Monday, March 29, 2010

happy passover

We at the Shelf would to like to wish all of our friends of the Jewish faith a very peaceful, joyous and reflective Passover week.

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 would take more than a man to lead the slaves from bondage. It would take a god.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

vintage ad and more

(from the Internet Archive database collection of scanned Photoplay Magazine - August 1930 issue)
Just dropping in on a very busy week for a couple of items (and to share the cool vintage Lifesavers ad from 1930.

Around Ye olde blogging neighborhood:
I am pleased to let you know Ivan at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear is mending and has actually pulled himself away from the nurses long enough to check in at his blog. Drop in and wish him well. We've missed ya, Ivan.

Still a fairly new link at the Shelf Community clubhouse: Golden Age Comic Book Stories, has been a wonderful retreat for me from the dreariness of politics as of late. Mr. Door Tree (as he calls himself) scans and posts the beautiful artwork from children's books of days gone by. You will find yourself enthralled.

John McElwee reviews the new second edition of Richard Barrios’ look at the birth of the sound era, A Song In The Dark at Greenbriar Picture Shows. The book just shot up to the top ten of my read-when-I-get-a-moment-to-breathe list.

Leonard Maltin has had some great articles on his Movie Crazy site lately (Leonard, I love ya, but your old site was much better) : He reviews the long awaited DVD release of The African Queen, discusses Great Movies still not out on DVD, and discusses a man by the name of David Pierce, who is developing an online website project called Media History Digital Library, which aims to be "A major conservation and access project for historical printed materials related to cinema, broadcasting and recorded sound." Very cool and I hope he succeeds.

The alluring Self-Styled Siren has had some great articles as always. Of particular interest: A post on the topic of adultery in classic films- followed by a great discussion thread. Also - I would be remiss if I didn't direct you to a couple of wrap-up/follow-up posts on the results from last month's For the Love of Film Blogathon. Thanks to Ferdy and the Siren, all the participating bloggers (of which I was proud to be one) and all those who donated to the cause, enough money was raised for the National Film Preservation Foundation, to restore a feature comedy and a cartoon. Awesomely done, oh awesome ones. Hopefully, this will be an annual event. We expect to hear the titles of the film and cartoon announced in coming months.

Laura at her self-titled Miscellaneous Musings has been throwing quite a few pre-code films in the DVD player in the last few weeks and has reviewed them, causing me to continue to add even more titles to my already busting-at-the-seams must-see list. Two recent films of interest: 1934's Desirable and 1932's Faithless. Even the titles are all "pre-code-y" goodness.

And sure, if ye be a true classic film fan, ye have watched a wee bit of The Quiet Man this past St. Paddy's day. And what of John Ford's other "Irish" film? What? You didn't know that Ford made another film set in Ireland (well, I guess, aside from The Informant?). Well, until I read Moira Finne fine examination of John Ford's The Rising of the Moon, I really didn't realize it either.

Shortly after this posting, I saw news about the passing of actor Robert Culp. This was very sad for me especially for having grown up on watching him guest star on everything, but also from starring in one of my all-time favorite shows, The Greatest American Hero as take no prisoners FBI agent Bill Maxwell. And of course he will always be remembered for his role along co-star Bill Cosby in the great I Spy. You can read some excellent tributes at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear and Big Hollywood. Mr. Culp will definitely be missed- and it has been an especially sad first quarter of 2010 for losing so many excellent actors and actresses.

Two mini-reviews of new releases this week:
Speaking of The African Queen- I have picked up my copy and my intial reaction is "WOW" - Paramount has really out done themselves with this release. The Commemorative Box set is the way to go for the classic movie fan, if nothing else, than for the bonus disc of the Lux Radio Theater adaption of the film and the copy of Katharine Hepburn's book on her experience on the making of the film (which has been out of print for a while). A neat little extra is also what they are calling a Collectible Senitype. It has three separate film frames in the three separate Technicolor colors- then one frame bringing them together to see for yourself the basic idea of the Technicolor process. Very, very neat. The film itself is fantastic and the digital and audio restoration is superb. Do not hesitate to pick it up - we give it a very enthusiastic 5 stars!

