Too Much Johnson, the Orson Welles film (or rather film project) that was long thought lost (the last print was reportedly destroyed in a fire in Welles’ Spanish home in 1970), was found a few years ago and restored. It’s not a feature or even a short, per se, more of an experiment shot to accompany a production of the theater farce “Too Much Johnson,” but at least the first section plays just fine on its own as a tribute to silent slapstick comedy with Joseph Cotten doing Harold Lloyd antics and Buster Keaton chases as a serial philanderer pursued by a jealous husband. The film was unfinished but mostly complete and you can watch both the workprint and a “reimagined” version with the outtakes removed at the National Film Preservation Foundation website. An HD version of both are available through the subscription streaming service Fandor.

I wrote an essay on the film for Keyframe: “This would all be interesting but academic if it wasn’t also entertaining and Too Much Johnson is a hoot. The prologue was designed to open the play, introduce the characters and situations, and set the racing pace for the stage scenes with a wild slapstick chase through the streets of New York to the ship that carries the story to Cuba. It plays just fine on its own (with an assist from intertitles added by NFPF), like an open-ended Mack Sennett farce that races through German Expressionism and Russian Formalism on the way to the docks. The subsequent sequences, both much shorter and apparently incomplete, are not as self-contained or coherent but they do feature some eye-opening moments for Welles fans.”


“Too Much Johnson’

The third wave of Amazon Instant Video Pilot Season shows will be available to sample on Thursday, August 28. As in previous waves, Amazon has made the pilot episodes of five new shows available to all Amazon customers (you don’t have to be a Prime member to watch them), and they will decide which shows move forward to full series based on audience feedback.

This time through, they have enlisted some interesting directors to create for the small screen. Whit Stillman heads to Paris for The Cosmopolitans, a continental romantic comedy, David Gordon Green (director of Pineapple Express and HBO’s Eastbound and Down) stays home in New Jersey for Red Oaks, a coming-of-age comedy set in 1985 (it’s produced by Steven Soderbergh), and Jay Chandrasekhar offers the sitcom Really, about a tight-knit group of married couples in Chicago. Each of these are in the half-hour format.

There are also two hour-long shows: Marc Forster (World War Z) takes the helm on Hand of God, starring Ron Perlman as a judge of dubious morals who goes vigilante after receiving messages from God, and writer / producer Shaun Cassidy delivers Hysteria, with Mena Suvari as a neurologist faced with virtual virus spread through social media.

"The Cosmopolitans"

“The Cosmopolitans”

Amazon takes their pilots public for customers, Prime subscribers, and potential new subscribers to watch and vote on, basically polling viewers on their interest for a full series. The last batch was a major step up from the first set and this looks to be just as interesting as and perhaps even more ambitious. You can get more information on the shows at Entertainment Weekly.

Amazon has also just announced that is has ordered pilots for five new kids shows—three animated and two live action productions—to debut sometime in early 2015. Variety has the details.

Subscription services:

Netflix now has its own profane animated series: BoJack Horseman, a show-biz satire with Will Arnett (Arrested Development) as a washed-up TV star attempting a comeback. He’s also a horse in a world where animals talk and interact with humans. Not exactly Mr. Ed, it is raunchy and cynical and full of bad behavior and worse decisions, but it is funny. 12 episodes are now available.

Netflix also has the American debut of the British cop drama Happy Valley, a six-part series about a Yorkshire police woman who goes after the man she blames for her daughter’s suicide.

Series catch-up:

Hulu Plus is now streaming the first season of the cult hit Sleepy Hollow, giving viewers a month to catch up on the supernatural series before the second season debuts in late September.

The previous seasons of Once Upon a Time and Revenge are now available on Netflix, giving you about a month to catch up before the new seasons debut this fall.

Trivial notes:

And just because it’s an interesting factoid, web data company CEG TEK has determined that Orange is the New Black has just become the second most pirated TV show in the world (HBO’s Game of Thrones is number one), which is a strange sort of badge of honor, I suppose. Both shows are, of course, available in their entirely to subscribers of Netflix and HBO, respectively.

Calendar of upcoming releases on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, and VOD