Lots of timeless Hollywood hits and TV favorites coming out on DVD this week featuring Philo Vance Murder Case Collection, Love on a Bet (1936) starring Gene Raymond, and the Ernie Kovacs crime thriller Five Golden Hours from 1961.
|Philo Vance Murder Case Collection||Love on a Bet (1936)||Stepping Out (1931)|
S.S. Van Dine’s urbane sleuth, and the many actors who inhabited the role, are spotlighted in these memorable whodunits. Basil Rathbone must stop a serial killer with a “Mother Goose” motif in “The Bishop Murder Case” (1930). Leila Hyams, Roland Young co-star. A drowning death, and some unearthly footprints, challenge Warren William in “The Dragon Murder Case” (1934). Margaret Lindsay, Eugene Pallette co-star. Paul Lukas must uncover the poisoner stalking a wealthy family in “The Casino Murder Case” (1935). Rosalind Russell, Alison Skipworth co-star. Edmund Lowe has to break the spell of a hypnotist driving his victims to suicide in “The Garden Murder Case” (1936). Virginia Bruce, Gene Lockhart co-star. James Stephenson sheds light on the untimely demise of a suspected trafficker in war plans in “Calling Philo Vance” (1940). Two-disc set also includes “The Kennel Murder Case” (1933), with William Powell as Vance.
Stepping Out (1931)
After Hollywood wives Leila Hyams and Charlotte Greenwood walk in on producer husbands Reginald Denny and Harry Stubbs as they “audition” some prospects, they pack off to Mexico to give the philandering filmmakers a taste of their own medicine. Saucy pre-Code adaptation of the popular Broadway farce co-stars Lilian Bond, Cliff Edwards, Kane Richmond.
Target Hong Kong (1953)
In way over his head at Hong Kong’s gambling dens, mercenary Richard Denning finds that a cabal of nationalists and American agents is willing to cover his tab. All he has to do in return?: Uncover the plot of a communist mastermind out to spread terror via mass destruction. Striking spy story co-stars Nancy Gates, Ben Astar, Richard Loo, Philip Ahn.
Love on a Bet (1936)
Desperate for his rich, obstinate uncle’s backing, wannabe stage producer Gene Raymond makes him a wager: He’ll leave New York in his underwear…and arrive in L.A. within 10 days with a new suit, $100 in his pocket, and a pretty fiancee. He gets a quick lift from gold-digger Wendy Barrie and tart-tongued aunt Helen Broderick, and the laughs and romance follow coast to coast.
A Kiss in the Dark (1949)
Stretched thin and self-doubting, arrogant concert pianist David Niven opts to take a retreat within the apartment house he bought as an investment. His outlook brightens when he decides to explore his landlord-tenant relationship with perky model Jane Wyman. Comic charmer co-stars Broderick Crawford, Wayne Morris, Victor Moore, Maria Ouspenskaya.
Confidentially Connie (1953)
Texas cattleman Louis Calhern heads to a New England college town, hoping to coax estranged professor son Van Johnson back into the family business. However, an innocent ploy to make sure expectant daughter-in-law Janet Leigh gets adequate nutrition escalates into an industrywide beef pricing war! Fun farce, adapted by Max Shulman from a Herman Wouk story, co-stars Walter Slezak, Gene Lockhart.
Five Golden Hours (1961)
Con artist Ernie Kovacs made himself a nice racket as a professional mourner, consoling–and ultimately sponging off of–rich widows. When he targets gorgeous, but cash-strapped, baroness Cyd Charisse, he falls for her–and his grand scheme to bilk his other patrons in order to fund her lifestyle leads to comic calamity. The last film from farceur Mario Zampi co-stars George Sanders, Dennis Price, Finlay Currie.
George Washington (1984)
This epic look at the life of “The Father of His Country” follows Washington from his Virginia boyhood to his military heroics in the French and Indian Wars and his command of the colonial forces during the American Revolution. Barry Bostwick, Patty Duke Astin, Jaclyn Smith, Hal Holbrook, and Robert Stack star in the stirring TV mini-series.
A Matter of Wife…And Death (1976)
This pilot for an unrealized series spin-off of the ’73 Burt Reynolds vehicle “Shamus” found Rod Taylor stepping into the gumshoes of P.I. Shamus McCoy. When an old friend falls victim to an assassin’s bomb, McCoy’s quest for those responsible leads to an illicit gambling ring and peril for all around him. Anne Archer, Linda Carter, Dick Butkus, Cesare Danova co-star.
Ambush at Tomahawk Gap (1953)
Four newly released ex-cons make their way to the town of Tomahawk Gap, hunting for the stash of loot that their former partner had buried there. Upon arrival, they find the place deserted…and soon learn why, as they’re confronted by Apaches out to make war. Standout shoot-’em-up stars John Hodiak, John Derek, David Brian, Ray Teal, John Qualen.
Ghost of the China Sea (1958)
December, 1941: As Japanese forces invade the Philippines, a ragtag group of native and American expatriate sugar plantation workers flee for their lives. They commandeer a rickety scow as they try to escape by sea, but do they have any chance against seemingly impossible odds? Stirring tale stars David Brian, Lynette Bernay, Jonathan Haze, Kam Fong.
Apache Ambush (1955)
In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, President Lincoln hand-picks a mixed contingent of Union and former Confederate officers and entrusts them to guide a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas. Will they be able to overcome their own deep resentments, let alone the Apaches and bandits that mark the path with peril? Bill Williams, Richard Jaeckel, Tex Ritter, Ray Corrigan, Ray Teal star.
All 22 episodes from the second and final season are featured in a six-disc set.
Matlock: The Eighth Season (1993)
All 20 eighth-season episodes–including “The Play,” “The Diner,” “The Haunted,” “The Crook,” and “The Idol”–are featured in a six-disc set.
All 34 episodes from season five–including “She Walks in Beauty,” “The Toy Soldier,” “Ponderosa Matador,” “No Less a Man,” and “Walter and the Outlaws”–have been collected in a nine-disc set.
The Bamboo Prison (1953)
In a POW camp during the Korean War, Pyongyang has made a trustee of an American master sergeant (Robert Francis) whose conversion to communist thought has earned him the hatred and contempt of his fellows. Has he truly been brainwashed…and is he truly the traitor in their midst? Searing tale co-stars Brian Keith, E.G. Marshall, Dianne Foster, Jack Kelly.
There’s Always a Woman (1938)
A struggling P.I. (Melvyn Douglas) is ready to beg the D.A. for his old job back, and his spouse (Joan Blondell) is closing up shop when a mysterious woman (Mary Astor) shows up with a retainer. There’s no black bird, but there are murders and double-crosses, as the couple works the case in this crackling mystery-comedy. Jerome Cowan, Frances Drake co-star; keep an eye out for an uncredited Rita Hayworth as a secretary.
The Brigand (1952)
After a king (Anthony Dexter) is grievously wounded, courtesy of the scheming cousin (Anthony Quinn) who covets his throne, the regent’s counselors entreat a lookalike adventurer (Dexter, again) to stand in until he recovers. Will the determined traitor kill them both in pursuit of his ambitions? Rousing costumer co-stars Jody Lawrence, Carl Benton Reid, Ron Randell.
The Hardy Boys: Season Three (1978)
All 10 episodes from the third and final season–including the two-part “The Last Kiss of Summer,” “Search for Atlantis,” “Scorpion’s Sting,” “Game Plan,” and “Life on the Line”–are featured in a three-disc set.