A lot of news this week, both sad and hopeful. There’s info on another upcoming biopic, some upcoming TCM tributes after the tragic loss of several top stars this week, and a heaping dose of DVD/Blu-ray release dates. Diving right in!
With 2013 closing in a few weeks, the year has certainly given out plenty of future biopics in the making. Not only is there the planned biopic about Mary Pickford starring Lily Rabe, but biopics on Errol Flynn, Dalton Trumbo, and Monty Clift are all in various stages of development after being announced this year. 2014 isn’t here yet, and the biopic train isn’t slowing down. Deadline reported this week that HBO Films is developing a biopic about Mae West starring Bette Midler and directed by William Friedkin. The project, titled Mae West, is being penned by Harvey Fierstein and is based on West’s own autobiography. It’ll detail her rise to fame, her Broadway show, Sex, and her issues with obscenity charges. Biopics don’t always have to focus on A-list stars whose mythos has transformed into something else (coughElizabethTaylorcough). The stars that time’s forgotten have more unique stories because they haven’t been rehashed to death. Midler is PERFECT casting for West, the resemblance is striking, and coupled with Fierstein’s script (he recently penned the Broadway smash Kinky Boots) and Friedkin’s direction this could be phenomenal.
A rather sad week for classic film fans. TCM recently released – and subsequently updated – their annual TCM Remembers video dedicated to falling stars, and Tuesday say a block of films dedicated to the late Eleanor Parker. Adding to the sadness is the one-two punch of losing Peter O’Toole and Joan Fontaine this week, and TCM is again quickly setting up tributes to their epic bodies of work. Sunday, December 29th is devoted to the work of both O’Toole and Fontaine starting at 6:30am ET with Fontaine in Blond Cheat (1938). They’ll also show her award-winning double feature, Suspicion and Rebecca in the late afternoon. Starting at 8pm, the lineup switches to O’Toole with a showing of Lawrence of Arabia. You can find the complete schedule on the TCM website. If you haven’t watched the TCM Remembers video, now including Fontaine, O’Toole, and Audrey Totter, you can view it below.
And hot on the heels of TCM’s Watch Instant app, you can now enjoy Warner Archive Instant on your iPad. If you have an iPad, including the new iPad Air, you can instantly stream countless titles in 1080p. You can still instantly stream Warner Archive’s content via their website or a Roku player.
Coming Soon to Blu-ray/DVD
Olive Films: Olive films kicks things off with release dates for Claudette Colbert‘s Sleep My Love, Robert Ryan’s Men in War, and Paul Muni’s Stranger on the Prowl. The first two mark their first appearance on Blu-ray, with the Colbert/Douglas Sirk directed film getting its first DVD release on top of the Blu. There’s no information on any bonus content. You can purchase Sleep My Love and Men in War on April 15th. A week later, April 22nd, you can purchase Paul Muni’s Stranger on the Prowl. The Italian co-production is being released with its original English language cut.
20th Century Fox: Fox has placed two additional Blu-ray conversions on their release schedule. In May the studio announced plans to release The 300 Spartans on Blu-ray, but delayed it for reasons unknown; now, the studio plans to put it out on February 25th. The only bonus content appears to be the original trailer and a TV spot. On March 4th, you can purchase Charlton Heston’s The Agony and the Ecstasy. As with 300 Spartans, the only bonus feature is a theatrical trailer.
Criterion: New from the Criterion Collection is Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman. The studio plans to put out a 3-disc set (1 Blu-ray and 2 DVDs) showcasing Lloyd’s most successful feature film. Bonus content includes the following: a 4K digital transfer from the UCLA Film and Television Archive; a new orchestral score, Audio commentary featuring director and Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll, film historian Richard Bann, and film critic and historian Leonard Maltin; Lloyd’s prologue to the film; three newly restored Lloyd shorts: The Marathon (1919), with a new score by Gabriel Thibaudeau, and An Eastern Westerner and High and Dizzy (both 1920), with new scores composed and conducted by Davis; Big Man on Campus, a new visual essay on the film’s locations by silent-film historian John Bengtson; Conversation between Correll and film historian Kevin Brownlow; Footage from a 1963 Delta Kappa Alpha tribute to Lloyd, featuring comedian Steve Allen, director Delmer Daves, and actor Jack Lemmon; Lloyd’s 1953 appearance on the television show What’s My Line?; A booklet featuring an essay by critic Stephen Winer. You can pre-order The Freshman now. It hits shelves March 25th.
Columbia Classics: Finally, two quick releases from the Columbia Classics line. On January 7th you can purchase Pirates of Tripoli (1955) and The Avenger (1931). As with most on the Columbia Classics line, bonus features aren’t included.
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.