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Man Of A Thousand Faces [DVD]
Man Of A Thousand Faces [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Cagney

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but nothing special, 4 Feb 2011
Having just bought and watched this movie, I have to say that it appears to be somewhat over-rated by other reviewers on here. Past memories of watching a movie when it first came out etc often have a bearing on what you think of the film - if it was a good time in your life then you might think of the movie in that way too. However, coming new to the film, I find little to get excited about.

Yes, Cagney gives a good performance but he is rather miscast as will be rather obvious to anyone who knows the films of Lon Chaney. What's more, Cagney's real age doesn't allow him to age as the film goes on. He is too old for the younger stage of Chaney's life and therefore doesn't age at all when he gets older. But it is the script that lets the film down. While the recreations of sections from Chaney's movies are nicely done, the narrative of the film meanders with too much time spent on the first marriage and pre-Hollywood days. At 121 minutes, it is just too long and without any real dramatic peaks and troughs.

The saddest thing about watching the film is that so many of Chaney's movies are referred to that are now lost. Ironically, the healing scene from "The Miracle Man" which is reproduced here is the only scene from that key Chaney film to survive.

All in all, this is worthy but dull attempt to bring the name of Lon Chaney to a late 1950s audience, but by this time it seems that Hollywood had done it's best work in the glossy 50s biopics (The Glenn Miller Story, Eddy Duchin Story etc), and Man of a Thousand Faces just seems tired, elongated and fatally dull.


Fit (Double Sleeve Edition) [DVD]
Fit (Double Sleeve Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rikki Beadle-Blair
Offered by The Gay & Lesbian Cinema Store
Price: 5.99

10 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear!, 10 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Reading the reviews already here, I despair if those teaching kids really think that this is the way to promote discussion on homophobic bullying. On a stage it might just work, on film it doesn't, and there are a number of reasons.

Firstly, the characters are too broadly drawn. The drama teacher turns up on his first day in his new job wearing a pink skin-tight top with some cross-over straps at the back. And survives. Really? I don't think so. And it would certainly take considerably more than a few hand shakes and lines of slang to win these kids over, and yet he manages it in ten minutes.

Secondly, the "kids" are, as others have stated, long in the tooth. When Lee takes her hat off early in the film I was amazed to see that she looked nearer 40 than 16. With the amount of people involved in the making of this film, why on earth couldn't younger cast members be found? Had they all died? Yes the actors that were involved in the film make a good fist of the stereotypes and stilted, unreal dialogue, but they just shouldn't have been cast in the first place.

Thirdly, the script is hackneyed, stilted, obvious and unrealistic. has anyone ever been to a gay self-help group like the one featured here where you feel at ease as soon as you want in and are soon telling people the things you have kept secret for years? No? The writers seem to forget how ill-at-ease and alienated someone would be attending such a group for the first time. And the group itself seems remarkably friendly, with everyone getting on with everyone else. Notwithstanding these (and other) unbelievable scenes, the dialogue itself hasn't transferred well from stage to screen and needed considerably more work to make this even remotely palatable.

While I am the first to admit that homophobic bullying needs to be tackled in schools and on screen, this is not the way to go. Nowhere does it show how severe such bullying can get, for example - at least, not without preaching. While I understand that the hearts of the makers of the film were in the right place, their heads were clearly nowhere to be found.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 14, 2010 6:57 PM GMT


From Ragtime to Swing (1898-1952) - Le Grande Histoire du Jazz
From Ragtime to Swing (1898-1952) - Le Grande Histoire du Jazz
Price: 54.62

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable, 13 Nov 2010
The only reason I can think of for there not yet being a review of these four boxed sets, is that those who own them are just too busy having one hell of a blast listening to them. Some people moan about the 50 year copyright law for audio recordings in Europe, but without it this highly entertaining, eye-opening and educational undertaking could never have taken place.

These 100 discs (spread over four boxed sets of 25 discs) tell the story of jazz from 1898 to 1959. At only 42 for each set of 25, one could be forgiven for thinking that sound and presentation would be below par, but think again. The discs are housed within the boxes in individual card sleeves as is the norm these days in hefty sets. The boxes themselves are well-made with flip-top lids. With each set is an index to all 100 discs and a 200 page booklet giving tracklistings, personnel details, recording dates and locations and a brief guide to each of the 25 discs within that particular box.

