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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Sex > Travel > Slapstick > Romance > Music > Crime > Stand Up Comedy > Addiction > WWII > Wine > Nazis > Broad Minded (1931/First National/Warner Archive DVD)/Follow That Dream (1962/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Richard Lewis: Bundle Of Nerves (1979 - 2014 with Drunks/VSC DVD

Broad Minded (1931/First National/Warner Archive DVD)/Follow That Dream (1962/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Richard Lewis: Bundle Of Nerves (1979 - 2014 with Drunks/VSC DVD set)/The Secret Of Santa Vittoria (1969/United Artists/MGM)/2 By Ken Loach (with Riff-Raff (1991) & Raining Stones (1993)/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/William Shatner's Get A Life (2012/E1 DVD)

Picture: C+/B-/C+/B/B-/C Sound: C/B-/C+/B-/B- & B/C+ Extras: C-/C+/C+/C+/C+/C Main Programs: C+/C+/B/C+/C+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: Broad Minded is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series, while Follow That Dream, Secret Of Santa Vittoria and 2 By Ken Loach are Blu-ray editions limited to only 3,000 copies from our friends at Twilight Time. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's a wide-ranging set of comedy releases...

Mervyn LeRoy's Broad Minded (1931) has the great comic actor Joe E. Brown in his early prime as a guy who is asked to make sure a friend (William Collier Jr.) stays out of womanizing and the like on behalf of his father, but with many beautiful, high class and high society women around, they can forget it very early on. The many scenes are amusing and there are a few laughs, including with Brown crossing a high society man played by Bela Lugosi at his early funniest. Lugosi has more than a few scenes and Brown is so good here, too bad LeRoy could not find a place for him in Wizard Of Oz a few years later.

This was made by the First National Studios which Warner bought out when they gained a fortune introducing sound to film, but the women here including Ona Munson, Marjorie White and Margaret Livingston are also great and this is a nice gem worth rediscovering.

A theatrical trailer is the only extra.

Usually, Elvis Presley made his films at MGM, Paramount and Fox, but he occasionally landed up elsewhere since every studio wanted his films. They all made money. United Artists and The Mirisch Company landed him for Gordon Douglas' Follow That Dream (1962) with Elvis as a singer, sudden local sheriff and part of a family in Florida as he starts romancing Anne Helm. All is nice and fine until he runs into a group of criminals headed by the great Simon Oakland who seems amazed the new law is so naïve.

The film is a mix of flat, fun and amusing moments handled as well as the material will allow by the underrated Gordon. Atypical of the later glut of so-called Elvis Musicals, The Colonel did not have him repeating his film roles yet and the result is a sort of one-off fans will appreciate in particular, even if not all of it is memorable. Arthur O'Connell, Joanna Moore, Roland Winters, Frank de Kova and Barry Russo (credited as John Duke) make up for a good supporting cast.

Extras include Twilight Time's fine, standard, illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and an essay by Julie Kirgo, Original Theatrical Trailer and Isolated Score Track. Fans should note only 3,000 are being made, so if you love Elvis, get it now while supplies last.

Richard Lewis: Bundle Of Nerves (1979 - 2014) is a nice compilation of the underrated stand-up comics works in a new 2-DVD set that includes the 1979 documentary Diary Of A Young Comic showing Lewis in his early prime, the amusing 1997 Magical Misery Tour comedy special that has one of the best titles of any such program, the new House Of A Lifetime program that shows how much art and memorabilia he has collected in his home and the underrated 1995 drama (with a little comedy) Peter Cohn's Drunks (based on the stage play) with Lewis as the main addict among many. It is underrated, well done and rightly has a following.

Also impressive is the cast and the surprise is how many you might recognize, including some who have gone onto more success since the film was released. They include Kevin Corrigan, Sam Rockwell, Amanda Plummer, Parker Posey, Dianne Weist, Calista Flockhart, LisaGay Hamilton, Faye Dunaway, Burtt Harris, Spalding Gray and the last performance of Howard E. Rollins Jr. before his untimely passing. A fine independent work, everyone should see this one at least once, but to have it in such a treasury is great and this is one of the year's best DVD sets.

Intros and audio commentary tracks on Diary and Drunks are the extras.

Stanley Kramer's The Secret Of Santa Vittoria (1969) is an attempt to do a comedy with some drama and vice versa. By pairing Anthony Quinn and Anna Magnani, any similarities to Zorba The Greek and The Rose Tattoo are intentional as the title locale is in the midst of not knowing if they'll survive WWII and how Mussolini will play into all of it. The film beings with a young Giancarlo Giannini riding his bicycle into town to announce the good news that Mussolini is dead. That should be cause for a celebration, but some of the people there unfortunately supported him, though their main occupation is making great wine of all things.

Bombolini (Quinn) is trying to enjoy life, but is unhappy with his life and wife (Magnani playing older than she was) as the film starts out as a comedy with some serious points. Things start to turn when the Nazis are due to roll into town and take over, but the lead Nazi (Hardy Kruger) knows of their reputation for wine... and wants all of it!

