Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Romance > Relationships > Urban > Marriage > Middle Age > Stage > Facts > Book > Scheme > WWII > Isn't It Romantic? (2019/New Line/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Prisoner Of Second Avenue (1975/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Strange Hollywood (2019/Portable Press Softcover Book)/What A Blonde (1945/RKO/Warner Ar

Isn't It Romantic? (2019/New Line/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Prisoner Of Second Avenue (1975/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Strange Hollywood (2019/Portable Press Softcover Book)/What A Blonde (1945/RKO/Warner Archive DVD)

Picture: B- & C/B/C Sound: B & C+/C+/C Extras: C-/C/D Book: B Films: D/C+/C

PLEASE NOTE: The What A Blonde DVD and Prisoner Of Second Avenue Blu-ray are now available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a new list of comedies and if the movies don't work out for you, there's always a book...

The U.K. has been and is a great place for comedy and comic talent, but Rebel Wilson shows that is not the case with Todd Strauss Schulson's Isn't It Romantic? (2019) is one of thew worst so called 'rom coms' (anything shortening the term romantic comedy is suspicious) I have ever seen, wastes its supporting cast (Jennifer Saunders as her mother cannot even help, though she's hardly in it) and it is the longest 88 minutes I have had to suffer through of late.

She wants to design skyscrapers, but is stuck in boring office work, though would like to have money, a life, a lover and more in New York City. We're supposed to feel sorry for her (Is she attractive? Aren't we all human? And the weight-baiting needs to be called out.) so this drones on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. It is also offensive in unexpected ways, but dumb in all of them. Unless you like to torture yourself, this is NOT romantic and skip it.

Extras include Digital Copy, a lame music featurette and lame Deleted Scenes.

Based on a hit play by the great Neil Simon, Melvin Frank's film of The Prisoner Of Second Avenue (1975) might have its ups and downs, but its portrayal of New York City seems like a classic, archival documentary versus the Rebel Wilson disaster. Here, the nicely matched couple of Anne Bancroft and Jack Lemmon just cannot take the rough side of the great city when it was not the safest around. This was from a cycle of such Lemmon comedies (and Simon comedies for that matter) that were by intelligent, mature adults for intelligent, mature adults. Now, such a film seems like an endangered species and not just because of Ms. Wilson's debacle.

He gets fired, she keeps being ignored and more bad things out of nowhere will keep adding up into them dealing with a hot summer in the city. Nothing here is contrived, but some of it is just not as believable as other moments. You'll see F. Murray Abraham here as a cab driver, as well as Sylvester Stallone a year before Rocky playing yet another thug, something he was being typecast into until he hit it big. Despite some sets, the city is also the star, shot here in a scope frame and bittersweet love abounds all over.

It also plays (as intended) as a capturing of life specifically in New York City then and to some extent, now, despite all the changes. This is not to say it is one ongoing in joke, but it likely has some ring of truth for the time and the place, which is why it found an audience and Simon was always good at getting to the bottom of such things. Now in this nicely restored edition (like The Goodbye Girl, another film from Simon's pen on Warner Archiver Blu-ray, reviewed elsewhere on this site) that shows the best possible care and accuracy, you can see for yourself.

Florence Stanley, Gene Saks, Maxine Stewart, Ivor Francis, an uncredited John Ritter and the always great M. Emmet Walsh also star.

An Original Theatrical Trailer, Bancroft's promo appearance on the Dinah! Talk show with Dinah Shore to promote this film and a vintage Making Of featurette of this film are the extras.

Back in the 1960s, 1970s and to the early 1980s, you used to be able to get all kinds of paperback books with quizzes, fun facts and much more before they sadly fell out of favor. Now, the good folks at Portable Press have updated that cycle in a 400+ page release: Strange Hollywood (2019) that offers all kinds of facts and unusual stories about people in music, film and TV (even reality TV, sadly) that you would find in newsstands across the country back in the day and as it was then, these are fun books and fun reads.

Our softcover edition had a good quality cover, solid print and good paper that was better than average. Unless you are boring and hate any media whatsoever, as well as any art, history or any kind of pop culture, there is no way you will not find the book fun (hate fun?) and find some favorite subjects at least every few pages. Many of these books do not have Table of Contents and that is also part of the fun (for the publishers as well, skipping what is usually a requirement) though we get an introduction. Some highlights include terms you might not know, odd inspirations for famous works, quotes (and misquotes) and things about stars you likely do not know in most cases.

Going back to the early days of entertainment, this is fun for all ages and worth trying out, especially if you never read or saw these books before. Cheers for such a nice revival of a great idea.

Finally we have Leslie Goodwins' What A Blonde (1945) from the old RKO Studios with Leon errol as a man who runs a company that manufactures lingerie, but wartime (WWII) rationing has is stopping him from running his gas-guzzling limo, so he launches a scheme that is too goofy to go into and thinks it will work, but he and his butler get more than they bargained for, including competitors going after him in unusual ways and those trying to get to him for a break taking any opening they can.

Putting the madness over the top when a whole troop of showgirls show up, but the film is so formulaic and only has 71 minutes to tell whatever it is trying to tell and show, that this plays like a restricted sitcom, and not just because of the WWII propaganda angle. The cast tries to keep this going, but it is ultimately not memorable and just a time capsule of time. Richard Lane, Elaine Riley, Michael St. John and Vera Ann Vorg also star.

There are no extras.

Now for playback quality. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition Blu-ray image on Romantic is a flat HD shoot that does not look like it originated on Ultra HD cameras and can have softness, detail and very slight motion blur issues, weaker still in the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the DVD.

Therefore, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Avenue Blu-ray actually looks better and is the champ on this list, with solid lab work by Technicolor, shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision and looking better, making New York City look better and just more of a pleasure in general to sit through on a visual level.

That leaves the 1.33 X 1 black & white image transfer on Blonde showing the age of the materials used, extending to the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound that is at least a generation down like the image, so be careful of volume switching and high playback volumes.

Sadly, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the Blu-ray of Romantic is the sonic champ by default, but it is very unimaginative and that is more obvious on the DVD versions' lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Avenue is not bad, but it shows its age more than expected for a theatrical optical mono release of its time, but if that's the way it was recorded, then that's it.

To order either the What a Blonde DVD and/or Prisoner Of Second Avenue Blu-ray from Warner Archive, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com