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TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Comedy [2 Discs] [DVD]
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Overview

Special Features

  • A Night at the Opera: Commentary by Leonard Maltin
  • Featurette - Remarks on Marx
  • 1961 Groucho Marx interview from The Hy Gardner Show
  • 2 vintage shorts: Sunday Night at the Trocadero and Robert Benchley's Oscar-winning How to Sleep
  • Theatrical trailer
  • The Long, Long Trailer: Vintage Pete Smith Specialty Short - Ain't It Aggravatin'?
  • Classic cartoon Dixieland Droopy
  • Father of the Bride: 2 vintage newsree;s

Synopsis

Ain't It Aggravatin'
Arsenic and Old Lace
Arsenic and Old Lace is director Frank Capra's spin on the classic Joseph Kesselring stage comedy, which concerns the sweet old Brewster sisters (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), beloved in their genteel Brooklyn neighborhood for their many charitable acts. One charity which the ladies don't advertise is their ongoing effort to permit lonely bachelors to die with smiles on their faces--by serving said bachelors elderberry wine spiked with arsenic. When the sisters' drama-critic nephew Mortimer (Cary Grant) stumbles onto their secret, he is understandably put out--especially since he has just married the lovely Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane). Given the homicidal tendencies of his aunts, the sinister activities of his escaped-convict older brother Jonathan (Raymond Massey) and the disruptive behavior of younger brother Teddy (John Alexander)--who is convinced that he's really Theodore Roosevelt, and runs around the house yelling "CHAAAAARGGGE"--Mortimer isn't keen on starting a family with his new bride. "Insanity runs in my family," he explains. "It practically gallops." Further complications ensue when the murderous Jonathan Brewster arrives home, with his snivelling accomplice Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre) in tow. When Jonathan learns that his darling aunts have killed twelve men, he is incensed--they're challenging his own record of murders. Though the movie rights for Arsenic and Old Lace were set up so that the film could not be released until 1944, director Capra shot the film quickly and inexpensively in 1941, so that his family could subsist on his $100,000 salary while he was serving in World War II. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Night at the Opera
How to Sleep
Dixieland Droopy
The Long, Long Trailer
At the height of their TV fame, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were contracted by MGM to make two theatrical films. The first of these, The Long, Long Trailer, stars Lucy and Desi as an upwardly mobile couple who decide to buy a trailer so they can live together while his job takes him around the country. Thanks to their naivete in such matters, they end up with a huge, bulky RV that costs five times what they planned. Their "seeing America" trip turns out to be a slapstick disaster, topped by Lucy's foolish decision to hide a heavy rock collection in the trailer; as Desi tries to maneuver a treacherous mountain road, the weighted-down home-on-wheels nearly loses its balance and almost tumbles off a cliff. The story is told in flashback, as Desi 'splains the breakup of his marriage to a motel court manager. Happily, Lucy shows up, goes "Waaaaah" a little, and all is forgiven. Despite the fact that audiences were getting Ball and Arnaz for free each week on television, The Long, Long Trailer was a big hit at the box-office. The film was adapted by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich from a novel by Clinton Twiss, with uncredited assistance from the I Love Lucy writing staff. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Father of the Bride
Spencer Tracy received an Oscar nomination for his performance in this classic comedy. Stanley T. Banks (Tracy) is a securely middle-class lawyer whose daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor) announces that she's going to marry her beau Buckley Dunstan (Don Taylor). From that point on, everything in Stanley's life is turned upside down. His wife Ellie (Joan Bennett) wants Kay to have the kind of formal wedding that she and Stanley never had, and between meeting his soon-to-be in-laws, the socially prominent Herbert and Doris Dunstan (Moroni Olsen and Billie Burke), his man-to-man talk with the groom, hosting the engagement party, financing the increasingly lavish wedding, and wondering if Kay and Buckley will resolve their differences before arriving at the altar, Stanley barely has time to deal with his own considerable anxieties about his advancing age and how his "little girl" became a grown woman. Director Vincente Minnelli reunited with the principal cast a year later for a sequel, Father's Little Dividend; and the movie was remade in 1991 with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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