Monday, May 31, 2010

Doctor Zhivago (1965) 45th Anniversary Edition on DVD and BluRay

Lucky for us, they didn't wait for the 50th anniversary to release this!

If I enjoyed David Lean's greatest flop, Ryan's Daughter (1970), chances are I would thoroughly enjoy one his major successes. Doctor Zhivago (1965) is truly an epic. It's one of those films that has transcended it's own medium to become an icon. One of the things I love so very much about stories like Doctor Zhivago is that is demonstrates how love can blossom in the most dire of circumstances. Even the social and political turbulence of Russia during the Revolution could not stop the romance between Lara (Julie Christie) and Yuri (Omar Sharif). If this film hasn't broken your heart it's because it's made out of stone. It's really touching, and why I still don't understand completely why Yuri loves Lara, I was still swept away by the romance and the tragedy of the story.

This DVD set is quite divine. I like how they update the look of the cover by choosing a promotional photograph instead of the dated movie poster (which in my opinion has been over used). The first disc includes Part 1 and 2 of the film complete with Overture, Intermission and Exit Music. Even though it's quite a feat to get through, it's worth watching the entire length of the film with the commentary. There intermittent commentary from Sandra Lean (David Lean's partner) and Omar Sharif along side snippets from a commentary by the late Rod Steiger who played Komarovsky. I got a wealth of information from these commentaries and I learned to appreciate the film more for its genius. It would have been nice to have Julie Christie on here, and I'm sure they tried, but alas, no Christie. Here are a few highlights from the commentaries:
  1. When Yuri and Lara first cross paths it's in a trolley. They don't see each other but when they touch accidentally the electric line above the trolley gives off a spark which symbolizes the emotional spark between those two characters.
  2. David Lean's favorite color was yellow and he used yellow flowers, especially sunflowers to represent beauty and hope in the film. In the scene where Yuri and Lara part for the first time, sunflower petals fall mimicking tears.
  3. Julie Christie was stunning, let's face it. Lean knew that her beauty lied in her amazing face. He really wanted to focus on her eyes but felt that Christie's soft pillowy lips took away from them. So throughout the film you see that shadows cover the lips or that the light specifically highlights the eyes versus the lips.
  4. Carlos Ponti bought the movie rights to the novel and wanted his wife Sophia Loren to play Lara. David Lean said that there was no way that Loren could pull of playing a 17 year old virgin and the part went to Julie Christie.
  5. Lean saw a photograph of Geraldine Chaplin (daughter of Charlie Chaplin) and knew immediately he wanted her for the role of Tonya.
  6. Because the book was so controversial in Russia, they had to film in another country. Spain was chosen. It wasn't really plausible to film further north because of the restricted daylight hours.
  7. David Lean felt that it wasn't necessary to show violence that reaction shots were more important and added more to the drama. (Since I hate violence on screen, this is another reason why I heart Lean!).
This film is truly an English major's wet dream. There is so much detail and so much symbolism that it begs for repeated viewings, dissection and analysis. This boxed set proves to be the perfect companion for that purpose.

Also on the first DVD is a 2-part retrospective called Doctor Zhivago: A Celebration. This is so-so mostly because the people being interviewed are not that interesting. But as an analysis of the film it works fairly well.

And that's not it. There's a whole bunch more. It took me quite a long time to make it through the entire set! The second DVD is all extras and in a time in which DVD-R and stripped down DVDs reign, extras are a luxury to be fully appreciated.

The 1995 documentary Doctor Zhivago: The Making of a Russian Epic  was utterly fascinating. Tons of great information, it's hosted by Omar Sharif and there are interviews with Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Robert Bolt, Maurice Jarr, etc. Here are some interesting tidbits from the documentary:

  1. The woman with the dead baby that gets pulled up onto the moving train by Yuri, the actress actually fell under the train and her legs were seriously injured. They used the actual shot of her being pulled under the train. Eek!
  2. To make Egyptian Omar Sharif more Russian, they made him wax his forehead, wear a wig and pull his eyes back. He got scars from the process because he had to do it repeatedly for a year.
  3. Author Pasternak's love affair with his mistress Olga is the basis of the love story of Yuri and Lara.
  4. For the scene with the town of Yuriatan burning in the background, Lean had a crew burn 2 tons of rubber tires! A lot of the filming process was bad for the environment (marble dust, beeswax, painting leaves, etc.).
  5. Maurice Jarre had a difficult time finding a theme Lean would like. Lean encouraged Jarre and Jarre's girlfriend to go on a romantic trip so that Jarre could be inspired to write romantic music. Thus Lara's Theme was born.

