Film Noir Review: Harper (1966)

“Hey, this detective work is really fun!”

Harper is the rare case of a film whose literary origin and cinematic style come from the same source. It was adapted from Ross Macdonald’s novel The Moving Target, which, upon publication in 1949, was a blatant attempt at emulating the private eye success of author Raymond Chandler. Macdonald too based his story around a private detective, Lew Archer, who resided in Los Angeles and regularly dealt with wealthy — often amoral — clients. And while the author would eventually step out of Chandler’s shadow with later novels like The Galton Case (1959) and the brilliant Black Money (1966), it remains a statement of fact that The Moving Target is his most derivative work.

It is then fitting that when it came time to adapt The Moving Target into a film, Paramount Studios decided to emulate the structure of one of the greatest Chandler adaptations to date: The Big Sleep. Granted, producer Elliot Kastner said he wanted a script that “had balls,” but this desire for machismo didn’t get in the way of his commercial savvy, and he believed the same formula that turned Chandler’s confusing novel into a hit in 1946 would work wonders if applied to the technicolor gloss of the 1960s. I’m happy to report that Kastner was right.

Harper movie poster The film's minimal poster design.

The film’s minimal poster design.

To call Harper a modern spin on The Big Sleep wouldn’t be far from the truth. The film welcomes the comparison, in fact, as screenwriter William Goldman updates the characters and settings to reflect a self-awareness of the detective genre. In one scene, Lew Harper (changed from Archer) points out how difficult it is to break down a door with his shoulder. In another, he turns down an early morning drink and claims he isn’t much of a smoker. When pressed on the matter, Harper calls himself a “new type” of detective — a claim made for the sake of the audience as much as it is for his employer. You can practically feel Goldman winking offscreen.

And while Harper (Paul Newman) may offer a tweaked version of the screen sleuth, the case he’s hired to make sense of is otherwise pretty standard. Harper is called upon by millionaire Elaine Sampson (Lauren Bacall) to locate her missing husband — a thread that once tugged, unravels a conspiracy of hidden agendas, manipulative clients, and a particularly nasty cult in the hills. Familiar, yet different. That’s the formula that’s put forth by director Jack Smight, who does his best Howard Hawks impression in balancing screwball with the screwed up.

Paul Newman as Harper "Your husband keeps lousy company, Mrs. Sampson, as bad as there is in L.A. And that's as bad as there is."
Paul Newman as Harper “Your husband keeps lousy company, Mrs. Sampson, as bad as there is in L.A. And that’s as bad as there is.”

The film veers into dramatic territory on occasion, usually when Harper’s wife Susan (Janet Leigh) shows up to bust his chops. The two are going through a divorce, and it’s obvious that the detective is stalling the process because he still has feelings for her. These scenes are executed well, but even then, Goldman and Smight speed through them, preferring to focus on the lunacy of the case or the wit of Harper’s dialogue. In a film that’s mostly defined by aesthetic, it proves a wise decision.

In keeping with this, the performances in Harper are engagingly over-the-top. Bacall has a ball playing Elaine Sampson, in what amounts to a 180 degree turn from her character in The Big Sleep– her curt exchanges with Harper will call to mind the classic scene between Marlowe and General Sternwood. Elsewhere, the film benefits from the  scenery-chewing of Shelley Winters and Robert Wagner, the former as a faded actress and the latter a playboy who may not be as shallow as he appears. Both serve as playful foils for the probing Harper. Pamela Tiffin’s promiscuous Miranda also trades quips with the detective, albeit in a more seductive manner. She and Sleep‘s Carmen Sternwood would’ve had quite the time together.

Harper (Paul Newman) going to work on faded movie star Fay Estabrook (Shelley Winters).

Harper (Paul Newman) going to work on faded movie star Fay Estabrook (Shelley Winters).

As the title character, Paul Newman hits all the right notes. The actor could talk a kitten out of a tree if need be, and he puts this gift to use in a performance that keeps the charisma of a part like Hud (1963) without the emotional baggage. In fact, he whips through a series of hunches, accents, and actions so effectively you almost start to wonder why he’s too poor to afford new coffee folgers. Frank Sinatra was Kastner’s original choice, but after seeing Newman anchor the film, there’s little denying that he was the right man to bring the character to life.

With Newman’s magnetism leading the way, Harper was met with box office success and positive reviews from critics. And whether or not it was coincidental, it was the first in a new wave of detective films– as evidenced by the flood of releases (Tony Rome, P.J., Lady In Cement, Marlowe) that followed. It even received a sequel, The Drowning Pool, nine years later.

Paul Newman in Harper "You got a way of starting conversations that end conversation."

Paul Newman in Harper “You got a way of starting conversations that end conversation.”

So while Harper’s reliance on the past has kept it from becoming a classic in its own right, the lively mood and loaded cast are enough to warrant a viewing. “This detective work is really fun!” notes Wagner’s character at one point, and in the grand scheme of commercial noir, you’d be pressed to find a film that so lives up to its claim. B

TRIVIA: Due to copyright concerns, and Newman’s winning streak with films that started with the letter “H” (The HustlerHudHombre), the character of Lew Archer was changed to Lew Harper.

