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Classic Coming Attractions by Barrie Maxwell

Back to Part One

Barrie Maxwell - Main Page

Classic Reviews Roundup #25 - February 2006
(Continued)



Kitty Foyle

Kitty Foyle (1940)
(released on DVD by Warner Bros. on January 31st, 2006)

Film Rating: B
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B+/B


Kitty Foyle seems to me a film of diminishing returns. Over the years, its impact has dimmed substantially in my opinion and Ginger Rogers' Best Actress Oscar for the title role looks more and more undeserved with repeated viewings. Kitty Foyle is a white-collar woman working in a perfume store in New York. One day she receives two proposals of marriage, one from a doctor she has been seeing for several years, the other from the son of a well-to-do family prominent in the Philadelphia social scene. In a series of flashbacks, the film recounts the events in Kitty's life over the past five years that have led to the current situation and the choice it presents to Kitty.

In the 1930s, Ginger Rogers was predominantly known for her work as a wise-cracking chorus girl in early Warner musicals and latterly her RKO dance musicals with Fred Astaire. While at RKO, she excelled in a somewhat more serious part in 1937's Stage Door and in 1940 she finally got the opportunity for a full-blown dramatic role in Kitty Foyle. Obviously, she made the most of the latter with her receipt of the Oscar nomination and eventually the award itself. At the time she was considered a long shot, faced with formidable competition from Bette Davis (The Letter), Joan Fontaine (Rebecca), Katharine Hepburn (The Philadelphia Story), and Martha Scott (Our Town). Perhaps the uniform excellence of her competitors' work split the vote in such a way that Rogers was able to slip through to victory on the outside. Certainly there is little really extraordinary about her performance, other than it perhaps showed her in a new light after the Astaire musicals. Her dramatic work is uneven, at times being quite engrossing but otherwise curiously flat and emotionless, too often giving little sense of her character's feelings when confronted with the ups and downs of Kitty Foyle's life with two very different men. The fact that it's hard to fathom what she might see in either man (Dennis Morgan as the society heir, James Craig in the thankless role of the good doctor) never mind seriously consider them as marriage material tends to accentuate the lack of depth in Rogers' portrayal. The film is competently directed by Sam Wood, but one wonders how much more someone like William Wyler might have been able to draw out of Rogers. Look for nice work from character actors Eduardo Ciannelli and Gladys Cooper.

Warners' full screen presentation is correctly framed and generally offers a nice crisp image. Shadow detail is very good and the only quibbles are a few soft sequences, some speckles, and the odd scratch. The mono sound is in very good shape - clear and hiss- and distortion-free. English, French, and Spanish subtitles are provided. Supplements consist of two classic cartoons - Tex Avery's Bad Luck Blackie and a Tom and Jerry outing called Kitty Foiled. The play on the main feature's title makes the latter an apt inclusion on the disc, although the cartoon's content otherwise has nothing whatsoever to do with Kitty Foyle. Two radio productions of the story with Ginger Rogers and the original theatrical trailer are also included.


Week-End in Havana

Week-End in Havana (1941)
(released on DVD by Fox on February 21st, 2006)

Film Rating: B
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/B+


This is the first of Fox's new line of Marquee Musicals that I've reviewed and although the film itself is merely average, the transfer quality and attention to detail otherwise bodes well for the line. The story finds Alice Faye, a salesgirl from Macy's, aboard a grounded cruise ship. An executive from the cruise ship company (John Payne) arrives in hopes of getting waivers from all the passengers so as to avoid any lawsuits. Alice is the lone holdout and Payne finds that he must offer her a luxurious stay in a Havana hotel as compensation. Once there, Carmen Miranda as the hotel's chief nightclub attraction and Cesar Romero as a hapless gambler provide lively diversions until Alice can find the romance she's really looking for. You probably can't guess who that might be!

