Wednesday, January 31, 2024

TCM in February (and March!): 31 Days of Oscar Higlights

It's time for a look at the February -- and March! -- schedule on Turner Classic Movies.

As I wrote in my preview of the upcoming schedule, TCM is doing things a little bit differently this year with regard to the annual 31 Days of Oscar series; instead of starting on the first of the month, it will begin on February 9th and run through March 10th.

The 10th is the day the 2024 Academy Awards ceremony will be held in Hollywood.

The February schedule will be "normal" through the 8th. Beginning on the 9th, every film shown for the following month will have received at least one Oscar nomination.

TCM has made a printable .pdf of the 31 Days of Oscar schedule available here.

This year the films are grouped by award category, such as Best Supporting Actress, Costume Design, Editing, and so on.

There are so many good movies airing this month that a viewer really can't go wrong the vast majority of the time. Below are just a few highlights from among many good -- or great! -- movies. Please click any hyperlinked title for a full-length review.

...February kicks off with a seven-film birthday tribute to Clark Gable on the 1st. I've seen all of the films and enjoyed them to varying degrees. I'll particularly mention HOLD YOUR MAN (1933), an excellent pre-Code opposite Jean Harlow, and ANY NUMBER CAN PLAY (1949), an interesting drama with Gable heading a top-notch cast.

...February 2nd features several films on race car drivers, including a young James Stewart in SPEED (1936).

...The weekend of the 2nd through 4th will feature a Black History Weekend Marathon. Among the titles are THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY (1950) on the 3rd and John Ford's SERGEANT RUTLEDGE (1060) on the 4th.

...Several Alfred Hitchcock films are being shown the evening of February 5th, including a rare TCM showing of NOTORIOUS (1946), starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. It's been over six years since it last appeared on the network. It's one of my Top 5 Hitchcock favorites, and I highly recommend it.

...February 6th there's a celebration of Ruby Keeler and Ruby Dee. Films include the classic Busby Berkeley musical FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933) with Keeler and the excellent Civil War era suspense film THE TALL TARGET (1951) with Dee. Both are outstanding.

...An evening of Academy restorations on February 7th includes William Wyler's classic drama THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946).

...31 Days of Oscar gets underway on the 9th with Costume Design nominees, including ALL THAT JAZZ (1979). I didn't love the film as much as some, but Roy Scheider is excellent, and it's an interesting movie.

...Billie Burke is brilliant in MERRILY WE LIVE (1938), receiving a relatively rare Supporting Actress nomination for a comedic role. She's seen here with costars Constance Bennett and Brian Aherne. The movie airs on the 10th.

...The classic screwball comedy MY MAN GODFREY (1936), with William Powell and Carole Lombard heading a top cast, will be shown on February 11th.

...A group of Art Direction nominees on February 12th includes top-tier classics such as PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1940), THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1937), and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938).

...Among the outstanding Screenplay nominees on February 14th is Hitchcock's REBECCA (1940), which won Best Picture that year. Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine head a superb cast.

...The classic fantasy HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (1941) is among the Original Story nominees showing on the 15th. Robert Montgomery and Claude Rains star.

...No matter how many times one sees it, THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943) is always hilarious. Charles Coburn was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a meddling Cupid for Joel McCrea and Jean Arthur. It's on the 17th.

...THE RED SHOES (1948) blew me away when I revisited it at least year's TCM Classic Film Festival, to the extent I took the next movie block off to emotionally recover! It's part of a day of Oscar-nominated scores on February 20th.

...I'm curious about the documentary THE MAN WHO SKIED DOWN EVEREST (1975), which will have its TCM premiere on February 21st.

...One of the most deserved Cinematography nominees of all time was Winton Hoch for John Ford's SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949). The lightning storm which Hoch shot under duress is pictured here. John Wayne leads a cast of Ford regulars. It airs February 22nd.

...Special Effects nominees on February 26th include GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (1947), which has an impressive earthquake sequence. Lana Turner leads a top cast in this engrossing saga.

...I really enjoyed Woody Allen's MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011), which will have its first-ever showing on TCM on February 29th.

...Best Director nominees celebrated on March 1st include Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949). Mankiewicz also wrote the great script.

