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November 2017

HISTORY Offers Up the New Intense Drama Series with KNIGHTFALL: Speaking with Tom Cullen

 

Knightfall

Jeri Jacquin

The History Channel has once again brought amazing story telling and on December 6th you will experience a story of the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail with KNIGHTFALL.

During the Middle Ages, the Knights Templar were an order of men with one goal – the protection of a prized relic known as the Holy Grail. An order of warrior monks, they will do what ever is required to carry out their duty.

Landry (Tom Cullen) is such a warrior monk along with Godfrey (Sam Hazeldine), Tancrede (Simon Merrells) and Gawain (Padraic Delaney). After an attack on their stronghold, they are all forced to flee and fifteen years later find themselves in Paris.

Now a friend to King Philip IV (Ed Stoppard), Queen Joan (Olivia Ross) and Princess Isabella (Sabrina Bartlett), Landry visits much to the hostility of William De Nogaret (Julian Ovenden). The brothers gather to discuss how to do what is right by the all the people they vow to serve. That brings discourse when Landry wants to know why they have not spoken of returning to the Holy Land.

Godfrey leaves to handle business outside Paris and asks that Landry be in charge which makes him instantly suspicious. Parsifal (Bobby Schofield) witnesses what happens on the open road and is given a mission that will cost him dearly.

When a Jewish businessman kills another man in the square in broad daylight, the King orders that the Jewish people must evacuate. What he doesn’t know is that there are others within the palace walls that have more frightening plans. In the chaos, there is a hint that the Holy Grail might be closer than any of the Knights Templar could have hoped bringing Pope Boniface VIII (Jim Carter) to their door.

With this news brings hope of a return to the Holy Land and the Holy Grail!

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I had the opportunity to conference call with Tom Cullen, the actor who marvelously portrays the role of Landry. Having spent my Sundays with Downton Abbey I was drawn to see Cullen’s performance in Knightfall and equally thrilled to talk to him about it.

Jeri Jacquin: Hello Tom, thanks for talking with us today.

Tom Cullen: Thank you too.

JJ: Can you tell us about your experience filming Knightfall?

TC: This is the kind of project I’ve always dreamt of being involved in ever since I was a little boy. I grew up in Wales and I grew up next to a castle. That kind of history is really woven into the fabric of my DNA like I think it is in many European’s DNA. When I was a kid, my dad gave me this wooden sword and shield and I used to go up there with my mate and we just used to run around pretending to be knights and warriors. I think that the older we get the more baggage we carry and I know that I spent a lot of time pining after that kind of innocence. This job really opened up the gateway to accessing the kid again and it felt like every single day I had little Tom next to me swinging a wooden sword around with his mates in a castle in Wales. That was my favorite thing about the job; being able to have as much fun as I had while filming this show and I loved it.

JJ: Besides your informal and very cool childhood training, did you more intensive training?

TC: In drama school in the UK we do a lot of fight training. I’d done a lot of sword training prior and I found that I had the propensity for killing people, ironically. *laughs* I hadn’t swung a sword in about eight years, so it was all very new in many respects. The stunt team that we had was led by an amazing Frenchman, Cédric Proust. He is a top stuntman and fight choreographer. He really put us through it and we had a great swordsman named Roman. The entire team wanted us to be at a very, very high level. So every day on set they would drill us and I did about three months of physical training beforehand to get myself and my body ready for the fighting portion of my character and the series.

Working on Knightfall was a full-on experience because the team wanted it to look authentic and real, and when you watch the fights they are absolutely incredible. I’m so proud of all of the actors who’ve participated in the battles because we’ve really done a great job and the stunt guys have really trained us well and they’re epic battles and muddy and gruesome. And they feel very real, which I think is something I’m very proud of.

There is an incredible battle sequence in the final episode which is the biggest thing I’ve ever been involved in. We had like 400 guys on a battlefield fighting for about two weeks. It’s epic, amazing and the real geeky nerd in me – because I am one – just can’t believe that I’m in it. I’m extremely proud of it.

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JJ: How did you react to getting the role of Landry?

TC: I genuinely love to do stuff that is different from the last thing that I did, and something that really scares me and something that is new. Knightfall was truly a dream come true for me. It’s something that I’ve always dreamt of doing since I was a kid. I grew up on films like ROBIN HOOD – Prince of Thieves and BRAVEHEART and those films had a huge influence on me as a kid. When I read this script it was like my dreams were coming true. It’s really amazing to be a part of a project like this one.

JJ: The Knights Templar and the Holy Grail are fairly known because of documentaries, film and television. I have to say I’m also drawn to that mysterious period of time. Did you research yourself?

TC: Yes. I wanted to know as much about the crusades and about the politics at the time. Not just the politics in Europe or in the Middle East but also Mongolian politics because they had a huge influence.

You just need to immerse yourself in the world and know everything that these men would have known, understand every single and the political permutation that is affected where they reach –where they are at this point and what drives these men and women to do the things that they do. I think that’s something that you have to do.

You take history for granted and history should never be taken for granted because it’s essential for us furthering ourselves as a society and as a culture, because the one thing that history teaches us is that it’s cyclical. So yes, I read a lot and we had a fantastic historian on set. His name is Dan Jones. He’s just released an amazing book that you must read called The Templars which is on the New York Times Bestseller’s List; it’s brilliant. He was there on hand at all times feeding into us and making sure that what we were portraying was as accurate as possible.

So anything that would come up in the script that we didn’t know, we would use him as a source of knowledge and he would say, “Go and read this, go and read that,” or just tell us because he he’s a real fountain of knowledge. That wasn’t just the access that put me in the world of the Knights Templar.

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The costume design, the art direction, the production design, makeup, etc. it was all so dense and real that you’re feel like you’re right in it as soon as you turn up on set. It’s just all there for you, you know, and you can really immerse yourself into the world.

The days we spent on set were amazing. We filmed on the biggest sets in Europe at Barrandov Studios. They built medieval Paris. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and in the show I have to do this shot where I’m riding down this nearly 200-meter long street that they built. There’re 350 extras and each extra has a job, each extra has a name. It is a real world and you just forget that the cameras are there because it’s so extraordinary.

Our costume designer, Diana Cilliers, was amazing. I remember the first time we did our screen test so they can see what it looks like on camera with the makeup and the hair. I remember putting the costume on, the chainmail and everything, and it weighed 50 pounds which was like an insane amount of weight. I struggled to walk down the corridor to get to the studio to do the screen test.

