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Arsenic and Old Lace [VHS]
Arsenic and Old Lace [VHS]
VHS
Offered by hardcuvrluvr
Price: $4.93
45 used & new from $0.45

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, But Rather Loose Adaptation, May 18, 2000
ARSENIC AND OLD LACE isn't a strict adaptation of the classic Broadway play; in fact there are numerous interpolations that may have been necessary in order to get the film past the censors. On it's own terms, however, it's a very enjoyable screwball dark comedy. As Mortimer Brewster, who discovers his aunts are poisoning lonely old men and burying them in the cellar, Cary Grant is occassionaly too frantic, but quite funny nonetheless, especially in his quieter moments. The real value of ARSENIC is having Josephine Hull, Jean Adair, and John Alexander recreate their Broadway roles as Abby, Martha, and Teddy; all three are delightful. Boris Karloff hoped to star in the film, but regrettably was prevented from doing so by his contractual obligation to the stage show. However, Raymond Massey admirably fills in for Karloff with a suitably menacing performance. Peter Lorre is a scene stealing marvel as the weasly, drunken Dr. Einstein. A laughfest the whole family can enjoy.


Laurel & Hardy: Sons of Desert + Them Hills [VHS]
Laurel & Hardy: Sons of Desert + Them Hills [VHS]
VHS
Offered by Clambooks
Price: $12.00
11 used & new from $1.80

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Comedy Gem, May 17, 2000
SONS OF THE DESERT is one of Laurel and Hardy's finest films. This gem of a comedy really deserves to be restored, remastered and re-released on video. Like many of the boys' best comedies, the premise is simple: Stan and Ollie try to outsmart their wives so they can attend their lodge convention. Naturally, whenever Stan and Ollie put they're heads together, disaster is never far behind. SONS is full of inventive touches and great dialogue (i.e. Ollie is expecting a doctor; Ollie:"Why did you get a veteranarian?" Stan:"Well, I didn't think is religion would make any difference."). The unjustly neglected comedian Charley Chase is outstanding as a loud-mouthed conventioneer who befriends Stan and Ollie. Mae Busch is in top form as the shrewish Mrs. Hardy. SONS OF THE DESERT is a thorough delight from beginning to end.


Topsy Turvy [VHS]
Topsy Turvy [VHS]
VHS
Offered by wrepler
Price: $2.51
52 used & new from $0.22

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Splendid, May 16, 2000
This review is from: Topsy Turvy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
If you don't like Gilbert and Sullivan, you should avoid TOPSY-TURVY; clocking in at about two hours and forty minutes, it would probably be a torturous experience. For everyone else, however, I give this movie my highest recommendation. TOPSY-TURVY concerns itself with a period during which Gilbert and Sullivan find themselves at a professional impasse. Their inability to agree on a suitable story for collaboration eventually leads to their most popular operetta, "The Mikado." Director Mike Leigh's object, however, is to tell the story behind the story; he lets us peek into the professional and personal lives of Sullivan, Gilbert, and the D'Oyly Carte Company. Jim Broadbent anchors the film with his tremendous performance as W.S. Gilbert; he is infuriating and arrogant, yet plagued with self doubt and even occasionally gentle. Alan Cordeneur does well as Arthur Sullivan, yet his performance is less involving and we don't get to know him that well; but perhaps that was the point. Leslie Manville is quite touching as Gilbert's long suffering wife, Kitty. The D'Oyly Carte performers are played with just the right combination of humanity and theatricality; in particular, Timothy Spall as Richard Temple (bewildered and hurt that his role as the Mikado might be whittled to almost nothing!) and Dorothy Atkinson, charming and alluring as Jessie Bond, are outstanding. There are generous musical excerpts from "The Mikado," "The Sorcerer," "Princess Ida," and Sullivan's non-Gilbert music. There is so much more worth praising in TOPSY-TURVY, but instead I'll just close by saying: DON'T MISS IT!


