Friday, September 28, 2007

friday night thriller double feature

Yesterday's candy review and bonus radio show seemed to be well received. So much so, that we got a couple of emails and a couple of comments requesting more Cary Grant and/or Halloween OTR. We've been planning to bring you a lot of Halloween OTR, so do we respond to such requests. Well, natch. And more...
For you Cary Grant enthusiasts here's a great website that has collected most of Grant's appearances on radio, including many I already have: Cary Grant on radio.

And here is tonight's Friday Night Thriller Double Feature:
1st: The Lux Radio Theater Adaption of Hitchcock's Spellbound, starring Cary Grant (in Gregory Peck's original role)
2nd: Another episode of Suspense starring Grant: The Black Path of Fear

You know the drill: click on the links and hit the download button.

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.

My dear girl, you can not keep bumping your head against reality and saying it is not there.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

bride of halloween candy review

That's right, it's the return of the Halloween Candy review. Last year we had a lot of fun with this feature and we found a lot of neat stuff. Did we exhaust all of what's out there? No way! There's always something. So much so, that I'm kicking off the 2007 edition of Halloween Madness at the Shelf a little early! So what did we find? It may not be new to you, but it's the first time I've found them:

Jolly Rancher Creepy Pops!

I am a Jolly Rancher fan from way back, but suckers aren't always my favorite. So there needs to be a little extra jazz, if you will, to make them something I wouldn't pass over in the Halloween Candy Bowl. I saw some Lifesaver Halloween Suckers- and even though the packaging was Halloweeny in nature, that was about it. Then I saw the Jolly Ranchers. They went the extra mile- packaging, theming, flavors and shapes. Now this is something I can proudly hand out to the little ghosts and goblins in the neighborhood. I've got a reputation to maintain, you know.

Eerie Apple, Ghastly Grape, Wacky Watermelon, and Spooky Blue Raspberry. Four flavors, four shapes. Great stuff. Are they really...creepy? Well, not in the scary way, but it the cartoony way. A lot of Halloween Candy these days just goes too much in the gross factor or too much in the other direction- plain jane, just in smaller packaging. Creativity is appreciated. Sure, these are just Jolly Rancher suckers, but there is no mistaking what Holiday these are for.

If you see these in a Christmas stocking, you know that Santa is just recycling candy. And that ain't cool. So what do have here?
Shapes: Grinning Ghost, Vampire, Jack O'Latern and Skull
Flavors: Eerie Apple, Ghastly Grape, Wacky Watermelon and Spooky Blue Raspberry.
The flavors are great; just good old Jolly Rancher goodness. Once I got past a little weirdness of putting a pumpkin in my mouth and tasting watermelon, everything else is just fine. All of the suckers are individually wrapped, as you would expect, and so there isn't any reason why you shouldn't proudly dump these in the old candy bowl and hand them out to your own neighborhood beasties. And sneak a few for yourself, of course. Thumbs up and kudos to Jolly Rancher for some fun creepy treats.

This is only the beginning, folks. Stay tuned for more of 2007 Halloween Madness at the Shelf!

What's that? The candy was just a little taste and you need more to start that Halloween feeling? Well, you ask and we answer! How about a particularly tense episode of the OTR radio show Suspense starring Cary Grant? It's called On a Country Road! Just click the link and then click the download button to enjoy. Just don't listen in the dark.

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.

Double double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Eye of needle, tongue of shoe, hand of clock that points at two... This is the real thing you know, right out of Shakespeare.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

strike up the roundup

Shelfers, I have seen the season premiere of The Unit and I declare it to be...freakin' awesome. Jonas and gang we dispersed and on the ropes at the end of last season in one of the best cliffhangers of the year. Believe me when I tell you the tables have turned and The Unit is back kicking ass and taking names. If you missed last season, you're in luck- but we'll get to that in a bit. For now let's start off this roundup in style, cause we are in the swing of things again and the beginning of Fall is looking promising. Why? Because we've got a new classic film release today that fans have been waiting for, and the rest of the year is looking great. So c'mon gang, let's strike up the roundup and put on a show!

