Every True Movie Buff Should ‘Get Shorty’

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/MGM

MGM is one of Hollywood’s most famous movie studios.  Launched during the golden age of cinema, the studio has released some of the industry’s most iconic titles.  Those movies include, and are not limited to, movies, such as 12 Angry Men, The Manchurian Candidate and Platoon.  It has also released its share of lesser-known, but still enjoyable in their own right flicks in the form of movies, such as The Man From Planet X, The Angry Red Planet  and Get ShortyThe Man From Planet X and The Angry Red Planet both received new Blu-ray re-issues last year courtesy of Shout! Factory.  The latter, ­Get Shorty­ got its own Blu-ray re-issue this past October courtesy of Shout! Factory.  While not one of the most memorable of MGM’s offerings, the 1995 satire of mobster and Hollywood industry flicks is still an entertaining presentation.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The cast’s work on camera adds even more interest to its presentation.  The bonus material included in the movie’s latest re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered, the noted items make Shout! Factory’s recent re-issue of Get Shorty another title that deserves far more credit and attention than it has ever gotten.

MGM’s modern classic mobster comedy Get Shorty is not one of the studio’s most well-known offerings.  It is, however, a work that deserves far more credit and attention than it gets and has received.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  Based on the novel by author Elmore Leonard, the movie actually makes a valiant effort to stay true to its source material.  That is explained in the movie’s bonus material, which will be discussed later.  The story follows Chili Palmer (John Travolta – Michael, Look Who’s Talking, Pulp Fiction) as he goes from mobster/loan shark to Hollywood producer.  Along the way, he has to dodge two other mobsters, one who pursues him because of his connection to washed-up producer Harry Zim (Gene Hackman – Enemy of the State, The Poseidon Adventure, The French Connection) and the other because of Chili’s connection to fallen mobster Momo (Ron Karabatsos – Flashdance, Hunter, Surviving Christmas).  To make matters worse, the head of a South American drug cartel is after the prior mobster – Bo (Delroy Lindo – Malcolm X, Up, Ransom), leading Bo to have a second reason to come after Chili.  The whole thing sounds like quite the contrived story, and it is, but that is what makes the story so entertaining.  None of it is meant to be taken seriously, as the story is a satire of all the mobster and Hollywood insider movies ever offered to audiences. The execution translates the story’s satirical nature quite well and makes the multiple story lines relatively easy to follow at the same time.  This makes the movie’s story all the more entertaining, and in turn engaging.  Writer Scott Frank (Minority Report, Logan, The Lookout), who adapted Leonard’s book to the big screen deserves his own credit for his work here.  Speaking of people’s work, the cast’s work interpreting Frank’s adaptation adds even more entertainment and engagement to the movie.

Reaching once again to the movie’s companion bonus material, there is a mention in the bonus material of the cast being serious throughout the course of Get Shorty.  This is despite, again, the movie’s full-on satirical nature.  While the cast did in fact act with full seriousness, it was also obvious that the cast understood and appreciated that satirical nature.  This is evidenced in part through Travolta’s cool, confident demeanor as Chili.  He played the loan shark/mobster figure “to a T” yet still presents a certain air that helps make certain scenes so funny; scenes that in any standard gangster/mob movie would have been so tense.  The same applies with Lindo.  The scene in which he is confronted by Mr. Escobar (Miguel Sandoval – Jurassic Park, Clear and Present Danger, Sharp Objects) and his associates about the disappearance of his nephew, Yayo (Jacob Vargas – Heaven is Real, Sons of Anarchy, Luke Cage).  The scene in question is another mob/gangster standard, yet even in the moment, there is something about the back and forth between Lindo and Sandoval that makes the moment so funny.  The best explanation that this critic can give is that the dry, witty delivery is actually over the top in its own right, leading the moment to be just as funny as it is tense.  Again, that can be traced back to Scott Frank’s work on the script.  The moment’s atmosphere was developed quite well through Frank’s work, and interpreted so well by Sandoval and Lindo.  The end result of the moment is more proof of how the cast’s acting helps to translate the movie’s satirical nature, and in turn makes the movie that much more enjoyable.  Between that moment and so many equally entertaining moments featuring Travolta and the rest of the ensemble cast, the cast’s work on camera exemplifies so well, the comical nature of the story.  Each actor did such an applause-worthy job of interpreting his and her part in each scene.  It gives audiences that much more to appreciate about this movie.  It is not the last of the movie’s most important elements.  The bonus material, which has already been referenced multiple times here, rounds out the movie’s most important elements, and proves once more what makes this latest re-issue so enjoyable.

