video vault

by Mark Burger


(Universal studios Home entertainment)

Comedy’s the name of the game in this six-film DVD collection that celebrates the screen legacy of the legendary Bob Hope (1903-2003), inarguably one of the best-loved entertainers in American history.

The 1938 comedy Thanks for the Memory, based on Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett’s play Up Pops the Devil, gave the performer his theme song; Hope is joined by Bing crosby and Dorothy lamour for Road to Morocco (1942), the third of their seven “Road” movies and widely considered one of the best, which earned Academy Award nominations for Best original screenplay and Best sound Recording; the 1948 Western spoof The Paleface teamed Hope with Jane Russell and won the oscar for Best song

(“Buttons and Bows”).

The remaining three films paired Hope with Paulette Goddard, and remain among the best of the films that either made: The Cat and the Canary (1939), based on the John Willard play, and 1940’s The Ghost Breakers (1940), based on a Paul Dickey/charles W. Goddard play, are quintessential “old-dark-house” mystery comedies of the pre-war era, and the 1941 comedy Nothing But the Truth, based on a Fredric Isham novel, sees Hope’s character vowing not to tell a lie for 24 hours. (Hmmm… that’s a familiar concept!) The boxed set retails for $39.98.


ABOVE AND BEYOND (Timeless media Group/mTI Home Video): An award-winning, canadianmademini-series ($24.95 retail) that dramatizesthe Atlantic Ferry operation during World War II, inwhich warplanes were flown from Newfoundlandto england in order to defend the nation from theNazis. The cast includes Richard e. Grant, kennethWelsh, Jason Priestley, Jonathan scarfe, lianeBalaban and Joss Ackland (as churchill).THE ARISTOCATS (Walt Disney studios Homeentertainment): A special edition ($29.99 retail) ofthe award-winning, animated 1970 Disney musicalfeaturing the voice of eva Gabor as a mothercat, who along with her three kittens, embarks ona wild adventure through Paris as they attemptto claim an inheritance that is rightfully theirs.other familiar voices include scatman crothers,Phil Harris, sterling Holloway, Paul Winchell andmaurice chevalier, who came out of retirement toperform the opening song. Rated G.“THE AWKWARD COMEDY SHOW” (NewVideo): A stand-up comedy documentary ($19.95)retail showcasing the talents of the title troupe,whose members include marina Franklin, BaronVaughn, eric Andre, Hannibal Buress and VictorVarnado (also the director and executive producer).DOMINICK DUNNE: AFTER THE PARTY (IndiePix):A two-DVD “collector’s edition” ($29.95 retail) ofthe excellent 2008 documentary tracing the lifeand career of author and advocate DominickDunne, who died last year.“GHOST HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL”:SEASON ONE, PART 1 (Image entertainment):A three-DVD boxed set ($24.98 retail) containing11 episodes from the 2008 of the popular realityseries, spun off from syFy channel’s original “GhostHunters” series, following paranormal investigatorsRobb Demarest, Dustin Pari, Barry FitzGerald andBrandy Green as they traverse the globe seekingsupernatural phenomena throughout the world.KILL THE POOR (Genius Products): DirectorAlan Taylor’s adaptation of Joel Rose’s novel starsDavid krumholtz and clara Bellar as a youngcouple trying to thrive and survive in a crimeriddledtenement on the lower east side of NewYork city, circa 1982. episodic but sometimesvery effective, with a solid supporting cast: Paulcalderon, otto sanchez, Heather Burns, DamianYoung, Jon Budinoff, Zak orth, larry Gilliard Jr.,Fisher stevens and cliff Gorman in his final role(the film is dedicated to him). completed in 2003and released in ’06. John malkovich was one ofthe producers.THE LANDLORD (massive ego Productions/Tempe Video): Writer/producer/editor/directoremil Hyde’s debut feature is a raunchy, low-budgethorror spoof starring Derek Dziak as a beleaguredlandlord whose tenants keep getting possessed,murdered and/or devoured by the pair of ancient,flesh-eating demons (Rom Barkhordar and lorimeyers) — and that’s just the beginning of thestory. Broad, silly and a little too long, but Hyde(who also appears in a small role) and the actors(most making their screen debuts) make the mostof it. Not bad, and not to be confused with HalAshby’s 1970 film of the same name. one specialfeature of the DVD is a built-in drinking game!LONESOME JIM (Genius Products): steveBuscemi directed this amiable, bittersweet comedywith casey Affleck in the title role, as a troubledyoung man who returns home to Indiana and triesto re-connect with his family — seymour cassel asDad, the superb mary kay Place as mom, and kevincorrigan as his suicidal older brother — while tentativelywooing a local nurse and single mother (livTyler). Rated R.