Top Shelf Pick of the Week!
The Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection
You know the drill: boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, girl or boy is in trouble, boy and girl and the gang put on a show to win the day. Or something like that. It may sound familiar, and Mickey and Judy did it best. These two were a charming pair that gave voice, image and entertainment to a wartime youth generation. Films included in the set are: Babes in Arms, Babes on Broadway, Girl Crazy and Strike up the Band. There are also great extras included like classic cartoons and vintage shorts, radio adaptations and trailers. Of special note is a bonus disc with a Private Screenings Episode with Mickey Rooney, The Judy Garland Songbook: 21 complete Judy Garland musical numbers spanning her many films from 1936-1954 and a Trailer Gallery. The icing on the cake are lobby card reproductions and a collectable booklette. This is the best set of the month, folks, so don't miss it. And keep checking back with us for a complete extensive review of the set later!

The Unit Season 2
I said I'd get back to this, didn't I? Today a great season of The Unit hits the shelves. Last season was fantastic, and after tonight's season premiere, I am confident the series will continue to get better. The show is intelligent, patriotic but smart enough to know how to question and search, and the writing and action is tight paced and exciting. You seriously have to watch the entire season to pick up on things here and there that will actually pay off later. Like I said, good stuff.

Numb3rs Season 3:
Here is another well written show with great action. I really love the characters, and was really surprised by last season's final twist. It's not your typical crime drama. It's full of exceptional acting and mysteries and solutions full of great twists and turns. I am really looking forward to this season's premiere.

Charmed: Season 8, The Final Season
Longtime Shelfers know that I love this show. Call it a guilty pleasure, or what you will, but I'm not ashamed to admit it. The humor and imagination is what kept bringing me back, and the show had an extensive backstory and mythology that rewarded regular viewers, but didn't completely alienate newcomers. The final season was, in a way, the final, final season. The Charmed team wasn't sure that they would get a season 8, so they scripted the finale in season 7 to serve as a kind of series finale. Then they got the next season, but with some budget constrictions. Therefore, not only did they have to worm their way out of the corner they had written themselves into, they also had to pull back on the services of some of the guest stars, etc. I have to admit I didn't like the addition of Billie. I felt they sacrificed Leo as regular, but in the end I think they pulled everything together nicely. Unlike previous season sets, this box set actually has special features. They include a 2 part doc on the show, several behind the scenes featurettes and interviews and commentaries on select episodes.

Jazz it up!
Tony Bennett: Sings the Ultimate American Songbook, Vol.1
Chris Botti: Italia
Diana Krall: Very Best of

This is a great week for someone like me who loves classic American songbook music and jazz. Three great releases, three great artists. Tony Bennett is an American icon, and he's done so much music that he's permanently tied to: I Left my Heart in San Fransisco and more. Now he's put together a compilation of some much loved songs done in his inimitable style.
Chris Botti is a jazz trumpeter with some very jazzy, romantic phrasing. This time he's recorded an album in tribute to his background and heritage. This album even includes a duet that Botti was able to record with the late great Dean Martin: I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face.
Diana Krall has pulled together her very first career retrospective, from her first album in 1996, up to her 2006 From This Moment On. She also ups the ante with three new songs as well. Don't miss it.

Well that's it for this version of the roundup gang. And don't forget: It's Fall. And you know what that means. Yep, Halloween is around the corner and the Shelf's annual descent in the tricks and treats will begin. Look for Classic and new Halloween movies, cartoons and candy reviews. And before we even get to that we have more DVD reviews and posts up our sleeves. So 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.

Take that boy on the street. Teach him to blow a horn and he'll never blow a safe.

Friday, September 21, 2007

we all scream for...whew! i'm tired.

