VCI Entertainment has added the three-film collection of restored comedy classics titled Hal Roach Forgotten Comedies to its Aug. 1 release slate. Already in place on that date — and poised to make its DVD debut — is producer/director Hal Roach’s 1939 Down Under adventure, Captain Fury.
Included in the Hal Roach Forgotten Comedies collection are two films teaming Carole Landis and John Hubbard with Adolphe Menjou — of note, Landis also stars in VCI Entertainment Aug. 15 DVD and Blu-ray release of One Million B.C. — these are, Turnabout and Road Show. And speaking of One Million B.C., Landis’ co-star, Victor Mature, made his film debut (a small part) in the other film included in this delightful film mix, The Housekeeper’s Daughter.
As to the individual films in the collection, you’d be hard pressed not to zero in on director Hal Roach’s 1940 film adaptation of Thorne “Topper” Smith’s 1931 novel, Turnabout. This is an absolute delight!
The battling Willows — Sally and Tim Willows — get their comeuppance in spades when an ancient idol (given to them as a present) says enough is enough with the constant bickering and switches the two. Tim (John Hubbard — also in One Million B.C., Road Show and The Housekeeper’s Daughter), a hard-driven advertising executive, awakes to find himself possessing the thoughts, feelings and sexuality of his pampered wife, Sally (Carole Landis), while she awakes to find the opposite. Absolute chaos follows as the two try to carry on — he in her body and she in his!!!
Oh, and there is a twist at the end that is worth the price of admission alone.
All three — Carole Landis, John Hubbard and Adolphe Menjou — return in the 1941 comedy release of director Hal Roach’s film adaptation of Eric Hatch’s novel, Road Show (Hatch also wrote the 1936 hit, My Man Godfrey — aka: “1101 Park Avenue”). This is yet another comedy gem as Hubbard plays a wealthy playboy named Drogo Gaines, who discovers on his wedding day that Helen (Polly Ann Young), his bride-to-be, is nothing but a gold digger. Through a series of unfortunate events Drogo ends up being committed to a nut house!
There he meets Colonel Carleton Carroway (Menjou) and the two escape, where they end up hiding out in a traveling circus run by a woman by the name of Penguin Moore (Landis) … she is in desperate financial straits, but Carroway and Gaines (in their own ways) are business savvy and soon things begin to look up. In the meantime, Helen and the police are looking for Gaines, but he sees in Penguin the woman of his dreams (beautiful and down to earth).
Road Show is great fun, especially the bit with Carleton’s rich and eccentric nephew (played by Charles Butterworth), who like to sets fires so that he can put them out with his collection of fire engines! Oh no, not Penguin’s circus!!!
Rounding out this trio of film delights from VCI Entertainment is director Hal Roach’s 1939 film release of The Housekeeper’s Daughter, which stars Joan Bennett, John Hubbard and Adolphe Menjou.
Joan Bennett plays Hilda, a tough chick with a penchant for guns, who decides to give up her life of crime and heads off to visit her mother, who is the housekeeper for the Randalls (John Hyams and Leila McIntyre), whose son, Robert (Hubbard), has decided to embark upon a career as a reporter.
You’ve got to get that set-up in place quickly (one of those small world sort of things) so that the comedy can unfold. Throw in a veteran crime reporter (Menjou), a well-meaning flower vendor (George E. Stone), a mobster named Floyd (Marc Lawrence) and a news photographer (William Gargan) and you have all the ingredients in place for a rookie reporter to get the scoop and win the girl (Hilda) in a breezy 80 minutes.