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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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Available via Universal Vault Series
Universal, Drama, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Ray Milland, Paulette Goddard, Cecil Kellaway, Patric Knowles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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