“ROYAL PAINS”: SEASON ONE (Universalstudios Home entertainment): mark Feuersteinplays a disgraced doctor who becomes personalphysician to the beautiful residents ofthe Hamptons, in all 12 episodes from the 2009season of the UsA Network comedy series. Thisthree-DVD boxed set retails for $59.98.SHUTTER ISLAND (Paramount Homeentertainment): martin scorsese’s adaptation ofDennis lehane’s best-seller reunites him withleonardo Dicaprio as a troubled federal marshalsearching for a missing person in a mentalhospital located on the title isle. Ben kingsley,max von sydow, mark Ruffalo, michelle Williams,Patricia clarkson, emily mortimer, elias koteas,Ted levine, Jackie earle Haley and John carrolllynch round out a superior cast, but only kingsleyand von sydow make much of an impression.extremely well made but excruciatingly overlong,which tends to diminish the suspense rather thanenhance it. one of scorsese’s most disappointingfilms, but undeniably interesting as interestingfailures go. Ironically, it was one of his biggest boxofficehits. Go figure. Rated R.SLEEPING BEAUTY (Walt Disney studios Homeentertainment): A 50th anniversary “Platinumedition” of Walt Disney’s 1959 animated classic,based on charles Perrault’s 17th century fairy tale. Inaddition to being a huge box-office hit (includingsubsequent re-releases), the film scored an oscarnomination for Best musical score. The two-disc“Platinum edition” DVD retails for $29.99 and theBlu-ray/DVD combo pack for $35.99. Rated G.SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (WaltDisney studios Home entertainment): History wasmade when Walt Disney undertook the making ofthe first animated feature film in the United states,a 1937 adaptation of the classic fairy tale by theBrothers Grimm, featuring the voices of Adrianacaselotti as snow White, lucille la Verne as the evilQueen and Harry stockwell as the Prince. manyHollywood insiders predicted it would fail. over60 years, numerous re-releases and countless millionsof dollars later, it’s clear that they were wrong.Disney received an honorary Academy Award (actuallyone regular-sized statue and seven miniatures),and the film’s score earned a nomination. The two-DVD retails for $29.99, the Diamond edition Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for $39.99. Rated G.“TCM SPOTLIGHT: CHARLIE CHANCOLLECTION” (Warner Home Video): A selectionof four low-budget mysteries, released bymonogram Pictures after Twentieth century Foxhad dropped the series, featuring the classiccharacter created by earl Derr Biggers: sidneyToler plays the inscrutable chinese sleuth in DarkAlibi, Dangerous Money and The Trap (all 1946),the latter marking Toler’s final film, then RolandWinters assumed the role of chan in The ChineseRing (1947). This boxed set retails for $39.92.WILD OCEAN (Image entertainment): Johnkani narrates this award-winning, pictoriallypleasing documentary about the annualwinter migration of sea creatures along southAfrica’s Wild coat. originally in ImAX and 3-D,this (not surprisingly) loses some of its grandscope, but it doesn’t lay its conservation messageon too thick, allowing the spectacularvisuals to do it.THE WOLFMAN (Universal studios Homeentertainment): Benicio Del Toro plays the titlerole in this expensive, long-delayed remake of the1941 horror classic, an actor who returns hometo his ancestral home in england and is bitten bya werewolf, thereby cursing him as well. Greatspecial effects, but a reasonably enjoyable firsthalf comes undone, clearly indications of postproductionre-shoots, re-editing and re-jiggering(hence the delay). Director Joe Johnston steppedin when original helmer mark Romanek steppeddown. Anthony Hopkins, emily Blunt, HugoWeaving and Geraldine chaplin add a touch ofclass in support, although there’s not much foranyone to do (including the audience) betweentransformation scenes. Rated R (also available inan unrated edition).