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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Show Business > Con Artist > Gangster > Romance > Soccer > British > Author > Mystery > Heist > TV > De > Broadway Danny Rose (1984/Orion/MGM)/Fever Pitch (1997/Film 4/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/Footsteps In The Dark (1941/Warner Archive DVD)/Hot Guys With Guns (2013/Wolfe DVD)/Mr. Hobbs Take

Broadway Danny Rose (1984/Orion/MGM)/Fever Pitch (1997/Film 4/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/Footsteps In The Dark (1941/Warner Archive DVD)/Hot Guys With Guns (2013/Wolfe DVD)/Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation (1962/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: B/B/C/C/B-/B & C Sound: B-/B-/C/C+/B-/B & B- Extras: B-/B-/D/C-/B-/C Films: B-/C+/C+/C/C/C

PLEASE NOTE: The Broadway Danny Rose, Fever Pitch and Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation Blu-rays are limited edition Blu-rays with only 3,000 copies being pressed of each and are only available from our friends at Twilight Time, while the Footsteps In The Dark DVD is now only available from our friends at Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

This is a cycle of comedies old and new, with one new one a remake of an old classic...

Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose (1984) continues Twilight Time's limited edition rollout of key films by the director that he made during his second-era glory years at Orion Pictures (the sadly long gone movie studio whose catalog is now owned by MGM) as this film joins Crimes & Misdemeanors and the upcoming Radio Days as part of what we hope is a whole cycle of the entire Orion output not issued on Blu-ray yet.

Allen is the title character, a talent agent who signs the worst, oddest and most unlikely to succeed characters thinking he can possibly con someone into helping him make money on them. Unfortunately, this wacky approach brings more problems and cross-conflicts than even he and his usually foolproof scheming ways can avoid or stop. A nice take on the grittier side of the New York School of cinema, the film is decent, amusing and fun, but also obvious a little more than its fans might want to admit. Mia Farrow is great here as a woman he is up to no good with, but it is sad and ironic with what has happened to them since this film, though she is hard to recognize, so it is more enjoyable as a result. Denial can help. This is the best film in this review, a fun film everyone should see once and Sandy Baron is the narrator.

David Evans' Fever Pitch (1997) is now a curio for its early lead work by Colin Firth, coming from a cycle of very British comedies that had their serious moments, this one dealing with a romantic relationship and the love that the various characters have for soccer. Of course the game is huge everywhere in the world except the USA, so some of the humor and nuances are lost, along with some others about Britishness. However, the adaptation of the Nick Hornby book by the man himself is a plus and the film has a nice, natural flow to it.

There are some nice supporting performances and little touches that are a plus, but the film, never stayed with me and the last act does not deliver as is the case with most films involving sports of any kind. Barely released in the US, it is a chance to catch up with an ambitious independent film, but it simply is not for all tastes. At least it is finally in print.

Lloyd Bacon's Footsteps In The Dark (1941) has Errol Flynn as a man who has secretly written a somewhat scandalous novel (sharing the title of this film) who is an investor involved in wacky relationships when a real murder surfaces and a major heist is also in the mix. Somewhat spoofy of detective films in general, it is amusing at times with a solid supporting cast and has Flynn in a different kind of role, but even Ralph Bellamy, Brenda Marshall, Alan Hale and a particularly funny William Frawley only help this one out so much. Still, it is worth a look despite its limits and runs 96 minutes.

Doug Spearman's Hot Guys With Guns (2013) is a comedy about a gay actor who goes undercover with a real cop to find out how to portray one on TV, but the case becomes all too real for him as the script wants to have fun with masculine images in the media (the title credits imitate the current Daniel Craig Bond films), but what this really becomes is a bad take-off of the Michael J. Fox/James Woods comedy The Hard Way (1991, directed by John Badham) and I was not a big fan of that film either. Give or take any gay jokes I missed, this was not that funny or original., but I give them points for a professional-looking, consistent production that at last tried. Too bad it never got better.

