February 15, 2021 Podcast

Welcome to episode 63 of the podcast!

New in Theaters

Now playing in theaters and on HBO Max: Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.).

TCM “Must-See Musicals”

This year, I am watching all 50 movies listed in the great book from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Must-See Musicals: 50 Show-Stopping Movies We Can’t Forget by Richard Barrios (Running Press, 2017; available on Amazon.com, on the Shop TCM website, and, hopefully, from your favorite bookseller).

Full list of the 50 films is here. Mini-reviews are on my Instagram feed and on my blog.

The film I’d probably recommend the most so far from the guide is The Love Parade (Paramount, 1929). I found it on DVD as part of a multi-disk set from The Criterion Collection.

Thanks for Tuning In!

Subscribe to the Movies Past and Present podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Stitcher. I hope that watching some great movies will bring you peace and comfort this week. Thanks for listening, be safe, and dedicate yourself to the truth.

TCM “Must-See Musicals” Update for January 2021

This year, I am watching all 50 movies listed in the great book from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Must-See Musicals: 50 Show-Stopping Movies We Can’t Forget by Richard Barrios (Running Press, 2017; available on Amazon.com, on the Shop TCM website, and, hopefully, from your favorite bookseller). More information about the book and my viewing project this year is here.

Here’s the rundown of the movies I watched in January (courtesy of the Movies Past and Present Instagram feed).

The Broadway Melody (1929)

The Love Parade (1929)

Sunny Side Up (1929)

King of Jazz (1930)

Le Million (1931)

New Poster for “Raya and the Last Dragon”

We’re one month away from the opening of Raya and the Last Dragon, Walt Disney Animation Studios‘ 59th animated motion picture.

Check out this cool new poster for the film.

And in case you haven’t already seen it, here’s the latest trailer.

Raya and the Last Dragon is coming to theaters and Premier Access on Disney+ ($29.99) on March 5.

January 31, 2021 Podcast

Welcome to this week’s podcast!

New in Theaters

More comeback classics! Mask up and have some fun at the movies. Check your local listings.

New on Streaming

The Little Things (Warner Bros.) now streaming on HBO Max and playing in theaters. Check your local listings.

AFI 10 Best of 2020

List is here: https://www.afi.com/news/afi-awards-2020-honorees-announced/.

Three By…Nancy Meyers

This month’s “Three by…” director is Nancy Meyers. More about her filmography is on IMDb.com.

Thanks for Tuning In!

Subscribe to the Movies Past and Present podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Stitcher. I hope that watching some great movies will bring you peace and comfort this week. Thanks for listening, be safe, and dedicate yourself to the truth.

THE PUPPETOON MOVIE VOL. 2 — Serious Fun for the Animation History Buff

Arnold Leibovit is a man on a mission.

Arnie, as his friends call him (and of which I’m grateful to be one), has worn many hats in the film industry—producer, writer, and director, to name a few—but over the last few years, he has been devoting his time and energy in the pursuit of finding, restoring, and sharing the short films of George Pal (1908-1980).

Father of Hollywood Sci-Fi

Widely known as the “Father of the Science Fiction and Fantasy” in the Hollywood-produced films of the modern era, George Pal was involved with beloved film classics such as The Time Machine (1960), The War of the Worlds (1953), When Worlds Collide (1951), Destination Moon (1950), Tom Thumb (1958), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964), among others. But long before those Oscar®-winning efforts, Pal was the creator of the influential Puppetoon stop-motion animation shorts.

Being the lucky and talented guy that he is, Arnie was able to meet George Pal before his passing and has remained close to Pal’s family. After a labor of love in creating the compilation film and homage to all things stop-motion animation The Puppetoon Movie in 1987, Arnie has been hard at work locating more of Pal’s shorts from libraries, film repositories, and personal collections from all around the world. His newly compiled set of Pal’s work entitled The Puppetoon Movie Vol. 2 is now available for purchase on Blu-ray/DVD on Arnie’s website at https://puppetoon.net.

“Creative and Prolific Genius”

“There were very few people like Pal,” Arnie told me during a recent phone call. “Everyone who encountered him in the flesh can’t say enough nice things about him. Pal was not only admired but loved by everyone.” Perhaps it was his self-effacing personality, his sense of humor, or his humble approach to his work. But one thing we know for sure about Pal as Arnie told me—he was a “creative and prolific genius.” And genius he was—not only with the shorts and feature films he was involved with, but also by his influence on today’s CGI and stop-motion animators and filmmakers.