Alice Faye was actually nearing the end of her Hollywood career when this film was made. (She would retire in 1945, although would later return for a part in the 1962 version of State Fair.) By late 1941, however, many of her top films were behind her (Alexander's Ragtime Band, Tin Pan Alley, That Night in Rio, for example), though the delights of The Gang's All Here and the under-appreciated Fallen Angel were still to come. Faye is in top form in Week-End in Havana and has two songs, of which "Tropical Magic" is the best. A third one, "The Man with the Lollipop Song", was apparently recorded and filmed but not used in the final release. Fox has not included it as a disc supplement, although I'm not aware if it still exists or not. Carmen Miranda fans will be delighted to see plenty of their favorite performer in this film also. The closing number featuring her is a cinematic delight, wonderfully staged by Hermes Pan and magnificently taking advantage of the film's three-strip Technicolor. Actually, it's a good thing that Carmen's around as well as a number of other pleasing supporting players (such as the reliable Cesar Romero, as well as the likes of Billy Gilbert, Sheldon Leonard, and Leonid Kinskey) because lead John Payne is his usual insipid self. That and the rather weak story otherwise drag down the film's impressive production values, leaving it in the second tier of musicals. I don't imagine Alice Faye fans will be disappointed, however.

As a DVD presentation, Fox's efforts are top-notch. The Technicolor film looks scrumptious with the colours just popping off the screen. The image is very sharp and well detailed. Mis-registration, sometimes a concern with three-strip films, is not an issue of significance for this transfer. The mono sound is in great shape and the musical numbers have distinct presence. A stereo track as well as a Spanish mono track and English and Spanish subtitles are also provided. The disc supplements include an insightful and thorough audio commentary by film historian Jeanine Basinger, a generous selection of production stills and posters, the original theatrical trailer, and a set of lobby card reproductions. Recommended.


Shadow of a Doubt (1942)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Marnie (1964)
Torn Curtain (1966)
Family Plot (1976)
(all released on DVD by Universal on February 7th, 2006)

Shadow of a DoubtThe Man Who Knew Too MuchMarnie

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEnhanced for 16x9 TVs

Torn CurtainFamily Plot

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEnhanced for 16x9 TVs

Last autumn, Universal released all 14 of its Alfred Hitchcock feature holdings in a box set entitled Alfred Hitchcock: Masterpiece Collection. This collection featured new transfers for all the titles and included all the supplementary features released on the various titles' previous individual releases. Universal has now begun to release these new transfers on stand-alone discs for each title. These first five are now available. Another five titles will be released in June (Frenzy, Rope, Saboteur, Topaz, The Trouble with Harry) and presumably the other four will appear later in the year. Interested buyers should note that if you're interested in more than 5 or 6 of the 14 titles, the Masterpiece Collection is the way to go. It's available on-line for about $90 while the new stand-alone releases are going for about $15 apiece.

I did not have the opportunity to review the Masterpiece Collection when it came out, so the appearance of the individual releases offers me a second chance to offer a few comments. As the films themselves are well-known and have previously appeared on DVD, I don't propose to review the film content other than to note that these first five releases offer generally diminishing returns the more recent the theatrical release year, although all are at least moderately entertaining. Shadow of a Doubt is clearly the best of the bunch. I will instead concentrate on the disc quality and content.

For Shadow of a Doubt, the image transfer offers at best a modest improvement over the previous individual release. Speckles and scratches still are quite noticeable, but the image is generally sharp and shadow detail is good. A complete film restoration is needed to make this look significantly better than its does. The mono sound is in good shape and Dimitri Tiomkin's score is well reproduced; I hear little if any difference between this and the previous version. The additional Spanish track and English and French subtitles are carried over. The same supplements found on the previous individual release are repeated (a 35-minute making of documentary; production drawings, photographs, and notes; and the theatrical trailer).

