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New on Disc: 'Pillow Talk' on Blu-ray and more …

14 May, 2012 By: Mike Clark

Pillow Talk (Blu-ray)

Universal, Comedy, $39.98 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Tony Randall, Thelma Ritter.
The first and arguably most prototypical Doris Day “career girl” comedy, Pillow Talk is still pretty funny and definitely a watershed movie, more so than I realized until I took a fresh look at the latest entry in Universal’s ongoing “100th Anniversary Collector’s Series.” Producer Ross Hunter and Day’s famously charlatan producer and husband, Marty Melcher, consciously orchestrated their attractive femme lead’s image-alteration at age 35, casting her as a self-sufficient New York career woman who didn’t need a man and dressing her in smart-to-this-day Jean Louis outfits. For a 1959 comedy that was once cutting edge, it was already dated at the time in one respect due to the shared-telephone-party-line hook that turns total strangers Day and Rock Hudson into adversaries. Though party lines still lingered around in smaller towns, they had pretty well become obsolete in places like New York City. With Hudson’s sexually active songwriter clogging their line with his femme pursuits, Day turns disgusted at him sight unseen — while he mistakenly characterizes her as a gotta-be prune. Then, Hudson actually sees her, changes his tune and quickly moves in on this aspired-to conquest. Pillow Talk established the romantic-comedy template in Hollywood until, say, 1967’s The Graduate.
Extras: It is noted on this release’s rousingly entertaining commentary (carried over from the 50th anniversary DVD, which itself is being reissued May 22) that then Universal-International had to give the picture a New York test run of a couple weeks’ duration to gauge how its then risqué content might play in podunk-ier markets.
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The Red House

Film Chest, Thriller, $15.98 Blu-ray/DVD combo, NR.
Stars Edward G. Robinson, Lon McCallister, Judith Anderson, Allene Roberts.
Long among the more prominent residents of “Public Domain Hell,” this supremely moody backwoods melodrama nonetheless is well-remembered by film fanciers. But every time I tried to watch prints of House in the past, I was put off by the soundtrack’s grating tin, a problem not completely alleviated (but to a good degree, is) in this otherwise most welcome spiff-up by HD Cinema Classics, which is releasing the picture as a Blu-ray/DVD combo that also does fairly good justice to Bert Glennon’s (Stagecoach) cinematography. And there’s an added reason the soundtrack issue is paramount, thanks to the movie’s composer. It was Miklos Rozsa — contributing a fairly famous score at that — back when he was in his delirious The Killers/Spellbound noir mode before going all Robert Taylor/Chuck Heston “Biblical” in the following decade. The lead is Edward G. Robinson as a farmer who lives self-sufficiently out in the woods where even the school bus doesn’t go.
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Run for the Sun

Manufactured on demand via online retailers
MGM, Drama, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Richard Widmark, Jane Greer, Trevor Howard, Peter van Eyck.
The script here — credited to Sun director Roy Boulting and screenwriting royalty Dudley Nichols — takes so many liberties with Richard Connell’s short story perennial The Most Dangerous Game that I didn’t think until this viewing that Sun was anything more than someone’s “unofficial” salvo. Widmark plays a boozy author-adventurer who, along with an undercover magazine reporter palming herself off as a stranded hellhole tourist, crash-land in a Central American fortress and must escape its master (Trevor Howard) through the jungle.
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About the Author: Mike Clark

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