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–Danilo Castro for Classic Movie Hub Danilo Castro is a film noir enthusiast and Contributing Writer for Classic Movie Hub. You can read more of Danilo’s articles and reviews at the Film Noir Archive, or you can follow Danilo on Twitter @DaniloSCastro.

Posted in Posts by Danilo Castro | 1 Comment

Win Tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: Smokey and the Bandit (40th Anniversary)” (Giveaway runs April 21 – May 6)

Win Tickets to see “Smokey and the Bandit” on the Big Screen! In Select Cinemas Nationwide Sunday, May 21 & Wednesday, May 24!

“For the money, for the glory, and for the fun… mostly for the money.”

CMH is thrilled to announce the 6th of our 14 movie ticket giveaways this year, courtesy of Fathom Events!

That said, we’ll be giving away EIGHT PAIRS of tickets to see “TCM Big Screen Classics: Smokey and the Bandit” – the timeless classic starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, and Jerry Reed— the way it was meant to be seen — on the Big Screen!

In order to qualify to win a pair of movie tickets via this contest, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, May 6 at 6 PM EST.

We will announce the winner(s) on Twitter on Sunday, May 7, between 6PM EST and 7PM EST. If a winner(s) does not have a Twitter account, we will announce that winner(s) via this blog in the comment section below.

Smokey and the Bandit TCM Big Screen Classics Fathom Events

The film will be playing in select cinemas nationwide for a special two-day-only event on Sunday, May 21 and Wednesday, May 24 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time. Winners will be responsible for their own transportation to the Event. Only United States entries are eligible. Please click here before you enter to ensure that the Event is scheduled at a theater near you and that you are able to attend. (please note that there might be slightly different theater listings for each date)

About the film:  

The Bandit (Burt Reynolds) has 28 hours to drive a truckload of Coors beer from Texas to Georgia while avoiding the relentless “Smokey,” Sherrif Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason).

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, May 6 at 6PM EST…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

THE QUESTION:

“Smokey and the Bandit” may not be a classic-era Classic Movie, but what is it in your opinion that makes it classic? And, if you haven’t seen it yet, why do you want to see it on the Big Screen?

2) Then TWEET* (not DM) the following message:

Just entered to win tickets to see “Smokey and the Bandit” on the Big Screen courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @FathomEvents #TCMBigScreen

*If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

Please give us 48 hours to approve your comment, as we get lots of spam and must go through each entry to validate them. Thanks!

Please note that only United States residents are eligible to enter this giveaway contest. (see contest rules for further information)

BlogHub members ARE also eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

You can follow Fathom Events on Twitter at @fathomevents

Good Luck!

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Fathom Events, TCM Big Screen Classics | 19 Comments

A Very Happy Classic Movie Easter Pictorial!

Happy Easter from Classic Movie Hub!

Just wanted to share some fun Easter photos…

Happy Easter Bugs Bunny Easter Parade Hat

 Just love Bugs… And that hat is to die for :)

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doris day easter bunny

Doris Day chillin’ in a comfy Easter basket…

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Little Rascals celebrate Easter

Look at the smile on their faces… I remember smiling like that when I was a kid, in anticipation of receiving lots and lots of chocolate and candy… Now my guilty pleasure is those darn delicious Cadbury Easter Eggs… Look out CVS, here I come…

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easter hugh beaumont leave it to beaver easter bunny Barbara Billingsley

The Cleavers with quite a big bunny… BTW, I had a rabbit when I was a kid who grew to be quite a big bunny himself! And, believe it or not, we trained him to do tricks, i.e. beg for food. One word of warning though, rabbits eat just about anything in their path, from linoleum to electrical cords to clothing. LOL, you can probably guess from that statement, that we had our hands full when he got loose in the house!

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Even John Wayne likes the Easter Bunny

Yes, even John Wayne loves the Easter Bunny :)

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My dream is yours - doris day jack carson bugs bunny easter

Bugs Bunny certainly gets around! This is him with Doris Day and Jack Carson in My Dream is Yours

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shirley temple Easter

The adorable Shirley Temple, need I say more?

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angie dickenson easter bunny

Angie Dickinson with a scary-looking Easter bunny

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jean arthur easter greetings

Jean Arthur, artiste…

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vera ellen easter bunny

Vera-Ellen… Boy these Easter Bunnies are big!

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ann miller easter hat

Ann Miller modeling her latest Easter Bonnet

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debbie reynolds easter

And the gorgeous Debbie Reynolds…

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susan hayward easter bunny

Susan Hayward with a more reasonably-sized bunny :)

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elizabeth taylor easter bonnet

Liz Taylor, not to be outdone by Ann Miller…

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shirley temple with easter eggs

Well, I just couldn’t resist another one with Shirley, this time admiring her newly-dyed Easter egg…

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ann miller irving berlin easter parade

Irving Berlin and Ann Miller admiring Ann’s Easter bonnet, on the set of Easter Parade

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judy garland fred astaire easter parade

Can’t do an Easter post without Judy and Fred in Easter Parade…

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jimmy stewart harvey easter bunny

And what would Easter be, without Harvey… You can see him, right???

