Tagged: MGM

MGM Announces Year-Long 90th Anniversary Celebration

MGM logo earlyLos Angeles, CA (January 22, 2014) – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) announced today a yearlong global campaign to honor the studio’s storied 90-year legacy. Founded in 1924 when theater magnate Marcus Loew bought and merged Metro Pictures Corp. with Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Productions, MGM and its legendary roaring lion logo signify the golden era of Hollywood to film lovers around the world. Since its inception, the company has led the industry in creating some of Hollywood’s greatest stars and is home to over 175 Academy Award®-winning films, including 14 Best Pictures.

“What a supreme honor it is to preside over a company with such an unparalleled legacy. It’s remarkable to have this opportunity to reflect on MGM’s amazing achievements in film history while also looking ahead to MGM’s bright and promising future,” said Gary Barber, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

The celebration of 90 extraordinary years kicks off today, as the MGM icon, Leo the Lion, is immortalized with a paw print ceremony at the world famous TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, cementing his place in Hollywood history. Sylvester Stallone, writer and star of Rocky (1976), one of MGM’s most iconic and enduring characters, is also on hand to commemorate the special occasion, along with Barber.

MGM is debuting a special 90th anniversary trailer which will play in theaters, on MGM channels – including MGM’s 24/7 movie network, MGM HD; its action-themed VOD channel, Impact; and its premiere multicast programming service dedicated to movies, THIS TV – as well as on DVD products and across social media. The trailer includes a tapestry of iconic images and scenes from films in MGM’s library, evoking a deep emotional connection and celebrating the company’s extensive contributions to the entertainment world. 

Additionally, several of MGM’s signature films including Rocky, Rain Man, Fargo, RoboCop and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, have been meticulously restored in 4K resolution (four times the clarity of HD) and will be presented on Blu-ray™ for a beautiful, high-definition home viewing experience. These re-releases will be issued through MGM’s home entertainment partner, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, and are now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Other initiatives to mark the company’s 90th anniversary include:

  MGM will complement its already vast collection of films currently available on Blu-ray™ by releasing new titles across all genres throughout the year. Upcoming titles for release include In the Heat of the Night, A Chorus Line, and The Birdcage.
     
  MGM has created a one-of-a-kind collector’s book and bonus video disc companion commemorating 90 amazing years, featuring interviews from award-winning filmmakers, directors, and actors discussing the significance of their contributions to MGM’s legacy. The book and video highlight the evolution and history of the legendary studio and provide an extensive look into the studio’s golden years, classics, iconic franchises and much more. Interviews include Sylvester Stallone on Rocky, Clint Eastwood on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis on Thelma and Louise, and Walter Mirisch on The Pink Panther. The bonus disc will also be available accompanying select DVD offerings.
   
  Fans can also relive their favorite film moments at www.mgm90th.com, a unique Tumblr website and the first Tumblr integration to feature a studio’s full library. The MGM 90th Tumblr site’s dynamic design encourages fans to explore and immerse themselves into rich content celebrating 90 years of MGM filmmaking.  As fans integrate socially with the yearlong celebration, the Tumblr site will serve as an active aggregator showcasing all of the current sharing and postings.   This fresh approach to syndicating content to fans allows a seamless integration appealing to all ages within Tumblr’s rapidly growing platform and beyond.

REVIEW: Vikings: The Complete First Season

vikings-on-blu-610x465Mining history for fictional fodder has been a staple of television program dating back to HBO’s Rome and now series set across the years can be found on prime time and basic cable channels with more on the way. Whereas some like the CW’s new Reign is laughably inaccurate, others do their homework and mine the reality for nuggets to hang characters and stories on. Most audiences are blissfully undereducated about world history so they will swallow events on The Tudors, Borgias, and others without realizing how many liberties have been taken in the name of dramatic license and television realities.

No surprise then that the venerable History Channel would want to get in on the fun and they wisely picked one of the least known and richest cultures to mine for dramatic fare. Last spring they unleashed the nine part Vikings, a Canadian-Irish coproduction developed and written by Michael Hirsrt who proved to have a flair for the past with Showtime’s The Tudors. The Vikings, living in northern Europe, were fearsome warriors and plied the seas, exploring the world long before Western Europe got around to it. Their largely oral history didn’t get recorded until generations later but thanks to modern day archeology, we have grown to develop a much better understanding of their ways.

