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It Takes a Thief: The Complete Series
It Takes a Thief: The Complete Series
DVD ~ Robert Wagner
Price: $111.01
19 used & new from $85.89

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Takes E1 Studio to Finally, Finally, Catch This Thief!, July 22, 2011
Fans are sure to rejoice with the news that the late 1960's iconic Classic TV series, It Takes a Thief, which starred Robert Wagner as the suave cat-burglar-turned-U.S.-secret-agent Alexander Mundy, will FINALLY be released on DVD in a complete series boxed set.

The series was based on Alfred Hitchcock's 1955 Classic Film, "To Catch a Thief," which starred the perfect cast of sophistication and beauty: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. (FYI: The series was NOT based on the 1950's film, "It Takes a Thief," as some websites have said.) The TV series title refers to the famous saying which was at the heart of the Grant-Kelly film: "It Takes a Thief to Catch a Thief."

It Takes a Thief was a January replacement show for ABC, premiering Jan. 9, 1968, and running two-and-a-half seasons through March 23, 1970. It aired Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m., E.S.T., and became a huge hit for the network, as well as propelling movie star Wagner into megastar status.

E1 has said the 66 episodes that comprise the ENTIRE series, and are all included in this boxed set, have been remastered from original source material, and have promised a pristine transfer of the video and audio.

Wagner's Mundy was a professional cat burglar of world renown who had style, class and talent. After many years of successful thievery, he was finally arrested and sentenced to a long term of incarceration inside the fictitious San Jobel Prison. Quite unexpectedly, he was contacted while in jail by a secret U.S. government spy agency called the "S.I.A."

Mundy strikes a deal with American agent Noah Bain: A full pardon if Mundy uses his pilfering skills to steal for the American espionage agency. Technically under house arrest, Mundy travels all over the world performing daring acts of thievery in the name of Uncle Sam. He is closely monitored, especially by department director Bain, played to perfection by the fabulous and well-known Classic TV actor, Malachi Throne.

Bain essentially acted as Mundy's boss, providing him with government assignments. As the series progressed, Bain evolved from a watchdog into an aide, associate, then close friend.

Mundy traveled to exciting worldwide locales and had equally exciting adventures, while remaining under house confinement unless on the job. It wasn't until the second season that he was actually freed. The show was filmed in the glamorous world locales where Mundy plied his trade on behalf of Uncle Sam, adding authenticity and pizazz rarely seen on TV.

In the final season of the show, Mundy occasionally enlisted the help of his fabulously charming, debonair, and equally light-fingered father, and mentor, Alistar Mundy, played unforgettably by the beyond-legendary Fred Astaire. Astaire's character's name employed a letter play on his real last name.

In 1969, Bain was gone from the show, replaced by Agent Wally Powers, portrayed by Edward Binns.

There were 66 episodes in all. Throne appeared in 42 episodes, 1968-1969; Binns appeared in, 10 episodes, 1969-1970; classic film star Joseph Cotten, portrayed Mr. Jack, for five episodes, 1968-1970; Astaire appeared in five Episodes, 1969-1970; and Susan St. James, in all of her wide-eyed glory, portrayed secretary-turned-sidekick Charlene "Chuck" Brown in five Episodes, 1968-1970.

Viewers heard the following at the start of each episode:

Noah's voiceover: "We're not asking you to spy. We're just asking you to steal."
Alistar's voiceover: "I've heard of stealing from the government, but for the government?"

I will not bore readers here by listing the titles other than the first season's 16 episodes: A Thief is a Thief (a.k.a. Magnificent Thief); It Takes One to Know One; When Boy Meets Girl; A Very Warm Reception; One Illegal Angel; Totally By Design; When Thieves Fall In; A Spot of Trouble; When Good Friends Get Together; Birds of a Feather; To Steal a Battleship; Turnabout; The Radomir Miniature; Locked in the Cradle of the Keep; A Matter of Royal Larceny; and The Lay of the Land.

Guest stars over the run of the series were the creame de la creame of that era's popular actors, including: Gavin MacLeod, Fernando Lamas, Sharon Acker, Don Knots, Stuart Margolin, Ricardo Montalban, Tina Sinatra, Peter Mark Richman, Barry Sullivan, Teri Garr, Georg Stanford Brown, Keye Luke, Wally Cox, Barry Williams, and Foster Brooks.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 1, 2012 11:01 PM PDT


Tracy & Hepburn Complete Collection (DVD)
Tracy & Hepburn Complete Collection (DVD)
DVD ~ Spencer Tracy
Offered by Chicago-Media
Price: $16.01
51 used & new from $14.98

116 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tracy and Hepburn = Magic, January 26, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
For classic film fans, it doesn't get any better than the films featuring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, but the special magic was in the movies they starred in together.

This latest and greatest offering provides all of their movies in one package, two that haven't been released on DVD before. For fans who have been buying each of their films as they've been released, there is little reason to duplicate those purchases here, as the two remaining films are also now being released. This is, however, a wonderful boxed set for fans new to these amazing actors, or for others who only have one or two of their movies.

Tracy and Hepburn are truly iconic: their sparkle on screen was a chemistry that was not only acting but very, very real. They were a committed couple for decades, but because Tracy was married but separated, they never publicly acknowledged their relationship during his life time. Tracy was a Catholic back in the days when divorce was not an option, so he and his wife had a quiet separation, that was respected by the media, which never "outed" them. Hard to imagine in this day and age of the stalkarazzi!

In addition to their films, this boxed set includes a special tribute to Tracy that Hepburn made, in which she finally publicly discussed their private relationship. Hepburn only produced the film after Mrs. Tracy passed away, because she didn't want her to be embarrassed by the disclosure.

Hepburn describes when they first met, saying that she had made a quip to him about being taller than he was, to which he replied something like, "Don't worry, I'll cut you down to size."

This set includes Woman of the Year; Keeper of the Flame (first time on DVD); Without Love; The Sea of Grass (first time on DVD); State of the Union; Adam's Rib; Pat and Mike, which was written especially for them to star; Desk Set; and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, about a white couple coming to grips with their daughter's engagement to a black man.

Tracy was very ill during the production of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, but by sheer force of his amazing personality he managed to finish the film. He died a very short time later. (Look for an unforgettable scene in which his character tells his 'wife' played by Hepburn, how much he loves her. Fans have long believed it was his on-screen TRUE love declaration to Hepburn, whose eyes brim with real tears as he talks.)

If you're a first-time viewer of these films, you owe it to yourself to buy this great collection. They are more than worth watching, they are worth owning and enjoying again and again.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2014 7:45 AM PDT


Ellery Queen Mysteries
Ellery Queen Mysteries
DVD ~ Jim Hutton
Price: $35.30
42 used & new from $23.49

391 of 404 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put On Your Thinking Hats, Friends!, June 15, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ellery Queen Mysteries (DVD)
The 1975 Cult-Classic TV whodunit Ellery Queen starring the brilliant Jim Hutton is finally being released on DVD in its entirety, thanks to E1 Entertainment.

The series was based on the popular classic Ellery Queen mystery books from the 1930's. The show lasted only one season on NBC, but has remained a fan favorite.

Set in the post-WWII 1947, the show closely followed the format of the Ellery Queen mystery novels, which carefully laid out the clues before the reader/audience and invited them to attempt to solve the mystery before Ellery Queen presented the solution.

The show premiered March 23, 1975 with a telepilot, "Too Many Suspects," which was adapted from the book, The Fourth Side of the Triangle. Beloved veteran character actor, David Wayne, portrayed Ellery's crusty but loveable father, Inspector Richard Queen throughout the series. Wayne perfectly delivered folksy dialog ostensibly from the 1940's like, "Why don't we cut all the banana oil?"

Hutton (the father of actor Timothy Hutton) played Ellery to perfection, blending absent-minded goofiness with genuine emotional depth and boyish charm. Together, he and Wayne had the perfect on-screen chemistry, creating an authentic charm that remains undiminished after all of these years.

In all, 22 fun one-hour episodes followed beginning on Sept. 11, 1975, the last show airing on April 4, 1976.

In the early Queen books, just prior to the presentation of the solution to the mystery, a "Challenge To The Reader" was issued during which the suspects and clues were reviewed and the reader challenged to guess the solution to the crime.

This tradition was preserved in the series, when Hutton as Ellery turns from the scene to the camera and speaks directly to viewers. This occurs prior to the commercial break that led into the final act. Ellery provides a brief recap, then invites the audience to add up the clues, and to identify the guilty party.

The final act always employed the time-honored detective cliché of calling all of the suspects together (it was made famous by Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, who often gathered the crowd in together in the drawing room) with Ellery presenting the solution to the group, frequently upstaging and skewering the solution proposed by whichever rival sleuth was also in the episode.

Rounding out the cast was John Hillerman, who portrayed Radio Mystery Master, Simon Brimmer. Brimmer constantly tried to upstage the Inspector and also embarrass Ellery by solving the crime first -- and he always failed.

In addition, Ken Swofford portrayed yellow journalist Frank Flannigan; Tom Reese, as the stalwart and stone-face Lt. Thomas Velie, the Inspector's right-hand man; and Nina Roman, who portrayed the Inspector's secretary, Grace, in seven episodes.

The show as also known for its clever opening montage, in which an announcer relays that this so-and-so is about to be murdered. Who is guilty? Is it ...? Next, each suspect (guest star) is shown in a brief clip, speaking a short humorous phrase. It ends with, "Match wits with Ellery Queen and see if you can guess whodunit!"

The series was created by the writing/producing team of Richard Levinson and William Link, who also created the Classic TV mystery/police shows Mannix, Columbo and Murder, She Wrote.

"Too Many Suspects," the pilot episode, IS included in this six-disc complete series boxed set entitiled: "Ellery Queen Mysteries." The other 22 episodes included are: The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne; The Adventure of the Lover's Leap; The Adventure of the Chinese Dog; The Adventure of the Comic Book Crusader; The Adventure of the 12th Floor Express; The Adventure of Miss Aggie's Farewell Performance; The Adventure of Colonel Niven's Memoirs; The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party; The Adventure of Veronica's Veils; The Adventure of the Pharaoh's Curse; The Adventure of the Blunt Instrument; The Adventure of the Black Falcon; The Adventure of the Sunday Punch; The Adventure of the Eccentric Engineer; The Adventure of the Wary Witness; The Adventure of the Judas Tree; The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario; The Adventure of the Two-Faced Woman; The Adventure of the Tyrant of Tin Pan Alley; The Adventure of Caesar's Last Sleep; The Adventure of the Hard-Hearted Huckster; and The Adventure of the Disappearing Dagger.

