A brief News From the Lake segment today, focusing on some TCM updates (including more TCM Classic Film Festival information), FOX is putting out some new DVDs, and what’s new from independent DVD company Kino Lorber. Let’s dive in!
In the vein of TCM’s The Essentials, the network will be rolling out a new weekly series called Friday Night Spotlight. Starting April 5, the Friday Night Spotlight will be a month-long showcase featuring a collection of films revolving around a certain topic; each segment will be discussed by a particular guest host, either a celebrity or expert. The first series of Friday Night Spotlights is entitled A Woman’s World: The Defining Era of Women in Film and will be hosted by Cher, with help from Robert Osborne. To discuss the hosting, I’m beyond excited to see some new blood hosting segments. No disrespect to Robert and Drew Barrymore (who host The Essentials) or Ben Mankewicz, but I’m fascinated by the celebrities or historians who drop by and detail films that have influenced them. By having a revolving panel of people, there’s a sense of diversity as well as people who know what they’re talking about. Cher discussing women in film is inspired as the singer/actress has never been coy about her sexuality or her empowerment.
In terms of what movies will be featured (on April 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th), I am more excited. Week 1 looks at motherhood and the movies assembled, while typical, are good. I adore Mildred Pierce, and have wanted to see Stella Dallas; Bachelor Mother was on my TCM Top 12, and I’ve heard good things about Penny Serenade. On April 12, the series will look at women during WWII. They’ll be showing So Proudly We Hail which I will be watching proudly to support Veronica Lake! Since You Went Away has been on my list since it sparked the return of Shirley Temple. I haven’t seen White Cliffs of Dover or Three Came Home, thoughts? And they’ll cap it off with The Best Years of Our Lives. April 19th will discuss working women with His Girl Friday (classic), Woman of the Year (a Hepburn/Tracy film I haven’t seen yet), Tender Comrade and The Devil and Miss Jones; neither which I’ve seen. Finally, April 26th, will see a selection of films where women take charge. These include The Great Lie, which I haven’t heard of; Kitty Foyle, which I might watch as it has Ginger Rogers; The Palm Beach Story, which was on my TCM Top 12; and The Women….I didn’t like that one. Suffice it to say, I’m excited to start making The Friday Night Spotlight as integral into my time as The Essentials!
In other TCM News, next Tuesday’s guest programmer will be Academy Award winner Joel Grey. Grey will be presenting a trio of films that are near and dear to him. Starting at 8pm (5pm Pacific), you can catch The Best Years of Our Lives, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and On the Waterfront. Each movie will be introduced, and discussed by Grey and Robert Osborne. Unfortunately, I’ll be in class during that time (taking a midterm), so if you catch a few of these let me know what you thought of Grey as a host.
This festival continues to expand (and increase my jealousy that I’m not going). The latest news details additional guest appearances and screenings. In terms of who will be present for a few of the film screenings: It’s been announced that a 50th Anniversary screening of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World would be put on. Well it’s been announced that Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, and others from the film will be present; a presentation of the 1962 film Cape Fear will include actress Polly Bergen (really jealous about that one); Essentials Jr. host Bill Hader (of Saturday Night Live fame…I’ll be missing out on seeing Stefon in the flesh) will be discussing showings of Shane and The Ladykillers; director Nicholas Ray’s wife, Susan, will be on hand during a screening of They Live by Night; director Mel Brooks will be discussing his film, The Twelve Chairs; AND MORE. I cannot recommend enough, if you have the opportunity to go, please do (and take me with you)! The TCM Classic Film Festival runs April 25-28th.
The Kino Lorber group always puts out a unique assortment of movies. Two of their newest releases are late 60s/early 70s cult films that will be put out through their Jezebel label. The first is the 1969 film Zeta One; a British film directed by Michael Cort and starring Dawn Addams. It’s labeled as a mix of sex comedy and sci-fi/fantasy that is said to have inspired Austin Powers (shades of In Like Flint, maybe?).
The second is the 1973 film Schoolgirl Hitchhikers. It’s directed by Jean Rollin and Gilda Arancio. It’s an erotic thriller about a pair of lovers terrorized by a band of thieves. Both films will retail for $24.95 and are released March 19th. Obviously, both films will be catering to a niche market, particularly those who enjoy exploitation or cult films. If you’re interested, I recommend heading over to the Kino site, and preordering your copies.
Finally, 20th Century Fox has announced releases of a few classic films on DVD and Blu-Ray. First off, the 1952 Marlon Brando biopic, Viva Zapata! Based on a screenplay by author John Steinbeck, Brando plays the revolutionary leader, turned outlaw. It won’t have any special features, but the movie will get a Blu-Ray release with 1080p picture. I’m a Brando fan, and while I find the idea of him being Latin funny, I’ve heard the movie is worth seeking out. It’ll be released May 7th.
They’ll also be releasing the Paul Newman legal thriller, The Verdict. The movie, from 1982, was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (for Newman), and is directed by Sidney Lumet. Special features a look at actor Paul Newman and director Lumet, as well as audio commentary with Newman and Lumet (I’m assuming from an older DVD release as both are now deceased). Sidney Lumet is an amazing director, and I’ve casually seen Newman in a few things, but I’m a sucker for legal thrillers like this one. The Verdict comes out May 7th.
Paul Newman is nothing with Robert Redford, so it makes sense that Fox would simultaneously release a Redford film on the same day. As evidenced by my thoughts on the previous film, Brubaker sounds just as good. Based on a true story, it follows a prison superintendent (Redford) who goes undercover as a prisoner to detail the heinous penitentiary conditions. Social commentary movies can feel dated, but Redford is compelling and I’d watch this. Brubaker saw an Academy Award nomination for its script, if that says anything. The Blu-Ray will only have TV spots and a trailer, so you’d be getting the movie, solo. It also hits shelves May 7th.
Finally, FOX will be releasing the Henry Fonda Film Collection. It’s a whopping ten-disc set that includes Fonda’s biggest movies! I haven’t seen any of the works included, so this is a great crash-course if you’re interested in the actor. It’ll include the iconic Grapes of Wrath, and The Ox-Bow Incident; as well as Daisy Kenyon, The Boston Strangler, and more. I’m hoping to pick this up!
That’s all from the Lake for now. See ya next time!
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.