Q: Clint Walker, the actor who played Cheyenne on TV and starred in The Dirty Dozen, made a film about a bear that I recall was scary. Any clue what that was and if it is on DVD?
A: You must be talking about 1966’s The Night of the Grizzly, in which lawman Walker inherits land in Wyoming, then encounters angry neighbors as well as a monstrous grizzly bear that kills his livestock. This rugged western adventure yarn offers lovely scenery (actually Big Bear Lake and Big Bear Valley in San Bernardino, California) and a supporting cast that includes Martha Hyer, Keenan Wynn, Nancy Kulp, Jack Elam and Ron Ely of TV “Tarzan” fame. The best news? The film will make its debut on DVD and Blu-ray in June.
Q: Do you have or can you get The Grey Fox with Richard Farnsworth?
A: This terrific 1983 western saga about elderly ex-con outlaw Bill Miner, who heads to Canada to resume his life of crime by robbing trains, has never been issued on DVD. This is too bad, because not only does it feature the late character actor Farnsworth in a superb, understated lead performance, it’s simply a great movie, gorgeously photographed by Frank Tidy (The Duelists). A rights snag has kept it off the market, from what we understand. Even though Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Pictures has their name on it, they have no rights to it. A darn shame.
Q: I’m a big Gregory Peck fan, and have seen all of his movies on VHS, and have most of his movies on DVD. I would like to request from you that you try to find the following Gregory Peck DVDs that I cannot find. They are as follows: The Macomber Affair, The Million Pound Note, The Portrait, and Beloved Infidel.
A: We have no definite dates for any of these. But here are the odds that they come out in the near future, and why:
The Macomber Affair (1947): Peck plays a hunter whose bravery is questioned as he comes between married couple Joan Bennett and Robert Preston, a husband and wife on a safari. This adaptation of an Ernest Hemingway story is a United Artists release, but we are not certain the studio owns it. If they do, it could be issued by the MGM Archives. If not, it could be a long wait. Odds: 5-1.
The Million Pound Note (1954): Based on a story by Mark Twain and also known as Man with a Million, the storyline resembles both Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper and the film Trading Places. Two wealthy British brothers (Ronald Squire, Wilfred Hyde-White) place a bet whether a million pounds will make a difference to a poor person. They decide to use impoverished American sailor Peck as their guinea pig. The results are funny and surprising. This was another United Artists release, produced by J. Arthur Rank and photographed in color by Geoffrey Unsworth (2001: A Space Odyssey) under the direction of Ronald Neame (The Poseidon Adventure). Since no studio is really in control of the title, it’s difficult to calculate a future DVD release. Odds: 7-1.
The Portrait (1993): Peck’s daughter, Cecilia Peck, shares the screen with her father in this adaptation of Tina Howe’s play “Painting Churches.” She plays an artist who returns home to finish a portrait of her parents, played by Peck and Lauren Bacall. During her reunion, she must deal with her parents’ aging, as well as the feelings she has about being raised in the house she has returned to. Produced by the folks at Turner for their own stations, the moving film is a good candidate for a future archive release from Warner, who controls its rights. Odds: 3-1.
The Beloved Infidel (1959): The top-notch real-life drama tells of the relationship between columnist Sheila Graham (Deborah Kerr) and alcoholic writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (Peck), troubled with financial difficulties and his wife Zelda’s emotional problems. It’s a Fox film, and the studio hasn’t paid much attention to their fine library of late except on a limited basis. Odds: 6-1.
A: The 1967 romantic farce directed by and starring Jerry is not on DVD, but remains a likely candidate for Sony’s MOD series. In the film, Jerry plays an artist planning a trip to Paris with psychiatrist fiancée Janet Leigh. The problem is that Leigh has a problem leaving three of her female patients (the formidable trio of Mary Ann Mobley, Leslie Parrish and Gia Golan). All three are afraid of men, and Jerry decides to don disguises to cure them all.
Q: Anything on the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis film Three-Ring Circus?
A: Three-Ring Circus has some serious musical rights clearance issues and, from what we learned, it would be a chore (and cost a fortune) to get it out on DVD.
Q: Are Preston Sturges’ The Great McGinty and The Candidate available?
A: It must be election season if you are looking for these two political classics. The Great McGinty, with Brian Donlevy as a homeless man who works his way up the political ladder, is part of Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection, so you are limited to purchasing the entire set in order to get McGinty. The Candidate is currently out-of-print, said to be under consideration for a re-release that will include a Blu-ray.
Q: Could you tell me when The Second Time Around with Debbie Reynolds will be put on DVD? Also I’d Rather Be Rich starring Sandra Dee, Robert Goulet and Andy Williams? How about Take Me to Town starring Ann Sheridan and Sterling Hayden?
A: The Second Time Around (1961), with Reynolds caught between Steve Forrest and Andy Griffith after she becomes a small-town sheriff in 1911 Arizona, was a film issued by 20th Century Fox, which makes it a longshot for DVD these days as the studio largely ignores their much-desired library titles. Universal owns I’d Rather Be Rich (1964), in which a request from Dee’s dying grandfather (Maurice Chevalier) leads her to choose a fake fiancée (Goulet) in order to replace her real groom-to-be (Williams), who has been waylaid. No word on the release from Universal. Finally, Take Me to Town (1953), helmed by the great Douglas Sirk, centers on saloon entertainer Sheridan and pal Phillip Reed who seek a hiding place after escaping from prison. Soon, Sheridan is sought by a logger and preacher (Hayden) who has three children. It’s a Universal picture and remains a longshot for DVD release in the near future.
Q: I remember a film called Trouble in Tahiti. Anyone else know this film? As obscure as it is, I doubt if it’s available in any format.
A: As a matter of fact, we do have the 2001 version of Leonard Bernstein’s short opera. It’s set the 1950s and tells of an unhappily married suburban couple who find their only source of escape from their crumbling marriage is by watching the movie Trouble in Tahiti. While it runs only 40 minutes, the piece has been hailed as a masterpiece. There was a 1954 version, but this edition stars Karl Daymond, Stephanie Novacek and Tom Randle.
Q: I have been looking for a film with Natalie Wood called The Cracker Factory. Any info on when this will be released on DVD? I also have been waiting for A Girl Named Sooner with the lovely Lee Remick.
A: Both of these titles are highly regarded TV movies. In The Cracker Factory, Wood tries to juggle family problems, an affair and drinking, and winds up hospitalized. Perry King and Shelley Long also star in this 1979 production. Remick does indeed shine in 1975’s A Girl Named Sooner, in which she and Richard Crenna play a couple given custody of a girl abandoned by her family and raised by bootleggers. Neither of these is available, and we doubt either will be soon issued on DVD.