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    • She Devil on Blu-ray

    • Not all small-scale genre pictures are created alike. Some semi-obscure 1950s sci-fi and horror thrillers are laughably dated and some are just misunderstood. If given a thoughtful second look, a few transcend their own mediocrity. I propose a reappraisal of the lowly 1957 double-bill denizen She Devil, produced by an un-credited Robert L. Lippert and directed by Kurt Neumann, the man best known for the original, popular 1958 sci-fi horror classic The Fly. She Devil is also sourced from a fantastic short story that, tangentially at least, involves flies. But mostly it is a medical-horror update of the archaeic, ultra-conservative Alraune axiom: artificially manipulated life forms are by definition Evil, even beautiful women. Especially beautiful women.

      If they are fortunate to find themselves the subject of serious discussion, most sci-fi pictures of the 1950s are quickly linked to anxieties about atomic extinction or other fears associated with creeping technology -- alienation, loss of identity. She Devil chooses instead to examine gender relations, with outrageous results. The movie's impressively undiluted sexism shows no overt signs of deliberate parody or even a satirical edge; the whole thing is played straight. We're told that it was produced so quickly that there was likely little time for anyone concerned to ask what kind of movie was being made. Genre formulas adapted for commercial filmmaking take their own shapes, sometimes without the conscious intervention of an "author's message." Already notorious among hipsters as an unintentional comedy, the engagingly misogynist She Devil may be the most unconsciously "political" gender-based fantasy of the goofy '50s monster craze. It is ripe for rediscovery.

      As pointed out by author Tom Weaver, She Devil is basically My Fair Lady with an Eliza Doolittle character that transforms not into a lady, but a fiendish murderer. Retired M.D. and benevolent hospital executive Dr. Richard Bach (Albert Dekker) has invited brilliant researcher Dr. Dan Scott (Jack Kelly) to set up a lab in his mansion. Between experiments the cohabiting doctors sip martinis served by their housekeeper Hannah (Blossom Rock, Grandma on TV's The Addams Family. Dan explains that he has isolated the factor in fruit flies that allows them to adapt so easily to new environmental conditions. Dan has already given his serum to various small animals: hamsters are cured of pneumonia and a cat's broken spine has mended. A panther has recovered from severe injuries... and also changed the color of its fur. The doctors overcome their moral qualms and try out the serum on a terminal TB patient, Kyra Zelas (Mari Blanchard). The woman recovers overnight and, grateful to Dan, moves in with her benefactors. But she undergoes a radical personality change. She becomes ruthlessly violent in a high-class dress shop, clubbing a man for his money to buy a new wardrobe. Kyra also discovers that she has the ability to change her hair color. Kyra shows no contrition when confronted with her criminal actions and threatens to expose their illegal experiment unless they stop interfering and allow her to do everything she wants. At Bach's hospital charity party Kyra's glowing blonde hair attracts the attention of married millionaire Barton Kendall (John Archer), much to the dismay of his wife Evelyn (Fay Baker). By this time has also fallen under Kyra's spell, and is just as upset. Kyra is attracted to Dan but won't allow sentiment to interfere with her plans -- she intends to kill Evelyn, marry Barton and take control of his vast fortune. Realizing that they've created a monster, Richard and Dan decide to put a stop to Kyra's crime spree. The only problem is, that her system can 'adapt' to most any sedative they might use.

      Let's dispense with She Devil's silly-science first ...individual fruit flies don't alter their bodies to adapt to new conditions, they pass on their adaptations to successive generations. Although we expect our buddy team of doctors to create some sort of physical monster, Kyra's only new super-powers are immunity to disease, rapid healing and the ability to change her hair color at will. With her distinctive wide-set eyes, strikingly beautiful actress Mari Blanchard would be recognizable with her head shaved. But with just a change of hair from black to blonde, neither the dress store's owner nor Evelyn Kendall initially recognize her.

      If Carroll Young and Kurt Neumann's screenplay is really a fair indicator of male-female relations in our society, something is very seriously amiss. Kyra is concerned that her doctors treat her like a lab guinea pig, and she's completely correct. Richard and Dan conspire quietly and then present Kyra with condescending explanations of what they're up to. The familiar phrase heard more than once is "we know what's best for you". It's a paternalistic, authoritative world out there. Most women go along to get along, but the revived, liberated Kyra is having none of that: she robs and murders to get what she wants. 1950s films routinely dressed ordinary housewives in fashions ordinary women couldn't hope to afford. To reach her full alluring potential, Kyra needs a wardrobe. She is simply taking care of business, getting what's necessary in a society that doesn't value a woman without material adornments.

      So, the film's "monster" is simply a woman that won't submit to patriarchal authority or play a submissive role. Richard and Dan immediately instinctively understand this is social heresy, that Kyra must be destroyed. We the audiences are meant to agree. Although no previous dialogue suggested a religious context, Richard is suddenly talking about "what is meant to be" and the balance of good and evil. Saving Kyra's life was a mistake, and now they must do something about it. Compounding its sexist bias, the script now has the doctors plot a "moral" killing. They are the creators, therefore they are responsible. It's a pretty scary idea, not carried out to its logical extreme. It never occurs to Richard and Dan that doctors aren't responsible for the moral activities of their patients. They claim that Dan's serum changed Kyra, just as the leopard became more aggressive. As in Nicholas Ray's Bigger than Life, whatever 'demons' were released by the serum, were probably already a part of her personality. Plenty of people make a change in their lifestyle after an illness.

      The doctors' definition of responsibility is frighteningly selective. Their plan is to reverse the effect of Dan's serum, which will leave Kyra as she was, doomed to die. They rationalize their actions with pious resolve: "it was pre-ordained".

      When genre-based film criticism reached a peak in the early 1970s articles appeared that examined the dark recesses of "B" genre films for traces of a sexist conspiracy. They found plenty of evidence in films now considered howlers: Voodoo Woman, The Wasp Woman, The Leech Woman. What wasn't acknowledged is that most of these films were written by men, that often than not reworked conventional formulas that had been around for decades. Conservative notions were bound to slip into the mix. Just the same, She Devil's gender politics are more than just Camp fun -- they're a concrete expression of social attitudes that more 'sophisticated' entertainments try to gloss over.

      These days, if we don't side with the enterprising Kyra Zelas, we certainly see a world populated with her ethical sisters (and brothers). Kyra wants wealth and power, and as long as she gets them the "how" is of no importance. The film's real fantasy is the divide between the way films once portrayed society's workings, and how things really function. Aggressive, selfish behavior always received its comeuppance in movies made under the Production Code, which would not tolerate challenges to their bland concept of a universal moral code. It's entirely possible that the semi-religious posture struck in She Devil's last act was added to keep the censors at bay.

      The B&W "Regalscope" format gives this very modest production a handsome look, along with Kurt Neumann's competent if not stylish direction. Cameraman Karl Struss (of Murnau's Sunrise) slightly over-lights Kyra in the party scene to make her hair seem to glow, a subtle effect for sure. The hair-color changing is a filter trick, a Struss invention from back in the silent era. A spectacular car crash murder scene is an RKO stock shot lifted from the 1952 Otto Preminger noir Angel Face and cropped for the 'scope format. It still looks frightening. Suggesting an undeveloped noir angle, a "haunting" portrait of Kyra becomes the focus of Dan's obsession. Author Stanley G. Weinbaum's original short story "The Adaptive Ultimate" had already been staged more than once for radio and television, the most recent being a 1955 episode of TV's Science Fiction Theater.

