Monday, January 21, 2013

On DVD: Whispering Smith (1959) & other stuff

Time to catch up on recent DVD screenings..........

Most of you are familiar with Stacy Keach's 2 Mike Hammer series in the mid-80's. What you might not know is that Keach returned for a 3rd go-round as Mickey Spillane's famed private eye in a 1997 syndicated series that, like the two CBS series before it, lasted just one season. Mike Hammer, Private Eye, however, has seen the two part episode, "Songbird", and some others, repackaged in DVD format. I happened to pick up a copy of "Songbird" at a Save-a-Lot a couple of years back, and sat on it until a couple of weeks ago when I finally popped it into the player.

"Songbird" is about Hammer's efforts to clear a jazz chanteuse of a murder charge. I wish there was a video available on YouTube, but there isn't. The supporting cast includes real-life jazzman Jack Sheldon (ex-Run Buddy Run) as a club musician, and David Coburn as a stammering son of a mobster trying to earn his bones, if you will. The kids will recognize Coburn's name from earlier in the decade as the voice of ecological hero Captain Planet. Decent stuff.

Last year, WWE reissued an earlier DVD compilation set to mark the return of former champion Brock Lesnar to the fold. "Brock Lesnar: Here Comes The Pain" was originally released in 2004, shortly after Lesnar left WWE for an aborted run at the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, followed by a successful stint in UFC. The only new stuff added was an interview, in several excerpts, and his re-entry to WWE on Monday Night Raw around this time last year. Lesnar claims he's not playing a character. I could buy that, but he's never been too convincing in his interviews, even during his first run (2002-4). Lesnar is due back in WWE for a push toward Wrestlemania sometime next month, if not sooner. Many of the matches on this 3-disc set I've seen the first time around on TV, so I didn't need to spend 7 hours reviewing the whole thing......

World War II hero Audie Murphy made a successful transition to Hollywood, starring in a good number of movies, including the autobiographical "To Hell & Back", in the 50's. Universal's Revue division decided Murphy was good enough to headline a TV series, and so, he was cast in the Western, Whispering Smith, which lasted just one season (1959-60) on NBC. Singer Guy Mitchell ("Singing The Blues") co-stars, but really isn't given a whole lot to do, to be honest with you. I don't think Mitchell landed another TV gig after Smith was cancelled as a result.

Timeless Media released not only the complete series on DVD, but also an 8-episode bargain "sampler" for those who can't afford the full set. Timeless' YouTube channel presents the episode, "The Interpreter":

The DVD set also includes a short, "Medal of Honor", which chronicles in capsule Murphy's WWII exploits, and doubles as a PSA for US Savings Bonds. Barbara Rush & John McIntire (Wagon Train) also appear in the 8 1/2 minute piece.


Whispering Smith: C.

"Songbird": A.

"Medal of Honor": A.

"Brock Lesnar: Here Comes The Pain": C+.

No comments: