Friday, August 31, 2007

programming note

Just a programming note to everyone...
The Shelf is on the Air will not be on this Saturday. We are trying to move to a different time slot and day, and we will update everyone very soon when the show finds it's new time. Thanks for your indulgence. We'll see you back here next Tuesday with the Roundup. In the meantime, get off the internet. Put down the remote. Go outside and grill up something and spend time with your family. Enjoy the time you have... we'll see you soon.

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.

Sticks and stones can break your bones but words cause permanent damage!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

last of the summer grape juice

Things have been a little quiet around the Shelf this week. That doesn't mean we haven't been working on anything. Just the opposite, in fact. I've got at least three new DVD reviews coming your way, in addition to a new roundup, the fall outlook for TCM and more. It's just this week has been sort of... last days of summer-ish. I'm not a big summer fan. In fact, Fall is my favorite season- it's just magical to me. And as long time Shelfers know- Fall is go time for The Shelf. You'll be seeing our usual roundups and more DVD reviews, but old favorites like the Candy reviews will be back and so will Holiday cartoons, posts on Animated Specials and all kinds of fun stuff.

It's just a time to get ready for some changes, to finish up things left undone. It's beginning to be a time of transition. I can smell things changing in the air. Sure, it's still hot as blue blazes outside, but not as hot as it was last week. And even this Labor Day weekend is forecast to be a little cooler. Of course, the stores are starting to put gardening stuff and pool stuff on clearance and make room for other things. I've even spotted some Halloween Candy (I couldn't help myself, but I am saving it for late September for a review for you!) starting to crop up at the local pharmacy. The College football teams are gearing up for another season to kick off this weekend, and I see people starting to try and finish up outdoor projects they have left laying around because of the heat. It won't be long now...

I just watched My Summer Story (AKA: It Runs in the Family), which some of you may know is the 1994 sequel to A Christmas Story. If you love that movie and Jean Shepherd, do yourself a favor and watch the movie. Sure the actor's are different, but Shep is there narrating and Bob Clark is directing, and most importantly the spirit is there. It's a wonderful tale about the childhood adventures of summer and how sometimes not everything goes as planned. And then one day, Fall is back, school is back and soon it will be cold again.

What am I really talking about? Oh, I don't know- just being wistful I guess, looking for a way to describe why this is a slow blogging week. Either way, more good times are coming. Stick with us for more fun, wacky, sometime serious, sometimes insightful stuff from the Shelf. It's also a good time, because it's our 2nd Bloggiversary in September and we'll be looking forward to more stuff coming your way that we've been working towards with the site. So stick around.

Oh, The picture? Well, having been inspired by Sippican Cottage's usual good taste in photos, I happened to remember this little gem from a project I worked on. It was from the Library of Congress. They look like they are having some lazy "last of summer" fun. And apparently the guys are all for equal rights.

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.

The Old Man was having the time of his life being miserable. It was what he did best.

Friday, August 24, 2007

dvd news: tlc shows on dvd

I don't know about you, but given the fact that we have three boys at home who are fascinated by animals, engineering marvels, and all manner of myths that require busting, we watch a lot of the Discovery channel spectrum of television. That would include channels like Animal Planet, Science Channel, TLC, Discovery, etc. My oldest son and his grandfather (my father) are big fans of some of these shows like Mythbusters, Survivorman, etc. I've found that some of these shows do an excellent job of adding an element of entertainment to what would otherwise be straight forward, science class stuff. I am interested in the Meerkat Manor series, as is my youngest who is a 9 year old expert in all things involving animals. Boy, it's tough living with a bunch of know-it-alls. So, on behalf of my brood and in our quest to always bring you DVD news and reviews you can use, we bring you some announcements of DVD releases of some TLC shows on DVD. The DVDs are being released by TLC and Genius Products Partners; release info from TLC and Genius and Box art are included:

Merekat Manor: Season One (Release date: Oct.9)
Showcasing the real-life comedy and drama inherent in the daily activities of an unorthodox animal “family,” the Emmy®-nominated series “Meerkat Manor” Season One arrives on a two-disc DVD set October 9, 2007, from Genius Products and Animal Planet. Produced by Oxford Scientific Films for Animal Planet, the eye-opening docu-drama series follows the social dynamics of a group – or “mob” – of meerkats, utilizing ground-breaking fiber-optic technologies that allow full, 24-hour tracking of the highly-developed and complex daily lives of the fascinating furry creatures. Winner of the 2007 Parent’s Silver Choice award and the #1 show on Animal Planet, Meerkat Manor is narrated by Academy Award nominee* Sean Astin (The Goonies, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy) and features the exploits of an extraordinary family of South African meerkats – known as the Whiskers – living in the Kalahari Desert. Together, these remarkable animals face the full spectrum of the life experience with all of the joys, triumphs, comedy and sorrow that come along the way. Featuring births and deaths, love and loss, youthful indiscretions and divided loyalties, Meerkat Manor is the ultimate all-access reality show; from dealing with predators and inclement weather to internal social politics and external threats from rival gangs, the Whiskers present an intimate and exhilarating real-life look at life in the wild. Small members of the mongoose family, meerkats are burrowing animals with a tendency to form strong social networks within their communities. Always looking out for one another, their human-like behavior also includes active education of their young – a social trait unique among non-human mammals – as well as playful wrestling matches and foot races. The two-disc Meerkat Manor Season One DVD collection includes 13 episodes.

Little People BIG WORLD: Season One
(Release date: Oct.2)
Follow little people Matt and Amy Roloff and their endearing family when Little People, Big World Season 1 arrives on DVD October 2nd from Genius Products LLC. Praised as “enthralling” by LIFE magazine and hailed by critics as “irresistible” and “engaging,” this TLC series is viewed weekly by nearly 9 million viewers and has ranked as the #1 cable show in its timeslot. Little People, Big World is a relatable family documentary series about an ordinary family in every way but one. Dealing with myriad issues from sibling rivalry and teen angst to financial stress, “... Little is as much about humanity as height” (TV Guide). Standing just over four feet tall, the Roloff parents offer a unique perspective on how little people deal with life’s everyday problems in a world that wasn’t made for them. With three average height children – 15 year-old Jeremy, 12 year-old Molly and 9 year-old Jacob – and one little person son, Jeremy’s twin brother Zachary – life on their 34-acre Oregon farm is never dull. Capturing the highs and lows of the family’s struggles and successes, Little People, Big World contains three discs with the first season’s 20 aired episodes as well as two special “lost” episodes that fans won’t want to miss.