In addition to these fabulous episodes, which have been completely remastered, E1 Entertainment has included a special collector's book in the set.

Guest stars truly included the cream of 1970's acting talent on the small and big screens, including: Kim Hunter, Ray Milland, Tim O'Connor, Gail Strickland, Joan Collins, David Doyle, Ray Walston, Anne Francis, Don Ameche, Susan Strasberg, Orson Bean, Dee Wallace, Lynda Day George, Tom Bosley, Pat Harrington Jr., Eve Arden, Bert Parks, Betty White, Robbert Loggia, Rene Auberjonois, Pernell Roberts, Jim Backus, Larry Hagman, George Burns, Hayden Rorke, June Lockhart, John Larroquette, Eva Gabor, Dean Stockwell, Tab Hunter, Roddy McDowall, Susan Stafford, William Schallert, Robert Alda, Arthur Godfrey, Ed McMahon, Bobby Sherman, Dick Van Patten, Tricia O'Neil, Cesar Romero, Dick Sargent, Bill Dana, Diana Muldaur, Noah Beery Jr., Troy Donahue, Vincent Price, James Sikking, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Edward Mulhare, Vera Miles, Victor Buono, Polly Bergen, Ken Berry, Norman Fell, Edward Albert, Kevin Tighe, Bibi Besch, Bob Crane, Juliet Mills, Gary Burghoff, Ronny Cox, and Walter Pidgeon.

(Important FYI: Here's a quick word about the "real" Ellery Queen in the literary world. "Ellery Queen" is actually the pseudonym used by two cousins, Frederick Dannay and Manfred B. Lee to write detective fiction. Some of the later Ellery Queen novels were ghost-written by Theodore Sturgeon, Jack Vance, and other prominent writers.

In their successful series of novels, Ellery Queen is not only the name of the author, but also the detective-hero of the stories. The writing team also wrote four novels under the name of Barnaby Ross about a Shakespearian actor/detective named Drury Lane. These novels were later reiussed under the Ellery Queen byline.

For a while in the 1930s "Ellery Queen" and "Barnaby Ross" staged a series of public debates in which one cousin impersonated Queen and the other impersonated Ross.

The early Queen novels encouraged the reader to attempt to solve the puzzle, with an explicit note in the text when the reader had all the necessary information.

There were many paperback novels written by "Ellery Queen" in the 1960s that did not feature the detective Ellery Queen. For instance, three novels featuring the governor's "troubleshooter" Mike McCall - The Campus Murders (1969, written by Gil Brewer); The Black Hearts Murder (1970, written by Richard Deming); and The Blue Movie Murders (1972, written by Edward D. Hoch) -- were published under the "Ellery Queen" byline. Jack Vance also wrote four of these book.)
Comment Comments (19) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2013 10:21 PM PDT


Branded - The Complete Series starring Chuck Connors! 6 DVD SET - OVER 19 HOURS!
Branded - The Complete Series starring Chuck Connors! 6 DVD SET - OVER 19 HOURS!
DVD ~ Chuck Connors
Offered by ClassicFlix
Price: $29.87
29 used & new from $24.99

112 of 112 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Remastered, Repackaged!, November 21, 2009
The complete Classic TV Western, Branded, is being released - but by the same company that put out poorly produced single-season sets several years ago.

The Chuck Connors series, which aired from 1965-1966, is well deserving of a quality DVD release. In 2004-2005, Timeless Media Group released individual boxed sets of Season 1 and Season 2 of the series. The problem was, the episodes were edited (chopped for commercial syndication) and the video quality was also very poor, more like copied from cut-rate VHS.

An industry insider has told me that this new releasing is simply a repacking project. This means that Timeless Media Group has NOT remastered the episodes from 35mm film, nor has the video quality has been improved at all, and the episodes have NOT been restored but remain poorly edited and incomplete. As a result, I highly recommend that anyone who already has these sets to refrain from purchasing this boxed set. For anyone who does not have the earlier versions, it's a VERY worthwhile series to own, but be warned, and do expect high-quality DVDs. (FYI: That is the only reason I'm giving this release two stars, because it allows fans to buy the series in one DVD set.)

Connors (best known for his riveting portrayal of Lucas McCain in "The Rifleman,") gives an equally compelling performance here as Captain Jason McCord, in a series created by Larry Cohen.

McCord, a West Point graduate, is the sole survivor of an Indian battle at Bitter Creek in the 1800s. Court-martialed as a coward who ran, he was forever "branded" with that stigma and thrown out of the Army, his rank insignia ripped off and his Cavalry sabre broken in two in a military ceremony casting him out of the fort. The humiliating scene was replayed as the opening clip of each episode as a moving western ballad "Branded" was sung over the images.

McCord, who is actually a man of deep conviction and principle, pleaded innocent but refused to testify in his own defense. As the series progresses, we learn that he did so to protect the memory of the honorable General Reid whose eventual senility resulted in what actually occured at Bitter Creek, and also to protect a peace treaty with the Indians. McCord believes that if those politicians who did not want peace learned that General Reid, who had negotiated the treaty, was unfit, they would nullify the document and resume the Indian war.

Thus, McCord accepts his cruel label and fate, forced to live a nomadic life moving from survey job to job (a skill he learned in the military) because of the hatred people have for him. As far as the general public is concerned, McCord ran off to save his life, abandoning those under his command to all die at Bitter Creek.

Remarkably, the series is able to explore in a sophisticated manner the true meaning of bravery and right and wrong as McCord seeks to help those in trouble whom he encounters. Everyone who deals with McCord ends up understanding that the coward's label pinned on him is far from correct, and that he is a man of grit, bravery and honor.

In some ways, the themes of this series are similar to those explored in Kung Fu almost a decade later: lessons of morality, spirituality, honesty, bravery and the fundamental meaning of right and wrong and personal responsibility presented through the accessible medium of a western.

This show's unforgettable ballad, music by Dominic Frontiere, lyrics by Alan Alch, entones in part: "All but one man died there at Bitter Creek, and they say he ran away... Not a single charge was true... Branded, marked with a coward's shame, what do you do when you're branded, will you fight to clear your name?"

Forty-eight half-hour episodes were produced, and are all included here in a six-disc boxed set.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 1, 2011 1:10 PM PDT


Barnaby Jones: Season 1
Barnaby Jones: Season 1
DVD ~ Buddy Ebsen
Offered by American_Standard
Price: $18.06
46 used & new from $12.78

90 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Millionaire Anymore, a Private Detective!, November 19, 2009
This review is from: Barnaby Jones: Season 1 (DVD)
For the first time, fan favorite Barnaby Jones is coming to DVD in a boxed set collecting the first season of the Classic TV detective series.

After years of fans wanting and waiting, our patience has finally been rewarded! This 662-minute DVD set brings all 13 the episodes as originally broadcast, in full screen video and English mono sound. They are also closed captioned. It's being released by CBS/Paramount, and while I've not yet seen the set, it's reportedly been carefully remastered, and contains all of the original musical cues.

Buddy "Beverly Hillbillies" Ebsen plays the tile role, while Lee "Batman, Time Tunnel" Meriwether portrays his daughter-in-law, Betty Jones. Barnaby heads his LA firm, while Betty provides him with invaluable assistance.

The Classic TV detective series aired on CBS from Jan. 28, 1973, to April 3, 1980. It premiered as a midseason replacement show, shaking up the CBS lineup by taking the timeslot of the Iconic Classic TV detective series Mannix, pushing it back to air one hour before the new kid on the block. Because of that, there were fewer episodes produced in its first season.

The Barnaby Jones character was introduced in 1973 in an episode in the third-season of the Classic TV detective series, Cannon, entitled, "The Deadly Conspiracy." The two-part episode began on Cannon and concluded on the premiere of Barnaby Jones with "Requiem for a Son."

An aging Barnaby had decided to retire and had left the private investigation business to his son, Hal. The now-grieving Barnaby decides to take the advice of his friend, Frank Cannon (William Conrad, in the cross-over from the show Cannon), to come out of retirement and solve the case in the pilot episode, "Requiem for a Son." His widowed daughter-in-law, Betty, joined forces with him to solve the case of her husband's murder.

At the conclusion of the case, the pair decided that they had worked together so well that they would continue to keep the detective agency open.

Until the cancellation of Cannon, the characters of both series moved back and forth between the two shows, an unique arrangement and a first for TV

Jones was also unusual, ordering milk in restaurants and bars, countering the stereotypical hard drinking detective. (Ironically, Ebsen was to disclose that he had struggled with alcoholism for decades.)

In 1976, the character of J. R. Jones, portrayed by Mark Shera, was introduced. J.R. was Barnaby's cousin. He had come to LA to try to solve the murder of his father, but stayed to help Barnaby and Betty, while also attending law school.

Barnaby was quite astute, noticing clues most other P.I.'s or the police had missed. Because of his age, Jones knew he would be bested in a fistfight with the criminals he pursued, so he used other means to protect himself, like slamming a door on the hand of a gun-carrying thug!

First season episodes collected here are: Requiem for a Son; To Catch a Dead Man; Sunday: Doomsday; The Murdering Class; Perchance to Kill; The Loose Connection; Murder in the Doll's House; Sing a Song of Murder; See Some Evil, Do Some Evil; Murder-Go-Round; To Denise, with Love and Murder; Little Glory, a Little Death; and Twenty Million Alibis.

Guest stars during the series were a virtual who's who of the acting talent of the day, including: Conlan Carter, Gary Lockwood, Stefanie Powers, Wayne Rogers, William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, Richard Anderson, Claude Akins, Carl Betz, Meredith Baxter Birney, Bill Bixby, Jack Cassidy, Geraldine Brooks, Richard Bull, Dabney Coleman, Jackie Coogan, Glenn Corbett, Cathy Lee Crosby, Meg Foster, Anne Francis, Lynda Day George, Richard Hatch, James Hong, Claudia Jennings, Margot Kidder, Geoffrey Lewis, Ida Lupino, Roddy McDowell, George Maharis, Nick Nolte, Jessica Walter, Lynn Hamilton, Jon Cedar, Paul Sorenson, Roddy McDowall, and Gary Owens.