Various other documentaries and promotional videos round out the second DVD including Zhivago: Behind the Camera with David Lean, David Lean's Film Doctor Zhivhago (promo video), Moscow in Madrid (promo video), Pasternak (bio/promo)archival interviews with Sharif and Christie, Geraldine Chaplin's Screen Test, "This is" for Christie, Chaplin and Sharif, Chaplin in New York, etc. It's an exhaustive list of extras to say the least.

For a single film DVD, this is one sexy set. So I highly recommend checking it out if you are interested in a full movie experience. 

Special thanks to Warner Bros. for sending me this set to review!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

LAMMY Nomination for Best Classic Movie Blog

The LAMBs have spoken. Out of the Past is one of the 7 blogs nominated for Best Classic Movie Blog. Last year this blog was nominated for Best Theme and the Classic Movie Blog is brand new. Now the LAMBs are not terribly Classic film blogger friendly. They have shuffled us into that "other" category holding us at an arms length. They treat the Horror Film bloggers even worse. But hey at least they are trying and are acknowledging us in our very own category.

If you are a LAMB and haven't voted yet, please vote for my little ole blog Out of the Past for Best Classic Movie Blog.

You may be asking yourself "Why should I vote for you?". Here are 10 good reasons why:

  1.  I bake. A lot. And I'm willing to bribe people with baked goods.
  2. I devote as much of my free time to this blog as possible. It's really a second job but it's also a passion. There is not a day that passes by that I don't try to think of what I should write next.
  3. I read other classic film blogs religiously. Thank goodness for Google Reader!
  4. A lot of work goes into each post. I try to make each post as interesting and humorous as possible and try to incorporate images and video when I can.
  5. I'm friendly. I've made friends with several other film bloggers. It's a great community and I like to think I help foster that.
  6. Did I mention that I bake?
  7. This blog is everywhere. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Stumble Upon, MovieBlips, All Consuming, Ravelry (yes my blog feeds on a Knitting/Crocheting site!), BlogBurst, BlogHer, Latina Bloggers, Decades I Love, Golden Age of Hollywood Ning, etc.
  8. This blog isn't going anywhere. As long as I'm alive and I'm watching classic films, I'll be posting on here.
  9. My name Raquelle comes from the Hebrew name Rahel which means "ewe" (a female lamb). Rachel in the Old Testament was a Shepardess. So I have a sheep connection to the LAMBs. That must mean I'm perfect for winning this award? Right?!
  10. Last but not least, I have the best readers any classic film blogging gal could wish for.

Even if I don't win, I'm glad to have been recognized. So thanks to everyone who voted and if you can spare a moment please vote for me again? Thank you. xoxo

Saturday, May 22, 2010

TCM iPhone App

Turner Classic Movies came out with an iPhone app a few months ago and I was super excited to get it. It would be a little TCM that I could take with me everywhere I go. So I shelled out the $2.99 for it as soon as it hit the App Store and downloaded it on to my iPhone. What I thought would be a portable turned out to be something completely different.

I equate the TCM iPhone app to going on a date with a really hot guy only to have your mother come along. While it's a great opportunity to hang out with that guy you've been lusting after, the date would be a million times better if mom wasn't around watching your every move. And if there is a second date, chances are it will be better and sans mom.

The app could be a lot more enjoyable if they opened up the possibilities but instead they restrict, restrict, restrict. This app could go from sucky to awesome if they added just one function: Search.

Let's take a little tour of the App.

The Home page highlights the four major sections (Schedule, Video, Photos and Blog) and includes a banner above showcasing that month's theme. It's updated regularly and each item is always the newest for each section. A click (tap) on the arrow button brings you to another screen with the full content.

If you watch TCM religiously, the Schedule feature is pretty nice. You can view all the films that will be shown within the next 7 days and you can click/tap through to any given film for more information. You can also view what's showing during the next two months. You can even set it to your time zone or switch to Canada for their listings. It won't however allow you to set reminders or alerts for future showings. 