I was like, “Guys, why is the costume so heavy. How are we supposed to move and fight in this?” The answer was that Diana tried out lighter material such as plastics and other materials but they just didn’t look authentic. So they put us in the most authentic costume that they could and we just had to deal with it. We got bigger and we got stronger, and so very quickly we were able to run and jump, get on horses in the 50-pound costumes and do everything that we needed to do to play our parts.

You can see the difference in way that the costumes move and the way that your body moves in them. It’s just authentic and I think it makes for a very real experience when watching the show.

JJ: The relationship between Landry and Godfrey is such a mystery. Can you tell me more about that?

TC: The relationship that Landry has with Godfrey runs throughout the entire first season. In Episode 1, Godfrey is Landry’s surrogate father. Landry was an orphan and Godfrey essentially took him in and saved him from this orphanage. Because of the promise Godfrey saw in him, Landry became a Templar at the age of 11 which is very, very, very rare.

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One of the Templar rules is that you must become a Templar of your own volition because it’s such a monastic lifestyle where you do things like eat your food out of the same bowl as another man. There’s no vanity and no possessions. It’s completely monastic so it’s very rare for a young boy to join the Templars like Landry did.

In Episode 1 there is a truth revealed to Landry about Godfrey that he didn’t know. Landry, like a classic hero that we all know as the protagonist, he hunts and searches for the truth at all costs. He is like a boar who gets physically beaten, emotionally beaten and he just gets back up by himself and charges towards the truth.

Godfrey is pivotal in that circle of truth that Landry is striving towards and it isn’t a very easy journey for Landry to go on throughout the first season. It’s a very satisfying journey for the viewers. Every time the scripts would come in there would be a new revelation and it would be a new shock, a new turn and it was very cool to read and really fun to play. I hope that the audience enjoys it as much as we enjoyed making it.

JJ: The Knights Templar have very strict religious views that is talked about in detail in Knightfall, how do you reconcile that with their mysterious history?

TC: The one thing that history will always do is prove itself cyclical and that human beings have very short memories. We forget very quickly what we’ve already been through and we tend to make the same mistakes. I think it’s really important to remind ourselves of those mistakes.

Of course Knightfall is a show that is about the Templars and you’d be remiss to not talk about the holy wars; though the show actually doesn’t take place during that period of time, it takes place 15 years after the holy wars. The show is about the Templars being disbanded and rounded up. That’s essentially what the show would be over three or four seasons.

The Templars were a very interesting group of men because they were founded to protect pilgrims on the road and that was their purpose. Not to fight wars but to protect people who were going to pray and they were very respectful of all faiths. There is a very famous story of being held captive in the Templar temple. They made space for them so that they could pray with ease and they gave them their space because they respect faith.

I think the show touches on what faith is and how faith can be manipulated to one’s own needs and how faith is often used for political games which is something that has nothing to do with religion. The Holy Grail in our show is used as a pivot of power in which people circle around it and use it in order to gain political favor.

That for me is really a very interesting world to live in. It doesn’t pit religion against religion but it talks about how religion can be manipulated to man’s want and need for power.

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JJ: You have touched on just about every theme regarding the Knights Templar. How do you think this will reach the viewers?

TC: I think what I’m very proud of in the show is that you can kind of look at Knightfall objectively from the outside having not seen it and say, “Oh, this is about guys swinging swords and that’s what the show is about,” but the show is so much more than that. The show is about politics. We have a lot of stuff that takes place in the French Court at the time, dissecting, and breaking down the politics and the machinations of political interplay, which I just love that kind of stuff.

It has a fantastic central spine through the show; an amazing love story which I’m surprised at how strong and moving that story was as we were filming it. It kind of grew into this thing that we had no idea it would become. The show talks about revenge and betrayal, brotherhood, loyalty, faith, humanity and mortality.

I truly believe the show has something for everybody. I think that it is by no means a gendered show. I think that women would love it as much as men will love it and that is something I’m really proud of too. It has fantastic strong female characters. They are actually probably stronger than all of the male characters and they’re just as complex and rich as the male counterparts, and it’s very moving. I’ve watched the last episode three or four times now and I’ve shed many tears every single time. It’s a great rollercoaster.

JJ: Is there anything that makes you nervous about your role in Knightfall?

TC: There’s so much that scared me about this role. The size of it and the responsibility of playing a lead in a show as big as this, it was terrifying. Also just the physical and emotional commitment that was required to make this show work. If I wasn’t committed 100% to the show, it wouldn’t work. They really, really put me through it in the best way possible making sure I became the best Landry I could be. That was a terrifying challenge and terrifying to have to pull off.

I was learning new skills like horse riding and fighting. The biggest thing that was terrifying for me was that – and this is something that I’ve been dealing with my entire life – I was doing something that I love. I read the script and I wanted it so badly because I thought it was so good. That really terrifies me.

I’m much more comfortable in that way. I come from a poor area of Wales where I’m much more comfortable with rejection than not. What terrified me was that I wanted to do it and doing something that you love and that you want is often the scariest thing that you can do because if you fail at it, that’s a big journey to go on.

JJ: Is there something in particular that drew you toward the medieval era?

TC: I’ve always been obsessed with the medieval time period because I think it’s a time that we can look back on and learn from. Actually 800 years isn’t that long ago and that this is the time really when the world that we live in today was created and formulated. We’re still feeling the repercussions of the actions and choices the people made in the medieval period today.

It’s also a period that is grimy and dirty and dangerous. The line between life and death is so thin, it’s really interesting to learn about. I think that’s a fantastic place to make a drama in. It’s a very rich world since life and death was so next to each other and it’s world rich in terms of human wants and needs.

Nowadays our lives are reasonably comfortable for certain people, especially in America. We typically don’t have that kind of life and death threat every single day where we are going to drop down with scurvy or have to go into battle.

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Our choices aren’t as drastic but if you have a lifespan of 35 years, every choice you make is loaded. I think that the world of the medieval period is one of very high octane and people making life and death choices every single move. That for me is an exhilarating period of time to make a drama in.

JJ: The costume designer Diana Cilliers has done some amazing work. Can you talk about the garments and some of your favorites?

TC: Yes. Unfortunately, I only ever had one costume really which is either with chain mail or without chain mail but most of the time with chain mail. But Diana made it so that it was completely authentic even in terms of the undergarment underneath the chain mail. We had a very, very thick heavy muslin underneath like a linen dresser with leather underneath and the same on our bottom half as well. The chain mail was real metal and so it gave that kind of weight and movement to it.

