Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

This crazy still is taken from Riptide (1934) in which Norma Shearer and Herbert Marshall don ridiculous bug costumes for a party. Swell!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

DVD Boxed Set Review~ Humphrey Bogart - The Essential Collection

And the angel sing on high...

Now I've reviewed quite a few boxed sets but this one trumps them all. This one puts all the others to shame. This is a veritable masterpiece. It is the stuff that classic film enthusiasts salivate over. It is by far one of the most beautiful things I have ever beheld. I feel like it is a privilege to be in its presence.

Enough with my gushing. Let's get on to talking about this boxed set. Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection is a 24-movie/12-disc set which contains a selection of Bogie's films with Warner Bros. The movies include:

Chances are you own some of these movies already. That's probably why Warner Bros. beefed up the set with a ton of extras. There is a 13th disc which contains The Brothers Warner documentary. A companion book and a package of goodies. Each DVD is given a great menu design and each film comes with extras. 16 of the films have commentaries and there are bonus newsreels, short documentaries, radio shows, cartoons, etc. that beef up the set.

Other than Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, I don't own any of these films on DVD. I have some on VHS, recordings from TCM including The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse which my friend Kevin is still holding hostage. I've seen 10 out of the 24 films so this is a real treat for me. I really love Humphrey Bogart as an actor. He had great delivery and range and was just plain cool.

I think my only complaint about the set is that it came with a duplicate DVD so I'm missing 2 of the movies. If you buy this set, make sure you check all the DVDs so that you have all 24 movies. If you don't, ask for an exchange!

Purchasing Information: Warner Bros. told me that the street date is October 5th. Trouble is, Classicflix, WBShop, TCM, etc. are not shipping it right now. My guess is that they caught some kind of mistake and are either reworking stock or reprinting new boxed sets. Or they sold out really quickly and are reprinting. So there may be a delay if you order it. If I find out anything, I'll make sure to let people know.

Now it's not enough for me just to tell you about this delightful boxed set. Let me SHOW you. Here is my first ever Vlog. Enjoy!

Special thank you to Warner Bros. who sent this boxed set to me for review (which I would have purchased anyways because it's so awesome). And stay tuned to this space because I'll be reviewing the documentary and will be hosting a 24 Bogie Movie Marathon with short reviews of each of the 24 films.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

And the winner of King Kong (1933) on Blu-Ray is...


His fact: Blu-Ray discs are specially clear coated with a special sealant to help avoid against scratches that would otherwise cause play-back issues of the Blu-Ray disc.

Thank you to everyone who participated and provided great facts. Here are the other ones! Enjoy.

  • 191 Movies ~ "Blu-Ray players, even expensive ones, have been sold without providing enough physical memory. Which often means basically you can't stop the movie, shut off the player and then hope to find the scene you were watching without going back to the menu - an annoying waste of time! On the other hand (there's always another hand) Blu-Ray is still worth it for some films. The Godfather, for instance, the Bourne movies, Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, Zulu. The studios have taken a great deal of time and effort to get the images right on Blu-Ray and the effect is amazing and makes buying the Blu-Ray worth it!"
  • John ~" The sound used for King Kong's roar was the combination of a lion's and a tiger's roar played backwards." 
  • Amanda ~ Blu rays can be played on my hubby's PSP3.  I think King Kong's big doors were burnt in the Gone WIth The Wind scene of Atlanta burning.  And to qote IMDB "The 56-cm-high model of King Kong used in the film sold at auction in 2009 for about $203,000 (US). It was originally covered in cotton, rubber, liquid latex, and rabbit fur, but most of the covering has decomposed over the decades"
  • Tom ~ I wouldn't exactly call this a fact, but I feel that the 1926 edition of The Lost World was a test run for King Kong.
  • TommyBlu Ray is cool because of the storage capacity of 50gb that allows so many extras and much better sound and video quality than DVD. 
  • Arnold ~ King Kong was the film which inspired a 13-year-0ld Ray Harryhausen to enter the film industry.  Harryhausen's fascination with Willis O'Brien's masterful visual effects led him to seek out O'Brien and, eventually, work alongside him on 1949's Mighty Joe Young.
  • Adam ~ Blu-Ray films typically run at 24 frames per second, the same as film.  So unlike DVDs, you're only seeing pictures that the director shot.
  • David ~ The difference between blu-rays taken from 35mm sources and 70mm sources is stunning.  Sleeping beauty and 2001 are the demo discs - even above the Pixar ones.  Seriously, put in Sleeping Beauty and skip to "Briar Rose in the Woods" and tell me if ytour jaw doesn't drop.
  • Jeff ~ Blu-Ray is a fantastic technology and when classic films are released in a proper manner, this format is the best way to seem them! But you need to be careful which BD player you buy, as not all are created eaul regarding their firmware. As to KING KONG itself, well it's a seminal film that launched many a kid's monster-feuled fantasy in the decades since it premiered. There's something about the tactile nature of Willis o'Brien's special effects (you can see the hairs on the Kong model flicker from o'Brien's (and others) fingers manipulating it for each stop-motion shot. This classic handmade effect  is totally endearing in the age of CGI. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Actresses with Kittens

On special request from Mercurie over at A Shroud of Thoughts, here is a bunch of pictures of Actresses with Kittens. This is sort of a sequel to my post about Actors with Puppies. Enjoy!