      The acting is professional on all counts. Our association of Albert Dekker with more villainous roles (Doctor Cyclops, Kiss Me Deadly, The Wild Bunch) now makes his Dr. Bach seem a little less benign, especially when he's devising elaborate ways to discreetly do away with Kyra. Mari Blanchard was a standout beauty in minor parts. Her most hopeful career break came when she was cast opposite Audie Murphy in Destry, a remake of the Marlene Dietrich film. Suffering from polio as a child, Ms. Blanchard fell victim to cancer at an early age.

      The fascinating story-behind-the-story of Regal Films has been revealed in published interviews conducted by Tom Weaver.1 Although his name appears on none of the pictures, independent producer Robert L. Lippert was head of the outfit. Sometime around 1955, Lippert found himself frozen out of business by the Hollywood Guilds when he sold his films to Television, and tried to avoid residual payments. But he outwitted the ban through a deceptive production deal with 20th-Fox. He ran Regal Films with close associates and kept his personal involvement a secret. On this film, co-Producer Kurt Neumann took a solo producing credit. This arrangement held for many movies including The Fly, which was boosted to semi- "A" status and went out as a straight Fox picture. Lippert continued making pictures under the radar for Fox Under a different company name -- The Alligator People (another hoot, gender issues-wise), The Return of the Fly and The Day Mars Invaded Earth. Lippert didn't take another film credit until he relocated to England in the early 1960s.

      Olive Films' Blu-ray of She Devil is in great shape and is presented in its original 2.35:1 "Regalscope" aspect ratio. Until now the only way it was available only on pan-scanned flat copies that ruined what are fairly attractive compositions. A light scratch runs partway through the first reel and other imperfections are visible, but the show overall is in spectacular shape.

      She Devil was originally a co-feature with the quite different sci-fi thriller Kronos, made by practically the exact same production team.

      For more information about She Devil, visit Olive Films. To order She Devil, go to TCM Shopping.

      By Glenn Erickson


      1. [Author Tom Weaver was the first to click off the similarities between She Devil and the musical stage hit My Fair Lady, which had opened the year before. The passages about Robert Lippert are from Weaver's interview with director Maury Dexter, in his book I Talked with a Zombie: Interviews With 23 Veterans of Horror and Sci-Fi Films and Television] ↵

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  1. New Books

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    • A Fine Romance - New autobiography by Candice Bergen

    • By Candice Bergen

      Candice Bergen has had a varied career that has included being a film actress, an award-winning television star as well as an acclaimed photographer. Her first memoir, Knock Wood covered her early years growing up with her "brother" Charlie McCarthy and breaking into acting. This new memoir details her later life--her marriage to French film director Louis Malle, her success with Murphy Brown, the birth of her daughter, the tragic loss of Malle to cancer and forging a new life from that loss. Throughout the book, Bergen talks frankly about the journey of her life and shares it with a writing style that is honest, down-to-earth and often hilarious.

      As she writes in this memoir, falling in love with Malle changed her life in many ways. The director's huge appetite for life broadened her horizons, and their romance flourished despite the ups and downs of their career choices. But, the heart of the story is in her love for her daughter, Chloe. After years of ambivalence about motherhood, Bergen discovered the overpowering love and bond that can exist between mother and daughter. As Chloe grew up, Bergen found her comic genius in the biggest TV role of the 80s, Murphy Brown, and made headlines as the storyline of the show spilled over into the presidential campaign politics in 1992.

      Fifteen years into their marriage, Malle was diagnosed with cancer, and Bergen is unflinching in describing her and Chloe's despair over his death. But after years of widowhood, she discovered she missed the company of men and was surprised to find love anew with a man very different from Malle. She takes us through the first years of her new marriage and shares the bittersweet journey of watching Chloe leave home and flourish, while finding comedy in being an older actress in Hollywood and the losing struggle with wrinkles and extra pounds.

      Candice Bergen has penned numerous articles, written a play as well as her first memoir, Knock Wood. Her film credits include The Sand Pebbles, Carnal Knowledge, Starting Over (for which she received an Oscar nomination), and Miss Congeniality. On television, she made headlines as the tough-talking broadcast journalist and star of Murphy Brown, for which she won five Emmys and two Golden Globes. She later starred with James Spader and William Shatner in the critically acclaimed series Boston Legal.

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    • Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel

    • By William Wellman, Jr.

      This follow-up book to Wellman's previous biography of his father, The Man and his Wings about the making of the first picture to be awarded the Academy Award for Best Picture, this book looks at the live and career of the man who is best known as "Wild Bill" Wellman.

      Wellman, the director, began his career in Hollywood shortly after World War I ended and he went on to direct eighty-two films (six of them uncredited). Many of his films, such as Public Enemy, The Ox-Bow Incident and Battleground, have become icons of American film. But Wellman is also known for his diversity, some of his films are cold and brutal while others are poetic and moving. He worked across a variety of genres from gangster films to westerns, from comedies to searing social dramas.He was as tough talking and hard drinking as his nickname implies but he was also an uncompromising maverick and a family man.

      Drawing on his father's unpublished letters, diaries and unfinished memoir, the author gives us the first full portrait of the man--from boyhood to flyer to husband, father, director and, ultimately, artist. It is a portrait of a profoundly American spirit who fueled his creative side by directing a variety of classic American films.

      William Wellman, Jr. is the author of The Man and His Wings. His articles have appeared in Film Comment, Films in Review, and DGA News. He is an actor and screenwriter, and was executive producer of the documentary Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick. He lives in Sherman Oaks, California.

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    • Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog

    • This insightful book takes us deep into the world of playwright Tennessee Williams and the wonderful female characters he created that helped transform the American theater of the mid-twentieth century.

      In 1982, at a time when Williams was feeling as if he had been relegated to a "lower artery of the theatrical art" he received an unsolicited letter from young fledgling writer, James Grissom, asking for advice. Williams replied with an invitation to meet for lunch. After a long, intense conversation, Williams sent Grissom on a journey on the playwright's behalf to find out if he, Tennessee Williams, or his work had mattered to those who had so deeply mattered to him, those who had led him to what he called the blank page, "the pale judgment."

      Chief among the more than seventy giants of American theater and film that Grissom sought out were the women who had inspired Williams to write the powerful and flawed characters he created. It was Lillian Gish who helped him visualize Blanche duBois, Maureen Stapleton inspired The Rose Tatoo's Serafina, and Grissom also sought out Jessica Tandy, Kim Stanley, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and many others in his journey to find the answers to whether Williams really mattered to the history of American theater and film.

      James Grissom studied at Louisiana State University and the University of Pennsylvania. He has written for HBO, Showtime, CBS, and NBC. He lives in New York.

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    • The Dawn of Technicolor: 1915-1935

    • By James Layton and David Pierce

      The Dawn of Technicolor recounts the beginnings of one of the most widely recognized names in the American film industry. Technicolor's famed three-color process did not just spring fully formed from the laboratory in the 1930s: the first two decades of this remarkable company was one of invention fostered by teamwork, setbacks to overcome and skeptics to be won over. The book spotlights the talented engineers and filmmakers associated with Technicolor and the remarkable technical innovations that finally made color films practical, changing the film industry forever.