The tunics were made in the same way that they would have made the fabrics back at the time. Things like the crosses they spent a lot of time discussing what cross to use. Templars used many different crosses depending on where they were based, and later in the series, we meet another group of Templars and they have a different cross than what you see me wearing.

Diana talked about how they would have died, the wreaths, the crosses and how they would have stitched them and sewn them on, and how the draper would have done it. They stitched in the same way that they would have stitched then. They had a huge workshop at our studios, Barrandov Studios in Prague, with the most incredible costume teams who worked tirelessly. I don’t think people realized how much work it took because I certainly didn’t realize it.

When you have 400 extras on set, the costume team starts work at 2 o’clock in the morning to start dressing all of these men and women so that we’re ready to start filming at 7:00 am. Then they wash all the costumes and they go to bed at an insane hour and they do it in shifts. The work that goes into making 400 beautiful costumes is unprecedented. In terms of the court costumes, I was really jealous because their costumes were incredible.

Queen Joan and Princess Isabella played by Olivia Ross and Sabrina Bartlett, their costumes were inspired from real medieval images and fabrics that they had used and they are just unbelievable. Like every time I saw Olivia, she was in this new extraordinary costume that Diana fashioned and created out of seemingly thin air in no time and they’re just stunning works of art really.

What is amazing is that the way they were made is the way that they would have made them back then. Diana was really collaborative as well. I think each of us wanted to have our own unique way in which we wore our costume or we wore our belt or the color of our cross and so she allowed me to choose the color of my cross and how I would have dyed it. All of that really detailed history and information about The Templars is fascinating and we loved going there and making it as authentic as possible.

JJ: Landry is such a complex character from childhood to when we are introduced to him. How do you think becoming a Templar at the tender age of 11 shaped him?

TC: I think that when we first meet Landry at the top of Episode 1 he is 20. He is brash and young –he is a maverick, incredibly cocky and is kind of emboldened by the fact that he has God on his side and he thinks that he’s invincible, which I think a lot of 20 year olds think, regardless of whether they have God on their side or not. I know I certainly felt like that.

What we see at the top of Episode 1 is his entire life flipped upside down when they lose Acre, the last Templar stronghold in the Holy Land and they lose the Holy Grail. We flash forward 15 years and when you’ve been brought up as a as a warrior, and that’s all you know, everything you know, it’s a tough reality to deal with. He’s like a caged animal, unable to fulfill what he thinks is his only purpose and duty which is to fight.

When we meet him, he is this very, very complex, pulled apart guy in Episode 1. He is battling with his humanity and he is secular yet he is also still mentally devout. He is very loyal to his brothers, his family yet he is lying to them. He is having an affair with a woman yet he is a monk. He is the bravest, most fearless warrior yet he’s starting to feel a sense of his own mortality.

I think that’s why he kind of falls in love with this woman. It’s not that he’s doubting God or that he’s doubting the Templars or religion, but that he’s doubting himself. He is in a conflict, in a battle with himself, which are the stories that I love to watch where your hero is so full of contradiction and battle and personal complications. Throughout the first season, we see him work through that and battle through that and try and find out who he really is. It’s an awesome journey for me to play and to take viewers on.

JJ: Talking about more seasons, do you know where Landry and the show will go?

TC: We love the show and we really hope that we can continue making it for as long as possible because we’re a real family and we’re very, very proud of it and we love making it. There’s also still a lot of the Templar history that has yet to be told. We have an idea of where the show will go and where it will take us. What actually happens is that while you’re making a show it becomes this dialogue that happens between the writers, the actors, directors, the costume designers, the art director, the production designer, makeup artists, etc. where you’re constantly kind of feeding into this pot which is the show.

It evolves and changes and moves in ways that you would never expect it to. It’s like a living organism but that surprises you. Though we have an idea of where this is going, actually the truth is that we don’t in many respects. We have the structure of history and what actually happened which we have to stay with but in terms of the characters, and their fuels and wants and needs and how they navigate their way through that history is something that we’re constantly being surprised by with the characters. That’s a really exciting place to work with.

Especially as an actor, I don’t want to know where the character is going because in life I have no idea what I’m doing tomorrow or how it’s going to pan out. And so I can only be in the present and I can only make choices in the present, and so that’s what you want your characters to do. The writers actually withheld scripts from us and didn’t tell us what was happening later in this first season so that we could be surprised in the moments whilst we were making the episode, which is a really fantastic and authentic way to work.

Once we get the script we kind of talk about them and collaborate on them. Dominic Minghella is an incredible show runner. He is a force of nature and an amazing man and a brilliant writer, and he really values the actors’ input. He is always very good at fielding ideas and whether he takes them or not is up to him but it feels like a very collaborative process where everybody is feeding into it and we all have ownership over the show and that’s really exciting.

JJ: I won’t deny that I am and always will be a huge Downton Abbey fan. How was it for you getting together with a few of your DA costars?

TC: I was so happy to work with Jim Carter who plays Mr. Carson on Downton and Julian Ovenden who plays Charles Blake on Downton Abbey, because they are just unbelievable actors. And I think that the caliber that they have only reflects so well on Knightfall, you know. The cast that we’ve assembled on Knightfall is one of the best that I’ve ever worked with. They are really amazing actors and amazing sponsors.

To have someone like Jim Carter who is a multiple Emmy nominated actor and the fact that he was so excited and hungry to do our show, I think is really a testament to the scripts of Knightfall. We hope that everyone likes it as much as we do.

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I can confidently say that the History Channel’s new series Knightfall will be a series that will have viewers coming back for more. There is a complexity to these characters that challenges their humanity and power against the history of the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail and Kings of other country’s involved in it all.

There is intrigue that tests loyalty and a brotherhood that is going through pains of its own from inside their own house. Bringing it all together with fantastic costuming and set design, Knightfall draws the viewer in and takes us on an adventure through the medieval era.

Dan Jones is the New York Times best selling author who is also responsible for Summer of Blood: England’s First Revolution, Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty,  The Plantagenets and The Wars of the Roses as well as The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors.

There is plenty of time to learn all you can about Knightfall and the History Channel has made it even easier. Go to http://www.history.com/shows/knightfall/pages/dan-jones-knights-templar to see stories and videos including Pilgrims, Warriors, Heretics: Who Were the Knights Templar?, The Templars’ Crusader Origins, From Pilgrim Bodyguards to Master Warriors, How the Templars Made and Lost a Fortune, How Religion and Greed Toppled the Templars, From Medieval Myths to Modern Mystery and Were Crusader Knights Really Protecting the Cup of Christ?

