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  1. Top News Stories

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    • Dante's Inferno on DVD

    • Dante's Inferno, the 1935 spectacle of destructive greed and carnival ballyhoo, opens on flames. It's not hellfire but the boiler-room furnaces of an ocean liner where Jim Carter (Spencer Tracy) is ostensibly a stoker, though he manages to get out of work with a litany of manufactured injuries before he's tossed out. He's a born con man and hustler and he lands in his element: a carnival midway. When he's shown a little kindness by Pop (Henry B. Walthall), the operator of a sleepy concession known as "Dante's Inferno," a mix of haunted house and cheap museum dedicated to the lessons of "the greatest poem ever written" (in Pop's words), he returns the favor by taking over as pitchman and barks up a crowd for the attraction. The partnership becomes family when he falls for Pop's pretty daughter Betty (Claire Trevor) and they have a son. It's the beginning of a classic (and not particularly original) rise-and-fall drama of a rapacious man who tramples those who stand in the way of his ambition and leaves a trail of destruction as he bribes, blackmails, cheats, and cuts corners on his way to the top of the amusement racket, with just enough time left for a last-minute act of redemption.

      This was one of Tracy's final films for Fox before he left for MGM, where his talents were given a more respectful showcase. Now I'm not actually a big fan of Tracy but I confess to having a new appreciation for the actor thanks to those scrappy, bouncy Fox films of his early career. A lot of those scripts are undercooked (like this one) and the productions are sometime rushed but Tracy overflows with personality and the attitude of a guy who got wise knocking about on the streets. "I've had every trick in the trade kicked into me," Jim tells Pop. "Now it's my turn to kick back." He presents himself with a sense of calm and control, however, like a man who is cagy about letting the world see what's he's thinking or feeling, which makes quite a contrast to guys like Cagney and Lee Tracy and the rat-a-tat streetwise heroes of the Warner street movies. He's rapacious and ruthless as a businessman yet oddly likable thanks to his unqualified affection for and commitment to his family and his confidence in the business sector, calmly but firmly making deals and giving orders that will leave victims broken.

      The film builds pulls out its most impressive spectacle for the end of the second act. First the newly-expanded Dante's Inferno funhouse--an epic chamber of horrors with stage flames, sideshow gimmicks, sexy showgirls and half-naked musclemen--collapses in a disaster sequence that director Harry Lachman showcases with camera angles that take in the vast scope of the set and disorient the viewer with startling perspectives. And that's just the warm-up. As Pop tries to pass on the lesson of Dante to Jim, the screen dissolves into the film's famous inferno sequence, the wordless tour of hell with great underworld imagery of tormented (and nearly naked) souls writhing in agony in the jagged caverns and fiery pits of Hades. A few of the shots have been appropriated from the 1924 Fox film of the same name but most of the sequence was created for the film by Lachman, who was a respected illustrator and painter before turning to filmmaking, and he takes inspiration from the Gustave Dore illustrations of the 19th century edition of The Divine Comedy. With jagged subterranean caverns suggested out of paper-mache stagecraft, blasts of flame and hard light, geysers of fog and smoke, forced perspective, miniatures, and nearly naked bodies obscured just enough to get through the censors, Lachman creates a mythic hell that mirrors the real-life disaster they've just experienced.

      It would make a superb climax but, thanks to ill-advised script additions, Jim doesn't take the lesson to heart and the film goes on to a whole new chapter involving courtroom trial, a luxury liner turned into a gambling palace on the high seas, and another inferno, this one sending Jim back to the boiler room below deck. It's an attempt to bring the story full circle while offering yet another epic disaster, but this one is neither as visually astounding nor as dramatically satisfying, and the special effects aren't are convincing this time around.

      Dante's Inferno is an impressive film for all that, thanks largely to Spencer Tracy's sharp performance as a hustler from the school of hard knocks. Tracy's Jim doesn't take pleasure in steamrolling or destroying his opponents, but he doesn't flinch from strong-arming anyone in his way either. Yet he's downright lovable when he's with his wife and his cute, doting son (Scotty Beckett) and even with Pop. Tracy and Lachman make Jim a more interesting character than the script suggests and Claire Trevor is quite good as the lively Betty, the devoted wife who becomes disillusioned with Jim when finally faced with the reality of his moral compromises. Henry B. Walthall, who starred as "the Little Colonel" in D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915), underplays the moral authority nicely as Pop. And the raven-haired dancer in the luxury liner floor show is none other than Rita Cansino, the 16-year-old starlet soon to be made over as Rita Hayworth.

      Director Harry Lachman is a subject for further research. He was an American magazine illustrator and cover artist who went to Paris in 1911 and became a respected post-Impressionist painter (he received the Legion of Honor in 1922) before getting involved in moviemaking as a production manager for Rex Ingram, another American abroad. After making movies in France and England, Lachman headed for Hollywood and a career largely spent making B-movies for 20th Century Fox. Before he slipped into Charlie Chan movies, he directed Shirley Temple in Baby Take a Bow (1934), Laurel and Hardy in Our Relations (1936), and this big-budget production. From the evidence of the film, he lavished far more attention on visualizing both of the film's defining infernos--the midway attraction and the fantasy sequence--than on overcoming the clich├ęs of the story and the awkward structure of the script, but at his best he offers a spectacle that rivals Cecil B. DeMille. He left Hollywood in the forties and took up painting again, and today his canvases hang in the Prado in Madrid, the Luxembourg Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

      It's a good looking disc from 20th Century Fox Cinema Archive, not restored and a touch on the soft side but well preserved with little damage and good contrasts and presented in its correct squarish Academy ratio. While the fantasy sequence is purposely shot in soft focus with layers of stage fog reducing clarity even further, the destruction of the funhouse version is sharp and clear to give it the sting of realism. The sound is perfectly fine. There are no supplements.

      by Sean Axmaker

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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