They started hiding the bottles in advance, but he is determined to find it against all odds, no matter who he might have to hurt and as we discover, even if it does not help the German war effort. In the middle of the script, it is like watching a Hogan's Heroes episode, then it turns darker. Kramer was trying to do something ambitious, different and clever, but it is too much to juggle even for his talents and the resulting film is uneven despite a great supporting cast that includes Virna Lisl, Sergio Franchi, Patrizia Valturri and others in a film shot in Italy on location and at the great Cinecitta Studios. It is worth a look, no matter its limits.

Extras include another one of Twilight Time's fine, standard, illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and an essay by Julie Kirgo, Original Theatrical Trailer and Isolated Score Track by Ernest Gold.

2 By Ken Loach feature to early films by the British director who was always willing to confront the major damage Margaret Thatcher both to the U.K., both made mid-career in the 1990s as he was able to show just how bad things got. Riff-Raff (1991) has the trial and tribulations of construction men (including a then-unknown Robert Carlyle) trying to make a living as they repair an older building to refurbish it extensively with the irony that it was for the rich, will be for the rich and they now know it is a rich that supported Thatcher. We even get some comments on that, but this is also a somewhat dark comedy.

I tended to buy this a little more than the likes of Mike Leigh's High Hopes (1988) made around the same time, but both are on track in what they want to show as the failure and abandonment of what the U.K. could deliver if it wanted to. This runs 96 minutes and has a score by Stewart Copeland of The Police.

Raining Stones (1993) was his very next film, with Bruce Jones as family man Bob, who lies to his wife Anne (Julie Brown) about their finances and gets them into all kinds of trouble by borrowing money from criminals he should not even talk to. Madness ensures and this is no comedy, including some very ugly scenes that show raw suffering typical of what happens to the most vulnerable in our society. The cast is once again impressive and Copeland again delivers a fine music score. The pairing of the two films makes total sense and they deserve this Blu-ray release.

Extras include yet another one of Twilight Time's fine, standard, illustrated booklets on both films including informative text and an essay by Julie Kirgo, Original Theatrical Trailer and Isolated Music Score & Effects Tracks for each film.

Finally we have William Shatner's Get A Life (2012) where he tries to follow up some of his other self-reflective looks at Star Trek culture with a look at the fandom connected to the show and its many spinoffs. It may not be as good as the others, but has some touching moments and he does get to regret the infamous Saturday Night Live skit that actually got fans more than a bit mad at him.

Running about an hour, I think it is not bad, but is not long enough, does not go far enough and most importantly, only explores the culture now instead of in the beginning when no one could have imagined the 1979 feature film. Not bad, but it could have used more exposition.

Six behind-the-scenes bonus clips are the nice extras here.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Santa might have some rough spots, but is the most faithful image reproduction on the list and just makes our excellent rating, though the print can show the age of the materials used, shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision and originally issued in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor. This can look that good often enough, though it could use a bit of work down the line. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Dream can show the age of the materials used and was also shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision, but color was by DeLuxe and is not quite as good, though we get some nice shots, but it is not as consistent as Santa.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on both Loach films were shot on 16mm and 35mm film respectively and definitely show the age of the materials used, but expect a few rough spots. Still, they are meant to look a bit rough and this shows once again that even 16mm in the case of Riff can look much better on Blu-ray than they ever could on DVD.

As for the DVDs, the 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Broad can be a bit rough due to age, but the image reproduction is more faithful than not, making it as good as any of the DVDs here. The early 1.33 X 1 comedy concerts on Lewis can look soft (the 1979 Comic show was shot on film, but only an old analog transfer has survived to date, unfortunately), while the newer footage Is anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image, the 1997 HBO show is 1.33 X 1 color NTSC analog video and the Drunks theatrical film (shot on 35mm Agfa film stocks) is here in anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image and is consistent. That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the Shatner DVD softer and more motion blur prone than a new production should be, leaving it the poorest performer here with the early Lewis material.

All three Twilight Time Blu-rays feature DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 lossless Mono mixes (save 2.0 on Loach's Stones that is simple stereo, but received advanced Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) analog stereo with mono surrounds as a theatrical release) and are about as good as they will get. Stones lands up sounding the best by a slim margin and it is recommended you play it with Pro Logic decoding or the like if you have a home theater system. With the rest of the Blu-rays tying for second place sonically, that leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono on Broad the oldest, roughest and poorest performer here, but at 83+ years old as of this posting, flaws are to be expected. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Shatner DVD and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound on the various Lewis presentations tie for next-to-last place best sonics, with newer materials in simple stereo, the early show in mono and Drunks recorded and released in Ultra Stereo, a rough version of the old analog Dolby A with lite Pro Logic surrounds at best.

To order the Follow That Dream, Secret Of Santa Vittoria and 2 By Ken Loach limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at this link:


and to order the Broad Minded DVD, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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