Henry Koster's Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation (1962) was Fox's attempt to do a big screen comedy with some TV sitcom sensibility featuring James Stewart as the father of a family with many internal issues. He works and makes good money as they live well, but that does not mean happiness, so on vacation they go. Maureen O'Hara is his wife, his daughter gets mixed up with a young music guy leaning towards beatniks played by Fabian, John Saxon also shows up in one of his more pleasant roles and Marie Wilson shows up stealing some scenes as well.

Though it has some nice locales, looks good, has a good cast and a music score by Henry Mancini that helps, it has not aged well and was only so memorable to begin with. The family itself is believable enough in the world the script makes for it, but it is worth a look just to see the cast in this not-often seen film now out on Blu-ray in only 3,000 copies and Stewart completists in particular will want to own a copy..

Ben Stiller's 2013 remake of The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty was a mixed proposition from the start, with Stiller himself playing the daydreamer who keeps fantasizing of a better, more exciting, more interesting life. The original film has been ripped off, taken off and even produced a cartoon that had to change its name, though my favorite variant is Irwin (Empire Strikes Back) Kershner's Up The Sandbox (1972) with Barbra Streisand in her most underrated film as an oppressed housewife who is unhappy. That became as much a dark comedy as a character study.

From the box art of this official remake, you would think this was some kind of drama, but it is hardly that, throws in fantasy sequences here and there and cannot decide what it is. Stiller is actually at his most interesting when he plays Mitty oppressed, but when he has to be the fantasy version, he just becomes a repetitive version of himself and every single thing he has already done at least a few dozen times. The original may not be a masterpiece, but that does not mean it was easy to remake. This is an unfortunate dud and I can see Fox wanting Stiller in a hit other than those Museum films, but this was not going to be that film by a longshot. If only the writers tried harder, this could have at least worked sometimes.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 AVC @ 29 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Mitty was shot on 35mm film to its advantage, but despite looking as good as anything on this list, the color is drained at times and the digital work is boring. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital black & white High Definition image transfer on Danny (shot so well by DP Gordon Willis, A.S.C.) and full color 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Fever rarely show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film tying Mitty and playing back far better than you might expect. Danny has grain, but is as clear as the recent Pawnbroker Blu-ray, while Fever is deceptively soft, showing better detail and depth the more you watch and realize how good a transfer it really is.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Hobbs can show the age of the materials used shot in original CinemaScope and having the limits of those lenses, plus the DeLuxe color it was processed in has not aged as well or held up as consistently as similar films from the period. but all four Blu-rays look as good as they are going to look in the format pretty much and fans will be pleased.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Guns is next in third place as a recent HD shoot that is a little soft, but consistent enough in this format, leaving the 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Dark just too aged with a print showing too much damage for its won good despite being so well shot.

As for sound, Mitty is easily the sonic king as it was originally issued in Dolby Atmos 11.1 in select upscale movie houses, so the Blu-ray has a mixdown in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless presentation that is nice, consistent and note that we have quiet moments, jokes and dialogue, sot he mixers had to be clever and they succeeded. So much so in fact that the DVD's weaker, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix ties for second place with the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless sound mixes on Danny (1.0 Mono), Fever (2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surrounds, though listed as a Dolby Digital release, we guess it was not full 5.1) and Hobbs (1.0 Mono) that all also sound as good as we expect those films ever will sound.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Guns is weaker with some location audio issues and an inconsistent soundfield, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Dark is a generation down with weak, sometimes scratchy audio that could use some restoration work and deserves it.

Extras on Danny, Fever and Hobbs include booklets on the respective films and isolated music score tracks, though Danny and Hobbs add an Original Theatrical Trailers, Fever has a feature length audio commentary track by Julie Kirgo (who wrote the texts for all the booklets) and fellow film scholar Nick Redmond and Danny also has sound effects mixed in with its isolated music. Footsteps has no extras, but Guns has a Blooper Reel and Original Theatrical Trailer and Mitty offers Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, Stills, a Music Video, three Making Of featurettes and Deleted, Extended & Alternate Scenes.

You can order the Broadway Danny Rose, Fever Pitch and/or Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation limited edition Blu-rays, buy them along with other valuable limited editions while supplies last at this link:


and to order Footsteps In The Dark on Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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