I promised I’d talk a little bit about this title a few weeks ago- and It’s finally back from replication as of today! It’s one that has been near and dear to my heart for a long time. We’re premiering it in a few days at the Columbus Cinevent, a film convention/ show that happens once a year in Columbus, Ohio.
A Conversation with Walter and Gracie Lantz is a new DVD title that has been in progress over four years, and there are truly years of work into the set! Although a rare one hour interview with Walter and Gracie are the centerpiece, it’s chock full of additional materials; I think those ‘extras’ are the heart and soul of this production. It’s a sort of love letter (and a labor of love) to movies and a lifetime of enjoying and presenting films.
The project started with a ‘conversation’ between my friend, film-maker and artist Chris Buchman and I. Chris had hosted a show in the early 80s called Classics 34 that aired on WNIT, a PBS station in South Bend, Indiana. The show featured classic films programmed by Buchman as well as special segments (called ‘Reel Curiosities’ ) featuring special guests. Over the three years and 150 shows, he featured guests such as Carmine Coppola, Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Dennis James and many others.
Chris had contacted Walter Lantz over the years, and was happy to have both him and Gracie on his show in 1981. They were in town for a plate collector’s show, but clearly the highlight on their trip was the visit to Chris on Classics 34. Although Chris was nervous that day (the only time Chris seemed to be in any of the shows I’ve seen) he still did a good job with a very relaxed and happy Walter and Gracie.
Chris has scoured his personal archives to present a series of stories and recollections, illustrated with films, hundreds of original graphics created for posters and trailers produced for various film showings. He’s also created through clips and new graphics a series of bonus features running from 3 minutes to nearly an hour. Chris recounts his years presenting films both personally at at various venues, most notably ‘The Bijou’ a long running series at John Hopkins University in the 70s. He also recounts his time hosting Classics 34 and other adventures that include playing piano to silent films in a former speakeasy in Baltimore. It includes highlights from many of the other Classic 34 shows (the Halloween shows are especially fun), Lantz cartoons and lots more. I’ve very much enjoyed helping produce the set over these years; Chris is an encyclopedia of information on films and music from Hollywood’s golden age.
Chris Buchman and Rex Schneider are the owners of the ‘Blue Mouse Studio’. I had worked with both of them before on all sorts of projects over the years. Rex has illustrated many of the backgrounds for the Thunderbean spots over the years too. They are both frequent contributors to Thunderbean DVD titles, helping with everything from covers to essays. I’ve also helped produce their two other DVD titles, Back the Attack and Grotesqueries.
I’ve put together a little ‘Sneak Preview’ of the title here:
The DVD is available now on Amazon.com. Here is a small sample of Walter’s “Happy Art” from the 1980s (click thumbnails to enlarge):