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New on Disc: 'The Manchurian Candidate' Blu-ray and more …

23 May, 2011 By: Mike Clark

The Manchurian Candidate (Blu-ray)

Fox/MGM, Thriller, $19.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Laurence Harvey, James Gregory.
The JFK assassination changed how everyone looked at everything political, and Candidate eventually came to seem so far ahead of its time that Hollywood did the obligatory lame remake in 2004. It had brainwashing for real; Frank Sinatra in a rare role with real dimension; an eventually Oscar-nominated Angela Lansbury; Leslie Parrish in that sexy Halloween outfit; and the nail-biting finale in which one party’s presidential nominee is targeted for sniper’s fire in Madison Square Garden. Even the original Candidate’s strange mix of tragedy and ticklish satire seems positively modern. It looks better on Blu-ray than it has before without looking particularly distinguished, but it must do something right because I noticed more than ever how much Sinatra, a career-best Laurence Harvey and so many of the male principals sweat.
Extras: Candidate has been issued for the home market many times, and its premiere on Blu-ray not unwelcomely recycles its interviews with director John Frankenheimer, screenwriter George Axelrod and Sinatra, all of whom are long gone.
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Such Good Friends

Olive, Drama, $24.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Dyan Cannon, James Coco, Jennifer O’Neill, Ken Howard.
This adaptation of Lois Gould’s novel about a woman’s interior thoughts brought on by her husband’s coma is arguably the one later movie Otto Preminger directed that had significant merit. Friends’ black-comic premise starts with Julie’s (Dyan Cannon) art-director husband (Laurence Luckinbill) becoming a hugely successful children’s author committing adultery with everyone in sight (itself a not-bad gag). He then becomes one of those people too many of us have known: the person who goes into the hospital for a relatively benign procedure — and never comes out. This allows the script to get in some funny observational zingers about how the couple’s well-heeled Manhattan family and friends remain oblivious to what’s really important. As a satire of conspicuous consumption and what later became Yuppie-dom, the movie was ahead of its time.
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The Sign of the Cross

Universal, Drama, $19.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Charles Laughton, Elissa Landi.
The Sign of the Cross is a prototypical Cecil B. DeMille religious spectacular set in ancient Rome. It previously was available in Universal’s five-title DeMille boxed set and now is available individually. It is very much worth seeing for the cast, the décor, Karl Struss’s shimmering Oscar-nominated photography and — most of all — its still incredibly bloodthirsty arena sequence, which doesn’t get lazy with that same old lions-eating-Christians stuff.
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Get Yourself a College Girl

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Mary Ann Mobley, Chad Everett, Joan O’Brien, Nancy Sinatra, Chris Noel.
We begin with a student played by onetime Miss America Mary Ann Mobley, who does her part for coming sexual liberation here by almost getting bounced from something called Wyndham College for composing a randy tune on the subject. The Dave Clark Five and The Animals appear in what had been a big year for both groups but don’t sing any of their hits. Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto do perform their biggest — “The Girl from Ipanema” — but the staging is bereft of imagination. If it’s all getting too complicated, this Warner burn-on-demand title simply is what it is — which means that male lead Chad Everett is going to be characteristically unctuous, in a Midwest country club kind of way.
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About the Author: Mike Clark

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