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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Relationships > Sports > Sexism > Counterculture > Tennis > Gay > Lesbian > Slapstick > Short > The Apartment (1960/United Artists/MGM/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)/Battle Of The Sexes (2017/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/Charlie Chase At Hal Roach: The Talkies 1930 - 31 (Sprocket Vault/VCI DVD Set)/Goodbye Aga

The Apartment (1960/United Artists/MGM/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)/Battle Of The Sexes (2017/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/Charlie Chase At Hal Roach: The Talkies 1930 - 31 (Sprocket Vault/VCI DVD Set)/Goodbye Again (1933/First National/Warner Archive DVD)/The Jackie Gleason Show In Color (1968 - 9/Time Life DVD)/Strictly Dishonorable (1931, 1951/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Tarzan Revisited (2016/Umbrella Region Free Import PAL DVD)/The Top 100 Classic Radio Shows (2017/Carl Amari & Martin Grams Jr./Portable Press Hardcover Book w/CDs)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Tarzan Revisited Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia and can only play on Blu-ray and DVD players that can handle the PAL DVD format, while Goodbye Again and Strictly Dishonorable are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

This set of releases offers great entertainment and usually, solid comedy...

Director Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960) gets a limited edition Arrow Academy release and has never look better on disc than it does here, besting previous releases, including a basic Blu-ray we looked at years ago. Hilarious, a little dated in terms of technology but a great time capsule piece, there are many things still relevant here that audiences will pick up on. I'm surprised that this hasn't been remade in recent years with a big name attached. Fans of the classic will swoon over this deluxe release, which features nice packaging and a hardcover insert booklet in this limited edition set from Arrow.

The film stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, and David Lewis. The film is written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond.

Mr. Baxter (Lemmon) is succeeding in his corporate job at a huge insurance company in NYC, thanks to his side gig - renting out his nice apartment for his many superiors to secretly take their mistresses to. What at first seems like a pain in the neck (and plenty of messes to clean up), Baxter soon meets Fran (MacLaine) - an elevator girl - whom he in love with.. but whom is the mistress of his new boss. Will Mr. Baxter choose a growing romance with Fran or his rising career as his new romantic aspiration is frowned upon by his jealous boss?

The Apartment is restored in 4K from the original 35mm camera negative, and the picture is much sharper than before. The presentation is impressive with the film's black and white image displayed cleanly and sharp in detail shockingly. No DVD version included in case you were wondering.

Special Features, aside from the collectible packaging and hard-bound digi-book includes:

Audio Commentary with Bruce Block.

The Key to The Apartment

Selected Scene Commentary

The Flawed Couple

A Letter to Castro

An Informal Conversation with Billy Wilder

Restoration Showreel

Theatrical Trailer

Archival Features

Inside The Apartment

Magic Time: The Art of Jack Lemmon

A fun film that's nicely made and truly looks nice on disc, this is the definitive version of The Apartment to own.

Battle Of The Sexes (2017) is the story of how the great tennis legend Billie jean King (at a pivotal moment in her life) landed up taking on the one-time tennis great Bobby Riggs, who was celebrating his sexism in the face of a backlash against a rising feminism in the 1970s. At first, King (Emma Stone, who transforms herself in to the role) thinks nothing of it when one of her rivals loses a big game to Riggs, in part through snobbery and not understanding what is going on.

Thus, she has to take on Riggs (Steve Carell, who plays the flawed, troubled man with surprising integrity) to help the entire sport of women's tennis, where the ladies are being severely underpaid and recreating the 1970s well, shows us the time as a character. Directed by Music Video veterans Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, we do get some sloppy editing moments that do not help the film, but the lead performances, ambition of the film and great supporting cast that includes Bill Pullman, Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming and Elisabeth Shue, manages to overcome those limits. Sadly, it got lost in the awards-season shuffle, but deserves better and I recommend it, even if you're unsure you'd like it, because I think it works better than most would expect it to.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the disc versions offer a Stills Gallery and three Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes: Raw Footage of filming Billie Jean's grand entrance into the big contest, Reigniting The Rivalry and Billie Jean King: In Her Own Words.

Charlie Chase At Hal Roach: The Talkies 1930 - 31 is the third collection of the underrated, too-forgotten comedian's remarkable comedy film shorts to arrive on DVD following solid sets by other companies that cover the 1915 to 1925 period...


Then the 1924 to 1926 period with barely any overlap...


Now, Sprocket Vault is stepping in with a collection that jumps four years ahead and covers more really funny material that includes his famous co-star Thelma Todd and includes from 1930: The Real McCoy, Whispering Whoopee, All Teed Up, Fifty Million Husbands, Fast Work, Girl Shock, Dollar Dizzy, Looser Than Loose, High C's and from 1931: Thundering Tenors, The Pip from Pittsburg, Rough Seas, One of the Smiths, The Panic Is On, Skip the Maloo!, What a Bozo! and The Hasty Marriage.

