Tag Archives: Fred Astaire

PETRUCELLI PICKS: 2019 GIFT GUIDE: THE BEST COFFEETABLE BOOKS OF THE YEAR

Don’t have the $62,545 to plop down for a Jaguar Sedan 30T Prestige AWD? The let us steer you to the magnificently large four-pounder Jaguar: The Art of the Automobile (Mitchell Beazley, $50), exploring 100 years of outstanding luxury cars, with never-before-seen images and material from the Jaguar archives.
This official book dives into Jaguar’s archives for stunning photography and detailed reports of its most memorable models – including many never-before-seen images – showcasing celebrated cars such as the E-Type, XK120, XJS and XKR-S.


Lee Krasner, one of the twentieth century’s most inspiring women artists and a pioneer of abstract expressionism,  has for too long been eclipsed by her husband, Jackson Pollock. In fact, his death in 1956 marked her renaissance as an artist.
Coinciding with a major exhibition at London’s Barbican Art Gallery, Lee Krasner (Thames & Hudson, $50) features an outstanding selection of her most important paintings, collages, and works on paper, contextualized by photography from the postwar period, an illustrated chronology, and an unpublished interview with her biographer Gail Levin. Paint this a masterpiece!


From Anything Goes to Kiss Me, Kate, Cole Porter left a lasting legacy of iconic songs including “You’re the Top,” “Love For Sale,” and “Night and Day.” Yet, alongside his professional success, Porter led an eclectic personal life which featured exuberant parties, scandalous affairs and chronic health problems. The Letters of Cole Porter (Yale University Press,  $35) features an extensive collection of letters (most of which are published here for the first time) dates from the first decade of the twentieth century to the early ’60s and features correspondence with stars such as Irving Berlin, Ethel Merman and Orson Welles, as well as his friends and male/female lovers.
Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh complement these letters with lively commentaries that draw together the loose threads of Porter’s life and highlight the distinctions between Porter’s public and private existence. This book reveals surprising insights into his attitudes toward Hollywood and Broadway, and toward money, love, and dazzling success.


teNeues continues to publish books so lavish, so brimming with breathtaking photography that they will impress you again and again . . . no matter how many times you pick them up.
Our picks for this year’s best:
Lions ($55)
In this new photo book, French photographer Laurent Baheux journeys across Africa to capture the lion in all its intricate facets. The result is a sensitive and intimate photo portrait that shows the big cat in all its nuance: at once powerful, fragile, and tender. His stunning black-and-white lion photographs show this feline animal with the precision and texture of a studio portrait—its many different movements, postures, behaviors, and expressions captured with startling intimacy.
Playing among the pride, out hunting its prey, or eyeing us directly from the page, Baheux’s lion photography is as much a tribute to the lion’s character, power, and feeling as it is a haunting reminder that this most impressive of animals is also among the most endangered wildlife on earth.

Have you ever wondered what your cat would look like if he or she were human? What clothes would they want to wear? Turn to a most purr-fect gem: Cats ($35).
Cat: Portraits of eighty-eight Cats & one very wise Zebra From simple animal photos, self-styled cat whisperer and graphic Tein Lucasson creates high-quality digital images that capture our feline friends in different outfits: whether an elegant Siamese cat in a cashmere sweater, a proud Persian in an aristocratic uniform, or the characterful house cat in a top hat.

Golf: The Ultimate Book ($65) introduces the most exclusive, sophisticated and spectacular golf resorts in the world. These are golfing holiday destinations that score not only with sophisticated layouts in charming landscapes—whether against alpine mountain scenery or tropical sandy beaches—but also with wonderful rooms, outstanding food and comprehensive wellness offers.
Golf: The Ultimate BookEach prestigious golf resort is presented with an expert review, covering its benefits on and off the fairways and greens. The sections on resorts are interspersed with background information and amusing anecdotes, capturing the history and contemporary world of golfing.  And the color photos! Up to par and then some.

Stefan Rappo’s nude photography strikes an intriguing note between intimacy and distance. At first, the viewer feels a certain distance, and in the next moment they are entangled in the picture’s tangible tensions and emotions.
NudeA longtime assistant to Peter Lindbergh and a renowned portrait photographer, Rappo has found his own nude pictorial language that focuses on the female form—at times drawing on the studio tradition and at others reveling in the body in motion. Nude ($55), Rappo’s first publication, brings together some of his favorite nude photographs, indispensable for those who love nude photography.


Marilyn was right: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. And oh! How she would have drolled over the baubles and beauties featured in Jewels and Jewelry (Thames & Hudson, tk), an exquisite and accessible history of jewels and jewelry kept safely in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, from the Middle Ages to today.
An impeccably researched and insightful look into the evolution of jewelry through the ages, Jewels and Jewelry is a treasured resource for students, professionals, collectors, and lovers of jewelry alike.


