Shout At The Devil Is Well Deserving Of Its Recent DVD/BD Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group/MGM/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/MGM/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory re-issued this Spring a movie that is perhaps one of the lesser known wartime period pieces to have been released during the 20th Century. The movie in question is the World War I period piece Shout at the Devil. This 1976 film, starring Roger Moore (For Your Eyes Only, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker) and Lee Marvin (M Squad, The Dirty Dozen, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), is a movie that deserves a second chance and rightfully has gotten one thanks to the people at Shout! Factory. The story’s script is the central reason for it to get that look that it otherwise might not have gotten in its original release. The script’s premise is pretty simple to follow, which leaves plenty of time for action throughout its length. Also worth noting is the acting on the part of both Marvin and Moore. The duo’s on screen presence makes suspension of disbelief quite easy, thus making the movie that much more enjoyable whether one is seeing it for the first time or the first time in a long time. And last but not least is the movie’s special effects department. While the movie is at its heart an action flick, the over-the-top explosions and other special effects that are overly used in today’s movies are nowhere to be found here. It seems like a minor detail. But reality is that it is quite important in the overall scheme of things. Each of the factors noted here are important at their own level. Altogether, they show just why Shout at the Devil is one of the 20th Century’s more underrated action flicks and war-time period pieces.

When asked to name some of the greatest war-time movies ever crafted during the 20th Century, most audiences will likely rattle off movie titles such as The Great Escape, Schindler’s List, Patton, and other big name movies. The likely reason for this is that movies centered on World War I are so few and far between. Next to Shout at the Devil perhaps the only other movie centered on that World War I that most audiences will come up with when asked to name any is All Quiet on the Western Front. Odds are few people will name Shout at the Devil as a matter of fact. Given the chance to watch this movie, word might finally spread now that it has been re-issued in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. And one reason that word might spread is the movie’s script. The script behind this movie is pretty simple. It sees Marvin and Moore as Colonel Flynn O’Flynn and Sebastian Oldsmith respectively. The pair goes toe to toe with German officer Herman Fleischer (Reinhard Kolldehoff) in a game of cat and mouse across Africa. After Fleishcer and his men set fire to the village where O’Flynn and Oldsmith are staying with Oldsmiths’ wife and child things get very personal. That’s because Oldsmith’s newborn is killed in the process. The pair is then given reason to join forces with the British Navy to hunt down Fleischer’s battleship and sink it. It’s as simple as that. So it leaves one wondering why some viewers didn’t like this movie. Perhaps those are the viewers that should give this movie another watch now that it has been re-issued on Blu-ray/DVD box set courtesy of Shout! Factory. Perhaps a second watch will allow those audiences to see it more clearly and in turn appreciate it for that script, if nothing else.

The script penned for Shout at the Devil is central to the overall enjoyment of this period piece. Working in direct connection with the script is the acting on the part of its lead cast. There is obvious chemistry between Moore and Marvin throughout the movie. Their interactions show that. From their first scene to their fight when O’Flynn’s daughter announces that she and Oldsmith are going to get married, to Oldsmith’s reaction to being volunteered for the mission to find Fleischer’s battleship, their interactions with one another pull viewers effortlessly into the movie. Audiences will find themselves laughing quite a bit at the contradiction of personalities between the duo at so many points throughout the story. And even in the story’s few more emotional moments, they both pull off their parts expertly. That ability to interpret each scene and properly emote will easily keep audiences engaged and entertained. In turn, they make the movie’s roughly two-and-a-half hour run time fly by thus proving once more why this little-known movie so rightly deserved its re-issue from Shout! Factory.