 The History Channel brings more stellar successful series to television with The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer, The Curse of Oak Island, The WarFighters as well as the continuing series such as American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and Ice Road Truckers. Let us not forget the absolutely stunning series VIKINGS that returns November 29th.

Knightfall premiers Wednesday, December 6 at 10PM ET/PT on History!

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ON WINGS OF EAGLES: The Eric Liddell Story is One of Faith

On Eagles

 

Jeri Jacquin

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has every right to be amazingly proud of their DVD release of ON WINGS OF EAGLES: The Eric Liddell Story directed by Stephen Shin and Michael Parker.

Eric Liddell (Joseph Fiennes) has returned to China after winning a Gold Medal at the 1942 Paris Olympics. Believing he was born to help others through his faith and the missionary teachings of his parents, he returns to the classroom to teach children.

It all becomes dangerous when in 1937 Japan invades China at the beginning of World War II. Finding help in Xu Niu (Shawn Dou), the two continue to find a way to reach the towns and villages. Knowing the danger is increasing, Eric sends his wife Florence (Elizabeth Arends) and their children to Canada.

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Florence knows right away that Eric intends to stay to fulfill his duty to help the villagers as much as he can. During a wedding ceremony, the Japanese capture Eric along with the entire church congregation and inter them in camps. Separating families, he takes on the mantle of leader and all that it implies trying to make their lives livable.

When the camp leader discovers who Eric is, he demands that they race. Providing him with nutritious food, Eric finds a way to distribute it to the children and those who are sickly. Xu Niu is outside the camp as well finding ways to bring in necessary food and medicine when he is able and always keeping an eye on his friend.

As the camp runs low on food for both the prisoners and the Japanese soldiers, Eric tries his best to compromise with results that are devastating. It doesn’t stop Eric Liddell from bringing hope to all those who rely on his strength to survive their time as prisoners.

It is hope that makes them stronger together!

Fiennes as Liddell is a quiet man who seems to have the ability to bring people such joy. Believing that helping others is what his duty on earth is, Fiennes brings a gentleness and strength to the role. That is what I enjoy about this actor in that his emotions come through his eyes and expression. Portraying Liddell is a challenge in itself and Fiennes gives it so much soul.

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Dou as Xu Niu shares such a beloved friendship with Liddell. Seemingly inseparable throughout the film, it is clear that there is no boundary between these two individuals. Seeing one another as family is exactly what this film is all about. Fiennes and Dou make it feel so believable and lovely.

It also must be said that the music by Scott Greer is just absolutely lovely and powerful. It doesn’t drown out the emotions that we need to be feeling about the story but instead gently reminds us that investing our emotions in the story is a good thing.

The cast is exceptional with the addition of Augusta Xu-Holland as Catherine Standish, Richard Sanderson as Dr. Hubbard, Jesse Kove as Hugh Johnson, Simon Twu as Chen Quan, Shigeo Kobayashi as Yoshinori Yumoto, Zach Ireland as David Marshall and Bruce Locke as the Elder Xu Niu.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings amazing quality motion picture and television productions. Such films as BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, UNDERWORLD BLOOD WARS and PASSENGERS also available for your home entertainment library – there is so much more. To see more of what they have to offer please visit www.sonypictures.com.

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I have intentionally left out details in my review because I truly want the viewer to have the chance to feel the film in every scene. ON WINGS OF EAGLES: The Eric Liddell Story is such a heartfelt film of love, family, friendship and loyalty that endures through a struggle that is unfathomable.

The cast draws us into a journey and an era that could sometimes be so unforgiving and incomprehensible yet brings out the best in people. From helping one another to finding friendship and help from the villagers outside the electric fences, it is a reminder that evil may seem so tall but good doesn’t need a yardstick.

In the end – it is the true story of hope!

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI is Oscar Worthy!

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Martin McDonagh and Fox Searchlight Pictures is the story of a mother who isn’t giving up using THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI.

Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) is a woman dealing with a lot in her life. The painful loss of a murdered daughter, ex-husband Charlie (John Hawkes) who has anger issues and chief of police William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) who she believes doesn’t care about catching her daughter’s killer.

Driving home on a small stretch of road are three dilapidated billboards and Mildred gets an idea. Responsible for the billboards is Red (Caleb Jones) who takes her down payment on all three billboards with a message to the chief of police. The first to see them is deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) who immediately tells Willoughby.

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Everyone soon learns of the billboards and son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) is feeling the impact of what his mother is doing. Worried how this will all affect her chief of police husband, Anne (Abbie Cornish) is assured that it will all pass. Wanting to protect Mildred is James (Peter Dinklage) who Charlie takes a pot-shots at. Instead of it passing, things get out of hand as the insanity of Dixon and Mildred’s anger start a town war.

Small town living just got a little dicey!

McDormand as Mildred is spectacular, amazing, brilliant, moving, shocking and every bit of a woman tired of the b.s.! Feeling unheard by the police and thrown away by an abusive husband, one idea gives this character the remarkable strength to say, without a word, ‘I will be heard or else!’ Every moment McDormand is on the screen I am completely riveted and engrossed with anticipation as to what she would do next. Nominations are in McDormand’s future and I, for one, will be cheering her every step of the way.

Harrelson as Willouby is an understanding and tolerant man. He knows that Mildred is still riddled with grief and now feels the pressure even more that he hasn’t found the killer. He is also dealing with Dixon who is making matters worse with his antics. Spending time with his wife and kids is becoming more important as his secret hasn’t been a secret for quite some time. Harrelson is endearing and is impeccable with his character humor. This is the second time in the last few months that Harrelson has impressed me as his film LBJ should also be seen!

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Rockwell as Dixon gets to bring out the inner complete douche bag of this character. Feeling he has the right to do what ever he wants to who ever he wants because he has a badge is an embarrassment to pretty much everyone in town. Deciding he isn’t going to stop being a jerk, Dixon once again takes matters into his own hands and it’s nothing but disaster. It sure doesn’t help that Momma Dixon (Sandy Martin) is stoking the fires.

Hedges as Robbie is a young man who understands what his mother has been through but doesn’t agree with how she handles things. Living the same pain about his sister every day as well, he watches her actions and can’t seem to make Mildred understand that nothing good can come of it all. Jones as Red is a laid back kid who sees everything the town is about and when it comes to his door a choice has to be made.

