April 20, 2004:
The Seven Year Itch (1955) [Rent]. The Billy Wilder classic that gave us that indelible image of a white dress billowing up from around Marilyn Monroe's legs heads up a whole slew of titles featuring the screen icon either re-releasing or coming out for the first time on April 20, including...
As Young As You Feel (1951). Marilyn's role isn't huge here; she's the antagonist's secretary. But reviews for this light comedy are mostly of the thumbs-up variety. [Rent],
Love Nest (1951). This one, released just months later, finds Marilyn's name already moving up the marquee. Again, the comedy is light, and again, the thumbs are up. [Rent],
Let's Make it Legal (1951). As you might have gathered by now, Marilyn was very busy in 1951. Here, she goes man-chasing. [Rent],
We're Not Married (1952). Five vignettes about five couples who discover - that's right! - that they aren't legally married. The first couple, by the way, is Ginger Rogers and Fred Allen and the last is Eddie Bracken and Mitzi Gaynor. Marilyn is paired with David Wayne. [Rent],
Don't Bother To Knock (1952). Shifting gears all of a sudden, this one's kind of noirish. As Need Coffee notes, here "we have a rare role for Monroe - darkly insane and dangerous." [Rent],
Niagara (1953). In a similar vein, "This suspenseful thriller showed a rare dark side to Monroe's screen capabilities, and thanks to the restoration work done for the DVD release, you can appreciate her all the more." (BBC) [Rent],
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). And this, of course, is Howard Hawks's classic comedy with Jane Russell and Marilyn's big number, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." [Rent],
There's No Business Like Show Business (1954). Marilyn's only one of the bright lights in this musical comedy. You've got Donald O'Connor, you've got Mitzi Gaynor, you've got Ethel Merman hitting those notes so long and hard they've never been the same. [Rent]
Bus Stop (1956). The beginning of a new phase in Marilyn's career. DVD Savant (Glenn Erickson) puts it this way: "For once showing how tough and humiliating it is to be the dumb blonde singing off-key, her character here has a lot of rough edges. While by no means a natural, Monroe's efforts go a long way towards leading with her acting talent instead of her sex appeal." [Rent].
Star! (1968). Julie Andrews portrays Gertrude Lawrence, a hit on stages in London and Broadway. When it was released in a year when audiences had a few other things on their minds, it lost millions, but many will argue it deserves a second look. [Rent]
Roxie Hart (1942). That name sound familiar? Of course it does. Renée Zellweger played the character in last year's Oscar-gulping version of Chicago. Well, there really was a Roxie Hart and, just to keep things confusing, besides Chicago, another musical, Sweet Charity was based on this woman's little adventure with the law as well. Here, William Wellman directs Ginger Rogers. [Rent]
Hello, Dolly! (1969). Gene Kelly directs Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau. DVD Verdict: " With luscious musical numbers, hundreds upon hundreds of extras, and a story that is both engaging and a trifle thought provoking (for those seeking their own path in life), you can't go wrong." [Rent]
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1982). Terrific macabre musical with tunes by Stephen Sondheim. [Rent]
Call Me Madam (1953). With Ethel Merman and Donald O'Connor. Songs by Irving Berlin. [Rent]
Bonhoeffer (2003). Martin Doblmeier's documentary tells the story of the Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was not only an early and outspoken critic of Hitler, he even went so far as to become part of the plot to assassinate the Nazi leader. The bomb went off, but Hitler survived to round up the conspirators, Bonhoeffer included, and they, of course, would not live to see the end of the Third Reich. "A touching narrative on the nature of faith," writes Elvis Mitchell in the New York Times. Excerpts from Bonhoeffer's works are read by Klaus Maria Brandauer. [Rent]
Trust Me (2003). Young boys with different religious backgrounds are brought together at a summer camp to learn tolerance. [Rent]
Divine Intervention (2003) [Rent] and Billabong Odyssey (2003) [Rent] are two surfing docs to view along with Step Into Liquid.