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Hope your day is filled with chocolates, jelly beans, family and fun…

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

 

Posted in Holiday Tributes, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Classic Movie Travels: Nova Scotia, Canada – The King and I, and Titanic

Classic Movie Travel Sites in Halifax, Nova Scotia

I had the pleasure of visiting Nova Scotia over the summer, and as any true-blue Classic Movie Fan would do, I just had to find some classic-movie-related sites to make my trip complete! That said, I’d like to share some photos and a youtube clip (as part of my partnership with Classic Movies & More) from my visit to the city of Halifax. The clip features Tour Guide Robert Young of Robert’s Rambles who tells us about the city’s connection to Anna Leonowens (aka Anna from The King and I), and the Titanic tragedy. I also included photos from my visit to the Titanic Exhibit at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and the Titanic gravesite at the Fairview Cemetery. In an upcoming blog post, I’ll also be sharing my incredible visit to none other than the infamous Oak Island — which also has a movie history connection!

A fabulous walking tour with Robert Young of Robert’s Rambles/Tall Tale Tours concludes with a classic-movie connection to the King and I, and the Titanic — in front of the haunted Five Fishermen Restaurant

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Before I start sharing pictures from the Titanic Exhibit and Fairview Cemetery, I just want to say how overwhelming and heart wrenching this all was to see… especially when I saw the name of one of the Titanic victims…

Titanic Exhibit at the Maritime Museum of the AtlanticTitanic Exhibit at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

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Titanic Artifact Lounge Panel Fragment - Comes from the arch over the forward entrance to the First Class lounge, the area where RMS Titanic broke in half before plunging to the bottom, hence the broken edges.Titanic Artifact Lounge Panel Fragment from the arch over the forward entrance to the First Class lounge, the area where Titanic broke in half before sinking, hence the broken edges… Recovered by the CS Minia and kept by her captain, W.G. Squares de Carteret.

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Titanic artifact - unknown pair of child's shoes - Pair of leather children’s shoes believed to be from Body No. 4, the "Unknown Child".Titanic Artifact Pair of leather children’s shoes from an Unknown Child

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Titanic artifact deck chair Made of mahogany and unidentified hardwood, the chair bears a carved five-pointed star, the emblem of the White Star Line.

Titanic Artifact Deck Chair made of mahogany and unidentified hardwood bears a carved five-pointed star, the emblem of the White Star Line… One of the only intact chairs in the world that matches those visible in photographs from RMS Titanic.

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Titanic Gravesite Fairview Cemetery Halifax Nova ScotiaTitanic Gravesite Fairview Cemetery Halifax Nova Scotia

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Titanic Gravesite Fairview Cemetery Halifax Nova ScotiaTitanic Gravesite Fairview Cemetery Halifax Nova Scotia  .....  Titanic gravesite Fairview Cemetery Halifax Nova Scotia121 Titanic victims are interred at Fairview Cemetery, more than any other cemetery in the world... 121 Titanic victims are interred at Fairview Cemetery, more than any other cemetery in the world… About 1/3 of the victims have never been identified and their markers contain just the date of death and marker number.

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Luigi Gatti grave marker at Titanic gravesite in Fairview Cemetery in Halifax Nova Scotia

Imagine my surprise… This was the first gravesite we saw… and we were stunned…

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Crew list of Titanic at Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Crew list of Titanic at Maritime Museum of the AtlanticNotice Line 12 in the Victualing Department listing… Luigi Gatti was the manager of the restaurant aboard Titanic… This was on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Book excerpt from Titanic Victims in Halifax Graveyards by Blair BeedBook excerpt about Luigi Gatti from Titanic Victims in Halifax Graveyards by Blair Beed

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Five Fishermen restaurant in Nova Scotia site of The King and I and TitanicThe Five Fishermen restaurant in Halifax was the one-time ‘home’ of the Victoria School of Art and Design, which was co-founded by Anna Leonowens in 1887. Prior to this, Anna was governess to the children of the King of Siam which she wrote about in her book called “Anna and the King of Siam”… Of course that book was adapted into a Broadway musical and beloved Hollywood films. When Anna left the building, it became the John Snow & Co. Funeral Home which was utilized during two of  the world’s greatest disasters: the sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912, and The Halifax Explosion of 1917. Some say the restaurant is now haunted…

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Nova Scotia College of Art and Design

The Victoria School of Art and Design later moved to a new location and was renamed the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

PS: if you’d like to view more Classic Movies & More video clips, please visit us on YouTube here.

Posted in Posts by Annmarie Gatti, Travel Sites | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Behind the Door (1919) DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway Contest (via Facebook/Blog in April)

Behind the Door DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway!
Qualifying Entry Task for Facebook/Blog

Okay, now it’s time for the Facebook/Blog version of our Behind the Door DVD/Blu-Ray giveaway contest, courtesy of Flicker Alley, in which we’ll be giving away one copy of this silent classic. And, don’t forget, we’re also giving away FIVE MORE copies via Twitter this month as well, so please feel free to enter that contest too…

In order to qualify to win this collection via this Facebook/Blog contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, April 25 at 8PM ESTWe will pick one winner via a random drawing and announce the winner on Facebook and on this Blog the day after the contest ends (Sunday April 26).

If you’re also on Twitter, please feel free to visit us at  @ClassicMovieHub for additional giveaways — because we’ll be giving away FIVE MORE sets there as well! (Click here for twitter contest details as well as more information about the collection.)

Behind the Door DVD starring Wallace Beery

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ENTRY TASK to be completed by Saturday, April 25 at 8PM EST…

Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

THE QUESTION:
What is it about Silent Movies that intrigue you? Or, if you’ve never seen a silent movie, why do you want to win this particular one?

