Universal pays tribute to Hollywood legends Mae West, Marlene Dietrich and Carole Lombard with three separate box sets dubbed “Glamour Collections.” What’s so glamorous about jamming up to six films on two double-sided discs with barely a thought given to menus and packaging is hard to say. Less clear still is why glamour is the adjective used to encapsulate three actresses who, while no doubt glamorous, helped to expand the possibilities for female characters beyond mere eye candy to be rescued or won over. West naturally leads the field on that score, with five films — Night After Night (1932), I’m No Angel (1933), Goin’ to Town (1935), Go West Young Man (1936) and My Little Chickadee (1940) — that neatly summarize her career arc from pre-code taboo buster to clipped courtesan. The Dietrich collection drips with Josef von Sternberg’s familiar exotica — Morocco (1930), Blonde Venus (1932) and The Devil Is a Woman (1935) — along with René Clair’s Flame of New Orleans (1941) and Mitchell Liesen’s Golden Earrings (1947). While both the West and Dietrich sets come front-loaded with well-known classics, the Carole Lombard set follows the road less traveled, with six minor works new to DVD that yield some surprising finds, among them True Confession (1937), which reunites Lombard with her Twentieth Century co-star John Barrymore in a battle-of-the-genders courtroom comedy that set the stage for Adam’s Rib.
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Other recommended new releases: Brokeback Mountain (VHS-DVD); Mel Brooks Collection: Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, History of the World, Part 1, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Silent Movie, To Be or Not to Be, The Twelve Chairs, Young Frankenstein (DVD). Also released this week: VHS-DVD: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Crash. DVD: Bob Dylan: 1975-1981 Rolling Thunder and the Gospel Years; Dawson’s Creek: The Complete Sixth Season; Films of Faith Collection: The Nun’s Story, The Shoes of the Fisherman, The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima; Full House: The Complete Third Season; Knight Rider: Season Four; Liza With a “Z”: A Concert for Television; Magnum P.I.: The Complete Fourth Season; New York Doll; The A-Team: Season Four; Tripping the Rift: Season Two.