- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2006

One of our fave vintage comedies, 1935’s Bonnie Scotland, joins the digital ranks via the double-disc TCM Archives — The Laurel and Hardy Collection, new from Warner Home Video ($30.98). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

Though oft-criticized for being overly plotted for a Stan and Ollie vehicle, with too many extraneous “serious” characters, a fresh viewing of “Bonnie Scotland” reveals that the boys are granted ample screen time to indulge in some of their funniest routines.

The premise sees our heroes, newly escaped from jail, journey to the titular country to collect an unspecified inheritance bequeathed by Stan’s late uncle, which turns out to be naught but a snuff box and a set of bagpipes.

Following a series of inventive set pieces, the lads unwittingly enlist in the colonial army and are quickly dispatched to a Middle-Eastern desert for a relentlessly hilarious finale where they encounter “mirages,” troublesome authority figures (principally their perennial celluloid nemesis, James Finlayson) and a treacherous local sheik.

The TCM collection contains an additional L&H; classic, the 1933 period operetta The Devil’s Brother, along with a wealth of bonus material, including the feature-length documentary Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story, narrated by Chevy Chase; Stan and Ollie excerpts from features like 1934’s Hollywood Party and 1937’s Pick a Star; and audio commentary by Leonard Maltin.

The set represents a must for Laurel and Hardy fans and a good bet for quality comedy lovers of all stripes.

Tele-video

In fresh TV-on-DVD news, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment likewise emphasizes laughs with two new collections: American Dad Volume One assembles all 13 debut-season episodes of the animated satire, along with select commentaries, a featurette, deleted scenes and more; while Reba McIntyre returns in all 22 Season Three episodes of Reba: The Complete Third Season ($39.98 each), with select commentary and featurettes.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment introduces the Peter Weller space adventure Odyssey 5: The Complete Series (five-disc, $49.95), containing all 19 episodes, and enters noir turf with Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (two-disc, $19.94), starring Stacy Keach as the hard-boiled sleuth in two feature-length capers, Murder Me, Murder You and More Than Murder.

Warner Home Video salvages the 1997 Jules Verne-based miniseries 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ($19.98), with Michael Caine, and all 24 Season Three episodes of the family drama The Waltons: The Complete Third Season (five-disc, $39.98).

Elsewhere, Universal Studios Home Entertainment packages Law & Order: Trial by Jury: The Complete Series (three-disc, $59.98), with a bonus episode, deleted scenes and featurette. Shout! Factory issues the animated 22-episode Inspector Gadget: The Original Series (four-disc, $34.98), voiced by Don Adams of “Get Smart.”

Collectors’ corner

Warner Home Video bows Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory, a wide-ranging five-disc collection ($59.98) gathering the Fred Astaire films Three Little Words and Ziegfield Follies, both co-starring Red Skelton, plus the Gene Kelly showcases It’s Always Fair Weather and Summer Stock, along with the Jerome Kern musical biopic Till the Clouds Roll By. The set offers new featurettes, outtake musical numbers and more.

A veteran maverick auteur receives his day in the digital sun via 20th Century Fox’s four-disc Robert Altman Collection ($39.98). The set assembles the influential 1970 Korean War comedy-drama MASH, the romantic romp A Perfect Couple, the all-star ensemble comedy A Wedding and the post-apocalyptic thriller Quintet, plus new director interviews.

MGM Home Entertainment pulls out all the stops for Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1952 Broadway musical adaptation Guys and Dolls ($24.96), headlining Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, augmenting the film with new documentaries, a 72-page collectible scrapbook and other bonus material.

The same label goes the “deluxe edition” route with the 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck ($19.94), pairing Cher and Nicolas Cage; extras include an audio commentary with Cher, writer John Patrick Shanley and director Norman Jewison, new featurettes and even collectible Italian Recipe Cards.

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical films making their DVD debuts, Touchstone Home Entertainment proffers extras-enriched editions of Lasse Hallstrom’s Casanova, with “Brokeback Mountain” costar Heath Ledger as the eponymous roue, and the Steve Martin romantic comedy Shopgirl ($29.99 each).

Two films set in England cross the pond — Woody Allen’s change-of-pace drama Match Point (DreamWorks Home Entertainment, $29.99) and Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins in Mrs. Henderson Presents (Genius Products, $28.95), both with bonus material.

Paramount Home Entertainment spotlights Charlize Theron in the anime-inspired live-action sci-fi thriller Aeon Flux ($29.95), arriving with commentaries, featurettes and more.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Looking for a 1970s film called “Nunzio” about a retarded man played by David Proval (Richie on “The Sopranos”).

Karen Hayes, via e-mail

That critically well-received 1978 drama has yet to land a homevideo release.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at phanmedia@aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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