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'Pillow Talk' gets Blu-ray upgrade

Published: Saturday, May 5 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

A Doris Day classic gets a Blu-ray upgrade and several vintage titles arrive on DVD for the first time this week.

"Pillow Talk" (Universal/Blu-ray, 1959, two discs, $39.98). The first and best of the classic Doris Day-Rock Hudson-Tony Randall romantic comedies has received a gorgeous makeover that should please fans, along with photo-book packaging that includes an introduction by Leonard Maltin.

The story has two strangers' antipathy toward each other escalating over a shared telephone party line, but when they accidentally meet, they fall in love (though she doesn't know he's the same guy). Definitely a movie of its period with many dated elements but it remains very funny, with great dialogue (Randall and Thelma Ritter get the best lines) and lush trappings. Think of it as a time capsule, a historical piece, and just let it take you away.

Extras: widescreen, Blu-ray and DVD versions, audio commentary, featurettes; 44-page booklet

"Westward the Women" (Warner Archive, 1951, b/w, $17.95). Filmed-in-Utah western is very good, as Robert Taylor leads a wagon train of 140 mail-order pioneer brides to California, including Denise Darcel, Hope Emerson and Julie Bishop. At one point they travel "over the Rockies, down to the Big Salt Lake and across the desert." Based on a story by Frank Capra; directed by William Wellman.

Extras: full frame, audio commentary, vintage featurette, trailer (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)

"Bright Road" (Warner Archive, 1953, b/w, $17.95). Harry Belafonte made his film debut in this affecting little drama as the principal of a school where teacher Dorothy Dandridge is trying to reach a troubled fourth-grader. The stars shine but the script could have been better. The next year Belafonte and Dandridge would hit it big with "Carmen Jones."

Extras: full frame, trailer (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)

"Romance in Manhattan" (Warner Archive, 1934, b/w, $17.95). Manhattan chorus girl Ginger Rogers takes pity on an illegal immigrant (Francis Lederer) who is down on his luck but whose naive optimism is infectious. Sweet, gentle romantic comedy brings to mind Frank Capra's little-guy-against-adversity pictures and has some very funny elements.

Extras: full frame (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)

"A Millionaire for Christy" (Warner Archive, 1951, $17.95). Despite being a bit labored in spots, this is a very funny screwball comedy with over-the-top Eleanor Parker pursuing radio personality Fred MacMurray, who is about to become a millionaire — maybe. Hearkens back to the style of such fast-paced 1930s farces as "Bringing Up Baby" and "The Palm Beach Story" under the direction of George Marshall, who also helmed some of Bob Hope's best films.

Extras: full frame (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)

"If Winter Comes" (Warner Archive, 1947, b/w, $17.95). Walter Pidgeon stars in this soap opera as a writer in pre-war England. He's in love with Deborah Kerr, but they are both are married to others (Angela Lansbury plays Pidgeon's shrewish wife). When war breaks out, Pidgeon is rejected.. Then, in an act of kindness, he takes in a young pregnant woman (Janet Leigh) who has been disowned by her family until local gossip leads to tragedy. Overwrought melodrama but the cast is up for it.

Extras: full frame, trailer (available at www.WarnerArchive.com)

"S.O.B" (Warner Archive, 1981; R for sex, nudity, violence, language; $17.95). After being kicked to the curb for many years, Blake Edwards (the "Pink Panther" films and many other Hollywood classics) got his revenge with this very dark satire of inside Hollywood machinations, with his wife Julie Andrews and an all-star supporting cast. Fitfully funny but not as cohesive as it could have been.

Extras: widescreen, trailer, text cast/crew list and Edwards filmography

"The Nifty Fifties" (Mill Creek, 1950-58, 12 discs, $29.98). This set of 50 public-domain movies, some in great shape and others from so-so prints, includes the usual clunkers, but also a lot that range from classics to simply enjoyable movies, all from the 1950s: "Cyrano de Bergerac" (which won Jose Ferrer an Oscar), "The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Gregory Peck), "Road to Bali" (Hope & Crosby), "Africa Screams" (Abbott & Costello), "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (Elizabeth Taylor), the Oscar-nominated documentary "Conquest of Everest," a bevy of sharp little film noir thrillers and a few live-TV episodes.

Extras: full frame, 50 movies; 24-page booklet

EMAIL: hicks@desnews.com

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