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

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This newly restored edition represents the most complete version of the film available since 1919, thanks to the collaboration of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the Library of Congress, and Gosfilmofond of Russia. This film is indeed a rarity, so if you want to learn more about it before you enter, here is a sneak peak:

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Please allow us at least 24 hours to approve (and post) your comment, as we have an unprecedented amount of spam to sift through…

Behind-the-Door Hobart Bosworth and Jane Novak 3

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About the Release:  Hobart Bosworth stars as Oscar Krug, a working-class American, who is persecuted for his German ancestry after war is declared. Driven by patriotism, Krug enlists and goes to sea. However, tragedy strikes when his wife (Jane Novak) sneaks aboard his ship and is captured following a German U-boat attack. Krug’s single-minded quest for vengeance against the sadistic German submarine commander (played with villainous fervor by Wallace Beery) leads to the film’s shocking and brutal climax. Bonus Materials Include: the re-edited and re-titled version of the film that was distributed in Russia, outtakes featuring music composed and performed by Stephen Horne, a behind-the-scenes look at the restoration, a featurette spotlighting director Irvin Willat by film historian Kevin Brownlow, an image gallery, and souvenir booklet.

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Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

Good Luck!

And if you can’t wait to win the DVD/Blu-Ray, you can purchase it on amazon via the below link (click on image):

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged | 6 Comments

Kino Lorber DVD and Blu-Ray Classic Film Giveaway (April)

And the Giveaways Continue with Kino Lorber!
DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway, Winner’s Choice of 6 Classic Films

We are happy to announce our next contest… This month, we’ll be giving away 10 Classic DVDs/Blu-Rays – a mix of silents and sounds – courtesy of our friends at Kino Lorber!  Each of our contest winners will be able to choose their prize from the list of 6 classics below.  So, get ready to make some tough choices!

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, May 6 at 10PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick two winners on five different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • April 8: Two Winners
  • April 15: Two Winners
  • April 22: Two Winners
  • April 29: Two Winners
  • May 6: Two Winners

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub (or this blog, depending how you entered), the day after each winner is picked at 10PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winners on Sunday April 8 at 10PM EST.

Dr Mabuse the GamblerDr Mabuse the Gambler

Here are the titles up for grabs:

STEAMBOAT BILL/COLLEGE (DVD or Blu-Ray): STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. was Buster Keaton’s last independent silent comedy and also one of his finest. He stars as the effete son of a gruff riverboat captain (Ernest Torrence), who struggles to earn his father’s respect (and the love of beautiful Marion Byron). But the film is best remembered for the climactic cyclone sequence—a slapstick tour-de-force in which Keaton’s comedic stunts are performed amid the full-scale destruction of an entire town. A stone-faced response to Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman, COLLEGE follows a frail scholar as he tries to win the heart of a girl (Anne Cornwall) through athletics. Keaton used his own physical agility to brilliant comic effect, as his character suffers a series of crushing failures. But the greatest surprise comes at the end, when the scrawny intellectual finally releases the physical tiger within.

DELUGE (DVD or Blu-Ray): Triggered by a series of earthquakes on the West Coast of the United States, a massive tidal wave circles the globe and-in a prolonged and spectacular special effects sequence-wipes out New York City. Sidney Blackmer stars as a man who, separated from his family, must begin to rebuild civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. For decades, Deluge was a lost film of almost mythical status, until horror/sci-fi archivist Forrest J. Ackerman discovered an Italian-dubbed print in 1981. Viewing this poor-quality print was an arduous experience and was only a dim substitute for the original film. But all this changed in 2016 when Lobster Films unearthed a 35mm nitrate negative with the original English soundtrack.

THE GENERAL/THREE AGES (DVD or Blu-Ray): Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL is not simply one of the greatest silent comedies ever made, it is one of the greatest films—of any era. In restaging the true story of one man’s journey behind enemy lines to reclaim his captured locomotive during the Civil War, Keaton stages a series of complex chases, using lumbering trains as comedic props. Keaton’s inventive mind is matched only by his physical athleticism, making THE GENERAL a truly breath-taking experience. Keaton’s first foray into making feature films, THREE AGES is a parody of D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, dramatizing man’s quest for love in three parallel settings—a modern city, the Stone Age, and ancient Rome—and loading each plotline with amazing stunts and hysterical sight gags.

DAVID & BATHSHEBA (Blu-Ray only): For this woman, he broke God’s own Commandment! Screen legend, Gregory Peck (Yellow Sky, Night People) stars in this gripping retelling of the beloved Old Testament story. King David (Peck) has killed Goliath, prevailed in countless battles, but cannot vanquish his illicit love for the beautiful Bathsheba (Susan Hayward, Rawhide, I Want to Live). David sends her husband, Uriah (Kieron Moore, Arabesque), into a hopeless battle, setting into motion his own downward spiral. Neglecting kingdom and faith, he incurs the wrath of God, the destruction of his country and the ill will of his people, who expect Bathsheba to pay the ultimate price for adultery. This gorgeously shot, rapturously acted and deeply moving tale of love, obsession, tragedy, loss and redemption is as beautiful as it is timeless. Directed by the great Henry King (Prince of Foxes) and co-starring Raymond Massey (The Hurricane). Nominated for five Oscars including Best Screenplay by Philip Dunne (The Robe) and Best Cinematography by four-time Academy Award winner Leon Shamroy (Planet of the Apes) —- Cinematographer, Leon Shamroy was nominated for 18 Academy Awards and won four: The Black Swan (1943), Wilson (1945), Leave Her to Heaven (1946) and Cleopatra (1964).

