Category Archives: DVDs

VAI releases Ann Southern’s TV take on “Lady in the Dark.” In one word: Brilliant!

First of all, kudos. applause, standing ovations and general huzzahs to VAI, otherwise known as Video Artists International. While other video companies are bragging about their release of a “lost” film such as Dracula and Frankenstein meet Ma and Pa Kettle and Have Ugly Children, VAI is releasing the wonderful Max Liebman television musical spectaculars from the ’50s.

Witness Lady in the Dark: a lost classic that maybe should remain lost, except for the VAI TV release. Some years ago, a college in Boston produced an uncut version of the Broadway show, partially paid for by the author’s widow, Kitty Carlisle Hart. It ran three hours and heavy change.  Forty minutes of music which, given Kurt Weill’s score, gave the audience more than two hours of Moss Hart dramatizing psychoanalyses.

Just as eyes were beginning to glaze over, the show’s sequences illustrating psychoanalysis in dream form had the stage become electric with the Weill score . . . only to saunter back into  Fun with Freud.  Finally, a fourth dream, The Childhood Dream, wraps everything up nicely with the beautiful song, “My Ship.”  Even if Gertrude Lawrence, the original lead, were alive, it would take a Herculean effort to make this work today.

Then there was the 1944 Mitchell Liesen film with Ginger Rogers, which today plays like a particularly vivid acid trip in an ’80s gay bar.
Then, at last, Max Liebman did a TV version in 1954, which VAI has released on DVD.  It stars Ann Southern, a very underestimated comedienne with a fine singing voice.  Having neither the somewhat chilly affectedness of Gertrude Lawrence nor the brassy colorfulness of Ginger Rogers, here is a leading lady we can believe. The whole thing come in at 90 minutes, with the Weill score more or less intact.download
Both Weill and Lawrence were geniuses, although Lawrence ages poorly.  Moss Hart had a tendency to write frequently in an autobiographical vein; think of The Man who Came to Dinner and Light Up the Sky. He also used his own extensive couch time to create Lady in the Dark, clocking in some 400 performances during its original Broadway run. However, the show is cloyingly long if performed uncut today.
But the Liebman take is transcendent, not only because of Southern, but also James Daly, Carleton Carpenter and, of course, Bambi Lynn and Rod Alexander, who seem to dance in all of Liebman’s TV shows.
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Ann Sothern as Liza Elliott finds herself torn between James Daly as Advertising Manager Charley Johnson and Robert Fortier as film star Randy Curtis
“My Ship”, “The Saga of Jenny” , “One Life to Live” there all here.  This is a difficult thing to say, but Lady in the Dark may well be the best of all the VAI releases.

The 13-part miniseries “Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands” heads to Blu-ray and DVD

And you think Shakespeare was tough. Beowulf  is an Old English epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative lines. It may be the oldest surviving long poem in Old English and is commonly cited as one of the most important works of Old English literature. Scholars argue the date of the poem’s origin; the only certain dating pertains to the manuscript, which was produced between 975 and 1025. The author? An anonymous Angle-Saxon poet, referred to by scholars as the “Beowulf poet”.

Now Beowulf comes to life. Of sorts. Public Media Distribution, LLC  is releasing (on October 11) Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands on DVD and Blu-ray.

Based on the complex protagonist of the classic English poem written between the eighth and tenth century, the series takes place in a mythological place, The Shieldlands, and challenges the notions of good and evil, heroes and villains, and the rule of law against one’s moral code. The drama, a 13-part epic miniseries that originally aired on the Esquire Network, stars Kieran Bew, in the lead role Beowulf; as well as William Hurt; Joanne Whalley; Ed Speleers and David Ajala.

Beowulf returns to his hometown after 20 years only to find the town attacked by a creature and himself accused of murder. This update to the centuries old tale introduces new characters and storylines to bring together an intriguing and epic fantasy action-adventure series.

Wanna read the poem?

