Rocking on `The Dick Cavett Show'

New on DVD

August 25, 2005|By Susan King | Susan King,LOS ANGELES TIMES

During the late '60s and early '70s, late-night TV audiences were divided into two camps: The more conservative and traditional entertainment-oriented gravitated to NBC's The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, and the younger and hipper tuned in and turned on to ABC's The Dick Cavett Show.

Ironically, Cavett, a sophisticated Yale-educated stand-up comic, admits in an interview on the nostalgic, entertaining DVD set The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons (Shout, $40) that he didn't know much about rock music when the likes of Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin began to appear on his show. But he quickly learned to appreciate the fact that there was more to music than the Andrew Sisters of his childhood days.

The three-disc set includes nine episodes of his series that were taped from 1969 to 1974, including the famous "Woodstock" show that took place the day after the legendary rock concert and features Jefferson Airplane, a very young Joni Mitchell performing "Chelsea Morning," and a thin David Crosby and Stephen Stills still wearing the mud-caked boots from the concert. Jimi Hendrix was supposed to have appeared on that seminal show but was "zonked" out in his hotel room, having finished his gig early that morning.

Cavett provides acerbic introductions to each of the episodes, which feature Sly and the Family Stone performing "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," David Bowie crooning "Young Americans," Cavett favorite Janis Joplin wailing "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" and "To Love Somebody," a 20-year-old Stevie Wonder singing "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" and George Harrison performing "Bangla Desh."

Particularly amusing is watching Cavett's more mainstream guests interacting with the counterculture rock stars. In one installment from 1970, Joplin is joined by Raquel Welch hawking the film Myra Breckinridge, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Chet Huntley, who spends most of his time ogling Welch. Another 1970 episode features Joplin - she died just two months later - Sunset Boulevard star Gloria Swanson and a barefoot Margot Kidder.

And on Wonder's 1970 episode, veteran actress Elsa Lanchester of The Bride of Frankenstein is clearly taken with a fellow guest, French heartthrob Alain Delon. At one point, Delon asks Cavett if he could take off his tie, to which the 70-something Lanchester quickly interjects, "You can take off anything you want."

More Delon: Kino is releasing three crime dramas the actor starred in and produced during the 1970s ($25 each). Two Men in Town, from 1973, was the third and final time Delon teamed up with legendary French actor Jean Gabin. Unfortunately, this indictment of the French penal system has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Equally disappointing is 1974's Borsalino & Co., a lackluster sequel to Delon's 1970 crime hit, Borsalino.

Best of the lot is 1975's Flic Story, based on the memoir of real-life French police detective Roger Borniche about a violent post-WWII crime spree. Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the country's most notorious postwar criminal, Emile Buisson.

Also new:

The Wedding Date (Universal, $30): Debra Messing, the Emmy-winning star of the NBC's Will & Grace, headlines a wafer-thin romantic comedy that co-stars Dermot Mulroney. Extras include an interview with and commentary by Messing.

Sin City (Miramax, $30): Visually stunning but ultra-violent adaptation of Frank Miller's pulp comic books directed by Robert Rodriguez, Miller and guest director Quentin Tarantino. Bruce Willis, Clive Owen and Mickey Rourke are among the many stars. The only extra is a short featurette.

Funny Ha Ha (Wellspring, $27): This indie comedy-drama marks the writing and directing debut of Andrew Bujalski, who won the Someone to Watch Award at the Independent Spirit Awards. Kate Dollenmayer plays a 24-year-old college graduate who is trying to find her way in the world after losing her boyfriend and her job.

Jamboree (Warner, $30): This shoestring-budget musical from 1957 is just one of the many youth films Hollywood made to cash in on the rock 'n' roll craze. Fats Domino, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Knox, Frankie Avalon and Slim Whitman perform. Dick Clark plays himself.

Undeclared - The Complete Series (Shout, $50) Judd Apatow, the creator of the acclaimed but short-lived NBC high-school series Freaks and Geeks, also came up with this acclaimed but short-lived 2001-02 Fox comedy about a group of college freshman. Jay Baruschel of Million Dollar Baby and the coming WB series Just Legal stars. The four-disc set includes all 17 episodes, 11 audio commentaries, unaired footage, audition footage, outtakes, rehearsals, a Museum of TV & Radio symposium on the series and a taped concert with series co-star Loudon Wainwright III.

The Office - Season One (Universal, $30): Judd Apatow is also the co-writer and director of the new movie The 40 Year-Old Virgin, with Steve Carell in the title role. Carell also is the star of this moderately successful NBC version of the award-winning BBC comedy series - a mockumentary about the dysfunctional co-workers at a Scranton paper-supply comedy. The DVD includes commentary on two episodes with the actors and executive producer Greg Daniels (King of the Hill) who adapted the show.

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