History, Legacy & Showmanship

Christmas Vacation is a perfect blend of festive nostalgia and domestic anarchy.” — Thomas A. Christie, author of A Righteously Awesome Eighties Christmas

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 30th anniversary of the release of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the third entry in the popular Vacation series starring Chevy Chase (Saturday Night Live, Caddyshack, Fletch) as Clark Griswold.

Also starring Beverly D’Angelo (American History X) as Ellen Griswold, Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers) as Audrey Griswold, Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory) as Rusty Griswold, and Randy Quaid (The Last Detail) as Cousin Eddie, Christmas Vacation opened in theaters across North America 30 years ago this December.

For the occasion The Bits features a Q&A with pop culture historian and Christmas-movie authority Thomas A. Christie, who discuss the film’s virtues and enduring appeal. [Read more here...]

All right, first things first today: Criterion has just announced its February 2020 slate of Blu-ray and DVD titles.

Look for it to include Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (Spine #1014 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 2/11, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema (Spine #1013 – Blu-ray and DVD) and an updating of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Antoni Gaudí (Spine #425 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 2/18, and Jeannie Livingston’s Paris is Burning (Spine #1018 – Blu-ray and DVD) and Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman (Blu-ray and DVD) on 2/25. That last set includes Journey to the Beginning of Time (Spine #1015), Invention for Destruction (Spine #1016), and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (Spine #1017). You can read more here at the Criterion website.

Those are all fine titles, but Roma is particularly appreciated given that it was a Netflix release last year and hasn’t been available on physical media yet.

Also today, our own Michael Coate has a new History, Legacy & Showmanship column here at The Bits—first posted yesterday afternoon—in which he looks back at James Cameron’s The Abyss with historian Matthew Kapell in honor of the film’s 30th anniversary. It’s a great piece, so do give it a look. And who knows? Maybe it will remind the director that he’s got a new 4K HDR grade of the film to approve so we can all watch it on Blu-ray and UHD sooner rather than later. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

The Abyss does something that every single Cameron film does: explores new frontiers in the technology of film making. And that’s important.” — Matthew Kapell, editor of The Films of James Cameron: Critical Essays

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 30th anniversary of the release of The Abyss, James Cameron’s (The Terminator, Titanic) underwater sci-fi adventure starring Ed Harris (The Right Stuff) and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Color of Money).

Also starring Michael Biehn (Aliens) and featuring groundbreaking visual effects, The Abyss opened thirty years ago this past summer. For the occasion The Bits features a package of statistics and box-office data that places the movie’s performance in context, along with passages from vintage film reviews, a reference/historical listing of the movie’s showcase presentations, and, finally, an interview segment with a film historian who reflects on the film three decades after its debut. [Read on here...]

The Twilight Zone was an enormously creative television series anchored by one of the true giants of the medium, Mr. Rod Serling, a master storyteller who was given unprecedented control over his work. In terms of quality, no show touches it in consistent quality.” — Steven Jay Rubin, author of The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 60th anniversary of The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s classic anthology series which originally ran on CBS from 1959 to 1964.

The Twilight Zone premiered sixty years ago this month and for the occasion The Bits features a Q&A with a quartet of Rod Serling authorities and classic television historians who reflect on the timeless series (and its offspring) six decades after its debut. [Read on here...]

Paint Your Wagon is remembered as a standalone oddity in the careers of Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood.” — Matthew Kennedy, author of Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the golden anniversary of the release of Paint Your Wagon, the Oscar-nominated cinematic interpretation of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical which starred Lee Marvin (Cat Ballou, Point Blank), Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry, Unforgiven) and Jean Seberg (Pendulum, Airport).

Paint Your Wagon — directed by Joshua Logan (South Pacific, Camelot) and which also featured Harve Presnell (The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Fargo) and Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) — opened 50 years ago this month. For the occasion, The Bits features an historical reference listing of the film’s major-market roadshow engagements and a Q&A with film historian Matthew Kennedy, who discusses the film’s virtues, shortcomings and legacy. [Read on here...]

We’ve got a bunch of new disc reviews coming over the next week or so, starting with a couple later today. So be sure to watch for them.

We do have a new History, Legacy & Showmanship column from our own Michael Coate today, celebrating the 50th anniversary of TV’s classic The Brady Bunch. It features a new interview with historian Herbie J. Pilato, and is well worth a read if you’re a fan. You’ll find it here.

Meanwhile, we’ve got a bunch of release news to report today, so let’s get started...

First up, our friends at The Home Theater Forum have revealed that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is going to be releasing Farscape: The Complete Series – 20th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray on 11/19. The set will include all 88 episodes of the series along with 15 hours of extras and – at long last on BD here in the States – the series finale miniseries Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. The aspect ratio is 1.33 for most of the series, but the last season and film are 1.78. Audio will be DTS-HD MA 5.1. Extras will include audio commentary, featurettes and documentaries, director’s cuts, TV promos, etc. We don’t know if this will be a complete carry-over of the previous DVD and BD extras, but we’ll have to wait and see. You can see the cover artwork at left. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

The Brady Bunch is ’comfort TV’ to the highest degree.” — Classic TV historian Herbie J Pilato

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the golden anniversary of the premiere of The Brady Bunch, the classic family sitcom which originally ran on ABC from 1969 to 1974 and starred Florence Henderson as Carol/Mom, Robert Reed as Mike/Dad and Ann B. Davis as housekeeper Alice.

The series (and ultimately franchise) — created by Sherwood Schwartz (Gilligan’s Island, It’s About Time) and featuring as the memorable Brady kids Barry Williams (Greg), Maureen McCormick (Marcia), Christopher Knight (Peter), Eve Plumb (Jan), Mike Lookinland (Bobby) and Susan Olsen (Cindy) — premiered 50 years ago this month, and for the occasion The Bits features a Q&A with classic television historian Herbie J Pilato, who offers some recollections and insight into the timeless series. [Read more here...]

We’ve got some quick but interesting release news for you today, but first...

Our own Michael Coate has posted his History, Legacy and Showmanship retrospective on the James Bond film Licence to Kill, in honor of its recent 30th anniversary. The piece includes a roundtable discussion with film historians Thomas A. Christie, John Cork, and Andrew McNess. Enjoy!

Now, let’s get right to that news...

It appears that Criterion is about to announce their long-awaited Godzilla: The Showa Era Blu-ray box set, based on a leaked listing that appeared on Target.com (see link here). SRP for the set is expected to be $149.99. The Showa Era (1954-1975) would include essentially the first 15 films in the series, including Godzilla, Godzilla Raids Again, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Invasion of Astro-Monster, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, Son of Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, All Monsters Attack, Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and Terror of Mechagodzilla. This could be Spine #1000, but we’ll have to wait and see when Criterion makes their official announcement. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents
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