      Following its incorporation in 1915, Technicolor developed a series of two-color processes as necessary steps toward full-color photography and printing. Despite success in the laboratory and in small-scale production, the company was plagued by repeated disappointments. With the support of patient investors and the visionary leadership of Herbert T. Kalmus, Technicolor eventually prevailed against daunting odds to create the only commercially viable color process for motion pictures.

      Utilizing previously unavailable internal documentation, studio production files, contemporary accounts and unpublished interviews, the authors investigate the vital make-or-break years as the firm grew from a small team of exceptional engineers into a multimillion-dollar corporation. The authors chart the making of pivotal films in the process, from the troubled productions of Ben-Hur (1925) and The Mysterious Island (1926-29), to the early short films in Technicolor's groundbreaking three-color process: Walt Disney's animated Flowers and Trees (1932) and the live-action La Cucaracha (1934).

      In addition to the wonderful photographs, some rarely seen before, this coffee table book includes a comprehensive annotated filmography of all the two-color Technicolor films produced between 1917-1937.

      James Layton is a historian and archivist specializing in motion picture technology, in particular the development of color and wide-screen in the 1920s and 1930s. He is the co-author of Knowing and Protecting Motion Picture Film . He is an assistant archivist at George Eastman House.

      David PierceThe Survival of American Silent Feature Films, 1912-1929 was published in 2013.

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  1. DVD Reviews

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    • Point Blank on Blu-ray

    • When documentary filmmaker John Boorman made the leap to feature filmmaking with Catch Us If You Can (aka Having a Wild Weekend, 1965), a low-budget rock-n-roll vehicle for the Dave Clark Five, he transformed the quickie into a surprisingly biting satire of popular culture set to a bouncy soundtrack, displaying a remarkable sophistication and creativity unexpected from such a project. It was enough to land him his first American film, Point Blank, where he revealed an even greater ambition and talent.

      Based on the novel The Hunter by Richard Stark (a pen name for Donald Westlake), Point Blank shuffles the lean, straight-forward story of a gunman named Walker (Lee Marvin), who is double crossed by his partner in crime and returns (seemingly from the dead) for revenge, into a surreal, abstracted crime drama. The plot is faithful to original novel, a hard-boiled piece of crime fiction reimagined for the underworld culture of the sixties, but Boorman and Marvin, who requested the young director and supported his unconventional vision for the film, refract it through a modern lens. Walker's odyssey from Alcatraz in San Francisco to the underworld of Los Angeles is splintered with short, sharp shards of memory that cut through his story, as if reflecting Walker's attempts to put the pieces of cause and effect together in his mind.

      Boorman views L.A. through an alienated lens and edits it more like a European art film than an American crime thriller, but fills it with offbeat, ultra-stylized scenes of violence. It opens on a gunshot that should have killed him and he struggles to put it all together when he wakes up: "Cell. Prison cell. How did I get here?" Marvin is enigmatic, to say the least, as he tracks down his unfaithful, guilt-ridden wife (Sharon Acker), his wife's sister (Angie Dickinson), his old friend turned double-crossing heist partner Mal Reese (John Veron), and finally the syndicate bigwigs, all just to get his due: "I want my 93 grand."

      This vision of urban Los Angeles is alternately crowded and noisy and urban, and austere and empty and dislocated. His footsteps echoing through an empty, anonymous hallway becomes the disembodied beat of his march of revenge. A scatting, screaming R&B singer at a chic night spot called The Film Club is the feral soundtrack of a brutal backstage fight, at once visceral and abstracted in the clutter of 35mm film cans and nightclub supplies. The aftermath of a suicide becomes a psychedelic vision of destruction, which disappears in a cut to the apartment suddenly empty, a ghost house with no evidence of life or death, just transition.

      The dialogue is loaded with references to "a dream" and characters constant remind Walker that he's supposed to be dead. Keenan Wynn adds another level of remove as the devil whispering in Walker's ear, another unreal figure with a carefully concealed agenda who is preternaturally attuned to Walker's movements. More than an informant, he appears from nowhere to provide a name, an address, a piece of information on the trail to the top man in the Organization as Walker's debt keeps getting passed up the chain of command.

      Walker is both an unstoppable sentinel who seems more than flesh and blood and a vulnerable man wounded by betrayal who has armored over his emotions with a mission. Marvin delivers both sides of the character without compromising either. There's a cold fury under his deliberate movements and his eyes betray a moment of regret and sadness when he finds his wife dead by her own hand, but it is all pushed down and kept in check by his single-minded focus. "I just want my money" is his mantra, not a matter of greed but a debt to be settled to balance the scales. Marvin is at once deliberate and relaxed, a veteran criminal soldier alert to everything, which makes his character even more fascinating. He doesn't demand attention on screen, he commands it through confidence and ability and cool focus.

      That alone makes him more admirable than Mal, who is played by John Vernon as an oily, arrogant, amoral rat, selling out anyone and everyone to buy his way back into the Organization. The rest of the members of the cast don't play characters as much as cogs, functionaries in a criminal enterprise as a cutthroat corporation, simply doing their jobs as if Walker was a rival in a hostile takeover. Only Angie Dickinson's Chris has the passion and fury and emotional life of a human being, siding with Walker out of both loyalty and for payback against Mal ("He makes my flesh crawl") and the Organization that has taken over her business and her life. Sharon Acker, who plays Walker's wife, comes off less haunted than simply weak. She barely leaves an impression, which is fitting for her character but fails to offer any sense of tragedy to her story, and she's almost instantly forgotten after she exits the film. It's really the only weak element of the film, which otherwise is strong, confident, and sure from beginning to end.

      Point Blank has been called a modern film noir but it has more in common with Performance, another crime thriller that fractures time, offers enigmatic and ambiguous characters, and equates organized crime with big business. Boorman delivers meticulously executed set pieces that are designed for the wide CinemaScope frame with a sure sense of space and a dispassionate perspective. He emphasizes intelligence over action and presents Walker as total professional, never flustered and always emotionally removed from the situation. And if Walker is an extreme incarnation of the revenge driven noir anti-hero, the modern syndicate has transformed the old school mob into a world of paper jungles and corporate businessmen, an alienating concept to a two-fisted, gun-wielding independent like Walker. "Profit is the only principle," is their motto. Almost 50 years later, it's more modernist than modern, a fascinating time capsule of an era when young directors brought nouvelle vague style to classic genres, and a cryptic crime thriller that turns Marvin into the most enigmatic criminal professional in the movies.

      Boorman creates a hard, austere look for the film and the new Blu-ray delivers a sharp clarity to his vision of Los Angeles as an impersonal modern city. Apart from a few scenes, he strips the frame down to isolated figures in an empty urban landscape under the hard light of the California sun. It's an urban desert and the disc preserves that atmosphere of a ghost city by day and a shadowy underworld at night when the crowds gather on the streets and in the clubs. The impersonal palette of concrete surfaces and blank office interiors in the day gives way to the color of human habitation after dark, which oddly enough has a warmer atmosphere than the harsh light of day.