Film Rating (Shadow of a Doubt): A
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/B-


For The Man Who Knew Too Much, the anamorphic image was previously sub-standard and continues to be so on this new edition. The image is slightly brighter, but the colour frequently looks incorrect and there are quite visible edge effects. This may look okay on a 20-inch screen, but acceptability deteriorates beyond that. The mono sound is good and the climactic orchestra piece sounds quite dynamic - again, little different from the previous individual release. The additional French track and English and Spanish subtitles have been retained, as have the supplements (35-minute making-of documentary, production notes and photographs, re-release trailer).

Film Rating (The Man Who Knew Too Much): A-
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C/B/B-


Marnie previously looked quite nice in its first stand-alone release, and there's not a huge difference in the new transfer. Both are anamorphic. The colour is slightly brighter although the overall image is slightly darker. The level of grain remains about the same. The mono sound is more than presentable, and little if any different from previously. The French track and English subtitles have been retained, as again have the supplements including the impressive almost-hour-long making-of documentary, photo and still galleries, production notes, and theatrical trailer.

Film Rating (Marnie): B
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B+/B


As with Marnie, Torn Curtain and Family Plot both looked very presentable in their previous stand-alone incarnations and these new releases offer only modest improvement at best (both old and new are anamorphic). Family Plot looks brighter and has fewer speckles, while Torn Curtain looks pretty much as before. The mono sound on both is in good shape and the French tracks and English and Spanish subtitles have been retained. The supplements have also been carried over in each case (Torn Curtain - half-hour making-of documentary, production photographs, scenes scored by Bernard Herrmann, original trailer; Family Plot - approximately 50-minute making-of documentary, production notes and photographs, storyboards for the chase scene, theatrical trailers).

Film Rating (Torn Curtain): B+
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B+/B


Film Rating (Family Plot): B-
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/B


The new versions of these five Hitchcock films are worthy releases in their own right. They do not, however, warrant upgrading from the previous stand-alone versions if you already have the latter. If on the other hand, you don't already have these films on DVD, but are interested in most of them, purchasing them via the Masterpiece Collection makes more sense than these new individual releases especially since you'll likely be interested in many of the other titles in that set too.


Island in the Sun

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Island in the Sun (1957)
(released on DVD by Fox on January 10th, 2006)

Film Rating: A-
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A-/B


Alec Waugh's novel of interracial romance, murder, and political intrigue on a Caribbean island was turned into a real potboiler of a film in what was Darryl Zanuck's first independently-produced effort after leaving Twentieth Century-Fox in 1956. Much of the reason for that lay in the climate of the times which found such a topic unacceptable for the screen, imposing through the Production Code too many compromises on how the material could be presented. Thus, a romance between the black Harry Belafonte (a popular native union leader) and the white Joan Fontaine is never even allowed to reach the level of a kiss, never mind anything more intimate. The Belafonte/Fontaine relationship is only one of four such matches, all similarly tap-danced around, that the film intertwines in its plot. We have one between James Mason and his wife, which may be threatened by what Mason believes is her interest in the younger, handsome Michael Rennie.

Then there's the young, handsome Stephen Boyd who's quite interested in Joan Collins, although there may be some black blood in her family's background which would prove embarrassing in the aristocratic circles in which Boyd runs. And finally, there's the potential match between the young, handsome white John Justin (the governor's aide) who's very interested in Harry Belafonte's ex-girlfriend portrayed by the black Dorothy Dandridge. Mix a little murder into all that, courtesy of Mason and Rennie, and you've got all the makings of a guilty pleasure. Which is what the film boils down to, having failed to deliver much in respect to its social message. Although one might argue that at least an effort was made - that being progress in itself at the time.

Looking at the film as strictly a piece of entertainment provides a more sympathetic appraisal. The acting is first-rate with James Mason, as usual, leading the pack. Harry Belafonte also scores well although he's given less to do than one might like. (He does get to sing twice including the title song, though.) The resolution of the four couples' situations does keep one guessing, although one outcome is rather contrived. The murder sub-plot is also nicely handled using a "Crime and Punishment" approach in its resolution. The film also looks most attractive as cinematographer Freddie Young takes full advantage of the islands of Barbados and Grenada, which provide the entrancing setting for the story. The film proved to be very successful commercially at least, resulting in a three-to-fourfold return on investment.

