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  1. Top News Stories

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    • The Naked Jungle on DVD

    • Fresh off the smash success of War of the Worlds, producer George Pal took a break from science fiction to visualize the popular Carl Stephenson short story about a tropical planter's attempt to fight an onslaught of killer army ants. A tough problem for the visual effects people, the tale was considered a natural for Pal, who had just won two consecutive Academy Awards® in that field.

      The original short story focused on the defense against the insect army, which becomes the movie's Act 3. The screenwriters have added a lengthy subplot direct from the torrid romance pulps. Eleanor Parker is the brave woman who faces a strange new land and a hostile new husband. Both she and a young Charlton Heston do exceptionally well bringing these melodramatic cliches to life.

      Synopsis: Mail order bride Joanna Leiningen (Eleanor Parker) arrives at her new husband's plantation stronghold in Brazil, only to find him a cold and heartless man. Christopher Leiningen (Charlton Heston) is handsome enough, but he's obsessed with fighting superstition, disease and the elements to carve his kingdom out of the pitiless jungle. When he discovers that Joanna has been married before, he mutters something about 'used goods' and treats her with hostility and contempt. Joanna fights an uphill battle to get Chris's attention, until a crisis comes along that demands all the help he can get. A black tide of billions of army ants called "Marabunda" is moving toward Leiningen's delta plantation, devouring everything in its path. And there's no known way to stop it!

      The Naked Jungle falls into two distinct parts, pre- and post-invasion. Like a Jane Eyre in the jungle, Joanna tries music, heavy breathing and yearning looks but still fails to communicate with her brooding Byronic hubby. Most of his conversation consists of bitter insults, and our "strong" heroine sees her role as weathering them while searching for the path to his heart. It's basic stuff, but it works well with actors as committed as these. Heston's intransigence is an early preview of his later work in much bigger epics; his Major Dundee is played almost identically.

      Paramount's on-the-lot depiction of the Brazilian interior is better than the screenplay's treatment of Leiningen's native workers. Mattes and a clever dressing of the studio pond work fairly well, but the racial attitudes are strictly dime novel. Leiningen treats his Indian workers like mindless children, and struts his Anglo superiority in the old-fashioned God-in-his-domain style. Chris doesn't beat his employees like his nasty jungle neighbor Gruber (a very Nazi-like John Dierkes) so we're supposed to think he's benevolent. But Leiningen's every instruction is a threat or an insult, with the main argument being that the Indians were just savages out in the forest until he came along to make wage slaves out of them.

      Joanna's effort to get Christopher's attention goes for naught until the ants finally show up, none too soon for adventure fans growing weary of soap opera. Joanna wins her man's respect by standing with him to defend the homestead: He uses her presence as the wedge to retain his skittish native workforce. "Leiningen doesn't run! Leiningen's woman doesn't run!" Yep, that's the perfect colonial wife, always in there swinging to help her man keep the natives in their place.

      The ant attack is still fairly impressive, thanks to a flurry of imaginative optical shots engineered by John P. Fulton. Piles of real ants are used for close-ups, and shown swarming over foreground objects matted in front of location footage. Some brave extras allow hundreds of real ants to crawl over them, creating images that will make sensitive viewers' skin crawl. For wider shots the all-devouring ant horde is depicted with mattes showing a red-brown carpet spreading across the landscape. In medium and longer shots, it looks as though dyed oatmeal or something similar has been tossed on the actors to represent the attacking insects. Modern CGI effects would surely come up with more dynamic visuals, but these are quite good.

      Leiningen ends up destroying his farm to save it, yet finds true love in the bargain. The Naked Jungle would make an excellent discussion film about manifest destiny and colonialism.

      Actor William Conrad, the hit man from Robert Siodmak's The Killers has a good supporting role as a friend of the family down on the ol' Amazon. The soap opera section of The Naked Jungle has a lot in common with Paramount's Liz Taylor film Elephant Walk released the same year. I wouldn't be surprised if it were shot on a lot of the same sets, redressed, as the two plantation houses are somewhat similar.

      Paramount's DVD of The Naked Jungle looks fine but has been presented full-frame even though it was a widescreen release meant to be matted for projection. Paramount has just released Pal's Science Fiction movie Conquest of Space in the proper widescreen format, so someone must have decided that the effects looked better full-frame. I screened the film cropped on a widescreen monitor and the compositions looked far better matted than flat.

      There are no extras on the disc. The rumor on the street is that Paramount is preparing a deluxe special edition of Pal's War of the Worlds to accompany the upcoming Spielberg remake of that classic epic. I hope it will restore the original stereophonic mix; it showed up on laser disc in the middle 90s, but the present War of the Worlds DVD is mono.

