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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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2 May, 2016

New on Disc: 'Cutter's Way' and more …


Cutter’s Way (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Jeff Bridges, John Heard, Lisa Eichhorn, Ann Dusenberry.
1981.
The succulent set-up for what appears to be a conventional murder yarn set in a haves-vs.-have-nots beach town is as good as these things get.
Extras: Includes commentary by Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo.
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Susan Slept Here (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Comedy, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dick Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Anne Francis, Glenda Farrell, Alvy Moore.
1954.
The fourth Frank Tashlin comedy has always been regarded as being somewhat culturally disreputable, and maybe it even is — but the cradle-robbing here is from a more innocent era.
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25 Apr, 2016

New on Disc: 'Jackie Robinson' and more …


Jackie Robinson

PBS, Documentary, $24.99 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray, NR.
2016.
It’s a challenge to think of anyone who’d be more appropriate to receive the Ken Burns treatment than the man who carved out a place for himself both before and after he integrated Major League Baseball.
Extras: This home-viewing keeper includes interviews with key production personnel about how Jackie Robinson came to be, plus additional interviews not used in the documentary proper.
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Try and Get Me!

Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Frank Lovejoy, Lloyd Bridges, Kathleen Ryan.
1951.
Except for some preachy soap-boxing that does its best to undermine inherent dramatic punch at every turn, this is one of the toughest and least compromised movies from the entire noir era.
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18 Apr, 2016

New on Disc: 'Suspicion' and more …


Suspicion (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Thriller, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Nigel Bruce, Cedric Hardwicke.
1941.
Though not the most effective of the four Cary Grant/Alfred Hitchcock collaborations (North by Northwest, Notorious and To Catch a Thief are the others), it still makes for a good night at the movies, with a script that still seems psychologically apt.
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Donovan’s Brain

Kino Lorber, Sci-Fi, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Lew Ayres, Nancy Davis (Reagan), Gene Evans.
1953.
This loose remake of a Curt Siodmak novel is one of the few films from Nancy Reagan’s film career that has any kind of rep.
Extras: Includes commentary by film expert Richard Harland Smith.
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11 Apr, 2016

New on Disc: 'The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates' and more …


The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates

Street 4/26/16
Criterion, Documentary, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
1960-64.
The four JFK-oriented documentaries here are Primary, Adventures on the New Frontier, Crisis and Faces of November. This is one of those home releases where viewers should take the mammothly rewarded time to watch all the bonus features.
Extras: In addition to still-gripping background material on how the once unlikely Kennedy presidency came to be, there’s a lot of interview footage with the filmmakers, plus outtakes.
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The Gong Show Movie (Blu-ray)

Shout! Factory, Comedy, $24.97 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Chuck Barris, Robin Altman, Jaye P. Morgan.
1980.
Chuck Barris (playing himself) questions whether or not his career as a game show host has been worth the time and effort — due, in part, to all of those novelty acts who insist on auditioning for him when he’s standing at the urinal.
Extras: Includes a commentary by pop culture historian Russell Dyball.
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4 Apr, 2016

New on Disc: 'The Vikings' and more …


The Vikings

Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, Janet Leigh.
1958.
The Vikings is closer to first-rate entertainment than a truly first-rate movie, but above and beyond its prodigious nostalgic currency, the result is still fairly irresistible for anyone inclined toward its red-meat sentiments.
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RKO Varieties Triple Feature — Variety Time, Make Mine Laughs, Footlight Varieties

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Musical, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Jack Paar, Gil Lamb, Liberace, Jack Haley, Leon Errol.
1948/1949/1951.
Made up of film clips strung together by an emcee’s patter, these hour-long revues were both a lament for long dead vaudeville and an embrace of the new medium of television that was making life miserable for studios and exhibitors.
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21 Mar, 2016

New on Disc: 'After the Fox' and more …


After the Fox

Street 3/22/16
Kino Lorber, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Peter Sellers, Victor Mature, Britt Ekland, Martin Balsam.
1966.
A Peter Sellers vehicle that the mighty Victor Mature out-and-out steals in a caper that seems even bigger than the one on screen, After the Fox is a high-end trifle.
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Nelson Algren: The End Is Nothing, the Road Is All