DESTINY (DVD or Blu-Ray): A young woman (Lil Dagover) confronts the personification of Death (Bernhard Goetzke), in an effort to save the life of her fiance (Walter Janssen). Death weaves three romantic tragedies and offers to unite the girl with her lover, if she can prevent the death of the lovers in at least one of the episodes. Thus begin three exotic scenarios of ill-fated love, in which the woman must somehow reverse the course of destiny: Persia, Quattrocento Venice, and a fancifully rendered ancient China.

DR. MABUSE THE GAMBLER (DVD or Blu-Ray): A truly legendary silent film, Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler had a major impact on the development of the crime thriller, building upon the work of the pioneering French film serialist Louis Feuillade (Les Vampires) and firmly establishing it as a significant film genre. This epic two-part tale was originally released as two separate films, respectively subtitled The Great Gambler and Inferno, and that format is reproduced here. The plot revolves around the pursuit of arch fiend Dr. Mabuse, a gambler, hypnotist, master of disguises and all-around criminal mastermind. Mabuse was the prototype for the sort of evil genius super-villains that would later become common in movies, whether it be in the James Bond pictures or in comic book adaptations like Superman and Batman. The film is dominated by the presence of Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Mabuse. A top German actor of the silent era, he is best known today for his performance as the mad scientist Rotwang in Lang’s Metropolis.

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, May 6 at 10PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message:
Just entered to win the “Kino Lorber Classic Film” #DVDGiveaway courtesy of @KinoLorber and @ClassicMovieHub

THE QUESTION:
Which of the above films would you like to win and why? 

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

ALSO: Please allow us 48 hours to approve your comments. Sorry about that, but we are being overwhelmed with spam, and must sort through 100s of comments…

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Also — Just for CMH Fans!!! Use our exclusive Kino Lorber Coupon Code CMHW17 for 15% off Studio Classics titles on the Kino Lorber website, The Offer is valid through March 31, 2017, so that gives you plenty of time to peruse and use :)

Kino Lorber CMH coupon

You can visit Kino Lorber on their website, on Twitter at @KinoLorber or on Facebook.

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

For complete rules, click here.

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | 31 Comments

Breaking Barriers: Rita Moreno

Breaking Barriers

Rita Moreno 

To quote Barack Obama at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, “[Rita Moreno] is still a leading lady of her era, a trailblazer with courage to break through barriers and forge new paths.” That’s not the only political powerhouse to show love to Moreno. Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor one said, “When I was younger, I idolized Rita Moreno. I still do.” When both the President of the United States and one of its Supreme Justices sing your praise, clearly you must be doing something right. For over 70 years Moreno has remained in the limelight, staying relevant in industry that not only tends to reward youth and beauty over talent and tenacity but also has a dark history of gender and racial discrimination. Needless to say, Moreno’s longevity  (and praise) didn’t come easy. She not only battled the blatant sexism of Hollywood but also it’s systematic racism that constantly tried to pigeonhole the Puerto Rican actress into the stereotypical of roles of hotheads and sexpots. But despite the myriad of hardships that came her way, both personally and professionally, Moreno never gave up and instead forged her way into the history books.

Rita Moreno portrait

The absolutely delectable Rita Moreno

Moreno was born in the coastal town Humacao, Puerto Rico. Although both her parent’s had jobs, money was tight and Moreno spent most of her formative years in poverty. By the mid-1930s her parents divorced and her mother, Rosa, whisked 5 year-old Rita out to Puerto Rica and brought her to America with the dream of finding more opportunity and some stability. They settled in New York City, making their new home in the South Bronx. The move was not an easy one for Rita. Like many of her fellow Puerto Rican transplants, Rita didn’t know how to speak English and had some difficultly integrating into her new culture. The earliest memories of her new home were marred by racism. In an interview she did with CBS news Moreno stated:

“I ran into racist stuff quickly,” Moreno said. “Even when I didn’t understand what the word ‘spic’ meant. But I could see the hatred in the face of these young kids, you know, white kids. …And I grew up feeling very, very inferior to just about everybody in the world.”

Luckily Moreno found something that offered her an escape: dancing. Her mother noticed the young tikes penchant for performance and quickly enrolled in lessons. It wasn’t long before the young dancer was wowing audiences with her Camera Miranda Act at weddings and bar mitzvahs. The acting bug came next and by the time she was 11 Moreno was already working on her on films, dubbing Spanish-language versions of American movies. Two years later the young actress would make her Broadway debut as Angelia in the play Skydrift. By the time Moreno was 14 she already know what many people don’t figure out until their late-20s: what she wanted to be when she grew up. In a bold move, the young performer soon dropped out of school to concentrate her time on show business.

