Monday, November 20, 2017

2017 Classic Film Holiday Gift Guide




I'm proud to present my Holiday Gift Guide for 2017. In my guide you'll find a wide variety of gift ideas for the classic film lover in your life. These are also great products that you can buy for yourself with gift cards or holiday cash.

I split the guide into two sections. First is recommendations. These are products that I've come to love over the past year. The second section is my wish list. These are the products I have my eyes on for future purchase. 

I hope you enjoy the guide. Remember when you use my buy links to do your holiday shopping you help support this site. Thanks!

In the comment section below, tell me what's on your holiday wish list and what you would recommend for a classic movie fan.






Get started on your holiday card mailing list with these beauties. They'd also make amazing To:/From: cards to attach to presents. I love how Kate Gabrielle matches hilarious puns with her amazing designs.

Shop KateGabrielle.com

Other items from Kate Gabrielle's shop:




Give the gift of my all-time favorite movie.

Shop Warner Bros.

Further reading:




I have so much love for this documentary and its subjects. If your loved one is fascinated by the movie industry and always wanting for a good love story, look no further than Harold and Lillian.


Further reading:



Warner Archive Collection DVD-MODs

My Warner Archive Wednesday reviews are the most popular posts on this blog and for good reason! The folks at Warner Archive collection dig deep into their salt mines to uncover hidden gems for us to enjoy. I found many new-to-me favorites thanks to WAC. Here are a few DVDs I've enjoyed:

Gentleman Jim (1942)
Shop – Review

Hotel (1967)
Shop – Review

Beauty for the Asking (1939)
Shop – Review

Sorority House (1939)
Shop – Review



Warner Archive Collection Blu-Rays

In addition to their vast collection of DVD-MODs, Warner Archive has also been releasing Blu-Rays. They put a lot of care and attention to the restoration of these films. Each disc is a collector's item. Here are two of my favorite WAC Blu-Rays:

Where the Boys Are (1960)
Shop – Review

Bells are Ringing (1960)



Kino Lorber Blu-Rays

This year I've been watching a lot of Kino Lorber releases. I love the variety of films they release; everything from classic films, documentaries and independent movies. Kino has released lots of great classic films on Blu-Ray this year. Here are a few recent releases I recommend:

The High Commissioner (1968)

Since You Went Away (1944)

Zaza (1923)

Hangover Square (1945)




King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman's Technicolor Revue 
by James Layton and David Pierce

Does the classic film nut in your life have a super early cut off date for movies they watch? Like nothing past 1934? If they haven't already invested in Layton and Pierce's new book all about the early talkie musical King of Jazz (1930), then you need to fix that situation right away.


Other recommendation:
The Dawn of Technicolor: 1915-1935
Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Powells Review



I recently subscribed to FilmStruck and it's been a great resource especially for independent and foreign cinema. FilmStruck is offering a free Roku stick when you buy a year's gift subscription.

Also recommended:



Classic Film Books

For classic film devotees it's not enough just to watch the movies. They need to read about them too. What better gift than to give a biography, memoir or new classic film book? Visit my latest New & Upcoming Classic Film Book Round-Up for more ideas.

Anne Bancroft: A Life by Douglas K. Daniel
Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Powells

Hank & Jim : The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart by Scott Eyman
Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Powells

 Reviews for these coming soon!

Other recommendations:
Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War by Mark Harris
Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Powells Review

Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood 
by Kirk and Anne Douglas with Marcia Newberger
Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Powells Review

Mary Astor's Purple Diary by Edward Sorel
Amazon – Barnes and Noble – PowellsReview




The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson Sets from Time Life

Chances are the classic film fanatic in your life also really loves classic TV. A lot of their favorite classic stars were also special guests on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. These sets are great fun.  You get complete episodes of the show, not clips, as well as commercials from the era.

Johnny Carson and Friends

The Tonight Show Vault Series Vol 1.

