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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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20 Nov, 2017

New on Disc: 'Lost Horizon' and more …


Lost Horizon: 80th Anniversary Edition

Sony Pictures, Romantic Fantasy Adventure Drama, $19.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Thomas Mitchell, Edward Everett Horton, John Howard.
1937. The appeal of the story of this Frank Capra gamble of love is one of emotion over mind, as a British diplomat and an eclectic group of fellow passengers crash-land in reachable distance from a living paradise whose name the movie and James Hilton’s source novel put into the language: Shangri-La.
Extras: Includes a commentary from the 1999 DVD edition.
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Hell on Frisco Bay

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $19.99 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Alan Ladd, Edward G. Robinson, Joanne Dru, Paul Stewart, William Demarest.
1956. Warner Archive’s new Hell on Frisco Bay Blu-ray has two things going for it beyond a decent dose of cosmetic handsomeness and a robust mono soundtrack: its recent rareness and a terrific Edward G. Robinson gangster performance.
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6 Nov, 2017

New on Disc: 'Take a Good Look' and more …


Take a Good Look: The Definitive Collection

Shout! Factory, Game Show, $69.97 DVD, NR.
Stars Ernie Kovacs, Edie Adams, Cesar Romero, Hans Conried.
1959-60. It was almost a dead certainty that a game show that further took advantage of Ernie Kovacs’ additional standing as a video pioneer would end up being largely performance art.
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The Sea Wolf

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Adventure, $17.99 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Edward G. Robinson, John Garfield, Ida Lupino, Alexander Knox, Gene Lockhart, Barry Fitzgerald.
1941. This best and best-known of many preceding and subsequent screen versions of Jack London’s popular novel suffered the kind of ignominy that certain other Warner hits did when they proved popular enough to re-issue — severe cutting for double features. The footage was lost until this notably seamless Blu-ray restoration, taken from an unearthed 35mm source.
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16 Oct, 2017

New on Disc: 'Portrait of Jennie' and more …


Portrait of Jennie

Street 10/24/17
Kino Lorber, Fantasy, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotton, Ethel Barrymore, Cecil Kellaway, Lillian Gish.
1948. David O. Selznick’s coffers-busting Portrait of Jennie is a favorite of many despite more lumpy moments that you’d expect from a good movie that runs just 86 minutes. It’s an ethereal, supernatural romance that wouldn’t take too many stretches to qualify for inclusion in the time-travel genre.
Extras: Film historian Troy Howarth provides a stacked bonus commentary.
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Crime of Passion

ClassicFlix, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden, Raymond Burr, Royal Dano, Fay Wray.
1957. With a new true 1.85:1 rendering that has more going for director Gerd Oswald’s sometimes detail-packed framing than the old DVD, Passion on Blu-ray is still a hit-and-miss affair that wavers through a good set-up, some boilerplate courtship material and then some nasty stuff that half-compels — though in sometimes rush-job fashion that gives the impression that maybe the filmmakers aren’t getting all that’s to be had out of the material.
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9 Oct, 2017

New on Disc: 'Funny Bones' and more …


Funny Bones

Kino Lorber, Drama, $14.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Oliver Platt, Jerry Lewis, Lee Evans, Leslie Caron, Oliver Reed.
1995. A good drama, despite laughs, about professional comedy that also deals with strained relationships involving progeny that goes into some very dark byways, which audiences should be allowed to sample for themselves.
Extras: Includes a very animated commentary by writer/co-director Peter Chelsom and simpatico interviewer Elijah Drenner.
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Gun Fury (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Rock Hudson, Donna Reed, Phil Carey, Lee Marvin, Leo Gordon.
1953. This Raoul Walsh Western is not much of a movie, only occasionally wallows in the 3D form and is of primary interest due when you’re “outside the picture” and simply concentrating on what was going on with careers at the time.
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25 Sep, 2017

New on Disc: 'Festival' and more …


Festival

Criterion, Documentary, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
1967. An impressionistic chronicle of the Newport Folk Festivals from the early ’60s golden days, this documentary features a mix of performers who were hot at the time.
Extras: The accompanying Criterion essay by music critic Amanda Petrusich does a smooth job of establishing historical context, which isn’t easy because even though the performers were unified in purpose, there were a lot of them from contrasting backgrounds and eras.
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The Big Knife (Blu-ray)

