Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

All of us here at The Shelf hope you all have a very merry Christmas! Make sure you take the time to watch 'It's a Wonderful Life' or whatever your favorite Christmas classic may be and enjoy your life, your freedom and your loved ones.

Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.

In America you can go on the air and kid the politicians, and the politicians can go on the air and kid the people.

Friday, December 12, 2008

meme: 20 actresses

One of my favorite film bloggers, the always wonderful Self-Styled Siren, has tagged me with my very first meme. And this is a doozy. I actually told her- tag me next time, I'll do one. She said this one would be hard and it'll teach me what to volunteer for next time. Boy, was she right. The meme: 20 Favorite Actresses. Now, I'm not saying it wasn't great fun, but gee whiz- like the Siren herself said- it's like picking your favorite children. And while others who have done their lists might be chuckling at my woe- t'aint funny, McGee. I know I left someone off, I struggled with some choices more than others, and there were some that I just said to myself- if only it were 25! But I will remain true to the theme and the rules for my first one out.

For this one I just had to think- whose performance or film stuck with me most? Who could I not forget when I think of my film experiences? Who just dug down into my heart, and I can't bear thinking of "filmdom" without them? Who would I most want to be deserted on an uninhabited island...well, you get the picture. I norrowed the list down several times, and in order to really pair it down- I decided to go with "all-time" greats. I mean if you watch them over and over again, they are pretty much at the top of your list, right? And since this is partly a classic film blog- classic film actresses are a must.

The meme originated at Film Experience Blog, and you most definitely want to check out the Siren's list , Flickhead and Ivan's over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear. And at the end of the post I will tag several other unsuspecting bloggers with this most arduous of memes.
So without further ado- and in no order whatsoever (that would be impossible), and with minimal comment- I give you:
JC Loophole's Twenty Favorite Actresses (with apologies to the many others I love):

Myrna Loy

Norma Shearer

Maureen O’Hara

Maureen O'Sullivan

Grace Kelly

Cyd Charisse

Olivia de Havilland

Jane Powell

Mae Clark

Loretta Young

Barbara Stanwyck

Joan Blondell

Katherine Hepburn

Rosiland Russell

Carole Lombard

Lauren Bacall

Bette Davis

Judy Garland

Gene Tierney

Ingrid Bergman

Now, the other hard part is figuring who to tag. Well, I had to think about who's lists would I love to see- then it became easy! So- sorry in advance, and here's hoping you will take up the task!
I tag:
Laura at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Jacqueline at Another Old Movie Blog
John at Greenbriar Picture Shows
Bacall at Cine Classics
and Dirty Harry at Dirty Harry's Place.

Here's hoping you'll carry on- I look forward to seeing the lists!

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'm a tough old broad from Brooklyn. I intend to go on acting until I'm ninety and they won't need to paste my face with make-up.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

you betcha virginia

One of my favorite Holiday specials that has never made it to DVD and is very difficult to find on VHS is Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. It's a charming early 70's holiday animated special from Bill Melendez and narrated by Mr.Magoo/Mr. Howell himself, Jim Backus. One of the things I love about it, besides the animation (fans of Peanuts specials will, of course recognize the style) - is the message and story which really tackles the spirit of hope and goodwill of the season no matter what you believe. It is based on a true story (which you can read more about here) and set in 1890's New York City- and reflects the ethnic melting pot that America was becoming. In fact it's spirit of coming together to me is so much at odds with today's imputus to label and separate ourselves into categories, that I wish it was shown regularly like it was when I was younger.
So without further ado- our first entry, in what we hope will be a series, of Holiday Specials you don't see anymore on TV: Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


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 older you get, the less there is to believe in.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Today we remember those who were lost, who fought, and who survived December 7th, 1941. In reality- on a day like this we remember all those who were lost, who fought, and who survived- fighting for us- for me and my family and for you and yours. Thank you- God bless you.

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.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

Friday, December 05, 2008

christmas time is here...

It's that time of year again...
Some upcoming items hitting the Shelf-
Our TCM for the Holidays guide
NEW: Classic Film Gift Guide- our picks for some great gifts for the classic film fan
My Favorite Christmas Films - articles from everyone at the Shelf and some guest posters as well!
Shelf Top Pick DVDs- we pick the best DVD releases of 2008
Also more DVD reviews, another contest and more!
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.

Every Christmas it's the same. I always end up playing a shepherd.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

happy birthday mickey!

On November 18, 1928, the final sound version of Steamboat Willie was released and debuted at New York's 79th Street Theatre. Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created this animated parody of Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. using Walt's new character Mickey Mouse, created after losing the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. It was one of the first cartoons (and perhaps the most successful at the time) to incorporate a post-produced soundtrack of music, dialogue, and sound effects. Although several other shorts were made previously, Steamboat Willie was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to hit wide release. It was a smash and a star, indeed, an American Icon was born. More info here and here.

To celebrate how about a ride on Steamboat Willie? To do so properly, with all it's charm and remastered glory, make sure you pick up Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White.

