Editor’s Notes: High Noon, The Bob Hope Specials: Thanks for the Memories, Pele: Birth of a Legend, & Dead End Drive-In are out on their respective home entertainment formats September 20th.
High Noon (Olive Signature) stars Gary Cooper as Marshal Will Kane, who marries Quaker girl Amy (Grace Kelly) and prepares to leave town a day before the replacement marshal is scheduled to arrive. But Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), along with his band of men, is arriving on the noon train, seeking revenge against Kane, who realizes that he must finish this battle. He spends a large part of the film trying to enlist help. Deputy Marshal Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges) refuses to join Kane because he’s now dating the marshal’s former lover, Helen Ramirez (Katy Jurado), and believes she still has feelings for him. Other townspeople turn their backs, leaving him to face imminent danger alone. As the clock ticks closer to noon, Kane does his best to prepare for the inevitable showdown.
High Noon is regarded as one of the best Westerns in movie history. Though the story is fairly straightforward and draws upon common themes of the genre, the film is elevated by excellent performances, not only of Cooper, but supporting actors Otto Kruger, Harry Morgan, Jack Elam, and especially Lon Chaney, Jr. as Kane’s wise mentor, who delivers some of the movie’s best dialogue. Cooper himself, known for being the strong silent type, is true to form here, though his performance makes clear that Kane knows full well that the confrontation with Miller and his men may be his swan song. Grace Kelly doesn’t have a large role, but does an effective job as a woman sworn to non-violence who finds herself in the midst of the climactic gunfight.
The black and white cinematography by Floyd Crosby is impressive. One shot, in particular, stands out. After Kane has exhausted his entreaties for help, he stands in the street, alone. As he turns to go to the railroad station where Miller waits, the camera pulls back and up, emphasizing both Kane’s lack of back-up and his vulnerability.
Bonus extras on the unrated Blu-ray release include the featurettes “A Ticking Clock,” a discussion of the film’s editing; “A Stanley Kramer Production” (background on the producer); “Imitation of Life: The Hollywood Blacklist and High Noon,” featuring blacklisted screenwriter Walter Bernstein; “Oscars and Ulcers: The Production History of High Noon;” and “Uncitizened Kane,” an original essay. The movie’s theatrical trailer is also enclosed.
The Bob Hope Specials: Thanks for the Memories
The Bob Hope Specials: Thanks for the Memories (Time Life) is a collection of comedy-variety specials the entertainer did for NBC-TV. Beginning in 1950 and spanning five decades, the specials spanned ten presidential administrations from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton. His star-filled USO Christmas shows were performed to servicemen around the world.
Hope had an extensive career on radio, in movies, and on television. Noted for his comedy timing and specializing in one-liners and fast-paced delivery of jokes, he would often direct the gags at himself, first building himself up and then tearing himself down. He is one of the first comedians to use cue cards.
This 6-DVD set contains 13 specials from Hope’s career featuring dozens of celebrity guests. Highlights include Hope’s first comedy special “in living color” with guests Jack Benny, Bing Crosby and Janet Leigh; The Bob Hope Chevy Show,” with the complete cast of I Love Lucy plus James Cagney; and a spoof of Star Wars and other sketches with Tony Bennett, Perry Como, James Garner, Mark Hamill, Dean Martin, Olivia Newton-John, Barbra Streisand, Tuesday Weld and The Muppets.
In addition, there’s a murder mystery parody with Charo, Milton Berle, Don Rickles, George Gobel, Alan King, Don Knotts, Groucho Marx and Vincent Price; Hope’s 1967 USO tour to 22 bases around Vietnam, Thailand, and the South Pacific with gust star Raquel Welch; and a look at Hope’s personal relationships with American presidents including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, and Harry S. Truman.
Also included is a collection of bloopers from 30 years of Hope’s shows with George Burns, Sammy Davis, Jr., Angie Dickinson, Phyllis Diller, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Brooke Shields, Elizabeth Taylor, Mr. T, John Wayne, and many others.
Pele: Birth of a Legend
Pele: Birth of a Legend (IFC Films) is the rags-to-riches story of the first 17 years in the life of the soccer legend. A rather ordinary biopic, it stops just short of Pele’s triumphs in professional soccer. Instead, it concentrates on Brazil’s battle against bigotry in order to achieve its first World Cup victory in 1958.
The disparity between affluent teams and the poorer teams on which Pele (Kevin De Paula Rosa) plays is shown by the fair-skinned team’s uniforms and the ragged clothes of the dark-skinned team, too poor to afford shoes. The styles of the players also differ. The affluent teams prefer the more conservative style that dominated European soccer at the time. Pele prefers “ginga,” the acrobatic form of ball handling popular among Brazilians of African descent that will eventually lead to his worldwide celebrity.
No-nonsense coach Feola (Vincent D’Onofrio) is brought in to restore Brazil to international prominence after two previous disappointments, but his approach conflicts with Pele’s style, leading to conflict between the two strong-willed individuals. There are several scenes of blasé, unimpressed spectators gradually overcome with delight at Pele’s prowess. This works the first time but becomes tired when it is repeated later in the film.
By dealing with only the early chapters of Pele’s life, the directors —brothers Mike and Jeff Zimbalist — have time to explore the abject poverty that young Pele (Leonardo Lima Carvalho) had to endure daily while playing the sport he loved. Their film is a testament to perseverance, endurance, and how sheer joy in his talent can lift a person’s spirits and give him hope for greater opportunity.
DVD extras include a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette, and theatrical trailer.
Dead End Drive-In
Dead End Drive-In (Arrow) is an Australian action flick set in the near future. The post-apocalyptic world is on the brink of total anarchy because of economic collapse and rampant crime. Punk thugs rule the streets and towing companies battle over the rights to tow freshly crashed vehicles. For authorities to get a handle on roving gangs and unchecked lawlessness, delinquent youths have been incarcerated in drive-in theaters serving as modern-day concentration camps.
The movie fits the genre of “ozploitation” — Australian exploitation films produced during the 1970s and 1980s — and is long on action and short on wit. It clearly cribs much from the more popular and better “Mad Max” films but if car crashes, violence, and stunts are your thing, this film will entertain. Think of it as a knock-off wannabe. Director Brian Trenchard-Smith keeps the action at full blast, with little attention to the individuals caught in this nightmare world.
Bonus materials on the unrated Blu-ray release include “The Stuntmen,” Trenchard-Smith’s TV documentary on stuntman Grant Page (Mad Max, Road Games); audio commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith; a 1978 public information film told in pure ozploitation fashion; theatrical trailer; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork.