Sunday, September 28, 2008

goodbye paul...

It seems we have been losing too many of the legends lately. This has been difficult year. Word comes that Paul Newman has lost his battle with Lung cancer. This isn't a shock as he has been sick for a little while now, but it's never easy.
My first Paul Newman movie is still my favorite: The Sting. He always seemed to exude "cool" no matter what role he was in.

"You know, I got a hunch, fat man. I got a hunch it's me from here on in. One ball, corner pocket. I mean, that ever happen to you? You know, all of a sudden you feel like you can't miss? 'Cause I dreamed about this game, fat man. I dreamed about this game every night on the road. Five ball. You know, this is my table, man. I own it." - The Hustler

"Dyin'? Boy, he can have this little life any time he wants to. Do ya hear that? Are ya hearin' it? Come on. You're welcome to it, ol' timer. Let me know you're up there. Come on. Love me, hate me, kill me, anything. Just let me know it. I'm just standin' in the rain talkin' to myself. "
-Cool Hand Luke

"I have vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals." - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

"Glad to meet you, kid, you're a real horse's ass. Is Lonnegan after you too?
I dunno... I ain't seen anybody.
You never do, kid." - The Sting

"You know, so much of the time we're just lost. We say, 'Please, God, tell us what is right; tell us what is true.' And there is no justice: the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead... a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims... and we become victims. We become... we become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today you are the law. You ARE the law. Not some book... not the lawyers... not the, a marble statue... or the trappings of the court. See those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are... they are, in fact, a prayer: a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say, "Act as if ye had faith... and faith will be given to you." IF... if we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves. And ACT with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts." -The Verdict

"A man of honor always pays his debts... and keeps his word." -Road to Perdition

Paul Newman-1925-2008. Rest easy Luke, rest easy.

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.


Friday, September 26, 2008

dvd review: busby berkeley collection, vol. 2

Politics got you down? Economic woes staring you right in the old eyeball? Tired of the same old, same old? I know. It's tough out there. I don't have much to offer in the way of a solution, but I have plenty to offer in the way of distraction! Take a break from election year politics and tired arguments and read a review of a DVD release of classic films. Now I know I have a set here somewhere... let's see...hmmm.... Ah ha- perfect. It's the recent DVD set from Warner Brothers: The Busby Berkeley Collection, Vol. 2. Yep, musical numbers, dancing girls, comedy, romance- it's all here. So let's take a look shall we? Check out The Shelf's review of The Busby Berkeley Collection, Vol. 2

The Hard Facts:
The Busby Berkeley Collection, Vol. 2
4 Discs in 5 keepcases
Studio: Warner Brothers
Black and White/Color (some extra features)
Full Screen
Original Studio: Warners
Release Date: 9/16/2008
Rated: NR
Stars: Dick Powell, Rosemary Lane, Ted Healy, Joan Blondell and others Directors: Busby Berkeley

Many of us are scratching our heads, worried about the financial crisis, and not quite sure what it is we are exactly worried about. I think many Americans are trying to work, pay their bills, keep their own expenses down, as much as possible with gas and groceries in the Rockefeller range. I think most people are paying attention, not completely sure what's going on, sure we are never going to get the whole story, and at the same time, eager for some "downtime" to try and get our heads clear and our spirits up again. Any wonder why radio and film was so popular during the 30s and the WWII years of the 40s. Ever wonder why people in the midst of the depression want to see gangsters, or lavish musicals or screwball comedies? Why would someone not sure about their financial future want to watch a film that shows lots of glittering ladies dancing in tempo, with a backdrop of glamour, glitz and wealth? Escapism. Pure escapism.
That's something that the musical films of Busby Berkely offered- in spades. They may have been light on plot and structure- but that wasn't really the point. Almost an ancestor of the variety shows of the golden television era, the films offered a bedazzling spectacle of glitz and glamour and showstopping numbers.

