Finally. PBS Distribution has released the new American Masters program, Sammy Davis , Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, the first major film documentary to examine the performer’s vast career and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America. Sammy Davis, Jr. had the kind of career that was indisputably legendary, vast in scope and scale.
And yet, his life was complex, complicated and contradictory. Davis strove to achieve the American Dream in a time of racial prejudice and shifting political territory. He was a veteran of increasingly outdated show business traditions and worked tirelessly to stay relevant, even as he frequently found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America. Davis was the most public black figure to embrace Judaism, thereby yoking his identity to that of another persecuted minority. In Duke Ellington’s words, he was “beyond category.”
Featuring interviews with such luminaries as Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Novak, with never-before-seen photographs from Davis’ vast personal collection and footage of his electric performances, this film explores the life and art of a uniquely gifted entertainer whose trajectory highlighted the major flashpoints of American society from the Depression through the ’80s.
It was an era of monsters, madness and great movie-making. Dare you say the flicks have universal appeal?
Thirty of the most iconic cinematic masterpieces starring the most famous monsters of horror movie history come together on Blu-rayfor the first time ever in the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
This is the best DVD Box Set of the Year.
Featuring unforgettable make-up, ground-breaking special effects and outstanding performances, the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes all Universal Pictures’ legendary monsters from the studio that pioneered the horror genre with imaginative and technically groundbreaking tales of terror in unforgettable films from the ’30s to late-’50s.
From the era of silent movies through present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. The collection showcases all the original films featuring the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Starring some of the most legendary actors including Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these films set the standard for a new horror genre and showcase why these landmark movies that defined the horror genre are regarded as some of the most unforgettable ever to be filmed.
Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collectionincludes a 48-page collectible book filled with behind-the-scenes stories and rare production photographs and is accompanied by an array of bonus features including behind-the-scenes documentaries, the 1931 Spanish version of Dracula, Featurettes on Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jack Pierce, 13 expert feature commentaries, archival footage, production photographs, theatrical trailers and more. The perfect gift for any scary movie fan, the collection offers an opportunity to experience some of the most memorable horror films of our time.
The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Werewolf of London (1935), Dracula’s Daughter (1936), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (1942), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), Invisible Agent (1942),Phantom of the Opera (1943), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), House of Dracula (1945), She-Wolf of London (1946), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, and includes a 3D version), Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955), Revenge of the Creature (1955 and includes a 3D
Oh! We cried when we heard that tk was releasing this must-have collection of rarely-seen shorts made by two of filmdom’s most marevlous comedians. Restored from the original negatives, Thelma Todd & ZaSu Pitts: The Hal Roach Collection 1931-1933 (Kit Parker Films) features sexy, pre-code two-reel comedies showcasing Todd’s timeless beauty and impeccable comedic ability that wowed audiences during the Depression, tickling their funny bones as well.
The vivacious, talented and lovely Todd was Roach’s top female comedian, who in her short 29-year lifetime graced more than 100 films. This collection brings together all of the films from her collaboration with Pitts, a veteran character actress with wonderful comedy timing and delightful comedic gestures who proves a fine comic foil for the blonde beauty. These two-reel short comedies also feature the wonderful Hal Roach stock company of comedians: Billy Gilbert, James C. Morton, Charlie Hall, Anita Garvin, Bud Jamison, and others, as well as special collaborations with other top Hal Roach stars like Laurel and Hardy and Charley Chase.
More classic shorts can be found in ClassicFlix’s The Complete Hal Roach Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly Comedy Collection. For the first time on home video come all 21 of Hal Roach’s two-reelers starring the lovely Thelma Todd and the pugnacious Patsy Kelly.
These timeless shorts showcase the incredible comedic talents of an unsung duo who simply wanted to make audiences laugh—and succeeded.
Still more classic comedy can be found in Kit Parker Films’ Charley Chase: At Hal Roach: The Talkies Volume One 1930-31. Chase was a consistent box-office money and fun-maker for Roach during the silent and sound Eras.
Volume One is the beginning of the first comprehensive collection of Chase’s Roach talkie comedies, culled from 1930-31, years in which many of his films featured Charley’s frequent leading lady the lovely and vivacious Thelma Todd.
The box set De Palma & De Niro: The Early Films showcases the actor on the big screen for the first time and highlights the beginnings of his wonderful relationship with the legendary director. The collection includes three films from the iconic duo—The Wedding Party, Greetings and Hi, Mom!—all of which have been newly restored by Arrow Video. Bonus treasures include brand-new interviews, commentaries, trailers, artwork and writings. Don’t miss!