Rita Moreno 1

Young Rita, preparing for stardom

By this time, Moreno had fashioned herself as “Latin Spitfire,” and was performing in nightclubs throughout New York. Her discovery is right out of the pages of a Hollywood fairy tale. While performing her act in New York, Moreno quickly caught the eye of a MGM talent scout who was impressed by the girl’s fervor. He quickly arranged for the Rita to have audition with none other than the boss himself – Louis B. Mayer himself. Needless to say, he was impressed and Moreno was signed to a seven-year contact on the spot. Unfortunately, the fairy tale pretty much end right there.

While signing to MGM was a huge opportunity for Moreno, it was also harsh learning experience. She was triple threat with ability to sing, dance, and act, but, like most woman of color in the industry, her talents were wasted. MGM simply wasn’t willing or able to utilize their newest acquisition to her fullest potential and often typecast Moreno as the stereotypical Latina sexpot. When she wasn’t playing that stereotype, she was playing some version of “the exotic other”, usually characters with no education, few morals, and heavy accents with origins from nowhere in particular.

Native American, Polynesian, Southeast Asian, Cajun – Moreno played them all and hated every minute of it. She says of time at MGM, “ It was limiting and it was humiliating and it was hurtful.” Of all her films at MGM, only one didn’t cast in as the stereotypical “other,” was Singin’ in the Rain, where she played the race-neutral ingénue Zelda Zanders. Well, if it could only be one film, at least it was one of the best.

Rita Moreno 2

Because there were totally Puerto Rican people in 1860s Siam…

When her time at MGM came to an end, Moreno signed on with Twentieth Century Fox. She hoped the change in studios would come with more opportunities to play new, challenging roles rather than stereotypical tripe offered at MGM. Of course, this did not happen and Moreno seemed to be just as confined at Fox as she was at MGM. Her tenure started with the role of sexy Cantina Singer in the western Garden of Evil and continued with the naive Native American, Ula, in Seven Cities of Gold.  One film that did manage to utilize the multi-talented actress was the Walter Lang film adaptation of the Broadway musical hit, The King and I. Of course, she was still portraying an exotic other, this time as Tuptim, a slave at the royal place of Siam, but at least the role allowed Moreno to fully utilize her talents as an actor and dancer.

After Fox opted not to renew her contract, Moreno became a free agent. By this time roles were infrequent and she was concentrated mostly to televisions screens. Finally, her luck would change and in 1961 the 26-year-old veteran of the entertainment industry was cast in the role of a lifetime: Anita in West Side Story. Not only did the role challenge her abilities as a actor, singer and dancer, but it also allowed her play something other than an exotic, accented other. To quote Moreno it was, “The first time I had ever played a young Hispanic woman who had a sense of dignity, who had a sense of self-respect.”

As we all know, the film was a massive success. Moreno would eventually go on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. This made her the first Hispanic actress to take home an Academy Award and opened the door for hopeful Latinos in the entertainment industry.

Rita Moreno 3

I literally can’t handle all the sass in this picture right now.

Now an Academy Award winning actress, Moreno thought winning the prestigious award would open doors to a wider ranger of parts.  Sadly, she was mistaken and demeaning roles of barefoot “natives” still came her way. Rather than accept the trite Hollywood had to offer, Moreno said “thanks, but no thanks” and left Hollywood in pursuit of more dignified roles. She found them on the stages of London and New York, where she happily worked for the next decade.

By the 1970s Moreno’s career hit a new stage. Although most actresses find work more difficult to come by as they age, the opposite seemed true for Moreno. Sure, she lost that “sexpot” look that made her so appealing in the 1950s/60s but she aged with an incredible grace while retaining her natural beauty. Add all of this to the Hollywood’s growing progressive nature at the time; Moreno was finally freed of the stereotypes that held her back for so long.

In 1971 Moreno became a cast member on the children’s television series The Electric Company. It often used sketch comedy and reoccurring characters to help further nurture children’s reading and writing skills. The cast won the 1972 Grammy for Best Recording for Children. In 1974 she was cast as Googie Gomez in the Broadway farce The Ritz. The show was extremely successful, playing for over 400 nights. As for Moreno, she would walk away with a Tony Award For Best Featured of Supporting Actress in a Play.

Rita Moreno 4

In 1977 Moreno guest starred as vulnerable prostitute, Rita Capkovic, in a three-episode arch on the The Rockford Files. The role won her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstand Guest Actress – Drama Series. With this award, Moreno became only the third person to have the “grand slam” of American show business: The EGOT AKA winning a competitive Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award. This is such an incredible accomplishment in the entertainment industry that a whole episode of 30 Rock was dedicated to the concept. I’m not kidding, with only 12 people have ever done it. It’s basically the Nobel prize of the entertainment business…ok that might be a bit of hyperbole but still, you get what I mean. Moreno has one and that is just baller.

Since her EGOT win, Moreno has been working steadily in the entertainment business for the past three and a half decades. All her hard work and struggle throughout her 7-decade career culminated in 2004, when she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush. She has since been presented with the National Medal of Arts form Barack Obama in 2009. Oh, and she Sotomayor are basically besties now. Moreno even did the audio recording of her 2013 memoir My Beloved World. Not bad for a  little Hispanic girl from the Bronx.

Rita Moreno and Sonia Sotomayor

Don’t be fooled by the crazy amount of success that they got, they still they Rita and Sonia from the block…

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Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Legends Tribute, Posts by Minoo Allen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Film Noir Review: Dark City (1950)

“Guys like you seldom get arrested. You get killed first.”

