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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How Breaking Glass Pictures Gay-themed Films Reflect True Pride Spirit

An episode in the 2001-2002 13th season of "The Simpsons" perfectly expresses the true current state of Gay Pride. The titular nuclear family is attending a Pride parade when the marchers start chanting "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!" Eight year-old Lisa responds that the group marches every year and that the general populace is used to it.

The view of Lisa is consistent with that of your not-so-humble reviewer roughly since the era of the aforementioned "Simpsons" episode. The Gay Rights movement has made such strides by the beginning of the 21st century that skinny hairless boys only wearing a Speedo and rollerblades and fat hairy bearded middle-aged men wearing dresses merely show off and do not help the Pride movement. If anything, these acts reinforce the stereotypes that require Pride parades.

This criticism is presented in the dual context of  Pride Month 2017 and Breaking Glass Pictures releasing gay-themed films that reflect the spirit of Pride and the related concept that quality films from this genre present universal themes. Unreal TV is honoring this through a month-long series of retweets of Breaking DVD releases.

Breaking Co-President Richard Ross eloquently expresses the above sentiments in an Unreal TV interview earlier this year. This conversation includes how the themes in the breaking films "Retake" and "Lazy Eye" of seeking closure or a new beginning with the one who got away can apply regarding any variation of romantic relationship.This shows that Philadelphia literally should throw this man a parade next June.

On a larger level, Unreal TV is on Team breaking because their films avoid gay stereotypes. The young guys are neither doe-eyed nor have over-scrubbed skin. Further, all the men accurately reflect real-life gay men in that they are average blokes whose sexuality is not the center of their lives. Further, most of them desire the same stability and happiness for which we all strive.

This reflects the universal nature of the gay experience that shows that the fact that a boy likes other boys is no basis for either fear or condemnation. Releases from breaking and similar art-house film distributors prove that sexuality truly should be a non-issue for most of us.

'The Control Group' DVD: College Guinea Pigs Get Reason to Squeal in Terror

Indie horror film god Wild Eye Releasing once again demonstrates its chops regarding the VOD/DVD releases of "The Control Group." This 2014 movie throws plenty of mayhem at the five college kids who find themselves trapped in a dark and scary setting.

The following YouTube clip of the trailer for "Control" perfectly provides a sense of the particular brand of horror in the film while teasing you regarding the underlying concept.

New student with a "history" Jack wishes that he woke up in the bed of an ex or of a coyote ugly girl who got a jump start on the Freshman 15 when his morning after experience  centers around witnessing a horrific scene (complete with dark-robed figures wearing creepy masks) on regaining consciousness in an unfamiliar gym. He soon finds his new roomie and the high school friends/fellow freshman of that dude only to discover that they are not faring much better. One negative aspect of their badly altered sense of reality is that the group does not recall ingesting the responsible substances.

The audience soon learns that these poor saps are the lab rats in a secret government experiment that madman with an evil mind scientist Dr. Broward (whom veteran character actor Brad Dourif plays with apt craziness) is conducting in an abandoned insane asylum. A pending mutiny by his peace keepers turns out to be the least of his problems.

The first twist that sets "Control" apart from similar films is that flashbacks give us the history of the kids before they face the twin challenges of fleeing for their lives and being under the influence of a drug that prevents believing what they are seeing. An example of this is not knowing whether cable or barbed wire is entangling one of their own.

Said future frat boy who does know Jack becoming very active after sustaining extensive bodily harm is the first clue that the phrase "I'm from the government; I'm here to help you" extends well beyond the program that monitors the effect of the experimental drug on the college kids. The additional element relates back to the history of the asylum and the current presence of some long-term patients.

The final scenes add good depth to "Control" in that they are more exciting and substantive than merely running around until the big bad experiences trauma that at least adequately disables him, her, or it to allow the surviving monster chow to escape. The parallel existence is only part of this.

On a larger level, "Control" provides helicopter parents whose kids are headed off to college next year cause for concern. The better news is that the risk of Billy or Susie getting so drunk that they vomit all over their name-tagged clothes no longer seems like quite as large of a deal.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Control" is welcome to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Monday, May 29, 2017

'Illicit' DVD: Neo-Modern 'Fatal Attraction' Times Two

breaking glass pictures demonstrates its trademark edge regarding the May 23, 2017 DVD release of the 2017 drama "Illicit." This update of the 30 year-old classic cautionary tale "Fatal Attraction" shows that it is not yet safe for married people to go back to the singles' bars.

The following YouTube clip of the sexy and steamy "Illicit" trailer gets you eager to learn more about the booty calls gone bad. 

Our central couple is 30-something rising parole officer Guy Curtis (whom "Arrow" star David Ramsey portrays well) and his former model/current jewelry designer/ wife Sasha. The DC Universe vibe continues with "Lois and Clark" and "Supergirl" star Dean Cain in a cameo as a fiance of someone in the orbit of the Curtises.

Although Guy is generally content at home and realistically hopefully regarding a job promotion at the beginning of the film, Sasha feels unfulfilled and wants to return to modeling. The objections of Guy to that desire mostly relate to not wanting his spouse to work with sleazy photographers and not to have her become the object of the affection of crowds of men who would view her pictures.

A chance encounter with aptly named aspiring photographer/actor Lance gets things off to a Lifetime Movie start by having that shutterbug assertively pursue a relationship with Sasha despite knowing that she is married. She soon succumbs to their mutually inclusive desires and agrees to pose for him. The intimacy of that act soon leads to even more intimate acts.

Meanwhile, the sympathy that Guy feels toward a parolee leads to this pair bonding in a manner that leads to her bed when concern regarding the former boyfriend of the ex-con brings Guy to the home of his charge one evening. Although said parolee does not cook a domesticated woodland creature, she makes it abundantly clear that Guy cannot push her aside. Said former boyfriend also not going away greatly contributes to multiple perils that Guy faces to his personal and professional lives, as well as to his physical being. 

The stereotypical risks of exposure include the late-night texts, the dropping by the house unannounced, the "chance encounters" with the other spouse, etc. Every person who poses a threat to the relative marital tranquility of Guy and the parolee being mentally unstable amps up the suspense regarding the exposure risk.

Everything culminates at a party where Guy and Sasha each face his or her dirty little secret being revealed on a partycrasher arriving and Sasha discovering that far less than six degrees of separation exist regarding Lance and Guy. 

Writer/director Corey Grant keeps the audience guessing until near the end of the film. The numerous probable outcomes keep this compelling. Films no longer adhering either to the moral code of the 20th century or the related requirement of a Hollywood ending keep us guessing regarding who (if anyone) is not going to be breathing at the end of the film or whether Guy and Sasha end up in divorce court, renew their vows, or wind up somewhere in the middle.

The DVD extras include a behind-the-scenes documentary and audio commentary by Grant.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Illicit" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy; just do not tell my highly significant other about it. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

'Triple Cross' Christopher Plummer Biopic of WWII Spy Eddie Chapman

These thoughts on the November 2012 Warner Archive DVD release of the 1966 Christopher Plummer biopic of WWII espionage agent Eddie Chapman "Triple Cross" kicks off a Summer of 2017 Unreal TV series of reviews of aptly vintage Archive titles that figuratively have fallen through the cracks. 

The following YouTube clip (courtesy of Archive) of a scene from "Cross" highlights some of the best elements of this thriller.

