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  1. Top News Stories

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    • Rififi on Criterion Blu-ray

    • The French film Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes) made such a splash in New York art houses in 1956, it was earned wide distribution through normal channels. It became known as "the crime thriller with the suspenseful jewelry heist". Most American audiences were unaware that French writers and filmmakers had fallen in love with hardboiled Yankee pulp fiction, as well as the pessimistic crime films dubbed by their critics with the phrase film noir. Excellent French crime pictures had come before but Rififi was one of the few that succeeded on the international market. Its primary writer is the French "Serie Noire" crime writer August Le Breton. Many Americans assumed that credited director Jules Dassin was a Frenchman as well.

      Actually, Dassin was one of the most prominent of the Hollywood directors blacklisted by the HUAC witch hunts. A stage director who got started as a directing trainee at MGM, Dassin made the exemplary short subject The Tell-Tale Heart before reaching his stride with four terrific noir thrillers, The Naked City, Thieves' Highway, Brute Force and Night and the City. Darryl Zanuck so liked Dassin's work that he set up Night and the City to be filmed in London, just to keep Dassin away from the lynch mob mentality of organizations like The American Legion. But it didn't work -- Dassin spent four years in exile in Rome and Paris. Projects fell through when French and Italian producers were threatened with economic reprisals if they allowed Dassin to work. Dassin says that when a French producer signed him for Rififi, it was because he was willing to work for very little money.

      As it happened, Rififi became a home run for Dassin, an enormous success that inspired a series of imitators using the word 'Rififi' in their titles. Le Breton's tale is a mini-epic about a gang of professional crooks that come together to execute a difficult robbery. Special technological skills, split-second timing and nerves of steel are required. The model for this "heist caper" crime subgenre was John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle, but the cultured Dassin added his own experience to Le Breton's tough-guy storyline. The crooks range from a slick safecracker who wants to impress women, to a crook with a wife and daughter. The leader Tony le Stéphanois (Jean Servais) is a noble loser fresh from prison, whose only chance is to make a big score. After giving a particularly brutal beating to his unfaithful girlfriend Mado (Marie Sabouret), Tony shakes his depression by initiating the big heist. The well-planned caper culminates in a lengthy, realistic, dialogue-free break-in scene that involves cutting through buildings and outwitting a modern alarm system. All goes perfectly until imported safecracker Cesar (Jules Dassin, the director) steals a diamond tidbit for the sexy singer (Magali Noel) he's dating. Opportunistic crooks waste no time -- the thieves suddenly find themselves being forced to surrender their hard-earned loot.

      Rififi is a completely engrossing film. The Paris streets of 1955 are a wonder to behold. Economic limitations force Dassin to film his car scenes in real moving vehicles, adding to the feeling of 'being there', of being in a time machine. Back in Hollywood, the unyielding Production Code had frustrated some of Dassin's stabs at gritty reality. In this French picture he's able to depict all manner of vices and sordid activity. The adult attitude starts with the depiction of the hero. Le Stéphanois risks all to save a little boy, but he's also a psychological wreck prone to acts of brutality against women.

      The sex angle is more pronounced as well. The wife of gang member Mario (Robert Manuel) sees nothing wrong with greeting her husband's friends in a daringly revealing nightgown. It's the kind of content that filled American pulp paperbacks but never made it into 1955's Kiss Me Deadly or The Big Combo. Those U.S. pictures had to answer to the censors for errata as tame as a black singer holding a microphone stand "too suggestively."

      We find out that Tony's once-vaunted reputation has crumbled when gamblers in a card game treat him like a bum. The weary Jean Servais communicates this loss of respect; at the time of filming, the actor's career was in a slump as well. Even more telling is the sight of Cesar when he realizes that he must pay for breaking the code of the underworld. Tied to a post and awaiting a bullet, actor Dassin shows a despairing look of defeat that director Dassin must have known all too well.

