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Remembering Dorothy Lamour on and Off the 'Road'

September 27, 1996|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dorothy Lamour, who died earlier this week at 81, could do it all. She was an accomplished singer, looked great in a sarong and was the perfect foil for funnymen Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.

Several of Lamour's most famous films are available on video.

In her first films, Lamour was cast as beautiful, exotic, sarong-clad South Seas heroines. The best of her South Seas adventures was John Ford's terrifically entertaining 1937 disaster flick "The Hurricane" (Sultan Entertainment, $15). Jon Hall (as Lamour's hunky love interest), Mary Astor, Thomas Mitchell and Raymond Massey also star.

Before Lamour went on the "Road" with Hope and Crosby, she appeared with Hope in the so-so musical comedy "The Big Broadcast of 1938" (MCA/Universal, $15). Hope introduces the Oscar-winning standard "Thanks for the Memory."

Lamour goes dramatic with good results in the juicy 1940 crime melodrama "Johnny Apollo" (Fox, $15). She plays the girlfriend of an upright young man (Tyrone Power) who turns to crime when his white-collar thief of a father (Edward Arnold) is sent to the big house.

That same year, Lamour made movie history when she teamed up with Crosby and Hope for "The Road to Singapore" (MCA/Universal, $15), the first of seven enormously successful "Road" comedies the trio made. In this outing, the boys swear off women until they travel to Singapore and meet showgirl Lamour.

The best "Road" flick is the hilarious 1942 entry "The Road to Morocco" (MCA/Universal, $15). In this one, Hope and Crosby are stranded penniless in Morocco, so Der Bingle sells Hope into slavery, where he becomes the personal plaything of a beautiful princess (Lamour).

The "Road" series came to an end with the so-so 1962 comedy "The Road to Hong Kong" (MGM, $15). Lamour, though, is seen only briefly in this espionage farce filmed in England.

Lamour and Hope also starred together in one of the comic's best flicks, 1941's "Caught in the Draft" (MCA/Universal, $15). Hope plays a Hollywood star trying to avoid the draft but ends up accidentally enlisting. Lamour is just fine as the daughter of an Army colonel whom Hope hopes to marry, believing he can get out of the service.

Two years later, Lamour and Hope appeared in "They Got Me Covered" (MCA/Universal, $15), a rather wan spy comedy set in Washington, D.C. Otto Preminger also stars.

Lamour flies through the air with the greatest of ease as a glamorous aerialist in Cecil B. DeMille's Oscar-wining 1952 epic "The Greatest Show on Earth" (Paramount, $30). Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton, James Stewart, Cornel Wilde and Gloria Graham also star in the deliciously corny melodrama set under the big top.

Hold the Phone: Steven Spielberg's 1982 classic "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" will beam down to video stores Tuesday in a THX digitally remastered edition after a four-year moratorium. MCA/Universal Home Video is offering the Oscar-winning fantasy in a pan-and-scan version ($15), which includes a 10-minute retrospective featuring interviews, clips and Henry Thomas' amazing screen test. The letterbox edition ($20) features a 30-minute retrospective.

Oldies but Goodies: On tap for Tuesday is 1961's "The Innocents" (FoxVideo, $20), an eerie, effective nail-biter based on Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw." Deborah Kerr plays a governess who believes her two charges are possessed by evil. Definitely watch with the lights on.

Just in time for the elections is the re-release of the clever Oscar-winning 1972 political satire "The Candidate" (Warner, $20). A perfectly cast Robert Redford plays an idealist who runs for the Senate.

Animation: Fans of political cartoons will enjoy "Cartoongate" (Kino, $15), a compilation of 10 animated shorts from 1944 to 1996. The highlight is Charles M. Jones' 1944 experimental cartoon "Hell-Bent for Election," considered a "lost masterpiece" by animation buffs. Earl Robinson and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg supplied the music for the political allegory.

Boop-oop-a-doop! On Tuesday, Republic Home Video releases "Betty Boop: The Definitive Collection" ($10 each; $70 for the set), an eight-volume set that includes 115 vintage shorts starring the saucy, naughty Ms. Boop.

Coming Next Week: William Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi and Harve Presnell star in Joel and Ethan Coen's award-winning, critically lauded "Fargo" (PolyGram).

Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton brave the elements and some really bad dialogue in the summer blockbuster "Twister" (Warner Home Video, $23). The film is available in pan-and-scan and letterbox.

The Weather Channel is also offering four videos exploring the violent world of tornadoes (ABC Video, $10-$15).

Mike, Dr. Forrester, Crow T. Robot, Gypsy and Tom Servo, the stars of the award-winning comedy series "Mystery Science Theatre 3000," headline their first movie, aptly titled "Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie" (MCA/Universal). This time around, the wisecracking gang skewers "This Island Earth." Rhino Home Video also is releasing two funny episodes ($20) from the series: "The Pod People" and "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

Tony Dow ("Leave It to Beaver") produced "It Came From Outer Space II" (MCA/Universal), a mediocre made-for-video sequel to the classic 1950s sci-fi flick. Brian Kerwin stars.

Samuel L. Jackson stars in the boxing comedy "The Great White Hype" (FoxVideo).

Also new: "Riverdance: The Show" (Columbia TriStar); "Les Miserables--In Concert" (Columbia TriStar, $25); "Too Fast, Too Young" (Monarch); "The Cemetery Man" (FoxVideo).

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