The similarities between "Cross" and the recent (Unreal TV reviewed) Archive Blu-ray release "36 Hours" provide a good starting point for discussing the former. Like Garner's Jeff Pike, Plummer's Chapman feeds the Nazis information that they wisely season with more than a grain of salt.

The suave Chapman is a skilled safecracker in the days right before WWII when he is captured and jailed. The impact of the war on him includes questioning in which he essentially declares that he does not care which side is victorious but that he wants to be on the winning team. Archive highlights this central theme by including the quote "I'd rather live for Germany than die for England" in the text on the back cover of the DVD. This sentiment is akin to those of a Nazi officer in "Hours" whose loyalties to his peers shifts according to who is in favor at the moment.

Chapman soon finds himself a guest of the fuhrer and enters a literal shotgun training program to become a German spy. The suaveness of the reel- and the real-life Chapman as well as the clever gadgets (not to mention the hot sophisticated babe) that Chapman is shown add a fun Bond element to "Cross."

Much of the well-executed fun of the film relates to ambiguity regarding the loyalty of Chapman. (The best guess is that it shifts according to which side is ahead at the moment.) A prime example of this is an instance in which it seems that Chapman is making a run for the border but changes his exit strategy on discovering that things are not as they seem.

Another good scene has Chapman making a bold move from inside the hornet's nest. This leads to a very suspenseful moment in which it seems that he is sure to be found out. 

The fact that the real Chapman warrants a biopic suggests that he is one of the good guys; the facts that the real Chapman is a self-admitted "amoral" person, that the audience discovers a previously unknown motivation for Chapman at the same time that he learns the nature of karma near the end of the film, and that loose threads remain suggests that the full truth may never come out.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Cross" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Friday, May 26, 2017

'Uncertain Terms' DVD: 30 Year-old Man Takes Pregnant Pause From Troubled Marriage

breaking glass pictures takes a break from its edgy and provocative fare regarding the DVD  release of the 2014 drama "Uncertain Terms." This film aptly is a kinder/gentler movie by writer director Nate Silver of the 2016 breaking (and Unreal TV reviewed) comedy "Actor Martinez" about the real-life adventures of a part-time actor and his collaborators. 

One of the coolest things about "Terms" is that the grainy hand-held camera look and overall cinema verite documentary vibe (including very conversational style acting by every cast member) of it clearly influences the blurring of fiction and non-fiction in the similarly presented "Martinez." The Cliff Notes version of this one is that troubled 30 year-old Robbie forms a risky friendship with teen mom to-be Nina while visiting his Aunt Clara (cool nod to "Bewitched?") to escape his own woes.

The following YouTube clip of the "Terms" trailer reinforces the aforementioned style of the film and introduces the story without an abundance of spoilers.

We first meet Robbie as he approaches the rural home for unwed mothers that Aunt Clara operates for reasons that the audience soon learns extends beyond her earth mother peace, love, and understanding personality. She knows that the Brooklynite is there for two weeks to make himself useful; she does not know that he is having serious marital problems.

The five knocked-up teens in residence do not respond as strongly to the presence of a youngish man in their presence as one would expect. They largely ignore him and do not tease him when he participates in their activities.

The problems start when the slut of the group makes a failed clumsy attempt at seducing the new boy in the neighborhood who lives downstairs and is there to take care of them like he's one of the family. This complicates matters when Robbie makes good girl Nina who got into trouble the object of his affection. 

Good humor comes in the form of K-Fed like white trash Nina baby daddy Chase being a regular fixture at the home. He always swaggers and makes one wonder how many times that his mother dropped him on his head while he was a baby but causes trouble when he goes from being a big kid to an abusive and threatening presence. His repeated use of the phrase "I need you to not be here right now" regarding Robbie in one scene is hilarious.

Meanwhile, Nina understandably bonds with the newcomer who shows her compassion and understanding. This leads to an unfortunate blurring of the line between friendship and felony. Throwing in the element of Robbie being made to feel valued and loved at a time that his wife is doing neither increases the drama regarding his relationship with this neo-modern Lolita. 

Of course, things ultimately come to a head regarding both Chase and the wife of Robbie. This leads to our main characters at least being a little wiser even if they are no more happy then when Robbie first arrived.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Terms" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

'One Kiss' DVD: Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place

The tla releasing DVD of the 2016 teen-oriented gay-themed Italian drama "One Kiss" provides a great context for related discussions of Gay Pride and of tla releases of similar art-house fair. This largely comes in the context of "Kiss" being the one of the at least 50 Unreal TV reviewed tla films that has a message that this site considers inappropriate. The result of the related soul searching is that one negative element among many positive ones does not warrant condemning a film.

The criticism of "Kiss" relates to the response to an unwelcome homosexual advance. The realistically harsh rejection triggers events that lead to heartbreak and more serious tragedy. That domino effect sends a not-so-great message but is an important cautionary tale to a gay teen who consider making a move on an object of his affection who may not even be gay and who has sent signals that he just is not that into you even if he does like boys.

The real problem relates to a later development that creates a parallel universe in which the rejection of the overture is much more sensitive and everyone lives happily ever after. The problem is not that this is more unrealistic than the outcome in several tla films in which even a boy who likes other boys but is coming to terms with this lustfully kisses the friend with a previously unrequited love on that bro finally going for it. The problem is that "Kiss" puts all the blame for the horrific act that ruins at least two lives on the object of the affection when the real lesson that the gay boy who rightfully is not ashamed of his sexuality should acknowledge is that pushing hard can provoke hateful responses.

The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Kiss" provides brief looks at the above-mentioned themes.

All this drama commences when new gay boy in town Lorenzo makes a flamboyant debut at his new school; a shouted insult disrupts the fantasy of Lorenzo that his peers immediately embrace his fabulousness. This Secret Life of Walter Mitty element reoccurs in other scenes in which Lorenzo imagines that every student who has been mean to him gathers below his bedroom balcony to make a big show of apologizing and in which an adult Lorenzo is being interviewed on television.

A not-so-nice teacher of Lorenzo pairing him with fellow outcast Blu, who is on the outs with the in crowd after she has sex with her stud boyfriend and three of his friends, sets the stage for these two pariahs to form a beautiful friendship.

Meanwhile the "Ordinary People" style problems of basketball star Antonio is making his high school experience miserable. The accidental death of the more popular brother of Antonio is causing this boy to be very reclusive in a crowd and to engage in his own fantasies in the form of conversations with his deceased sibling.

Our two guys and a girl become a trio one night when Antonio accepts an invitation to join the other two at a local pizza parlor. Lorenzo and Blu striving to get Antonio the wallflower to loosen up sets the dynamic from the start. 

Although the rest of the school largely is content with leaving Blu and the boys alone, Lorenzo ignoring loud-and-clear messages that merely toning down the self-described fabulousness and related fierceeness of this boy raised on "Glee" and Lady Gaga would do everyone a world of good creates problems that arguably lead to the aforementioned unhappy ending.

Not content to let sleeping jocks lie, Lorenzo enthusiastically recruits a hesitant Blu and a much more reluctant Antonio to assist with a full-frontal assault on the teen powerbrokers at their school. This arguably disproportionate act leads to social suicide with extreme prejudice.

All of the above leads to the well-staged titular smooch, which ties nicely into several themes of "Kiss." This brief encounter leading to a ripped-from-the-headlines incident is just one of several examples in the film of needing to tread lightly regarding the emotions of teens. 

