The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) on IMDb

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is the story of a British officer who rises through the ranks, but it touches on much more. Shown in flashback, we see Clive “Sugar” Candy change from a dashing young man to a retired brigadier general and wrestle with the conflicting ideas of British fair play and the ruthless tactics of modern warfare.

According to the directors, the idea for the film came from a scene cut from their previous film, One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (IA #27), in which an elderly member of the crew tells a younger one, “You don’t know what it’s like to be old.” Due to the British government’s disapproval of the film, it was not released in the United States until 1945 and in a modified form, reduced to 150 minutes, then later to 90 minutes for television. We’re fortunate to have the original 163-minute version available in the Internet Archive Top 100.

Logo for Walter PresentsWalter Iuzzolino, who once left his job so he could watch television full time, recently said, “I think some TV channels will literally become joint ventures with the giant streamers, and Netflix will buy channels.” The occasion was the release of the annual Nostradamus Report (pdf), which was summarized yesterday by Jenny Priestley at TV Technology.

The report, published by the Göteburg Film Festival, “aims to sketch out the future of the screen industries 3–5 years from now” by interviewing several industry experts. One of them is Iuzzolino, who now curates Walter Presents, a service offering dramas from around the world.

Comparing the online world with terrestrial, linear TV, Iuzzolino said, “We are in the middle of a terrible war, and then there will be a marriage. In five years I genuinely think that the integration of streaming and TV will have been, if not completed, then 75 % advanced. There’s probably a period of adjustment of the next 5–7 years where that terrestrial audience declines and disappears.”

Picking on Netflix, possibly as an example, he said the company was great at expanding its subscriber base but still could use a way “to shape the national conversation. [For that] you [still] need the billboard, a national terrestrial channel, which on a Wednesday night shows you this, on a Thursday night shows you that.” There’s so much more from Iuzzolino and others, so you really ought to go read the PDF.

Personally, I think the natural vehicle for something just like this is Hulu. It’s already mostly owned by three channels, soon to be two if Fox sells its stake to Disney. It’s already offering a live package to go along with its streaming TV library. Although its short-term losses appear to be growing rapidly, it’s got enough name recognition and momentum to be a serious contender. I hope its owners continue to see free TV as a complementary, as well as complimentary, service.

A wall of multi-colored sticky notesI got MLB.TV’s annual pitch in my email yesterday. For $116 (up from $113 last year), it’ll provide access to over 2000 live games spread out over seven months, plus condensed replays, full access to the mobile app, and probably more. If you’re a cord-cutter who loves baseball, that’s a sweet deal. On the other hand, if you tough it out, the price for the partial season always drops. Based on past seasons, I expect a large discount (of 30%+) in May, then a half-off offer, eventually winding all the way down to about $5 for September’s pennant race. Last year, I caught a flash sale at the end of June, getting the second half of the season for $10. Your mileage will vary.

Remember when Sling TV told me that it was going to leave Channel Master‘s DVR+ “soon”? Do you also remember that a couple of weeks later, during an all-day outage, I was convinced that it was gone for good? It returned the next day, and now it’s been eight weeks since that initial announcement; Sling still works on my DVR+. (On the other hand, the DVR+ appears to be gone from Channel Master’s web site, though its accessories are still available.) This week, I got a fun email from CM that said in effect, “If you thought you would receive your Stream+ receiver by the end of January, well, it’s February now. We’ll get it to you ASAP.” No problem, I still look forward to it. And about Sling, since conspiracies make better stories than coincidences, my guess is that Sling’s eventual departure from my DVR+ will occur about the same time as my Stream+’s arrival. I’ll let you know.

Logo for ESPN + network in Latin AmericaNick Statt of The Verge reported this afternoon that the ESPN Plus streaming service will launch this spring. That was the word from Disney CEO Bob Iger, speaking during his company’s earnings call.

The most important detail was the price: $4.99/month. For that money, subscribers will have access to Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, a whole lot of college sports, and other events. They’ll access them through a redesigned ESPN app.

But this isn’t as huge as it looks at first glance. Statt wrote that “ESPN Plus will not contain access to SportsCenter or to live ESPN channels, as Iger says Disney will not make ESPN Plus available unless you’re a ‘traditional or non-traditional’ subscriber of standard ESPN.” So cord-cutters won’t get to fill the sports hole in their schedule without finding another way to subscribe to the channel itself.

 Great Expectations (1946) on IMDb

There are so many accolades for this version of Charles Dickens’ novel. Leonard Maltin gave it a perfect 4 stars and called it “One of the greatest films ever made”. In 1999, the British Film Institute listed it fifth in the Top 100 British films of the 20th century. It was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and won for Best Cinematography and Art Direction, probably for the signature opening graveyard scene.

David Lean was inspired to direct Great Expectations after watching a stage version in 1939. (Alec Guinness played Herbert Pocket in the play, and Lean cast him in his first speaking role.) This classic story of a poor young orphan who becomes a gentleman thanks to a mysterious benefactor is a fine choice for the top tier of the Internet Archive Top 100.