Video Vault – Nov 21, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
“THE BEST OF THE THREE STOOGES” (Time Life): The title tells all in this 13-DVD collection ($99.95 retail) that pays homage to the silly, slap-happy, and – yes, classic – hi-jinks of Moe (Howard), Larry (Fine), and Curly (Howard), the triumphant triumvirate of vaudeville veterans-turned-screen icons, whose loony legacy lives on …
Eight DVDs are devoted to “The Best of the Three Stooges: Columbia Pictures Shorts 1934-1945,” which boasts 87 remastered shorts from what is widely considered the “Golden Age” of the Stooges, including the Oscar-nominated Men in Black (1934) – which marked the Stooges’ only nomination – and the calamitous courtroom spoof Disorder in the Court (1936), which is yours truly’s personal favorite.
Rest assured, there are also comedy shorts featuring the subsequent Stooges – Shemp (Howard), Joe (Besser), Curly Joe (DaRita) – plus feature films, cartoon shorts, and the nine-part documentary series Hey Moe! Hey Dad! (2015), which examines both the legacy of the Three Stooges and their off-screen lives.
All told, “The Best of The Three Stooges” offers over 45 hours of fun-filled slapstick entertainment – and is available exclusively from ThreestoogesDVDs.com,
“BLAZE AND THE MONSTER MACHINES: BLAZE SAVES CHRISTMAS” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): The title tells all in this DVD collection ($10.99 retail) of four holiday-themed episodes from the animated Nickelodeon children’s series following the adventures of the titular monster truck (voiced by Nolan North) and his high-speed pals.
“THE CAROL BURNETT 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL” (Time Life): The title tells all in this 2017 CBS special that celebrates the 50th birthday and enduring legacy of the long-running, Emmy-winning comedy/variety show that ran 1967-’78, with series regulars Carol Burnett, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner joined by a star-studded array of special guests including Martin Short, Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Maya Rudolph, Jim Carrey, Kaley Cuoco, Harry Connick Jr., Kristin Chenoweth, Jay Leno, Bill Hader, and many others. Emmy nomination for Outstanding Variety Special. The DVD ($12.95 retail) includes bonus features and tribute booklet.
“DETECTORISTS”: COMPLETE COLLECTION (Acorn TV): With metal detectors in hand, Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook seek treasure through the English countryside while their personal lives languish, in all 19 episodes from the entire 2014-’17 run of the award-winning BBC comedy series, available in a five-disc DVD collection ($79.99 retail) including bonus features.
AN ELEPHANT’S JOURNEY (LionsGate): Writer/producer/editor/director Richard Boddington’s PG-rated, family-friendly adventure (originally titled Phoenix Wilder and the Great Elephant Adventure) stars Sam Ashe Arnold as a young orphan lost in the African wilderness who befriends a bull elephant and engages in pursuit of ruthless poachers, available on DVD ($14.98 retail), replete with bonus features including audio commentary and interviews.
ITZHAK (Kino Lorber): Producer/director Alison Chernick’s award-winning documentary feature, originally broadcast on PBS’ “American Masters,” offers a warm and winning look at the illustrious life and career of Grammy-winning violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman. Perlman is an effortlessly engaging subject (and raconteur), and you can’t beat the classical selections on the soundtrack. The DVD ($29.95 retail) includes bonus features. ***
MADE FOR EACH OTHER (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): The trials and tribulations of a struggling Depression-era couple who impulsively marry are played with empathy and conviction by James Stewart and Carole Lombard in director John Cromwell’s bittersweet 1939 comedy/drama produced by David O. Selznick, which lapses into soap opera but benefits from a reliable cast including Lucile Watson, Alma Kruger, Eddie Quillan, Louise Beavers, and especially Charles Coburn as Stewart’s overbearing boss. An uncredited Oscar Levant provided the score. Long in the public domain, this offers a far superior transfer. Both the DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) include audio commentary and original trailer. **½
“MR. CAPRA GOES TO WAR: FRANK CAPRA’S WORLD WAR II DOCUMENTARIES” (Olive Films): A self-explanatory collection of documentaries produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Frank Capra on behalf of the war effort, for which he was later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal: 1942’s Prelude to War (1942) won the Academy Award as Best Documentary; 1943’s two-part The Battle of Russia, the Oscar-nominated The Negro Soldier (1944), Tunisian Victory (1945), and the 1945 short Your Job in Germany, which was written by Theodore Geisel (better known as “Dr. Seuss”) – available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
“MURDOCH MYSTERIES”: THE CHRISTMAS CASES LIMITED EDITION (Acorn TV): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($64.99 retail) of three holiday-themed episodes (plus bonus featurettes and collectible Christmas card) from the long-running, award-winning Canadian mystery series (also known as The Artful Detective), based on Maureen Jennings’ best-selling novels, starring Yannick Bisson in title role of an early 20th-century Toronto detective: A Merry Murdoch Christmas (2016), which won two Canadian Screen Awards (including one for Best TV Movie), Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas (2017), and Home for the Holidays (also 2017), each featuring Helene Joy as Mrs. Murdoch, with guest appearances by Ed Asner, Megan Follows, Brendan Coyle, Kelly Rowan, Kate Hewlett, and Jake Epstein.
