Stanwyck and Colbert kick off new DVD line from TCM

Barbara Stanwyck and Claudette Colbert are the featured stars in TCM Showcase, a new line of DVD sets, launched today by TCM and Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

TCM Showcase: Barbara Stanwyck shows the tough and versatile actress in “The Lady Eve” (1941), perhaps the greatest film noir of all “Double Indemnity” (1944), “All I Desire” (1953) and “There’s Always Tomorrow” (1956).

TCM Showcase: Claudette Colbert features the playful and sophisticated Colbert in “Cleopatra” (1934), “Imitation of Life” (1934), “Midnight” (1939) and “The Palm Beach Story” (1942).

TCM Showcase: Barbara Stanwyck and TCM Showcase: Claudette Colbert are on sale now from the TCM online store. Each set is available for $24.99, 17 percent off the suggested retail price.

TCM and Universal’s collaboration began in 2009 with the launch of the TCM Vault Collection. While the vault collection focuses on rare and hard-to-find titles, the showcase collection offers Hollywood’s greatest stars in the roles that made them legends.

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FNB holiday gift guide 2012: Part Two

I’m back today with more stuff to covet. First, a few classics that any film noir fan should own. These books have been out for a while but I wanted to mention them because the Library of America editions are particularly well done.

Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s and 40s” (Vol. 1) includes The Postman Always Rings Twice, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Thieves Like Us, The Big Clock (Library of America), $35.

Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels: Pulp Stories” includes The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, The High Window (Library of America), $40.

Raymond Chandler: Later Novels and Other Writings” includes The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister, The Long Goodbye, Playback, Double Indemnity screenplay, selected essays and letters (Library of America), $35.

And now for some newly released titles.

Film Noir Graphics: Where Danger Lives by Alain Silver and James Ursini, $40.

Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, $75.

The Hollywood Canteen: Where the Greatest Generation Danced With the Most Beautiful Girls in the World by Lisa Mitchell and Bruce Torrence, $23.

W: The First 40 Years by Stefano Tonchi, Christopher Bagley and John B. Fairchild, $75.

How the French Invented Love: Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance by Marilyn Yalom, $16.

Another Insane Devotion: On the Love of Cats and Persons by Peter Trachtenberg, $24.

The Rolling Stones 50 by The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, $60.

An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris by Stephanie LaCava, $24.

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee by James Freeman, Caitlin Freeman and Tara Duggan, $25. Jeffrey Steingarten recommends this coffee; nuff said.

As a curator for the History Channel Shop, I’ve recommended 30 of my favorite film noir titles. You can’t go wrong with the Film Noir Classic Collection Vol. 1 (Warner Bros.). This essential set includes: The Asphalt Jungle, Out of the Past, Murder My Sweet, Gun Crazy and The Set-Up. (You can read mini-reviews of the first four titles on the Shop page or search for full-length reviews on this site.)

Film Noir Classic Collection Vol. 1, $50.

Last month, Paramount released “Sunset Blvd.” on Blu-ray, $27. Here’s a special-feature clip, a discussion of the mansion and pool in the film.

Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Universal), Blu-ray, $300.

New from Criterion: Purple Noon, Blu-ray, $32.

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Film noir titles to release on DVD from TCM and Universal, thriller marathon in January

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE) are releasing a terrific three-disc DVD collection on Dec 3. Dark Crimes: Film Noir Thrillers highlights the work of legendary mystery writers Dashiell Hammett, Cornell Woolrich and Raymond Chandler.

The set includes:

“The Glass Key” (1942, Stuart Heisler) – Brian Donlevy, Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake star in this stylish remake of the 1935 film based on Hammett’s popular novel. The story follows a ruthless political boss and his personal adviser, who become entangled in a web of organized crime and murder involving the daughter of a rising gubernatorial candidate. Akira Kurosawa once claimed this film to be the inspiration for his classic samurai flick “Yojimbo” (1961).

“Phantom Lady” (1944, Robert Siodmak) – A man arrested for murdering his wife is unable to produce his only alibi – a mysterious woman he met in a bar – in this adaptation of a Woolrich novel. Now his loyal secretary must go undercover to locate her. Ella Raines, Franchot Tone, Thomas Gomez, Alan Curtis and Elisha Cook Jr. star. A sexually charged drumming scene was reportedly dubbed by legendary musician Buddy Rich.

“The Blue Dahlia” (1946, George Marshall) – A WWII veteran who has been accused of killing his unfaithful wife races against time to find the real murderer with the help of a sympathetic stranger. Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Howard da Silva and Hugh Beaumont star in this John Houseman production. Chandler’s original screenplay earned an Oscar nomination.

Veronica Lake and Howard da Silva share a tense moment in “The Blue Dahlia.”

Dark Crimes: Film Noir Thrillers will be available from TCM’s online store, which is currently accepting pre-orders. TCM will show “The Glass Key” on Dec. 2.

Additionally, on Jan. 17, author and noir expert Eddie Muller will join TCM host Robert Osborne to present five memorable thrillers from the 1950s. The lineup is set to feature “Cry Danger” (1951, Robert Parrish) with Dick Powell and Rhonda Fleming; “99 River Street” (1953, Phil Karlson) starring John Payne and Evelyn Keyes; “Tomorrow is Another Day” (1951, Felix E. Feist) with Ruth Roman and Steve Cochran; “The Breaking Point” (1950, Michael Curtiz), starring John Garfield and Patricia Neal; and “The Prowler” (1951, Joseph Losey), starring Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes.

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