Time was when making homemade ice cream meant strong backs and lots of patience. The churn above is a commercial version way back when, that was motorized and weighed 500 pounds. I have grown up on homemade ice cream. You know the kind. You had to have a family event just to justify the amount of ice, rock salt, ingredients, etc. Sure the results were heavenly, but it sure wasn't a "I have a hankering for ice cream" kind of thing. If you got such a hankering you usually have to trust the label when it said "tastes like homemade!" Of course my grandmother always told me we had it good, because the only motor they had when she was young were the arms of anxious kids and adults. There have been other ways of course, but convenience wasn't always the case. I treasure old fashioned things, but I'm no Luddite. I embrace technology. So for the past couple of years I've been eyeing Alton Brown's ice cream maker whenever it was featured on Good Eats.

Well, guess what. My mother-in-law recently gave us an early Christmas present: a Cuisinart 2 Qt Ice Cream Maker. Pretty cool. It takes the simplest of ingredients and the easiest of methods to get to soft churned homemade goodness in under half an hour. And it is no unitasker- it can make slushes, sorbets, etc. Cleanup is a breeze. All you really have to do is freeze the bowl part of the Ice Cream Maker the night before and then put your recipe together and pour it in. Place the bowl in the unit, the plastic "churn" piece and lid and place and just turn the thing on. That's it. 25 minutes or so later and it's ready. Eat or freeze for a harder texture. How simple can you get? And it takes no more room on your counter top than a food processor or mixer.

Trust me - I don't think to many people would be complaining if this was available back in the day. "A motor? Pshaw! I prefer to wring my arm out and pouring on the ice and salt and exercise for hours. Take your new fangeled thing outta here." Well, there might have been some who would say that. But you know what? Me and the kids would've been eating some delicious ice cream while he's getting "exercise".

Ok- I know this has nothing to do with classic films, but I wanted to post this anyway. I rarely post anything this private, but I am kind of excited about this - so I am reaching out to Shelfers everywhere. Besides I am trying to finish some new reviews for you guys, so I needed a break to post something fun! So far, we've tried Mint Chocolate Chip (with Mint Chocolate Oreos!), Vanilla and Root Bear floats with some Hires just for that old fashioned flavor. Well, this is where you Shelfers come in. I need some more recipes! I would love to make some Cherry Vanilla. Do you have a favorite recipe? Do you use a counter top churn like this? Share your favorites with us in the comments section. I'm also looking for a Halloween recipe? Share your ideas with us and we'll post our favorites for some of our Shelf Halloween Madness 2007 posts. Sure summertime is almost over, but ice cream is good stuff year round (especially on pie and cobbler) So don't be shy! Sound off in the comments section. We look forward to what you have to say and share!

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 wanna go on the rides, I wanna go on the rides, I wanna go on the rides!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

passing the parade along

The Roundup will be back next week- there just isn't much to choose from this week. We'll have some cool stuff that has come out last week or the next week that we will feature in a special Halloween edition in the next week. For now there are a couple of articles featured around the neighborhood that I want to direct your way.

Great two part articles:
Jacqueline at Another Old Movie Blog has recently posted a great two part series of article on one of our favorite flicks: King Kong. You should check it out, and her site regularly. Here is part one and part two.

The Siren also has a great two parter on a little appreciated Tyrone Power classic: Nightmare Alley. Here is part one and part two.

New Shelf Neighbors
If you hadn't noticed, we've added a couple of great new members of the Shelf Community:

Basic Instructions: It's a fairly regularly updated webcomic that is both sarcastic and truthful. Also hilarious. Good stuff.

2719 Hyperion: This a great Disney blog that I first encountered off of Cartoon Brew. This past week or so he's had some great posts on the history of Epcot.

Clydfro: It's another great blog about classic films with some great taste in TCM picks.

Michael Barrier: We've been meaning to add this animation historian and commentator to our link list and now we have. Check him out.

That's all for now folks- stay tuned, cause we'll be back with more later!

