Written by: Carroll Jenkins on August 8th, 2016
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1032, (Sky Devils), USA, 1947 (Song of Scheherazade), USA, 1955 (The Purple Mask), USA (Sign of the Pagen),
Directors: Bruce Humberstone (The Purple Mask), Douglas Sirk (Sign of the Pagen), Walter Reisch (Song of Scheherazade), Blake Edwards (This Happy Feelling), Anthony Harvey (They Might Be Giants), A. Edward Sutherland [Sky Devils)
Cast: Tony Curtis, Colleen Miller, Gene Barry, Dan O’Herlihy, Angela Lansbury (The Purple Mask), Jeff Chandler, Jack Palance, Ludmilla Tcherina, Rita Gam, Jeff Morrow (Sign of the Pagen), Yvonne De Carlo, Brian Donlevy, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Eve Arden, Phillip Reed (Song of Scheherazade), Debbie Reynolds, Curd Jürgens, John Saxon, Alexis Smith, Mary Astor (This Happy Feelling), George C. Scott, Joanne Woodward, Jack Gilford, Lester Rawlins, Al Lewis (They Might Be Giants), Spencer Tracy, William Boyd, Ann Dvorak, Billy Bevan, Yola a’Avril (Sky Devils)
DVD released: August 8th, 2016
Approximate running times: 82 minutes (The Purple Mask), 103 minutes (Sign of the Pagen), 101 minutes (Song of Scheherazade), 92 minutes (This Happy Feelling), 82 minutes (They Might Be Giants), 90 minutes (Sky Devils)
Aspect Ratios: Various
Rating: PG (All Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (All Films)
DVD Release: Simply Media
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (All Films)
Retail Price: £10.99 (Each film sold sperately)
The Purple Mask: First up is a lavish period costume piece starring Tony Curtis. The DVD quality is rather perplexing: it’s a 4:3 full screen transfer of a CinemaScope release. It’s also interlaced and contains no subtitles or close captions. A poor presentation.
Sign of the Pagan: Next is another lavish period costumer featuring the great Jack Palance in one of his few starring vehicles; as Attila the Hun no less. This one is provided in widescreen (2.40:1) but is non-anamorphic. Interlaced and contains no subtitles or close captions. A fair presentation.
Song of Scheherazade: A lavish costume musical, again in a 4:3 full screen transfer but this one is from 1947 and the 1.33:1 Technicolor presentation is about right. Interlaced and contains no subtitles or close captions. Brian Donlevy steals the entire film, but I would have dumped Yvonne De Carlo for Eve Arden; she seemed like she would be much more fun. A good presentation.
This Happy Feeling: Comedy with Debbie Reynolds and John Saxon. This is another CinemaScope (2.35:1) picture chopped down to 4:3 full screen. Interlaced and contains no subtitles or close captions. A poor presentation.
They Might Be Giants: A fantasy comedy starring George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward supported by a bevy of extraordinary character actors. This one is anamorphic 1.78:1, though the release was more likely at 1.85:1. Interlaced and contains no subtitles or close captions. A good presentation.
Sky Devils: This is actually a quite obscure 1932 pre-code WWI wise-guy comedy starring Spencer Tracy, but the real reason to watch is for Ann Dvorak. Her scene in the bedroom provides the the requisite risqué lingerie shots, and the initial scene at the Coney Island Beach is interesting as well with the babes in the wool bathing suits (a la Mack Sennett). Interlaced and contains no subtitles or close captions. A good presentation.
For an exhaustive review of the film Sky Devils (not this release), please go here.
Three of the six releases cannot be recommended due to the quality (or lack thereof) of the product. Song of Scheherazade and They Might Be Giants are both classic Hollywood and quite enjoyable. Sky Devils isn’t really a very good film but it has people searching it out nevertheless for it’s many pre-code aspects.
Note: These are screener Check Discs and may not represent the retail product.
Screenshots: The first screenshot is taken from Sky Devils.
The second screenshot is taken from Sign of the Pagen.
The Third Screenshot is taken from Song of Scheherazade.
The Fourth screenshot is taken from They Might Be Giants.