Armchair travelers with savor the 25 great expeditions explorer and survivalist Ed Stafford curates in Expeditions Unpacked: What the Great Explorers Took into the Unknown (White Lion Publishing, $45). Through carefully curated photographs and specially commissioned illustrations we witness the scale, style and complexity of the items taken into the unknown by the greatest explorers of all time, and the impact each item had on their journey.  Conquering fears and mountains, adversity and wild jungles, each item these explorers flew, pulled or hauled played a crucial role in their ambitious and dangerous missions to find out a little more about our world.
Expeditions Unpacked: What the Great Explorers Took into the Unknown Some of the items packed (and unpacked) by the famaous folk include Roald Amundsen who, on his race to the Pol, took snowshoes, a Primus stove, a piano, a violin and a  gramophone; Tim Slessor, on the first overland from London to Singapore, took machetes, a crowbar, z typewriter, a Remington dry shaver and tea); Nellie Bly, who, on her historic trip around the world in 72 days, packed Mumm champagne, an accordion, a silk waterproof wrap and dark gloves).


Vogue is still in vogue. Big time, just like the lavish and oversized  (six pounds!) slipcased 1950s in Vogue (Thames & Hudson, $95). Illustrated by fashion’s greatest photographs of the era when the magazine became the cultural force it is today. It’s a stunning tribute to Jessica Daves, one of only seven editors in chief in American Vogue’s history; it is she who first catapulted the magazine into modernity.
1950s in Vogue: The Jessica Daves Years, 1952-1962Organized in multifaceted, thematic chapters, 1950s in Vogue features carefully curated photographs (more than 200), illustrations and page spreads from the Vogue archives (with iconic images as well as lesser-known wonders), and unpublished photographs and letters from Daves’s personal archives. Revealing a fascinating and hitherto little-explored moment in Vogue history, 1950s in Vogue is a must-have reference for lovers of fashion, photography, and style.


Leonardo by Leonardo (Callaway Arts & Entertainment, $125), a landmark publication on Leonardo da Vinci written by Martin J. Kemp, one of the world’s leading authorities on Leonardo da Vinci, presents an astonishing gallery of the master’s 27 existing paintings, as well as the preparatory drawings that formed the basis of his masterpieces. Martin J. Kemp’s narrative is accompanied by extensive written reflections by Leonardo, and is further highlighted by perspectives from his contemporaries.
Leonardo by Leonardo: Leonardo da VinciKemp takes us inside the world of each masterwork: the artist’s relationship to his patrons; how and why the works were commissioned; their iconography and symbology; the experimental painting techniques he applied; stories of how the paintings survived and changed owners across the centuries; restoration and condition; and finally, the unsolved puzzles that remain to this day.
The utmost care and state-of-the-art digital capture technology has been applied to the new photography of the artworks presented in this collection. No expense has been spared to reproduce the artworks with the highest fidelity to color, tone, and surface. The quality of imaging, ultra-fine resolution printing, archival paper, and binding has produced a book like no other. The result is a power and intimacy between artist and viewer that takes us inside the artist’s mind, eye and spirit.
Truly the most lavish and important coffeetable book of the year.


Women (National Geographic , $50), a powerful photography collection, drawn from the celebrated National Geographic archive, reveals the lives of women from around the globe, accompanied by revelatory new interviews and portraits of contemporary trailblazers including Oprah Winfrey, Jane Goodall and Christiane Amanpour.
Women: The National Geographic Image CollectionNow, in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, this bold and inspiring book mines 130 years of photography to showcase their past, their present and their future. With more than 400 stunning images from more than 50 countries, each page of this glorious book offers compelling testimony about what it means to be female, from historic suffragettes to the haunting, green-eyed “Afghan girl.” The ultimate coffee table book, this iconic collection provides definitive proof that the future is female.


What better way to celebrate, on the 20th anniversary of the seven-time Emmy-winning animated TV series, than with Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History (Dey Street Books, $34.99), a fully illustrated, full-color visual guide honoring its reign. From storyboards to character sketches to script excerpts to cast and crew interviews, tome gives that huge family of fans exclusive access behind the scenes.
Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated HistoryThere are also exclusive interviews with crew and cast members, including Seth MacFarlane (who wrote the book’s intro), Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Alex Borstein, and Mike Henry. The world of Family Guy and its memorable characters has never been revealed in such gorgeous detail before.


Few wine books can be called classic, but the first edition of The World Atlas of Wine (Mitchell Beazley, $65) made publishing history when it appeared in 1971. It was recognized by critics as the essential and most authoritative wine reference work available. Drink in the eighth edition, a guide that brings readers, both old and new, up to date with the world of wine.
The World Atlas of Wine 8th EditionTo reflect all the changes in the global wine scene over the past six years, the Atlas has grown in size to 416 pages and 22 new maps have been added to the wealth of superb cartography in the book. The text has been given a complete overhaul to address the topics of most vital interest to today’s wine-growers and drinkers.


Let us steer you to the perfect companion of all things die-cast and delightful. Hot Wheels: From 0 to 50 at 1:64 Scale (Motorbooks, $24.99) shares the inspiring journey of the teeny vehicles that started out as a new twist on toy cars and became a worldwide phenomenon. Officially licensed with Mattel, this in-depth retrospective reveals what makes these cars unique, how the models are designed, and all the work that goes into the play to ensure Hot Wheels maintain their position as the greatest toy cars ever made.
This special commemorative book is lavishly illustrated with rare design drawings and prototypes from Mattel’s archives, fantastic photos of all of the great Hot Wheels vehicles from across their 50-plus year history, and a feature gatefold illustrated with rare Hot Wheels catalog art. It’s the perfect vehicle for Hot Wheels fans of all ages!