"Kiss" further illustrates the challenges that every teen faces; the cruel joke of nature in the form of giving adolescents bodies that their psyches (and the judgments of their callous peers) cannot handle makes it a very rough period. The overall positive development of a gay boy having relatively broad freedom to express himself (so long as he does not cross the invisible line) further complicates matters. 

The wrap up of this "very special" "Afterschool Special" Unreal TV post is that the complexity and the delicacy of the topics that "Kiss" tackles requires equal care in portraying the story.

Anyone with any questions or comments regarding "Kiss" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

'The Loved One' BD: 'Six Feet Under' Meets 'S.O.B.' Meets 'Dr. Strangelove'

The tagline "The motion picture with something to offend everyone" for the 1965 new wave cinema comedy "The Loved One" by English director Tony Richardson (father of Natasha and Joely) should be enough to make anyone want to purchase the recent Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the film. Watching this adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel of the same name validates that claim, should delight every fan of "Dr. Strangelove," and verifies that you chose wisely.

The following YouTube clip of the spoilericious theatrical trailer wonderfully mashes up "Benny Hill" and "Monty Python" to provide a sense of the way cool style of this film that you will not want to watch with your parents or a first date.

Star Robert Morse (also of the Unreal TV reviewed "Hello Dolly" Archive film without the singing and dancing "The Matchmaker") puts his talent for playing a naive awkward manboy to good use in portraying "Loved" lead Dennis Barlow. The film opens with this English innocent going abroad to live in America in much the same way that early immigrants to our fair shores opt for that relocation as the only option for avoiding prison in the U.K.

Barlow surprising his uncle Sir Francis Hinsley (Sir John Gielgud of numerous substantial roles and best known for playing a butler in "Arthur") sets the stage (no pun intended) for the hilarious satire of the film industry that evokes thoughts of the (recently reviewed) 1981 Blake Edwards comedy "S.O.B." The scads of Hollywood (and London) royalty who appear in "Loved" is another common element with the Edwards film.

The studio connection is that Hinsley is an artist with a decades-long career providing prop paintings for a studio; Barlow arrives during a meeting in which Jonathon Winters' Henry Glenworthy is trying to convince studio executive/son of studio head D.J., Jr. (Roddy McDowall) and other "suits" to cast rough-around-the-edges Texan matinee idol Dusty Acres as an English nobleman in an upcoming film; the role of Hinsley includes playing Henry Higgins to this Eliza Dolittle.

Hinsley reluctantly agrees to take in his nephew and soon shows a lack of hospitality that is akin (pun intended) of the manner in which pretentious American women living in London great their American cousins. An example of this is a friend of your not-so-humble reviewer calling a London-dwelling relative whose filmography includes a minor '60scom only to have her refuse to see him and to instruct him to write ahead the next time.

A turn of events shifts the action from the studio system to the funeral business racket; Winters also using his special talents to ideal use in playing Rev. Wilbur Glenworthy facilitates this transition. Barlow remains the center as an employee of the pet section of the enormous and diverse Whispering Glades cemetery/funeral parlor. This additionally facilitates this aspiring young poet to woe his love interest, whose responsibilities include contributing a female touch to the embalming activities of the business.

Rod Steiger steals several scenes and provides much of the aforementioned offense as freakishly odd mortician/momma's boy Mr. Joyboy. Genuinely grotesque Mrs. Joyboy holds her own with her son.

A notable cameo from this portion of the film is by dreamy Tab Hunter (whose 2015 Unreal TV interview shows that he is the most gracious man alive). This man with the looks and the manner of the all-American boy next door shines as an enthusiastic and sincere Whispering Glades tour guide.

Another "special appearance" highlight has Liberace effectively playing Liberace as a salesman presenting coffins at the funeral home.

This second half of the film really takes off when teen rocket enthusiast Gunther Fry (singer/songwriter/actor Paul Williams) comes on the scene. This arrival aptly seems like a gift from Heaven for Whispering Glades.

The "Strangelove" vibe is especially strong regarding an awesomely perverse effort to gain the favor of Dana Andrews' and James Coburns' career men and their fellow military officers. Their orgy truly is unlike anything else in any other film.

A good "TV Land" subplot has Lionel Stander of "Hart to Hart" play a crude and callous newspaper advice columnist; Bernie Koppell of "Get Smart" and "The Love Boat" plays his more grounded assistant. Reta Shaw of "Bewitched" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" adds to the fun in a cameo unrelated to the Stander and Kopell.

A wonderful 15-minute documentary on "Loved" provides great perspective on the film. Morse, Williams, and cinematographer Haskell Wexler offer fascinating insights into this comedy that they discuss fulfilling its claim to offend all. Highlights include Morse and Williams recalling reading the Waugh novel before there were any thoughts of making the film.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Loved" is strongly encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

'The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' CS: Hanna-Barbera Hits the Mark with Live-Action/Animated Take on Classic Twain Tale

A guilty pleasure regarding reviewing the Warner Archive June 2016 3-disc complete series DVD set of the Hanna-Barbera (HB) primetime children's show "The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is the chance to put a claim of being a pioneer in its place. The target is the Robert Zemeckis film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." "Huck" constantly mixed live-action and animation 20 years before Zemeckis asserted that innovation as a claim to fame. For that matter, cartoon cat-and-mouse duo (and Hanna and Barbera creation) Tom and Jerry separately dancing with Gene Kelly and Ethel Merman predates "Huck" by several years.

Learning that "Huck" begins life in the Sunday night 7:00 p.m. slot on NBC, rather than on the "The Banana Splits" series that is a special after-school show for many children of the '70s, surprises most Gen Xers. "Huck" being a genuine pioneer in that it is the first weekly series to regularly have live-action actors interact with animated characters is less surprising but equally interesting.

Each episode of "Huck" commences with the highly addictive theme song that appears in the YouTube clip below. The episode then shows the same (included) introduction that shows how (ala the C.S. Lewis classic book "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe") our heroes Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Becky Thatcher of Mark Twain lore flee into an enchanted cave to escape the wrath of escaped prisoner Injun Joe.

In a mix of the 1960s Irwin Allen scifi series "The Time Tunnel" and the '70s fully animated HB series "Josie and the Pussycats," each "Huck" episode goes on to show our intrepid trio arriving in an animated world on their quest to return to Hannibal. They next have one of the titular escapades and then continue their quest to return home. Each child actor seeming to believe that the animated world and the individuals who inhabit it are real nicely sells the premises and helps even adult viewers believe in fairies. Part of this magic is buying that the current animated threat to one or more of our leads is real.

Another common element is that the primary animated big bad of each episode looks and sounds like Injun Joe, whom Ted Cassidy of "The Addams Family" awesomely portrays. Becky and the boys note this and do not understand it but just go with the flow.

The pilot episode is one of the most bizarre of this surreal series. Our gang meets a tribe of leprechauns who initially are hunting for a misplaced magic shillelagh that is the source of their power. The oddness enters in the form of a group of gypsies capturing Huck and Tom on arriving on the scene and forcing this pair to help them acquire the enchanted club. Meanwhile, Becky is helping the wee folks either recover or hold onto that important item.

The third episode in the series is another form of pioneer undertaking in that it is a variation of the cross-over technique that is unusual (or perhaps otherwise unheard of) for the era.