...It's been a long time since I've seen ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959), for which James Stewart was nominated for Best Actor. It's on March 2nd.

...Best Picture nominees on March 4th include one of my most favorite movies, the MGM musical SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954). And I also have to give a mention to MGM's MRS. MINIVER (1940), which I revisited last summer for the first time in years. I came away thoroughly impressed. Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon star.

...A week of Best Picture nominees continues after the 4th, including Bette Davis starring in the great ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) on the 6th. Like A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, it was written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

...The final day of 31 Days of Oscar, March 10th, includes one of the most famous Best Picture winners of all time, GONE WITH THE WIND (1939).

I'll have a brief preview of the rest of the March schedule here in the near future, and then look for the remainder of TCM's March highlights here sometime around March 10th. (Update: Here is the March preview!)

For more on TCM over the next few weeks, please visit TCM's online schedule along with my Quick Preview of TCM in February (and March!): 31 Days of Oscar.

Enjoy all the great movies airing on TCM over the next few weeks!

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Tonight's Movie: Red Planet Mars (1952) - An MGM Blu-ray Review

The early '50s sci-fi film RED PLANET MARS (1952) has just been released on Blu-ray by MGM.

It's a very unusual film about Chris and Linda Cronyn (Peter Graves and Andrea King), married scientists who believe they've found a way to communicate with the inhabitants of Mars.

When messages from Mars begin arriving and are publicized, they initially cause worldwide economic upheaval...and then a message arrives quoting the Sermon on the Mount. It seems that Christ has also been present on Mars?

The implications are huge, and more upheaval ensues around the globe, but this time it's more positive, including Russian Christians overthrowing the Soviet Union. As the film moves into the religious theming, it begins to take on the tone of a religious production such as SECOND CHANCE (1950), a Hugh Beaumont-Ruth Warrick film made for church distribution which I reviewed a number of years ago.

Eventually Chris and Linda receive shocking news about the messages they've been receiving...which leads to a surprising conclusion which will not be revealed here.

Before watching the movie I noted that the IMDb rating is unusually low and some of the reviews there are pretty bad. I also read Glenn Erickson's take on the film from a few years ago.

I'd venture to agree that it's kind of a bad movie in some respects, with a cheesy villain (Herbert Berghof), a so-so script, and an oddball premise...yet it's also interesting and perhaps even important as a peek into '50s Cold War fears and hopes for solutions.

The movie was written by Anthony Veiller and John L. Balderston, based on a play by Balderston and John Hoare, and indeed, it's more talky than anything, confined to a handful of sets.

That said, the screenplay tackles some Big Ideas -- fear of "what's out there" in space, Communism, Christianity. It addresses them in over-the-top ways, with Chris and Linda prepared to possibly die to preserve the new Christian age on Earth, but it's quite interesting when viewed as perhaps the pinnacle of space age atomic fears as depicted in a sci-fi film.

It's also thought-provoking viewed in our modern era, when rumors of UFOs seem to bubble up periodically, only to fade away again. It's not something I've ever spent much time considering, and particularly given my religious faith it hasn't mattered to me very much. The way this film melds the two issues, aliens and Christianity, is quite...different.

This was Graves' next movie after the excellent Western FORT DEFIANCE (1951), where he played a blind cowboy, but I found him only so-so in this; he spends much of his time defensive and angry.

King, always a favorite, is given a more nuanced role as the voice of concern, first about opening communication to Mars and then about the government possibly removing same. In one of King's final scenes, her eyes and line readings are such that she comes off as a cultist, which is quite fascinating.

As for the ending, well, you just have to see it. It's a jaw-dropper, and it certainly left me wanting to learn more about this movie and its history.

This 87-minute United Artists film was directed by Harry Horner. It was filmed in black and white by Joseph Biroc.

The supporting cast includes Walter Sande, Morris Ankrum, Willis Bouchey, and House Peters Jr. Orley Lindgren and Bayard Veiller play the Cronyns' sons; I assume Bayard was related to screenwriter Anthony Veiller.

There's nothing particularly noteworthy about the cinematography, but the Blu-ray print is excellent. The film has English subtitles available but no other extras.

Viewer interest in this film is likely to vary. Those interested in the issues it addresses may appreciate the wild ride, as I did, while less tolerant viewers are likely to exclaim "What was that?" at the end. Either way, it's a movie which isn't likely to be forgotten, and I'm glad that it's now widely available in a fine print thanks to this MGM Blu-ray.