The Films:
Gold Diggers of 1937:
Dick Powell is an insurance agent who isn't exactly the "top man" at the agency. Things seem to pick up when he meets, and falls in love with, showgirl Joan Blondell. He's got a girl, who becomes his secretary, then he soon gets a million dollar client played by Victor Moore, who doesn't seem long for this world. Somehow the agent, the girl, the show and the money all get together admist big numbers like : With Plenty of Money and You, Speaking of the Weather and All's Fair in Love and War. The patter is fun, and Dick Powell and Joan Blondell are always a plus in any film, but the numbers are uneven. It seems for every great one (With Plenty of Money and You) there is one that kind of falls short (All's Fair). It's an Ok film, but the series is beginning to wear thin with this one.
Extras include: Two clips from the lost film Gold Diggers of Broadway (filmed in two strip color process), two cartoons based on two of the numbers for the film, trailers and the 1997 documentary Busby Berkeley: Going Through the Roof.

Gold Diggers in Paris:
The swan song of the Gold Diggers series, this time the girls and the numbers are in the city of lights. The Club Balle is mistaken for the American Ballet Company by a frenchman, Maurice Giraud (Hugh Herbert), looking to book the important company to dance at the Paris Exposition. The girls and guys of Club Balle aren't ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, and proceed to turn Paris on it's ear with great numbers. Unfortunately the real American Ballet Company has found out the mistake and are fast on their heels to make sure they are the featured performance. Featuring great vocals by Rudy Vallee and the lovely Rosemary Lane, Gold Diggers in Paris is fun, but perhaps the weakest of the series in terms of plot and interest.
Extras include: two Broadway Brevities musical shorts, the classic cartoon Love and Curses and the theatrical trailer.

Varsity Show:
Dick Powell returns, this time as a Broadway impresario Chuck Daly whose is roped into helping the kids at his Alma Matter, Winfield College, put on a show. Their theater director wants nothing to do with high kicks or hijinks, but instead would rather put on a straight-forward, serious piece. Thinking Daly is the ultimate big shot, the kids offer him what they think is a paltry sum. But Daly has fallen on hard times and agrees to do the show. It sounds easy at first, but the faculty at the school aren't amused by Daly, and things get complicated when Daly falls for Babs Steward (Rosemary lane). This film is the debut of the Lane sisters, Rosemary and Priscilla, and their vocals and talents are a welcome treat. Powell is fun as always and Ted Healy and Sterling Holloway bring the comedy. An agreeable diversion, Varsity Show is fun and packed with musical numbers that you will enjoy.
Extras Include: Musical short Flowers from the Sky,an Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy comedy short A Neckin' Party, WB classic cartoon Have You Got Any Castles and the theatrical trailer .

Hollywood Hotel:
Erstewhile Berkeley leading man, Dick Powell is back and this time he's radio and Big Band saxaphone player and crooner, Ronnie Bowers. He gets his big chance at Hollywood Stardom when he wins a short term contract. But Hollywood isn't all it's cracked up to be and about the only screen time he gets is to escort spoiled star Mona Marshall (other Lane sister, Lola). Mona is pouting and refusing to go to her premeire, so the studio panics and sets up a look-a-like to go with Bowers, who is unaware of the switch. While the pretend Mona is played by waitress Virginia Stanton (Rosemary Lane), Bowers falls in love with someone who is nothing like Marshall- that is down to earth, kind and lovable. When Marshall discovers the subterfuge, she has Bowers fired and Ronnie is reduced to sling sodas at a car hop. When he discovers the case of mistaken identity, Bowers realizes the girl he wants is really Virginia and the two come together and find a way to get Ronnie another chance at stardom. The title is taken from Louella Parson's famous radio show of the era, and she appears as herself in the film.
I truly enjoyed this film, and consider it the best of the set. It's a lot of fun, and it definitely skewers Hollywood a bit and has some really great numbers in it. Ted Healy is back, along with Hugh Herbert, Edgar Kennedy, the always lovely and talented Frances Langford, Glenda Farrell and Benny Goodman and his Orchestra. The highlight of the film for me is a great number that Berkeley cleverly choreographed at a car hop, Let That Be a Lesson To You. Other great numbers: I'm Like a Fish Out of Water, I've Hitched My Wagon to a Star, and of course Hooray for Hollywood.
Extras Include: Technicolor historical short The Romance of Robert Burns, an Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy comedy short Double Talk, WB classic cartoon, Porky's Five & Ten and the theatrical trailer.