“NICK JR.: SNOW AWESOME” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): Getting the jump on the yuletide season, this DVD collection ($10.99 retail) includes six holiday-themed episodes from such popular Nickelodeon children’s series’ as “Nella the Princess Knight,” “Shimmer and Shine,” and “Sunny Day.”
SANGAREE (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Fernando Lamas headlines this 1953 adaptation of Frank C. Slaughter’s novel (originally released in 3-D!), as an indentured servant battling bigotry in post-Revolutionary War Georgia when he is bequeathed a plantation he intends to turn into a medical clinic, co-starring Arlene Dahl (who later married Lamas), Patricia Medina, John Sutton, Tom Frake, Charles Korvin and Francis L. Sullivan, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail), each replete with bonus features.
“SAVED BY THE BELL”: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (Shout! Factory): Hard to believe it’s been almost 30 years since audiences first entered the halls of Bayside High, as this self-explanatory DVD collection ($59.99 retail) includes all 46 episodes from the entire 1989-’92 run of the award-winning NBC comedy series, whose youthful ensemble cast included Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez, Dustin Diamond, Lark Voorhies and Dennis Haskins, spun off from the 1988 comedy series “Good Morning, Miss Bliss” (which starred Hayley Mills in the title role), all 14 episodes of which are included here, as well as the subsequent spin-off “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” (all 18 episodes from the ’93-’94 season) and the TV movies Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style (1992) and Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Last Vegas (1994) – plus audio commentaries, retrospective documentary and featurettes, and more.
“SESAME STREET: THE MAGICAL WAND CHASE” (Sesame Workshop/Shout! Kids Factory/Shout! Factory): The “Sesame Street” Muppets embark on a colorful adventure through New York City when a mischievous bird (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) absconds with a magic wind, and revel in the cultural – and cooperative – diversity of those they encounter, in this television special, originally broadcast on HBO, which won the Emmy Award as Outstanding Children’s Program, available on DVD ($14.98 retail), replete with bonus features.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE (Shout! Studios/Shout! Factory): The hills are alive – again! – in this self-explanatory, award-winning production of the classic, fact-based Rodgers & Hammerstein musical extravaganza, starring Kara Tointon as Maria and Julian Ovenden as Capt. Von Trapp, originally broadcast by ITV 1 in 2015, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and Blu-ray ($22.97 retail), each boasting bonus features including audio commentary.
“TELEVISION’S LOST CLASSICS” (VCI Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): A self-explanatory collection of vintage television classics, each available on Blu-ray ($29.95 retail): “Volume One” includes the live 1955 drama Crime in the Streets written by Reginald Rose and directed by Sidney Lumet, starring John Cassavetes (who reprised his role in the 1956 feature film version) and Robert Preston, and the 1956 “Climax!” presentation of No Right to Kill, a version of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment also headlining Cassavetes; “Volume Two” boasts four television pilots: The 1951 CBS police drama Case of the Sure Thing, which launched “Racket Squad,” the 1958 mystery romp Cool and Lam created by Earle Stanley Gardner (of “Perry Mason” fame), a 1949 pilot for “The Life of Riley” starring Lon Chaney Jr. (who was replaced in the subsequent series by Jackie Gleason!), and a 1959 pilot for “Nero Wolfe,” based on Rex Stout’s classic mysteries, starring Kurt Kasznar (in the title role) and William Shatner.
“THELMA TODD & ZASU PITTS: THE HAL ROACH COLLECTION 1931-’33” (Kit Parker Films/VCI Entertainment/MVD Entertainment Group): A self-explanatory two-DVD collection ($39.95 retail) of 17 digitally-restored two-reel comedy shorts – plus bonus features – spotlighting the teaming of comediennes Thelma Todd (1906-’35) and ZaSu Pitts (1894-1963): Let’s Do Things, Catch-As Catch-Can, The Pajama Party, War Mamas and On the Loose (all 1931); Sealskins, Red Noses, Strictly Unreliable, The Old Bull, Show Business, Alum and Eve, The Soilers and Sneak Easily (all 1932); and Asleep in the Feet, Maids a La Mode, The Bargain of the Century and One Track Minds (all 1933).
“WHEN CALLS THE HEART”: YEAR FIVE (THE TELEVISION MOVIE COLLECTION) (Shout! Factory): A self-explanatory, six-disc DVD collection ($29.93 retail) of all six TV movies spun off from the award-winning Hallmark Channel drama series based on the Janette Oke’s best-selling novels, which follow the life of schoolteacher Erin Krakow as an idealistic schoolteacher in the mining village of Hope Valley, with Daniel Lissing, Jack Wagner, and Lori Loughlin in support. This collection includes Brian Bird and Michelle Cox’s devotional book When God Calls the Heart.
YESSONGS (Screenbound International/MVD Entertainment Group): A 40th-anniversary special-edition Blu-ray ($19.95 retail) of writer/director Peter Neal’s G-rated rock documentary – which was actually released in 1975 – filmed at the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1972, showcasing the band’s Close to the Edge tour and introduced its new line-up: Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, and Rick Wakeman
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)