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‘Tailor’ Threads Together Behind-Scenes Highlights

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

For his role as the title character of “The Tailor of Panama,” Geoffrey Rush worked with a real tailor to learn how to measure a client for a suit, how to draw the pattern on the cloth and how to cut it. But the one thing he didn’t learn was how to drive a car. That made filming a bit difficult for director John Boorman, because Rush’s character is frequently driving a car in the spy thriller.

In his commentary on the DVD edition of “Panama” (Columbia TriStar, $25), Boorman explains that he had to use doubles in some of the driving scenes and had to have the car pulled in others.

Based on the novel by John le Carre, “Tailor of Panama” is an uneven espionage drama that’s worth watching for the performances by Rush and Pierce Brosnan as a sleazy British agent--sort of the anti-James Bond--who has been banished to Panama because of sexual indiscretions. Jamie Lee Curtis is on hand as Rush’s wife.

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The DVD includes the wide-screen edition of the film, production notes, the trailer, the alternate ending that, thankfully, Boorman scrapped, and a fun conversation between Brosnan and Rush.

Boorman supplies the scintillating commentary, which, at times, is more interesting than the film itself. He relates several cases in which initially reluctant Panamanian officials wound up cooperating with the filmmakers after they found out who was going to star in the movie.

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Johnny Depp continues to grow and challenge himself as an actor, especially in the drama “Blow” (New Line, $27), in which he plays George Jung, the first American drug trafficker who saw the profit potential of bringing cocaine to America from Colombia. He’s the best thing about the lackluster film, directed by Ted Demme.

Penelope Cruz, Ray Liotta, Rachel Griffiths and Paul Reubens also star.

The digital edition is packed with extras, including an extended interview with Jung, who is in prison until 2015, “Lost Paradise,” a documentary chronicling cocaine’s impact on Colombia, and “Addiction: Body and Soul,” in which several doctors talk about drug addiction.

There are also “character outtakes,” in which the characters talk about Jung; Demme’s production diary; a music video and deleted scenes with optional commentary, including a lengthy sequence dealing with an excised subplot involving Jung’s former partner. One can also watch the film with factual subtitles. There is also an interesting commentary track with Demme and Jung, who admits he had never heard of Depp before this film.

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Creative Light Entertainment has just released three new volumes of sketches from Sid Caesar’s legendary ‘50s comedy series, “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour”: “The Sid Caesar Collection--The Fan Favorites” ($20 each on VHS; $25 on DVD; $50 for the set on VHS; $70 for the set on DVD).

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The sketches were chosen by feedback from Caesar’s fans via his official fan site, https://www.SidCaesar.com. And they are marvelous. Especially hysterical is one in which Caesar and Nanette Fabray try to hold a dinner party in the tiniest of New York apartments. Imogene Coca and Caesar team up for a wonderful pantomime bit set to the “1812 Overture.”

The DVDs feature an audio commentary by Caesar, bonus sketches, interview segments and some of the original scripts that were recently discovered in a closet near the original writers’ room. “The Fan Favorites” collection is available by calling (888) 292-9400 or at https://www.SidCaesar.com.

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“When Good Ghouls Go Bad,” a made-for-video Halloween thriller for kids (Fox, $20 for both DVD and video), is based on a new book by R.L. Stine of “Goosebumps” fame, but it lacks the latter’s charm, humor and scariness.

A young boy (Joe Pichler), his father (Tom Amandes) and his eccentric Uncle Fred (Christopher Lloyd) have moved back to their Minnesota hometown, which is haunted by a curse that prevents it from celebrating Halloween. What starts out as fun just turns into a lot of silliness. The DVD includes a short “making-of” featurette. The movie will also be seen next month on cable’s Fox Family Channel.

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Far more entertaining is the digital edition of “13 Ghosts” (Columbia TriStar, $20), a 1960 campy horror thriller from the legendary showman-director William Castle of “The House on Haunted Hill” fame. Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Martin Milner, Margaret Hamilton and Donald Woods star in this hoot about a family that inherits a house inhabited by some very angry ghosts, including a lion.

Castle, who was always coming up with gimmicks for his film, introduced “Illusion-O” for “13 Ghosts”--sort of a 3-D effect in which one can view the ghosts. The DVD includes the “Illusion-O” viewing device. One can watch the film with or without the special effects. The digital edition also includes a kitschy featurette: “13 Ghosts: The Magic of Illusion-O.”

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