Inside Pulse » Tony Curtis http://insidepulse.com A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Sat, 25 Oct 2014 22:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Tony Curtis http://insidepulse.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://insidepulse.com DVD Review: VEGA$ (The Third Season, Volume 2) http://insidepulse.com/2012/08/28/dvd-review-vega-the-third-season-volume-2/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/08/28/dvd-review-vega-the-third-season-volume-2/#comments Tue, 28 Aug 2012 21:00:42 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=308310 Las Vegas is a town where fortunes are lost on a single roll of the dice or turn of a card. One second you’re on top of the world with a pile of chips reaching to the stars. Five seconds later, you’re hitchhiking back to Los Angeles with the remains of shrimp cocktail stuck in your teeth. How could Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) cash out at the end of VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 2? He was the protective soul of Sin City. But sometimes no matter how hard lady luck loves you, there’s a pencil neck geek at the network that can’t tell a winner from a loser at the table. Here’s Dan Tanna’s rolling his final 11 episodes.

“The Heist” gives an Ocean’s 11 twist. Roth (Tony Curtis) wants to insure that his casinos security is able to fend off a major robbery. He makes a deal for Tanna to rob the Tropicana’s safe with a crack team of ex-convicts. Tanna goes on a recruiting trip to land such top notch talent as mastermind Werner Klemperer (Hogan’s Heroes), James MacArthur (Hawaii Five-O) and legendary cinema hood Richard Bakalyan (Chinatown). While this is supposed to be a test, one of the professionals would rather keep the loot than get a paycheck. “No Way to Treat a Victim” has a man in a creepy mask raping women around the city. Can Michael Cole (The Mod Squad) really be a suspect? “Time Bomb” brings back the dark side of Binzer (Bart Braverman). He owes a lot of money to the wrong people. If he doesn’t pay up, they’re going to kill Tanna. Chicago Bears legend Dick Butkus brings the muscle. This is also Tony Curtis’ last episode.

“Out of Sight” blinds Tanna during a fight. The goons come back later to finish the job. Can Tanna save himself in the darkness? “Set Up” sets Lt. Nelson (Mission: Impossible‘s Greg Morris) and Tanna on a double date. This date turns out bad since instead of getting lucky, Nelson gets booked for double homicide. Who can behind such evil? Could it be Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), Simon Oakland (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) or Sybil Danning (Battle Beyond the Stars)? “The Killing” slaughters patrons at an Italian restaurant. Tanna suspects this was a hit on one diner. He needs help from Victor Buono (King Tut on Batman). International intrigue dominates “Seek and Destroy.” A Soviet pilot defects with his plane to an airbase outside Vegas. What really matters is Tori Spelling has a bit part. This was her first role in a series produced by her dad Aaron Spelling. But nobody knew it was her when she was cast. It’s true.

Who would dare kill Wayne Newton in “Dead Ringer” besides Johnny Carson? Well the big clue is the wannabe homicidal murderer can duplicate Wayne’s handwriting. Wayne brings us a taste of his stage show from the big room. Don’t be worried about missing out on the music. You get the encore of Wayne doing “Danke Schoen.” There is a two drink minimum to watch this episode. “The French Twist” involves male hustlers working out of gym. They’re seducing wealthy ladies. Randolph Mantooth (Emergency!) provides a dose of macho for the ladies. “Nightmare Come True” teams Tanna with a psychic to find a kidnapped girl. She predicts someone is out to kill Tanna? How predictable. That happens every week on the show. Although someone was out to kill Tanna for real – an ABC programming executive. “Judgement Pronounced” wraps up the show with Dan Tanna suspected of killing people around town. The killer looks like Dan and drives Dan’s Thunderbird. Can it be him? Did he crack when the word that the series was over reached him? The real killer might be Tom Urich, Robert’s brother. It’s nice he got work on the finale.

VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 2 sadly finishes these glory tales of Middle School Vegas. So many of the casinos Tanna patrols have been demolished for mega-casinos. Dan Tanna’s old office/house/garage is now the location for American Restoration. So many of the acts on the huge marquees have passed away. Robert Urich, Greg Morris and Tony Curtis are no longer with us. Yet even with its bygone nature, VEGA$ is immortal. Dan Tanna was Michael Mann’s greatest creation wrapped tight in a vest. Now all three seasons are on DVD for those people who need a cerebral vacation to a bygone Sin City.