Our heroes aptly are on a raft on an ocean in the middle of a storm and wash up on a shore of Lilliput, where the inhabitants are not much bigger than the titular hero of the HB Saturday morning series "Inch High Private High." Tom and Becky escape capture this time, but Huck initially finds himself strapped down ala Gulliver of both the Jonathon Swift tale and the HB 1968-69 fully animated Saturday morning series "The Adventure of Gulliver." (The aforementioned children of the '70s know that "Huck" and "Gulliver" reunite as companion segments on the aforementioned syndicated version of "Splits." Huck soon buys his freedom in the form of agreeing to a shotgun mixed marriage.

Size matters again in a late-season episode that parallels the live-action Krofft series "Dr. Shrinker" a decade later. Our Missouri natives take shelter in the spooky castle of a mad scientist only to end up with Huck being shrunk to Lilliputian size and his friends trying to find him and restore him to his normal dimensions.

The season (and series) finale borrows from another classic Twain tale. Huck once again is the primarily endangered member of the group. This pauper gets into this trouble when his exchanging clothes with the monarch of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis gets Finn in a great deal of trouble under the sea. The underlying effort to pull off a coup d'etat in this setting evokes thoughts of the HB '70s series "Jabberjaw."

The tie for most notable aspect of "Huck" is between the creative format and the fact that the concept encourages the sofa spuds who watch it to read the works of Twain.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Huck" is strongly encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

'S.O.B." BD: That Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Blake Edwards '80s Comedy

This discussion of the March 2017 Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1981 Blake Edwards comedy "S.O.B." is the promised follow-up to the review of the Archive Blu-ray release of the 1982 Edwards musical comedy "Victor/Victoria." These companion films successfully transform the image of star/then-Edwards spouse Julia Andrews from wholesome international sweetheart to a grown-ass woman who swears and who shows her boobies on screen. One spoiler is that they're real and they're spectacular.

One of many reasons that Edwards having Andrews shed her G-rated persona only being the tip of the iceberg (no pun intend) makes "S.O.B." notable is that it is an exception to a show business rule. The formal title being "Blake Edward's S.O.B." strongly suggests that the film follows the trend of adding the name of an auteur (such as "Stephen King's ..." or "John Grisham's ...") to a title in an effort to put lipstick on a pig. In this case, it is an unnecessary abundance of caution.

In the spirit of many films during the Golden Age of Hollywood gaining notoriety (and ticket sales) based on being deemed to be of such a prurient nature that they are banned in Boston based on not meeting the moral code of that city, "S.O.B." being known to feature Andrews cursing and exposing her breasts in the film drove large numbers to the movie theater. The second spoiler is that Edwards more than delivers on both promises of not-so-guilty pleasures.

"S.O.B." additionally is notable as a scaled-down version of the star-studded '60s madcap films, such as "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad. Mad World" and the (Unreal TV reviewed) Edwards classic "The Great Race." The latter even features a massive pie fight.

The skewering of the filthy nature of show business around which "S.O.B." centers almost certainly makes appearing in the film a great treat for the luminaries who appear in it. One highlight of this is literally seeing the kinky activity that occurs in the bedroom of several characters. This includes bi-racial homosexual activity and hilarious cross dressing.

The most apt casting has "Sunset Boulevard" star William Holden equally aptly having director Tim Culley being his final role. His opening scenes including picking up the young free-spirit hitchhiker whom Rosanna Arquette plays surely helps Holden die a happy man soon after finishing "S.O.B." (One can only fantasize about a "I'm ready for my close-up Mr. Edwards" moment in filming "S.O.B.")

Edwards hits even closer to home in having Hollywood legend/ future "Victor" star Robert Preston play Dr. Irving Finegarten. Finegarten gleefully dispensing actors and behind-the-scenes folks prescription drugs like they are candy is hilarious from a 1981 perspective but less amusing in the wake of the physician-assisted overdose deaths of celebrities that include Michael Jackson and Prince.

Additional household names/very good sports in "S.O.B." include Shelley Winters, Robert Vaughan, Larry Hagman, and Loretta Swit. Edwards also shows his usual great instincts in letting '60scom "F Troop" star Larry Storch run in a memorable '70slicious cameo.

The following Youtube clip of the "S.O.B." theatrical trailer highlights this proverbial cast of 1,000s and shows why Edwards earns the big bucks.

The aforementioned adult content is presented in the context of the central plot of this semi-autobiographical tale. Richard Mulligan, who is best known at the time for starring in the ABC satirecom "Soap" at the time, stars as producer Felix Farmer. The prior successes of Farmer include a long string of hits and a previously happy marriage with Andrews' Sally "Smiley" Miles. This changes in the weeks before the starting point of "S.O.B."

The latest Farmer production "Night Wind," which features Miles' character in an elaborate wholesome "Babes in Toyland" style dream sequence, is an epic flop. This resulting in Farmer effectively going from Hollywood royalty to box-office poison overnight prompts a deep depression that causes Miles to pack up the kids and leave him in the opening moments of the film.

These early scenes allow Mulligan to put his extraordinary talent for physical comedy to good use as he repeatedly attempts suicide. Highlights from this include Farmer trying to asphyxiate himself in his car as his gardener obliviously goes about his business. Even greater hilarity ensues when Farmer subsequently tries to hang himself.

Farmer having a hilarious brief encounter rouses him from his related depression and stupor and inspires him to rework "Night Wind" into an erotic film that is intended to change the image of Miles in a manner that he hopes will get people flocking to the theater. As shown above, this is a genuine intersection between reel and real-life; the glee that Farmer expresses on hearing Miles curse like a sailor mirrors the reaction of the audience.

Miles being coerced into reshooting the innocent dream sequence as a highly erotic S&M nightmare parallels a more wholesome incident in the life of former American sweetheart Doris Day. Day is not called on to curse or to go topless in her eponymous '60s sitcom (which features Storch in two episodes) but is forced to star in that series because of nefarious acts of her then-husband.

As mentioned above, Andrews completely sheds her wholesome image on baring her boobies. However, Edwards has her do so in a manner that largely preserves her integrity. Further, the reel and real-life reactions to that act demonstrate that this is a prime example of nudity being important to the plot.

Although "Pink Panther" veteran Edwards ends "Victor" on a comparable high note, his keeping "S.O.B." going strong after the public debut of the Andrews sisters shows why his films are classics. The roughly final 30 minutes are devoted to the fellow Hollywood veterans of Farmer ensuring that he is honored in an apt fashion. It is equally apt that Edwards explains the unexpected meaning of the titular acronym in the context of that subplot. It additionally makes Mulligan fan sad that real and reel-life do not intersect in the manner that we hope for regarding Burt Campbell and Harry Weston.

It is even sadder that they cannot make them like "S.O.B." anymore because (as Bette Davis famously noted and the Garry Marshall holiday films demonstrate) most matinee idols these days are stars rather than actors. Further, most comedies being faded remakes of superior films and television series shows that talents like Edwards are increasingly becoming fewer and further between.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "S.O.B." is strongly encouraged to email me. You alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

'The Outcasts' DVD: Eden Sher of 'The Middle' Unites Geeks to Lead 'The Revolt of Mindy'

Monarch Home Entertainment gives both kids who are not cool enough to attend prom and fans of the ABC familycom "The Middle" a Prom Night treat in the form of the May 16, 2017 DVD release of the 2017 teencom "The Outcasts." Eden Sher of  "Middle" stars as M.I.T.-hopeful science geek senior Mindy, who rallies the numerous factions of titular square pegs to seize control of Richard Nixon High School. 

