Hey gang- it's time for the roundup. Let's see...Archie's here, Betty's here...Veronica too. Reggie's here...hey Jughead, where are you?
Sorry, I couldn't resist. I've had that tune in my head for two days now. What tune? Why the theme song to The Archie Show of course. This is a really one of a kind week. There are so many must have sets this week, that in a rare event, all of them have earned our Top Shelf pick! I'm not kidding. I highly recommend all of the selections today to be sterling additions to your DVD library. Why? Well, let's get on with it, and you will surely see. And yes, I know your name is not Shirley.
Top Shelf Pick of The Week!
Film Noir Collection Vol. 4
The Archie Show
First up: Film Noir Classics Collection Vol. 4
After three previous sets, I believe some people believed that Warner's pretty much scraped the bottom of the barrel. But Film Noir fans know better! We're just getting started it seems. Sure the big name and familiar classics have already been released, but this is where things get interesting. Volume 4 contains the most diverse, hardboiled and odd assortment of Film Noir yet. There are a few legends thrown in for good measure.
There are 10 films in this set, including: Act of Violence, Mystery Street, Crime Wave, Decoy, Illegal, The Big Steal, They Live by Night, Side Street, Where Danger Lives and Tension. That's Five discs with a double feature on each disc. With some great commentary tracks and behind the featurettes, this set is for keeps. Wolf and I have been checking it out for the past week, and we'll have a full review of the set up tomorrow. Don't miss it! And just to whet your appetite, how about a trailer from one the great films included in the set starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer: The Big Steal. (Clip courtesy of Turner Classic Movies!)
Next: Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938, Vol. 1!
Mark my words, this is one of the most important animation DVD releases this year; perhaps even of the past few years. For many years, Popeye has gotten short shrift on DVD, while distributors were quibbling over rights. Now, beginning with this set, all of that has been resolved. These are the original Fleischer Studios shorts in all their glory. They have been transferred from original 35mm nitrate materials and the results are fantastic. The sound and video are nothing short of greatness, and fans and animation fans in general should be rushing out (or rushing online) to order their set. Included on this four disc set are 58 black-and-white theatrical shorts, 2 color two reel films and more than 5 hours of incredible bonus features, including several feature length documentaries: I Yam What I Yam: The Story of Popeye the Sailor and Forging the Frame: The Roots of Animation 1900-1920. Also included are several bonus shorts from the Out of the Inkwell series from Fleischer Studios. Leonard Maltin has described this set in one word: "perfect". I can't think of a better description.
On to: The Archie Show!
Strong flashbacks to my childhood immediately flood my mind just thinking about this set. Wolf and I are big Archie fans from way back, and while we weren't around when the show originally came out, I saw later incarnations on Saturday mornings (Archie's Funnies, etc.) and we saw several episodes that came out on VHS. Now the complete series of the first incarnation of the show is out on DVD, and the discs are made to look like old fashioned 45's. If you don't know what those are, well wikipedia it and come back to us. The Archie Show had great tunes composed and sung by a full fledged band that had a hit record or two (ever heard of Bang-Shang-A-Lang, Jingle Jangle or Sugar, Sugar?)
The set includes all 32 episodes from this first series, an interview with the Archie Show producer Lou Scheimer; a booklet that features a reproduction of a story from the first "Everything's Archie" comic book, an image gallery and something really cool. An interactive "jukebox" that will let you just plug it in and play any song that was featured on the show. Groovy! Alright, I guess that's enough fan boy earnestness for one day. OK, maybe not - you cats need to get it today!
We really liked this film when it first came out, as did many of you. We've heard from readers and other commentators not only was the film cinematically breathtaking, it was inspiring. But it was somewhat controversial. I say that it's a great example of creative, inspiring and visually stunning film making that Hollywood used to do. Said to say, it is a rare thing nowadays. It is most definitely a grown-up films, it's not for kids. It may be a little violent for some adults even, but I thought it was handled in very visual style that is different than just run of the mill shoot 'em-ups. The story is very inspiring and director Zack Snyder did a fantastic job of translating Frank Miller's original graphic novel to the screen.