Happy Birthday Mickey!

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 hope we'll never lose sight of one thing--that it was all started by a mouse.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

passing parade: items of classic film interest

It's been awhile since we've had a Passing Parade segment, and several news items have perked my interest, so buckle up Mr. and Mrs. Internet and let's take a quick trip around the world of Hollywood!

Item 1:
Laura (at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings) has several news posts that should be of interest to Classic Film fans. First of all, she sadly notes the passing this year of Betty Carr. Fans of the classic musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, will recognize her as one of the seven "Brides", Sarah.
Also Tyrone Power fans may be interested to know that Power's three children and several former co-stars will be on hand for a Ty tribute this weekend at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. They will screen several films, and possibly talk about the man they knew. Power still has a drawing power, and I think as more of his films hit DVD, his popularity is increasing.
You know - looking over all the DVDs we've reviewed, promoted or saw come out this year, I think the Tyrone Power set that Fox released is still one of the best this year. It's not only a testament to the talent and drawing power of Power, but also a testament to quality and enduring nature of Classic Hollywood's B films and programmers. They didn't churn out a Ben-Hur or Gone With The Wind every year, much less several times a year. Having really dived into Hollywood History this year with my reading I'm convinced more than ever that the studio system, despite it's faults, was in a much better position to market, produce and present so much more quality entertainment than today's multiple iterations of "independant production companies." Today's Hollywood can be easily divided into 4 major concerns:
1. The Oscar flick- increasingly indie, increasingly arty message or political films.
2. The Niche film. Targeted to specific demographics.
3. The Foreign market.
4. The special effects "Blockbuster"- this is how they fund #1-3.

Item 2:
Dirty Harry recently posted one of his TCM Picks o' the Day as Strangers On a Train, and proceeds to offer an excellent appreciation for the film. But it doesn't stop there- he also wrote an excellent appreciation for one of my favorite actors: Dana Andrews. As always, DHP is a great read.

Item 3:
Another actress that I believe is in the process of being "rediscovered" is Norma Shearer. Classic film fans had a great boon in the Forbidden Hollywood Vol. 2 set from earlier this year that included Shearer's The Divorcee and A Free Soul. Go over the Bright Lights Film Journal for a great in depth look at Norma Shearer and proceed immendiately thereafter to the email program of your choice and send word to WB to release more Shearer on DVD!

Item 4:
Cinema Retro writer Tom Santopietro has what looks to be an interesting new book out titled: Sinatra in Hollywood, all about old Blue Eye's film career. Looks like fun to me.
While you are there be sure to check out this link to another article about the death of the Hollywood tough guy.

Item 5:
Jaqueline over at Another Old Movie Blog has a great list every classic film fan will appreciate: Ten Things I Like About Old Movies. If a flick has all 10 in it, it's sure to be some classic entertainment in my book. Swell, indeed.

Item 6:
The wonderful Siren at Self-Styled Siren has responded to a fun, but maybe difficult challenge: Can you name a favorite movie for each letter of the alphabet? Check out The Alphabet Meme.

Item 7:
Lastly, this is my favorite time of the year- when Leonard Maltin and Disney present the current wave of the Walt Disney's Treasures. This year sees three titles: The Mickey Mouse Club presents Annette, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh: Dr. Syn, and The Chronological Donald Duck, Volume 4. Some long awaited sets, to be sure. And I have been particularly looking forward to finishing the Donald Duck series- one of my all time favorite cartoon characters.

Well that's the Passing Parade for today, Mr. and Mrs. Internet. What are you waiting for? Get to reading! And don't forget to come back to the Shelf for more reviews and Shelf madness!

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 admire people who do things.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

thank you veterans!

A happy and hearty Happy Veteran's Day to all of our Vets and their families out there- and our deepest thanks for the service and sacrifice you've given and continue to give. We don't and we won't forget.

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.

What we done in France, we had to do. And some as done it, didn't come back, and that kind of thing ain't for buying and selling.

Friday, October 31, 2008

dvd review: fox horror classics, vol.2

I know you are itching to get out there and get all the goodies. Or maybe you've already made the rounds and you are currently stuffing your face with said goodies. That's OK- take a breather- slow down and savor the moment. Howsabouta short DVD review of some classic films perfect for sitting down and enjoying this Halloween night once all the kids are in bed and you are done rifling through their candy for the chocolate? They don't like chocolate anyway, right? Well, I've got the perfect DVD set for you, and guess what? The price is great, you get three fun, eerie and even romantic titles for the bargain- no tricks, just treats. These are classic flicks that you can actually enjoy anytime you are in the mood for gothic romance or fantasy with a light terrifying touch. I'm talking about Fox Horror Classics, Vol. 2! Check out our review, lightly packed, short and sweet; a quick read before you dive in for more goodies!

