APES ON FILM: Romance on the High Seas and the Docks

Posted on: Jul 20th, 2020 By:

By Anthony Taylor
Contributing Writer

Welcome to the first installment of Apes on Film on ATLRetro! This column exists to scratch your Retro-film-in-high-definition itch. Going forward we’ll be reviewing new releases of vintage cinema on disc of all genres, finding gems and letting you know the skinny on what to avoid. Here at Apes on Film, our aim is to uncover the best in Retro film. As we dig for artifacts, we’ll do our best not to bury our reputation. What will we find out here? Our destiny.

 

 

ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948)
2.5 out of 5 Bananas
Starring: Jack Carson, Janis Paige, Don DeFore, Doris Day, Oscar Levant
Directors: Michael Curtiz, Busby Berkeley
Rated: Not Rated
Studio: Warner Archives
BRD Release Date: June 16, 2020
Audio Formats: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.37:1
Run Time: 99 minutes
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Film Still: Doris Day Romance on the High Seas

Doris Day bows on film as a cabaret singer caught in a wacky web of marital deception in the sort of screwball musical comedy she’d go on to perfect. This one is a bit too enamored of itself and the oh-so-whimsical, Preston Sturges-esque dialogue of the era; the problem is that no one bothered to have Preston Sturges actually write the film, so much of it just seems stilted and flat. The most entertaining lines and comedic bits come from background players. The musical numbers are forgettable and mostly fail to enthrall, the exception being “It’s Magic,” the picture’s finale. Throughout, the saving grace is Doris Day, who remains sparkling and a joy to watch. Hard to believe this was her first film, truly.

Warner Archive’s Blu-Ray release includes the film, its theatrical trailer, and a classic Bugs Bunny cartoon (“Hare Splitter”)—which is not presented in HD and laden with artifacts. The film itself looks gorgeous with deep blacks and vivid colors. Sound is adequate in MA 2.0 Mono.

Recommended for the completist, Doris Day fans, and lovers of period musicals.

 

CANNERY ROW (1982)
2 out of 5 Bananas
Actors: Nick Nolte, Debra Winger, Audra Lindley, Frank McRae, M. Emmet Walsh
Directors: David S. Ward
Rated: PG
Studio: Warner Archives
BRD Release Date: June 9, 2020
Audio – English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Run Time: 121 minutes
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Film Still: Cannery Row, Nolte and Winger

Like Robert Altman’s POPEYE a mere two years earlier, David S. Ward’s CANNERY ROW concerns the effects a stranger’s arrival has on a small, seaside town filled with hobos, eccentrics, and the feeble-minded, and like the earlier movie, it misses the mark. Also based on well-loved source material, written and directed by a true wunderkind of the era (Ward wrote arguably one of the best movies of all time, THE STING), and featuring a cast of enormously talented performers, CANNERY ROW is the victim of its first-time director’s self-indulgent excess and misunderstanding of the process he was into up to his neck. Almost everything about the movie is too “on-the-nose,” eschewing innovation for cliché, from the production design to the score. Especially rancorous are the performances of the supporting cast, who Ward must have encouraged to chew scenery like it was bubble gum. The good in all of this are the performances of Nolte and Winger, who keep things on track even as the film meanders around aimlessly for its second half. Also, of note is Director of Photography Sven Nykvist’s cinematography, which is lush and evocative throughout.

Warner Archive’s Blu-ray release is bare bones, including just the film and its original trailer. Film grain is apparent throughout and heavy in many of the darker scenes, but overall, it’s a very watchable presentation. Audio seemed uneven from a volume aspect, but otherwise serviceable.

I wish I could recommend CANNERY ROW, but it is a very mixed bag. Nolte’s performance is nuanced and subtle at times, from the era when he was still capable of such a thing. Worth a watch for that if you have time to kill.

 

Anthony Taylor is not only the Minister of Science, but also Defender of the Faith. His reviews and articles have appeared in magazines such as Screem, Fangoria, Famous Monsters of Filmland, SFX, Video WatchDog, and more.

*Art Credit: Anthony Taylor as Dr. Zaius caricature by Richard Smith

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Kool Kitten of the Week: A Pinup Girl And Her Pups: Brook Bolen and the F’n Heartbreaks Rock Out for Pitbulls

Posted on: Aug 10th, 2011 By:

Brook Bolen poses as Miss April in the Pinups for Pitbulls 2011 calendar. Photo courtesy of Pinups for Pitbulls.

There oughta be a song about it. Guy dumps girl. Girl gets dog, starts a rock band called the F’n Heartbreaks, poses with her dogs as Miss April in the Pinup for Pitbulls 2011 Calendar to help more dogs, and performs at DOG DAYS OF SUMMER, Pin-Ups for Pitbulls’ latest fundraiser this Friday night (Aug. 12) at The Basement beneath Graveyard Tavern in East Atlanta.

While that fairy tale could be Brook Bolen’s life story, this fun fundraiser is for anyone of either sex who loves dogs, especially pitbulls, and righteous Retro entertainment. In addition to The F’n Heartbreaks, there’s the Hot Rod Walt Trio, an offshoot of rockabilly daredevils Psycho DeVilles (read ATLRetro’s recent Kool Kat interview with Hot Rod Walt here), and plenty of burlesque goodness from the tantalizing Talloollah Love, the sexy Sadie Hawkins and Barbilicious of Blast-Off Burlesque, and Little Darling from Pennsylvania, who also is the charity’s founder. Plus merchandise for sale, a raffle and silent auction to support the cause, and pinup girls aplenty!

ATLRetro caught up with Brook to find out the full scoop on Friday’s festivities, as well as a little bit about the F’n Heartbreaks, her passion for pitbulls and how you can become a Pinup for Pitbulls calendar girl, too.

Pitbulls often get a bad rap. How did you get involved with Pinups for Pitbulls and why does supporting this charity and pitbulls mean so much to you?

I discovered Pinups for Pitbulls about four years ago and was immediately drawn to them because they fit me effortlessly. I have two pitbulls, love pinup style and was literally heartbroken from working in a high-kill animal shelter where I saw countless pits die needlessly. This charity is the perfect way for me to effect some positive change in a way that is authentic to me. Our work is fundamental to me not only because of my own pitbull babies but because of the tens of thousands I met working in Animal Control who were also wonderful, loving companion animals.

How did the idea for Pinups for Pitbulls get started? Wasn’t it founded by a burlesque performer?

It was founded by an amazing pinup model and burlesque performer, Deirdre “Little Darling” Franklin. Her lifelong love of animals led her to volunteer in an animal shelter, where she fell in love with a pitbull but was prohibited from adopting it. She learned that many shelters employ similar policies—so going to shelters is essentially a death sentence. She decided to use her pinup/burlesque fan base to start educating and advocating for the breed.

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