Hoping for an incredible box set celebrating Bob and buddies? Time Life offers “Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials”

Bob Hope fans rejoice: Been hoping for a spectacular star-studded DVD box set crammed with rarities and thankful memories? You can thank Time Life.   On September 20, they will release Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials, a six-disc box set filled with 13 unforgettable comedy-variety specials spanning five decades. The guest stars as a Who’s Who of Great Talent and Major Superstars . . . think Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, James Cagney, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, Dean Martin, George Burns, Sammy Davis Jr., Groucho Marx, Don Rickles, John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Presidents Truman, Kennedy and Clinton and many, many more!
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Bob Hope is considered the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. He moved from Broadway to radio to movies to television as easily as a pro golfer sinking a two-foot putt. There was no better showcase for his prodigious talents then his NBC comedy-variety TV specials, which began in 1950 and spanned 50 years and 10 presidential administrations from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton.  Hope’s hilarious TV specials, many of which are still among the most watched shows of all time, became a vehicle for the stars of the day and defined the variety show for generations of loyal fans. Whether he was ringing in the festive Christmas season with the biggest celebrities in Hollywood, along with major figures from the worlds of sports, music and politics, or bringing a taste of home to servicemen and women scattered thousands of miles from their families with his legendary USO shows, Hope’s warmth and goodwill knew no boundaries.  He knew, whether home or abroad, laughter was truly the best medicine.   And, for more than 50 years, Hope served it up like no other entertainer in history.
 
We offer what’s inside the Hope chest:
Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials features 13 digitally restored and unedited specials from Bob’s career, including (in chronological order):
  • The Bob Hope Chevy Show – Original Air Date: October 21, 1956
  • A Bob Hope Comedy Special – Original Air Date: September 27, 1963
  • A Bob Hope Comedy Special – Original Air Date: December 15, 1965
  • Chrysler Presents A Bob Hope Comedy Special – Original Air Date: October 19, 1966
  • Chrysler Presents A Bob Hope Comedy Special – Original Air Date: February 15, 1967
  • The Bob Hope Christmas Special – Original Air Date: January 18, 1968
  • Highlights of a Quarter Century of Bob Hope on Television – Original Air Date: October 24, 1975
  • Joys (A Comedy Whodunit) – Original Air Date: March 5, 1976
  • Bob Hope’s World of Comedy – Original Air Date: October 29, 1976
  • Texaco Presents The Bob Hope All-Star Christmas Comedy Special – Original Air Date: December 19, 1977
  • The Hilarious Unrehearsed Antics of the Stars – Original Air Date: September 28, 1984
  • Bob Hope: The First 90 Years – Original Air Date: May 14, 1993
  • Bob Hope . . . Laughing with the Presidents – Original Air Date: November 23, 1996 
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Highlights from those programs include: 
  • Bob’s first studio comedy special “in living color” with guests Jack Benny, Bing Crosby and Janet Leigh
  • The Bob Hope Chevy Show with the entire cast of “I Love Lucy”; Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance and William Frawley, plus James Cagney and Diana Dors
  • A hilarious spoof of Star Wars and other sketches with Tony Bennett, Perry Como, James Garner, Mark Hamill, Dean Martin, Olivia Newton-John, Barbra Streisand, Tuesday Weld, The Muppets and others
  • The murder-mystery parody Joys (A Comedy Whodunit) with nearly fifty guest stars including Charo, Milton Berle, Dean Martin, Don Rickles, George Gobel, Alan King, Don Knotts, Groucho Marx, Vincent Price and Freddie Prinze
  • The best of the bloopers from 30 years of Bob’s shows with George Burns, Sammy Davis Jr., Angie Dickinson, Phyllis Diller, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Brooke Shields, Elizabeth Taylor, Mr. T, John Wayne and many more
  • Bob’s 1967 USO tour to 22 bases around Vietnam, Thailand and the South Pacific in 15 days with special guest Raquel Welch
  • Highlights from over 25 years of specials in Bob Hope’s World of Comedy and the celebration Highlights of a Quarter Century of Bob Hope on Television
  • A look at Bob’s personal relationships with American presidents including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, and Harry S. Truman
  • Bob Hope’s 90th birthday celebration featuring tributes by Johnny Carson, George Burns and many more
BONUS FEATURE 
  • Shanks for the Memory  The world of golf according to Bob Hope, which includes historic clips of Bob with Bing Crosby, presidents and pros on courses around the world, and special appearances by President Gerald Ford, pro golfers Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus.

“Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise” is a spook-tacular Halloween treat

We love when we can share treats instead of tricks as Halloween creeps in. Now we offer two. First, a riddle. What do you call an empty hot dog? (Pause, while you think about it.) A hollow-weenie! (pause, while you laugh heartily.)

