Thursday, July 20, 2006

This week on DVD...

The top TV set of the week is the fondly remembered sci-fi/comedy/Western series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. The set includes the first (and last) season of the show, which starred Bruce Campbell. Brisco County played on Fox on Friday nights at 7:00 CST. Critics and media prognosticators pegged it in advance as a likely smash hit, although probably not enough to help out the new show slated to play right after it. This program, starring two unknowns, was deemed by almost all as not likely to last more than a month or two. It was a little thing called The X-Files.

Meanwhile, Campbell fans will also get the chance this week to pick up Jack of All Trades: The Complete Series, a syndicated comedy/action piece with Campbell as an inept Zorro type.

Other television sets out this week include Amazing Stories S1; Carnivale S2; Bill Bixby’s The Incredible Hulk S1 (this includes the previously and separately available pilot movie); Masters of Horror (various episodes); the cartoon show The New Adventures of Flash Gordon: The Complete Series, Pretender S4; and, yay!, the first season of the original Ultraman series.

My movie suggestion of the week is, unfortunately, only available as part of Warner’s Film Noir Classic Collection 3. Perhaps at some point in the future it will be available on its own, but for you to see it you have to buy the entire set ($35 at Amazon for five movies and a feature length documentary on six discs, with audio commentaries for each movie and a short subject collection, etc.). Either that, or you can rent the film separately at Netflix. You got to hand it to Warner’s, they continue to put out terrific box sets that give you a mighty big bang for your buck.

The exact movie of which I speak is producer Howard Hughes’ His Kind of Woman. To be clear, this is one of those pictures that isn’t really a great film, but which you just might fall in love with, warts and all. I did, years ago. In sum, its one of those movies where all the parts might fail to gel together, but it doesn’t matter, because some of the parts are so damn cool. It’s a goofy mélange of film noir, bad nightclub singing (courtesy of star Jane Russell), hipster slang, bucco violence, homoerotic S/M imagery, some genuinely hilarious comic relief, and even some light sci-fi elements.

To know if this is a movie you might be interested in, here are the two most important facts about it. First, it stars Robert Mitchum, who has never been cooler than he is here. You could probably chill a beer just by placing it next to him for a couple of minutes. (Moreover, he and Russell seem to be engaging in a titanic battle of massive torsos.)

Second, the comic relief is provided by Vincent Price, who loved doing pure comedy and rarely got the chance. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone who more obviously was having an outright blast being in a movie. If you are at all a fan of Price, this is a simply essential watch.

As noted, His Kind of Woman is only available via Netflix or other rental agencies, or as part of the Film Noir Classic Collection 3, along with Lady in the Lake (the weird Philip Marlowe movie where the entire film is shot from Marlowe’s POV!), Border Incident (directed by Anthony Mann and starring Ricardo Montalban), The Racket (a fun and tough early Mitchum police melodrama) and On Dangerous Ground, along with the other stuff mentioned above.

7 Mummies: DTV horror junk starring Billy Drago and Danny Trejo.

Amazing Mr. X Turhan Bey is a fake medium in this well regarded 1948 thriller.

The Cavern Another of the recent ‘monster in a cave’ movies. If you’re going to see only one, wait until The Descent hits theaters later this summer.

Lucha Libre Double Feature: Features the Blue Demon and four other wrestlers vs. evil super-midgets flick The Champions of Justice, along with Blue Demon and Santo in Mystery in Bermuda. Spanish with English subtitles.

Dr. Mabuse The Gambler Any fan of early cinema should check out this 270 minute (!) silent German expressionistic classic by director Fritz Lang, which introduced one of the cinema’s greatest supervillains. A nice package put out by the fine folks at Kino. This replaces an earlier incomplete version of the film previously released by Image. (Which is still worth owning for the David Kalat commentary track. Still, if you get only one, get the Kino edition.)

My Chauffer/My Tutor Two lame but fondly remembered ‘80s sexploitation flicks.

Roadhouse A new special edition (!) DVD. Still, only one disc? I thought it would be bigger.

Roadhouse 2 The recent, Swayze-less update.

Some Like it Hot Two-disc special edition of the all time comedy classic, starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe.

Sybil: Famous TV movie with Sally Fields as the titular schizophrenic.

Tough Guys Collection: Another wonderful Warner Bros collection. Features Bullets or Ballots (cop Edward G. Robinson vs. gangster Humphrey Bogart), City for Conquest (boxer noir with James Cagney), Each Dawn I Die (prison flick with Cagney and George Raft), G-Men (Cagney as lawman), San Quentin (Pat O’Brien, Bogart) and A Slight Case of Murder (gangster comedy with Edward G. Robinson*). 6 discs, with commentaries, featurettes, shorts, cartoons and more.

[Hopefully Larceny Inc. will be featured in a future set. In that comedy, gangster Robinson and two associates open a luggage store next to a bank to commit a robbery, but unintentionally find the store a great success.]


At 12:47 PM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

I loved His Kind of Woman. It was full of so much good stuff. The bit with Mitchum ironing his money to relax...who came up with an idea like that?

At 12:49 PM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

Oh, and Larceny Inc sure sounds a lot like that recent Woody Allen, Small Time Crooks?

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Yes, except that it's funny.

Oh, I'm a droll one.

BC, another His Kind of Woman fan! Who knew? It's just the weirdest-ass movie, isn't it?

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Jessica R. said...

"Roadhouse A new special edition (!) DVD. Still, only one disc? I thought it would be bigger."

I don't know wether to laugh for getting the refrence or if it's time to scrub the ol' grey matter with a bottle brush to removie the last traces of this movie. His Kind of Woman sounds awesome, not the least because I'm always unnerved by how handsome a young Vincent Price was.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I just love Brisco County so much! ... I'll have to wait a few weeks to scrounge up the cash, but I'm definitely gonna buy that one

At 5:03 AM, Anonymous Tork_110 said...

I've never seen Brisco County Jr. but if you mention the show to my parents they will go on and on about some episode where there was a gang where everybody had a name that rhymed with Bill.

I did see the first three seasons of Xena, though. The episodes where the "King of Thieves" appeared were fun.

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Marty McKee said...

Criminy, how old am I where bloggers are talking about being too young to remember THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY, JR.??

That's true about Fox putting more promotional muscle behind BRISCO than X-FILES. And I fell for it. I watched BRISCO from the beginning, but didn't get into X-FILES until 1/3 or so through the first year. Both shows were great, and it's a shame that BRISCO didn't catch on.

I watched ROAD HOUSE 2, oh, yes, I did. Standard DTV action, but not unentertaining. And it has little to do with ROAD HOUSE.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

You want to feel old, Marty? I'm going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark at the Music Box Theatre's playing for it's 25th anniversary.

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