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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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25 Jul, 2016

New on Disc: 'Deadline U.S.A.' and more …


Deadline U.S.A. (Blu-ray)

Street 7/26/16
Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Kim Hunter Ethel Barrymore, Martin Gabel.
1952.
One of the reasons that Deadline U.S.A., the cheerleading newspaper melodrama that writer/director Richard Brooks, continues to have a following is that certain things never change.
Extras: Includes another dynamically entertaining commentary from film historian Eddie Muller.
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Stakeout on Dope Street

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Yale Wexler, Jonathan Haze, Morris Miller, Abby Dalton.
1958.
The debut feature for both director Irvin Kerhsner and cinematographer Haskell Wexler halfway falls into the teen-exploitation genre itself due to its plot-central portrayal of three out-of-their-league rookies who find an entire canister of uncut heroin that’s been desperately abandoned by thug kingpin subordinates during a police drug bust that goes south.
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18 Jul, 2016

New on Disc: 'To Have and Have Not' and more …


To Have and Have Not (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall, Hoagy Carmichael.
1944.
Lauren Bacall was billed third and under the title for what is still among the more smolderingly explosive debuts in screen history, but To Have and Have Not is still on history’s map in large part because it romantically paired Humphrey Bogart opposite a statuesque looker who once made cigarettes look sexy.
Extras: Carried-over extras from the old DVD include a highly germane Merrie Melodies cartoon (Bacall to Arms); a making-of featurette that notes how Hawks had to settle for featured player Dolores Moran when Bogart took up with Bacall off the set; and the two leads in a “Lux Radio Theatre” broadcast of the same in which filmmaker/host William Keighley assures us that Bogart has assured him that there are plenty of Lux suds in the Bogie household.
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Yellow Sky (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter, Richard Widmark.
1948.
William A. Wellman’s Yellow Sky was another of the postwar bread-and-butter Fox studio Westerns — big-star efforts that didn’t aspire to reinventing the wheel but which radiated a significant degree of viewer comfort from watching pros at work.
Extras: Wellman Jr.’s commentary here is on the sporadic and reserved level despite some valuable anecdotes from his days on the Sky set as a kid.
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11 Jul, 2016

New on Disc: 'The Member of the Wedding' and more …


The Member of the Wedding (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Ethel Waters, Julie Harris, Brandon de Wilde, James Edwards.
1952.
Fred Zinnemann’s ever-resonant film of Carson McCullers’ book-to-play was the ultimate in outsiders’ cinema for its day — and is, of course, far more in keeping with today’s indie-pic times than it ever was.
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I’ll Take Sweden

Olive, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Bob Hope, Tuesday Weld, Frankie Avalon, Dina Merrill, NR.
1965.
Though lacking even a single laugh, Bob Hope’s I’ll Take Sweden does offer some mild curio currency, courtesy of its immediate supporting cast.
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27 Jun, 2016

New on Disc: 'The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T' and more …


The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (Blu-ray)

Mill Creek, Fantasy, $14.98 Blu-ray, ‘G.’
Stars Peter Lind Hayes, Mary Healy, Hans Conried, Tommy Rettig.
1953.
Fingers has the only original screenplay that Dr. Seuss ever wrote, and whatever you think of the picture, which is absolutely one of a kind, it sounds, looks and feels like a product of the good doctor — brandishing far more charm and invention than the Seuss screen adaptations of the early 2000s.
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Le Amiche

Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
In Italian with English subtitles.
Stars Eleonora Rossi Drago, Gabriele Ferzetti, Franco Fabrizi, Valentina Cortese.
1955.
Michelangelo Antonioni’s third fictional feature is pure Region A Criterion: super new print and good bonus section context that explores Italy’s societal changes and the rising importance of fashion (it, a kind of Antonioni trademark) following World War II. Adapted and somewhat altered from a novel by Cesar Pavese, it explores the kind of upscale life not many Italian women were able to enjoy in this period.
Extras: Strengthening the backgrounders we get in the bonus interviews is an essay by film scholar Tony Pipolo.
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20 Jun, 2016

New on Disc: 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon' Blu-ray and more …


She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Western, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Starring John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Victor McLaglen, Harry Carey, Jr.
1949.
In terms of Technicolor, to say nothing of its signature John Wayne performance, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is still a movie for which John Ford fans have enduring affection.
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99 River Street (Blu-ray)

Street 6/21/16
Kino Lorber, Mystery, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars John Payne, Evelyn Keyes, Brad Dexter, Frank Faylen, Peggie Castle.
1953.
There are a few hoked-up bits here that compromise the rest but not in any truly serious ways because we aren’t, after all, talking about Henry James but the cinematic equivalent of lurid paperbacks.
Extras: The Blu-ray commentary here is infinitely more fun than a lot of movies.
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13 Jun, 2016

New on Disc: 'Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood' and more …


Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Documentary, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Narrated by Sigourney Weaver.
2009.
The arguable high point of this two-hour history from filmmaker Karen Thomas shows just how many of that Warner Bros. landmark’s memorable performers came from the Olympic-sized pool of displaced actors who fled Hitler for successful careers in Hollywood.
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Garden of Evil (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward, Richard Widmark, Cameron Mitchell.
1954.
Set in the late 1880s, this yarn about a goldmine cave-in’s aftermath is fairly basic, but its stars both in front of and behind the camera are compensation for its narrative concerns.
Extras: Twilight Time maestro Nick Redman, with colleagues Stephen C. Smith, John Morgan and William T. Stromberg, devote a huge amount of the voiceover commentary to composer Bernard Herrmann and a discussion of sound cues. As with other Twilight Time releases, you can isolate the music track. With archive featurettes on Hayward, Hathaway and the film’s making, this is one of TT’s more “packed” releases.
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30 May, 2016

New on Disc: 'The Chase' and more …


The Chase

Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Robert Cummings, Michele Morgan, Steve Cochran, Peter Lorre.
1946.
The word a lot of people use to describe The Chase is “dreamy,” with Arthur Ripley directing screenwriter Philip Yordan’s take on a Cornell Woolrich novel.
Extras: Filmmaker Guy Maddin provies a commentary that’s unusual in that it’s laid back and sometimes distinguished by long pauses, yet also passionate about this movie. There are also two radio broadcasts of the original Woolrich source (The Black Path of Fear), one of them with Cary Grant.
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Background to Danger

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $19.99 DVD, NR.
Stars George Raft, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Brenda Marshall.
1943.
The moderate rewards to be gleaned from this 80-minute quickie are definitely around the edges.
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23 May, 2016

New on Disc: 'Too Late for Tears' and more …


Too Late for Tears

Flicker Alley, Mystery, $39.95 Blu-ray/DVD, NR.
Stars Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea, Don DeFore, Arthur Kennedy, Kristine Miller.
1949.
This arguably definitive Lizabeth Scott performance and more were saved from extinction by UCLA’s Film and Television Archive working with the Film Noir Foundation to juggle various imperfect sources. Scott is such a piece of work here that one can only chuckle at her character’s rabid greed after this so-called housewife flukes her way into a tempting situation that immediately swallows her up and ends up destroying lives.
Extras: Includes an informative but infectiously wry commentary by historian/writer/programmer Alan Rode; a making-of short; cool production photos and press-book ads; some on-screen nuts-and-bolts regarding the restoration; and a background essay.
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The King and Four Queens (Blu-ray)

Street 5/24/16
Olive, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Clark Gable, Eleanor Parker, Jo Van Fleet, Barbara Nichols.
1956.
Looking a little weary on the range, Clark Gable took his one stab at producing a movie with this easy-to-tolerate Raoul Walsh trifle.
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16 May, 2016

New on Disc: 'Dillinger' and more …


Dillinger (Blu-ray)

Arrow, Action, $39.95 Blu-ray/DVD combo, ‘R.’
Stars Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Michelle Phillips, Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Dreyfuss.
1973.
This John Milius-directed salvo is one of the better examples of the gangster genre, though it helps that some of the supporting casting means more now than it did at the time.
Extras: Stephen Prince’s all-business commentary is diligently researched in terms of juxtaposing real facts with the movie’s fictions.
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Dark Passage (Blu-ray)

Street 5/17/16
Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Mystery, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Agnes Moorehead, Bruce Bennett.
1947.
This third of four Bogart-Bacall teamings (all within a four-year period) can be enjoyed by those fanciers of star-power willing to overlook even the rudiments of logic when it comes to jumbo coincidences and the making of the difficult look relatively easy.
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9 May, 2016

New on Disc: 'In a Lonely Place' and more …


In a Lonely Place

Street 5/10/16
Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy.
1950.
As an artful hybrid of film noir and what used to be called the “woman’s picture,” this now revered movie of Dorothy P. Hughes’s same-titled but much altered novel is regarded by a few as Humphrey Bogart’s big-screen apogee, though it has to be said that co-star Gloria Grahame fights him to a draw here in the acting department.
Extras: There’s a commentary by film scholar Dana Polan, an essay by Imogen Sara Smith; a 1948 radio adaptation of the Hughes novel that aired on “Suspense”; an interview with Grahame biographer Vincent Cursio about her (euphemistically speaking) colorful life; and a featurette, carried over from the old Sony DVD, in which director Curtis Hanson visits some of the original settings.  There’s also a slightly pruned version of the famous but relatively little-seen I’m a Stranger Here Myself, which mostly chronicles director Nicholas Ray’s tenure as a faculty member at Binghamton University in upstate New York.
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In the French Style (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Jean Seberg, Stanley Baker, Philippe Forquet.
1963.
Either co-creators Irwin Shaw and director Robert Parrish were going for ambiguity with In the French Style, or they didn’t quite know what they were doing.
Extras: Includes a commentary by Nick Redman, Julie Kirgo and Lem Dobbs.
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