You know his name, proudly listed among film credits for dozens of M-G-M classics. Cedric Gibbons, Hollywood’s most famous art director, was the supervisor in charge of the art department at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios from its inception in 1924 until Gibbons chose to retire in 1956. Lavishly illustrated with over 175 pristine duotone photographs (the vast majority of which have never before been published), MGM Style: Cedric Gibbons and the Art of the Golden Age of Hollywood (Lyons Press, $45) is the first book to trace Gibbons’ career.
MGM Style: Cedric Gibbons and the Art of the Golden Age of HollywoodAt its height in the late ’30s and early ’40s, he was regularly acknowledged by his peers as having shaped the craft of art direction in American film; his work was recognized as representing the finest in motion picture sets and settings. Gibbons championed the notion that movie decor should move beyond the commercial framework of the popular cinema. And he did, brilliantly so, over and over and over . . .


It’s easy to say Supreme Glamour (Thames & Hudson, $40) is a supreme book.  Sumptuously illustrated, engaging and insightful, Mary Wilson charts the glittering story of The Supremes, who became synonymous with glamorous, elegant, coordinated ensembles .
The book presents founding member Mary Wilson’s unparalleled collection, showcasing 32 of the group’s most eye-catching gowns, meticulously reassembled and photographed on the Grammy Museum stage.
Detailed captions accompany each photograph, providing information about the design, fabric, and embellishments of each ensemble, as well as the occasion on which each was first worn. Packed with anecdotes and insights, Wilson also tells the complete story of The Supremes, both on- and off- stage. Wait! Sssh. Listen closely. I think I hear a symphony.


On a Thursday in 2019, a small army of photographers and videographers scattered across the globe to capture what goes on beyond those tantalizing “Cast Members Only” Disney doors. All the photos in One Day at Disney: Meet the People Who Make the Magic Across the Globe (Disney Editions, $50) were taken on that single day, beginning early in Tokyo and following the sun around the world through Shanghai, Hong Kong, Paris, Madrid, the Bahamas, Costa Rica and dozens of places throughout the United States. More than 40 hours after it began, the day ended as the sun set on the Aulani resort in Hawaii.
One Day at Disney: Meet the People Who Make the Magic Across the Globe (Disney Editions Deluxe)

On that day, some 80 cast members agreed to open up their workshops, dressing rooms, kitchens, cubicles, TV studios, labs, locomotive engines . . .  and some even more surprising and diverse work spaces. They also shared their stories: childhood dreams and chapters, career pivots and triumphs, workaday hurdles and joys. It was just a day in the life, as extraordinary as any other day at Disney. As any Cast Member can tell you, a Disney job is less a destination than a limitless journey. And for just One Day at Disney, we can all tag along for the ride.


After the release of his acclaimed debut album, Grace, in 1994, Jeff Buckley quickly established himself as one of the decade’s most defining talents in pop music: a singer, guitarist, and songwriter with a multi-octave range whose tastes took in rock, blues, jazz, hardcore, Qawwali music, even show tunes. Hailed by the likes of Bono, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant, Grace showcased Buckley’s voice, passion and influences and pointed to an inordinately promising future. Three short years later, at the age of thirty, he tragically drowned in Memphis.
Jeff Buckley: His Own VoiceFor much of his life, Buckley diligently kept journals recording his goals, inspirations, aspirations, and creative struggles. These diaries amount to one of the most insightful life chronicles any musical artist has left behind. Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice (Da Capo Press, $40) marks the first-ever publication of Buckley’s handwritten account of his journey from his days in Los Angeles in the late ’80s through shortly before his passing. Combined with reproductions of other memorabilia, including letters, notes and unpublished lyrics, the book takes readers and fans deep into Buckley’s mind and life.


The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Come From Away tells the remarkable true story of a small town that welcomed the world. On September 11, 2001, 38 planes and 6,579 passengers were forced to land in the provincial town of Gander, Newfoundland. The local residents opened their arms to the displaced visitors, offering food, shelter and friendship. In the days that followed, cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.
Come From Away: Welcome to the Rock: An Inside Look at the Hit MusicalCome From Away: Welcome to the Rock (Hachette Books , $40) is the volume to the musical, featuring the book and lyrics, backstage stories and the real history behind the show’s events, character design sketches, and songs that ended up on the cutting room floor.
The narrative by theater historian Laurence Maslon details the events of that memorable and challenging week and also traces the musical’s development from the ten-year reunion of residents and airline passengers in Gander, where the idea for the musical was born, to the global phenomenon it is today.


Quentin Tarantino: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work (White Lion Publishing, $35) examines the entirety of Tarantino’s work, including his early writing on screenplays such as True Romance and Natural Born Killers, his break-out directorial debut Reservoir Dogs and the career-defining Pulp Fiction, as well as his later iconic films, such as Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Quentin Tarantino: The iconic filmmaker and his workYou’ll also go behind the scenes of Tarantino’s latest epic, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. As you make your way through Tarantino’s incredible career, discover what inspired him, his working methods, and the breadth of his talent.


