Your Questions on Hear My Song, The Medusa Touch, and More

hear-my-songQ: What ever happened to the film Hear My Song? It’s never been on DVD and I can’t purchase a CD of the soundtrack.

A:  We absolutely LOVE this 1991 film! In a career performance, Ned Beatty plays Josef Locke, the real-life Irish tenor, who has abandoned his career and civilization because of taxes he owes. Trying to track him down throughout Ireland is Micky O’Neill (Adrian Dunbar), a slick club operator with a faltering business who wants to reunite Locke with a woman from the singer’s past—who also happens to be the mother of Micky’s girlfriend (Tara Fitzgerald).  Of course, Micky also wants to book Locke to a singing gig at his club as well. The scenery is gorgeous, the performances spot-on and the music is strong. The film was issued by Miramax, whose library has been divided and dished out to different companies since its demise, so it’s difficult to say where and when it will land.  As for the soundtrack, we don’t see any evidence it was ever issued. So, folks who want to hear “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen,” “Come Back to Sorrento” and the title tune, belted out by a world-class Irish tenor (they used Locke’s real voice on the soundtrack), will have to wait for the DVD release.

Q: There was a movie from the 1980s with Richard Burton starring. He had psychic powers and that’s about all I remember. It was an odd and disturbing film. Any chance you know the film and if it is on DVD?

A:  The film has got to be 1978’s The Medusa Touch, with Burton as a writer brutally attacked and left in a coma. French police inspector Lino Ventura tries to figure out why and, the investigation leads to psychiatrist Lee Remick. The comatose Burton seems to be able to psychically dictate disasters through a gift of telekinesis.  This intriguing effort has a cult of fans and—good news—it will be on DVD by year’s end. Expect more people to appreciate this er, thought-provoking suspenser, with a top-notch international cast that also includes Harry Andrews and Derek Jacobi.

Q: Are there any plans to put out Peter Bogdanovich’s lavish musical At Long Last Love for DVD or Blu-ray?

A: The expensive 1975 flop—a homage to Hollywood musicals, set to Cole Porter tunes and  featuring a cast not known for their singing—has been rumored to get a DVD appearance this year, but there is nothing definite yet. There was a screening on the West Coast of the film in a restored form, which prompted talk of a release—the film never even made it to VHS! Burt Reynolds, Cybill Shepherd, Eileen Brennan, Madeline Kahn and Duilio Del Prete star, but no word from distributor Fox about a definite date as of yet. By the way, the re-edited version—which was shown on TV—includes the song “It Ain’t Etiquette” from DuBarry Was a Lady, featuring Brennan singing to Shepherd. 

Q: I am a big John Payne fan, from To the Shores of Tripoli to Miracle on 34th Street to a bunch of westerns he made in the mid-1950s. I believe he was a star of a western series in the late 1950s, towards the tail end of his career, but I can’t figure what it was. Can you help me?

A: Oh, the Payne! The tall, handsome Virginia-baked Payne starred in The Restless Gun from 1957 through 1959. The show debuted as part of “Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars,” and had a life of its own on NBC. Payne played Vint Bonner, a wandering cowpoke after the Civil War. The impressive guest cast included Dan Blocker, Rip Torn, Robert Blake and Jack Elam. The Restless Gun: The Complete Series with all 78 episodes of the series, is available on DVD in a nine-disc set.

employees-entranceQ: Any possibility that the pre-Code film Employees’ Entrance is issued on DVD? From what I recall, it’s quite racy for its time!

A: In this First National (Warner Brothers) entry from 1933, Loretta Young is the woman desperate for work who is fancied by Warren William, a slick manager of a New York department store. But she has affections for Wallace Ford, one of the younger workers at the store and William’s right-hand man. Like many pre-Code films, there is sexual innuendo and illicit behavior galore. The film was recently made available as part of Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 7, along with The Hatchet Man, Skyscraper Souls and Ex-Lady.   

Q: I tried to purchase David Cronenberg’s Scanners and The Brood recently, and was disappointed they were not available. Any chance of them coming back to DVD or Blu-ray?

A:  Yes, expect both films to be issued in the not-so distant future from none other than Criterion, and you can expect all kinds of great extras. Scanners centers on people with special psychic powers who make things explode—Stephen Lack and Jennifer O’Neil star. The Brood centers on a cutting edge type of psychotherapy in which patients’ anger is physically manifested, leading to the appearance of terrifying little creatures—Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar star in this unsettling outing.  By the way, Brandon Cronenberg, the 32-year-old son of the filmmaker, recently helmed his first feature—a shocker called Antiviral—which should be available on DVD and Blu-ray in the near future.  

Q: I love the movie Sorcerer and I heard it was going to be coming out again on DVD. Do you know anything about this?

A: William Friedkin’s mesmerizing 1977 reworking of the French suspense classic Wages of Fear was an expensive box-office disaster, but has amassed a huge cult following over the years. It has been on DVD, but in a full-frame 1.33 release that most people loathed but Freidkin preferred. Over the last few years, the director figured out who holds the rights (it was produced by two studios) and has had a major restoration done. A limited theatrical release and a DVD and Blu-ray is imminent, timed, it seems, to coincide with the publishing of the director’s autobiography, “The Friedkin Connection.” “We’re working off the original negative, which is in pretty good shape, but without changing the original concept, we have to bring it back in terms of color saturation, sharpness and all the stuff,” Friedkin said. Look for a DVD/Blu-ray release late in 2013 from either Warner or Universal.