DVD box sets roundup - Vera Lynn, Audrey Hepburn, Monty Python
Let’s hear it for the girls. The East Ham-born ‘Forces Sweetheart’ Vera Lynn was not really known for her work in cinema, but such is the power of nostalgia capitalism that here comes The Vera Lynn Collection (Sony) ●● featuring three patriotic wartime musicals — Rhythm Serenade, We’ll Meet Again, and One Exciting Night. The first is a romance, the second a drama and the third a farce. All three were made quickly and cheaply to coincide with Lynn’s star rising after her single ‘We’ll Meet Again’ was a huge hit with the allied troops. None of them bears the test of time and the extras on this disc are surprisingly poor, but this could make a nice present for an elderly relative or a WWII enthusiast. The Audrey Hepburn 80th Anniversary Collection (Paramount) ●●●● is a better bet even if it is the same repackaged collection from two years ago featuring Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sabrina, Roman Holiday, Funny Face and Paris When it Sizzles.
Keeping things on the vaguely feminine side Grease/Grease 2 (Paramount) ●●● arrives in a bargain-priced double-film set and, even if the disappointing sequel is likely to remain unwatched, it’s certainly a film worth having to hand for those party nights in.
Ladies and gents may also enjoy the Paul Newman Collection Volume 2 (Warner) ●●●● featuring some of the late great actor’s less well-known but very interesting films, including his big-screen debut, The Silver Chalice, Martin Ritt’s overlooked Rashomon remake The Outrage and Newman’s first directorial outing, Rachel, Rachel starring his much-loved wife Joanne Woodward.
It’s a bumper month for comedy fans with the Monty Python 40th Anniversary Collection (Columbia) ●●●● featuring all their films including their early And Now For Something Completely Different plus a record of their stadium comedy performance Monty Python Live at Hollywood Bowl. The Naked Gun Collection (Paramount) ●●●● brings together the three films starring bungling Los Angeles police lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) and for adults of a certain age the trippiest nostalgic delight of the fortnight has to be the complete first series of the 1960s American children’s show The Banana Splits (Warner) ●●●●. A psychedelia-influenced show featuring men in animal suits interspersed with some of the best cartoons ever shown on television — Arabian Knights, The Three Musketeers and Danger Island. Altogether now, ‘Size of an elephant!’