Dinklage as James is a good hearted guy who seems to have a soft spot for Mildred. He wants nothing more than to protect her – oh and date her. Hawkes as Charlie thinks that he can be as abusive as possible towards Mildred and the ex in ex-husband isn’t going to stop him and is certainly is a different role for Hawkes.

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Other cast include Zeljko Ivanek as the Desk Sergeant, Amanda Warren as Denise, Kerry Condon as Pamela, Riya Atwood as Polly, Selah Atwood as Jane, Christopher Berry as Tony, Jerry Winsett as Geoffrey, Kathryn Newton as Angela, Samara Weaving as Penelope, Clarke Peters as Abercrombie, Malaya Drew as Gabriella, and Darrell Britt-Gibson as Jerome.

TUBS OF POPCORN: THREE BILLBOARDS IN EBBING, MISSOURI deserves without a doubt five tubs of popcorn out of five. This film has every range of human emotion possible and isn’t shy about making you feel it. A combination of the darkest of comedy mixed with jaw dropping twists and drama that is engrossing is what makes this film from start to finish.

There isn’t anything apologetic in this film and each character has a life of its own. McDormand is powerful and doesn’t skip a beat in leading the film to its chuckling conclusion. Harrelson and Rockwell are polar opposites which is what makes their characters work and there is no surprise in what these two actors accomplish in this film.

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The film does a dance with the viewer’s emotions and even sets of a shock or two but after seeing director McDonagh’s previous work such as IN BRUGES and a personal favorite SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS could anyone not expect this film from him? I met McDonagh during his press junket for SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS and I knew after speaking with him that I’d love anything he did. His sense of humor and way with characters comes out in every second of the film.

Writing the screenplay with McDormand in mind for the lead role, I am equally thrilled that he did so because she rules the screen as Mildred. This is a powerful film with exceptional performances that can not and should not be missed.

In the end – welcome to Ebbing, Missouri!

 

 

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. is an Acquired Taste

roman poster

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres for Thanksgiving weekend from writer/director Dan Gilroy and Columbia Pictures is a different look at the law from the eyes of ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.

Roman (Denzel Washington) is a lawyer who doesn’t go into the courtroom but instead is responsible for writing the briefs for employer Jackson. Going to work and being in a routine is what works for Roman.

That is until his boss of 30 years has a heart attack and daughter Lynn (Amanda Warren) announces that the office will close and the clients will be taken by George Pierce (Colin Farrell). Roman can not comprehend what is happening but George steps in and offers him a job at his firm.

roman 1

Wanting to try something different, Roman meets Maya Alston (Carmen Ejogo) who is responsible for a volunteer law service. There meeting is strained and Roman has no choice but to take the job with George.

Their first case is a young man named Derrell (DeRon Horton) who is involved in a store robbery and murder. Roman tries to work the case himself to make a deal with the D.A. in exchange for information regarding the other man who is wanted by police. When that goes wrong, George is furious and Roman spirals.

Doing the unthinkable, he decides to do for himself and experience life outside of the law. When it all becomes too much, Roman does what he has always done – what works for him.

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Washington as Israel is a character locked into his ways and has no problem giving his opinion – even if it makes other uncomfortable. His verbal confrontations put him in situations that has consequences and Washington’s performance brings each on head to head on a level that can be dizzying.

Farrell as George wants to do the right thing by Roman but at times you get the feeling he is doing it for his own financial gain. The thing about Farrell is that he has this amazing ability to give us a character that might be a little bit douchey but the performance is worth it. A sharped dressed lawyer seems to suit Farrell and it must be said the women around me had no problem with looking at him.

Ejogo as Maya is a little surprised by Roman’s behavior yet there is something uniquely honest that draws her. They both try to understand one another yet there is still a thin line of disconnect. Jackson as Amanda knows that Roman is an important part of her father’s work and tries to be understanding when Roman has to deal with death.

Other cast includes Lynda Gravatt as Vernita Wells, Hugo Armstrong as Fritz Molinar, Sam Gilroy as Connor Novick, Amari Cheatom as Carter Johnson, Nazneen Contractor as Melina Nassour and Tony Plana as Jessie Salinas.

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ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. is a film that deal with several issues of law and the criminal court system. The character of Roman is definitely set in his ways and doesn’t suffer fools. When he feels that the system isn’t fair and those who claim to defend the helpless are not doing just that, Roman strays and Washington takes him to levels that are questionable yet riveting.

Of course this film will be a hard sell I think because the way the character speaks might be just a tad much. I will be honest and say my head was spinning at certain points and the story is fairly predictable as well.

Director Gilroy is sort of a hit and miss for me because I absolutely love the 2014 film Nightcrawler and theatre goers went crazy for Kong: Skull Island. Then there is a lull with other films so I wouldn’t mind having a conversation with him about it all.

In the end – all rise!

The Best in Twisted can be Found in ALFRED HITCHCOCK: The Ultimate Collection on Bluray!

Hitchcock collection

Jeri Jacquin

Coming on Bluray is the most amazing collection of films by one of Hollywood’s iconic storyteller and filmmaker as Universal Pictures Home Entertainment brings ALFRED HITCHCOCK: The Ultimate Collection.

Known as the Master of Suspense, Alfred Joseph Hitchcock has brought suspense and mystery to the big screen. Coming to Hollywood in 1939, he worked the town with a unique style that made him a staple on the big screen and small.

Introducing theatre goers to his work is the 1927 film The Lodger that began the idea of a thriller. In 1939, it would be another Hollywood great David O. Selznick brings Hitchcock into the fold and the two often disagreed on the films being made. The film REBECCA the next year is America’s first glimpse at what he could do.

Psycho

For several years after Hitchcock mixed genres with such films as MR. & MRS. SMITH and SABOTEUR. One of my favorites is the 1945 film SPELLBOUND and it could be easily because of Gregory Peck but honestly it is also the amazing story.

He would follow it up with NOTORIOUS with another stellar actor in Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman who was also in SPELLBOUND. These films should be a must-see because they are an introduction to this amazing collection of films on Bluray.

PSYCHO was released in 1940 starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh and brought audiences the first fear of showers that continues with me at least! In 1963, Hitchcock brings another side of fear with Rod Taylor and Tippi Hendren being stalked by THE BIRDS. Tippi Hendren returns in 1964 with a psychological thriller in MARNIE.

What makes this collection amazing are the fifteen films including PSYCHO, THE BIRDS, VERTIGO, REAR WINDOW, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, THE MAN WHO KNEW TO MUCH, MARNIE, SABOTEUR, SHADOW OF A DOUBT, ROPE, THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY, TORN CURTAIN, TOPAZ, FRENZY and FAMILY PLOT.

