Classic Comedy Collection [4 Discs] [Tin Case] [DVD]

$9.99
Cardmember Offers

Overview

Synopsis

His Girl Friday
The second screen version of the Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur play The Front Page, His Girl Friday changed hard-driving newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson from a man to a woman, transforming the story into a scintillating battle of the sexes. Rosalind Russell plays Hildy, about to foresake journalism for marriage to cloddish Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). Cary Grant plays Walter Burns, Hildy's editor and ex-husband, who feigns happiness about her impending marriage as a ploy to win her back. The ace up Walter's sleeve is a late-breaking news story concerning the impending execution of anarchist Earl Williams (John Qualen), a blatant example of political chicanery that Hildy can't pass up. The story gets hotter when Williams escapes and is hidden from the cops by Hildy and Walter--right in the prison pressroom. His Girl Friday may well be the fastest comedy of the 1930s, with kaleidoscope action, instantaneous plot twists, and overlapping dialogue. And if you listen closely, you'll hear a couple of "in" jokes, one concerning Cary Grant's real name (Archie Leach), and another poking fun at Ralph Bellamy's patented "poor sap" screen image. Subsequent versions of The Front Page included Billy Wilder's 1974 adaptation, which restored Hildy Johnson's manhood in the form of Jack Lemmon, and 1988's Switching Channels, which cast Burt Reynolds in the Walter Burns role and Kathleen Turner as the Hildy Johnson counterpart. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

My Man Godfrey
One of the landmark "screwball" comedies of the 1930s, My Man Godfrey offers the radiant Carole Lombard in her definitive performance as flighty young heiress Irene Bullock, who on a society scavenger hunt stumbles on Godfrey (William Powell), an erudite hobo residing in the city dump. Godfrey becomes the family's butler, much to the dismay of Irene's father Alexander (Eugene Pallette), who thinks his household is crazy enough without another apparent lunatic under his roof. Halfway through the film, we discover that Godfrey isn't a penniless bum at all, but the scion of a wealthy Boston family. Having been burned by an unhappy romance, Godfrey dropped out of life, taking up residence in the dump. Here his faith in humanity was restored by his fellow indigents, who managed to survive and remain optimistic despite the worst deprivations. Meanwhile, however, he wants to straighten out the Bullock family, who he feels are a basically decent bunch beneath all their pretensions and eccentricities -- and along the way, of course, Irene determines that Godfrey will be her husband. While Godfrey's ultimate "solution" to the exigencies of the Depression seems more of a placebo, My Man Godfrey is all in all a totally satisfying jolt of 1930s-style wish fulfillment. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Amazing Adventure
Amazing Quest was the original British release title of the 1937 comedy Romance and Riches (aka Riches and Romance). Making a rare return trip to England, Cary Grant plays the heir to a huge fortune. Alas, Grant is miserable, because he's never worked for his money. Determined to prove his worth, Grant makes a wager than he can earn his keep for a full year without ever touching the family millions. He loses his bet when he must draw upon his money to wed poverty-stricken Mary Brian, the better to save her from an unhappy marriage of convenience. Still, his experiences among the working classes have left an indelible impression; turning his back on his "equals," Grant invites all of his newly acquired lowborn friends to his wedding reception. Like His Girl Friday, Penny Serenade, and Charade, Amazing Quest is one on the ever-growing list of Cary Grant films that have lapsed into public domain, and thus are more readily available than when first released. Amazing Quest was based on a novel by E. Phillips Oppenheim. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

