Flip books are irresistible, whether you’re 8 or 80… and Fliptomania offers some legendary movie moments: Cary Grant ducking a crop-duster in North by Northwest, the four heroes prancing off to see the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz, King Kong being pursued by biplanes on top of the Empire State Building and Marilyn Monroe’s dress billowing up in The Seven Year Itch. You can even watch Eadward Muybridge’s landmark experiment of a horse in action just by riffling the edge of a flipbook. At $4.95 apiece these are perfect stocking stuffers; you can also order a classic movie three-pack for $12.95. www.fliptomania.com
Why wear an ordinary T-shirt when you can sport one of these film-buff-centric garments created by the ingenious folks at Mondo in Austin, Texas? Whether you want to show your devotion to 35mm film or the folks who project it, you can’t go wrong. A word of warning: the Mondo site can be addictive. www.mondotees.com
Goldberg Bros. Has been manufacturing high-quality reels and cans for a century. The transition to digital cinema has put a crimp in their core business…but has inspired them to create clever pieces of home decor using movie reels, like this glass-top table, which I own and enjoy. Goldberg products are sold by a variety of dealers, though you can see all their products on their home site at www.goldbergbrothers.com
Ever wonder how The Maltese Falcon would have been with Edward G. Robinson as Sam Spade and Laird Cregar in the Sydney Greenstreet part? What would Marlene Dietrich have done with the Garbo role in Queen Christina? Find out by listening to Lux Radio Theatre and the MGM Theater of the Air, just two of many vintage radio shows available in pristine-sounding copies (on physical CDs or available for download) from Radio Archives. www.radioarchives.com
Disney fans are in for a treat when they open the cover of Don Hahn’s generously-proportioned book Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Walt Disney’s Magical Mid-Century (Disney Editions), which at 11×14 inches will dominate any coffee table. This handsome book, designed by Hans Teensma, will open your eyes to the forward-thinking ideas that permeated all of Disney’s endeavors in the post-WWII era, from movies to space-age TV shows and theme parks. Hahn’s knowledgeable text is accompanied by rare photos and fantastic artwork by some of the studio’s leading lights (including Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, Sam McKim, and Herb Ryman). Click HERE to view on Amazon.
Embrace your inner child—or introduce a 21st century kid to the innocence of an earlier time—with the first comic-book superhero serial, The Adventures of Captain Marvel (Kino Lorber). Tom Tyler cuts a fine figure as the caped hero and Frank Coghlan, Jr. is earnest as his young alter-ego, Billy Batson, in the best of all Republic Pictures serials. When the kids are out of the room or asleep you can enjoy the commentary tracks that tell the behind-the-scenes story of how this glorious chapter-play was made.
Talk about fun: I rediscovered cartoons I haven’t seen since I was a kid in PORKY PIG 101 (Warner Archive), a fabulous five-disc collection of (mostly black & white) Warner Bros. Cartoons. While watching the evolution of LooneyTunes’ first great star you also witness the development of the Warner animation department and its prodigious talents: Tex Avery, Frank Tashlin, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, as well as voice artist Mel Blanc and composer Carl Stalling. These shorts are also a mirror of their times, politically incorrect and filled with topical jokes: a generous slice of pop culture provided by Porky Pig. www.warnerarchive.com
If you were swept up by the Mexican culture celebrated in Pixar’s Coco, you (or someone you love) will enjoy owning a guitar inspired by the production design of the movie. There’s a beginner model for $29.95 and more sophisticated models priced at $129.95. Even if you don’t play a note, these instruments look great and evoke happy memories of a beautiful film. You can find them at Guitar Center and Toys R’ Us.
If you collect Blu-rays and DVDs there are more great releases than I can name from this year alone. Be sure to check out the Criterion Collection, Kino Lorber, Warner Archive, Olive Films, ClassicFlix, Flicker Alley, VCI Entertainment, Arrow Films and Undercrank Productions.
Finally, I can’t resist plugging at least two of my own books: the third edition of Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, presented by Turner Classic Movies. With some 10,000 entries, including hundreds of titles we never covered in our annual guide, this is the perfect companion for anyone who watches TCM or dotes on silent films, European classics, and the golden age of Hollywood. I’ve also published a capstone edition of the final 2015 Movie Guide.