Elizabeth Taylor (from Kitten Feathers)

Gloria Swanson (Elizabeth from Oh By Jingo! Oh By Gee!)

Dolores Del Rio ( (Elizabeth from Oh By Jingo! Oh By Gee!)

Mabel Normand  (Elizabeth from Oh By Jingo! Oh By Gee!)

Audrey Hepburn (Emm from Audrey Obsession)

another Audrey Hepburn (Mercurie from A Shroud of Thoughts)

Briggite Bardot (Mercurie from A Shroud of Thoughts)

Kim Novak (Mercurie from A Shroud of Thoughts)

Ava Gardner (Mercurie from A Shroud of Thoughts)

Mary Pickford (Elizabeth from Oh By Jingo! Oh By Gee!)

Gene Tierney (from Kate Gabrielle's Flickr)

Grace Kelly

Jane Fonda

Joan Blondell

Jean Seberg

Norma Shearer

Carole Lombard (with Clark Gable... auw!)

Vivien Leigh

Hazel Court (wife of Hot Toddy Don Taylor)

Olivia de Havilland

Ann Sheridan

Clara Bow (Paulie from Art, Movies, Wood and Whatnot...)

Anne Francis as Honey West (Bob from Allure)

Briggitte Helm (Bob from Allure)

Susan Hayward (David from Filmclassics)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Actor with Puppies

John Stangeland, the author of the upcoming book Warren William: Magnificent Scoundrel of Pre-code Hollywood, sent me this picture of Warren William with his wire-haired terriers. Great picture! This is what Stangeland has to say about William and his love of dogs:

Warren William was a great dog lover. He regularly showed his prize wire-haired terriers, was a member of the Tailwagger's Society (with Bette Davis and many other Hollywood stars) as well as the Anti-Vivisection League of Los Angeles. He also worked for a many other animal rights charities, including one that helped build a LA county animal hospital. - John Stangeland

Sunday, October 17, 2010

King Kong (1933) on Blu-Ray Giveaway

The lovely folks at Warner Bros. sent me the ultra-sexy King Kong (1933) on Blu-Ray. Trouble is, I don't have a Blu-Ray player. ::whimper:: And I can't really justify buying a Blu-Ray player just to review this King Kong Blu-Ray package. Well, my loss is your gain because I'm hosting a giveaway. That's right. One of you luck Out of the Past readers can have a shot at winning this lovely Blu-Ray package. And what a swell package it is.

From Warner Bros....

King Kong on Blu-Ray
Available now at

On September 28, 2010, the original 1933 RKO classic King Kong makes its long awaited debut on Blu-ray Disc™. Presented by Warner Home Video, the newly remastered King Kong features extensive bonus content, including a collectible Blu-ray Book written by renowned film historian Rudy Behlmer; a feature length documentary on Kong creator Merian C. Cooper, directed by acclaimed filmmakers Kevin Brownlow and Christopher Bird; commentary by Ray Harryhausen and Ken Ralston with Merian C. Cooper and Fay Wray; and a seven-part documentary that delves deeply into just about every aspect of the making of the film.
With 32 pages of rare photography and trivia, the captivating Blu-ray Book, written by Rudy Behlmer, centers around the vision of director, Merian C. Cooper and his larger than life persona that brought the story of King Kong to the screen. A prolific film researcher and historian, Behlmer personally interviewed Cooper and has written numerous books and contributed to a wide variety of documentaries, videos, DVDs and laser discs about Hollywood's Golden Age.

In this very special Blu-ray release, the newly remastered film is presented in its 1933 entirety and includes scenes that were originally considered too shocking for the 1938-1956 re-releases. With equal parts adventure, horror and old-fashioned romance, King Kong is a milestone of movie-making that has endured for more than seven decades. Named as one of the “100 Best Films of All Time” by Time MagazineKing Kong premiered in New York City in 1933. The film was an instant success, breaking box-office records to become one of the top moneymakers of the 1930s.