The Horn Blows at Midnight [VHS]
The Horn Blows at Midnight [VHS]
VHS
Offered by soundbooks53
Price: $24.95
31 used & new from $1.77

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Classic, But Lots Of Fun, May 4, 2000
For years, THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT was the butt of numerous jokes on Jack Benny's radio show. Thanks to those jokes, the film has gained a terrible reputation in many circles. But in fact, while it doesn't rank as a classic, HORN is a highly entertaining comedy fantasy that is virtually a live action cartoon. When radio musician Benny falls asleep on the job, he dreams that he is an angel charged with blowing the trumpet that will signal Earth's demise. The well-meaning but naive angel is constantly sidetracked from his task by various mortals and a pair of fallen angels. The film is good natured silliness that in lesser hands could have been dismal. But Jack, Alexis Smith and their outstanding supporting cast (including Guy Kibbee, Reginald Gardener, Mike Mazurki, and Margaret Dumont) make the most of their opportunities and seem to be having a ball. Franklin Pangborn is a standout as a prissy hotel detective. Allan Joslyn and John Alexander make a good team as the fallen angels; interestingly, they had only a couple of years earlier costarred on Broadway in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE.


Abbott & Costello Meet the Keystone Cops [VHS]
Abbott & Costello Meet the Keystone Cops [VHS]
VHS
16 used & new from $1.96

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Top Drawer, but Amusing, April 26, 2000
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were nearing the end of their reign as Universal's top comedians by the time MEET THE KEYSTONE KOPS was made, and it did indeed seem as if the bottom of the barrel were being scraped to find ideas for the boys' films. While hardly a classic, KEYSTONE KOPS at least has an interesting concept that appears to be partly inspired by Lou's early career as a movie stuntman. There is more slapstick than usual for A&C, and a few hair raising stunts, which is appropriate for a comedy set in Hollywood circa 1912. Fred Clark gives the film a real boost as a swindler turned movie director; he is an excellent foil for Bud and Lou. Comedy legend Mack Sennett makes a welcome and all too brief appearance as himself. Keep an eye out for veteran Keystone comedians Herold Goodwin, Hank Mann, and Heinie Conklin. Lou's daughter Carole does a brief bit with her dad at the beginning of the film. Recommended for kids, die hard A&C fans, and anyone wanting to relax with some nostalgic nonsense.


Show Boat [VHS]
Show Boat [VHS]
VHS
Offered by Dream Books Company
Price: $4.87
37 used & new from $2.66

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Adaptation of a Theatrical Landmark, March 28, 2000
This review is from: Show Boat [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Jerome Kern's and Oscar Hammerstein's SHOWBOAT is a landmark Broadway musical. It was brought to the screen in 1936 by Universal Studios with most of it's drama, joy, and heartbreak intact. James Whale (BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE INVISIBLE MAN) might seem an odd choice for this project, yet his direction hits the mark: realistic and gritty when it needs to be, stylized and theatrical when it can afford to be. The film is blessed with a magnificent cast, most of whom had previously played their roles on stage: Irene Dunne played Magnolia in the 1927 touring company, Allan Jones appeared as Ravenal in summer stock, and Paul Robeson starred as Joe in the 1928 London production and then again in the 1932 Broadway revival. Charles Winninger, Helen Morgan, and the underrated Sammy White starred in the 1927 and 1932 Broadway productions and understand their characters thoroughly. White's eccentric dancing is hilarious and Morgan's turn as the tragic Julie may well have you fighting back tears. While some favorite songs are missing, three were written specifically for the movie; one of them,"I Have The Room Above Her," found it's way into the recent Broadway revival directed by Harold Prince. SHOWBOAT isn't perfect: Hammerstein's screenplay unnecessarily alters the final section of the story, and Irene Dunne's performance in blackface of "Gallivantin' Around" might possibly offend some in this day and age. But SHOWBOAT has so much to delight and engage the viewer that these minor flaws can, and should, be overlooked. By the way, keep an eye open for Eddie "Rochester" Anderson in the opening scenes.