Fox's DVD presentation is first-rate. The 2.35:1 anamorphic (though not so listed on the box) transfer is superior, offering a beautifully-restored image characterized by very good colour fidelity, reasonable sharpness, and excellent image detail. The 4.0 Dolby Surround track is very dynamic offering some modest separation as well as some effective ambient effects. Spanish and French mono tracks as well as English and Spanish subtitles are provided. Supplements include a merely average audio commentary by writer and historian John Stanley, the good A&E biography Dorothy Dandridge: Little Girl Lost, the original theatrical trailer, and a set of lobby card reproductions. Recommended.


Beyond All Limits

Beyond All Limits (1959)
(released on DVD by VCI on November 22nd, 2005)

Film Rating: B+
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/C-


In addition to their efforts with B westerns and serials, one can count on VCI occasionally to come up with releases a little out of the ordinary such as their recent ones of Hannibal and Robinson Crusoe. Now they've made available a 1959 Mexican production by veteran Mexican director Roberto Gavaldon - Beyond All Limits (a silly title used for the American release of the film originally known as Flor de Mayo). Based on a novel by Vicente Blasco Ibanez, it tells a relatively simple story of fisherman Pepe Gamboa (Pedro Armendariz), his wife Magdalena (Maria Felix) and their son. Their's is a successful and happy life until American Jim Gatsby (Jack Palance), a former friend of Pepe's, appears. Pepe soon discovers that Gatsby and Magdalena may have had an affair and his son may have been fathered by Gatsby. While Gatsby and Magdalena consider the possibility of a rekindled romance, Pepe suffers a crisis of conscience over his son's uncertain lineage and his own feelings for the boy.

Beyond All Limits is a potent character study that depends on the excellence of its actors to put across its simple truths. Pedro Amendariz is excellent as the suffering Pepe and Maria Felix is radiant and mesmerizing as Magdalena. Jack Palance was perhaps a curious choice to play Gatsby, but he's quite persuasive in the role. Look also for Paul Stewart in a small supporting role. This a relatively long film at just under two hours, but it never drags because of the compellingly truthful work of the actors. Complementing their efforts is beautiful cinematography of the Mexican fishing village of Topolobampo by veteran cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa.

VCI's presentation (advertised with the unfortunate caption "a startling story of one moment of burning ecstasy", which may have been attached to the original American theatrical release rather than just being unique to VCI's DVD release) is a mixed blessing. The film has been transferred in a widescreen format at 1.78:1, but is not anamorphically enhanced. Still, the resulting image is quite nice, offering fairly luscious-looking colour though a little inconsistent at times. There are some source material defects evident and shadow detail is not all it could be. Overall, the effect is positive though. The mono sound is quite satisfactory, but no subtitles are provided. One imagines the film would be delightful to hear in the original Spanish but this version does not afford that option. The only supplements are some cast and crew biographies and some preview trailers. Well worth a rental.


Stooges: The Men Behind the Mayhem

Stooges: The Men Behind the Mayhem (2004)
(released on DVD by Mackinac Media on May 3rd, 2005)

Program Rating: B-
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/B+


Produced by Laughsmith Entertainment, Stooges: The Men Behind the Mayhem is a two-disc release focused on an expanded version of an A&E biography of The Three Stooges directed and narrated by Paul Gierucki and originally aired in 1994. Running just over an hour in length, the program is divided into six chapters, each focusing on an individual Stooge (Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard, Joe Besser, and Curly-Joe DeRita). The program uses extensive interviews with family members (particularly Larry's sister and Curly's daughter), Stooges experts, and a few associates as its basis, supplemented by home movies and footage from the four Stooges public domain shorts.

