DVD Review HTF MINI REVIEW: The Dick Cavett Show Comedy Legends

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein

    The Dick Cavett Show
    Comedy Legends

    Studio: Shout Factory
    Year: 2006
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: approx. 14 hours
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: Closed Captioned

    Dick Cavett began his career as a writer for the
    likes of Merv Griffin, Jerry Lewis and Jack Paar.
    During the years of 1969-1974 he hosted his own
    talk show on the ABC network. Growing up during
    those years, I never considered myself to be a fan of
    the man or his show. In my opinion, Cavett and
    the interaction with his guests never seemed as
    funny nor energetic as what you would expect
    watching Johnny Carson.

    Watching these shows now some 30 years later, my
    opinion has somewhat changed. I still don't think
    Cavett comes off especially humorous, but the man
    certainly is intelligent and very quick-witted
    which makes him the perfect straight-man for the
    guests he interviews. Additionally, what I have
    found from watching selected episodes of this new
    boxed set, the guests that appear on his show often
    come across as being more themselves rather than
    forced to be entertaining in the spotlight. The
    interviews here are rather warm and often very revealing.

    What attracted me to buying this DVD boxed set in
    the first place was the fact that there's so much
    history packed on these discs. When you really
    think about it, what you have here is a collection
    of some of the most renowned comic legends of our
    time -- most of whom are no longer with us. These
    are captured moments in history, and this DVD set
    serves well as an archive for future generations
    to look back upon.

    The Dick Cavett Show Comic Legends spans
    across 4 discs and contains 12 episodes featuring
    interviews with Woody Allen, Lucille Ball, Jack
    Benny, Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks, George Burns,
    Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Groucho Marx

    and The Smothers Brothers.

    There are 14 hours worth of interviews and material
    on this DVD set. At this point, I only scratched the
    surface of what is available to watch. Last evening
    I spent several hours watching the interviews I thought
    would interest me the most. Allow me to talk briefly
    about each...


    As a kid, The Marx Brothers were the funniest comics
    I ever knew. I adored them and watched their films
    on television whenever they aired. It would be a
    very special treat to see one of my comic idols,
    Groucho Marx, appear in an interview....and
    here he was!

    There are actually two separate interview episodes
    that feature Groucho, but it is the September 5, 1969
    appearance that I think his fans will most appreciate.
    This episode features Groucho for a full hour as he
    recalls his years growing up in NY, playing pranks on
    MGM producer Irving Thalberg, and playing it straight
    with actress Margaret Dumont. Groucho also treats us
    to three songs including his most famous, Hello
    I must be going
    and Lydia the tatooed lady.


    If you asked me what my all-time favorite Woody
    film would be, I would quickly answer, Take
    The Money and Run
    . Here, in a 1969 interview,
    Woody appears hot off his tour promoting that very
    film. There's a very funny question and answer
    sequence with the studio audience, and Woody even
    makes an attempt at doing some push-ups. Watch for
    a very special interview with Ruth Gordon who
    steals the spotlight away from everyone that evening.


    Another childhood comedy icon of mine was Jerry
    . Though I never really knew him from his
    Dean Martin days, I certainly followed him through
    his solo career. Here, Mr. Lewis appears during his
    "greasy hair" era in an interview where we see the
    comic in top form. There's a very funny sequence
    that involves questions from the studio audience,
    as well as a rather revealing moment where the comic
    briefly discusses his feelings about the breakup
    with Dean Martin. There are two great clips from
    The Errand Boy shown that remind you what
    a great job Paramount did in restoring that film.
    Also very interesting here is Jerry talking about
    the release of The Day The Clown Cried, which
    has been greatly talked about over the past few years
    as it was a controversial film that never saw the
    light of day.


    Finally, I ended my evening watching a female
    who deserves to be listed under the moniker of
    "legend." I am sure she is a comic idol of just
    about everyone reading this review. Her name, of
    course, is Lucille Ball. In this interview,
    Lucille is promoting her recently released film,
    Mame. She is also coming off of a long-standing
    television career. I always knew that Lucille Ball
    was a very tough individual, as through her
    determination, she moved through the ranks from
    a mere chorus girl to the Queen of Comedy. From
    watching this interview, I couldn't help but see how
    hardened this lady has become. Still, she's very
    sweet to Dick Cavett and openly talks about her
    feelings of motherhood, love, and finding the perfect

    The overall video presentation looks a little rough
    around the edges. The screen captures I took looked
    somewhat blurry until I sized them down. You'll see
    the same results on a large-screen TV. One must
    consider the video quality of the time and the fact
    that nobody ever expected these shows to be released
    on a higher resolution format. With that in mind, the
    shows are quite viewable and any imperfections will
    not detract from your enjoyment of them.

    The audio sounds fine as if it had been cleaned up
    for this set. In fact, the only audio imperfections
    I found happen within the interviews themselves. A
    rather badly soundproofed studio reveals fire engine
    sirens during the Jerry Lewis episode. While
    interviewing Lucille Ball, we hear the pop of
    an overhead light bulb exploding.

    Final Thoughts

    I should mention here that each episode has a newly
    filmed introduction by Dick Cavett, who often provides
    some very candid behind-the-scenes stories of the
    guests appearing. There are also a few extras here
    that include alternate openings, outtakes and other
    assorted interviews that I haven't even gotten to
    look through as of yet.

    The Dick Cavett Show Comic Legends is a purchase
    I recommend for anyone interested in having a piece of
    archived history in their homes that ought to be in a
    museum. A rare glimpse at true comic "legends" whose
    talent may never again be matched.

    Available: NOW
  2. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

    Dec 31, 2003
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    Thanks Ron! It's great to see one of your reviews again.

    Having Groucho and "Lydia" on this is reason enough to own it. Jack Benny is another favorite and I see he's also included on this set.

    For younger (under 30) folks who never got to see folks like Cavett, Snyder, Carson et al do talk shows that were actually intelligent as well as funny this will be a real treat.

  3. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator

    Oct 9, 2001
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    Rensselaer, NY
    This is one for me. I looked longingly at that Merv Griffin set that was released a couple of weeks ago for the very same reason--a chance to re-live some of the great TV of my youth. I was an avid fan of Carson, Griffin, Douglas & Cavett. I hope to pick up this Cavett set and the Griffin set sometime soon.

    And while Carson was king (I already own the Carson Collection)...the others also provided me with hours upon hours of entertainment and education.

    I would also be interested, Ron, to hear your thoughts on the Cavett segments with the "big 3" of comedy, Burns, Benny & Hope. Those guys were ubiquitous on TV in the 60s & 70s.
  4. Justin W

    Justin W Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 2, 2003
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    i've always considered woody allen, groucho marx, and john cleese my three favorite comedians. so having an hour a piece with two of them is a treat for me. as is mel brooks.

    by the way i'm 21 so i guess that makes me one of the younger folks that never saw intelligent talk shows. my only experience with cavett is seeing clips of when jimi hendrix was on there. so i look forward to that.

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