      Carried over from the earlier DVD release is an audio commentary track with director John Boorman and fellow director Steven Soderbergh, a fan of the film who essentially hosts the commentary. He engages Boorman in conversations about the film's style, the use of color and camera lenses, working with Lee Marvin (who became close friends with Boorman), and making his Hollywood debut with a film that refused to play by the studio rules. Soderbergh's The Limey was clearly indebted to Point Blank in both its theme of revenge and in its fractured storytelling and unconventional use of flashbacks. Taking part in this commentary is like paying tribute to his inspiration.

      Also features the vintage promotional featurette The Rock (in two parts), which looks at shooting the film on location in Alcatraz, and the original trailer.

      by Sean Axmaker

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    • Ravenous on Blu-ray

    • Ravenous (1999) channels the story reminiscent of the Donner Party disaster and the legend of Alferd Packer (the only American ever convicted of cannibalism) into a gruesome survival thriller with a crimson-hued streak of black humor and an elemental hint of the supernatural. The resulting film takes top honors as the definitive frontier cannibal movie. Not that there's a long list to choose from, mind you, but this earns its position with honors, thanks to a gleefully weird and savagely bloodthirsty sensibility.

      Guy Pearce is Captain John Boyd, whose battle cowardice during the Mexican-American war inadvertently results in making him an accidental hero. The ordeal of playing dead under the bleeding corpses of his fellow officers also puts him off meat, as the opening scenes so vividly illustrate. Director Antonia Bird cuts straight to the heart of the situation as she intercuts soldiers devouring bleeding-rare steaks at a military luncheon with the bloody casualties of battle stacked like cordwood: meat is meat, at least as far as this film is concerned. Boyd's commanding officer (John Spencer of The West Wing), who knows that his valor is a fraud, ships him out to the fringes of military reach: a fort in a California mountain pass, which runs with a minimal compliment during the impassable winter months. "This place thrives on tedium," smiles fort commander Colonel Hart (Jeffrey Jones), who takes everything with a bemused indulgence. How else to survive a company made up of a useless drunk second-in-command(Stephen Spinella), a giggling weed-head idiot (David Arquette), a twitchy, mumbling chaplain (Jeremy Davies), and a macho soldier boy (Neal McDonough) who holds the rest of the company in utter contempt?

      The tedium is quickly dispersed when a bedraggled disaster survivor (Robert Carlyle) stumbles into camp. He spins a horrific story of a lost wagon train and an incompetent scout who strands them in the mountains, where as the winter snows traps them and desperation leads to feeding on human flesh. It's a tale right out of the Donner Party until it turns feral, but it's not even close to the real story of Carlyle's wild-eyed survivor. For a starving man, he looks remarkably fit when he doffs his shirt, and other clues suggest that this is no production gaffe. One night, while camping on the trail to his old camp to search for survivors, he's caught licking the bleeding wounds of an injured soldier. You know, tasting his next potential meal.

      That's when the film takes its twist into weird and wild horror, a bizarre plot that doesn't really make much logical sense but sure makes for a wicked mix of psychodrama and visceral body horror. The Native American Wendigo myth is referenced to explain madness, but you could say it's a vampire tale without the supernatural dimension--it turns out human flesh is addictive, and it helps to have a nest of fellow flesh-eaters to keep the diet coming--or call it a particularly gruesome metaphor for manifest destiny. However you label it, it is off-the-charts crazy, an eat-or-be-eaten thriller served very, very rare.

      British director Antonia Bird seems like an odd match for this material. She honed her craft on TV drama and made her reputation with the tough, wrenching dramas Priest and Face, two films with complex characters and socially conscious themes. What they have in common with Ravenous is star Robert Carlyle, who recommended Bird after the film's original director Milcho Manchevski was let go after three weeks and the producer's chosen replacement, Raja Gosnell, was rejected by the cast. Bird (who passed away last year at the relatively young age of 62 after a battle with thyroid cancer) was frustrated by the conditions of the production and the oversight of the producers and she complained that her cut was compromised in post-production. That may explain the awkward pace, jarring turns, and a climax that feels tossed together--an uninspired way to end such a devious film--but she is clearly the architect of the odd, offbeat key of the film's blackly comic tone and surreal atmosphere and Carlyle is her partner in outsized madness. He leads the cast in playing their eccentricities big, though next to Carlyle's juicy performance, Arquette and Davies come off more like actor's studio sketches in twitchy weirdness or fidgety indecision than actual characters. Guy Pearce provides the contrast, creating a character fighting to maintain control and keep his emotions and his reflexive revulsion in check as everyone else lets their freak flag fly. It oddly enough makes him the most intense character on screen. As all that fear and disgust and anxiety just bottles up behind his desperate eyes and increasingly battered body, Pearce shows us the toll this ordeal exacts on him. In this survival drama, he's the one in true survival mode.

      Scream Factory's Blu-ray features a solid new HD transfer that preserves the dynamic contrast between the white-out daylight scenes of snow and the ominous shadows of the deep forest and the dark rough-hewn quarters of the frontier fort. Night doesn't have to fall for the darkness to seep into the image. Given the elemental quality of the imagery--much of the film takes place in the snowbound wilderness, with the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia standing in for California--the transfer has a satisfying level of grain that not only preserves the texture of the film but gives the entire atmosphere an added level of authenticity. These images feel like they were carved into the film.

      The film was previously released on DVD over a decade ago with three separate commentary tracks. Director Antonia Bird and composer Damon Albarn team up for the most informative track, with Bird talking in detail about the physical challenges of the production. Screenwriter Ted Griffin and co-star Jeffrey Jones tend to lapse into silences in their track and actor Robert Carlyle is even more intermittent in his the solo track. Also carried over from the earlier disc is a collection of deleted scenes (many of them in rough-cut form) with optional commentary by Bird and a gallery of stills. New to this edition is a 20-minute interview with Jeffrey Jones, who looks back on the themes of the film.

      by Sean Axmaker

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    • Southern Comfort on Blu-ray

    • A motley crew of Louisiana National Guardsman wade out into the swamps for weekend maneuvers. It's 1973, as the war in Vietnam is grinding away the soul of America and the heart of the military, and this platoon of weekend warriors--a volatile collection of rednecks, hotheads, jokers, and guys who probably signed up to steer clear of the draft--are like fresh recruits going into battle for the first time. They've got the fatigues and the cocky attitude but dubious discipline and training and their machine guns are loaded with blanks as they head into the bayou. To the Cajun swamp folk, the trappers and hunters living on the fringes of society, these men are invaders who trample their camps and steal their boats. And when one of the soldiers lets loose a burst from his weapon, laughing like the class bully after humiliating the new kid, these shadowy swamp dwellers defend themselves, becoming a guerilla strike force waging a war of terror on the utterly unprepared toy soldiers. They don't know that it's just blanks in those guns but it likely wouldn't matter if they did. They've been attacked and they will respond. These city dwellers are out their element and after their commanding officer (Peter Coyote) is gone, the first casualty in the war of attrition, they are out of their depth, flailing around with a panic that dumps their radio, compass, map, and pretty much everything else that was supposed to keep them alive.

      Southern Comfort will never be mistaken for a Nation Guard recruitment tool. Call it an anti-platoon movie. Hill gives the squad the outward accoutrements of a real fighting force, down to the uniforms and weapons, but this is a military unit in name only. Beyond the swaggering banter of the soldiers and self-deprecating comments of Spencer (Keith Carradine), the self-appointed company joker, they have no real training, no experience under fire, and no commitment to one another. These guys are more like barroom buddies playing soldier than a disciplined force.

