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New on Disc: 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' and more …

28 May, 2012 By: Mike Clark

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Blu-ray)

Available via ScreenArchives.com
Twilight Time, Adventure, $29.95 Blu-ray, ‘G.’
Stars Pat Boone, James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Diane Baker, Thayer David.
My stock line about the summer of 1959’s biggest family blockbuster has always been that it’s the one movie that enables one to compare and contrast the acting disciplines of Pat Boone and James Mason. This version of Journey to the Center of the Earth’s true auteurs are its then cutting-edge effects, the production design and Bernard Herrmann’s typically wonderful score (offered as an isolated audio track), which — appropriate to the subject matter — hits some very low ranges as Verne’s subterranean trekkers take on buried-deep salt repositories, toadstools tough as leather and prehistoric creatures with porn-star tongues. But to give the cast its due as well, even Boone is more than tolerable here — and a great deal more capable playing a Scottish university student than his onetime pop rival Elvis would have been. Mason, of course, is fantastic as Prof. Oliver Underbrook, who spearheads the attempt to go underground against a deceitful scientific competitor and after an added attempt by a predecessor has turned the latter’s wife (Arlene Dahl) into a widow.
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Run for Cover

Olive, Western, $24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars James Cagney, Viveca Lindfors, John Derek, Ernest Borgnine.
Sandwiched between Johnny Guitar and Rebel Without a Cause in the spotty but (in seven or eight instances) glorious career of director Nicholas Ray, Paramount’s indoor/outdoor Western from the early days of VistaVision isn’t too peggable as anyone’s auteur work, though it does have a couple things going for it. One, of course, is VistaVision itself, which adds a few hundred sacks of currency to a film set in New Mexico but shot to significant degree in glorious Colorado. In fact, when the picture was re-issued in 1962, its title was changed to Colorado.  This is one of the most satisfactory VistaVision replications that Olive Films has issued to date, and Cover’s handsome visage is its No. 1 selling point. The other key virtue is seeing James Cagney in his peak career-year of middle-age; he takes well to the mentor role his character is asked to take on — when he struggles to improve the lot of a callow youngster (John Derek) who’s been shot by an overzealous sheriff (Ray Teal, in the kind of dim-bulb role he always owned).
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Bright Road

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $17.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Dorothy Dandridge, Philip Hepburn, Harry Belafonte.
Louis B. Mayer wanted the studio of Andy Hardy to tell screen stories viewed through rose-colored glasses, while Dore Schary (who in 1951 became Mayer’s MGM successor — and not without rancor) preferred projects that reflected changing times and more expansive audience tastes. This not un-engaging footnote in African-American cinema is something of an oddball because it seems to combine both approaches, having been shot early in the latter’s Metro regime (late summer, 1952). An all-black cast (with one exception) gets plunked into a schoolroom that totally oozes rose-colored sensibilities — and the result was released a mere year before the Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education decision. In one of her first major movie lead roles, singer Dorothy Dandridge toned down her nightclub-ish glamour to become fully convincing as an uncertain but fully ladylike instructor running a rural schoolroom full of the usual assortment of class jesters.
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About the Author: Mike Clark

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