Thanks to Allied Vaughn for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. RED PLANET MARS may be purchased from Movie Zyng and other online retailers.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Book Review: Christmas in the Movies (Revised and Expanded Edition)

Half a decade ago Jeremy Arnold's beautiful CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES was one of my favorite film books of that year, and it's a title I've returned to on numerous occasions since I first read and reviewed it.

Jeremy has done it again with a "Revised and Expanded Edition" of CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES, published late last year. I enjoyed reading it almost immediately, but our Disney World trip in the middle of December, followed by celebrating Christmas, slowed posting this review. That's a bit ironic given the book's subject matter, but this is a great book to purchase and read at any time of the year!

Since readers will probably want to know first and foremost "What's new?" I recommend reading my 2018 review of the original book for context and an idea of the book's content, then continue here for information on the update.

This new book is somewhat larger and thicker than the original edition, covering 35 films instead of the previous book's 30. Including the index and bibliography, it clocks in at 270 pages, compared to the previous book's 208.

The added titles are THE CHEATERS (1945), IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE (1947), CASH ON DEMAND (1961), THE PREACHER'S WIFE (1996), and JOYEUX NOEL (2005).

There are also entirely new chapters on topics such as "Christmas Cartoons from Mickey to Tweety," "1947: A Very Merry Movie Year," "Christmas and Film Noir," and "Little Women: 1933 and 1949," inserted to go along with his chapter on the 1994 version of the film.

The new chapters add quite a bit of interesting material to the original book. I particularly enjoyed the film noir chapter which includes mentions of personal favorites such as LADY ON A TRAIN (1945) and COVER UP (1949), to name just two examples.

The photo layouts are sometimes quite different, and along with new photographs, some of the photos carried over from the first edition have received significant quality upgrades.  A very good example of this is a photo of Fred MacMurray at the piano in REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940). A photo of Monty Woolley and Mary Wickes in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942) is larger and sharper, and readers of both books will find other examples.

I'm happy to say that an excellent book is now even better. For those who purchased the original title and are wondering whether to also get the new edition, I recommend doing so, and for those who are brand-new to CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES, I highly recommend purchasing this title.

Thanks to TCM and Running Press for providing a review copy of this book.

The above photograph of author Jeremy Arnold was taken by me at a November 2023 book signing at Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Tonight's Movie: Chicago Deadline (1949) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

The very enjoyable crime film CHICAGO DEADLINE (1949) has just been released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber in the Dark Side of Cinema XVI collection.

This release is a real treat as although I had the pleasure of seeing this movie at the 2017 Noir City Film Festival and the 2018 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, to my understanding it has never had a VHS or DVD release.

Alan Ladd fans will thoroughly enjoy watching him as enterprising reporter Ed Adams. Ed becomes intrigued with the story of a young woman named Rosita (Donna Reed) who's been found dead in a fleabag hotel.

Ed begins investigating Rosita's background with the help of an address book found in her room, and when he starts dialing numbers he's met with fear and outright hostility by several people, including prominent Chicago businessmen and gangsters.

Ed pieces together more of Rosita's life with the help of her brother (Arthur Kennedy) and former roommate (June Havoc), which puts his life in danger...

Ladd and Reed, who costarred previously in BEYOND GLORY (1948), don't share any scenes, as Reed is only seen in flashbacks. Reed is underused, with some of her story -- especially the breakdown of her marriage -- not being fully fleshed out despite being the woman around whom the story revolves.

That said, it's a very interesting film with Ladd front and center for most of the movie. He's by turns sarcastic, gutsy, savvy, and a softy and is great fun to watch at every turn. Anyone who is a Ladd fan, which definitely includes me, should find this an enjoyable 86 minutes.

The excellent supporting cast also includes John Beal, Tom Powers, Shepherd Strudwick, Irene Hervey, Berry Kroeger, Gavin Muir, Harry Antrim, Roy Roberts, Arthur Space, Marie Blake, Phyllis Kennedy, and Marietta Canty.

Sally Field's mother, Margaret, appears as a younger girl named Minerva in the opening sequence. Look for Kasey Rogers (Louise Tate on BEWITCHED) in a brief appearance in an amusing party scene.

