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A Three-Course 'Beast'

Three versions of the studio's 1991 Oscar nominee are included in a special edition.


The new special-edition DVD of Disney's 1991 animated film "Beauty and the Beast" ($30) actually features three versions of the enchanting adaptation of the classic fairy tale--the only animated film to be nominated for a best picture Oscar.

Included are the original theatrical release, a work-in-progress edition that was shown at the 1991 New York Film Festival and a special edition that was released earlier this year in the Imax format.

The latter boasts a song, "Human Again," that was conceived for the original film but never animated. It was subsequently introduced in the Broadway stage version.

The special edition of the film has been digitally restored frame by frame and looks glorious. It is also available on VHS ($25).

Chris Carrey, senior vice president of DVD production and worldwide technical services for Buena Vista Home Entertainment, says that "Beauty and the Beast" is the most elaborate DVD the company has produced.

Disc 1 includes all three versions of the film and informative commentary from the filmmakers--directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, producer Don Hahn, and Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken. There is also a sing-along track and a game in which players look for a secret code that allows them to play another game on Disc 2.

The second disc is divided into three sections: "Mrs. Potts' Engaging Treats: Fun for All Ages," which includes a look at the stories behind classic Disney movies, a "making of" featurette with Celine Dion as host, a featurette on the "Beauty and the Beast" Broadway production, and several games. "Cogsworth and Lumiere's Library" is for the film buff and is filled with such goodies as the early presentation reel, a wonderful alternate version of "Be Our Guest," a look at the various designs for Beauty and the Beast, and character art galleries. "Chip's Fun and Games--For the Young at Heart" offers an MTV-ish tour of Disney's animation studios, as well as "Chip's Musical Challenge Game."


The theatrical version of the classic animated TV series "Scooby-Doo" may have brought in big bucks at the box office this summer, but there is no camouflaging the fact that the movie is a dog. Silly and often tasteless, the film also is thwarted by having a computer-generated Scooby-Doo. The only saving grace is Matthew Lillard as Scooby's hippy-dippy friend, Shaggy. Freddie Prinze Jr., with a horrible blond hairdo, and his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar, also star.

The DVD (Warner, $27) is available in either the wide-screen or pan-and-scan version. It offers a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes (including a fun animated opening with commentary by director Raja Gosnell), games, a music video, mindless commentary with the stars and another track with the director, and seven challenging DVD-ROM games.


New on DVD from Warner Home Video are two MGM classics from Hollywood's golden age: "The Thin Man" and "The Shop Around the Corner" ($20 each).

Produced in 1934, "The Thin Man" is a sophisticated souffle based on the Dashiell Hammett thriller. It boasts crackling dialogue and perfect performances from William Powell and Myrna Loy as the married sleuths, Nick and Nora Charles. The film was so popular it spawned a long, successful series of sequels. Asta the dog also stars. The DVD transfer is crisp; the disc includes the trailers for all the "Thin Man" movies.

Ernst Lubitsch directed the 1940 romantic comedy "The Shop Around the Corner," starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as two squabbling store clerks who don't realize they are pen pals. This absolutely magical film was remade as "In the Good Old Summertime" and "You've Got Mail," and turned into the Broadway musical "She Loves Me." The DVD features a beautiful transfer, trailers from the three versions and a 1940 MGM short.


Hey, baby. The collector's edition DVD of the comedy "Swingers" (Miramax, $20) is money. Written by and starring Jon Favreau and directed by Doug Liman, "Swingers" follows a group of struggling actors in Los Angeles who spend their nights looking for love and hanging out at cool nightclubs that specialize in swing music.

Loosely autobiographical, "Swingers" also stars Favreau's friends Vince Vaughn, Patrick Van Horn and Ron Livingston. The disc features an original documentary on the making of the film, deleted scenes, commentary from Liman, very funny and R-rated commentary from Favreau and Vaughn, and the acclaimed spoof "Swing Blade."


Image's two-disc set "D.W. Griffith--Years of Discovery 1909-1913" (Image, $40) is manna from heaven for any serious student of film.

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