Miami Ink: Season One
(Release date: Oct.30)
Commitment, tradition and passion are the basic principles that guide the artists of Miami Ink, a Florida tattoo parlor that’s become a permanent South Beach fixture and an enduring TV icon. Currently in its third season, Miami Ink has become a surprise hit among the inked and the uninitiated alike. Miami Ink Season One comes to DVD October 30 from TLC and Genius Products, timed to the premiere of the second half of season three. Reuniting five friends – Ami James, Chris Nuñez, Darren Brass, Chris Garver and Yoji Harada, each a world-class artist in his own right – Miami Ink follows the pursuit of a shared dream, exploring the motivations and the profound impulses that inspire their diverse customers to seek out their indelible art. From the stress of running a business to the sublime satisfaction of the art itself, the series charts the triumphs and prevails of its subjects, with a steady stream of eccentric clients to keep things colorful. The customer base includes a mother/daughter duo in search of matching ink, a man hoping to memorialize a wife lost to cancer, a woman seeking to mark her escape from the depths of addiction into the joys of sobriety and more.

Be back with more reviews, roundup, rants and our radio show!
Don't forget to tune into our show tomorrow: The Shelf on the Air. Call in with your comments and questions at (646) 716-8261. You can go to our show page at this blogtalkradio link. If you prefer email before or during the show at

Listen Live

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.

You are going Uruguay, and I'm going my way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

it's all relative...

Warning: The following is a commentary. It is not a film review, but an opinion. It may contain humor or satire, it may contain logic and rational arguments. Those easily offended by such things should proceed with caution.

Very recently I watched an interesting documentary about the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) entitled This Film Is Not Yet Rated. I was very interested to see it as it was about the ratings of film, the ratings board and Jack Valenti, who died earlier this year. I am no fan of Valenti, but I couldn't help but watch this film and be amazed at what a hit piece it was on Valenti, Middle America, Religion, and the studios. And rather than walk away from the film with thoughts on censorship and why things are rated the way they are, I came away with more questions than ever and a reaffirmation of things I had often considered about human nature and power.

Let me start off by saying this is not a review, but commentary that arose from watching the film. Secondly let warn anyone who might wish to see the film: it does contain some nudity and language, which, if you've seen "edgy" documentaries in the last 10 years you should come to expect. I was a little peeved in the sense that I didn't necessarily care to see some of that stuff and didn't go see a movie because of it's content, why are you shoving it in my face in the guise of an "intelligent discussion" or "documentary? (The problem I had was that it seemed overkill- "Hey this is NC-17, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this! You couldn't see it in the theater, but here it is for you to see now!) All I can say is: Thank goodness they haven't come for my remote control or removed my fast forward button.

Next, let me add that I myself am somewhat mystified by the MPAA. As a historian I know how they came about, I understand Valenti's political connections, etc. But I have often had the experience of sitting through a PG-13 film and wondered why it wasn't rated "R" or, in a different film, why it wasn't a "PG". I think part of the main argument of director/writer Kirby Dick's film addresses the arbitrariness, secrecy, and bias of the MPAA and raises the question: Should it be more open, or public? Valid point, one that I think I agree with on the surface of the argument. Should the system be more transparent? Perhaps. But there is where the nonsense begins.

The approach taken by Dick and many of those he interviewed, is that the ratings system is
"fascist" (it was called that by one "interviewee"), and is secret and controlled by corporations, etc. In fact there were so many tired lines out of the cultural elite playbook, that I stop counting them. But here is a few, paraphrased, except where in quotations:
1. Rather see sex on screen, than violence.
2. We should be more European, the European are so much more sophisticated/advanced.
3. We should have "experts, rather than parents" rate movies.
4. Money, corporations, studios are evil.
5. Films with a military "gung-ho" approach are a "form of brainwashing and it has led our society to be militaristic."
6. "Two or three corporations control the information in this country."
7. The government is better suited to handle ratings.
8. Americans have a problem with sex and/or pleasure.
9. Did we say we should be more like Europeans?

I've heard it all before, and the arguments made in the film (not necessarily by Kirby Dick-I want to be fair) by some of the people interviewed where so conspiratorial in tone, so irrational, so lop-sided, so circular in their reasoning they would make Oliver Stone confused. Ok- maybe not Stone, but you get the picture. Here are a few thoughts that I have based on some of these arguments:

1. If the ratings system was devised as a way to guide parents (which somehow works with video games to a degree if reports are to be believed, and these same elites have no problem with that!), why should there not be parents on the board. Should the board be "refreshed" every so often? Yes? Should parents be excused in favor of lawyers and bureaucrats? NO. The argument was made in the film that the MPAA ratings board is "Unconstitutional". This is laughable in and of itself, because it's not a government entity, and the ratings are not binding. They can be accepted or not. But to suggest that the government would be more suited to the task and that somehow passes "Constitutional muster" is a joke.

2. Money and corporations and republicans were the big bad guys in the film. In fact, one individual was specifically identified as a republican. Knowing that they are a minority in Hollywood, why was that person so identified on screen and no one else's party or political affiliation given. Jack Valenti was a LBJ man, but except for one brief mention, you'd think he had lived at some secret central republican compound and controlled things from his "undisclosed location." He was a democrat! And I guarantee that many of the people they were after in the film were democrat as well, which may be why their political affiliation was never brought up. Jack Valenti was, in my opinion, a political opportunist and enjoyed being in power and feted by those in power. This is also expressed in the film. Irregardless, someone, either Valenti or a MPAA spokesperson, should be able to comment. I would think they would be someone to question. But, Valenti, nor any other individual involved with the MPAA has any time in the film, other than previous footage or when they are being "identified". Valenti retired in 2004 and died in 2007. The film was released in fall of 2006. Are you telling me they couldn't talk to him during production, or anyone associated with him? Yes, they used footage of interviews, but as anyone knows, those can be (and were) edited for maximum effect.

Money is as at the root of this thing as it is power. If it is only the artist's vision or if it is about telling their story, how do they feel about piracy and the MPAA's efforts towards addressing that issue? Some that I've seen have fervently been in favor in clamping down on piracy, downloading, or otherwise sharing the film. It was given cursory mention towards the end. But you can not escape the fact that one of the main gripes that if their film gets a less than favorable rating that may prevent them from receiving advertising funds. Not to mention hamper box office or DVD sales. But I'm not convinced. Unrated or uncensored DVDs outsell their rated counterparts by a small margin. Is that because it's unrated, or because typically there are more special features on such discs? And for that matter, pay per view, HBO, etc routinely show films and original programing that gets into such rated territory. I don't find fault with film makers worried about money. After all they should see a return on their efforts. But just like everyone else, earn it. Don't get up on a soapbox and grandstand to force people to accept or see your film if they normally wouldn't want to see it. Too much carping on money, evil corporations and the old saw about 2 or 3 corporations controlling everything is hypocritical and tired.