Audiences will be surprised to learn through Get Shorty’s bonus material that Danny DeVito was actually director Barry Sonnenfeld’s first choice to play Chili.  Just as surprising to learn is that Travolta actually did not want to be involved in Get Shorty at first, nor did Gene Hackman.  According to information presented in the interviews, Hackman did not originally want to take part in the movie because he “did not do comedies.”  Travolta’s reasoning was interesting in its own right, and will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  As previously noted, the bonus content also presents a moment in which Frank reveals how serious the whole cast was throughout the movie and the impact of those presentations to the overall satirical feeling in the movie.  He was right, as those presentations really do go a long way toward enhancing the story’s comical nature.  Sonnenfeld’s discussion on cinematography, which is also featured in the bonus material, will appeal greatly to cinephiles who have a deep appreciation for the art of capturing camera angles, lighting, etc.  The bonus audio commentary reveals in just the first 15 to 20 minutes of the movie that the real Chili Palmer actually plays a cameo guest appearance in the movie’s first scene.  Also revealed is that then well-known musical act Us3 provided music for the movie’s opening scene.  It is also revealed through the commentary that there is a tribute to none other than The Godfather at one point in the movie’s run.  That reference will also be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  Between all of the extra information and entertainment offered that is noted here and that, which is not noted here, the bonus content proves to offer just as much for audiences to appreciate as the movie’s story and the cast’s work.  When the breadth and depth of the bonus material is considered along with that noted primary content, the whole of Get Shorty becomes a presentation – in its latest presentation – that is another welcome addition to Shout! Factory’s ongoing Shout! Select series.

Shout! Factory’s recent re-issue of MGM’s modern classic Get Shorty is a welcome new addition to the company’s ongoing Shout! Select series.  That is proven in part through the movie’s fully satirical story, which spoofs so many of Hollywood’s countless mobster movies and Hollywood business flicks.  The cast’s work interpreting that satirical story adds even more enjoyment to the movie’s presentation.  The bonus material that is featured in the movie’s re-issue present plenty of their own entertainment and enlightenment for audiences, too.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of Get Shorty.  All things considered, they make Get Shorty a wonderful new addition to Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series, and to any true movie buff’s collection.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For ‘Get Shorty’ BD Re-Issue

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/MGM

Shout! Factory will re-issue MGM’s classic 1995 comedy flick Get Shorty this fall.

The movie is currently scheduled to be released Oct. 23 as on Blu-ray as part of Shout! Factory’s “Shout! Select” movie series.  It will be presented in a new 4K HD scan and will feature new bonus materials, such as a feature-length audio commentary from director Barry Sonnenfeld, gag reel and the featurettes, “Get Short — Look At Me” and “Get Shorty — Wise Guys & Dolls.”

The full list of bonus materials featured in the movie’s re-issue is noted below.

Special Features:
  • Remastered from a new 4K transfer
  • Audio Commentary with Director Barry Sonnenfeld
  • Featurettes: “Get Shorty – Look at Me,” ” Get Shorty – Wise Guys + Dolls,” “Going Again”
  • Get Shorty Party Reel
  • Page to Screen of Get Shorty
  • Vignettes
  • The Graveyard Scene
  • Trailer

Get Shorty follows former gangster turned loan shark Chili Palmer (John Travolta — Pulp FictionFace-OffGrease) as he travels to Los Angeles to collect a debt from down-and-out filmmaker Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman — Enemy of the StateSuperman IVThe French Connection).  His trip leads him to schmooze Hollywood figures Martin Weir (Danny DeVito — MatildaBatman ReturnsThrow Mama From The Train) and romances B-movie star Karen Flores (Rene Russo — AppaloosaLethal Weapon 4Ransom).  Things get even more interesting though when Palmer’s past comes back to haunt him courtesy of another mobster and a group of drug smugglers who are on his heels.

Those not-so-good figures are played by James Gandolfini (The SopranosEnough Said, The Mexican), Dennis Farina (Law & OrderSnatchMidnight Run), Delroy Lindo (UpMalcolm XRansom) and Jon Gries (Napoleon DynamiteMen in BlackReal Genius).

Get Shorty can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

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School Is In Session One Last Time For Mr. Kotter And Company This Summer

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Mr. Kotter and the Sweathogs are back one last time next month.