The Birds

The actors in these films range from Jimmy Stewart, Paul Newman, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Sean Connery, Joseph Cotton, Bruce Dern and John Forsythe. Let us not forget the actresses that include Kim Novack, Shirley MacClaine, Tippi Hendren, Ingrid Bergman, Julie Andrews, and Karen Black. That is absolutely a list of stellar talent.

But the Bluray collection doesn’t stop there as ALFRED HITCHCOCK: The Ultimate Collection also includes seven television episodes from Alfred Hitchcock Presents and three television episodes from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Still not enough? Well then, how about fifteen hours of Bonus Features that include: Documentaries, Expert Commentaries, Interviews, Screen Tests, Storyboards and so much more!

Each disc comes with a look at the original posters and colorful list of each discs bonus feature. Also included is a stunning 58-page booklet that is filled with color information and tucks neatly into the creative box with film photos.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.

Family Plot

It doesn’t seem enough to say this is the collection that Hitchcock fans need to have in their home entertainment library. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has truly outdone themselves because ever film in this collection is a masterpiece! Each film brings something unique, thrilling and yes, keeps me still leery of birds and shower curtains!

The holidays are here and Hitchcock wouldn’t mind at all being in a film fans stocking! I am a fan of rainy days and trust me when I say a cup of something warm, a fuzzy blanket and a stretch on the couch will be happening because these films are what these kinds of days are made for.

From Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on stunning Bluray is ALFRED HITCHCOCK: The Ultimate Collection!

In the end – there is no mind like Hitchcock’s!

Bluray Races Home with LOGAN LUCKY

Logan Lucky cover

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from director Steven Soderbergh, Bleeker Street and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the race to revenge led by LOGAN LUCKY.

Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) feels like his life continues to be plagued by a curse. Losing his job doesn’t help, dealing with ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) and adorable pageant daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie).

Brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and sister Mellie (Riley Keough) stick together as family trying to do what’s right. When they decide that isn’t happening, Jimmy and Clyde decide they are going to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway and it will only work if they get the help of Joe Bang (Daniel Craig). That means Clyde has to get himself incarcerated.

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When the day for the heist approaches, everyone has a job to do and Jimmy is making sure they get it done. What looks like chaos and mayhem is actually a coordinated show of force – just their way.

FBI Agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank) is sent in to investigate after the robbery and the gang puts the world right – in their way. Not about to give up, she is frustrated by what seems to be the perfect crime.

Just know not everything is as it seems when dealing with the Logan’s!

Tatum as Jimmy is a sweet and charming dad, a brother dealing with sibling issues and a man just plain tired of the struggle. It isn’t hard to give the southern charm considering Tatum is just that – minus the revenge issues. Drive as brother Clyde is softer spoken but when he does talk make sure you listen. When Jimmy tells him of the plan, brother Clyde may have a few questions but none of them bring his loyalty into question.

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Craig as Bang is absolutely hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing when he uses a certain term for the prison garb he is stuck wearing. This is certainly an interesting role for Craig to take on and the blonde hair is pretty bangin’ too! Keough as Mellie also doesn’t hesitate to work with her brothers on the plan but her relationship with Sadie is sweet.

Mackenzie as Sadie is as adorable as she wants to be and dealing with adults is just not part of her day. Instead, she wants to show her love and her rendition of John Denver’s Country Roads is about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and heard. Holmes as Mom Bobbie Joe isn’t thrilled with Jimmy and his inconsistent fathering. Swank as FBI Agent Grayson just can’t seem to get a handle on what went down on robbery day!

Other cast include: Jim O’Heir as Cal, Boden Johnston as Dylan, Sutton Johnston as Levi, David Denman as Moddy, Charles Halford as Earl, William McCullough as Bobo, Jack Quaid as Fish Bang, Brian Gleeson as Sam Bang, Dwight Yoakam as Warden Burns and Seth MacFarlane as Max Chilblain. Cameos include Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and LeAnn Rimes.

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Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.

LOGAN LUCKY Bluray has the Bonus Features that are Exclusive to 4K Ultra HD, Bluray, DVD and Digital that include Deleted Scenes. The 4K Ultra HD brings the ultimate movie watching experience with color brilliance and High Dynamic Range, the Bluray unleashes the power of your HDTV with the feature of 6X the picture resolution and theater-quality sound. Digital lets viewers watch the film on all your favorite devices.

The story is twisted, funny, smart, different and interconnected with people who know how to make it all come out right. Each character is uniquely different with their own trust issues embedded into the storyline.

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Director Soderbergh brings a crispy to this southern-fried heist using auto racing for a little down home fun. Leading the audience down the two lane highway of goofiness, I’m a fan and I don’t mind saying so!

In the end – see how the other half steals!

HBO Brings the Story Straight from THE DEFIANT ONES on Bluray

The Defiant Ones Bluray 2

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from HBO and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the four-part series tells the story of music and a pairing of minds that come straight from THE DEFIANT ONES.

Dr. Dre begins by telling the story of his early ears in Compton and being raised by his mother and what was going on around him. In his teen years he danced as part of The Freak Patrol but Mom wanted him to do something more with his life.  When he saw a local DJ scratchin’ he knew that it was something he wanted to be a part of.

Playing in Eazy-E’s backyard, he found a nitch making tapes for others. In 1984 Dr. Dre became part of the DJ group called the Wrecking Crew working at the club Eve After Dark. Mixing 60’s song with a new beat, people were taken by what they were hearing.

Dre

The time came however when Dr. Dre knew it was time for something different and he partnered with Eazy-E to create Ruthless Records. Westcoast Hip-Hop was almost non-existent and the chance came for Eazy-E and Dre to create Boyz in the Hood. A group formed with Ice Cube, McRen, DJ Yella that would become N.W.A.

As their album is in production, Eazy-E asks that he stop what they are doing to take on the girl group JJ Fad and Supersonic. After run-ins with the police, Ice Cube wrote and they recorded F**k the Police and Dre knew it was dangerous. The violence comes home when Dre has a death in the family.

Ruthless Records is making music and doing videos but the group deals with more disasters when a member has a devastating car accident. Shug Knight comes into the picture when Ice Cube lets Dre know that there is something wrong with the business and then walks away. The group becomes even more divided when Eazy-E and Dre can’t agree on how to go forward.

snoop dre

N.W.A.’s next album is practically banned everywhere from MTV to radio airwaves. Dre is floundering thinking of what he will do next when he hooks up with Suge Knight. The hookup between Dre and Snoop Dogg is another monumental team up of genius and the album The Chronic is made. In New York the two men took it upon themselves to get their work out.

