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Judy Garland's 26-Episode TV Series Revived on DVD

July 22, 1999|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Judy! Judy! Judy!

Judy Garland may have died 30 years ago, but her tremendous talent lives on thanks to video, CDs and now DVD too. Pioneer Entertainment and Classic World Productions Inc. are planning to release on DVD all 26 episodes of Garland's short-lived 1963-64 CBS variety series.

The first volume ($25) recently arrived in stores and features two early editions of "The Judy Garland Show": One reunites the hostess with her former MGM leading man, Mickey Rooney, and the other marks the first time she and her then-17-year-old daughter, Liza Minnelli, worked together.

Garland and Rooney create magic again in their installment, singing a duet of "How About You?" and "Our Love Affair" as well as performing a sketch spoofing the MGM musicals and the Andy Hardy comedies they made in the '30s and '40s. Garland hits just the right notes in her solos, which include "When the Sun Comes Out."

Mother and daughter seem to have a great time. A self-assured Minnelli sings "Put on a Happy Face" and the two perform "Together" and "Two Lost Souls."

The black-and-white episodes have been digitally remastered and restored from the original videotapes and are presented in the original mono sound and the newly created 5.1 surround tracks. The disc also includes a few outtakes and deleted scenes, including in which Garland and Rooney crack wise with the audience.

One of the greatest westerns of all time, "High Noon" (Artisan, $25), has made its digital debut. The digitally remastered DVD of the classic, which stars Gary Cooper in his Oscar-winning role as a town marshal who must face gunmen by himself, was produced from the original film negative and is THX-certified for sound and picture quality.

Included are the original theatrical trailer and a special chapter stop for the Oscar-winning tune "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'." One can even have some fun with the disc--clicking on the French and Spanish tracks and watching the movie dubbed in those languages.

Leonard Maltin hosts "The Making of 'High Noon'," which features interviews with late director Fred Zinnemann, producer Stanley Kramer, the late Lloyd Bridges and excerpts from a '50s TV interview with Cooper. Maltin, though, makes a boo-boo when he states that "High Noon" is the only film for which Cooper won an Academy Award. He won his first Oscar 11 years earlier for "Sgt. York."

Columbia TriStar just released another western classic, Richard Brooks' rip-roaring 1966 adventure "The Professionals" ($20). This terrifically entertaining vehicle finds soldiers of fortune Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, the always wonderful Robert Ryan and Woody Strode trying to rescue the kidnapped wife (Claudia Cardinale) of an old Texas oil baron (Ralph Bellamy). The disc features biographies, the trailer and a beautiful wide-screen print.

Also new--"The Swinging Cheerleaders" (Anchor Bay, $30): This 1974 college sex romp was directed by Jack Hill, who also directed the 1975 cult classic "Switchblade Sisters." The disc features amusing audio commentary from Hill and film historian Johnny Legend.

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