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Television Q&A: Is 'All This and World War II' available on DVD?

Rich Heldenfels, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertainment News

You have questions. I have some answers.

Q: Back in the early '70s there was a film called "All This and World War II." It was a strange film, having old war footage with a soundtrack of Beatles songs from various artists. Back then I think they had a soundtrack tape. I was just wondering if the film was available on DVD.

A: There's a rather strange history behind this film, originally released in 1976 with, as you remember, wartime footage mingled with Beatles songs covered by an array of artists including Elton John, Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, the Brothers Johnson and Peter Gabriel. Ear Candy magazine called it "perhaps one of the most bizarre movies in rock and roll." I saw it on cable many years ago, and bizarre is an understatement. Still, it was expected to be a big hit -- the two-record soundtrack was lavishly boxed, with a booklet -- but it was far less than that. It lasted less than two weeks in theaters (most famously, one critic said its PG rating stood for "perfectly ghastly") and it has never made it to home video.

While the original film can be hard to find, the director, Tony Palmer, revisited the concept for a film that was released on DVD in 2016, "The Beatles and World War II." (Again, the songs are covers, not Beatles originals.) "It's not quite the same film," he told Ear Candy. "I have re-edited great chunks of it. But I've used much of the same material, and of course many of the same songs." As for those songs, the original soundtrack got a CD release about 10 years ago and you can find it from several online retailers; I have also seen used copies of the old vinyl version on sale for as little as $3.

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Q: With the drama "Suits" due back on air on USA Network, I'm wondering if you've heard how they're handling the loss of one of its main characters, Rachel Zane, played by Prince Harry's fiancee Meghan Markle. How will they write her out?

A: I do not know, except that "Suits" will have a lot to resolve when it comes back on March 28. Both Markle and Patrick J. Adams, who plays Mike Ross, will be leaving the show. A two-hour seventh-season finale is set for April 25. This much we know from USA Network: The coming episodes will include Mike trying "to juggle his commitment to the firm, his passion for pro bono work, and his engagement to Rachel." (You didn't think the network would spoil any surprises, did you?) The season finale is also said to set up a possible spin-off series around Gina Torres's character, Jessica Pearson. And wheels are spinning for the eighth season, when Katherine Heigl will join the cast as "a talented new partner at Pearson Specter Litt who challenges the status quo."

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Q: Sometime in the '80s PBS broadcast a documentary series on great American poet titled "Voices and Visions." I recall it being both informative and beautifully presented. I don't know if there was a VHS edition, much less one on DVD or Blu-ray. Does PBS or another distributor plan to make this magnificent show available again? It deserves to be seen by a new generation.

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A: "Voices and Visions" first aired in 1988 and presented life and work of 13 poets, among them Langston Hughes, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Frost. It is available through Annenberg Learner (www.learner.org), which provides "teacher resources and professional development." The series is streaming on the website and sold on DVDs (which are not cheap); there was a previous VHS release, too. So, if educators choose to use it, a new generation has a chance to see it. If you are eager to see it again, you may want to check out the streaming version on the Learner site, or see if your local library has copies.

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Q: I'd like to know if "The Knick" is coming back with a third season. The first two seasons were on Cinemax.

A: It is done, to the dismay of series mastermind Steven Soderbergh. He reportedly had big plans for the third season, saying in a Reddit chat that the third go-round would be "set in 1947 and was going -- at my absolute insistence -- to be shot in anamorphic black-and-white." That idea, he added, "may have contributed to its demise."

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(Do you have a question or comment about entertainment past, present and future? Write to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mogadore, OH 44260, or brenfels@gmail.com. Letters may be edited. Individual replies are not guaranteed.)

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