James Iovine was born in Brooklyn to a hard working Italian-American family. His love of music turned to being part of a band. College at 19 his parents didn’t want him to go to war so he attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice. It was music that drove him and job after job would take him to Roy Cicala who took Jimmy under his wing. One Easter Sunday he was called into work and covering for an engineer he would work with John Lennon – it was 1973.

In 1975, Jimmy would work with the legendary Bruce Springsteen and he moved on to the group Foghat. That would send him back to the studios and there he met Patti Smith who wanted him to produce her music.

Jimmy

Jimmy now finds himself in Los Angeles working with Tom Petty and after hearing Break Down and Refugee, he was floored. Eight more songs later an album came together and Backstreet was a hit. Next he was working with Stevie Nicks and her first solo album was created. Stop Dragging My Heart Around brought Petty and Nicks together for a smash single hit!

Jimmy and Stevie parted ways and he moved on to Bob Seiger and Dire Straits and the executives kept him away from other artists. He meets Vicki McCarty and she introduces him to Bono of U2, different yet there is something that clicks between them. Another meshing of creativity takes place.

He is also dealing with deaths in his own family, he starts to become part of the music business rather than create as he had done in the past. He does work with U2 on their Rattle and Hum album (which is one of my favorites) but makes a decision that he is done.

Springsteen

Wanting to spend more time at home so Jimmy meets up with investors to create Interscope Records. Signing the singing of Rico Suave, they also got Primus, Four Non-Blondes, Mark Wahlberg and a little group known as No Doubt. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails wasn’t happy with his record deal and Jimmy saw something outstanding in the group.

Now that you know the players – it was inevitable that Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine would come together. Lawsuits disappeared and radio play is bought just as Jimmy promised with Dre and Snoop on the cover of Rolling Stones. Death Row Records and the gang are with Interscope Records and success is theirs.

With success comes trip ups and lead feet as moments with the law pop up. That sometimes happens when success isn’t explained. It becomes a job to keep up with Marilyn Manson, Tupak Shakur as well as Snoop when it comes to dealing with the law and the outcry of society at large.

If that wasn’t enough, a storm was brewing between Death Row Records and Bad Boy Records that became the East vs. West Coast rumble. Once Tupac is released from his prison, he hit the studio and the group started to crack. So much so that Jimmy and other executives are starting to feel in danger.

In Las Vegas it would come to a head as a fight happens and shots ring out. Tupak Shakur is killed on the streets with no one in custody and Shug also finds himself in trouble with the law. Now others begin to understand why Dr. Dre walked away and decided to start over on his own terms.

Jimmy Dre

Starting Aftermath Records and a family, Dre is now in charge. Enter Marshall Mather also known as Eminem and once again there is magic in the studio. Followed by Fifty Cent, The Chronic 2001 and the Black Eyed Peas kept pushing Interscope talent skyward.

Their next crisis came in the form of the internet and the downloading of music and trading it for free. Instead of panicking, Jimmy found a way to make it work toward their musical advantage. In the midst of this, these two men and their perfection also have to deal with how that affects the families they have created. It doesn’t stop Dre and Jimmy from creating the next big idea that came to be known as Beats headphones, speakers and accessing their music.

Now, these two men find a way to give back to the communities that they sprang from. The place in their lives now have come from the challenges and lessons that have given them the title of THE DEFIANT ONES.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.

HBO Home Entertainment has an extensive array of critically-acclaimed and groundbreaking programs found on Bluray, DVD and Digital HD. They have provided viewers with some of the most amazing programs with huge fan bases that include the shows True Blood, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, True Detectives, The Wire, Entourage and Game of Thrones. Launched in 1984, HBO is world wide in viewed entertainment in more than 70 territories around the world! For more of what they have to offer please visit www.hbo.com.

This is truly an amazing look at two men who have made an impact in music industry. Understanding their history and what drove them to follow the music and listen for the unique and creative talent is what THE DEFIANT ONES is all about.

This is a four and a half hour history lesson of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine told by those who lived it with them including Snoop Dogg, Bruce Springsteen, Gwen Stefani, Bono, David Geffen, Eminem, Nas, Stevie Nicks, Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Jon Landau, Patti Smith, Lady Gaga, Doug Morris, Trent Reznor, Diddy, Alonzo Williams, Will.I.Am and Tom Petty.

Four decades of two men who refused to be defined or labeled into a category, THE DEFIANT ONES doesn’t hold back in any way. Every bit of the good, bad, ugly and crazy is told from both Dre and Jimmy including things in their life that can’t be changed but can be acknowledged.

Do not hesitate to experience this amazing four part series as HBO brings THE DEFIANT ONES to Bluray and DVD and available on Digital now.

In the end – it was an unlikely pairing that are now icons!

BOB HOPE: The Ultimate Movie Collection Brings the Best from an Icon!

 

Bob Hope

Jeri Jacquin

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has knocked it out of the park! Bringing twenty-one classic comedies by a beloved American icon with BOB HOPE: The Ultimate Movie Collection.

Bob Hope (aka Leslie Townes Hope) has spent 80 years in the business with a career that includes television, films and entertaining on the road. Appearing in more than 70 films and hosting the Academy Award a record number of times, he also managed to write a few books.

He began his career in the 1920’s with stage work and then became a voice on the radio before acting around 1934. Hope worked with several studios, actors and some of the times leading ladies including Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Jane Russell, Lucille Ball and Rosemary Clooney.

Bob 1938

One of the most iconic pairing’s of singing and dancing, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby made several pictures that are still a thrill to watch today. Now, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment brings some of Hope’s best work with comedy, song and dance.

THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1938 is Hope’s first appearance on screen opposite W.C. Fields in this comedy on the ocean. THANKS FOR THE MEMORY, also released in 1938, has Hope as a stay at home writer husband dealing with a working wife and a former love.

In the 1945 film ROAD TO UTOPIA directed by Hal Walker, Hope and Crosby play something they both are familiar with – vaudeville performers, except in Alaska. Before they even get there, a treasure map sets them on another course with others hot on their snowy trail!

Larry Lawrence, played by Hope, is a radio broadcaster who is checking out a Cuban haunted castle. Along for the mayhem is Paulette Goddard and Paul Lukas to make sure everything goes as crazy as spiritually possible in the 1940 film THE GHOST BREAKERS.