      For more information about The Naked Jungle, visit Paramount Home Entertainment. To order The Naked Jungle, go to TCM Shopping.

      by Glenn Erickson

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  1. New Books

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    • Elizabeth and Michael

    • By Donald Bogle

      One of the country's leading authorities on popular entertainment presents an eye-opening and unique biography of two larger-than-life legends--Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson--and their unlikely yet enduring friendship.

      From the moment Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson met, they were hooked on each other. He peered into her violet eyes and was transfixed; she, in turn, was dazzled by his talent, intrigued by his sweet-tempered childlike personality, and moved by the stories she had already heard about his troubled early life. Soon a deep friendship blossomed, unexpectedly unlike anything either had ever experienced. Through thick and thin, through their various emotional upheavals, through the peaks and valleys of their careers, through their personal traumas and heartaches, through the unending health issues and extreme physical pain that each experienced, and through the glare of the often merciless public spotlight, their bond held them together, and their love for each other endured.


      Donald Bogle skillfully recreates the moving narrative of Taylor and Jackson's experiences together and their intense emotional connection, without shying away from the controversies that swirled around them. Through interviews with friends and acquaintances of the two stars, as well as anonymous but credible sources, Elizabeth and Michael emerges as a tender, intimate look at this famous "odd couple" and a treasure to their millions of fans.

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    • Robert Wagner's I LOVED HER IN THE MOVIES: Memories of Hollywood's Legendary Actresses

    • By Robert Wagner and Scott Eyman

      In a career that has spanned over sixty years, Robert Wagner has witnessed the twilight of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the rise of television, becoming a beloved star in both film and TV. During this time, he became acquainted, both professionally and socially, with many of the greatest female screen personalities of all time. I LOVED HER IN THE MOVIES: Memories of Hollywood's Legendary Actresses (On-sale: 11/15/16) by Robert Wagner, with co-author Scott Eyman, provides an intimate and revealing account of the charisma of these women on film, why they became stars, and how their specific emotional and dramatic chemistries affected the choices they made both as actresses and as women.

      I LOVED HER IN THE MOVIES offers a privileged look behind the scenes at some of the most well-known women in show business. Among Wagner's subjects are Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson, Norma Shearer, Loretta Young, Joan Blondell, Irene Dunne, Rosalind Russell, Dorothy Lamour, Debra Paget, Jean Peters, Linda Darnell, Betty Hutton, Raquel Welch, Glenn Close, and the two actresses whom he ultimately married, Natalie Wood and Jill St. John. In addition to offering perceptive commentary on these women, Wagner examines topics like the strange alchemy of the camera--how it can transform the attractive into the stunning, and vice-versa--and how the introduction of color brought a new erotic charge to movies--one that enabled these actresses to become aggressively sexual beings in a way that that black and white films had only hinted at.


      Robert Wagner is the star of such films as A Kiss Before Dying, The Longest Day, The Pink Panther, and most recently, the Austin Powers franchise. On television, he starred in It Takes a Thief (with Fred Astaire), Switch (with Eddie Albert and Sharon Gless), and Hart to Hart (with Stefanie Powers). He has recently appeared on Two and a Half Men and NCIS. He is married to actress Jill St. John.

      Scott Eyman is the author of eleven books about the movies, including Lion of Hollywood: The Life of Louis B. Mayer (which the Wall Street Journal called one of the five best books ever written about Hollywood), Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille, and more recently, John Wayne: The Life and Legend.

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    • King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman's Technicolor Revue

    • King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman's Technicolor Revue tells the story of the making, release, and restoration of Universal's 1930 Technicolor extravaganza King of Jazz. Authors James Layton and David Pierce have uncovered original artwork, studio production files, behind-the-scenes photographs, personal papers, unpublished interviews, and a host of other previously unseen documentation. The book offers a richly illustrated narrative with broader context on the film's diverse musical and theatrical influences. The story concludes with an in-depth look at the challenges Universal overcame in restoring the film in 2016. Additionally, the book's appendix provides a comprehensive guide to all of the film's performers, music, alternate versions, and deleted scenes.

      King of Jazz was one of the most ambitious films ever to emerge from Hollywood. Just as movie musicals were being invented in 1929, Universal Pictures brought together Paul Whiteman, leader of the country's top dance orchestra; John Murray Anderson, director of spectacular Broadway revues; a top ensemble of dancers and singers; early Technicolor; and a near unlimited budget. The film's highlights include a dazzling interpretation of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," which Whiteman had introduced to the public in 1924; Walter Lantz's "A Fable in Jazz," the first cartoon in Technicolor; and Anderson's grand finale "The Melting Pot of Music," a visualization of popular music's many influences and styles. The film is not only a unique document of Anderson's theatrical vision and Whiteman's band at its peak, but also of several of America's leading performers of the late 1920s, including Bing Crosby in his first screen appearance, and the Russell Markert Dancers, who would soon become Radio City Music Hall's famous Rockettes.