My Favorite Brunette
Just as Bob Hope's My Favorite Blonde (1942) was a takeoff on Alfred Hitchcock, Hope's My Favorite Brunette was a lampoon of the noirish "hard-boiled detective" school popularized by Raymond Chandler. Awaiting execution on death row, Hope tells the gathered reporters how he got into his present predicament. It seems that Hope was once a baby photographer, his office adjacent to the one leased by a private detective (played in an amusing unbilled cameo by Alan Ladd). While hanging around the p.i.'s office, Hope is mistaken for the detective by beautiful client Dorothy Lamour. She hires Hope to search for her missing uncle, and also entrusts him with a valuable map. Hope's diligent (if inept) sleuthing takes him to a shady rest sanitarium, where he runs afoul of lamebrained henchman Lon Chaney, Jr. and sinister, knife-throwing Peter Lorre. Both are in the employ of attorney Charles Dingle, who is responsible for the disappearance of Lamour's uncle. Escaping the sanitarium with Lamour in tow, Hope follows the trail of evidence to noted geologist Reginald Denny. The geologist is murdered, and Hope is accused of the crime. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Made for Each Other
James Stewart and Carole Lombard star in this comedy-drama about the struggles of a young married couple directed by John Cromwell. Stewart and Lombard play a recently married couple, Jane and John Mason. John works as an attorney for the law firm of skinflint Judge Doolittle (Charles Coburn). Doolittle calls John back to work immediately after the wedding ceremony, forcing the couple to abandon their honeymoon. But John is ready to do Doolittle's bidding, since he hopes to become a partner in the firm. Doolittle is openly disappointed at the marriage, hoping John would have instead married his daughter Eunice (Ruth Weston). Eunice eventually marries another lawyer in the firm, Carter (Donald Briggs). John and Jane try to make ends meet and invite Doolittle, Eunice, and Carter to dinner. The dinner turns into a disaster, climaxing with Doolittle informing John he has decided to make Carter a partner in the firm. Crushed, John and Jane work hard but to no avail, sinking deeper and deeper into debt. Jane has a baby, but when the child becomes seriously ill, the only way to save the baby is to have a special serum flown in through a blizzard from Salt Lake City. John needs $5000 to hire a pilot and get the medicine, and his only hope is to beg Judge Doolittle for the money. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Charade
Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn star in this stylish comedy-thriller directed by Stanley Donen, very much in a Hitchcock vein. Grant plays Peter Joshua, who meets Reggie Lampert (Hepburn) in Paris and later offers to help her when she discovers that her husband has been murdered. After the funeral, Reggie is summoned to the embassy and warned by agent/friend Bartholemew (Walter Matthau) that her late husband helped steal 250,000 dollars during the war and that the rest of the gang is after the money as well. When three of the men who attended her husband's funeral begin to harass her, Reggie goes to Joshua for help, at which time Joshua confesses that his name is actually Alexander Dyle, the brother of a fourth accomplice in the gold theft. The three men from the funeral are revealed to be the three other accomplices in the crime, and though she knows next to nothing of the heist, Reggie is caught in a ring of suspense as she is followed by the shadowy trio, all after the money. Apparently, the only person she can trust is Joshua/Dyle -- until Bartholomew tells Reggie that the fourth accomplice had no brother, and Joshua/Dyle reveals that he is, in fact, a crook named Adam Canfield. Now Reggie doesn't know where to turn. The musical score by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini was nominated for an Academy Award. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Road to Bali
This sixth entry in the Crosby-Hope-Lamour "Road" series was the first (and last) in Technicolor. This time, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope play George Cochran and Harold Gridley, American vaudevillians stranded in Australia. To avoid a dual shotgun wedding, George and Harold sign on as deep-sea divers for sinister South-Sea-island prince Ken Arok (Murvyn Vye). After a contretemps with an octopus (courtesy of stock footage from Reap the Wild Wind), our heroes sail to the prince's Balinese homeland, where they meet and fall in love with gorgeous Princess Lalah (Dorothy Lamour). Though Lalah favors George, she feels obligated to Harold, because he resembles her childhood best friend -- a chimpanzee (this must be seen to be believed). When Ken Arok attempts to usurp Lalah's throne, she and the boys escape to a tropical island, where they meet the inevitable slapstick-comedy gorilla. More adventures await the intrepid trio on another island, this one dominated by an active volcano. Who gets the girl in this one? A hint: the loser tries to physically prevent the "The End" title from flashing on the screen during the final fadeout. Though not as fresh and spontaneous as earlier "Road" endeavors, Road to Bali has its fair share of non sequitur gags, inside jokes and unbilled guest appearances (including Martin and Lewis, Bing's brother Bob Crosby, Humphrey Bogart and Jane Russell). Best bit: when Crosby feels a song coming on, Hope turns to the camera and hisses "He's gonna sing, folks. Now's the time to go and get your popcorn." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Nothing Sacred
