(Photos: I Dream of Jeannie, Mill Creek; Night Gallery, Kino)
MGM used to brag that it had “more stars than there are in Heaven.” Below, you will find more gifts than there are in Santa’s workshop.
OK, so that might be a slight exaggeration. But this list isn’t a bad place to begin if you’re a movie or TV buff looking for choice presents for family, friends, or yourself. So let’s begin, shall we?
(Note: The retail prices are included as starting points only. Most of these titles can be found for lower costs on numerous websites, sometimes even on the sites of the distributors themselves.)
THE EARLY FILMS OF LEE ISAAC CHUNG
Studio / Distributor: Film Movement (www.filmmovement.com)
The Scoop: Korean-American filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung earned a pair of Academy Award nominations (Best Director and Best Original Screenplay) for his fourth feature film, 2020’s Minari. The Film Movement label now offers his three previous movies in one box set. Munyurangabo (2007) focuses on two Rwandan youths who set out on a journey with a stolen machete at their side. Lucky Life (2010) finds an expectant couple reflecting on a past beach trip they took with a friend who had cancer. Abigail Harm (2012) stars Amanda Plummer as a lonely woman who discovers that her life is starting to resemble a favored fable about a woodcutter.
Extras: Audio commentary by Chung and behind-the-scenes footage, both for Munyurangabo.
Retail Price: $44.95
I DREAM OF JEANNIE: THE COMPLETE SERIES
Studio / Distributor: Mill Creek Entertainment (www.millcreekent.com)
The Scoop: Although it never cracked the Top 25 in the Nielsen ratings, and although it never won any awards in its day (its sole Emmy nomination was for creator Sidney Sheldon’s script for the first episode, losing to a Get Smart two-parter), I Dream of Jeannie was a beloved sitcom during its five-year run from 1965-1970 and later in syndication. Barbara Eden starred as the titular genie whose bottle was discovered by astronaut Captain Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman); since he and his best friend Roger Healy (Bill Daily) were the only ones who could see her, many comic hijinks ensued. This box set contains all 139 episodes of the series spread out over 12 discs.
Extras: The 1985 TV movie I Dream of Jeannie … Fifteen Years Later, with Eden reprising her role as Jeannie but M*A*S*H’s Wayne Rogers replacing Hagman (deeply involved with Dallas at that point) as Tony Nelson.
Retail Price: $85.99
IRISH FOLKLORE TRILOGY
Studio / Distributor: Shout! Factory (www.shoutfactory.com)
The Scoop: Shout! Factory and GKIDS are releasing Cartoon Saloon’s trio of acclaimed efforts, each of which earned a Best Animated Feature Academy Award nomination. The Secret of Kells (2009) finds a young boy serving as an apprentice to a monk who’s working on a mysterious book. Song of the Sea (2014) also centers on a young lad, this one discovering that his sister is half-human and half-seal. Wolfwalkers (2020), making its Blu-ray debut, focuses on the daughter of a wolf hunter and her relationship with a girl who, like the other members of her tribe, can turn into a wolf at night.
Extras: Included in the box set are a 40-page booklet and a mini-poster. Included on the discs are filmmaker audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, footage from recording sessions, storyboards, and more.
Retail Price: $79.98
NIGHT GALLERY: SEASON ONE
Studio / Distributor: Kino Lorber (www.kinolorber.com)
The Scoop: Following the highly successful run of The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) on CBS, Rod Serling’s next tangle with the unknown was Night Gallery, which ran for three seasons (1970-1973) on NBC. Because the first season of this anthology series focusing on the supernatural was one of a rotating quartet of shows (all housed under the title Four in One), there were only six episodes. Those six are collected here, along with the 1969 pilot movie that contains the famed segment “Eyes,” starring Joan Crawford and directed by Steven Spielberg — it was his first professional credit, and he later directed the Season One story “Make Me Laugh.” Night Gallery became its own show for the subsequent two seasons (hence a lot more episodes), both of which will doubtless be released by Kino in the near future.
