936) and That Touch of Mink (1962)

June 21st:
It's a night of the battle of the sexes: Adam's Rib (1949), Born Yesterday (1950), Theodora Goes Wild (1936), and My Favorite Wife (1940). Also don't miss the original drama, Three on a Match (1932).

June 22nd:
Murder and mystery abound in this day with some Film Noir classics: Angel Face (1953), Anatomy Of A Murder (1959) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). Also don't miss the TCM original documentary, Billy Wilder Speaks (2006)

June 23rd:
Intrigue, drama and adventure: Naked City (1948), On The Waterfront (1954), Sahara (1943), and Island In The Sky (1953).

June 24th:
See some stars get their starring debuts: Gene Kelly in Cover Girl (1944) and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday (1953). Historical drama classic A Man for All Seasons (1966) is next. Later get your giggles with two of the greatest comedy teams the screen has seen with Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) and Martin and Lewis in At War With The Army (1950)

June 25th:
Some mystery flicks with Charlie Chan In The Secret Service (1944) and Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn (1939). Stick around for the drama's in TCM's night of Screened Out: Tea And Sympathy (1956) and The Children's Hour (1961)

June 26th:
How about a healthy mix of Capra, politics, and comedy? Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), All the King's Men (1949), Jack Benny in Broadway Melody Of 1936 (1935) and then Lucille Ball and Bob Hope in The Facts of Life (1960).

That's all for the Roundup today, gang. Look for our promised post on happenings at TCM and also we'll have some DVD reviews of some recent Fox Cinema Classics releases on the way. All this, and more from Wolf and me. 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.

Love is something that gets you one room, two chins and 3 kids.


Cassandra said...

I am a huge jazz fan. I loved your info on these jazz artists. I knew about Deborah Cox, but had no idea she had a new album. Now I've got two new artists to check out. Thanks

Wy said...

I'll definately be getting the Lucille Ball set, but is that the actual Secret of Nimh cover? It looks similar to the one I have. My kids like it, and I still like it- but not enough to get another one. Now if they had more extras I might. To bad Netfil doesn't have it yet.

J.C. Loophole said...

Thanks Cassandra for your comments-if you like jazz keep coming back.

Wy- Netflix has the older version of Secret of N-I-M-H (that's how it is listed) and not the new one as you correctly pointed out. But that could change, keep checking. Also that is the new cover, they are just using a similar Theatrical poster. Thanks for your comments.

J.C. Loophole said...

By the way look for a full review of the Lucille Ball Collection box set soon.


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