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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 Aug, 2014

New on Disc: 'Out of the Past' and more …


Out of the Past (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Mystery, $21.99 Blu-ray.
Stars Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming.
1947.
This is just about everything a noir screen experience should be, even down to a title that really plays on the imagination (and the Blu-ray part of the experience really helps).
Extras: James Ursini, a name synonymous with noir reportage, does a commentary.
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The Buddy Holly Story (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Gary Busey, Charles Martin Smith, Don Stroud, Maria Richwine.
1978.
Before his 1959 death in a plane crash, Buddy Holly was a kid with a burning-lava kind of drive, which is exactly what an impossibly slimmed-down Gary Busey conveys in a powerhouse lead performance that got him an Oscar nomination.
Extras: Director Steve Rash joins Busey on a commentary track from 1998.
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18 Aug, 2014

New on Disc: 'Elvis: That's the Way It Is' and more …


Elvis: That’s the Way It Is (Blu-ray)

Warner, Documentary, $27.98 Blu-ray, NR. (Original version ‘PG’)
1970/2007.
In 2001, director Denis Sanders’ cut underwent a major overhaul, removing a lot of the fan interviews and even some of the songs, while adding more songs and table-setting rehearsal footage. The result is pretty electric. This documentary, along with 1972’s now mellow Elvis on Tour, represent the legend’s last two screen appearances.
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Salvaje (The Wild One) (Blu-ray)

Sony Pictures, Drama, Import, NR.
Stars Marlon Brando, Mary Murphy, Lee Marvin, Robert Keith.
1953.
Playable on Blu-ray machines of all regions, this is a Spanish import of The Wild One, the once notorious star-powered lark starring Marlon Brando as a motorcycle-garbed hipster.
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11 Aug, 2014

New on Disc: 'The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad/Fun and Fancy Free' and more …


The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad/Fun and Fancy Free (Blu-ray)

Street 8/12
Disney, Animated, $36.99 Blu-ray, ‘G.’
1947-49.
In this welcomely ticklish twofer of Disney postwar recharge efforts, Ichabod/Toad is mighty solid, though Fun and Fancy Free comes off as uneven.
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We Won’t Grow Old Together

Street 8/12
Kino Lorber, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $34.95 Blu-ray, NR.
In French with English subtitles.
Stars Marlene Jobert, Jean Yanne, Macha Meril.
1972.
This is a welcome release of the second feature from French writer-director Maurice Pialat, a filmmaker of limited output whose movies offer a lot.
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4 Aug, 2014

New on Disc: 'The Time Machine' and more …


The Time Machine (Blu-ray)

Warner, Sci-Fi, $19.98 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux.
1960.
George Pal’s sci-fi fantasy from H.G. Wells’ great yarn easily retains its modest charms from its matinee days.
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Separate Tables

Kino Lorber, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster, Rita Hayworth, Wendy Hiller.
1958.
This is a real actor’s show, and a very solid Blu-ray presentation of a handsome drama photographed by Charles Lang for one of his 18 Oscar nominations.
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28 Jul, 2014

New on Disc: 'Paris Blues' and more …


Paris Blues

Street 7/29
Kino Lorber, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Joanne Woodward, Diahann Carroll.
1961.
Martin Ritt’s star-powered drama from Marlon Brando’s production company is one of the first movies to deal even peripherally with the American civil rights movement from around the time the lunch counter sit-ins were commencing.
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Brannigan (Blu-ray)

Available via www.ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars John Wayne, Richard Attenborough, Judy Geeson, Mel Ferrer, John Vernon.
1975.
In this cinematic nut job, John Wayne plays a Chicago detective who heads to London to track down a bail-jumper (John Vernon), and quickly clashes with Scotland Yard over police procedures.
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21 Jul, 2014

New on Disc: 'The Scalphunters' and more …


The Scalphunters

Street 7/22
Kino Lorber, Western, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Burt Lancaster, Ossie Davis, Shelley Winters, Telly Savalas.
1968.
Aside from Tarantino, this minor cult Western from a young Sydney Pollack likely represents the best way to make a comedy about American slavery, which is a dicey enough prospect any way you cut it.
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Caught

Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Ryan.
1949.
Here’s another example of what used to be called a “woman’s picture,” in which Barbara Bel Geddes plays a relatively low-end fashion model and former carhop who gets a taste of glamour and marries an enigmatic millionaire who basically abandons her inside his cavernous Long Island digs, leading her to take a job as an assistant to a physician played by James Mason in his first American screen role.
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14 Jul, 2014

