Now perhaps the most beloved American film, It's a Wonderful Life was largely forgotten for years, due to a copyright quirk. Only in the late 1970s did it find its audience through repeated TV showings. Frank Capra's masterwork deserves its status as a feel-good communal event, but it is also one of the most fascinating films in the American cinema, a multilayered work of Dickensian density. George Bailey (played superbly by James Stewart) grows up in the small town of Bedford Falls, dreaming dreams of adventure and travel, but circumstances conspire to keep him enslaved to his home turf. Frustrated by his life, and haunted by an impending scandal, George prepares to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. A heavenly messenger (Henry Travers) arrives to show him a vision: what the world would have been like if George had never been born. The sequence is a vivid depiction of the American Dream gone bad, and probably the wildest thing Capra ever shot (the director's optimistic vision may have darkened during his experiences making military films in World War II). Capra's triumph is to acknowledge the difficulties and disappointments of life, while affirming--in the teary-eyed final reel--his cherished values of friendship and individual achievement. It's a Wonderful Life was not a big hit on its initial release, and it won no Oscars (Capra and Stewart were nominated); but it continues to weave a special magic. --Robert Horton
MARLENE DIETRICH (Blonde Venus) and JAMES STEWART (Vertigo) ride high in this superb comedic western, both a boisterous spoof and a shining example of the genre it is having fun with. As the brawling, rough-and-tumble saloon singer Frenchy, Dietrich shed her exotic love-goddess image and launched a triumphant career comeback, while Stewart cemented his amiable everyman persona, in his first of many westerns, with a charming turn as a gun-abhorring deputy sheriff who uses his wits to bring law and order to the frontier town of Bottleneck. A sparkling script, a supporting cast of virtuoso character actors, and rollicking musical numbers - delivered with unmatched bravado by the magnetic Dietrich - come together to create an irresistible, oft-imitated marvel of studio-era craftsmanship. Special Features: New 4K digital restoration by Universal Pictures in collaboration with The Film Foundation, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray New interview with critic Imogen Sara Smith New interview with Donald Dewey, author of James Stewart: A Biography New video essay featuring excerpts from a 1973 oral-history interview with director George Marshall, conducted by the American Film Institute Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1945, featuring actors James Stewart and Joan Blondell PLUS: An essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme
The award-winning ratings hit that got everyone talking returns for the dramatic next chapter in Gemma's story. Life appears to be going well for the talented doctor and son Tom after the turmoil that followed her discovery of husband Simon's betrayal. After her divorce, Gemma has attempted to leave what happened behind, but can you ever really move on from your ex especially when a child is involved? Gemma's life is further complicated with sexual tensions, destructive obsessions and the need to create stability for her now teenage son. Dark, adult, and psychologically raw, Series 2 is packed with gripping drama, explosive twists and turns, and sees Gemma going further than she ever has before to protect the people she loves.
Like the Greenwich Village courtyard view from its titular portal, Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window is both confined and multileveled: both its story and visual perspective are dictated by its protagonist's imprisonment in his apartment, convalescing in a wheelchair, from which both he and the audience observe the lives of his neighbors. Cheerful voyeurism, as well as the behavior glimpsed among the various tenants, affords a droll comic atmosphere that gradually darkens when he sees clues to what may be a murder. Photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is, in fact, a voyeur by trade, a professional photographer sidelined by an accident while on assignment. His immersion in the human drama (and comedy) visible from his window is a by-product of boredom, underlined by the disapproval of his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and a wisecracking visiting nurse (Thelma Ritter). Yet when the invalid wife of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) disappears, Jeff enlists the two women to help him to determine whether she's really left town, as Thorwald insists, or been murdered. Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto convincingly argues that the crime at the center of this mystery is the MacGuffin--a mere pretext--in a film that's more interested in the implications of Jeff's sentinel perspective. We actually learn more about the lives of the other neighbors (given generic names by Jeff, even as he's drawn into their lives) he, and we, watch undetected than we do the putative murderer and his victim. Jeff's evident fear of intimacy and commitment with the elegant, adoring Lisa provides the other vital thread to the script, one woven not only into the couple's own relationship, but reflected and even commented upon through the various neighbours' lives. At minimum, Hitchcock's skill at making us accomplices to Jeff's spying, coupled with an ingenious escalation of suspense as the teasingly vague evidence coalesces into ominous proof, deliver a superb thriller spiked with droll humour, right up to its nail-biting, nightmarish climax. At deeper levels, however, Rear Window plumbs issues of moral responsibility and emotional honesty, while offering further proof (were any needed) of the director's brilliance as a visual storyteller. --Sam Sutherland
Sid James stars as successful travelling stationery salesman and average family man Sid Abbott in this classic television comedy. A man who would give anything for a quiet life his position as head of the chaotic Abbott household is constantly being eroded by the harassment and seemingly unreasonable demands made by his family - wife and sparring partner Jean (Diana Coupland) groovy art school dropout son Mike (Robin Stewart) and schoolgirl daughter Sally (Sally Geeson). The sympathetic neighbours Betty (Patsy Rowlands) and Trevor (Anthony Jackson) are always on hand to make a bad situation worse... This 12-disc set features all 65 episodes of the series and also includes the feature film version made in 1972.
