Tag Archives: DVD

3 Ring Circus

Directed by Joseph Pevney
Produced by Hal B Wallis
Written by Don McGuire & Joseph Pevney
Starring Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis
Joanne Dru
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Sig Ruman
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date December 25, 1954
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English

3 Ring Circus is the only Martin & Lewis film that is currently not available on DVD. I’m not sure why that is but I remember when I was a child that Channel 7 or 10 would show this movie over and over on a Sunday afternoon. It’s probably the Martin & Lewis film that I have seen the most times and despite not having seen it for a couple of decades (or more) I still remember parts of the film quite vividly. (Although I do remember seeing Hollywood Or Bust quite a lot of times on TV too!)

This is of course the film set in a circus where Jerry Lewis gets to don a clown costume and the boys get to duet on Puncinello. He dreams of being a clown but first has to earn his stripe in the circus by doing odd jobs such as training as a lion tamer or washing the elephants. It’s just an excuse for Jerry to display his goofy humour.

The film is not great but it is OK and better than a lot of other Martin & lewis films. As a kid I never noticed this but the film is very clichéd and the ending especially is very schmaltzy. This is at the orphans benefit where there is a little girl, in braces, who just won’t laugh at Jerry the clown no matter what he does. Personally I don’t blame her for not laughing at the clown as nothing he does is particularly funny, but the schmaltzy part comes when Jerry starts crying because of his failure to make the girl laugh, which causes her to laugh hysterically. One thing came across my mind as I watched this scene, perhaps the little girl is not really sad at all, maybe she’s just someone who cruelly gets her kicks out of the misfortune of others.

It’s also good to see Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kathleen Freeman and Elsa Lanchester in the film too, although with the exception of Zsa Zsa they are relegated to what are virtually cameo roles.

I have always been fascinated by circuses and clown in particular. I have always had a love/hate feeling for clowns and dreamt of being a clown when I was a kid, despite (or maybe because) of the fact that many clowns seem so evil. I always wonder just why they feel they need to hide their identities behind their makeup ala James Stewart in The Greatest Show On Earth.

I guess that this film could have been the beginning of the end for the Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis team as this seems to be the film where Jerry started to become a lot more self-indulgent with his comedy and takes up a lot of the spotlight, instead of concentrating on the equal partnership with Dean that brought him his initial fame. Dean is relegated to the background for much of the film. There also was allegedly a lot of tension on the set between Dean and Jerry and many people have speculated that this could be the reason why this film has never been released on DVD (or home video), although that does not explain why Hollywood or Bust is on DVD, as that is the final film the duo made and the one that Jerry has found too sad to watch. It would still be good to see released onto DVD as although it isn’t hilariously funny, it is still quite interesting and entertaining. Kids will probably love this film.

Advertisements

Blockheads

Directed by John G. Blystone
Produced by Hal Roach Jr. & Hal Roach
Written by Felix Adler

Arnold Belgard

Harry Langdon
James Parrott
Charley Rogers
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Patricia Ellis

Minna Gombell

Billy Gilbert
Jimmy Finlayson
Music by Marvin Hatley
Cinematography Art Lloyd
Editing by Bert Jordan
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date August 19, 1938
Running time 57 min.
Language English

Universal Australia has just released a lot of Laurel & Hardy dvds onto the market. These are from the British DVD set which have been remastered. These dvds aren’t even available in America. These are currently selling in Big W for $8.80. While all of the disc in the set contain some fine Laurel & Hardy films the ones that are essential for any comedy lover are Volume 14 – A Job To Do/Classic Shorts, which features The Music Box (the short film where they try to deliver a piano up a flight of stairs), Volume 13 – Sons Of The Desert/Related Shorts, Volume 3 – Way Out West/Related Shorts, Sons Of The Desert and Way Out West being Laurel & Hardy’s best known feature films. Volume 16 – Maritime Adventures/Classic Shorts features another one of the duos best short films, Towed In A Hole, which is the film where they go fishing. Still as I said earlier all of the dvds are worth owning.

Blockheads was released in 1938. This is the film where after WWI Stan has been left behind in the trenches for twenty years not knowing that the war has finished. When he finally finds out he goes back to America where he is reunited with Ollie and chaos occurs. There are quite a few laugh out loud moments which is quite rare when watching movies over 70 years old.

I was reading the other day about why Laurel & Hardy have such a great appeal even now. They aren’t known for any violent slapstick like The Three Stooges, or any smartass one liners like Groucho Marx or W.C. Fields. The author of the book I was reading (whose title escapes me right now) said that basically Stan and Ollie are big babies and that it is this child-like quality that appeals to fans, especially children. I’m not so sure about that but I do know that they were very funny together.


