Dvd Check



The Producers

[Universal] $29.98

The movie version of Mel Brooks' hit Broadway production of The Producers did not repeat the Tony winner's phenomenal success in theaters, although the stage show based on Brooks' 1968 comedy is still ensconced at the St. James Theater on the Great White Way.

Reviews for the movie were decidedly mixed when it was released last Christmas, and the film was a commercial disappointment as well -- even though several members of the original Broadway cast repeated their stage roles, including Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Gary Beach and Roger Bart. Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell also star. Susan Stroman, the Broadway show's choreographer and director, oversaw the movie version.

The extras on the DVD, however, are a kick -- especially the funny gag reel with Lane and Broderick, several deleted scenes, including a big production number, "The King of Old Broadway," and a "making of" featurette.

The Shaw Collection

[BBC Video] $60

To commemorate the 150th birthday of British playwright George Bernard Shaw, BBC Video is giving his fans a splendid present -- The Shaw Collection, which features beautifully cast television adaptations of 10 of his best-loved works, including Arms and the Man, with Helena Bonham Carter, Pygmalion with Lynn Redgrave and The Millionairess with Maggie Smith.

The White Countess

[Sony] $27

Despite a first-rate cast -- which includes Natasha Richardson; her mother, Vanessa Redgrave; her aunt Lynn Redgrave; and Ralph Fiennes -- this romantic melodrama about the relationship between a down-and-out member of Russian royalty eking out a living in Shanghai dance halls in the 1930s and a wealthy blind American businessman is much ado about very little.

James Ivory directed. Sadly, White Countess was the last film produced by Ivory's partner, Ismail Merchant, before his death. Extras include a fine tribute to Merchant, two decent production featurettes and pleasant commentary from a gregarious Richardson and a rather shy Ivory.


[Warner] $20

Lovely, underrated family film from The Black Stallion director Carroll Ballard about the joyous friendship between a young boy and an orphaned cheetah. The minimal extras include extended scenes.

Here Come the Brides

The Complete First Season

[Sony] $50

Baby boomers with rose-colored memories of this 1968-1970 ABC comedy-drama will be disappointed to learn the series doesn't hold up. Set in Seattle in the 1800s, the show revolves around the boisterous lumberjacking Bolt brothers (Robert Brown, Bobby Sherman and David Soul), who bring 100 prospective brides from Massachusetts for their logging crew. Joan Blondell also stars.

When a Stranger Calls

[Sony] $29

Critically lambasted remake of the cult 1979 thriller about a teenage baby-sitter (Camilla Belle) harassed by threatening phone calls during a job at a wealthy family's home. Unimaginative extras include a "making of" featurette, deleted scenes, commentary from director Simon West and Belle, as well as a track with the writer, Jake Wade Wall.

The Big Valley

Season One

[Fox] $40

Miss Barbara Stanwyck -- as she is billed -- headlines this ABC Western series that aired from 1965 to 1969. The legendary actress played Victoria Barkley, the strong-willed matriarch of a brood of adult children who live with her on the Barkley Ranch near Stockton in the 1870s. It's pure soap opera but expertly done. Peter Breck, Richard Long, Linda Evans and Lee Majors, as the out-of-wedlock son of Victoria's late husband, also star.

Coming Tuesday

Date Movie, Freedomland and Numb3rs: Season One.

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