This classic stage production gets a Hollywood make-over. James Stewart plays the title role as Elwood P. Dowd who befriends a human-sized rabbit by the name of Harvey: the trouble is only he can see him.
The true story of an unassuming band leader and trombonist Glenn Miller (played by James Stewart) who got his first break playing his own arrangement of 'Everybody Loves My Baby' at an audition. He never looked back. He married his childhood sweetheart and everything he played became an instant hit...songs like 'Moonlight Serenade' 'String of Pearls' and 'Tuxedo Junction'. Hollywood beckoned and success piled upon success. But then came World War II. A war from which Glenn Miller never returned. He was on his way to Paris to entertain the American Forces when his plane disappeared. But the show had to go on...and Glenn Miller became a legend. The film features all of Glenn Miller's hits and there are many guest performances who make this film an all time classic. Winner of an Oscar for Best Sound in 1955.
Anatomy of a Murder, Otto Preminger's 1959 film of the novel by Robert Traver (a pen name for a Michigan Supreme Court Justice), was controversial in its day for making frank on-screen use of then-unheard words such as "panties", "rape" and "spermatogenesis"--and it remains a trenchant, bitter, tough, witty dissection of the American legal system. With its striking Saul Bass title design and jazzy Duke Ellington score, Anatomy of a Murder takes a sophisticated approach unusual for a Hollywood film of its vintage. Most radically, it refuses to show the murder or any of the private scenes recounted in court, leaving it up to us to decide along with the jury whether the grumpy and unconcerned Lieutenant Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara) was or was not subject to an "irresistible impulse" tantamount to insanity when he shot dead Barney Quill, the bear-like bar owner alleged to have raped Manion's teasing trailer-trash wife Laura (Lee Remick in unfeasibly tight trousers). James Stewart plays Paul "Polly" Biegler a former District Attorney keen to get back into court to clash with the political dullard who replaced him in office. Biegler is supported by the skills of his snide secretary (Eve Arden) and boozy-but-brilliant research partner (Arthur O'Connell). For the prosecution, the befuddled local DA hauls in Dancer (George C Scott), a prissy legal eagle from the local big city whose sharp-suited, sly elegance makes an interesting clash with Biegler's "aw-shucks" jimmy-stewartian conniving. This is simply the best trial movie ever made, with a real understanding of the way lawyers have to be not only great actors but stars, assuming personalities that exaggerate their inner selves and weighing every outburst and objection for the effect it has on the poor saps in the jury box. On the DVD: The print is letterboxed to 1.85:1, but it's a bit of a cheat since that seems to involve trimming the top and bottom of the image (losing the steps under and the clouds above the Columbia lady in the opening titles), though the film isn't seriously hurt by a tighter look at the action. Also included are: an Ellington-scored photo montage, soundtracks in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish with subtitles in ten languages, filmographies for director and principal cast, original advertising (highlighting Saul Bass' poster designs, a trailer and more trailers for more Columbia Jimmy Stewart or courtroom films. --Kim Newman
When her husband dies en route to America, Martha Price and her daughter Hilary are left to carry out his dream: the introduction of Hereford cattle into the American West. They enlist Sam Bulldog Burnett in their efforts to transport their lone bull, a Hereford named Vindicator, to a breeder in Texas, but the trail is fraught with danger, and even Burnett doubts the survival potential of this rare breed of cattle. Extras: Trailer Subtitles
It's always a small surprise to revisit this movie and realise what a subtly dark performance James Stewart gives as an alcoholic who claims he keeps company with a six-foot-tall, invisible rabbit. As Elwood P. Dowd, the actor emits a faint whiff of decay and spirits, yet Stewart also embraces Dowd's romanticism and grace with splendid ease. Based on a hit play and directed by Henry Koster, the film is terribly funny at times, especially whenever Elwood decides it is only polite to introduce Harvey to complete strangers. The supporting cast can't be beat. --Tom Keogh