The CDs themselves are in strict chronological order from disc 1 to 100 but still seem to flow remarkably well. Never has there been a set like this, despite the fact that we might have dreamed of it! Yes, the set finishes at 1959, but it seems a good a place to finish as any, meaning that everything up to and including free jazz is included (and going beyond this is impossible with the copyright laws as they are).

All of the artists you expect are represented with both their masterpieces and a few lesser known tracks - some are real rarities. But also, even during the 1950s CDs, there are a vast variety of jazz performers this jazz lover was unaware of, meaning that there is something here for novices and collectors alike. The nice thing about having the unknowns or forgottens included is that this is a chance to sample their work and seek out what else these performers have to offer.

As an example, I am currently listening to disc 11 which covers Sept 1937 to Sept 1938. The artists on this disc are Django Reinhardt, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Eddie South, Chick Webb, Art Tatum, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Slim & Slam, Ella Fitzgerald, Herman Chittison, Artie Shaw and Andy Kirk. Some line up, eh? What's more, the sound on all the discs is superb (even on the early stuff, this has never sounded so good).

To sum up then, this is beautiful, thought-provoking and often moving product. How many hours the guys behind this product must have spent putting this together in unfathomable. Recommended to all jazz lovers. And once you have bought 1 of the 4 boxes, you won't be able to wait long before getting the rest. A great Christmas present, too!


Best Of The BBC Vaults
Best Of The BBC Vaults
Price: 14.93

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as rare as you might think, 16 Sep 2010
This review is from: Best Of The BBC Vaults (Audio CD)
This CD/DVD package contains 2 and a half hours of video footage along with highlights from the video footage on CD. While any "new" Ella material is to be welcomed, the material here isn't quite the archive discovery that it made out to be.

Four shows are contained on the DVD. The first is Ella Fitzgerald Swings, the rarest of the four shows. The quality of picture and sound here is remarkable from a 1965 television recording, although the digital artifacts and the rather ragged editing between songs is a little bit disappointing. The show lasts about 25 minutes and, to my knowledge, has not been shown on television for many years, but this is really the only rare 25 minutes on the DVD.

The second show is Ella Fitzgerald Sings, which appears to have been recorded on the same day as Ella Fitzgerald Swings. Picture quality isn't so hot, but still of good quality. However, this show is well known to Ella fans, and was shown on TV back in 1996 as a tribute to Ella just after her passing, and has since been shown regularly on BBC4. Considering the work Ella was to do with Duke Ellington over the next couple of years, these two shows are a bit of a let down. Ella sings (and swings) well, but the overall effect is a little bland as a viewing experience, with Ella toning down the huskiness and soulfulness which aided her work with Ellington.

The Ronnie Scotts show from 1974 was also shown in 1996, although I'm not sure whether it has reappeared since. The quality here is better than on its 1996 showing on TV. This set of dates at Ronnie Scotts seems to over-rated. While Ella is entertaining, she is not in good voice and her appearance is rather dishevelled as well. This is a far more jazz-orientated set than either of the 1965 programmes, however.

The final show is from Montreux 1977 - and has been available on DVD separately for some considerable time. This is a different edit, however, with different camera angles etc and voiceover narration by Humphrey Lyttleton. The picture quality is quite a bit better than the other DVD version. Ella is in much better form here than at Ronnie Scotts, and looks much healthier too. Of the four programmes this is probably the best.

So, three programmes new to DVD here, then - something which we must be thankful for, but hardly the result of a raiding of the archives!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 3, 2010 8:22 PM BST


Broadway & Hollywood
Broadway & Hollywood
Price: 12.90

3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but nothing special, 31 Mar 2010
This review is from: Broadway & Hollywood (Audio CD)
The sound quality may be high on this Basie twofer, but the material itself is very much run of the mill. Two mid 60s albums are included here, one featuring Broadway material and the other featuring Hollywood material. They fit together nicely, and the effect is enjoyable but hardly startling. The problem here is that the arrangements are so short, there is no room for the band to do much more than state the melody on each track - pretty much what would happen a few years later on the Basic Basie and High Voltage collections. The Basie Band is always listenable, but this is certainly not their best work, although much of the blame for this lies in the arrangements rather than the performances themselves. Nice background music, but for completists only really.


