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Category:    Home > Reviews > Biopic > TV Movie > Telefilm > Prime Time Soap Opera > Oil > Medical Drama > Fashion > Reality TV > Huntin > Anna Nicole (2013/Sony DVD)/Dallas: The Complete Second Season (new series/2013/Warner DVD Set)/Dr. Kildare Movie Collection (1938 - 1960/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Dr. Kildare: The Complete Second Seaso

Anna Nicole (2013/Sony DVD)/Dallas: The Complete Second Season (new series/2013/Warner DVD Set)/Dr. Kildare Movie Collection (1938 - 1960/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Dr. Kildare: The Complete Second Season, Part One + Part Two (1962 - 1963/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/House Of Versace (2013/Lionsgate DVD)/Swamp People: Season 4 (2013/Lionsgate DVD)

Picture: C+/C/C+/C+/C/C+ Sound: C+/C+/C/C+/C/C+ Extras: C-/C/C/D/C+/C- Main Programs: C+/C+/C+/C+/C/C-

PLEASE NOTE: The Dr. Kildare DVD sets are only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and all can be ordered from their website link below.

Here are some TV releases including one that starts as a film series and gives way to a TV show at least as successful...

We start with director Mary Harron, whose work ranges from the mixed-but-enduring American Psycho to missed like I Shot Andy Warhol and The Moth Diaries. Now she takes on a subject that has garnered more works than you might think. In Anna Nicole (2013), we get a mixed, but sometimes more interesting and unintentionally funny cable movie biopic on the model and Playmate turned near billionaire in a story that still has not totally been told well. This variant has her brief early years with her single mother (the underrated Virginia Madsen), which includes odd visions of a Marilyn Monroe clone who calls herself Anna Nicole.

That is the beginning of where the script goes awry, but every wacky turn like that is countered with other interesting events like work with Playboy Magazine, for Guess Jeans and leaves Larry Birkhead in one scene. The coup here is casting Martin Landau as a dead-on J. Howard Marshall, even topping the ever-capable Adam Goldberg as a rightly creepy, opportunistic Howard K. Stern and Cary Elwes as Marshall's son who immediately hates the adult Nicole, played very well by Agnes Bruckner.

I just could not escape the feeling they needed more time and guts to tell the whole story, yet this is good viewing and to Harron's credit, Anna Nicole is never a joke here but a dignified woman who becomes a victim of her background, circumstances and other's greed, especially men in a man's world. This is more worth seeing than you might think.

Previews are the only extras, but you can read about an actual opera on the late model/actress at this link:


Though no one would have thought of it years ago, Larry Hagman had become more synonymous with J.R. Ewing than any of his other works, so when bad health took him from us, who knew he would be part of a Dallas revival and would pass as he brought the character back? Dallas: The Complete Second Season (2013) was in early production when he became so sick, then left us, but he stayed in character all the way going out in style and on top at his villainous best in the first episodes of what would be only 15 hour-long shows (versus 23 - 28 for the old series, which this writer is still not used to).

The makers handled the unexpected death well and the show manages to stay on course in what it established in tis revival's debut season, yet it is obvious the loss of Hagman is going to be a challenge for future seasons, though the current cast (a mix of new and original series actors) were established well enough that the writing and pace are not as outright affected as they otherwise would be. Fans will be happy and the makes can be proud they held the show together.

Extras include the featurettes Memories With Larry Hagman, One Last Conversation with Larry Hagman and The Battle For Ewing Energies, Dallas: Fashion Files, Deleted Scenes and an extended version of the J.R.'s Masterpiece episode with optional audio commentary.

Back in 1938, MGM licensed the Max Brand novels featuring a likable doctor and made 9 films until 1942, now all collected here in the Dr. Kildare Movie Collection with Lew Ayres in the title role and Barrymore as wheelchair-bound mentor Dr. Gillespie. Made at a time when doctor's made house calls, medical innovations were in a golden upswing and doctor's seemed sometimes omnipotent, Kildare offered a human face to the men and even some of the myths. MGM managed to meld some mystery and melodrama siding with soapy women's film approaches in what became one of the most successful non-mystery movie series of the pre-TV era. The films include Young Doctor Kildare (1938), Calling Doctor Kildare (1939, with a young, unknown Lana Turner), The Secret Of Doctor Kildare (1939, which we reviewed elsewhere on this site as a Roan Group DVD that does not look or sound as good as it does here), Doctor Kildare's Strange Case (1940), Doctor Kildare Goes Home (1940), Doctor Kildare's Crisis (1940, with Robert Young in an interesting role), The People Vs. Doctor Kildare (1941), Doctor Kildare's Wedding (1941) and Doctor Kildare' Victory (1942, where his wife suddenly disappears).