Shout! Factory has announced that it will release the fourth and final season of the hit classic sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter on Tuesday, August 18th. Season Four continues the series’ tradition of offering up loads of humor and heart throughout its twenty-three episode run beginning right from the two-part season premiere which sees Mr. Kotter promoted to Vice Principal of James Buchanan High School. This causes the Sweathogs to drop out. Of course their departure doesn’t’ last long. The season’s second episode, Beau’s Jest,” is just as entertaining as the Sweathogs welcome a new member named Beau De Labarre into the group. Beau’s introduction to the group makes for its own share of laughs. And in none of the most interesting of the season’s moments, Horshack, realizing that he will be moving, marries Mary in the two-part story arc “Oo-I Do.” These episodes are just a few examples of the humor and heart that continues to run through the series. The series’ writers also tackle the issue of alcohol abuse in “Come Back, Little Arnold.” On a lighter note, the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery is put to the test when the Sweathogs have to deal with a younger student that tries to impress them in “Washington’s Clone.” These are just a handful of the episodes that make Welcome Back, Kotter: The Final Season a fond farewell for fans. The season’s complete episode listing is noted below.

Episodes

Episode Episode Title
1 Welcome Back, Kotter: The Drop-Ins, Part 1
2 Welcome Back, Kotter: The Drop-Ins, Part 2
3 Welcome Back, Kotter: Beau’s Jest
4 Welcome Back, Kotter: Don’t Come Up And See Me Sometime
5 Welcome Back, Kotter: Once Upon A Ledge
6 Welcome Back, Kotter: The Sweatmobile
7 Welcome Back, Kotter: Barbarino’s Boo-Boo
8 Welcome Back, Kotter: X-Rated Education
9 Welcome Back, Kotter: The Barbarino Blues
10 Welcome Back, Kotter: Washington’s Clone
11 Welcome Back, Kotter: Frog Day Afternoon
12 Welcome Back, Kotter: A Little Fright Music
13 Welcome Back, Kotter: A Winter’s Coat Tail
14 Welcome Back, Kotter: Bride And Gloom
15 Welcome Back, Kotter: Barbarino’s Baby
16 Welcome Back, Kotter: The Goodbye Guy
17 Welcome Back, Kotter: Come Back, Little Arnold
18 Welcome Back, Kotter: The Sweat Smell Of Success
19 Welcome Back, Kotter: The Gang Show
20 Welcome Back, Kotter: Oo-Oo, I Do, Part 1
21 Welcome Back, Kotter: Oo-Oo, I Do, Part 2
22 Welcome Back, Kotter: I’m Okay, But You’re Not
23 Welcome Back, Kotter: The Breadwinners
Welcome Back, Kotter: The Final Season will be available in stores and online Tuesday, August 18th. It will retail for MSRP of $29.93 but can be pre-ordered online now for a reduced price of $24.93 at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/welcome-back-kotter-the-final-season. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

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Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

 

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Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season Gets An A+

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Warner Home Video

It’s been a while since this critic has said this but thank goodness for Shout! Factory. Ever since it went from being solely a music distributor to handling home entertainment releases a little more than a decade ago, Shout! Factory has gone on to become the leading name in home entertainment, releasing some of the biggest movies and TV series of the industry’s past and present. That includes one of its latest releases Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Third Season. Released this past May, the third season of the classic sitcom is yet another welcome escape for those wanting to get away from all of the overly violent and over-sexed dramas and comedies on television and in theaters today. Like so many of Shout! Factory’s previous (and current) releases, the secret to this season’s enjoyment and its overall success, is the work of the series’ writers. Regardless of their familiarity with the series, viewers will agree that the stories and the jokes that made up the body of season clearly offer their fair share of entertainment. The work of the series’ cast plays its own part in the episodes’ enjoyment, too. The quality of the episodes’ footage rounds out the ways in which this standalone set shows itself to be so enjoyable and a success. The footage looks and sounds just as good as it did in the series’ original broadcast nearly four decades ago. If not for that element, the other noted elements would be moot. Thankfully that isn’t the case here. Because it isn’t, this season in whole proves to be yet another great addition to any classic TV buff’s home DVD library. It is just as welcome in the collection of any of the series’ fans.

Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season is a welcome addition to any classic TV buff’s home DVD library and that of any fan of the beloved classic sitcom. It may have only lasted a total of four seasons in its original run on ABC, but it still stands decades after it ended that run as one of the best sitcoms of the 20th Century. That is just as obvious in the series’ third season as its first seasons thanks to the work of the series’ writers. Much as with its first two seasons the writing incorporated into Season Three boasts a wonderful, solid mix of both heart and humor. It is yet another refreshing escape from everything on television and in theaters today. It exemplifies everything that was once great about television and could be again. One example of what makes the writing this season so entertaining comes in the form of the episode “Kotter For Vice Principal.” This episode sees Mr. Kotter dreaming about what it would be like if he were vince principal instead of Vice Principal Woodman. The dream takes Mr. Kotter years into the future. His wife and students have all aged by decades. But he is still young. And he is dressed in regal attire. Over the course of his dream, he discovers that everyone is out to get him and replace him, leading to his revelation that he doesn’t in fact want to be Vice Principal. He reveals his decision to the Sweathogs, explaining that a low-paying job that you enjoy is better than a high-paying one that you don’t. In an age when people are being pushed to step all over each other and climb that proverbial corporate ladder, this is a lesson that is all too necessary and welcome.

