Friday, May 7, 2021

TCM Classic Film Festival: Nichols and May: Take Two (1996)


Premiering tomorrow on TCM as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival is Nichols and May: Take Two, director Phillip Schopper's documentary on the famous comedy duo. It previously aired on PBS back in 1996 but it has been unavailable for many years. This will be the first time TCM is airing it.

Elaine May and Mike Nichols were a powerhouse comedy team in the late 1950s and the late 1960s. In an era of conventionality, they broke through with their wit and humor about subjects that were considered taboo. They had a synchronicity that made them electric. Nichols and May took America by storm with their best-selling comedy albums and various television appearances. They were new, fresh voices on the comedy scene and influenced the work of many comedians that followed. 

Nichols and May: Take Two captures the magic and subsequent influence of this comedic duo with four archival comedy sequences and interviews with comedians Richard Lewis, Steve Martin and Robin Williams. Also interviewed in the film are Tom Brokaw, Jules Feiffer, Arthur Penn, as well as their manager. The skits are shown in full which allows audiences unfamiliar with Nichols and May to really get a sense of their special brand of comedy.

The documentary airs Saturday at 11;45 AM ET on TCM for their virtual TCM Classic Film Festival and includes an introduction by Mike Nichols' biographer Mark Harris.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

TCM Classic Film Festival: Doctor X (1932)


This year's virtual TCM Classic Film Festival kicks off with some special presentations including the late night premiere of Doctor X (1932), recently restored by UCLA Film and Television Archive and The Film Foundation in association with Warner Bros. Entertainment. Doctor X was the first of three horror films, including Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) and The Walking Dead (1936), that director Michael Curtiz made for Warner Bros.

The film stars Lionel Atwill as Doctor Xavier, one of several scientists who are being probed for their possible involvement in a string of murders. A killer is on the loose, searching for his victims during the full moon, brutally murdering them and mutilating their bodies afterwards. Doctor X theorizes that the murderer is triggered by a past trauma and that this will help them solve the mystery. Newspaper reporter Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy) is desperate to get the scoop and infiltrates the home of Doctor X to get insider information. There he meets the doctor's daughter Joanne (Fay Wray) who is protective of her father yet concerned about his involvement in the matter. Doctor X rounds up all the scientists including Wells (Preston Foster) Haines (John Wray), Duke, (Harry Beresford) and Rowitz (Arthur Edmund Carewe) for an unusual experiment to uncover the identity of the Moon Killer.

Doctor X is a wonderful mad scientist mystery with plenty spooks, a few laughs and some sex thrown in for good measure (it is a pre-code film after all). The film was shot in black-and-white by Richard Tower and in two-strip Technicolor by Ray Rennahan. The color version was considered lost for years until a print was recovered in Warner Bros.' executive Jack L. Warner's belongings after he died in 1978.

The restoration of Doctor X (1932) in its original two-strip Technicolor premieres tonight on TCM as part of their late-night line-up for the TCM Classic Film Festival. Film historian and Michael Curtiz biographer Alan K. Rode will be presenting the film. Rode will explain how Doctor X fits into Curtiz' filmography, the history of Warner Bros., its importance as an early horror film and a side-by-side comparison of the old and new print. The restored Technicolor version of the film looks incredible. This is a real treat and one you won't want to miss.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Warner Archive Mega Haul


When it was announced that the WBShop was closing down in its current form and that they would be having their last 4 for $44 sale for Warner Archive titles, I pounced. On March 12th I bought a whopping 32 discs. I used both the sale and a special 15th anniversary coupon code for an extra deal. Then on the last day of March, I bought 4 sets that weren't part of the original sale but I could still use the coupon code for. While we don't know what the future holds for Warner Archive, I did want to buy what I could before it was too late. Warner Archive titles are currently available at a variety of online stores including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Deep Discount, TCM Shop and more and they have new releases scheduled throughout this year. Shop while you can!

Now on to the haul.

Did you partake in the Warner Archive 4 for $44 sale? If so, what did you get?

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