Warner Bros. and some other studios have been pushing Blu-Ray big time, especially with the Classics. Thing is, I'm very happy with my DVD player. Should I invest in Blu-Ray or wait until DVDs go extinct (like I did with VHS!). I also know very little about Blu-Ray. Okay let's face it. I know nothing about Blu-Ray.

So to enter this contest, tell me something about Blu-Ray. Anything. Or tell me something about the film King Kong (1933). Fill out the form below to enter. Someone will be chosen at random (it will not be based on how interesting your fact is!) and I'll announce the winner on October 23rd and contest ends the 22nd. Good luck!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

#Errolivia Errol & Olivia: Ego and Obsession in Golden Era Hollywood by Robert Matzen

When I finished the book, I didn't know whether to kiss it or throw it across the room. In the end, I kissed it because I enjoyed the journey, frustrations and all.

by Robert Matzen
October 2010
$39.95 US
Paladin Communications/ Good Knight Books

I was contacted a while back about reviewing this book and I jumped on the chance. I had spend several nights recently with Errol Flynn for the review of the TCM Spotlight Boxed Set but I still had not had a taste of the Errolivia experience. Reading this book took me longer than usual. It's a 195 page plus coffee table book, chock-full of black-and-white and color photography, promotional stills, candids, portraits, etc. but it's also rich with information about Errol and Olivia's separate lives, their emotional yet distant relationship with each other and each of the 8 films they did together. It wasn't enough for me just to read about these movies, I wanted to watch them too but I only ended up watching half of them due to time restrictions and DVD availability.

Captain Blood (1935) *
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) *
Four's a Crowd (1938)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) *
Dodge City (1939)
Essex and Elizabeth (1939)
Santa Fe Trail (1940)
They Died With Their Boots On (1941) *

(by the way, there is no such handy-dandy list of these movies anywhere in the book which kind of surprised me)

Reading this book was at times challenging and frustrating and other times pure bliss. This isn't a book you can casually read for fun. This is a book you will want to have arguments with, will want to throw across the room but also want to pet and stroke and cuddle up in bed with. Since I work in the book industry, I'm very particular about books. This book to me seems almost self-published. The publisher, Paladin Communications, seems only to have published this book and Robert Matzen's Errol Flynn Slept Here. Not really what you'd call a big publishing house with only 2 titles and one author. However, I've been very impressed with their marketing campaign. They did a lot of blogger outreach, got people excited about the book, created a dynamic and active Facebook page, and even created complete with info about the book and a blog. The author recently asked on Facebook what his next topic of discussion should be on the blog. I suggested the Damita-Flynn-Curtiz love triangle which he doesn't talk about very much in the book. Lili Damita was a lively French actress who had a short career in the states. She was first married to Curtiz then to Flynn. Curtiz directed several Errolivia films and Damita would often visit Flynn on set to keep an eye on him. Wouldn't that be awkward? An Ex-husband directing, current husband acting and a wife lurking on set. The author seemed interested in my query so let's hope that he writes about it!

The book is very well structured and follows the parallel lives of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland from their respective births and years growing up, to their Hollywood starts, their films together, their romance with each other and other people and it even follows Olivia de Havilland after Flynn's death but keeps Flynn in the picture as much as possible. The text never dallies or goes off track, it stays right on course giving the reader lots of great information along the way.

I did have a few issues with the book. It sometimes veered off into sleaze-ville. And of course, the sleaze was always directly linked to Errol Flynn who loved the ladies and loved the booze. One particular line that bothered me about Flynn having oral sex and intercourse with script girls and bit players during shoots. I thought it was both unnecessary and took for granted that the reader thinks Flynn is a womanizer (there was no footnote or reference). And I have to say this for the umpteenth time: Jimmy Stewart was NOT A WOMANIZER!!!

The author refers to Olivia as both Olivia and Livvie which threw me off because there was also Lili Damita, Lily Flynn and Lilian de Havilland. Oh the captions, let me just talk about those for a second. The author seems to take the photographs as an opportunity to write short 2-3 line sections of fiction where he over-analyzes what is going on in the image. My favorite one shows Flynn having lunch with Melville Cooper (who plays the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Errol Flynn): it reads "[Cooper] toys with his glass uncomfortably, aware that Curtiz will have a fit if they don't get back to the set soon." Most of the captions are heavy on conjecture and not on fact. However, this improves drastically as the book goes along so in a second edition perhaps the earlier captions could be re-written.

I do think that if you are a classic film fan it is imperative that you pick up this book. There is a lot of great information about the studio system, the making of the Errolivia films and the general goings on of the Hollywood machine. Plus it makes for a really gorgeous looking addition to your collection of coffee table books.

