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    March Preorders / Purple Pros and Prose

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    Three memorable movies celebrating anniversaries come down the Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray pipeline, and in crisp 1080p they don’t show their age one bit. Marking its 60th is the all-star, New England-set Cinemascope/Deluxe Color melodrama Peyton Place (1957), appealing to those with fondness for hidden scandals and turbulent romantic undercurrents. A half-century following its world premiere at Radio City Music Hall, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying still casts a uniquely cheerful satirical spotlight on corporate chicanery, courtesy of marvelous Frank Loesser songs, sinuously playful choreography first devised by the legendary Bob Fosse and many sparkling stars of its original Broadway cast. Thirty years following its special delivery into theaters, Baby Boom (1987) still generates comic charm and wry commentary on the struggles of working women through a stylish, upwardly-mobile lens yet packing enduring mass appeal. Not to be a spy left out in the cold for lack of an anniversary is a fourth TT arrival, Our Man in Havana (1959), the scenic and suave misbegotten espionage caper and third film collaboration between author Graham Greene and director Carol Reed. Preorders open today at 4 PM EST/1 PM EST for these four fabulous film finds.

    Thirty-two years ago today marked the opening of a movie about the effect movies have on us, Woody Allen’s whimsical, funny and touching gem The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). Last week saw the death of one of the most uniquely analytical and perceptive American film critics, the prodigious writer and filmmaker Richard Schickel, who wrote and directed a 2002 documentary and followed that with a 2003 book, both called Woody Allen: A Life in Film. Schickel called The Purple Rose of Cairo “a great film, and a devious one,” going on to observe: “You can read it simply as an amusing fantasy, in which a character steps down from the screen and into the life of Mia Farrow’s downtrodden, Depression-era hash-house waitress, briefly touching it with romance and glamour. You can also read it as a smart satire on the kind of silliness Hollywood routinely dished out in the 1930s and ’40s….Most movies about the movies are either giddy with nostalgia or grim with star-is-born melodrama. The Purple Rose of Cairo alone tries to address the most basic way the medium works on us.” In their conversation, Allen responded and addressed the sad undercurrent beneath the charm and fizz: “Purple Rose is about this woman whose life is bleak and seeks all this escapism in the cinema, where she gets it, you know, in the way they used to dish it out in the 1930s….But she is forced to choose at some point in her life between existing in that fantasy and existing in real life, and some instinct in her tells her she’s got to exist in the real world, because to exist in the fantasy world is psychosis. And by choosing the real world, which we all must do, she is inevitably crushed by it, as we all inevitably are.” He told Schickel about the reaction by Orion studio executives after they saw the film: “And they said to me on the phone, ‘You know, if you had a happy ending on this movie we really think we could go through the roof with it. It would be a great commercial movie.’ And I said, that’s the movie, and the only reason I made the movie is because of the tragic ending, otherwise I wouldn’t even have made the film.” About this “perfectly judged movie,” Schickel concluded: “It veers neither too far toward satire nor toward the tragic. Its tone is wryly compassionate. The proportion of magic to realism remains in haunting balance. And it is a movie that even Woody continues to think came out well, to which, as he makes clear in our interview, he means that in his judgment he effectively realized on screen what he envisioned when he was writing the script.” To decades of peerless Schickel erudition in print and on film about how movies shape our lives, and in the well-informed spirit of his and our appreciation of the precise blend of the dreamlike and the real conjured by The Purple Rose of Cairo (available at the Screen Archives Entertainment website – www.screenarchives.com – for a limited-time 50%-off reduced price beginning today at 4 PM EST/1 PM PST as part of TT's March Madness Promotion), this March Preorder Open Day is dedicated.