Lovely and crisp Black and White video is found on all discs and the audio is great. It's important for films that heavily favor musical numbers and, in particular, the lavish big numbers that Berkeley was known for.

The Bottom Line:
While these aren't the quintessential classic films, or even musical films, by any means, they are enjoyable entertainment- which is what was intended. Berkeley is famous for lavish numbers featuring scads of girls, but films like Hollywood Hotel show his innovative and whimsical side. If you are new to Berkeley- you really want to get Vol.1 where the best of Busby's musical films are. Still if you are a fan and like classic Hollywood, you wont' go wrong here. Again, while the Gold Digger films are somewhat lackluster in this set, you will enjoy Varsity Show, and you really want to check out Hollywood Hotel.

Review Rating:
Individually rating the films and the features, the The Busby Berkeley Collection Vol. 2 would earn the following:
Gold Diggers of 1937: C+
Gold Diggers of Paris: C+
Varsity Show: B+
Hollywood Hotel: A
Bonus Features: A

Overall Rating:
We give The Busby Berkeley Collection Vol. 2: 3 1/2 stars (Groucho glasses). It's a good buy for the Classic film fan, or anyone who loves Busby Berkeley. For those new to the director, or even his style, might want to start with the stronger films in the series in The Busby Berkeley Collection Vol. 1

Stay tuned- more reviews and stuff on the way!

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.

Hooray for Hollywood!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

contest anew

Well, CSI seems to still be very popular, if the amount of contest entries are to be any measure. So why not offer a contest which includes two DVD's of characters from the two most popular contests we've had at The Shelf: Star Trek and CSI! So let's go with two releases from last week and this week, especially from our friends at Paramount Studios!

Thanks to the kind folks at Paramount and at CBS Home Entertainment, several lucky people will win a copy of CSI New York: Season 4 and/or Star Trek:Alternate Realities! You can catch up with the New York CSI team or you could take a ride on the wild side of Star Trek and visit your favorite characters with some of the most bizarre episodes from all five Star Trek series, including Mirror, Mirror, Yesterday's Enterprise and more. All you have to do send an email to (note the rules below) with a subject of CSI New York/Star Trek Giveaway in the subject line by September 30th at 11:59 pm est.

The rules are simple:

Email us your entry at
1.You MUST include: Your name and full address in the body of the email, and "CSI New York/ Star Trek Giveaway" must be in the subject line.
2. The contest is only open to US residents
3. Only one entry per email address (and household, please!)
4. Contest ends on Tuesday September 30th at 11:59pm. We will draw the winner sometime after October 1st.

Please note that your information will be held confidential and will not be published and only used solely for identifying the winner and shipping the prize. Also, we will mail the prize to you, but cannot guarantee that the post office will treat it with the same respect as we will when we send it out. We will only guarantee that we will mail it to the address you provide to us.
So get those emails in and good luck!

Let the contest begin!

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 thought we were gonna get television. The truth is... television is gonna get us.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

tv on dvd review: star trek: season two remastered

When Loophole called me and asked me to do a review on a new DVD compilation on Star Trek I said “Beam me up, Loopey. I am there!” My excitement, however, waned when I realized the DVD was of the original series. Don’t get me wrong, I am a Star Trek fan. Although, I am more of the “Next Generation” generation. Give me a good old Picard monologue or a romance scene between Riker and Troi anyday. That being said I, like most people with working televisions, have seen at least some snippet of an original Star Trek episode. I can even identify the main characters by name and perform the Spock greeting with my hand - seriously, I’m not kidding. To say, however, that I am qualified to write this review is going a little far. Therefore, I will do my best at this mission, where no Baravelli has gone before.

