Fountains of Wayne

John Wayne died 32 years ago, but he’s still one of the most popular actors in America: number three on the most recent (2010) Harris Poll, following Johnny Depp and Denzel Washington. He’s also the only (forcibly) retired actor in the top ten, and well as the only star to make the list every [...]

Race Cars and Reindeer

Strange bedfellows in this week’s New York Times column, thanks to the vagaries of the DVD release schedule. On the one hand, here’s a stunning new Blu-ray edition of John Frankenheimer’s dramatically inert Cinerama spectacular “Grand Prix” (with extended passages directed by Saul Bass, who also designed the little-seen poster above); and on the [...]

Otto in Autumn

Olive Films continues to mine the neglected Paramount library with a pair of late, difficult films by Otto Preminger: the 1967 “Hurry Sundown,” the last and least successful of Preminger’s series of elegantly distanced renditions of overheated, overlong bestsellers, and the provocatively unpleasant uncomedy “Such Good Friends” from 1972, with its pseudonymous script by [...]

All Talking, All Singing, Not So Much Dancing

A new four-disc set from the Warner Archive Collection, “Vitaphone Varieties,” features some 60 short films, most if not all made with Warner’s sound-on-disc process and recovered thanks to the detective work of Ron Hutchinson and The Vitaphone Project. The wide-ranging collection includes dance band numbers, classical musicians and even several dramatic sketches, but [...]