The following YouTube clip of the "Outcasts" trailer includes narration that concisely outlines the aforementioned premise. You additionally get glimpses of the ensuing mayhem.

This tale as old as the '50s begins with Mindy convincing band geek bestie Jodi to make an overture to cool kids leader Whitney and her hive of Heathers and pretty boys. This leads to Whitney inviting the girls to a party, which leads to devastating humiliation.

In the grand tradition of "slobs v. snobs" teencoms, Mindy consults a peer expert about the best means to unite the aforementioned subgroups of losers to overthrow the aforementioned adolescent powerbrokers. A hilarious scene regarding this aspect of "Outcasts" centers around an exhaustive list of the subgroups that comprise the uncool majority.

The unofficial governing council of this group of misfits are Mindy, Jodi, the stereotypical angry black girl, and the equally true-to-form mousy girl scout. The standout secondary outcast is David W. Thompson as "Debate Nerd." This skinny, pale, bespectacled ginger is a scenestealer even aside from his dance skills.

Cute long-haired ethnic type Dave plays the Ciscolicious nice kid/convert/Jodi love interest in the film. Humor and angst related (pun intended) to Dadi stems from their parents beginning to date.

An apt message for fans of '80s sitcoms comes in the form of casting an unrecognized Ted McGinley (of series such as "Happy Days" and "The Love Boat") as the principal who is physically unattractive and fills the role of villain in "Outcasts." Truly without intending any offense to the formerly gorgeous blonde McGinley, seeing this proof that pretty fades is a guilty pleasure for those of us not blessed with matinee idol good looks.

The morale of this fable is that power corrupts regardless of who is in charge. One high schooler aptly (and aptly cooly) observes "new boss, same as the old boss." It remains to be seen whether the student populace will be fooled again.

On a larger level, "Outcasts" meets its obvious objective to be a "Sue-centric" extended episode of "The Middle." Both Mindy and Sue are optimistic freaks who actively try to achieve the impossible dream of giving those whom the cool kids brand as losers prestige. 

The lessons of "Outcasts" are that stereotypes about high school cliques always are amusing, that you cannot judge a pimple-faced book by its cover, and that there really is no fighting city hall when it comes to locker-lined corridors of power.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Outcasts" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Friday, May 19, 2017

'Bad Day at Black Rock' BD: Cinemascope Tale of Small-Town Intrigue

The fact that many people are unaware of the 1955 Oscar-nominated Spencer Tracy/Robert Ryan drama "Bad Day at Black Rock" and that a large percentage of that portion of the viewing public have an understandable (but misguided) prejudice against Westerns demonstrates that those poor starving bastards are wasting away while those of us in the know are feasting. The title of "Day" misleading suggests that that this under-rated drama about a small town facing exposure of a shameful secret is a tale of cowboys and Indians and/or outlaws.

On a larger level, folks who do not give oaters a chance miss out on discovering that most have them have much depth than merely being a series of saloon brawls, round ups and/or cattle stampedes, and/or high noon showdowns on deserted dusty main streets. Once again, Warner Archive plays the role of Calvary in riding in to release DVDs and Blu-rays of these films and shows. In this case, a January 2017 Archive Blu-ray of "Day" provides a chance to enlighten (and entertain) yourself.

The following YouTube clip of the "Day" trailer highlights the '50s drama look of the film, the star power of the cast, and the successful blending of Western and noir elements.

This CinemaScope presentation, which looks spectacular in Blu-ray, opens with a panoramic shot of a '50s-era train traveling through the Arizona desert and stopping at the titular isolated community. The dirt road, old-timey hotel, and other buildings provide a sense that time stands still in this corner of the Grand Canyon State. The sense that the locals seem ready to draw their guns on disabled WWII veteran John Macreedy (Tracy) based on his trifecta of "sins" in the forms of being a stranger in them thar parts, being the only person to have stepped off that train in that town in four years, and immediately asking about one-time local Japanese resident Komoko enhances the sense that we are back in Kansas.

This being the 1950s rather than the 1850s helps keep the innards of the very Tracy-like quiet but tough Macreedy intact. It does not prevent hotel clerk Pete Wirth (big blond character actor John Ericson) from asserting that there is no room at the seemingly very empty inn or local tough guy Hector David (Lee Marvin) from making himself comfortable in the room of Macreedy while he is washing up and confronting the latter on his return. Anyone who knows Tracy from his other roles know that this does not deter him from his 24-hour mission.

Ryan's large landowner Reno Smith takes a more direct approach to ridding Black Rock of the new threat to its tranquility. This leads to one of the most exciting scenes in this tense noirish drama.

The copious symbolism includes a one-armed bandit in the hotel lobby, a sheriff in his own jail cell, and both the nature of the quest of Macreedy and the reaction of the town on learning of it.

Although Macreedy hints about the nature of his inquiry and the locals indicate the fate of Komoko, the truth does not come out until near the end after blood has been shed, characters have had their patience tried, and collateral damage has been caused. The final moments being far from a Hollywood ending further makes this film from the Golden Age of Hollywood worth adding to your collection.

The special features include the entertaining theatrical trailer and commentary by film historian Dana Polan.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Day" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

'Chupacabra Territory' BD The Blair Demon Project

The Maltauro Entertainment April 11, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 2016 horror film "Chupacabra Territory" reminds us at the start of the 2017 camping season that it is not safe to go back in the woods. This lost footage film about meddling kids in search of a legendary beast reinforces this message from their reel-life older siblings in the (Unreal TV reviewed) 2016 Maltauro film "Never Open the Door" regarding the same lesson.

The following YouTube clip of the spoilericious "Chupacabra" trailer explains the premise and provides an accurate sense of the gore in the film in roughly two minutes.

The opening scenes of "Chupacabra" quickly establish that the activities of the FBI extend beyond investigating the email practices of one nominee in the 2016 presidential campaign and the nature of the relationship that the other one has with Russia. The film opens with exposition that explains that the story that we are about to see is recovered recordings of the cameras of four 20-somethings who went into a national forest in search of the titular legendary creature. The nature (no pun intended) of this introduction largely ensures that every member of our Scooby gang is going to be Chupacabra chow within the next 90 minutes of reel time. The entertainment relates to seeing the mayhem that brings this about.

The action shifts to Velma-like witch/cryptozoologist Amber driving Joe (who is the studly blonde Fred of the group), whiny and soft Shaggy-like coward Morgan, and Scoobyesque mascot/cameraman Dave to the aforementioned woods in search of (pun intended) the aforementioned mythical being. Aside from the massive carnage and limited quasi-explicit sexual activity, only the element along the lines of an abandoned gold mine or evidence of a large amount of oil prevents this from being a true Scooby style adventure.

The gang soon meets the requisite creepy local who shows them the equally required mutilated livestock and shares his perspective regarding the titular creature. This leads to circumventing the security measures that are designed to prevent campers and hikers to end up with both their innards and their naughty bits consumed.

Writer/director Matt McWilliams then goes full neo-old school in having the gang encounter increasingly creepy evidence of their prey. Of course, this begins with rustling and suspicious vocalizations and leads to discovering tracks and other more direct evidence that the kids are not alone.