Tell me what’s so special about this set, you say. Well, dammit Jim, I’m a doctor not a - errrr, oh, wait. Here goes ……

The Hard Facts
Star Trek the Original Series: The Second Season Remastered
26 episodes from the 1967-1968 season
8 discs in an accordian style set
Studio: CBS / Paramount
Dolby Digital 5.1 format
Release Date: August 5, 2008
Rated: NR
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig

We all know the quality of the series when seen on television. Each scene was colored with woefully muted hues, while the quality a little grainy. Compared to the more recent series’ from this franchise, the stunts and visual effects are, at best, campy. It had definite cheese factor all over it. But when one thinks about the time in which it was created, it can not be disputed that Gene Roddenberry was definitely a master in his art. His imagination and vision of what the world could be in the future was one that I dare say no one else ever ventured to embark upon. Nichelle Nichols, Uhura, once said that she went into Roddenberry’s office and told him she had figured him out - he was writing allegories. The accusation proved to be dead on. Roddenberry’s vision didn’t just exist to make for great entertainment. His stories were written to prove a point or to create conversation, a thought that would possibly invoke change. While the presentation was campy the underlying plot and purpose was pure genius. Roddenberry often pulled from history to create his plot lines or even characters. During a short episode one could be exposed to any number of themes - racism, sexism, war, anti-religion, etc. It was a political speech in the form of pure, unadulterated entertainment. The evil villains of the universe were, without a doubt, pulled from history. Those lovable, soft Klingons are very reminiscent of history’s Mongols, while the Romulans identify with the Romans (how’d you figure that one out, eh Baravelli) and the Vulcans can be likened to the Greeks. Creativity meets education at it’s finest. Jokes are made all the time about the seemingly obsessive Trekkers, but they obviously have someone else in their corner. Although they never received an Emmy, The Original Series was nominated for several during the 79 episode run, including Best Guest Appearance, Best Dramatic Series, and Best Supporting Actor. The series did win 2 Hugo Awards, the top honor for a science fiction show.

The Show:
Much about the show has already been said. It is important to note that many of the most popular episodes, even some listed by Entertainment Weekly as the Top Ten Star Trek Episodes are included in Season Two. Most notable of these are “ The Trouble with Tribbles”, “Amok Time”, “Mirror, Mirror”, and “The Doomsday Machine.”

Bonus Features:
The bonus features on this set are at Warp 9. These include preview trailers for the episodes in the set, some home movies, clips of favorite Star Trek moments, and interviews with the stars - what I went to first. Leonard Nimoy speaks about “Life Beyond Star Trek”, there is an interview with Nichelle Nichols, and the friendship between Kirk, Spock, and Bones is examined. These bonuses are all a must see.

The A/V effects are essentially what we are here to discuss, the reason this set is being termed “Remastered.” Well, CBS has digitally reproduced these episodes with CGI visual effects. While the plots and scenes between the actors have been put in high definition using the original 35mm film elements, the visual effects have been digitally enhanced. Most notable are a new CGI Enterprise, a new background, and the various “tweaking” of shots. According to Wikipedia (I give credit where credit is due) some scenes have been redone using new actors in the background of some of these shots. When the box says “Remastered” it means “Remastered.” Below are two comparison shots - the first is the original shot and the next the same scene from the remastered edition:

The Bottom Line:
Really, do I need to give you the bottom line? This set is full of bonus features and exciting new images, as well as the same old stories that you love, cheese factor or not. I would say that this is definitely worth the trip to your favorite big box store, even with the gas prices so high. Too bad you can’t beam there!! Scotty, where are you?!

Review Rating:
Individually grading the set, A/V and bonus features, the set would earn the following:
Season Two: A+
Remastering: A
Bonus Features: A

Overall Rating:
Star Trek: Season Two Remastered is a MUST HAVE!
We give it 5 stars (Groucho glasses)

Stay tuned- we've got more reviews, news and other great stuff lined up. Don't miss it!