Missing your favorite pals from Bayside High? It’s alright, ’cause you’re Saved by the Bell. On October 2, Shout! Factory invites TV aficionados to a very special class reunion with the 16-disc collector’s release of Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection, a DVD set of the iconic and addictive ’90s Saturday morning sitcom.
Set in the fictional town of Palisades, California and in the hallways of Bayside High, the breezy adventures of Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and his friends — Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez), Jessie Myrtle Spano (Elizabeth Berkley), Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies), and Samuel “Screech” Powers (Dustin Diamond) — were a cultural touchstone for a generation of teens, changing teen programming forever and launching the careers of its break-out stars.
Now, home audiences can relive the laughter, lessons, and love all over again with this loaded set containing more than 46 incredible hours of Bayside bliss, including every episode from 1988’s Good Morning, Miss Bliss which became Saved By the Bell: The Junior High Years and the fan-favorite Saved by the Bell to Saved By the Bell: The College Years and the two feature-length TV movies that followed.
From 1989 to 1993, for a generation of TV viewers, Saved by the Bell was the show that perfectly echoed their lives in middle school and high school. Originally titled Good Morning, Miss Bliss with Hayley Mills in the title role, the first thirteen episodes of the series featured Zack, Screech, Lisa and Mr. Belding, and was based at John F. Kennedy Junior High in Indianapolis. Following its cancellation, NBC retooled the show as Saved by the Bell and the rest is history…and math, and science, and…
Across 86 glorious episodes, audiences followed the memorable experiences and adventures of Zack and the gang. And, following graduation, Zack, Kelly, Slater and Screech enrolled at California University where the successful franchise could matriculate with the prime-time sitcom, Saved by the Bell: The College Years. The series finally wrapped with two feature-length, prime time TV movies, Hawaiian Style, which brought the Bayside bunch to the Big Island for a wacky Waikiki adventure and Wedding in Las Vegas, which saw the on-again, off-again lovebirds Zack and Kelly make their relationship official on a day the gang will never forget.
Get ready for a laugh in the cult-classic comedy that has captured everyone’s hearts with The Big Lebowski 20th Anniversary Limited Edition (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment). Fans can relive the hilariously freewheeling plot of one of the most beloved films of all-time with the twisted crime-comedy starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro. This is the perfect gift for any fan and the exclusive set includes a collectible bag, bowling ball pencil holder, polishing cloth and sweater packaging offering an experience like no other.
With unforgettable scenes and outrageous humor, The Big Lebowski 20th Anniversary Edition showcases hours of bonus features including retrospective documentaries, an interactive map, an in-depth look at the phenomenon known as the Lebowski Fest taking audiences deeper than ever before into the upside down world of “The Dude.”
For more than 50 years, The Three Stooges’ orgy of pie-throwing, eye-poking and head-bonking routines cracked up multiple generations. They were the masters of mirth, merriment and mayhem, turning slapstick comedy into an art form. Now, one of the greatest comedy troupes of all time is here to poke, smack, slap and bonk their way onto your screens with The Best of Three Stooges. Time Life has brought together the Stooges’ greatest hits in one exclusive collection.
The collection boasts 13 discs, in which viewers will yuk it up with more than 45 hours of knee-slapping content brought together for the very first time. The set features more than 45 hours of hysterics . . .including all the Columbia Pictures shorts (1934-1945); four feature films (the biopic The Three Stooges; Have Rocket, Will Travel; The Outlaws is Coming and Rockin’ in the Rockies); vintage animated cartoons, the 9-part documentary Hey Moe! Hey Dad! which takes fans behind the scenes with the family of The Three Stooges as they share never-before-seen footage and photos. The best of The Three Stooges is available only at ThreeStoogesDVDs.com
To celebrate the 100th birthday of television’s original genius, Shout factory has released an amazing collection of volumes of groundbreaking, rule-breaking, surreal and charmingly silly comedy of Ernie Kovacs. Included are more than 22 hours of decidedly offbeat entertainment from across his many television shows and specials, all of which showcase an utterly unique sensibility that has influenced such comedy institutions as Monty Python and SNL.
* Episodes From His Local And National Morning Shows
* Episodes From His NBC Prime-Time Show
* Kovacs On Music
* Five ABC TV Specials
* The Color Version of His Legendary Silent Show, Eugene
* His Award-Winning Commercials For Dutch Masters Cigars
* Short Films, Tributes, Rarities
* 18 Bonus Sketches Featuring Many Of His Most Beloved Characters
* 3 Complete Episodes of His Offbeat Game Show Take A Good Look
* A Pony For Chris: His Rare TV Pilot for Medicine Man Co-Starring Buster Keaton
* The Lively Arts, Featuring The Only Existing Filmed Solo Interview With Ernie Kovacs
* 2011 American Cinematheque Panel
Without Sid Caesar, comedy would have been a lot less funny.
