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New on Disc: 'The Organizer' and more …

7 May, 2012 By: Mike Clark

The Organizer

Criterion, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
In Italian with English subtitles.
Stars Marcello Mastroianni, Annie Girardot, Renato Salvatori.
More than occasionally, Marcello Mastroianni exuded the soul of a character actor in the body of a handsome international leading man, and here we have one of those times, courtesy of a most harmonious collaborator with whom he’d scored a previous triumph. Director/co-scripter Mario Monicelli’s pro-labor rouser with mild comic undertones puts Mastroianni in wire-rim glasses that help make him look positively bohemian. Monicelli’s paean to everyday grunts is a notable look back at strikes and worker duress from the turn of the 19th century into the 20th. The brass in the story’s Turin, Italy, textile mill is a pretty rigid lot, even though the movie treats them with restraint and even tinges of humor. The workers are dissatisfied but have no form to their protest — and then suddenly, there’s this unkempt guy who gets off a train. He looks a little lost, which automatically works for the film. Because though he cajoles them into striking and offers tips on how to finesse a walkout, he is never exactly of them nor does he have universal support.
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Désirée (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Merle Oberon, Michael Rennie.
By the time he got around to helping dramatize what we’re told here was Napoleon’s big-time consternation with his extended in-laws, Marlon Brando had blasted out of the big-screen gate with a consecutive streak of movies that were all rebellious or against-the-grain works of one kind or another: The Men, A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar, The Wild One and On the Waterfront. The law of averages was working against him, so next in line came Désirée, which was pure Hollywood and about as rebellious as an Eddie Fisher 45. In many ways, this is an ideal title to be any distributor’s “limited release” because there’s a limited but enthusiastic coterie of fans out there (and they know who they are) likely to covet the latest modest-in-number offering from Twilight Time (it’s limited to a run of 3,000 units). These would include Napoleon junkies, those who like the “bodice-ripper” genre in general (though unless I missed something, no bodice gets literally ripped here) and Brando completists, some of whom have always cut this one-time box office hit a break. The print here is staggeringly good — one of the best Blu-ray renderings of a vintage color title I have ever seen. Based on a popular novel of the day, Désirée not only observes still-studied world events solely through the eyes of the title-designated lover or lover wannabe (played by Jean Simmons) but also conveys key information to us through one of the hoariest devices there is: voice-overed passages from her diary.
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Easy Living

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $17.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Victor Mature, Lizabeth Scott, Lucille Ball, Sonny Tufts.
This pro football movie originated as an Irwin Shaw story; was adapted by The Bad and the Beautiful’s Oscar-winning screenwriter, Charles Schnee; was directed by Out of the Past/Cat People’s Jacques Tourneur; employs footage of the Los Angeles Rams; features Lucille Ball in a straight role; and casts a pre-TV Jack Paar as a team publicist named “Scoop.” If it isn’t exactly high drama, it is a 1940s sports yarn that’s fairly grown-up.
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