3. The beginning of the film was tied to sex. "Sex should be natural, should be seen, should be on the screen. We Americans are backwards and puritanical. We should be more like Europeans." I heard several times: "What do we think teenagers are doing anyway? We aren't showing them anything they have seen before!" Just because, it was argued, they see the acts on the screen, doesn't mean they are going to immediately go out and engage in all this activity anyway. But, herein, lies the problem. They also said, sometimes in the same breath, it's wrong that we can show violence and not sex. We worry more about the violence. Then later on in a section devoted to violence, they tried to make the argument that the more violence onscreen can lead to those acts being imitated in real life, and that poses a threat. Uh, what? So which is it? If you see it, you do- or you see it, but you don't do it? You can't claim one way for sex (a physical act) on the screen and not for violence (another physical act.)

I personally would rather have BOTH rated and am uncomfortable with my children watching excessive (non-cartoonish) violence or sex in a movie. That's why I watch and oversee what they watch and what movies they see. The ratings should help me have an idea of what's in a film, rather than me relying on a teenager to tell me: "It's OK dad. There's nothing bad in it. Can I go?" Anyone who has a teenager, or has been a teenager should honestly know better than to trust that statement. The ratings should help the theater employees (if they are doing their job) to make sure a teenager isn't trying to sneak into a movie they swore on their life they weren't going to, even if I am doing everything, including driving them to the theater and back and reading a book in the car. In other words, the ratings system, ideally should be a way to help give parents information and theaters to support choices parents have made. Telling me, I should chill and that "everybody does it" is an argument that hasn't washed since baby boomers first tried to borrow dad's Thunderbird to go to the sock hop, and it ain't flying now.

The thing that isn't being addressed is the ways in which sex is tied into politics, whether artificially or not. That was something that came out several times in the film when some film makers commented that the ratings system was a way to "stifle" the voices of gay or straight film makers who felt like they weren't "represented" and that censoring their film, because of sex scenes was because raters or the people behind them, would lose political control, or wanted to suppress them. I recall the Oscars of early 2006, when producers and elitists insisted that Brokeback Mountain be given the Best Picture award. When Crash won, there was a general sense of outrage among commentators and insiders. Some of these films are made by companies, whose express purpose is to produce films to spark "change" in society. That's all well and good. I just resent in when someone shoves a pile of crap down my throat and tells me it's change and I will damn well like it. Besides, who's "change" is it? I don't have a problem with people doing their thing. I just have a problem when I am forced to like it, incorporate it or forced to never say anything negative about it. That, my friends, is fascism.

4. We should be more like the Europeans? Please. That is not the way to win me over. What is wrong with being who we are? Increasingly in our country, we are told, not only how bad our country is, but how good the Europeans are. I don't have a problem with Europe. I would love to visit there someday. But, in the words of the great Dennis Miller, being the head of the European Union is like being Valedictorian of your summer school. I lived is South America for a while, and saw first hand the love/hate feelings some people have for Americans. We are loved and hated precisely because we have freedom, we have more plenty and less poor in our nation. We are and have been doing some things right, and some want that as well. Others would rather destroy it. The idea of being "European" is a fantasy that not even Europeans that I personally know would recognize. It's a fantasy that began with post modernism in the 50s and has carried on today.

5. The government? Seriously? The government should take over? The argument was: The secrecy of the board is guarded so they can't be influenced. This is wrong. If the government was in charge, then it would be experts and a transparent process. PUH-LEEZE. Government can't be influenced? Isn't that what cultural elites piss and moan about 24/7 - about how the evil corporations influence the government? And by the way- this liberal fantasy about how corporations and businesses are inherently evil is a little too "hippie" for me. Grow up and grow some. People can be bad. People can make wrong choices and evil choices, whether they are in business or government. But you cannot extrapolate the specific to the general whole. The film makers interviewed in the film weren't mad so much because someone judged their work (some did mention that), but they seemed more upset because studios don't like to back NC-17 movies (although I've seen several commercials of some of those films on television) and will reduce their advertising budget (and I've read some film makers who accepted the R or NC-17 rating almost as a badge of honor). Also we've seen the effects of regulation in at the expense of freedom, common sense and money. Cultural elites are all about regulation when it suits them. Wanna see?

Here's just some examples:
Cigarettes: Regulate or outlaw
Marijuana & other drugs: Decriminalize
Movies: Uncensor. especially in regards to sex
Video Games, Talk Radio and "unregulated" newsmedia: censor
Oil, nuclear power, vehicles: bad
Biofuel (that's starting to prove costly) or no cars: good
Transfats: Eliminate
Tofu: Unfettered access
So which is it, Hollywood? What's your deal? The bottom line is that cultural elites are relativistic and their views are relative. Everything is relative to their lives or pretensions.

I agree, in principle, that the ratings should be less arbitrary and more open. I also agree that perhaps paid lifetime positions on the board isn't smart. But you can't seriously expect the government to solve those problems. Besides, the ratings do help. Some fairly understandable guidelines are publicly known. They help me know what I should take a careful look at before I, or my family go see a movie, if I personally don't believe that it is appropriate or good for my family. While some think I shouldn't be allowed to make judgements or moral decisions, I stress it is vital to me to be able to do so, without anyone telling me what to think. In a capitalistic society, I am able to make my choices and opinion known with my dollar. And in the end, I think that ticks off cultural elites more than anything else.

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.

I'll see my lawyer about this as soon as he graduates from law school.

Friday, August 17, 2007

tune in tomorrow...