H20 2003 Winter Classic. Surfers vs snowboarders! [Rent]
Disorder 4: Ride the Lightning (2003). Mountain biking at its most extreme. [Rent]
99.9: La Frequenica del Terror (1997). Note that the cinematographer here is Javier Aguirresarobes (The Others, Talk to Her). [Rent]
The Park (2003). Special Edition. Bit of a ghost story, bit of a zombie movie. Hybrid HK horror, in other words. [Rent]
Welcome to Spring Break (1989). "A cut above its cousins," writes Stomp Tokyo, "but let's not get carried away: it's still a slasher movie." [Rent]
The Monster Club (1980). Does it really matter how weakly these short stories are strung together when the stories themselves feature the likes of John Carradine, Donald Pleasence and Vincent Price? [Rent]
Bloodmoon (1989). From Australia. [Rent]
Dark Harvest (2003). Crop circles, aliens, etc., etc. With Stephen Baldwin and Billy Zane. [Rent]
Killer Buzz (2002). Deadly killer bees! With Gabrielle Anwar and Rutger Hauer. [Rent]
ACTION and ADVENTURE
Knockabout (1979). "I thought I saw the best from Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao with Millionaire's Express and Prodigal Son, but I was wrong," writes Janick Neveu in Kung Fu Cult Cinema. "Knockabout is indeed one of the finest Sammo/Biao productions. I had heard a lot of good comments about this flick before watching it but I was not expecting the movie to be so good and spectacular." [Rent]
A High Wind in Jamaica (1965). Alexander Mackendrick directs Anthony Quinn and James Coburn. "A sadly overlooked gem," sighs one IMDb user. [Rent]
Pirates of Tortuga (1961). In case Johnny Depp has whet your appetite for more. [Rent]
Heavenly Legend (1999). A sci-fi retelling of a Chinese folk legend. [Rent]
Nam Angels (1988). You think the Hell's Angels would bother riding up into Viet Cong territory just for two American POWs? Neither did the screenwriter. So... there's $10 million worth of gold up there, too. Now they're off... [Rent]
Reefer Madness (1937). 20th Century Fox is re-releasing the exploitation classic with a crisp new print. As Michael Draine writes in our Exploitation primer, the film "is a prime specimen of the Exploitation: an opening scroll promising to part the veils of ignorance concealing an urgent social crisis, threadbare budget, conflicted moralizing, the innocent's contamination by contact with unseemly elements.... Reefer Madness (aka Tell Your Children) reentered pop culture when the National Organization for Reformation of Marijuana Laws acquired a print and screened it at fund-raisers. Despite the laughs the film draws today, the marijuana scare was taken as seriously in its time as today's War on Terrorism." [Rent]
Joe Bob Briggs Presents - The Double-D Avenger (2001). Featuring Russ Meyer vets Kitten Natividad, Haji, and Raven De La Croix. [Rent]
Stranded (2001). Jump Cut, a German film magazine, praised this Spanish production for raising intriguing moral questions: When the bunch of you are stuck on Mars and your water and air's running low, what are your priorities? [Rent]
The Office: The Complete Second Series (2002). Little wonder that Ricky Gervais and the team behind this BBC mockumentary-style comedy series cleaned up at the Golden Globes. As the New York Times wrote recently, "Instead of the usual sitcom pacing, it moves at the speed of a day at the office. But the deadpan humor and the subtle supporting cast grow on you irresistibly." [Rent]
Prime Suspect 4 (1994 - 1995; Discs 1 [Rent] and 2 [Rent]) and Prime Suspect 5 (1995 - 1996) [Rent]. The widely admired series with Helen Mirren continues.
Cracker 3 (1995). Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent] and 3 [Rent]. Another British crime-solver, Robbie Coltrane, gets to work.
Playmakers (2003). Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent] and 3 [Rent]. "Like ER for a football junkie," assesses the Daily Oklahoman.
The Lost World: Season 2 (2003). Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent], 3 [Rent], 4 [Rent] and 5 [Rent].
Aura Battler Dunbine - Vol. 5: Return to Byston Well (2003). "Without an inkling of reservation, it can be said that they simply don't make politically-drowned giant robot shows like this anymore," writes Bamboo Dong in Anime News Network. "Everything just spirals into a huge batch of warfare fun." [Rent]
Mao-Chan - Vol. 4: Let's Defend Happiness! (2003). Hamano has a theory about this series. [Rent]
Tenchi Muyo GXP - Vol. 2: Academy Life (2002). "A new Tenchi offshoot series which doesn't seem to have anything to do with any of the other Tenchi series," notes MemoryLock. [Rent]
FOR THE KIDS
Totally Spies. Volumes One [Rent] and Two [Rent]. Three female secret agents who aren't Charlie's Angels.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Includes never-before-seen episodes. [Rent]
Click back to see more titles that arrived on April 20: Foreign, drama, comedy and more....
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