They are, without a doubt, the greatest comedy team to have ever graced the big screen. The laughs! The slapstick shenanigans! The homoerotic moments. (No, Ollie and Stan were not gay . . . but think back: They slept in one bed. Stan was married four times; Ollie three time.)
But it’s the laughs and slapstick and laughs and slapstick that we remember after all these years. (L&H made 106 films as a team, including guest appearances.
How did Stan and Ollie get together in the first place? They had appeared together by chance in an earlier film called The Lucky Dog, but it was not until each had joined Hal Roach that their teaming began.
Stanley and Ollie were appearing in the same films at Roach when director/supervisor Leo McCarey recognized the comic contrast between them and encouraged their teamwork. They first appeared in something resembling their eventual format in a 1927 release called Duck Soup.
And oh, by the way, Hardy’s most famous catchphrase is often misquoted, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten us into.” The incorrect “another fine mess” comes from the name of one of their short films, made in 1930.
So beloved that many of the available copies are blurred dupes printed from worn-out negatives. Now, the best of their short comedies and two of their finest features have been fully restored and collected in Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations (MVD Entertainment Group). Save the date: The set goes on sale June 16.
This is, so far, the most exciting news about a DVD release this year.
These new prints, 2K and 4K transfers from the finest original 35mm materials in the world, look and sound as spectacular as when they were first released. Just how great are these prints?
“It’s no exaggeration to say that the films haven’t looked this good since they were first released in the ’30s'”, gushes Leonard Maltin.
Check out the clips below!
Other reasons you must own this set: There are world premieres of the L&H legendary “pie fight” from their 1927 silent film The Battle of the Century; here it makes makes its video debut after being “lost” for 90 years! Want more? There’s also That’s That!, the only reel of L&H bloopers and out-takes.
The set contains the classic shorts Berth Marks, Brats, Hog Wild, Come Clean, One Good Turn, Helpmates, Scram!, Their First Mistake, County Hospital, The Chimp, Towed in a Hole, Twice Two, Me and My Pal, The Midnight Patrol, Busy Bodies, The Music Box (which won the first Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Comedy in 1932); also included are their two best feature-length films, Sons of the Desert and Way Out West.
Not enough? There are eight hours of exclusive extras, including 2,500 rare photos and studio documents; audio and film interviews with L&H co-workers; original music tracks and trailers; and a full restoration of their one surviving color film, The Tree in a Test Tube.
Well, here’s another nice mess they’ve gotten us into!
You gotta love any film with a title more catchy that Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, the 1966 low-budget western/horror hybrid.
And we found it: Ghost Killers Vs Bloody Mary.
You gotta wait until March 10 when Dark Sky Films unleashes the gem.
And we loved it much more than Jesse and Frank’s daughter.
Looking for an easy way to internet stardom, a quartet of self-proclaimed ghost hunters take an assignment at a local school to rid its halls of the newly unleashed spirit of “Bloody Mary.” But despite their efforts to stage the perfect supernatural hoax, the group discovers instead that the ghost is very real and very much out for blood. Enlisting all of the ragtag help they can get, the four must find a way to turn their skills as charlatans into skills for survival in order to combat the ghost and save the day.
In the spirit of Peter Jackson’s earliest work, Ghost Killers Vs Bloody Mary is an exercise in hilariously bad taste, featuring gratuitous sex, violence, profanity and one seriously pissed-off ghost. Dani Calabresa, Léo Lins, Danilo Gentili and Murilo Couto star in this outrageous and unforgettable film.
Friendship can be found in the most unlikely of places.
Witness The Adventures of A.R.I: My Robot Friend, arriving on DVD, Digital and On Demand March 10 from Lionsgate. This out of this world family adventure received the Dove Seal of Approval for All Ages and “provides the rare lesson of compassion being transferred to others through action”.