      James Layton is Manager of the Museum of Modern Art's Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center. Prior to this he worked at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, where he curated two gallery exhibitions and the website Technicolor 100. Layton has also acted as Cataloguer and Workflow Coordinator at the East Anglian Film Archive in Norwich, UK, and is co-author of the Image Permanence Institute's informational poster Knowing and Protecting Motion Picture Film (2009).

      David Pierce is an independent film historian and archivist. He was formerly the Head of Preservation and Curator of the National Film and Television Archive at the British Film Institute. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, and his report on the survival of American silent feature films was published by the Library of Congress in 2013. He founded the Media History Digital Library, providing free online access to millions of pages of motion picture magazines and books.

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    • THE ESSENTIALS: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter

    • By Jeremy Arnold
      Forward by Robert Osborne

      Since its inception on Turner Classic Movies in 2001, The Essentials has become the ultimate for movie lovers to expand their knowledge of must-see cinema and discover or revisit landmark films that have had a lasting impact on audiences everywhere.

      Based on the hit series, THE ESSENTIALS by Jeremy Arnold showcases 52 must-see movies from the silent era to modern times. Readers can enjoy one film per week, like on the show, for a year of great viewing, or indulge in a movie-watching binge-fest. Each film is profiled with entertaining discourse on why it's an Essential, and running commentary is provided by TCM's Robert Osborne and Essentials guest hosts past and present: Sally Field, Drew Barrymore, Alec Baldwin, Rose McGowan, Carrie Fisher, Molly Haskell, Peter Bogdanovich, Sydney Pollack, and Rob Reiner.

      Featuring full-color and black-and-white photography of the greatest stars in movie history throughout, THE ESSENTIALS is the ultimate curated guide to 52 films that define the meaning of the word "classic."


      Jeremy Arnold, a writer and film historian, is the author of Lawrence of Arabia: The 50th Anniversary, a coffee-table book companion to that film's Blu-ray release. In addition to his work for numerous film trade publications, he has written over five hundred programming articles for the Turner Classic Movies website and contributed audio commentaries and historical essays to the DVD and Blu-ray releases of classic films.

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  1. DVD Reviews

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    • Dick Dinman & William Wellman Jr. Salute BATTLEGROUND!

    • DICK DINMAN & WILLIAM WELLMAN JR. SALUTE "BATTLEGROUND!": BATTLEGROUND remains producer/host Dick Dinman's all-time favorite WW2 film and distinguished actor, writer and producer William Wellman Jr. rejoins Dick as both salute William Wellman's Oscar-winning once in a lifetime epic military drama which has just been beautifully remastered on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. 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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    • Dick Dinman & Eddie Muller are ON DANGEROUS GROUND!

    • DICK DINMAN & EDDIE MULLER ARE "ON DANGEROUS GROUND": The Warner Archive has just released an astonishing looking (and sounding!) Blu-ray rendition of Nicholas Ray's dark yet hypnotically beautiful film noir ON DANGEROUS GROUND which features a steely yet sensitive performance from noir icon Robert Ryan that easily ranks up there with his finest efforts ever and producer/host Dick Dinman and his guest "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller dissect the various qualities which make this film so captivatingly unique (including the plaintively emotional score by Bernard Herrmann which was one of his two favorites).

      PLUS: SHORT TAKES: Kino's Kl Classics' THE HOUSE ON 92nd STREET, DAISY KENYON and Cohen Film Collection's SUDDEN FEAR.

      COMING ATTRACTIONS: The Warner Archives' BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK and Twilight Time's KISS OF DEATH.

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. 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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    • Dick Dinman & Eddie Muller Explore THE ASPHALT JUNGLE!

    • DICK DINMAN & EDDIE MULLER EXPLORE "THE ASPHALT JUNGLE": Producer/host Dick Dinman welcomes back the "Czar of Noir" himself Eddie Muller as both celebrate the Criterion Collection's pristine release on Blu-ray of John Huston's THE ASPHALT JUNGLE which remains conceivably the greatest "heist/noir" masterwork ever committed to celluloid. (It's early in the year but its difficult to conceive that any home video outfit in the ensuing year will be able to top the astonishing "special features" included on this sensational disc.)

      PLUS: Show opener "Dick's Picks" salutes the Criterion Collection's recent Blu-ray releases of Robert Altman's McCABE & MRS. MILLER, Marlon Brando's ONE EYED JACKS and Howard Hawks' HIS GIRL FRIDAY.