Lewis Allen (THE UNINVITED) directed, with black and white filming by John F. Seitz. The screenplay by Warren Duff was based on the novel ONE WOMAN by Tiffany Thayer.

The excellent Blu-ray print is from a 2K scan of the 35mm fine grains. Extras consist of the trailer, which was newly mastered in 2K; a gallery of seven trailers; and a commentary track by Alan K. Rode of the Film Noir Foundation. His tracks are always excellent.

The other films in this set are MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET (1942), reviewed here, and IRON MAN (1951), which I'll be reviewing in the future. Both the set and CHICAGO DEADLINE are recommended.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray collection.

Lone Pine Locations at Classic Movie Hub

My new Western RoundUp column is now available at Classic Movie Hub!

This month I return to Lone Pine and share location photos for several movies filmed in the Alabama Hills: YELLOW SKY (1948), THE NEVADAN (1950), RAWHIDE (1951), 7 MEN FROM NOW (1956), and RIDE LONESOME (1959).

The article includes a number of photos along with comparison screen shots.

Please click over to Classic Movie Hub to read it, and thanks for everyone's ongoing interest in my Western RoundUp column!

Previous Classic Movie Hub Western RoundUp Column Links: June 2018; July 2018; August 2018; September 2018; October 2018; November 2018; December 2018; January 2019; February 2019; April 5, 2019; April 30, 2019; May 2019; June 2019; July 2019; August 2019; September 2019; October 2019; November 2019; December 2019; January 2020; February 2020; March 2020; April 2020; May 2020; June 2020; July 2020; August 2020; September 2020; October 2020; November 2020; December 2020; January 2021; February 2021; March 2021; May 2021; June 2021; June 2021 (No. 2); July 2021; August 2021; September 2021; November 2021; December 2021; December 2021 (No. 2); January 2022; February 2022; March 2022; April 2022; May 2022; June 2022; July 2022; August 2022; September 2022; November 2022; November 2022 (No. 2); January 2023 (No. 1); January 2023 (No. 2); March 2023; April 2023; May 2023 (No. 1); May 2023

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Around the Blogosphere This Week

Miscellaneous bits of news and fun stuff from around the Internet...

...I'm very happy to report that SUBMARINE COMMAND (1951), which has never been released on VHS or DVD, will be coming to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. It's an enjoyable film which is one of four movies teaming William Holden and Nancy Olson. There's a great supporting cast including William Bendix, Don Taylor, and Jack Kelly. I saw it back in 2009 thanks to a rare showing on Turner Classic Movies. Last fall it was shown at the Cinecon Festival. This is wonderful news!

...Coming to Blu-ray from Arrow in April: Anthony Mann's THE TIN STAR (1957). Toby Roan has more at his site 50 Westerns From the 50s, where he reports he did the commentary track!

...Coming from the Warner Archive Collection on March 12th: Looney Tunes Collector's Choice Vol. 3. The first two volumes have been great; I reviewed Vol. 2 earlier this month.

...Glenn Erickson has reviewed a Kino Lorber/Cohen Film Collection set with a pair of British sea films, THE SEA SHALL NOT HAVE THEM (1954) and ALBERT R.N. (1953), also known in the U.S. as BREAK TO FREEDOM.

...Exciting Turner Classic Movies news: Next year Daniel Raim's upcoming documentary THE OZU DIARIES (2024), about director Yasujiro Ozu, will be shown on the network. Raim also made a shorter documentary on Ozu which I really enjoyed, IN SEARCH OF OZU (2018).

...Over the past week I've revisited two older films directed by George Clooney, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. (2005) and THE IDES OF MARCH (2011). I found them both highly entertaining, as I did when I reviewed them near the time of first release. It was particularly fun to see a young Robert Downey Jr. in GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. and Ryan Gosling in THE IDES OF MARCH; both are among this year's Academy Award nominees for Best Supporting Actor, for OPPENHEIMER (2023) and BARBIE (2023), respectively.

...Leonard Maltin discusses theatrical screenings in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

...Colin's latest review at Riding the High Country is of THE WILD NORTH (1952) starring Stewart Granger, Wendell Corey, and Cyd Charisse.

