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New on Disc: 'Airport' and more …

10 Sep, 2012 By: Mike Clark


Universal, Drama, $14.98 DVD, $19.98 Blu-ray, ‘G.’
Stars Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Helen Hayes, Maureen
Stapleton, Jacqueline Bisset.
Though perhaps best known today for launching one of filmdom’s cheesiest franchises — and for being one of the most famously undeserving Best Picture Oscar nominees of the past 40 or so years — writer-director George Seaton’s blockbuster adaptation of Arthur Hailey’s bestseller helped Universal take its first great stride as a modern-era commercial force. Producer Ross Hunter’s shrewdly assembled button-pusher was for moviegoers whose idea of cinema was the equivalent of a beach-read, and Airport juggled stories that included blizzard-ish flying conditions, busting-up marriages for both of its male protagonists (Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin) and a financially desperate passenger trying to blow up the plane so his wife can collect the insurance. All this plus Alfred Newman’s last big-screen score (though it’s very atypical and not one of his most distinguished). The result is better when the personal stories get momentarily jettisoned so that the movie can concentrate on the mechanics of getting a crippled plane to land. Of course, the critics were never going to dig Airport, which still suffers from comedy relief that plays to the third balcony (a nun swigging hooch, an obnoxious know-it-all kid passenger and a priest only half-accidentally belting an obnoxious big-mouth across the puss).
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The Dark Mirror

Olive, Mystery, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Olivia de Havilland, Lew Ayres, Thomas Mitchell.
If Dark Mirror does (arguably) bring up the relative rear of the heyday of the career of Robert Siodmak, who directed a string of noir thrillers in the 1940s, the movie is excellent in one major regard: Olivia de Havilland plays twin sisters (one a sweetheart, the other psychotic) and does a smashing job.  One of the sisters likely has murdered a doctor for what we much later learn is a credible, though hardly justifiable, reason. But though legal duplicity doesn’t seem too consistent with the “nice” persona exhibited by the innocent one (whichever sis she is), both siblings engage in those games twins sometimes play where they temporarily switch identities for fun. This doesn’t go down too well with the frustrated flatfoot (Thomas Mitchell) who seeks professional help in cracking the case. As a psychiatrist and murder-victim acquaintance who script-conveniently specializes in “twins,” co-star Lew Ayres is pretty well forced into a clinical all-business role — though Siodmak does manage to reap some reasonable suspense out of mechanical markings and swerves on lie-detector graph paper.
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Big Leaguer

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $17.95 DVD-R, NR.
Stars Edward G. Robinson, Vera-Ellen, Jeff Richards.
No one will ever mistake Robert Aldrich’s screen debut for an example of auteur antics, but just the mental image of Edward G. Robinson in a jockstrap (which director Aldrich mercifully spares us) gives the movie’s 70 minutes a certain level of fascination if baseball is part of your makeup. As the script has it, Robinson’s continued employment as the New York Giants manager may be contingent on his winning a game between his team’s farmhands and the Brooklyn Dodgers farmhands.
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About the Author: Mike Clark

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