Let's hope the remaining seasons are promptly released!
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2014 5:29 PM PDT


Mannix: Season 3
Mannix: Season 3
DVD ~ Mike Connors
Offered by MightySilver
Price: $27.86
35 used & new from $20.25

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relax -- Joe Mannix Is On the Case!, July 30, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mannix: Season 3 (DVD)
Mannix returns with more two-fisted action in the Third Season of this Classic TV detective series in a 6-disc DVD boxed set.

CBS Paramount Home Video is quickly following the successful release of Season 1 and 2 of this iconic TV series on DVD with the release of the Complete Season 3. Both of the earlier seasons have had very high quality video and audio remastered episode transfers, so hopefully this release will continue that tradition.

In addition, CBS Parmount Home Video has said that ALL of the ORIGINAL musical score and cues for every episode are included and have not replaced! (They had been sharply criticized by fans for replacing some of the music cues in Season 2 of the Classic TV series The Fugitive.)

Mannix ran from 1967 through 1975 on CBS. Created by Richard Levinson and William Link and developed by executive producer Bruce Geller (who also created Mission: Impossible), the title character, Joe Mannix, is a tough and very cool L.A. private investigator, portrayed with grace and gusto by Mike Connors.

Rarely has an actor so inhabited a TV character that it's impossible to separate the two. This series represents one of those times, and even the show's producers underscored that by applying the unusual credit which proclaimed: 'Mike Connors IS Mannix.'

By the time Season 3 premiered in September 1969, Mannix was already well ensconced as a huge TV hit, and producers responded by providing a solid season of great stories, and a lot of the hard-hitting action that it was known for. Season 2 had introduced Gail Fisher as Mannix's devoted secretary, Peggy Fair, and she reprised her role here and remained throughout the series run. (FYI: Ms. Fisher was one of the first African American women to have a regular TV series role, and she also won an Emmy for her brilliant work.)

The series was frequently criticized for its violence -- over its eight seasons, Mannix was knocked unconscious 55 times and shot 17 times! Despite that, the series remains a fan favorite today, as it was when it aired, maintaining its status as a consistent ratings winner.

The 25 episodes of Season 3 truly run the gamut from heart-pounding action to emotionally well-acted drama. In one episode, Mannix returns home to try to mend fences with his father and gets a lot more than he bargained for. In one of my all-time favorite episodes, Mannix suffers psychosomatic blindness, but battles to trap a killer regardless of his devastating disability. Mr. Connors and Ms. Fisher are featured, and their scenes underscoring their characters' bond are genuinely unforgettable and not to be missed.

Ward Wood returns as Lt. Art Malcolm. A few guest stars include Vera Miles, Marion Ross, Lee Meriwether, and Mike Farrell.

Season 3 episodes are: Eagles Sometimes Can't Fly; Color Her Missing; Return to Summer Grove; The Playground; A Question of Midnight; A Penny for the Peep-Show; A Sleep in the Deep; Memory: Zero; The Nowhere Victim; The Sound of Darkness; Who Killed Me?; Missing: Sun and Sky; Tooth of the Serpent; Medal for a Hero; Walk With a Dead Man; A Chance at the Roses; Blind Mirror; Harlequin's Gold; Who is Sylvia?; Only One Death to a Customer; Fly, Little One; The Search for Darrell Andrews; Murder Revisited; War of Nerves; and Once Upon a Saturday.

Let's hope the remaining seasons of this fabulous TV Classic will also be released.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 30, 2010 4:34 PM PDT


Dark Shadows: The Haunting of Collinwood
Dark Shadows: The Haunting of Collinwood
DVD ~ Jonathan Frid
Offered by newtownvideos
Price: $4.25
66 used & new from $0.50

95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter QUENTIN COLLINS!, June 26, 2009
Decades before Twilight there was Dark Shadows, the first-ever gothic soap opera, its supernatural stories captivating audiences young and old almost 45 years.

With its alluring tales of Gothic mystery and supernatural intrigue, Dark Shadows became one of the most popular daytime series of all time. Since first airing on ABC-TV from 1966-71, Dark Shadows has justifiably earned the reputation of being one of the most unusual and enduring TV programs in history.

Thanks to MPI Home Video, that iconic Classic returns with two special DVDs compiling episode scenes from two of its most popular story arcs, one featuring the character Barnabas Collins, the vampire, the second disc featuring Quentin Collins, the werewolf.

Each disc, sold separately, contains about three hours of content, which includes selected scenes from color episodes as well as a new interview with the actor whose character is spotlighted.

Dark Shadows: The Haunting of Collinwood, is devoted to the original beloved werewolf - Quentin Collins.

Dark Shadows debuted in June 1966, but faced cancellation because of poor ratings within a year. Creator Dan Curtis, desperate to save the show, decided to "go" supernatural, so he launched various spook-filled stories that led to the introduction of vampire Barnabas Collins, portrayed by Jonathan Frid. The storyline saved the show, but several years later, the ratings dipped again. So, Curtis released another phenomenon from the genie bottle: the werewolf, Quentin Collins.