...FERRARI (2022) will be released on Blu-ray on March 12th. I thoroughly enjoyed it a few days ago and recommend it.

...Notable Passings: Director Norman Jewison has passed away at 97. I've seen his film FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971) numerous times over the years, and a couple years ago I enjoyed him in the documentary FIDDLER'S JOURNEY TO THE BIG SCREEN (2022)...Prolific TV director Rod Holcomb, who I first knew from his work on the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978-79) series, has passed on at 80...British composer Laurie Johnson, known for his work on TV's THE AVENGERS, has died at 96.

...For additional recent links of interest to classic film fans, please visit my January 20th column.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Today at Disney California Adventure: Lunar New Year

The annual Lunar New Year Festival at Disney California Adventure started on January 23rd and runs through February 18th.

This festival is always a delight, and we paid our first visit to this year's edition after work this afternoon.

We arrived in the park just as Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession was beginning.

Since it's the Year of the Dragon, Mulan's pal Mushu is front and center in this year's celebration.

There's even a gorgeous stainless tumbler featuring Mushu, which I was glad to pick up tonight:

The new San Fransokyo area inspired by BIG HERO 6 (2014) looks fantastic after dark:

We stopped by the Redwood Creek Trail area to visit with Raya from RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON (2021).

The decorations for this area are gorgeous.

Raya was delightful!

We'll be returning to enjoy more of the festival, including sampling some of the food booths, in February!

For photos of past Lunar New Year celebrations at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, please visit any of these links, which are in reverse chronological order: Last Weekend at Disney California Adventure: Lunar New Year (January 27, 2023), Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure (January 31, 2022), Today at Disney California Adventure: Lunar New Year Procession (February 17, 2019), Today at Disney California Adventure: Lunar New Year Celebration (February 11, 2019), Today at Disney California Adventure: Lunar New Year Celebration (February 5, 2017), Today at Disney California Adventure: 15th Anniversary and Lunar New Year (February 8, 2016); Today at Disney California Adventure: Lunar New Year (February 21, 2015); Today at Disney California Adventure: Lunar New Year (February 1, 2014); Today at Disney California Adventure: Lunar New Year (February 10, 2013); Today at Disneyland: Chinese New Year (January 27, 2012); Today at Disneyland (February 15, 2008).

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

96th Annual Academy Award Nominations

The 96th annual Academy Award nominations were announced this morning.

The complete list of nominees was published by The Hollywood Reporter.

As expected, Best Picture nominees included OPPENHEIMER (2023) and BARBIE (2023). Those are the only two of the 10 nominees I've seen to date.

Curiously, neither director Greta Gerwig or lead actress Margot Robbie were nominated for BARBIE.

Ryan Gosling received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for BARBIE. It's a strong category which also includes Robert Downey Jr. for OPPENHEIMER.

Goslin's big song "I'm Just Ken," by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, received a nomination as Best Song.

Among other films I saw last year, I was glad to see that SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE (2023) received a nomination for Best Animated Film.

GODZILLA MINUS ONE (2023) received a nomination for Best Visual Effects along with MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - DEAD RECKONING PART ONE (2023).

Not having seen a majority of the nominees, that's about the extent of my personal interest this year.

The Oscars ceremony will take place in Hollywood on March 10th.

For fans of Turner Classic Movies: The annual 31 Days of Oscar festival begins on February 9th and concludes on March 10th. To my knowledge this is the first time TCM has scheduled 31 Days of Oscar with the conclusion coinciding with the ceremony.

Previous Oscar nomination posts: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022, and 2023. There was no Oscar post in 2009 and just a brief news roundup mention in 2021.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Tonight's Movie: Run Silent Run Deep (1958) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

The outstanding World War II submarine film RUN SILENT RUN DEEP (1958) has just been released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

I first saw this movie in 2013 and if anything I was more impressed after revisiting it for the first time in over a decade. Two big stars directed by the great Robert Wise in a perfectly paced 93 minutes. What's not to love?

The film is set in 1943. Clark Gable plays Commander Richardson, stuck on a desk job at Pearl Harbor since surviving the destruction of his submarine in combat one year prior.

Richardson persuades the navy to give him command of another sub, the Nerka, to the disappointment of Lt. Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster), who had expected the Nerka to be his first command.

Richardson and Bledsoe clash not only due to a desire to be in charge but due to Richardson's plans to track down and destroy the ship which torpedoed his prior submarine...plans which go against the orders of Naval Command.

Bledsoe backs Richardson when the crew suggests mutiny, but he later threatens Richardson with relieving him of duty, only to have the senior man collapse with a concussion.

Ironically right about that time Bledsoe begins to understand Richardson's desire to attack the Japanese. Will he follow Richardson's plans, or turn around and return to Pearl Harbor for needed repairs?

This is an excellent film depicting two men who are each admirable despite their conflicts. I don't dislike Lancaster, who was in a great many good movies, but I confess I have often found him a bit on the bland side. In this case that's more apparent than ever watching him opposite Gable, who might have been the most charismatic star ever on screen.

Their disparate personalities rather work in this context, making it believable that Gable's character will take control of both the ship and the situations, even when he's close to incapacitated.

I'd add that in offscreen life Gable and Lancaster were both veterans. I felt when watching this film that Gable's performance, in particular, was probably informed by his having seen combat; he would fully understand the gravity of his character's decisions.

It's particularly noteworthy that beyond the film's interpersonal conflicts, director Wise's staging of the action is exceptional. (I've read that those with submarine experience considered it quite authentic.) The submarine procedures depicted are clear to the viewer while simultaneously he paces the action for maximum excitement.

The excellent supporting cast includes Jack Warden as a crewman loyal to Richardson and Brad Dexter as an officer who's a bit of a troublemaker. Don Rickles, Nick Cravat, Eddie Foy III, and Rudy Bond are among the other submarine crew members.

The movie was written by John Gay from novel by Edward L. Beach. The score was composed by Franz Waxman.

Russell Harlan filmed the movie in superb widescreen black and white. As I noted in my 2013 review, Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, California, a street I know well, stands in for Richardson's Pearl Harbor address.

For those who notice such things, some posters and the trailer use a comma in the title, and a comma is also utilized on the Blu-ray case, but no comma appears in the movie's actual title card. As I recently wrote regarding a similar issue for MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET (1942), my practice is to use the opening credits wording and/or punctuation.

The Blu-ray print is outstanding. Kino Lorber said on Twitter that while this is the same print as their previous 2014 release, it's encoded at a higher bit rate on a layered disc and should look better than the older Blu-ray.

This is a Special Edition with a cardboard slipcase and reversible cover art. Disc extras consist of the trailer and a commentary track by Steve Mitchell and Steven Jay Rubin.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Tonight's Movie: Gentleman Jim (1942) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

Errol Flynn stars as boxer Jim Corbett in GENTLEMAN JIM (1942), just released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive Collection.

The film begins in 1880s San Francisco, where boxing is not considered a sport but instead is something which results in participants and audiences being thrown in jail if they're caught.

The Olympic Club decides they will try to make it a "gentleman's sport" and sponsor Corbett, a bank clerk, as a boxer. Corbett, from a loving but poor family, is eager to climb the social ranks via his boxing skill.

Corbett does well in the ring, but his boastful behavior sometimes works against him. Nonetheless, he continues to rise in the boxing world, ultimately battling the great champion John L. Sullivan (Ward Bond).

Over time Jim periodically encounters Victoria Ware (Alexis Smith), a silver miner's daughter, but again his brash behavior doesn't always put him in good stead with her. However, she can't stop thinking about him...

This film, directed by Raoul Walsh from a screenplay by Horace McCoy and Vincent Lawrence, has a good reputation and I was looking forward to it. Given the star and director I expected something fun and exciting, but unfortunately I instead found the movie surprisingly dull.

I periodically enjoy boxing films if there's a good story underneath; examples of boxing films I enjoy include FLESH AND FURY (1952) and ROCKY (1976).

I also periodically enjoy meandering, slow-moving character studies, but the combination of boxing with 104 minutes of very little of note happening just didn't work for me. This is a very slow-paced film with repetitive scenes: Corbett fights, he annoys people, he fights with Victoria. Repeat. And repeat again.

Perhaps this caught me on the wrong day and I'd like it more knowing what to expect, but a bunch of roughhousing shenanigans punctuated with boxing and romantic bickering left me feeling quite "meh" about it. I also didn't enjoy the pathos surrounding the character of Sullivan, though he was well-portrayed by Bond.

