email@example.comDVD PICK OF THE WEEK:OPERATION PETTICOAT (Oliver Films) Blake Edwards scored his first direct hit at the boxoffice with this cheerful, charming 1959 World War II comedy about the “pink submarine.”
The film, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, boasts an irresistible duo in Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, both in top form here. Grant plays Matt Sherman, the commander of the Sea Tiger, a US sub damaged during a Japanese air strike. The Navy wants to consign the ship to the scrapyard, but Sherman insists that it can be restored to fighting form.
To this end, Sherman taps young Lt. Nick Holden (Curtis) to supervise the ship’s refitting, which he does by scavenging, stealing and scamming the necessary equipment and supplies. The Sea Tiger barely makes it out of port and sails into action, which includes rescuing five Army nurses (including Dina Merrill and Joan O’Brien) … which, naturally, leads to further complications – as well as some sharp battle-of-the-sexes banter. And, of course, the sub ends up painted pink by mistake.
The appealing cast also includes Arthur O’Connell (as the obligatory crusty engineer), Gene Evans and future sitcom stars Dick Sargent (“Bewitched”), Gavin MacLeod (“The Love Boat”) and Marion Ross (“Happy Days”), but it’s the happy Grant/Curtis teamwork that keeps Operation Petticoat cruising along. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.
THE ADVENTURES OF THE TEXAS KID: BORDER AMBUSH (Alpha Home Entertainment): Routine low-budget 1950 horse opera, originally made for TV, with Hugh Hooker in the title role and John Laurez as his faithful sidekick Pepe.
“CLASSIC WESTERN DOUBLE FEA- TURE” (Alpha Home Entertainment): A DVD twin-bill ($7.98 retail) of vintage B Westerns: Wally Wales in Red Fork Range (1931) and Under Strange Flags (1937) with Tom Keene, Luana Walters and Maurice Black (as Pancho Villa).
CLEOPATRA’S DAUGHTER (Alpha Home Entertainment): Debra Paget plays the titular Princess Shila in this hokey, campy 1960 “sword-and-sandal” saga set in ancient Egypt and filmed in “Ultrascope,” with Corrado Pani as a nasty Pharoah, Ettore Manni the handsome physician who captures Shila’s heart, and Hollywood veteran Robert Alda (Alan’s dad) as the Pharoah’s cynical architect.
COMMAND PERFORMANCE (Alpha Home Entertainment): Doddering 1931 adaptation of Stafford Dickens’ play, a combination of old-hat political intrigue, flaccid comic relief and perfunctory romance, with Neil Hamilton (later Commissioner Gordon on TV’s “Batman”) an actor coerced into impersonating a lookalike prince (also Hamilton) to woo princess Una Merkel from an enemy nation. Lawrence Grant, Mischa Auer, Helen Ware and Thelma Todd (who later came to a bad end) try to give it a lift.
CONQUEROR OF THE ORIENT (Alpha Home Entertainment): Fearless rebel Rik Battaglia leads the rebellion against ruthless (and smarmy) despot Paul Muller after the latter abducts beauteous Irene Tunc in this campy 1960 “swordand-sandal” opus, originally titled Il conquistatore dell’Oriente, replete with daffy dubbing and choppy editing.
“CORAZON INDOMABLE” (Cinedigm): A four-DVD boxed set ($19.97 retail) of the inaugural 2013 season of the popular Mexican telenovela (also known as Wild at Heart), broadcast on the Univision Network, starring Ana Brenda Contreras as an ambitious young woman who vows revenge on the wealthy family who humiliated her and ruined her romance (with Daniel Arenas). In Spanish with English subtitles.
THE FAR FRONTIER (Alpha Home Entertainment): Director William Witney’s fairly complex 1948 horse opera sees Roy Rogers (and Trigger, of course!) on the trail of outlaws smuggling criminals on the Mexican border, ably supported by Andy Devine (comic relief), perennial heavy Roy Barcroft, John’s brother Francis Ford and future Lone Ranger Clayton Moore, with Foy Willing and the Raiders of the Purple Sage providing a couple of songs. Maybe the only film in which amnesia is cured via fistfight!