MVD/Arrow, Drama, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Rod Steiger, Wendell Corey, Shelley Winters.
1955. Director Robert Aldrich’s adaptation of a Clifford Odets play isn’t a great or even totally successful film, but on a fascination/entertainment level, it takes a fairly substantial place in a good movie year.
Extras: Glenn Kenny and Nick Pinkerton provide the most enjoyable voiceover commentary I’ve heard in a while.
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18 Sep, 2017

New on Disc: 'Love With the Proper Stranger' and more …


Love With the Proper Stranger

Street 9/19/17
Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Natalie Wood, Steve McQueen, Edie Adams, Herschel Bernardi, Tom Bosley
1963. This irresistible primer in megawatt star-power chemistry is one of the most pleasurable movies to operate from a ridiculous premise: that a guy would have sex with Natalie Wood and not particularly recall it.
Extras: Includes a commentary by Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan from Diabolique magazine.
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Night Moves (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $21.99 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Gene Hackman, Susan Clark Jennifer Warren, Edward Binns, Melanie Griffith.
1975. Full of dialogue that still crackles, Night Moves is buoyed by screenwriter Alan Sharp’s rejoinders and a Gene Hackman performance that now seems to be among his most definitive.
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11 Sep, 2017

New on Disc: 'Son of Paleface' and more …


Son of Paleface

Kino Lorber, Comedy, $14.95 DVD, $24.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Bob Hope, Jane Russell, Roy Rogers, Bill Williams.
1952.
This sequel to The Paleface is much more imaginatively strung together if not necessarily funnier, put over by the commercially brilliant vesting coup of getting Roy Rogers himself to play Bob Hope’s foil.
Extras: Includes a commentary by animation expert Greg Ford.
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The Long, Hot Summer (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, Orson Welles, Lee Remick, Angela Lansbury.
1958. The Long, Hot Summer stands out in the relatively small pool of decent William Faulkner screen adaptations as an example of what star-power chemistry used to be.
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4 Sep, 2017

New on Disc: 'Beggars of Life' and more …


Beggars of Life

Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen, Louise Brooks.
1928.
Director William A. Wellman’s story of a woman (Louise Brooks) taken in by the hobo lifestyle after killing a farmer who abused her is not a story of the Depression, but of a pre-Crash period when there were still a lot of hoboes to go around.
Extras: The Blu-ray includes an accompanying essay by Nick Pinkerton, plus two commentaries — one by William Wellman Jr. and another by Thomas Gladysz, founding director of the Louise Brooks Society.
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Kid Galahad (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Elvis Presley, Gig Young, Lola Albright, Joan Blackman, Charles Bronson.

1962. Elvis Presley’s turn as a boxer is quintessential drive-in fare for the era: a few songs (the score is definitely beyond decent), a few hoodlums, a few punches, and Gig Young looking (as ever) half-swacked.
Extras: Julie Kirgo’s liner notes do a good job of explaining why Kid is a pleasantly inoffensive time killer and why we’d all like to be able to cure our problems just by singing a song.
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21 Aug, 2017

New on Disc: 'Blood Alley' and more …


Blood Alley (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Adventure, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Paul Fix, Mike Mazurki, Joy Kim.
1955. Even those who are sympathetically inclined will likely concede that William A. Wellman’s late-career Blood Alley is best viewed as a cartoon, offering some loopy Cold War fun watching John Wayne foil Chinese Communists in a 2.55:1 presentation.
Extras: A couple segments from ABC-TV’s “Warner Bros. Presents,” in which host Gig Young interviews Wayne about his career.
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Obit.

Kino Lorber, Documentary, B.O. $0.31 million, $29.99 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray, NR.
2017. Vanessa Gould’s equally illuminating and entertaining documentary focuses on the obituary writers at The New York Times.
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14 Aug, 2017

New on Disc: 'Variete' and more …


Varieté (Blu-ray)

Street 8/22/17
Kino Lorber, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Emil Jannings, Lya De Putti, Warwick Ward.
1925. Varieté is probably the best and most famous film from the less celebrated E.A. Dupont — with German star Emil Jannings Jannings as the owner of a sideshow.
Extras: The packed Blu-ray includes the previously DVD-released 1922 version of Othello, which also teamed Jannings and Lya De Putti, plus an illuminating supplementary “visual essay” by historian Bret Wood and several options for the background music.
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Money From Home

Olive, Comedy, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Marjie Millar, Pat Crowley.
1953. The first nine of 16 total Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis comedies were in black-and-white, the final seven were in color, and Money From Home (a Damon Runyon racetrack farce about a potentially underhanded steeplechase contest) was first of the latter bunch.
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