The heart and humor incorporated into “Kotter For Vice Principal” by themselves make this episode a great example of what makes Season Three a blast. On another level, the use of the dream sequence should be noted, too. The use of the dream sequence is something that while not too overly present, was commonplace among sitcoms of the day. The fact that this is the only one of Season Three’s episodes to use the dream sequence element makes it even more enjoyable. Had any more episodes used this element it might have gotten old. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Because it didn’t, it makes its use here that much more enjoyable and valuable to the season in whole.

“Meet Your New Teacher: Batteries Not Included” is another excellent example of the series’ continued display of heart and humor. This episode sees a computer introduced into Mr. Kotter’s class, leaving both Mr. Kotter and the Sweathogs concerned that it is going to replace him. Thanks to their concern for their teacher, the Sweathogs re-wire the computer in order to make Woodman look bad in front of Mr. Jan. It’s not the only time over the course of the Welcome Back Kotter’s four seasons that the Sweathogs show such dedication and loyalty to their teacher. And even with that in mind, it still doesn’t get old. Rather, it is one of those elements of the series’ writing that continues to put a smile on audiences’ faces even this far into the series’ run. It’s too bad that so few students today have that kind of loyalty for their own teachers. What’s more, it is sad that so few teachers have such dedication to their students. That isn’t to say that there are no teachers and students such as what is seen here. but they seem increasingly rare. So seeing that dedication here, it is in itself a touching scene. It’s just one part of what makes this episode such a clear example of Season Three’s enjoyment and success, too. The commentary of sorts that is included in the episode makes the episode even more enjoyable.

The commentary of sorts that is included in “Meet Your Teacher: Batteries Not Included” shows just as much heart as the episode’s story. It can be argued that the commentary featured in this episode is prophetic in its own right not just in the realm of education but in the workplace in whole. It is a commentary about the role of man and machine in the workplace. As Mr. Kotter notes, the computer should be used as a tool used by man, not as a replacement for mankind. If only employers and businesses today saw this episode, maybe they would take this commentary to heart. Even if they don’t it is nice to see that at least at one point someone out there saw the writing on the wall and cared about it, even if it was just a writer for a TV series.

Both “Meet Your Teacher: Batteries Not Included” and “Kotter For Vice President” are in their own way examples of what makes Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season so enjoyable for audiences. Both episodes show their own share of both heart and humor. They are but a couple of examples of what makes Season Three such a hit. “The Return of Hotsy Totsy”, which comes near the end of Season Three, is one more example of the humor and heart that continued to be exhibited in the series’ third season. As the episode’s title hints, Hotsy Totsy returns. Only this time, it’s in a rather unexpected fashion. She is re-introduced, if only for the one episode, when the Sweathogs make a trip to a strip joint (yes, a strip joint) and discover her working there. They also discover much to their surprise that she is a mother. What happens from there is just as much of a surprise as Mr. Kotter, the Sweathogs, and even Vice Principal Woodman work to find her a job, rather than judge her. Even more touching and surprising is that Horshack reveals he has taken a job in order to support Hotsy Totsy and her baby, even though the baby isn’t even his. Such behavior is the polar opposite of what one might see on TV or even in theaters today given the presented story. There is no judgement, only respect, care and concern for her and her baby. The fact that even Vice Principal Woodman would even try to help her makes this episode even more touching and entertaining. It is one of those few moments from at least this season the Woodman shows he has a heart. There are other moments in which he shows a humane side. This is just one of those moments. It’s yet another way in which Season Three’s writing shows itself to be key to this season’s enjoyment. Whether through the episodes noted here or through any of the others that make up Season Three, audiences will agree that every one of Season Three’s episodes exhibits its own way writing that will both move viewers and move them to laughter. The fact that every single episode can move viewers in such positive fashion is a strong statement in itself. It’s just one way in which Season Three shows itself to be so enjoyable, too. The work of the show’s cast should also be noted in its enjoyment.