The acting on the part of Lee Marvin and Roger Moore in Shout at the Devil and the movie’s script are both important parts of the movie’s enjoyment. There is one more factor to examine in the movie’s overall presentation that makes it a movie worth watching. That final factor is the movie’s special effects. Those that give this movie a chance will note that it is both a drama and an action flick. No action flick is complete without a certain amount of special effects. The problem with Hollywood today is that it relies far too much on special effects to make up for what is an otherwise boring film that lacks any real substance. The case with Shout at the Devil is the exact opposite as today’s movies. Given, studios didn’t have access to the resources in 1976 to which they have access today. Regardless, those behind the movie’s special effects used the resources at their disposal at a minimum. The flight scenes were obviously filmed in front of a blue screen as was the scene early on in which Fleischer’s battleship rams the tiny boat carrying O’Flynn and Oldsmith. But in comparison to other movies released in the late 70s, these special effects were actually respectable. They didn’t look so deliberate that one would end up simply shaking their heads at said scenes. And even the final scene, which will not be revealed here, kept the explosions to a minimum. They weren’t the over-the-top flash-bang-boom trips on which filmmakers such as Michael Bay and James Cameron go in their movies. Simply put, the special effects used in Shout at the Devil were used as part of the story rather than to make up for lack of story. And that balance with the writing and acting serves as part of the whole that once more makes Shout at the Devil a movie that any movie buff and military movie buff should see. This is regardless of whether said individuals will see the movie for the first time or for the first time in a long time.

Shout at the Devil is available now in stores and online in a double-disc DVD/Blu-ray combo pack courtesy of Shout! Factory. It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/shout-devil. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Timeless Media is available online at http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial, http://www.shoutfactory.com, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Timeless-Media-Group/358391474233364, and http://www.timelessvideo.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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Ghost Army One Of The Greatest Generation’s Greatest Stories

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ latest WWII documentary, The Ghost Army is another of this year’s best documentaries.  While it will not be available until next Tuesday, June 18th, its release was still quite well timed with the recent passing of last week’s 68th anniversary of D-Day.  There are so many stories that have been told about the members of “The Greatest Generation” as they were so properly termed by former broadcaster Tom Brokaw.  Sadly, as each year passes, there are fewer and fewer members of said generation left to share the stories of WWII.  One can only wonder how many stories will never be told because of this.  Thankfully though, PBS has managed to recover what is perhaps one of the least told stories of WWII with this new release.  It is one that regardless of whether one has an interest in war history, art history, or history in general, will appeal to so many audiences. 

The Ghost Army is on the surface one more story of WWII.  What makes it so special is that while there are so many stories that have been told, the story of the Ghost Army has not been told nearly as much as others.  That is because as members of the then secret military outfit noted, their operations were kept classified for some four decades after the war ended.  So while some books have been written on the group of soldiers, little else has been created or even published about this group of men.  That being noted, the stories shared by those that served with the Ghost Army will amaze any viewer.  It’s incredible to believe that this group of soldiers was able to outsmart so many Nazi divisions with just speakers and a bunch of inflatable weaponry and vehicles.  It’s so incredible in that for decades mankind has marveled at how advanced the Nazi forces were in terms of their military technology in comparison to the United States.  The Ghost Army didn’t need all of the high tech rockets and other tech to hold off the Nazi forces.  It’s a true statement to American know-how and creativity.

Speaking of the creativity of the Ghost Army, art lovers will appreciate this program as it notes that many of the men that staffed the Ghost Army were in fact artists.  It was because of their talent as artists that the Ghost Army was able to pull such acts of deception over not just the Nazi forces, but their own forces, too.  At one point, narrator Peter Coyote notes that an airfield built by the Ghost Army was so convincing that an American recon plane landed and was summarily told to get out of there, so as to not blow their cover.  That is a tribute to the talents of all involved from brainchild to reality.  And as viewers will learn in the show’s closing minutes, many of those same men came to be some of America’s best known and respected individuals in the worlds of art and fashion.  On a side note, it should be noted here that some of the unit’s men had some real talent with a pencil and pen.  That’s revealed through drawings and etchings crafted by the men during trips to Paris.  Parents should note that these drawings in question do contain at least some slight nudity.  One drawing does reveal a woman’s breasts under a very sheer negligee.  It’s just one of a handful of drawings that some older audiences might not think appropriate for younger viewers to see.  So parents and teachers should use their discretion here.  Sure the stories connected to the drawings will have viewers laughing.  But the drawings themselves might be a bit much for some viewers. 