Unfortunately, Columbia was apparently not involved in the program's preparation (reflecting perhaps Columbia's embarrassment at how much they took the Stooges for granted when they were on the lot and then cavalierly treated them at the end), leaving a large void in its consideration of the Columbia shorts - the most significant component of the Stooges' work. The later feature films are briefly covered. Stooges neophytes will find the program to be a useful introduction to the trio, but there's little new here for long-time fans. The lack of detail on the Columbia years and the cast and production team members that worked so closely with the Stooges then is particularly disappointing.

The full frame image (as originally projected) is typical of recent documentaries, offering good reproduction of newly-filmed sequences with more mixed results on the archival material depending upon the shape it was in. There are comparable differences in the sound with the newer stereo sequences sounding quite clear and precise, while some hiss is evident on parts of the archival material. The supplementary material is quite good. Disc One includes extensive photo galleries, three radio interviews (two with Moe, one with Moe and Larry), and DVD-ROM access to a very heart-warming tribute to Moe from young fan Bob Bernet. Disc Two contains complete versions of the four Stooges public domain shorts (Disorder in the Court, Brideless Groom, Sing a Song of Six Pants, Malice in the Palace) all looking about as good as any version of them I've seen, a rough-looking but still very enjoyable edition of The Camel Comedy Caravan from 1950 starring Ed Wynn and featuring the Stooges (a sequence of which also appears in the documentary), extended versions of some of the interviews used in the documentary, and trailers for a number of the Stooges feature films. Despite the documentary's shortcomings, the entire package is an attractive one and most Stooges fans will find something worthy of their attention in it.


New Announcements

As usual, the new announcements are organized alphabetically by releasing company. Paramount has some interesting news concerning its Republic holdings although the timing indicated should be treated cautiously at present. The Classic Coming Attractions Database has been updated accordingly.

Alpha has 25 new releases scheduled for March 28th. There are no serials this time, but this is one silent film (Eyes of the Mummy); westerns from the likes of Bob Steele, Tim McCoy (The Traitor), Ken Maynard, and the Three Mesquiteers (Heart of the Rockies); and the usual mix of other B comedy and mystery pictures as well as compilations of TV series episodes. See the database for the complete list of titles.

Criterion 's plans include Luis Bunuel's Viridiana (1961) for a May 23rd release (previously expected in late February), utilizing a new high definition transfer and including various essays and interviews among the supplements.

Dark Sky (a component of MPI) seems to have shifted into high gear with news of several upcoming releases. March 28th will bring several films by cult director/producer Del Tenney - a double bill of The Horror of Party Beach/The Curse of the Living Corpse (both 1964) and the single title release Violent Midnight (1964). Tenney will provide an audio commentary on each film and all will be presented in anamorphic widescreen. On April 25th, Dark Sky offers the first of its Drive-In Double Features - two Japanese titles, Prince of Space (1959) and Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961). The second Drive-In offering will come on May 30th: Creation of the Humanoids (1962)/War Between the Planets (1965). Also due on May 30th is Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965).

Disney plans to release three more entries in its Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites series on April 11th. Each will contain eight cartoons. The titles are: Best Pals Mickey and Minnie (Volume 10), Best Pals Donald and Daisy (Volume 11), and Best Pals Mickey and Pluto (Volume 12).

Flicker Alley's release of F.W. Murnau's The Phantom (1922) has been pushed back from February into the spring.

Fox's plans for May 9th will include special edition releases of The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Towering Inferno (1974) featuring new anamorphic transfers. On May 16th comes The Big Valley: Season One (Barbara Stanwyck) and then on the 23rd, Fox's annual collections of westerns (100 Rifles [1969], Culpepper Cattle Company [1972], The Last Wagon [1956, Richard Widmark], The Proud Ones [1956, Robert Ryan], These Thousand Hills [1959], Yellow Sky [1948, Gregory Peck]) and war films (Back Door to Hell [1964], Decision Before Dawn [1952, Richard Basehart], Guns at Batasi [1964], Immortal Sergeant [1943, Henry Fonda], You're in the Navy Now [1951, Gary Cooper]). Also due then are Orson Welles' Compulsion (1959), Murder Inc. (1960, Stuart Whitman), and The Seven-Ups (1973, Roy Scheider).