      COMING SOON: DICK DINMAN & EDDIE MULLER ARE "ON DANGEROUS GROUND"!

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. 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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    • Dick Dinman Salutes Air Hero Jimmy Stewart!

    • DICK DINMAN SALUTES WW2 AIR HERO JIMMY STEWART: The dual releases of Olive Films stunning Blu-ray incarnation of the James Stewart air power classic STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND as well as author Robert Matzen's awe inspiring book MISSION: JIMMY STEWART AND THE FIGHT FOR EUROPE, which for the first time ever reveals the truth about Stewart's dangerous bombing missions over Germany, give producer/host Dick Dinman ample motivation to salute the spectacular military career of screen icon Stewart and Dick is joined by returning guest Robert Matzen as they marvel at the courage, skill and fortitude of this certifiable American hero.

      The opening DICK'S PICKS segment salutes Olive Films and their latest Blu-ray releases of not only STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND but Orson Welles' MACBETH (two versions!), HOUDINI, THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI, VILLA RIDES. ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING and two new 4k releases of THE QUIET MAN and JOHNNY GUITAR (first time in original widescreen format on home video!).

      The award-winning DICK DINMAN'S DVD CLASSICS CORNER ON THE AIR is the only show devoted to Golden Age Movie Classics as they become available on DVD and Blu-ray. 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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  1. Press Release

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    • Bette Davis Double Feature - 4/4 at Laemmle Theatres in CA

    • Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present Twofer Tuesdays, a classic movie double bill that will screen on the first Tuesday of each month as a recurring event. Our first attraction celebrates Hollywood legend Bette Davis in one of her most beloved roles, Now, Voyager (1942), on its 75th anniversary. As a bonus feature, we are pairing it with Marked Woman (1937; 80th anniversary) starring Davis and Humphrey Bogart. Both movies will show in three locations as a double feature (two movies, one admission price).

      Now, Voyager (1942) is considered a consummate "woman's film," a genre that was Davis' forte in her heyday in Hollywood's Golden Age of the 1930s and 40s, an era that she ruled as a top box office star. The plush melodrama, based on a novel by Olive Higgins Prouty (author of Stella Dallas, another classic tale of a self-sacrificing, independent woman), was adapted by Casey Robinson (Dark Victory) and directed by Irving Rapper (Deception). The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Davis as Best Actress as a repressed spinster who emerges from her shell in one of the screen's most dramatic makeovers. Co-starring Paul Henreid as her suave romantic partner, Oscar nominee Gladys Cooper (Supporting Actress) as her domineering mother and Claude Rains (one of Davis' favorite actors), as a paternal psychiatrist; the film was a huge commercial hit, the biggest box office success for Davis in that period. In Turner Classic Movies' The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter, author Jeremy Arnold calls it "a movie that has stood the test of time for its high entertainment value, romanticism, and subversive theme of female empowerment." Featuring a lushly romantic Oscar-winning score by Max Steiner, and with one of the most memorable closing lines in movie history, Now, Voyager was added to the National Film Registry in 2007.

      Our bonus feature, Marked Woman (1937) stars Davis as a nightclub "hostess" who becomes the target of a vengeful mobster (Eduardo Ciannelli), who in turn is prosecuted by a crusading district attorney (Humphrey Bogart). Co-written by Robert Rossen (All the King's Men, The Hustler) and Abem Finkel (Jezebel, Sergeant York), and directed by Lloyd Bacon (42nd Street), the movie is notable for its "torn from the headlines" realism that characterized Warner Bros. style in the 1930s. Because of the censorious Production Code, the brothel employing Davis' character was disguised as a clip joint. Davis' assured performance and the film's success contributed to her rise as queen of the Warner's lot, a position she held for the next decade.

      The Twofer Tuesdays double feature of Now, Voyager and Marked Woman plays April 4 at three locations: Ahrya Fine Arts, NoHo 7, and Pasadena Playhouse 7. Special Introduction by TCM film historian Jeremy Arnold at the Ahrya Fine Arts only, who will also be available to sign his book, Turner Classic Movies' The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter. Now, Voyager plays at 7:15 pm; Marked Woman at 5:00 pm and 9:45 pm.

      Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre
      8556 Wilshire Blvd.
      Beverly Hills CA 90211

      NoHo 7
      5240 Lankershim Blvd.
      North Hollywood CA 91601

      Playhouse 7
      673 E. Colorado Blvd.
      Pasadena CA 91101

      310-478-3836

      Tickets are available at the theater box offices and here:
      https://www.laemmle.com/films/41976

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The Egg and I DVD
$8.55
was $14.98
Westward The Women DVD
$14.96
was $19.99
The Graduate (Criterion Collection) DVD
$23.35
was $29.95
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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