It's interesting to note that I reacted very similarly to another Walsh film which is generally highly regarded, THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE (1941).  Neither of these 1941-1942 films really works for me, although I didn't find GENTLEMAN JIM as depressing.

The movie has a typically deep Warner Bros. cast including Alan Hale (Sr.), Jack Carson, Minor Watson, Rhys Williams, Arthur Shields, William Frawley, and John Loder.

The Blu-ray is a new 1080p HD master from a 4K scan of the original nitrate camera negative. It beautifully shows off the black and white photography of Sid Hickox. Flynn and Smith look wonderful. Sound quality is also fine. From a technical perspective this is an excellent release.

Disc extras consist of three cartoons, THE DOVER BOYS AT PIMENTO UNIVERSITY (1942), FONEY FABLES (1942), and HOBBY HORSE-LAFFS (1942); a 30-minute 1944 Lady Esther Screen Guild Playhouse radio production of GENTLEMAN JIM starring Flynn and Smith; and the trailer.

For an alternate take on this film, I happened across a lovely piece by Raquel Stecher at Out of the Past a few years ago regarding how the movie helped inspire her to make the most of her opportunities. I will definitely have her perspective in mind next time I happen to see GENTLEMAN JIM.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from Movie Zyng, the Amazon Warner Archive Collection Store, or from any online retailers were Blu-rays are sold.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Around the Blogosphere This Week

Miscellaneous bits of news and fun stuff from around the Internet...

...Kino Lorber has announced the Dark Side of Cinema Collection XIX! This latest Blu-ray set includes DARK CITY (1950), NO MAN OF HER OWN (1950), and BEWARE, MY LOVELY (1952). To my knowledge, BEWARE, MY LOVELY has never had a U.S. DVD release. I'm very happy that the Dark Side sets don't seem to have any end in sight!

..."Coming soon" from Kino Lorber: SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR (1947) with Michael Redgrave and Joan Bennett. Although the film has only had a middling reputation, I quite enjoyed this film and look forward to seeing it on Blu-ray.

...A nice surprise from the Warner Archive Collection: The complete COLT .45 (1957-60) series is coming to Blu-ray! 67 episodes on 10 discs. Wayde Preston stars. It's been a long time since the Warner Archive released series like MAVERICK and CHEYENNE on DVD. Let's all help make sure this sells well so more Western series will be forthcoming!

...Last week Sony renamed its music building after the great composer-conductor John Williams.

...Tippi Hedren has just celebrated her 94th birthday.  Best wishes to her!

...MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - DEAD RECKONING PART ONE (2023) has been officially renamed. Going forward it will be known simply as MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - DEAD RECKONING.

...The latest reviews by CineSavant Glenn Erickson at Trailers From Hell include CABIN IN THE SKY (1943) from the Warner Archive Collection and ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW (1959) from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

...Last weekend I revisited one of my favorite comedies, EASY LIVING (1937), starring Jean Arthur and Ray Milland. I think it only gets funnier every time I see it! What a delight. Highly recommended.

...Vroman's Bookstore of Pasadena, in business since 1894, has announced it's for sale.

...I really enjoyed a new magazine article on Toby Roan and his DVD commentaries. You can read it at his site, 50 Westerns From the 50s.

...Here are some fun year-end viewing wrap-ups from Phyllis Loves Classic Movies, Rachel at Hamlette's Soliloquy, and Kristina at Speakeasy.

...Attention Southern Californians: THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946) will be screened at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater on Sunday evening, January 28th. The film will be introduced by Alison Macor, who will sign her book on the making of the film prior to the screening. My review of MAKING THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES may be read here.

...Notable Passings: Joyce Randolph of THE HONEYMOONERS (1955-56) has passed away at the age of 99...Actress Lynne Marta has died at 78. Her films included JOE KIDD (1972) with Clint Eastwood and FOOTLOOSE (1984). She guest starred in countless TV episodes between 1966 and 2004...Negative cutter Mo Henry has died at 67. Her work included JAWS (1975) and MONEYBALL (2011).

...For additional recent links of interest to classic film fans, please visit my January 13th column.

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