If I don't come back you'll know it's good news.

There seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

dvd review: tyrone power matinee idol collection

It may be the end of summer, and the football games are in full swing, but that doesn't mean we need to take a break here at The Shelf. On the contrary, we've got loads of DVD reviews to bring you and more. In fact, today we take a look at one of Hollywood's legendary leading men, and review the new Tyrone Power: Matinee Idol Collection. It's a mega set brimming with films that have never been previously released on DVD and choc' full o' features. But I know you are asking yourself, Is it worth the purchase, JC? Is it worth my hard earned bucks? Gas ain't cheap y'know. Yeah, yeah- we know. So think of this as a public service, if you will. Check out our review of Tyrone Power: Matinee Idol Collection and see if this is a set to put on your shelf.

The Hard Facts:
Tyrone Power: Matinee Idol Collection
10 Films5 Discs in 5 slimcases
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Black and White/Color
Full Screen & Widescreen
Original Studio: Fox
Release Date: 7/29/2008
Rated: NR
Stars: Tyrone Power
Directors: Various

You know you're a star when the public loves you, no matter what the plot is or who your co-star may be. You know you are a Matinee Idol, when they keep coming back for more, and follow you to the point of adulation. Your arena is the matinee- the picture that the fans know they will like- not the epic or the "serious picture." Steady, tried and true. That was certainly the case for Tyrone Power, Jr. He was most definitely a Matinee Idol, groomed and promoted by the star machine- the studio. But they got more than even they bargained for, because Tyrone Power was so much more, and could have been so much more. Not only did he have one of the most "movie star" faces of his generation- the guy could act. Even today, there are thousands who include themselves as Tyrone fans. Back in the day, Ty could pack 'em in the seats- a guaranteed money maker. The ladies swooned over him, and the guys - well the fellas enjoyed the swashbuckling and the beautiful array of co-stars. Like many phenoms, Power wanted to do more- he wanted to have more serious roles. And he could handle them. He was an excellent actor, and one who would have become even better, but his life took a tragic end. He died young in 1958 at the age of 44- just starting to really plumb the depths of his talent in my opinion. His last completed film, Witness for the Prosecution, showed that while his youthful looks were beginning to show age, he still had a charm and a presence. One can only surmise if his career would've had a resurgence. Although he has always had fans, his movies and career are gaining new fans and renewed interest, as evidenced by the previous bestselling Tyrone Power Box set from Fox and their willingness to produce another volume of Power films.

The Films:
The Films included in this collection are: Cafe Metropole, Girls Dormitory, Johnny Apollo, Daytime Wife, Luck of the Irish, I'll Never Forget You, That Wonderful Urge, Love Is News, This Above All, and Second Honeymoon. Because there are so many, we won't delve too deeply into summaries and focus more on the review itself of each entry.

Girls Dormitory is a love struck melodrama in which a young student, Marie (Simone Simon) has fallen in love with the headmaster of her Girl's finishing school. The good Dr. Stephen Dominick (Herbert Marshall) , not only can't believe it, but also doesn't realize that a fellow teacher and coworker (Ruth Chatterton) has been in love with him for a long time. Eventually, Dr. Dominick rushes headlong into to romance, but not without consequences. Tyrone Power has a brief role at the end of the film as Marie's cousin. Girl's Dormitory is not a particularly standout film, but a melodramatic programmer that nonetheless satisfied target audiences. Ruth Chatterton still manages to rise above the material, as she is wont to do, and one can only hope that more of her work will make it to DVD. The film also has the unusual distinction of officially introducing Tyrone Power to audiences (he had already had some small, uncredited roles) and also introducing French actress Simone Simon to American audiences. She would go on to star in the Val Lewton Cult classics, The Cat People and Curse of the Cat People.