Secondly: A spook-tacular DVD from Lionsgate. Saban’s Powers Rangers embark on all-new adventures in Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise, arriving on DVD (plus Digital HD) on September 27. powerrangersdinocharge_v4riseIn this Halloween edition, the Power Rangers must overcome their differences and work together to defend the Earth from evil using their dino-charged powers. Top-rated in its time period with kids 2-11, Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise will surely keep its devoted fan base on the edge of their seats.

The Power Rangers rise and take action-adventure to the next level as Tyler and Ivan put their differences aside to defuse a bomb; Chase races to free his friends from an underground tomb; Prince Phillip learns that he can’t buy his way into the Power Rangers; and Riley and Koda restore the team’s broken bonds of friendship in these dynamic, thrill-filled adventures.

All together now: Boo!

Disney’s royal lion lair continues with “The Lion Guard: Unlease the Power”

They are lions, hear them roar. Join Kion and his friends as they unite to protect the Pride Lands and maintain the Circle of Life with the new Disney DVD The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power! Save the date: September 20. Packed with action, music and more than two hours of fun, the story proves that when heroes join forces, they are truly a force to be reckoned with.lionguard

The Lion Guard continues the high as it continues the epic storytelling of Disney’s The Lion King. The high works because of Lowe . . . Rob Lowe ‘s vocal talents work magic as Simba. The story follows the adventures of Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala, and his diverse group of friends-Bunga, a fearless honey badger; Fuli, a confident cheetah; Beshte, a friendly and good-spirited hippo; and Ono, an intellectual egret. Together, Kion and his friends make up the Pride Lands’ fiercest, bravest, fastest, strongest and keenest of sight.

Think you will recognize the other voices? Watch and wonder! We’ll give you one clue: Modern Family icon Sarah Hyland plays . . .

 

Tom Hiddleston is swift as he swears that “The Night Manager” was “one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences I’ve had as an actor”

Watching a film in its uncensored form is usually an important event. Witness Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie in The Night Manager.  Fans can bring home the original uncensored version now that the series has come to Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The intense spy thriller originally aired on the BBC, and has received four Emmy nominations–Limited Series, Best Actor (Hiddleston), Best Supporting Actor (Laurie) and Best Supporting Actress (Olivia Colman).20150610_amc_nightmanager_2709_press-kit-800x600

The Night Manager, directed by Oscar-winner Susanne Bier (Best Foreign Language Film, In A Better World; 2011) is the first television adaptation of a le Carré novel in more than 20 years and brings together love, loss and revenge in a complex story of modern criminality. The stunning six part series follows former British soldier Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston) who is recruited by intelligence operative Angela Burr (Colman) to infiltrate the inner circle of international businessman Richard Onslow Roper (Laurie). To get to the heart of Roper’s vast empire, Pine must withstand the suspicious interrogations of his venal chief of staff Major Corkoran (Tom Hollander) and the allure of his beautiful girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki). In his quest to do the right thing, he must first become a criminal himself.

We wondered how Hiddleston heard the news of his Emmy nomination. ” I didn’t have any expectations, and suddenly my phone started blowing up a couple hours ago,” he recalls. “This is the most wonderful surprise, and honestly the most thrilling thing about it is that it feels like an extraordinary and heartwarming affirmation for the whole team who made The Night Manager. Making The Night Manager was the most fulfilling team effort, and I’m so proud of everybody.”

Pause. “It’s very special because I so enjoyed playing Jonathan Pine,” he adds. “The Night Manager was one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences I’ve had as an actor. He’s such a complex character—a highly skilled, impeccably courteous, morally courageous, romantic character with a kind of broken heart. I loved playing him. The playing of him was complex in lots of ways in that over the course of the six episodes of the miniseries, the character is called by four different names with four different passports.”

Notice we didn’t ask about Taylor Swift.

 

 

Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs may well be the Lucy and Ethel of the naughts

 

It’s broken, and we pray no one fixes it. The hysterical series 2 Broke Girls is not only longer funny, but it’s been nominated for nine Emmys. Not bad for a series about to begin its sixth season.

