Q: I recently saw a Jerry Lewis documentary on TV and saw clips from films I wasn’t familiar with. Any chance we’ll see more of Jerry’s films on DVD in the future?
A: If you are a fan of “The Total Filmmaker,” you’re in luck. Two of Mr. Lewis’s collaborations with former Warner animation wizard Frank Tashlin are on their way. It’s Only Money (1962) stars Jerry as a TV repairman with a hankering to become a detective. He gets his chance when he teams with a P.I. (Jesse White) to investigate schemers trying to get their hands on a disputed will. Joan O’Brien is the nurse Jerry falls for in this film that may best be known for a scene in which the star encounters a batch of runaway lawnmowers. Also on the way is Who’s Minding the Store? (1963), showcasing Jerry as a dog walker given a job at a department store by owner Agnes Moorehead. Her intention is to prove Jerry’s a doofus to her elevator operator daughter (Jill St. John), who happens to be his fiancée. In what has become one of Lewis’s best-known bits, he attempts to fix a vacuum cleaner in the department store with little success (but lots of plugs for Hoover). For the record, Jerry Lewis and Frank Tashlin made eight films together.
Q: I was wondering if they will come out with a DVD called The 60’s? It’s a movie about…an epic blend of music, drama and real-life events that bring the decade’s most explosive events to life. Two American families-one white, one black-are torn apart by the war in Vietnam and the war the streets. Only their love for each other can help bring them back together. The actors in it are the following: Josh Hamilton, Julia Stiles, Jerry O’Connell. I have the VHS copy but would like a DVD copy. Please let me know where or if I can get the DVD copy of the movie.
A: Unfortunately, this 1999 TV film has not been put on DVD yet. It is owned by NBC/Universal, and has become a favorite on the classic rock cable stations. It was available on VHS from Trimark (later Lionsgate), but that company’s license has lapsed. It’s unlikely that Universal will put it out, but perhaps an independent company will make a deal to release it on DVD. One problem will likely be the music rights, however: Such songs as “The Weight” (The Band), “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (The Beatles) and “My Girl” (The Temptations) don’t come cheaply. A scene in the original TV broadcast, that showed The Beatles on ”The Ed Sullivan Show,” had already been excised by the time the film hit VHS.
Q: How about The Story of Louis Pasteur, Anthony Adverse, The Farmer’s Daughter, Coquette, Disraeli? All of these won Oscars for acting, but none are on DVD.
A: Frustrating, isn’t it? We’ve received requests for all of these titles and, in some cases, we understand the elements to make good transfers just aren’t there. The Farmer’s Daughter is a Fox title, but all of the others are likely future candidates for Warner’s Archives. All but Anthony Adverse had been on VHS before.
A: This United Artists release was co-produced by Burt Lancaster, and its rights now belong to MGM and Fox, who will likely put it out eventually as one of their MOD titles. The creative forces behind the Oscar-winning Marty—director Delbert Mann, writer Paddy Chayefsky and Lancaster’s company—were reunited on this story of a bachelor party attended by a group of accountants who eventually come to terms with crises in their lives. The cast included Don Murray, E.G. Marshall, Phillip Abbott and Carolyn Jones. It was based on a TV production.
Q: I watched a few of those Monogram Westerns on the TCM broadcasts. They all were very sharp in picture and very clear in sound. It puzzles me, then, that the far more popular Bela Lugosi Monogram movies always show up in rotten condition. Why were/have Lugosi’s Monogram films never been restored to their original theatrical crispness and clarity? Some bright spark out there, with the money and proper resources, ought to consider undergoing the task of cleaning up and restoring these films (there are 10 of them; 11 if you count the British import, THE HUMAN MONSTER) to their original glory for the existing fans and future film historians and filmmakers.
A: Practically all of the films Bela Lugosi made for Monogram Pictures are now public domain, so any company is free to duplicate them. A few titles from the studio may yet be protected so only licensed companies are able to duplicate them. Monogram eventually morphed into Allied Artists, but only a portion of those titles are protected. We’re not sure which westerns ran on the cable channel, but more than likely they were not public domain. Getting clean transfers and/or a great master from a company that’s long been gone—Monogram closed its doors in 1953—is difficult. We don’t believe that anyone has been keeping track of their archives too closely.