The Hard Facts:
Fox Horror Classics, Vol. 2
3 Discs in slimcases
Studio: Fox
Black and White/(Color on extra features)
Full Screen
Original Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: 9/09/2008
Rated: NR
Stars: Vincent Price, Gene Tierney, Bela Lugosi,
J. Carroll Naish, Edmund Lowe and more
Directors: Various

The Films: (short reviews- no spoilers!)

More a gothic romance with an Edgar Allen Poe edge, than an outright horror film, this is the film that really put Vincent Price on the map. Price plays Nicholas Van Ryn, wealthy Lord proprietor of the Dragonwyck estate in New York's Hudson Valley in the 1840s. He rules Dragonwyck as a poltroon, with tenant farmers paying him rent and part of their crops. Von Ryn invites his very distant cousin Miranda Wells (Gene Tierney) as an au pair to his daughter. However, Von Ryn is cold to his daughter and his wife, whom he despises for not giving him a son to carry on at Dragonwyck. He also finds his world turned upside down and political changes in New York threatens to extinguish the old Dutch ways of fuedal-like rule. When his wife dies mysteriously, Miranda returns home for a time, but Nicholas persues her and marries her- bringing her back to Dragonwyck. It is there that Miranda will eventually learn more about her husband, but will what will happen when she learns his terrible secret?
Very much in the vien of other classic gothic romance films like Rebecca or Wuthering Heights, Dragonwyck is a great classic film that has finally made it to DVD in a great edition. Price is excellent as Von Ryn, and although you can see a touch of his later Poe inspired work, here he is an excellent lead, along with an equally great Tierney. Walter Houston also gives and excellent supporting performance as Miranda's dour "Yankee farmer" father.
Extras include: A featurette about the film: A House of Secrets: Exploring Dragonwyck, commentary, two Radio show versions of the film, still galleries and trailer.

Dr. Renault's Secret:
Secret is a remake of the 1927 horror melodrama The Wizard, and based on a novel. A young Doctor Larry Forbes arrives in a small French village as the new sawbones, and becomes the houseguest of a quaint Dr. Renault and his niece, Madeline. Dr. Renault also has a bizarre manservant named Noel, who resembles more like an ape than a man. When some mysterious murders occur in the village, no one is sure who is the culprit, though the villager's have their suspicions. While trying to discern the truth, Dr. Forbes discovers a shocking secret about his benefactor and his work. But that is only one of Dr. Forbes' problems, as Madeline has been kidnapped by a local thug.
Very much in the vien of similar films of the period, and even double billed at the time with Fox's The Undying Monster (from last year's set). The cast is great, especially J. Carroll Naish as Noel, who in many ways rivals some of Lon Chaney's work. Very much a great B mystery/horror film.
Extras include: Original featurette about the film: By The Book: Horror, Suspense, and Literary Inspiration, Restoration Comparison, Trailer, Interactive Pressbook, and Still Gallery.

Chandu the Magician
Including some of the best, cutting edge graphics for it's time, Chandu is based on the radio serial of the same name. Having mastered the magic of Yogi's of India, Chandu has attempted to keep the secret of his powers from his family and be a force for good (equivilant of a latter super-hero's secret identity). Unfortunately when his sister's scientist husband Robert Regent is held hostage by the evil villan Roxor (played by Bela Lugosi- and who wants Regent to tell him the secret of his death ray), Chandu must reveal himself and fight Roxor to save him.
It may sound cheesy - but it's actually quite good, and inspired a film serial with Bela Lugosi playing Chandu. The effects are great (for the time) and while Lowe is low key as Chandu, it's still great fantasy adventure.
Extras include: a commentary by Lugosi biographer Gregory William Mank, Masters of Magic: The World of Chandu featurette, Chandu the Magician Radio Serial Episode, Restoration Comparison, Trailer and Still Gallery.

The Black and white on Dr. Renault and Dragonwyck is excellent. Being an older film, Chandu suffers a little more in the video department, but is done from the best remaining source material. The audio is excellent and please take the opportunity to listen to the commentaries and especially the radio shows included as extras.

The Bottom Line:
This is a fun set- and it's light on the horror stuff- more mystery fantasy and gothic, Poe stuff. The set is surprisingly full of extras and I say suprisingly, because you can pick it up for a song. Amazon currently has going for less than $15 bucks without shipping. It's a steal and you get some great flicks. A low cost treat for a eerie evening!

Review Rating:
Individually rating the films and the features, Fox Horror Classics Vol. 2 earn the following:
Dragonwyck: A
Dr. Renault's Secret: B+
Chandu the Magician: B+
Extras: A+

Overall Rating:
We give Fox Horror Classics, Vol. 2: 4 stars (Groucho glasses).

That's all folks! I told you it would be quick! Now put a movie in and enjoy the rest of your plundered treats from the kid's candy. Oh, and Happy Halloween!

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.

Of course you do. You like being waited on - I could see tonight it was your first time. You like peaches out of season. You like the feel of silk sheets against your young body... And one day you'll wish with all your heart you'd never come to Dragonwyck!


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