Can’t wait for new shows? Go back and laugh. Again. Start banking those laughs as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings 2 Broke Girls: The Complete Fifth Season to DVD on September 20.  The set will include all 22 half-hour episodes from the fifth season and unaired deleted scenes.  Warning! You may want to stock some adult diapers from the gag reel. Rosemary Markson, WBHE Senior Vice President, TV Marketing, agrees: “2 Broke Girls delivers one-liners that are worth a million bucks.”img-allshows-2brokegirls-s3-2

In season five, street-wise Max (a funny Kat Dennings) and Caroline  (a funnier Beth Behrs) continue to wait tables at the diner while trying to build their new business—a dessert bar! Caroline goes to Hollywood to meet with studio executives to discuss the idea of making her riches-to-rags life story into a movie. Max tags along and meets Randy (guest star Ed Quinn) — who becomes her new beau . . . but will it last outside Hollywood? Sophie and Oleg are expecting, and pregnancy can’t slow these two lovebirds down. Han finds himself in trouble when he can’t repay his debt from gambling on women’s tennis, but the diner gang rallies together to help him. Earl gets his feelings crushed when he discovers his old jazz band is having a reunion and he is not invited to play—it’s up to Max and the diner gang to make it happen.

Adds Markson: “With the combination of the brilliant writing that is legitimately hilarious and edgy, and TV’s favorite leading ladies, this series is sure to have you laughing over and over again!”

 

Start your gift list now: PBS Distribution offers DVD box sets of complete “Mr. Selfridge” and “Inspector lewis”

We know, dear readers, that you are all waiting for our Annual Gift Guide . . . this years marks the 26th Annual Gift Guide.  There are still several away from publications, but we tease you with hot DVD box sets news from PBS Distribution. Coming date October 18: Masterpiece: Mr. Selfridge: The Complete Series. Re-live all of the dramatic moments of “Mile a Minute Harry,” the character that Jeremy Piven states was one of his favorites to play, in this beautiful 12-disc box set.

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Jeremy Piven gets ready to bid farewell to Mr. Selfridge

Created by Emmy Award-winning writer Andrew Davies, Mr. Selfridge brings to life the story of American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge, the colorful and visionary founder of Selfridges, London’s lavish department store. Pioneering, reckless, and with an abundance of charm, Harry Selfridge created a theater of retail for early 1900s Londoners, where the latest topics or trends were showcased and traditions were challenged.

Throughout the years the series has received critical acclaim. “A treasure box of tales about love, loss, ambition, and the spirit of a new age,” enthused The Wall Street Journal during Season 1; “lush and lovely,” murmured the Los Angeles Times about Season 2; “visually glorious,” gushed the New York Daily News for Season 3.

Starring three-time Emmy-winning actor Jeremy Piven as the great Harry Selfridge, the brilliant ensemble cast features Amanda Abbington, Tom Goodman-Hill, Katherine Kelly and Frances O’Connor.

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Laurence Fox & Kevin Whately clowning around after read-through of Lewis script for series 9.

Also from PBS Distribution on October 18: All eight seasons of the long-running and critically acclaimed mystery series Inspector Lewis with  “Masterpiece: Inspector Lewis: The Complete Series.

Inspector Robert Lewis (Kevin Whately) steps out of the shadow of his mentor–the inimitable Inspector Morse–in this highly-acclaimed series of intricate mysteries. Together with his brooding, inscrutable partner, Detective Sergeant James Hathaway (Laurence Fox), they take on the elite criminal underworld of Oxford, England, relying on Lewis’ instinct and Hathaway’s intellect to see past appearances and into the hearts of their upper-crust foes. Catch all 33 beguiling mysteries from the pilot to the series finale in this 18-disc set.

 

 

Mike and Dave post a Craigslist ad . . . they need wedding dates and get much more

It really started with an ad on Craigslist. Really.  The ad went up at 9:13 a.m. on February 13, 2013. It read:

TWO MEN NEED WEDDING DATES
My brother and I are looking for wedding dates. We’ve been told by the bride that bringing dates is “mandatory” so we “won’t harass all of my friends all night” and “stay under control.” Rather than ask some fringe women in our lives to go and face the inevitable ‘does this mean he wants to take it to the next level!?’ questions, we’d rather bring complete strangers and just figure it out. Still reading? In anticipation of your questions we’ve developed an FAQ section below. Dave, Mike

What’s in it for me? • An excuse to get dressed up • Open bar & food all night • Eccentric/downright dangerous bro-2-bro dance moves (may need to sign a waiver) • Adventure • Mystery • Suspense • True Love • Royalties once our night’s story is developed into a romantic comedy* *if this happens (we estimate the chances at 85%) we refuse the right to let Ashton Kutcher play either of our characters, however, we will consider him for a supporting role.

