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New on Disc: 'Bridge on the River Kwai,' 'You Don't Know Jack' and more …

8 Nov, 2010 By: Mike Clark

The Bridge on the River Kwai (Blu-ray)

Sony Pictures, Drama, $34.95 Blu-ray, ‘PG’ for mild violence.
Stars William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins.
For an adaptation of a Pierre Boulle novel in which the bridge isn’t even blown up at the end, director David Lean — launching the “epic” stage of his career — got a climactic screen explosion for the ages in a deserving best-picture Oscar winner that also made so much money that it set up top-billed William Holden for life. Sony’s new restoration makes it look better than any time in my memory. It’s been restored before but without going back (as here) to the camera negatives with 4K digital technology.
Extras: Most of the Kwai Blu-ray extras are carried over from a previous DVD release, but this time there are also miniaturized lobby card replicas; a picture/graphics/trivia feature that’s a matter of taste (not particularly mine); a relatively hard-covered packaging booklet that’s somewhat in the fashion of Warner’s own whoop-de-doo archival Blu-rays; and a second disc, in the DVD format, that also includes the restored version (better, natch, than its DVD predecessor — but also, of course, hardly up to the Blu-ray).
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You Don’t Know Jack

HBO, Drama, $26.98, NR.
Stars Al Pacino, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Danny Huston.
Though the content and a couple revelatory performances battle it out as the main attention-getters in another of HBO’s welcomely grown-up TV movies, they don’t obscure the narrative skills that director Barry Levinson and Emmy-awarded writer Adam Mazar bring to the ever-controversial story of Jack Kervorkian — the Michigan pathologist who became a dedicated and compassionate but also imperfect symbol of the right-to-die movement.
Extras: The disc includes a commentary and a 10-minute featurette that in part details how an extraordinary makeup crew turned Al Pacino into a replica of the real Kervorkian, who notes in the extras that he didn’t understand the double entendre nature of this movie’s clever title.
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Evening Primrose

eOne, Drama, $29.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Anthony Perkins, Charmian Carr, Larry Gates, Dorothy Stickney.
According to archivist Jane Klane, who’s manager of research services at the Paley Center of Media, this Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman fantasy has been the single-most consumer-requested musical ever produced for television. Primrose aired in color, but eOne’s release (from the DVD godsend Archive of American Television) is from a black-and-white kinescope, which is the only version that exists.
The disc’s bonus section contains about 20 minutes of color test footage, plus Klane’s audio interview of star Charmian Carr and an on-camera sit-down with Primrose director Paul Bogart, who’s a little tentative at age 90 but still full of memories (many good, a few less so) of the production.
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The Hypnotic Eye

Warner, Horror, $24.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Jacques Bergerac, Allison Hayes, Marcia Henderson, Merry Anders.
A good-looking woman disfigures herself under what turns out to be hypnosis. The victim in the opening scene massages something into her hair that we assume is some kind of conditioner yet is actually a flammable liquid. She turns on a gas burner, and her skull bursts into flame. After all these decades, I have never forgotten this scene. Eye remains a passably resourceful cheapie.
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