Your Questions On David Niven Favorites And More Answered

Q:  I’m still waiting for 55 Days at Peking (1963) starring Charlton Heston to be released.

A: You and many others, sadly. The Weinstein Group owns the home video rights, and the library from that company is now being handled by Vivendi. No word on the DVD release of this Samuel Bronston production, nor Circus World, another Bronston film the Weinstein library controls. For the record, 55 Days is a classic historical saga set against the backdrop of the 1900 Boxer Rebellion in China. Heston, David Niven, Ava Gardner and Flora Robson head the cast. While Nicholas Ray is credited as director, Andrew Marton helmed large portions of the film.

Q: Can anyone tell me where I can find Beau Geste (1966) with Guy Stockwell and Telly Savalas?

A: Unfortunately, not on DVD. The third go-round for the Foreign Legion saga has never been on video in any format, thanks to an oversight on studio Universal’s part. Stockwell and Savalas are joined by Doug McClure and Beau Geste in the cast.

Q: Christmas season upon us and once again, no Junior Miss DVD release. What up, Fox?

A: Well, you pretty much answered the question regarding this look at Peggy Ann Garner, a trouble-making teen who seems to get herself and everyone around her into pickles. With Fox planning an on-demand program, perhaps this 1945 release will finally get its day on DVD.

Q: Will The Best of Enemies (1961), a WWII British film with David Niven, come out on DVD?

A: Well, now that Sony is in the manufacture-on-demand game with their Columbia library titles, there’s a good shot that this military comedy with anti-war sentiments hits the streets on DVD. Niven and Michael Wilding play British soldiers flying a mission to Ethiopa who encounter Italian officer Alberto Sordi after their plane crashes. They make a deal to allow Sordi to take control of a nearby fort, but then the Brits get word they must take control of the outpost for themselves. Guy Hamilton, best remembered for Goldfinger and other 007 staples, directed this well remembered but rarely shown film.

Q: When will they put the TV series Private Benjamin on DVD? That was my favorite show, and I would like to buy the series.

A: This spinoff of the hit 1980 Goldie Hawn farce was a short-lived 1981 sitcom that aired on CBS. Airplane! stewardess Lorna Patterson filled Hawn’s boots, and Eileen Brennan repeated her screen role of Capt. Doreen Lewis. Warner Brothers produced the show, so it is not out of the question that it will become a Warner Archives release at some point, but the fact remains it is still a long shot.

Q:  Do you know if there are plans to release the entire, uncut Hawaii (1966) with Julie Andrews on DVD?

A: The adaptation of James Michener’s book starring Charlton Heston, Max Von Sydow and Julie Andrews was once available in a 188-minute edition on VHS. When it was issued on DVD, it was the 161-minute cut, still longer than the general release 151-minute version shown in many theaters. Hopefully, MGM will realize that the film in its entirety has many fans and is worthy of a DVD release in its most complete version. For the record, The Hawaiians, the 1970 sequel to the film, is en route via MGM’s manufacture-on-demand program.

Q: Will the movies Cold Turkey with Dick Van Dyke and Fools’ Parade with James Stewart ever be released?

A: Yes, good news: Cold Turkey, the still hilarious 1971 look at a small town trying to kick the smoking habit for cash, is on its way from MGM’s manufacture-on-demand program. Check out the incredible cast: Van Dyke, Tom Poston, Edward Everett Horton, Jean Stapleton and Bob and Ray. Fools’ Parade (1971), in which a group of freshly released ex-cons (Stewart, Strother Martin and a young Kurt Russell) try to go straight by opening a grocery store, is a really good candidate for Sony’s Columbia Classics program.

Q: Ray Milland – Alias Nick Beal, Van Johnson – The Romance of Rosy Ridge, James Cagney – Come Fill the Cup. Can’t find these anywhere.

A: Well, they’re not on DVD.  Alias Nick Beal (1949), a Faustian 1949 film noir with Milland as the shadowy figure with whom crusading district attorney Thomas Mitchell makes a deal, is a Paramount entry now controlled by Universal.

The MGM post-Civil War tale Romance at Rosy Ridge (1947) concerns a small town farmer (Mitchell, again) whose daughter (a debuting Janet Leigh) gets involved with former Union soldier Johnson. It’s a Warner Archives contender. Come Fill the Cup (1951), another Warner property, stars Cagney as a journalist and recovering alcoholic asked by boss Raymond Massey to help straighten out high-living nephew Gig Young. We’d bet on Archival status for this film in the near future.

Q: I have been waiting for the release of New Moon (1940) with Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy on DVD.

A: Word from Warner is that they are working in getting this and the other Eddy/McDonald musicals out on DVD. That’s been the word like the last five years, unfortunately, and we have nothing more current to report on the much-requested series.