Let's say you really wanted to watch Horse Feathers (1932) (which seems to be on heavy rotation on TCM lately). A click through to the information page gives you pretty much all the info the film's TCMDB page would have: An overview, TCM article, Video, Notes, Full Credits, Full Synopsis and even user comments.


Video section gives you a select showcase of widescreen videos, trailers, movie clips and promos. TCM picks the videos based on the current and upcoming schedule.

Now we come to the Photo section which features a regularly changing list of images from lobby cards, posters, press books, production photos and publicity photos. TCM picks the images based on the current and upcoming schedule. You can't search for pics or do anything with them other than look.

Finally, there is the Blog section. Don't get too excited, it's only the Movie Morlocks blog. This is probably the most useful section because it's a regular updated feed of the highly active official TCM blog. You can get a full RSS of the blog anywhere else but here. However, you can only view the last 10 postings. 

What you can't do on the app:

1) SEARCH for films, photos, videos or anything AT ALL!
2) Set reminders/alerts for future showings of films
3) Play games.
4) Send any of the info, video, pictures, etc. to yourself or to a friend via any sharing method (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
5) Download any pictures to your phone (most apps won't let you do that anyways).
6) Read biographies on stars or directors
7) View Archives of the Movie Morlocks Blog

I don't think the TCM app is going to change any time soon but it would be worth their investment to enhance the app with search functionality. It would even be worth paying $4.99 instead of $2.99. As it stands, the TCM app doesn't seem complete. If you are hesitant to pay money for an app, I would suggest downloading the free IMDB app instead (which has Search functionality) and accessing TCDMB through Safari. But if you are a super TCM freak/addict who happens to be glued to your iPhone (or iTouch or maybe even iPad), this app may be worth your while.

Anyone else have this app? Thoughts on it?

And thanks to @AddieReed who asked about this app on Twitter which inspired me to do this post.

Full Disclosure: I bought this app for my iPhone.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Robert Mitchum Portraits

These lovely scans of Robert Mitchum come via Kate Gabrielle who hails from the blog Silents and Talkies (as well as many other blogs too). She took them from the book Film Star Portraits of the Fiities by John Kobal. Thanks Kate!

If you have anything you want to submit to the It's a Veritable Robert Mitchum Explosion series, please feel free. I'll take whatever you throw at me as long as it basks in Robert Mitchum's awesomeness.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

An E-mail, Price Mitchum & how blogging is changing my life

Something amazing happened on Saturday. I got an e-mail from none other than Robert Mitchum's eldest son, James Mitchum. THE James Mitchum. I've written about him before if you recall. He starred with his dad in the film Thunder Road (1958) and I shared some screen shots to demonstrate how much James resembled his father. As it turns out, his brother, Christopher Mitchum, saw some of my posts (i.e. The Case of the Robert Mitchum Look-A-Like and Robert Mitchum is Dead) and forwarded my blog to James. James sent me a lovely e-mail which I proceded read over and over and over again. In the e-mail, he mentions that his son Price Mitchum is an up-and-coming actor studying in LA. I looked him up online and Price has the characteristic Mitchum look. He's going to be a heartbreaker for sure. (Go to my Tumblr heckyeahrobertmitchum to see a photo of Price).

Words cannot express how happy I am that both of Robert Mitchum's sons have read some of my posts!

This is not the first time I've been contacted by family members of a classic Hollywood star. The grandsons of Charles Emmett Mack (McNerney) have both written to me. Back in November, I sort of took Charles Emmett Mack on as a pet project. So little is known about him and so few people recognize the name. I wanted to change that! I started watching as many of his movies as I could and I'm still on the search for the Holy Grail which is a biographical article in Motion Picture Classics magazine. I love talking to Michael and I hope one day I can find some more information on Mack so I can help Michael and his brother learn more about their grandfather.

I guess it goes to show that when you share something in a public space, people take notice. When people read my posts and contact me directly, it makes me want to watch more classic films, do more research and write more posts. You spur me on. You are changing my life. And I just want to say: Thank You!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Robert Mitchum Video #6 ~ Mitchum on What's My Line?

