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New on Disc: 'Streetwalkin',' 'The Egyptian' and more …

8 Aug, 2011 By: Mike Clark


Street 8/2
Shout! Factory, Drama, $14.93 DVD, ‘R.’
Stars Melissa Leo, Dale Midkiff, Julie Newmar.
This is presumably the only screen portrayal of street prostitution to find a role for Julie Newmar. Surprisingly upfront — though no more than honesty dictates — about the tawdriness of the trade, Streetwalkin’ ends up having a little more conviction than you might expect within swaggeringly melodramatic conventions. For its smidgens of integrity, we can thank a young Melissa Leo, whose recent supporting Oscar (and two nominations in three years) has doubtlessly sparked this fairly raw melodrama’s entrance into the DVD domain. Leo goes so many extra miles here, in terms of acting intensity, that it’s tough to figure out why she never got the early break she deserved. Sporting a fresh face that doesn’t exactly synch with that Oscar performance in The Fighter, Leo and her handsome kid brother bus into New York City from an obviously boozy mom/abusive stepdad situation — whereupon she’s immediately befriended by someone who turns out to be a pimp. The moral here, as always: Beware of men who befriend you in strange-city subway terminals that are adjacent to bus stations.
Extras: Writer-director Joan Freeman provides a commentary.
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The Egyptian

Available at ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $19.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Edmund Purdom, Gene Tierney.
This artifact-packed, would-be blockbuster with opulent trimmings and a fabulous score is famed on at least one might-have-been level: This is the movie where Edmund Purdom replaced Marlon Brando when the actor balked at making the picture. Set 13 centuries B.C., The Egyptian is a shaggy pyramid saga about the long life of Pharaoh Akhenaton’s court physician (at least when things are going harmoniously between doc and the court) and all the events that have contributed to his age lines and gray hair before the film’s opening flashback begins. It’s been famously said that no one ever goes to a movie for the sets and costumes, but there are times where I disagree. This is one, especially when such a big-scale production gets this kind of rendering; even with my nose almost touching the screen in an experiment, this transfer looked spectacular.
Extras: Alain Silver and James Ursini do the commentary (lots to talk about), Julie Kirgo’s liner notes are often funny, and there’s an isolated soundtrack of the famous score — split between my two favorite screen composers ever (Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman) because there were too many screen minutes (140) and too little time.
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Follow Me Quietly

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars William Lundigan, Dorothy Patrick, Jeff Corey.
Long before Hollywood glutted the market by turning serial killer melodramas into a major sub-industry, this 60-minute toughie — the kind of double-bill supplement that screen-cheapie fanciers used to term “efficient” — was one of the first movies I know of to deal with the subject in an American urban setting (as opposed to say, your standard garden variety Jack the Ripper pic). What got me about Quietly was the idea of the cop played by William Lundigan requisitioning police funds to construct a “suspect” mannequin that fit meager witness descriptions, akin to the standard composite sketch but throwing in a suit, a tie and hat. The director does a lot of moody things here with noir-style rain (the killer always strikes during heavy precipitation), and the chase ending seems heavily influenced by Jules Dassin’s once-landmark The Naked City, as so many crime thrillers of the late 1940s were. Dorothy Patrick plays the pesky journalist and love interest, and Jeff Corey plays the secondary cop, not too long before the actor was politically blacklisted in Hollywood for nine years.
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