Movies I Plan To Watch

I have a list of movies that I plan to watch before the year is out. If you have been snooping around this blog and checking out some of my updates you may see some of the pictures that I plan to see, as I have started to build up the pages in anticipation of watching the film. Most of these films are either movies that I have watched in the past many years ago and would love to see again, films that I have always wanted to watch but have not had the opportunity to see as of yet, or films that are universally considered to be either so good or so awful that I just have to see them. Here is a brief list of some of the movies I hope to see, as long as I don’t get too lazy.

  • Notorious
  • Under Capricorn – Considered one of Hitchcock’s worst films but the French love it.
  • The Devil At Your Heels – The Ken Carter Story -Have been looking for this for ages, ever since the D-Gen screened it on the ABC in the early 90s.
  • Fantasia
  • Frankenstein
  • Dracula
  • Nosferatu
  • The Wrestler – I’m trying to find the 1973 version of The Wrestler starring Ed Asner, which features a blink and you’ll miss him appearance from a young Ric Flair pre-‘Nature Boy’ .
  • The One And Only – This is a wrestling movie starring Henry ‘Fonz’ Winkler that I saw many years ago. It was very strange.
  • Requim For A Heavyweight
  • The Greatest – Muhammad Ali stars in a film about himself that is pure BS but still entertaining.
  • Beyond The Mat – Haven’t seen this for a decade.
  • Piccadilly – Silent British film from 1929.
  • Stagecoach
  • Shane
  • High Noon
  • The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre – One of my favourite movies.
  • Reefer Madness – Haven’t seen this yet but hear that it is very hilarious.
  • Glen Or Glenda – ‘Bevare puppy dog tails and snails. Bevare.’
  • Plan 9 From Outer Space
  • Superfly
  • Foxy Brown
  • Network
  • The Producers – Not the remake.
  • The Public Enemy – Watched Scorsese rave about this so I really must watch it.
  • Scarface – Both versions.
  • Little Caesar
  • Black Caesar – The blaxploitation remake of the above.
  • Blacula
  • Hoppity Goes To Town – I have to track this down. I have seen it available on a cheap ‘public domainDVD, even though the film is not in the public domain. It ain’t available online as a torrent but I have heard that Disney may be releasing this onto DVD even though it was made by Disney’s main competitor back in the early 1940s.

This is probably enough for now.


You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man

Directed by George Marshall
Edward F. Cline (uncredited)
Produced by Lester Cowan
Written by W. C. Fields (as “Charles Bogle”) (story)
Everett Freeman (screenplay)
Richard Mack (screenplay)
George Marion Jr. (screenplay)
Starring W. C. Fields
Edgar Bergen
Charlie McCarthy
Cinematography Milton R. Krasner
Editing by Otto Ludwig
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date February 18, 1939
Running Time 76 min.

This was quite a good W. C Fields comedy film. It features a lot of classic lines from Fields, as well as some good slapstick pratfalls, but also features a continuation of his wonderful rivalry with a ventriloquists’ puppet.

It’s a bit hard to explain but for many years Fields had a radio rivalry with Charlie McCarthy, Edgar Bergen’s (Candice’s father) dummy. It’s strange indeed to think of someone doing a ventriloquist act on the radio, but that is where this funny rivalry was created. Both Fields and Bergen have some great moments to themselves in the brief moments when they are in a scene together there is some really good chemistry and funny jokes.

You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man is a part of the W.C. Fields Comedy Collection with The Bank Dick, My Little ChickadeeInternational House and It’s A Gift. This DVD box set is available from Amazon for $46.99. You can purchase it by clicking here…


My Little Chickadee

Directed by Edward F. Cline
Produced by Lester Cowan
Written by Mae West & W.C.Fields
Starring Mae West
W.C.Fields
Music by Frank Skinner
Cinematography Joseph A. Valentine
Editing by Edward Curtiss
Distributed by Universal
Release date 15 March 1940
Running time 83 min
Country USA
Language English

W. C. Fields and Mae West were two of the sharpest tongues in Hollywood with only Groucho Marx rivalling them for delivering the best one liners and double entendres. Whilst they do get a few great zingers into My Chickadee and there are a few laugh out loud moments, this film feels a bit odd. I think it’s because of the lack of chemistry between Fields and West. Whilst there are rumours of both the stars not liking each other and that they let their egos run rampant, trying to one up each other with the best lines, I don’t think any of this has been truly confirmed. I did read that Mae was a bit unhappy with Fields’ unprofessionalism and how he lived his drunken gimmick, but she still admired his comic abilities.