The frailness of some of these Millennials, practical jokes involving the bodily fluid of a woodland creature, and other risque humor keeps things interesting as the peril comes closer and the body count begins rising. All of this culminates in an amusing ritual that leads to a variation of downward dog and ultimately to the mishandled camera being left to end up in the hands of the feds.

The freshness that prevents "Chupacabra" from being a slightly faded carbon copy of the mother of all lost footage films "The Blair Witch Project" includes giving the meat suits distinct personalities, not having our gang prematurely lapse into sheer terror, and decent production values. As such, fans of the genre will want to check it out if only to discover it before it becomes a cult classic.

The Blu-ray extras include an interview with McWilliams, a separate interview with the cast, and the (always fun) trailer.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Chupacabra" is welcome to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

TCM Classic Film Festival: The Caste System Lives On (Part Two of Three)

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As the first of three posts on attending the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles states, staying home and watching "the game" on television is the better course of action. In the case of the festival, the reason is that poor planning prevents enjoying a great deal of the otherwise available tremendous offerings.

A primary culprit for being lucky to attend roughly 25-percent of the offerings when hitting close to the 50-percent mark should have been feasible was the unduly inequitable administration of the festival pass program.

The first post on this subject also discusses using analogies in these reviews. The analogy for today is especially apt because it comes from a festival film. A scene in the star-studded comedy "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" has the group of motorists who are seeking a treasure discussing the most equitable way to divvy up any found loot. A character makes a suggestion that seem fair and/or benefits that individual only to have another character whose share is larger under an alternative scheme protest and offer an alternative.

The related dilemma regarding the scheme for admitting pass holders into festival events relates to giving folks (such as your not-so-humble reviewer and his highly significant other) who pay $649 a head and others whose per-person cost to MERELY attend screenings and other presentations at the 4-day event is $799 a fair shot at getting in without waiting in line 90 minutes. The sad truth was that even arriving that early can result in heartache in the dual forms of not getting in to the desired event after waiving the opportunity to wait 90 minutes to attend a concurrent event.

Much of the fault lies with the $2,149 Spotlight passes. As shown below, purchasers of these passes get the Hollywood royal treatment (complete with walking the red carpet) at the unfair expense of those of us who do not exactly pay chump change to attend the event. As readers of the first post in this series know, yours truly has common sense solutions


Knowing before purchasing two $649 Classic passes that the "one-percenters" with Spotlight passes can waltz into a screening at their leisure would have been critical information. This presents the possibility of the elite filling the venue and leaving the rest of us on the curb. Learning of this early in the festival resulted in the oft-mentioned practice of arriving roughly 90 minutes before each screening to be near the front of the "steerage" line so as to have a good chance to get in. The fact that the line would rapidly fill in behind us spoke to the wisdom of this tactic.

The most equitable solution would have been to eliminate the Spotlight category altogether or at least eliminate "cutsies." The next best solution would have been to limit the number of preferential Spotlight seats to a set percentage of the seats in a theater or an event and to make every Spotlight pass holder who does not make that cut join the hoi polloi who have paid at least $649 each for the event.

The organizers compound this problem through the dual practices of reserving entire rows of prime real estate in theaters for the privileged few and distributing free tickets to people whose "V.I.P." status (which allows them to enter the theater before the highly paying public) seems to be based on being buddies with the organizers. 


On a larger level, requiring anyone to arrive 90 minutes early for a screening at an event for which they paid a significant amount is not right. A version of the tried-and-true first-in-time-first-in-line system is a better alternative.

It seems that the most fair and easily administered version of first-come-first-served is a system under which the order in which a pass in each class is purchased determines the order in which people can be admitted.

The method whereby Southwest Airlines boards its passengers provides another model; this is how yours truly understood admission to individual festival events was managed before learning the awful truth. This alternative combines an established number of people into a group in which each individual has equal status for admission purposes. In the case of TCM, the first 25 people to buy passes in a class could be "Group One" and allowed into a theater ahead of the next 25 pass holders who comprise "Group Two," etc. A sticker on the pass would establish the group to which the person belongs and would determine the order for entering the venue.


A-list actors discussing their careers was a heavily hyped and hugely anticipated element of the TCM festival; missing most of those presentations was majorly disappointing.

We sacrificed attending any Saturday morning matinee to facilitate attending a talk by Michael Douglas. Roughly 50 people were in the "steerage" line when we arrived nearly two hours before the start time. We knew that so many elites would show up that we would not get in and left.

Attending a screening (for which we arrived 90 minutes early) as an alternative to the Douglas event precluded arriving 90 minutes early to try to see Lee Grant, who was speaking in the Club TCM that was advertised as a benefit of a Classic pass.

Aside from many relevant suggestions in these posts on the festival, a common sense solution regarding celebrity presentations is to simulcast them for Classic members in Club TCM when feasible and additionally rebroadcast them at announced times during the festival.


In true trilogy style, the third post in this series focuses on the many small ways that the organizers could have made the festival more enjoyable for the folks who paid $800 or $649 a head to have the advertised experience.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding any festival-related musings is strongly encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

'Such Good People' DVD: Not Another Gay Comic Caper Movie

The breaking glass pictures DVD release of the 2014 screwball comedy "Such Good People" is a prime example of the numerous breaking films that show that gay-themed movies can be as mainstream as productions that center around straight people. The most prominent instance of this is the group of breaking "one who got away" films, which include the (Unreal TV reviewed) "Lazy Eye" and the (also covered) "Retake." As previously mentioned in this space, this effort earns breaking founders Rich Wolff and Richard Ross Grand Marshal honors at any Pride parade anywhere in the world.

Another "circle of life" aspect of "People" is that producer/writer David Michael Barrett also fills those roles on the 2015 breaking (and also Unreal TV reviewed) gay-themed murder mystery Kiss Me, Kill Me." The connections continue with "Kiss" starring gay-themed series "Queer as Folk" stud Gale Harold and "People" starring Harold's "Queer" love interest Randy Harrison. Further, it is highly likely that the trio of unbelievably cute labradoodles in "People" includes Barrett's "daughter" Zoey.

Harrison plays (not very hairy) potter Alex, who is married to event planner Richard. Just as Alex is a toned-down version of Harrison's twink Justin on "Queer," "Ugly Betty" vet Michael Urie portrays Richard as an understated version of his character on that series.

The following YouTube clip of the "Good" trailer provides a good sense of the film by balancing the screwball and the gay aspects of it. It also chooses wisely regarding including glimpses of most of the best scenes in the movie.

Our apartment-dwelling boys are spending their leisure time driving around looking at the types of homes they aspire to own one day when they discover a large party occurring at one such mid-century abode. The first bit of the karma/destiny that is a major theme in the film is that the boys decide to crash the event on seeing that Alex's despised half-sister Paige and her husband Cooper are in attendance. Anyone with a "Daddy's girl" sibling who always has enjoyed most-favored nation status while Daddy has treated us like a third-world country with no valuable natural resources can relate to the Alex/Paige dynamic. This relationship/rivalry continues having a central role throughout "People."

On meeting homeowner/realtor/philanthropist/? Jake (whom "Party of Fiver" vet Scott Wolff portrays well) and  Chloe Jones, our boys experience another case of fate that leads to their house sitting and caring for the aforementioned dogs while the Joneses are on one of their regular trips to the Himalayans to help the orphans of Bhutan. 

