Monday, April 13, 2009

DVD This Week

I'm a little behind, so this will be "DVD This Week" for the last couple of weeks. Last week, Shout Factory released the first season of the very well regarded CBS television series The Paper Chase. These are the 22 episodes from the 1978-79 season starring the formidable John Houseman as Prof. Charles W. Kingsfield, a role for which he won an Oscar for Supporting Actor in the movie version a few years earlier. James Stephens is the most committed of students, one James Hart.
Many character actors pop up during the 22 episodes. In semi-regular roles, Betty Harford plays the Professor's loyal secretary, Mrs. Nottingham. Veteran actor Jack Manning plays the university's Dean Rutherford. The late character actor Charles Hallahan plays Hart's tavern owner boss, Ernie. These episodes remind us what a great character man Hallahan was turning into. He was much too young when he died in 1997 at the age of 54. Manning is retired these days and turns 93 this year. He's done it all as an actor, director, writer, and teacher for film, television and the stage. Ms. Harford has not been seen much lately. Now in her 70s, she played a Carrington family cook on several episodes of Dynasty, a few years after The Paper Chase.
Other character actors that appear amongst the 22 episodes include one of the later appearances of Alan Napier; Helen Kleeb; Jan Arvan; Nelson Olmsted; Peggy Rea; Howard Caine; Pat Corley; Pitt Herbert; Vernon Weddle; Harry Davis; and others.
This is a highly recommended set of DVDs.

Week before last, Shout Factory released in inaugural season of ABC-TV's Friday night staple, Room 222. These are the 26 episodes from the 1969-70 season of the series that ended up lasting 5 years. This first season won an Emmy Award for Best New Series and one of the special features has a new interview with character actor Michael Constantine about his Emmy nominated role of school principal Seymour Kaufman. Constantine was and is a great actor, and it's a shame we don't seem him much anymore. With a large cast of supporting roles due to the nature of the series (teachers, parents, etc.), many familiar faces show up, including Ivor Francis, Bill Zuckert, William Schallert, Bernie Kopell, Beah Richards, Bruce Kirby, Donald Moffat, Liam Dunn, Patsy Garrett, Helen Kleeb,Willard Sage and others. Some episodes don't have the "remastered" look that some others have, but this is also a highly recommended set.

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