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 have to think up a lot of new adjectives when I come back.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

dvd review: shakespeare collection

I'm going to probably bring some of you down "school memory lane" with this one. Did your teacher bring out some of the classic films while you studied Shakespeare in English class? Mine did. And I took to it, like a duck takes to water. I've told you before I have a theater background and brief film/commercials background, so Shakespeare is something I love and enjoy. But even I have to admit I'd rather watch it than read for class. I've been in several Shakespeare productions, and I have to tell the language is tough and it requires discipline and talent to really pull it off. And when it comes together just right it is something special.

Wait a minute- maybe you didn't watch Shakespeare or even read his stuff in class. I hope you did, but I'm hearing from some high school graduates, now college students, who tell me their teachers never even so much as suggested they read Shakespeare. Pitiful. The difficulty of the language is a lame excuse, read some plays- get some guidance (after all isn't that what English teachers are for?) and once you read the first few, you'll start to get the hang of it.

Or better yet watch some of the great Shakespeare films. Like the ones in the Warner Brothers Shakespeare Collection that came out August 14th. Is the set good? Is it worth your hard earned money? Will Shakespeare (ha!) lovers like it, or even more important, will those new to the bard like it and find a new interest. Read The Shelf's review of the Shakespeare Collection and find out!

The Hard Facts:
Shakespeare Collection
Four Discs in individual keepcases
Studio: Warner Home Video
Black & White (some extras in color)
Original Studio: WB, MGM, National Theatre (UK)
Release Date: Aug. 14, 2007
Rated: PG-13 for Hamlet, NR for rest
Stars: various

Disclaimer: WB was not able to send us a review copy of one of the films in the set, Hamlet. Therefore the review will be based on the other three films.
Over the years film makers have gone back to Shakespeare's plays not only for inspiration, but even to adopt as source material. Silents like King Lear in 1916 were only the beginning. Type in any handful of plays and you are likely to get dozens of different adaptations per title. It's easy to understand why; Shakespeare's stories are not only universal but the themes transcend time. Human frailties, fears, passions and trails are found in all of them. Film makers all the world over have made films from Shakespeare's plays. Hollywood has made many a good one and included in this set are a couple of adaptions of perhaps Shakespeare's better known plays.

The Films:
I'm not going into the full synopsis of each of the plots into the reviews, most Shakespeare fans will know them already and those new to the plays and films really need to watch.

Included in this set is Kenneth Branagh's 1996 version of Hamlet (which we did not review), Max Reinhardt's famous 1935 production of A Midsummer's Night Dream, the 1936 production of Romeo and Juliet and Lawrence Olivier's 1965 production of Othello.

A Midsummer's Night Dream (1935):
Director: Max Reinhardt
Stars: James Cagney, Olivia De Havilland, Joe E. Brown, Dick Powell, Jean Muir and Mickey Rooney

Max Reinhardt put on a legendary production of A Midsummer's Night Dream at the Hollywood Bowl in 1934. All of Hollywood's who's who came to see the film, including Jack Warner. Warner convinced Reinhardt to come to Warner Brothers to commit his production to film. He came and brought at least two of the original stars to reprise their roles: Mickey Rooney and Olivia De Havilland, in only her third film. The production was different for Warner Brothers, who's biggest draws have been gangster films up until now. But this film would add a touch of class and professionalism to the studio that Jack Warner felt it needed. Even if it didn't make money (which it did), securing Reinhardt was a coup for the studio and for Jack Warner in particular. The film won two Academy Awards: Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.