Q: I keep looking for Casbah, Centennial Summer and Come to the Stable—to no avail. Also would like the Randolph Scott version of The Last of the Mohicans.
A: It doesn’t look like anyone is going to “ze Casbah” soon except Pepe Le Pew. The 1948 film you are referring to—starring Tony Martin as the jewel thief earlier played by Jean Gabin in 1937’s Pepe Le Moko and Charles Boyer in 1938’s Algiers—is not on the DVD horizon. Centennial Summer, a 1946 period romance/musical set in 1800s Philadelphia, and starring Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain and Linda Darnell, is not on Fox’s radar. Come to the Stable (1948), boasting Loretta Young and Celeste Holm as nuns from France who have plans to build a children’s hospital in New England, would be a great holiday offering if only Fox would let people check it out on DVD. Not in their current release plans, we’re told. Happily, we can tell you that, YES!, Randolph Scott in the 1936 version of The Last of the Mohicans is on its way. Set during the French and Indian War, the film stars Scott as Hawkeye, the scout who is joined by Mohican Indians Chincachgook (Robert Barrat) and Uncas (Phillip Reed) to help guide the British commanding officer and his two daughters back to Fort William Henry while being sought by the fierce Huron Indians led by the spy Magua (Bruce Cabot). Romance, adventure and action ensue against the backdrop of James Fenimore Cooper’s mid-18th century world.
Q: I’ve been waiting a long time for the DVD and even the TV broadcasting of Bird of Paradise with Debra Paget. Will Desert Fury ever be remastered and released? Two Jane Fonda movies have just been released, Period of Adjustment and In the Cool of the Day, but what about Walk on the Wild Side?
A: The 1951 Bird of Paradise with Debra Paget, Louis Jourdan and Jeff Chandler is owned by Fox, who seems to have really slowed down their classics output. Walk on the Wild Side was available on DVD at one time, but is now off the market. It is a Columbia Picture from Sony and will likely be reintroduced at some point this year, according to a source. The film arguably featured the first explicit depiction of lesbianism on screen, with Barbara Stanwyck playing the head of a New Orleans brothel. Laurence Harvey and Capucine, then the girlfriend of producer Charles K. Feldman, also star in what is now considered a camp classic because of its lurid elements. It’s got a fantastic Saul Bass credit sequence as well. Desert Fury, while made by Paramount, is currently owned by Universal; unless another company gets a license, it is unlikely to be out on DVD soon. Too bad. This Technicolor noir filled with sex and savagery stars Burt Lancaster as the sheriff of a small Southwest town with a casino owned by Mary Astor. Into town comes her sexy daughter Lizabeth Scott, who attracts the attention of racketeer John Hodiak, who may have killed his wife. There seems to be lots of interest in this film, so why not put it out? Lewis Allen (Suddenly) directed.
Q: I’ve been looking for ages for DVDs of The Lady in the Iron Mask with Louis Hayward and Bird of Paradise, the Fox remake with Debra Paget.
A: Unfortunately, your looking will likely continue as Fox has its paws on the 1953 movie that features Alexander Dumas’ d’Artganan (Louis Hayward) and The Three Musketeers, as well as Patricia Medina in dual roles as two princesses. The film is rarely shown and we’re not even sure if the folks at Fox know that they own it. A shame, because swashbuckler fans really want a copy. Non guard! See above for Bird of Paradise info.
Q: I have inquired from the Hallmark Hall of Fame regarding a movie they produced in the late 1950’s called Little Moon of Alban. I am seeking a DVD copy and so would be interested to know if there was a copy available. Hallmark told me that they had not secured the rights to many of their TV movies, and this film was not one of them. I would be grateful for any information you could give me. Thank you.
A: Scripted by James Costigan, the 1958 TV presentation with Julie Harris as a woman who loses her family during the Irish Rebellion and turns to religion is not on DVD and, unfortunately, is unlikely to be in the near future. From what we can tell it is owned by NBC/Universal. The company rarely lets out its old TV specials or any Hallmark Hall of Fame shows, and this may be a case where the original’s picture quality is not up to today’s DVD and Blu-ray standards. George Peppard and Christopher Plummer also starred in the production.