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New on Disc: 'Film Noir Classics II,' 1927's 'Chicago'

5 Jul, 2010 By: Mike Clark

Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics II

Street 7/6
Sony Pictures, Drama, $59.95 five-DVD set, NR.
Stars Glenn Ford, Fred MacMurray, Kim Novak, Gloria Grahame.
This boxed set contains, in order of personal preference: Human Desire (1954), Pushover (1954), City of Fear (1959), Nightfall (1957) and The Brothers Rico (1957). All five are correctly presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
Extras: Martin Scorsese introduces one of the selections, and there are further bonus cameos from Shutter Island colleague Emily Mortimer (talking about noir women and situations), plus Memento/The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan on “Pulp Paranoia” and the fact that noir is as much a state of mind as it is a means of shadowy photographic expression.
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Street 7/6
Flicker Alley, Comedy, $39.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Phyllis Haver, Victor Varconi, Robert Edeson.
Thought to be lost for so many years, the first screen version of Maurine Watkins’ play is more sober than that of its follow-ups, ultimately presenting a more jaded view of press fickleness.
Extras: A booklet contains three informative essays, enticing on-screen supplements and a half-hour featurette that explains the flapper phenomenon by interviewing women who offer first-hand remembrances. The standout bonus is the inclusion of an obscure but lively 63-minute “March of Time” documentary The Golden Twenties, which RKO distributed in 1950.
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It Came From Kuchar

IndiePix, Documentary, $24.95 DVD, NR.
In the great scheme of (non-cineaste) things, we are talking about the fringe of the fringe here — back from the days before DVD democratized everything, and there was a certain quaint excitement and daring in watching underground movies (even by the most rigid underground standards) in some storefront or other makeshift venue. If you want to see who was capable of influencing John Waters in his formative years (and this is nothing to be high-hatted about), you need go no further than Bronx-bred twins George and Mike Kuchar. Jennifer M. Kroot’s documentary is a good introduction that doesn’t probe too deeply into a subculture.
Extras: There are 40 minutes of deleted scenes, the same length as the actual film. We see George making it to Telluride (earning a tribute, in fact), where he hob-knobs with Leonard Maltin, Todd Haynes and even Ken Burns.
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Two on a Guillotine

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $24.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Connie Stevens, Dean Jones, Cesar Romero.
For those who like horror movies where the principal characters take a break in the action to visit an amusement park and disco (showcased in Panavision, no less), this movie is for you. Artistically, the movie isn’t the stuff of shelf lives, except for in one regard: You sense pretty quickly that a superior cinematographer must have photographed it. And though one can argue that Guillotine’s puppy-loving (really … a roller coaster ride?) waters down the horror and inflates the 107-minute running time, it’s unexpected enough to get the movie out of the predictable ‘B’-movie rut in which director William Conrad (one and the same as the portly actor) was laboring in during this period.
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