Pal was born in Hungary and graduated from the Budapest Academy of the Arts in 1928. He worked in Hungary, Germany, France, former Czechoslovakia, and Holland creating both 2D and stop-motion animated shorts and commercials. Pal emigrated to the United States in 1939 where he eventually became a citizen. Paramount Pictures, impressed with Pal and his animation studios and work in Europe, offered him a deal to make his now world famous Puppetoons shorts for the studio which lasted for nearly a decade. Pal made well over 100 Puppetoon short films in the United States and Europe during the 1930s and 40s and he won an honorary Academy Award®️ in 1944 for his innovative work on the Puppetoons.

©️Arnold Leibovit Entertainment
©️Arnold Leibovit Entertainment

What Sets Puppetoons Apart

The Puppetoon shorts are known for Pal’s distinctive artistic aesthetic as well as for the “replacement” parts approach which was used for the filming of the puppets. Rather than using a single, posable puppet and moving it for each frame, Pal and his team used a collection of thousands of wood puppets and parts (particularly heads, arms, and legs) to pose the puppets in each frame. Once you have seen a Puppetoon short, you’ll definitely notice the incomparable fluidity achieved in stop-motion using Pal’s unique style and approach in his filmmaking.

Arnie has added the title of “detective” to his long list of professional roles as he continues to unearth amazing finds—many of which are included in The Puppetoon Movie Vol. 2. All of the shorts in the Vol. 2 set have a story (make sure to read the comprehensive liner notes included in the Blu-ray+DVD written by Arnie himself). Arnie recounted one particularly amazing chain of events to me of how the short Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves came to be included on the Vol. 2 set. The short was last seen by film audiences in 1935. Arnie was able to locate a print of it at the British Film Institute. England has particularly strict copyright laws which required Arnie to get approval from an heir or the trustee of the short’s well known music composer Alexander Slatinay (who passed away many years ago) in order to include it in the set. After months of research and with the help of a German music publisher, they found the composer’s only living daughter Maria Cooper, who was then 90 years old and living in a nursing home in Brightlingsea, a small fishing village in Northern England. The town council graciously helped find where Maria was located as her home phone was not working. Afterwards, her son, who is science professor at the University of Sussex, was contacted and together made it possible to secure the rights to the short. “It was a major miracle,” Arnie told me, “that was meant to be.”

As for the other shorts included in Vol. 2, there are some doozies, including a short with the only licensed use of the “Superman” character outside of Warner Bros. and DC Comics along with a short that has a cameo appearance from Bugs Bunny, again another character closely guarded by its owner, Warner Bros. 

©️DC Comics, Warner Bros., Arnold Leibovit Entertainment

Delightful Retrospective

As a lover of classic films and animation, I found The Puppetoon Movie Vol. 2 to be another delightful retrospective of George Pal’s innovative and imaginative work. Arnie and his team took great care in getting digital scans for this new volume directly from the negatives. The original title cards are included for each short. The attention to detail and quality really shows, allowing film and animation buffs everywhere to see these shorts in a way never before possible. The prints are pristine and the overall effect is effulgent. Any serious animation fan will enjoy seeing and learning more about the great work of George Pal in this beautifully restored and entertaining collection.

While Pal went on to work on live action feature films and to become the father of the Hollywood special effects industry (which is another amazing story for another day), his work on the Puppetoon shorts lives on, thanks to Arnie Leibovit. Arnie is hard at work on future Puppetoon compilation sets as well as being an in-demand speaker and lecturer for many film schools and film libraries. Post-COVID-19, Arnie is hoping to screen a series of Pal’s shorts at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Billy Wilder Theater, part of the UCLA School of Theatre, Film & Television.

And, on a personal note, I’m hoping Arnie can make a return to my favorite network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) where I first heard him discuss the work of George Pal with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz a few years back (TCM has a write up about Vol. 2 here).

Learn more about George Pal, Arnie Leibovit, and The Puppetoon Movie Vol. 2 as well as purchase your own copy at https://puppetoon.net.

©️Arnold Leibovit Entertainment

Technical Specifications

The Puppetoon Movie Vol. 2 Blu-ray/DVD set was made possible by the kind assistance of Paramount Pictures (the original distributor of The Puppetoons) and the astounding discovery of several long-lost George Pal films from Europe. Some of the shorts have not been seen in decades, and some never outside of Europe.

Short Films Included in The Puppetoon Movie Vol. 2

There are 18 short films in the set, including two of rarely-seen Pal-produced cel-animated shorts from the 1930s. All films are have been meticulously restored in high definition (HD) from the original 35mm Nitrate IB Technicolor prints or the original Three-Strip Technicolor successive negatives.

These shorts are all new to home video, except for The Ship of the Ether, which appears for the first time in HD.

  • Dipsy Gypsy (1940)
  • Radio Valve Revolution (1934)
  • Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1935)
  • A Hatful of Dreams (1944)
  • Rescue Brigade (1937)
  • In Lamp Light Land (1935) 
  • Jasper and the Choo-Choo (1942) 
  • Love On The Range (1938) 
  • The Gay Knighties (1941) 
  • Two Gun Rusty (1944)
  • How An Advertising Poster Came About (1938) 
  • Jasper Goes Hunting (1944)
  • Sky Pirates (1938)
  • Jasper’s Close Shave (1945)
  • The Ship of the Ether (1934)
  • Good Night Rusty (1943)
  • Wilbur the Lion (1946)
  • Jasper Tell (1944)

Bonus Features (Standard Definition)

  • This is Oil, No.1: Prospecting for Petroleum (Shell Oil Company Inc., 1946)
  • Trailers From Hell: Arnold Leibovit on The Puppetoon Movie
  • Trailers From Hell: Arnold Leibovit on The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal
  • The Puppetoon Movie Speedy Alka-Seltzer (Miles Laboratory)
  • The Puppetoon Movie Montage
  • Full Production and Donor Credits

6-Panel Color Booklet, Liner Notes by Arnold Leibovit

January 16, 2021 Podcast

Happy New Year! Welcome to the first podcast of 2021.

New in Theaters

The Emperor’s New Groove (Disney, 2000) is back in select U.S. theaters this weekend. Check your local listings.

Reviews

Loved News of the World (Universal, 2020), now playing in theaters.

2021 Movie Watching Project

One of the movie watching projects I’m taking on in 2021 is watching the 50 movies listed in a cool book from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) called Must-See Musicals: 50 Show-Stopping Movies We Can’t Forget (Running Press, 2017). Full list and more info is here. Follow my Instagram feed for my mini-reviews of all of the films.

My 10 Best Films of 2020

I compiled a list of my favorite films I saw for the first time in 2020 regardless of the films’ initial release date. Full list is on my Letterboxd page (click the “Lists” link).

TCM’s Noir Alley page is here.

Thanks for Tuning In!

Subscribe to the Movies Past and Present podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Stitcher. I hope that watching some great movies will bring you peace and comfort this week. Be safe out there!

2021 Movie Watching Project: TCM Must-See Musicals

Happy 2021! Grateful that it’s a new year.

For my 2021 movie watching project, I am going to watch the 50 movies listed in the book from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Must-See Musicals: 50 Show-Stopping Movies We Can’t Forget by Richard Barrios (Running Press, 2017; available on Amazon.com, on the Shop TCM website, and, hopefully, from your favorite bookseller).

Heaven knows that we could use some happiness, so what better way than to watch a bunch of escapist musicals?! Over the course of 2021, I’ll plan to watch one of these films per week. I will be documenting my progress on my Instagram account (@moviespap), so please join me there. I’ll keep the blog updated with my progress, too (mostly with just copies of my Instagram posts).

Here’s the list of films. Excited to get started. Hope you’ll want to follow along, too!