In 1949, television was an infant technology. No one knew how long it would last . . . or whether it would last at all. A 27-year-old Broadway star, along with a team of writers and performers who would become legendary, including Imogene Coca, Nanette Fabray, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon, and Woody Allen, revolutionized sketch comedy by telling stories rooted in the human condition. They redefined television sketch comedy, and paved the way for landmark comedy shows like Saturday Night Live.
Sid Caesar The Works is a comprehensive five-disc collection of the best work of Caesar and his teams, beginning with The Admiral Broadway Review, through Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour, and featuring many interviews and extras, including the 2014 Paley Center For Media Tribute with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Billy Crystal.
Uncensored, electric, intense and unfailingly hilarious, Robin Williams made it his life’s work to make people laugh–whether he was holding forth on culture, politics, the human body or drugs–with razor-sharp wit and insight.
Time Life, in conjunction with the Trustees of the Robin Williams Trust, celebrates his incomparable career with Robin Williams: Comic Genius.
Available exclusively at RobinWilliams.com, this definitive collection of Williams’ comedy highlights arrives as interest in his life and career increases in the wake of HBO’s critically acclaimed documentary, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind from Emmy-winning director Marina Zenovich and Oscar-winning producer Alex Gibney, and Dave Itzkoff’s biography Robin, a New York Times best-seller.
The 22-disc collection spans Williams’ memorable 40-year career, from his uproarious turn as lovable alien Mork and his legendary HBO stand-up specials to his numerous appearances on late night.
Also available is a singular 12 disc collection featuring more than 60 performances and 30 hours of peerless comedy, along with a bonus disc containing the HBO documentary and the memory book.
Looking to hitch on something Slick . . . other than grace? How about City Slickers, the uproarious 1991 buddy comedy,starring Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby, Daniel Stern and Jack Palance, The slick flick is being reissued by Shout Select on a treasure-laden Blu-ray featuring a new 4K scan, audio commentary from director Rob Underwood, Crystal and Stern, oodles of specially-created featurettes and deleted scenes. The film is released October 16; order from shoutfactory.com and receive a free 18-inch by 24-inch rolled poster featuring brand new artwork.
This insightful, delightful comedy about cowboys, careers and midlife crises stars Crystal as 39-year-old New Yorker Mitch Robbins, who’s tired of his job and bored with his life. So he and his two best friends (Kirby and Stern) trade their briefcases for saddlebags and set out to find freedom and adventure herding cattle under the wide New Mexico sky. But what they discover instead is scorching sun, sore backsides . . . and more about themselves and each other than they ever thought possible. Aside from the trio of fish-out-of-water urbanites, City Slickers also stars the inimitable Jack Palance, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as leathery trail boss, Curly.
The laughs ended in August 2014 when Robin Williams killed himself at 63. His death not only raised questions about how and why it had happened, but also prompted reassessments of his extraordinary life and career. F or anyone with the slightest acquaintance with popular culture over the past four decades, he seemed to be everywhere, from stand-up to TV, movies, and late-night talk shows, with an uncanny sense of the zeitgeist matched by few others.
Now, Dave Itzkoff presents a full and revealing portrait of one of the most beloved and original comedians and actors of our time in Robin(Henry Holt and Company, $30). Illuminating both the man and the performer, Itzkoff draws on more than one hundred interviews with Robin’s family, friends, and colleagues, as well his own encounters and interviews with Williams over the years. Included are insights from fellow comedians, actors, and collaborators such as Billy Crystal, David Letterman, Pam Dawber, Dana Carvey, Barry Levinson, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Jeff Bridges and Bobcat Goldthwait.
Among the topics covered and the news-making revelations offered are:
The largely untold story of Robin’s family background and his privileged but lonely upbringing in the upscale suburbs of Detroit, where he entertained himself with make-believe and toy soldiers. As Itzkoff shows, Robin was indelibly shaped by both his father—a stern, self-made auto industry executive—and his glamorous, eccentric and funny Southern mother.
How Robin was first exposed to improvisational comedy and acting through a stray course at prestigious Claremont College, and later honed his talents at the humbler College of Marin. Sharp-eyed mentors there eased his way into the elite acting program at the Juilliard School in New York City, where his fellow students included Christopher Reeve, who became one of his closest friends.
How Robin burst into local prominence in San Francisco and Los Angeles during the stand-up comedy boom of the 1970s, and quickly became known as a rising star. Candid interviews with his first wife, Valerie Velardi, who has not spoken on the record in years, reveal how he began to indulge heavily in cocaine and alcohol, and how his hidden vulnerabilities, self-doubt, and deep loneliness helped to fuel his addictions.
