You’re familiar with Jason’s “Blu Tuesday” column? Well, given how many TV-DVD sets continue to hit the market on a weekly basis, it occurred to me that it might not be such a bad idea to do a regular round-up of the highlights of what the TV geeks out there…and, obviously, I count myself among their number…can look forward to finding on store shelves on a given week. And, thus, I bring you…
This Tuesday in TV-DVD!
Yeah, I know: it’s not a great title. But at least you can’t claim there’s any false advertising.
Let’s get started, shall we?
* Battlestar Galactica: The Plan: I was able to talk with Dean Stockwell on Friday about this new flick, but at the time, I hadn’t seen it yet…and, y’know, you can’t bluff when you’re talking to Cavil, so it was a little embarrassing when I had to admit my ignorance. Fortunately for you, John Paulsen has since reviewed it for us, giving it four stars and providing this warning: “Newbies who are considering jumping into the series should not — I repeat SHOULD NOT — start with ‘The Plan,’ for three major reasons: 1) this was meant as an epilogue, not a prologue, 2) it could be extremely confusing, and 3) there are way too many secrets that would be revealed in one fell swoop. Don’t do it.” Listen to the man, I beg you.
* Monty Python: Almost the Truth – The Lawyer’s Cut: If saw my posting about my trip to NYC to attend the Python reunion on behalf of this film, then you already know I’m partial to this set. As such, you don’t really need to see my proper review of the full-length documentary on Bullz-Eye, but if it helps, I’ll just offer up the last line, in which I state, “If you’re looking for the no-holds-barred story of the group (but not their subsequent solo projects, which – aside from what they’re doing currently – are ignored), then this is definitely the place to go.” It’s also worth noting that there are a couple of other Python DVDs which have in no way coincidentally emerged this week, but while I’m sure “Monty Python: The Other British Invasion” and “The Best of Monty Python” have their merits (and, indeed, I believe the former will soon be reviewed by our own David Medsker), there’s no question that “Almost the Truth” is the absolute must-own of the bunch.
Another more recognized than well known character actor has departed the planet with the passing of the apparently born-middle-aged Lou Jacobi at the age of 95. In a town full of Jewish actors and behind-the-camera talent, Jacobi and the late Ned Glass, who was as skinny as Jacobi was chubby and who made a recent cameo appearance here, were mid-century Hollywood’s central casting Jews, male division.
Appropriately enough, he began his career in the Broadway cast of “The Diary of Anne Frank” and appeared in George Stevens’ 1959 film version. From then on, he played an endless string of both fathers and uncles who were explicitly Jewish or, as they say in film classes, “coded” as Jewish, in innumerable TV and film roles. The one major exception was his role as the worldly wise bartender, Moustache, in Billy Wilder’s “Irma la Douce.” Still, within or without his usual niche, he was as reliable as comedic clockwork as you’ll see in these two rather amazing scenes.
First, a sketch from Woody Allen’s utterly loose 1972 non-adaptation of Dr. David Reuben’s huge and now ultra-dated bestseller, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex *But We’re Afraid to Ask.” The book was originally seen as the height of sexual rationality but quickly became passe in more enlightened quarters with, among other issues, its assumption that homosexuality was a disease. (At the time, Gore Vidal commented that Reuben was “not a man of science but a moderately swinging rabbi.”) The question behind this scene reflects those attitudes but, right up until it goes soft right at the last second, it’s mostly pure comedy greatness with Jacobi’s utterly sympathetic portrayal of a garden variety hetero transvestite who gets in just little over his head.
And here is a scene penned by another great seriocomic writer of the alienated Jewish variety, cartoonist-turned playwright Jules Feiffer. In a scene from 1971’s “Little Murders,” Jacobi is a bombastic judge who has a thing or fifteen to say about being asked by Elliot Gould and Marcia Rodd to remove any mention of God from a wedding ceremony.
Jacobi was someone I already missed seeing, and though he was no spring chicken, it’s sad to see him go. Edward Copeland has more.
Disney has acquired the rights to do a new version of The Diary of Anne Frank, this time to be written and directed by David Mamet. I know the temptation here is to start making dumb (but possibly funny) jokes about F-words being thrown into this latest version of the frequently filmed accidental classic and classroom perennial. However, this is not the first time Mamet has dealt with family-friendly material. His 1999 G-rated version of Terence Rattigan’s “The Winslow Boy” was a genuine treat and was also drawn from real, though far happier, events.
By the way, via IMDb, I count nine previous versions of the Anne Frank diary itself (not including numerous productions expanding on what was in the actual diary) mostly made for television. There was also an anime version in 1995.
Considering Frank’s legendary postive view of mankind, a post of mine from last year responding to an op-ed by Mamet might be of some interest here.