The Episodes
“Heist,” “No Way to Treat a Victim,” “Time Bomb,” “Out of Sight,” “Set Up,” “The Killing,” “Seek and Destroy,” “Dead Ringer,” “French Twist,” “Nightmare Come True” and “Judgement Pronounced.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers capture the colorful time of Las Vegas in the early ’80s. The neon pops as Tanna cruises down the Strip. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You’ll appreciate the mix when Wayne Newton hits the stage. Episodes are subtitled.

Episode Promos (0:30) give the original network teasers.

VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 2 brings an end to the greatest show about Las Vegas. Dan Tanna was a super stud private investigator as he cleaned up unwelcomed aspects of Sin City. This show was the perfect mix of action, mystery and glitz. How could VEGA$ have rolled craps when it was time to double down?

CBS DVD presents VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 2 Starring: Robert Urich, Greg Morris, Phyllis Davis and Bart Braveman. Boxset Contents: 11 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: August 14, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.


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Disc News: Michael Mann’s VEGA$ rocks May http://insidepulse.com/2012/02/13/disc-news-michael-manns-vega-rocks-may/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/02/13/disc-news-michael-manns-vega-rocks-may/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2012 03:00:01 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=289170 VEGA$‘s Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) was Michael Mann’s greatest creation. The private investigator cruised Las Vegas keeping the scum off the strip and away from the casinos. The first 11 episodes of the final outing will be coming to DVD with the arrival of VEGA$: The Third Season – Volume 1 on May 8th. There’s a dazzling array of guest stars including Lorne Greene, John Saxon, Victor Buono, Erin Gray, Jill St. John, Bubba Smith, Tony Curtis, John Vernon, June Lockhart, Edie Adams, Patrick Macnee and Middle School Vegas. Prepare to double down on Dan Tanna’s swansong. Available at Amazon.com.


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Blu-ray Review: Insignificance http://insidepulse.com/2011/06/20/blu-ray-review-insignificance/ http://insidepulse.com/2011/06/20/blu-ray-review-insignificance/#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2011 17:00:52 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=252943 Insignificance has the ability to kick start your brain and is a healthy alternative to most of the other summer entertainment options out there. ]]> Nicolas Roeg’s stage adaptation/head trip has finally arrived on Blu-ray and lucky for us it has been given the Criterion treatment. The film, based off of the play by Terry Johnson, takes us back to 1954 and finds clear, obvious stand ins for Marilyn Monroe (known here as The Actress, played by Theresa Russell), Joseph McCarthy (The Senator, Tony Curtis), Joe DiMaggio (The Ballplayer, Gary Busey), and Albert Einstein (The Professor, Michael Emil) crossing paths throughout one long night as they go in and out of a New York City hotel room. Of course there is no point in trying to outsmart the plot, the hows and whys of these meetings are immaterial next to the brain exercise it allows us to partake in as Roeg takes these larger than life personas from a bygone era and shrinks them down to a most intimate size. Whatever Roeg’s point or points may be are somewhat muddled by the abstraction of the picture that relishes the opportunity to point out just how pained everybody was but fails to convey what that means in a larger context. The viewing experience itself, however, is well worth a look as you get something unique and stimulating. There is no imperative from Roeg to follow the traditional storytelling beats, instead it plays out as a series of vignettes that loosely move the plot along from one point to the next but when added up at the end can hardly be credited with equaling a coherent narrative.

If I had to pick a core of the movie I would say that it would be The Senator’s bullying attempts to get The Professor to come and testify against Communistic thought. The Professor has no use for politics as he just wants to plow forward with his life’s work and speak out against war. You might say that he and The Senator have deep philosophical differences. Soon enough The Senator exits for a night of by the hour kinky sex and The Actress enters the room. For me the scenes between her and The Professor resonated the loudest though I do have concerns that involve the nutritional value of them. She lectures him on the theory of relativity using toy trains and flashlights as props then moves in on him looking to cash in on her most valuable resource. The mere idea of placing Einstein in an overtly sexual situation is hilarious enough, but figure in that it is supposed to be Marilyn Monroe doing the seducing and you really have an unforgettable scene on your hands. Sadly the whole fiasco is broken up when Gary Busey busts in to disrupt their pre-coital moment. And really, who better to play an embittered brute of a baseball player than Busey? From there the film shifts gears and spends a hunk of time delving into the ugly and fractured relationship between him and The Actress.

