The Court Jester (Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, 1955)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Court Jester.

criterion logoIn this swashbuckling comic farce, star Danny Kaye plays kind-hearted entertainer Hubert Hawkins who disguises himself as the legendary king of jesters Giancomo.  Hawkins infiltrates the court of the usurping King Roderick (Cecil Parker) and his conniving adviser Lord Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone), but when a sorceress hypnotizes him, royal chaos ensues as Hawkins also believes he is an infamous assassin, alternating identities at the snap of a finger.  Between wordplay and swordplay, Danny Kaye displays his fancy footwork and his comic genius.  With a stellar supporting cast, including Glynis Johns, Angela Lansbury, and Mildred Natwick, Kaye sings and dances among dueling knights and damsels in distress, proving through it all that this jester is one of the original kings of comedy.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored 4K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • “The Secret Life of Danny Kaye,” Edward R. Murrow’s 1956 See It Now episode following Kaye on his 10 country, 50,000 mile tour as a UNICEF ambassador
  • Assignment: Children, Paramount’s 19-minute film for UNICEF documenting Kaye’s examination of the conditions children face in the Third World
  • Three appearances by Kaye on What’s My Line?
  • The Secret Life of Danny Kaye, a 2012 BBC Radio 2 documentary narrated by Elliott Gould and including interviews with Kaye, his daughter Dena Kaye, and performers including Shirley MacLaine, Pat Boone, Michael Caine, Rob Reiner, Anne Rutherford, and Glynis Roberts
  • An Evening with Danny Kaye and the New York Philharmonic,” a 1981 episode of Live from Lincoln Center featuring Kaye as guest conductor
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by comedian Bill Hader

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Great Freedom No. 7 (Helmut Kautner, 1944)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Great Freedom No. 7.

criterion logoSet in a dive bar in Hamburg, Helmut Käutner’s first color film focuses on the unhappy life of the “singing seaman” Hannes Kröeger (Hans Albers), an entertainer who performs for an audience of prostitutes and sailors on leave.  Hannes is obliged by his dying brother to care for his former mistress Gisa (Ilse Werner) and soon falls madly in love with the young woman.  Gisa is torn between the singer and a young dockworker who courts her, leaving Hannes to struggle between pursuing her and a new life together, remaining in his cabaret, or finally returning to sea as a true sailor once again.  Titled after the street where the cabaret is located in Hamburg’s red light district, Great Freedom No. 7 is emblematic of Käutner’s humane storytelling and his aesthetic resistance to the film culture of the Third Reich.

Disc Features:

  • New digital master, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary by German film scholar Eric Rentschler
  • Terra in Agfacolor, a new video essay with German film historian R. Dixon Smith on Terra film studios and the Agfacolor film process
  • Collection of downloadable songs performed by Hans Albers
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS:  A booklet featuring new essays by German film scholar Rembert Hueser and Helmut Käutner historian Robert C. Reimer

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On Tour (Mathieu Amalric, 2010)

“A likably rambling survey of ephemeral community, a portrait of the artist as a washed-up family man and pimp, and a quasi-documentary about brassy stage personas.” – Fernando F. Croce, SLANT

Drafthouse Films LogoJoachim, an ostracized former Parisian television producer, returns from America with a New Burlesque strip-tease ensemble to whom he has promised a tour of France culminating in a grand finale in Paris.  Traveling from city to city, the curvaceous showgirls create a community of warmth and hedonism despite the impersonal hotels and little money.  When the venue for the Paris show falls through, Joachim’s grip on the situation and himself weakens, all under the watchful eyes of his performers.  A winner at Cannes and nominated for 7 César awards, Mathieu Amalric’s On Tour captures all the glamor, the stress, the intimacy, and the freedom of the artist’s life on the road.

Special Features:

  • Rodolphe Gonzales’ documentary on the making of On Tour
  • Interviews with cast and crew
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Gary Beeber’s 60-minute documentary on the creation of the new burlesque scene in New York City, Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque
  • 16-page booklet featuring an interview with director/actor Mathieu Amalric and an essay by burlesque historian and performer Jo “Boobs” Weldon

“Pasties and Tassels” Edition – Package Includes:

  • On Tour on Blu-ray or Standard DVD featuring over 2 hours of bonus materials
  • High quality 720p HD Digital Download of the Film
  • Instant Download of the 16-track Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, including 4 by performer and actress Kitten on the Keys
  • 27″ x 40″ Theatrical Poster
  • 1 Pair of Red Sequined Pasties with Tassels

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The Orson Welles Show (Orson Welles, 1979)

Eclipse LogoDirected by Orson Welles under the name “G. O. Spelvin,” The Orson Welles Show was the famed filmmaker’s effort at the TV talk show, although it was considered too intellectual by the networks and never saw broadcast.  Welles interviews Burt Reynolds, Jim Henson, and Frank Oz before a live studio audience, performs two magic tricks with Angie Dickinson, and includes taped segments with several of The Muppets.  With lively camerawork, audience interaction, and a more passive role by its creator and host, The Orson Welles Show is a carefully constructed reimagining of the familiar talk show mode.

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Big Time (Chris Blum, 1988)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Big Time.

criterion logoFilmed during his 1987 tour, Big Time represents Tom Waits’ last great hurrah with his alter ego Frank O’Brien, a used furniture salesman who burned down his middle class, Californian existence and left for Hollywood to find show biz success.  Chris Blum’s film finds O’Brien working in an old theatre and dreaming of an eclectic cast of broken-down performers – wise-cracking pianists, masked preachers, skid row troubadours.  More than a mere concert film, Big Time is a musicotheatrical fantasy in dream time, embellishing Waits’ barks and stomps with unconventional sound-effects and additionally staged footage to create a vaudevillian fantasy and an ode to the musically surreal changes brought by his move to Island Records.

Disc Features:

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