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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Relationships > Satire > Acting > Theater > Backstage > Music > Variety TV Show > Family > Spoof > Se > The Goodbye Girl (1977/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The Red Skelton Hour In Color: Unreleased Seasons (1966 - 1969/Time Life DVD)/Sitting Pretty (1948/Fox Cinema Archive DVD)/Stardust Memories (1980/Un

The Goodbye Girl (1977/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The Red Skelton Hour In Color: Unreleased Seasons (1966 - 1969/Time Life DVD)/Sitting Pretty (1948/Fox Cinema Archive DVD)/Stardust Memories (1980/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The Stardust Memories Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last from the links below, while Sitting Pretty is a limited pressing that can be ordered on our right-hand sidebar.



Here's a new set of comedy releases for you to know about...



Herbert Ross' The Goodbye Girl (1977) is a comedy co-produced by MGM and Warner Bros., but Warner was the U.S. distributor and owner, yet it would be theirs either way now that they own all MGM films up to 1986. Despite being a huge hit comedy, the studio has decided to give it a web-exclusive Warner Archive Blu-ray release. Written by Neil Simon, the film landed Richard Dreyfus as an actor looking for a hit to propel him, renting a place in New York City from a friend, but he arrives to find that friend gone and finds a mother (Marsha Mason) and her precocious daughter (Quinn Cummings, soon of the TV hit Family) as the remaining tenants.


He does not get along with the mom, bewildered by his arrival, but allowing him to stay there temporarily and he does somewhat become the houseguest from hell. From there, the main story is about them with subplots about her survival with her daughter and his fight for a career, including Paul Benedict (Mr. Bentley from the huge TV hit The Jeffersons) as the play director who is at odds with his new lead.


Some of this is still funny, while other parts are a bit predictable, but this was fresh and new when it arrived and was a much bigger blockbuster hit than most remember, contributing to Dreyfus at his blockbuster peak thanks to Steven Spielberg's first two back to back blockbusters (Jaws (1975, which played in theaters for well over a year) and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (the same year) so that did not hurt, plus Simon continued his winning ways, people loved Mason and the film's energy is consistent.


Downsides include some slight racism and homophobia, then there is the hit title song from David Gates, the lead singer of the underrated soft rock band Bread who had their share of hits and made a few classics. Gates (who, like the band, worked via Warner's music division) lucked out in having this film as one of the very first to have a hit film pushed as much as its title song. You can hear referenced throughout in the Dave Grusin instrumental score for this film, so we get the payoff at the end with the song in the end credits. Gates produced some remarkable solo records worthy of his band, but this would be his biggest hit as Disco pushed singer/songwriters aside to all of our detriment and this would remain his biggest solo hit.


All in all, this is a film worth revisiting and its great to see it on Blu-ray.


The only extra is the Original Theatrical Trailer.



The Red Skelton Hour In Color: Unreleased Seasons (1966 - 1969) has the legendary stage, big screen and radio comedy actor, mime and clown in the later seasons of his hit variety show, finally on DVD thanks to Time Life. This 3-DVD set has 12 hour-long shows with guest stars including John Wayne, Milton Berle, Jackie Coogan, Tim Conway, Audrey Meadows, Mickey Rooney, George Gobel, Phyllis Diller, Martha Raye, Robert Goulet, Merv Griffin (sending up his talk show persona of the time), music guests like Lou Rawls and Simon & Garfunkel (performing one of their lesser hits & most criticized songs) and an especially amusing show with co-guest stars Boris Karloff and Vincent Price.


Though some parts are dated, some jokes are not politically correct and some jokes don't work, more of this worked than expected and there are some truly funny moments. Best of all is how charming and classy Skelton himself can be here, showing us again why he was such a success for so long. This is as good a document as any in action as to why.


