Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stan & Ollie on the big screen!

For L&H and classic film fans, there is a great opportunity to see MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS (1935 aka BABES IN TOYLAND) on the massive screen of The Landmark Loews Jersey City, New Jersey on December 9th!
The classic Hal Roach fairytale comedy has become traditional holiday viewing and finally received a legit DVD release a few years ago courtesy of MGM.  There's also a  highly praised colorized/restored version on blu-ray from Legend Films.  I'll be checking that out soon and reporting back here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

He's coming to town- on blu-ray?!

You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I'm telling you why... the truly zany 1959 south of the border Christmas classic is rescued from the dollar bins and is coming to blu-ray, courtesy of VCI (reportedly struck from the original negative)!  See Santa battle Satan to save Christmas for all the little naughty and nice boys and girls!  Ever notice how Santa and Satan are spelled with the exact same letters?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Finally! Laurel & Hardy done right on DVD!

Ever since the advent of DVD, Laurel and Hardy and classic comedy fans have yearned for the classic Hal Roach series to appear.  The VHS years did provide a sampling of rough quality gems but aside from a lame attempt by Lionsgate a few years ago, the L&H library just wasn't properly available (in the U.S.)... until now!  Vivendi comes to the rescue with a proper chronological complete collection of the sound shorts and feature length L&H classics (with extras, commentaries and Spanish language versions!) produced by Hal Roach from 1929's UNACCUSTOMED AS WE ARE to 1940's feature-length SAPS AT SEA!  From a quick sampling and based on the hardcore international L&H enthusiasts' online celebrations, the majority opinion is that this is probably best collection yet in terms of quality (possibly even surpassing the nice U.K. and German box sets).  Aside from the  boy's Hal Roach output, their later MGM and Fox work has been previously available as well as a nice TCM set with THE DEVIL'S BROTHER and BONNIE SCOTLAND.  We will delve further into this new collection, provide updates soon and look into the Jerry Lewis controversy erupting from an included interview.  What's really need now is a comprehensive collection of their silent shorts and fragments.

RIP Ken Russell

British film director Ken Russell died yesterday at the age of 84.  Russell's unique work will live on and, in my mind, his master work, THE DEVILS (1971), will only continue to grow in stature and find new worshippers... er, uh... admirers.  I was grateful to be able to attend the Lincoln Center Film Society screening of THE DEVILS with Mr. Russell and Ms. Redgrave last summer.
Upon seeing the film for the first time in the mid-seventies in a Washington D.C. repertory cinema, I felt then and just as strongly now, that Oliver Reed's performance was his most powerful and truly Oscar worthy!  Seek out the film wherever and however you can (it's currently only available uncut on a pirated DVD from a BBC broadcast) and if you're as fascinated with the true story as I am, read Aldous Huxley's excellent non-fiction book, THE DEVILS OF LOUDUN (1952)!  For the hardcore, check out Krzyzstof Penderecki's experimental 1968 opera, DIE TEUFEL VON LOUDUN (available on DVD and out-of-print CD) and Jerzy Kawalerowicz's stunning film, MOTHER JOAN OF THE ANGELS (1961), based on a Polish novella that serves as a sort of sequel to the historical events detailed in Huxley's book and a worthy companion piece to Russell's film.  Sorry for going off on a DEVILS tangent...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another Munchkin bites the dust! RIP Karl Slover

WIZARD OF OZ Munchkin Karl Slover has passed away at the ripe age of 93.  I haven't been able to confirm exactly what Munchkin character he played but I do have to admit that the Munchkins have always pretty much fit into the monster category for me ever since I was very young and saw the early network broadcasts of OZ.  In particular, I always found the infamous Lolli-Pop Kids to be downright terrifying and worthy of a Basil Gogos FAMOUS MONSTERS cover!  They still effectively freak me out (especially the gnarly little gremlin on the far right)!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Do You Dare Enter the Hammer Vault Of Horror?

This promises to be a killer book filled with removable artifacts and artwork to bring the sordid history of Hammer Films to life!  Titan Books and Marcus Hearn keep producing the best and most lavish books to honor the Hammer legacy!  Available on December 13, 2011.

The original Big G is coming soon from Criterion!

The original  1954 film is scheduled for a January 24th release on DVD & BD.  The previous Classic Media blu-ray, from all reports, was weak at 1080i and unrestored.  Criterion should blow that one away with little effort.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

RIP Richard Gordon, Producer (1925-2011)

Richard Gordon was a casual acquaintance.  I knew him for about 20 years and he was a faithful subscriber and friend to Video Confidential for the few years it ran.  Richard produced some very good films (CORRIDORS OF BLOOD for example!) and some not so very good films- not at all a small achievement and nothing to be ashamed of.  He was a super nice guy and extremely knowledgeable about film, particularly British cinema.  He will be missed.