Cafe Metropole
Adolphe Menjou stars as a Parisian nightclub owner, Victor Lobard, who needs to find a way to replace money he has embezzled from the business. Things look up when he comes into winnings at a Casino, but one of the gamblers, an American- Alexander Brown (Power) isn't good for his losses. In order to square the debt (and save his neck) Lobard convinces Brown to pretend to be a Russian Prince to woo another American, Laura Ridgeway (Loretta Young), who just happens to have a rich dad. Lobard is anxious to lay his hands on the Ridgeway dough, but this being a romantic comedy, not everything goes to plan. Cafe Metropole is a very pleasant romantic comedy- verging on the screwball, but not quite. It's also one of several films where Fox paired Tyrone Power with Loretta Young, arguably the two most beautiful faces on the screen during their time. Very much an enjoyable film- an entertaining romantic comedy the way Hollywood used to make them.

Daytime Wife
This film pairs our leading man with a lovely newcomer, Linda Darnell (who was only 15 at the time of filming) as a young married couple. However, all is not well- Jane (Darnell) soon suspects that Ken (Power) is spending his free time with his secretary. With the help of a friend, Jane decides to get a job as a secretary to see why it is that men step out with their secretaries, and maybe teach Ken a lesson in the process.
Daytime Wife is a light, romantic comedy that is just perfect for quick classic film fix. The leads are so charming that you will almost ignore the fairly worn plotline. One of the treasures of the set, this film demonstrates that even when the studios were falling back on tried and true, they still knew how to pull together a great cast and make an entertaining picture. Comedienne Joan Davis has a small role in the film as another secretary and she is a standout in the film- as always. I loved her in the Abbott and Costello film Hold That Ghost. I can imagine couples going to the theater for a carefree night on the town, and finding this picture fitting the bill for entertainment and light romance. A charmer.

Johnny Apollo
Ty stars as the son of an embezzling businessman who finds that because his father is in jail, no one will give him a chance or help him. Desperate, Bob(Power) becomes a reluctant gangster nicknamed Johnny Apollo to try and get the funds to pay back his dad's debts and get his dad out of jail. However, he falls for the boss's girl (Dorothy Lamour), which doesn't make him any friends. And to complicate things further, he gets placed in jail right next to his dad.
Power really excelled at Swashbuckling and dramatic roles. So much so that he began to be type cast in those roles. It's almost an oddity to see him in Noir/gangster type role, but Power acquits himself well, and Lamour plays the tough gangster moll to a T. Given that he did so few of these darker type roles, (the studio didn't want to alienate his female fan base) it's hard to tell, but I think had he lived- this, and by extension Witness for the Prosecution- demonstrates where he could have gone with his career.

Love Is News/That Wonderful Urge
Both of these films follow the same plot, with Urge essentially a remake of News. Both are remakes or reworkings of Libeled Lady. Though not as good, the pairing of Loretta Young and Power in Love is News and Gene Tierney and Power in Urge provides chemistry and charm to win an audience over. Both plots involve Power as a muck-racker journalist trying to get the goods on the heiress (Young/Tierney) for a story. She turns the tables on him by falsely declaring they are engaged and he has offered a million dollar dowry (In Urge, Tierney actually declares they are married already). While perhaps the weaker pair of the set, both are still entertaining and fun to watch. News is perhaps the better of the two, because the chemistry between Young and Power is undeniably strong.

Second Honeymoon
Second Honeymoon is Loretta Young and Tyrone Power's fourth pairing as a dynamic screen team, and this time they are ex-husband and wife, with Power trying to win back his ex from her current husband. Again light, romantic comedy with a charming couple. Nothing outstanding, but still - a fun way to spend the afternoon. After all, isn't that what the Matinee was all about?

