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High School [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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June 30, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Jane Withers is a beloved star who has made a splash in show business ever since she was mean to Shirley Temple in "Bright Eyes." She went on to make lots of movies at 20th Century-Fox, some of which she wrote and produced herself, and she grew up on screen. In the Fifties, George Stevens cast her in "Giant," and on TV she was famous as Josephine the Plumber in ads for Comet. She is bubbly and energetic and has a deep and abiding faith in God. In the new biography about Mary Wickes, it is revealed that Jane completed voice-over work begun by Mary for Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Because of the vicissitudes of American show business and Fox's (until recently) complete ignorance of the appeal of its library for home video fans, most of the work on which Jane's early career was founded has never been in circulation. Now, thanks to Fox Cinema Archives, some of this work is coming out at last. That said, I wish I could say this film is a delight, but it's pretty slow-going (and, at 74 minutes, that's saying something). In the movie "High School," "Jane" (her character's name) is perky and spunky and pig-headed, but underneath she's a smart gal and she learns loyalty and teamwork. The plot is strictly "B" material and veers off in the oddest directions, resulting in a Keystone Kops-like car chase and a brawl and a prom and ... oh, well ... none of it adds up. However, we do get to see Jane Withers as she was growing up (she would have been about 13 or 14 when she made this picture) and start to fill in the blanks in her career that we have been missing for so long. Personally, I'm delighted that Jane is still alive to see these releases begin to come out at last. This is a pricey DVD considering the movie; rent it if you can. (Interesting footnote: The Brian Sisters, an odd trio of young ladies who made unique harmonies and appeared in Fox musicals -- see "Kentucky Moonshine" -- are in "High School," too, but they sing a dull alma mater song and then are hustled offstage. There are no musical numbers in this film otherwise, except some marching-band type stuff, and Jane and Joe Brown, Jr. dancing at the end.) Other Jane Withers films now available include "Paddy O'Day," "Chicken Wagon Family," "Rascals," "The Farmer Takes A Wife," "Shooting High" (with Gene Autry, out for a few years now), "Always in Trouble," "Little Miss Nobody" and "Golden Hoofs."
July 10, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
A sweet, predictable film featuring Jane Withers as a Texas ranch girl sent to high school after terrorizing one too many private tutors. Jane finds it hard to fit in but eventually the kids warm to her. I don't know if the high school depicted in the film is a private high school or public. My guess would be private since the kids are wearing uniforms, but who knows? Jane tries hard to fit in but makes an enemy of the Popular Girl, who excludes Jane from the Lasso Club; the plot is your typical mean Queen Bee versus New Girl in high school. It is supposed to take place in Texas, but there weren't too many characters with an authentic Texas twang, if at all. The teenage Jane is charming, plucky, boisterous and a lot of fun to watch. I wish there had been more singing by Jane, as the film does drag a little at times. It is nice to see these old films of Jane's being issued, because I have yet to see one of her earlier films on TCM or other nostalgia channels. At this point, I enjoy Jane's movies she made as a child versus ones as a teenager, but hopefully there are more titles out there that better showcase her talents. The DVDs are a bit pricey at $19.99. I'm hoping Fox will issue more titles, hopefully at a lower price. Although considered a "B" movie star at Fox, Jane was a major talent who could sing, act and dance. She had a gift for mimicry and could do accents very well.