Mickey Rooney as Puck could be a bit annoying at times, but put in a fine performance nonetheless. Dick Powell was miscast as Lysander, but most everyone else does a great job in the film. Standout performances include Olivia De Havilland as Hermia, Victor Jory as Oberon and Jean Muir as Helena. Although the choice of James Cangey was criticized, he proved to be quite good when allowed to show off his comedic talents. Warner Brothers actually pulled off a win with Joe E. Brown, Frank McHugh and Hugh Herbert rounding out the rest of the "good players" who put on the riotous play Pyramus and Thisby for Theseus. All in all, a wonderful film, and an excellent introduction to the play. The print was also outstanding. The last VHS print I saw was terribly dark. Being able to see this restored print, enables you to see all of Reinhardt great touches for the film.

Extras include: Commentary by film historian Scott MacQueen, Screen test for Olivia de Havilland, Original short made for the premiere: A Dream Comes True, gallery of 6 teaser trailers showcasing cast members, Warner Bros. Studio Café teaser trailer, musical short Shake Mr. Shakespeare and the theatrical trailer.

Romeo and Juliet (1936):
Director: George Cukor
Stars: Morma Shearer, Leslie Howard, John Barrymore, Edna May Oliver, and Basil Rathbone

In the wake of Warner's success with Midsummer, MGM's Irving Thalberg pulled a different Shakespeare stage success to adapt for the screen. Romeo and Juliet is, along with Hamlet, perhaps the most famous of Shakespeare's plays. MGM had no shortage of stars, but they stuck with tried and true screen icons for this one. Leslie Howard played Romeo. George Cukor was brought in to direct and it perhaps surprised no one that Thalberg's wife, Norma Shearer played Juliet. At the time the film premiered MGM's screen teen lovers has a real life combined age of 75 years old. In fact the whole film was cast that way. Most of the actors are really old for their parts, but the acting is still first rate. John Barrymore plays a wonderful Mercutio (whom he had played before), C. Aubrey Smith portrays Capulet, Juliet's father. Basil Rathbone turns in a particularly hard edged performance as Tybalt and Edna May Oliver is a raucous Nurse to Juliet. The movie was excellent and the actors present a fuller understanding of the language, but at time it's difficult to suspend the fact that the actors portraying the teenage lovers are really too old for their parts. Aside from that, the acting is first rate, especially with standouts Barrymore and Edna May Oliver, whose portrayal of the Nurse is one of the best in the film. New comers to Shakespeare and to classic films may find the film a bit stale and the overall direction of the drama too straight forward and stilted. Classic film fans will enjoy the cast and the performance, and lovers of Shakespeare will appreciate one of the better performances of the language- they might even turn on the audio only and sit back and enjoy the actor's wonderful handling of the script. One sad side note: this was the last film the Irving Thalberg personally produced. He died the same year it was released.

Extras Include: Vintage short Master Will Shakespeare, Classic MGM cartoon Little Cheeser and the the theatrical trailer.

Othello (1965):
Director: Stuart Burge
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Frank Finlay and Derek Jacobi.

This film may be the most difficult for some audiences. It is one of Shakespeare's most powerful films, with themes of jealousy, betrayal, rage, love and deceit that are all too human. It has been one of the most filmed of all of Shakespeare's plays, and yet perhaps one of the hardest to truly capture on film in the way it deserves. One of favorite adaptations is Orson Welles' 1952 version which always divides critics.

Olivier, one the 20th centuries most renowned actors, tackled Shakespeare on film many times. In the 1960s, he and the National Theatre had a critically acclaimed production of Othello in the UK. When the opportunity to film it came, Olivier wanted to make it seem like an actual stage production as much as possible. Most of the play was included for the film. So what comes across is one of the more traditional theatrical performances of Shakespeare to be captured on screen. The cast is terrific: Maggie Smith as Desdemona, Frank Finlay as a particularly vicious Iago, Derek Jacobi as Cassio, Robert Lang as Roderigo, and Olivier as Othello. What may difficult for some audiences to get past is Olivier in fairly realistic black makeup as Othello (and one of the last actors to do this onscreen). It may be offensive to some, but no one can question Olivier's talent.

Extras Include: Vintage featurette Olivier Talks About Othello and the theatrical trailer.

