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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Stage Play > Sex > Manners > British > Literature > Relationships > Rural > High Society > Fa > About Last Night (2014 remake/Sony Blu-ray)/Decline & Fall Of A Bird Watcher (1968)/The Pleasure Seekers (1964)/Scudda-Hoo! Scudda-Hay! (1948/Fox Cinema Archive DVD)/The Women (1939/MGM/Warner Blu-ray

About Last Night (2014 remake/Sony Blu-ray)/Decline & Fall Of A Bird Watcher (1968)/The Pleasure Seekers (1964)/Scudda-Hoo! Scudda-Hay! (1948/Fox Cinema Archive DVD)/The Women (1939/MGM/Warner Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Decline & Fall Of A Bird Watcher, Pleasure Seekers and Scudda-Hoo! Scudda-Hay! DVDs are now only available online and can be ordered from Amazon on our sidebar.

Here is a mixed selection of comedy releases...

I was hoping Steve Pink's remake of About Last Night (2014) would start from scratch with the original David Mamet book, even asking Mamet to adapt, as I was no fan of the original as you can see in my review of that 1986 release:


Instead, it is an amazingly bad rehash of the amazingly overrated original, with the alleged twist simply being an all-African American cast as if no one (regardless of sex, age, religion, skin color, nation origin, etc.) had ever heard of the original. So we get a full rehash with Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant. Too bad it is sooooo dull. These actors and the rest of us deserve better.

Four Behind The Scenes featurettes, three of which are Blu-ray exclusives, plus Ultraviolet Copy are the only extras.

John Krish is best known for his long series of documentary and shorts work, but he could take on the occasional narrative film and even turned out three great episodes of the full color Diana Rigg/Emma Peel episodes of The Avengers. He actually brings some of those sensibilities to his film of Evelyn Waugh's Decline & Fall Of A Bird Watcher (1968) which is not a great film or even a very successful one. However, it has some fine visuals and some interesting moments.

Robin Phillips is Paul Pennyfeather, our private school student title character whose misadventures start when he gets involved with an older woman who is part of an elite he is not part of. From there, he meets more eccentrics, lands up in more plain and wild situations and more in this very odd and very British odyssey of the absurd and this includes some wild costumes, exceptional use of color and remarkable production design.

However, it feels a little long at 112 minutes despite a parade of exceptional actors in good form including Kenneth Griffith, John Glyn-Jones, Donald Wolfit, Donald Layne-Smith, Michael Elwyn, Colin Blakely, Helen Christie, Clifton Jones, Genevieve Page, Robert Harris, Leo McKern, Ivor Dean and Patrick Magee. Add an interesting Ron Goodwin score and fine cinematography by the great Director of Photography Desmond Dickinson, B.S.C. And you can tell the makers were trying for a classic. They missed, but this one is definitely worth a look.

There are no extras.

Jean Negulesco's The Pleasure Seekers (1964) is a remake of the director's own 1954 hit Three Coins In The Fountain, which we reviewed on DVD years ago at this link:


The original was not that great, even though this remake has a nice cast that includes Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley, Pamela Tiffin, Tony Franciosa, Gardner McKay, Andre Lawrence, Gene Tierney and Brian Keith. Taking place in Madrid, Spain, it has a few interesting moments, but this was a film that did not need remade. Worth a look for what does work, which is only so much, but if you like the actors/stars, you should see it at least once.

There are no extras.

F. Hugh Herbert's Scudda-Hoo! Scudda-Hay! (1948) is a sometime too-silly comic boy/gal story with June Haver and Lon McCallister possibly getting together living in midwest farmlands. There is little to it and it has the pop culture aside of having Natalie Wood in another child acting role, but it is often forgotten just the same except for a brief appearance of an up and coming actress in her first big screen appearance: Marilyn Monroe. Don't blink, though.

However, there is not much more to offer and it is maybe worth seeing once. Otherwise, pass.

There are no extras.

George Cukor's The Women (1939) is the classic gem here, remade unsuccessfully a few times, this deceptively simple film based on the hit Claire Booth Luce stage play, Cukor and MGM used it as a showcase for their unbelievable female star power in what is considered the greatest year of the Classical Hollywood era. A look at all kinds of women in an upscale world, Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell, Joan Crawford, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Marjorie Main, Mary Boland, Ruth Hussey and Lucille Watson head a great cast in this still-amusing, sometimes funny woman's film to end them all.

A time capsule as well of a pre-WWII America, the film juggles its personalities and ideas with panache and shows a filmmaker and studio that knew what it wanted, what to do and how to make this kind of film work. Later films with female team casts like a few on this list were made possible by this critical and commercial success, but they were not always able to pull off what was accomplished here. See this one for laughs and for the classiness of it all.

Extras include Score Session Music Cues, One Mother's Family cartoon, two Another Romance Of Celluloid documentary featurettes, a black and white version of the fashion show with totally different footage and Original Theatrical Trailers for this and its first remake, the 1956 campy musical drama The Opposite Sex.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Women is in great, restored shape, mostly in the glossy black and white MGM had like no other studio, then the fashion show was shot and presented in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor looking just as good. That makes it the best presentation here, despite being the oldest film on the list and looks as good as the fine 35mm print I was many years ago. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on About is a new shoot, but it is no better than the transfer on the older 1986 film's Blu-ray and that is not good. Nothing demo worthy either, but the DVDs are the weakest of all.

All show the age of the materials used, from the 1.33 X 1 problematic print of Scudda which was also a dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor release to the DeLuxe Color 1.33 X 1 presentation on Bird (good color in a too-soft print) and letterboxed 2.35 X 1 version of the CinemaScope presentation on Seekers. They all need some work.

In the sound department, the Blu-rays tie despite About offering a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix and Women offering a much older DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix as the former is on the weak, dialogue-based side and the latter has had its audio very well preserved. The DVDs tie again for last place, but fare a bit better with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in all cases, but they sound fine for their age and the compressed format.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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