Extras include a paper insert on the show including brief episode descriptions, while the first DVD adds interviews with Vicki Lawrence and Bobby Rydell. You can read more about Skelton in his Whistling films at MGM, as we reviewed the DVD set at this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10016/Red+Skelton+Whistling+Collection+(1941+%E2%8



Walter Lang's Sitting Pretty (1948) is actually the debut of the now infamous butler Mr. Belvedere, played here by Clifton Webb in what would be the first of three feature films for Fox as this one was a hit and a proto-sitcom tale before the 1965 Victor Borge version that did not fly and the odd hit 1990s TV series with Christopher Hewett in the title role. Webb has no British accent, but does play the sometimes bewildered outsider butler, trying to hold the family he works for together, which in itself has sort of become a cycle of comedy. The parents are no less than future TV dad Robert Young (already a very successful leading man on the big screen) and Maureen O'Hara, so this is a minor classic on some level.


Unfortunately, it just does not hold up that well, but is key enough that it makes sense for Fox go make this a Cinema Archive DVD release. Sure, we've seen this done with more sentimentality (TV's Family Affair), wit (Soap spinoff Benson in its early seasons) and with way more laughs (the short-lived, under-heard, underrated radio comedy It's Higgins, Sir!), so think of this as the 'safe establishment' version of this. Otherwise, its worth a look for historical, if not always hysterical, reasons.


There are no extras.



Last but not least is Woody Allen's Stardust Memories (1980), a darker comedy than anyone expected from him at the time that has him questioning whether he wants to do comedy, if comedy is relevant, if he's relevant, what is relevant and has him criticizing Hollywood directly for the first time to the point he lost friends who thought he might have been making fun of them in parts of the film. Whether they were correct or just being shallow and thin-skinned, we'll never know, but it is a key film in Allen's long filmography in ways even he might not have realized. Though he still makes comedies, he did shock the industry, media and his fans (especially with recent commercial and critical successes like Annie Hall and Manhattan) that he wanted to change course.


The most shocking thing at the time is that this was in black and white and any of the comedy was deconstructive, even though still funny and clearly Allen as himself still in a wacky world being wacky. Yet, he would start to do more serious work and expand as a filmmaker successfully, predicting here with ease what the reaction would be. Charlotte Rampling, Jessica Harper and Marie-Christine Barrault are his potential love interests, but that is all dampened by the existential dilemmas he explicitly deals with as in no film he made before. It is a fine film that holds up very, very well and seems fresher than you might expect showing how on the money he was.


It was released by his home studio of United Artists, one that was about to go bankrupt and merge with MGM, the current owners of this film. Allen may not have known that (Heaven's Gate was about to be released at this time), but one era was about to end for him as he switched to Orion Pictures (new studio of the former United Artists executives who left the studio before things fell apart; the collapsed because they left) and I am surprised such a key film of his was not a general release, but another Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray. Nevertheless, it is a great film long overdue in the format and deserves to be rediscovered in a whole new light.


Look for a then-unknown Sharon Stone in semi-Marilyn Monroe mode in the opening scene.


Extras include a well-illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds an Isolated Music Score and Original Theatrical Trailer.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition full color image on Goodbye and 1he 1080p 1.85 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Stardust are the best-looking entries here, were shot only a few years apart form each other and look really good throughout with little to complain about. Yes they can sometimes show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of both films with their proper density, range, depth, look and feel. I was happy with both.


The 1.33 X 1 image on Skelton has some good color for an old, early NTSC analog color videotaped series, but we still get some videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, cross color, faded color and tape damage. Nevertheless, the sources have survived better than expected and that's a plus.


That leaves the 1.33 X 1 black and white 35mm-shot image on Pretty more on the soft side than I would have liked, looking a generation down and only sometimes looking good.


As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Goodbye and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix on Stardust show their age, but Goodbye sounds more veiled and slightly compressed, so Stardust is the sonic champ here. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Pretty can actually (surprisingly) compete with Goodbye, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is lower sounding than usual on Skelton, so be careful of high volume levels and volume switching.



To order the Stardust Memories limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other impressive exclusives while supplies last at these links:


www.screenarchives.com


and


http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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