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New on Disc: 'To Catch a Thief' Blu-ray and more …

19 Mar, 2012 By: Mike Clark

To Catch a Thief (Blu-ray)

Paramount, Thriller, $22.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis.
Even with Alfred Hitchcock behind the camera with longtime right-hand Robert Burks, it’s doubtful that his famed French Riviera jewel-heist confection would engender the same affection it still does today — or have the home entertainment shelf-life it has had — if the stars had been different. Thief isn’t Vertigo, or Rear Window or Notorious or even the also-light North by Northwest because, as many have noted, the oft-termed master of suspense doesn’t offer much suspense here. Judged purely as a romantic comedy that throws in a few suspenseful elements against magnificent scenic values, I think Thief rates humongously high on the all-time scale of hetero male/female cinema, particularly since a tanned Cary Grant and a tanned Grace Kelly are the greatest-looking pairing in the history of movies. Technicolor Thief was shot in VistaVision — a process that, visually speaking, is as good as movies ever got.
Extras: The Blu-ray imports the DVD extras, with a commentary by a Hitchcock historian, a censorship featurette and other behind-the-scenes documentaries.
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Swamp Water (Blu-ray)

Available at ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Walter Brennan, Walter Huston, Dana Andrews, Anne Baxter.
To even launch the first of five films making up the uneven but at times unjustly shrugged-off collection of Jean Renoir’s American work, this greatest of French directors (at least up to the New Wave — and arguably beyond it) didn’t just have to flee the Vichy threat in his homeland. There also were those cinematically tone-deaf critics. Upon landing, a filmmaker renowned in part for his pastoral sensibilities found himself in the middle of that rural American milieu in which 20th Century Fox productions often excelled. But this picture feels different from many of these other backwoods Foxes for reasons that have always eluded me — until I read Julie Kirgo’s notes on another crisp Twilight Time release from the Fox library. To my surprise, this was a rare case where the studio sent a crew to the story’s real setting — Georgia’s Okefenokee swamp — though before we extrapolate too much from this, the location shooting was brief, and Dana Andrews was the only actor who went along for the ride. But symbolically, it must have been enough: Even the studio footage doesn’t particularly have that studio look. Water’s story hook always got to me: a guy, falsely accused of murder, forced to live off the land (better make that muck) because the local law is too intimidated by water moccasins and other elements to pursue him all that vigorously.
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Thirteen Women

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Irene Dunne, Myrna Loy.
This movie probably wouldn’t be worth talking about here if the cast had gone on to become no more famous than say, the third-most prominent TV weathergirl in ’60s Duluth, Minn. But I cannot tell you the last movie I saw with an acting lineup that so made my eyes pop out of my head like someone in a Tex Avery cartoon. What we have here is a ridiculous plot propelled by Myrna Loy, whose exotic character hatches a revenge plot against the now-older members of a seminary sorority who once made her life miserable. The women then start meeting their doom in Agatha Christie Ten Little Indians style.
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