The introduction of Quentin, portrayed unforgettably by David Selby, was a high mark for the show and rejuvinated its fan base. The story involving Quentin had all of the elements that made Dark Shadows a true classic - the only soap opera in history to have had ALL of its episodes released on DVD. Like Frid two years earlier, Selby became incredibly popular, an instant idol and sex symbol among teenaged girls.

In this special disc, the origin of Quentin is told. Selby was also interviewed specially for this compilation release.

Quentin's tale had the core cast of the series portraying their own relatives, and other characters in the Collinwood of 1897, after Barnabas Collins had traveled back in time using secrets from the mystical Chinese practice of the I Ching, or Book of Changes.

Barnabas had made the supernatural voyage back in time to save young David Collins and his friend, Amy Jennings, who had both become possessed in modern-day (1970's) Collinwood. The children were being menaced by a horrifying and utterly silent ghost - the spectre of Quentin Collins.

Quentin was the victim of a werewolf curse that had been placed on him by a grieving gypsy, Magda Rocozzi (portrayed with memorable gusto in an Emmy-calibre performance by Grayson Hall), who blamed him for the death of her sister, who was also Quentin's wife.

Complicating the plot was the arrival of the sinister Count Andres Petoffi (also protrayed with brilliance by core cast member Thayer David), who possessed supernatural powers and was being hunted by the gypsies. Barnabas believed that the cure to Quentin's "affliction" rested with Petofi. If Quentin could be cured, then the children facing death in Collinwood's present day would be saved!

The core brilliance of has made Dark Shadows endure are the eternal themes it illustrated: Love, death, fear, longing, revenge, obsession, lies, secrets, loyalty and betrayal all played out against a compelling backdrop of Gothic sensibilities that included vampires, werewolves, zombies, seances, time travel, ghosts, mystery, murder, intrigue and a constant dose of the unexpected.

This "soap opera" managed to transcend its genre by bringing a taste of Gothic horror and science-fiction fantasy to the hum-drum world of the afternoon drama. There had never been anything like it before - and there never has been since!

In addition to Selby, Frid, Hall and David, primary co-stars on the disc are: Joan Bennett, Louis Edmonds, Nancy Barrett, Lara Parker, David Henesy, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Terry Crawford, Virgina Vestoff, Don Brisco, Marie Wallace, Donna McKechnie, Clarice Blackburn, John Karlen, Michael Stroka, Paula Laurence, Diana Millay and Jerry Lacy.

(As noted: The entire series is available on DVD, also produced by MPI Home Video.)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2013 6:37 PM PDT


Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse
Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse
DVD ~ Joan Bennett
Price: $5.00
69 used & new from $0.24

75 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter BARNABAS COLLINS!, June 26, 2009
Decades before Twilight there was Dark Shadows, the first-ever gothic soap opera, its supernatural stories captivating audiences young and old for almost 45 years.

With its alluring tales of Gothic mystery and supernatural intrigue, Dark Shadows became one of the most popular daytime series of all time. Since first airing on ABC-TV from 1966-71, Dark Shadows has earned the reputation of being one of the most unusual and enduring TV programs in history.

Thanks to MPI Home Video, that iconic Classic returns with two special DVDs compiling episode scenes from two of its most popular story arcs, one featuring the character Barnabas Collins, the vampire, the second disc featuring Quentin Collins, the werewolf.

Each disc, sold separately, contains about three hours of content, which includes selected scenes from color episodes as well as a new interview with the actor whose character is spotlighted.

Dark Shadows: The Curse of the Vampire, is devoted to the original beloved blood sucker from the realm of the undead - Barnabas Collins.

Barnabas, the 175-year-old guilt-ridden and love-lorn vampire, was portrayed brilliantly by the classically trained actor Jonathan Frid. Frid, now, in his 80's, was interviewed for this special compilation disc.

Dark Shadows debuted in June 1966, but faced cancellation because of poor ratings within a year. Creator Dan Curtis, desperate to save the show, decided to "go" supernatural, so he launched various spook-filled stories that led to the introduction of Barnabas.

Released from his chained coffin after nearly 200 years, Barnabas arrives at the Collinwood estate claiming to be a relative from England. Although noticing Barnabas' resemblance to his "ancestor" in a foyer portrait, the Collins family did not realize he is the same Barnabas who lived at Collinwood in the 18th century. As Barnabas moves into the Old House on the property, those around him are unaware of the horrors that will soon follow.

The vampire was to be a temporary character that would be killed off following a reign of terror, but Frid's compelling characterization caused Barnabas to remain throughout the series as ratings soared. Not only was the series saved from cancellation, but it became an international phenomenon boasting more than 20 million daily viewers! Frid also became incredibly popular, a sudden idol and sex symbol among teenaged girls.

In this special disc, the origin of Barnabas is told. From the Collinwood drawing room of 1967, the family governess, Victoria Winters, portrayed by Alexandra Moltke, is transported back in time via a seance ends up in the Collinwood of 1795. In the past, the Barnabas Collins of that era, BEFORE a vicious curse had turned him into the blood-thirsty vampire.