The restoration of A Midsummer's Night Dream is a wonderful piece of work. It's great to see this film done right after languishing on VHS with an inferior print. Othello and Romeo and Juliet are excellent as well; crisp color for Othello and black and white for Romeo and Juliet. The audio is well done as well, and that's important when you are dealing with something like Shakespeare.

The Bottom Line:

Overall this is nice set for any fan of Shakespeare, although I would have like to have seen some more of the film adaptions that are out there to round out the set. While Hamlet is being marketed as the centerpiece of the set, I can't say much about the new two disc edition of that film (which I have seen before). That being said, for me the true revelation in the set is A Midsummer's Night Dream. A fine introduction to Shakespeare- black and white, dreamy, mystical, lyrical, and delightfully funny. If you don't care for Shakespeare, obviously this set probably won't make it to your shelf, but I think that everyone should at least give it a whirl. If you are a classic film fan I give it a hearty recommendation. Film is one of the best ways to introduce someone to Shakespeare, especially if it's done right. It allows someone to be able to see the action and hear the language. And as they hopefully read the plays, they will have an easier time visualizing the play and developing an ear for the language. See your English teacher knew a thing or two after all.

Review Rating:
Individually grading the films, they would earn the following:
A Midsummer's Night Dream = A
Romeo and Juliet = B-
Othello = + B

Overall rating: 4 stars (Groucho Glasses)(Handicap: Hamlet not included)

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.

Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

preview: private screenings with norman jewison

You know, an awful lot of my articles begin with some sort of personal anecdote about a movie I discovered when I was a kid, and what I thought. I can't help it; I connected to movies at an early age and they fueled my imagination. Sometimes it's only years later when I learned that a bunch of films I like have a director, actor, actress, cinematographer or writer in common. Case in point: Norman Jewison. Some years ago, I learned that Jewsion was at the helm of In the Heat of the Night as well as Fiddler on the Roof. And Moonstruck, and A Soldier's Story and a great Carl Reiner satire: The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. It wasn't until recently that I learned that he also directed a couple of great Doris Day movies that I enjoy: The Thrill of It All and Send Me No Flowers.

With some directors it's not too difficult to see patterns or preferred choices in subject matter. Jewison is a little different - he's really worked in several different genres and started out in television as well. He's tackled sensitive subjects like race and prejudice. He's deftly handled satire as well as romantic comedy. He boldly took on transferring not one, but two Broadway hit musicals to the screen. So what drives a guy like Norman Jewison? How does he pick his material? He's a great director and he's brought a lot of classic and modern classic films to the screen. I mean, In the Heat of The Night and Fiddler alone make him stand out.

As with any subject, when you look at a person's life and examine their work closely, you learn a lot about them. It's another thing altogether to listen to them in an interview with someone who knows how to ask questions, and when to back off and let them answer. Such an opportunity presents itself tonight in the form of Robert Osborne hosting another edition of TCM's great original series: Private Screenings. Tonight's episode will be an interview with Norman Jewison, which was recorded in front of a live audience at the Sarasota Film Festival this past April.

Jewison talks about his career, which began in television- first at the BBC in London, then the CBC in Canada and finally in New York. His first big break came when he was asked to direct Judy Garland's first television special, the legendary television show that had Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin as guest stars. Tony Curtis saw the show and asked Norman if wanted to direct his next film, 40 Pounds of Trouble. From there, he landed a contract with MGM, where he would direct several comedies, including several Doris Day pictures. Eager to not be typed as director of light comedies, he didn't "renew" his contract (one of his funny stories that he tells in the interview) and was able to tackle meatier films and subjects. The Cincinnati Kid, with Steve McQueen and Edward G. Robinson proved he had the mettle. Soon the follow would be The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming, a satire that he fought to make, and one which ended up being screened in the Soviet Union. Jewison's next project was tackling the sensitive subject of race in the great film In the Heat of the Night. It was a topic he would come back to several times in his career (notably with A Soldier's Story and Hurricane).

