There's a great selection of new classic movie discs available this June including a 60th anniversary edition of the epic Western The Big Country (photo above with Jean Simmons and Gregory Peck), a great noir from director Fritz Lang, and a collection of Pink Panther cartoons. Here's a round-up of what's available during the first month of summer. Note: The highlighted text has links to purchase the DVDs.
The Top Five
|Katharine Hepburn's entrance in A Bill of Divorcement (1933).|
A Bill of Divorcement (1932): Katharine Hepburn's screen debut has been difficult to find on disc, but Kino Lorber Studio Classics finally has it available in both Blu-ray and DVD. Kate is a star from her opening scene (GIF above) onwards in this melodrama about a World War I veteran (John Barrymore) who reunites with his adult daughter (Hepburn) after many years in a mental asylum.
The Big Country (1958): Kino Lorber is celebrating the 60th anniversary of director William Wyler's epic Western with a special HD edition of the film on Blu-ray and DVD. This disc is filled with extras, but the real treat is seeing the movie's stunning Technicolor vistas (California standing in for Texas) in high definition and the great supporting performances from Charlton Heston and Academy-Award winner Burl Ives.
The Curse of the Cat People (1944): The good folks at Shout! Factory are releasing this sequel to producer Val Lewton's horror masterpiece Cat People (1942) in an extras-stuffed Blu-ray edition. In this film, the ghostly presence of Cat People star Simone Simon returns to haunt the daughter (Ann Carter) of her former husband (Kent Smith). The Curse of the Cat People marks Robert Wise's film debut.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954): This landmark dance musical from director Stanley Donen is getting a lavish two-disc Blu-ray edition from Warner Archive. Includes audio commentary from Donen and a rarely seen wide-screen version of the film.
The Woman in the Window (1945): The first collaboration between director Fritz Lang and stars Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, and Edward G. Robinson is a caustic film noir about a psychology professor (Robinson) who becomes enamored with the portrait of a beautiful woman (Bennett). Cinematographer Milton R. Krasner's black-and-white photography looks smashing in HD, and there's an audio commentary from film historian Imogen Sara Smith in this Kino Lorber Studio Classics Blu-ray/DVD release.
The Best of the Rest
Baby Face Harrington (1935): A very funny (at least to me) B movie starring perpetual milquetoast Charles Butterworth as a mild-mannered man who is inexplicably mistaken for a ruthless gangster. Includes a great scene where a nervous Butterworth accidentally holds up an even-more hysterical Donald Meek. Made-on-demand DVD from Warner Archive.
The Colossus of Rhodes (1961): Italian director Sergio Leone is best-known for his spaghetti Westerns, but he made his directorial debut with this spectacular ancient epic about one of the seven wonders of the world. Blu-ray from Warner Archive.
Designing Woman (1957): Fashion designer Lauren Bacall and sportswriter Gregory Peck marry in haste and repent at leisure in this witty romantic comedy directed by Vincente Minnelli. Blu-ray from Warner Archive.
The Devil's Brother (1933)/Bonnie Scotland (1935): This double feature from Warner Archive has two delightful comedies from Laurel and Hardy.
Kid Nightingale (1939): A pleasant Warner Bros. programmer about a singing waiter (John Payne) who becomes a boxer after a canny promoter (Walter Catlett) sees him deck a mouthy customer. Made-on-demand DVD from Warner Archive.
Under Capricorn (1949): This costume drama about murder and paranoia in colonial Australia is somewhat of a misfire from director Alfred Hitchcock, although there's a great Ingrid Bergman performance and beautiful color photography from Jack Cardiff. This extras-laden 4K restoration is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
Ziegfeld Follies (1945): This all-star revue has lots of dazzling numbers with the stand-out being "The Babbitt and the Bromide," which features the only collaborations between legends Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Made-on-demand DVD from Warner Archive.
|Patsy Kelly and Thelma Todd|
The Complete Hal Roach Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly Comedy Collection: This three-disc DVD collection from ClassicFlix has all 21 of the comedy two-reelers made by these talented ladies in pre-code Hollywood. Much like their male counterparts Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges, Kelly and Todd bring slapstick comedy to everyday situations such as camping trips and buying a new car. Kelly and Todd have been almost completely overlooked in the history of old Hollywood comedy teams, so it's nice to see these two wonderful ladies getting the recognition they deserve.
The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 2: Kino Lorber Studio Classics continues its popular Blu-ray series with 20 Pink Panther cartoons made between 1966-1968.
Comedy Teams: Warner Archive has double features packages from classic comedy teams Abbott and Costello (Lost in a Harem/Abbott and Costello in Hollywood), The Marx Brothers (Go West/The Big Store), The Three Stooges (Gold Raiders/Meet the Baron) and Laurel and Hardy (Air Raid Wardens/Nothing but Trouble).
New to Me
|Cyd Charisse and Kirk Douglas in Two Weeks in Another Town (1962).|
Two Weeks in Another Town: I've seen director Vincente Minnelli's seminal old Hollywood expose The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) several times, but I've never seen the 1962 follow-up from Minnelli and star Kirk Douglas. I have heard a lot about it on social media (mostly that it's terrible); I guess I'll find out after watching Warner Archive's new Blu-ray.
I, Jane Doe (1948): This noir about a jilted war bride (Vera Ralston) looks like it has an interesting female perspective. Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
The Man from Down Under (1943): As regular readers of this blog know, I hold Charles Laughton in high esteem, but I've never seen this patriotic programmer about an Australian World War I veteran who adopts two French orphans (Richard Carlson and Donna Reed). Made on demand DVD from Warner Archive.
Tender Comrade (1943): I've never seen this Ginger Rogers vehicle about femake factory workers all the way through, but I do know that its depiction of a mild form of socialism helped land screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in hot water with the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Made on demand DVD from Warner Archive.
Four from Esther Williams
Warner Archive has re-released three DVDs from the swimming sensation, including the hard-to-find Million Dollar Mermaid (1952). The other discs are Fiesta (1947), Pagan Love Song (1950), and Thrill of a Romance (1945).
Three from Joan Blondell
Warner Archive has three made-on-demand DVDs starring the pre-code favorite. They are mystery The Famous Ferguson Case (1932), comedy costarring Glenda Farrell, Kansas City Princess (1934), and the melodrama My Past (1931).