Also released this week, but perhaps flying under the radar: John Woo's epic film of Chinese History, Red Cliff. You can purchase the US theatrical version, but don't. You want to pick up the Internation version with parts I and II. Woo's filmed version of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms tells the story of end of the Han Dynasty in China and the infamous battle that took place in 208 A.D. which changed the entire course (and scale) of the country. The film is subtitled of course, but, grow up- you can handle it. You don't want to miss the entire performance of the actors. The cast is incredible and the film is wonderful- and a bit of a departure for fans used to John Woo's action films. Oh don't misunderstand- there is action, but there is so much more. US fans of Asian cinema have been looking forward to this, and if all you know of asian films is Jackie Chan (no disrespect, cause I love the Chan-man too), broaden your horizons- treat yourself to this visual feast of an epic film. 5 stars!

That's all for today Shelfers- stay tuned for more Shelf-y goodness.

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.

Truth and illusion are often disguised as each other.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

goodbye to the king of the wild frontier

Fans and Disney-philes around the world are saddened to learn that actor Fess Parker has passed away today at the age of 85. First reports say he died of natural causes. Parker was well known to generations of Disney fans and the very first generation of Mouseketeers especially, as Davy Crockett in the episodes first serialized on the early Disneyland television series, then later blended together and released as feature films. Disney has released several DVD versions of the Davy Crockett series.

It is significant the impact the actor and the role had on a generation and in American cultural history. The very "coonskin" cap Parker wore in the series became a phenomenom with children across the United States, and helped to cement one of television history's longest running series: Disneyland He also was a figure on The Mickey Mouse Club series, as Parker appeared in some early episodes as himself and in character. Visitors around the globe are familiar with Frontierland and the Mike Fink's Keelboats which came directly from the Davy Crockett series as well. Parker had a profound influence on his young fans and if he did nothing else would still be considered a legend. In fact, Disney named him a "Disney Legend" in a ceremony in 1991.

Parker appeared in several other shows- most notably in the 1964-1970 series about another American frontier legend, Daniel Boone. The show fan on TVLand not too many years ago, and I remember watching and enjoying it very much and some seasons are available on DVD. Parker also appeared in several feature films including another popular Disney film, Old Yeller. Parker retired from acting in the 70s and invested in several Real Estate ventures and eventually opened a sprawling Doubletree Resort and a successful Winery, both in California.

Fess Parker- you will missed and you will be remembered by a generation- and introduced to growing generations of Disney fans the world over.

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.

Now and then, for no good reason, life will haul off and knock a man flat.

can't hardly more week

I am literally...literally counting down the days til next week's retail release of The African Queen on DVD (and Blu-Ray if that's your thing). I've saved birthday money, sold pencils on the street corner (yeah, that was me in the dark glasses), dug around in the sofa cushions, dug around in the neighbor's sofa cushions- heck, I've done everything I can to have the ready folding green to be able to pick up the Special edition DVD. Since we first announced it here at The Shelf, I've been looking forward to it. Aside from being a great film, it's also one of the very first Classic films I saw as a kid that lead me into the fully formed Classic Film Buff that stands before you today. Ok...well, sits before you. Ok, not "before you" - but at my computer...never mind, you know what I mean!