In this funny, thrilling family adventure, a boy named Noah finds a broken A.R.I.-9 robot at his dad’s tech job. After he accidentally reboots “Ari,” the smart, playful robot comes to life. Then, when Noah brings Ari to school to show his friend Bethany, they are amazed to learn he can turn invisible—and even fly! But Ari’s angry creators want to steal his circuitry for a new droid. When they send a signal that puts the robot into battle mode, will Noah’s new best friend become his most dangerous enemy?
War is hell. Film Movement is offering an exemplary Blu-ray collector’s set that commemorates the bravery of a nation at war in five gloriously restored British World War II classics.
Their Finest Hour: 5 British WWII Classicsbrings together some of the most celebrated British war films, digitally restored and available for the very first time on Blu-ray. Titles include the Ealing Studios-produced, Graham Greene adaptation Went the Day Well? (1942), along with Michael Anderson’s Oscar-nominated The Dam Busters (1955), as well as three box-office hits starring John Mills: The Colditz Story (1955), Dunkirk (1958) and Ice Cold in Alex (1958). The set releases on March 17.
WENT THE DAY WELL? (1942) Based on a story by Graham Greene and directed by Alberto Cavalcanti. Bramley End, snug and safe, seemed far away from the perils of World War II. Little did the villagers suspect the grim events that would arrive at their doorsteps. Surprised by the lorry loads of Royal Engineers that rolled onto their village green, they had no reason to believe that these soldiers were disguised German paratroopers, and even less reason to be suspicious of Oliver Wilsford (portrayed by Leslie Banks), their trusted town squire. A.O. Scott of The New York Times, said this Ealing Studios wartime production “contemplates some pretty grim stuff, but with equipoise, discipline and a sense of humor that embody exactly the virtues it sets out to defend. Apart from its considerable historical interest, this is a movie about how civilization survives.”
THE COLDITZ STORY (1955) The Nazis believed that no man could break out of Colditz Castle. A medieval fortress located in the heart of Saxony and situated 400 miles from any neutral frontier, it was the prison where the most contentious Allied POWs were held. Determined to find a way out, a British officer (John Mills) hatches a plan to navigate the castle’s subterranean tunnels towards freedom. Based on the best-selling book by actual Colditz escapee Major Pat Reid and brought to screen by four-time James Bond director Guy Hamilton. Nominated for a “Best Film” BAFTA Awards, THE COLDITZ STORY was called “Easily one of the best prisoner-of-war yarns to come from any British studio” (Variety).
THE DAM BUSTERS (1955) Based on actual events. Convinced that the war can be shortened by attacking the German industrial nerve center, Dr. Barnes N. Wallis (Michael Redgrave) develops a “bouncing bomb” that can be used to destroy the Ruhr dams. Facing seemingly impossible odds, the 617 Squadron, led by Air Ace Wing Commander Guy Gibson (Richard Todd), is then tasked with carrying out the dangerous night raids to complete the mission. Adapted by R.C. Sherriff from the book by Paul Brickhill and featuring innovative special effects photography by Gilbert Taylor (cinematographer of Star Wars: A New Hope), The Dam Busters would become a major influence on George Lucas in his storyboarding and filming of the Death Star attack sequence. James Dennis of Screen Anarchy called the film “a triumph of British ingenuity [that] served to highlight the best of the war effort in a wonderfully celebratory fashion.”
DUNKIRK (1958) It is early May 1940. London is lulled into an atmosphere of false security, but war correspondent Charles Foreman (Bernard Lee) knows better. As the Battle of France takes a turn for the worse, he joins the Merchant Navy and volunteers for Operation Dynamo, the greatest rescue mission ever mounted. John Mills and Richard Attenborough star in this Leslie Norman-directed first cinematic retelling of the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk, produced by Ealing Studios. James McAllister of The London Economic said, “Those who thought Christopher Nolan’s shattering summer spectacle could have benefitted from greater historical context, need look no further than [this] epic wartime classic.”