You pretty much get the idea of what follows in Insignificance, one character, realistically or otherwise, replaces another on camera setting up another scene that focuses on a different combination of the four main players. In the end Roeg only reconfirms what we already thought about these people; McCarthy is slime, DiMaggio is a strong man made weak by feminine beauty, Monroe was slutty and nutty, and Einstein was above the whole mess. Sure, they’re all pained and maybe not in the way we would have thought prior to watching but I hope the whole point here isn’t that these cultural icons weren’t always what they seemed. Perhaps if we wanted to give Roeg the benefit of the doubt and dig a little deeper we might see it as an indictment against the 1950’s as a whole. Tea Partiers like to glorify the era because to them it signifies purity and wholesomeness and, let’s be frank, white male power. But as this film shows things were just as twisted and manufactured back then as they are today, the only difference is that we weren’t as savvy way back when about recognizing it. Today our Congressmen end up with their junk on Twitter and TMZ makes sure that our starlets disastrous private lives are broadcast far and wide across the web. It’s no world beater but Insignificance has the ability to kick start your brain and is a healthy alternative to most of the other summer entertainment options out there.

There is really no overstating the care that goes into a Criterion Collection release and even this one, number 566, still shows that they are dedicated to pumping out the highest of quality releases. The picture looks spectacular, so much so in fact that it really does make me call my entire film education into question. I saw the classics of cinema on VHS on a 20 inch screen and I can only assume that to go back now and watch them again in Blu-ray would be a whole new experience.


This disc isn’t stuffed with extras the way some of their previous ones have been but it is enough to flesh out the rest of your day after you finish watching the feature. There is a thoughtful essay by Chuck Stephens that was the most worthwhile of the bunch for me. We also get a documentary that was made during the filming of the movie that sometimes borders on the hysterical especially when Gary Busey decides to expound upon his thoughts on the ’50s. You also get the obligatory trailer and new interviews with the writers, director and editor. The film itself was released on DVD eight years ago but has since gone out of print so now your only option is to through Criterion. This coming week they have a new edition of The Makioka Sisters coming out and the price is a significant $8 cheaper, but there is really no way for me to try and dissuade you from buying this even if the price is a tiny bit steep.


Criterion Collection presents Insignificance. Directed by: Nicolas Roeg. Starring: Gary Busey, Theresa Russell, Michael Emil, Tony Curtis. Written by: Terry Johnson. Running time: 110 minutes. Rating: R. Released on Blu-ray: June 14, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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Vega$: The Second Season, Volume 1 – DVD Review http://insidepulse.com/2010/12/16/vega-the-second-season-volume-1-dvd-review/ http://insidepulse.com/2010/12/16/vega-the-second-season-volume-1-dvd-review/#comments Fri, 17 Dec 2010 02:15:10 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=227228 Vega$: The Second Season, Volume 1 confirms what makes this series so addictive. Dan Tanna is the greatest character Michael Mann (Heat) has ever created. ]]>

Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) doesn’t get the level of respect he deserves as the ‘70s last major TV P.I. He had more connections than Cannon, charm than Rockford and knees flexibility than Barnaby Jones. He knew the stakes in every Las Vegas scheme. Unlike so many shows that toss a few slot machines onto a Hollywood set, Tanna really cruised the casinos of Sin City. Vega$: The Second Season, Volume 1 lets you witness life on the Strip in 1979. This is an amazing document of the town before the mega-casinos and construction cranes dominated the skyline.

There were changes during the off-season. No longer must Dan suck up to Sgt. Bella Archer (Naomi Stevens) to get inside police info. Gone is Angie Turner (Judy Landers) as Dan’s back up receptionist. Her days were numbered since she was too ditzy to work and Dan wasn’t sleeping with her. Phyllis Davis also underwent a transformation as her breezy blond hair was given a serious dark brown hue. She also lost a bit of her backstory as she became fully devoted to working for Dan. That’s not to say everything got too serious. There’s still a goofy charm to Tanna that softens the hard crimes. Also keeping things glitzy is an array of famous faces to dazzle the neon and lights.

“Redhanded” features an extremely young Melanie Griffith (Something Wild). She arrives in town to hang out with Chief Harlon Two Leaf (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s Will Sampson). Don’t blink or you’ll miss Melanie’s big role since Two Leaf gets busted for her murder. He can’t stand being behind bars and won’t wait for Tanna to spring him. The big Vegas moment comes Lola Falana being interviewed about her show. “The Usurper” is the highlight of the half season. Desert Inn owner Philip Roth (Tony Curtis) loses his gambling empire to Robert Reed (Brady Bunch). Tanna can’t figure out why Roth would do this. Even more confusing is that Lt. Dave Nelson (Mission: Impossible’s Greg Morris) is protecting Mr. Brady from Dan. The star power goes supernova with the arrival of Scatman Crothers (The Shining) and Dean Martin (Ocean’s 11). A sad moment comes when Dan and the gang see the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana. This showgirls festival closed down last year after nearly half a century. It was replaced by Let’s Make A Deal. What’s amazing is that Mr. Brady still sports his Dadfro as he plays the heavy. He didn’t give up the perm. “Mixed Blessings” mixes Tanna with a nun. She needs to retrieve a stolen crucifix from Tracey Walter (Repo Man).