Well kiddies, tomorrow is another Saturday, and that means it will be time for our favorite show: The Shelf on the Air! If you listened in last week, then you will remember that we discussed Westerns. Specifically, 20 influencial Westerns of the 20th Century. We covered the first ten, so tomorrow we'll discuss the last ten, from the 1950s through the 1990s. I promised to put up our list before the show, so here we go:

The Iron Horse (1924)
Stagecoach (1939)
The Ox Bow Incident (1942)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
Red River (1948)
Fort Apache (1948)
High Noon (1952)
Shane (1953)
The Man From Laramie (1955)
The Searchers (1956)
7 Men From Now (1956)
Rio Bravo (1959)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
Dances With Wolves (1990)
Tombstone (1993)

Now remember - these are films that we consider influencial in the genre. Whether that means on other directors, or moving the genre in new directions, technical aspects, etc. If this were a list of our favorites, it would be a different list. And we understand this might be debatable. In fact, you might have a film or two that you think should be on the list. Well, that's the point. We wnat you to join the conversation. So call in tomorrow and talk with us. Give us your opinion. We are going to add 5 other films to the list for a final post that will appear here next week. We want callers to give us their suggestions and reasons. If you want to do so by email - send us an email. And you can leave your own suggestion in the comments section of this post. And next week we'll have a final list of 25 Influencial Westerns of the 20th Century. Also on tomorrow's show- a Shelf on the Air exclusive: a review of one of the new Elvis Deluxe Edition DVDs that came out last week.

Call in with your comments and questions at (646) 716-8261. You can go to our show page at this blogtalkradio link. If you prefer email before or during the show at

Listen Live

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.

Sticks and stones can break your bones but words cause permanent damage!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

dvd review: elvis: the hollywood collection

Unless you are living under a rock, you know that today is the 30th Anniversary of his death. Many sites and shows are celebrating his life and work. We love Elvis at the Shelf. He represents a lot of things that changed about America and American pop culture. In many ways, he represents pop culture. He is perhaps one of the first celebrities to have really merchandised the way he has been after his death. Heck, we just refer to him by his first name. There is only one Elvis. (Ok- there is Elvis Costello, but he's not the Elvis we're talking about. You know who we're talking about.) Beyond all that, we refer to Elvis as phases of his career and life. There is Vegas Elvis, there's chubby Elvis, there's Elvis, Hawaiian style and young Elvis. No matter how you slice, Elvis pervades out popular culture and has influences how we view and venerate celebrities, for good or ill.

We've received quite a few Elvis flicks here at the Shelf, home office to review for you. And I'm going to be straight with you- not all of them are great. In fact, I don't think I've surprised anyone. We're going to start with the Elvis: The Hollywood Collection first. And since the last few reviews have been rather lengthy and we have a lot of Elvis (and better) to get to in the next few days, we'll try to be concise. What you really want to know is the bottom line. Is it worth your cash? Do you pick up this set or any of the other Elvis DVDs out there? Will it be a Shelf Classic? Read our review of Elvis: The Hollywood Collection and find out.

The Hard Facts:
Elvis: The Hollywood Collection
Six Discs in individual keep cases
Studio: Warner Home Video
Original Studios: MGM, WB, and
National General Pictures
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2007
Rated: PG or NR for All Films
Stars: Elvis

It's freakin' Elvis, man! How much background do you need?
OK, just kidding.
These films cover a span of about 5 years: 1964-69. It represents the fulfillment of Elvis' MGM contract and the period of time in which his popularity was somewhat in decline. He would, in fact, in 1968 regain his popularity and success with his famous comeback concert. By that time he was done with MGM and in a year, done with movies. It would be concerts, Vegas and television from then on until his death in 1977.

Some of the films are among the least of his efforts, and quite frankly among the least of his own favorites. With some exceptions, which we'll expound on later, some involved in these films were cashing in on Elvis' name, the least of which was Col. Mustard... uh, sorry, Tom. (I always do that!) Even Elvis, no great actor, was dialing it in sometimes.

The Films:
There are no special features, aside from theatrical trailers.

Co-Stars: Victor French, Ina Balin and Solomon Sturges.
Reformed gunfighter Jess Wade has been trying separate himself from his past when he was running with the Hackett gang. He's able to get away and stay for a year, but Vince Hackett (a pre-Little House on the Praire French) doesn't let anyone leave him. Vince, his deranged brother Billy Roy (Sturgess), and the rest of the gang steal a ceremonial gold plated cannon from Mexico and leave evidence to place the blame on Jess. The key identification is that one of bandits was shot by the Federales and a mark was left on his neck. Vince kidnaps Jess and uses a hot poker to place a mark on his neck and then let's him loose, telling him that Jess will be hunted down. When Jess gets his strength up he heads to town where his friend Dan, the sheriff and his girl, Tracey (Balin)live. They've seen the wanted posters, but they believe him and attempt to help him. They capture Billy Joe and put him in jail, but the Sheriff is wounded. He places Jess in charge as the deputy. When Vince discovers what happens he gives Jess an ultimatum: Release his brother or he'll turn the cannon on the town.

Elvis songs: This is Elvis's non-musical film so just the title song is featured.

I began with the best flick in the box, and ironically it's the non-musical film. What is interesting to me is that, while not the best western I've ever seen, it is pretty good, and Elvis shows some talent and effort. Unfortunately, it's not his best performance. Victor French makes a excellent bad guy and Solomon Sturgess (the son of director Preston Sturgess) is a pretty standard off his rocker bad guy. The real standout is the beautiful and talented Ina Balin (You've seen her in The Commancheros with John Wayne). You also might recognize a younger James Sikking (Gunner in Charro!), and remember him from his role as Lt. Howard Hunter in Hill Street Blues.

Stay Away, Joe:
Co-Stars: Burgess Meredith, Joan Blondell, Katy Jurado and L.Q. Jones
Joe Lighthorse (Elvis) has talked the government into underwriting his father with a herd of cattle in order to help the local economy, and get the Senator who arranged the deal elected as Governor. The problem is that Joe's dad, Charlie (Meredith) has never really succeeded in anything. And as soon as they get the cattle, they butcher and barbecue the only bull they have at a party. It's up to Joe to find away to get a bull and make a success of the herd before the Senator comes back or his step mom (Jurado) sells off the herd.

Elvis songs: Mostly forgettable songs: Stay Away, Dominic, and Lovely Mamie.

And now I go straight to the worst of the set. Really and truly, this film has a excellent cast, but wastes everything. Elvis is supposed to be Native American, but in one scene his make up is very dark and in the next he's paleface. The plot and contrivances that Joe gets into are very confusing and it's difficult to figure out if Joe really wants to help his dad, because he spends half his time getting in trouble with girls. What is really hard to watch is the characterization of the Native Americans in the film. Indians in westerns in the 30s and 40s were better portrayed than the characters in this film. I'm no PC nut, but it's difficult to watch the obviously over emphasized make-up, the constant drinking and the implication of Indians being lazy and incompetent. It's a formula film and while Elvis looks like he's having fun, it's one time viewing at best. It's compacted by the presence of Joan Blondell, Meredith and Jurado who are all excellent actors, and are utterly wasted here.