The stories shared by the members of the Ghost Army are quite eye opening and impressive to say the least.  Just as impressive is the understanding that the simple use of theatrics was able to hold off so much of the German army.  And to learn that certain members of the Ghost Army went on to become highly successful in their art and fashion related careers is even more incredible.  There is one more factor in The Ghost Army that makes it an impressive documentary.  That factor is the original footage taped through operations conducted by the once top secret military outfit.  The footage helps to fully illustrate what the Ghost Army did and the impact of its operations.  It helps to pass on what is perhaps one of the most incredible stories of the Greatest Generation for a whole new generation (and generations to come).   All of these stories and revelations shared in The Ghost Army prove even more, the value and importance of public broadcasting.  The program will be available next Tuesday, June 18th.  It can be ordered online direct via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=20299476&cp=&kw=the+ghost+army&origkw=The+Ghost+Army&sr=1.

 Anyone wanting more information on The Ghost Army and any other PBS program can get all the latest and more online at http://www.facebook.com/pbs and http://www.pbs.org. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Patton BD Re-Issue A Must For Any Movie Lover

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Patton is one of the single greatest works in movie history.  This epic isn’t just a war movie.  It’s a movie about a man and his impact on those around him and the entire world.  It’s also about his own battle to come to terms with who he was.  The dichotomy of who Patton was in this story is really what makes the near three hour run time so watchable.  On one side, audiences see a man who is a trained killer.  Even his own adversary notes near the story’s end notes that life without war would kill him, not a bullet.  And even one fellow soldier notes to his face that he [Patton] does what he does not because he was trained to do it, but because he enjoyed it.  Those are two very bold statements about Patton the soldier.  The trained soldier is just one side of who Patton was.  On another side of the stone, audiences see a man who has one of the biggest hearts in the world.  He showed that as cold and calculated as he was on the battlefield, he still cared about the men who served under him.  His problem was his inability to balance the two.  It’s almost as if Patton felt the need to uphold a certain reputation.  But at the same time, he knew that he had to show at least some humanity.  One individual interviewed for the movie’s primary bonus feature, “History Through The Lens—A Rebel Revisited”, notes that what Patton is really about is the rise and fall of this almost mythical figure.  That rise and fall involved his inability to balance his humanistic side with the expertly trained soldier.General Patton’s inability to balance the soldier and the man is a big part of what has led to discussions among audiences in the four plus decades since this biopic first debuted.  That discussion is also raised in the film’s main bonus feature, which has also been brought over from the movie’s previous releases on DVD.  And as famed writer/director Francis Ford Coppola notes in the movie’s preface, he really tried hard to make sure people would see that the movie wasn’t meant to generate political discussions, but discussions about the complexity of who Patton was.  Speaking of Coppola, it’s interesting that he also notes to audiences of how he was originally fired from the film.  Go figure, he was brought back, and his work with fellow writer Edmund H. North went on to make a movie that could easily be used as the basis for any doctoral dissertation or for conversations among true movie lovers.

Coppola and North are to be highly commended for this outstanding story of a man’s struggle to balance his duty as a leader of men with being a man with a heart.  Their work is just one part of what makes this new Blu-ray re-issue a must for not just any film buff, but also for anyone who thirsts for movies with real substance.

The bonus features, which were carried over from the previous DVD releases, go into full depth showing how far the cast and crew went to making a movie that wasn’t just another movie “based on actual events.”  Audiences have gotten far too many of those movies, even since Hollywood’s golden era.  Yes, it’s been going on even that long.  The interviews culled for the bonus features show how the people behind the camera went into painstaking detail about Patton’s time as one of the Army’s most influential and controversial figures.  The main feature, “History Through The Lens: Patton – A Rebel Revisited” runs roughly ninety minutes.  It compares Patton as he’s seen on screen, and the real life figure, going so far as to admit at first Patton’s family didn’t take too well at the thought of a bio pic based on his life originally.  But when they saw the final product, his family appreciated the work that had been crafted.  It’s a perfect feature both for any film buff or even any history class.  While there are other features included on the newly re-issued set, this one alone more could have carried the movie and made it that much better.  That’s not to say that the other features weren’t necessary.  Quite the opposite.  They were just the icing on the cake, so to speak.  They just helped to put this already iconic movie over the top as not just one of the best movies of the twentieth century, but of all time.  The new Patton Blu-ray re-issue is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered direct via 20th Century Fox’s online store, http://www.foxconnect.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Sequel Or Not, The Rescuers Down Under Is One “Wild” Watch