Dark City is a devious example of intermingled genres. It’s upfront in its blend of horror and noir, an agenda that’s hinted at within the film’s opening sequence. Danny Haley (Charlton Heston) confidently struts down a city street. Within moments, police sirens sound in the distance, and Haley’s moxie turns to paranoia — an emotion viewers will become well acquainted with for the majority of the film’s runtime. He doesn’t know it yet, but Haley is in for one of noir’s more unsettling underworld descents. Haley is a bookie who runs a crooked joint with Barney (Ed Begley), Augie (Jack Webb) and punchy janitor Soldier (Harry Morgan). Each of these men check out on the noir bingo board: the frazzled veteran, the masochist, the punchy simpleton, and Haley, the smart guy living below his potential. Everyone knows it too, from local policeman Capt. Garvey (Dean Jagger) to his nightclub squeeze Fran Garland (Lizabeth Scott).

Dark City 1950 promotional poster.

The film’s promotional poster.

When she’s not pretending to sing torch songs (there’s plenty of lip-synching going on in classic noir, but, sadly, this one stands out as particularly noticeable), Fran is being coldly received by a lover who barely registers emotion. In this regard, Haley is a classic noir character type — no heart and even less class to back it up. It’s ironic that Heston would go on to define big screen integrity in the coming years with The Ten Commandments (1956) and Ben Hur (1959), but here, with a babyface and a nasty demeanor, he’s terrific. Heston’s range was never especially vast, though he does get ample room to flex his acting when the inciting incident kicks in.

That kicker arrives in the form of Arthur Winant (Don DeFore), a businessman who comes into town looking for a good time. Taken by Garland’s feminine wiles, Winant gets thoroughly played in a backroom poker game by Haley and his associates. It’s a stellar scene in terms of style, driven by DeFore’s sweaty brow and Victor Milner’s corrosively lit high angles, which drives home the character’s anxiety. Winant offs himself later that night, leaving behind a family, a sizable debt, and a police investigation that puts Haley’s gang in hot water. Oh, and Winant’s brother Sidney Vincent (Mike Mazurki), is a boogeyman-type criminal who comes into town looking for revenge.

Haley and the boys pull a fast one on Arthur Winant.
Haley and the boys pull a fast one on Arthur Winant.

This is where the film begins to sow its horror oats. In a scene that maximizes both its actors and its fearful tone, Barney is murdered by an offscreen assailant — seen only in his outline and the shape of his massive hands. It calls to mind the finest works of Val Lewton, in that it provokes terror without showing a direct cause, and it spins Dark City into an unexpected direction. Suddenly, Haley’s world is one of chilling paranoia.

Director William Dieterle heightens this mood, as quick cuts contrast with camerawork that’s noticeably static, and the fear that Heston tries to suppress is contagious. It gets to the point where I find myself nervously scanning the docks for Winant when Haley and Fran take a pier-side stroll. The “River Of The Underworld” anecdote in this scene is another chilly touch, one which sums up the personal stakes before Haley and Augie hit the road in search of Arthur Winant’s widow (Viveca Lindfors).

"Don't you want to know what's going on in the world?"

“Don’t you want to know what’s going on in the world?”

It’s at this point that the film comes to a screeching halt for what always seems to be the kiss of death in noir: a romantic subplot. It’s all fine and dandy that Haley thaws his big city heart –he’s smitten by the widow, her son, and their small town paradise — but it comes at the expense of the rich mood that the film worked to establish. Scenes revolving around the two are pleasant enough, but one can’t shake the feeling that they’re merely filler to pad out the film’s runtime. I would’ve loved to see where film could have gone had it stayed in its main setting.

Thankfully, Bright Suburb does revert back to its Dark City mood for the final act. This is where the film reaches its stylistic apex, as Haley and Vincent brawl in a rundown motel. Darkened visuals come back into play as the boogeyman murderer creeps upon an armed Haley, and the resulting fistfight is extremely aggressive for the era. In the midst of this scuffle, Vincent’s face is exposed for the first — and only — time in the entire film. And though police arrive in time to plug a few holes in him, Vincent gets away – only the shattered glass of his window escape remains. In what feels like a possible precursor to John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), it’s a chilling, ambiguous note that wasn’t often attempted by crime films of the era.

Sidney Vincent sneaking up on a scared Danny Haley.

Sidney Vincent sneaking up on a scared Danny Haley.

Haley acts as if Vincent choked some empathy into him for the final scene, where he romances a jilted Garland and they share a corny laugh to bring down the curtain. It’s an eye roll of a sendoff, honestly, betraying the bleak character that Heston worked so hard to shape — but worst comes to worst, you can just turn the film off after the Vincent fight and be none the wiser.

All in all, inconsistency is the silent killer of Dark City. It’s ironic that a film with such a tough title would fall victim to fluff, but the mid-point knicks are notable enough to lower the grade of this star-studded affair. Scott, Webb, Begley, and Morgan all bring their usual charisma to the table, while Heston, in his film debut, plants the seed that would later bloom into stardom. Still, the unsung hero of Dark City, and the guy who gives the film its distinct flavor, is Mike Mazurki. Though onscreen for barely a minute, his imposing presence casts a shadow of epic proportions, and Dieterle wisely milks it for all it’s worth. When The Boogeyman knocks on a hotel door to punch your ticket, ten-to-one says he’s the spitting image of Mazurki.

