A collection of rare and “lost” programs from the early days of television are being released this fall on disc by VCI Entertainment and MVD Entertainment Group.
Produced by Jeff Joseph (SabuCat Productions), film archivist, historian, author and producer, the shows have been restored in high definition from the best archival film elements available. Some of the programs have not been seen since they were originally broadcast.
Due Sept .11 is Television’s Lost Classics – Volume One – John Cassavetes on DVD and Blu-ray, which features two dramatic programs starring the actor. Episode one is “Crime in the Streets,” which is from The Elgin Hour (Elgin watches) and was broadcast live on ABC March 8, 1955. Written by Reginald Rose and directed by Sidney Lumet, it stars Robert Preston and a very young Cassavetes. Episode two is “No Right to Kill,” with Cassavetes, Terry Moore and Robert H. Harris. It was part of the Climax! series and was presented by the Chrysler Corp. Broadcast on CBS Aug. 9, 1956, it is based on Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Original commercial messages are included in the episode, as well as a bonus blooper reel from the “Defenders” and “The Nurses” series.
Coming Oct. 9 is Television’s Lost Classics – Volume Two – Rare ‘Pilots’ with four episodes on DVD and Blu-ray. “Case of the Sure Thing” stars Reed Hadley, Louise Currie and Milburn Stone and introduced the series “Racket Squad,” which lasted for three seasons and was nominated for two Primetime Emmys. The program reportedly may have inspired parts of the Hollywood hit The Sting. First broadcast on CBS June 7, 1951, the pilot contains original network commercials as originally broadcast. Directed by Jacques Tourneur, “Cool and Lam” stars Billy Pearson, Benay Venuta, Alison Hayes and Sheila Bromley in a light-hearted, detective yarn featuring characters first created by Erle Stanley Gardner. Bertha Cool runs a detective agency and Donald Lam is her junior partner, hence “Cool and Lam.” “The Life of Riley” features Lon Chaney Jr., Rosemary DeCamp and John Brown. It stars Chaney as Chester Riley and was produced in 1948, but by the time the first season went into full production in 1949, Chaney had been replaced by Jackie Gleason. “Nero Wolfe” stars Kurt Kasznar, William Shatner and Alexander Scourby in another one-off production based on characters created by Rex Stout. Also included on the disc is a bonus CBS blooper reel hosted by James Arness.
Additional volumes are planned with the third in the series already in production for release in late 2018.
Also on tap Oct. 9 on DVD is I Married Joan: Classic TV Collection Vol. 4, with 10 episodes. The show, featuring physical humor in the vein of “I Love Lucy,” centers on Joan, a scatterbrained housewife, and her husband, Bradley Stevens, who was a staid and settled domestic court judge. Beverly Wills, Joan Davis’ real-life daughter, also co-starred on the show playing the part of her sister.
Streeting Sept. 11 is the “Boris Karloff Collection” on two DVDs, a compilation of four rare films featuring the horror legend. Films in the collection include Alien Terror, Cult of the Dead, Dance of Death and Torture Zone. In addition to Karloff, the films star Andres Garcia, Carlos East, Enrique Guzman and Christa Linder.
Finally, due Oct. 23 on Blu-ray and DVD is Blood and Black Lace, director Mario Bava’s film about an unscrupulous business operating under the guise of a top fashion house with exotic models running sexual favors, cocaine dealings and blackmail. Bonus features include 2018 commentary by Kat Ellinger, editor-in-chief and author, Diabolique Magazine; 2018 commentary by film historian David Del Valle and director/writer C. Courtney Joyner; a video Interview with Mary Dawne Arden; an archival video interview with star Cameron Mitchell, with Del Valle; an original American theatrical trailer, plus Italian, German and French trailers; bonus trailers of other Bava films; a photo gallery; alternate original Italian or original U.S. theatrical main titles; bonus music tracks by composer Carlo Rustichelli; video comparison of American and European cuts; and a two-sided cover wrap with alternate cover art.