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Archive for September 24th, 2012

Maybe Our Luck Has Changed: “Kong” Remake is Latest Deluxe Title from FSM

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It all began with a lie – a very impressive, very big one.

On November 30, 1975, New York Times readers were treated to a full-color advertisement for producer Dino de Laurentiis’ latest film project: a modern retelling of King Kong. “One year from today, Paramount Pictures and Dino de Laurentiis will bring to you the most exciting original motion picture event of all time,” trumpeted the ad copy, blissfully ignorant of the true original, stop-motion-animated ape that ascended the Empire State Building to the thrill of moviegoers in 1933.

Nevertheless, the multimillion-dollar production, this time set around an oil company rig discovering the towering gorilla on a distant island (and foolishly bringing him back to Manhattan!), was quite the event in the winter of 1976. The Oscar-winning special effects were rather extraordinary for their time, between Rick Baker’s surprisingly expressive performance in a custom ape suit and Carlo Rambaldi’s life-size mechanical beast. The film was an early starring role for Jeff Bridges and the first for Jessica Lange, years before her Oscar-winning turn in Tootsie. Add to that more than a few banana bunches worth of merchandising, including models, games, T-shirts, posters, glassware and other ephemera, and it’s easy to see why, modern critical drubbing aside, Kong-mania was a very real thing at the time.

And the score! Legendary composer John Barry created a score as big as the title character itself, alternating between urgent action cues during Kong’s rampage through the jungles of Skull Island and New York City and lush cues for tender moments between Lange and Bridges as well as Lange and her other hairy co-star.

That soundtrack was a strong seller in its day – longtime fans have fond memories of the Reprise LP with fold-out poster insert – but took nearly 20 years to come out on CD from Film Score Monthly. And even then, fans clamored for a more complete presentation of the beautiful soundtrack. Now, with just one more title left to release from the venerable FSM label, Lukas Kendall’s label has shone once again, issuing a two-disc set combining that original LP with the complete, 70-minute film score (newly mixed and mastered from the original tapes) and nearly a half-hour of unreleased alternate cues. Ace film score writer John Takis pens the liner notes in the 20-page booklet, augmented by many classic stills and advertisements for this cult classic.

Is there really “only one King Kong,” as that fateful Times poster proclaimed? Perhaps not – but for soundtrack enthusiasts, this might be the big one. Full specs and order details for this unlimited release are after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 24, 2012 at 16:56

The Magnificent Bernstein: “The Rat Race” Premieres on CD

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Elmer Bernstein’s back!

Kritzerland celebrated its landmark 100th release last year with the world premiere of Bernstein’s complete soundtrack to Summer and Smoke, and in 2012, his score to Walt Disney Productions’ The Black Cauldron has seen release from Intrada alongside a reissue of Amazing Grace and Chuck from Varese Sarabande.  Now, Kritzerland is returning with another Bernstein bonanza, his 1960 score to the drama The Rat Race, in a limited edition of 1,200 units.

Garson Kanin (Born Yesterday, Adam’s Rib) adapted his own 1949 Broadway play for director Robert Mulligan’s film version starring Debbie Reynolds and Tony Curtis as “two young hopefuls ready to claw, steal or do anything to get to the top,” according to the movie’s tagline.  Reynolds played Peggy, a dancer, and Curtis portrayed Pete, a musician, and the film chronicled their struggle to survive in the bustling, cutthroat big city.  Reynolds and Curtis were joined by familiar faces including Kay Medford, Norman Fell, and in a standout role, Don Rickles as a menacing club owner.  The Rat Race was Mulligan’s second film, following 1957’s Fear Strikes Out, on which he also teamed with Bernstein, spawning a Kritzerland score album.  Three years after The Rat Race, he would helm To Kill a Mockingbird, with a score, once again, by Elmer Bernstein.

According to Kritzerland’s Bruce Kimmel, Bernstein’s score is “one of Bernstein’s best.”  He adds that “right from the get-go, his electric, jazzy, and spectacular theme grabs you and never lets go.  That theme recurs throughout the score – pulsing with the teeming life of the city, with wailing brass and insistent rhythms.  Some cues keep the big-band jazzy feeling, while others are mournful and tender, as the story requires.”  The style evoked by the composer is even more remarkable in light of the fact that he would also compose the score and theme to a little film called The Magnificent Seven in the same very same year!