      There are two voices of restraint in the wilderness, Spencer and new guy Hardin (Powers Booth), a transfer from Texas who doesn't know anyone in the company but sizes up their weaknesses quickly and realizes that they haven't much a chance as long as wild cards like Reece (Fred Ward) and Stuckey (Lewis Smith) go charging through the swamps looking for payback. Casper (Les Lannom) takes command by virtue of an essentially meaningless detail of rank and bumbles around quoting regulations and making speeches, doggedly following the book because he hasn't a clue what to do next. The filmmakers don't make him a figure of ridicule, mind you, just a guy falling back on the only thing he knows. In fact, none of them are necessarily "bad guys," though like any Hill ensemble, it has its share of jerks, bullies, racists, and anger management candidates and the pressure brings out their worst instincts.

      So yes, it's a story of American soldiers in an alien land, lost in an unfamiliar landscape and outmaneuvered by a guerrilla army at home in the jungle. Director / screenwriter Walter Hill and producer / co-screenwriter David Giler insist to this day that Southern Comfort was never intended to be an allegory for Vietnam, simply a survival tale in an overwhelming and unfamiliar environment. It's hard to take them at face value but it is easy to forget the allegory in the heat of the drama. It also shares DNA with Deliverance, another film about city boys with guns who take their sense of ownership and entitlement into the wilderness, threaten the locals, and end up hunted by them. But where John Boorman's primal thriller turns his Appalachian backwoods men into brutal outlaws who take pleasure in stalking the city invaders, Hill and Giler keep their Cajun soldiers hidden, seen as figures in the distance or blurs running behind the trees, ghosts on the fringes of sight. They treat the would-be soldier like wild game, silently shadowing their progress and whipping them into a state of panic to steer them into their traps. And whatever the short-fused guys in the platoon think, this is no cultural conspiracy to wipe out the invaders. Their enemy consists of a handful of isolated hunters who didn't start the war but by God are determined to finish it. The rest of the Cajun folks they meet don't seem to be a part of it, though after a couple of days in the swamps, the paranoia is powerful enough to make every sidelong glance look ominous. Ry Cooder's eerie and haunting score only intensifies the paranoia.

      What ultimately differentiates them from the soldiers of a classical platoon drama is that they haven't bonded under fire and have never had to put their trust in one another. This group unravels and tears itself apart from fear and panic and unfocused rage. And in classic Hill manner, there are no philosophical musings or existential conversations. The closest the film comes to putting its theme into words is from the mantra of a terrified Simms (Franklyn Seales), who finds himself cut off from the group and suddenly aware of just how vulnerable he is. "I'm not supposed to be here," he repeats, as if begging the universe to correct some cosmic planning error. And then he's no longer there.

      While this band of infighting brothers wades blindly through the swamp without a clue as to their bearings or direction, Hill's direction never falters. He has always had a sure hand as a storyteller, keeping his plots uncluttered and letting the details of character, conflict, and the world around them define the story. Southern Comfort limits the world to the middle of the swamp, where we (like the soldiers) are unable to find any point of reference, and observes how the discomfort of the environment and the constant disorientation takes its toll on what little good sense the characters bring with them to the mission. It exacerbates the already dysfunctional dynamics of this platoon of battle virgins and is as deadly on its own as the native hunters who use the environment as a weapon in their arsenal. It's not necessarily skill or even luck that saves the guardsmen who survive the ordeal. In classic Hill fashion, it is a matter of intelligence, awareness, teamwork, and the commitment to do what is necessary to survive. There's no sense of victory in survival, merely relief.

      Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack. Both discs feature the new HD master but the Blu-ray of course features superior clarity and richness of color. Both are clean, strong images while the Blu-ray shows off excellent detail. The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack puts the mix right up front. A couple of scenes of chaos and confusion overwhelm the dialogue with background sound, which is surely intentional but still seems a little out of balance to my ears.

      New to this release in an original 27-minute featurette with new interviews with actors Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Lewis Smith, and Peter Coyote and, on low-resolution video via Skype, director Walter Hill and producer David Giler, who collaborated on the script with Hill. The actors share stories of shooting in the Louisiana swamps in February with wet suits under their uniforms, six weeks of working in the cold and damp, and they remind us that they were all in it together. The crew endured the same conditions so no one had the right to complain. More interesting is the discussion around the themes of the film. Hill and Giler maintain that while they did not intentionally set out to make a Vietnam allegory they were aware that audiences would make that connection, while the actors admit that they knew it was an allegory from the moment they read the script. Keith Carradine's reading is particularly detailed and interesting. Curiously, none of the six participants mention Deliverance.

      Carried over from the old DVD release is a brief collection of outtakes and the original trailer. All of the supplements are featured in both the Blu-ray and DVD discs of the Combo Pack.

      By Sean Axmaker

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    • Tess on Blu-ray

    • Tess (1979), Roman Polanski's film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 1890 novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles, has in 2014 received a sublime Blu-Ray and DVD release from Criterion. Restored by Pathe under the direct supervision of Polanski himself, the movie looks and sounds magnificent. At first glance, the lushly beautiful Tess is a seemingly unusual work for Polanski, whose films we tend to associate with horror and sex, but this was actually a highly personal project for the master filmmaker. It was his first picture after fleeing the United States in 1977, and also a project that his wife, Sharon Tate, had suggested he make as a vehicle for herself -- just before she was murdered by the Manson gang in 1969. Polanski read the novel after her death and realized it was indeed right up his alley, and he dedicated the eventual film to her with an on-screen inscription.

      Hardy's tale, to which the film is very faithful, is about a poor English girl, Tess, whose father learns he is a distant descendant of a once prominent, rich family, the D'Urbervilles. He sends Tess to the home of a remaining D'Urberville to find employment (or at least a handout), but Tess winds up being seduced by the ne'er-do-well Alec D'Urberville (Leigh Lawson), who becomes obsessed with her. Fleeing Alec, she eventually finds work at a dairy farm and starts a passionate relationship with a young farmer named Angel Clare (Peter Firth). But in this society, the revelation of the sins of her past, even if they were not her fault, could doom Tess to shame, ostracism and worse. Ultimately, Tess is about a woman struggling to make her way in the world, looking for happiness, or at least survival, but finding that a judgmental society, timing and even luck are all working against her.

      Polanski explores this theme vividly, sympathetically and cinematically. Costumes, speech and physical mannerisms of the actors all convince the audience of the time period and of the distinctions among the social classes, and the film's pictorial beauty does much to stress the contrasting cruelty of some of the characters. The movie is not "pretty" for prettiness' sake. Most important, one really feels the isolation of Tess throughout the film, which is at once sprawling and intimate. The plot itself, while important, feels less vital here than the depiction of Tess' emotional experience of the world she is forced to inhabit, and as a result, the long running time feels entirely appropriate and never tedious.

