John Adams, Topsy-Turvy, Commando

Natalie Walsh
Senior producer, KPBS-FM’s These Days, kpbs.org

I’m a history buff, and I loved the series John Adams so much that I was sad when I finished the last episode. As I watched the inauguration of Barack Obama, I kept remembering the powerful scene of John and Abigail moving into the White House that was still being built by slaves.

I also liked Vitus, the story of a boy with amazing musical talent who pretends to lose his gift so that he can be a normal kid. I sympathized with his desire to not grow up too quickly and loved the part of him trying to fly like a bird.

John Adams (USA) 2008, HBO
Vitus (Switzerland) 2006, Sony Pictures

Maureen Cavanaugh
Host, KPBS-FM’s These Days

I love movies about the theater or set in the Victorian Age, so Topsy-Turvy is the best of both. It presents the dynamic, creative, volatile, comic-tragic relationship between the great Gilbert and Sullivan in a delightfully realistic way. It’s also gorgeous — the antidote to all those awful Hollywood biopics.

Sudden Fear, starring Joan Crawford, is one those films that moves right past kitsch into classic. It has all the hoary elements of later Crawford movies, including the terrible clothes and absurd romance, but this one also has a fabulous performance and a nice, creepy story line. Wait till you see the scene with the tape player…then tell me Joan Crawford can’t act!

Topsy-Turvy (England) 2000, Polygram
Sudden Fear (USA) 1952, Kino

Hank Crook
Producer, KPBS-FM’s These Days and the Editors Roundtable

Commando is one of my favorite films from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action-movie days. Schwarzenegger plays former-military-commando-badass-turned-stay-at-home-dad John Matrix, whose daughter is kidnapped by former enemies. Matrix wastes about 500 bad guys and delivers priceless lines like: “You’re a funny guy, Sully, I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.”

For die-hard football fans, I recommend Super Bowl I-XL DVD Collector’s Set. Let’s say your team (in my case the 49ers) isn’t playing in this year’s big game. Well, this DVD offers you the opportunity to take a walk down Super Bowl memory lane.

Commando (Director's Cut) {USA) 1985, 20th Century Fox
NFL Super Bowl I-XL Collector's Set (USA) 2006, Warner Brothers (40 discs)

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