300 releases today in several versions, but I got the two disc widescreen special edition. The video and sound is just as vibrant and crisp as it was in the theater. Included is a commentary from Snyder, screenwriter Kurt Johnstad and Director of Photography Larry Fong. The Bonus features on the two disc special edition include several documentaries: The 300- Fact or Fiction? (historians and film makers discuss the historical relevance and approach to 300) and Who Were The Spartans: The Warriors of 300. Also included are The Frank Miller Tapes which discusses the creator's efforts with the graphic novel and the film; deleted scenes; and all of the behind the scenes webisodes that were produced during the making of the film.
I know - we didn't have a round up last week, but I can't let it go by without naming the Top Shelf Picks from last week and encouraging that you add them to your collection:
Firstly, the Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory, Vol. 2 set from WHV, which we reviewed extensively here.
Also don't neglect to pick up yet another great animation set: The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection! Three DVDs of classic Walter Lantz animated goodness. Included in the set is ten-year chronology of Woody (45 shorts from 1940-1952), plus many of the other classic theatrical shorts released by Lantz that had some other famous characters: Chilly Willy, Andy Panda and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. All of the shorts are uncut and have been transferred from original negatives and restored and the audio remastered.
Also included are some great bonus features including some footage of Walter Lantz himself talking about his characters and showing how to draw Woody and pals. Also included are several other behind-the-scenes featurettes, and the special Halloween episode of The Woody Woodpecker TV Show which featured the short Spook-a-Nanny. With all this animated goodness, from Woody and Droopy to Popeye and Archie- this is the year for classic animation. If you have these in your collection, you will have (along with Looney Tunes Golden Collections and Walt Disney Treasures ) the most comprehensive set of classic animation that has ever been available to the personal collector. Don't miss out.
(check all local listings for times)
It was great last year, so why not do it again? Feasting on Asphalt 2: The River Run begins this Saturday at 9pm (est). Alton and his motorcycle gang will be checking out the cuisine all along the mighty Mississippi.
Also a fairly new show that I have been enjoying as of late is Glutton for Punishment. Bob, the host (or Glutton I guess) is trying to learn all the ins and outs of food competition and preparation. He works for a week, trying to learn how to do anything from competitive oyster shucking to the secret of eating chilies, and then he goes out and attempts to compete with his new found skills. Bob is at most, very humble and recognizes true greatness when he sees it and verifies just how hard some of this stuff is. It's a good show and worth checking out.
Turner Classic Movies:
Shelf Picks for TCM
It's the Summer Under the Stars at TCM!
All this month on TCM is the annual Summer Under the Stars celebration. Each night a different star is featured. Here are our picks for this week!
Aug. 1: Star: Elizabeth Taylor
National Velvet (1944), A Date With Judy (1948), Ivanhoe (1952) and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Aug. 2: Star: Peter O'Toole
Man of La Mancha (1972), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Becket (1964) and Lord Jim (1965).
Aug. 3: Star: Joan Crawford
Above Suspicion (1943), Mildred Pierce (1945) and the documentary: Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star (2002).
Aug. 4: Star: William Holden
Arizona (1940), Escape From Fort Bravo (1953), Stalag 17 (1953) and Executive Suite (1954).
Aug. 5: Star: James Stewart
Harvey (1950), Bend of the River (1952), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Anatomy Of A Murder (1959) and The Naked Spur (1953).
Aug. 6: Star: Robert Mitchum
Out of the Past (1947), The Big Steal (1950), The Racket (1951) and Thunder Road (1958).
Well, that's all gang. Stay tuned Shelfers, our Film Noir, Vol.4 DVD review is coming up next.
I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like to turn around, Chiquita, besides, that there's a guy behind me with a gun. Remember?