      Tess was shot entirely in France, mostly on locations in Normandy and Brittany, because Polanski worried that if he traveled to England he would be extradited to the United States. Polanski later wrote, "To tell the story at all, it was essential to find the proper setting, a twentieth-century equivalent of Hardy's nineteenth-century Dorset. The only way to convey the rhythm of his epic was to use that setting as an integral part of the film, signaling the passage of time and the change in Tess herself by means of a visible, almost palpable change in seasons. Once our rural locations were chosen, we would have to film throughout the year from early spring, through high summer, to the depths of winter." With such a shooting strategy, filming wound up lasting nine months over 80 separate locations, and Tess became, at $12 million, the most expensive film ever made in France to that point. Freak weather and labor strikes only added to the overall time and expense.

      If Tess is atypical of Polanski, it's in the way that The Age of Innocence (1993) is atypical of director Martin Scorsese. But in fact, both films are completely emblematic of their directors' concerns and are indeed suffused with violence. It's just that the violence is emotional, an undercurrent beneath a pristine surface -- exactly like the societies the films depict.

      That being said, it's hard to shake some of Tess's most exquisitely beautiful imagery, such as the lovely natural light of an outdoor dance, or the riders and dogs on a fox hunt who appear out of a sublime mist, or the face of Nastassia Kinski, who is heart-stoppingly gorgeous (a quality, incidentally, that is vital to the story). Cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, who had shot such films as Becket (1964) and Cabaret (1972), died a few weeks into production and was replaced by Ghislain Cloquet, who sadly would himself pass away two years later. They shared the Oscar for Best Cinematography. The film also won for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Score.

      Criterion's dual-format release contains one Blu-ray disc and two DVDs, with both formats containing the film and identical extras. And there are plenty, starting with three short documentaries about the film's making (originally included in Columbia's 2004 DVD release), directed by Laurent Bouzereau and totaling 73 minutes in length. Bouzereau expertly interviews key players like Polanski, producers Claude Berri and Timothy Burrill, co-writer John Brownjohn, actors Nastassia Kinski and Leigh Lawson, set decorator Pierre Guffroy, costume designer Anthony Powell, hair and makeup artists, the crew electrician, the assistant editor and others. The artists discuss fascinating details of production, like the challenge of getting the "strawberry seduction" scene between Kinski and Lawson just right (which astonishingly was shot on a rainy day despite looking on-screen like the height of warm summer), the creation of the Stonehenge set outside of Paris, and the design of the costumes to be authentic and truly expressive of character -- beautiful without being decorative. Powell is fascinating as he discusses his approach, and also about the little splotch of blood he put on the hem of Tess' dress at a key point in the story, which Polanski shot for maximum impact.

      Burrill recalls that on location the filmmakers were only able to see the rushes days after shooting, rather than the next day, and not always under the best conditions. But gradually, he says, "we started to see what was happening, the magic that was coming off the screen, and the extraordinary professionalism of Nastassia.... I don't think there was ever one day when she fluffed a line. She was word-perfect, always."

      Second is a 52-minute documentary from 2006 by Daniel Ablin and Serge July entitled Once Upon a Time... Tess. This is also interesting, but it covers much of the same material as the Bouzereau pieces, with many of the same interviewees telling the same stories. It's also not as smoothly edited. But unlike the Bouzereau film, it includes composer Philippe Sarde, and delves more into Polanski's pre-Tess life and career. It also recounts the difficulties in Tess's post-production, particularly concerning the running time. Francis Coppola was brought in by producer Claude Berri to trim the film, which was deemed overlong, but Polanski hated the result, leading to a falling-out between Berri and Polanski and between Polanski and Sarde. Polanski himself eventually trimmed the film by about 20 minutes, resulting in the current running time of 171 minutes.

      Third, there's a 1979 episode of the French TV program Cine Regards, running 48 minutes, that looks at the making of Tess and interviews Polanski during the film's production. The interviews with Polanski are revealing, but the real strengths of the piece are the long, uninterrupted slices of life on the set as Polanski directs and thinks through scenes, conducting his orchestra of crewmembers. These sequences go on long enough to make us feel as if we are there.

      Fourth is a 1979 episode of the British TV program The South Bank Show, 50 minutes in length, in which host Melvyn Bragg interviews Polanski. And Criterion rounds things out with the film's trailer as well as a handsome printed booklet containing a fine essay by Colin MacCabe and crisp, colorful photos from the film, almost all of which feature the entrancing Nastassia Kinski. It's a beautiful package and motion picture, all very highly recommended.

      By Jeremy Arnold

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    • Used Cars on Blu-ray

    • The opening of Used Cars (1980) has the ominous, wind-scoured character of a modern crime film in a desperate southwest town where a Sergio Leone western wouldn't be out of place. The camera cranes down from a high shot over a struggling used car dealership, where a few pathetic beaters line the lot, and slowly glides over to one car with someone is crammed under the dashboard. The only sound is the lonely wind--the kind of strangled, desolate howl you get in dustbowl dramas and desert survival thrillers--and the grunts of the man struggling with the mechanics under the dash. And then we see the odometer turn back, shaving some 40,000 or so miles from the record. The title hits the screen, a brass band jumps in with "Stars and Stripes Forever," and the unidentified mechanic wriggles out to reveal Kurt Russell in a cheap, loud suit making his rounds to mask the sorry condition of the cars on the lot. It turns out that this is a crime movie after all, or at least a film of multiple misdemeanors and bald-faced misrepresentation, and the perpetrators are the good guys.

      The second feature from director Robert Zemeckis and co-writer and producer Bob Gale, Used Cars comes right out of the screen comedy culture of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the underdogs snubbed their collective noses at authority, propriety, property and privacy laws and anything else that crossed their paths in slobs vs. snobs comedies like Animal House (1978), Caddyshack (1980) and Ghostbusters (1984). Used Cars is raucous and reckless and far more gleefully corrupt than any of its brothers in rebellion, embracing the confidence games and illegal stunts pulled by the skeleton crew that works for Luke Fuchs (Jack Warden), who is the closest thing that the film has to an honest man. The devotion of salesmen Rudy (Russell) and Jeff (Gerrit Graham) and mechanic Jim (Frank McRae) to Luke is really all that separates them from Luke's rapacious brother and across-the-street rival Roy L. Fuchs (Warden again) and his slick sales force. That and the fun they have ripping off the rubes who wander on to their lot.

      The premise of film - two used car outfits at war with one another - was hatched by John Milius, who was one of the executive producers (along with Steven Spielberg), but the script is pure Zemeckis and Gale. The rivals are twin brothers, the Cain and Abel of used car dealers. When impending freeway construction threatens to destroy bad brother Roy's dealership and make the good brother Luke rich, Roy finds a way to speed the demise of Luke's bad heart and Rudy makes good on his promise to keep Roy from taking over the lot. Rudy has his own, more immediate motivation, of course--he's trying to buy his way into the local political machine and he's still a little short on the down payment--but it's also personal. Luke is something of a father figure to the crew, which makes them the mischievous sons who break the rules whenever dad's back is turned. After Luke dies, their antics more outrageous, from secretly burying Luke on the lot (his beloved convertible fittingly serves as his casket) to jamming satellite signals with wild pirate commercials replete with gratuitous nudity and senseless destruction of private property. The plot seems to careen from one comic collision to another but there's a nicely-constructed plan under it all, simple but ingenious enough that you don't actually see how the pieces are laid in place until it all comes together in the ragged spectacle of final act.