Live a Little, Love a Little
Co-Stars: Michele Carey, Dick Sargent and Rudy Vallee (I'm not kidding!)
Greg Nolan (Elvis) is a photographer who meets up with a kooky beach girl (Carey) named Susan, Betty, Alice or Bernice depending on her mood. She manages to get him fired and kicked out of his apartment, even though he tries to get away from her. She also has a parade of guys in and out of her house, including her ex, Harry (Sargent). Nolan is able to find two new jobs: one as a playboy style magazine and the other with a respectable ad firm headed by Mr. Louis Penlow (Vallee- no, really!). Can Elvis keep his jobs and his new place and figure out Bernice?

Elvis songs: Some good ones and a few strange ones. Includes the classic (although not until recently, but I still like it) A Little Less Conversation.

This is one of the formulaic films that Elvis was forced into late in his Hollywood career. And after seeing Charro! and Stay Away, Joe (good advice for that one by the way), essentially the high and low of the set, the rest of the films seem to follow a standard formula, with a few changes in scripts. It almost seems as if MGM didn't really know what to do with Elvis, especially with his popularity waning. In this film it seems as if the are trying to appeal to the late 60s psychedelic crowd with some of the numbers, the swinging lifestyle, etc. The problem is they try too hard. Even Elvis doesn't seem comfortable. The only time he's smiling is in the opening sequence when he's driving the dune buggy across the beach. Not totally bad, but forgettable.

Tickle Me
Co-Stars: Lots of girls.
OK - to save time here's the same formula with some key changes.
Elvis' job and/or shtick: Rodeo wrangler.
Location: Dude Ranch
Girl: Lots of 'em
Twist: The Dude Ranch were he gets a job isn't for dudes! If you know what I mean!
Problem Elvis has to solve: Save the Ranch and the girl from the bad guys after her inheritance which is supposed to be a hidden cache of gold.

Elvis songs: Dirty Dirty Feeling, I'm Yours and a host of others.

This is the prime example of Col. Parker and everyone else cashing in on Elvis for a quick buck. This, like several other films, was made to sell soundtracks.

Kissin' Cousins
Co-Stars: Elvis (I'll explain), Yvonne Craig and Jack Albertson.
OK- here we go again. Same Formula, different cast
Elvis' job: Actually Elvis plays two cousins: Josh Morgan and Jodie Tatum. One is a city slicker and the other a hillbilly. How do you tell them apart? The hillbilly is wearing a blond wig! The dark haired cousin, Josh is in the Air Force and the blond is a hillbilly!
Girls: Cousin Azalea Tatum (Craig- Don't ask) and several others.
Location: The hills
The twist: They are cousins, but look like twins! Both played by Elvis! In a blond wig!
Problem: The Air Force wants to build a missile silo on Pa Tatum's land. So they send Lieutenant Josh Morgan, a cousin of the Tatums, to seal the deal. But the Tatums start to grow on Josh. His cousins I mean, not Taters.

Elvis songs: Title song, Tender Feeling, Echoes of Love and more.

This film wasn't bad, but is another film made to sell an album. It's better than a few of the others and has some funny bits. Yvonne Craig is excellent and the songs are pretty good, but nothing classic. A fun time, but standard stuff.

Girl Happy
Co-Stars: Gary Crosby, Shelley Fabares and Harold J. Stone
Mobster Big Frank (Stone) hires rock and roller, Rusty Wells (Elvis) to look after his daughter Valerie (Fabares) while she goes down to Ft. Lauderdale during spring break. His job isn't easy though,as Valerie falls in love with him until she figures out he's working for her father. Then she falls for an Italian playboy and Rusty has to get her away before it's cement shoes for him.

Elvis songs: Title song, Do The Clam, I've Got to Find My Baby and more.

This one is a favorite with fans, and it's a pretty good film. It's right before he started making the final string of formulaic films (see above). The plot is a little different, and the music is pretty decent with a few exceptions. Bing Crosby's son, Gary, plays a member of Elvis' band in the film.

The films have new digital transfers and look quite good. The audio is excellent as well. Let me also mention the packaging. Each film is packaged with 5 postcards that feature publicity shots and the movie posters. A nice touch and kudos to WHV for adding them.

The Bottom Line:
This set is pretty well put together with films some fans have been asking for appearing in the set. Charro! and Girl Crazy are pretty good, Stay Away Joe is pretty bad and the rest are OK. Fans and completists are going to be buying this set no matter what. Others should check out Charro! and Girl Happy and perhaps rent the others if they want. Fortunately the films will also be sold individually and repackaged late in the year in a special Blue Suede case with about 3 or 4 other films (which we'll be reviewing here later)- so plan accordingly. I may be run out of town by fans, but we call 'em like we see 'em. Besides, we love Elvis here, and we know he's got better out there. Come back to the Shelf, cause we'll be reviewing some of last week's re-releases of some of the better films.

Review Rating:
Individually grading the films, they would earn the following:
Charro!: B-
Girl Happy: C+
Stay Away, Joe : D
Kissin' Cousins: C-
Live a Little, Love a Little: C-
Tickle Me: C-

Overall rating: 2 and 1/2 stars(Groucho Glasses)

The set isn't a Shelf Classic, but it's worth checking out a couple of the films. WHV, like everyone else, has a lot of Elvis coming out this week. I appreciate that WHV is willing to go into the vault and pull out some more obscure or different titles that aren't out in the market. Thanks to them, big time Elvis fans will be happy. For more great Elvis stuff, you should be checking out The Vintage Place with our friend Sallie for some great Elvis music.

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.

If a woman's eyes are blue, she'll be sweet and true to you. But if a woman's eyes are green, she'll turn hot, or cold, or mean!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

dvd review: myrna loy & william powell collection

Just a few years ago, Wolf and I were discussing the fact that we had a huge list of films that were not out on DVD, and it was a downright travesty that studios weren't digging into their classics. I am very pleased to report that just in the past three years, that list has decreased dramatically. We live in a brave, new world folks. Not too long ago, the only Looney Tunes that was available to purchase on DVD was a copy of Space Jam. I was holding on to more rapidly deteriorating VHS copies of Droopy, The Naked Spur, homemade collection of Disney classic shorts (taped off of Disney Channel back when it was great) and more for dear life. I was converting my collection of flicks over to DVD, and really hoping that in the many years that VHS had been able to accumulate a library of classic films in print would one day carry over to DVD.

