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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Best of Burlesque
Best of Burlesque
Image // Unrated // March 16, 2004
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted April 4, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

This tribute to the strippers of days gone by from Something Weird Video is a simply exhaustive set of shorts, features, trailers and more. Spread over two discs, each disc has a feature length attraction, and a wealth of extra features. The back of the packaging states that this package is 'The most striptacular DVD ever made!' and I tend to think that that may very well be true.

One thing worth mentioning about this set, before I get to the rest of the review, is that it works best in small doses. It's the perfect type of movie to put on in the background during a party or something like that, where you're not really paying attention to it. The majority of this material is just plotless stripper footage and although I personally have a strangely high tolerance for that type of stuff, others who do not will find themselves getting bored by it. Here's what you get for your hard earned $24.99.

Feature #1 – A Virgin In Hollywood (1952): A pretty young woman named Dorothy Sloan is an adventurous reporter for the local small town newspaper. Her mission is to head to the Hollywood hills and uncover the real scoop on the secret lives of the stars. She follows a lead to a photography studio setup at a ranch in the middle of nowhere outside of the city. Here she finds lovely young beauties being photographed in their bikinis. She tries to escape but it's all in naught and she ends up being asked to model. What better way for her to experience the world than to attend a burlesque show, I hear you ask? Well there is no better way and that's exactly what she does, with these sequences appearing in 3-D no less. They look like they might have been edited into the movie just so that it could have some 3-D in it, but 3-D hotties are 3-D hotties and sometimes that's all it takes to amuse me. After this, she's convinced and ends up in front of the camera for a few sessions. She heads back to her small town, kisses her boss on the cheek, and explains how she really learned something in California. What exactly that was we don't really know, but it was fun watching the scantily clad ladies. The 3-D sequences worked reasonably well on my 20" TV set but when I checked them out on the bigger set, they weren't as effective for some reason and I had to sit perfectly centered in front of the TV for them to work – but once I did that they worked well.

Feature #2 – Too Hot To Handle (1950): This second feature is essentially a feature length burlesque compilation. Some comedians with cute but dated material are spliced into the set between the hip shaking hotties that do their thing. Dixie Evans and Patti Waggin (got to love that name!) are two of the girls in this piece. If you're not a burlesque fan this set may be tedious as there isn't a whole lot of variety here but I can watch this stuff all day and never get tired of it so I found it to be pretty enjoyable material.

The DVD

Video:

Everything is fullframe here, which is how I would assume it was all shot. Video quality is decent, but not great. There is some compression evident in a few spots, and I'm sure the fact that there's so much material crammed onto these two discs may have had something to do with that. Plenty of grain, mild print damage, scratches, splices, etc., but it all looks good enough and really, did we expect perfect video quality for a release consisting of old stripper films?

Sound:

The sound varies from feature to feature, some of them sound nice and clean, and others are quite tiny and flat. Overall though, the dialogue is clean and clear and it's not an issue following along with what's being said on screen.

Extras:

OK, in addition to the two main features, Something Weird Video follows their grand tradition of packing their releases with more extra features than you can shake your tail feather at.

A veritable cornucopia of short films is included, starting off with one featuring the irreplaceable Lili St. Cyr, entitled A Bedroom Fantasy. The infamous Tempest Storm takes the spotlight in another short film, Night In Hollywood, also in color. Satan's Dance takes a peek at Lorraine Lane, who literally dances with the devil in this aptly named piece. Sally Rand performs a fan dance in Classic Fan Dance, and Evelyn West shakes what her momma gave her in my favorite of the shorts on the disc, The Hubba Hubba Girl. The aptly named Cat Tease features the mysterious woman known only as Cat Girl, while Spider Girl spins her web in Daughters Of Eve. Afro-Cuban Genii, Babaloo (nothing to do with Ricky Ricardo), Bananas 8 To The Bar, Bust-O-Rama (which is a great title!), The Cobra Girl, A Cocktail At Sloppy Joe's, and the Curvaceous Cuties Of Burlesque are more of the shorts found lurking within.

A different short entitled Tomb Itmay Concern features a comedian named Little Jack who runs into a foxy female mummy played by Inez Claire. The comedy is dated, sure, but as a time capsule this one is particularly interesting – it serves as a reminder of how intertwined the sex industry and the comedy industry were in those days.

If you thought that was all though, you're sadly mistaken - Dances That Thrill, Egyptian Whirl, Give This Little Girl A Great Big Hand, A Gypsy Frolic, A Swiss Fan Dance, Heels Over Head (which is as good as it sounds), I'll Sell My Shirt, Natoma, Mr. Frederick, Night Club Girls, Parade Of Girls, Sepia Sirens, Tip Top Tap, Tops In Burlesque with Beverly Dawn, Unclad Cuties, and the return of Cat Girl in Uncover Girls round out the flat shorts.

Flat shorts? Yep. Not to be confused with the four3-D shorts, for which you'll have to dawn the 3-D glasses again to properly enjoy. American Beauties (and they truly are), Bella Star, Love For Sale, and last but not least, Persian Slave Market all leap off the screen at you, begging for your attention. Rounding out the 3-D section of the extras is a trailer for The 3-D Glamour Show.

And speaking of trailers, SWV has compiled forty minutes of them for your enjoyment and tossed them into the grab bag as well!

Two massive photo galleries of burlesque art and photography round out the supplements and inside the keepcase is an eleven page interview with the one and only Lili St. Cyr, which is simply the icing on this massive and very tasty cake of a set. A pair of 3-D glass is also included.

Final Thoughts:

Anyone interested in the simple sleaze of yesteryear needs this in their home video library. With literally over seven hours of cheesecake contained herein, burlesque aficionados have got a lot to love about this release. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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