450vikingsOne of the best Vertigo titles of the last decade was Northlanders, also about Viking culture, so I was primed for this series and was not disappointed. Thanks to MGM and 20th Century Home Entertainment, a handsome box set has been released this week. Set in 793, during the earliest days of their recorded raids, Hirst chose to use the real life Ragnar Lodbrok (Travis Fimmel), who, like John Rhys Myers’ Henry VIII is depicted at a much earlier point in his famous life. Here he is a young warrior, raising a family with his wife, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick).

He desires to ply the seas further west and works with Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), to develop faster, sturdier longships and then petitions his chieftain, Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne) for petition to make the trip. Despite Haraldson’s refusal, Ragnar, with his brother Rollo (Clive Standen), makes the first trip to Northern England, successfully plundering the land and bringing home the monk Athelstan (George Blagden) as part of his booty. King Aelle (Ivan Kaye) is none too pleased and skirmishes between the two cultures begin.

There’s the usual dash of soap opera elements such as Rollo lusting after Lagertha, who is an able Viking shieldmaiden, but it’s also a more somber, brutal series than Hirst has previously produced. The writing and performances are strong and compelling, making this satisfying viewing.

Vikings Season OneThe nine episodes are spread over three Blu-ray discs and you have the option of watching them as they aired on History or in the extended (now with more blood and nudity!) versions that aired in Europe. Visually, both versions are sharp, with excellent color transfer.

The lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track means you can hear the wind rush over the waves or the swords cutting into flesh. Trevor Morris’ superb score is never better and enhances the viewing.

The extras contain the needed Season Mode, allowing you to seamlessly zip through the nine episodes and bookmark wherever you stopped watching. There are also commentaries on the first and last episodes, from Hirst and Jessalyn Gilsig, who plays Haraldson’s wife Siggy, on the first, and Winnick and Standen on the second. There are Deleted Scenes that are extended versions of ones that aired in Episodes One and Eight, which means they were likely trimmed for running time reasons Far more interesting is A Warrior Society: Viking Culture and Law (20:48) where Hirst takes us through what is known about the Viking culture, with input from Dr. Anthony Perron, Professor of History, Loyola Marymount University; Dr. Jochen Burgtorf, Professor of History, University of California, Fullerton; and Justin Pollard. Hirst and his cast appear on Birth of the Vikings (17:09), discussing their characters. Forging the Viking Army: Warfare and Tactics (12:11) tracks how the armies were trained for the vicious battles as sword master Richard Ryan and stunt coordinator Mark Henson discuss their work.

REVIEW: Nichols

Nichols ArtLike most humans presently stalking the Earth, I’ve been watching teevee ever since my eyeballs could focus. Being a fanboy collector, I do my share of possessing odd and great stuff. Sadly, there were two teevee shows I absolutely worshipped that I could not find, even from collectors who obtain their DVDs through questionable means.

The first is T.H.E. Cat, Robert Loggia’s jazz-based New Orleans cat burglar private eye show. It only lasted one season, it was in black-and-white, and each episode only ran 30 minutes. So it’s half-life in syndication was roughly the same as Lawrencium. There are some truly awful bootlegs around, 12th generation dubs of a kinescope shot off of teevee set that desperately needed rabbit ears. I haven’t given up, but the challenge is undermining my otherwise natural sense of happy optimism.

The second is Nichols, the post-western western about a pacifist who was shanghaied into becoming the sheriff of a small Arizona town in 1914 that is being overrun by bicycles and its very first automobile. Pretty heady stuff for 1971. It, too, lasted only one season but at least it was an hour long and it was in color. But in those days, local teevee stations wouldn’t touch a show that only ran 24 episodes.

This week I received a package from Warner Archives containing the entire Nichols collection on six DVDs. I ordered it the minute it was announced.

First, a word about Warner Archives. They sell a couple thousand DVDs of hard-to-find stuff from Warner Bros., MGM, Sony (Columbia), Paramount, HBO, Cinemax, and Hanna-Barbara. Lots of obscure movies and teevee shows, lots of comics stuff (for example, the complete runs of both the Superboy and the Shazam series), and they add new titles roughly every minute. These DVDs are made-to-order: they’re professionally packaged and of high quality. Warners discovered something Frank Zappa learned 20 years ago: if you can’t stop people from bootlegging, boot ‘em yourself.