Unreleased Capitol Sides
Unreleased Capitol Sides
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 17.95

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Now sadly deleted..., 19 Feb 2009
On amazon.com there are only a few reviews of this interesting CD, and a number of them are surprisingly negative. There are always going to be people who suggest that "unreleased" recordings should remain so, but it generally depends on how keen you are to see the workings of the artist themselves. No, this isn't the greatest material that Darin recorded during his all-too-short life, but it is also far from the worst. I would suggest that certain tracks remained unreleased for the sake of quality (Moon River has a bum final note, for example), but even they are better than the likes of Down So Long and some of the Atlantic non-album singles. Other songs clearly didn't fit into Darin's recording projects at the time.

As one would expect, there are a range of styles here. The straight-ahead big band numbers (I Got Rhythm, Alabamy Bound, This Nearly Was Mine,On Street Where You Live, Gyp The Cat, Red Roses For A Blue Lady) are sung with style and are no better or worse than the performances on the Hello Dolly, Venice Blue and Oh Look At Me Now albums. There are a bunch of older standards (by the likes of Foster) which have backing-vocal heavy pop arrangements that some will like and some won't. These appear to be intended for an album in this style that didn't get finished for whatever reason. There is also a bunch of sides recorded for single release that also didn't make it on the street, and they are no better or worse than Darin's other Capitol sides.

There are no masterpieces here (although If I Ruled The World comes damned close), but this is still quality music that deserves to be heard. And I for one rate the material here as more enjoyable than, for example, the Eighteen Yellow Roses album, or even You're The Reason I'm Living LP - both of which I have always found disappointing. But this CD is now discontinued so pick it up now while you still have the chance!


Hitchcock - The British Years [DVD]
Hitchcock - The British Years [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alfred Hitchcock
Offered by Gifts..For..You
Price: 34.99

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars British Hitchcock, 25 July 2008
First and foremost, one must acclaim the release of this boxed set - not least for it contains the first DVD release of either The Pleasure Garden or Downhill in either Britain or America as far as I am aware. What's more this set, together with the one from Optimum, collects together the vast majority of the pre-Hollywood Hitchcock's in generally excellent quality, especially when compared to the public domain releases we have had to put up with for so long.

Also on the plus side, there are some nice interviews with Hitchcock from the 1960s and some archival footage from both the 1930s and the shooting of 1972's Frenzy. The "to camera" introductions by Charles Barr are both concise and illuminating, giving enough information and opinions to please those familiar with this material and yet it is not done in technical or academic lingo that is likely to go over the heads of someone with no knowledge of film studies. It is also good to see Charles Barr giving a more positive view of the films most often maligned from this period, such as Downhill. Many of the prints look and sound very good indeed (particularly the later ones).

However, there are a number of downsides to this particular boxed set. I had "aquired" from sources not to be mentioned, copies of The Pleasure Garden and Downhill in the years that it was unavailable, and it is a pity to see here that neither of these films appear to have been restored. The Pleasure Garden, although watchable, is in the worst shape, with Downhill fairing slightly better. However, both Downhill and the restored version of The Lodger are here with no musical soundtrack, which seems a ludicrous state of affairs in a boxed set that retails for 50 and from a reputable label such as Network. Ironically, the "archive" version of The Lodger (also included) does have music. Even a cobbled together classical score would have been something, but selling 90 minute silent films that play IN SILENCE is just inexcusable in 2008. Buyers deserve and expect better than this.

The packaging also leaves a little to be desired. Although the slip-case idea is fine, it is made of very thin card and easily damaged. Sadly the booklet is also very small and contains just a very short essay (in very large writing) by Charles Barr. An essay is fine, but a longer one could have gone into more detail about why these films are worth our attention, as well as a more general overview of Hitchcock's "British years".

