Movies Unlimited sent me an e-mail yesterday flogging a “sale” on the titles available in the Warner Archive collection, but the announcement that really caught my eye is this announcement that Universal Home Video will be releasing a box set entitled Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories on June 8th. There’ll be six movies in this collection—three of which have already been previous releases on DVD: The Ghost Breakers (1940), Road to Morocco (1942), and The Paleface (1948).
But there’ll also be three previously unreleased Hope vehicles in this set: Thanks for the Memory (1938), The Cat and the Canary (1939), and Nothing But the Truth (1941). It’s gratifying to see Universal finally give the 1939 horror comedy classic Canary an official DVD nod—it’s been available in both “unauthorized” Region 1 and Region 2 editions for some time now—and if I didn’t already have one of those editions I’d order this set in a New York minute, particularly since I’d like to have a copy of the underrated Truth in the dusty TDOY archives. (As for Memory—I haven’t seen it but its reputation suggests it’s not something I need to drop everything for; it was a hastily-put-together production designed to cash in on the popularity of the “Thanks for the Memory” tune featured in The Big Broadcast of 1938 , Hope’s feature film breakthrough. Memory’s chief draw is the duet Two Sleepy People, performed by Bob and Broadcast co-star Shirley Ross.) Any self-respecting Hope fan already owns Breakers, Morocco, and Paleface so I don’t know why Universal didn’t look for those Hope vehicles not on DVD (Some Like It Hot , Let’s Face It )—in particular My Favorite Spy (1951), which is probably the last remaining ‘big” Bob Hope comedy in the catalog.
I went to Amazon.com to grab a photo of the Hope set to put in this post, and while I was there made the completist decision to order The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 8: 1955-1959. This set will contain the remaining Shemp-as-“Third Stooge” comedies as well as the sixteen two-reelers Moe and Larry made with Joe Besser. I’m not particularly wild about these comedies—though they have their vociferous defenders—but again, in the interest of completion, I felt it was necessary to add them to my collection. What I find most disappointing is that when Sony originally announced these chronological Stooges releases there was speculation that some of the rare goodies in the Columbia library—the Shemp Howard solo shorts, for example—might appear as extras on these discs but that idea appears to have been abandoned. Which is a shame, really—I’d be willing to bet that Sony could have sold more of the Shemp collections if film buffs could have scored pristine copies of Mr. Noisy (1946) and Society Mugs (1946).
I want to take a moment to offer a shout-out to faithful TDOY reader Mike in Oklahoma City; he was good enough to offer me copies of the back issues of the Noir City Sentinel I don’t have in my collection—and for that I thank him profusely. I also want to pass along this item of interest from Bill Cunningham—a publication entitled Radio Western Adventures which undoubtedly will be a “must-own” for fans (it’s mentioned that Adventures is a tribute to Jim Harmon…and that’s all I needed to hear to get on board); you can get additional info here.
Turner Classic Movies is programming a mini-slew of George Raft films this evening beginning with the underrated Background to Danger (1943) at 8pm—it’s got both Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre in the cast, and that’s all you really need to know it’s a must-see—and followed by the premiere of The House Across the Bay (1940), which also premieres on DVD today, according to this post at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings. Nocturne (1946) and Johnny Angel (1945) will wrap up Raft Fest at 11:15pm and 12:45am, respectively.
TCM Underground will offer up a showing of the 1965 cult film Incubus after Johnny Angel—yes, this is the William Shatner film directed by The Outer Limits’ Leslie Stevens that features dialogue in the international language of Esperanto (Mark Evanier notes that this and the presence of Shatner are “two very good reasons not to seek out the movie”). I have a sneaking suspicion that Incubus may turn out to be another Skidoo (1968)…but since I can’t seem to escape those incessant Priceline television commercials in which Shat is hanging out with what appears to be a gigantic pimp wearing a fur coat, curiosity’s got the best of me and I’m willing to sit in for a few hands.