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New on Disc: 'Come Blow Your Horn' and more …

9 Apr, 2012 By: Mike Clark

Come Blow Your Horn

Olive, Comedy, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Frank Sinatra, Tony Bill, Lee J. Cobb, Barbara Rush.
There’s not exactly an endless bounty of movies where Frank Sinatra plays a guy who all but cowers in front of his bellowing (and possibly Jewish) father — especially when it’s Frank at 47 playing someone in his later 30s. For this reason alone, we’re looking at one of the more tolerably amusing (and also the first) in a string of anti-cinematic comedies fashioned from plays and original screenplays by Neil Simon, a cottage industry that stretched well into the 1980s. As a playboy in the final throes of a civilization in which men still wore hats, Sinatra is cast as an older brother who is paying the tab on an elaborate Manhattan pad. As the supposed heir apparent whose heart isn’t really in the family artificial fruit business, he has what seem like a million phones, a huge fireplace, a big TV screen for its day and … twin beds? It’s even more of a mind-melter when his 21-year-old kid brother (Tony Bill, then getting a huge career break) breaks away from their smothering folks to become a roommate. Except for Lee J. Cobb and Molly Picon as their parents, the movie is kind of an in-house exercise to provide work for Sinatra’s friends. It’s fun seeing Sinatra in this kind of role, though the few real laughs come from Cobb, an actor not usually identified with comedy.
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Scarlet Street (Blu-ray)

Kino Lorber, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea.
The Library of Congress/Blu-ray salvation job of this top-tier contender for Fritz Lang’s best American film is fairly profound, particularly given that this is one Lang-in-Hollywood production where little was otherwise compromised. By this we mean budget-wise, as got to be the case later in the director’s career, by the era’s hardworking censors (though, indeed, some of them did try). The Universal makeup department grayed Edward G. Robinson’s hair some to assist him in playing a henpecked husband who simply wants to get away from the grind and paint — though his character has labored as a cashier for so long that he’s presented with a commemorative pocketwatch for years of service as the story begins. It’s obvious at once that Robinson is being taken for a ride once we see him rescue a trashy, flashy Joan Bennett from a street beating by a supposed robber (Dan Duryea) who really isn’t. The source novel was published in America as The Poor Sap — and as much as Hollywood would allow in those days, it’s pretty obvious that Bennett’s character is what was once called a lady of leisure (far too much of it, as we come to see), with Duryea’s character her pimp. Dudley Nichols’ beautifully sanded Scarlet Street script depends a lot on twists, to say nothing of an ironic boomeranging capper that ranks with the era’s best. Visually, the movie is a characteristic Lang stunner, as bedrock as black-and-white noir gets. The transfer here is spectacular: You can almost shave in the glisten off this baby.
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The Steel Trap

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright.
This primer in what can go wrong after stealing a cool million in 1952 dollars from your own bank stars Joseph Cotten as an assistant bank manager who grabs the Federal Reserve deposit loot and takes off with his vaguely suspicious spouse (Teresa Wright) for Brazil. The film reunited the stars of Alfred Hitchcock’s said-to-have-been personal favorite Shadow of a Doubt from 1943.
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