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DVD Reviews

  • Leonard Maltin
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  • Leonard Maltin
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    The Joe McDoakes Collection

    I never dreamed this would happen: a six-disc set collecting the entire Joe McDoakes series! (Or perhaps I should say oeuvre.) For the uninitiated, I should explain that these ten-minute shorts, made between 1942 and 1956, were a snappy blend of slapstick and situation comedy featuring George O’Hanlon (later famous as the voice of George Jetson) as an ordinary guy who always wound up “behind the 8-ball.” I first documented the series in my book The Great Movie Shorts, many years ago, and had a devil of a time tracking down prints. They weren’t shown on television, and while some were available in 16mm, finding them was hit-and-miss. I actual...

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    The Samuel Fuller Collection

    There has never been a filmmaker quite like Sam Fuller: as director Curtis Hanson remarks in one of the interviews on this DVD set, he constituted his own genre. Fuller’s staccato, slap-in-the-face melodramas, war stories and genre pieces all bore his unique voice. As it happens only two of the...

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    The Robert Benchley Miniatures Collection

    Robert Benchley is one of my lifelong heroes. I first read his hilarious essays as an assignment for a humor project in junior high school English class. (I can’t imagine that happening today, although the thought of life without Benchley or his compatriot...

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    That Hamilton Woman

    I remember this movie being good, but I have to admit that I may have underrated it. What’s more, the commentary track and interview material on the new Criterion release add immeasurably to one’s enjoyment of the film and understanding of its place in history. As a piece of entertainment, it is exe...

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    Sita Sings the Blues

    I must confess I am very late in joining the parade of fans that filmmaker Nina Paley has attracted with her charming animated film. I just purchased a DVD from her website, where you can also download the feature and even purchase Sita merchandise. I wanted to support the independent filmmaker...

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    Wagon Master

    One of John Ford’s personal favorites among his films, Wagon Master (1950) is a film of modest ambition and enormous charm. It afforded the director an opportunity to showcase two of his “discoveries,” wrangler-turned-actor Ben Johnson and Harry Carey, Jr., the son of his old friend and colleague fr...

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    The Panic Is On

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    Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

    Fans of the escapist adventures of the 1940s Maria Montez and Jon Hall favor Arabian Nights, which also features Sabu, or the very campy Cobra Woman, but this straightforward presentation of the Ali Baba story isn’t bad at all—just a bit prosaic. What makes it worth watching, especially on the new D...

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    Fats Waller: This Joint Is Jumpin'

    I was happy to revisit this vintage British television documentary, one of several such pieces reissued on DVD by MVD Visual. It incorporates every piece of Fats Waller footage extant (all of his Soundies plus his appearances in the feature films Hooray for Love, King of Burlesque, and Stormy Weathe...

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