Red Skelton eventually turns up as an orderly in comical fashion, Alma Kruger was regular Head Nurse Molly Byrd and Marie Blake as funny, gossipy telephone operator/receptionist Sally Green. The makers created a family of characters that gels well and make watching the series as interesting as it was consistent. Later trailers had to explain to audiences that a new film has been made, so MGM knew they were following a formula to a good extent, but these films hold up well enough and are worth revising, even when they get dated or corny.

Trailers for all 9 films are the main extras, but Warner has also included the half-hour 1960 pilot for a Kildare series with Lew Ayres that guest stars Robert Redford, but was never sold or shown to the public. Dr. Gillespie was not included, assumed dead.

However, MGM wasted no time when it did not sell and retooled the idea of a series, hiring a young, then unknown Richard Chamberlain in the title role and found themselves with an early medical drama hit. Picking up on Dr. Kildare: The Complete Second Season, Part One + Part Two (1962 - 1963), the show was a hit and bringing back Dr. Gillespie as played by Raymond Massey did the trick. Warner Archive has issued the season in two DVD sets covering all 34 hour-long shows.

Many of the regular characters from the movie series are gone, though Ruth McDevitt (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) shows up as a nurse in what should have been a more regular character .like Ken Berry would be here. Like many early TV hits, we see some great actors in early roles as well as some established ones. This time out, they include Peter Falk, Carroll O'Connor, Bill Bixby, Mary Astor, Robert Culp, Leonard Nimoy, John Cassavetes, Stanley Adams, Harvey Korman, Theodore Bikel, Abraham Soafer, Carolyn Jones, Jack Carter, Harry Guardino, Beverly Garland, Jeannie Cooper, Coleen Gray, Inga Swenson, Ellen Colby, Steven Hill, Naomi Stevens, Suzanne Pleshette, Eileen Heckart, Barbara Parkins, Alan Reed Jr., Ed Begley, Joan Freeman, Ed Asner, Olympia Dukakis, Claire Trevor, Madge Blake, Murray Hamilton, Diana Hyland, Majel Barrett, Fritz Weaver, Constance Ford, James Caan, Barbara Barrie, Jeanette Nolan, James Franciscus, Allan Melvin, Henry Silva, John Larch, Mariette Hartley, Dan O'Herlihy, Jean Hagen, Vito Scotti, Polly Bergen, Harold Gould, Lee Meriwether, Patrick O'Neal, John Fielder, Anna Lee, Greg Morris, J. Pat O'Malley, Forrest Tucker, Ross Martin, Regis Toomey, Edgar Buchanan, John Marley, Lois Smith, Richard Benjamin and Sorrell Booke.

Sadly, the show fell out of syndication and favor as black and white TV shows were shelved in favor of color productions and even Chamberlain's later hits did not get the show seen enough, so having these sets finally coming out fills a big gap in TV history and from those guest stars alone, you can see some key work by key performers have been on the shelves too long.

Unfortunately, there are no extras.

Sara Sugarman's House Of Versace (2013) wants to take us behind the inner workings of the ever-popular fashion producer, but many already know that Gianni Versace was killed by a lone gunman when he was caught off guard senselessly. That is addressed, but this cable TV movie is more interested in Donatella (Gina Gershon) helped make the clothes great and how she survived the loss of her brother. Raquel Welch is semi-unrecognizable as her mother and there area few amusing moments here, but not enough in its 90 minutes.

Even worse, we really don't learn very much despite this being based on a supposedly good book, but it was made for the Lifetime Network, so the safeness and eventual generic results make sense despite some good casting. Gershon does what she can, but cannot save this one.

There are no extras.

Finally we have Swamp People: Season 4 (2013) which is somehow continuing to be a hit for the A&E (or is that A + E) Network. Why? Because like Duck Dynasty, it is a meandering so-called reality TV show designed to amuse those who would never watch TV with any real substance or challenge. So the guys here hunt alligators. And then.... ? For fans only.

40 minutes of bonus footage is the only extra.

Though they are new productions, the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image performance on Versace and the Dallas episodes are much softer than they should be and disappoint throughout, leaving Swamp looking better and Anna looking a tad better than all of the releases in this presentation. The 1.33 X 1 black and white presentations on the Kildare theatrical films and TV episodes also look about as good as expected, though an early Season Two episode The Burning Sky was shot in color (here in MetroColor) and used as an early production to push color TV on NBC. It looks really good too.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Anna and Dallas should be the sonic champs here, but they tie for first place with the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Swamp and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the Kildare series episodes. That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Versace and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the older Kildare feature films sonically in second placed, but Versace should be richer and warmer than this.

You can order the Kildare DVD sets above, plus the debut season we did not catch and more via Warner Archive through this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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