Nichols starred – no surprise here – James Garner and was produced by his Cherokee Productions company with many of the same people who later did The Rockford Files. The show starred Margot Kidder – yes, that Margot Kidder, seven years shy of Lois Lane. Veteran character actor Neva Patterson and Stuart Margolin (later “Angel” on Rockford) also starred. But in my fertile brainpan, the real star of this show was its creator/writer/producer and occasional director Frank R. Pierson.

Pierson had a pedigree to die for. He’d written Cat Ballou, Cool Hand Luke, The Anderson Tapes, Dog Day Afternoon, The Good Wife, and 11 episodes of Have Gun, Will Travel – one of the best written shows in history. Oh, and shortly before his death last year, he wrote an episode of Mad Men and was its consulting producer. And he directed The L Word and Citizen Cohn. This man defied stereotyping.

Nichols was clever, heartwarming, very funny, brilliantly acted, and it had a point. It was very much a product of its time, that time being the enlightened days of peace, love, and sideburns, but it’s so well produced and acted that shouldn’t annoy anybody today. It deserves to be seen, and if you’re a fan of any of the people involved, it needs to be seen.

 

Paramount & MGM Begin Production on Hercules

Hercules RadicalFounded in 2007, Radical Studios  is a multimedia company that incubated comic books for exploitation in other forms. Among their earliest releases was Hercules, boasting a Steranko cover, and it came with high production values and a bit of a buzz., The character returned for a second miniseries in and this interpretation captured Hollywood’s fancy. After years in development, production on the movie adaptation began today. Thew film enters a crowded summer 2014, especially for super-hero films, coming after Captain America: The Winter Solider and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and just before X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy (raising the question whether or not four Marvel Universe films in five months will reach the saturation point).

Here’s the formal release:

HOLLYWOOD, CA (June 10, 2013) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, a division of MGM Holdings, Inc., and Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom, Inc., announced principal photography began today on “HERCULES,” starring Dwayne Johnson (“G.I. JOE: RETALIATION,” “FAST AND FURIOUS” franchise) and directed and produced by Brett Ratner (“RUSH HOUR” franchise, “X-MEN: THE LAST STAND”). Filming takes place in Budapest, Hungary.

“HERCULESwill be distributed worldwide by Paramount Pictures on July 25, 2014 with select international territories as well as all television distribution being handled by MGM.

“HERCULES” also stars Golden Globe-winner Ian McShane (“Deadwood,” “PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES”), Rufus Sewell (“LEGEND OF ZORRO”), Joseph Fiennes (“SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE,” “American Horror Story”), Peter Mullan (“War Horse,” “Top of the Lake”) and Academy Award®-nominee John Hurt (“HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS”). Rounding out the main cast is Rebecca Ferguson (The BBC’s “The White Queen”), Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (“HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS”), Aksel Hennie (“HEADHUNTERS”) and Reece Ritchie (“PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME”).

“HERCULES” is produced by Beau Flynn (“JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,” “HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS”), Barry Levine (“OBLIVION”) and Ratner. Executive producers are Peter Berg (“BATTLESHIP”), Sarah Aubrey (“BATTLESHIP”), Ross Fanger (“IRON MAN”) and Jesse Berger (“OBLIVION”).

Based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars, the ensemble-action film is a revisionist take on the classic myth set in a grounded world where the supernatural does not exist. The screenplay is by Ryan Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos.

Everyone knows the legend of Hercules and his twelve labors. Our story begins after the labors, and after the legend…

Haunted by a sin from his past, Hercules has become a mercenary.  Along with five faithful companions, he travels ancient Greece selling his services for gold and using his legendary reputation to intimidate enemies.  But when the benevolent ruler of Thrace and his daughter seek Hercules’ help to defeat a savage and terrifying warlord, Hercules finds that in order for good to triumph and justice to prevail… he must again become the hero he once was… he must embrace his own myth… he must be Hercules.

The behind-the-scenes creative team led by Ratner includes: Academy Award®-nominee director of photography Dante Spinotti (“THE INSIDER,” “LA CONFIDENTIAL”), editor Mark Helfrich  (“X-MEN: THE LAST STAND”), production designer Jean-Vincent Puzos (“10,000 B.C.”),  costume designer Jany Temime (“SKYFALL”), 2nd Unit director Alexander Witt (“SKYFALL”), VFX supervisor John Bruno (“AVATAR”), SFX Supervisor Neil Corbould (“BLACK HAWK DOWN”) and stunt coordinator Greg Powell (“FAST & FURIOUS 6,” “HARRY POTTER” franchise).