Image offers a version of Abbott and Costello's Africa Screams (1949) on May 23rd, as part of its Hal Roach Studios release line. Also scheduled then is a double bill of Cecil B. DeMille's The Clinging Vine (1926, with Leatrice Joy) and The Age of Ballyhoo, a 1973 documentary on the Roaring Twenties narrated by Gloria Swanson. May 30th will bring The Lon Chaney Collection, which features two films with Lon Chaney Jr. - Manfish (1956) and The Indestructible Man (1956) - and two episodes from the many TV series that Chaney appeared in.

MPI will make The Doris Day Show: Season Three (4-disc box set) available on May 30th. Day fans will also be pleased to hear that the first of Doris's TV specials made in the 1970s for CBS (The Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff Special, retitled The Doris Day Special for its DVD release) will also come out the same day. Both will offer a nice selection of extras similar in nature to those on the previous season box sets.

Paramount has set March 28th as the release date for the 1971 version of Julius Caesar starring Charlton Heston. May 9th will bring a 3-disc American Heroes Collection that will include In Harm's Way (1965), The Bridges of Toko-Ri (1954), and Hell is for Heroes (1962). All three have previously been released individually. Also due then is a three-disc 50th Anniversary set of selected episodes of The Phil Silvers Show, including some with audio commentaries and miscellaneous other supplementary items. Other May plans (already delayed from April, so one should treat them with some skepticism until there are official announcements) include a slew of titles from the Republic catalog: Love Happy (1949, Marx Bros.), Dark Mirror (1946, Olivia De Havilland), Secret Beyond the Door (1948, Joan Bennett), Body and Soul (1947, John Garfield), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948, Joan Fontaine), as well as plenty of John Wayne - War of the Wildcats (1943, originally In Old Oklahoma) and three double features: New Frontier (1935/1939 versions), Red River Range/Three Texas Steers, and Wake of the Red Witch/Night Riders. From among these titles, Love Happy, Body and Soul, and Wake of the Red Witch (as well as March's Julius Caesar) were all previously released on DVD by Artisan, so it will be interesting to see how Paramount now handles them. They certainly couldn't look any worse than the Artisan efforts. Also very welcome is Paramount's decision to make some of John Wayne's Three Mesquiteer westerns available. If all this pans out, Paramount will be back with a vengeance as far as classic releases are concerned. Other Paramount plans for May include The Andy Griffith Show: Season Six.

Roan Group follows up its 2005 release of Fisherman's Wharf with another Booby Breen picture, this time Way Down South (1939). The title has been added to Roan's website (on the Troma site) and will presumably appear this quarter, but no release date is specified as yet.

In its newly released Cary Grant Box Set, Sony's Columbia arm reveals that it will also release The Premiere Edition Frank Capra Box Set, containing It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Platinum Blonde, and the new-to-DVD American Madness (1932, with Walter Huston). It's not clear yet how the new releases will differ from the old, but if the new Cary Grant set is any indication, we can expect at least some new transfers and the features from the old releases to be ported over. We can also expect, however, that American Madness will only be available in the set. The set is likely to appear later in 2006. Sony's Columbia arm will also offer Gidget: The Complete Series (1965-66) and The Flying Nun: Season One (1967-68), both starring Sally Field, on March 21st. Coming on April 25th from Sony's MGM arm is a two-disc Special Collector's Edition of Guys and Dolls (1955) with a new 2.55:1 anamorphic transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Extras are expected to include Damon Runyon's Broadway, Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls Documentary, and a Samuel Goldwyn's Guys and Dolls On-Screen Adaptation featurette. Finally, Sony may have plans for a DVD release of a selection of episodes from the 1950s western TV series Tales of the Texas Rangers (with Willard Parker and Harry Lauter)- one of the lesser-known such series, but very welcome for western fans. No timing is available as yet.

