Friday, July 16, 2010

Mailbox goodness

This is kind of old news, but just on the off chance you’ve not heard—Barnes & Noble is currently conducting a huge honkin’ 50% off sale on Criterion DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. (I originally heard about this from Tom at Motion Picture Gems, who in turn gave full faith and credit to the incomparable Laura at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings.)

There are so many goodies available at half-off that if I were swimming in cash right now I’d simply go mahd and start filling up my shopping cart with everything in sight—they’ve got John Huston’s Wise Blood (1979) at an affordable $19.99, and Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) for $14.99, just for starters. But since things are a little lean here at Rancho Yesteryear, as the saying goes, there can be only one. While I went out on a grocery run with mi madre on Wednesday, I ducked into our B&N (located about a stone’s throw from Publix) and grabbed a copy of Night Train to Munich (1940), which was also half-off at $14.99.

You may recall me mentioning this Criterion release back in May, and it was one disc I was really wanting to take hold. I first saw Munich on West Virginia Public Television back in the 1990s; I had wanted to see it because I enjoyed Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne as Charters and Caldicott in the 1938 Hitchcock classic The Lady Vanishes. The last time Munich was on TV was on the Fox Movie Channel, and the special arrangements I made to TiVo this over at sister Kat’s proved fruitless when she decided it was taking up too much space. (I’ve pretty much given up the idea of recording anything over there anymore—though I was nice enough to call her last night to remind her that TCM was going to run one of her all-time favorites, Better Off Dead… [1985].)

Anyway, Munich is now mine…mine…mine! and I look forward to introducing it to my DVD player very soon. Laura did something along similar lines; in fact, I’d urge you to check out her review. She and I (along with our good friend at 50 Westerns from the 50s) did quite a bit of e-mailing back and forth during’s 20% summer sale (she’s promised me she’s going to check out Timeless Media Group’s The Virginian set when she gets the opportunity and let me know whether it’s worth a flutter)…a sale that netted me a goodie that I received in the mail the other day: the Kino DVD release Lost Keaton: Sixteen Comedy Shorts 1934-37.

Now, I realize that I already had all of the Educational shorts on disc but for some odd reason there was a glitch at DD that allowed me to save 20% on the Kino set even though it wasn’t supposed to be released until the first week of July (DD doesn’t let you apply the 20% on pre-orders…most of the time, anyway). I simply couldn’t allow an opportunity like this to pass me by—I ended up getting the 2-disc collection for $16.04.

Speaking of Lost Keaton, my Facebook chum Jordan R. Young did a nice write-up on the collection here and the New York Times’ inestimable Dave Kehr also has a well-worth-reading review (along with Kino's Blu-Ray release of Steamboat Bill, Jr. [1928]). At the Kino-Lorber blog, there’s an interesting post on the number of covers Team Kino pondered using for the collection before deciding on the finished product. (For what it’s worth, I liked the one pictured to your left. )

Accompanying the Keaton set was Season 4 of The Real McCoys—and I’ve groused about this before in the past, but someone ought to seriously think about hauling Infinity Entertainment into court if they don’t stop calling these releases “The Complete Season (number).” This is blatantly false advertising—they’re anything but complete; Infinity is using the McCoys syndication prints which were edited to allow local stations to cram in a few more local car dealership commercials. I don’t like that the company can’t be bothered to use the original negatives for these releases, but at the same time I’ll buy them only because of the old adage of “given the choice between Scotch and nothing…:” well, you know how that one goes.

I’m a big fan of The Real McCoys—it’s certainly not Noel Coward by any stretch of the imagination, but I liked the characters and performances from the principals (Walter Brennan, Richard Crenna, Kathleen Nolan, Andy Clyde, etc.) and doggone it, the show makes me laugh. Though the family on the series hailed from my home state of West Virginia, the show never made merciless fun of that fact other than to mine laughs from the “fish out of water” concept…and even then the simple ways of the McCoys usually won out in the end. I remember back in 2002 when the University of Virginia’s Pep Band poked fun at the Mountain State by invoking memories of The Beverly Hillbillies and how then-WV Governor Bob Wise was steamed to the point of demanding an apology. I remarked at the time that equating West Virginians with the Clampetts didn’t make much sense since the Hillbillies hailed from the Ozarks—and that Virginia wasn’t smart enough to go with the McCoys instead. (West Virginia once had a Secretary of State, A. James Manchin—affectionately referred to by the late, great Charleston Gazette columnist James Dent as “A. James Hotdog”—who apparently didn’t have enough to keep himself busy since he was always railing about negative stereotypes of the Mountain State. I never did learn what he thought about Grandpappy Amos and his clan.)

As a kid, The Real McCoys was one of those programs that were on the stations you never got but were always dutifully printed up in the TV Guide. I didn’t catch the show until my junior or senior year in high school, when Huntington’s WOWK-TV acquired the reruns for syndication…and I remember they promoted the show heavily, but they had to do that because of the stiff competition they had from THE weekday afternoon show that was kicking their butt in the ratings, my childhood hero Mr. Cartoon (aka WSAZ weatherman Jules Huffman). McCoys was also a staple of The Nashville Network’s schedule until they switched formats and became SpikeTV…but I’d run across it every now and then—I remember they once featured a “reunion” special with Dick Crenna and Kathleen Nolan that I wished I could have watched from beginning to end. Maybe someone at Infinity will read this and include that as an extra on the future collections. I will say this for the company—they are apparently committed to making certain all six seasons of the show are released to DVD (as stated on the back of the box; I’m curious to check out the last season, which is the one where they croaked Nolan’s character after the actress said no mas to any future seasons)…and I intend to hold them to that promise.

Bookmark and Share


Laura said...

Thanks so much for the links and very kind words. You made my day!

Best wishes,

Stacia said...

I got the B&N email notice today and your post reminded me, so I just went and spent way too much on movies but justified it by making it my birthday present. That my birthday is not until October has no bearing on the matter. I got Stagecoach, The Most Dangerous Game, High and Low, The Bad Sleep Well, and Branded to Kill. Woo!

Also, this is a good time to mention I'm a descendant of the McCoys of the so fun Hatfield-McCoy situation. Great grandpa apparently moved from KY or TN, I never remember which, specifically to get away from the whole "feud". Then he wouldn't talk about it for reasons I suppose are pretty self-explanatory.

fiftieswesterns said...

"Night Train To Munich" rules!

My research for the laserdisc liner notes made me a big fan of it.

I'm surprised more folks don't mention its obvious influence (to me, at least) on "Where Eagles Dare" (my all-time favorite movie).