Thursday, November 26, 2015

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Classic Film and TV Fan (2015 Edition)

For the past six years, the Cafe's staff has provided a list of recommended gifts for your favorite classic film and/or TV fan. It's one of our most popular features. This year's choices run the gamut from classic musicals to Bogey as Marlowe to a sci fi TV series with marionettes.

Best of Warner Bros. 20 Films Collection: Musicals. I usually steer clear of the mega boxed sets because DVD quality is often sacrificed for quantity. However, this set was released by a major studio and each disc contains only one movie. Warners has done a great job in compiling classic musicals from its early days (The Jazz Singer) through the Busby Berkeley years (42nd Street) and the colorful 1950s (Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides) and 1960s (The Music Man). Even the choices from the 1980s are engaging, tune-filled romps like Victor/Victoria and Little Shop of Horrors. While the list price is $99, you can find this mammoth set at discounts of 60%--that $2 a movie and that ain't bad.

The puppet "star" was inspired
by James Garner.
Stingray: The Complete Series - 50th Anniversary Collection. The young and the young-at-heart will enjoy Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's fanciful 1964-65 British sci fi series about a futuristic submarine called Stingray. The characters are all "played" by marionettes, with the action taking place on some of the most incredible miniature sets you will ever see. Plus, for adults, there's even a love triangle between the sub commander (Troy Tempest), his boss's daughter (Atlanta Shore), and a mute young woman from an undersea civilization (Marina). The five-DVD boxed set includes all 39 half-hour episodes, plus an interview with Gerry Anderson, a making-of featurette, and audio commentaries on several episodes.

TCM Greatest Classic Films: Murder Mysteries. The TCM Greatest Classic Films and Greatest Classic Legends are value-priced DVD sets that typically contain four movies featuring a common theme or star. The movies in this particular set have a pretty weak connection--they're all murder mysteries! However, this collection contains three legitimate classics and one underrated feature by a great director. The iconic films are: The Maltese FalconThe Postman Always Rings Twice, and The Big Sleep. The fourth feature, Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder may not be in the same class, but every time I watch it, I always seem to end up pleasantly surprised.

Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries: Harriet Vane Collection. The title of this three-DVD set is a little misleading, as it's actually comprised of a trio of Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Made in 1987, this series starred Edward Petherbridge as Ms. Sayers' British gentleman detective and Harriet Walter as his love interest Harriet Vane. Being a big fan of Ian Carmichael's earlier Lord Peter Wimsey TV series, I approached this one with trepidation. However, Petherbridge is an excellent Lord Peter and he and Harriet Walter generate plenty of romantic sparks when they're not solving murders (or proving her innocence).

Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters Collection. This four-movie set include one bona fide classic--Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein--and three funny follow-ups in which Bud & Lou confront the Invisible Man, the Mummy, and Mr. Hyde. Even the weakest film in the set, A&C Meet the Mummy, features a hilarious routine in which Bud and Lou try to slip one another a dangerous medallion...and Lou winds up eating it in his hamburger.


  1. I sure hope that Holiday Inn is on your schedule next month as it is one of my favorites! (PS - I am under 60 yrs old.)

  2. These look great! I didn't realize TCM had released a Murder Mysteries collection – that is VERY good to know.

    The Dorothy L. Sayers collection looks intriguing too. I hadn't heard of it, but I think I'd really enjoy them.

  3. I always enjoy seeing the recommended gift ideas you share, Rick! I really enjoy mysteries, especially Lord Peter and his valet Bunter. I think Stingray was a great recommendation because it would be fun viewing for children as well as adults. And rounding the list out with musicals and comedies is absolutely perfect!

  4. Oh, how I would love to have the Warner Brothers Musical collection! I would probably start the first disk and barely leave the couch until I saw them all!