Courtesy: Disney

The Rescuers Down Under, as noted by the staff at Variety, is and isn’t necessarily a sequel.  In the purist sense, it is.  But that’s only because it’s a continued story of Bernard and Miss Bianca.  But in the grand scheme of things, it certainly is not a sequel to The Rescuers because of that.  This is for all intensive purposes, an entirely new story.  It just so happens that it stars Bernard and Miss Bianca again.  Other than that, it has zero links to the original movie that had been released nearly fifteen years prior.  Now keeping that in mind, The Rescuers Down Under would likely be better described as a stand alone movie. 

As a stand alone movie, The Rescuers Down Under is actually a good work.  The grand scenes in which young Cody flies on the back of the eagle are among the greatest in the movie.  No doubt Pixar had a hand in these scenes.  Wait.  You didn’t know about that?  Those who sit through the credits will learn something very interesting about The Rescuers Down Under.  The company that has become one of the biggest names in digital animation today actually played a hand in bringing The Rescuers Down Under to life.  This is true.  Odds are that the flight scenes, along with a handful of others were constructed at least in some part by Pixar.  Whatever role they played, it reminds audiences that at one time, Pixar actually did work in hand drawn animation.  It would be nice to see the company release a hand drawn/CG hybrid on its own one day.

The addition of Pixar to The Rescuers Down Under was a big part of the movie’s success.  It was just one part of what made this movie enjoyable.  The return of both Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor as Bernard and Miss Bianca gave this installment of the adventures of The Rescuers almost as much heart as the original Rescuers.  Given, there is no beating the original.  That’s a rule of movies.  But the partnership of the pair in this movie was just as charming as before.

Speaking of Bernard, the story behind The Rescuers Down Under is really more about him than about Cody trying to save the eagle.  Audiences see Bernard grow as a character in this movie.  Whereas he was this timid little mouse in the first movie, he is forced to overcome his timidity in this movie and man…er…mouse up (ba-dump bump bump).  It shows that no matter how small a man (or mouse) is, what matters is that individual’s heart.  And Bernard definitely showed that while he might have been a mouse, he had the heart of a lion inside him, especially when he took that wild boar and commanded it.

The acting wasn’t all that made The Rescuers Down Under a fun watch.  The bonus making of featurette continues a theme that audiences have come to know from Disney movies that has always made them great.  Rather than simply draw their idea of an outback setting, the bonus making of featurette shows that the crew behind the film actually went to Australia themselves to get an idea of the region.  It shows yet again that those behind the art wanted to be as true as possible for audiences, rather than simply come up with some fantastical setting.  The crew even got a first hand look at animals that were native to the outback, so as to properly draw them, too.  That included the evil lizard Joanna (voiced by veteran actor Frank Welker–Scooby Doo, The Garfield Show, The Real Ghostbusters, etc.)

There are those who for their won reasons have decided to pan The Rescuers Down Under.  Perhaps those people didn’t take time to look into the finer details of how this movie was made.  The bonus making of featurette is one more example of the importance of bonus features on any blu-ray and/or DVD release.  And even watching the story’s end credits adds an extra level of appreciation in learning of Pixar’s involvement in the movie.  Any movie buff would appreciate this little tidbit of extra information.  All of this extra information put together with the cast’s splendid voice acting makes The Rescuers Down Under not so much an underappreciated sequel, but a movie by itself that deserves another watch by those who haven’t seen it in a long time, and a close watch for the new generation that is seeing it for the first time.

The Rescuers Down Under is available now on blu-ray as part of a triple-disc blu-ray/DVD combo pack alongside the original The Rescuers.  It’s available both in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct through Disney’s online store at http://www.disneystore.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always get the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.