There’s more after the jump, including the full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 24, 2012 at 13:07

It’s Good to Be the King! Shout! Factory Preps “The Incredible Mel Brooks” with Rare Audio and Video Treats

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Mel Brooks has been called many things…but doesn’t “incredible” have a nice ring to it?  The fine folks at Shout! Factory clearly think so, anyway.  The inimitable, indefatigable and yes, incredible, auteur is being celebrated this November 13 with a 5-DVD/1-CD box set that’s unlike any other yet dedicated to Brooks.  Unlike past boxed collections, this one doesn’t feature any of Brooks’ beloved films.  Instead, it sheds light on those movies with an array of rare material including performances, interviews, film clips, commercials and archival television footage, with plenty of laughs promised along the way.

The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy is built around a new, five-part documentary entitled Mel and His Movies, with one segment included on each DVD in the box.  Of course, the former Melvin Kaminsky is only one of eleven people in entertainment history to possess the “EGOT” (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards), so the box set delves even deeper than just his most acclaimed motion pictures.  Surrounding the documentary on each disc are a plethora of other features spotlighting Brooks as comedian, actor, writer, composer/lyricist and director over a span of six decades.

Among the television material, you’ll find 2011’s Emmy Award-nominated Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again, an evening with the two comedy legends; episodes of Get Smart and When Things Were Rotten (both created by Brooks) and Mad About You; and appearances from The Dick Cavett Show, The David Susskind Show, The Tracey Ullman Show and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.   In addition to Mel and His Movies, other documentaries include I Thought I Was Taller: A Short History of Mel Brooks, produced by the BBC in 1981 and Excavating The 2000 Year Old Man, a PBS special from earlier this year which explores the prehistoric partnership between Brooks and Carl Reiner.  The Incredible Mel Brooks also boasts short films, tributes, and rare footage, compiled with Brooks’ consent.  The great man himself even provides introductions to some of the material.

The sixth disc in the box set is an audio CD.  It follows in the footsteps of the recently-reissued Mel Brooks’ Greatest Hits album, but differs from that collection in that it includes comedy sketches alongside the classic songs from Brooks’ films.   Among its rare selections is the title song to 1979’s Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety, performed by Brooks himself – in French!  The five DVDs and CD are packaged with a 60-page book of liner note from luminaries like Leonard Maltin, Robert Brustein, Gene Wilder and Bruce Jay Friedman as well as many vintage photos and program notes.

After the jump, you’ll find more, including a complete rundown of the set’s contents and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 24, 2012 at 11:52

Posted in Box Sets, DVD, Mel Brooks, News

Take the Box: Amy Winehouse’s Live Career Chronicled on New Multi-Disc Set, “Album Collection” Packages Complete Studio Works

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The work of talented, troubled British soul singer Amy Winehouse, who passed away last summer at the too-young age of 27, will be celebrated in box set form this year.

Following the solid listening experience of Lioness: Hidden Treasures, a single-disc outtakes compilation released last year, Universal Republic will release Amy Winehouse at The BBC, a 3-DVD/1-CD set showcasing the starlet’s live performance history.

The set begins with A Tribute to Amy Winehouse by Jools Holland. The former Squeeze keyboardist and longtime British television personality was an avowed fan of Amy’s, and featured her several times on his Later… series and annual Hootenanny variety shows. This playlist, compiled for the BBC after her death, features multiple performances from 2003 to 2007 and includes guest spots by Holland himself (who duets on standards “Teach Me Tonight” and “Tenderly” with Winehouse) and mod king Paul Weller (who covers “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and Etta Jones’ “Don’t Go to Strangers” with her).

The second disc is the CD, a compilation of performances recorded by the BBC on various radio shows and music festivals. From early singles like “Fuck Me Pumps,” recorded at the T in the Park Festival in 2004, to familiar hits (“Rehab,” “You Know I’m No Good”) and covers (Phil Spector’s “To Know Him is to Love Him,” The Zutons’ “Valerie”), Winehouse’s smoky voice is front and center here.

The third disc spotlights a set recorded by Radio 1 at London’s Porchester Hall in the summer of 2007. Back to Black had been released the fall before, and “Rehab” was starting to break Winehouse in the States; as such, this performance draws heavily from that seminal LP. Finally, one last DVD features a part-performance, part-documentary about Amy’s 2006 trip to a small church (with a capacity of 85) in Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland. The performance, recorded for Irish music series Other Voices, features a set culled entirely from Back to Black and shows off Winehouse in one of the most unique venues of her career.

The box features new liner notes by Dan Cairns of The Sunday Times, and will feature a new interview with BBC producer Mark Cooper and a foreword from rapper Nas, a longtime admirer of Winehouse. All royalties from the set will be donated to The Amy Winehouse Foundation, a non-profit set up in Winehouse’s memory to aid young people beset by health problems, disability or addiction.

Look for it in stores on November 19, and hit the jump for the full track list, as well as a look at a forthcoming box set featuring all three of Amy’s studio albums.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 24, 2012 at 10:22