Tuesday, February 22, 2011
What to say about BAMBI that hasn’t been said before? This is a favorite animated film of many, and with good reason. The animation, with the use of the multi-plane camera to add depth to the scenes, is still impressive. Not to mention the story. The scene, in the snow, with Bambi in the woods calling for...well, in the off chance you haven’t seen the film in the past seventy years, I won’t give it away. But it is still powerful today.
The Blu-ray transfer is, as per Disney’s usual standards, quite stunning. It may not be as awe inducing as the recent releases of FANTASIA or ALICE IN WONDERLAND, but that is only because it has always had a more subdued color palette. The film does look the best it probably ever has.
There are all sorts of extras.
New to Blu-ray is an introduction by Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. There are two new deleted scenes, along with a deleted song. These are all recreated from story notes.
The big new feature is the “Inside Walt’s Story Meetings” viewing option. When you watch the film in this mode, you can hear actors reciting transcripts of Walt and his animators discussing the film during the writing process. Early animation and illustrations are also onscreen to illustrate.
Like the other recent Disney animated films, the film is available in Disney View mode with original artwork on the sides of the screen to fill up a widescreen TV.
The Blu-ray also contains the extras from the previous DVD which include documentaries on the making of the film, excerpts from a 1957 TV episode, as well as THE OLD MILL animated short which also used the multiplane camera.
Also included with the Blu-ray is a DVD version of the film.
The Blu-ray also contains a new feature, "Second screen". With this (that I was unable to test) you can watch the Blu-ray and sync up a laptop or iPad to give you extra trivia notes, animated segments, and more while you watch the film.
Once again, Disney releases the definitive edition of a classic film on Blu-ray. If you like the film and have a Blu-ray player, don’t miss it.
BAMBI will be available March 1, 2011 from Walt Disney Home Video
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The theme song of SUNDAY IN NEW YORK, co-written by Peter Nero and sung by Mel Torme, may be better remembered than the 1963 film it is from. The film is now finally available on DVD through the Warner Archive.
Based on a Broadway play by Norman Krasna (WHITE CHRISTMAS, MR AND MRS SMITH, IT'S A DATE, BACHELOR MOTHER) who also adapted it for the screen, SUNDAY IN NEW YORK was directed by Peter Tewksbury, who, other than a couple Elvis movies, worked mainly in TV, directing episodes of FATHER KNOWS BEST and MY THREE SONS.
Jane Fonda, in one of her first starring roles, plays Eileen. She visits New York City one Sunday to get romantic advice from her brother, pilot Adam (Cliff Robertson). Eileen is being pressured by her boyfriend (Robert Culp) to sleep with him. Only, she doesn't know if she should wait for marriage.
Adam tells her that she is doing the right thing by waiting, even though his plans for that Sunday were to get some alone time with his girlfriend.
While out in the city, Eileen meets Mike (Rod Taylor). The two see the sights, including a couple of great sequences in Central Park (look for an uncredited Jim Hutton) and Rockefeller Center.
Then, a rainstorm hits. This, along with a surprise visit from Eileen's boyfriend, create all sorts of complications.
While the film displays its stage origins, and its subject matter may be a bit dated, this is still a very entertaining film. The entire cast is quite good, especially the largely forgotten Rod Taylor. Jim Backus also appears as the head of Robertson's airline.
As with all titles released through the Warner Archive, the only extra on the film is a trailer. The transfer looks very nice, with bright colors.
SUNDAYS IN NEW YORK is available now through the Warner Archive.
Posted by TALKING MOVIEzzz at 11:18 AM
Friday, February 04, 2011
Charles E. Sellier Jr passed away at the age of 67 at his home in Idaho. Sellier may have been best known as the creator of GRIZZLY ADAMS, he was also one of the most important independent filmmakers / producers of the 1970's. I didn't think that the New York Times obituary this morning gave a full impact on his legacy. In fact, it didn't even mention some of the most interesting aspects of his career, and didn't even name the studio he created, Sunn Classic Pictures.