This Above All
Joan Fontaine plays Prudence Cathaway, an English woman from a wealthy, aristocratic family who decides to join the WAAF in World War II. While stationed for training she is talked into a blind date where she meets Clive, a soldier who survived the fighting at Dunkirk. Clive doesn't have much use for war or the wealthy, whom he seems to think thrive on the backs of others. Despite their different backgrounds, and the war going on around them (and Clive's unexplained American accent) the two fall in love. However Pru soon discovers that Clive is haunted by the war and what he experienced and has secrets that he would rather she never discovered.
This Above All is an excellent dramatic film, ably carried off by Power, Fontaine and the rest of the cast. Nigel Bruce is featured as well as the always great Thomas Mitchell as Clive's old soldier buddy and fellow Dunkirk survivor. Although at times the films seems preachy, one must remember that the film was made during the war, and while the tone was somewhat bleak, the film makers were trying to encourage and bring hope to the people. This is a good World War II romance- a weepie, as they called 'em- that also demonstrates that Power had a way of having good chemistry with almost all of his leading ladies.

Luck of the Irish
Somewhat fantastical romantic tale of Steven Fitzgerald, a newspaper reporter (did Tyrone Power just look like a typical newspaper man or something? I don't think so) who meets a leprechaun (played by Cecil Kellaway) and a lovely lady (Anne Baxter) who works at an Inn during a trip to Ireland. The leprechaun grants Steven good fortune, but it doesn't take the path that's obvious. While struggling to try and be true to himself and the temptation of wealth that his fiancé (played by Jayne Meadows) in New York offers, Steven finds that good fortune comes in ways you least suspect. Especially when he returns to New York and finds that the leprechaun and the Irish lass are there as well. The film is in black and white, but while in Ireland, Fox has restored the original Green hue while Steven is in Ireland. Luck of the Irish is definitely light hearted faire (aye laddie) and one must throw believability to the wind and enjoy it. Especially since Kellaway is the largest leprechaun you'll ever see.

I'll Never Forget You
This film stars Tyrone Power as Peter Standish, a scientist obsessed with the past and eager to find a way to travel in time. He lives in a flat on Berkeley Square in London and has studied its history and his own ancestors. A strike of lightning essentially transports Standish back to the house in the 18th century where the past isn't quite as pristine as he imagined it. Believing he can advance the causes of mankind and jump start scientific progress by a few centuries, he attempts to pass on scientific learning from the 20th century, but to no avail. No one believes him. Although he doesn't find the past to be what he imagined, he does find love in the form of Helen (Ann Blyth). While trapped in the body, and life, of his ancestor Peter is determined to follow the path of true love, no matter what time period it's in. The danger is in his knowledge of the future, which could not only doom him (the people believe him insane) but also doom his chance at love.
I'll Never Forget You (AKA: The House in the Square as it is known in the UK) is a fan favorite- predating the Somewhere in Time milieu by decades. Interestingly the modern sequence is filmed in black and white and the 18th century sequence is in Technicolor. Fans have eagerly hoped that this film would make it to DVD sometime, and they are pleasantly surprised. It's romantic escapism at it's best and most tragic- time crossed lovers. A definite winner.

Bonus Features:
Includes new documentaries and features on Power's career and life: Tyrone Power: Prince of Fox, Ty and Loretta: Sweethearts of the Silver Screen, My Dad, Tyrone Power and Jayne Meadows Remembers Tyrone Power. Special features include deleted scenes from several films including a dance sequence by Bill "Bojangles" Robinson that was deleted from Café Metropole. Also featured is a poster gallery and a photo gallery from Ann Blyth taken during filming in London on I'll Never Forget You. The docs are well done, and they do a good job of finding several co-stars and intimates to interview. The doc which features the children of Tyrone Power reminiscing about their father and the kind of man he was is particularly touching.

The films look fantastic- rich in black and white hues. On several films, particularly This Above All there was some faint scratching, but I couldn't be sure- it's nothing to worry about. The coloring on Luck of the Irish is different, but appreciated in that Fox restored the original look of the film. I just wish it was originally shot in color!

