Praise, and a lot of it, for ‘M:i:III’

Times Staff Writer

Tom Cruise and director J.J. Abrams are probably suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome because of all the mutual back-slapping they do on the audio commentary and documentaries on the two-disc collector’s edition of “Mission: Impossible III” (Paramount, $35). Their mutual admiration society act becomes tiresome but doesn’t diminish the well-produced extras.

Several featurettes explore the film’s complicated production, including one on the high-voltage stunts and action sequences. There’s also an interview between Cruise and Abrams from “Moviefone Unscripted” as well as deleted scenes, a photo gallery, coverage of the various international premieres and laid-back commentary with Cruise and Abrams. Though “Mission” opened to generally favorable reviews, its disappointing performance at the box office, among other issues, led to Cruise and Paramount parting ways.


Also new


“The Tarzan Collection, Vol. 2" (Warner, $40): After a successful decade at MGM, the “Tarzan” franchise moved to RKO in 1943. Johnny Weissmuller, who played Tarzan, made the move to the new studio, as did Johnny Sheffield as his son Boy and their pet chimpanzee Cheeta. Maureen O’Sullivan, who played Jane, remained at MGM and was eventually replaced by the colorless Brenda Joyce.

The budgets were lower and the stories far less entertaining than the MGM vehicles. But the films are still a kick, though Weissmuller was a bit too long in the tooth to be wearing a loin cloth.

The films in the collection are 1943’s “Tarzan Triumphs,” in which the King of the Jungle takes on the Nazis; 1943’s “Tarzan’s Desert Mystery”; 1945’s “Tarzan and the Amazons,” which marked Joyce’s first appearance; 1946’s “Tarzan and the Leopard Woman”; 1947’s “Tarzan and the Huntress” and 1948’s “Tarzan and the Mermaids,” the only one without Sheffield.

Weissmuller died in 1984, but Cheeta is alive and well -- he turned 74 this year. Though he retired from acting long ago, he has a second career as an abstract painter.

“Martin & Lewis Collection -- Vol. 1" (Paramount, $50): One of the hottest post-World War II comedy teams were Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, whose exuberant, no holds-barred comedy and music made them the toast of clubs, radio, TV and movies. Though their films were box-office hits, these vehicles often reigned in the duo’s more manic side. This four-disc set includes eight movies they made at Paramount, three of which were previously released on DVD -- “My Friend Irma”; “My Friend Irma Goes West”; and “The Stooge.” New to DVD are 1952’s “Sailor Beware,” which features James Dean in a tiny part; 1953’s “Scared Stiff,” a pedestrian remake of the classic 1940 Bob Hope comedy “Ghost Breakers,” which features Carmen Miranda in her final film; the 1953 comedy “The Caddy,” which introduced the Oscar-nominated hit “That’s Amore”; the 1951 comedy “That’s My Boy” and the 1952 farce “Jumping Jacks.”

“Down to the Bone” (Hart Sharp, $20): Vera Farmiga, currently in “The Departed” as Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon’s love interest, received several acting awards, including from the Sundance Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Critics Circle, for her harrowing performance as a woman working in a discount store with two children and a loveless marriage who attempts to clean up her drug habit. Extras include director Debra Granik’s original short film on which “Down” is based and heartfelt commentary from the director and her star.

“Ghost Whisperer -- The Complete First Season” (Paramount, $73): Jennifer Love Hewitt not only sees dead people in this CBS paranormal series, she also talks to them. As Melinda Gordon, a newlywed antique-shop owner, Hewitt helps ghosts stuck in this world to pass over. The extras on the six-disc set are better than average for a TV series collection -- a spooky look at “The Clairvoyants of Ghost Whisperer,” a tour of the set, a compelling examination of how the ghosts are created for the series, some deleted scenes, a dull blooper reel and commentary with cast members -- minus Hewitt -- and the creative team on select episodes.

“George Burns -- The TV Specials Collection” (Standing Room Only, $40): After winning the best supporting actor Oscar for 1975’s “The Sunshine Boys,” the octogenarian comic headlined several musical-variety TV specials. This four-disc set features nine he hosted between 1976 and 1985, including “The George Burns Special,” “George Burns’ One Man Show” and “George Burns’ 100th Birthday Party.” Guest stars include Walter Matthau, Johnny Carson, the Osmond Brothers, Bob Hope, Ann-Margret, Steve Martin, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Minnie Pearl, Bernadette Peters, Kenny Rogers and former President Ronald Reagan.