When it comes to vanishing comedy teams, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis may have made the funniest swan song on celluloid with their spirited 1956 show-biz satire Hollywood or Bust, the highlight of the five-film Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection Volume Two (three-disc, $34.99), new from Paramount Home Entertainment. It's our...
DVD pick of the week
As movie-mad Malcolm Smith, with his encyclopedic knowledge of Tinseltown trivia, Mr. Lewis may well have created the screen's first official film nerd character. Via trickery on the part of gambler Steve Wiley (Mr. Martin), Malcolm is compelled to share a spiffy new convertible he'd won in a theater contest with the slippery con man, who agrees to accompany our hero on a cross-country jaunt to the titular locale.
Mixing road-movie laughs with post-modern jabs at the culture of celebrity (including deliberately blatant plugs for parent company Paramount Pictures and its then-touted VistaVision widescreen process) and clever, catchy tunes, the candy-colored "Hollywood or Bust" moves at a swift clip.
The boys receive excellent support from Pat Crowley as a showgirl who tags along for the ride and from an uncredited canine thesp as Malcolm's versatile Great Dane, Mr. Bascomb.
While "Hollywood or Bust" tops the M&L quintet, the other four films gathered here — "Artists and Models" (1955), "Living It Up" (1954), "Pardners" (1956) and "You're Never Too Young" (1955) — likewise offer bounteous treats for the erstwhile tandem's fans.
In the TV-on-DVD mystery arena, Acorn Media imports the British series Blue Murder Set 1 (three-disc, $49.99), starring Caroline Quentin, while Paramount focuses on crime-solving physician Dick Van Dyke in Diagnosis Murder: The Second Season (six-disc, $54.99).
For more mystery, Universal Studios spotlights teen sleuths in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: Season Two (five-disc, $39.98), Dylan McDermott toplines in the legal series The Practice: Volume One (20th Century Fox, four-disc, $39.98) and Tom Selleck portrays Robert B. Parker's police chief Jesse Stone in a pair of tele-films, Death in Paradise and Night Passage ($24.96 each).
In comedy developments, three sitcoms enjoy their digital debuts: Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List: Season 1 (Universal Studios, two-disc, $29.98), Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video, four-disc, $29.98) and What's Happening Now!!: The Complete First Season (Sony Pictures, three-disc, $39.95).
The Wild West, vintage and modern, has its day in the digital sun via the extras-laden set Deadwood: The Complete Third Season (HBO Video, six-disc, $99.98) and Chuck Norris as Walker, Texas Ranger: The Third Season (seven-disc, $54.99).
WW II action unfolds in The Rat Patrol: The Complete Second Season (20th Century Fox, three-disc, $39.98).
For pasta prairie lovers, MGM Home Entertainment gallops in with The Sergio Leone Anthology (eight-disc, $89.98), assembling four of the spaghetti-Western maestro's greatest hits, the 1960s Clint Eastwood oaters A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, along with the 1972 Rod Steiger/James Coburn team-up Duck, You Sucker. Extras include audio commentaries, featurettes and more.
20th Century Fox issues handsomely packaged, bonus-laden new double-disc editions of five hit titles ($22.98 each): Tom Hanks in Cast Away (2000), Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in Fight Club (1999), Bruce Willis in Die Hard (1988), Gregory Peck and Lee Remick in The Omen (1976) and the ensemble superhero sequel X2: X-Men United.
The same label goes the subaqueous sci-fi route with Fantastic Voyage (1966), The Neptune Factor (1973) and Irwin Allen's 1961 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (two-disc, $19.98 each), all equipped with copious bonus material.
Fox likewise adds a pair of classic comedies, Jack Benny in Charley's Aunt (1941) and Don Ameche and the Ritz Brothers in 1939's The Three Musketeers ($19.98 each).
The 'A' list
Three recent genre films bow on DVD this week, led by Sony Pictures' superhero adventure Ghost Rider ($28.95), with Nicolas Cage as the incendiary titular cyclist, and the same label's werewolf terror tale Blood & Chocolate ($26.95), starring Agnes Bruckner, arriving with commentary and deleted scenes. Hollywood Pictures Home Entertainment unleashes the reality-inspired giant-crocodile chiller Primeval ($27.99), also accompanied by commentary, deleted scenes and featurette.
Elsewhere, Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe and Laura Linney headline in the fact-based espionage case Breach (Universal Studios, $29.98), and North African soldiers fight for France during WW II in Rachid Bouchareb's acclaimed combat film Days of Glory (IFC Films, $28.95), both bolstered by featurettes and other bonus material.
Dear Phantom: Can't seem to find the Gary Cooper movie Morocco on DVD.
— Sam Landers, via e-mail
That 1930 film is included as part of Marlene Dietrich — The Glamour Collection (Universal Studios, $26.98), available via Amazon.com and other online sources.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.