B- TRIVIA: Burt Lancaster was initially cast as Haley, but the actor didn’t want to work with Lizabeth Scott again, whom he had previously dated.

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–Danilo Castro for Classic Movie Hub Danilo Castro is a film noir enthusiast and Contributing Writer for Classic Movie Hub. You can read more of Danilo’s articles and reviews at the Film Noir Archive, or you can follow Danilo on Twitter @DaniloSCastro.

Posted in Films, Posts by Danilo Castro | 4 Comments

Win a Subscription to Warner Archive Instant (TEN subscriptions to giveaway in April and May)

Watch Classic Movies Instantly with Warner Archive Instant
We’re giving away TEN Annual Subscriptions
Now through June 3rd!

We are so excited to say that we have a very special giveaway to announce today! Thanks to the fine folks at Warner Archive, CMH will be giving away TEN annual subscriptions to Warner Archive Instant, a fabulous streaming service that will give fans instant access to over 800 classic films and television shows! Wow, think about all of films you’ll have at your fingertips — all year long! That said, I’ve already started exploring the service myself, and I have to say there’s lots of my favorites there, as well as lots and lots of films that I haven’t even seen yet…

warner-archive-contest=300x250

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Okay, so let’s get started…

In order to qualify to win one of these subscriptions via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, June 3 at 10PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick a winner on TEN different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • April 1: One Winner
  • April 8: One Winner
  • April 15: One Winner
  • April 22: One Winner
  • April 29: One Winner
  • May 6: One Winner
  • May 13: One Winner
  • May 20: One Winner
  • May 27: One Winner
  • June 3: One Winner

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub (or this blog, depending how you entered), the day after each winner is picked at 10PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday April 2 at 10PM EST.

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Here’s how you can enter:

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, June 3 at 10PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message*:
Just entered to win the Warner Archive Instant Subscription #Giveaway courtesy of @WarnerArchInst and @ClassicMovieHub

THE QUESTION:
Why would you like to win a subscription to this service? 

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

Please allow us at least 24 hours to approve (and post) your comment, as we have an unprecedented amount of spam to sift through…

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But that’s not all, Warner Archive is offering a 40% discount on subscriptions for CMH fans – so if you can’t wait to win a subscription via this contest, you can purchase it now by clicking on the image below :)

Warner_Archive_subscription_contest_CMH

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Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only United States (excluding the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the United States (as noted above).

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , | 110 Comments

Behind the Door (1919) DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway Contest (via Twitter in April)

Behind the Door DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway Contest 
1919 Silent starring Hobart Bosworth, Jane Novak and Wallace Beery

Okay, it’s time for our next Giveaway! In celebration of its April 4th release date in just a few days… CMH will be giving away FIVE COPIES of  the newly-restored 1919 silent classic, Behind the Door on DVD/Blu-Ray, courtesy of Flicker Alley via TWITTER (plus ONE more copy via Facebook and this Blog, details to follow later this week).

Behind the Door DVD starring Wallace Beery

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This newly restored edition represents the most complete version of the film available since 1919, thanks to the collaboration of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the Library of Congress, and Gosfilmofond of Russia. This film is indeed a rarity, so if you want to learn more about it before you enter, here is a sneak peak:

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And now for the giveaway contest…

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, April 29 at 8PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick a winner on five different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • April 1: One Winner
  • April 8: One Winner
  • April 15: One Winner
  • April 22: One Winner
  • April 29: One Winner

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub (or this blog, depending how you entered), the day after each winner is picked at 8PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday April 2 at 8PM EST.

If you’re also on Facebook, please feel free to visit us at Classic Movie Hub on Facebook for additional giveaways (or check back on this Blog in a few days) — because we’ll be giving away ONE MORE copies via Facebook/Blog as well!

Behind-the-Door Hobart Bosworth and Jane NovakJane Novak and Hobart Bosworth

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, April 29 at 8PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message*:
Just entered to win the “Behind the Door” #DVDBluRayGiveaway courtesy of @flickeralley and @ClassicMovieHub

THE QUESTION:
Why would you like to win this DVD/Blu-Ray? 

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

Please allow us at least 24 hours to approve (and post) your comment, as we have an unprecedented amount of spam to sift through…

Behind-the-Door Hobart Bosworth and Jane Novak 3

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About the Release:  Hobart Bosworth stars as Oscar Krug, a working-class American, who is persecuted for his German ancestry after war is declared. Driven by patriotism, Krug enlists and goes to sea. However, tragedy strikes when his wife (Jane Novak) sneaks aboard his ship and is captured following a German U-boat attack. Krug’s single-minded quest for vengeance against the sadistic German submarine commander (played with villainous fervor by Wallace Beery) leads to the film’s shocking and brutal climax. Bonus Materials Include: the re-edited and re-titled version of the film that was distributed in Russia, outtakes featuring music composed and performed by Stephen Horne, a behind-the-scenes look at the restoration, a featurette spotlighting director Irvin Willat by film historian Kevin Brownlow, an image gallery, and souvenir booklet.

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Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

Good Luck!

And if you can’t wait to win the DVD/Blu-Ray, you can purchase it on amazon via the below link (click on image):

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , | 22 Comments