First Run, Documentary, $24.95 DVD, NR.
2015.
Three directors are credited to this documentary about author Nelson Algren, which, though filmed in start-and-stop fashion over many years, plays seamlessly enough to present satisfying, if inevitably melancholy, look-back.
Extras: Includes an on-camera Chicago radio interview with co-directors Denis Mueller and Ilko Davidov.
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14 Mar, 2016

New on Disc: 'Where the Sidewalk Ends' and more …


Where the Sidewalk Ends (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill, Karl Malden.
1950.
With the same leads, director, cinematographer and studio, Otto Preminger’s Where the Sidewalk Ends can be seen as the underbelly of Laura — with the sidewalk ending somewhere in a NYC district lower-rent than anything we see in Preminger’s preceding posh masterpiece. Sidewalk is pretty solid, and this has to be one of the most crisp-looking Blu-rays that Twilight Time has ever put out.
Extras: Noir expert Eddie Muller’s bonus commentary has been carried over from Fox’s old standard DVD.
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The Whip Hand

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Thriller, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Carla Balenda, Elliott Reid, Raymond Burr, Edgar Barrier.
1951.
This movie is definitely a window into the mindset of RKO head Howard Hughes and his Cold War fixation.
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7 Mar, 2016

New on Disc: 'Cowboy' and more …


Cowboy (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Glenn Ford, Jack Lemmon, Anna Kashfi, Brian Donlevy.
1958.
Cowboy is no less an example of oddball casting that works, especially since Jack Lemmon proves to be a really nifty screen match with co-lead Glenn Ford, who’s as good as he ever was here.
Extras: Includes a commentary with Julie Kirgo, Nick Redman and Paul Seydor.
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Pauline at the Beach

Kino Lorber, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
In French with English subtitles.
Stars Amanda Langlet, Arielle Dombasle, Pascal Greggory, Feodire Atkine.
1983.
This entry in the director Eric Rohmer’s sublime “Comedies and Proverbs” series has the usual Rohmer virtues: appealing actors; delicious deceptions (which temporarily turn key protagonists into fools); a constant reshuffling of romantic entanglements; and heavy doses of character-driven dialogue that result in nothing like watching a filmed play.
Extras: Includes a 1996 interview with Rohmer.
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29 Feb, 2016

New on Disc: 'I Knew Her Well' and more …


I Knew Her Well

Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Stefania Sandrelli, Mario Adorf, Jean-Claude Brialy.
1965.
This vastly underseen Italian import, about someone without too much ammo at her disposal trying to exploit the one commodity she has (looks) to survive in a pool of male sharks, is enough of a discovery to make one wonder how many other submerged treasures there are out there from the ’60s. The 4K spiff-up is so easy on the eye that we’re again reminded of Criterion’s consistent prowess at rendering black-and-white.
Extras: There’s a good backgrounding essay by journalist/author Alexander Stille about the societal changes in ’60s Italy that led to a cinematic re-emphasis from the rural to the metropolitan; a Stefania Sandrelli interview plus her original screen test; and an interview with scholar Luca Barattoni on the career of writer/director Antonio Pietrangeli.
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These Three

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD
Stars Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon, Joel McCrea, Bonita Granville.
1936.
Long cited as one of the more artful end runs around the Hollywood Production Code, this first of eight pictures in the fruitful Samuel Goldwyn-William Wyler association is an unacknowledged (at least in the credits) first screen version of Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour.
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22 Feb, 2016

New on Disc: 'Key Largo' and more …


Key Largo (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Street 2/23/16
Warner, Thriller, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor.
1948.
Co-scripted by director John Huston and Richard Brooks from a play by Maxwell Anderson, Key Largo displayed full-octane showmanship by teaming two of the actors who helped put Warner’s talkies on the map — including the return of Edward G. Robinson in a gangster role.
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From the Terrace (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Ina Balin, Myrna Loy.
1960.
Though no one will ever call From the Terrace one of the best movies of its year, it does keep you going with a handsome print and, per Twilight Time usual, a separate track that isolates the score (in this case, Elmer Bernstein’s).
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