The unlikely pairing of Clark Gable and Sophia Loren leads these vintage movies that are new to DVD this week.
“It Started in Naples” (Warner Archive/DVD, 1960). This airy romantic comedy with Gable and Loren is a typically formulaic Hollywood star vehicle but nonetheless has its rewards.
Gable is a World War II veteran who returns to Italy to settle the estate of his late brother only to discover he has a nephew he didn’t know about. The child is being raised by his free-spirited, nightclub-singer aunt (Loren), but stuffy Gable wants the boy to receive an American education. Sparks fly; May-December romance ensues.
The stars have little chemistry and Gable seems miscast, but the script is sprightly and Loren makes the film worth watching with an ingratiating, completely winning performance. Also good are the young boy (9-year-old Marietto) and, as a lawyer, filmmaker Vittorio De Sica, who famously directed Loren in “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” and her Oscar-winner, “Two Women.” (Available at warnerarchive.com.)
“Men of the Fighting Lady” (Warner Archive/DVD, 1954, trailer). This is a fictional Korean War action film built around a real-life incident in which a blinded Navy pilot was successfully talked down by radio to land his plane on an aircraft carrier. A capable cast and glossy MGM production values help make this wartime adventure highly entertaining. The cast is led by Van Johnson and Walter Pidgeon. (Available at warnerarchive.com.)
“Strange Lady in Town” (Warner Archive/DVD, 1955). An offbeat mix of old and new Hollywood collides in Greer Garson’s only Western. The regal Garson is a European-trained doctor who arrives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, hoping to demonstrate “new” medical methods, causing conflict with an old-fashioned town practitioner, an embittered, widowed single father played by down-to-earth Dana Andrews. Uneven but enjoyable. Cameron Mitchell co-stars. (Available at warnerarchive.com.)
“The Angela Mao Ying Collection” (Shout!/DVD, 1973-77, three discs, in Mandarin with English subtitles or English dubbed, six movies, trailers). Taiwanese actress Angela Mao Ying was a trailblazer for women in the martial-arts field. After appearing in Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon” (1973) she went on to star in 30-plus kick-’em-up action pictures over a little more than a decade before retiring to raise her family. Included here are six of her most famous starring roles, impressively demonstrating her skills, though the films themselves are hit-and-miss. They're also notable as good transfers with original-language options.
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