      It's not really a satire of American business so much as a wicked lampoon: lie, cheat and steal as the American way, as long as you do it with a sense of fun. Kurt Russell was just breaking out of his clean-cut post-Disney persona when he took on the role and he sinks his teeth into Rudy, turning the brash characters into the epitome of the smiling mercenary selling lemons to suckers with dirty tricks and phony promises. Gerrit Graham is his partner in commercial piracy, unfazed by anything but harbingers of bad luck, notably red. Deborah Harmon is both romantic interest and plot complication as Luke's long lost daughter, who shows up just after dad's death. Jack Warden has a field day playing twin brothers and Frank McRae is hilarious as the giant adrenaline-pumped mechanic. The crotch-grabbing Mexican junk car wholesaler is ubiquitous character actor and future director Alfonso Arau in his first great comic role in an American film (Romancing the Stone and Three Amigos soon followed). But the entire cast is in danger of being upstaged by the adorable dog Toby, who has his own role to play in the sale stunts. This pooch's hilarious performance makes him one of the greatest movie dogs.

      Zemeckis matured into a polished filmmaker and an ambitious storyteller and went on to make more sophisticated, more provocative, and certainly more subtle films, but he never made anything as savagely funny as Used Cars. Its banged-up ingenuity and rough-and-tumble energy and warped mirror reflection of the American Dream as a snatch and grab free-for-all is wickedly funny. Everyone is a crook here and the epilogue even enshrines mendacity as a virtue, at least when it comes to stepping into the used car game.

      Used Cars has a remarkably tidy visual aesthetic for a film about a seedy, shabby culture, with a screen that is uncluttered and flooded with desert sunlight in day scenes and blasted with floodlights as bold as a football stadium night game for the after-dark stunts. The new HD transfer shows a well-preserved print and is sharp and clear. Simply put, it looks superb.

      The commentary track with Zemeckis, Gale, and Russell, carried over from the 2002 DVD reelease, is almost as fun as the movie. "We wanted Jimmy Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life, except he's totally corrupt," is how Zemeckis explains the genesis of Rudy. Kurt Russell laughs back: "So you cast me!" These guys are having a blast laughing their way through their remembrances, but they manage to stay on track and keep the production stories coming. Few commentaries manage to balance the information and entertainment so well.

      There's a four-minute reel of outtakes (apparently taken from surviving video dub; it's all quite hazy), a radio interview with Russell, a car commercial featuring Russell, galleries of art and stills, and not one but two isolated score tracks: along with Patrick Williams' musical score heard in the film is an alternate, unused score by Ernest Gold. We don't quite get it in the context of the film (at least not with dialogue and sound effects) but it's a more conventional, less satirical approach. The accompanying 8-page booklet features another fine essay by Julie Kirgo.

      By Sean Axmaker

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  1. Press Release

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    • AIRPLANE! to be screened at Wild West Comedy Festival in Nashville

    • Co-directors and co-writers David Zucker and Jerry Zucker will be present for a screening of the classic film parody Airplane!, followed by a Q&A, as part of the all-star lineup of the second annual Wild West Comedy Festival. Wild West Comedy Festival takes place in various Nashville locations beginning Wednesday, April 14 through Sunday, April 19. (The 1980 comedy is now accepted as a bone fide classic; this screening follows its appearance at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood in 2013, where it was introduced by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Robert Hays).

      Airplane! will land at the Belcourt Theatre on Saturday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for both "Best of The Fest" and Airplane! are available now at www.wildwestcomedyfestival.com

      This marks the second year comedy fans have descended on Nashville for the Wild West Comedy Festival. More than 20,000 attended the inaugural festival in 2014 from 38 states and Canada. Fans were treated to more than 29 shows from the all-star lineup. Based on last year's success, the 2015 event has added one day, extending the festival to a total of 6 days. The festival's venue partners include some of the most iconic locations in Nashville such as the Ryman Auditorium, TPAC's Andrew Jackson Hall and James K. Polk Theater, Belcourt Theatre, City Winery Nashville, Zanies Nashville and Exit/In.

      Jerry Zucker and David Zucker along with Jim Abrahams, co-wrote and co-directed the hilarious 1980 spoof Airplane!, which remains a revered comedic milestone to this day. In the film, when the passengers and crew of a jet fall ill, an ex-fighter pilot (Robert Hayes) with a fear of flying must work with his ex-girlfriend turned stewardess (Julie Hagerty) to land the plane. Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also star. Subsequent films delivered by this comedy filmmaking trio include Top Secret!, Ruthless People and The Naked Gun. All of their projects rely heavily on parodies, visual gags and breaking of the fourth wall, and have established a strong cult following.

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    • John Wayne Birthplace Museum Grand Opening

    • WINTERSET, Iowa--Over the past 30 years more than one million visitors have journeyed to historic Madison County to tour the modest four-room home where film icon John Wayne was born on May 26, 1907. Guests have included President Ronald Reagan, movie legend Maureen O'Hara, Wayne's widow and all of his children and fans from 50 states and 40 foreign countries. And, as testament to the star's enduring popularity, they keep on coming.

      To provide a more meaningful visitor experience, the Birthplace organization has announced the May 23rd Grand Opening of the John Wayne Birthplace Museum, a brand-new 5,000 square ft. facility which will offer an astounding collection of memorabilia from the screen legend's life and motion picture career. The only museum in the world dedicated to John Wayne, it will feature the largest diversified exhibit of John Wayne artifacts in existence, including original movie posters, film wardrobe, scripts, letters, artwork and sculpture, one of his customized automobiles and, of course, a movie theater.

      A birthday celebration of this magnitude requires considerable flourish and the weekend of May 23-25 will not disappoint. Providing patriotic fanfare for the opening ceremonies will be the 100-member Iowa Military Veterans Band, in addition to rodeo queens, reduced price admission to the new museum, free John Wayne movies, food and merchandise vendors, cowboy mounted shooters and much more.

      A highlight for many will be the Museum Benefit Dinner ($150 per person) headlined by country music legend and RFD-TV star Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives. Also featured will be an auction of unique and one-of-a-kind John Wayne collectibles including artwork and film wardrobe.

      For further information call 877-462-1044 or visit the website at
      www.johnwaynebirthplace.museum/birthday

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    • Dick Dinman and George Feltenstein Salute Black and White on Blu-ray

    • DICK DINMAN AND GEORGE FELTENSTEIN SALUTE BLACK AND WHITE ON BLU-RAY: Defying initial doubt by some of the viability of releasing black and white film classics on blu-ray Warner Home Video has been instrumental in repeatedly demonstrating how visually effective the melding of both formats could be and their latest stunning blu-ray restoration releases such as YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, POSSESSED and CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT continue to hammer home the point with consistently beautiful results. Producer/host Dick Dinman's returning guest George Feltenstein (Warner Home Video Senior V.P. of Classic and Theatrical Marketing) extols the limitless visual virtues of back and white on blu-ray.

      DICK DINMAN AND GEORGE FELTENSTEIN SALUTE "PETE KELLY'S BLU-RAY.": Producer/host Dick Dinman welcomes back Warner Home Video Sr. V.P. George Feltenstein and both share their enthusiastic admiration for director/star Jack Webb's lavish and invigorating foray into the guns, gangster, gals, gams and most emphatically the musical traditions (flawlessly demonstrated by both Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar -nominated Peggy Lee) that made the roaring 20's roar all of which has been brought brilliantly to renewed sight and sound life in Warner's magnificent new blu-ray incarnation of PETE KELLY'S BLUES.

