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New on Disc: 'The Making of the President: The 1960s' and more …

4 Jul, 2011 By: Mike Clark

The Making of the President: The 1960s

Street 7/5
Acorn/Athena, Documentary, $59.99 three-DVD set, NR.
If the three TV documentaries respectively spun off from Theodore H. White’s political bestsellers about the 1960, 1964 and 1968 elections didn’t fully achieve the same degree of landmark status on their own moving-image turf, they were still galvanizing at the time and permanently valuable. It’s the time capsule aspect that really makes this boxed set cook. This is because footage of on-the-stump politicians — eating rubber chicken at fundraisers or captured in their hotel rooms — no longer is the novelty it once was. Every political junkie can take something special out of each of these roughly 80-minute moving snapshots.
Extras: Spicing up the package is a 16-page backgrounder booklet that even elucidates the elections’ respective party platforms — plus two bonus documentaries that include the JFK remembrance from the ’64 Democratic Convention.
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The Breaking Point

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars John Garfield, Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter, Juano Hernandez.
The second Warner screen version of Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not shrewdly avoids any attempts to beat the earlier picture at its own game — showing what the life of fishing boat captain Harry Morgan (John Garfield) might have been like (this time postwar) if his Newport Beach, Calif., business was lousy, he had a wife and daughters he loved and was forced by circumstances to get mixed up with some shady characters. The result is one of director Michael Curtiz’s best movies. The script has some tangy dialogue, and the story doesn’t get bogged down in the melodrama that dominates the final quarter, as some movies that shift their focus near the end frequently do. There’s also no cop-out at the end, and the final shot is a killer — its emphasis quite unlike any other I can recall from the era.
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Report to the Commissioner

Manufactured on demand via online retailers
Fox/MGM, Drama, $19.98 DVD, ‘R.’
Stars Michael Moriarty, Yaphet Kotto, Susan Blakely, Hector Elizondo.
With the exception of Susan Blakely (which is, in a way, a key plot point), even the cast needs a serious dose of urban renewal in the relentlessly grimy screen version of James Mills’ NYPD bestseller. Yaphet Kotto plays a cop — and for that matter, so does Blakely. In fact, just about every principal in the movie is on the force, except for Bob Balaban as a street person, Richard Gere (his big-screen debut) as a dandy-in-his-own-eyes pimp and William Devane, who shows up at the end in one of those assistant DA roles he and his arching eyebrows were born to play. Speaking strictly chronologically, Commissioner arrived around the middle of the great cycle of NYPD dramas that spanned Madigan (1968) to Prince of the City (1981) — but in reality most of the really good ones had come earlier.
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Woman Obsessed

Available at www.screenarchives.com
Twilight Time, Drama, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Susan Hayward, Stephen Boyd, Barbara Nichols, Theodore Bikel.
A recent Canadian Rockies widowed mother weds a widowed guy (Stephen Boyd). As with almost every movie that top-billed her following her Oscar win, this is purely a Susan Hayward vehicle: She emotes, sports professionally sculpted hair and wears some decent nightwear.
Extras: The disc comes with detailed Julie Kirgo liner notes and an isolated music track.
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