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New on Disc: 'The Ernie Kovacs Collection' and more …

25 Apr, 2011 By: Mike Clark

The Ernie Kovacs Collection

Shout! Factory, Comedy, $69.97 six-DVD set, NR.
The line from Ernie Kovacs to “Laugh-In” (which is one reason why that show’s producer George Schlatter appears on this boxed set’s extras) to Monty Python to “Saturday Night Live” to David Letterman to “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and right up to today is not exactly a crooked one. This is an uncommonly comprehensive view, basically unfiltered. We see Kovacs on local TV, on morning network shows, summer replacement shows and on the classic but not particularly highly rated ABC specials that he did at the end — just before his untimely 1962 death in an auto mishap.
Extras: The set includes superbly knowing and loving essays by David Kronke and Jonathan Lethem, a thorough episode annotation by curator Ben Model, recollections from friends and plenty of vintage videos.
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American Experience: Stonewall Uprising

Street 4/26
PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, NR.
Though the folkloric reaction to 1969’s famed NYPD’s Stonewall Inn bust has often been termed the Stonewall Riots, this 83-minute remembrance includes a lesson in semantics. As someone notes here, what happened on June 28 — and for an apparently indeterminate number of nights after — was, indeed, closer to an uprising. It was then that the modern-day gay movement launched — once gay customers in a Greenwich Village hole of a bar refused to disburse when the cops ordered them to do so. One disadvantage this documentary has is scant existence of any on-the-spot news footage of the event itself. As a result, some of the events by necessity have to be re-enacted. What the documentary does have is lots of interviewees, who include incident patrons, two on-the-scene Village Voice reporters (the paper was nearby) and even a participating cop who gets in this chronicle’s final words (strong ones they are, too).
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Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm — Portrait of a Jazz Legend

JazzedMedia.com, Documentary, $14.99 DVD, NR.
Not surprisingly and perhaps unavoidably, this is predominantly a talking-heads treatment. We see significant musical clips that span the ages. Interviewed are a couple ex-wives, though the marital chronology isn’t easy to follow. The fact that one former wife committed suicide and a son once got into hot water in an incident involving a rattlesnake and a mailbox — well, it’s indicative of a rather turbulent life. What you will not get here is any discussion of daughter Leslie Kenton’s recent book about the incest she suffered at the hands of a father she loved, though there are allusions in the documentary to his drinking, which eventually got out of hand. Appropriately, the focus here is on Kenton’s prolific output, and the best of it still gives great pleasure: Cuban Fire, Adventures in Jazz and a standout West Side Story album (of many) to name three.
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Not as a Stranger

Available via Amazon.com’s CreateSpace
MGM, Drama, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Olivia de Havilland, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Gloria Grahame.
The high-profile adaptation of Morton Thompson’s novel remains, whatever else it is or isn’t, a conversation piece on several levels. It was the movie version of the previous year’s best-selling piece of fiction, published after the author’s 1953 death; it marked the first time that famed producer Stanley Kramer ever directed; it put Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra and Lee Marvin in the same med-school class of heavy smokers — and at jarringly advanced ages; and it boasted five Oscar-winning actors in its line-up — some of them in unsuitable roles.
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