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New on Disc: 'Something Wild' and more …

16 May, 2011 By: Mike Clark

Something Wild

Criterion, Comedy, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, ‘R.’
Stars Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, Ray Liotta.
Assuming a certain degree of competence in terms of execution, some movies get a blistering shot out of the gate from their premise alone — E. Max Frye’s original screenplay for one of director Jonathan Demme’s most characteristic achievements easily among them. The screenplay by Frye is first-rate, but the movie is quintessential Demme. It loves and respects minorities; has dead-on casting instincts down to the smallest roles (including bits by directors John Sayles and John Waters); wallows positively in the byways of America; employs sizzling color schemes; and has a zesty rock soundtrack — among the tops of the decade — that embraces David Byrne, UB40, Oingo Boingo, Fine Young Cannibals and more. Criterion yet again delivers a print that precisely replicates how a movie looked at the time it was born. In fact, you can use the indoor shot of Melanie Griffith’s apartment — or the color upholstery design from her character’s first of many illegally procured cars — to calibrate your big-screen monitor.
Extras: Demme mentions in the Criterion interview — without naming names — just how much the experience of making 1984’s Swing Shift pained him and how Wild became the project that made him want to resume directing again. The set also includes a Frye interview and a booklet with a new essay by critic David Thompson.
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Street 5/17
eOne, Drama, $29.98 DVD, NR.
In Italian with English subtitles.
Stars Franco Interlenghi, Rinaldo Smordoni.
Historically notable as winner of the first foreign-language Oscar when the category wasn’t yet competitive but simply a one-shot honorary citation, director Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist landmark is also the film that Orson Welles pronounced the greatest he’d ever seen (while critic-of-the-day James Agee wasn’t far behind in praise). Today, some might argue that time has eroded some of the edge off its fastball — but only in comparison to other neorealist classics, including one or two De Sica made himself. Visually, this is a very striking release.
Extras: The new commentary by scholar Bert Cardullo is also a model of its kind — pointing out things we’ve missed that are right in front of us but trapped in our subconscious.
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Hurry Sundown

Street 5/17
Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Robert Reed, Robert Hooks, Michael Caine, John Phillip Law, Jim Backus, Jane Fonda, George Kennedy, Faye Dunaway, Diahann Carroll, Burgess Meredith.
This nearly 2½-hour Otto Preminger Southern opus may have been the most critically panned high-profile Hollywood movie of the entire 1960s. Still, a lush Olive print and the film’s fine production design make this a reasonably diverting sit-through, especially whenever Burgess Meredith is on the screen.
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The Prizefighter and the Lady

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Myrna Loy, Max Baer, Primo Carnera, Jack Dempsey, Walter Huston, Otto Kruger.
On the heels of hitting paydirt with swimmer Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan, MGM next cast boxer Max Baer in this boxing-backdropped romance. Before Baer ended up annihilating Primo Carnera for real the following June, the latter got cast as the reigning champ that challenger Baer must beat in the movie’s climax.
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