It strikes me as both odd and remarkable that he has not been rediscovered, was ever forgotten and what is taking so long for people to catch on. As before, this is a man those comedy sense is superior and once I start watching, it is hard to stop. He fits in perfectly with the wild comedy sense Roach's films were known for and this not only all looks good, it all holds up much better than you might think. Also funny is some of the dated technology in parts, but you also have the timing and chemistry of the cast. That is why I find myself highly recommending another set of his work that impresses more than expected, in part by its smooth ease in being funny. This is yet another Chase set worth going out of your way for.

Extras include a Spanish version of The Pip from Pittsburg retitled La Senorita de Chicago where the cast reshot their scenes speaking the other language, an audio commentary track running on all the shorts by Chase fan and expert Richard M. Roberts and a Photo/Poster/Stills Gallery.

Michael Curtiz's Goodbye Again (1933) is a mixed film that is saved by a solid, atypical performance by Joan Blondell, not playing her usual supporting role or 'smart alec broad' role, opposite then-major male lead Warren William as his secretary, who saves his writer form a scandal in which another woman (Genevieve Tobin) claims his new best-selling book about a scandalous woman is her!

He has marketed himself as the author of books by a man 'who knows women' that helps hype sales, but no one could expect what happens here. Not quite a screwball comedy, though one of a few manners gone nuts, its a bit scattered for its short 66 minutes, but is worth suffering the down sides for what works. I liked seeing Blondell get more screen time and a better role, though it would be too rare for her, despite being the big star survivor of this cast.

Definitely worth a look for those interested, Helen Chandler, Wallace Ford and Ruth Donnelly also star.

There are sadly no extras.

The Jackie Gleason Show In Color (1968 - 9) is the last of The Great Ones variety TV series, all hits and all in the wake of the world discovering The Honeymooners after it failed to launch the DuMont TV network to success. The four episodes here from Time Life video have never been released on DVD, though The Honeymooners sequences from the earlier seasons when they were doing them as musicals have been issued years ago on DVD, as we reviewed them here....


Those were still not compete episodes of the actual variety show and they were still doing Honeymooners skits, but by this time, no more musical numbers. Taped in Florida when that was unheard of, Gleason's name and success meant powerful friends and new talent, so a guest star list that includes Milton Berle, Red Buttons, George Carlin, Nipsey Russell (amazing), Phil Silvers, Florence Henderson, Morey Amsterdam (hilarious), Jan Murray (very underrated comedian who was major in his day), Frankie Avalon, Edie Adams, Art Carney continuing back as Ed Norton and the June Taylor Dancers in peak form is no surprise and each episode has wall-to-wall chemistry.

There are also hidden surprises like a buddy Berle brings with him, Morton Storm, whose idea of talking inspired everything from The Beastie Boys to The Jerky Boys. 'Morty' is a true original and its great to have him in action on camera here.

There are sadly no extras, but I hope more episodes are coming to DVD soon, because these are great shows.

Strictly Dishonorable was made as two very different films from the same source material in 1931 and 1951. Warner Archive has issued both films in one double feature DVD and gives you an idea of how filmmaking and the audience aimed for had changed. Based on a hit play by future comedy directing genius Preston Sturges, John M. Stahl helmed the 1931 version sticking closest to the play from Universal Pictures set in high society and very literate. It holds its own in its cosmopolitan form and is a surprisingly elegant time capsule from a studio that was much smaller in that time.

MGM picked up the rights to the play and remade it by upping the opera element and some cornpone comedy. In both, a southern gal (Sidney Fox in 1931, Janet Leigh in 1951) fall for an opera singer (Paul Lukas in 1931, Ezio Pinza in 1951) and madness ensues from cultural and socio-economy differences, of which the later MGM version goes a bit more bonkers with and becomes over accessorized in production design and more money on screen.

No doubt Leigh shows in the 1951 version why she was so popular in that time, a legacy too often overlooked versus Hitchcock's Psycho, but she is good here. However, the 1931 film works a bit better for me because it is closer to the stage version, is a Pre Code film so it gets away with more and just how well it works on its own terms. Now you can compare both and see if they live up to their provocative title.

The only extra is a theatrical trailer for the 1951 film.

Robert De Young's Tarzan Revisited (2016) was made to go with the most recent Tarzan film Warner Bros. made the same year (reviewed elsewhere on this site), but it is not included as an extra on that Blu-ray release and sadly so, because this was made by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate and does a really good job of looking at most of the history of the character on film since the silent era with a with a surprising amount of new interviews, plus a few vintage clips (Johnny Weissmuller, for instance) and runs a good 78 minutes. That makes it a decent crash course in the character on the big and small screen.