The episodes that make up Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season offer far more than their share of enjoyment. Not one episode can be said to be unenjoyable. As much enjoyment as they bring, they are just a fraction of what makes Season Three so enjoyable. The work of the series’ cast makes each episode enjoyable in its own right, too. Whether on their own or interacting with each other, the show’s cast members create plenty of enjoyment for viewers. Horshack’s continued zany antics will leave viewers in stitches as will Washington’s own take on Good Times actor Jimmy Walker’s J.J. Evans. Gabe Kaplan and John Sylvester White are just as entertaining together as Mr. Kotter and Vice Principal Woodman. The duo’s continued back and forth throughout this season harkens back to the comic greats of days gone by even before them. Of course one would be remiss to ignore John Travolta’s portrayal of Vinnie Barbarino. Travolta is just as entertaining as his cast mates both in his comical moments and his more moving moments. There is a solid balance of those moments both for him and his cast mates, too as audiences will see for themselves throughout Season Three. Whether for Travolta’s work in front of the camera or for that of the rest of the series’ cast, it can be said in watching through Season Three that the combined efforts of the cast in whole makes Season Three all the more enjoyable. Together with the work of the show’s writers, both elements make Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season yet another A+ installment of the classic series.

The work of both the writers and cast members throughout the third season of Welcome Back Kotter give it a clear passing grade. For all of the enjoyment that both elements bring to Season Three, neither would be of any importance if not for the work of those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation here. Those individuals are to be just as highly applauded as the show’s writers and its cast. Being that nearly four decades have passed since Season Three made its original debut, a lot has changed in the world of recording technology. It is thanks to those advances and the work of those at Shout! Factory and Warner Home Video that the footage looks and sounds as good as it does here. The sound and video are perfectly synched up and sounds wonderful. In regards to the video, many of the imperfections created in the series’ original recording have been handled with just as much as care and precision. While some smaller elements do still remain, the footage by and large looks far clearer than in its original broadcast making it that much more worth the watch. Coupled with its clean audio mix, the overall production values presented in this season round out the ways in which it shows itself to be so enjoyable. Those values coupled with the work of the show’s writers and its cast, all three elements combined show Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season to be one more welcome addition to the home library of any classic TV buff and any long-time fan of a series that is one of the 20th Century’s greatest sitcoms.

Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season is one more welcome addition–and must have for that matter–to the home DVD library of any classic TV buff and fan of Welcome Back Kotter. It shows this clearly through the work of the series’ writers, who have presented once again a solid balance of humor and heart that will move viewers and move them to laughter. The work of the cast in its interpretation of each episode’s script makes for even more enjoyment throughout the season. The restoration of this season’s episodes rounds out the ways in which Season Three shows itself to be so enjoyable. All things considered, Welcome Back Kotter: The Complete Third Season gets yet another A+ as does Shout! Factory for its release. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/welcome-back-kotter-season-three. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

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Jackson Just As Good On The Small Screen As The Silver Screen

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi Media Group

Samuel L. Jackson has made a career of being an action star.  Starring in movies the likes of xXx, Pulp Fiction, and most recently Marvel’s Avengers and its related movies among many others has made him a household name.  His resume stretches all the way back to the early 1970’s.  So starring in IFC Films’ latest action/drama, The Samaritan, was old hat for this veteran actor.  Starring as ex-con Foley, Jackson eases his way throughout the story written by Elan Mastai and David Weaver.  Having played so many roles throughout his career, he shows once again his ability to adapt to any role and any story.

For the most part, The Samaritan runs as well as any big screen crime drama.  If one were to watch this story without knowing it’s an indie flick, one would think it was a major blockbuster that they simply hadn’t heard of.  That’s thanks in large part to the story’s writing.  It’s got enough crosses and double crosses to leave audiences guessing who is on whose side right to the story’s closing minutes.  The fact that the movie clocks in at barely over an hour and a half makes it that much more watchable for audiences.  Perhaps the only major downside to the story would be the blatantly disturbing twist involving Foley’s relationship to Iris (Ruth Negga).  The way in which this relationship played into the story was disturbing to say the least.  The argument would be made that that was the intent.  But  it could have been written differently than it was.  Had their relationship been written differently into the story, then that alone might have made it far more appealing to general audiences.

The issue with Foley and Iris’ relationship aside, The Samaritan still has plenty going for it.  The cinematography is stunning.  The shooting done throughout the film really gives it a modern pulp fiction vibe.  There’s something about the way that the lighting was used that makes watching the movie appealing.  The contrast of the buildings lit up against the night sky, and the general camera angles add a certain extra touch that makes it that much more enjoyable.  Combine the top notch cinematography with a story that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats the entire time, and audiences have a movie that while it is an indie flick is one more impressive work from one of Hollywood’s best actors.

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