Robert Mitchum was known amongst his drinking buddies as a great impersonator. He had an art for doing impressions and various accents and voices (although he couldn't quite master the Irish accent or the Boston accent in movies such as Ryan's Daughter and The Friends of Eddie Coyle, respectively). This is a cute clip in which you see Mitchum do various voices. Notice that he sort of plugs his Calypso album?! Enjoy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Robert Mitchum is Dead

Well deh.

People have been talking about a Norwegian film entitled Robert Mitchum is Dead. The film will premiere on May 15th at the Cannes Film Festival. What is the movie about? I have no idea! What does it have to do with Robert Mitchum? Beats me!

After some research, the only description I could find was this one from Yahoo! Movies:

Franky is an actor suffering from insomnia. Franky is his manager Arsene's friend, spiritual son and source of income. When Arsene steals a car and takes Franky to the Arctic Circle under the pretence that the two are going to meet a famous director shooting an American film there, an adventurous journey ensues across Europe as Franky has problems distinguishing between what's real and what's not. 

As my good friend Jonas can attest, Norwegians are strange! But is it Norwegian? It's filmed by a Norwegian company, in Poland and the dialogue is in French. Really? I feel a headache coming on.

After even more research, I found a whole bunch of clips online. Here is one. Here is another. Here is one more. Can you make sense of it? Is it called "Robert Mitchum is Dead" because that is a truth and the film is trying to show a truth? That's the best I can do because otherwise this goes right over my head.


Regardless of the movie, Robert Mitchum really is dead. He passed away on July 1st, 1997 from lung cancer and emphysema. He had been sick for some time but it was only the spring of 1997 in which doctors had diagnosed him with lung cancer. Robert Mitchum had been smoking cigarettes for many years, as one can tell from his incessant smoking in films such as Out of the Past (1947). In his last months, his illness caused him to deteriorate so quickly that he became unrecognizable. He died peacefully at his home, his wife Dorothy by his side.

On July 2nd, 1997, Robert Mitchum's death made headlines. His death was eclipsed by Jimmy Stewart who passed away on July 2nd, the day after Mitchum, and the newspaper headlines and TV reports that followed focused even more on the uber-famous Jimmy. Mitchum was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the Pacific ocean. Only his wife, a few family members and one close friend, actress Jane Russell, were present at the quiet ceremony.

God Speed Robert Mitchum.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Robert Mitchum Video #5 ~ Mitchum on the Dick Cavett Show

This is a really great interview with Robert Mitchum done by the legendary Dick Cavett. It's pretty clear that Cavett is a bit afraid of bad boy Robert Mitchum. Mitchum was such a great storyteller though and Cavett really brought that out of the people he interviewed, by asking the right questions and allowing the interviewee to go on rants but also keeping them on track.

While this is only a clip, you can watch the entire interview in The Dick Cavett Show: Hollywood Greats .

The Dick Cavett Show - Hollywood Greats

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

heckyeahrobertmitchum Tumblr & a Q&A with James Mitchum

New on Tumblr is a heckyeahrobertmichum blog created by yours truly. If you are not familiar with Tumblr, it's a blogging service that lends itself to multimedia streaming and reblogging/sharing. heckyeahrobertmitchum will feature photographs, quotes, links, videos, etc. on all things Robert Mitchum. heckyeah and f***yeah Tumblr blogs are really popular. Almost every actor/actress has one up, but sadly there wasn't one for Robert Mitchum! So if you want an extra dose of It's a Veritable Robert Mitchum Explosion, make sure you pay a visit to heckyeahrobertmitchum.

Also, I recently found this lovely Q&A with Robert Mitchum's son James Mitchum on the Knox News website. It's from 2008 on the 50th anniversary of the movie Thunder Road (1958). James Mitchum touches upon working with his dad, getting to know Elvis Presley, Moonshine, his acting career, etc. He's pretty straightforward about his dad being more a male figure in his life than a father figure. This interview is definitely worth a read. It's interesting to note that James Mitchum owns the rights to Thunder Road and a remake is in the works. Since Mitchum has some control over the property, I'm sure it'll be better than most remakes of classic films.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Robert Mitchum Video #4 ~ The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The famous scene from The Night of the Hunter (1955) in which Robert Mitchum's character Harry Powell tells the story of Love versus Hate (Good versus Evil) using the tattoos on his knuckles and by dueling with his fists. This scene has become iconic in film history and is referenced in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing (1989).

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