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Mike Clark has been writing about film for more than 20 years, starting with a weekly column in USA Today in 1985. He also served as program planner and director of the American Film Institute Theater.


Mike's Picks
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14 Mar, 2016

New on Disc: 'Where the Sidewalk Ends' and more …


Where the Sidewalk Ends (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill, Karl Malden.
1950.
With the same leads, director, cinematographer and studio, Otto Preminger’s Where the Sidewalk Ends can be seen as the underbelly of Laura — with the sidewalk ending somewhere in a NYC district lower-rent than anything we see in Preminger’s preceding posh masterpiece. Sidewalk is pretty solid, and this has to be one of the most crisp-looking Blu-rays that Twilight Time has ever put out.
Extras: Noir expert Eddie Muller’s bonus commentary has been carried over from Fox’s old standard DVD.
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The Whip Hand

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Thriller, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Carla Balenda, Elliott Reid, Raymond Burr, Edgar Barrier.
1951.
This movie is definitely a window into the mindset of RKO head Howard Hughes and his Cold War fixation.
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7 Mar, 2016

New on Disc: 'Cowboy' and more …


Cowboy (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Glenn Ford, Jack Lemmon, Anna Kashfi, Brian Donlevy.
1958.
Cowboy is no less an example of oddball casting that works, especially since Jack Lemmon proves to be a really nifty screen match with co-lead Glenn Ford, who’s as good as he ever was here.
Extras: Includes a commentary with Julie Kirgo, Nick Redman and Paul Seydor.
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Pauline at the Beach

Kino Lorber, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
In French with English subtitles.
Stars Amanda Langlet, Arielle Dombasle, Pascal Greggory, Feodire Atkine.
1983.
This entry in the director Eric Rohmer’s sublime “Comedies and Proverbs” series has the usual Rohmer virtues: appealing actors; delicious deceptions (which temporarily turn key protagonists into fools); a constant reshuffling of romantic entanglements; and heavy doses of character-driven dialogue that result in nothing like watching a filmed play.
Extras: Includes a 1996 interview with Rohmer.
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29 Feb, 2016

New on Disc: 'I Knew Her Well' and more …


I Knew Her Well

Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Stefania Sandrelli, Mario Adorf, Jean-Claude Brialy.
1965.
This vastly underseen Italian import, about someone without too much ammo at her disposal trying to exploit the one commodity she has (looks) to survive in a pool of male sharks, is enough of a discovery to make one wonder how many other submerged treasures there are out there from the ’60s. The 4K spiff-up is so easy on the eye that we’re again reminded of Criterion’s consistent prowess at rendering black-and-white.
Extras: There’s a good backgrounding essay by journalist/author Alexander Stille about the societal changes in ’60s Italy that led to a cinematic re-emphasis from the rural to the metropolitan; a Stefania Sandrelli interview plus her original screen test; and an interview with scholar Luca Barattoni on the career of writer/director Antonio Pietrangeli.
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These Three

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD
Stars Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon, Joel McCrea, Bonita Granville.
1936.
Long cited as one of the more artful end runs around the Hollywood Production Code, this first of eight pictures in the fruitful Samuel Goldwyn-William Wyler association is an unacknowledged (at least in the credits) first screen version of Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour.
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22 Feb, 2016

New on Disc: 'Key Largo' and more …


Key Largo (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Street 2/23/16
Warner, Thriller, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor.
1948.
Co-scripted by director John Huston and Richard Brooks from a play by Maxwell Anderson, Key Largo displayed full-octane showmanship by teaming two of the actors who helped put Warner’s talkies on the map — including the return of Edward G. Robinson in a gangster role.
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From the Terrace (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Ina Balin, Myrna Loy.
1960.
Though no one will ever call From the Terrace one of the best movies of its year, it does keep you going with a handsome print and, per Twilight Time usual, a separate track that isolates the score (in this case, Elmer Bernstein’s).
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15 Feb, 2016

New on Disc: 'The Southerner' and more …


The Southerner

Kino Lorber, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Zachary Scott, Betty Field, Beulah Bondi.
1945.
One wouldn’t exactly call this Jean Renoir-directed movie about Texas sharecroppers rose-colored, but even the closest thing it has to a villain is more stubborn than evil.
Extras: The disc includes Pare Lorentz’s classic documentary short The River, and the much less seen 45-minute 1944 propaganda film Salute to France.
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The Happy Ending (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Jean Simmons, John Forsythe, Shirley Jones, Lloyd Bridges.
1969. 
A key story element here is a wedding anniversary celebration that proves significantly less joyous than intended.
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8 Feb, 2016