The film isn’t Fields’ or West’s best but it’s still a damn sight better than most other comedies.
My Little Chickadee is a part of the W.C. Fields Comedy Collection with The Bank Dick, You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man, International House and It’s A Gift. This DVD box set is available from Amazon for $46.99. You can purchase it by clicking here…


Hold That Ghost

Directed by Arthur Lubin
Produced by Burt Kelly & Glenn Tryon
Written by Robert Lees, Fred Rinaldo & John Grant
Starring Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
Richard Carlson
The Andrews Sisters
Shemp Howard
Music by H.J. Salter Editing by Philip Cahn
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date August 6, 1941 (U.S. release)
Running time 85 min
Language English

Universal Australia are currently re-releasing a lot of their Universal classics onto DVD, but it seems that in this country anyway, they don’t want to release any of the classic Abbott & Costello movies of the 1940s. Before the end of the year some Laurel and Hardy films will be released (great) but no A&C. (Not even the classic A&C Meet Frankenstein) I am actually not entirely sure whether there have been any official A&C DVD releases in Australia, although I do know that Africa Screams is available on a cheap public domain DVD. It’s a shame as they are really good films.

Hold That Ghost is one of the earliest A&C films and their first foray into the comedy/horror genre that they would do to greater effect a few years later. One of the first things that I noticed with this film is just how abusive Bud is to Lou. There are occasions where he hits Costello with all the fervour of Moe Howard slapping Larry and Curly in the 3 Stooges shorts. It is quite uncomfortable to watch and I am glad that this element was toned down in later films as it doesn’t seem to have the cartoony humour of the Stooges. It just seems really mean.

It is a pretty funny film and it did provide quite a few laughs, although I found Lou to be a tad more annoying than he is in later films. Here he is a man/child rather than a proper, well defined character. I guess as this was just the third film that Abbott & Costello (but fourth released) made they were still honing their screen personas, even though they had been working together on the vaudeville circuit for many years. He also does that annoying whistle thing that Warner Bros. Babbitt and Catstello always parodied. Otherwise he does have a few golden moments, including the famed candle sequence and is quite funny.

It should be noted that Shemp Howard, one of the 3 Stooges appears briefly in this film as a bartender. He doesn’t really do anything of note but it’s always interesting to see Shemp pop up in non-Stooge films. This was in the years when Shemp was trying to make it on his own and Curly took his place in the Stooges. (Although Shemp would replace Curly a few years later after Curly’s stroke) He’s also in W.C. Fields’ The Bank Dick.

I enjoyed the film a lot and wish that this and other A&C comedies would be officially released in this country onto DVD. They have been released several times in the USA so it’s not that difficult for Universal Australia to do (hint, hint).


The Red Shoes

Directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Produced by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Written by Hans Christian Andersen
(original fairy tale)
Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger & Keith Winter
(add’l dialogue)
Starring Moira Shearer
Anton Walbrook
Marius Goring
Music by Brian Easdale
Cinematography Jack Cardiff
Editing by Reginald Mills
Distributed by Eagle-Lion Films
Release date September 6, 1948 (UK)
Running time 133 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

In recent weeks Magna Pacific has released a series of DVDs containing the best of British films from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Despite being wary of anything that contains the Magna Pacific label, due to past bad experiences with their dodgy products, I have decided to give this series of films a go because it seems that Magna Pacific has licenesed them from UK distributor Granada, who holds the rights for these films.

Watching The Red Shoes I can say that this film alone was more than worth the $10 I spent on the three DVD pack of Powell and Pressburger films (also included is The Importance of Being Ernest and Black Narcissus). The print used is quite nice and there are none of the other blemishes that I have found when I have had the misfortune to watch a Magna Pacific DVD, such as poor syncing of sound or faded picture. Sure the Criterion Collection version of the film would probably be slightly better print, but that costs three to four times as much as the Magna Pacific version, so it really isn’t worth it.

The film itself is mostly very good. It is a drama about the world of ballet and whilst the ballet does play an integral part of the film’s plot, the main theme of the film is about ambition and of course the messy love triangle that contributes to the messy conclusion to the picture.

The ballet dancing sequences are quite stunning, with lots of vibrant colours used to highlight the choreography that was put together by Australia’s own Robert Helpmann, who was a major ballet star in the 1940s. As I said the use of colours is stunning and it has been claimed that this is perhaps the film that uses the Technicolor process to its fullest extent.

The one sour note that the film left me with was the ending, where the ballet dancer, Vicky Page, has to choose between the love of her life, composer Julian Craster, and performing in the Red Shoes ballet. Even for a film made in 1948 it does seem odd that a woman would have to give up her career so that her husband can pursue his and that his ambition and ego are allowed to take precedence over hers. Even Julian’s rival for Vicky’s affection, Boris Lermotov, the producer of the ballet company calls Julian out on this point.

Still the film is quite good and the music is terrific. The dance sequence in the middle of the film is perhaps the best that has ever been put to film.