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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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26 Oct, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Brood' and more …


The Brood

Criterion, Horror, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Cindy Hinds.
1979.
Only in a Criterion bonus section can you ever hope to find an extended “Merv Griffin Show” bonus clip featuring Oliver Reed, Orson Welles and Charo, but this is getting ahead of a movie (think: David Cronenberg, unbridled) that has enough outrageousness of own.
Extras: Aside from the “Griffin” interview from 1980, other extras include a sweet reunion between actors Hindle and Hinds, and Cronenberg’s second feature, Crimes of the Future.
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The Beginning or the End

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Robert Walker, Tom Drake, Brian Donlevy, Hume Cronyn.
1947.
The Beginning or the End does touch on a lot of important material (while leaving a lot out) and displays enough ambiguity about the development of the atomic bomb and the pro-con morality of its use to keep it from being unwatchable to many modern eyes.
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19 Oct, 2015

New on Disc: 'Murder, My Sweet' and more …


Murder, My Sweet (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Mystery, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley
1944.
The second screen version of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely, with its expressive photography and hop-headed dream sequences, is just what you want an RKO noir to be, even if decades of variations have scratched its luster (but just a little). The Blu-ray transfer is beautiful.
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An American Tragedy

Available via Universal Vault Series
Universal, Drama, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Phillips Holmes, Sylvia Sidney, Frances Dee.
1931.
Josef von Sternberg’s only Paramount talkie not to star Marlene Dietrich attempted to adapt a 20th-century literary milestone of significant heft in both senses, though it fell into obscurity after George Stevens remade it as A Place in the Sun 20 years later.
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12 Oct, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Invisible Monster' and more …


The Invisible Monster

Olive, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Richard Webb, Aline Towne.
1950.
It’s fun to see Monster getting a decent Blu-ray treatment, though it isn’t anything to show someone on a first date.
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Heller in Pink Tights

Available Warner Archive       
Warner, Western, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Sophia Loren, Anthony Quinn, Steve Forrest, Margaret O’Brien.
1960.
This is a different kind of Western: one about an 1880s acting troupe whose finances are as threadbare the actors’ costumes.
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5 Oct, 2015

New on Disc: 'Emperor of the North' and more …


Emperor of the North (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG’
Stars Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Keith Carradine.
1973.
Though ultimately not up to its frequent high points, Robert Aldrich’s nothing if not peppy attempt to overcome an obscure-sounding movie title is an undeniable auteur exercise, starting with its choice in casting.
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Directed by John Ford (DVD Review)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Documentary, $21.99 DVD, NR.
1971/2006.
Even before director Peter Bogdanovich gave it a substantial facelift in 2006, his 1971 documentary on John Ford ranked with the best of its type (and by now, there must be half-a-dozen documentaries just on Ford alone). But substantial additions and an all-out reshaping for a Turner Classic Movies broadcast not quite a decade ago turned Directed into a model of its kind.
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28 Sep, 2015

New on Disc: 'Fat City' and more …


Fat City (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges, Susan Tyrrell, Candy Clark.
1972.
John Huston’s unsentimental adaptation of Leonard Gardner’s still rhapsodically praised source novel results in an inevitably downbeat affair about two boxers with distractions, one of them over the hill and the other a youth trying to figure if he wants to take more than one or two steps up the slope.
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The High Cost of Loving

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Jose Ferrer, Gena Rowlands, Bobby Troup.
1958.
Gena Rowlands’ big-screen debut casts her opposite director/lead Jose Ferrer in a minor but agreeable comedy in which, like most comedies of the period, observational nuggets to be gleaned are sometimes more interesting than the story at hand.
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14 Sep, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Front Page' and more …


The Front Page

Kino Lorber, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Adolphe Menjou, Pat O’Brien, Mary Brian.
1931.
Lewis Milestone’s early talkie of the Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur stage hit is kind of a relic but an amusing one, and after several remakes and updates over the years, this Library of Congress restoration puts the movie back in its comfort zone, which is to say the same general time span in which the story takes place.
Extras: Includes a Library of Congress featurette and two radio adaptations (1937 and 1946, the first with Walter Winchell).
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Trader Horn