MGM and Paramount most recently partnered on the release of the blockbuster “G.I. JOE: RETALIATION,” also starring Dwayne Johnson, as well as the global box office hit “HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS.”

REVIEW: Skyfall

Skyfall DVDSkyfall, now out on home video from MGM, is a sheer delight, holding my attention for the entire 2:23 running time, long for a Bond film but it felt just right. The four year financially-mandated layoff between the so-so Quantum of Solace and Skyfall is barely noticeable but the passage of time is an unspoken theme for the new entry.

Daniel Craig, not at all what Ian Fleming had in mind for 007, made the character his own through sheer force of will. When he helped reboot the series with Casino Royale, my biggest complaint was that he was too old to be an MI6 agent at the beginning of his career. With Quantum a direct sequel, we were still seemingly early in Bond’s career but I bought into it.

Now, suddenly, the third film deals with Bond being ready to be retired. We’ve clearly leaped ahead in this incarnation’s timeline, having totally gained M’s confidence to the point where she risks her career and reputation on him when England needs him most. But this is a wounded Bond, one who has been beaten down, who escaped death and seemed to have walked away from his responsibilities, swapping his Walther for a bottle and obscurity. Of course, when M and his fellow agents are threatened in the most heinous of terrorist acts, he has to come back.

We’ve seen Mi6 agents go rogue before, most recently when 007 exposed the perfidy of 009 in one of the Pierce Brosnan entries. But, this is the first time we’ve seen a truly frightening threat make it so personal. Javier Bardem steals the film with his turn as Raoul Silva, an agent M seemingly abandoned when she was the Hong Kong station chief back in the 1980s. His torture left him physically and mentally broken and now he is back to exact the most painful revenge possible.

After he makes M watch MI6 HQ blowup, Bond is back and unleashed after Silva but, being a wily opponent, it’s all part of a master plan. Not only will he beat M, he will make her suffer by breaking her current favorite, Bond. And here is my only quibble with the generally excellent script from Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan (this almost makes me forgive him for Nemesis). Silva’s plan is so intricate that it is entirely reliant on split-second timing and not once does he miss a beat, making him too perfect. When our hero needs that same timing for success, it is sometimes hit, sometimes missed but Silva never seems to miss a beat, straining credulity.

Skyfall-0071-300x180After two films to restage the early days, this film nicely allows itself to be a formulaic Bond adventure starting with a breathtaking (and plausible) motorcycle chase across the rooftops of Turkey. The film opens with two musical notes that immediately suck you into the Bond experience and they hint at the Monty Norman theme until it’s time for Bond to be Bond, James Bond. The audience applauded at the sight of the Astin Martin and the film’s best line may be M’s, “Go ahead and eject me. See if I care.” The movie comes complete with a visually fun title sequence, owing plenty of Maurice Binder’s work, and ends with the traditional status quo re-established, but freshened for the future. We have Q (Ben Wishlaw), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and a new M (Ralph Fiennes). Then we get Craig in the gun’s sight, the blood and the Norman theme in full throttle. Bond is back and we’re promised will return.

It’s a thrilling adventure that critics say owes too much to the Bourne films but really, it’s the other way around. The Bond films have been setting the bar higher and higher through the years, challenging others to match or exceed the standard for adventure films. Thankfully, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, caretakers of the franchise, are now willing to work with a variety of screenwriters and directors to keep things fresh. I had no idea Sam Mendes had a flair for action and he was most impressive so it was inspired of a drunken Craig to offer the job to him and then tell the producers what he had done. They get credit for not dismissing the notion.  And with that, I get the sense that the franchise is in good hands and with Craig aboard for one or two more, the second half-century seems to be promising.

xavier-skyfall-readThe transfer to Blu-ray is sharp, with great color and sound. Cinematographer Roger Deakins’ work is nothing short of spectacular and the digital photography is well captured here for repeat viewings. The sound equally matches the visuals, well mixed and lush.

