By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
Alastair Sim’s School for Laughter
“Alastair Sim’s School for Laughter” arrives on Blu-ray Tuesday April 21, from Film Movement Classics. The four-film set includes “The Belles of St. Trinian’s,” “School for Scoundrels,” “Laughter in Paradise” and “Hue and Cry.”
Perhaps best remembered as Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” Scottish character actor Alastair Sim became a leading star of British cinema after spending five years as a lecturer of elocution at the University of Edinburgh. One of the best-loved and most prolific actors in classic British comedy, Sim, who often appeared in multiple roles, starred in more than 50 films beginning in 1935 and was both critically acclaimed and unfailingly popular, regularly topping the cinemagoers popularity polls.
“Alastair Sim’s School for Laughter” comes in a seminal four-disc Blu-ray collection spotlighting his most laughter-inducing film roles now digitally restored in HD for optimal viewing.
“The Belles of St. Trinian’s” released in1954, was directed by Frank Launder. The schoolgirls of St. Trinian’s are more interested in men and mischief than homework and hockey, but even greater trouble beckons with the arrival of two new students. Sim plays dual roles as the headmistress, Miss Millicent Fritton and her twin brother, Clarence. The film is based on the cartoons of Ronald Searle.
“School for Scoundrels,” released in 1960, and was directed by Robert Hamer (“Kind Heart and Coronets”). Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael) tries hard to impress but always loses out to the rotter Delauney (Terry-Thomas). Then he enrolls in the “College of Lifemanship” run by “Professor” Stephen Potter (Sim) and learns “how to win without actually cheating!” But does he have the courage to put all his lessons into effect?
“Laughter in Paradise,” released in 1951, was directed by Mario Zampi. Famed practical joker Henry Russell (Hugh Griffith) leaves 50,000 pounds to his four surviving relatives, including his cousin, retired army officer Deniston Russell (Sim). There’s just one stipulation—each of them has to undertake a task completely out of character for one month. As each sets out on their objective they find that quite apart from the promised riches, they are unexpectedly getting a lot out of the challenge. All except caddish Simon Russell, that is. “Laughter in Paradise” was Britain’s top-grossing film in 1951. The film featured a young Audrey Hepburn in a bit part as a cigarette girl.
“Hue and Cry,” released in 1947, was directed by Charles Crichton. It was the first of the Ealing Studios comedies. After discovering that his favorite comic is being used to send messages between a master criminal and his gang of thieves, teenager Joe Kirby (Harry Fowler) sets out to alert writer Felix Wilkinson (Sim) and turn the page on the crooks.
Each of the films are packed with bonus features including interviews with film experts and more.
“Delta Zoo” is available on DVD and Digital Tuesday April 21, from IndiePix Unlimited on Amazon Channels.
In the ’90s, every boy around the world, even amidst cultural embargos, was glued to VHS karate action films and dreamt of being a superhero. On March 11, 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare itself independent.
Reacting to Soviet aggression, the newly re-established Lithuanian Army Command decided to create the first-ever national crack commando unit and gave a selective group of young men the chance to be the “Rambos” of their country as members of a top-secret Special Forces Unit aimed at countering Soviet aggression.
Most members were given an animal nickname—Spider, Horse, Whale, Crab—hence the unit was known as the Zoo. From parachute jumps and hand-to-hand combat training to securing the KGB building in Vilnius, at the beginning of the end of the USSR, ‘Delta Zoo” is a playful documentary from filmmaker Andrius Lekavičius, utilizes first-person interviews, cleverly stylized animation, archival footage and original music to tell the hidden story of the first-ever Lithuanian Special Forces: a courageous, impassioned, and youthful endeavor against the powers that once were. It is in Lithuanian with English subtitles. “Delta Zoo” is available for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $24.95.
The Fate of Lee Khan
Commemorate the April 29th birthday of the late King Hu, the trailblazing Chinese filmmaker, the foremost genius of the high-flying, sword-swinging wuxia film, with “The Fate of Lee Khan,” the legendary 1973 martial arts masterpiece, a follow-up to “A Touch of Zen,” and now digitally restored for North American audiences. “The Fate of Lee Khan” premieres Friday April 24 on Film Movement Plus, the signature streaming service of Film Movement.
When Lee Khan, an official working for Mongolian Emperor Yuan of the Yuan Dynasty procures the battle map of the Chinese rebel army, Chinese resistance fighters, aided by an undercover girl-gang, strive to corner him at an inn. Featuring stunning action sequences choreographed by Jackie Chan’s “kung fu elder brother” Sammo Hung and a generous mix of intrigue and humor, The Fate of Lee Khan,” brings together an all-star female cast, including Hong Kong cinema stalwart Li Li-hua and ingénue Angela “Lady Whirlwind” Mao, in this lively martial arts adventure.
Infinity Train: Book One
On Tuesday April 21, Cartoon Network’s highly anticipated “Infinity Train: Book One” will be released on DVD and available on Digital, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Created by Owen Dennis (former writer and storyboard artist for “Regular Show”), “Infinity Train: Book One” takes viewers on a mind-bending journey aboard the mysterious Infinity Train, alongside her companions Atticus, the canine king of Corginia, and One-One, a robot with dueling personalities. With puzzles and perils awaiting them in every car, and the relentless Steward on their trail, will Tulip ever find a way off the train and return home?
“Infinity Train: Book One” includes all 10 episodes from the first season and bring home some extra magic with over an hour of epic bonus features including commentaries, documentaries, animatics, and more. The DVD is priced to own at the suggested retail price (SRP) of $14.97 ($16.99 in Canada).
In support of the release, a fun coloring page is available for fans at home. To download the image click here: https://wbproductions.app.box.com/v/InfinityTrainColoringSheet.
Looking for Alaska
The limited series “Looking for Alaska” debuts on DVD Tuesday April 21, from Paramount Home Entertainment.
Based on author John Green’s (“The Fault in Our Stars”) award-winning first novel of the same name, “Looking for Alaska” is a moving story of friendship, love and loss. It debuted on Hulu last October.
The three-disc DVD set includes all eight episodes, plus over 40 minutes of fan-centric bonus content, including 18 never-before-seen deleted scenes and two featurettes that incorporate an exclusive interview with John Green.
“Looking for Alaska” follows Miles “Pudge” Halter (Charlie Plummer) who is searching for a deeper perspective on life and decides to enroll at the boarding school Culver Creek Academy. He finds a loyal group of friends and falls in love with Alaska Young (Kristine Froseth). After an unexpected tragedy, the close group of friends tries to cope with everything they’ve been through and find some answers along the way.
Created for television by Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl”), the series comes from Paramount Television Studios and Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire. Savage and Schwartz serve as executive producers alongside Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, John Green, and Marty Bowen and Isaac Klausner of Temple Hill. Fake Empire exec Lis Rowinski is co-executive producer. Sarah Adina Smith (“Hanna” and “Legion”) directed the first episode.
Front Row Features knows that now, more than ever, people are looking for good TV shows to binge watch. That’s why we’re giving away a copy of Hulu’s critically acclaimed limited series “Looking for Alaska” on DVD to two lucky readers to help pass the time in quarantine. To enter the contest, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org by April 27 for your chance to win. Good luck!