“Design For Death” mixes murder with bikinis. Eve Arden (Grease) sets up her huge swimwear launch at the casino. But somebody has an issue with the hot models. One gets into a car accident. They call in Tanna to guard the girls. He gets tight with old flame Barbi Benton (Hef’s old squeeze on Girls Next Door). Like so many women who get too close to our hero, she meets a grizzly end. Now Dan is out for revenge. “Shadow on a Star” has a stalker pursuing Lisa Hartman (Knots Landing and a Michael Lefler’s dorm fridge). “Dan Tanna Is Dead” goes DOA on the man. He gets infected by an deadly toxin, but the doctors can’t figure out which one. He’s got to find the guy to get the anti-toxin.

“The Macho Murders” goes Fatal Attraction with a writer suspected of being a killer. It’s up to Dan to bust her. Shelley Winters (Lolita) is part of the action. “The Day the Gambling Stopped” puts a casino in the odd position of cashing more chips than they’ve given out. Dian Parkinson appears in her The Price Is Right prime. She’s in night outfit. To balance this out, we get Tanna in his boxers. “Classic Connection” gives the series the blessing of Wayne Newton. Unlike Dean Martin, this isn’t merely a quick chat. Wayne’s playing the role of a failed racer who is caught up smuggling drugs in classic cars. He’s not a bad actor. Oddly enough, he returns at the end of season three playing himself. “Night of a Thousand Eyes” lets Tanna host a private investigators conference at the casino. Things are going great till a P.I. turns up dead. Gary Collins (Born Free) might be too helpful on this case.

Vega$: The Second Season, Volume 1 confirms what makes this series so addictive. Dan Tanna is the greatest character Michael Mann (Heat) has ever created. He’s a cool guy for sizzling town. He looks natural next to Wayne Newton and Dean Martin. The various crime plots work well for Las Vegas. Producer Aaron Spelling hasn’t slightly adjusted a Charlie’s Angels script for Tanna. There’s ‘70s Vegas style all over the screen. This isn’t just b-roll and backlot magic. During episodes you’ll be checking the internet to figure out what happened to many of the casinos. What monstrosity now sits on their block of the strip? In the case of the Desert Inn, the new edifice is Wynn Las Vegas. Thou no matter how much changes on the Strip, nothing replaces Dan Tanna.

The Episodes
“Redhanded,” “The Usurper,” “Mixed Blessing,” “Runaway,” “Design for Death,” “Shadow on a Star,” “Dan Tanna Is Dead,” “The Macho Murders,” “The Day the Gambling Stopped,” “Classic Connection,” “Night of a Thousand Eyes,” “Lost Monday” and “Comeback.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The color transfers look great. The flashing casino lights pop on the screen. There are moments when you can see the dents in Dan’s red Thunderbird. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The sound is a deceptive casino mix since your speakers aren’t over powered by the noise of slot machines. The levels are fine. The episodes are subtitled in English.

Episodic Promos (0:30) gives a great teaser for every episode.

Vega$: The Second Season, Volume 1 continues the swinging Sin City vibe. Dan Tanna is a detective worthy of the town he eyes. Appearances by Wayne Newton and Dean Martin add an authentic flavor to a land that lives off larger than life names on super-sized marquees. There’s no gambling when it comes to addictive qualities of Dan Tanna’s mysteries.


CBS DVD presents Vega$: The Second Season, Volume 1. Starring: Robert Urich, Bart Braverman, Greg Morris, Tony Curtis and Phyllis Davis. Boxset Contents: 11 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released on DVD: December 7, 2010.


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Vega$: The First Season, Volume 1 – DVD Review http://insidepulse.com/2009/10/26/vega-season-one-volume-one-dvd-review/ http://insidepulse.com/2009/10/26/vega-season-one-volume-one-dvd-review/#comments Mon, 26 Oct 2009 20:00:15 +0000 http://movies.insidepulse.com/?p=179926 Vega$. He really should since Tanna is such a great character.]]> Vegas_s1v1

There’s always a nostalgia for Old School Las Vegas with Frank, Dino and Sammy bringing class to the oasis in the Nevada desert. Rarely does anyone praise the next step in the city’s evolution: Disco Vegas. The ‘70s was the time when the corporations elbowed the mobsters off the strip. When colorful carpet and geometric shapes greeted sweaty tourists in their double knit polyester. The beauty of this time is captured on Vega$: Season One, Volume One. Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) had a bit of the old school swagger as a private detective that cruised the strip in a red ’57 Thunderbird. He was a man’s man who knew how to ruffle the feathers on a showgirl. He was also part of the modern world with his car phone and 20 ft. high whip antenna to keep the calls rolling with him. He dressed in the height of ‘70s fashions. His heart might pump Ratpack, but his feet moved to the disco beat.

Before Michael Mann became connected to Miami Vice, he created Vega$. He wrote the pilot movie script for Aaron Spelling’s production company. He put the words into the insiders, hustlers and hookers. Yet you rarely hear Mann fanatics wondering when he’s going to make a motion picture based on Vega$. He really should since Tanna is such a great character. He lives in a converted warehouse behind Circus Circus. This is rather weird since he parks his car inside the place. Doesn’t the smell of motor oil and exhaust make it bothersome to his lady guests? Scoring with Tanna must have been like hooking up with the pump jockey in the back of the Shell station. His crew also hung around his pad. Dancer Phyllis Davis was his part-time secretary, Judy Landers was a ditzy showgirl that wore skimpy outfits and barely took phone messages. Bart Braverman was his comic relief flunky. Bart used this as a launching board to the first seat on Match Game. Will Sampson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) was Tanna’s old army buddy who knows how to knock heads around town. Tony Curtis was a casino owner who has Tanna on retainer for odd investigation jobs.

“High Roller,” the pilot movie, introduces us to the latest TV detective who earns his living doing the dirty work in Sin City. He’s hired to locate a teen runaway who is working as a hooker. We’re introduced to her as she rolls Michael Lerner (Godzilla). Michael Mann might have written this script, but it makes no sense. Lerner lets the hooker into his room and tells her he needs to take a shower. He shuts the bathroom door and leaves her alone with his wallet on the dresser. Who orders a prostitute and trusts her around their valuables? The guy deserved to get robbed. Tony Curtis needs Tanna to find out how Red Buttons is winning so much cash on the slots. The episode is stocked with classic guest stars including Scatman Crothers, Greg Morris (Mission: Impossible) and Dian Parkinson (The Price Is Right).

“Centerfold” has Tanna hired to stop a beauty from being blackmailed into a management deal. The side gig has him hunting down a lion that’s connected to Abe Vigoda (The Godfather) and Vic Tayback (Alice). “The Games Girls Play” has a brief cameo from Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek during his High Rollers days. Mother Mishkin places a madame in jeopardy. Tanna thinks an evil real estate developer (Wild Wild West’s Ross Martin) is out to killer her. Bart must repossess a car from Antonio Fargas (Starsky and Hutch). How can you hoodwink Huggy Bear? “Love, Laugh and Die” properly casts Jonathan Harris (Dr. Smith on Lost In Space) as a used car salesman.

“Yes, My Darling Daughter” makes Strother Martin (The Wild Bunch) the lost father of Lauren Tewes (The Love Boat). He’s a famous country singer who left a suicide note, but nobody found the body. Did he pop up at his daughter’s wedding to Lloyd Bochner’s son? The person who knows the truth is Slim Whitman. The excitement of this episode comes from seeing a cameo from Whitman Mayo (Sanford and Son’s Grady). This episode has as much star power as an episode of Love Boat especially with the woman who played Julie at the center. “The Pageant” is the jaw dropper of the set for casting weirdness. Maureen McCormick gets raped and her father hires Tanna to find the attacker. Her father is played by Robert Reed. Mr. Brady wants the man that raped Marcia Brady. This was never a plot on The Brady Bunch. “Lost Women” has Cesar Romero (Batman’s The Joker) abducting women to sell as hookers around the world. “Second Stanza” gives us a touch of The Tonight Show’s Doc Severinsen.

Vega$ aired right after Charlie’s Angels on Wednesday nights. Three decades later the adventures of Dan Tanna are more fun to watch than the third season of the female detectives. Vega$ is captivating and kitsch with the Love Boat level guest stars. Perhaps the constant trips around Disco Vegas helps keep this show from being bogged down like a backlot detective show. It’s easy to get caught up into wondering which casinos have been leveled for the mega-casinos that now smash up against the Vegas Strip. Vega$: Season One, Volume One is a jackpot even if Michael Mann doesn’t treasure it.

The Episodes
“High Roller,” “Centerfold,” “The Games Girls Play,” “Mother Mishkin,” “Love, Laugh and Die,” “Yes, My Darling Daughter,” “Lady Ice,” “Millikan’s Stash,” “The Pageant,” “Lost Women,” “Second Stanza.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers are mastered off 35mm and reflect the detail in the frame. You’ll want to hit the pause button to read the headlining acts on the casino marquees. Nipsey Russell ruled the strip. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You get to hear a lot of slot machine action in the background.

Episodic Promos (0:30) are before every episode except the pilot movie.

Vega$: Season One, Volume One gives the best exploration of Disco Vegas with Dan Tanna cleaning up the town. Urich looks boss tooling around in his convertible Thunderbird. He pulls off the vest look. Put on your polyester leisure suit and get ready for the bright glitzy charm that is Vega$.


CBS DVD presents Vega$: Season One, Volume One. Starring: Robert Urich, Tony Curtis, Judy Landers, Greg Morris and Bart Braverman. Boxset contents: 11 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released on DVD: October 20, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
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The Spy Collection – DVD Review http://insidepulse.com/2009/03/03/the-spy-collection-dvd-review/ http://insidepulse.com/2009/03/03/the-spy-collection-dvd-review/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2009 18:45:30 +0000 http://thedvdlounge.com/?p=82614 The Spy Collection is like having your own UHF channel with more the enough English programming to keep you intrigued. We get doses of Robert Vaughn after U.N.C.L.E. and Roger Moore before Bond. Transport yourself into a time when British spies fought on shag carpet.]]> spycollection

Once upon a time Americans could tune in their local indie TV station to get a dose of International productions from England. You didnt have to beg your cable operator to carry BBCAmerica or illegally download the series. They came in with a tweak of the antenna if you had a cool programmer at your UHF channel. The Avengers and The Saint were the major imports. This Spy Collection gives us a taste of four other imported series from the late 60s to early 70s. Be prepared for big lapels and groovy Euro fashions. This isnt merely a sampler of British TV with random episodes. These are the first box sets of The Prisoner, The Champions, The Protectors andThe Persuaders! inside the mega set case.

The Prisoner (1967) is the prime cut of this collection. Patrick McGoohan (Braveheart) plays an English spy who abruptly resigns from his agency. Before he can split for a vacation, hes kidnapped and taken to a remote island. Everyone is known by a number instead of their real name. Hes become Number 6. Number 2 is the person in charge of making him confess as to why he retired. Number 6 wants to find out who is Number 1. Its a battle of wits. This is truly a cult series since its worth picking apart for clues and codes. The show is about to get revamped by AMC this year. For those who care, watch the original first. Unfortunately you only get the first 4 of the 17 episodes.

The Champions (1968) unloads the goofiness. “The Beginning” has a trio of United Nations law enforcement agents crash in the Himalayas. They are saved by the locals who not merely nurse them back to health, but endow them with ESP, telepathy and precognition. They become a super people with enhanced senses and outrageous strength. This was the one in the batch that just came off way too stupid even by kitsch standards. The best reason to watch is Alexandra Bastedos freak fashions.

The Persuaders! (1971) unites Roger Moore and Tony Curtis in the South of France. Both men play extremely rich playboys. Moore is an upper class snob who plays games with the family money. Curtis had to earn his millions as a tough kid from Brooklyn. The duo are brought together by an insane retired judge that wants them to deliver justice to people who skipped out of his courtroom on technicalities. If they decline their mission, they go to jail on a trumped up assault charge. What makes the show click is Curtis and Moore one upping each other on the screen. Theyre playing a thespian version of horse with Yank versus Brit humor. Even with two major stars, The Persuaders! didnt make a major impact. It lasted 24 episodes. The failure of the series to get renewed a second season allowed Roger Moore to become James Bond. Tony would go on to host VH1s Hollywood Babylon. This is the truly fun series in this collection with Curtis and Moore keeping things as lively as the peppy soundtrack.

The Protectors (1972) brings Robert Vaughn (Pootie Tang) back to the deception game. Instead of being a spy like his role in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vaughn plays Harry Rule, an extremely rich private detective. Hes a swinging American in London with a cool pad and dog. The Countess Caroline di Contini (Nyree Dawn Porter) is royalty who gets in on the game with Vaughn. The third member of their little team is Paul Buchet (Tony Anholt). He pretty much does whatever the other two dont want to tolerate. The series was produced by Gerry Anderson, the guy behind The Thunderbirds. Its hard to watch the action without seeing strings being tugged on the actors. Each episode is only 25 minutes long even though the plots seem to be made for an hour long show. They cut away most of the exposition, preparation and recap action. Vaughn makes sure that he always looks good. He never gets better looking that Porter. She sizzles when she plays up her title.

