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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Skits > Music > TV Special > Musical > Broadway > Drama > Biopic > Invention > Satire > Hollywood > Rel > Carol + 2: The Original Queens Of Comedy (1966 - 1972/Star Vista/Time Life DVD)/Joy (2015/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Susan Slept Here (1954/RKO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)

Carol + 2: The Original Queens Of Comedy (1966 - 1972/Star Vista/Time Life DVD)/Joy (2015/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Susan Slept Here (1954/RKO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)



4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: C+/B/B Sound: C+/B/B- Extras: C+/C/C- Main Programs: B/C/C+



PLEASE NOTE: The Susan Slept Here Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Women in control and moving forward always makes for interesting storytelling, drama, comedy and allows us to see our world in new, necessary ways. These releases from several different periods becomes time capsules and markers of progress, as well as making us think where we're all going next.




Carol + 2: The Original Queens Of Comedy (1966 - 1972) is a single disc release DVD versus the sets we have been covering, but you'll see in a moment why this got its own release. First we get the Carol + 2 program from 3/22/66 with Lucille Ball and Zero Mostel, a terrific, underseen, remarkable special in color that has all kinds of laughs, charm, chemistry, energy and is a highly underseen gem way overdue for release. Then Carol and a huge cast did a taping of her 1959 stage triumph Once Upon A Mattress, where she became a big star on Broadway in her debut show and even earned a Tony nomination. In color from 1972, Ken Berry, Bernadette Peters, Jack Gilford, Wally Cox and Jane White pull off a solid version of the work for posterity and it is a real TV event as well.


However, it is Ball and Burnett that stick with you as one queen of comedy (and queen of the CBS Network) joining another early on before CBS knew who and what they had with Burnett, who only got her later hit show because she took up a clause in her contract with the network. Amazing they did not see how great she was inarguably then, but Carol & Lucy made a great team and would team up a few more times on each other's shows.


The one extra is an interview featurette where Burnett discusses the origins of her 'Charwoman' character.



David O. Russell's Joy (2015) is a very mixed bag that tries to avoid being a formula film, a biopic and focus too much on the invention at hand, but as is the case when he tries too hard with comedy (parts of Silver Linings Playbook, Flirting With Disaster, a few parts of I 'Heart' Huckabees), things backfire quickly. It also shows the odd ways he tries to handle a woman's story and/or point of view, but always with odd, mixed results. Jennifer Lawrence is Joy Manango, whose juggling a dysfunctional family (and then some) with an unhappy life, but was one to always try to create something new and different.


The unlikely escape through an invention comes in the form of a mop that makes life a bit easier, though it keeps getting rejected (like so many other things and people in the film) until she gets a break, but Russell takes a post-modern approach (telling the story in bits, pieces, sections and they don't always cohere) and this lands up being at the expense of a stronger narrative. This leaves a great cast that includes Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper. Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rosselini, Susan Lucci, Donna Mills, Ken Howard (nothing like TV icons to make some odd TV connections) and Edgar Ramirez to try and compensate.


Instead, the result is a very mixed failure with a bunch of missed opportunities. Maybe Russell thought this was a time to experiment, but I think not. It is worth pushing through to see all these star names and get the few chuckles the film offers, but otherwise, the film is far from a 'joy' to watch and you finish still wondering where the complete story was.


Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the rest of the extras are on the regular Blu-ray disc only and include a Stills Gallery, interview featurette with Russell, Lawrence & Maureen Dowd and the Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurette Joy. Strength & Perseverance.



Frank Tashlin's Susan Slept Here (1954) has the former comedy animation genius and clever live-action comedy whiz pulling back his lunacy slightly in a tale of a Hollywood scriptwriter (Dick Powell) trying to write more than just comedies (often joked, even by the Academy Award he received, who narrates parts of the film!) and has a demanding, if sexy girlfriend (Anne Francis at her humorously egotistical best) he may marry, but he also needs new material for his next script. This is delivered in the guise of an underaged gal (Debbie Reynolds) who is in a halfway house with nowhere to go. Some 'friends' dump her on him and he is not amused, but gets stuck with her just the same, though she'd rather run away.


What follows is a plot with some idiot elements, too many jokes on the indecency of this young lady in a grown adults' home (including the illegality of it at the time, then and now) and all the havoc it causes. A definite product of its time, happening around Christmas, Tashlin takes a few mild swipes at MGM musicals the likes of Reynolds appeared in and contains a few dream and music fantasy sequences of its own.


At 98 minutes, it starts wearing thin at the halfway point, but supporting performances by Glenda Farrell, Herb Vigran, Maidie Norman, Alvy Moore, Les Tremayne and more help and the money is on the screen in lush production design, costumes and color. This is also a very rare RKO film that was in color and was widescreen, so it is a one-of-a-kind film worth your time.


An original theatrical trailer is the only extra.




The 1.33 X 1 transfer on Carol is all shot on professional NTSC analog color videotape of the time and can show the age of the materials used, with some video noise, video banding and cross color. However, all the video has been restored as well as possible as has been the case with all the Burnett entries we've covered to date and is about as good as it will all ever look.


The 2160p 1.85 X 1 HECV/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Joy is a mixed bag at times, but it was all shot in 35mm film and looks really impressive when the image is not being made to look like old video or goes for singular color. Thus, one has to get used to the wide range of higher and lower quality images when watching the format. Artistic choices or not, this approach holds back performance overall, but it still looks better than the still-solid 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition standard Blu-ray image of the Blu-ray disc also included in the set.


The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Susan can sometimes show the age of the materials used, including a few shots of faded color and second-generation shots (though they often happen in scene transitions, still common at the time), but the remarkable work done here is a strong representation of a 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor print of the film. Tashlin loved color and knew how to use it. Director of Photography Nicholas Musuraca (Cat People (1942), Out Of The Past, Clash By Night, The Whip Hand, The Hitch-Hiker) proves that he is as capable if handling color as he was with his expertise in black and white. This looks really good, especially at its best which is often and will impress those not used to superior color reproduction.


As for sound, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in Carol is just fine for its age, restored from the best audio available and as cleaned up as possible. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Joy is well mixed and presented for a dialogue and joke-based film, using the multi-channel format for nuance when not fully engaging all tracks and is the same sound on both Blu-ray formats. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Susan also can show its age at times, but I was surprised how clean and clear this was, falling well between the other two releases sonically.



To order the Susan Slept Here Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


https://www.warnerarchive.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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