"This is New York, Skyscraper Champion of the World...Where the Slickers and Know-It-Alls peddle gold bricks to each other...And where Truth, crushed to earth, rises again more phony than a glass eye..." With this jaundiced opening title, scripter Ben Hecht introduces his classic comedy Nothing Sacred. Fredric March plays Wally Cook, a hotshot reporter condemned to writing obituaries because of his unwitting complicity in a fraud. Anxious to get back in the good graces of his editor Oliver Stone (Walter Connolly), Cook pounces on the story of New England girl Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard), who is reportedly dying from radiation poisoning. Actually, Hazel isn't dying at all; she's been misdiagnosed by Moscow's eternally drunk doctor (Charles Winninger). But when Cook offers to take her on an all-expenses-paid trip to New York in exchange for her exclusive story, it's too good an offer to pass up. Once in the Big Apple, Hazel is feted as a heroine by the novelty-seeking populac; she enjoys the adulation at first, but soon (and with the help of gallons of alcoholic beverages) suffers the pangs of conscience. She confesses her deception to Cook, who by now has fallen in love with her. Cook and Stone conspire to keep the public from discovering the truth, eventually dreaming up a phony suicide. Travelling incognito to avoid arrest, Wally and Hazel marry and go on a honeymoon, secure in the knowledge that New York City has forgotten all about her and moved on to their next fad. Brimming with witty, acerbic dialogue and hilarious bits of physical business, Nothing Sacred is among the best "screwball" comedies of the 1930s. The musical score by Oscar Levant both mocks and celebrates the George Gershwinesque musical style then in vogue. As an added bonus, the film is lensed in Technicolor (avoid those two-color reissue prints), allowing modern viewers to see what New York City looked liked back in 1937. Nothing Sacred was later adapted into a Broadway musical, Hazel Flagg, which in turn was filmed by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis as Living It Up (1954), with Lewis in the Carole Lombard role. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Road to Hollywood
Road to Hollywood may have starred Bing Crosby, but it was by no means one of his popular "Road" pictures with Bob Hope. In fact, it wasn't even a new film when released in 1946. Road to Hollywood is comprised of clips from Crosby's two-reel musical comedies made at the Mack Sennett studios between 1931 and 1932: I Surrender Dear, One More Chance, Dream House, The Billboard Girl, Blue of the Night and Sing Bing Sing. Astor Pictures, a firm specializing in reissues of older films, owned the rights to these short subjects and had already made a mint distributing them to theatres in the early 1940s. Now Astor hoped to sustain the cash flow by excerpting the old Crosby films into a hazy "continuity," then passing the whole melange off as a "new" feature picture. Heavily advertised and craftily promoted, The Road to Hollywood was a success, making plenty of money for everyone but Bing Crosby and Mack Sennett. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Father's Little Dividend
This sequel to the 1950 comedy hit Father of the Bride finds Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett returning as Stanley and Ellie Banks, the parents of newlywed Kay Dunstan (Elizabeth Taylor). In the first film, Stanley Banks was forced to endure the chaotic events leading up to the wedding. This time, he must comes to grips with the prospect of becoming a grandfather. Once he's reconciled himself to this jolt of mortality, Stanley must contend with the little bundle of joy, who screams his head off every time Grandpa comes near him. Father's Little Dividend was remade in 1994 as Father of the Bride II, with Steve Martin assuming the Spencer Tracy role, and with the added complication of discovering that his own wife (Diane Keaton) is also pregnant. The copyright for Father's Little Dividend was not renewed in 1978; thus the film has lapsed into public domain. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Penny Serenade
While listening to a recording of "Penny Serenade," Julie Gardiner Adams (Irene Dunne) begins reflecting on her past. She recalls her near-impulsive marriage to newspaper reporter Roger Adams (Cary Grant), which begins on a deliriously happy note but turns out to be fraught with tragedy. While honeymooning in Japan, Julie and Roger are trapped in the 1923 earthquake, which results in her miscarriage and subsequent incapability to bear children. Upon their return to America, Roger becomes editor of a small-town newspaper, just scraping by financially. Despite their depleted resources, Julie and Roger want desperately to adopt a child. It seems hopeless until kindly adoption agency head Miss Oliver (Beulah Bondi) helps smooth their path. Alas, their happiness is once more short-lived: their new daughter, Trina (Eva Lee Kuney), succumbs to a sudden illness at the age of six. Reduced to hopelessness, Julie and Roger decide to dissolve their marriage, but Miss Oliver once more comes to the rescue. Sentimental in the extreme, Penny Serenade is also enormously effective, balancing moments of heartbreaking pathos with uproarious laughter. Only director George Stevens could have handled a scene with a copiously weeping Cary Grant without inducing discomfort or embarrassment in the audience. Since lapsing into the public domain in 1968 (though released by Columbia, the film was owned by Stevens' production firm), Penny Serenade has become almost as ubiquitous a cable-TV presence as It's a Wonderful Life. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Life With Father
The longest-running non-musical play in Broadway history, Life With Father was faithfully filmed by Warner Bros. in 1947. William Powell is a tower of comic strength as Clarence Day, the benevolent despot of his 1880s New York City household. Irene Dunne co-stars as Day's wife Vinnie, who outwardly has no more common sense than a butterfly but who is the real head of the household. The anecdotal story, encompassing such details as the eldest Day son's (James Lydon) romance with pretty out-of-towner Mary (Elizabeth Taylor), is tied together by Vinnie's tireless efforts to get her headstrong husband baptized, else he'll never be able to enter the Kingdom of God. Each scene is a little gem of comedy and pathos, as the formidable Mr. Day tries to bring a stern businesslike attitude to everyday household activities, including explaining the facts of life to his impressionable son. Donald Ogden Stewart based his screenplay upon the play by Howard Lindsey (who played Mr. Day in the original production) and Russell Crouse; the play in turn was inspired by a series of articles written by Clarence Day Jr., shortly before his death in 1933. Due to a legal tangle with the Day estate, Life With Father was withdrawn from circulation after its first run; it re-emerged on the Public Domain market in 1975. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Be the First to Write a Customer Review(0 reviews)Write a review and get bonus points
My Best Buy® members: Get bonus points for your approved review when you provide your member number. Subject to My Best Buy program terms.
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.