People often complain about samplers since they normally require you to rebuy the episodes if you want the complete series. The good news here is that if you like The Champions, The Protectors or The Persuaders!, you can nab the remainder of their episodes in the second box set. While you can hunt down the remaining 4 sets of The Prisoner, its cheaper to snag the complete collection. The Spy Collection is like having your own UHF channel with more the enough English programming to keep you intrigued. We get doses of Robert Vaughn after U.N.C.L.E. and Roger Moore before Bond. Transport yourself into a time when British spies fought on shag carpet.

The Episodes

The Prisoner: “Arrival,” “The Chimes of Big Ben” (alternate version), “A. B. and C.” and “Free for All.”

The Persuaders: “Overture,” “The Gold Napoleon,” “Take Seven,” “Greensleeves,” “Powerswitch,” “The Time and the Place,” “Someone Like Me,” “Anyone Can Play,” “The Old, the New, and the Deadly,” “Angie Angie,” “Chain of Events,” “That’s Me Over There” and “The Long Goodbye.”

The Protectors: “2000 Ft to Die,” “Brother Hood,” “See No Evil,” “Disappearing Trick,” “Ceremony for the Dead,” “It Was All Over in Leipzig,” “The Quick Brown Fox,” “King Con,” “Thinkback,” “A Kind of Wild Justice,” “Balance of Terror,” “Triple Cross,” “The Numbers Game,” “For the Rest of Your Natural …,” “The Bodyguards,” “A Matter of Life and Death,” “The Big Hit,” “One and One Makes One,” “Talkdown,” “Vocal,” ” With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Chase,” “Your Witness,” “It Could Be Practically Anywhere on the Island,” “The First Circle” and “A Case for the Right.”

The Champions: “The Beginning,” “The Invisible Man,” “Reply Box No. 666,” “The Experiment,” “Happening,” “Operation Deep-Freeze,” “The Survivors,” “To Trap A Rat,” “The Iron Man,” “The Ghost Plane,” “The Dark Island,” “The Fanatics,” “Twelve Hours,” “The Search” and “The Gilded Cage.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The Protectors was shot on 16mm so the image is softer than the other shows. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 although its merely split mono tracks. Youre not going to get the surround feel as the cars zip around the screen.

Foreign File Cabinet lets you see the opening and closing credits of The Prisoner with foreign languages on the file cabinet sequence.

Photo Gallery as production pictures from each Prisoner episode.

Interactive Guide to the Village lets you understand the space Number Six roams.

Broadcast Trailers tease the episodes.

The Persuaders! Commentary Tracks feature Roger Moore, producer Robert S. Baker, and production executive Johnny Goodman on three episodes. Moore is the most talkative of the trio.

Photo Gallery gives us stills of Tony Curtis and Roger Moore.

Roger Moore and Tony Curtis Biographies are text summaries of what the duo have done on screen.

Photo Gallery present more stills of The Champions.

Cast Biographies and Filmographies let us know what this super powered trio have accomplished.

The Protectors Audio Commentary allows John Hough to discuss his directing on “2000 Ft to Die.” He gives plenty of details about the series.

The Spy Collection is a fine collection for fans of Euro espionage action. The Prisoner is the strongest of the batch. The complicated plots and the intensity of McGoohan are not matched by the remaining three shows. The Champions is a freakish display with its trio of uberhumans that can barely be beaten. The Protectors and The Persuaders! remind us that rich people love to put themselves in jeopardy to solve a mystery. If youre curious about these shows, theyre less expensive in this collection than bought separately.

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A&E Home Video presents The Spy Collection. Starring Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Robert Vaughn and Patrick McGoohan. Boxset Contents: 2,310 on 14 DVDs. Released on DVD: February 24, 2009. Available at Amazon.

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WB to unveil Natalie Wood Collection this February http://insidepulse.com/2008/10/17/wb-to-unveil-natalie-wood-collection-this-february/ http://insidepulse.com/2008/10/17/wb-to-unveil-natalie-wood-collection-this-february/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2008 11:00:36 +0000 http://thedvdlounge.com/?p=77605 Actress Natalie Wood was a brunette beauty with sparkling brown eyes who became one of Hollywood’s brightest stars. And this February 3rd, Warner Home Video will honor her with the Natalie Wood Collection — which will feature Splendor in the Grass and Gypsy (with newly remastered video and sound) and the DVD debuts of Inside Daisy Clover, Sex and the Single Girl, Bombers B-52 and Cash McCall. All titles except for Splendor in the Grass and Sex and the Single Girl will be offered in the collection only. Ms. Wood’s last film, Brainstorm, will also be available separately, newly packaged in Amaray. The six-disc Natalie Wood Collection will be offered for $59.92 SRP, Sex and the Single Girl and Splendor in the Grass are offered at $19.97 SRP. Brainstorm will also sell for $19.97 SRP.