While I have been waiting, I've also been on the look out for some early reviews, as I knew the restored print would be screened for some critics, industry peeps, etc before the release. Well, I've seen several reviews of the screening hitting the online sites. So far, Lee Pfeiffer Cinema Retro has a great review:
"Like most classic movie fans, I have have viewed The African Queen countless times. However, I had never truly seen The African Queen until I attended a special digital screening of the restored version"

Also Nicholas Meyer at The Wrap. Follow the links to their sites to read their assessments. Also as a special treat, and via The Digital Bits, I've posted a short video about the restoration that I was able to link to the original PR site via The Digital Bits- so hat tip to them and please check them out (you should already be checking in with the DB guys weekly anyways for the latest DVD news, reviews and cover-art). The video is making the rounds of the web this week, accompanying the many reviews, but I don't believe it is included on the DVD/Blu-Ray releases- please enjoy:

You can pre-order the various editions of The African Queen, at and other online outlets or you can pick it up March 23 at various retail outlets. I'll be there getting my own copy, and no, I won't have my shades and cup of pencils anymore- you'll have to bring your own pencil.

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.

Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

best wishes to our pal...

...Ivan Shreve at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear. We've been concerned since we hadn't seen "hide nor hair" of our pal at the hallowed halls of his blog. Now we've gotten info from Tom at Motion Picture Gems that word comes from several other bloggers in the know, Edward Copland and The Self Styled Siren (is this a grapevine or what?), that Ivan has taken ill and is in the hosptial.
All of us at The Shelf wish Ivan a speedy recovery and a speedy return to the blogosphere.
Stacia at She Blogged By Night has also passed on word that you can also send your very own get well wishes to Ivan via the Athens Regional Medical Center's eGreetings system.
Ivan- get well soon friend!

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 have nothing to worry about. The last patient I gave one of those to won the Kentucky Derby.

Monday, March 08, 2010

that's a wrap? really?

Didn't watch last night's Oscars. Even though some of the awards seemed to be well deserved, and I was interested in how Up would do, it has just gotten too predictable, too long, and too "un-entertaining" in the last few years. This year's change in reverting to expanding the "Best Picture" category to 10 really didn't seem to do much other than to provide a way for people to think something they've actually seen would win and motivate them to watch. Somehow, I think all along voters and Academy members still had a dividing line in the minds as to what the "real nominees" were.

It's almost an exercise in folly to try and read the tea leaves in the weeks leading up to the broadcast, because it seems as if so many are arguing over who "deserves" the award and who the think will get it. The Oscars have always been about peer recognition, and I really don't have a problem with that- it never claimed to be anything else, and anyone who thinks differently is only fooling themselves. Yes, some years it is quite overbearing and overlong, and some years it is overtly and offensively political. But, after all, it is Hollywood voting on what it likes about itself most. I would argue that, in my opinion, in decades past the nominated films were more often than not, of a higher caliber and when members voted- they often voted for some truly outstanding work. Sometimes there was an "upset" or an off year. I believe, more often than not, there was some really excellent work being recognized.

Recent ceremonies seem to be more about the fashion, the infighting and the politics. In fact, millions of dollars go into what the attendees wear, and even more money goes into producing shows and magazines about the attendees and what they are wearing. So, I turn them off. That's right, rather than continue to complain, etc, I have copped to what I don't like, don't worry about it, and turn the channel and have a more relaxing evening. I just realized that a majority of the time- I just don't care and it really doesn't make a huge difference in the overall scheme of things. So why make myself endure something that I don't enjoy watching, just because I am a movie fan? No one is going to take away my "Movie Fan" membership card or anything- so I just skip it and the next check out the parts I am most concerned about.

And there are really only two things I care to watch or know. I am interested in the bottom line: just tell me who won what and be done with it- a list will do just fine thanks. Secondly, I usually like the now famous (or infamous, if you prefer) Oscar "montages". Sometimes they are of the great "100 years at the movies" variety and of course the montage that honors those entertainers who passed away in the last year or so. Most of the times these are fairly dignified affairs, but, if you saw it last night or have been hearing about it on the news, last night's montage was missing several famous people. Not only that, but it was just shoddy, in my opinion. In years past they've done a dignified and elegant sequence. Last night was anything but- a rushed, hodge podge of images that were set to a live musical performance by James Taylor. I like James Taylor- nothing against him or the song- but it just didn't work. For some reason, it didn't mesh. I enjoyed it more with the underling music that allowed more focus on the images, and a more paced sequence itself. These honorees, these performers deserved a little more consideration. A more professionally produced montage.

