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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Spoof > Politics > Religion > Slapstick > Musical > War > Horror > Road Movie > WWII > Western > Bananas (1971/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection (1938 - 1949/Paramount/Universal DVD Box Set)/Gidget (1959/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time L

Bananas (1971/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection (1938 - 1949/Paramount/Universal DVD Box Set)/Gidget (1959/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Logan Lucky (2017/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Bananas and Gidget Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to 3,000 copies each and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a wide variety of comedy movies to consider...

Woody Allen's Bananas (1971) is one of his earliest feature films and hits, starting with his character (Fielding Mellish is his amusing name here) who works as a human dummy for the testing of various equipment and devices before they are 'safe' and 'useful' enough to be sold to the public. However, as is the case with many early Allen films, this somehow lands him in a position where he goes to a third-world dictatorship (!) and somehow accidentally becomes its dictator!

Reuniting with Louise Lasser (who he was with in real life at the time) and his co-writer Mickey Rose, they try the jokes from all over approach they used so effective in Take The Money And Run, Allen's 1969 directorial debut spoof of serious documentaries of the time (more shocking at the time than now in the mockumentary era) and this can be as funny. However, the script is competing with a more linear plot idea, so the scattered approach of the earlier film is not always as effective here. I will not ruin any of the jokes, but some intertextual references might be lost on the audience today because of time periods, yet the hilarious Marvin Hamlisch score so brilliantly punctuates the lunacy that its implementation here is a classic (imitated in many references and spoofs of Allen himself!) and would continues to be the style of comedy music in Allen films for decides to come. Hamlisch even revisited the style before his sad, too-young passing a few years ago for Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! with Matt Damon.

As with many early Allen films, you will also recognize name stars in small roles including Sylvester Stallone as one of the thugs harassing Fielding on a New York subway car, plus future Diff'rent Strokes TV co-stars Conrad Bain and Charlotte Rae in separate scenes in the film (Rae is Fielding's mother, but you can only hear her and barely see her as she is in surgery when he visits them DURING surgery for help!) so keep be on the lookout for things like that.

MGM has made this United Artists/Allen gem available as another one of Twilight Time's Limited Edition Blu-rays, which would have been shocking when these films were such hits, but Allen does not have the audience he used to (though he still has hits, private scandal or not) and all his works should be issued in great new transfers like this one. Amazing this one is just coming out now, but it seems as timely as ever in its satire of dictatorships and with the great isolated music score in fine, clear stereo, watching the comedy scenes with just Hamlisch's music makes them funny all over again.

Like the previous dozen Allen films issued by Twilight Time, extras include another nicely 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 with select Sound Effects and Original Theatrical Trailer.

In speaking of Allen, he always sited Bob Hope as one of his influences and you can see it when watching their films next to each other. The timing of those witty one-liners in context to the action can work very well. Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection (1938 - 1949) collects 21 feature films that Paramount issued in the iconic star's early prime. Universal now owns most of the early Paramount films to about 1949, so it is their DVD set we are covering here.

However, watching these films (again for the first time in a long while in most cases), I was struck about how similar they could be to what we is called 'Elvis Musicals' where the big star is in a film that puts him in a genre situation (musical, war, drama, historic tale, even horror) and makes a star vehicle out of it. In Elvis Presley's case, it was a musical that usually had comedy, whether the music or comedy was memorable or not (no Elvis film ever lost money!) and that is the case with Hope.

He enters the set-up of the film and brings his slightly subversive, funny self with him. At first in the early film, he is shown as a serious romanic figure, but that quickly gives way to joke-a-minute-Bob that still has its laughs. Unfortunately, the films also have more homophobia, sexism, racism and a few other politically incorrect items than you might expect, but that was film comedy then. It seems to get more so when he tams up with Bing Crosby in their Road films, which the set includes in a separate casing in the box. Though a few films are not here from the period, most are and include...

1938: The Big Broadcast of 1938, College Swing, Give Me a Sailor, Thanks for the Memory

1939: Never Say Die, The Cat and the Canary

1940: Road to Singapore, The Ghost Breakers

1941: Road to Zanzibar, Caught in the Draft, Nothing But the Truth, Louisiana Purchase

1942: Star Spangled Rhythm, My Favorite Blonde, Road to Morocco

1945: Road to Utopia

1946: Monsieur Beaucaire

1947: Variety Girl, Where There's Life

1948: The Paleface

1949: Sorrowful Jones

Like Jerry Lewis and Eddie Murphy later, Hope was a huge comedy money machine for Paramount (long past 1949 for that matter) and not without competition from comedy kings at other studios, but these films remind us just how phenomenally huge he was. With him gone and remembered for his USO tours and TV special, the movies (and not just because they are not shown as much as they used to be) get lost in the shuffle. He also attracted some of the biggest names tot he big screen as much as he would on his USO tours, so they represent big time Hollywood in the Classic period when Paramount was the second biggest studio (behind MGM) around. Thus, these are also time capsules and worth revisiting, flaws, datedness and all.

Horror, mystery and thriller fans should take note of The Cat and the Canary, which is an outright comedy remake of the classic that has been remade as a serious murder thriller several times over the decades and The Ghost Breakers, which roughly inspired the 1970s Ghost Busters TV series, which led tot he blockbuster film of the same name, despite being a different franchise and both films show the wave of Abbott and Costello monster spoofs at Universal were not the fluke of just one studio.

Bonus Features include Bob Hope and the Road to Success, Entertaining the Troops, Command Performance 1944, Command Performance 1945 and Hollywood Victory Caravan.

For an even larger, more expanded look at Hope's TV Specials and USO Tours, a new expanded DVD box set of those have arrived at the same time as this box here...