About the Star

Natalie Wood, born Natalia Zakharenko on July 20, 1938 in San Francisco, first appeared on screen at age five and then won acclaim for Miracle on 34th Street when she was just nine. She transitioned seamlessly into teenage and adult leading roles, beginning with Rebel Without a Cause, followed by a total of 56 film and television roles including (in addition to the films in this collection) West Side Story, Love with the Proper Stranger, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, This Property is Condemned and the TV mini-series From Here to Eternity. During her career, Ms. Wood was nominated for three Academy Awards® (including Splendor in the Grass) and seven Golden Globes,® winning three of the latter. Her last film, Brainstorm, completed just before Ms. Wood drowned in a tragic boating accident in 1981, was released in 1983.

About the Films

Splendor in the Grass (1961)
Directed by Elia Kazan (Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront), and written by William Inge (Come Back Little Sheba, Picnic) Splendor in the Grass stars Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty (in his feature film debut) as teenage lovers full of angst and lust, ripped apart by the repressive small-town mentality of 1920s’ Kansas, with dire consequences. The film won an Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay, and Ms. Wood received her second Best Actress nomination.

DVD Special Features:
Beep Prepared (1961 WB cartoon)
Theatrical trailer

Gypsy (1962)
Everything’s coming up roses when Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood and Karl Malden entertain you in the lavish movie musical of the Broadway hit about the infamous stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee and her formidable mother Rose. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, Gypsy was nominated for three Oscars®. The musical score by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim is among the most celebrated ever, with such hummable hits as “Let Me Entertain You,” “Everything’s Coming up Roses” and “Together Wherever we Go”

DVD Special Features:
The Pied Piper of Guadalupe (1961 WB cartoon)
Together Wherever We Go (deleted musical)
You’ll Never Get Away From Me (deleted musical)
Theatrical trailer

Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
Helen Gurley Brown’s famous book title provides the jumping off point for this romantic comedy about tabloid magazine editor Tony Curtis, who’s after dirt when he pretends to woo a young famous sex researcher played by Wood. Needless to say, he gets more than he came looking for. Supporting roles are played by the Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall.

DVD Special Features:
Nelly’s Folly (1961WB cartoon)
Theatrical trailer

Inside Daisy Clover (1965)
Daisy Clover (Wood) is a 15-year old tomboy who dreams of being a Hollywood star, and in the vein of “be careful what you wish for,” she finds herself becoming the toast of TInseltown in the 1930s. Daisy is thrust headlong into this strange new life with all the pressure and artifice that goes with the territory and must quickly manage or be driven mad. Christopher Plummer is the studio head who gives her her big chance and Robert Redford plays the man with whom she has a one-day marriage. Film buffs will enjoy seeing the various areas and departments of Warner Bros. Studios, where the film was shot.

DVD Special Features:
Theatrical trailer

Bombers B-52 (1957)
U.S. Air Force pilot Jim Herlihy (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.) is in love with Lois Brennan (Wood), much to the disapproval of her sergeant father (Karl Malden). There is romance and action in this flight film set against the backdrop of riveting aerial footage of jet plane maneuvers.

DVD Special Features:
· Boyhood Dayz (1957 WB cartoon)
· Theatrical trailer

Cash McCall (1960)
In this drama of high finance and high romance, James Garner (“Maverick,” “The Rockford Files”) plays the title role of a dashing and daring tycoon in the business of buying and selling companies for profit. However McCall’s acquisition plans for Grant Austen’s (Dean Jagger) company gets more complicated when he realizes Austen’s daughter Lory (Wood) is the same girl with whom he once had a summer fling.

DVD Special Features:
· Theatrical trailer
· High Note (1961 WB cartoon)

Brainstorm (1983)
Natalie Wood’s last film is a sci-fi thriller, directed by Douglas Trumbull (Blade Runner). The film tells the story of two brilliant research scientists, Lillian Reynolds (Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and Michael Brace (Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter) who, after inventing a machine that can record sensory experiences, find the application being abused not only for personal reasons but also by the government for their own secret agenda. Eventually the results are devastating. Michael Brace’s estranged wife Karen is played by Ms. Wood.

DVD Special Features:
· Theatrical trailer

Source: Warner Home Video

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