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The Killer Elite

by Shawn Stone October 23, 2014

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  Sam Peckinpah’s 1974 spy thriller The Killer Elite, new on Blu-ray from the boutique, Internet-only specialty label Twilight Time, is a movie that’s gloriously of its time. Practically every scene is infused with post-Watergate, post-Vietnam ...

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A Really Big Show

by Shawn Stone September 25, 2014

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  After Stanley Kramer’s 1963 smash It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, “big” comedies became the fashion. Traditionally, comedies were usually 90 minutes or less; after Mad squared, Hollywood considered comedy a genre worthy of ...

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Our Nixon

by Shawn Stone April 3, 2014

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  Penny Lane’s archival-footage documentary about Richard Nixon, Our Nixon, is a delightful addition to the canon of films, novels, histories and operas about the 37th President of the United States—the only one of that illustrious ...

Show Boat

by Shawn Stone March 12, 2014

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  Warner Home Video has been planning to do a Show Boat box set for years. They own all three movie versions of Edna Ferber’s tale of turn-of-the-century riverboat entertainers: an oddball 1929 part-talkie that isn’t ...

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

by B.A. Nilsson February 20, 2014

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  Fifty years later, the sought-after amount ($300,000) seems even more pitifully tiny, but the pursuit of that stash of cash has lost none of its plausibility. These people want that money and are prepared to ...

Royal Flash

by Shawn Stone February 20, 2014

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  In 1975, Richard Lester followed up his smashing Three Musketeers films with Royal Flash, casting the ever-insolent Malcolm McDowell as a globetrotting rake of an English officer named Harry Flashman. Flashman, the Victorian antihero of ...

Becoming Hitch

by Shawn Stone March 20, 2013

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  Even more than Olive Films’ extraordinary edition of John Ford’s The Quiet Man, this Criterion Collection restoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s original version of The Man Who Knew Too Much is my favorite Blu-ray so far ...

Classic Hollywood

by Shawn Stone March 20, 2013

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  “Grand Hotel . . . always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.” This is the stock observation of one Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone), the war-maimed physician-in-residence at Berlin’s opulent Grand Hotel—or, to be ...

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The Year in Video

by Shawn Stone January 3, 2013

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  Best of 2012   1. Lonesome Paul Fejos’ moving drama is about a couple of New York City nobodies finding each other, falling in love, and losing each other on a Coney Island afternoon. A rediscovered treasure. (Criterion) 2. ...

Man Out of Time

by B.A. Nilsson November 20, 2012

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  The six-DVD set that Shout! Factory released last year was as wonderful a bounty of Ernie Kovacs material as you could desire, righting the wrong inflicted by an earlier collection that chopped his shows to ...

Bargain Bin

by Shawn Stone October 25, 2012

  There’s only one DVD in this edition, but it’s a terrific find: Walt Disney’s 1944 love letter to South America, The Three Caballeros. As the fun begins, it’s Donald Duck’s birthday. The irascible quacker receives a ...

The Other Gamine

by Shawn Stone October 25, 2012

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  Audrey Hepburn personified the zeitgeist as the 1950s equivalent of today’s “pixie girl,” and generation after generation has continued to identify with her image. Yet the Dutch-born gamine did have rivals, and the best of ...

Steve Martin: The Television Stuff

by Shawn Stone September 26, 2012

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  In the 1970s, Steve Martin was one of those guys who remade stand-up comedy. While Richard Pryor and George Carlin were changing comedy from the outside, tackling topics and using language previously reserved for comics ...

Lonesome

by Shawn Stone September 7, 2012

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This is the most unexpected and delightful video release of the year. The Criterion Collection has rescued a lovely, generally unknown gem from the oblivion of archival and festival showings. Lonesome, which was made on ...

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Airport

by Shawn Stone September 7, 2012

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In 1969, Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider lured the hippies and fellow travelers into America’s increasingly empty movie theaters with its rangy story of drugs, sex and the search for freedom on the road. It grossed ...

Centennial Summer

by Shawn Stone May 30, 2012

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  Hollywood is old. Two of the earliest surviving studios, Paramount and Universal, turn 100 this year. Universal Home Video is promoting its parent’s centennial with film restorations and ballyhoo. The ballyhoo takes the form of wrapping ...

Starstruck

by Shawn Stone May 30, 2012

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Back in the VHS era, Paramount’s editions of Wings and other silent films were very nice, but ultimately less impressive than MGM/UA’s editions of silent classics. Titles like King Vidor’s comic homage to Hollywood, Show ...

Wizards 35th Anniversary Edition

by Shawn Stone April 4, 2012

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When Wizards was released in 1977, it turned Hollywood’s view of feature animation on its head. The film’s success proved that there was a market for more than children’s fairy tales (though Wizards was consciously ...

Bargain Bin

by Shawn Stone April 4, 2012

I was going to call this edition of the cutout column “Bargain Burt,” as it features two 1970s vehicles for then-superstar Burt Reynolds. But that wouldn’t be fair to Reynolds’ costar in both comedies, Jill ...

Blessed Event, Fast Workers

by Shawn Stone March 7, 2012

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The talkies had been around for six years, but the movies had never seen a motor-mouthed monster quite like Lee Tracy when he exploded on the scene in 1932. That year the Georgia-born Tracy, who ...

Isle of Lost Souls

by Shawn Stone November 16, 2011

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Melodrama doesn’t get much juicier than William A. Wellman’s precode sizzler Safe in Hell. We meet the heroine, a New Orleans hooker named Gilda, as she gets an outcall and dresses for work. She meets ...

A’s and B’s

by Shawn Stone October 6, 2011

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The term “B picture” means something quite different today, but in the heyday of the studio system it meant a feature running less than 90 minutes, in a popular genre, made to fill the lower ...

Bargain Bin

by Shawn Stone August 25, 2011

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Funny Face: The Centennial Collection How many times have Paramount Home Video repackaged their Audrey Hepburn titles? Well, they haven’t released Blu-ray editions yet of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sabrina, Roman Holiday, Paris When It Sizzles ...

Urban Fairy Tales

by Shawn Stone July 27, 2011

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Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild is an adventurous romance that’s funny and dark, energizing and violent. It begins and ends in a multicultural New York City where identities and sexuality are fluid, a rainbow of groups ...

Crime On Demand

by Shawn Stone July 6, 2011

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After a slow start, MGM’s manufactured-on-demand (MOD) disc program—which is administered, like their regular Blu-ray and DVD releases, by Twentieth Century Fox—suddenly became very active this year, with, most recently, 29 new releases in June. ...