Jewison got a chance to work with his friend Steve McQueen again in The Thomas Crown Affair, in which he cast a then unknown Faye Dunaway, who also hit the screen that same year in Bonnie and Clyde. In the 70s, Jewison was offered the chance to direct the screen version of Fiddler on the Roof. When he took the job, he insisted on filming in Europe and cast more European actors. The result was much more authentic feel and atmosphere to the now classic film. He would also follow that up with another Broadway hit, Jesus Christ, Superstar. His career continued well into the 80s and 90s with films like Agnes of God, Best Friends, In Country and Only You. Of course, his biggest hit of that time was probably the Academy Award winning film, Moonstruck. Norman Jewison also recently wrote a book about his life and career entitled: This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me.

This past April, Jewsion was honored during the Sarasota Film Festival. Turner Classic Movies sent host Robert Osborne to talk to him about his work and his career. The result- another great TCM special. Tonight, Sept.13th, on Turner Classic Movies, Robert Osborne will be interviewing filmmaker Norman Jewison in an installment of their original series, Private Screenings. Wolf and I recently sat down and watched the episode and really enjoyed it. Let us give you both of our takes on the interview.

Wolf's Take:
For those of you who don't know, TCM spells class. That's just what you get from the Private Screenings series. The newest episode is no exception. Norman Jewison is the subject of Mr. Osborne's interrogation this time around and it is well worth watching. Mr. Jewison's history in movies is impressive with such projects as The Cincinnati Kid and Fiddler on the Roof.

He proves to be a great story teller with the many entertaining anecdotes he shares in this interview which takes place at the Oslo Theater in Sarasota, Florida. We find that he has worked with many wonderful actors and he provides us with great images of his experiences with them. Mr. Jewison proves to be quite an entertainer and a down to earth guy. Mr. Osborne shows his skill as a wonderful interviewer, knowing when to ask questions and when to let Mr. Jewison explain and excite the audience with his great memories of his days in Hollywood. As always, Private Screenings does not disappoint and provides us with another great evening of enjoyment for classic film fans.

Loophole's Take:
One of the things that struck me initially was Jewison's self-effacing sense of humor. It was wonderful to listen to him talk about his work, but also to tell humorous stories about his career and those he has known. I found him to be very down to earth man in the interview and candid about not only how much he enjoyed his work, but how often others played special roles in furthering his career.

During the interview, several clips from his films were shown and I was surprised to discover that there was only one the films discussed that I had never seen and that was one of his most recent: Hurricane with Denzel Washington. Jewison discussed how powerful an actor Washington is, and discussed a scene that they then showed. It was indeed a powerful moment, and while Jewison is right in praising the work of the many actors he's worked with, it also takes a special talent and guiding touch to be able to nuance those performances out of those actors.

I particularly enjoyed his discussions of the filming of In the Heat of the Night, and just how groundbreaking that film was, and The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming. He told about how much he fought to get it made, and a funny tale of how the film wound up being screened in the Soviet Union during the height of the cold war to great acclaim.

The Bottom Line
This episode of Private Screenings was great, and Wolf and I highly recommend that you don't miss it. If you've got to set the DVR, TiVo, heck VCR- don't miss it. It's a great show and as always, Robert Osborne demonstrates why he is one of the best in the business.

Private Screenings with Norman Jewison is hosted by Robert Osbourne and premieres tonight, September 13th, at 8pm est. Afterwords TCM will feature a mini-marathon of some of Jewison's films including Moonstruck, The Cincinnati Kid and The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming! Don't miss the interview and be sure to catch those films.

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exceptionI find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

I thought all the nuts went home on Labor Day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

i remember

And I know many of you do as well.

My 9 year old boy doesn't remember. He's heard about it, knows it happened, but he doesn't really understand it. In some ways I think he is exactly like some people out there. You know the kind. The kind that relate bizarro conspiracy theories...but I don't want to talk about them. I just want to quietly remember and reflect.