Kidshow Ventriloquism
Kidshow Ventriloquism
by Mark Wade
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from $21.07

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book for all kid show performers., February 23, 2000
This review is from: Kidshow Ventriloquism (Hardcover)
While Mark Wade's KIDSHOW VENTRILOQUISM is aimed at the ventriloquist who entertains kids (you might have guessed this from the title!), it has valuable information for ANY entertainer who works with kids. Whether you venue is schools, birthday parties, libraries, whether you are an amateur vent or pro, you will get the benefit of Mark's knowledge learned from his many years in the business. And if you are a magician or clown who would like to add some vent to your act, there is a lot of useful information here. KIDSHOW VENTRILOQUISM has a place on every entertainer's bookshelf. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


Three Ages - Also Featuring: The Coat and My Wife's Relations (Digitally Remastered) [VHS]
Three Ages - Also Featuring: The Coat and My Wife's Relations (Digitally Remastered) [VHS]
VHS
7 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surreal, Wacky Comedy!, February 17, 2000
THE THREE AGES is Buster Keaton's parody of D.W. Griffith's INTOLERANCE. Buster and Wallace Beery star as romantic rivals for the hand of pretty Margaret Leahy. The twist is that the story is told thrice by intercutting between three time periods: prehistoric, Ancient Rome, and Modern Times (1920's). The gags are fast and furious and many are truly surreal; highlights include caveman Buster attempting to woo Amazonian Blanche Payson, a Roman chariot race hindered by snow(!), and a beautifully constructed chase sequence with Buster escaping from a police station and inadvertantly returning there a few minutes later. The Kino source print has apparently been pieced together from the best available materials and with a few minor exceptions is sharp and clear. It also has a nicely done music score conducted by Robert Israel. As a sidenote, many filmographies list Oliver Hardy in the cast. The actor in question is in fact a near-Hardy lookalike named Kewpie Morgan.


Laurel and Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies
Laurel and Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies
by Randy Skretvedt
Edition: Paperback
35 used & new from $10.09

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Indespensable Volume!, February 17, 2000
Randy Skretvedt has written what is arguably the single best book on Laurel and Hardy and their movies. Carefully researched and just plain fun to read, this revised edition includes details on recent discoveries, such as a silent Charley Chase comedy in which the boys appear, and some of the Spanish language "remakes" that were made in the early 1930's for the foreign market. An absolutely indepensable book for comedy buffs and L&H fans, and a essential companion piece to LAUREL OR HARDY and FROM THE FORTIES FORWARD.


Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado; The Sorcerer
Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado; The Sorcerer
Offered by sterlingcds
Price: $16.87
16 used & new from $7.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Could Possibly Be More Satisfactory!, February 15, 2000
THE MIKADO is likely Gilbert and Sullivan's best loved operetta and it's heard here in a splendid recording. True, there is some surface noise, as this was originally released as a set of 78 rpm records, but the sound is sharp and clear and the surface noise doesn't distract. Best of all, this 1926 recording preserves superb musical performances by many members of the D'Oyly Carte Company (With one ad-libbed exception, there is no spoken dialogue). Henry Lytton (Koko), Leo Sheffield (Pooh Bah), and others (before or behind the microphones) had the good fortune to work with Gilbert and/or Sullivan, so we can assume the performances are generally faithful to the Savoy tradition. Also included is an abreviated 1933 recording of THE SORCERER. It's also an excellent recording, but only a few D'Oyly Carte principals appear. The comic lead of John Wellington Wells is taken by George Baker, a singer who was never a member of the DOC, but gives a performance worthy of any Savoyard (In the MIKADO section, he sings the role of Pish Tush). After hearing this "highlights" version of THE SORCERER, you may well wonder why it isn't staged more often.


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