Paul Wendkos' Gidget (1959) also launched a franchise of sorts, though one of its time that later ended with the hit Sally Fields TV series, but Sandra Dee (the very one spoofed in the song from Grease (1978) referencing this film as much as any of hers) as the woman-who-loves-too-much-to-be innocent gal (named Francine in the film) who suddenly finds herself loving surfing and gets caught in a love triangle with James Darren (forever typed as Moondoggie!) and Cliff Robertson (in one of many connection his fateful career would have with Columbia Pictures) as the Big Kahuna. This was pretty much the first beach/surfing comedy that eventually inspired a cycle if not a genre, but that's a debate for another time.

The actors here for the most part (save for adults playing adults like Arthur O'Connell) are unknowns and many became better-known later. It is also a film that I part of a cycle of Rock Music movies (that wrapped up and changed when The Beatles arrived with A Hard Day's Night (1964), by which time the cycle had ended; the Kennedy Assassination speeding up matters) that started with low budget black and white dramas, concert films (many of which we have covered) and Elvis Presley in the CinemaScope Jailhouse Rock (1957), so the featured music act (only one here versus several in the other films) are The Four Preps, who were one of Capitol Records' biggest hit acts from 1958 to 1961 and this film did not hurt. Capitol was so sure that The Beach Boys were the next big thing after the preps, they though they did not need The Beatles when they first had the chance to get them! Yes, this film suffers 'good girl syndrome' and seems sexist by today's standards at times, but it is a time capsule of its era too and deserves this restored Blu-ray release so people know when all of this started. Sony has licensed this key Columbia film to Twilight Time as part of their Limited Edition series and that works. Also, Dee is an icon of the time whose work has been lost to time, but she is fun to watch and had a good comic sense about her, so you can understand why she was such a big deal after watching this, flaws and all. Everyone should see this one just once so they know what is going on here. Very amusing.

Extras include another nicely 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 with select Sound Effects and Original Theatrical Trailer. However, you can read more about the documentary about the real-life female surfer who inspired the Gidget franchise at this link...


Finally we have Steven Soderbergh's new heist comedy Logan Lucky (2017) that may seem like tempting fate to repeat himself again after turning his Ocean's 11 remake into a trilogy where the sequels were some of his worst work ever, but this film was an experiment in a new way to distribute a feature film and though it was not a hit that way, it is usually amusing as the two brothers of the title (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) get so sick and tired of their lives that they hatch a plan to rob the local NASCAR racetrack of a huge fortune because the tube transportation system is more vulnerable than even they can believe. It is implied that the people who run the place don't think 'local hicks' would know about or try to understand the system if they knew it was even there, but Jimmy (Tatum) is fired from a construction job (discrimination against a past injury for which he cannot sue, knows to sue or has the means to sue) just after finishing out it is there as he is part of a crew fixing sinkholes under the stadium.

They are smart enough to know they need help and should not try anything like this alone, so they turn to an explosives expert named Joe Bang, and that is when the film starts to get interesting because he is played by Daniel Craig and Craig steals every single scene he is in until the end. Another actor turns up later by surprise doing the same thing in different scenes, but we'll not ruin that surprise for you.

The gang also adds Jimmy's ex (the under-appreciated Katie Holmes) and some of Bang's people, then they're off to the races for all the wrong reasons. Everyone is good here, but Craig helps the film while showing two of its problems: it is 20 minutes too long and Soderbergh is not for sure how much to play the 'Southern Dummies' card so rather go for the Mama's Family/Hee Haw/Beverly Hillbillies extreme, he has most of the actors play slow and slightly lethargic, though that slows the film down a little too much. A subplot about Jimmy's pre-teen daughter also has trouble fitting.

Yet, there is just enough here to make it worth a look and I know there is a larger audience here for this one than it got in initial release. Universal has rightly issued this in an 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray set because this is one of their better films this year. Even when everything does not work, I like actors, director and at least they are trying to be ambitious here which is more than I can say for so much of the forgettable junk we've seen for 2017.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a few Deleted Scenes, though this film deserved a bit more.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition image in Lucky manages to just pull ahead of the three fine 1080p Blu-ray here to be the visual champ with more image stability than the 1080p regular Lucky Blu-ray that has slight motion blur at times. Color ranges from full color to slightly dulled and even monochromatic (in single colors) at times, but the design is at least consistent shot with a RED HD camera.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Bananas looks really good, as good as I have ever seen the film (including a really fine 35mm print years ago) with the expected grain you'd get from a film of this period, but color is impressive and there are few flaws in the presentation.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Gidget is also color-impressive (dubbed ColumbiaColor, it was EastmanColor and shows up as such in some promo materials) shot on 35mm film with the old CinemaScope format. That means some flaws in slight distortion and the like, but it looks as good as expected.

The 1.33 X 1 image transfers on all the Hope films here on DVD can show the age of the materials used, with some transfers looking a bit better than others, but have any of these hit Blu-ray yet? Paramount definitely made sure Hope's film looked good, so the mostly black & white films look good, though some look like older transfers with detail issues. A few like Paleface are dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor films and can look good, but might need some more work too. Otherwise a decent cumulative presentation.

As for sound, bot the 4K and 1080p Lucky discs offer only DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, so no 7.1 or 11.1 as we usually expect on new films now. Still, the sound rarely hits a bad note and is pretty good throughout. Bananas and Gidget land up with DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes that sound fine, but I though Gidget might be in simple stereo. The isolated music tracks (especially Marvin Hamlisch's work on Bananas) sound better than their presentations in the film.

Finally, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mixes on all 21 Hope films are good, but can show their age with background noise more prominent than others in some cases, though I bet they would all improve in restored, lossless presentations.

To order the Bananas and Gidget limited edition Blu-rays, still in print while supplies last, buy them and other great exclusives of what is left of the original Twilght Time Blu-ray pressings at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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