*=Haven’t Seen

  1. The Broadway Melody (MGM, 1929)
  2. The Love Parade (Paramount, 1929)*
  3. Sunny Side Up (Fox, 1929)*
  4. King of Jazz (Universal, 1930)*
  5. Le Million (Films Sonores Tobis-France, 1931)*
  6. Love Me Tonight (Paramount, 1932)*
  7. 42nd Street (Warner Bros., 1933)
  8. Top Hat (RKO, 1935)
  9. Show Boat (Universal, 1936)*
  10. Swing Time (RKO, 1936)
  11. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Walt Disney, 1937)
  12. The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939)
  13. Yankee Doodle Dandy (Warner Bros., 1942)
  14. Holiday Inn (Paramount, 1942)
  15. Cabin in the Sky (MGM, 1943)
  16. Cover Girl (Columbia, 1944)
  17. Meet Me in St. Louis (MGM, 1944)
  18. On the Town (MGM, 1949)
  19. Annie Get Your Gun (MGM, 1950)
  20. An American in Paris (MGM, 1951)
  21. Singin’ in the Rain (MGM, 1952)
  22. Million Dollar Mermaid (MGM, 1952)
  23. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (20th Century Fox, 1953)
  24. The Band Wagon (MGM, 1953)
  25. Calamity Jane (Warner Bros., 1953)
  26. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (MGM, 1954)
  27. A Star Is Born (Warner Bros., 1954)
  28. Oklahoma! (Magna/RKO, 1955)
  29. The King and I (20th Century Fox, 1956)
  30. The Girl Can’t Help It (20th Century Fox, 1956)*
  31. Funny Face (Paramount, 1957)
  32. The Pajama Game (Warner Bros., 1957)
  33. Jailhouse Rock (MGM, 1957)
  34. Gigi (MGM, 1958)
  35. West Side Story (Mirisch Corporation/United Artists, 1961)
  36. The Music Man (Warner Bros., 1962)
  37. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Parc Film/20th Century Fox, 1964)
  38. A Hard Day’s Night (Shenson, United Artists, 1964)
  39. Mary Poppins (Walt Disney, 1964)
  40. My Fair Lady (Warner Bros., 1964)
  41. The Sound of Music (20th Century Fox, 1965)
  42. Funny Girl (Columbia, 1968)
  43. Oliver! (Romulus/Columbia, 1968)
  44. Fiddler on the Roof (Mirisch Corporation/United Artists, 1971)
  45. Cabaret (ABC/Allied Artists, 1972)
  46. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (20th Century Fox, 1975)
  47. Grease (Paramount, 1978)
  48. Beauty and the Beast (Walt Disney, 1991)
  49. Chicago (Miramax, 2002)
  50. La La Land (Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate, 2016)
Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in SWING TIME (1936); ©️RKO

TCM “Must-See Sci-Fi” Update for December 2020

I am watching all 50 movies listed in the cool book from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) called Must-See Sci-Fi: 50 Movies that Are Out of This World by Sloan De Forest (Running Press, 2018; available at Amazon.com and Shop TCM). The complete list of 50 films is here.

Here’s the rundown of the December movies courtesy of the Movies Past and Present Instagram feed.

WALL-E (2008)

District 9 (2009)

Arrival (2016)

December 24, 2020 Podcast

Welcome to this week’s podcast!

You can listen below as well as on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Stitcher. And follow me on Instagram (my handle is @moviespap).

New in Theaters

New on Streaming Platforms

Here are some noteworthy films that are on a streaming platform near you:

Three By…Robert Wise

This month’s “Three by…” director is Robert Wise. More about his filmography is on IMDb.com.

2021 TCM Big Screen Classics Series

The film in the 2021 Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Big Screen Classics series have been announced. More information is at the Fathom Events website.

Thanks for Tuning In!

Subscribe to the Movies Past and Present podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Stitcher. I hope that watching some great movies will bring you peace and comfort this week. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

December 11, 2020 Podcast

Welcome to this week’s podcast!

You can listen below as well as on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Stitcher. And follow me on Instagram (my handle is @moviespap).

Coming to Theaters

The last two films in this year’s Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Big Screen Classics series are:

  • Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
  • Babe – 25th Anniversary (1995)

Participating theaters and showtimes are at fathomevents.com/tcm.

Disney Investor Day

The Walt Disney Company made a slew of announcements on December 10, 2020 about upcoming films for their Disney+ streaming service as well as their slate of theatrical film releases from all of the major studios: Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, and Walt Disney Animation Studios. You can view the presentation here (it’s four+ hours long…really). The D23 website has a good summary of it, too.

“Modern” Christmas Movies

Truth be told, I struggle to find any contemporary Christmas movies that I really love. However, two constant favorites are actually TV specials: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966; again, the 30-minute TV special, not one of the lousy feature film adaptations).

Thanks for Tuning In!

Subscribe to the Movies Past and Present podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Stitcher. I hope that watching some great movies will bring you peace and comfort this week. Be safe out there! Thanks again.