Soon after (temporarily) moving into their dream house, Alex and Richard discover a secret room where almost $1M in cash is hidden. Being told soon after making that find that Jake and Chloe died in a freak accident and did not leave any heirs prompt our boys to take the money and run. Their initial efforts to use the money in the manner that they believe that the recently deceased "such good people" would desire leads to justify using the found loot to buy the house. The motivations for doing so include that Paige and Cooper also want to make that purchase.

The hilarity that ensues include encounters with grand larceny scene-stealer/gay icon Lance Bass as the hyper-enthusiastic head of a porpoise charity, Urie "Betty" co-star Ana Ortiz as a tough police detective investigating the crimes centering around our leads, and a perversely hilarious dognapping. Those of us who have experienced the panic of a deeply loved "baby" going missing can relate to the hysterical reaction of Alex on finding that the labradoodles have been grabbed.

Arguably, karma prevails regarding the neo-West Hollywood ending that Barrett delivers. The best news regarding all this is that neither Zoey nor any other labradoodles are harmed in the making of this film.

The "Such Good Deleted Scenes" and "Such Good Bloopers" that the DVD special features greatly enhance an already fun film. A highlight of the former is Ortiz's detective holding a press conference after putting out an alert in response to being told of the grabbing of the dog; a great theme in the latter is Urie experiencing great frustration regarding the car that he and Harrison own in the film.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "People" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

'Seven Days in May' BD: Cold War Tale of Internal Military Plot to Takeover Presidency

The Warner Archive May 2, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1964 John Frankenheimer (of "The Manchurian Candidate" fame) political thriller timely shows the potential for art to imitate life in 2017. Having "Twilight Zone" driving force Rod Serling as the screenwriter greatly enhances this behind-the-camera cred.

The suspected vast right-wing conspiracy this time is that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General James Scott (an awesome Burt Lancaster) literally and figuratively is amassing the troops to take down President Jordan Lyman. This choice of name for the Commander-in-Chief and Hollywood royalty Frederic March looking and acting very much like then real-life POTUS Lyndon Johnson contribute to the realism of this film.

The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN "Days" trailer concisely lays out the plot and provides a sense of the build-up of tension during the titular week. The not-so-great picture and sound of this promo. demonstrates the good job of Archive regarding remastering the film and presenting it in Blu-ray.

The known impetus for the possible plans for a coup d'etat is that Lyman is on the brink of entering a monumentally game-changing treaty with the Russians. Frankheimer establishes the intense feelings of the American public regarding this in opening scenes of clashing pro and con demonstrators marching (no pun intended) in front of the White House. The fact that Lyman has an approval rating of 29 percent (imagine that!) indicates that the better dead than red folks outnumber those who advocate giving peace a chance.

The man in the middle of all this is "meddling kid" Col. Martin "Jiggs" Casey, which is a perfect role for upright and honorable Kirk Douglas. An odd off-hand remark by a loose-lipped junior officer leads to other circumstantial evidence that leads to Casey taking the bold step of requesting an emergency private meeting with Lyman.

Lyman and his kitchen cabinet of most trusted advisers then meet to determine the best course of action. (Fans of "Psycho" and/or the "All in the Family" spin-off "Archie Bunker's Place" will delight in seeing Martin Balsam as presidential aide Paul Girard.)  The group decides to trust but verify in the form of Lyman sending these supporters out to check out the various indications of the alleged imminent effort of Scott to circumvent the electoral process.

The investigation involves sending Girard to meet the one member of the Joint Chiefs who is believed to not be in on the plot; Casey goes to meet with the scorned former lover (whom former Mrs. Mickey Rooney and Mrs. Frank Sinatra Ava Gardner understands well) of Scott who is believed to have relevant information. Loyal but stereotypically alcoholic and lazy Georgia Senator Clark (Edmond O'Brien gets the praise for this one) goes to find a suspected covert military base in the Texas desert.

The suspense builds as the credible evidence of the coup increases, Scott responds to that development, and the date of the military exercise around which the coup is centered approaches. As Lyman states, he losing his job is less of a concern than the possibility of  the American democratic system falling apart.

Cinephiles who are familiar with "Candidate" and other Frankenheimer dramas know that he is skilled at building the aforementioned tension and the drama. He takes things to the brink and how they work out is anyone's guess. One spoiler is that either a literal or a figurative smoking gun plays a major (no pun intended) in the outcome. One unnervingly believable element of every aspect of the film is that all the action occurs under the noses of a blissfully unsuspecting public.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Days" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

'Tie the Knot' DVD: Tara Reid's Big Fat Indian Wedding

Monarch Home Entertainment once again charmingly goes Hallmark Channel regarding the February 21, 2017 DVD of the 2016 Tara Reid (a.k.a. the best chum in the "Sharknado" franchise) romcom "Tie the Knot." The variation on this Heigl-dominated genre is that Reid plays LA-based school teacher Beatrice who gets wrapped up in arranged marriage-related drama during a trip to India.

The following YouTube clip of the spoiler-laden "Knot" trailer does a good good job highlighting the intertwined Heiglness and Indian culture elements of the film.

Having the mother of all mothers prompts Beatrice to flee to Mumbai at the same time that fellow India-born Los Angelino rising-star surgeon Sonia is returning to her native land in response to a report of a family emergency. The two connect in that faroff land when Sonia rescues Beatrice from a situation that is the making of an unreasonable male store clerk.

These newly kindred spirits then follow the modern urban woman model of emulating "Sex and the City" by going to a bar to indulge in fruity cocktails served in martini glasses. This is where dreamy bartender/musician/surrogate father Kavi enters the picture.

Kavi and Sonia despite the latter bowing to pressure by her mother to go on a series of dates with arranged marriage candidates. The amusing stereotypes among those men include the egotistical brute who is seeking a comically large dowry and forbids any friendships with men.

Meanwhile, Beatrice is exploring the possibility of a teacher-exchange program with a school in India. The resulting culture shock is an eye-opener for both that educator and the audience.

The events of the trip greatly follow Sonia on her return to the United States to perform a highly publicized groundbreaking operation. Of course, the complications include those of the romantic variety.

The standard romcom elements of the final scenes include disrupting a wedding to Mr Not Quite Right. An unexpected aspect of this (and of many other plot points) is very true to the Indian spirit of "Knot."

Writer/director Shuja Paul clearly shows throughout the film that he understands both Indian culture and the challenges faced by modern American Indian women. Fortunately for the rest of us, this is entertaining.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Knot" is welcome to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Friday, May 12, 2017

'Where's Huddles' CS DVD: Tales of a Modern Gridiron Family

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The DVD release of the Hanna-Barbera "lost series" "Where's Huddles" finding its way into the Unreal TV DVD collection in May 2017 nicely coincides with the (Unreal TV reviewed) "Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning" exhibit that is running at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. That extensive display, which runs through May 29 2017, pays even more homage to HB than (as demonstrated below) "Huddles."]

Warner Archive once again digs deep into the Hanna-Barbera (HB) vault regarding the DVD release of the complete series of the 1970 CBS prime time summer series "Where's Huddles?" The Archive awesomeness this time relates to "Huddles" incorporating scads of the best elements of classic HB series. The underlying war of the neighbors adds a dose of real-life to this animated world.