Can’t afford a XKR-S? Opt for the stunning Jaguar: The Art of the Automobile ( Mitchell Beazley , $50). Known for elegant design as much as for pushing the limits of speed, the brand has always been at the cutting edge of mechanics without sacrificing aesthetics.
Jaguar: The Art of the AutomobileThis massive volume celebrates Jaguar’s most legendary models and dives into Jaguar’s archives for stunning photography and detailed reports of its most memorable models, including many never-before-seen images, showcasing celebrated cars such as the E-Type, XK120, XJS and XKR-S.


Bowie by O’Neill: The Definitive Collection With Unseen Images (Cassell, $50) is the breathtaking result of iconic photographer Terry O’Neill’s creative partnership with David Bowie that spanned over many years.
Bowie by O'Neill: The definitive collection with unseen imagesContaining rare and never-before-seen photographs, their work together includes images from the last Ziggy Stardust performance, recording sessions for Young Americans and the renowned studio portraits for Diamond Dogs, plus live shows, film shoots, backstage moments and more. With more than 200 photographs, this is the ultimate portrait of an inspiring and ever-changing artist.


Rodney Hilton Brown’s  Iwo Jima Monuments: The Untold Story (War Museum, $45) is a must for history buffs, a lavish book filled with great photos and published in time for the 75th Anniversary of World War II’s bloody legacy (one third of all Marines who fought on Iwo Jima were killed or wounded on Iwo Jima).
IWO JIMA MONUMENTS: The Untold Story (UNTOLD STORIES)Brown’s homage is the first comprehensive study of all of our nation’s Iwo Jima monuments, beginning with the little-known original 1945 monument (unveiled in front of the old Department of the Navy Building on Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC.); the 1954 Marine Corps War Memorial, those erected at Marine Corps bases and many lesser-known others from coast-to-coast. Of course, the flag raising atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima has become one of the most powerful images of the 20th century and is  regarded as one of the most recognizable images in the world.


Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks the Best DVDs of the Year

She remains my favorite Christmas Carol. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark TV institution, Time Life has released The Best of The Carol Burnett Show, which includes the best of the best, from all 11 seasons, together for the very first time.

The six-discs feature episodes that haven’t been seen since they originally aired, plus some of Burnett’s most beloved classics on 16 fresh-from-the-vaults episodes. Classic shows include the very first episode with Jim Nabors and the emotional, double-length series finale, as well as some of the best-loved, fan-favorite sketches including “Mrs. Wiggins,” “Carol and Sis,” “The Oldest Man,” “The Family,” As the Stomach Turns, as well as a marathon of movie spoofs, along with commercial spoofs and some amazing bloopers. Once again, I’m so glad we had this time together.
More Carolmania. Carol and her cast members Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner, and later, Tim Conway and Dick Van Dyke, entertained millions of viewers with a spontaneity and go-for-broke attitude sorely lacking elsewhere.  The annual Christmas shows soon became a popular event in Burnett’s regular season schedule. And now, for the first time ever, Burnett has opened the CBS archives to release three Christmas shows from the first four seasons of her Emmy-winning program in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Lost ChristmasAcross three hilarious episodes not seen in more than 40 years, home audiences will receive the gift of non-stop laughter and entertainment: Think Santa knows who’s been naughty or nice?  Jonathan Winters as St. Nick has other ideas, along with a strange collection of dolls.  The old lovebirds Bert and Molly (Harvey and Carol) exchange a few choice words while they slowly rock themselves into the New Year.  Carol and Vicki join the Bob Mitchell Singing Boys for a touching performance of “Do You Know How Christmas Trees are Grown?”  And pitchmen Garry Moore and Durward Kirby reach out and touch the pocketbooks of parents with an array or ridiculous toys for kids.  Ho! Ho! Ho!

Sleeping single in a double bed? Join the biggest names of country music with the time-Life gem CMA Awards Life: Greatest Moments 1968-2015, an attractively packaged DVD collector’s set filled with 127 unforgettable performances from five decades of the nationally-televised ceremony.

Across the 10  discs, home audiences will discover a who’s who of country artists, including Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Trisha Yearwood, Dwight Yoakam, Barbara Mandrell and Tammy Wynette, who stands by her man. Music lovers will thrill to the memorable, once-in-a-lifetime performances including Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” and Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” as well as famous country duets and collaborations including “Jackson” by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” by Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire, and “Lady” by Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie. There’s also a nifty  year-by-year guide to 50 years of Award winners.

