Burnt Offerings: MOD DVD

Burnt Offerings For August 20: Support After 68!

August 20, 2013 - 12:30 pm   |   By 

Before we get to this week’s new releases, I’d like to draw your attention to a worthwhile documentary project on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo.  If you’re reading this column, you probably have some interest in classic Hollywood and the history of Los Angeles.  If so, check out After 68, a documentary on the rise and fall of L.A.’s historic Ambassador Hotel.

The Ambassador and its adjacent nightclub, the Cocoanut Grove, was one of the key hot spots in Los Angeles, particularly throughout the 30s and 40s.  It hosted two Academy Award ceremonies, was frequented by pretty much every major star you can think of, and was used as a filming location for everything from The Graduate to Tobe Hooper’s Toolbox Murders, which is how I was able to visit it.  [...]

The Ambassador was also the site of the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, a tragedy that essentially marked the beginning of the end for the hotel.  It closed to guests in 1989 and was demolished in 2005.  The site is now the home to a very large, very modern school complex.

Director Camilo Silva has been working on After 68, the first documentary feature on the Ambassador’s long, storied history, for years.  Judging by the trailer, he’s got a terrific movie in the works.  His team is now seeking completion funds on Indiegogo and the campaign is entering the home stretch.  Check it out and, if you can, consider becoming a backer. They’ve got some nifty perks for your contribution, too.

And now, let’s take a look at what’s new from the Warner Archive collection this week.

Bomba The Jungle Boy, Volume 2 (1952-55) – Johnny Sheffield’s B-grade Tarzan returns with the final six entries in this adventure series.  The titles include African Treasure, Bomba And The Jungle Girl, Safari Drums, The Golden Idol, The Killer Leopard and Lord Of The Jungle.  Bombas away!

Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939) – The rest of this week’s offerings are all previously released titles coming back into print.  Robert Donat won the Oscar for his role as the devoted schoolteacher in this beloved classic.

Kitty Foyle (1940) – And Ginger Rogers won her Oscar as the working class title character in this romance.

Presenting Lily Mars (1943) – Judy Garland’s a small-town gal looking for her big break on Broadway in this fairly routine musical.  Some good music, though, including “Broadway Rhythm”.

Johnny Belinda (1948) – Another Oscar-winning performance with Jane Wyman as a deaf-mute girl in a remote fishing community.  After she’s raped, she’s further traumatized by her inability to communicate what happened to anyone.  Lew Ayres plays the sympathetic doctor who tries to help her.

The Red Badge Of Courage (1951) – John Huston had a difficult time bringing Stephen Crane’s Civil War novel to the screen, clashing with the studio and losing control of the final cut.  It’s still worth seeing but it’s a shame that the footage from Huston’s director’s cut has probably been destroyed.

The Master Of Ballantrae (1953) – Errol Flynn is comfortably in his swashbuckling wheelhouse in this adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel.

The Loved One (1965) – One of my all-time favorite comedies is finally back in print.  Robert Morse stars as a young poet who takes a job at a Hollywood cemetery.  The bizarre all-star cast includes Jonathan Winters, John Gielgud, Milton Berle, James Coburn, Liberace and Rod Steiger as Mr. Joyboy.  This one’s a gem.

Gummo (1997) – Capitalizing on the success of Spring Breakers, here’s Harmony Korine’s first directorial effort.  Personally, I find Korine’s work to be relentlessly unpleasant and pointless but if you’re a fan, knock yourself out.

THIS WEEK’S REVIEW

Set free by Warner Archive from its prehistoric block of glacier ice, it’s Captain Caveman And The Teen Angels!

- Dr. Adam Jahnke

 

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In 50 years or so, the @Criterion edition of The Interview will make a nice bookend with The Great Dictator.

by Adam Jahnke