Saturday November 30, 2013
It's the beginning of the month once again and that means it's time to look back at all the classic movie stars and directors born in the month of December. A few are still with us, but all should be remembered for their contributions to film and for how deeply they touched our lives.
Saturday November 30, 2013
In case you've missed it, Turner Classic Movies, Columbia Pictures, and the Film Foundation joined forces last month to release a five-film box set featuring some off-the-radar titles directed by John Ford.
The set, John Ford: The Columbia Films Collection, contains three films that have never appeared on DVD in the Unites States before. The first is the Depression-era comedy The Whole Town's Talking (1935), starring Jean Arthur and Edward G. Robinson, whose flagging career was revived in part because of the film.
Also never before released on DVD is Gideon's Day (1958), which starred Jack Hawkins as a Scotland Yard inspector contending with crime on the streets and corruption in the precinct, and Two Rode Together (1961), a revisionist Western with touches of gothic horror starring James Stewart and Richard Widmark.
The final two films in the set have been previously released on DVD, but have since gone out of print. They include The Long Gray Line (1955), an inspirational biopic about Irish immigrant Marty Maher starring Tyrone Power and Ford favorite Maureen O'Hara, and The Last Hurrah (1958), starring Spencer Tracy as an aging politician waging his final campaign.
The John Ford: The Columbia Films Collection was released early last October.
DVD cover for 'John Ford: The Columbia Films Collection (2013)/Sony Pictures
Wednesday November 27, 2013
Yes, the perennial Christmas classic starring James Stewart in his most iconic performance is about to get the sequel treatment.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, independent production companies Star Partners and Hummingbird Productions have put the sequel into active development with an eye toward a theatrical release late next year. Granted, the two companies are outside the studio system, so no shame on Hollywood for trying to capitalize on a favorite classic movie. Yet.
Still, producers Allen J. Schwalb and Bob Farnsworth managed to raise $25-35 million for the production, according to Variety magazine. And they even managed to land original co-star Karolyn Grimes to appear in the film. Grimes played Stewart's young daughter, Zuzu, and is reportedly reprising the character as an angel for the sequel.
How did this all come about? Part of the story undoubtedly involves the original movie being in the public domain thanks to seeing its copyright lapse due to a clerical error in 1974. Paramount Pictures does hold home video rights to the original through the copyright of the source material, The Greatest Gift, so time will tell what's to happen with the sequel once it actually goes into production.
Donna Reed, James Stewart, and Karolyn Grimes in 'It's a Wonderful Life' (1946)/Paramount Pictures
Thursday November 14, 2013
In celebration of her 100th birthday this year, the Cohen Film Collection will release a four-movie set starring Vivien Leigh on Blu-ray.
Featuring some of Leigh's lesser-known titles, the collection will contain four pre-Gone With the Wind movies that the actress made in England: the comedy of manners Storm in a Teacup (1937); the period costume drama Fire Over England (1937), co-starring Laurence Olivier; the romantic spy drama Dark Journey (1937); and the showbiz melodrama St. Martin's Lane (1938).
The collection coincides with the acquisition of Leigh's personal archive by London's Victoria & Albert Museum earlier in the year. Among the vast amount of memorabilia were photographs, scripts with Leigh's personal notes, diaries, awards, and extensive correspondence with husband Olivier, as well as letters from the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Arthur Miller, and even Winston Churchill.
The Vivien Leigh Anniversary Collection will be released on Nov. 19th.
Cover for 'The Vivien Leigh Anniversary Collection' (2013)/The Cohen Film Collection