Red Skelton was a brilliant performer, a passionate patriot and a master of simple, hilarious and classic comedy.  Now, home audiences can be entertained by America’s Clown Prince any time with a singular collection of episodes from Time Life’s The Red Skelton Hour, many of which have been unseen for more than 50 years.  The treasure features 22 discs with more than 65 hours of hilarious, heart-warming humor from one of the country’s most treasured comedians.   Each week, viewers were treated to his memorable lineup of inimitable characters including country bumpkin Clem Kadiddlehopper, Sheriff Deadeye and lovable hobo Freddie the Freeloader, as well as the biggest movie and TV stars of the day who all clamored to appear on Red’s show including John Wayne, Jackie Gleason, Johnny Carson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Milton Berle, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Simon and Garfunkel, Phyllis Diller and Robert Goulet. The 130 remastered episodes keep company with hours of extras, including a full-length biography of Red with rare home movies and intimate interviews, a bonus DVD of Red’s Farewell Specials and an exclusive, collectible Memory Book giving fans a closer look at how Red’s most beloved characters came to life.

Universal has released a handful of must-have DVDs and DVD sets that are paramount to ever movie maven. Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection features 15 iconic films from the acclaimed director’s illustrious career, including Psycho, The Birds, Rear Window, Vertigo and North by Northwest, plus 10 episodes from his groundbreaking TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Featuring more than 15 hours of insightful bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate Hitchcock experience.  A shower anyone?

Screen legends Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire sing and dance their way into your heart in one of the most timeless holiday classics ever, Holiday Inn.  The film, in which Crosby plays a song-and-dance man who leaves showbiz to run an inn that is open only on holidays,  features the Oscar-winning song, “White Christmas”. Astaire plays his former partner and rival in love. Holiday Inn [Blu-ray]Follow the two talented pals as they find themselves competing for the affections of the same lovely lady (Marjorie Reynolds). ‘Tis the season for one of the most sensational musical comedies of all time! An extra gift: Holiday Inn 75th Anniversary Edition Crosby includes a new bonus disc featuring the all-new full-length Broadway musical.

Discover the true meaning of the holiday season with the live action adaptation of the beloved classic, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer reimagine one of the most enduring holiday stories of all time. Why is the Grinch (Carrey) such a grouch? No one seems to know, until little Cindy Lou Who takes matters into her own hands and turns both Whoville and the Grinch’s world upside down, inside out. . . . and funny side up. Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas [Blu-ray]Filled with dazzling scenery, special effects, makeup and costumes, this is an adventure even Scrooge would love. Grinch Deluxe Edition Combo Pack features collectible fuzzy green packaging.

Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection features 21 of the funniest movies from the legendary comedian. From his early days in vaudeville to his years as a top Hollywood box-office draw and star of radio, TV and live performances, Bob Hope’s innocent charm and lightning-quick wit have delighted millions of fans throughout the world. Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie CollectionCo-starring some of the Hollywood’s greatest stars (think Lucille Ball, W.C. Fields, Burns & Allen,  Betty Grable, Paulette Goddard, Jane Russell), this gem will entertain longtime fans and introduce a whole new generation to the unforgettable style of one of the most famous comedians of all time.
Hoping for more Bob? Time Life’s

Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials offers the most complete collection of his television specials ever assembled.  The set contains
19 discs, on which fans will find more than 37 hours of specials, including 20 that have not been seen since their original broadcast, as well as an incredible collection of celebrity guest appearances.

Paula Parkins is such a good girl. Make that was a good girl. She is one of those good-girls-gone-bad who leads her degenerate teenage hellcats down a path of gas station hijackings, pajama party orgies and cold-blooded murder Welcome to Ed Wood’s The Violent Years, an essential exposé on crime, gender politics and sweater-stealing; let us not forget the patently deranged dialogue to the scene where the gang performs a “man attack.”

This Blu-ray new 4K print escaped from Alamo Drafthouse’s American Genre Film Archive (the largest non-profit genre film archive in the world, and Something Weird) and we could not be happier. The bonus tracks are numerous, including gutter-noir trailers from the Something Weird vault,  memorabilia scrapbook and a bonus movie, Anatomy of a Psycho, a new 2K scan from an original theatrical print.

Richard Simmons is still a show-biz heavyweight. For 30 years, he has been helping people lose weight (more than 3,000,000 pounds and counting) and get healthy with his unique enthusiasm, charm and encouragement.  Since opening his first aerobics studio in Beverly Hills in 1974, he has cemented himself in America’s pop-culture psyche with 65 fitness videos (selling over 20 million copies), dozens of infomercials, nine best-selling books, myriad parodies of his over-the-top persona, seemingly endless TV and film appearances and tabloid headlines digging the skinny on him.  Time-Life celebrates the glittery guru with Richard Simmons: Sweatin’ to the Oldies: 30th Anniversary Edition, an energetic six-disc set includes the complete collection of Simmons’ bestselling  workout programs. 

Pairing lively classics from the ’50s and ’60s with rockin’ low impact routines and Simmons’ humorous banter, encouragement and sparkly tank tops, the set offers 41 exercise routines set to rock n’ roll classics. Loaded with extras, this special anniversary set also includes 100 minutes of bonus programming featuring an exclusive interview with Richard, testimonials and success stories from Simmons’  students, a full-color 20-page album of rare personal photos and memories personally selected by Richard and a bonus disc of Love Yourself and Win–Six Steps to Self-Esteem & Permanent Weight Loss.