The following YouTube clip of the "Huddles" opening showcases most of the HB references that comprise most of this review.

The accurate comparisons between "Huddles" and the '60s HB classic "The Flintstones" that are obligatory for any discussion of the former are only the tip of the iceberg. Modern neanderthal/quarterback Ed Huddles is best friends with even denser short and stout neighbor/teammate Bubba McCoy, whom vocieover actor Mel Blanc makes sound like his very similar Barney Rubble of "Flintstones." Further, Chez Huddles is a scaled-down football stadium inside and out.

The primary differences between The Flintstone clan (and the clones that include "The Jetsons" and the (Unreal TV reviewed) "The Roman Holidays") and the '70s middle-America Huddles family is that the Huddles and their friends enjoy an existence that largely is the same as any other '70s American family. None of the football-themed elements of the Huddles lifestyle are anything that someone with enough money and inclination could not acquire. Further, all the appliances and modern conveniences are just that, rather than repurposed animals or other resources of the era.

Other common elements with "The Flintstones" are that the Huddles have a cute baby girl named PomPom and a helmet-wearing dog named Fumbles. The McCoys are childless, but it seems inevitable that a later season would have brought them a super-strong baby boy.

"Flintstones" veterans in addition to Blanc include Jean "Wilma" Vander Pyl as Huddles spouse Marge and Alan "Fred" Reed as the coach of Huddle's team.

These similarities extend to the first episode of "Huddles" having virtually the same plot as the "Flintstones" pilot. Both episodes revolve around the central neighbors/best friends becoming openly warring enemies after jointly investing in a swimming pool.

The next "Huddles" episode also pays a direct homage by centering around Bubba (like the portly Fred) having to go on a diet. The "Flintstones"/"Honeymooners" vibe also is particularly strong in an episode in which hilarity ensues after Ed finds money that Marge has been saving for his birthday gift. The only thing missing is Ed/Fred/Ralph telling Marge/Wilma/Alice that he is a heel/bum.

Snickering and muttering hound Muttley/Mumbly voicer Don Messick using similar vocalizations to bring Fumbles to life illustrates (pun intended) the broader HB elements of  "Huddles." Other aspects are Marge Huddles looking similar to Josie of the HB cartoon "Josie and the Pussycats" and McCoy spouse Penny looking even more like Melanie from "Josie."

"Huddles" ventures further into HB territory via equally vicious attacks by Pertwee's cat Beverly and Fumbles directed at each other. This directly coincides with the playbook that dictates the interaction between Boo the cat and Elmo the dog on the "Scooby" clone "The Funky Phantom."

On a larger level, "Huddles" is about the ongoing open battle between our jocks and their prissy attorney neighbor Claude Pertwee, whom Paul Lynde wonderfully snidely brings to life in the same manner that he voices "The Perils of Penelope Pitstop" villain The Hooded Claw/Sylvester Sneekly and a few other HB roles. Early plots have our boys covertly building the pool in response to Pertwee trying to block that project, Pertwee trying to sabotage the aforementioned diet for his own selfish purpose, and the old fix-the-car before the mean owner returns plot.

The vast majority of us who have either been the slobs or the snobs in a relationship such as the one among the pro athletes and the legal eagle next door can relate to the animosity between them being so strong that they do not even try to hold their punches. Our current dystopian times and the readiness of neighbors to involve the criminal or the legal system in the dispute only exacerbates such situations.

The post-game analysis of all this is that Hanna and Barbera score a touchdown regarding setting a "Flintstones" clone that also honors several other HB classics in our world.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Huddles" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

'36 Hours' BD: Intelligence Officer James Garner Discovers Nazis Have Clever Ways of Making Him Talk

The Warner Archive April 11, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1964 WWII-era thriller "36 Hours" solves the problem of finding a Father's Day gift that Dad will enjoy. Although he (and the rest of us) will come to the film looking forward to the roguish charm and sarcastic wit of star James Garner, the film delivers so much more. Two other "TV Land" show stars joining "The Rockford Files" lead Garner is a nice bonus.

The YouTube clip below of the (spoiler-containing) "Hours" trailer includes a good primer on the plot and a whole lotta Garner. The narrator sounding so much like Rod Serling that he may be him further adds to the surreal vibe of this promo.

The most unexpected element in this film bursting with surprises is that this tale about concentration camps and Nazi interrogation tactics is based on a story by children's author Roald Dahl. Then again "Hours" director/screen writer is "Miracle on 34th Street" writer George Seaton.

Garner plays U.S. Army Major Jefferson "Jeff" Pike, who is spending the war as an England-based intelligence officer. Seeing Alan Napier of '66 "Batman," which is the subject of an Unreal TV essay, fame as the commanding officer/friend of Pike is one of the aforementioned "TV Land" surprises in "Hours."

Pike is among the few people in the world with detailed knowledge of the 1944 D-Day invasion that is scheduled to commence in a few days. The latest mission that he chooses to accept is to gather more information regarding the extent of the knowledge of the Germans regarding that event. An interesting element of these early scenes is a moment of foreshadowing that anyone who has ever watched a "Scooby-Doo" program or film should note.

Knowing the value of Pike as an information source, the Germans grab him while he is on his mission and transport him to a faux U.S. Army hospital that the Nazis use for situations such as this. One difference is that the stakes are much higher this time.

The bill of goods that the Nazis go to extraordinary lengths to sell Pike is that it is 1950, that the Allies have won the war, and that he is in the hospital because of recurring bouts of amnesia. Nazi Major Walter Gerber (whom Rod Taylor seems born to portray) poses as the American doctor who is treating Pike. The basis for the ruse is that Pike recalling everything that he knows about D-Day is an important element of his recovery.

Another element of this plan is to have German nurse with a tragic past Anna (regarding whom Eva Marie Saint shows that she can more than keep up with the boys) convince Pike that they have a close relationship and that he can trust her with all his secrets. A Saint monologue on the nature of concentration camps is award worthy.

The titular time frame is one of many elements of suspense in "Hours." It provides the deadline that Gerber faces before his colleagues who have more unpleasant means of making someone talk get a crack at Pike. An interrogation in which the Germans are making progress provides an even more "Scooby" caliber moment regarding the reaction of "company man" Otto Schack on hearing Gerber discuss the downfall of the upper echelon Nazis.

All of the related moving parts contribute further suspense regarding whether Pike falls for the trick and whether he has inadvertent loose lips. The Nazis still must judge any provided information in the uncertain context of whether Pike gives it knowing that he is the victim of a hoax. The Nazis further must evaluate whether any provided information seems plausible.

An additional great aspect of "Hours" is putting human faces on the three main Nazis in the film; this truly shows that they are not much different than us. We learn that the work of Gerber has more noble roots than an interrogation technique; that the war has turned Anna into someone whom she never thought that she would be but is fine with, and that being on the winning team is the primary objective of Schack.

John Banner of the soon-to-be WWII POW camp sitcom "Hogan's Heroes" playing a Schultz-like Sergeant in the Home Guard rounds out the trio of "TV Land" types in "Hours." Ernst in the film is looking out for Ernst in manners that include looking the other way and otherwise abetting activities that are detrimental to the Third Reich if the price is right.

All of the above being presented in a largely unsentimental manner should make Dad's day. The rest of can just be grateful that watching "Hours" provides an alternative to suffering through a family barbecue.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hours" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.