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DVD REVIEW: The Best of The Danny Kaye Show
Blog, Reviews, TV, People, Music, Books
Posted on Oct 14 2014 by Greg

THE DANNY KAYE SHOW isn't good. THE DANNY KAYE SHOW is great. It has a firm place in classic TV comedy/variety between YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS and THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW.

And it is Burnett Show that bears such a close kinship with the Kaye show, both of which were taped at Television City at CBS in Hollywood, likely on the same stage. Kaye's show ended just as Burnett's began. And both featured Harvey Korman.

So much of this is priceless treasure: Rod Serling sending up his own TWILIGHT ZONE series, which was on the air at the time; Art Carney is top form playing comedy against Kaye--as does the underappreciated Alan Young--creating a chemistry not found anywhere else.

Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Michele Lee, Nana Mouskori, John Gary and more. These are both revered names and also names that should be celebrated today. You'll see why.

And you get more of the purest form of Danny Kaye's talent, a quality never fully realized on the movie screen. It's simply Kaye sitting down and speaking to the home and studio audience as if each were an individual to him. The elegance of his hand gestures, the intent eye contact, the melodious voice. Like the image of Hans Christian Andersen he portrayed, Kaye was more than anything a true storyteller.

You'll also want to look into the other two fine Kaye DVD collections:
Christmas with Danny Kaye
The Best of Danny Kaye - The Television Years

and David Koenig's superb book: Danny Kaye, King of Jesters, for a full account of all his TV episodes, films and shows.

• Gene Kelly
• Rod Serling
• Liza Minnelli
• Michele Lee
• Art Carney
• Alan Young
• Jackie Cooper
• Harry Belafonte
• Ella Fitzgerald
• Nana Mouskouri
• John Gary
• Buddy Greco
• Jack Benny (cameo)
• Sergio Mendes and the Brasil '66

REGULARS include: Harvey Korman, Joyce Van Patten, Jackie Joseph, The Clinger Sisters, Tony Charmoli Dancers, The Earl Brown Singers, Paul Weston and His Orchestra

WRITERS: Mel Tolkin, Paul Mazursky, Larry Tucker, Saul Ilson Ernest Chambers Herb Baker, Sheldon Keller, Billy Barnes


• Consider Yourself
• You Make Me Feel So Young
• I Like the Likes of You
• Do You Ever Think of Me
• Pavlova
• Pennies from Heaven
• A Fellow Needs a Girl

• It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing (with Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Greco)
• Mood Indigo (with Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Greco)
• We Like Each Other (with Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Greco)
• By Myself (with Michele Lee)
• Just an Honest Mistake (with Alan Young and John Gary)
• Let's Talk it Over (with Liza Minnelli)
• Ballin' the Jack (with Gene Kelly)
• Who Will Buy? (with Harry Belafonte)
• Mama Look at Bubu
• Hava Nagila (with Harry Belafonte)
• Opa Ni Na Nai (with Harry Belafonte and Nana Mouskouri)
• You'll Never Get Away (with Michele Lee)
• Side by Side (with The Clinger Sisters)
• Cherry Pies Ought to Be You (with Lovelady Powell)
• Medley (with Gene Kelly): I Could Write a Book / New York,
  New York / Long Ago and Far Away / 'S Wonderful / Singin' in
  the Rain

• Moment of Truth
• Body and Soul

• Raindrops
• Walk On

• Maybe This Time
• For Every Man There's a Woman

• Telalima

• I Could Write a Book

• The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
• Hawaiian Wedding Song

• Charade
• Satin Doll

• Bye Bye Blackbird

• Children, Go Where I Send Thee

• Goin' Out of My Head

DVD REVIEW: Witch's Night Out
Blog, Reviews, TV, People
Posted on Oct 14 2014 by Greg
Gilda Radner voices a bizarre, eccentric old witch in this Canadian production that aired in on NBC in 1978 and later in syndication.

If you're familiar with the artist-driven, independent-style animated films of SESAME STREET, this is a nostalgic throwback to the kind of free-form cartoon style prevalent in the '70s. The characters are usually painted in one color (kind of like Colorforms kits), in a wide range of imaginative countenances.

I seem to remember at least one other special from Leach/Rankin Productions, with some of the same designs and character names (how could I forget Bazooey?). The "Rankin" in this case is not Arthur Rankin of iconic holiday special company Rankin/Bass, but animator Isobel Jean Rankin, who co-wrote the film with partner John Leach.

Mill Creek also included a video comic book version of the story plus a handful of Halloween-themed cartoons to round out the package:

Casper the Friendly Ghost:
• There's Good Boos To-Night 12/23/48
• The Friendly Ghost (Casper's Debut) 11/16/45
• Boo Moon (Originally in 3-D) 12/1/54

Felix the Cat (Original Theatrical Version)
• Skulls & Sculls (1930)

Hoppity Hooper / Uncle Waldo Show (Jay Ward)
• Ring a Ding Spring (9/12/64)

Space Angel (Synchro-Vox TV Series)
• The Ghost & Crystal Mace (All Five Parts / 1964)

• Spooky Swabs 8/9/57

The New Three Stooges (Cartoon with Live Action Segments)
• Mummies Boys (1965)

Walter Lantz's Meany, Miny & Moe
• House of Magic 3/8/37

DVD Review: Lucille Ball: First Lady of Comedy
Blog, Reviews, Movies, TV, People
Posted on Oct 09 2014 by Greg

Who doesn't love Lucy, or just needs use a laugh? How about just an "I can't believe what I'm watching" reaction as you watch?

The four Lucille Ball feature films in this 2-disc Mill Creek set run the gamut of pretty good, kind of weird, so-bad-it's-delightful and best of the bunch. All four are nicely restored, so if you've been trying to find decent copies of them on various budget DVDs, you'll have them here.

Co-starring John Agar and Patricia Medina

This infamous so-bad-it's-delightful "sort of color, sort of spectacular" adventure/fantasy/comedy is notable for several reasons. Check out this history from

"Hoping to force Lucille Ball into breaking her contract, Columbia Pictures chieftain Harry Cohn assigned her to the low-budget Arabian Nights escapade The Magic Carpet. Much to Cohn's amazement, the plucky Ball agreed to appear in the film, forcing Columbia to pay her salary until her option ran out. While Lucille Ball is quite attractive in her harem duds, the viewer cannot help but notice that her bare midriff is often obscured by props and furniture; that's because she was pregnant with her daughter Lucie Arnaz during the filming of The Magic Carpet."

The Magic Carpet
also co-stars (and what old movie did NOT co-star?) George Tobias and the comic relief sidekick--and Raymond Burr as the scheming villain. Imagine Abner Kravitz and Perry Mason in the The Arabian Nights and there's even more to chortle about.

Co-starring Franchot Tone

A lower-echelon Adam's Rib crossed with a kind of weird Son of Flubber, Her Husband's Affairs is not about infidelity, but about a wife who is (GASP!) more talented and savvy than her pompous, egomaniacal husband. Those who cringe at the pre-feminist aspects of films of a long ago mindset might want to skip Franchot Tone's insufferable whining and fuming about how Lucille Ball bails him out time after time. To be positive, it might be interpreted as a statement about how women should have been treated and were not.

Anyway, it goes from a husband-and-wife conflict story to a very odd fantasy sitcom about wacky inventions and their consequences. Ball is fine as ever, but Tone is probably miscast because his overall disaffected, cool style makes his character unlikable, while a more genial actor might have pulled off the role of this dolt at least a little better.

Co-Starring William Holden

Ball and Holden play masterfully against each other in this pretty good, Damon Runyonesque tale of "a lovable bunch of bookies and their dashing leader who would reform if only the right woman could change him."

Lovers of I Love Lucy can revel in the comparisons between Holden and Ball in this film and Holden and Lucy Ricardo in the famous "nose-lighting" episode of the classic series. What makes this extra special for classic TV fans is the appearance of Gloria Henry--Dennis the Menace's mom--as one of the young postwar newlyweds. She looks a little different, but there is no mistaking that lovely voice.

Co-Starring Eddie Albert

Like Miss Grant Takes Richmond, this is one of the most widely played of Ball's film comedies. Of all four in this set, it's the best of the bunch for its snappy pace, beautifully timed slapstick, engaging story and the chemistry between Ball and Arnold, who play the postwar couple this time around.

If you watch this with young people, you might have to start by explaining that Fuller Brush people were like Avon or Mary Kay sales people who went door-to-door with household gadgets or, in this case, beauty products. Ball and Anold's characters are as hapless as can be and you can see each successive catastrophe mounting a mile away, but that's part of the fun and part of the filmmaker's craft.

It was also scripted by Looney Tunes director turned Hollywood movie director Frank Tashlin, so like his Jerry Lewis hits, the action is very cartoony and was very likely storyboarded in the same way as animation.

Only one year away from becoming Lucy Ricardo, The Fuller Brush Girl is a prelude to I Love Lucy for Lucille Ball as well for her fans. You can imagine see how Ethel, Fred and Ricky might have reacted to all the zany hijinks.

Blu-ray REVIEW: Toy Story of TERROR!
Blog, TV
Posted on Aug 19 2014 by Greg

When you start to play your Toy Story of TERROR! disc, be sure to choose to watch it with the commercials. You’ll be glad you did. This was an ABC TV special last year—the first Pixar TV special ever—and it was constructed to break for commercials. So for the Blu-ray, Pixar included the ones they created especially for the show.

Sure, this is a great for Halloween watching, complete with a cheesy black-and-white Saturday drive-in style movie (love that puff of smoke!), but it’s also year round fun for Toy Story fans, as it could be thought of as an unofficial “sequel" to Toy Story. Many of the characters introduced in that film are here again, and they get more screen time, like Mr. Pricklepants, the self-appointed movie expert (you can almost see Marshall McLuhan making a cameo to contradict him, α la Annie Hall).

The 22 minutes focus mostly on Jessie, which is welcome. She’s a character with a lot of layers and audience empathy. Who among would want to be shut into a suitcase or box? The others characters are supportive in their various ways. One just wants to watch them do things together for as long as possible.

In this story, they find themselves at a creepy old motel with a manager hiding creepy secrets, but don’t worry about it being kid-friendly, it’s not Psycho, though  nods to numerous suspense conventions abound. There’s a lot packed into this special.

The three Toy Story Toons included on the Blu-ray alone are worth having, since they in effect are follow-ups to the Toy Story films. Michael Keaton and Jodi Benson walk away with “Hawaiian Vacation,” Rex gets his time to shine in “Partysaurus Rex” (a stunner in high-def), and the characters have to grapple with their happy meal identities in “Small Fry.” Everything in this package is highly rewatchable.

The original movie voices are here, including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack and Don Rickles, plus Carl Weathers voicing Combat Carl, a G.I. Joe type action figure with the fierce intensity of Liam Neeson (“Hurry! There’s no time!”) and the tendency to speak in third person like Regis Philbin likes to.

This week's Spin: Hercules and Thor on Records
Blog, Movies, TV, Music, Records
Posted on Aug 06 2014 by Greg

With Disney's Hercules premiering on Blu-ray, here's a look at how Golden Records interpreted humbler version of the Olympian wonder boy from early '60s TV, plus another Golden adaptation of Marvel's movie powerhouse, The Mighty Thor...

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