The one set of films that was near the top of both of our lists were the Thin Man films. I couldn't believe they weren't out on DVD! Heck, we even looked on the Internet and found that Australia had DVD box set of them. Right then and there, had I been in Australia, I could've gone into any place that sold DVDs and go up to the sales girl, pluck my ducats (or whatever they spend there) down on the counter and say, "G'Day! I'd like a copy of The Thin Man Collection. Right! Thanks much, you're a good Sheila!" (Please note that my Australian is a bit weak these days, but I sure would've brushed up with a Berlitz course before I went.)

The Thin Man was that important to us. We grew up on them. My dad had all six on VHS and Wolf and I "borrowed" them from time to time til it grew like a custody battle of sorts. They were essential, along with several other films, to my beginnings as a classic film fan and historian. Wolf and I agreed that if they ever released The Thin Man or the Marx Brothers films on DVD, we would do all in our power to secure them. Even if it meant saving every Christmas and birthday gift card we could muster- they would be ours! (A set each, I may add. Custody battles over VHS tapes are not a pretty thing!) It wasn't long before The Marx Brothers films, Looney Tunes and others received the box set treatment and I proudly added them to my collection.

Then that day came in 2005 when Wolf and I got our very own copies of The Thin Man DVD Collection. We celebrated on this blog with a three part series of articles reviewing the series and the set. Then I got greedy. I began thinking- maybe, just maybe if this set sells well, then WB will put out the rest of Myrna Loy and William Powell flicks. Sure, a pipe dream maybe, but something worth dream for nonetheless. Then, low and behold, it turned out that I wasn't the only dreamer around! The Thin Man set became Warner's highest selling box set, and is still selling to this day. Then earlier this year, they announced that they were bringing the remaining Loy-Powell costarring films to DVD (minus The Great Ziegfeld and Libeled Lady, which of course are already on DVD)! I rejoiced! I did a jig! In fact, I did Walter Houston's Old Miner's Dance (patent pending)!

So what does this mean to you, dear Shelfer? Just this - you can go out and purchase your very own copy of the new TCM Spotlight Collections: Myrna Loy & William Powell Collection! And, if you are still in any doubt, never fear! The Shelf is here to bring you a complete review of the new collection. Is it worth your hard-earned cash and time. Will they just sit on the stack to collect dust, or will you be watching them over and over? Is the new set a Shelf Classic? Read today's Shelf review of the Myrna Loy & William Powell Collection, and find out.

The Hard Facts:
TCM Spotlight: Myrna Loy and
William Powell Collection
Five Discs in a digi-pak folding case
Studio: Warner Home Video
Black & White (some extras in color)
Original Studio: MGM
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2007
Rated: NR for All Films
Stars: Myrna Loy and William Powell

Let me quote from my 2005 review of The Thin Man:
Director "Woody" Van Dyke once said that The Thin Man movies worked because of the chemistry and personalities of lead actors William Powell and Myrna Loy. Although they were playing characters from Dashiell Hammett's famous detective novel, the actors portrayed them with so much of their own charm and a real affection for one another. "Powell was just Powell," he said, "and Loy was just Loy." The Thin Man premiered in 1934, and Powell and Loy began a on-screen partnership that lasted for 14 films. That's one of Hollywood's best records folks, Ginger and Fred aside. Although Powell and Loy were never married, many people thought they were a real married couple. In reality, William and Myrna were close friends, sharing a similar sense of humor and sensibilities. The charm and chemistry was so natural in their films, and you could tell, above all- they were having fun. Loy once said about Powell, "I never enjoyed my work more than when I worked with William Powell. He was a brilliant actor, a delightful companion, a great friend and above all, a true gentleman." And of working with Loy Powell remarked,"We weren't acting, we were just two people in perfect harmony."

MGM ran a much publicized and manufactured campaign which named Clark Gable and Myrna Loy as the King and Queen of Hollywood. While it's true that she had a number of films with Gable and a good on-screen chemistry, through the years it has been her pairing with William Powell that has charmed fans over and over again. Their easy chemistry, wit, and obvious genuine affection and respect for each other made them a true classic on-screen duo; one of Hollywood's all-time pairings right up there with Tracy and Hepburn, Bogie and Bacall and Astaire and Rogers.

Powell and Loy really stood out with romantic comedy. The Thin Man series always had a mystery, which in and of itself was good, but it was the interplay between the two that made the series stand out. In their first few films together, melodrama seemed to be more in order. The very first time the pair met was on the set of Manhattan Melodrama; in fact in their very first scene together. They had rehearsed their lines separately and then literally met in that very first scene. They clicked on screen right before our eyes. And you can see something happening, even though the lines in the film are being spoken, it's the twinkle in their eyes that can't be manufactured. A team either has it, or they don't. Director Van Dyke knew they had it. MGM found it with the enormous success of the film that they had it. Now, what to do with it?They attempted to redo the "melodrama" aspect with Evelyn Prentice that same year, and of course, Van Dyke directed them in The Thin Man. It was that movie which really demonstrated their flair for wit and their chemistry for romantic films. Most of their films from that point on would be romantic comedy or screwball comedy. Speaking of the films....

The Films:

Manhattan Melodrama
Co-Stars: Clark Gable, Nat Pendleton and Mickey Rooney
"Blackie" Gallagher (Gable) and Jim Wade (Powell) are friends since childhood who endured many hardships together. Their parents died on the "General Slocum" riverboat, which blew up and burned in the East River. Then their adoptive father dies during an anarchist riot, which leaves them on their own at a young age. While they had each other, they were very different. Jim pushes himself academically, eventually becoming the District Attorney. Blackie on the other hand, had no use for books and runs with gangsters, eventually running a gambling joint and racking up the dough. The two reunite later in life, still good friends, but on opposite sides of the law. But Blackie is as proud of Jim success as ever, telling him he could even become governor and refuses to stand in Jim's way. One night when on his way to celebrate with Jim for his latest political victory, Blackie gets sidelined and sends his girlfriend, Eleanor (Loy) to met Jim and to wait for him. When the two meet there is an instant spark. All of the sudden Eleanor knows what she wants: a home, a family- stability. In short, all of the things Blackie won't give her. Eleanor leaves Blackie, who despite his feelings for her, knows it's the best thing for the two people he loves. Blackie's loyalty knows no bounds. When Jim's career is in danger he even resorts to murder to make sure nothing happens to Jim and Eleanor. When Blackie is arrested, Jim must make a series of decisions about his oldest friend, his convictions, and even his wife, Eleanor.