It's good to remember the hard things, the painful moments. September 11, 2001 was a day that irrevocably changed the course of American History. There are so few moments in our history like that, good or bad. I remember how it was before, but now I can't really remember not feeling cautious or worried or observant when I watch the news. I paid attention to the news and current events, but now the echo in the back of my mind is different. There are too many times that "what if's" aren't quickly dismissed with a shake of my head or a thought of "That wouldn't happen. Not here."

My grandmother remembers the day Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. She remembers the whole day as if it was transfixed like a diorama in an old shoebox, hidden in a closet and brought out to be looked at now and then. That moment is frozen in her memory, and no matter how much she may become forgetful now and then, that moment for her will always be there. It is a combination of sadness, fear, surprise and anger. I know. I know that's how she feels because she told me once. And because that exactly what happened to me and other Americans on that September day.

It is important to remember, to learn from our tragedies as well as our proud moments; and to remember our mistakes as well as our victories. Hiding behind conspiracy theories, feel-good politics and denying what really happened isn't remembering- it's giving up and refusing to acknowledge what really happened. It's a form of denial. No amount of hand wringing or trying to needlessly blame ourselves isn't going to erase the fact that there are bad people out there who really and truly want us dead. No amount of talking, persuading, or coddling will change that fact. My grandfather, who was man of very few words, once told me something about dogs and people: "Some dogs are just mean. They're gonna bite you whether you're smiling or not. People are too, only they'll smile back."

Yesterday, I saw someone else who remembers. I saw someone who knows what my granddad was talking about.I saw General Petraeus on C-Span yesterday, testifying before the Senate Committee. I saw a man who remembers, and who said some very important things about our future and the future of our way of life. One thing is certain, our security and the survival of our freedom does depend upon the success of those brave men and women overseas. He knows it, and I know it and I think many of you know it. What saddens me is to watch all of the politicians, political groups and pundits using it as a football for a political game of one-upmanship, or worse yet, to win political power.

Today a lot of websites and television shows will have slogans run across the screen that will say something like: "Never Forget." I hope we never do, but instead of just not forgetting, I think it's more important to remember. When you think of the men and women overseas and their families- remember. When you hear the political squabbling on Capitol Hill - remember. When the talking heads on television call names and bandy about accusations- remember. When you think about your family, you children and your children's children- remember.

And say to yourself- never again.

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 can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.

Monday, September 10, 2007

class all the way

Sad news comes today of the death of Jane Wyman.
Like many others my age, my first encounter with actress Jane Wyman came courtesy of Falcon Crest, and if you watched many Disney movies- Pollyanna. 80s kids might also remember first hearing about her as the first wife of President Ronald Reagan. Fortunately (and I must admit, initially because of that connection) I became curious about her work over the years, and come to pleasantly learn two things: she was a fine actress and from what I've read and learned about her, a class act. The CNN article about her points out that she didn't talk about Reagan, or their marriage, and refused to talk about politics while he was running for office or during his Presidency. She once said "It's not because I'm bitter or because I don't agree with him politically. I've always been a registered Republican. But it's bad taste to talk about ex-husbands and ex-wives, that's all. Also, I don't know a damn thing about politics." Later, after the passing of Ronald Reagan she commented: "America has lost a great president and a great, kind and gentle man."

Her life, like everyone else, was full of ups and downs, but she seemed to weather them all. Her father died while she was young, and she also lost her daughter, Maureen, in 2001 to cancer. She was tough and yet gentle and had many great performances to her credit. Many will remember her for Johnny Belinda, and rightly so. I have to confess I will always enjoy Three Guys Named Mike, The Yearling, Stage Fright and The Lost Weekend. Goodbye, Ms. Wyman, Hollywood could use more like you.

Jane Wyman 1914-2007

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 opportunity for brotherhood presents itself everytime you meet a human being.


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