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The real Mike and Dave (left) and the big-screen impersonators

SO – What are you fellas like, anyway? Oh us? We’re both in our 20s, single, dashingly tall, Anglo-Saxon, respectfully athletic, love to party, completely house trained, relaxed, passionate, smell great, have cool hair, clean up nice, boast great tie collections, will promise to shave, love our mother, have seen Love Actually several times, controversial, provocative, short-sighted (with a big picture mentality), raw, emotional, sensitive but still bad boys. What should us ladies be like? You should respond in pairs as you’ll want to know at least 1 person at this wedding. Sisters (twins?!) are preferable, but we’ll take friends, or even enemies. You should be attractive or our aunts will judge you, but not TOO attractive or one of our uncles might grope you. You should be relaxed and easy going as we’ll probably make up flattering lies about you on the spot. You should own a dress, or be able to acquire one because we don’t have any. If (when) you respond you should send some pictures of yourself so we know you’ve met the above requirements. Feel free to include a resume; this is a classy wedding and we’re looking for well-rounded women. Interesting/unique pairings are encouraged; don’t be afraid to make yourself stand out! This feels kinda creepy, are you guys Craigslist killers? 3 No. Well, if you want to be techni.. nevermind. No, we aren’t. We just genuinely want to do something different and we don’t see any other way to approach it. What would verify our normalness? Facebook? Instagram? We can have a pre-date screening (interview) prior to the wedding and play 20 questions over a coupla cocktails if you’d like? We’re IN! What now? First off — smart thinking. Email us, send along some pictures, information, high school athletic stats, questions, etc. We’ll take it from there. THE REAL STANGLE BROTHERS

Mike and Dave were surprised by the response it received. As Dave points out: “We thought the only logical way to get dates that knew each other, that would hang out with the two of us, was to put this on Craigslist. We wrote it, kind of thinking it was a joke that we could send to each other.”

With literally thousands of responses, the brothers had soon attracted national attention, discussing their creative dating tactics with Matt Lauer on the Today show and with Anderson Cooper on CNN.

The Stangles were, after all, only doing what came naturally. “I mean, that was kind of the whole point,” Mike says. “We realized that people actually were paying attention to us and so we were cool for the first time in our lives. For a neat little month we went on as many dates as we possibly could.” Adds Dave: “We did a lot of double-dating.”

The ad worked. A movie was made. They also landed a book deal. The deals were thanks to a friend, who happened to be a trainee at CAA, who spotted their viral ad on Craigslist.

And so we cordially invite all to the comedy event of the year. Adam Devine plays Mike and Zac Efron plays Dave in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, coming to Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD on September 27 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. A true life comedy: In order to avoid embarrassing their family, hard-partying brothers Mike and Dave place an online ad to find “respectable” dates for their sister’s Hawaiian wedding. Instead, the boys find themselves out-hustled by an uncontrollable duo (played by Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza). Based on hilarious true events, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is the perfect marriage of over-the-top humor and outrageous fun. The home releases doesn’t divorce themselves from extras . . .  there are more than 90 minutes of wildly inappropriate content, including never-before-seen extended and deleted scenes

No gifts needed.

Don’t skip “Skiptrace”; Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville and a fluffy and funny flick

The critics may not have skipped their praise for Skiptrace, but we found it as funny as a bowling ball that serves another purpose: Possible murder weapon.  Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville team up in the hilarious action-packed buddy comedy, arriving on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and Digital HD on October 25 from Lionsgate. The film is currently available On Demand.

For years, by-the-book Hong Kong detective Benny Chan (Chan) has tried to avenge his partner’s murder at the hands of a drug lord. Chan’s Chan meets freewheeling American gambler Connor Watts (Knoxville), who has an important piece of evidence that will bring the man who murdered Chan’s partner to justice.

Those expecting a hard-boiled film noir should remember this fick comes from acclaimed director Renny Harlin; think Die Harder, Cliffhanger, Deep Blue Sea. Fluff and funny.