Gene Wilder, RIP.

Wilder Wonka

The great Gene Wilder has passed away. For those of us who grew up in the 70s, he was in so much good stuff — Bonnie And Clyde (1967), The Producers (1968), Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971, above), Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974) and many more.

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Wilder with Zero Mostel and Kenneth Mars in Mel Brooks’ The Producers. When you have Mostel, Mars and Wilder in the same frame, how can it not be funny?

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Filed under 1967, 1968, 1971, 1974, Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks

Blu-ray News #73: Chandu The Magician (1932).

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Directed by William Cameron Menzies
Starring Edmond Lowe, Bela Lugosi, Irene Ware

After the previous post on the six-picture set of Pre-Code horror, I should mention a release I somehow let get past me. Kino Lorber has just released the 1932 Bela Lugosi picture Chandu The Magician on Blu-ray. It was directed by William Cameron Menzies and shot by the great James Wong Howe — and it’s often visually stunning.

The story around this one’s a bit complicated. Chandu The Magician movie was based on the popular radio show, with Edmond Lowe as Chandu and Lugosi as Roxor. It would be followed by The Return Of Chandu (1934), a 12-chapter serial — this time, Lugosi played Chandu. In 1935, the serial was edited down to feature length and released as Chandu On The Magic Island. Got that?

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, Kino Lorber, Pre-Code

DVD News #72: Hollywood Legends Of Horror Collection.

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If you like Weird, then you need to spend some time with the Horror films of the 1930s. And with this six-picture set, Warner Archive gives you a chance to jump right into the deep end.

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Doctor X (1932)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Starring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Lee Tracy

The Return of Doctor X (1939)
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Starring Wayne Morris, Rosemary Lane, Humphrey Bogart

Let’s get this straight right off the bat: The Return Of Doctor X is not a sequel to Doctor X. The first one was shot in the early two-color Technicolor process. The Return Of Doctor X is one of the films Bogart didn’t like to talk about.

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Tod Browning directs Caroll Borland and Bela Lugosi

Mark Of The Vampire (1935)
Directed by Tod Browning
Starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill

Tod Browning directs a talkie remake of one the great lost Silents, his own London After Midnight (1927) starring Lon Chaney.

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The Mask Of Fu Manchu (1932)
Directed by Charles Brabin
Starring Boris Karloff, Myrna Loy, Lewis Stone

Karloff is the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu, wearing what appear to be his Frankenstein boots. Myrna Loy is his equally-evil daughter. This thing has to be seen to be believed.

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Basil Gogos’ painting of Peter Lorre for Famous Monsters #63

Mad Love (AKA The Hands Of Orlac, 1935)
Directed by Karl Freund
Starring Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive

The great cinematographer Karl Freund’s last film as director — he also directed The Mummy (1932). And of course, he was the director of photography for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) and I Love Lucy (he developed the flat-light system, and perfected the three-camera setup, that are still used in TV today).

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Tod Browning and Lionel Barrymore

The Devil-Doll (1936)
Directed by Tod Browning
Starring Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O’Sullivan

For this creepy crime picture, Tod Browning revisits some of the ideas of his The Unholy Three (1930), Lon Chaney’s only sound film — which they’d already made as a Silent in 1925.

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, MGM, Pre-Code, Tod Browning, Warner Archive

DVD & Blu-ray News #71: Batman — Return Of The Caped Crusaders (2016).

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How do you save Hollywood circa 2016? Pretend it’s still 1966. With the animated Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders (2016), Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar are back as Batman, Robin and Catwoman.

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It’ll be out on DVD and Blu-ray in November. Can’t wait.

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Filed under 1966, Adam West, Julie Newmar

Making Movies: Bonnie And Clyde (1967).

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I’ve always loved Bonnie And Clyde (1967) — and always been fascinated by how it all came about.

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Here’s Arthur Penn, Gene Hackman and Warren Beatty — obviously shooting the scene where Buck Barrow gets shot.

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This one spares me the trouble of writing anything.

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This is the scene where Bonnie and Clyde meet C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard).

Ranchman Cafe ad

The real Bonnie and Clyde robbed the bank in Ponder, Texas. The Ranchman Cafe ran this ad after the movie people came to town. The cafe is still there — and they claim John Wayne ate there, too.

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One of the great achievements of Bonnie And Clyde, as I see it, is how well it captures the rural Texas way of life. My grandparents lived in Strawn — not far from the National Guard Armory in Ranger, robbed by Bonnie and Clyde. Aside from all the shooting, the movie feels a lot like my summer visits to towns like Strawn, Breckenridge and Albany.

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It (and The Beverly Hillbillies) also introduced me to bluegrass.

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Filed under 1967, Arthur Penn, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, John Wayne, Making Movies, Warren Beatty

DVD/Blu-ray News #70: The Monster Of Piedras Blancas (1959).

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Directed by Irvin Berwick
Starring Jeanne Carmen, Les Tremayne, John Harmon, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, Pete Dunn

This horror picture was completed for less than $30,000. But when it comes to 50s monster movies, it’s often the cheaper, the better. Maybe better isn’t quite the word for it.

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The Monster Of Piedras Blancas (1959) is cheap, somewhat gory and a whole lotta fun. It was clearly inspired by The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954). And Olive Films is bringing it to Blu-ray in September. Can’t wait.

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Filed under 1959, DVD/Blu-ray News, Olive Films

Blu-ray News #69: The Marx Bros. At Paramount.

Monkey Business LC

Of The Marx Brothers’ five Paramounts, Duck Soup (1933) is widely considered the best. My favorite’s Monkey Business (1931), for the simple reason that it makes me laugh the most. The other three are The Cocoanuts (1929), Animal Crackers (1930) and Horse Feathers (1932). Their MGM pictures are more polished — but as I see it, polish and the Marx Brothers make an odd match.

Universal’s put together a Blu-ray set of these classics, which have been available in a terrific DVD collection for years. Called The Mark Brothers Silver Screen Blu-ray Collection, it’ll be out in October. Dear God, these are funny movies.

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Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Paramount, Universal (-International)