Extras: Comedy short: Goofy Movies #2, classic cartoon: The Old Pioneer and the theatrical trailer.

This film is well known for several reasons beyond being the first film with Powell and Loy. It is the film that solidified Clark Gable as a matinee idol, being his first big one shortly after It Happened One Night. It is also the film that John Dillinger was out to see with the infamous "women in red" when he was caught and gunned down by the feds. It was also one of the first major screen films for a very young Mickey Rooney. The film itself was a hit with the public. It was MGM's attempt at a gangster film in a different vein than Warner Brothers, whose outlook was more gritty and violent. But the public latched on to the melodrama aspect of the film. And was it melodrama. They really laid it on thick with the crying young lads at the beginning of the film after the sinking (based on the real event) of the riverboat and death of their adoptive father. When we get to Gable, Loy and Powell that's when things pick up. This is perhaps the real beginning of Gable's film persona as a lovable blackguard, one that would reprised with similar themes in San Francisco. And it's Gable's role (not his performance) that provides some sticking points. While you feel a genuine earnestness about his loyalty to Jim, having him talk Jim into not commuting his sentence is a bit of a stretch. And it's a bit disconcerting to see a character that for the most of film is pretty fair, even if he's a gambling boss, but at the same time can gun down someone so coldly. It's hard to reconcile the two, but it doesn't really take away from the performance or the film. Any way you cut it, Manhattan Melodrama is an excellent film, and it's great to see it finally on DVD.

Evelyn Prentice
Co-Stars: Harvey Stephens, Frank Conroy, Una Merkel and Rosalind Russell.
John Prentice is a successful attorney, well known for defending women who have been accused of crimes against their significant others. He is a workaholic, and although he very much loves his wife, Evelyn (Loy) and their daughter, he is rarely at home. Evelyn loves her husband and tries to find ways for him to spend more time at home. When John leaves for meeting a client in Washington, DC , his most recent client, Nancy Harrison (Russell in her debut role) has arranged to be on the train as well. John was able to get her acquitted, and Nancy, who has fallen for him, wants to "thank" him. Meanwhile, Evelyn has been out more and more by herself or her friend, Amy Drexel (Merkel). One evening, she is approached by a man, Larry Kennard (Harvey Stephens) who has designs on her. She initially refuses to spend time with him, but soon she becomes drawn to him. When she discovers that Nancy Harrison had been on the train with her husband, Evelyn decides to go to Larry. Neither Evelyn nor John ever really go through with anything, but some damage has been done. Evelyn has written a few letters to Larry who decides to blackmail her. When they argue, Evelyn sees a gun in Larry's desk and grabs it- threatening Larry to return her letters. A shot rings out and Evelyn runs home. In the meantime, Larry's live-in girlfriend has returned and discovers John on the floor. The police arrest her and accuse her of murder. When Evelyn reads the paper that evening she finds out what has happened, and despite her feelings of guilt, she can't bring herself to tell her husband. Instead she insists that he defend the woman. But all the while, her guilt continues to fester, leading her to make a decision which may ruin her family.

Extras: Comedy short: Goofy Movies #3, classic cartoon: Discontented Canary and the theatrical trailer.

Evelyn Prentice demonstrates that MGM still didn't really see what they had in Powell and Loy. It would be a little while before the real impact of The Thin Man would show them what they could do. I really enjoyed Evelyn Prentice, and it's interesting how the film subtlety and deftly handles adult issues of adultery (or at least the appearance of adultery), blackmail and the complexities of adult relationships and dishonesty. But it dabbles too much into melodrama, rather than letting the story and Powell and Loy carry the honesty of emotions and the drama. The emotional weight and the propulsion of the sequence of events rest on Evelyn's shoulders, and thus Loy's performance. She does an admirable job, but it makes the film's center rest on her choices, rather than on anyone else, thus giving it a more uneven tone. To modern audiences it may seem dated, but for 1934 audiences it remained very dramatic and touching. Evelyn Prentice is a good film, but in this viewer's opinion, perhaps the weakest of the Loy/Powell canon. It was neat to see regular Powell and Loy supporting players Jessie Ralph and Edward Brophy in the cast. It's also a treat to see Rosalind Russell in her debut role.

Double Wedding
Co-Stars: Jessie Ralph, Florence Rice and John Beal.
Charlie Lodge (Powell) is a bohemian bon vivant living in a auto trailer next to a joint named "Spikes". Irene Agnew (Rice) and her fiancee of four years, Waldo (Beal), admire Charlie's carefree life and have developed a real friendship with him. The problem is that Irene's button-down sister, Margit (Loy) will have nothing of it. She's a successful business woman who has dictated everything in her sister's life, including who and when she marries. Margit approaches Charlie and requests that he stay away from Irene, but Charlie bristles at Margit's rigidity and at the same time is falling for her. Irene on the other hand, loves Charlie's "umph" and tries to get Waldo to get some "umph" by telling everyone she's in love with Charlie instead. While she hopes it will make Waldo jealous and show some life, he just calmly accepts it. Meanwhile the more Margit spends time with Charlie, the more she alternately is attracted to him and repulsed by how he lives. While she is confused, her business backer, Mrs. Kensington-Bly (who knows Charlie and is a bit of a "dame" herself) knows that Margit is in love. In order to bring the right parties together and get Margit to admit how she feels, he orchestrates a wedding event with Irene that he hopes will bring the right couples together. The wedding becomes one of wackiest things you've ever seen- a scene not to be missed!

Extras: Musical short: Dancing on the Ceiling, classic cartoon: The Hound and the Rabbit and the theatrical trailer .

William Powell and Myrna Loy take us on a wild raucous ride in this screwball comedy. This is exactly what we came for. This is one of my favorite non-Thin Man Powell and Loy films. It really allows for Powell to stretch his comedic talents and play someone who is generally the opposite of the usual urbane, erudite characters he ususally played. Even though Loy is the more unpleasant character in the story, she still manages to bring charm to the role, making her much more sympathetic. The final wedding scene is hilarious and several veteran vaudville comic, Edgar Kennedy and Bert Roach are wonderful as a couple gruffly hilarious denizens of Spike's. While this is a wonderful screwball comedy, it was filmed under some sad circumstances. William Powell's real life fiancee and Loy's good friend, actress Jean Harlow, died tragically and Powell went into mourning. Loy even stated at one time that she couldn't watch the film because it reminded her of that painfull time and the pain her good friend Powell suffered. Even though filming resumed sometime later, it is a testament to Powell's talent and professionalism that he was able to deliver such a delightful performance. Some critics pan the film, but I think it's a great flick and the last scene is such a big pay-off. I don't care what anyone says, Double Wedding is one of my favorites!