Further reading:


Other recommendations:

Martin & Rowan Laugh-In
AmazonBarnes and Noble Best BuyTime Life

Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts
AmazonBarnes and Noble Best BuyTime Life






Fritz Lang: The Silent Films Set from Kino Lorber

Fritz Lang is my favorite director. A Blu-Ray collection of his silent films? Yes please!

Amazon – Barnes and Noble Kino Lorber



100 Years of  Olympic Films from Criterion

When Criterion announced this 53 film set I knew I had to have it. Owning it is definitely a pipe dream but we all need something to aspire to.

Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Best Buy – Criterion


More Books!

One can never have too many books. Here are two I have my eye on.



Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film  by Alan K. Rode


Must-See Musicals: 50 Show-Stopping Movies We Can’t Forget 
by Richard Barrios
Amazon Barnes and NoblePowells


http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-6581483-11989414?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fandango.com%2Ffandango-gift-cards&cjsku=FGCPOPCORN75

Fandango Gift Cards

I just want more excuses to see new movies at my local cinemas. A gift card to the rescue!

Other options:
AMC Gift Card
Showcase Gift Card


What's on your holiday wish list?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hangover Square (1945) #Noirvember


Hangover Square (1945)

"But Mr. Middleton, music is the most important thing to me."
"No Mr. Bone. The most important thing is your life."

Obsession can destroy a person. In the 1940s, venerated actor Laird Cregar was making strides in Hollywood. He had success in films such as Blood and Sand (1941), I Wake Up Screaming (1941), This Gun for Hire (1942) and Heaven Can Wait (1943). However he hit a major career roadblock when he lost the part of Waldo Lydecker in Laura (1944) to Clifton Webb. The problem was that Cregar looked the part of a heavy. Audiences instantly knew he was a villain. Cregar was a big guy, over 300 pounds with bulging eyes. For Hollywood this meant being relegated to obvious villain roles. He'd be denied romantic leads and complicated characters. Cregar's obsession with his craft led him on the road to destruction.

20th Century Fox's Darryl F. Zanuck didn't know what to do with Cregar who had turned down several roles hoping for something that would make him a star like his idol John Barrymore. After much negotiation, Cregar got the lead role in Hangover Square (1945). This role would be his last.  Cregar had gone on a crash diet losing a whopping 100 pounds. After the filming he planned on having operations that would transform him from villainous heavy to romantic leading man. He underwent the era's equivalent of gastric bypass surgery in December of 1944 with plastic surgery on his eyes to follow. Having done so much damage to his body in the quest to become the actor he always wanted to be, Cregar's body gave out and he died a few days after his stomach operation.


Linda Darnell and Laird Cregar

Cregar's performance as George Harvey Bone would be his grand finale. His character's trajectory would mirror his own. Directed by John Brahm, Hangover Square is a Film Noir set in the Edwardian era. George Harvey Bone is a celebrated composer. He suffers from psychotic spells that set him in murderous rages. When he comes out of these spells he doesn't remember what he's done and he returns to being his mild-mannered self. His friends Sir Henry Chapman (Alan Napier ) and Chapman's daughter Barbara (Faye Marlowe) are concerned about him and ask him to seek the advice of psychiatrist Dr. Allan Middleton (George Sanders). Dr. Middleton suspects the recent murders were committed by George but continues to study him to make sure.

George falls into the snare of lounge singer Netta Longdon (Linda Darnell). She's beautiful, exotic and just out of reach. She entices him in a way that the sweet and doe-eyed Barbara. Netta uses her sexual allure to get George to compose original songs for her. George falls in love and Netta has no clue what psychotic rage lurks beneath George's relative mild exterior. Everything literally goes up in flames in two dramatic climaxes: a Guy Fawkes bonfire followed by the tortured performance of George's masterpiece, his grand concerto.

The story was based on author Patrick Hamilton's 1941 novel. Adapted for the screen by writer Barre Lyndon, significant changes were made to the plot. The setting was shifted from England on the brink of WWII to an Edwardian setting. In the movie, the principal character is a composer and music becomes an overarching theme in the story. Legendary composer Bernard Herrmann contributed a beautiful score as well as a fantastic 10 minute concerto.

