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Carol Burnett and Buddy Hackett shows on DVD, Preston Sturges films discussed

Buddy and Carol in STANLEY
Buddy and Carol in STANLEY

Couldn’t afford that massive “Carol Burnett Show” box set a few years ago? Not to worry, “Carol’s Crack-Ups” (a 6-DVD set available from StarVista) offers 17 uncut episodes of the popular comedy-variety program, personally selected by the comedienne. Two hours worth of bonus features are included in this hugely entertaining package.

Long before Burnett became a household name, she played comedian Buddy Hackett’s girlfriend on his live 1956-57 sitcom, “Stanley.” Never heard of it? That’s because this forgotten gem has been mothballed ever since. Happily, the complete 19-episode run has been remastered and released in a 3-DVD set (available from www.BuddyHackett.TV) that’s a must-have for fans of classic TV comedy.

Hackett and Burnett have terrific chemistry together in this long “lost” series, produced and directed by Max Liebman (the genius behind Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.”)
Writers included Woody Allen, Danny and Neil Simon and Lucille Kallen (all of whom wrote for Caesar). The original commercials are wisely included (“don’t miss the fun of smoking”), as is rare footage of Hackett doing the audience warm-up before the show.

The comic’s daughter, Lisa, has also issued on DVD “Buddy Hackett Live and Uncensored 1 & 2”
(recorded in Atlantic City). These 1983 and ’85 HBO specials give a terrific feel for what the funster’s nightclub act was like; there’s a surprising amount of audience interaction. Yes, he worked “blue” (though it’s tame compared to Richard Pryor), with subject matter including his attempts to lose his virginity, but the women seem to be having as good a time as the men. Ever wondered why Jews don’t ski in Vermont? Now you’ll know.
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Related posts:

Writing for Groucho Marx and Fred Allen

‘Tartuffe’ at South Coast Rep

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No use for academic interpretations of comedy? Me either. But “Preston Sturges’s Vision of America: Critical Analyses of 14 Films” by Jay Rozgonyi (a paperback reprint of his 1995 book from McFarland & Co. ) avoids all that high-falutin’ talk in favor of clear, readable commentary on the director’s work (some of the best films of the ‘40s by general consensus).

More from Jordan:

Leslie Caron in ‘Six Dance Lessons’ in Laguna, comedy pioneer Hal Roach recalled

Q&A: Mark Rosier & Rose London, ‘The Elephant Man’ at Stage Door Repertory

‘Dinner with Friends’ revived at STAGEStheatre, reinventing Shakespeare OC

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