Log in

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
Sort by: Title | Date
2 Jun, 2014

New on Disc: 'Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' To Tell You'

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin’ To Tell You

HBO, Documentary, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Beyond its entertainment value, Whoopi Goldberg’s directorial debut fills in some valuable history about a performer all but unique to her era.
Read the Full Review

Forever Amber

Available via Fox Cinema Archive
Fox, Drama, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Linda Darnell, Cornel Wilde, Richard Greene, George Sanders.
Otto Preminger’s sumptuously mounted adaptation of Kathleen Winsor’s once scandalous Restoration novel was something of a drag that hadn’t remotely matched the revenue-marked popularity of a book that in the 1940s had been the hottest thing around this side of the Kinsey Reports.
Read the Full Review

26 May, 2014

New on Disc: 'Two Rode Together' and more …

Two Rode Together (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars James Stewart, Richard
Widmark, Shirley Jones, Linda Cristal.
John Ford’s Two Rode Together doesn’t splice together too well and is something of a mess, likely a must for Ford fans but probably a much tougher sell for anyone else.
Read the Full Review

The Public Defender

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Richard Dix, Shirley Grey.
Despite it having come out during the Hoover Administration, we could be talking about a movie from today, given the targeted heavies and the methodology used to combat them.
Read the Full Review

19 May, 2014

New on Disc: 'Hit the Deck' and more …

Hit the Deck (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Musical, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Jane Powell, Tony Martin, Debbie Reynolds, Walter Pidgeon.
Essentially a fantastic soundtrack album looking for keener scripting and direction, this is, appropriately, a shore leave musical that romantically teams Jane Powell with Vic Damone, Ann Miller with Tony Martin and then-youngsters Debbie Reynolds with Russ Tamblyn.
Read the Full Review

Coogan’s Bluff (Blu-ray)

Koch Media, Drama, $20 All-Region Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Clint Eastwood, Lee J. Cobb, Susan Clark, Don Stroud.
This German Blu-ray release of director Don Siegel’s amusingly trashy sociopath-out-of-water melodrama starring Clint Eastwood offers Technicolor that’s a little punchier than the DVD’s, and there’s enough grain to satisfy grain fanciers but not enough to repel those not in the club.
Read the Full Review

12 May, 2014

New on Disc: 'Up the Junction' and more …

Up the Junction

Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Suzy Kendall, Dennis Waterman, Maureen Lipman.
A curiosity at best, this rather handsome color release stars Suzy Kendall as a rich girl who runs away from her privileged life.
Read the Full Review

A Slight Case of Larceny

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Mickey Rooney, Eddie Bracken, Marilyn Erskine, Elaine Stewart.
This is a minor comedy with a short running time, and yet stars Mickey Rooney and Eddie Bracken play so professionally off one another that their nicely synchronized teaming is a pleasure to watch.
Read the Full Review

5 May, 2014

New on Disc: 'Double Indemnity' and more …

Double Indemnity (Blu-ray)

Universal, Drama, $29.98 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson.

1944. The Blu-ray of this increasingly durable version of James M. Cain’s novel is the visually darkest rendering I’ve ever seen of the picture, but the image clarity is super sharp. Similarly sharp were Billy Wilder’s casting instincts over many years, and as good as the script is, it is tough to imagine the definitive insurance-fraud movie being as revered as it is were the choice of players not so distinctive. 
Read the Full Review

Riot in Cell Block 11

Criterion, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Neville Brand, Emile Meyer, Leo Gordon.

1954. The backstory to this example of what used to be called a “shaky-A” is probably a little more interesting than the film itself, an exposé of prison abuses. Brutal for its day, Riot runs a tight 80 minutes and occasionally reflects a low budget that doesn’t give the great cinematographer Russell Harlan that much to do, though his deep-focus shots of the darkened prison corridor are not unimpressive.
Read the Full Review

28 Apr, 2014

New on Disc: 'The King of Comedy' and more …

The King of Comedy (Blu-ray)

Fox, Comedy, $24.99 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis,
Sandra Bernhard, Diahnne Abbott.
This discomforting film from Martin Scorsese absolutely nails the show-biz nerd subculture, particularly in terms of what New York City fringe living was at that time. 
Read the Full Review

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Gig Young, Robert Webber, Emilio Fernandez.
This is the one Sam Peckinpah movie, according to the director himself, that he got to make without studio or producer interference.
Read the Full Review

21 Apr, 2014

New on Disc: 'Funny Face' and more …

Funny Face (Blu-ray)

Warner/Paramount, Musical, $19.98 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson.
One of the most beautiful-looking movies ever to come out of Hollywood, Funny Face benefits from the participation of Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, a Gershwin score and Stanley Donen directing against Paris locales and runway lushness.
Read the Full Review

Men in War

Olive, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray, Robert Keith, Vic Morrow.
Gritty and even brutal for its day, Men in War is one of the better and grownup combat movies of the period, and has the feel of an auteur work from director Anthony Mann.
Read the Full Review

14 Apr, 2014

New on Disc: 'The Swimmer' and more …

The Swimmer

Grindhouse, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray/DVD combo, ‘PG.’
Stars Burt Lancaster, Janet Landgard, Janice Rule.
Imperfect as it is, this troubled adaptation of the deservedly famous John Cheever short story is still haunting and not a little creepy — and if you love Burt Lancaster, there’s no way you can miss one of his major performances.
Extras: Includes five exceptionally good featurettes.
Read the Full Review

Young at Heart

Olive, Romance, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Gig Young, Ethel Barrymore, Dorothy Malone.
Frank Sinatra’s first post-comeback romantic lead deserves attention even today, though the market for Young at Heart is probably limited to those whose hearts have never fully left the 1950s.
Read the Full Review

7 Apr, 2014

New on Disc: 'Cry Danger' and more …

Cry Danger

Street 4/8
Olive, Mystery, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dick Powell, Rhonda Fleming, Richard Erdman.
Like a lot of noirs from the era, this one affords some welcome location work, which often times did turn out to be of L.A. — sometimes one that no longer exists.
Read the Full Review

Conrack (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, PG.
Stars Jon Voight, Paul Winfield, Madge Sinclair, Tina Andrews.
Conrack’s feel-good message steers clear of white-guy-helps-a-bunch-of-black-kids clichés. A lot of the film is devoted to the entertaining, event-packed classroom scenes, while the cinematography makes the grand outdoors a major character that looms just outside these glorified bull sessions.
Read the Full Review

31 Mar, 2014

New on Disc: 'The Front' and more …

The Front (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Woody Allen, Andrea Marcovicci, Herschel Bernardi, Michael Murphy.
There’s surprising humor to be had in this very grown-up look-back at the early 1950s Hollywood and TV Blacklist about individuals who “fronted” and took credit for the scripts of blacklisted others.
Read the Full Review

The First Time

Available via Sony Choice Collection
Sony Pictures, Comedy, $18.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Robert Cummings, Barbara Hale.
This view of life for young marrieds who are barely making it is a certified hoot for all its obscurity.
Read the Full Review