History, Legacy & Showmanship

History, Legacy & Showmanship

“Clark Kent’s alley transformation into Superman and Superman’s flight to the White House to return the American Flag are two of the best moments; they are just as chill-inducing and magical today as they were 40 years ago!” — Jim Bowers, CapedWonder.com

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this multi-page retrospective commemorating the 40th anniversary of the release of Superman II, the 1980/1981/2006 follow-up to 1978’s Superman: The Movie and featuring Christopher Reeve reprising his legendary dual role of Superman and alter ego Clark Kent.

Taking over from Richard Donner midway through production, Richard Lester (The Three Musketeers, Help!) directed and re-shot much of the Saturn Award-winning sequel, which focused on the three Kyptonian outlaws (Terrence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran) breaking free from their cosmic imprisonment and seeking revenge on the Man of Steel.

The first Superman sequel—also starring Clifton James as Sheriff and E.G. Marshall as The President—featured reprisal performances by Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, Ned Beatty as Otis, Jackie Cooper as Perry White, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, Valerie Perrine as Miss Teschmacher, Susannah York as Superman’s biological mother Lara, and Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen. [Read on here...]


“It really was Shaft that proved the true value of the Black dollar. Up until then Hollywood hadn’t seriously considered the breadth, scope and power of the Black moviegoing audience.” – Josiah Howard, author of Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide

“With Shaft, an underrepresented audience finally got the representation they were thirsty for.” – Chris Utley, Shaft fan

“While the Blaxploitation genre lasted less than a decade before burning out, I always thought the Shaft franchise could have endured indefinitely, as the Bond films did.” – Lee Pfeiffer, Cinema Retro

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this multi-page retrospective commemorating the golden anniversary of the release of Shaft, the groundbreaking, franchise-inspiring, crime thriller directed by Gordon Parks (The Learning Tree) and starring then-newcomer Richard Roundtree as the titular character.

Shaft, also starring Moses Gunn (Roots, Ragtime) and featuring Isaac Hayes’ memorable and award-winning music, was released to theaters fifty years ago this month. For the occasion The Bits features a package of statistics and box-office data that places the movie’s performance in context, along with passages from some of its film reviews, a reference/historical listing of its original theatrical engagements, and, finally, a roundtable interview segment with a trio of film historians and Shaft authorities who reflect on the movie (and franchise) five decades after its debut. [Read on here...]


Shrek sits alongside Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter as one of the definitive ‘new’ franchises of the global tentpole era, while making both animated features and rom-coms ‘safe’ for male-centric protagonists and PG ratings.” – Scott Mendelson, box-office analyst

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 20th anniversary of the release of Shrek, PDI and DreamWorks Animation’s popular, award-winning animated film based upon William Steig’s picture book and featuring the voice talent of Mike Myers (Wayne’s World, Austin Powers), Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America) and Cameron Diaz (The Mask, There’s Something About Mary).

Shrek, directed by Andrew Adamson (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and Vicky Jensen (Shark Tale) and also featuring the voice talent of John Lithgow (The World According to Garp, 3rd Rock from the Sun) as Lord Farquaad, was released to theaters twenty years ago this month. For the occasion The Bits features a package of statistics and box-office data that places the movie’s performance in context, along with passages from vintage film reviews, a reference/historical listing of the movie’s Digital Cinema presentations, and, finally, a film historian interview who reflects on the movie (and franchise) two decades after its debut. [Read on here...]


“What’s fun about seeing THX 1138 now, after 50 years, is to see how George Lucas took the rather dark themes and dynamic visual storytelling of his first film and found a way to infuse them into the Saturday matinee style films of the Star Wars series. THX is not his best film, but it’s fascinating to see the seeds of his future work within it.” – Gary Leva, director of Fog City Mavericks

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the golden anniversary of the release of THX 1138, George Lucas’s feature-length adaptation of his award-winning 1967 USC student film Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB.

Released two years before American Graffiti and six years before Star Wars, Lucas’s first motion picture starred Robert Duvall (Apocalypse Now, Tender Mercies) and Donald Pleasence (You Only Live Twice, Halloween) and was about a dystopian future where love and individuality are forbidden.

THX 1138 was executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) as part of a deal in which Warner Bros. would finance and distribute American Zoetrope productions. [Read on here...]


Empire @ 40: Remembering the Early 70MM Cut

December 31, 2020 - 9:00 am   |   by

“On my thirteenth viewing, which was the first time I saw it at a different theater than the one I’d gone to since opening day, I knew there were noticeable changes when the final scene began with different music.” — film music historian Mike Matessino

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present a continuation of our 40th anniversary coverage of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, the middle act of George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy and one of the most celebrated and beloved sequels of all time. Part One of our Empire 40th coverage appeared back in May.

George Lucas’s penchant for making revisions to his work is about as legendary as his movies. The majority of Lucas’s alterations have occurred years after his films’ original releases. With The Empire Strikes Back, however, the first (of several rounds of) revisions were actually made while the movie was in first release, and it is this lesser-known aspect of the otherwise very-well-known production that is the subject of this column. [Read on here...]


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