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New on Disc: 'The Jack Benny Program: The Lost Episodes' and more…

22 Jul, 2013 By: Mike Clark

The Jack Benny Program: The Lost Episodes

Street 7/23
Shout! Factory, Comedy, $29.93 three-DVD set, NR.
Having already done well by Ernie Kovacs, Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor in recent times with lavish boxed sets, Shout! Factory now offers 18 restored “Jack Benny” episodes from UCLA’s Film & Television Archive. You eventually will be rewarded with the unimaginable sight of Gary Cooper, backed by Benny’s in-house group The Sportsmen, performing a 1958 cover of the Everly Brothers’ Cadence hit of the day — “Bird Dog.” John Wayne shows up as well — coming out of his seat in the audience to promote The Alamo by (in a skit) enjoying a café date with singer Jaye P. Morgan (later of “The Gong Show” notoriety). This is an indication of just how big Benny’s CBS Sunday nights were for so long.
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Bert Stern: Original Mad Man

First Run, Documentary, B.O. $0.03 million, $27.95 DVD, NR.
After a year-and-a-half of hopping around from festival to festival, writer-director Shannah Laumeister’s documentary on a true photographic genius (and her longtime lover to boot) got a brief theatrical run this past April, not quite three months before its subject died on June 25. Bert Stern was known for a lot of things — most prominently, I would guess, the series of those semi-nude Marilyn Monroe photos that were shot weeks before the actress’s death. Throughout the documentary and in the DVD extras, we see examples of Stern’s work, and the recognition factor is almost enough to make one gasp if he or she is of a certain age. There’s a great bit where we see what Madison Avenue ads looked like before Stern came on the scene and changed the playing field.
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