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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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23 Nov, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Devil’s Disciple' and more …

The Devil’s Disciple

Street 11/24/2015
Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Janette Scott.
The Devil’s Disciple is an engaging and indisputably all-star (if rather odd) screen take on George Bernard Shaw’s set-in-1777 play about the Revolutionary War.
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Broken Lance (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Spencer Tracy, Robert Wagner, Jean Peters, Richard Widmark, Earl Holliman.
A revamping of the 1949 family-oriented banking drama House of Strangers into a Western setting, this compact 96-minute rouser features booming echoes of King Lear and a mighty solid told-in-flashback yarn about a cattle baron played by Spencer Tracy and his sons.
Extras: Appearing with Twilight Time chieftain Nick Redman on one of the year’s most unusual bonus commentaries is actor Earl Holliman, who is now 87.
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16 Nov, 2015

New on Disc: 'Pitfall' and more …

Pitfall (Blu-ray)

Street 11/17/15
Kino Lorber, Mystery, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr.
This much admired but underseen Andre de Toth jewel frequently undermines expectations, is lifted by spectacular casting and is one of the relatively rare noirs to feature a heavy family angle.
Extras: Mr. Noir himself Eddie Muller offers a spicy commentary.
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Deep in My Heart (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Musical, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Jose Ferrer, Merle Oberon, Helen Traubel.
A last-ditch effort to rekindle its ’40s commercial successes with all-star composer biopics, this holiday release from MGM was designed in part to showcase the versatility of lead Jose Ferrer.
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9 Nov, 2015

New on Disc: 'One Deadly Summer' and more …

One Deadly Summer (Blu-ray)

Street 11/10/15
Bayview, Drama, $24.99 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Isabelle Adjani, Alain Suchon, Suzanne Flon.
Ultimately, this revenge saga belongs to Isabelle Adjani and a vibrant “look” with a color quality that rocks on Blu-ray. The story takes a lot of tasty twists and turns, though at 133 minutes, the picture is a tad long and lumpy.
Extras: Included here are interviews with Adjani and director Jean Becker.
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Matchstick Men (Blu-ray)

Warner, Drama, $14.98 Blu-ray, ‘PG-13.’
Stars Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman.
When Nicolas Cage is good and has watchable material, he’s really good, such as his memorable turn here as an obsessive-compulsive con artist who likes leaving his lair only a little more than Dracula does during the daylight hours. This is, of all things, a Ridley Scott movie — one of those (like, say, Someone to Watch Over Me or The Good Year or The Counselor) that don’t seem to go with the usual or at least frequent program.
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2 Nov, 2015

New on Disc: 'Diary of a Lost Girl' and more …

Diary of a Lost Girl

Kino Lorber, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Louise Brooks, Andre Roanne, Fritz Rasp.
If you think you’ve seen sordid, a characterization meant as a compliment, do not go through your movie life without seeing this second of two masterpieces (along with the previous year’s Pandora’s Box) that were filmed in almost boom-boom fashion by Germany’s G.W. Pabst — both starring misused-by-Hollywood Louise Brooks, whose legend is based near-exclusively on these collaborations.
Extras: To show us how quickly Brooks’s career declined, Kino’s release includes an 18-minute Brooks short subject titled Windy Riley Goes to Hollywood, which has the added curio factor of having been directed by an even more professionally compromised Fatty Arbuckle
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Wind Across the Everglades

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Burl Ives, Christopher Plummer, Gypsy Rose Lee, Peter Falk.
This oddball directed mostly by Nicholas Ray (who was fired and replaced by writer Budd Schulberg) is one of the era’s more fascinating projects, though that’s about the extent of its success.
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26 Oct, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Brood' and more …

The Brood

Criterion, Horror, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Cindy Hinds.
Only in a Criterion bonus section can you ever hope to find an extended “Merv Griffin Show” bonus clip featuring Oliver Reed, Orson Welles and Charo, but this is getting ahead of a movie (think: David Cronenberg, unbridled) that has enough outrageousness of own.
Extras: Aside from the “Griffin” interview from 1980, other extras include a sweet reunion between actors Hindle and Hinds, and Cronenberg’s second feature, Crimes of the Future.
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The Beginning or the End

Available via Warner Archive       
Warner, Drama, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Robert Walker, Tom Drake, Brian Donlevy, Hume Cronyn.
The Beginning or the End does touch on a lot of important material (while leaving a lot out) and displays enough ambiguity about the development of the atomic bomb and the pro-con morality of its use to keep it from being unwatchable to many modern eyes.
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19 Oct, 2015

New on Disc: 'Murder, My Sweet' and more …

Murder, My Sweet (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Mystery, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley
The second screen version of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely, with its expressive photography and hop-headed dream sequences, is just what you want an RKO noir to be, even if decades of variations have scratched its luster (but just a little). The Blu-ray transfer is beautiful.
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An American Tragedy

Available via Universal Vault Series
Universal, Drama, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Phillips Holmes, Sylvia Sidney, Frances Dee.
Josef von Sternberg’s only Paramount talkie not to star Marlene Dietrich attempted to adapt a 20th-century literary milestone of significant heft in both senses, though it fell into obscurity after George Stevens remade it as A Place in the Sun 20 years later.
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12 Oct, 2015

New on Disc: 'The Invisible Monster' and more …

The Invisible Monster

Olive, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Richard Webb, Aline Towne.
It’s fun to see Monster getting a decent Blu-ray treatment, though it isn’t anything to show someone on a first date.
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Heller in Pink Tights

Available Warner Archive       
Warner, Western, $21.99 DVD, NR.
Stars Sophia Loren, Anthony Quinn, Steve Forrest, Margaret O’Brien.
This is a different kind of Western: one about an 1880s acting troupe whose finances are as threadbare the actors’ costumes.
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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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