      The word 'Rififi' is introduced in a cabaret song by the gorgeous, Turkish-born Magali Noel, later known for standout roles in Federico Fellini films. Rififi apparently translates as 'the rough and tumble' of the underworld life, but it's also suggested that it might also refer to violent sex. The impeccably chosen cast includes the expressive Robert Hossein, whose haunted looks make him a worthy adversary to the formidable Jean Servais.

      The famed half-hour heist scene is done without dialogue or even a music soundtrack. Viewers must pay attention to follow the complicated way the crooks penetrate the jewelry store and crack its safe without setting off any alarms. Although it's been topped many times -- by Dassin himself in his 1964 caper comedy Topkapi -- the sequence has a hypnotic effect. The thieves work so well and so hard, that we can't help but contemplate the relationship between work, risk and reward. Are they blind fools, or brilliant masterminds thwarted only by a chance of fate?

      Of the most talented directors banished from Hollywood, Joseph Losey and Cy Endfield took up permanent residence in England, while Edward Dmytryk recanted, named names and was permitted to resume his career. John Berry spent most of the 1950s in Paris before the 1960 blacklist thaw allowed his return to Hollywood. But Jules Dassin fell in love with Greek actress Melina Mercouri and made six movies with her, including the Oscar winner Never on Sunday). Unlike the tragic characters in his noir classics, Dassin never surrendered and never compromised. His American noirs are some of the best, and his Rififi remains the most revered French crime thriller.

      Criterion's Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD of Rififi improves on their 2001 DVD with a more stable, sharp and detailed transfer that faithfully reproduces the essence of cameraman Philippe Agostini's gray-on-gray cinematography. The film is in French with subtitles, and Criterion has also included the English-dubbed soundtrack that most Americans saw in 1956.

      Although everything in the movie looks like a real location, famed production designer Alexandre Trauner's set sketches are included to demonstrate that key interior settings were indeed filmed in a studio. The best extra is an excellent interview with director Dassin, taped in 2000. As feisty and opinionated as ever, Dassin discusses the essence of the blacklist and chronicles the way that Clare Booth Luce, then the Ambassador to Italy, conducted a vendetta to destroy his directing career in Europe. Dassin also tells amusing stories about some of the absurdities of working in the studio system, where a good performance on the MGM or Fox baseball team might insure better terms in a directing contract.

      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 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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    • Dick Dinman & Eddie Muller Salute Ultra-Rare Noir Classics!

    • DICK DINMAN & EDDIE MULLER SALUTE ULTRA-RARE NOIR CLASSICS: Producer/host Dick Dinman and Film Noir Foundation's Czar of Noir Eddie Muller wax poetic about the first-rate Blu-ray releases of three rarely seen film noir gems: Flicker Alley's dark and deadly duo of two heretofore thought virtually lost noir thrillers TOO LATE FOR TEARS and WOMAN ON THE RUN and KL Studio Classics 99 RIVER STREET about which Dick and Eddie have a rare major disagreement regarding the validity of what some consider the most memorable two scenes in the film.

      PLUS: A preview of KL Studio Classics upcoming noir Blu-ray release CRY OF THE CITY.

      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 & Kathleen Hughes Return to 3-D "Outer Space!"

    • DICK DINMAN & KATHLEEN HUGHES RETURN TO 3-D "OUTER SPACE": Kathleen Hughes, whose breakout appearance in Universal-International's first 3-D blockbuster inspired the media to dub her the "first feminine sensation created by 3-D" rejoins producer/host Dick Dinman to salute Universal Pictures Home Entertainment's wonderfully immersive 3-D Blu-ray release of IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (immaculately restored by the 3-D Archive) and shares priceless memories about her career from her very first film ROAD HOUSE (just released on Blu-ray by Kino's KL Studio Classics) to her time as a contract star at Universal and 3-D Archive's Robert Furmanek chats about the challenges inherent in restoring this certifiable sci-fi classic to its current eye-poppingly spectacular 3-D grandeur.
      PLUS: OPENING "DICK PICKS" SEGMENT SALUTES UNIVERSAL'S "THE MARX BROTHERS SILVER SCREEN BLU-RAY COLLECTION." AND A PREVIEW OF THE UPCOMING KINO RELEASE OF THE 3-D ARCHIVE'S "THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE".