ICE COLD IN ALEX (1958)
The year is 1942. Along the barren North African coast where war has turned towns into smoking ruins, Captain Anson (John Mills), a commanding officer in the Royal Army Service Corps, is tired and thirsty. Separated from his unit while evacuating to Alexandria in a military ambulance, he takes on several passengers but soon realizes that one of them may be a German spy. Nominated for four BAFTA Awards and winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1958 Berlin International Film Festival. Lou Thomas of the British Film Institute says, “Sixty years after its release, director J. Lee Thompson’s desert epic still stands up as an essential war film.”
THE COLDITZ STORY
Colditz Revealed documentary
THE DAM BUSTERS
The Making of The Dam Busters
Sir Barnes Wallis documentary
617 Squadron Remembers documentary
Footage of the Bomb Tests
The Dam Busters Royal Premiere
Restoration of a Classic featurette
The Dam Busters 75th anniversary trailer
Dunkirk Operation Dynamo Newsreel
Young Veteran Ealing Studios documentary (1940)
Interview with actor Sean Barrett
John Mills home movie footage
ICE COLD IN ALEX
Extended Clip from A Very British War Movie documentary
John Mills home movie footage
Interview with Melanie Williams
Steve Chibnall on J. Lee Thompson
Interview with Sylvia Syms
Type: Blu-ray (New Digital Restorations)
Running Time: 572 Total minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio: WENT THE DAY WELL, THE COLDITZ STORY, THE DAM BUSTERS; 1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio: DUNKIRK, ICE COLD IN ALEX
It’s a courageous journey, transgendering from man to woman, woman to man. Full Bloom: Transcending Gender follows 13 transgender and two gay actors as they transform their lives through the use of monologue, dialogue and performance art while preparing for the world premiere of the play, Lovely Bouquet of Flowers: An Exploration of Non-Traditional Gender Voices.
Michael D. Brewer’s Full Bloom features behind-the-scenes, rehearsal and performance footage that are interwoven with candid personal interviews with the cast, who talk about how they deal with family, inner conflicts, discrimination, coming out, surgery, hormones and the complexities of sexual identity and orientation. By sharing their own journeys, the actors transcend gender and challenge us to move past stereotypes and see what we all have in common as human beings.
Share the journeys with the First Run Features DVD release.
What’s her line?
Arlene Francis may be most famous for her years-long stint on What’s My Line?, but she has a teeny (and uncredited) part as a “streetwalker” in the creepy 1932 American pre-Code horror flick. Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe, Murders In The Rue Morgueis a haunting atmospheric thriller heavily influenced by the German Expressionist classic, The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, and features Bela Lugosi in one of his most sinister roles.
A deranged scientist, Dr. Mirakle (Lugosi), searches Paris for a “prospective bride” for his pet gorilla. Inviting young ladies to his laboratory, he injects his victims with gorilla blood and then disposes of their ravaged bodies through a trapdoor. Mirakle finally settles on a beautiful woman to be the mate of the gorilla, kidnapping her from her fiancé, Pierre Dupin.
But just as the young lady is about to be sacrificed in the name of unholy science, a frantic Dupin locates his betrothed and tries to rescue her from Mirakle’s unspeakable evolutionary experiments.
Scream Factory, the deranged sister of Shout factory!, has released a crisp, remastered Blu-ray of the film. Great cover art, too!
Bonuses include new audio commentary by authors/film historians Gregory William Mank and Gary D. Rhodes; the flick’s theatrical trailer and a stills gallery.
February is a month of love, and what better to love than binge watching PBS programs with an armful of chocolates?
Andrew Davies, Britain’s national treasure, has given Jane Austen fans what they have been waiting over a century for: the completion of Austen’s last piece of work, unfinished due to her death in 1817. Now Davies takes the first 11 beautifully crafted chapters of the final Austen masterpiece and creates an epic drama for all to enjoy. The lavish adaptation stars Rose Williams as Austen’s lively, but levelheaded heroine Charlotte Heywood and Theo James as the humorous, charming (and slightly wild) Sidney Parker.
