Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Classic Film & TV Fan (2010 Edition)

One of the Cafe's most popular articles last year was a list of holiday gift ideas from our contributors (click here to read last year's recommendations). This year, we are proud to present the sequel! Without further discussion, here are some gift ideas for the classic film and/or TV lover in your family.

Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut and Helen G. Scott (recommended by Rick29). This 1985 nonfiction book consists of a series of Alfred Hitchcock interviews conducted by filmmaker and film critic Francois Truffaut. The two film giants start with Hitchcock's first movie and work their way through his filmography, analzying each picture. It's a fascinating book--not just for Hitchcock fans--but for anyone that loves classic film. In preparation for the interviews, Truffaut watched every film discussed and his insights are often as absorbing as Hitchcock's. This is my favorite film reference book..and the one that I peruse the most frequently. It's available in both hardback and paperback.

Mission: Impossible - Seasons 1, 2, or 3 (recommended by Toto). Need to overthrow a ruthless dictator? Rescue a kidnapped scientist? Frame a big-time gangster? Recover a few million in gold bullion? Then, you need the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), which accompishes these seemingly impossible tasks on a weekly basis. Each episode unfolds like an intricate heist plot with only part of the plan revealed to the viewer. Seasons 2 and 3 feature the best-known cast with Peter Graves as the group's leader and the team consisting of Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, Greg Morris, and Peter Lupus. The first season boasts Steven Hill as the IMF leader. I was skeptical about Season 1 after watching the always-smooth Graves as the head of the IMF. However, Hill is quite good, too, bringing his trademark intensity to the role. In short, you can't go wrong with choosing any of the first three seasons as a gift.

3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg (recommended by TheLadyEve). My Christmas suggestion is a gift for both the silent film fan and the classic film lover who is just becoming acquainted with them. This new Criterion Collection, released last August, includes: Underworld (1927), widely considered the first film gangster film (and an Oscar winner): The Last Command (1928) which stars Emil Jannings, who won an Oscar for his performance; and Docks of New York (1928), another much-celebrated silent classic. A quote from my TCM Classic Film Union friend (and silent film aficionado) Gagman66: "the Von Sternberg set is the event of the year for silent film fans," and "...if you don't know much about silents, these von Sternberg's are an outstanding introduction. In my opinion they are every bit as good if not better than his early 30's sound films...."  For more information, click here.
Golden Girls: 25th Anniversary Complete Collection (recommended by Sarkoffagus). Picture it: Miami, 1985. Four elderly ladies living together under one roof: tough, caring, and occasionally sarcastic Dorothy Zbornak; sweet and naive Rose Nylund; free-spirited Southern belle Blanche Devereaux; and Dorothy's mother, Sophia Petrillo, a firecracker who speaks her mind and asks questions later. Containing all seven seasons, the series is packaged in a replica of Sophia's ever-present wicker handbag. A perfect gift for gals (or guys) who cannot get enough of Dorothy's cynical remarks, Rose's stories of St. Olaf, Blanche's escapades, or the lovable Sophia. And, of course, the gift is only complete with a card attached that says, "Thank you for being a friend."

The Spy Collection Megaset (recommended by Rick29). This unique boxed set contains episodes from four spy TV series from the 1960s and early 1970s:  Patrick McGoohan's cult classic The Prisoner; The Champions; The Persuaders with Tony Curtis and Roger Moore; and The Protectors starring Robert Vaughn and Nyree Dawn Porter. Note that you get some episodes from each series, but all the episodes from none. Thus, this boxed set makes a terrific sampler...but if you get hooked on The Prisoner (as you probably will), you'll have to make another purchase to get the full series. The best of this megaset is McGoohan's one-of-a-kind series, of course. However, I thoroughly enjoyed The Champions, which traced the exploits of a trio of agents that are imbued with superhuman powers when their plane crashes in the Himalayas. Despite their casts, The Persuaders and The Protectors fail to live up to expectations, but they're both diverting and boast cool theme music (the former was composed by John Barry).

Busy Berkeley 9-Film Collection (recommended by Dawn). The musical fans on your holiday shopping list will love this ten-disc boxed set that includes: 42nd StreetGold Diggers of 1933; Footlight ParadeDames; Gold Diggers of 1935; Gold Diggers of 1937Varsity ShowHollywood Hotel; and Gold Diggers in Paris. A added bonus is "The Busby Berkeley Disc," a toe-tapping compilation of 21 of the choreographer/filmmaker's greatest dance numbers.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) (recommended by Rick29). Looking for an inexpensive stocking stuffer for the classic film fan in your family? You can't go wrong with this well-priced DVD of the timeless science fiction classic (click here to read the film review). The DVD offers some great extras: commentary by director Robert Wise and Nicolas Meyer; a "making of" documentary; shooting script; newsreel footage; restoration comparison (the new print is awesome); trailer; and stills. Merrry "Klaatu barada nikto" to you!

Now Playing, a Viewer's Guide to Turner Classic Movies (recommended by ClassicBecky).  Have the classic film fans in your family always wanted to subscribe to TCM's magazine, but just never wanted to spend the money on themselves? Get them a gift subscription! Now Playing, which is published monthly, has interesting articles, great pictures, descriptions of the movies--all kinds of things that would be fun to read.  A subscription would be a wonderful present for a classic movie fan.

The Val Lewton Collection (recommended by ClassicBecky). A collection of movies by the great Val Lewton would be a welcome addition to many movie lovers' collection.  His wonderful, subtle brand of eerie movies, such as Cat People, The Seventh Victim, and I Walked With a Zombie are a few of his films featured in this six-disc set containing all his RKO horror films.


  1. I think I'll take one of each.....great list!

  2. I concur with Becky -- I have the Val Lewton set. It is outstanding!

  3. Wonderful suggestions! I don't have the GOLDEN GIRLS set or the spy collection or MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE Seasons 1-2 or THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL... hint, hint.

  4. Great suggestions!!! I would love the Mission Impossible set and The Day the Earth Stood Still too. I am hoping to get The Alien Trilogy Blu-Ray DVD set that just come out. It has Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3. I have already left a hint for my son.

  5. I truly think there's something here for every classic film and/or TV fan! I was also skeptical about the first season of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, but it turned out to be great fun--though it was weird to see Martin Landau listed as a special guest star every week. Aki, THE ALIEN TRILOGY is another fine gift recommendation. And, Sark,I know some GG fans who would love to get the series' complete run on DVD.

  6. Fabulous post! This should help many people with their Christmas shopping.