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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Literature > Mystery > Musical > Drama > Mill Creek Animated DVD Sets (Animal Stories/Classic Adventures/Incredible Stories) + Sherlock Holmes Classic Mysteries + Classic Movie Musicals + Telefilm Sets: Love, Lies & Betrayal + Love, Loss & A

Mill Creek Animated DVD Sets (Animal Stories/Classic Adventures/Incredible Stories) + Sherlock Holmes Classic Mysteries + Classic Movie Musicals + Telefilm Sets: Love, Lies & Betrayal + Love, Loss & Affliction)


Picture: C- (Animation: C)     Sound: C     Extras: D     Main Programs: C+ (Telefilms: C-)



A new wave of DVD sets have arrived from Mill Creek for early Summer 2010 release, including a few surprises and an update of an older set.  First is a setoff 52 animated shorts from 2000 simply dubbed Animal Stories, but are very colorful, pleasant, child-safe (think pre-school) and not bad British production with a focus on a different character each time out.  The animation is not too complex, but fits right in with the intended audience and approach.


Classic Adventures and Incredible Adventures are also deceptively, over-generally titled, but contain and mix two different series of animated (and shortened) adaptations of classic books.  The earlier programs turn out to be from Australia, but were widely seen all the time in 1970s and early 1980s on CBS, as produced by Air International from the late 1960s to later 1970s.  This will be surprise blast from the past nostalgia for those who remember the decent (if dated) productions, while a newer series from Emerald City Productions from the 1980s have the same simple animation, but not always the charm seeing like bad 1980s angry action series (really 1/2 hour TV toy ads) in a certain sense.  Still, both are not bad intros for young viewers to classic literature and should inspire them to read more.


A 2005 set of the 1954 Sherlock Holmes TV series Mill Creek issued is now updated with the addition of eight films, including four of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce WWII Universal hits.  The prints are not as good as the restored MPI editions you can read more about at these links:


Sherlock Holmes & The Secret Weapon



Woman In Green/Terror By Night/Dressed To Kill (1946)




That leaves four more obscure Holmes films, all better than the recent Robert Downey Jr. fiasco, but the transfers are not too good.  They include three of the five Arthur Wortner films (Sign Of Four (1932), Triumph Of Sherlock Holmes (1935) and Murder At The Baskervilles (1937, aka Silver Blaze, his last Holmes) which were the most successful until Rathbone’s films, but better than you might think and Reginald Owen as Holmes in A Study In Scarlet (1933) that is not bad despite throwing out the original source material.  All need to be saved and the Wortners need to have their own Blu-ray special edition.


The two sets of 12 telefilms (Love, Lies & Betrayal and Love, Loss & Affliction) actually have some interesting appearances of some name stars, but not always in their best works.  If anything, from 1983 to 2003, show the sad, slow decline of the once-great American TV movie and how boring networks like Lifetime showed up and have been putting us to sleep since.  Betrayal has telefilms with Keanu Reeves, Kiefer Sutherland, Lindsay Wagner, Keri Russell, Mimi Rogers, Justine Bateman, Tim Matheson and Katey Sagal, while Loss includes TV movies with John Schneider, Catherine Hicks, Mercedes Ruehl, Morgan Freeman, Jeff Fahey, David Duchovny, Eva Marie Saint, Tom Skerritt, Jill Clayburgh, Timothy Dalton, Sela Ward and Penelope Ann Miller.  All together, these are curios at best, lucky to survive at all (as many TV movies starting in the 1980s were only saved to analog tape and have disappeared) but most of them have dated badly and are on the weak side despite the efforts of their stars, et al.


That leaves Classic Movie Musicals, which mixes bad prints of major studio films (Till The Clouds Roll By, for instance, has been preserved by Warner), with several Black Cinema productions and some independent studios (PRC, for instance) trying to compete on occasion with a genre that took a ton of money and the majors usually had a lock on.  The films included are:


All-American Co-Ed (1941

Black Tights (1960, letterboxed, color)

Career Girl (1944)

Doll Face (1946)

The Duke Is Tops (1938)

The Fabulous Dorseys (1947 biopic)

Hi-De-Ho (1943)

Hi Diddle Diddle (1943)

Killer Diller (1948)

Let’s Go Collegiate (1941)

Minstrel Man (1944)

Paradise In Harlem (1939)

Private Buckaroo (1942)

Reet, Petite and Gone (1947)

Royal Wedding (1951)

Second Chorus (1940)

Stage Door Canteen (1943)

Till The Clouds Roll By (1946)

Trocadero (1944)

Up In The Air (1940)



Some mix other genres and Tights was a big Technirama production by Terence Young, just before peaking commercially with three of the first four James Bond films: Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Thunderball.  This needs badly restored too and is interesting, but this copy is hard to watch.


All the material is otherwise 1.33 X 1 and all filmed, which makes some of the detail issues more bearable in this early period of HD.  Squeezing so much on each single DVD does not help playback, but these are offered cheaply enough and do not try to pretend to be.  All have Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono that show their age and can be rough at times, depending on the program.  There are no extras on any of the sets.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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