Preorders open today (at 4 PM EST/1PM PST) – the birthday of novelist James A. Michener (1907-1997), whose titanic tome Hawaii inspired two Twilight Time hi-def Blu-rays – for six new TT Blu-ray releases arriving February 16: La Bambola di Satana (aka The Doll of Satan), The Hawaiians (the companion sequel to last month’s Michener-originated Hawaii), Where the Sidewalk Ends, the James Garner Western comedy double feature Support Your Local Sheriff! and Support Your Local Gunfighter and two films starring the great Glenn Ford, Cowboy and a reissue of The Big Heat. Essential noir, side-splitting laughter, Western thrills aplenty, epic sweep and a rarely seen Italian “giallo” thriller comprise the label’s Valentine to movie fans of all stripes.
It’s also a day of remembrance: today in 1959 a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, claimed the lives of rock-’n’-roll legends Buddy Holly (22), Ritchie Valens (17) and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson (28). The meteoric rise and the musical vitality of two of those talents are celebrated in a fabulous pair of Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray biopics, the Academy Award®-winning The Buddy Holly Story (1978) starring the gifted Gary Busey in the title role, and La Bamba (1987), headlined by Lou Diamond Phillips in his breakthrough performance as the amazing Valens. They’re a pair of performances to savor, as reviewers of the time rightly pointed out. Michael Sragow in The New Yorker observed that “Busey’s acting gives roots to the lyricism and uncoiled energy of Holly’s songs,” whereas Janet Maslin in The New York Times proclaimed that Phillips “has a sweetness and sincerity that in no way diminish the toughness of his onstage persona. [He] gives Valens backbone.” In addition to charismatic leading men, the two titles – each boasting Isolated Score Tracks and sizzling Audio Commentaries with their stars and directors – offer musical gold in their collective jukebox of That’ll Be the Day, Maybe Baby, Peggy Sue, Not Fade Away, Donna, Come On, Let’s Go and theterrific La Bamba. Both movies are testaments to the undying art and blazing potential fatefully cut short on “the day the music died,” yet destined for immortality as long as passionate filmmaking and imaginative musicmaking hold sway.