Points in the book that I found particularly interesting:
  • Olivia's battle with Jack Warner and Warner Bros. studios. i.e, they did not treat her well.
  • Errol's marriage with fiery French actress Lili Damita (read more about her at Allure)
  • Flynn's $100 bet, They Died With Their Boots On (1941) and what de Havilland revealed to Michael Caine
  • How Errol upstaged Olivia in a scene in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
  • Errol's Mommy issues
  • Curtiz's hellish movie sets
  • Gone With the Wind (1939) and how Olivia fought tooth and nail for the part of Melanie!
  • Errol really did not want to be Rhett Butler.
  • Ronald Reagan and the mound of dirt he built to step on to upstage Errol Flynn (LOLing all day). One of the best captions in the whole book!
  • The physical toll the movies took on Errol and Olivia
  • Olivia snubbing sister Joan at the Academy Awards (I could have stared at this picture all day). Joan: Congratulations! Olivia: Bitch, get away from my award!

If you've read this book, please let me know your thoughts. I'd love to hear them. And if you do pick it up, please report back. Make sure you stop by Cliff's blog Immortal Ephemera as he'll be reviewing the book soon.

In the meantime, enjoy the the Errol & Olivia book trailer.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Actors with Puppies & some other important stuff

Motion Picture Gems wrote a bit of a nasty post about the Twitter account @ClassicFilmRead. (which has since been taken down.) The blogger points out that there was no announcement about the Twitter feed, no name, no identification, no nothing. Is this person just capitalizing on other's people posts? Why are certain blogs on there but others are not? Who is this Classic Film Reader person anyways?

The answer is, it's ME!

Yes, it's me. I decided to secretly create an RSS-fed Twitter account to help support classic film bloggers who put so much time and effort into their posts, I feel like they should be recognized. And maybe Twitter followers only want classic film posts to read. Maybe they don't want to read about what you ate for breakfast, how much you hate your work and what happened on last night's episode of Mad Men. But you are posting links to your articles on your Twitter along with that other junk. ClassicFilmRead, it's all posts, all the time. That's more opportunities for people to read your work. Please give me a good reason why that is a bad thing, because I would L-O-V-E to hear it!

Also, some folks use their Twitters as Readers. I know sometimes I use Twitter to alert me when a new post is up. And while I depend on Google Reader for most of my blog reading, I get alerted to a larger set of interesting links on Twitter.

I left two big honking clues on the @ClassicFilmRead account. Two images of actresses with wrenches.

First is Bonita Granville.

She's my choice as a profile picture. If you've been reading this blog long enough, you'll know that I dressed up as Bonita Granville - Nancy Drew, wrench and all.

The background is Ginger Rogers.

This is a screen cap that Jonas from All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! got for me because he knew I loved a classic film actress with a wrench. I used it in my Birthday post for Ginger Rogers.

For those of you who figured and out and kept it to yourselves, thanks for your discretion.

The blogger also likened by @ClassicFilmRead to the Pakistani blog thief that I warned people about a while back. REALLY?! That infuriates me to no end. Because unlike the Pakistani blog thief, each and every one of those RSS-fed tweets contained a prefix naming the blog in question and a link to a blog. You got all the credit! The account was just alerting people to a new post.

You know they would have found you on Google right?

I know KC inquired too. I felt really bad about not telling KC my identity but I didn't think it was necessary to reveal myself. I set up a Twitterfeed account, loaded it up with RSS feeds (even to some blogs I don't care to read), and left it at that. I haven't had many suggestions on what to add, but would have been welcome to add them. With the proliferation of classic film blogs on there, I can't follow them all, I don't know them all and it would be impossible to collect them all. So I put up what I knew and left it at that.

Why didn't I announce it? Why should I have to? I did this as a good deed, not a selfish one, and I didn't want any attention for it. Instead, I get negative attention so now I have to defend myself.

Now I would like to end this post with happy pictures of classic film actors and puppies. Enjoy!

Dirk Bogarde from Discovering Dirk Bogarde

Tony Curtis

Clark Gable

Cary Grant

William Powell

Errol Flynn

Buster Keaton

Humphrey Bogart

John Wayne

Rudolph Valentino 

Paul Newman (oh heck yeah!)

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (provided by Noir Girl)


Gregory Peck

As if he needed a kid and a wagon full of puppies to be more adorable! 

Gregory Peck along with his son and lots of puppies. (provided by @addieread)

Randolph Scott

Robert Cummings (via Classic Montgomery)

Richard Barthelmess (via The Long and Short of It All)

Marlon Brando (via The Long and Short of It All)

Frank Sinatra

Steve McQueen

@QuelleLove Here's one! Sorry @IngyandMillie -I sort of stole this from your blog! Please forgive me! :-D

Bobby Darin (via ClassicForever)

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