And this isn't just the Oscars for some reason this year- even TCM's annual "TCM Remembers" didn't really seem to be as good as years past. I think the music detracted too much from the images and the recognition of the stars. What's the disconnect? For me, in both cases, the music didn't work. We lost some famous composers- wouldn't have been a good way to honor one of them to use one of their scores as the soundtrack? It would have been much more effective and poignant, I think, to use something of Maurice Jarre's than the pop-folk guitar songs that both the Academy and TCM went with. I realize that, in the case of TCM, sad songs are often used, but some years the music overpowers the images themselves. It is a delicate balance, I suppose.

I appreciate the fact that the Academy produces these montages, but this years sequence just wasn't up to past production values and missed several notable performers. You can probably see who is missing, even if you haven't seen the news. But in the end, I guess, this is just another movie fan disappointed. In a past year that saw the passing of the likes of Kathryn Grayson, Jennifer Jones and Jody McCrea (Note: I inadvertantly said Joel originally until Tom at Motion Picture Gems reminded me that Joel passed away 20 years ago- it was Joel's son Jody that died last year. I saw Jody mentioned in the TCM clip and he looked so much like his dad, that I didn't even think twice about it. That's what getting long in the tooth as a blogger does to you.) - not to mention more "recent" stars and directors like Natasha Richardson, Patrick Swayze, Farrah Fawcett and John Hughes- I would think the bar needed to be set higher. Here is the montage sequence- judge for yourself.

And here is the TCM Remembers 2009 edition:

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the aptly named "comments" section.

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've told you a hundred times. I don't want to win awards. Give me pictures that end with a kiss and black ink on the books.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

oh the places we went!

Happy Birthday to my first favorite author, and still tops in my book, Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA the wonderous Dr. Seuss. He would've been 106 today.

My first memory of reading Dr. Seuss is, as is with many others, Green Eggs and Ham. I had many, many favorites over the years, from If I Ran the Circus to And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street to characters like Horton, The Grinch, The Cat, Yertle and more. I also love his collaborations with Chuck Jones and the animated specials that resulted including the annual must see How the Grinch Stole Christmas! : a perfect storm where Dr. Seuss, Chuck Jones, Thurl Ravenscroft and Boris Karloff met for one perfect show- it doesn't get any better than that.

I've enjoyed several biographies and collected works over the years, and they still adorn my shelves along with several Seussian tomes. Several excellent works that I would recommend for those interested would be:
The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Charles Cohen. Probably one of my favorites and one of the best recent biographies out there; a visual feast, as a biography of the man should be.

Dr. Seuss Goes to War: World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Richard H. Minear. A different look at Dr. Seuss tackling the War and other political subjects with his traditional wit and satire.

Dr. Seuss And Mr. Geisel by Judith and Neil Morgan. An excellent all purpose biography written by two journalists who knew Geisel well.

Dr. Seuss: American Icon by Philip Nel. This is more for those interested in an examination of Geisel's work and influence in American culture. Very good and highly recommended.

Also here is an interesting website examining the advertising artwork of Geisel - it's an online exhibit from the Dr. Seuss Collection, housed at the Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San Diego.

And just for funsies- here is the animated version of Green Eggs and Ham:

If you have elementary school-age children, chances are they will be read to from one of Dr. Seuss's many books today for Read Across America Day. You won't catch me linking to much at the NEA, but in this case, I think it's a great thing. I think it's an even better thing if you do the same at home. Children can gain a life-long love of reading from simply having books in the home and parents who are willing to read to them and encourage them to read on their own. You can also guide your child (or inner child) to Random House Publishing's Seussville- a website of Seussian wonder full of information, activities and games- and ways to encourage your little ones to read. Take a page from Dr. Seuss- if you read, oh, the places you will go. Thank you, Mr. Geisel, for taking us on many journeys into imaginative places.

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 would not, could not, in a box.


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