The armload of extras begins with Commentary with Director Sam Mendes where the director takes us through the scenes and discusses them in-depth. It’s interesting to hear how the actors helped shape his thinking and shooting so we can follow the evolution from concept to final shot. We’re reminded that Star Trek Nemesis director Stuart Baird is a terrific film editor as seen here. There’s additional Commentary with Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Production Designer Dennis Gassner but they fawn too much and you learn too little.

Shooting Bond (59:24) can be seen in chapters or as a complete documentary and you can watch the film get made from every major aspect save Baird’s editing. The cats contributes to this so it’s fairly comprehensive and entertaining.

Skyfall Premiere (4:28) offers up snippets from the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall, featuring interviews with Mendes, Craig, Harris, Bardem, and Fiennes. You also get the

Theatrical Trailer, Soundtrack Promotional Spot, and fifteen minutes of trailers for other films.

 

A New Clip from Oz the Great and Powerful

A New Clip from Oz the Great and Powerful

We’re less than a month away from the release of Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful, coming from Disney on March 8. Can James Franco make us forget Frank Morgan’s indelible performance as the Wizard in 1939’s classic MGM musical version of L. Frank Baum’s immortal novel? No one is sure yet but the trailers look cool and here’s a just-released clip for you to sample.

Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well.

Oz The Great and Powerful is produced by Joe Roth, with screen story by Mitchell Kapner and screenplay by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. Grant Curtis, Palak Patel, Josh Donen and Philip Steuer are serving as executive producers. “Oz The Great and Powerful” opens in U.S. theaters on March 8, 2013.

GLOBAL JAMES BOND DAY ANNOUNCED

News from the Official James Bond website.

A SERIES OF EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD SET TO CELEBRATE BOND’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY

It has been announced that October 5th, 2012 will be Global James Bond Day, a day-long series of events for 007 fans around the world.

Commenting on Global James Bond Day, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of SKYFALL, said, “We are absolutely thrilled to be celebrating James Bond’s golden anniversary on film with this special day of events for Bond fans around the world.”

Worldwide events celebrating Bond’s golden anniversary include a global online and live charity auction event organised by Christie’s in London, a global survey to discover the favourite Bond film country by country, a film retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, a Music of Bond night in Los Angeles hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Designing 007: 50 Years of James Bond Style opens at TIFF in Toronto. Leading up to Global James Bond Day, for the first time ever fans can own all 22 films in the franchise on Blu-ray in one comprehensive collection with BOND 50, releasing worldwide beginning September 24th. Further updates by country will be announced in due course on 007.com and facebook/JamesBond007.

A new feature documentary from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Passion Pictures and Red Box Films, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, will also be unveiled (with country-specific release details to follow). Directed by Stevan Riley (Fire In Babylon), Everything Or Nothing focuses on three men with a shared dream – Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and author Ian Fleming. It’s the thrilling and inspiring narrative behind the longest running film franchise in cinema history. With unprecedented access both to the key players involved and to EON Productions’ extensive archive, this is the first time the inside story of the franchise has ever been told on screen in this way. Director Stevan Riley follows a story that begins with a groundbreaking spy thriller and continues six Bonds and five decades later. While Bond was saving the world from chaos and catastrophe on screen, this compelling documentary draws back the curtain to reveal the battles, threats and real stakes unfolding behind the camera.

The latest Bond film, Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig as British Agent 007 will be in theaters on October 26th.

San Diego Fans can pose with a Classic James Bond Car

WHAT: In celebration of James Bond’s Golden Anniversary, MGM and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment in partnership with EON Productions are bringing 007 to Comic-Con. Fans will be able to get behind the wheel of one of four famous vehicles featured in a past Bond film, with a new vehicle featured each day of the convention, and see props from the Bond archives representing 50 years of the iconic franchise.

Using RFID technology, attendees will be able to take a photo with the vehicle and have it instantly uploaded to their social media profile. Each day will feature a different Bond vehicle, so fans will have to check back in at booth #3528 with their RFID bracelets to see what’s new!

Fans will also be the first to get a sneak peek of the BOND 50 Blu-ray collection available September 25, 2012. Fans who pre-order the set on-site at Comic-Con will get an exclusive limited edition Bond 50th anniversary t-shirt.

BOND 50 features all 22 classic films on Blu-ray neatly packaged into one cool, sleek collectable box-set. The collection marks the debut of nine James Bond films previously unavailable in high definition Blu-ray and comes with a dossier of more than 122 hours of bonus features.