Eureka Entertainment to release THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, Robert Aldrich's all time classic thriller starting James Stewart, Richard Attenborough and an international cast, as part of the Masters of Cinemas Series on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK on 12 September 2016. One of Hollywood's toughest and most idiosyncratic filmmakers, Robert Aldrich has on of his greatest and most cherished popular successes with the thrilling adventure classic The Flight of the Phoenix, headlined by an all-star cast including James Stewart, Richard Attenborough , Peter Finch, Ernest Borgnine and Hardy Kruger. A cargo plane carrying an assortment of oilmen and military personnel crashes in the Sahara Desert during a sandstorm. Realising they're too far off course to be found and rescued before food and water runs out, their only hope is to attempt to rebuild the aircraft amidst the unforgiving environment. An engrossing mix of intensely physical filmmaking an marvellous character turns across the board, The Flight of the Phoenix is a vivid chronicle of men pressure, with unsettling questions about the nature of leadership. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present a new Blu-ray special edition of the film.
Titles Comprise:Rear Window: When professional photographer J.B. Jeff Jeffries (James Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, he becomes obsessed with watching the private dramas of his neighbours play out across the courtyard. When he suspects a salesman may have murdered his nagging wife, Jeffries enlists the help of his glamorous socialite girlfriend (Grace Kelly) to investigate the highly suspicious chain of events that lead to one of the most memorable and gripping endings in all of film history.The Birds: As beautiful blonde Melanie Daniels ('Tippi' Hedren) rolls into Bodega Bay in pursuit of eligible bachelor Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), she is inexplicably attacked by a seagull. Suddenly thousands of birds areflocking into town, preying on school-children and residents in a terrifying series of attacks. Soon Mitch and Melanie are fighting for their lives against a deadly force that can't be explained and can't be stopped in one of Hollywood's most horrific films of nature gone berserk.Vertigo: Set in San Francisco, James Stewart portrays an acrophobic detective hired to trail a friend's suicidal wife (Kim Novak). After he successfully rescues her from a leap into the bay, he finds himself becoming obsessed with the beautifully troubled woman. One of cinema's most chilling romantic endeavours - this film is a must for collectors.Psycho: Anthony Perkins stars in Alfred Hitchcock's landmark masterpiece as the troubled Norman Bates whose old dark house and adjoining motel are not the place to spend a quiet evening. Janet Leigh plays Marion Crane, the ill-fated traveller whose journey ends in the notorious shower scene. Horror and suspense mount to a terrifying climax where the mysterious killer is finally revealed after both Marion's sister and a private detective search for her.
Dreamlike and nightmarishly surreal, Vertigo is Hitchcock's most personal film because it confronts many of the convoluted psychological issues that haunted and fascinated the director. The psychological complexity and the stark truthfulness of their rampant emotions keeps these strangely obsessive characters alive on screen, and Hitchcock understood better than most their barely repressed sexual compulsions, their fascination with death and their almost overwhelming desire for transcendent love. James Stewart finds profound and disturbing new depths in his psyche as Scotty, the tortured acrophobic detective on the trail of a suicidal woman apparently possessed by the ghost of someone long dead. Kim Novak is the classical Hitchcockian blonde whose icy exterior conceals a churning, volcanic emotional core. The agonised romance of Bernard Herrmann's score accompanies the two actors as a third and vitally important character, moving the film along to its culmination in an ecstasy of Wagnerian tragedy. Of course Hitch lavished especial care on every aspect of the production, from designer Edith Head's costumes (he, like Scotty, was most insistent on the grey dress), to the specific colour scheme of each location, to the famous reverse zoom "Vertigo" effect (much imitated, never bettered). The result is Hitch's greatest work and an undisputed landmark of cinema history. On the DVD: This disc presents the superb restored print of this film in a wonderful widescreen (1.85:1) anamorphic transfer, with remastered Dolby digital soundtrack. There's a half-hour documentary made in 1996 about the painstaking two-year restoration process, plus an informative commentary from the restorers Robert Harris and James Katz, who are joined by original producer Herbert Coleman. There are also text features on the production, cast and crew, plus a trailer for the theatrical release of the restoration. This is an undeniably essential requirement for every DVD collection. --Mark Walker