The improbable circumstances that got Robin cast in a guest-starring role as Mork from Ork on the hit television series Happy Days after Henry Winkler’s Fonzie character literally “jumped the shark.” (Producer Garry Marshall’s young son loved Star Wars and said TV needed more aliens.) That one appearance was such a sensation that it soon resulted in Robin getting his own ABC sitcom, Mork & Mindy.
How Robin’s substance abuse led to a personal crisis, and to John Belushi’s hotel bungalow in Los Angeles on the night the Saturday Night Live star died of an overdose. Belushi’s death convinced Robin to swear off drugs and alcohol for the next 20 years, but his sobriety could not repair the damage he had caused to his first marriage.
How Robin’s failure to win an Oscar the first three times he was nominated weighed heavily on him, until he finally took home an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting.
Robin’s own unflinchingly honest assessment of how he relapsed into alcoholism, which ended his two-decade-long marriage to his second wife and close collaborator, Marsha Garces. He then had to struggle simultaneously with addiction, divorce, and open-heart surgery.
The most complete and balanced account of Robin’s decline and death. Drawing on official autopsy results, Itzkoff concludes that Robin’s suicide was not a result of depression or substance abuse, as had been widely assumed, or from Parkinson’s Disease, as his own family had originally believed, but from a little-known and often misdiagnosed condition called Lewy Body Dementia.
Previously unpublished tributes from Robin’s private memorial service, including remembrances from his three children; his close friends Billy Crystal, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Eric Idle.
Details of the bitter legal conflict over Robin’s estate. The courtroom battle exposed long-simmering tensions between Robin’s children and his third wife Susan Schneider, to whom he had been married for less than three years.
As Itzkoff notes, there is no actor or comedian today who can be considered Robin’s protégé or his heir, although he inspired many performers. He had many admirers but no imitators—no one who tried to do what he did the way he did it. When he died, his reputation for joyfulness and humor stood in stark contrast to the sad and solitary manner in which his life came to an end. Inevitably, people asked, Who was he? What was behind all the accents and characters, the blurs of motion and flashes of energy? How much did he truly reveal and how much did he keep hidden?
“Some part of him would be present in every set and stand-up role he played,” Itzkoff writes, “but in their totality these things did not add up to him. The real Robin was a modest, almost inconspicuous man, who never fully believed he was worthy of the monumental fame, adulation, and accomplishments he would achieve. He shared the authentic person at his core with considerable reluctance, but he also felt obliged to give a sliver of himself to anyone he encountered even fleetingly. It wounded him deeply to think that he had denied a memorable Robin Williams experience to anyone who wanted it, yet the people who spent years by his side were left to feel that he had kept some fundamental part of himself concealed, even from them.” [p. 3]
With ROBIN, Dave Itzkoff gives us a comprehensive and revelatory portrait yet of a performer loved and admired by millions for his generosity of spirit, his quickness of mind, the laughter he sparked, and the hopefulness he inspired. Nearly four years after the passing of Robin Williams, it will be eagerly read by anyone seeking to understand who he truly was.
PBS Distribution is ready to thank him for the memories. They have just released American Masters: This is Bob Hope on DVD and Digital HD. During his eight-decade career, Hope was the only performer to achieve top-rated success in every form of mass entertainment: vaudeville, Broadway, movies, radio, television, popular songs and personal appearances, including his annual USO Christmas military tours and hosting the Academy Awards more times than anyone else.
A comedy innovator, Hope invented the topical monologue that later became a late-night TV staple and comedy tropes like talking while backing up. He refined a spontaneous, conversational, improvisational style of comedy as a vaudeville master of ceremonies that created a blueprint for acerbic stand-up comics.
Written, directed and produced by John Scheinfeld, the documentary presents a candid look at a remarkable life. With unprecedented access to Hope’s personal archives, including writings voiced by Billy Crystal and clips from Hope’s body of work to reveal a gifted individual who recognized the power of fame, the documentary presents Hope’s handling of celebrity with extraordinary wit and grace, becoming a model for public service in Hollywood.
The program features new interviews with Woody Allen, Dick Cavett, Margaret Cho, daughter Linda Hope, Kermit the Frog, film critic/historian Leonard Maltin, Conan O’Brien, Tom Selleck, Brooke Shields, Connie Stevens and biographer Richard Zoglin (Hope: Entertainer of the Century). Edited to evoke the fast, fun pace of Hope’s classic monologues, clips include highlights from numerous TV specials, his Pepsodent radio shows and classic films like TheCat and the Canary, My Favorite Blonde, his iconic Road pictures with Bing Crosby, and The Big Broadcast of 1938, featuring his signature song “Thanks for the Memory.”
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