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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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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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10 Aug, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Fabulous Baker Boys' and more …


The Fabulous Baker Boys (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Jeff Bridges, Michelle Pfeiffer, Beau Bridges, Jennifer Tilly.
1989.
Writer-director Steve Kloves’ close-to-unique sibling-rivalry story about a pair of second-tier lounge act piano players (Jeff and Beau Bridges) who hire a female vocalist (Michelle Pfeiffer) hasn’t lost a beat.
Extras: Kloves headlines a most rewarding commentary with Twilight Times’ Nick Redman ad Julie Kirgo.
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Run of the Arrow

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Western, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Rod Steiger, Sarita Montiel, Ralph Meeker, Brian Keith, Charles Bronson.
1957.
Run of the Arrow has enough of a cult following for some to use it as a head-basher against the Oscar-winning Dances With Wolves, with which it shares some similarities. The movie has what one would still probably have to put on the list of defining Rod Steiger roles, which is probably larger than many think. He’s an Irish-descended Confederate soldier who so can’t get over the South’s defeat (talk about current topicality) that he can’t even abide the reuniting of the country.
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3 Aug, 2015

New on Disc: 'He Ran All the Way' and more …


He Ran All the Way

Street 8/4/15
Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars John Garfield, Shelley Winters, Wallace Ford.
1951.
Pioneer “rebel” actor John Garfield might not be quite the cult figure he is today without the handful of independent projects he made late in his career, including He Ran All the Way, which ended up being his final movie.
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Man of Conquest

Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Richard Dix, Gail Patrick, Joan Fontaine, George (Gabby) Hayes.
1939.
This Sam Houston biopic is by no means short on entertainment value — on its own, or as a curiosity or as an edifying cross-reference to other screen portrayals of covered events.
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27 Jul, 2015

New on Disc: 'The World of Henry Orient' and more …


The World of Henry Orient (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Comedy, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Peter Sellers, Tippy Walker, Merrie Spaeth, Angela Lansbury.
1964.
Veteran screenwriter Nunnally Johnson’s adaptation of daughter Nora’s same-name 1956 novel was probably the best movie specifically centered on teenaged girls until 2001’s Ghost World. As a second-rate concert pianist who has still managed to attain a small but dwindling following, Peter Sellers becomes an object of fascination for two early adolescents (Merrie Spaeth and Tippy Walker), students at an upscale Manhattan school who’ve just met and become instant friends.
Extras: Twilight Time regulars Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo (with film music expert Jeff Bond) offer a breezy commentary, though it’s amusing to note the friendly tension between Orient-adorer Kirgo (whose age and upbringing make her a dead-on soul sister with the key characters) and Redman (who has little use for Sellers in the movies not directed by Stanley Kubrick and doesn’t mind telling you so).
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Prime Cut (Blu-ray Review)

Street 7/28/15
Kino Lorber, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R’
Stars Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Sissy Spacek, Angel Tompkins.
1972. Prime Cut
’s brisk 86-minute pacing enables an apt cast to keep at least pulp fanciers sticking with a notably preposterous piece of work.
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6 Jul, 2015

New on Disc: 'Dodge City' and more …


Dodge City (Blu-ray)

Warner, Western, $19.98 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Alan Hale, Bruce Cabot, Ann Sheridan.
1939.
A good cast, fast pacing and a gorgeous exterior go a long way toward making this a fun journey to dip into every once in a while.
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Entertaining the Troops: American Entertainers in World War II

MVD, Documentary, $19.95 DVD, NR.
1994.
Robert Mugge’s undeservedly ill-known documentary focuses on the Hollywood stars who battled the elements and puddle-jumping plane rides to provide brief R&R to those serving the country in World War II. The early going of Entertaining the Troops is fun and full of foolproof footage (probably in the public domain) of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and Judy Garland and bandleader Kay Kyser and many more doing in-person engagements and/or radio shows bee-lined for the troops. But the soul of the story comes late when its longer opening act concludes, and Mugge films a sit-around with Hope and his core troupe.
Extras: Includes a bonus outtake section that runs about 25 minutes.
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29 Jun, 2015

New on Disc: 'Absolute Beginners' and more …


Absolute Beginners

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Comedy, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Eddie O’Connell, Patsy Kensit, David Bowie, James Fox.

1986. The movie built on the emerging teen market probably bites off more late-1950s London turmoil than it can chew — which is, relatively speaking, to its credit, given the dearth of daringly ambitious screen entertainments from the mid-1980s.
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The Whistler & The Power of the Whistler

Available via Sony Choice Collection
Sony Pictures, Thriller, $20.95 DVD each, NR.
Stars Richard Dix.
1944-45.
Eight "Whistler" movies sprang from the popular radio show, with the first and third presented here, focused on some crime-centered pickle in which the story’s protagonist had gotten himself immersed.
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22 Jun, 2015

New on Disc: 'Magician' and more …


Magician: The Astonishing Work & Life of Orson Welles

Cohen, Documentary, B.O. $0.016 million, $24.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, NR.
2014.
The accurate rap on Magician, including by the many to whom this brisk overview gave a good time, is its tendency toward surface skimming in dealing with a subject who directed in multiple mediums, acted, was an ubiquitous talk-show guest in his day and counted among his wives Rita Hayworth.
Extras: Includes a short interview with film historian Annette Insdorf.
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Moonlighting

B2MP, Drama, $29.98 Blu-ray/DVD combo, ‘PG.’
Stars Jeremy Irons, Eugene Lipinski, Jirí Stanislav, Eugeniusz Haczkiewicz.
1982.
Jerzy Skolimowsky’s political movie involves a Polish construction crew that probably thinks it’s being offered a good deal for a London assignment but is likely getting ripped off by the party official who has hired them during the days of Solidarity.
Extras: Jeremy Irons offers intermittent commentary on this release’s alternate audio track.
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15 Jun, 2015

New on Disc: '1776: Director's Cut' and more …


1776: Director’s Cut (Blu-ray)

Sony Pictures, Musical, $19.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, John Cullum, Ken Howard, Blythe Danner.
1972.
The 4K restoration of this somewhat underappreciated flop, an adaptation of the Tony-winning musical about America’s Founding Fathers, rewards the work put into it.
Extras: There’s a pair of commentaries: one carry-over with director Peter H. Hunt with the now deceased screenwriter Peter Stone — plus a new one with Hunt and stars William Daniels and Ken Howard. And screen tests, as well.
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Smiling Through the Apocalypse

First Run, Documentary, B.O. $0.005 million, $19.99 DVD, NR.
2014.
As heydays go, you couldn’t beat Esquire in that counterculture decade, and the Southern gentleman pulling the strings was handsome Harold Hayes out of Wake Forest. Apocalypse, which shares its title with a well-known published anthology of Esquire writings from those very days, is directed by Harold’s son Tom.
Extras: Includes three extended interviews.
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8 Jun, 2015

New on Disc: 'Jamaica Inn' and more …


Jamaica Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition

Cohen, Drama, $29.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara, Robert Newton, Leslie Banks.
1939.
Nobody much, it seems, liked or likes Alfred Hitchcock’s big-screen version of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn very much, but it was a huge box office hit, and within clearly stated limitations is a lot more fun to watch than its reputation would indicate — certainly in this new 4K restoration that’s pleasing to watch just on general principle.
Extras: Includes a commentary by film historian Jeremy Arnold and an overview by Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto that’s kind of a model of its featurette kind.
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Children of Giant

PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, NR.
2015.
The documentary about George Stevens Sr.’s adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel Giant definitely adds to the literature of a blockbuster that remains fascinating in so many ways.
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