The Rare Breed:In the 1880s Englishwoman Martha Price (Maureen O'Hara) and her daughter Hilary (Juliet Mills) come to America to sell their prize Hereford bull. The women hire Burnett (James Stewart) to help them transport the animal to its new owner Bowen (Brian Keith).Shenandoah:A dramatic story of a man caught in a dilemma. James Stewart stars as a Virginia farmer during the Civil War. He refuses to support the Confederacy because he is opposed to slavery yet he will not support the Union because he is deeply opposed to war.Night Passage:When the local railroad becomes the constant target of a band of desperadoes led by Whitey Harbin (Dan Duryea) officials recruit Grant McLaine (Stewart) to guard the payroll from any more robberies. Trouble is the gang's most skilled and lethal gunslinger The Utica Kid (Audie Murphy) is Grant's kid brother.The Far Country:James Stewart and Walter Brennan are a loner and his sidekick who figure to get rich by selling a herd of cattle at a fancy price during the wild gold rush days. They are soon caught up in a conflict with the local lawman John McIntire and his henchmen.Bend Of The River:James Stewart guides a band of pioneers from Missouri over the Oregon Trail to a new life in the Columbia River Basin in this western adventure. When the settlers are cheated out of their supplies and cattle Stewart crosses rivers climbs mountains and out-guns hijackers to ensure their survival through the first winter.Winchester '73:Frontiersman Lin McAdam (Stewart) is attempting to track down both his father's murderer and his one-of-a-kind rifle the Winchester '73 as it passes among a diverse group of desperate characters including a crazed highwayman (Dan Duryea) an immoral gunrunner (John McIntire a savage young Indian chief (Rock Hudson) and McAdam's own murderous brother (Stephen McNally)Destry Rides Again:As Destry a mild-mannered deputy who doesn't like guns Stewart is called to restore order to the frontier town of Bottleneck. He reluctantly takes the task after meeting French (Dietrich) an alluring saloon girl who belts out unforgettable show-stoppers while winning the hero's heart.
The Man from Laramie is the last of five remarkable Westerns Anthony Mann made with James Stewart (starting with Winchester '73 and peaking with The Naked Spur). Only John Ford excelled Mann as a purveyor of eye-filling Western imagery, and Mann's best films are second to no one's when it comes to the fusion of dynamic action, rugged landscapes and fierce psychological intensity. This collaboration marked virtually a whole new career for Stewart, whose characters are all haunted by the past and driven by obsession--here, to find whoever set his cavalry-officer brother in the path of warlike Indians. The Man from Laramie aspires to an epic grandeur beyond its predecessors. It's the only one in CinemaScope, and Stewart's personal quest is subsumed in a larger drama--nothing less than a sagebrush version of King Lear, with a range baron on the verge of blindness (Donald Crisp), his weak and therefore vicious son (Alex Nicol) and another, apparently more solid "son", his Edmund-like foreman (Arthur Kennedy). There are a few too many subsidiary characters, and the reach for thematic complexity occasionally diminishes the impact. But no one will ever forget the scene on the salt flats between Nicol and Stewart--climaxing in the single most shocking act of violence in 50s cinema--or the final, mountain-top confrontation. For decades, the film has been seen only in washed-out, pan-and-scan videos, with the characters playing visual hopscotch from one panel of the original composition to another. It's great to have this glorious DVD--razor-sharp, fully saturated (or as saturated as 50s Eastmancolor could be) and breathtaking in its CinemaScope sweep. --Richard T Jameson, Amazon.com
Look out pardners there's a new mouse in town! Some time after the Mousekewitz's have settled in America they find that they are still having problems with the threat of cats. That makes them eager to try another home out in the west where they are promised that mice and cats live in peace. Unfortunately the one making this claim is an oily con artist named Cat R. Waul who is intent on his own sinister plan. Unaware of this the Mousekewitz's begin their journey west whil
None of Hitchcock's films has ever given a clearer view of his genius for suspense than Rear Window. When professional photographer J.B. ""Jeff"" Jeffries (James Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg he becomes obsessed with watching the private dramas of his neighbours play out across the courtyard. When he suspects a salesman may have murdered his nagging wife Jeffries enlists the help of his glamorous socialite girlfriend (Grace Kelly) to investigate the highly suspicious chain of events... Events that ultimately lead to one of the most memorable and gripping endings in all of film history.