Charlotte observes hypochondria, avarice and attempted seduction run amok. Lady Denham is playing matchmaker for her destitute nephew, Sir Edward, who is determined to seduce Lady Denham’s ward, Clara and become the primary heir to his aunt’s estate. Then, the arrival of wealthy, mixed-race heiress Miss Lambe, under the guardianship of Tom’s upright brother Sidney, adds another interesting complication.
MASTERPIECE: Howards End
Written by Kenneth Lonergan, comes the four episode adaptation of E.M. Forster’s, Howards End. Starring Matthew Macfadyen as Henry Wilcox, Philippa Coulthard as Helen Schlegel, Julia Ormond as Mrs. Wilcox, Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel and Tracey Ullman as Aunt Juley,
this is a fresh take on the story of two independent and unconventional sisters and the men in their lives seeking love and meaning as they navigate an ever-changing world. Also starring Joseph Quinn, Rosalind Eleazar and Alex Lawther.
American Experience: McCarthy
The legacy of Joseph McCarthy’s relentless search for anyone he deemed a communist or enemy of the state will forever be shrouded in infamy. The Wisconsin Senator’s crusade is now the centerpiece of any conversation involving the government’s role in decency, democracy and ethical conduct. This witch hunt, completely free of restraint or oversight, led to the trials and imprisonment of many celebrities, Americans and immigrants.
This program details the rise of McCarthy’s political life which led to his belief that there was a great conspiracy threatening America, culminating in a chilling campaign full of groundless accusations, bullying intimidation, grandiose showmanship, cruel victimization and a web of lies to keep public opinion on their side.
NOVA: Decoding da Vinci
On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, with guidance from historian Walter Isaacson, NOVA pulls back the curtain to investigate what led to da Vinci’s ahead of his time, legendary successes.
The program examines how Leonardo’s scientific studies, from dissecting humans to studying optics, led to a host of brilliant inventions, like hang gliders, armored tanks, parachutes and many others. Decoding da Vinci further explains how this deep scientific curiosity was behind the most captivating work of art in history, The Mona Lisa. Viewers now have the chance to delve deep into Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance genius.
NOVA: The Violence Paradox
Violence is ubiquitous in our every day lives. We see it in the news, in movies, on TV and video games so why do some experts say that violence is decreasing and that we’re living in the most peaceful time in history? Can this actually be true?
The Violence Paradox addresses these questions and explores the intricacies of how violence permeates our life, psychology and every day thoughts and actions. The program takes us through time and the human mind to investigate what impacts the violence rates and what people are doing now to reduce violence in the world.
NOVA: Animal Espionage
Studying animals that are incredibly hard to approach or observe without them being aware has always been a constant struggle for wildlife experts. Though now, with the technological advancements of the camera industry, experts and viewers are able to get an intimate view of these species behind closed doors during their everyday lives. Camera traps and drones, completely hidden from the animal’s view, are allowing for revolutionary findings in wildlife biology, allowing viewers to get closer than ever before to animals like whales, tigers and elusive giant armadillos.
The recordings featured on this program capture everything from the unexpected to the comical, and these technologies are giving wildlife analysts insights that could ultimately help them fight extinction and habitat loss.
Curious people may meander down to the old mill stream, but whenever we want something special to do, we head to Mill Creek. Here is where we (and you) will find with Entertainment with a capital E.
We stumbled upon two nifty complete series box sets whose content Mill Creek licensed (legally, of course). Great picture quality and sound. And a hell of a lot cheaper than the same sets issued by the original studio.
Once upon a time… there were three girls who went to work for Charles Townsend, a mysterious man they never got to see, at his Beverly Hills detective agency. And they became the sexiest private eyes to ever grace TV.
Welcome to Charlie’s Angels: The Complete Series, a 20-disc Blu-ray gem. Enjoy every episode of high-kicking action, glamour, guns, bikinis and hair. Each is packed with dangerous intrigue in the Angels’ world of money, mystery and murder. And the guest stars?
Then there’s, the 12-time Emmy winning Mad About You that explores the romantic ups and downs of an endearingly neurotic couple, Paul and Jamie Buchman, as they cope with marriage, mood swings, love and life. Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser still make us laugh . . . again and again.