New on Disc: 'All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records' and more …


All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records

FilmRise, Documentary, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
2015.
I’m not sure how it came to be that Colin Hanks (son of Tom) took on Tower’s story as a screen project, but on some level it was out of love because there’s just too much wistful adoration in every frame here.
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The Wrong Man (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive 
Warner, Mystery, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle.
1956.
This is a powerful fact-based movie and definitely one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s stronger achievements. It tells of how a financially strapped family man got picked up for a series of neighborhood armed robberies after trying to borrow some money on his wife’s insurance policy for her dental work.
Extras: In addition to retaining a smooth making-of short that appeared on the long-ago Man standard DVD, Warner has given the picture a new transfer with a surprising amount of grain that suits the picture’s semi-documentary style.
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1 Feb, 2016

New on Disc: 'The Last Detail' and more …


The Last Detail (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Comedy, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, Randy Quaid, Clifton James.
1973.
The richly episodic story, adapted from Darryl Ponicsan’s novel, deals with two Navy lifers (Jack Nicholson and Otis Young) transporting a prisoner (Randy Quaid) through locales that would seem to have potential for mayhem. Perhaps befitting director Hal Ashby’s editing room experience, the movie looks and feels patched together, which may have been intentional, though the result plays very well regardless of the filmmaking methodology.
Extras: According to some of Julie Kirgo’s zestiest Twilight Time liner notes, this is Nicholson’s favorite career performance.
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Station West

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Western, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Dick Powell, Jane Greer, Agnes Moorehead, Raymond Burr, Burl Ives.
1948.
More than one interested party has called this Luke Short adaptation “Western film nor,” and, let’s face it, there aren’t a whole lot of those around.
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25 Jan, 2016

New on Disc: 'Bitter Rice' and more …


Bitter Rice

Criterion, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Vittorio Gassman, Doris Dowling, Silvana Mangano, Raf Vallone.
1949.
An almost perfect blend of genuine Italian neo-realism and art house sexploitation.
Extras: Includes a remembrance of director Giuseppe De Santis and an essay by journalist/academic Pasquale Iannone.
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The Detective (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Frank Sinatra, Lee Remick, Jacqueline Bisset, Ralph Meeker, Robert Duvall.
1968.
For all its narrative sputters and misses, the once popular movie version of Roderick Thorp’s sprawling novel remains something of a grabber, in part because it’s both retro and progressive.
Extras: The Blu-ray has a particularly lively commentary by Twilight Time guru Nick Redman, his frequent bonus track partner Lem Dobbs and David Del Valle in an entertaining court jester role.
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28 Dec, 2015

New on Disc: 'You Can't Take It With You' and more …


You Can’t Take It With You (Blu-ray)

Sony Pictures, Comedy, $19.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, Edward Arnold.
1938.
This 4K restoration of iffy but best-existing printing materials showcases an in-his-prime Frank Capra fashioning a little something of his own out of the George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart Pulitzer winner — auteurism, in fact, that won the director his third Oscar in five years from 1934-38.
Extras: The overall production is classy all the way: digibook with glossy paper and still reproductions; a historical-essay overview plus Crisp’s primer on the restoration challenges; and a vintage commentary by Frank Capra Jr. and Cathrine Kellison
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American Masters: Althea

PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, NR.
2015.
Rex Miller’s PBS Althea Gibson documentary unearths a goodly amount of archival footage, and Miller is so deft at mixing film and stills that one will possibly get the impression that more first-hand film exists than really does.
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21 Dec, 2015

New on Disc: 'Robbers' Roost' and more …


Robbers’ Roost

Kino Lorber, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars George Montgomery, Richard Boone, Sylvia Findley, Peter Graves.
1955.
This more-fun-than-expected Zane Grey adaptation is mostly a “guy” thing full of familiar ’50s faces to Boomer fanciers of Westerns.
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Hitler’s Children

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Tim Holt, Bonita Granville, Kent Smith, Otto Kruger.
1943.
Based on the memoirs of an American educator and onetime broadcaster who taught at an American school in Germany, this is the story of a student who ends up in a Nazi work facility after her childhood friend takes up with the country’s Youth movement.
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