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  1. Top News Stories

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    • The Puppetoon Movie on Blu-ray

    • Anyone unfamiliar with the name George Pal -- or who knows him only from the sci-fi films he produced, directed, or designed the effects for in the 1950s and '60s -- is in for a true discovery with the recent Blu-ray of The Puppetoon Movie (1987). The title is a bit deceptive, for while this sublime release does indeed contain a re-mastered hi-def version of The Puppetoon Movie, that movie is mostly made up of eleven of Pal's Puppetoon short films from the 1930s and '40s. The "extras" on this double-disc set actually contain far more material than The Puppetoon Movie itself: 19 additional Puppetoons, a feature-length documentary, interviews, featurettes, stills, home movies, a commentary, trailers, and even an entire additional feature. The net result is that The Puppetoon Movie comes across as simply one ingredient of many in what is really an extensive tribute to George Pal.

      This is not to downplay the significance The Puppetoon Movie or of its director, Arnold Leibovit, in maintaining Pal's legacy. Leibovit deserves a huge amount of credit and gratitude for keeping this work alive; in fact, it's very possible that without Leibovit, Pal's Puppetoons would still be forgotten or even lost.

      George Pal was a Hungarian animator who developed a groundbreaking technique of puppet animation similar to stop-motion. But instead of using single puppets and figures that could be manipulated ever so slightly from frame to frame -- as per usual in stop motion -- Leibovit laboriously built hundreds of hand-carved puppets (or parts of puppets, like attachable heads and limbs) in slightly different poses, so that for each frame of film, a separate, new puppet (or puppet part) would be used. This was called replacement animation, and the resulting short films were called Puppetoons, which Pal described as "color cartoons in three dimensions."

      Working in Europe in the 1920s and '30s, Pal honed his techniques while working as a commercial artist before arriving in Hollywood in 1939 and securing a deal at Paramount. As animation authority Jerry Beck writes in his liner notes, Pal was immediately embraced by Hollywood's animation community, who knew instantly what a visionary artist he was: "His techniques were so different from what the traditional screen cartoonists had been doing that no one thought of him as a rival or competitor. He was simply a colleague, and a beloved one at that."

      Pal's techniques were and still are incredibly significant, influencing luminaries like Ray Harryhausen (whose first job as an 18-year-old was at the Puppetoon Studio), Tim Burton and Henry Selick (whose A Nightmare Before Christmas [1993] was heavily inspired by Pal), and Steven Spielberg. Today's Pixar films continue the chain of influence.

      In the 1950s, Pal moved into live-action science fiction and fantasy movies, working on classics like Destination Moon (1950), When Worlds Collide (1951), The War of the Worlds (1953), The Time Machine (1960), and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962).

      He died in 1980, but in 1987 director Arnold Leibovit worked with Pal's widow to compile eleven of the original Puppetoon shorts into a new tribute feature, The Puppetoon Movie. Leibovit created a framework to introduce and conclude the film, with animated characters Gumby, Pokie and Arnie the Dinosaur reminiscing over Pal's legacy, but the bulk of the movie is simply eleven of Pal's Puppetoons strung together, with no narrative through-line.

      Among the best in the film are Philips Cavalcade (1934), Tulips Shall Grow (1942), Jasper in a Jam (1943), and Tubby the Tuba (1947), four shorts that demonstrate an impressive diversity of subject matter. Philips Cavalcade, full of puppet characters performing jazz music and dancing, boasts an astonishing amount of detail and multiple moving parts in every frame. Tulips Shall Grow is a powerful anti-Nazi parable in which a young couple survives wartime destruction of their windmill.

      Jasper in a Jam is one of many Puppetoons featuring the character of Jasper, a young black boy who is usually steered toward naughtiness by a scarecrow. The Jasper shorts contain racial stereotyping that would not be acceptable in modern-day entertainment, but Jasper in a Jam is one of the finest Puppetoons of them all, with objects and musical instruments coming to life in a pawnshop to play jazz. The music of Charlie Barnet and the vocals of Peggy Lee join with incredible puppetry to make this a unique and moody piece.

      Tubby the Tuba, Pal's last Puppetoon, is probably the best known and most beloved of them all. The story of a tuba who longs for the chance to play the melody for once in his orchestra (rather than just doing repetitive underscoring), it's so poignant and affecting that one wishes Pal had stuck with his Puppetoon-making for a few more years to come.

      In addition to these eleven shorts, the Blu-ray package contains twelve more Puppetoons on standard definition (they still look very good), and seven more in hi-def, restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive and released for the first time on home video. Among the best of these are the masterful Date With Duke (1940) and Rhapsody in Wood (1947), which feature Duke Ellington and Woody Herman in person, interacting with the animated puppets. In fact, many of the Puppetoons include a mix of live action, replacement animation, and traditional two-dimensional animation. Some also mix color and black-and-white, illustrating Pal's experimental and inventive mind. And of course, these two (and others) incorporate jazz and big band music in such a way that the music becomes the subject of the piece itself. Pal's instincts for combining image and music were pitch perfect, and do a great deal to keep these pieces feeling so timeless.

      The "extra" shorts here also include two early adaptations of Dr. Seuss stories, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1943) and And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street (1944), as well as the great Jasper entries Jasper and the Beanstalk (1945) and Jasper's Derby (1946).

      All seven of the hi-def entries were nominated for Academy Awards. None won, but Pal did receive a special Oscar in 1943 for his imaginative techniques. He promptly incorporated the statuette into the opening credits of all his subsequent Puppetoons, which is why some of the ones on this Blu-ray begin with that image.

      It should be noted that Pal never intended for his Puppetoons to be consumed all at once. This collection is best seen slowly, a little bit at a time -- ideally as a prologue to seeing a feature movie. Watching the Puppetoons today, one marvels at the astonishing amount of work that went into their creation, as well as at the splendid Technicolor on display (which is beautifully served by the Blu-ray technology), but above all one is simply charmed by the pieces themselves. In their commentary for The Puppetoon Movie, Arnold Leibovit and Jerry Beck enhance one's appreciation by explaining Pal's animation techniques in great detail and with immense passion. In addition, Leibovit's 1985 documentary The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal explores Pal's entire career and includes interviews with Pal himself. There's also an interesting vintage interview with animator Bob Baker, who worked in Pal's studio.

      On the second Blu-ray disc is a newly re-mastered print of Pal's first feature film as producer, The Great Rupert (1950), which is directed by Irving Pichel and stars Jimmy Durante, Tom Drake, Jimmy Conlin and Terry Moore, as well as a stop-motion-animated puppet squirrel devised by Pal. This little film is no great classic, but it does have some charming moments. The disc also contains a myriad of further extras: interviews with the likes of Disney animator Ward Kimball, Gene Roddenberry, Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury and Roy Disney, among others; an entire (and fascinating) episode of an old Los Angeles TV show called City at Night, in which reporters visit the set of Pal's Destination Moon (1950); footage from a premiere of The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962); and more. Through it all, a portrait emerges of George Pal not just as a visionary innovator but as a genuinely nice person.

      The boutique distributor B2MP has done an outstanding job working with Leibovit and Beck to put this all together in such a comprehensive and loving way -- a fitting salute to an all-too-forgotten movie pioneer. The package is limited to a pressing of 3000 units and is available on Blu-ray only.

      By Jeremy Arnold

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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 & 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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    • 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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  1. Press Release

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...
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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