Charles S. Cohen, Chairman and CEO of Cohen Media Group, can never be accused of having a stone face.
He could, of course, be honestly called a great fan of The Great Stone Face. (Those would don;t know who we are chatting about need to open a new window and Google.)
This month he has released (on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms) director and movie historian Peter Bogdanovich’s acclaimed new film The Great Buster: A Celebration. It is as brilliant as the tribute it pays to one of silent cinema’s greatest artists, Buster Keaton.
The Great Keaton celebrates the life and career of one of America’s most influential and celebrated filmmakers and comedians, whose singular style and fertile output during the silent era secured his legacy as a true cinematic visionary. Filled with stunningly restored archival Keaton films from the Cohen Film Collection library, the film is directed by Peter Bogdanovich, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker and cinema historian whose landmark writings and films on such renowned directors as John Ford and Orson Welles have become the standard by which all other studies are measured.
The Great Buster chronicles Keaton’s life and career, from his beginnings on the vaudeville circuit through the development of his trademark physical comedy and deadpan expression that earned him the lifelong moniker “The Great Stone Face,” all of which led to his career-high years as the director, writer, producer and star of his own short films and features. Interspersed throughout are interviews with nearly two-dozen collaborators, filmmakers, performers and admirers, including Mel Brooks, Quentin Tarantino, Werner Herzog, Dick Van Dyke and Johnny Knoxville, who discuss Keaton’s influence on modern comedy and cinema itself.
The loss of artistic independence and career decline that marked his later years are also covered by Bogdanovich, before he casts a close eye on Keaton’s extraordinary output from 1923 to 1929, which yielded 10 remarkable feature films (including 1926’s The General and 1928’s Steamboat Bill, Jr.)that immortalized him as one of the greatest actor-filmmakers in the history of cinema.
In his landmark book The American Cinema, critic Andrew Sarris placed Buster Keaton among the “Pantheon Directors,” his elite grouping of the 14 greatest filmmakers. Sarris wrote, “Cops, Sherlock Jr., The Navigator and The General stamp Keaton as the most enduringly modern of classical directors.” Critic and film historian David Thomson, in his famed Biographical Dictionary of Film, writes, “In Keaton’s films there is an extraordinary use of space in the jokes that is faithfully and beautifully recorded.”
Wait! There’s more Keaton craze.
On May 14, Cohen Media Group releases the Keaton masterpieces The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr.together on single-disc Blu-ray and DVD packages, as well as digital platforms.
The films, high points not only of Keaton’s incomparable career but of all silent cinema (both are included on the National Film Registry), are presented in new 4K restorations and feature orchestral scores by Carl Davis.
Many critics and historians consider The General (1926) to be the last great comedy of the silent era, and it consistently ranks as one of the finest films of all time on international critics’ polls. It is No. 18 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest American Films, and is No. 34 on the latest Sight & Sound critics poll of the Greatest Films of All Time.
Set during the Civil War and based on a true incident, the film is an authentic-looking period piece that brings the scope and realism of Mathew Brady-like images to brilliant life. Keaton portrays engineer Johnnie Gray, rejected by the Confederate Army and thought a coward by his girlfriend (played by Marion Mack). When a band of Union soldiers penetrate Confederate lines to steal his locomotive, called The General, Johnnie sets off in pursuit. There is no better showcase for Keaton’s trademark physical comedy and deadpan expression that earned him the moniker “The Great Stone Face.”
The renowned critic Raymond Durgnat wrote, “Perhaps The Generalis the most beautiful film, with its spare, grey photography, its eye for the racy, lunging lines of the great locomotives, with their prow-like cowcatchers, with its beautifully sustained movement.” “The pioneering genius of Buster Keaton’s 1926 silent film … looks even more startling than ever … more or less invented the action movie,” said The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw.
In Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), Buster, as the son of a steamboat captain, falls in love with the daughter of a rival steamboat owner. When a cyclone rages, Buster proves himself a hero by rescuing his love (played by Marion Byron) and her father from a watery grave.
The comedy contains what many consider Keaton’s most memorable, and potentially deadly, film stunt: One side of a house falls on him while he stands in the perfect spot to pass through a window frame unharmed.
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.
We call it 90 minutes of good times. How else would you explain a PBS special–the first documentary about the television legend– celebrating the career of Norman Lear? Savor American Masters: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You on Blu-ray and DVD. Enjoyed the special on PBS? Take note that the home releases include more than 12 minutes of bonus features.
Largely responsible for the explosion of bold American television in the ’70s, the writer/producer is synonymous with the sitcom. With unprecedented access to Lear, his work and his massive personal archives, the special combines stories from his turbulent childhood and early groundbreaking TV success (think All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude) and social activism.
The documentary also features colorful stories from Lear’s family, friends and collaborators, including John Amos, George Clooney, Alan Horn, Bill Moyers, Rob Reiner, Phil Rosenthal and Russell Simmons, as well as cinéma vérité moments with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Jon Stewart, Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham.
Breaking down the fourth wall to create an evocative collage where past and present intermingle, Oscar-nominated filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady reveal a psychologically rich man whose extraordinary contributions emerge from both his personal story and his own self-professed childlike view of the world.
The documentary traces how a poor Jewish kid from Connecticut started writing for The Colgate Comedy Hour with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, created All in the Family and became one of TV’s most successful showrunners.
All character-driven, with theatrical sets and live audiences, Lear’s TV series changed not only the face of national television but the content of national discourse. Bringing provocative subjects like war, poverty and prejudice to 120 million viewers every week, Lear proved that social change was possible through an unlikely prism–laughter–and created some of the greatest moments in television history.
Co-produced by Ewing and Grady’s Loki Films and THIRTEEN’s American Masters series, Just Another Version of You doesn’t shy away from the controversies Lear stirred with his TV series and advocacy organization People For the American Way (PFAW). The documentary also highlights his later years touring the country with the Declaration of Independence and promoting his memoir Even This I Get to Experience, spending time with his tight-knit family, and developing new productions.
Look at this way: Lear can never be stifled.
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