Barnabas is about to wed the love of his life, Josette Du Pres, but a jealous servant of Josette's with whom Barnabas had brief affair, successfully plots to ruin their relationship. The servant, Angelique, portrayed with verve by Lara Parker, is actually a witch born who uses her supernatural powers to wreck havoc on everyone in Collinwood. It is Angelique who places the curse of the living dead upon Barnabas.

The core brilliance of has made Dark Shadows endure are the eternal themes it illustrated: Love, death, fear, longing, revenge, obsession, lies, secrets, loyalty and betrayal all played out against a compelling backdrop of Gothic sensibilities that included vampires, werewolves, zombies, seances, time travel, ghosts, mystery, murder, intrigue and a constant dose of the unexpected.

This "soap opera" managed to transcend its genre by bringing a taste of Gothic horror and science-fiction fantasy to the hum-drum world of the afternoon drama. There had never been anything like it before - and there never has been since!

In addition to Frid, Parker and Moltke, primary co-stars on the disc are: Joan Bennett, Grayson Hall, Louis Edmonds, Nancy Barrett, David Henesy, Kathryn Leigh Scott, David Ford, Clarice Blackburn, John Karlen, Anthony George, Thayer David, Jerry Lacy, Craig Slocum, Sharon Smyth, and Joel Crothers.

Note: The entire series is available on DVD, also produced by MPI Home Video.
Comment Comments (22) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 4, 2011 5:40 PM PDT


The Patty Duke Show: Season 1
The Patty Duke Show: Season 1
DVD ~ Patty Duke
Price: $28.61
27 used & new from $24.99

69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Can Lose Your Mind -- When Cousins are Two of a Kind!, June 25, 2009
Celebrations should be thrown at local `shake shops' with rock 'n roll blasting on the juke box for the first-ever DVD release of The Patty Duke Show!

The series was one of the best and most beloved Classic TV comedies from the 1960's. Shout!Factory is continuing its string of great Classic TV releases (including Father Knows Best, My Three Sons and The Donna Reed Show) by presenting the complete first season of this iconic series on DVD for the first time.

The Patty Duke Show aired on ABC beginning Sept. 18, 1963. It lasted 105 episodes spanning three seasons - all in glorious black and white!

One year before, Ms. Duke had won an Academy Award® for her portrayal of the blind, deaf and mute Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker (at the time, she was the youngest person to have won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress). As a result, she was chosen for her own self-titled vehicle, which featured her in not one, but two prominent roles.

The series followed Patty Lane (Ms. Duke), a `normal' 60's teenager living in the Brooklyn Heights section of New York City, who loves boys, ice cream, and sleep-overs. Her father is the managing editor of the New York Chronicle. In the unaired Pilot, her "identical cousin" Cathy Lane (also portrayed by Duke), whose father also works for the Chronicle as a foreign correspondent, arrives in the U.S. from Scotland to live with Patty's family and attend secondary school.

The series was extremely popular with both teens and their parents, turning Ms. Duke into an early teenaged idol.

As an adult, Ms. Duke has documented her long struggle with mental illness. The brilliant star sadly disclosed that she also suffered abuse during the years this series was produced. As a result, there is a genuine darkness beneath the fictitious veneer of these sweetly, innocent episodes. It is a true testament to her talent and very hard work that none of that was conveyed on screen. In my opinion, this series should still be enjoyed to honor her performances, for which Ms. Duke rightly received an Emmy nomination. (She is also the former wife of wonderful actor John Astin. The couple's son, Sean Astin, is also an actor.)

All 36 half-hour episodes and the unaired pilot are expected to be included in this DVD boxed set, presented on six discs (to provide background material as needed, clips from the Pilot had been utilized through "flash-back" scenes describing Cathy's arrival in the U.S.).

Special features are expected to include interviews with cast members, plus a featurette on the series. The show was created by William Asher, who also created and produced Bewitched; and Sidney Sheldon, who created a host of thrillers but also I Dream of Jeannie in the 1960's and Hart to Hart in the 1990's.

In addition to Ms. Duke, the core cast included William Schallert, who played Patty's father, Martin Lane; Jean Byron as Patty's mother, Natalie Lane; Paul O'Keefe portrayed Patty's sister, Ross Lane; and Eddie Applegate, who portrayed Patty's boyfriend, Richard Harrison in 70 episodes.

Schallert has one of the longest careers in TV and also film, and remains active in his 80's. (Incredibly, there was almost no hit TV show - in all genres - from the 60s through the 80s that he did not appear.)

The dual role played by Ms. Duke presented special effects challenges for the low-tech 60's, as they were rarely ever used in sitcoms of the day. (A VERY notable exception was the daytime gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows.)

In each episode of this series, Ms. Duke appeared as both characters in the same frame through the use of a split screen effect. To complement these effects, child actress Rita McLaughlin was used as Ms. Duke's double (almost always seen only from behind).

First Season episodes are: The Pilot; The French Teacher; The Genius; The Elopement; House Guest; The Birds and the Bees Bit; The Slumber Party; The Babysitters; The Conquering Hero; The President; Double Date; The Actress; How to Be Popular; The Song Writers; The Princess Cathy; Christmas Present; Auld Lang Syne; Horoscope; The Tycoons; Author! Author!; The Continental; Let 'Em Eat Cake; Going Steady; Are Mothers People?; The Con Artist; The Perfect Teenager; Chip Off the Old Block; The Wedding Anniversary Caper; Pen Pals; A Slight Case of Disaster; The Friendship Bit; Patty, the Foster Mother; Drop Out; Leave it to Patty; The Little Dictator; The Working Girl; and The Cousins.