My Favorite Blonde

The next year, ROAD TO ZANZIBAR brings Hope and Crosby together again but this time in Africa as Chuck and Fearless bring hilarity to the jungle. Of course they aren’t about to ignore the fact that the beautiful Dorothy Lamour is also part of the cast.

ROAD TO MOROCCO brings the band back together as Hope and Crosby manage to drift to the Mediterranean landing where the Arabian Nights introduces them to Princess Shalmar of Karameesh. The Princess is the lovely Dorothy Lamour once again and Anthony Quinn is Mullay Kasim.

Hope is SORROWFUL JONES in this 1949 film of the same name as a free wheeling man who enjoys his life. That is all about to change when a bet is placed and Jones gets a little girl as a marker. When the father doesn’t come back Jones gets a real life lesson! The film also stars the red headed beauty Lucille Ball, William Demarest and Bruce Cabot.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.

Road to Morocco

BOB HOPE: The Ultimate Movie Collection also includes an all-new documentary American Masters: This is Bob Hope. It explores Hope’s life with unprecedented access to personal archives, film clips, radio and television shows. Billy Crystal reads excerpts of Bob Hope’s writing and interviews with Dick Cavett, Linda Hope, Leonard Maltin, Tom Selleck, Kermit the Frog as well as writers Sherwood Schwartz and biographer Richard Zoglin.

Also included is Bob Hope and the Road to Success, Entertaining the Troops, Command Performance 1944, Command Performance 1945 and Hollywood Victory Caravan.

 It is equally important to mention the work that Hope did for our troops. Between 1941 and 1991, Bob Hope would pack up his own duffle bag and head out entertaining military personnel in over 57 USO (United Service Organizations) tours. It began in 1939 when Hope volunteered to perform for the passengers on the RMS Queen Mary.

Two years later, his first official USO performance was at March Field, California and that’s practically in his own back yard. Hope would go global and travel during World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Lebanon Civil War, Iran-Iraq War and the Persian Gulf War.

Sorrowful Jones

That is what an amazing human being does for his fellow human beings. For his service, Hope was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy in West Point in 1968. President Bill Clinton signed an act of Congress in 1997 giving Hope Honorary Veteran status.

‘Thanks for the Memory’ is a song Hope became famous for on that first volunteer gig and made the tune iconic on every tour and to this very day.

This is an extraordinary collection of Hope’s film performances and I have to say it is a pleasure to sit back and watch films that make me laugh, delight the eye and remember the reason we still celebrate Bob Hope.

The music is worth celebrating, the cinematography is stunning and yes I am partial to black and white films of all kinds. There are songs that have become part of the musical fabric of America and dance moves that inspired generations to come to put on their shoes and show us how far it could all go.

BOB HOPE: The Ultimate Movie Collection is such a must have for anyone who wants to truly expand their home entertainment library. What is also amazing is that these are films that families can sit together and enjoy. For me that’s important in showing the new generation the origins of good filmmaking and the music that created the stunning musicals we have on film today.

In the end – twenty one classic comedies worth every moment to watch!

HOLIDAY INN Dances onto Bluray with its 75th Anniversary Edition!

Holiday Inn Bluray

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and Digital in time for the holidays from director Mark Sandrich and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the singing and dancing at the HOLIDAY INN.

Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) has decided that his touring days are over when he buys a supper club called the Holiday Inn. Believing that girlfriend Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) would be joining him, he is unaware that dancing co-partner Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire) is about to steal his gal.

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Manager Danny Reed (Walter Abel) wants to keep things going with flowers when he meets Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) who is ready to trade her florist talents for more musical ones. Reed sends him to Hardy at the Holiday Inn! Meeting once again, Jim and Linda discover that they work well together and the supper club becomes a hit.

Being happy together it isn’t going to last long when Ted is on the jilted end of Lila and visits his friend Jim. Having one to many holiday drinks, Ted ends up on the dance floor with Linda and the crowd loves it. Now he wants to find out who the mystery girl is and partner up again.

Imagine Ted’s surprise when he discovers that Linda and Jim are a couple. Since they aren’t officially together, Ted decides he is going to do what ever it takes to win the gal once again away from his friend.

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Once again alone, it is Jim’s housekeeper Mamie (Louise Beavers) who gives him a straightening out by letting him know he needs to fight for the love of his life. Whether singing or dancing – it’s all about getting the girl!

Crosby as Jim wants nothing more than a simpler life running a supper club at an inn that is only open on holidays. Figuring this gives him the rest of the days to be creative and write more songs, he looks forward to it all. Of course there is the problem of girlfriend Lila having other plans. This is a smooth role for Crosby as the crooning love struck inn owner who only has eyes for Linda.

Astaire as Ted certainly has trouble keeping his hands on any girl let alone just one who can dance as well as he does. That aside, Astaire is fast if not light on his feet. Watching these two talented actors on the screen together is just fun and amazing.

Reynolds as Linda has dreams of singing and dancing her way into a better life. Finding joy in being part of the Holiday Inn, she is a tad upset when discovers that Jim isn’t being totally honest with her. Not a good way to go guys! She is lovely however and her singing – beautiful.

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Dale as Lila is just as shifty as Ted which had me wondering how these two didn’t realize they are perfect for each other! Equally light on her feet with Astaire, she just glides across the screen in her ever so delightful costumes.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.

HOLIDAY INN is absolutely memorable in that I can recall watching this film with my mother time and time again on television. She could never get enough of Crosby’s crooning or Astaire’s dancing and it passed on to me.

This is also the film that brought the song White Christmas to the lips of each and every holiday after this 1942 classic. The song would bring artist Irving Berlin an Oscar for his wonderful work.

The Bluray includes both the black and white version as well as the color version of HOLIDAY INN. There is also a Bonus Disc of Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical – a full length Broadway production based on the timeless classic film.

Additional Bonus Features are A Couple of Song and Dance Men: An intimate retrospective of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire featuring and interview with Ava Astaire-McKenzie, All Singing, All Dancing: Experience the making of the unforgettable song and dance numbers, Coloring a Classic: Learn how the film was color designed to transform the black and white classic, Feature Commentary by Film Historian Ken Barnes, including Archive Audio Comments from Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and John Scott Trotter, and Theatrical Trailer.

On Bluray for its 75th Anniversary, HOLIDAY INN is fun, dazzling foot work and sweet songs in a film the likes of which we will never see again.

In the end – we are all dreaming of a White Christmas!

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