New on Disc: 'So This Is New York' and more …


So This Is New York

Olive, Comedy, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Henry Morgan, Rudy Vallee, Virginia Grey, Dona Drake.
1948.
So This Is New York has one of the two big-screen roles that radio humorist Henry Morgan ever had. Co-adapted by future High Noon scripter Carl Foreman from Michigan-born Ring Lardner’s The Big Town, it reflects an inveterate Midwesterner’s gander at a bulging metropolis, as reflected by Morgan’s weariness over a New York trip spearheaded by his wife and sister-in-law, who’ve both just inherited money that makes them targets for big-city sharpies. The movie is minor frivolity, but it has a wacky tone and gets a no-frills but certainly decent transfer in this Olive Blu-ray edition.
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Woman’s World

Available via Fox Cinema Archive
Fox, Drama, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Clifton Webb, June Allyson, Fred MacMurray, Lauren Bacall.
1954.
One cannot be oblivious to the reality that Woman’s World portrays a universe that must seem alien to anyone born in the last 30 or 40 years, though within the confines of a glossy piece of entertainment, I strongly suspect that it was highly accurate for the times. Three regional star achievers employed by a major auto company are called to Manhattan to see which one will replace an executive who recently died. Every lead performance here seems on the money (it’s not unheard-of to see Lauren Bacall’s performance cited as her career best), and the production is so grade-‘A’ that the budget is said to have been the biggest up to that time for a Fox modern-day drama.
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7 Jul, 2014

New on Disc: 'The Man From Laramie' and more …


The Man From Laramie (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Western, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars James Stewart, Cathy O’Donnell, Arthur Kennedy, Donald Crisp.
1955.
The last of five Anthony Mann-James Stewart Westerns (and eight collaborations overall), Man From Laramie is one of the team’s best and a longtime personal favorite, though it has never quite hit me as solidly as it does in this Twilight Time 4K transfer — which is apparently, per Julie Kirgo’s always ace liner notes, this swan song’s first 2.55:1 presentation since the original release.
Citizens of the unfriendly town to which Stewart’s character has just journeyed keep imploring him to leave and then act on those sentiments, but Stewart is on a mission that has something to do with an Indian massacre of a benign Cavalry patrol. The Philip Yordan-Frank Burt script has some snappy dialogue that flows naturally off the performers’ tongues.
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Adjust Your Tracking:The Untold Story of the VHS Collector

VHShitfest, Documentary. $19.95 DVD, NR.
2013.
It’s true, as one of the more wizened interviewees here notes, that people will collect anything, but one would have to say that VHS mania — at least at this point in home entertainment history — reflects a special breed, especially when we see what these home and apartment-based archivists are collecting VHS copies of. Still, co-directors Dan Kinem and Levi Peretic do a passionate job of profiling passionate people. Kinem and Peretic also do a nice job of tracing what the video store experience used to be and how it collapsed so relatively quickly.
This two-DVD set is packed with extras, deleted scenes and the like.
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30 Jun, 2014

New on Disc: 'All That Heaven Allows' and more …


All That Heaven Allows (Blu-ray)

Criterion, Drama, $39.95 Blu-ray/DVD, NR.
Stars Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson,
Agnes Moorehead.
1955.
The best Douglas Sirk movies are domestic social commentaries couched as visually sumptuous soap operas — and this one is among his best, to be sure. The film is a follow-up to Sirk’s 1954 remake of Magnificent Obsession, a May-December romance casting Rock Hudson opposite Jane Wyman. There are several shots on this Blu-ray that almost took my breath away.
Extras: One of the nifty extras on the Criterion set is an interview with Sirk regular William Reynolds, who talks about the hours the director spent making certain the setups and lighting were just so. The package also includes a commentary, essays, a 1982 Sirk interview for French TV and a BBC Sirk documentary with more interview material. A major bonus is the feature-length Rock Hudson’s Home Movies, a clip-heavy “essay” by Mark Rappaport that looks for the gay or closeted subtext in the actor’s films.
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James Thurber: The Life and Hard Times

First Run, Documentary, $24.95 DVD, NR.

and

Top Hat & Tales: Harold Ross and the Making of ‘The New Yorker’

First Run, Documentary, $24.95 DVD, NR.
2000-01.
Released a year apart, these two bio-docs are obviously related in a New Yorker magazine kind of way — respectively celebrating one of the writers and the first in a small group of chief editors who made the publication what it still is. Of the two, the Thurber portrait is a little richer and more fleshed-out.
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23 Jun, 2014

New on Disc: 'Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction' and more …


Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction

Adopt Films, Documentary, B.O. $0.02 million, $29.95 DVD, NR.
2013.
At just 76 minutes, Sophie Huber’s portrait of a remarkably durable character actor features more cover vocals by its subject than you might expect, but then Stanton has an extensive background as a singer, and the entire project takes a kind of backdoor approach to emerge as a satisfying tribute, if hardly a thorough one.
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Kismet (Blu-ray)

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Musical, $18.95 Blu-ray.
Stars Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, Dolores Gray, Vic Damone.
1955.
Time hasn’t been kind to this instantly creaky musical version of Kismet based on the ’53 stage musical that had taken a Tony.
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