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Adventure, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Harry Carey Sr., Duncan Renaldo, Edwina Booth.
1931.
As the first non-documentary to take movie audiences into Africa on a major studio’s large dime, W.S. Van Dyke’s still entertaining not-quite creaker (a best picture Oscar nominee at the time) has a famous production history.
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7 Sep, 2015

New on Disc: 'House of Bamboo' and more …


House of Bamboo (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Robert Stack, Robert Ryan, Shirley Yamaguchi.
1955.
Samuel Fuller reportedly studied up on his Japanese cinema before tackling this completely refurbished remake of 1948’s The Street With No Name, and the result is still one of Fuller’s best efforts and proof of what he could do when he finally got a budget.
Extras: Twilight Time colleagues Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo provide a spirited Blu-ray commentary. There’s another good voiceover by Alain Silver and James Ursini carried over from Fox’s visually inferior standard-definition release from many years ago). One potential extra you won’t (nor should expect) to find here is Andy Williams’ iTunes-available “House of Bamboo” recording.
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Peter Ibbetson

Available via Universal Vault Series
Universal, Romance, $14.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Gary Cooper, Ann Harding, Ida Lupino.
1935.
Transparently based on a three-act play that maintains the three-act structure despite famously luminous Charles Lang photography that keeps things from getting too stagey, this movie with a notable cult following focuses on two lovers so linked together in each other’s minds that they manage to communicate directly or maybe even telepathically during long lives that rarely even find them in the same room once they’re separated amid their Parisian childhoods.
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31 Aug, 2015

New on Disc: 'A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy' and more …


A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Comedy, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Mary Steenburgen, Jose Ferrer.
1982.
By a presumed factor of incalculable thousands, the supporting cast of crickets, cicadas and other chirpers vastly outnumber and do their best to outshine the six human principals in Woody Allen’s pastoral light comedy that launched him on a six-picture streak of relatively mirthful achievements.
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Kitty

Available via Universal Vault Series
Universal, Drama, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Ray Milland, Paulette Goddard, Cecil Kellaway, Patric Knowles.
1946.
Generally regarded as the most successful vehicle that Paulette Goddard had to carry on her shoulders without help from Cecil B. DeMille or Chaplin, this lavish historical London lark might be classified as a bodice-ripper if any bodices actually got ripped.
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24 Aug, 2015

New on Disc: 'Day for Night' and more …


Day for Night

Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Jacqueline Bisset, Francois Truffaut, Valentina Cortese, Jean-Pierre Aumont.
1973.
Francois Truffaut’s more joyous than ever love song to filmmaking (but most of all to film crews) made an Oscar splash by winning 1973’s award for foreign film.
Extras: The fact that the film sparked a permanent rupture between onetime friends and colleagues Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard turns out to be a kind of subtheme of the bonus section of an irresistible Criterion release. Also included are interviews from Warner’s earlier DVD release.
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Dick Cavett’s Vietnam

PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, NR.
2015.
A companion piece to the previously released Dick Cavett’s Watergate, this tantalizingly compelling if frustratingly limited look-back should ideally be viewed first, given all we have to come to learn about the Vietnam-Watergate direct linkage.
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17 Aug, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Best of Everything' and more …


The Best of Everything (Blu-ray)

Available via SreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Hope Lange, Stephen Boyd, Suzy Parker, Joan Crawford.
1959.
The Best of Everything is a novel that’s still talked about today, due to its time-capsule portrayal of fresh-faced young women (Radcliffe grads and below) trying to cut it in New York at a publishing house that looks a little less elegant once they’re stuck in the typing pool. Thus, it’s impossible to watch director Jean Negulesco’s hit screen version of it without thinking of “Mad Men.”
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Big House, U.S.A. (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, Reed Hadley, William Talman.
1955.
Structurally, this unusually brutal-for-its-day toughie is something of an odd bird because (given the title), it isn’t even a prison story until maybe a third of the way in.
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