As I was tooling around the VCI website this morning, I came across this interesting DVD release scheduled for a street date of May 25th: Old Mother Riley: British Cinema Collection. It’s a set of six films—Old Mother Riley in Paris (1938), Old Mother Riley, MP (1939), Old Mother Riley’s New Venture (1949), Old Mother Riley, Headmistress (1950), Old Mother Riley’s Jungle Treasure (1951), and Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952)—from the popular Mother Riley series of movies produced in England from 1937 to 1952 and starring comedian Arthur Lucan as the titular matriarch. Lucan’s wife, Kitty McShane, co-starred alongside her husband in these vehicles as Mother Riley’s “daughter” Kitty—the films themselves were made on threadbare budgets but proved to be boffo successes at the box office. (Lucan and McShane also did big bidness doing their “double act” in music halls, too; in fact, Lucan himself performed “to his dying breath,” expiring offstage during a 1954 performance at the since-demolished Tivoli Theatre in Hull.)
I’ve only seen the final film in the series (Vampire) and the dim recesses of my memory have dredged up the painful reminder that it was hardly co-star Bela Lugosi’s finest hour (damn that morphine!) and that Lucan and McShane, popular though they may have been, were an acquired taste. Still, at a time when the practice of classic-films-on-DVD seems to be becoming as antiquated a notion as the films themselves, it’s nice to see VCI stepping up to the plate with something this novel. (If you’re curious to read a little more on the history of the Old Mother Riley phenomenon this site here is as good a place as any to start.)
VCI is also releasing a “special edition” of a previous release on that same May 25 date: Silver Lode, the classic 1954 oater starring John Payne that I reviewed here back in November 2007. In addition, the company will issue the Buster Crabbe serial Red Barry (1938) on DVD on June 29; I read with a good deal of amusement VCI’s ballyhoo that their release is the “first time on DVD!” because the company known as Hermitage Hill Media released this one to disc sometime earlier. (I’m curious as to whether VCI managed to find a better print since Hermitage admits the sound on their release is “a little muffled.” If someone from VCI is reading this, I wouldn’t be predisposed to taking a look at a freebie and deciding for myself.)
A weblog entitled Chuck Norris Ate My Baby (love that title) is sponsoring a blogathon contest from May 24-May 30, which will award fabulous prizes to those who enter…well, allow me to borrow the announcement from the site itself:
So, I thought it would be great to do a blogathon thingy, with the subject matter being that of the bearded one himself, Chuck Norris. What you have to do is, post anything pertaining to Chuck Norris, whether it be a review of anyone of his many films or even an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. You can even do a write up on the man’s career in film, in the ring, in bed, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s Chuck related. It can be funny, it can be serious, heck, it can even be both if you so choose! Yowza!
My only rules are that it has to be bearded and has to be posted with in the time frame, which will be May 24th through May 30th. Outside of that, there are no rules as far as content goes, and you don’t even have to link to me or anything. That’s not what it’s about. Now, to be fair, if I have anyone that is a reader and not a blogger and wants to join in on the fun but has no place to post something, let me know in the comments section, or email me. I will have you send it to me so I can post it here. I don’t want anyone to be left out. I believe in love for all.
At the end of the contest, I will do a post with links to everyone that hopefully participates, and then, with help from a crack team of scientists and astrologers, the winners will be picked using formulas and measurements to determine which are the best posts. From there, three winners will be announced, with one for the grand prize and the two runner-up winners.
Ordinarily, I would avoid having anything to do with any individual who would lend his considerable celebrity to furthering the political career of someone like Mike Huckabee—but because I dearly love that blog title I’m kicking around the idea of participating. Breaker! Breaker! (1977) is playing on IFC on Demand this month (no, I am not making this up) and I’ve been looking for an excuse to watch an odious piece of fromage waiting to be savored. (At the very least, it’s a blogathon that I felt for which interested parties should receive a heads-up.)