That’s Entertainment! (1974) Jack Haley, Jr.

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That’s Entertainment! (1974)
Written, produced and directed by Jack Haley, Jr.
Cinematography by Russell Metty
Warner Blu-ray (2:14)

For many years, I have hated musicals. My friends and co-workers have known this for years and were understandably shocked and confused when I chose Singin’ in the Rain for inclusion in our library’s Great Movies series last year. I also tell them that the main reason I hate musicals is that I played trumpet in far too many little theater pit orchestras (both out of obligation and necessity) when I was younger. The long hours of never-ending rehearsals can really wear you down, especially when you’re in your early to mid-20s and have the energy to do something besides waiting for one of the actors to find the right key or listen to the director arguing with the conductor over whether or not a certain verse can be cut from a song.

But that’s beginning to change. I still do not enjoy professional-level Broadway musicals performed onstage, but I’m discovering that movie musicals contain a sort of magic you just can’t find anywhere else. That’s why That’s Entertainment! (and no doubt its sequels) should be shown to people like me who think they hate musicals.

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The Swimmer (1968) Frank Perry

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The Swimmer (1968)
Directed by Frank Perry, Sydney Pollack (uncredited)
Produced by Roger Lewis, Frank Perry
Cinematography by David L. Quaid
Edited by Sidney Katz, Carl Lerner, Pat Somerset
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Written by Eleanor Perry, based on a short story by John Cheever
Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray (1:35)

The Swimmer is in many ways a product of the 60s, yet with the exception of a few techniques (and a few swimsuits) that link it to its era, the film transcends its time, making it as relevant in 2017 as it was nearly 50 years ago. (Speaking of 50, let’s just get this out of the way right now. Burt Lancaster was 53 when the film was made. Remember that when you see him diving into swimming pools wearing swimming trunks and moving around like he’s in his 30s. He looks amazing.)

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Monkey Business (1931) Norman Z. McLeod

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Monkey Business (1931) Norman Z. McLeod
Universal – The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection Blu-ray (1:19)

Monkey Business is the third Marx Brothers film, but the first to be shot from an original screenplay. (The first two, The Cocoanuts (1929) and Animal Crackers (1930), were by and large adaptations of their Broadway shows.) Is it a better film than Animal Crackers? Is it their best film before Duck Soup (1933)?

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When Your Blu-ray Player Bites the Dust

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My Blu-ray player gave up the ghost/bit the dust/crapped out – choose your favorite phrase – last night. (Not my player pictured above – It’s not that bad!) I’ve ordered a new one, but until it arrives, my options are streaming from Amazon, Netflix or Hulu.

Suggestions? If you’re reading this blog, you know that I primarily like film noir, neonoir, suspense and maybe the occasional horror film. Criterions are good, too.

So let’s do this: give me some titles, I’ll pick one at random and review it here on the blog in the next couple of days while I’m waiting for my new player to arrive. And to make it a little more fun, give me your one sentence pitch on why I should watch your selection. (If I’ve seen it before, I’ll let you know.)

Let the suggestions begin! Thanks in advance!

Photo: Audubon

Panic in Year Zero (1962) Ray Milland

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Panic in Year Zero (1962) Ray Milland
Kino Lorber DVD – library (1:32)

Most American International pictures focused on two primary goals: make movies that interest teenagers and make ‘em cheap. Panic in Year Zero doesn’t exactly break the mold, although teen interest (casting Frankie Avalon and Mary Mitchel) joins two seasoned veteran actors: Ray Milland and Jean Hagen in a disaster/end-of-the-world flick that still holds up pretty well.

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