My Friend Irma/My Friend Irma Goes West
George Marshall's My Friend Irma first appeared on a string of low-priced DVDs of uncertain origin and less certain legitimacy -- this is its first proper release, and among Paramount's all-too-rare explorations of its early library on DVD (with a couple of notable exceptions, the studio's pre-1948 sound film catalog was sold to Universal in the mid-'50s). The film-to-video transfer is excellent, the full-screen (1.33:1) black-and-white image rich in contrast and depth, and the sound is even better -- the audio isn't just set at healthy volume throughout, but in the segments in which Dean Martin sings, his voice comes through with beautiful resonance and presence; and even Alfred Newman's "Street Scene," which opens both movies on the soundtrack, sounds great. The 102-minute film has been given a generous 15 chapters and has been paired off with its sequel, My Friend Irma Goes West, directed by Hal Walker. The latter film, clocking in at just 90 minutes, looks and sounds just about as good -- it's also full-screen (1.33:1), and black-and-white -- and gets 13 chapter markers. There are no extras or bonus features, and the disc opens automatically to an easy-to-use two-layer menu.