I Love You Again
Co-Stars: Frank McHugh, Edmund Lowe and Nella Walker
Straight laced, and community obsessed Larry Wilson recieves a blow to the head while saving a small time crook who had fallen overboard of their cruise ship. When he comes to, Larry Wilson realizes that he is really con man George Carey. Apparently. Carey has suffered a bout of amnesia for many years and had built a very boring and "square" life in a small town as Wilson. The crook whose life he saved is "Doc" Ryan, is grateful to him and offers to help Larry with whatever he wants to do. "Larry " discovers two things in short order: he is married to a beautiful woman, Kay who wants to divorce him- and that he possibly has access to quite a bit of money. Kay wants to divorce Larry, because he has seemingly abandoned her affections in favor of the acclaim of public service. Larry is smitten with her and decides to do everything he can to win her back,. even though he doesn't remember how he "got" her in the first place. In the meantime, Larry and Doc decide to pull a con to milk the town's residents of their cash. He continues to pretend to be Larry, even though Kay knows something is different. Eventually Larry's two most important goals, winning Kay and pulling the job will become impossible to reconcile.

Extras: Crime Doesn't Pay Series short: Jackpot, classic cartoon: Tom Turkey and His Harmonica Humdingers and the theatrical trailer.

I Love You Again is a very funny film; not quite as screwball as Double Wedding, but a wonderful romantic comedy. Powell seemed to excell at playing characters who had a little bit of the cad in them, but were still essentially good, smart, urbane and very charming and lovable. It can be a fine line sometimes that other actors can't really pull off, save perhaps Gable. The film has some really funny bits, including the scene where he has to lead the local scout troop on a hike - a scene that also features Our Gang vets Carl Switzer and Robert Blake. Frank McHugh is excellent and watching this film made me want to check out more of his films again. The interplay between McHugh and Powell is priceless and it's a wonder that the two never worked together again. You can catch McHugh in many a James Cagney film, but I recommend that you check him out in an underrated Humphrey Bogart comedy, All Through the Night.

Love Crazy
Co-Stars: Gail Patrick, Jack Carson, Florence Bates and Donald MacBride.
Married couple Steve and Susan Ireland (Powell and Loy, natch) are still very much in love four years later. They still re-enact their wedding night every anniversary. Things start to unravel on their fourth anniversary when Susan's mother (Bates) arrives. Things get further complicated when Steve runs into his old fiancee, Isobel (Patrick) in the elevator. Steve and Isobel talk about old times, and Susan's mother sees them assuming the worst. When she tells Susan, she intially trusts Steve, but later believes that he lied to her. When she files for divorce, Steve does his best to explain, but on the eve of their court date, discovers that the one thing he can do to delay the court proceedings is to pretend to have a nervous breakdown. Even though the court believes Steve's act, Susan isn't buying it. She pushes to have him go before a sanity hearing, thinking she's calling his bluff and they'll prove him sane. To her and Steve's surprise, the board think Steve is insane and have him committed. Somehow, Steve has got to prove he's not crazy and prove to Susan that he still loves her and they belong together.

Extras: Classic cartoon: The Alley Cat, Screen Directors Guild Playhouse radio adaptation of Love Crazy and the theatrical trailer .

Love Crazy is a Powell/ Loy fan favorite, and rightly so. It's a great ride and you can tell the two have this thing down pat. They are so much at ease with each other that it allows them both to shine. Powell particularly has a great deal of physical comedy in the film, and perhaps the best routine is when he dresses in drag, pretending to be his sister, to avoid the police. Loy is very funny in her charming way when she attempts to make Steve jealous, and later when she's trying to help Steve maintain his "disguise". Shelf favorite character actor, Donald MacBride, has a great turn as Isobel's gruff and childish husband, Pinky. You might remember him from dozens of films. My favorite is his bit as the hotel manager in the Marx Brothers' Room Service. Jumping Butterballs!

The transfers of the films are fantastic; crisp black and white and very clean. The audio was just as good. The only problem that I had were some jarring cuts in Evelyn Prentice, but that may be more because of the print that WHV used. I'm not entirely sure, and hopefully some knowledgable Shelfer will be able to let me know, but I believe a few scenes are missing from the film, that I saw in the trailer. It's not uncommon for scenes in the trailer to be cut from the final print before it hits the theater. However the scenes seem so instrumental to the story of Evelyn Prentice that it seems funny that they would be cut.

The Bottom Line:
Fans- this is the one you've been waiting for. Classic film fans who aren't familiar with these films will be pleasantly surprised, and for those who aren't familiar with Powell or Loy altogether- you are in for a treat. I had some very minor issues here and there, but I love the work of these actors so much, it's hard to know if they were all that minor, or if I'm overlooking some things. However, I still found so much of what made me love The Thin Man in these films, and that really demonstrated to me that the films rise way above any weaknesses. The extras weren't fantastic, but they were enjoyable nonetheless. The do feel more like filler here than the features in WHV previous sets. I realize that the Thin Man set had the extra disc with the bio-docs of the stars, but I would've enjoyed a commentary or two of these fan favorite actors and films. Despite this, my minor griping, TCM and WHV hit this one out of the park, and I would not be surprised if this is another bestseller for them.

Review Rating:
Individually grading the films, they would earn the following:
Manhattan Melodrama: A-
Evelyn Prentice: B+
Double Wedding : A+
I Love You Again: A+
Love Crazy : A+

Overall rating: 5 stars (Groucho Glasses)

Obviously, this is the first 5 groucho glasses rating that I've given. It's no wonder- to me this is a set that I'll watch again and again; just like my Thin Man DVDs. The TCM Spotlight Collection line is shaping up to be a fantastic series. I hope TCM and WHV continue this line. The best way to ensure that is to take a lesson from when The Thin Man set was released: buy it. Go out and buy it and encourage your friends to buy it. They'll love the films- you'll love the films, and our numbers will encourage even more great classic films to emerge from the vault.
The Myrna Loy and William Powell Collection is a Shelf Classic!

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.

I often wished I could turn your head - on a spit, over a slow fire.


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