"Cousins," was the unforgettable series theme. The music was composed by Sid Ramin, while the lyrics that stayed in your head like a causality loop, was written by Robert Wells. For those not old enough to have the song still playing in their aged noggins, here it is:

Meet Cathy, who's lived most everywhere,
From Zanzibar to Barclay Square.

But Patty's only seen the sights
A girl can see from Brooklyn Heights--
What a crazy pair!

But they're cousins,
Identical cousins all the way.
One pair of matching bookends,
Different as night and day.

Where Cathy adores a minuet,
The Ballet Ruses, and crepe Suzette,
Our Patty loves to rock and roll,
A hot dog makes her lose control--
What a wild duet!

Still, they're cousins,
Identical cousins and you'll find,
They laugh alike, they walk alike,
At times they even talk alike--

You can lose your mind,
When cousins - are two of a kind!

Here's hoping the remaining two seasons are quickly released.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2010 12:08 PM PDT


Cagney & Lacey: The Menopause Years (Boxed Set)
Cagney & Lacey: The Menopause Years (Boxed Set)
DVD ~ Sharon Gless
17 used & new from $4.79

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Cops Return!!, June 18, 2009
Cagney and Lacey are back - my favorite female police partners return in this four-disc boxed set featuring all of their reunion movies on DVD for the first time.

The team of Christine Cagney, portrayed brilliantly by Sharon Gless, and Mary Beth Lacey, portrayed equally well by Tyne Daly, hardly need any introduction. Co-starring in Cagney & Lacey during the 1980's, the women portrayed two women detectives fighting crime and sexism in the New York City Police Department.

In doing so, Cagney & Lacey redefined gender roles in TV dramas. Now, it hardly seems possible that a series starring two women leads would not only be controversial, but a true pioneer in challenging the sexism that prevented women from obtaining untraditional jobs, but it was. While another groundbreaking cop show of that era, Police Woman, starring Angie Dickinson, should also be lauded, it was Cagney & Lacey that went much further in focusing the series spotlight on two professional women, and dealt directly with the sexism that they encountered among the public and within the own New York City police department.

The series went off the air in 1988, after 125 series episodes. Four reunion movies followed, and are collected here on DVD for the first time: Cagney Lacey: The Return, 1994; Cagney & Lacey: Together Again, 1995; Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling, 1995; and Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions, 1996.

"Inside this package you will also find some history excerpted from my memoir `Cagney & Lacey... and Me,' along with some other observations about the four reunion films," said Barney Rosenzweig, creator-producer of the series and the movies. Rosenzweig is also married in real-life to Sharon Gless.

The first film re-introduces Cagney and Lacey, and what they've been up to in the intervening years. Things have changed. Lacey has quit the force, and Cagney is now a lieutenant working for the D.A.'s Office. But the biggest change is that Cagney has married, and the two best friends have lost touch.

"Both Sharon and Tyne had aged and put on some weight and we would make no attempt to mask that, but would, instead, hang a lantern on it. It was quickly decided that, consistent with her characters oft-stated desire, Lacey would by then have taken her retirement while, in those intervening years, Cagney would garner a major promotion and (much to Sharon s dismay), gotten married. Even casting her old pal, TONY award winner James Naughton as the husband, could not get Sharon to be happy about this decision...which we defended as a device we felt would help sell the passage of time to our audience," Rosenzweig said.

In addition to Naughton's James Burton, the guest-cast includes Susan Anspach, who plays Deborah Nelson.

Happily, most of the supporting cast from the series returns, including John Karlen as Mary Beth's husband, Harvey Lacey; Al Waxman as Lt. Samuels; Carl Lumbly as Det. Marcus Petrie; and Martin Kove as Detective Isbecki. New cast members are David Paymer, who plays Deputy Assistant District Attorey Feldberg; Vonetta McGee who portrays Petrie's wife, Claudia; Kenny Johnston who replaces Troy W. Slaten as the Lacey's son, Michael; and Molly Orr as the couple's daughter, Molly.

"Despite virtually the entire series cast making an appearance in this first of the quartet of films, we make it clear in the early going that both Cagney and Lacey have moved on and that the familiar actors that are seen in those early moments will not be part of the shows going forward. The device to get Lacey back to work and, once again, in alliance with Christine Cagney not only worked well for us, but provided residual emotional material for all four films," Rosenzweig, said.

I won't ruin the movies by providing spoilers. Just know that fans, new and old, of Cagney and Lacey will not be disappointed.

John Karlen, an incredible actor who is sadly underrated, appears throughout the movie reunions. Other guest cast members include: George Coe as Dan Broadbent; Lynn Thigpen as Capt. Gigi Cardenas; Chip Zien as Assistant District Attorney Douglas Trayne; and Sandra Oh, as Officer Angela Lum.

The first movie is also being released in a separate single-disc package on the same release date as the boxed set.


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