In June 1944, the Allied forces stand on the brink of the greatest invasion of history: D-Day and the landing on the beaches of Normandy, France – the first step in the campaign to free Europe from the tyranny of Nazi Germany. But even as close to one million Allied soldiers are secretly assembled on the south coast of England preparing to invade Nazi-occupied Europe, Great Britain’s iconic Prime Minister Winston Churchill struggles with the decision to embark on the operation. Fearful of repeating the mass slaughter of more than 500,000 soldiers during World War I’s Battle of Gallipoli in 1915, he is terrified that if the D-Day landings fail, he will be remembered as the architect of the war’s greatest carnage. The inspiring Cohen Media Group drama Churchill stars Brian Cox in a career performance as the British leader at a pivotal moment in history.

So what was the fuss about? Director Darren Aronofsky’s film mother! received good reviews, though many whined about the flick’s biblical allegories and depictions of violence. And the controversy continues. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in mother! (Paramount Home Media Distribution), the visually arresting psychological thriller that will leave your heart pounding and your mind blown.  The film also stars and Michelle Pfeiffer, and stunned critics and audiences around the world. The mother! 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs include more 35 minutes of in-depth bonus content. Join Aronofsky and cast as they discuss the production of the movie and take us through its spectacular finale. Plus, check out the incredible makeup effects that made mother! a visual tour de force. We thought we’d share the reason Aronofsky so named the film: the title’s exclamation mark, he says, “reflects the spirit of the film” and corresponds to an “exclamation point” of the ending. “To find out why there’s a lowercase ‘m’, read the credits and look for the letter that isn’t capitalised. Ask yourself what’s another name for this character?”

We screamed in joy when we learned Cohen Media Group was releasing a new 4K restoration of The Old Dark House, Frankenstein director James Whale’s masterpiece.  Whale turned J.B. Priestley’s novel Benighted into a nerve-jangling tale that became the template for all spooky-house chillers to come. Stranded travelers stumble upon a strange old house, and find themselves at the mercy of a highly eccentric and potentially dangerous family. This atmospheric thriller features an unforgettable post-Frankenstein horror role for Boris Karloff, as the hulking, disfigured butler Morgan. Also starring in early-career roles are Melvin Douglas, Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey and Gloria Stuart of Titanic.

It’s the series that out the “fun” in “dysfunctional”.   After breaking out from “The Family” sketches on The Carol Burnett Show, Thelma “Mama” Harper’s home-spun humor earned its own well-loved sitcom for six knee-slapping seasons.  Time Life invites all classic TV aficionados and sitcom lovers to spend some quality time (across 130 episodes) with Mama’s Family: The Complete Series.  Remember, Mama always knew best.

Celebrating the Original King of Late Night, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends The Complete Collections is the ultimate 10-disc set bringing together all the greatest moments and Johnny’s most legendary guests from the show’s 30 year, 4,000 episode run.  Carefully selected from the vaults by Carson archivists, this Time Life collection features more than 27 hours of classic Johnny–full, unedited episodes and original commercials from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.  Also included is a memory book filled with incredible and rare archival photos and nearly two hours of bonus features. Let’s say it together: Hereeeeeeeeeeeeee’s Johnny!

Paramount has made film fans an offer they cannot refuse:  The Godfather Trilogy: Omerta Edition. Only 45,000 of these limited edition, numbered sets will be made making it a stunning gift for any fan. Celebrating its 45th anniversary, director Francis Ford Coppola’s opus is widely considered one of the most influential films in cinematic history.  Now the entire epic trilogy is available on Blu-ray in a spectacular 4-disc Omertà Edition, which includes the Coppola Restoration of The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II, as well as the remastered version of The Godfather, Part III. The set includes commentary by Coppola on all three films, a full disc of previously released in-depth special features, as well as exclusive new collectible Trivia Cards, Magnetic Poetry, an Anatomy of a Scene fold out and Quote Cards.

Porno for Xmas? And why not. Bat Pussy isn’t just porno . . . it’s considered one of the worst movies ever made. We’re not sure when it was made and released (possibly released in the early ’70s), but we do know it’s a spoof of the TV series Batman, and the film’s cult following relish the flick’s notoriously poor quality, technical flaws, bizarre dialogue, flaccid dicks, public urination, dildo demonstrations and unattractive stars.

Need more? The director can be heard giving actors directions, a crew member audibly belches during a sex scene and the dialogue includes gems such as My horoscope says “I’m going to fuck you in the nose!” Be honest: Even Mrs. Claus loves Bat Pussy, whose alter ego is Dora Dildo!

First Run Features always releases first-rate DVDs. A quartet of faves:
♥ Life on the Line: Season 3  This Emmy-winning series narrated by Lisa Ling that follows the medical journey of individuals fighting for their life. At hospitals around the nation, people face life and death situations every day. Episode 2: Ebola WarriorsLife on the Line zeroes in on one renowned academic hospital in Southern California. Loma Linda University Health serves one quarter of California and equips medical teams to travel around the world. From surviving Ebola in Western Africa to healing after one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on US soil, the series is an inspiring look into the resilience of humankind.
Ma’ Rosa Actress Jaclyn Jose took home the award for Best Actress at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for her powerful performance as Rosa in this riveting new film from director Brillante Mendoza. Exploring the widespread corruption and chaos of the Philippines in the Duterte era, the film follows Rosa and her husband Nestor, owners of a tiny convenience store who supplement their meager income by selling small amounts of “ice” (crystal meth).