Sellier began making wilderness adventure films in the early 1970's. The most famous of these was 1974's THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GRIZZLY ADAMS. Best known for its short lived and well remembered 1977 TV series, the film was first with Dan Haggerty in the title role (even though his dialogue was dubbed by another actor in the film).
While GRIZZLY ADAMS may have been his best known film, he was one of the pioneers of the "speculative documentary". These films, to paraphrase Roger Ebert "asked a lot of questions but answered none".
Usually narrated by Brad Crandall, Sellier produced such films as IN SEARCH OF NOAH'S ARK, IN SEARCH OF HISTORIC JESUS, the reincarnation film BEYOND AND BACK, the Big Foot / Loch Ness doc MYSTERIOUS MONSTERS, THE AMAZING WORLD OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENA, THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE and, my personal favorite, the Abraham Lincoln conspiracy film THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY. ENCOUNTERS WITH DISASTER, a documentary on tragedies throughout history, was directed by Sellier.
Sellier and his Sunn Classic were geniuses at marketing. Using market research, they would "four wall" the films, that is, renting theatres in towns, saturating the market with advertising, and clean up at the box office. Several of their films were among the most profitable of the 1970's. They were also brilliant at creating tie in paperbacks for each film, many written by Sellier himself.
They moved into TV with GRIZZLY ADAMS, as well as a series of films based on the CLASSIC ILLUSTRATED comic books. The best known of these is the Jeff Goldblum starring THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW. They also had a series THE GREATEST HEROES OF THE BIBLE.
Sunn Classics billed itself as a family friendly studio. All the films were G or PG rated. By the end of the 70's and early 80's they were bought out by another company and started to expand. HANGER 18 was an outer space conspiracy film and THE BOOGENS was an R rated horror film. Soon after, the studio disappeared.
Sellier continued in independent filmmaking, making the PG rated skiing comedy SNOWBALLING. He would follow this up with his most controversial film (also not mentioned in the NY Times piece).
At the end of shooting SNOWBALLING, he received a call from an old friend from NBC during the GRIZZLY ADAMS days. The friend was now in charge of Tri-star and had a film that needed a director quickly. Since Sellier had a crew together, he figured he would either have to let them all go, or he could take the film (which could be shot in Utah where he was located) and give them all more work. He decided to make the film.
The film in question?
SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT, the Santa Claus as slasher film. While this seems out of place on his resume of G rated family films, if you hear his reasoning, maybe not. He basically did it to help a friend and to give his crew some work. The film, by today's standards, isn't as awful as the resulting protests made it out to be. Sellier himself was a Born Again Christian who would write books about angels and go on to create many religious films. So, it wasn't intended to be an anti-Christmas film. It was just something to give a crew of filmmakers a paycheck.
Sellier would in 1985 direct his final film, the Vietnam Vets turn vigilante film THE ANNIHILATORS and then return behind the camera where he produced many films such as the DESPERADO series of TV films.
In the early 1990's, Sellier rebooted the Sunn name with a new ANCIENT SECRETS OF THE BIBLE series (which can still be seen on cable today). A return to the speculation documentaries of the 1970's, these explored the historical aspects of different Biblica stories. Aaron Eckhart had one of his first roles as Samson on this series.
Unfortunately, during an episode on Noah's Ark, a man was interviewed who turned out to be a hoaxer. After the episode aired, he came out and stated the fact. The network, upset about being duped, and that he wasn't fact checked more, cancelled future series with Sunn.
In the years since, Sellier went on to found GRIZZLY ADAMS PRODUCTIONS. This company began making direct to video documentaries, many religious in nature.
Sellier's impact on film in the 1970's was a great one. He was on the first jury of what would become the Sundance Film Festival. Sunn Classics can be seen as the forerunner of what you would find today on the History Channel or other cable channels.
And GRIZZLY ADAMS will never be forgotten.
Posted by TALKING MOVIEzzz at 12:07 PM