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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Spoof > Crime > Skits > Music > Stand-Up > Baby Face Harrington (1935/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Best Of The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary (6-discs*)/Cosi (1996/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD)/Jackie Gleason Show In Color (3-discs*)/T

Baby Face Harrington (1935/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Best Of The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary (6-discs*)/Cosi (1996/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD)/Jackie Gleason Show In Color (3-discs*)/The Tonight Show Vault Series/Johnny Carson (Set 2/6-discs/*all Time Life DVD Sets)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Cosi Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on DVD, Blu-ray & 4K Blu-ray players that can handle the PAL DVD format, while Baby Face Harrington is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's a new group of comedy releases on DVD you'll want to know about...

Raoul Walsh's Baby Face Harrington (1935) is an early film from the gritty filmmaker that is a comedy with Charles Butterworth as the would-be title character, accidentally going to jail for stealing money he honestly believed was his to make his life easier for himself and the gal he loves (Una Merkel), but this short 62 minutes still manages to have zero laughs and seems much longer than it is. Even supporting work by Eugene Pallette and Nat Pendleton cannot save this dud, so it is best viewed as all this talent looking like they might might save the film... but do not.

This MGM miss is being issued by Warner Archive on DVD and is for completists only. Don't operate heavy machinery while viewing.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.

Next up is the 6-disc Best Of The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary that joins a good bit of coverage of the classic comedy show, but it has the first and last shows and is one of the only sets issued to date that covers the entire run of her show, if not every single episode. We get some slight overlap in the extras here, as well as with some of the previous sets, but the appeal of complete episodes versus the syndicated half-hours that only offer the skits is always welcome and it is as good as set as any to try out if you have not taken on any of the DVD releases yet.

It is up there with the best, though the giant boxes are still the best bet and I bet more of them are coming at some point.

Extras include bloopers, interview segments tied into them, et al, and two featurettes on how the series wrapped up.

Mark Joffe's Cosi (1996) is a problematic Australian comedy about a man (Ben Mendelson) who lands up going to a mental institution and trying to stage Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti with these people having issues. Besides humor at the expense of the mentally ill (Jacki Weaver plays one of the ill) there are a few homophobic moments, then we're supposed to forgive/forget that when a 'more sane' Toni Colette shows up.

Though the cast is good, the film never was and has aged badly to top that off. Released by the original Miramax in its time, this copy is from Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, a Region Free PAL Import DVD if you are anxious to see it for any reason.

All have done better since if they moved on with their careers. Even Colette's decent cover of Crowded House's all-time international classic ''Don't Dream Its Over'' is way too late to salvage this one.

There are no extras, but any would have revealed what exactly they were thinking when making this one.

Jackie Gleason Show In Color is back on DVD, expanding from one DVD to three and including that DVD single we reviewed at this link...


We get more June Taylor Dancers, Honeymooners (now non-musical like before) and Nipsey Russell returning, plus Groucho Marx, Tony Bennett, Frankie Avalon and other stars and talents of the day in Gleason's final variety show, quitting while he was more than still on top. It is amazing to see all the big name talent going out of their way to show up. A fine set, I hope we get more and more of his older variety shows as well.

There are again, sadly, no extras.

And finally, we get a second excellent set of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson Vault Series in another 6-disc collection that is not the same (or marked clearly enough for some reason) as the first set we covered at this link...


We get a 10th Anniversary episode that shows how the 90-minutes love shows used to be, the kind that have been lost because NBC kept reusing the videotapes until they wore out to save money. We also get great shows that group stars together like Bob Hope/Dom DeLuise/John Denver/Peter Fonda, Paul McCartney and Mary Gross, Sean Connery, Michael Caine and David Brenner, Hope, Dean Martin and Charles Nelson Reilly, Robert Blake/Don Rickles/Bob Hope & Desi Arnaz stealing the show, Bing Crosby, Ray Bolger and Marvin Hamlisch in an amazing show, Muhammad Ali/Ken Norton.Karen Valentine, plus Charlton Heston and many others that adds up to another exceptional set.

Unless you count the (excellent with great surprises) TV commercials in the longer, complete versions of the episodes, there are no extras save a single sheet of paper that tells you about each episode.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white image transfer on Baby can definitely show the age of the materials used, looking rough at times and could look better. Hope Warner has better materials in the vault. The full color 1.33 X 1 image on Carol, Jackie and Johnny all come from NTSC analog videotape and have disclaimers on their flaws, which include video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage. All four offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (later 1980s Carson starts going simple stereo) and Carol and Johnny sound good. However, Baby is down a few generations and Jackie again is a bit more compressed than one would like, so be careful of high volume playback and volume switching.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Cosi is the most consistent, but still has some detail issues and color is a little slightly off in a few spots. Otherwise, it looks good for the format and the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has Pro Logic surrounds and is not bad.

To order the Cosi Umbrella import DVD, go to this link for it and other hard to get releases:


...and to order the Baby Face Harrington Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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