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New on Disc: 'The Big Parade' and more …

14 Oct, 2013

The Big Parade

Warner, Drama, $14.97 DVD, $27.98 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars John Gilbert, Renée Adorée, Karl Dane.
Befitting the movie that put MGM at the top of the map both economically and artistically for nearly a quarter-century, a 4K The Big Parade on Blu-ray is among the format’s best silent treatment I’ve seen to date. John Gilbert plays a rich kid who surprises everyone by enlisting in the army after getting caught up in the fervor of a patriotic parade, a motif that continues throughout the film and makes the title especially honest.
Extras: Warner has gone all out with this 64-page digipak release, starting with liner notes by Mr. Eminence himself: Kevin Brownlow. The 2½-hour commentary predominantly by historian Jeffrey Vance is very well prepared, artfully shoehorning in four fairly lengthy interview excerpts that director King Vidor gave later in his life.
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Branca’s Pitch

Strand, Documentary, $19.99 DVD, NR.
There’s a brief moment in this unusual baseball documentary when its subject — former Brooklyn Dodgers relief pitcher Ralph Branca — says that the folkloric walk-off home run off him by New York Giants third baseman Bobby Thomson in 1951 didn’t bother him. Well, if that were true, this tight 87-minute package probably wouldn’t exist, even if it ultimately does appear that Branca, now 87, has come to terms with his fate. Shot in black and white, which blends nicely with the old newsreel footage, this is a baseball documentary with a slightly skewed approach I wasn’t expecting. The standout archival mind-melters here are subsequent kinescopes of Branca on TV’s “Concentration” (where he won 17 games) and of him sharing an indescribable singing duet with Thomson on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
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