THE GREAT RACE Blu-ray Disc (1965) Blake Edwards’ seminal screen comedy sparkles in its 1080p HD presentation, as befits this lavish love letter to the comedy of yore that Edwards intended it to be. This tongue-in-cheek satire set in an early 20th century auto race between The Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) and Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon) is the vanguard for many fantasia’s to come, from Wacky Races to Steampunk itself. Dastardly, black-garbed Dr. Fate races the world’s greatest hero, The Great Leslie, across the Wild West, through frozen Alaska and into the Kingdom of Carpania, where Zendian intrigue and an epic pie-fight await. Also stars Natalie Wood, Keenan Wynn, Peter Falk, Larry Storch, Dorothy Provine, Ross Martin, and Denver Pyle. So what are you waiting for, Max? PUSH THE BUTTON!
Desert Duet of DVDs
THE DESERT SONG (1943) A disguised American reporter leads a band of Morrocan nomads against the Nazis in this second film adaptation of Sigmund Romburg (music) & Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel’s (book and lyrics) sand and spectacle Broadway smash. This version brings the story forward in time and layers in some decidedly (and timely) anti-fascist riffs. Dennis Morgan does the dash as the mysterious dual-identitied Paul Hudson/El Khobar. While Paul Hudson tickles the ivories, backing up the lovely French chanteuse Margot (Irene Manning), the masked El Khobar aids the native Riffs while Foreign Legion Col. Fontaine (Bruce Cabot) hunts El Khobar and romances Margot. Desert Song purists may object to the liberties taken with the story, but this decidedly brothers Warner anti-Nazi take on the tale carries with it some startling progressive anti-colonial critiques. Directed by Robert Florey.
THE DESERT SONG (1953) Truer to the original and using more of Romburg’s glorious score, the third film version of the tale trades in the contemporary for the traditional. Kathryn Grayson commands center stage as the rather naughty (and nearly pre-Code) daughter of French General Birabeau (Ray Collins) while Gordon MacRae goes for the Clark Kent in his portrayal of bookish anthropology professor Paul Bonard, who is secretly the legendary freedom fighter El Khobar. Raymond Massey gives Rathbone a run for the money as the evil sheik Yousseff. Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone.
The Good Wolf
LOOPY DA LOOP: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (1959-65) Between leaving MGM and building a TV empire, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera served up a series of theatrical shorts about a charming, tuque-wearing French Canadian wolf by the pun-tastic name of Loopy De Loop. Distributed to theaters by Columbia, these 48 shorts depict the misadventures of wolf with a mission to change the bad image that people have of wolves, and make them appreciated as warm and generous fellow creatures. Not an easy job, even for a loup as charming as Mssr. Loopy, and the poor fellow is usually rewarded with a terrified cry for “Help!” and a clout to the head. But hope springs eternal in the heart of this un-savage beast as he tries to undo his kind’s big, bad image by rendering aid and assistance to the likes of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Little Bo Beep, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, D’Artagnan, Dr. Jeckyll and more to injurious and hilarious results. Rarely seen due to their unique genesis, Loopy De Loop is an unusual charmer (much like Loopy himself) in the illustrious Hanna-Barbera oeuvre, combining the funny animal sit-com antics of classic H-B with the kind of satire associated with the work of Jay Ward. But now’s your chance to enjoy them all with this complete collection that will have you crying “Sacre-iliac!”