Wednesday, December 13, 2017

25 New Films Inducted into the National Film Registry for 2017

Every year 25  films are inducted into the National Film Registry.  These films are considered important for various reasons. 

From CNN:

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" at the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress?

That classic film is one of 25 added to the library's registry of films this year.

Chosen for "cultural, historic and/or aesthetic importance," this year's selections range from the 1905 film "Interior New York Subway, 14th Street to 42nd Street," which documented the early days of the New York subway system, to James Cameron's "Titanic" and the 1987 biopic "La Bamba."

"The selection of a film to the National Film Registry recognizes its importance to American cinema and the nation's cultural and historical heritage," Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement. "Our love affair with motion pictures is a testament to their enduring power to enlighten, inspire and inform us as individuals and a nation as a whole. Being tasked with selecting only 25 each year is daunting because there are so many great films deserving of this honor."

Director Richard Donner had two of his films selected, "Superman" and "The Goonies."

"I thank the National Film Registry for choosing 'Superman: The Movie' and 'The Goonies' as films to be treasured," Donner said in a statement.

"They are both special films in my life, as was the cast and crew for both. It's wonderful to see them listed among so many great films."

Here is the complete list inducted this year, and below that are screenshots taken from those films on the list that I have in my own library.  I have ten of them, but I’m sure I’ll add some more.

Ace in the Hole (aka Big Carnival) 1951
Boulevard Nights 1979
Die Hard 1988
Dumbo 1941
Field of Dreams 1989
4 Little Girls 1997
Fuentes Family Home Movies Collection 1920s and 1930s
Gentleman’s Agreement 1947
The Goonies 1985
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner 1967
He Who Gets Slapped 1924
Interior New York Subway, 14th Street to 42nd Street 1905
La Bamba 1987
Lives of Performers 1972
Memento 2000
Only Angels Have Wings 1939
The Sinking of the Lusitania 1918
Spartacus 1960
Superman 1978
Thelonius Monk: Straight, No Chaser 1988
Time and Dreams 1976
Titanic 1997
To Sleep with Anger 1990
Wanda 1971
With the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain 1937-38

Friday, August 25, 2017

Jerry Lewis: 1926-2017

The Errand Boy (1961-2)I grew up with Jerry Lewis.   Not only did I see many of his movies from the sixties in the neighborhood theaters, but if one was showing on TV we always watched.  We watched because Jerry Lewis was a funny guy, and his comedy was such that it could be appreciated by young kids such as myself, or adults.

There was also the many times he guest hosted The Tonight Show many times throughout the sixties and into the seventies.  He always seemed to be in your living room one way or another.  Whereas sometimes the more mature current event commentary of Johnny Carson would fly right over my head at the age of ten or so (or even younger), the spontaneous physical outrageous antics of Jerry would always leave us in stitches.  I wish there were some of those episodes still available.  But I imagine they are long gone, lost in the purge of saving money by reusing video tapes.

I did manage to snag a DVD release of
The Jerry Lewis Show which ran from 1967 – 1969.  But it is incomplete with many musical numbers axed and some episodes missing.  That collection is only available from 3rd party sellers at an exorbitant price.  But there is a “Fan Favorites” DVD with even less content then the one I acquired some years ago.  But at $9.95, it’s cheap enough.

Lewis was loved in France but often derided by U.S. Critics.  And while even I’ll admit some of his late sixties early seventies stuff is tough to sit through, there’s no denying the man’s comedic genius.  My favorite Lewis films are some of the Martin/Lewis films like Living It Up, Artists and Models, and You’re Never too Young.

Of his solo films, I’d rank Rock-a-bye Baby, The Nutty Professor, Don’t Give Up the Ship, The Delicate Delinquent, Cinderfella, and Boeing, Boeing (despite it’s low regard for women) as my favorites.

Then there’s the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon held every Labor day that raised millions for the charity.  If you were lucky enough to view the show in it’s early years, before it went coast to coast, becoming (necessarily so) bigger but more bloated with corporate sponsors, you got 24 hours of Lewis being Lewis non stop where he would often go out and mingle with the audience, grabbing money, and just having fun.

I’m not going to get into why the MDA thought it necessary to do away with the yearly event.   But their
unceremonious firing of Lewis who raised over 2 billion dollars was and remains a disgrace to this day.  There is a right way to do things, and a wrong way to do things.  After sixty-one years of hard work in which Lewis earned not one penny, instead of rewarding him they kicked him in the ass.  And I do know this: Since Lewis last hosted the telethon, Labor Day has never been the same.