Eventually the couple gets caught and hauled away by police, who are more interested in collecting bribes than eradicating crime. With their parents locked away, it’s left to Rosa’s children to scrounge together the money to pay off the police and free their parents, by any means necessary.
♥ Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe tells the story of the Austrian writer and his life in exile from 1936 to 1942. Zweig was one of the most famous writers of his time, but as a Jewish intellectual he struggled to find the right stance towards the events in Nazi Germany.Image result Driven to emigrate to South America at the peak of his worldwide fame, Zweig fell into despair at the sight of Europe’s downfall. This visually stunning and emotionally powerful film explores what it means to be a refugee, and exposes the difficult decision to speak out or remain silent in the face of tyranny.
♥ The Pulitzer at 100 This documentary by Oscar-winning director Kirk Simon celebrates the centenary of the Pulitzers–the revered national award for excellence in journalism and the arts. The riveting tales of the winning artists give an insider’s view of how these pinnacles of achievement are selected and how the award has the power to change lives and communities. The diverse stories explored in the film relate to immigration, race, gender, and above all freedom of speech–all issues that are ever more relevant in America today.

 Featuring interviews with notable prize recipients (including authors, journalists, playwrights and musicians such as Toni Morrison, Michael Chabon, Tony Kushner, Paula Vogel, Carl Bernstein , Wynton y of the man who created it, also brings Pulitzer-winning works to life through readings by John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, Liev Schreiber, Martin Scorsese and Yara Shahidi.

American Genre Film Archive continues to scarce us (sometimes silly) with their gory gamut.  Some faves that will become yours:
♥ The Zodiac Killer Directed by Tom Hanson, who had once owned a chain of Pizza Man restaurants, made this flick in an attempt to capture the real-life Zodiac Killer. That plan didn’t work. Instead, we got the most outrageous and compelling ”tabloid horror” vortex in the history of planet Earth. And beyond.Zodiac Killer, The [Blu-ray + DVD] During theatrical screenings, Hanson constructed in-theater ”traps” to lure the killer from hiding. These included the use of an ice cream freezer filled with rent-a-cops and a raffle with a motorcycle as a prize. Shades of William Castle! This edition is a new 4K scan from the only surviving 16mm blow-up elements. Make sure you listen to Hanson’s commentary!
♥ Ruby No, this movie was not named after my mother. It’s a still relatively-unknown gem brimming with atmosphere and suspense . . . yes, there are enough creepy special effects and blood and gore to satisfy the most demanding genre fans.Ruby [Blu-ray + DVD] Most of it takes place at night, with all kinds of marvelous influences lurking in the shadows. Directed by cult-film director Curtis Harrington and featuring an impressive cast including Piper Laurie (as Ruby, fresh from her starring role in Carrie) and Stuart Whitman. This special BD/DVD combo is the definitive original theatrical version of Ruby, with a 2K restoration, two commentary tracks and more than hours of video interviews and special features.

We remain crazy over Patsy Cline.  She was a trailblazer who defined modern country music, and broke down barriers of gender, class and genre. In her music and her life, she set a standard of authenticity towards which artists still strive. After years of hard work to overcome industry biases and her own personal hardships, she achieved enormous success, only to have it punctured by uncanny premonitions and her untimely death at age 30 in 1963.

When Patsy Cline Was CrazyHer life and legacy is showcased in When Patsy Cline Was … Crazy (UMe), a DVD that collects the acclaimed PBS documentary, Patsy Cline: American Masters, and a wealth of exclusive bonus material comprised of themed additional interview footage and rare vintage performances.  An accompanying booklet includes classic photos of Cline.

Charles Castle, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, looks like he has it all. But his marriage is falling apart and his wife is threatening to leave him if he renews his contract. Studio boss Stanley Shriner Hoff isn’t taking the news too well, and he’ll do anything he can to get his man to sign on the dotted line, even if means exposing dark secrets. Winner of the Silver Lion at the 1955 Venice Film Festival, Robert Aldrich’s The Big Knife remains a great piece of film noir. The Big Knife (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] Based on Clifford Odet’s famed stage work, the film boasts a remarkable cast, including Jack Palance, Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters, Ida Lupino, Jean Hagen and Everett Sloane.

Remember when fading film stars began working in schlocky films and/or TV shows? Some of these treasures exist. Yvonne DeCarlo, John Ireland and John Carradine stars in the hellish Satan’s Cheerleaders (VCI Entertainment). Benedict High School’s cheerleaders aren’t shy and sweet. The football team knows them well . . . and Billy, the school’s disturbed janitor, would like to. In the locker room, the girl’s shower and dress, unaware of the evil eyes which secretly watch them. They don’t know that a curse has been placed on their clothes. Satan's Cheerleaders [Blu-ray + DVD]And they don’t know that their trip to the first big game of the season might sideline them for eternity. Will the cheerleaders succumb to the dark ritual of sexual sacrifice and death that’s been plotted for them? Only those who dare watch will know!

