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New on Disc: 'All the President's Men' Blu-ray and more …

21 Feb, 2011 By: Mike Clark

All the President’s Men (Blu-ray)

Warner, Drama, $34.99 Blu-ray, ‘PG.’
Stars Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Robards, Jane Alexander.
The classic Woodward-Bernstein saga on Blu-ray basically recycles 2006’s standard DVD, but a couple of things have changed in recent years to the release’s benefit. One is Blu-ray itself — a format ideal for handling the nuances of Gordon Willis’s photography, whose nocturnal subtleties and shadows are typified by one of Willis’s most famous works. The other is the collapse of the newspaper industry, which makes the very idea of everyday citizens having spent two hours each day reading Watergate hard copy (and they did; I was there) seem something close to otherworldly. The film is a Blu-ray must and hasn’t lost a thing over the years, remaining one of the “Big Three” newspaper dramas along with Citizen Kane and Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole.
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A Private Function

Image, Comedy, $14.98 DVD, $17.98 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Maggie Smith, Michael Palin, Denholm Elliott, Liz Smith.
Against a cast of British stiff upper lips immersed in post-World War II culture clashing, we add jumbo doses of doo-doo. And not just any old brand of doo-doo but pig doo-doo whose aroma the story’s two central characters try to pass off as having come from live-in grandma. The pig debacle is something the script (directed by Malcolm Mowbray) comes by honestly. The year is 1947, and England is in the midst of severe pork rationing. Despite the subject matter, Function’s bright color schemes are easy on the eye — something I remembered being surprised by during the movie’s theatrical release and which is masterfully replicated on the Blu-ray. Produced by George Harrison’s onetime Handmade Films, the movie is as funny as I recalled, with superb supporting performances straight down the line.
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Classic Educational Shorts Vol. 4: The Celluloid Salesman

Kino Lorber, Special Interest, $19.95 DVD, NR.
The majority of the 15 shorts here (totaling just under four hours) did advance ideas or instructions of one kind or another — mostly to sales forces or women’s clubs who watched them via 16mm projection. Some are nuts and bolts in nature, as in explaining the inner mechanics of garbage disposals (this would be in “Goodbye to Garbage”), blenders, bread-baking and Xerox machines (this one even explains that magic word: “toner”). If it sounds dubious as screen entertainment, it’s still far more compelling to learn how blenders turn chopped carrots into baby food at a fraction of retail cost than some of the current films making it to retail. Besides, you have to love (plural) portrayals of wifely kitchen labors where the wives in question are shown wearing pearls even before June Cleaver did the same.
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Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Lawrence Tierney, Priscilla Lane.
Robert Altman’s opening Hollywood salvo was a shared “story” credit with George W. George for this 62-minute RKO melodrama, another of the fleeting postwar attempts to make Lawrence Tierney a star. Keeping Bodyguard moving, which is the salvation here, is director Richard Fleischer. This is a speedy, efficient melodrama — just like countless others designed for the bottom half of a double bill and nothing more lofty. Yet as things worked out, it did capture some careers at interesting junctures. Altman and Fleischer had splashy futures, Priscilla Lane immediately got out of the business to continue being an air force wife and Tierney was on the fast track downhill until Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs in 1992.
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