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Posted November 26, 2010
The DVD Set Of The Year
Once upon a time, three guys named Bert Scheider, Bob Rafelson and Steve Blauner helped create and produce a 1960's TV show called "The Monkees". When the show became a hit, they created a studio called BBS Productions. The first BBS movie was a Monkees movie called "Head", which did not do well at all. However, almost every other film BBS did do was---and still is---considered some of the finest motion pictures made during one of Hollywood's most fertively creative periods. Those films are collected here in "America Lost And Found: The BBS Story". Some of the films on this collection, most of us already know. Such as the counterculture road film, "Easy Rider", the angry-drifter tale of "Five Easy Pieces" and the early 50's coming-of-age groundbreaker that was "The Last Picture Show". These films stand as a reminder of how great an actor Jack Nicholson was, how great a filmmaker Dennis Hopper was and the wonderful promise that a young, aspiring Peter Bogdonavich once had. But how many people have seen "Drive, He Said"? This movie is about a dissaffected basketball player and it marked the directorial debut of actor Jack Nicholson. Or how many of us have seen or even heard of "A Safe Place"? This was Henry Jaglom's first film as a director and it tells the story of an unstable woman (Tuesday Weld) who cannot reconcile her past much less her present situation. This suprisingly affectionate film features not only a great performance by Weld but also by Orson Welles. And then, there's Bob Rafelson's "The King Of Marvin Gardens". In this rarely seen gem, Jack Nicholson steps completely out of character as a nerdy radio show host whose ne'er-do-well brother (Bruce Dern) convinces him to go to Atlantic City and help him commit a real estate scam that could either make them or break them. This impressive boxed set brings back a time when the major studios were willing to take a chance and make original, taboo-busting films for a younger generation. It should be mentioned that this set also includes The Monkees' film "Head", which even today looks like a real pyschedelic mess. Still, how many movies do you know feature Victor Mature, Annette Funicello and boxer Sonny Liston? This alone demonstrates the lengths that BBS was willing to go through to make new and original films. Yet, nearly all of these films look at the underside of the American Dream and how they have been corrupted by greed and selfishness, themes that are rooted in Sixties counterculture but remain relevant in these near-Depression times we're living in now. There is one film missing from this collection and that's "Hearts And Minds", the last film that BBS made. It was a documentary about America's involvement in The Vietnam War and how misguided the people and the government were in leading into that disasterous quagmire. This hand-grenade of a film won the Oscar for Best Documentary just months after the war ended and it contains many disturbing images that burn at our consciousness. "Hearts And Minds" is available seperately from The Criterion Collection. But if the folks at Criterion included this on "America Lost And Found", it would've been a fitting capper on what is perhaps the finest DVD boxed set of 2010.
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