Much-needed injections of charming classic comedy and, for their moviegoing eras and maybe our own as well, cutting contemporary commentary comprise the Twilight Time February slate. Two are distinctly British in their slyly spoofing takes on class and crass, and the other two are homegrown American examinations of media manipulation and imagemaking taken to hilarious and inciting extremes. A writer/director most noted for helming three James Bond adventures turns his attention to a venerable English study of a heroic…butler…who rises to the occasion when the hapless family he serves is shipwrecked on a tropical island (all captured in glorious VistaVision). One of Hollywood’s greatest musical auteurs collaborates with two of Blighty’s most celebrated wits to strike a devil’s bargain full of outrageous gags, peerless puns and snarky visual delights. Another Tinseltown giant who got his start in the anarchic world of animation unleashes on screen a pungent skewering of fan culture, advertising ballyhoo and TV tomfoolery. An added bonus in the above three entries is the presence of several celebrated screen beauties – Diane Cilento, Sally Ann Howes, Jayne Mansfield and Raquel Welch – making fun of themselves and making mincemeat of the hapless men in their romantic orbit. The fourth offering, from long-time TT favorite Oliver Stone and actor/author extraordinaire Eric Bogosian, takes the darkest road of the bunch, probing the sinister cultural repercussions of blurring the lines of free speech and transgressive opinionizing, perhaps the closest of the quartet to where we are today. Whether they’re set in the pastel-colored past or the turbulent present, all deliver in 1080p high definition lively, thought-provoking entertainment.
Coming ashore on hi-def Blu-ray February 19 are: The Admirable Crichton [aka Paradise Lagoon] (1957), starring Kenneth More, Diane Cilento, Cecil Parker, Sally Ann Howes and Martita Hunt, directed by Lewis Gilbert, score by Douglas Gamley; Bedazzled (1967), starring Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron and Raquel Welch, directed by Stanley Donen, score by Dudley Moore; Talk Radio (1988), starring Eric Bogosian, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Greene and John C. McGinley, directed by Oliver Stone, score by Stewart Copeland; and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?(1957), starring Tony Randall, Jayne Mansfield, Betsy Drake, Joan Blondell and John Williams, directed by Frank Tashlin, score by Cyril J. Mockridge. Details of each disc will follow in January.