The essay does note that there is no good quality print of Easy Virtue known to exist. This may be the case, but it would have been nice if either this or the Optimum set had included the print that WAS available, even if it is the same one that has been released on the so-called Public Domain releases, if only as a bonus. These two sets should generally be applauded, but we are now left with a handful of Hitchcock's British films in limbo-land. Neither set includes Easy Virtue, Elstree Calling, Juno And The Paycock, the silent version of Blackmail, the German version of Murder (Mary) or Waltzes In Vienna. I understand that Waltzes is now available in in English in France - but not here! It would be a great shame if this handful of films are not made available to those who want to own all films of Hitchcock, but none of them have the commercial clout that might be necessary to trigger the production of a "what's left" box and that is a crying shame.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2010 1:04 PM GMT


Duke Ellington - Three Mid-Fifties Classic Albums and More: Historically Speaking - The Duke / Duke Ellington Presents / Ellington 55
Duke Ellington - Three Mid-Fifties Classic Albums and More: Historically Speaking - The Duke / Duke Ellington Presents / Ellington 55
Price: 7.94

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff for Ellington fans, 1 May 2008
This release from Avid is both classy and inexpensive. Finally it is great to have Historically Speaking on CD again. This much under-rated album gives much more than a hint of the rebirth that Ellington would undergo following his concert at the Newport jazz festival later in 1956. Duke Ellington Presents is not so interesting - these are Ellington's interpretations of popular standards. Great background music, but nothing much here to make you sit up and take notice. Ellington 55 is a surprisingly good album from the Capitol period, generally knows as Ellington's nadir. These are good solid extended pieces of swing.

The double set is in very good sound indeed. Not state of the art, but who could expect that at this price for three original albums? There are certainly no real flaws, however, soundwise. Perhaps the most unfortunate thing is that one track of Duke Ellington Presents had to be placed on the 2nd disc due to time restrictions. But this is a minor gripe. here are three original albums, plus ten bonus tracks, of a neglected Ellington period in very good sound for a bargain price. Shame there are no new liner notes, but the original liner notes are all present and correct in the small booklet.

Recommended.


Lady Is a Tramp
Lady Is a Tramp

4.0 out of 5 stars Rare lost performances in great sound, 18 Dec 2007
This review is from: Lady Is a Tramp (Audio CD)
Two different concert performances are included on this hard to find disc. Both were recorded in Belgrade, the first on Feb 21st 1961 and the 2nd one on May 18th 1971. The sound is excellent throughout, with a very slight raucousness on the really loud sections of the 1st concert. The second concert is in considerably better sound than the similar Ella a Nice release. Ella is in good voice on both dates and is accompanied by the Lou Levy Quartet on the first concert and by Tommy Flanagan, Frank LaRosa and ed Thigpen on the second. Highlights include the Ellington medley (far better than the Pablo version), A Foggy Day and Summertime. All in all a great alternate to the Return To Berlin and Ella a Nice concerts.

Songs are:

1961: TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT/A FOGGY DAY/GET OUT OF TOWN - EASY TO LOVE/YOU'RE DRIVING ME CRAZY/CHEEK TO CHEEK/CARAVAN/LADY BE GOOD/'ROUND MIDNIGHT/THE LADY IS A TRAMP/MR PAGANINI

1971: LULLABY OF BIRDLAND/ELLINGTON MEDLEY/THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES/SOMETHING/SUMMERTIME/MACK THE KNIFE/HELLO DOLLY/PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART/HOW HIGH THE MOON.


Surveillance [DVD]
Surveillance [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dawn Steele
Offered by GX-ENTERTAINMENT UK
Price: 29.99

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually quite good!, 3 Oct 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Surveillance [DVD] (DVD)
This is a clever, and timely, film from the director of the gay classic "Like It Is". This is a more ambitious film in that all of the filming pertains to be done via CCTV or surveillance cameras. Watching the film, I'm not sure if that is true, but it is an interesting concept although it does make the film more difficult to "get into". The acting is good throughout and Tom Harper is thoroughly engaging. The storyline, centring around a royal cover-up, won't please royalists by any means - but is sadly thoroughly believeable.

Don't be put off by the negative reviews that have gone before. This is a fine film. It isn't a blockbuster or mainstream movie, but if you're looking for something a little different but still accessable, this is a nifty, fast-paced thriller.


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