I MARRIED ADVENTURE (Alpha Home Entertainment): Osa Johnson produced this 1940 adaptation of her bestseller, which utilizes stock footage (some of it impressive) and re-enactments to re-create her and husband Martin E. Johnson’s adventures in Africa and the South Seas, narrated by Jim Bannon.
“KLONDIKE” (Cinedigm): Richard Madden and Augustus Prew play prospectors trying to strike it rich during the Yukon gold rush of the 1890s in this Discovery Channel mini-series based on Charlotte Grey’s best-seller. Sam Shepard, Tim Roth, Abbie Cornish, Martin Csokas, Ian Hart, Tim Blake Nelson, Conor Leslie and Johnny Simmons (as Jack London) round out the cast. Ridley Scott was an executive producer. The DVD retails for $16.99, the Blu-ray for $20.99.
“LEO McCAREY DIRECTS” (Alpha Home Entertainment): A DVD collection ($7.98 retail) of four silent comedy shorts helmed by future Oscar winner
Leo McCarey and starring funnyman Charley Chase: Jeffries Jr. (1924), Fighting Fluid, Bad Boy and Innocent Husbands (all 1925).
“LOST SILENT WESTERNS COLLECTION” (Alpha Home Entertainment): The title tells all in this DVD double-feature ($7.98 retail) of pre-sound, fast-paced, vintage Western programmers: Al Hoxie stars in Ace of Clubs (1926); Francis Ford (John’s older brother) headlines Another Man’s Boots (1922). Both films:
“MAMA’S FAMILY”: THE COM- PLETE FOURTH SEASON (Star Vista Entertainment/Time Life): Vicki Lawrence returns as ever-cranky Mama Harper in all 25 episodes from the 1987- ’88 season of the syndicated sitcom spun off from “The Carol Burnett Show.” Other regulars included Ken Berry, Dorothy Lyman and Allan Kayser, with guest appearances by Joseph Campanella, Barney Martin and Alex Trebek. The four-DVD collection retails for $29.95.
THE NIGHT THEY KILLED RASPU- TIN (Alpha Home Entertainment): More histrionics than history in this 1962 melodrama with Edmund Purdom as the mad monk of Czarist Russia and John Drew Barrymore (son of John, father of Drew) as the young prince who slew him.
“RAWHIDE”: THE EIGHTH AND FINAL SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): Clint Eastwood saddles up one more time for all 13 episodes from the 1965 season of the award-winning CBS Western series (Eric Fleming having departed), with guest stars Bruce Dern, Rip Torn, Charles Bronson, Ralph Bellamy, Robert Blake, Cesar Romero and Rory Calhourn. The four-DVD collection retails for $39.98.
THE REVENGERS (CBS DVD/ Paramount): Rancher William Holden recruits a grubby band of prisoners (including Wild Bunch co-star Ernest Borgnine and sturdy Woody Strode) to join him tracking down those who murdered his family in this leathery but predictable 1972 Western featuring Susan Hayward (in her last film) and Holden’s real-life son Scott. Rated PG.
REX LEASE DOUBLE FEATURE (Alpha Home Entertainment): A self-explanatory DVD twin-bill ($7.98 retail) of low-budget Westerns starring B-movie veteran Rex Lease (1903-’66): In Old Cheyenne (1931) and Cyclone of the Saddle (1935). Both films:
SLEEP, MY LOVE (Olive Films): Is troubled New York socialite Claudette Colbert losing her mind or being victimized by husband Don Ameche? Mary Pickford “presented” and Douglas Sirk directed this 1948 adaptation of Leo Rosten’s novel, which smoothly combines elements of film noir with Hitchcockian suspense. Robert Cummings, Raymond Burr, Rita Johnson, Keye Luke, George Coulouris, Ralph Morgan, Queenie Smith and Hazel Brooks round out a solid cast.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2014, Mark Burger.