29 December 2009

The Christmas Haul

It's been a rather unproductive December around these parts, I know. First and foremost, I hope your end-of-the-year holiday was happy (or merry, or joyous, or whatever modifier you prefer). Secondly, I'm off from work this week (as I was most of last week). Sitting around with little to do is kind of like reliving where I was last year, only with money. Speaking of which, I got a DVD player for Christmas, and proceeded to spend said money establishing the beginnings of a classic film DVD collection (after spending three days snowed-in at my parents' house, that is).

The first artifact to catch my eye at the local Barnes & Noble franchise was TCM's Buster Keaton Collection. It won't come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me that I grabbed this set as much for Keaton's leading ladies as for the Great Stone Face himself -- the collection features Spite Marriage (1929), co-starring Dorothy Sebastian, and Free and Easy (1930), co-starring Anita Page. Well worth the price of admission, I'd say. Also included is The Cameraman (1928), Buster's first picture under contract at MGM.

Next up was the three-disc deluxe edition of The Jazz Singer (1927), the first major talking picture in the history of cinema. This is one hell of a package -- all manner of neat little Vitaphone shorts are included, as well as a few surviving excerpts from the lost Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929). On top of that, the set comes with all sorts of other little goodies -- photos, reproduction programs, etc. This is definitely a must-have for classic movie nerds.

Finally, I could pass up the chance to nab a copy of TCM's Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 2. This set contains five pictures: The Divorcee (1930) and A Free Soul (1931), both starring Norma Shearer, Three on a Match (1932) with Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak, Bette Davis and (briefly!) Humphrey Bogart, Female (1933) with Ruth Chatterton and George Brent, and Night Nurse (1931), featuring Barbara Stanwyck in a nurse's outfit (and yes, that is as sexy as it sounds).

Next on the wish list: The Busby Berkeley Collection.

22 December 2009

Musical Interlude: A Bit of the Old Ludwig Van

Perhaps thirty minutes might be pushing the boundaries of what constitutes an interlude, but here is one of those happy instances where quantity and quality go hand in hand. Although not as renowned as his fifth or ninth symphonies, Ludwig Van Beethoven's seventh symphony is no less of a masterpiece. Add to this potent formula the fact that the piece is here performed by the great Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, and you might just have what one commenter called the best video on youtube. If you have half an hour to kill, give this great piece of music a listen (or put in on in the background while you read a book or fold laundry or whatever it is you do).

10 December 2009

Free Associations, Ep. 11: Song and Dance Edition

Hokey love songs? Check! Unsubtle sexual double entendres ? Check! Oddly effeminate male backup dancers? Check! Silly hats? You betcha!

07 December 2009

Jersey Girls

Joan Bennett - Palisades Park, New Jersey

Alice White - Paterson, New Jersey

Sally O'Neil - Bayonne, New Jersey

Ruth Harriet Louise - New Brunswick, New Jersey