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  1. Top News Stories

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    • Thief on Blu-ray

    • Back in the 1950s Hollywood had several directors that elevated the crime thriller: Phil Karlson, Budd Boetticher, Don Siegel, Jacques Tourneur. The Production Code discouraged realistic portrayals of the endemic corruption in law enforcement and the justice system, but these filmmakers frequently slipped through vivid impressions of the bleakness and cruelty of the criminal lifestyle. One thinks of Phil Karlson's nearly sublime The Brothers Rico (1957), whose appalling vision of organized crime is marred by a pasted-on happy ending. By the late seventies the reigning kings of this kind of picture were William Friedkin, Walter Hill and newcomer Michael Mann. No longer restrained by de facto censorship, these men established new trends in docu realism and trendy stylization.

      Michael Mann's startling debut film Thief (1981) is like a beacon pointing to the future. Its story of a pro safecracker pared down to essentials is unafraid to portray the less savory aspects of criminal life. Filmed in glossy color on the winter streets of Chicago, the movie wastes not a single superfluous shot in its mission to flesh out the existence of a hard-bitten but ambitious ex-con, and his spectacularly professional, technically impressive robberies. It's surely one of the best films of its macho star James Caan.

      Mann's script alternates between dialogue-free images of thieves at work, and intense passages in which the leading character bulls his way through social and personal obstacles, in search of his dream of wealth and security. Frank (James Caan) and his assistant Barry (James Belushi) use a special 200-pound electric drill to cut into a safe holding a fortune in diamonds. When Frank's fence dies owing him $185,000, Frank presses his attentions on the organized crime outfit likely responsible for the killing. Mob boss Leo (Robert Prosky) returns Frank's money. Impressed with Frank's near-magical ability to cut his way into any safe in existence, Leo offers him an attractive deal -- a high fee to bust into another jeweler's safe, with all the research work done in advance. Having spent most of his adult life in prison, Frank see's Leo's offer as a short cut to his dream of success -- money, a loving wife and child, and the company of his 'adopted' father from prison, old-timer Okla (Willie Nelson), the man who taught him his criminal trade. To this end Frank all but batters diner cashier Jessie (Tuesday Weld) into listening to his crude but heartfelt marriage proposal -- she'll fit perfectly into his planned picture of the perfect future. Herself an abused loser, Jessie is touched by Frank's blunt, impassioned offer.

      Michael Mann would soon move on to his TV show Miami Vice, a glitzy style & fashion- oriented fantasy about unorthodox cops in Miami; its signature image of sleek cars speeding to new pop songs, with neon signs reflecting in their paint jobs, was a major image for excess in the '80s. Despite boasting a highly expressive visual (and aural) surface, Thief is a much grittier and complex construction. At least half of the film is devoted to wordless heist scenes a la the classic Rififi. Following the theory that any safeguard man can devise, can be defeated by men, Frank and Barry expertly neutralize multiple alarm systems and cut through parts of buildings to reach high-security diamond vaults. In one fairly amazing (and authentic) scene, Frank uses a specially formulated metallic 'burning bar' that generates thousands of degrees of heat. He literally slices a new doorway through a formidable, sophisticated steel vault.

      Frank's ultra-materialistic plan is to make up for his lost years by rushing directly to a lavish lifestyle. The outwardly paternalistic Leo wins Frank's trust by greasing the path for an illicit adoption; Jessie readily accepts her lavish new standard of living and joins with Barry's wife in supporting their spouses. But Frank's dream falls apart as soon as he ceases being a lone wolf; Leo's syndicate insists on more and more control. Frank maintains a bar and a used car lot as cover activities; these assets and his new family make him vulnerable when Leo begins to 'alter the deal'.

      Frank finds that his association with the mob raises his visibility with the local cops, who function as a mob of their own. They try to intimidate him into handing over a percentage of his earnings, to 'spread the wealth around' and make the system work for everybody. Frank can handle the cops to some degree, but can do little when Leo announces that he's now 'owned' by the mob just like anybody else. Instead of his agreed-upon profit split from the million-dollar robberies, Frank is expected to take a pittance and keep working, under threat of violence to his family. This goes against Frank's highly nihilistic personal code, and initiates a violent confrontation.

      In a fairly abbreviated part, Tuesday Weld is completely believable as a pragmatic but hopeful woman willing to commit to a man after one meeting in a coffee shop. Robert Prosky is excellent as the mob boss who can behave like Santa Claus one moment, and Satan the next. James Belushi has a promising early role as a technically savvy pro, a man capable of sorting through hundreds of alarm wires in just a few seconds. In real life a high-stakes thief, John Santucci plays the unpleasant detective Urizzi. Santucci was the model for Okla and Frank, and also served as the picture's technical consultant.

      A novel idea presented by Michael Mann in Thief is Frank's 'outlaw code' that says, if push comes to shove, he must be ready to abandon all personal ties and relationships at a moment's notice. This becomes a major theme in Mann's later Heat (1995), where Robert de Niro professes a samurai-like willingness to walk away from everything he loves. Conceived after much research into the reality of life for professional criminals, the lean, intense Thief is an important entry in the modern gangster genre.

      Criterion's Dual-format Blu-ray + DVD of Thief is a strikingly handsome presentation of this richly textured picture with a 'new look' for the 1980s. Of special note is the highly effective music score by Tangerine Dream, which generates the feeling of a high-tech industrial process whenever Frank pulls a caper. Rather than simply laid over the picture, the music is carefully scored -- electronic tones and rhythms add 'musical' presences and sometimes takes the place of natural sound effects.

      Disc producer Curtis Tsui assembles an illuminating group of extras, starting with a commentary by director Mann and star James Caan. Three separate on-camera interviews with Mann, Caan and Tangerine Dream's Johannes Schmoeling are excellent. Mann covers all bases, starting with Thief's genesis after his completion of his prison-oriented TV film The Jericho Mile. Caan speaks almost reverently of his participation in the film, his co-stars and Mann's attention to realistic detail. Schmoeling gives us a brief history of Tangerine Dream and details the work and creativity that went into this music score. Following the lead of Tangerine Dream and Giorgio Morodoer, the '80s saw synthesized music scores dominating the movie world.

      A trailer is included, as well as an insert essay by Mann biographer Nick James.

      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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Alan Ladd: The 1940s Collection DVD
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Hard-boiled detective Sam Spade gets caught up in the murderous...
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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