Without being critical (the infamous Bo Derek Tarzan is even included), the production has a generous amount of clips, putting them into the best context possible, shows the pop culture and tie-ins surrounding the character to further show its popularity and new interviews with David Yates, Casper Van Dien, Hugh Hudson, Ron Ely, Wolf Larson, Denny Miller and Christopher Lambert among others makes this engaging enough (wish more on the animated 1970s series had been discussed, though) and it becomes a celebration of Burroughs too.

To see this, we had to get it as an Umbrella Region Free Import PAL DVD, but it is worth it if you are interested and like (or even love) the character. It actually goes further than you would get on any DC or Marvel Comics program on any of their heroes because they are trying to only push the latest actor in a given lead role, which is fine, but all these evergreen characters always have greater histories and appeal than we hear about and this documentary delivers.

There are sadly no extras.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen black & white aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a nice sounding PCM 1.0 Mono and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mixes, both of which sound similar but slightly better than the previous Blu-ray release, this new 4K Apartment upgrade brings out even more detail, depth and authentic film black in its presentation, plus the use of light is more naturalistic and we get more of the original anamorphic Panavision frame. Its better in motion too.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 30 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Sexes happens to also be shot on 35mm film and with solid color, ties Apartment as the best playback performer here, even if it can have a mix of looks. Editing is not bad, but a few parts did not work as well as others. The image on the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 DVD version also included however, is much softer than I expected and ties the tough prints and presentations on the two 1.33 X 1 black & white films here from Warner Archive for poorest playback. Those older films need serious restoration, but are watchable.

More watchable are the 1.33 X 1 black & white Charlie Chase shorts, also sporting some print flaws, but more consistent than the feature films, while the color Jackie Gleason Show episodes have a little bit of trouble in the way of analog videotape flaws including some video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage. Still, they also look good and some color is very nice.

That laves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Tarzan also having some minor detail issues and some film clips looking better than others, yet it is very watchable.

As for sound on the rest of these releases, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Sexes is well mixed and presented, never going bonkers and as good as anything here (the DVD has lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 that is passable at best), while Tarzan offers lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that is fine of a documentary, but more than a few portions are monophonic.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the rest of the DVDs are fair, but a little weaker and lower in volume than expected, so be careful of volume switching or high volume playback. The theatrical films need more work, while Jackie Gleason sounds about as good as it can (credited as stereo, though that is pushing it), though I wonder if more work might fix them up a bit.

Finally, there are the three CDs in our final title, a new book entitled The Top 100 Classic Radio Shows (2017), which offers PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Mono of some older radio shows that are pretty cleaned up without much compression or other issues. Dimension X, The Eddie Cantor Show, Gunsmoke, Our Miss Brooks, Suspense and The Cavalcade Of America are the programs the publishers decided to use as samples of how network radio was before the advent of television or Internet programming. They are not bad choices, but they sound about as good as they possibly can and can be found inside the back cover of the Carl Amari & Martin Grams Jr.-authored Portable Press Hardcover Book.

You hear about the Internet competing with (HD)TV and movies as entertainment and you can think of what might happen if a bunch of networks on the web-only suddenly produced weekly programming. In actuality, that is what happened when radio arrived and in 1922, had its first-ever radio ad for a New York suburb, then 1926 when a barbershop quartet sang an ad for Wheaties Cereal, the first of thousands of what would become known as jingles. By the 1930s, NBC (with two channels), CBS and eventually, Mutual and ABC would offer weekly shows with sponsorship and the first media market was born.

This book has high quality image production, solid text, thick paper for its 224 pages and does a fine job of explaining this lost world of entertainment that helped make its TV replacement possible (TV was invented by radio companies who saw no real value in what they invented0 and the book is split into six parts: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Detective, Sci-Fi & Kids, Variety and Western & Adventure.

Some shows were great (Duffy's Tavern, Mercury Theater On The Air, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, and some overrated (Fibber McGee & Molly) some outright awful (Amos & Andy), with some literary characters (The Saint, Nero Wolfe, The Shadow) as well as comedians (Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Abbott & Costello, Martin & Lewis) all thrived well. There were more hits shows, but this is still a good introduction to those days when a higher quality of radio was king.

Unfortunately, I thought some better shows from the period were skipped, including The Witch's Tale, Hermit's Cave (did the writers have an aversion to Horror?) and especially Information Please (maybe the smartest quiz show of the time) and You Bet Your Life with no less than Groucho Marx!

Still, this is a solid new book that is thorough, has fine CDs to allow you to hear some of the programs with higher quality than many copies of the shows out there and the people who made the book obviously like and love the subject, so definitely give it a look or give it as a gift.

To order the Tarzan Umbrella import DVD, go to this link and other hard to find titles:


...and to order either of the Warner Archive DVDs, Goodbye Again and Strictly Dishonorable, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo & James Lockhart (Apartment)



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