Questions About Carrie Snodgress, Christine Lahti & More Answered

magnificent_obsession_35Question: I recently viewed the original Magnificent Obsession, starring Robert Taylor and Irene Dunne, on TCM.  Is this available to purchase?

Answer: Good news! The Criterion Collection’s special edition of Magnificent Obsession contains the Taylor-Dunne 1935 release, as well as the more widely-seen 1954 adaptation of the Lloyd C. Douglas weepie starring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman and directed by Douglas Sirk.

Question: Have you a copy of Men with Wings (1938), starring RayMilland and Fred MacMurray as the Wright brothers, plus Virginia Weidler as their little sister. I have searched all over for this film, but with no luck.

Answer: This story of the birth of aviation, with MacMurray as the reckless, barnstorming sibling to Milland’s more studious, scientifically oriented flyer is not on DVD, unfortunately. It is currently owned by Universal, which got the Paramount production in a deal years ago. It was directed by ex-WWI pilot William A. Wellman, master of other aviation epics such as Wings and Lafayette Escadrille.

Question: I am looking for the name of a made-for-TV movie.  The story is about a young boy with cancer.  He wrote a story about his struggle with cancer that was about a fantasy warrior fighting an evil witch.  The person playing the witch was also the person playing the part of his doctor.  I believe the title was something about three towers and I thought the witch/doctor was Christine Lahti, but I am not sure.  The story was turned into a movie after the boy’s death.  I only remember seeing the movie one time and it may have been a mini-series.  I remember a scene where the family was at a farmers’ market and the boy was able to smell the fruit for the first time and they thought the cancer was in remission.  I think it was the early ‘80s.

Answer: The movie is actually called The Four Diamonds and is from 1995, starring Ms. Lahti, Tom Guiry as the sick boy, and Kevin Dunn and Jayne Brook in support. Unfortunately, it has never been on DVD or even VHS. It is owned by Disney, who produced it, but it is unlikely that it will be issued in the near future.

Question: I’d like to see Diary of a Mad Housewife on DVD. I thought that when Carrie Snodgress passed away it may be finally released. Another film I remember seeing in the ‘70s was The Reincarnation of Peter Proud with Michael Sarrazin. There are so many films from my teenage movie-going days that I would love to own on DVD.

diary_uvvamad_housewifeAnswer: Frank Perry’s Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970), one of the landmark films of the era, is being held from release by Universal for some reason. They have been licensing movies of late, though, so this is a prime candidate to come out from another company. For the uninitiated, it starred the Oscar-nominated Snodgress as an unfulfilled woman who has an affair with writer Frank Langella when her marriage to smug Richard Benjamin hits the skids. It was the career high point for Ms. Snodgress, the mother of one of Neil Young’s children, who died in 2004 at the age of 57. The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975), a popular chiller of its time, is tied up in different licensing complications. Believe it or not, Bing Crosby Productions produced the film. Sarrazin plays the college professor who experiences glimpses into a previous life as a murder victim. It was directed by J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone), and based on a popular book by Max Ehrlich. For the record, Der Bingle’s company also produced the two rat films, Willard and Ben, as well as the Walking Tall movies.

Question: I am looking for a classic movie. I don’t know the name of who stars in it but I remember that it is about a young woman who is half black but hides that part of her life from others, so she lives as a white woman, keeping her secret from the public and from her future husband.  I would like to order it if it is available.

Answer: Our guess is that the film is Pinky, Elia Kazan’s 1949 drama starring Jeanne Crain as the black woman passing for white, raised by her black grandmother (Ethel Waters) and romanced by a doctor (William Lundigan), her former mentor when she trained as a nurse. It is available on DVD.

Question: Any chance of seeing any more of Douglas Sirk’s films on DVD?

all_i_desireAnswer: Yes, as a matter of fact, two of the great German director’s efforts are coming to DVD. They can be found in—and only in—The Barbara Stanwyck Collection: All I Desire (1953), a tearjerker with Ms. Stanwyck as an entertainer returning to her old hometown, and There’s Always Tomorrow (1956), in which “Missy” is the fashion designer who gets back together with old-flame toy manufacturer Fred MacMurray, who’s neglected by wife Joan Bennett.

Question: I was wondering if there were any plans to put out the European version of In the Electric Mist with Tommy Lee Jones?

Answer: We’d sure like to see it, but at this point it remains unlikely. The adaptation of the James Lee Burke mystery, with Jones as the author’s bayou deputy Dave Robicheaux, was only issued in America in a reedited, shortened edition because of differences between director Bertrand Tavernier and the film’s producers. It’s a shame; as it stands, there are tons of loose ends in the film. Characters appear and disappear without any reason, while several plot points are left dangling. France and other European countries have the other version. By the way, Robicheaux was also portrayed onscreen by Alec Baldwin in 1996’s Heaven’s Prisoners.