Synapse will re-release Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1934) on March 28th. Previously made available in 2001, it will now sport a newly remastered and window-boxed transfer (with the involvement of restoration expert Robert Harris), although supplementary features will remain the same as before (including audio commentary by Dr. Anthony Santoro and Riefenstahl's short film Day of Freedom).

Universal, lately announcing things well in advance, indicates that the Alfred Hitchcock classics Frenzy, Rope, Saboteur, Topaz, and The Trouble with Harry will each be available singly on June 20th. These are the same remastered versions available currently as part of the studio's Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection box set released last autumn. Meanwhile, May 2nd will see Leave It to Beaver: Season Two released as a three-disc set.

VCI has four double feature releases in its ACME DVD Works line coming on March 28th. There will be the Edward G. Robinson film noir combo of Scarlet Street (1945) and The Red House (1947), an Edmond O'Brien film noir combo of D.O.A. (1949) and The Hitch-Hiker (1953), a Betty Hutton duo of The Stork Club (1945) and Perils of Pauline (1947), and western divas duo of The Groom Wore Spurs (1951, with Ginger Rogers) and Oklahoma Annie (1951, with Judy Canova). As reported at inthebalcony.com, VCI will also apparently initiate two new film noir series in March, as a result of an arrangement with Kit Parker Films. The series (all of which will be double feature releases) will be titled Hammer Noir (originally British productions) and Forgotten Noir (mainly low budget entries from companies such as Lippert and Allied Artists). Tentative releases are as follows: Hammer Noir Series - #1 [Bad Blonde (1953)/The Glass Tomb (1959)], #2 [The Black Glove (1954)/The Big Deadly Game (1954)], #3 [Heat Wave (1954)/Paid to Kill (1954)], #4 [Man Bait (1952)/The Gambler and the Lady (1952)], #5 [A Stolen Face (1952)/Blackout (1954)], #6 [Terror Street (1953)/Wings of Danger (1952)]; Forgotten Noir Series - #1 [Portland Exposé (1957)/They Were So Young (1954)], #2 [Scotland Yard Investigator (1952)/ Treasure of Monte Cristo (1949)], #3 [The Shadow Man (1953)/Fingerprints Don't Lie (1951)], #4 [The Man from Cairo (1953)/Danger Zone (1951)], #5 [Loan Shark (1952)/Roaring City (1951)], #6 [I'll Get You (1952)/Pier 23 (1951)], #7 [F.B.I. Girl (1951)/Shoot to Kill (1947)].

Warner Bros. has announced The Lucy and Desi Collection for release on May 9th. Included in it will be The Long, Long Trailer (1954), Forever Darling (1955), and Too Many Girls (1940). The studio has now also confirmed its two-disc SE of The Dirty Dozen (1967) for a May 23rd release. In addition to a new anamorphic transfer, new documentaries, and audio commentary, one of the SE's supplements will be the made-for-TV sequel The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission (1985). Similarly, Warners has also confirmed its release of The Bette Davis Collection: Volume Two for May 30th. As expected, it will include a new two-disc SE of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, a new version of Jezebel restored from the original camera negative, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Old Acquaintance, Marked Woman, and a new feature-length documentary Stardust: the Bette Davis Story. In its press release for this collection, Warners also notes that "fans of Miss Davis will be pleased to know that they can look forward to future collections with new DVD releases containing more of the astounding films she made at Warner Bros. during her 17 year tenure with the studio. Some of these additional films (such as All This, and Heaven Too, Dangerous, In This Our Life, The Corn Is Green, Watch on the Rhine and many others) are currently being restored from their original nitrate camera negatives, in anticipation of further Bette Davis DVD collections". Finally, the studio is following up on their best-of releases last fall with complete Season One sets for Cheyenne (15 episodes) and F Troop (34 episodes); they will appear on June 6th.

Once again, that's it for now. See you all again soon.

Barrie Maxwell
barriemaxwell@thedigitalbits.com


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