Hangover Square is a stunning Film Noir. Cinematographer Joseph LaShelle's artistry is on full display. The artful composition of scenes with forced perspective, careful placing of objects and people and stunning lighting add to the eeriness of the film. There is one shot in particular that I loved. George Sanders' Dr. Middleton is confronting Cregar's George Bone. Sanders is in shadow and Cregar is washed in a harsh light. The recent 4k restoration sharpens the visual artistry of the film.



I'm always delighted to find a new-to-me Film Noir to fall in love with. Hangover Square did not disappoint. I particularly loved the performances and found a new appreciation for Laird Cregar. He artfully plays a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type delivering a masterful final performance. Unfortunately we were all robbed of what could have been a long and legendary career from this talented man.

George Sanders and Faye Marlowe in Hangover Square (1945)
George Sanders and Faye Marlowe

I'll watch anything with George Sanders in it and he's what drew me to the film in the first place. I only wish there was more of him in this movie to enjoy! Linda Darnell is playful as the wily femme fatale. I was particularly delighted with Faye Marlowe whose Barbara is the polar opposite of Darnell's Netta. Hangover Square is her film debut. At the tender age of 17, Faye Marlowe was in a high school production of Our Town and caught the eye of a talent agent. Soon after she did a screen test and was signed to a contract with 20th Century Fox.  Years later Marlowe joked, "back in those days studios were signing up starlets like bad checks." Darryl F. Zanuck changed her surname to the glamorous Marlowe and John Brahm cast her in the role because she reminded him of his ex-wife. Marlowe is still with us and is the last surviving cast member.




Hangover Square (1945) is available on Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber. Bonus features include audio commentary track with screenwriter/historian Steve Haberman and actress Faye Marlowe and a separate commentary track with author/historian Richard Schickel. There's a short doc on Laird Cregar, a few trailers and an audio recording radio production of the movie featuring Vincent Price in the lead role.

Thank you to Kino Lorber for sending me a copy of the Blu-Ray to review!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cinema Shame: Rocky


https://cinemashame.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/episode-5-rocky-raquel-stecher/

https://cinemashame.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/episode-7-rocky-part-2-raquel-stecher/

Before this year I had never seen a single movie in the Rocky franchise. Not one.

My friend Jay hosts a Cinema Shame podcast in which he invites a cinephile to watch a big film they've never seen before and come on to the show to discuss. On Twitter Jay challenged me to watch Rocky.



And I took the bait.

The term cinema shame refers to the regret a cinephile experiences because they haven't seen a particular film. For years I suffered my cinema shame in relative obscurity, keeping the embarrassment to myself. Now I celebrate and embrace my cinema shame. It gives me an opportunity to tackle exciting new projects and to experience some great movies for the first time.

When Jay and I discussed our plans for the episode, Jay came up with the idea of a two-parter and challenged me to watch all 6 of the Rocky movies and the spin-off Creed if I felt like it. Challenge accepted! I love the satisfaction I get from tackling big projects and this challenge spoke to the completeist in me.

And this year I was ready for Rocky in a way that I hadn't been before. I started a new exercise regiment that would not only challenge my physical strength but my mental and emotional strength too. I was prepared to appreciate Rocky's struggle.

I shared my Rocky movie watching experience with my husband Carlos who insisted he be there for my inaugural viewings.

The two episodes of the Rocky Series Shame are now live. In the first episode looks at Rocky I, II and III and the second at Rocky IV, V and Rocky Balboa along with a bit about Creed. I'm very proud of these episodes and I hope you'll give them a listen.

Now having conquered the Rocky series I feel like I can accomplish anything.



If you want more podcast goodness, check out my guest appearances in the podcast tab of this blog. Also subscribe to Cinema Shame for future episodes and dive into the archive of goodness.

Many thanks to Jay for having me on the show!






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