View Mobile Site
 

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

Old films, TV movies on DVD for the first time

Posted: January 21, 2014 7:44 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2014 7:44 p.m.

Ernie Kovacs strikes a pose as the leader of a criminal gang that hijacks a Liberty Ship to facilitate a heist in "Sail a Crooked Ship," now on DVD for the first time.

 

Works of beloved comedian Charley Chase and Betty Compson lead the way with these older films and TV movies now on DVD for the first time. (Available online at warnerarchive.com)

“Charley Chase Shorts, Volume 2” (Sony Choice, 1937-40, b/w, $18.95, 12 short films). A contemporary of Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd, Chase is not nearly as well remembered today, and, let’s face it, even his best work doesn’t rise to the brilliance of the Great Three silent comics.
But Chase was nonetheless an inventive jokester, as an actor and also a writer and director, and this second collection of his sound shorts for Columbia in the late 1930s, as his career was winding down, is a testament to his talent. (He even sings!)
With a dapper, mustachioed screen persona, Chase’s sound work is much sillier and less subtle than his silent two-reelers (he was also directing Three Stooges shorts and they seem to have rubbed off on some of these), but several collected here are very funny. A real treat for fans.

“The Belle of Broadway” (Sony Choice, 1926, b/w, silent, $18.95). Utah connection: Compson was born in Beaver, and when she made this film she was still married to director James Cruze, an Ogden, Utah, native. Compson stars in this hokey but surprisingly entertaining hourlong melodrama as a young stage performer who, claiming to have had plastic surgery, impersonates 60-year-old Madame Adele, once the toast of Broadway and Paris. The wildly contrived plot includes the older Adele’s long-missing son, jealous suitors, mistaken identities and a duel. Transferred from a pristine restored print.

“Sail a Crooked Ship” (Sony Choice, 1961, b/w, $18.95). Wacky heist comedy has Ernie Kovacs leading a band of crooks (Frank Gorshin, Jesse White, Harvey Lembeck) and his reluctant nephew (Frankie Avalon) to steal a retrofitted Liberty Ship as a getaway vehicle after robbing a Boston bank. Of course, this requires kidnapping the ship’s restorer and his girlfriend (Robert Wagner, Dolores Hart). Uneven but with some funny sequences.

“The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case” (Sony Choice, 1976, $18.95). Excellent NBC-TV movie, albeit a bit overlong at two-and-a-half hours, relates the 1932 “Crime of the Century,” the kidnapping of the baby of world-famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne Morrow (Cliff De Young, Sian Barbara Allen). The film follows the subsequent investigation, the sad discovery of the child’s remains, and the ultimate capture and execution of the accused kidnapper, Bruno Hauptmann. Anthony Hopkins, 15 years before “Silence of the Lambs,” is great as Hauptmann and deservedly won an Emmy for his performance.

“Passions” (Sony Choice, 1984, $18.95). Interesting CBS-TV movie about the casualties of reckless choices made by an arrogant businessman (Richard Crenna) when it is discovered he has two families, one by his wife (Joanne Woodward) and another by his mistress (Lindsay Wagner), both of whom eventually discover there have been even more deceptions.

“Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” (Sony Choice, 1979, $18.95). ABC-TV two-part miniseries (roughly three hours here) focuses on six divorced pals, most acting like adolescents that never grew up. Robert Conrad invites five friends to his beach house and the soap opera machinations quickly kick in. It has its moments but is way too long. Conrad, David Ogden Stiers and Billy Crystal fare best, along with Susan Sullivan and Bonnie Franklin.

“Pirates of Tripoli” (Sony Choice, 1955, $18.95). Colorful but routine period yarn about a pirate (Paul Henreid) hired by a princess (Patricia Medina) to rescue her fallen kingdom. OK swashbuckler, but nothing special.

“Jabberwocky” (Sony Choice, 1977, PG, $18.95). Terry Gilliam’s first solo directing effort came two years after he co-directed “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and it’s another medieval comedy, even darker and hitting fewer targets. Gilliam’s Python pal Michael Palin stars as a young peasant who reluctantly takes on a terrorizing monster.

“Bambole” (aka “Dolls,” Sony Choice, 1965, b/w, $18.95, dubbed in English). Movies made up of short stories have been around forever, but international anthologies were especially popular in the 1960s — “The Yellow Rolls-Royce,” “Woman Times Seven,” etc. The Italian “Bambole” is comprised of four comic tales of seduction, starring, respectively, Virna Lisi, Elke Sommer, Monica Vitti and Gina Lollobrigida.


Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." Website:
Copyright 2014 Deseret Digital Media Inc.

Comments

No comments have been posted.

You need to be a registered user to post a comment. Please click here to register.

The Signal encourages readers to interact with one another, following the guidelines outlined in our Comment/Moderation Policy. Click here to read it.

To report offensive or inappropriate comments, e-mail abuse@signalscv.com. The content posted from readers of signalscv.com does not necessarily represent the views of The Signal or Morris Multimedia. By submitting this form you agree to the terms and conditions listed above. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

 
 

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...