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only weekly half hour show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD. Your producer/host Dick Dinman includes a generous selection of classic scenes, classic film music and one-on-one interviews with stars, producers, and directors. To hear these as well as other DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR shows please go to www.dvdclassicscorner.com or www.dvdclassicscorner.net.

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    • Strictly Sturges at NYC's Film Forum, April 10-23

    • Friday, April 10 - Thursday, April 23

      "THE MOST BRILLIANT AND BIZARRE BURSTS OF CREATION IN CINEMA HISTORY!"
      - Andrew Sarris

      As a child, he cavorted in toga and sandals with Isadora Duncan. Later, he invented kissproof lipstick and introduced the club sandwich to Germany. He was once the toast of Broadway and his elopement with an heiress made the Times front page. But writer/director PRESTON STURGES (1898-1959) will forever be remembered for a dizzying, golden run of early 40s comedies. With The Great McGinty, Sturges rose overnight from screenwriting serf to "prince of the blood" -- his own definition of a director -- and soon became one of the directing elite. But Sturges was the first director to write his own scripts without collaborators -- his example inspired others, like Billy Wilder and John Huston, to follow in his footsteps. This series includes all of his Hollywood work as director and no-less-important films he wrote but didn't direct.

      SERIES PROGRAMMED BY BRUCE GOLDSTEIN

      SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS & CHRISTMAS IN JULY
      Friday & Saturday, April 10 & 11

      EASY LIVING & REMEMBER THE NIGHT
      Sunday, April 12 & Monday, April 13

      THE GOOD FAIRY & THIRTY-DAY PRINCESS
      Tuesday, April 14

      UNFAITHFULLY YOURS & THE BEAUTIFUL BLONDE FROM BASHFUL BEND
      Wednesday, April 15

      DIAMOND JIM & THE POWER AND THE GLORY
      Thursday, April 16

      THE PALM BEACH STORY & THE LADY EVE
      Friday, April 17 & Saturday, April 18

      THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK & HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO
      Sunday & Monday, April 19 & 20

      MAD WEDNESDAY & NEVER SAY DIE
      Tuesday, April 21

      THE GREAT MCGINTY & THE GREAT MOMENT
      Wednesday, April 22

      CHRISTMAS IN JULY
      Thursday, April 23

      THE LADY EVE
      Thursday, April 23

      SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS
      Thursday, April 23

      THE PALM BEACH STORY
      Thursday, April 23

      IF I WERE KING
      Thursday, April 23

      THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK
      Thursday, April 23


      For more information, links and showtimes, visit www.filmforum.org

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    • TCM and Walt Disney World Resort Team Up

    • Turner Classic Movies, Walt Disney World Resort and The Walt Disney Studios Team Up to Share Stories Centered on Classic Film

      Features Include New TCM Integration in Theme Park Attraction and On-Air Showcase of Disney Treasures


      Turner Classic Movies has announced new strategic relationships with Walt Disney World Resort and The Walt Disney Studios to broaden its reach in family entertainment with joint efforts centered on classic film.

      At Disney's Hollywood Studios, the "The Great Movie Ride" Attraction highlights some of the most famous film moments in silver screen history and is set to receive a TCM-curated refresh of the pre-show and the finale. TCM branding will be integrated into the attraction's marquee as well as banners, posters and display windows outside the attraction. In the queue line, families will enjoy new digital movie posters and will watch a new pre-ride video with TCM host Robert Osborne providing illuminating insights from the movies some of which guests will experience during the ride. The finale will feature an all-new montage of classic movie moments. After guests exit the attraction, they will have a photo opportunity with a classic movie theme. The TCM-curated refresh is set to launch by spring.

      As part of the relationship with The Walt Disney Studios, TCM will launch Treasures from the Disney Vault, a recurring on-air showcase that will include such live-action Disney features as Treasure Island (1950), Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959) and Pollyanna (1960); animated films like The Three Caballeros (1944) and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949); classic nature documentaries, including The Living Desert (1953) and The African Lion (1955); made-for-television classics, such as the Davy Crockett series; special episodes from Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color; documentaries about the studio, including Walt & El Grupo (2009) and Waking Sleeping Beauty (2010); and animated shorts, such as 1932's OscarĀ®-winning "Flowers and Trees."

      Treasures from the Disney Vault is scheduled to premiere on TCM Sunday, Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. The opening night will include the holiday and winter animated shorts "Santa's Workshop," "On Ice" and "Chip An' Dale," followed by The Disneyland Story. The night will also include The Reluctant Dragon, Disney's 1941 film that combined a live-action tour of the Walt Disney Studios facility with animated shorts; Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955), a compilation of the first three episodes of the iconic series starring Fess Parker; the OscarĀ®-winning documentary The Vanishing Prairie (1954), part of Disney's True Life Adventure series; the rarely seen Third Man on the Mountain (1959), an Alpine tale starring Michael Rennie and James MacArthur; and Perilous Assignment (1959), a documentary about the making of Third Man on the Mountain.

      "At TCM, it's our mission to share and celebrate the greatest films of all time," said Jennifer Dorian, general manager of TCM. "Disney provides the perfect relationship through which we can share the magic of the movies with every generation, not only through an amazing new showcase on TCM, but also through newly refreshed components of 'The Great Movie Ride' Attraction."

      "We are looking forward to this collaboration, which complements Disney's commitment to telling great stories and immersing our guests in family entertainment," said Tiffany Rende, senior vice president of Disney Corporate Alliances and Operating Participants. "Through this alliance, we are able to share more classic Disney stories with TCM audiences, while further enhancing the guest experience by showcasing TCM content and talent."

      This marks an expansion of TCM's already robust relationship with the family entertainment and media enterprise. TCM set sail on its fourth TCM Classic Cruise in October 2014, the second aboard the Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic. In addition, TCM has collaborated with Buena Vista Home Entertainment on various initiatives, including the 2008 documentary The Age of Believing: The Disney Live-Action Classics, which premiered in conjunction with a 25-movie showcase of family classics. The 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood featured a multi-film collection of Disney classics presented in collaboration with D23, The Official Disney Fan Club. And the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival featured the 50th Anniversary screening of one of Walt Disney's most successful films Mary Poppins (1964) at Disney's El Capitan Theatre.

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Frank Capra: The Early Collection DVD
Frank Capra: The Early Collection DVD
$44.99
was $49.99
Columbia Pictures Pre-Code Collection (DVD)
Turner Classic Movies and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment...
$44.99
was $49.99
Hollywood Movie Stills: Art and Technique in the Golden Age of...
This photographic book is the most detailed and perceptive survey...
$24.99
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  • Wednesday, March 20, 2011

  • Removed: 10:00pm Springfield Rifle
    12:00pm Casablanca
    Added: 1:00pm Virginia City
    12:15pm Casablanca
  •  
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2011

  • Removed: 10:00pm Springfield Rifle
    12:00pm Casablanca
    Added: 1:00pm Virginia City
    12:15pm Casablanca
  •  
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2011

  • Removed: 10:00pm Springfield Rifle
    12:00pm Casablanca
    Added: 1:00pm Virginia City
    12:15pm Casablanca