Thursday, December 09, 2004

Comedy Cont.

Here, courtesy of a post on Home Theater Forum, are the extras for that collection of six classic comedies that WB Home Video is releasing on March 1 (as usual, they're releasing them separately and also in a box set):

BRINGING UP BABY (2 disc special edition)
Robert Trachtenberg's documentary CARY GRANT: A CLASS APART;
Richard Schickel's THE MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES: Howard Hawks
Commentary by Peter Bogdanovich

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (2 Disc special edition)
Turner Classic Movies documentary KATHARINE HEPBURN: ALL ABOUT ME -- A SELF PORTRAIT
Richard Schickel's MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES: George Cukor
Two different radio versions with Cary, Kate & Jimmy
Commentary by author Jeannine Basinger

The rare 1930 MGM short THE ROUNDER starring Jack Benny

LEO IS ON THE AIR radio promo and MGM shorts

Turner documentary JEAN HARLOW: THE BLONDE BOMBSHELL, narrated by Sharon Stone;
The 1933 Vitaphone spoof short, "COME TO DINNER."

Vintage shorts and cartoons
Lux Radio Theater version with Ginger Rogers and Rosalind Russell

I'm always disheartened to see the words "commentary by Peter Bogdanovich," or "special introduction by Peter Bogdanovich," or "Special documentary on name-dropping by Peter Bogdanovich." As I've said before, I can barely, just barely, accept that he should be allowed to talk about his own movies; but he should be kept as far as possible away from other people's movies. ("Oh, this scene reminds me of what Howard said to me and Cybill when I dragged her to dinner with Orson at John Ford's eyepatch-maker's favorite restaurant.") But it's compensated for by the chance to see two episodes of Richard Schickel's PBS miniseries The Men Who Made the Movies -- American television's first exposure to the auteur theory as applied to Hollywood movies -- as well as a short Jack Benny film from 1930, made before he developed the Jack Benny persona we all know and love.

Of the films included in this box, I'd give an alpha to three of them: Bringing Up Baby, To Be or Not to Be and Stage Door (by the brilliant but erratic Gregory La Cava. Libeled Lady is awfully funny too, though haphazardly structured.

As if that's not enough good news, Columbia/Sony appears finally to be getting back in the old movies game; a site has pre-orders for a bunch of old Columbia movies being released on February 22, including -- yes! -- Hawks' Twentieth Century. By the way, doesn't the recent success of The Passion of the Christ make Oscar Jaffe's big idea -- to stage the Passion Play as a big Broadway extravaganza -- seem less commerically unsound?

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