Like the Greenwich Village courtyard view from its titular portal, Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window is both confined and multileveled: its story and visual perspective are dictated by its protagonist's imprisonment in his apartment, convalescing in a wheelchair, from which both he and the audience observe the lives of his neighbours. Cheerful voyeurism, as well as the behaviour glimpsed among the various tenants, affords a droll comic atmosphere that gradually darkens when he sees clues to what may be a murder. Photographer LB "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is, in fact, a voyeur by trade, a professional photographer sidelined by an accident while on assignment. His immersion in the human drama (and comedy) visible from his window is a by-product of boredom, underlined by the disapproval of his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and a wisecracking visiting nurse (Thelma Ritter). Yet when the invalid wife of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) disappears, Jeff enlists the two women to help him to determine whether she's really left town, as Thorwald insists, or been murdered. Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto convincingly argues that the crime at the centre of this mystery is the MacGuffin--a mere pretext--in a film that's more interested in the implications of Jeff's sentinel perspective. We actually learn more about the lives of the other neighbours (given generic names by Jeff, even as he's drawn into their lives) he, and we, watch undetected than we do the putative murderer and his victim. Jeff's evident fear of intimacy and commitment with the elegant, adoring Lisa provides the other vital thread to the script, one woven not only into the couple's own relationship, but reflected and even commented upon through the various neighbours' lives. At a minimum, Hitchcock's skill at making us accomplices to Jeff's spying, coupled with an ingenious escalation of suspense as the teasingly vague evidence coalesces into ominous proof, deliver a superb thriller spiked with droll humour, right up to its nail-biting, nightmarish climax. At deeper levels, however, Rear Window plumbs issues of moral responsibility and emotional honesty, while offering further proof (were any needed) of the director's brilliance as a visual storyteller. -- Sam Sutherland, Amazon.com
A self-consciously epic sci-fi adventure of Cecil B DeMille-sized proportions, Stargate refreshes and combines several well-worn sci-fi and sword 'n' sandal genre conventions with some Erich von Daniken-style Biblical Egyptology. The directing-writing-producing team of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin had previously collaborated on B-movies Moon 44 (1990) and Universal Soldier (1992), but handed a significantly bigger budget they were able to give their Steven Spielberg pretensions free reign here ("Indiana Jones and his Close Encounters with the Chariots of the Gods" might be a suitable subtitle). James Spader is endearingly dithery as the fish-out-of-water academic who finds himself teamed with taciturn tough guy Kurt Russell: the two excellent leads are largely responsible for imparting what depth there is to otherwise two-dimensional characters. British composer David Arnold makes his major studio debut in the grandest fashion with an outstanding score that pays suitable homage to epic film music (John Williams' CE3K and Maurice Jarre's Lawrence of Arabia in particular). It's all done with such unabashed enthusiasm that viewers will happily forgive the film's derivative elements and even overlook the high-camp theatricality of Jaye Davidson's bizarre bad guy. Despite subsequent huge box-office hits (Independence Day, Godzilla, The Patriot), Stargate remains Emmerich and Devlin's freshest, most satisfying film. On the DVD: This special edition version adds approximately seven minutes of additional footage, much of which is in the form of slightly extended scenes, but does also include an opening sequence in Ancient Egypt, a scene with Kurt Russell and the fossilised Horus guards, and Ra's bath scene. These are also collected in a bonus "Promo Reel". The anamorphic widescreen presentation of the 2.35:1 Panavision picture looks sharp and clear, although some of the additional footage is degraded; the sound is suitably spectacular 5.1 or DTS. Devlin and Emmerich provide a relaxed, chatty commentary ("We have nothing to do with the TV series"!), although you have to access this from the Set Up menu not the Special Features menu. There's a photo gallery and trailer, but sadly no "making-of" documentary. --Mark Walker
From the 'Master of Suspense' this box set features many of his very best films. Titles comprise: 1. Vertigo 2. The Birds 3. Rear Window 4. Marnie 5. Frenzy 6. Topaz 7. The Trouble With Harry 8. Torn Curtain 9. Psycho: Special Edition (includes the Bonus disc the Hitchcock legacy) 10. Family Plot 11. Saboteur 12. Shadow Of A Doubt 13. The Man Who Knew Too Much 14. Rope For individual synopses please refer to the individual products.
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