Wednesday, October 24, 2007

hey burt!

Dizzying. Well, what other word would you use to describe so much cool stuff coming out this week? Some of it will just have to end up on a Christmas wish list. If you are a classic film fan, then October has been a boom month after a somewhat lackluster September. Rooney and Garland, Kubrick, Jolson, Lancaster and Stanwyck are all getting the red carpet treatment this month, and there is enough action and adventure and spooky stuff to boot. But this week is probably more full than most. So make the most of it. Besides you need something fun to watch while making all those Halloween cookies and treats, right? Save the Great Pumpkin for next week.

Top Shelf Pick of the Week!
Burt Lancaster: Signature Collection
I have to admit that I never set out to be a Burt Lancaster fan. Oh, there was no denying that he was talented, but to me there was something always…off-putting about him. I could never place my finger on it. People would tell me they loved The Swimmer. Me – not so much. Birdman of Alcatraz is considered a classic. I thought it was OK. From Here to Eternity is a classic, but I always liked Deborah Kerr and Frank Sinatra better.
It took his last film for me to begin to see something else. Field of Dreams is a great film, an iconic film to some people. People loved it for various reasons. I loved it because of Burt Lancaster. His role as “Moonlight” Graham, the baseball great turned Doctor was the standout to me. His simple choice of saving a little girls life over a return of his youth was so simple and understated, and great. I saw a different side of the actor. I went back to other films I hadn’t seen: Tough Guys, The Killers, The Rainmaker, Gunfight at OK Corral; all of them great flicks. It just goes to show that the more you explore movies, the more you see in actors, stories or directors that you didn’t previously liked. I still don’t care for some of Lancaster’s movies, but I like him as an actor and love to discover his films. That’s the great thing about this week’s top Shelf pick: The Burt Lancaster Signature Collection, as I haven’t seen any of the films collected. I’m excited to get a set where I can discover all of the classic films. The titles included are: Executive Action, The Flame and the Arrow, Jim Thorpe - All American, His Majesty O'Keefe and South Sea Woman. I hope to have a full review up for you later on.

Meet the Robinsons
I haven’t seen this film either. My kids saw it and thought it was very funny. I’m looking forward to seeing this one. The commercials looked cute, and there seemed to be some “Disney” inside jokes as well. This week 2719 Hyperion posted an article about Entertainment and the marriage of Disney/Pixar and how some of us have forgotten the value of entertainment. Worth a read.

Stanley Kubrick: Directors Series
Most of these Kubrick films have seen DVD releases. What this Director’s series aims to do is to pull some of them together and re-release them in special edition form, with all the accompanying bells and whistles, and add a bonus disc of special features. The films included in this set are: 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut. The Bonus disc is a biographical documentary entitled: Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures. Also available as special editions, but not as a part of this set, are: Barry Lyndon and Lolita. The titles in the set will be available separately as well, including the bonus disc. So if you are happy with your present editions- you can pick up the ones you want.

Battleship Potemkin
This is a rarely seen film in today’s culture, and that’s too bad. It was very influential on many film makers and you’ve seen several of it’s sequences redone in later films, including the Railroad station stairway sequence in The Untouchables. Until now, Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 silent masterpiece has only been seen in redacted form or poorly transferred public domain editions. Kino International, in cooperation with film archives and associations all across Europe, have search far and wide for complete prints, or missing footage. The result is this two disc restored edition that, I’m told, looks fantastic. The Russian film follows the despairing crew of armored cruiser Potemkin and their decision to not only mutiny against the Captain, but against the Czar. This takes place during the Russian-Japanese War in 1905, presaging a more successful revolution years later. The Czar’s White Russian Calvary comes to crush their rebellion and tragedy ensues on the Odessa Steps, becoming one of the most famous sequences in film history. It may be famous, but you may not know why or from what film. Now, thanks to Kino, you can see it in it’s restored, full version.

A Christmas Carol: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (1951 Alistair Sim version)
Talk about another restored treasure: This 1951 Alistair Sim classic is considered by many to be the best film version of the Charles Dickens holiday classic. Doubtless many of you have seen it many times, and may even own it on DVD. Trust me when I say that you will want to pick this up. This is without a doubt the best DVD edition of the film you will see. The two disc set includes a colorized version and a black white version. The film has been digitally restored, cleaned up and has much improved audio track. It’s also crammed with features, including: An audio Commentary by Marcus Hearn & George Cole, Spirit of Christmas Past - George Cole remembers Alastair Sim, Richard Gordon Remembers George Minter & Renown Pictures, Charles Dickens - His Life & Times, Bonus Colorized Version, Original American Theatrical Trailer, Original British Theatrical Trailer, Before & After Restoration Comparison, Optional English & Spanish Subtitles, Optional Narrative for the Blind, Photo & Press Book Gallery, Cast Bios, Scrooge (1935 Seymour Hicks Version)

Young Indiana Jones
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Vol.1
We told you about this great set not too long ago, and not only is it here, but Vol.2 will follow by the end of the year. This show features the adventures of Indy as both a nine year old and a teenager, spanning over 12 discs and brimming with special features. Each disc has a feature length episode, historical documentaries and more. This is one to please any Indy fan.

NCIS Season 4
NCIS is one of my favorite shows, and even though I hated to see the character of Kate killed off, it seems the show just keeps picking up steam. I enjoy the season long twists and turns that payoff in the final episodes. This past season had a great cliff-hanger that had equally great start for the current season. Don't miss it.

The Shelf's TCM Picks for the week:
Be sure not to miss these great flicks. You could just sit and watch the channel all day if you ask me, but I know that's not possible. That's why give you some of our weekly picks. That doesn't mean there aren't more that you could watch- just some great choices to pick from.

Oct. 25th:
The Long Voyage Home (1940), Tomorrow Is Forever (1946), Come Blow Your Horn (1963) and To Sir, With Love (1967).

Oct. 26th:
The Mad Miss Manton (1938) [Cool flick! Needs to be on DVD!], White Zombie (1932), The Pit And The Pendulum (1961) and Ring of Fear (1954).

Oct. 27th: Gangsters Galore!
Little Caesar (1930), The Public Enemy (1931), and The Public Enemy (1931).

Oct. 28th:
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), and Lilies of the Field (1963).

Oct. 29th:
49th Parallel (1941), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) and St. Louis Blues (1958).

Oct. 30th:
Night And Day (1946), Rhapsody In Blue (1945), The Gene Krupa Story (1959) and The Glenn Miller Story (1954).

Oct. 31st:

House Of Usher (1960), The Haunting (1963), Bedlam (1946) The Invisible Ray (1936), The Body Snatcher (1945) and The Old Dark House (1932).

Well, that's all for this week's edition of the roundup. Be sure to stick around for some new DVD reviews, more Halloween OTR, Candy Reviews and Cartoons!

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.

This is my most special place in all the world, Ray. Once a place touches you like this, the wind never blows so cold again. You feel for it, like it was your child.

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