Celebrity guests include such familiar faces as Lisa Kudrow, Carl Reiner, Sid Caesar, Estelle Getty, Bruce Willis, Hank Azaria and Cyndi Lauper. The 14-disc set includes a host of bonus features including commentaries, featurettes and a blooper reel.
February always makes us think of arrows . . . after all, that is the cherubic Cupid’s weapon of choise.
We also think of Arrow, that continues to offer up a diverse lineup for home video collectors with a trio of must- see, must-have releases.
The triumvirate drops on February 25, starting with Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Manon via Arrow Academy. Loosely adapted from Antoine François Prévost’s 1731 novel, this stunning French drama is the story of a French Resistance fighter that rescues and falls in love with a woman from accused of working with the Nazis. The couple moves to Paris where their life begins to spiral out of control as they get caught up in prostitution and murder.
How good is it? The film took home the Golden Lion award at the 1949 Venice Film Festival. This new high definition release includes a brand-new video appreciation by critic Geoff Andrew and an archival documentary that features Clouzot discussing his love for literature.
First up from Arrow Video is the multi-disc set One Missed Call Trilogy. This legendary trio of J-horror films launched with Takashi Miike’s2003 film about people who receive strange voicemails from their future selves predicting their deaths. Yumi Nakamura, a young psychology student, begins to investigate the calls and discovers this terrifying circumstance has been plaguing Japan for centuries. The original series was followed by two more films, One Missed Called 2 and One Missed Call: The Final Call.
While the franchise never quite reached the popularity of contemporaries like the Ring and Ju-on: The Grudge, it’s certainly not without its own devoted fan base thanks to its visual flare and the nightmare scenario catered towards a generation that grew up with cell phones. The complete trilogy comes to Blu-ray with a full voicemail of special features that include interviews, documentaries, a TV special and a short film.
Rounding out February is José Ramón Larraz’s bonkers late-era slasher, Deadly Manor. Also known as Savage Lust, this final genre effort from Larraz follows a pretty standard template as teens stay the night in an abandoned mansion that happens to be home to a lunatic killer.
Unlike the trailer above, the film has been restored in 2K using the original elements. Deadly Manor will be making its Blu-ray debut. This release will include a multitude of special features, including a new interview with actress Jennifer Delora and the original VHS trailer.
Already ready for your eyes and ears:
José Ramón Larraz’s Edge of the Axe. This Spanish-American slasher follows a masked killer picking off people in a small California village with, that’s right, an ax!
Overlooked for years, this new 2K restoration (from the original camera negative) looks to introduce this cult classic to a new audience. The release includes English and Spanish versions of the film, two new audio commentaries, and more.
Black Angel is a stunning black-and-white film noir that marked the final time behind the camera by prolific director Roy William Neill. After a man is convicted for murder, his wife and victim’s ex-husband fight to prove his innocence. Lost in the shuffle of ’40s noir, and hated by author Cornell Woolrich whose novel served as the source material, Black Angel is a sleek and stylish film that genre fans will surely appreciate.
This new Arrow release contains a brand-new restoration of the film, starring Dan Duryea, June Vincent and Peter Lorre, and a number of bonus features, including a video appreciation by film historian Neil Sinyard.
We gotta admit we love Jon Lovitz. Even his name is funny . . . don’t you think? Lovitz has lent his distinct voice to a most adorable flick, Agent Toby Barks.
Is America’s greatest super-spy living in your backyard? Bret and Kate don’t think so—until they learn that their beloved pet dog Toby (voiced by Lovitz) is a secret agent working for the U.S. government!
In this hilarious, thrilling family adventure starring that super man Dean Cain, two teen kids must join forces with their talking, fighting, computer-hacking pooch to rescue their beloved Auntie B—who’s also a spy—from a mad villain who wants to use B’s crazy inventions to rule the world.
The flick hits March 15. It’s worth the wait.
Indeed, the cat’s meow!
Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some