Following is a selection of screenshots from my Jerry Lewis Library.  I don’t have every film, but what I do have is extensive.  Visit to a Small Planet is not here, but I’ll add it when the Blu-ray version arrives next week.  Eventually I hope to have them all although some, such as The Sad Sack, have never had a U.S. DVD release for whatever unknown reason.  I had a digital copy but it had a Spanish audio track.  I also have a copy of The Ladies Man around here somewhere, and will add that as well. 

But one thing is certain, Lewis, despite any faults he may have had, was a comedy giant who made the world a better place.  We will miss him.

My Friend Irma Goes West (1950)

At War With The Army (1950)

That's My Boy (1951)

The Stooge (1951)Sailor Beware (1952)Scared Stiff (1953)

The Caddy

Money From Home (1953)

Living It Up (1954)

You're Never Too Young (1955)

Artists and Models (1955)

Pardners (1956)

Hollywood or Bust (1956)

The Delicate Delinquent (1957)

The Geisha Boy (1958)

Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958)

Don't Give Up The Ship (1959)

The Bellboy (1960)

Cinderfella (1960)

The Errand Boy (1961)

Who's Minding The Store (1963)

The Nutty Professor (1963)

The Patsy (1964)

Boeing Boeing (1965)

Don't Raise the Bridge Lower the River (1968)

Hook, Line & Sinker (1969)

The Jerry Lewis Show (1967-1969)

The King of Comedy (1982)

And finally, no Jerry Lewis memorial would be complete without this signature song with which he signed off each and every telethon.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

RIP Jay Thomas: 1948-2017

Love and WarJay Thomas has passed away at the age of 68.

The Hollywood Reporter:

Don Buchwald, his longtime agent and friend, reported his death, after a battle with cancer, to The New York Daily News. His publicist, Tom Estey, would not divulge when or where Thomas died when contacted by The Hollywood Reporter.

Thomas played the obnoxious TV talk-show host Jerry Gold (and Candice Bergen's on-again, off-again boyfriend) on CBS' Murphy Brown from 1989-98 — winning a pair of Emmys — after his stint as Rhea Perlman’s husband Eddie LeBec, a French-Canadian goalie with the Boston Bruins, on NBC's Cheers. On the latter, his character winds up appearing in an ice show and gets killed by a Zamboni.

Thomas also starred on his own sitcom, playing an egotistical sportswriter opposite Susan Dey and then Annie Potts on CBS' Love and War, a 1992-95 series created by Murphy Brown's Diane English.

A native of Kermit, Texas, who was raised in New Orleans, Thomas got his start in radio as a high school football announcer for the Rutherford High Rams in Panama City, Fla.

He worked at stations in Panama City; Pensacola, Fla.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Nashville; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Charlotte, N.C., where he earned nicknames like "The Mouth of the South," "The Scorpion" and "The Prince of Darkness."

Thomas moved to New York for a job at the FM station 99X and then did stand-up comedy at the Improv and acted in off-Broadway plays. He got his start on television in 1979 as Remo DaVinci, the co-owner of a New York deli, on ABC's Mork & Mindy. He also hosted a radio show in Los Angeles and, most recently, had a daily gig with SiriusXM.

Appearing as an annual Christmas guest alongside Letterman "has been fun," he said in 2014. "I've always wanted to be one of those guys on late-night talk shows who everybody wants to see. Like on Carson, when [Don] Rickles would come out. I became that guy. And I love football, so my two big dreams were totally realized."

I’m a big classic TV buff, and especially love collecting Christmas episodes of as many TV series as possible.

I have a lot of Jay’s work in my Library including his work on Cheers and Murphy Brown.  But I choose to highlight his particular episode to honor Jay.

I originally recorded this episode, A Christmas Kvell, when it first aired in 1992.  It was always a favorite of mine, but eventually the old VHS tape had worn out and I was sure that was that.  But as it turned out, you could purchase it from Amazon digitally, so I was glad to have it back in my collection. 

I think just from this small clip you can  grasp why this is one of the better stories about Hanukkah and Christmas, and while Dey’s comedic timing leaves a bit to be desired (she would be replaced by Annie Potts in Season Two), the episode does highlight Jay’s comedy genius.  In case you’ve forgotten, Dey’s character Wally is Catholic and Thomas’s character Jack is Jewish.  They’re struggling to celebrate their first Christmas/Hanukkah together.  In this clip, Thomas tries to explain the significance of the Jewish holiday.