When I was but a wee lad, my uncle and all of my cousins were gaga over The Three Stooges. I loved those knuckleheads too, but my favorite old comedy legends were Abbott & Costello. I can remember having these long debates with my mother about why they were better than the Stooges. The slapstick comedy of the Stooges was the best, but Abbott & Costello told actual stories. Their movies weren’t just a bunch of gags. As I write that, I realize how much that thought has informed my opinion of comedy even today. I always prefer my laughs to come from within a real story.
One of the first VHS tapes I ever opened was an Abbott & Costello double feature. I no longer remember which films they were, but I wore it out. I watched a lot of their movies but my favorites were the ones where they met classic horror icons like Frankenstein and The Invisible Man.
Shout! Factory is releasing a big, beautiful boxed set this week full of a whole bunch of their films and loads of extras including audio commentaries, and a collectible book. To get the full scoop, see our news piece on the set. Then, tell my mother I’ve found what she can get me for Christmas.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Memory: The Origins of Alien: Documentary about Ridley Scott’s horror/sci-fi masterpiece. It was directed by Alexandra O Phillip, who did 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene, a deep dive into a single scene of Psycho. I liked that one a lot. This one seems to be more of a standard making-of documentary with plenty of recollections from many of the surviving cast members and crew (with a couple of glaring omissions - Sigourney Weaver doesn’t appear at all and Ridley Scott only appears in archival interviews). I’m especially interested to hear what writer Dan O’Bannon and alien creator H.R. Giger have to say. Read Mark Buckingham's review.
The Bad and the Beautiful (Warner Archive): Vincente Minelli directs Lana Turner and Kirk Douglas in this drama about an unscrupulous movie producer who uses an actress, a director, and a writer to achieve success. It is supposed to be one of the best movies about movie-making.
Charlie’s Angels’ The Complete Series: Timed to bask in the glory of the remake by Elizabeth Banks which came out last week, they should have put this one on the shelves last week as the movie flopped.
Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll (Shout Factory): Concert film/behind-the-scenes documentary about the legendary Berry who performs many of his songs with the likes of Keith Richards, Robert Cray, and Eric Clapton.
Dora and the Los City of Gold: Live action, full-length feature film based upon the animated television series. My daughter has never watched the series but I still expect we’ll catch the film sometime.
The Handmaid’s Tale: Season Thee: I loved Season One of this dystopian Hulu series based upon the Margaret Atwood novel. I’m about halfway through the second season and have failed to get through it. It has moved beyond the novel and keeps expanding the world out in ways that just aren’t as interesting to me. I keep thinking I’ll get through it and move on to Season Three but the longer I wait the less that seems likely.
Blinded by the Light: In 1987, during the austere days of Thatcher’s Britain, a teenager learns to live life, understand his family, and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen. I bet the music’s good on this one. Glen Boyd has our review.
Suspiria (Synapse Films): Dario Argento’s legendary horror film gets a 4K upgrade. If ever there was a film deserving to be seen in super high definition, this one’s it.
Scarface (1932) (Universal Studios): In case you missed the super fantastic version of both this version and the Brian De Palma remake, which I reviewed here, you can grab this release that only has the original. It's well worth watching and owning.
Farscape: The Complete Series: Four seasons and a movie is what this science-fiction series featuring human actors and puppets got. I’ve not watched any of it, but I always wanted to see it.
Cold War (Criterion Collection): A love story set against the background of the Cold War in 1950s Europe.
Betty Blue (Criterion Collection): French film about two lovers who fall into a deeply erotic and all-encompassing relationship.