Extras: Film historian audio commentaries on all episodes (including the pilot), and a featurette on the show’s rocky run in syndication. A 4-page episode guide is also included.
Retail Price: $49.95
THE SHERLOCK HOLMES VAULT COLLECTION
Format: Blu-ray and DVD
Studio / Distributor: The Film Detective (www.thefilmdetective.com)
The Scoop: It’s only elementary that long before Benedict and Brett and even Basil, there existed numerous other screen Sherlock Holmeses. Four such early works have been collected in this handsome set. The Fatal Hour (1931; aka Sherlock Holmes’ Fatal Hour and The Sleeping Cardinal), The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935), and Silver Blaze (1937; aka Murder at the Baskervilles) all star Arthur Wontner as Holmes, while A Study in Scarlet (1933) finds Reginald Owen (Admiral Boom in 1964’s Mary Poppins) tackling the role of the iconic sleuth.
Extras: Film historian audio commentaries on all four films, a handful of silent Sherlock shorts (including a 1900 quickie believed to be the first sighting of Holmes on film), the 1926 Mutt and Jeff cartoon Slick Sleuths, the 1928 Felix the Cat cartoon Sure-Locked Homes, a sample episode of a Sherlock Holmes TV series that ran for 39 episodes in 1954-1955, and a new featurette on the early Sherlock Holmes movies. The Film Detective is also offering a Limited Edition Box Set that piles on the goodies by also including a calendar, a tote bag, a magnet, and a notebook.
Retail Price: Blu-ray, $59.95; DVD, $49.95; Limited Edition Blu-ray, $69.95; Limited Edition DVD, $59.95
TCM FOR XMAS
Studio / Distributor: Turner Classic Movies (www.shop.tcm.com)
The Scoop: As always, one can count on the best movie channel to offer the best movie gifts for those seeking something beyond the movies themselves. While the TCM shop does sell Blu-rays and DVDs, it’s more fun to peruse their other products. For instance, those in the mood to read about their favorite films — either before or after (but probably not during) watching said films — might be interested in the revised and expanded edition of Eddie Muller’s definitive book on one of the greatest of all genres, Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir. And with Steven Spielberg’s new version of West Side Story hitting theaters, cineastes may want to read up on the Oscar-winning 1961 smash with Richard Barrios’ West Side Story: The Jets, the Sharks, and the Making of a Classic. Thirsty viewers might opt to purchase the TCM Studio Mug to fill with their favorite coffee, while those looking to down something a little stronger may be interested in joining the TCM Wine Club (tcmwineclub.com), where the available world-class wines include several movie-themed ones such as the Harold Lloyd Petite Syrah, the Burt Reynolds Zinfandel, or the Summer Movies Malbec.
Extras: Head to the site for numerous other gift ideas, including a TCM Classic Film Festival T-Shirt, a Classic Monsters Dracula Tiki Mug, and a TCM Dog Ball Toss Toy.
Retail Price: Dark City, $30.00; West Side Story, $28.00; TCM Studio Mug, $18.95; TCM Wine Club (introductory offer), $79.99
WARNER TV ON BLU
Format: Blu-ray and DVD
Studio / Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (www.warnerbros.com)
The Scoop: Television series both old and new continue to land on Blu-ray and DVD at a rapid clip, and Warner’s home entertainment division is offering a sizable selection for fans of all stripes. There are post-apocalyptic thrills in Snowpiercer: The Complete Second Season, animated adventures with Rick and Morty: The Complete Fifth Season, and superhero shenanigans in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Sixth Season. And that’s just what has been released over the past few weeks — for the entirety of 2021, WBHE has introduced approximately 35 shows to the Blu ‘n’ DVD formats, a staggering number that makes binging easier than ever.
Extras: Among the bonus offerings are cast & crew discussions and a season overview on Snowpiercer, a making-of piece and animation breakdowns on Rick and Morty, and deleted scenes and a visual effects featurette on Legends of Tomorrow.
Retail Price: Blu-ray, $29.98 each; DVD, $24.98 each; Rick and Morty also offers a Blu-ray Steelbook for $39.99