      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's Bogart Bonanza!

    • DICK DINMAN & EDDIE MULLER'S BOGART BONANZA (PART ONE): Producer/host Dick Dinman welcomes back distinguished Film Noir Foundation head honcho Eddie Muller as both dedicated Humphrey Bogart fans rejoice about the fact that no less than four revered Bogart classics have hit the streets recently on Blu-ray. In this first of two shows Dick and Eddie trade thoughts about the amazing cult favorite IN A LONELY PLACE (Eddie's single favorite film!) which has been released by the Criterion Collection in typically outstanding Criterion fashion and no slouch in the Blu-ray visual perfection department is the Warner Archive's release of Bogart and Bacall's most unusual thriller DARK PASSAGE which reunites them in a tale of so many unexpected twists and turns that fortunate viewers will be on the edge of their seats.

      DICK DINMAN & EDDIE MULLER'S BOGART BONANZA (PART TWO): On this second Bogart Bonanza show acclaimed Czar of Noir Eddie Muller and producer/host Dick Dinman marvel at the omnipresent degree of authenticity displayed in the rare Bogart newspaper drama DEADLINE U.S.A. which has just hit the streets (with a sublime Eddie Muller commentary) on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino's KL Studio Classics and rabid fans who've been pleading for the Blu-ray release of TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (which is Bogart and Bacall's first and most scorchingly incendiary pairing) can now revel in the white hot perfection of this latest exemplary Warner Archive release.

      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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    • Acclaimed documentary TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL released on DVD & Blu-ray

    • FilmRise has announced the September 1 Blu-Ray and DVD release of Tab Hunter Confidential. After an incredible year on the film festival circuit and a theatrical run across fifty cities in the United States, the acclaimed documentary will be available to rent or own from all major retailers. Based on Hunter's New York Times best selling memoir, producer Allan Glaser and director Jeffrey Schwarz (I Am Divine) have assembled dozens of past and present Hollywood stars, and most importantly the man himself, to talk frankly about being a survivor of the Hollywood roller coaster. The Blu-Ray & DVD will be available nationwide at all major retailers, with autographed copies only available on Tab Hunter's official website, www.tabhunter.com. Click here to learn more and order Tab Hunter Confidential on Blu-Ray & DVD (with optional autograph).

      Throughout the 1950s, Tab Hunter reigned as Hollywood's ultimate heartthrob. In dozens of films, and in the pages of countless magazines, Hunter's astonishing looks and golden-boy sex appeal drove his fans to screaming, delirious frenzy, solidifying him the prototype for all young matinee idols to come. Bristling against being just another pretty face and wanting to be taken seriously, Hunter was one of the few to be able to transcend pin-up boy status. He earned his stripes as an actor to become a major movie star and recording artist. But throughout his years of stardom, Hunter had a secret. He was gay, and spent his Hollywood years in a precarious closet that repeatedly threatened to implode and destroy him. Decades later, Hunter's dramatic, turbulent and ultimately inspiring life story has become an explosive documentary feature.

      Tab Hunter Confidential offers unprecedented access to the man behind the marquee smile, who shares first hand what it was like to be a manufactured movie star during the Golden Age of Hollywood and the consequences of being someone totally different from his studio image. The film traces Hunter's dizzying rise to Hollywood super-stardom, his secret life in an era when being openly gay was unthinkable, and his ultimate triumph when the limelight finally passed him by and true love won.

      Punctuating Tab's on-screen presence are rare film clips and provocative interviews with friends and co-stars including John Waters, Clint Eastwood, George Takei, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, Portia de Rossi, Noah Wyle, Connie Stevens, Robert Osborne, and dozens more.

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Alan Ladd: The 1940s Collection DVD
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The Ghost and Mrs. Muir DVD
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Hard-boiled detective Sam Spade gets caught up in the murderous...
$14.96
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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