(1977/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The
Red Skelton Hour In Color: Unreleased Seasons
(1966 - 1969/Time Life DVD)/Sitting
Pretty (1948/Fox Cinema
Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)
B/C+/C/B Sound: C+/C/C+/B- Extras: C-/C/D/C+ Main
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
is a limited pressing that can be ordered on our right-hand sidebar.
a new set of comedy releases for you to know about...
(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.
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
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.
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.
in all, this is a film worth revisiting and its great to see it on
only extra is the Original Theatrical Trailer.
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.
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
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...
(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.
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
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.
are no extras.
but not least is Woody Allen's Stardust
(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
that he wanted to change course.
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.
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.
for a then-unknown Sharon Stone in semi-Marilyn Monroe mode in the
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.
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.
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.
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.
for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on
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
so be careful of high volume levels and volume switching.
order the Stardust
limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other impressive exclusives while
supplies last at these links: