“100 YEARS OF WRIGLEY FIELD” (MLB Productions/LionsGate): The title tells all in this sports documentary ($19.98 retail) saluting the long-time home of the long-suffering Chicago Cubs, featuring Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams and other superstars.
BACK PAGE (Alpha Home Entertainment): Appealing Peggy Shannon strikes an early blow for feminism as the newlyhired (female) editor of a rural newspaper who stirs up circulation and uncovers a local oil scandal in this entertaining – and fairly credible – 1933 comedy co-starring Russell Hopton, Claude Gillingwater and a young Sterling Holloway.
DELIVERY MAN (DreamWorks): Lovable lunk Vince Vaughn (who else?) plays an over-aged under-achiever who discovers he’s fathered more than 500 children over the last 20 years after making countless anonymous “donations” (ahem) to a fertility clinic. This PG-13-rated comedy is available on DVD ($29.99 retail) and Bluray ($32.99 retail).
FRAMED FOR MURDER (Alpha Home Entertainment): Boozy, misogynistic reporter Wallace Ford tries to prove that young widow June Clyde didn’t murder her wealthy husband in this intermittently snappy 1934 comedy programmer, also known as I Hate Women.
“THE GENE AUTRY SHOW”: THE COMPLETE TELEVISION SERIES
(Timeless Media Group): A DVD collection ($79.99 retail) of all 91 episodes (uncut and fully restored) from the 1950-’56 run of the CBS Western series headlining the legendary cowboy star, co-starring Pat Buttram and Gene’s horse Champion, with guest appearances including Lee Van Cleef, Alan Hale Jr., Denver Pyle, Chill Wills, Lyle Talbot, Fuzzy Knight and others.
GEORGE WASHINGTON (The Criterion Collection): A DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) of UNCSA School of Filmmaking graduate David Gordon Green’s awardwinning 2000 coming-of-age comedy/ drama, starring Donald Holden (in his first and only screen role) in the title role of a boy learning about life in a small Southern town (actually Winston-Salem!). Muchpraised in many quarters although highly unconventional and occasionally indulgent. Nevertheless, this is the work of a cinematic talent coming of age in his own way.
THE GOOD COMPANIONS (VCI Entertainment): Cheerful 1933 comedy, based on JB Priestley’s novel and Edward Knoblock’s subsequent play, about three disparate people (Edmund Gwenn, Mary Glynne and John Gielgud) who come to the aid of a failing musical comedy revue (fronted by Jessie Matthews). It’s a real treat to see the young Gielgud tickling the ivories and playing a romantic lead opposite Matthews.
THE JUNGLE BOOK (Disney): A “Diamond Edition” re-release ($29.99 DVD retail/$39.99 DVD/Blu-ray combo retail) of the colorful, charming, perennially popular 1967 animated adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s story, which marked the last feature overseen by Walt Disney himself. A delightful voice-over cast includes George Sanders, Phil Harris, Louis Prima, Sebastian Cabot, Sterling Holloway, J. Pat O’Malley, and Verna Felton (her final role). Oscar nomination for Best Song (“The Bare Necessities”). Rated G.
“KEY AND PEELE”: SEASONS 1 & 2 (Comedy Central/Paramount): A Blu-ray boxed set ($24.99 retail) of all 18 episodes from the 2012 season of the popular Comedy Central sketch comedy series showcasing the talents of creators Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.
NEVER WAVE AT A WAC (Alpha Home Entertainment): Washington socialite Rosalind Russell joins the WACs in this fluffy 1953 comedy produced by Russell’s husband, Frederick Brisson, with a familiar supporting cast including Paul Douglas, Marie Wilson, Leif Ericson, Hillary Brooke, Louise Beavers, Lurene Tuttle, William Ching and Regis Toomey. Made with the official cooperation of the US Army and the State Department, with a cameo by Gen. Omar Bradley (!) and an early score from Elmer Bernstein. Not dissimilar from the 1980 Goldie Hawn comedy Private Benjamin.
NIGHT OF THE COMET (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): A collector’s-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.93 retail) of the cheerful 1984 sci-fi comedy starring Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney as valley girls who survive the apocalypse after the titular comet passes Earth, soon joined by Robert Beltran then threatened by Geoffrey Lewis, Mary Woronov, and even some zombies. A little gem, fully deserving its cult status. Rated PG-13.
“NINJA TURTLES: THE NEXT MUTATION” – EAST MEETS WEST
(Saban/Shout! Factory): A DVD collection ($6.95 retail) of the first seven episodes from the 1997-’98 season of the syndicated fantasy series, featuring the live-action adventures of those “heroes on the half-shell,” which aired on the Fox Kids Network.
NO HOLDS BARRED (RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment): The Blu-ray bow ($19.98 retail) of the immensely silly 1989 wrestling saga starring Hulk Hogan (who else?) as a champion pitted against vicious ex-con Tommy “Tiny” Lister – both in an out of the ring. Ostensibly a comedy, although a very dopey one. Still, it was a hit … Rated PG-13.
“OFF THE HOOK: EXTREME CATCHES” – SEASON ONE (Discovery Communications/Cinedigm): Wrestler “Showtime” Eric Young casts his line in his quest to land the biggest fish, in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2013 season of the Animal Planet reality series. The DVD retails for $29.93.
ONE THRILLING NIGHT (Alpha Home Entertainment): Spunky low-budget 1942 screwball comedy with John Beal and Wanda McKay as newlyweds whose honeymoon in New York City goes awry when gangsters stash a dead body in their hotel room. Barbara Pepper lends sultry support as a blonde moll.
SERGEANT AND THE SPY (Alpha Home Entertainment): Limp 1954 comedy quickie with Richard Ney as an Army sergeant who misplaces a satchel of official documents while on furlough, and Janis Carter as the woman he meets whom he thinks is a spy.
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: THE FRESHMAN
(The Criterion Collection)
Along with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd was one of the great pioneers of screen comedy, and this (gorgeously restored) 1925 silent farce is one of his best-known (and best) outings.
As the aptly-named Harold Lamb, Lloyd’s bespectacled bumbler is eager to embrace college life at Tate University, but disaster tends to dog his every step. His guileless pursuit of fellow student Peggy (Jobyna Ralston) is threatened by the resident campus bully, billed as “the College Cad” (Brooks Benedict), but during the climactic, slap-happy football game Harold proves his mettle and becomes Big Man on Campus – replete with sweetheart on his arm.
The DVD/Blu-ray combo ($39.95 retail) includes a wealth of special features including audio commentary, archival interviews and more – including an extremely funny appearance by Lloyd on TV’s “What’s My Line?”
“TERRY FATOR: LIVE IN CONCERT” (LionsGate): The title tells all in this DVD concert documentary ($14.98 retail) featuring the popular, multi-talented comedian, singer, ventriloquist and “America’s Got Talent” champ in his comedy act at The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.
WINGS (LionsGate): In the tradition of Planes, and not to be confused with the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar, comes this G-rated animated feature boasting the voice talents of Josh Duhamel, Hilary Duff, Tom Skerritt, Rob Schneider and Jesse McCartney. The DVD retails for $14.98. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2014, Mark Burger.