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Image Entertainment presents
Hidden Hollywood: Treasures from the 20th Century Fox Vaults (1999)

"You ain't only a fine figure of a woman, but you must be strong as a mule, too!"
- Handsome (Walter Brennan)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: May 06, 2002

Stars: Joan Collins, Shirley Temple, Jimmy Durante, Betty Grable, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Al Jolson, Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey, Don Ameche, Robert Wagner
Other Stars: Alice Faye, Tyrone Power, Joseph Weber, Lew Fields, Bert Lahr, William Demarest, Joe E. Brown, Phil Baker, Dave Willock, Charlotte Greenwood, Carmen Miranda, Jane Darwell, Victor Moore, Walter Brennan, Hope Emerson, Louis Mason
Director: Shelley Lyons

Manufacturer: Ritek Digital Video
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:30m:35s
Release Date: March 19, 2002
UPC: 014381096224
Genre: compilation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-BB- D-

DVD Review

American Movie Classics and Fox take a look at some of the cut sequences that have languished for decades in Fox's vaults. They come up with a number of deleted musical numbers and comedy scenes featuring some of the great names in entertainment. Joan Collins is the host and narrator, and even puts in an appearance in one lost segment.

Shirley Temple was one of the biggest box office draws of the 1930s, but even she occasionally ended up on the cutting room floor. In a deleted musical courtroom sequence from Little Miss Broadway (1938) she does a charming little song and dance with Jimmy Durante; she even manages a comic impression of the Schnozzola. Cafe Metropole (1937) was to be a breakout role for Temple's frequent dance partner, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, allowing him to play something other than servants and the like. His big musical numbers in top hat and tails were considered unsellable, however, despite demonstrating a great deal of class.

Ethel Merman, as I've noted elsewhere, was quite the dish back in the 1930s, and is in fine form in Alexander's Ragtime Band, where she gets a showstopping number that no one has seen till now. Less dishy in the 1950s, a cut number from There's No Business Like Show Business features her with Dan Dailey in a flamenco version of the classic number Anything You Can Do cribbed from Annie Get Your Gun.

Alice Faye was another huge Fox star until the emergence of Betty Grable. We not only see Faye in several musical numbers and comedy sequences, but also cut segments from her teamup with Grable in Tin Pan Alley. The great Al Jolson's signature medley (performed in his minstrel blackface) was also snipped from Rose of Washington Square, co-starring Faye; though definitely not PC, it's easy to see why he was a star, since he pours personality off the screen.

Editing can certainly change the character of a film. This is demonstrated in amazing fashion in the Betty Grable vehicle Hot Spot, which started off with musical comedy segments, but after disastrous test screenings was cut to become a straightforward film noir, I Wake Up Screaming!

Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, performs a bizarre song largely composed of woofs and growls that demonstrates his overexaggerated stage technique. This is one sequence that makes sense to have cut because it's just too weird even today. Another segment that doesn't seem to be a big loss is a skit from The Gang's All Here, directed by Busby Berkeley, featuring a comical version of The $64 Question. It's not funny at all and surely would have dragged any film to a complete stop.

The best segment is left for last: a comedy sequence chopped from We're Not Married (1952), featuring Walter Brennan. His comic talents are on fine display here as Handsome, a moocher who romances Mrs. Lafe Beaufort (Hope Emerson), appealing to her vanity but only so long as she can assure him that her husband won't let her go.

All in all, an intriguing look into the dusty back rooms at bits of films that haven't been seen in decades.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The full-frame picture is quite attractive. The source material is in surprisingly nice condition for the most part, though I expect there has been a good deal of restoration done here. The program includes demonstrations of digital restoration methods, so it would be natural for them to be used here. In any event, the black & white and color picture looks terrific for the most part, with plenty of detail and good black levels and graytones. The few color segments tend to be a shade faded, however, except for the recently restored There's No Business Like Show Business, which glows. That section is also presented in the original widescreen (though it's not anamorphically enhanced).

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono sounds quite good considering the age of much of this material. Obviously a good deal of effort went into cleaning up this material. Some segments, such as the applause in The Gang's All Here, sound as if they are sweetened to produce a rather booming sound that is quite excessive by any measure. Otherwise there's not much distortion and decent frequency extension.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Packaging: EastPack
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Nothing at all. The chaptering could be a little more generous; sometimes multiple topics are covered in a single chapter, which is a little irritating.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

A deft and generally entertaining compilation of cut musical and comedy sequences from the Fox vaults, highlighted by an extended cut segment featuring Walter Brennan. Picture quality is surprisingly good, and the sound isn't bad, but there are no extras at all.

 


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