Busting

Back in the early days of cable, movies were rerun endlessly so if you liked one, you could burn their frames onto your retinas and it became a part of yourself. As a result, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for 1974’s Busting. You sit there, scratching your head, and can’t recall the film and there’s no shame in that.

Written and directed by Peter Hyams (The Star Chamber, Outland), it is a buddy cop film before that became in vogue and is very much from the era. It has a nice grainy film stock, makes the cops and the thugs slovenly and a visual shambles. While most of Hyams’ peers set their gritty tales of big city corruption and the only honest cops’ efforts to bring down the kingpin of crime in New York City, Hyams set his in Los Angeles, although you’d be hard-pressed to tell. This is a totally urban LA, one without starlets or the Hollywood sign glimpsed in the distance. It’s a grimy city of pimps, pushers, hookers, strippers, and a few good men.

The men happen to be Elliot Gould and Robert Blake, a year before he became a big star on Baretta. They are companionable detectives, taking no guff from anyone and with a casual attitude, begin working their way to Rizzo (Alan Garfield), the man effectively running the city. Their superior tries to protect them but has given up, throwing his hands into the air, and warning the guys to stay away from the criminal. This is clearly Gould’s film as more is revealed about him and his life than Blake, but they are watching one another’s backs from gay bars to strip clubs.

I’m not giving anything away by saying they get their man, but the lessons the detectives learn along the way, and the harsh reality Rizzo reveals in the final scene gives the film an edge and poignancy missing from many of its contemporaries. Hyams’ script is sharp in subtle ways. As a director, he has some impressive tracking shots notably during the set piece, set inside a sprawling farmer’s market as the detectives hunt down three gun-wielding thugs.

The film received good notices when it first came out, with The New York Times noting Hyams “brings off something of a feat by making a contemporary cop film that is tough without exploiting the sort of right-wing cynicism that tells us all to go out and buy our own guns.” It clearly made an impact on me but it also heavily influenced Aaron Spelling, who more or less ripped off entire sequences frame by frame for his television series Starsky & Hutch. If you want a stronger version with some fun performances and more than a few comics references, Busting is finally available from MGM’s direct-to-disc Limited Edition Collection.

Review: ‘The Shadow: Behind the Mask’

You have to appreciate the efforts from MGM and Warner Bros., trolling through their film libraries and resurrecting titles that only a handful of videophiles might be interested in owning. After transferring these to disc, they are made available as manufactured to order, largely available only through websites. Warner has over 1000 such videos available in every genre imaginable while MGM is catching up quickly.  Among the recent releases is one curiosity worth noting for ComicMix readers.

While we are all familiar with Conde Naste’s The Shadow, few beyond Anthony Tollin may recall that there were three really low budget features produced in 1946 from Monogram, all starring Kane Richmond. The second of the trio, Behind the Mask, is now out and if you’re a big fan of the character, you might want to check this one out.

The stories are watered down crime adventures; missing the spark Walter Gibson (writing as Maxwell Grant) brought to the pulp magazine that debuted in 1931 and was still coming out twice-a-month but running out of steam by this point. Visually, the gun-toting vigilante wears a full black face mask rather than the red scarf covering the lower half of his face. The slouch hat and cloak are present along with familiar figures for the magazines and popular radio series.

The fairly pedestrian story, from Arthur Hoerl (Reefer Madness) and George Kallahan involves the murder of Daily Bulletin reporter Jeff Mann with people thinking it’s the Shadow when it’s actually an impostor, the Silhouette. While this is happening, Lamont Cranston is about to marry Margo Lane (Barbara Reed), something that was never going to happen. Oddly, despite being his confidante and agent for countless missions, she now wants him to hang up his .45s simply because they are to be married, as if his cause has become superfluous. Others from the mythos include Shrevvy (George Chandler), the faithful chauffeur.

The mystery is predictable but we take our time getting to the obvious, with comedic asides that do nothing to make the characters appealing or counterpoint the story. Richmond handles the comedic elements far better than he does portraying the cold, cruel crime fighter. The film was handled with a by-the-numbers approach by director Phil Karlson, who apparently never thought to make the low budget work in his favor with camera angles and lighting to create some sense of mood, the same mood so easily created on radio. Trust me, the earlier movie serials were better. As for the other two Monogram films, The Shadow Returns and The Missing Lady, last time I looked, both were available for instant streaming on Netflix.