The Bottom Line:
The real deal here is that there aren't any arty, ultraclassic films here- but that is just dandy. This is what classic film fans want anyway- they want to see their favorite actors and actresses and they want to dive into the escapism just like audiences of the past. Sure we can find the Citizen Kanes out there and the Gone With the Winds- in multiple editions and prints I might add- all great standards. What we don't have enough of are the fun flicks, the great escapist films, the cult classics and the star and studio hits. Tyrone Power fans should be excited to see many of these films on DVD. I was impressed that Fox released these and all I can say is -MORE! Get your vaults open and get these out there on DVD. They may not be critical darlings, but the fans love them and want more of them.
As far as the Tyrone Power set goes, there isn't a five star film in the bunch, but several of them get close and most are excellent, solid entertainment. My favorites are perhaps Day Time Wife (you can read another excellent review of that film at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings!) and This Above All. The aren't epics or magnum opus works- they are just fun, entertaining, great films. That's why we love them. That's why fans will buy this set, because it features one of their favorite stars in a collection with a lot of films at a great value. Between this and the first Tyrone Power Set (still available) and several other individual releases you can own a large body of work of a great movie star who was gone before his time.

Review Rating:
Individually rating the films and the features, the Tyrone Power: Matinee Idol Collection would earn the following:
Cafe Metropole: B
Girls Dormitory: C+
Johnny Apollo: B
Daytime Wife: B+
Luck of the Irish: B
I'll Never Forget You: A
That Wonderful Urge/Love Is News:
Both B
This Above All: A
Second Honeymoon: B

Bonus Features: A

Overall Rating: We give Tyrone Power: Matinee Idol Collection a solid 4 stars (Groucho glasses). It's a must buy for the Classic film fan, or anyone who loves classic Hollywood or Tyrone Power!

Stay tuned- more reviews and stuff on the way!

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.

Look, I don't know what kind of license you fellas want, but this ain't the place for it!

Monday, September 15, 2008

must read monday...

Today's must read article is an offering from Stefan Kanfer (also author on several books on Film, Theater and several classic film star biographies including one on Groucho Marx) writing in The City Journal. His article, In Living Black and White, is one of the most thoughtful, engaging pieces on the importance and majesty of black and white classic films that I've read in a long time. It reminds me of similar discussions I've had in class with students who protest when we screen black and white films for class.

An excerpt:
"The owner of my local video-rental place puts it succinctly: “Most of our customers are under 30. The way they see it, life is in color, so why not movies? Which is why we stopped offering black-and-whites, except for the classics. You know, Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Schindler’s List, maybe a couple of Woody Allens.
If that’s the current standard, libraries will soon begin removing volumes of poetry from their shelves. After all, life is in prose, so why not books? Alas, what the customers don’t realize is that B&W cinema remains vital, and often beautiful, because it’s not a reflection of everyday existence."
(Kanfer, para.2-3)

If you love classic film, or if you can't get past the whole color versus black and white film thing, than this is mandatory reading. Be sure to check it out.

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.

It's too cerebral! We're trying to make a movie here, not a film!

Friday, September 12, 2008

mysterious new contest

Congrats to those winners who will receive a copy of Fat Albert's Halloween Special! Make sure you give it plenty of viewings before Halloween! In the mean time, let's keep the ghostly, mysterious vibe going with our new contest!

Thanks to the kind folks at Paramount & CBS Home Entertainment, several lucky people will win a copys of CSI Miami: Season 6 and/or Medium Season 4. Get ready for the new fall season by catching up with the previous seasons of these shows! All you have to do send an email to (note the rules below) with a subject of CSI Miami/Medium Giveaway in the subject line by September 18th at 11:59 pm est.

The rules are simple:

Email us your entry at
1.You MUST include: Your name and full address in the body of the email, and "CSI Miami/Medium Giveaway" must be in the subject line.
2. The contest is only open to US residents
3. Only one entry per email address (and household, please!)
4. Contest ends on Thursday September 18th at 11:59pm. We will draw the winner sometime after September 19th.

Please note that your information will be held confidential and will not be published and only used solely for identifying the winner and shipping the prize. Also, we will mail the prize to you, but cannot guarantee that the post office will treat it with the same respect as we will when we send it out. We will only guarantee that we will mail it to the address you provide to us.
So get those emails in and good luck!

Let the contest begin!

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 thought we were gonna get television. The truth is... television is gonna get us.


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