If we could turn back time . . . One Million B.C. (VCI) does. Boy meets girl – prehistoric style, in this classic of man’s battle to survive against the terrors of the prehistoric world. Big-chested Victor Mature stars as protagonist Tumak, a young caveman who strives to unite the uncivilized Rock Tribe and the peaceful Shell Tribe; Carole Landis (who was murdered by Rex Harrison) as Loana,Product Details daughter of the Shell Tribe chief and Tumak’s love interest and Lon Chaney Jr. as Tumak’s stern father and leader of the Rock Tribe. Dinosaurs, savage nature, and a gigantic erupting volcano are part of the camp adventure classic.

Victoria & Abdul (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) is the extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s (marvelously portrayed by Dame Judi Dench) remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favor with the Queen herself. Victoria & Abdul [Blu-ray]As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that the Queen’s inner circle attempts to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity. Our gets are that the Dame wins the Oscar.
Criterion Collection continues to release works that are essential. A few recent Blu-ray editions that demand attention:
♥ Romance becomes psychodrama in Alfred Hitchcock’ elegantly crafted Rebecca, his first foray into Hollywood filmmaking. A dreamlike adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel, the film stars the enchanting Joan Fontaine as a young woman who believes she has found her heart’s desire when she marries the dashing aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter (played with cunning vulnerability by Laurence Olivier). Rebecca (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]But upon moving to Manderley her groom s baroque ancestral mansion she soon learns that his deceased wife haunts not only the home but the temperamental, brooding Maxim as well. The start of Hitchcock’s legendary collaboration with producer David O. Selznick, this elegiac gothic vision, captured in stunning black and white by George Barnes, took home the Academy Awards for best picture and best cinematography. The bonus tracks are great, especially the screen, hair, makeup and costume tests including actors Joan Fontaine and Anne Baxter.
♥ Stanley Kubrick bent the conventions of the historical drama to his own will in Barry Lyndon, a dazzling vision of brutal aristocracy, adapted from a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. In picaresque detail, Barry Lyndon chronicles the adventures of an incorrigible trickster (Ryan O’Neal) whose opportunism takes him from an Irish farm to the battlefields of the Seven Years’ War and the parlors of high society. For the most sumptuously crafted film of his career,Barry Lyndon [Blu-ray] Kubrick recreated the decadent surfaces and intricate social codes of the period, evoking the light and texture of eighteenth-century painting with the help of pioneering cinematographic techniques and lavish costume and production design, all of which earned Academy Awards. The result is a masterpiece a sardonic, devastating portrait of a vanishing world whose opulence conceals the moral vacancy at its heart.
♥ Amid the filth and muck of England in the Dark Ages, a fearsome dragon stalks the land, casting a shadow of terror upon the kingdom of Bruno the Questionable. Who should emerge as the town’s only possible savior but Dennis Cooper (played by Michael Palin), an endearingly witless bumpkin who stumbles onto the scene andJabberwocky (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] is flung into the role of brave knight? Terry Gilliam’s first outing as a solo director inspired by Lewis Carroll s poem Jabberwocky and made on the heels of Gilliam s success as a member of the iconic comedy troupe Monty Python showcases his delight in comic nonsense, with a cast chock-full of beloved British character actors. A giddy romp through blood and excrement, this fantasy remains one of the filmmaker’s most uproarious visions of society run amok.
♥ On a beautiful June weekend in 1967, at the beginning of the Summer of Love, the first and only Monterey International Pop Festival roared forward, capturing a decade’s spirit and ushering in a new era of rock and roll. Monterey featured career-making performances by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding, but they were just a few performers in a wildly diverse lineupThe Complete Monterey Pop Festival (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]that included Simon and Garfunkel, the Mamas and the Papas, the Who, the Byrds, Hugh Masekela and the extraordinary Ravi Shankar. With his characteristic verite style and a camera crew that included the likes of Albert Maysles and Richard Leacock D. A. Pennebaker captured it all, immortalizing moments that have become legend: Pete Townshend smashing his guitar, Jimi Hendrix burning his, Mama Cass being blown away by Janis Joplin’s performance. The Criterion Collection is proud to present the most comprehensive document of the Monterey International Pop Festival ever produced, featuring the films Monterey Pop, Jimi Plays Monterey, and Shake! Otis at Monterey, along with every available complete performance filmed by Pennebaker and his crew.
♥ Perky, overachieving Tracy Flick (played by Reese Witherspoon) gets on the nerves of history teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) to begin with, but after she launches her campaign for high-school president and his personal life starts to fall apart, things spiral out of control. Product DetailsIn Alexander Payne’s satire Election, the teacher becomes unhealthily obsessed with cutting his student down to size, covertly backing a spoiler candidate to stop her from steamrolling to victory, and putting in motion a series of dirty tricks and reckless promises with uncanny real-world political parallels. Adapting a then-unpublished novel by Tom Perrotta, Payne grounds the absurdity of his central dynamic in the recognizable the setting is his hometown of Omaha, and the accomplished cast is rounded out with nonprofessionals and distills his closely observed take on deeply flawed humanity to its bitter but stealthily sympathetic essence.