DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: THE PRODUCERS (Shout! Factory)
Decades before the historic Broadway musical, writer/director Mel Brooks made his feature debut with this outrageous 1968 comedy — and won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.Zero Mostel is at his unhinged best as Max Bialystock, a lowly and lascivious Broadway producer who cajoles and browbeats accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) into becoming his accomplice in embezzling investors’ money by producing a surefire bomb: a lavish Nazi musical called Springtime for Hitler.In addition to Mostel and Wilder (who earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor), a wonderfully wacky cast includes Kenneth Mars as the deranged playwright, Christopher Hewett as the cross-dressing director, Estelle Winwood, Renee Taylor, Lee Meredith, William Hickey and a hilarious Dick Shawn as a hippie Hitler. The new DVD/Blu-ray “collector’s edition” retails for $29.93. Rated PG.
56 UP (First Run Features): Director Michael Apted’s latest installment of the ongoing, award-winning Seven Up documentary series, which originally followed the lives of 14 English children from various backgrounds starting at age 7, then catching up with them every seven years. The DVD retails for $29.95. First Run Features is also releasing the DVD collection The Up Series ($79.95 retail), featuring all eight documentary features to date.
COME OUT AND PLAY (Flatiron Film Company/Cinedigm): Vinessa Shaw and Ebon-Moss Bachrach play an expectant couple on a Mexaican vacation who encounter murderous children on a remote island. This R-rated adaptation of Juan Jose Plans’ novel El Juego de los Ninos, adapted by director Makinov, was previously made into the obscure cult chiller Who Can Kill a Child? (US title: Island of the Damned) in 1976. The DVD retails for $26.95, the Bluray/DVD combo for $29.95.
DEAD MAN’S BURDEN (Flatiron Film Company/Cinedigm): Writer/director Jared Moshe’s feature debut is an atmospheric but wordy Western set in post-Civil War New Mexico, with Barlow Jacobs as a veteran who returns home to his sister (Clare Bowen), who thought him dead. David Call, Joseph Lyle Taylor and the ever-busy Richard Riehle co-star.
DEAD SOULS (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): This adaptation of Michael Laimo’s award-winning novel stars Jesse James as a troubled teen who learns he’s adopted and inherits a farm in Maine — one that just happens to be cursed. Bill Moseley, Magda Apanowicz and Geraldine Hughes (hey, I’ve interviewed her!) round out the cast of this shocker, available on DVD ($14.93 retail) or Blu-ray ($19.97 retail).
“THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW”: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON (Image Entertainment): The Blu-ray bow ($59.98 retail) of all 32 episodes from the 1964-65 season of the beloved CBS sitcom created by Carl Reiner, starring Dick Van Dyke as TV comedy writer Rob Petrie, with Mary Tyler Moore, Morey Amsterdam, Rose Marie and occasionally Reiner. Emmy winner for Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment — Actors and Performers (Van Dyke) and Outstanding Program Achievements in Entertainment (Reiner), with an additional nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment — Writers (Reiner).
ERASED (RADiUS-TWC/Anchor Bay Entertainment): Ex-CIA agent (and executive producer) Aaron Eckhart and teenaged daughter Liana Liberato are on the run in Belgium in this fair time-killer in the mold of Taken, right down to the two-syllable title (although this was once titled The Expatriate). Eckhart and Liberato bring conviction to stock roles. Rated R.
HANSEL & GRETEL GET BAKED (Tribeca Film/Cinedigm): Michael Welch and Molly Quinn play the titular siblings who tangle with wicked witch Lara Flynn Boyle in this light-hearted stoner black comedy inspired by the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The DVD retails for $26.95.
HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (Paramount Home Entertainment): Yet another revisionist adaptation of a classic fairy tale (see above), this one with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the titular siblings, battling wicked witch Famke Janssen. The DVD retails for $29.99, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99, and the 3-D combo for $54.99. Rated PG-13 (also available in an unrated version).
“THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GIL- LIS”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Shout! Factory): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($139.99 retail) of all 147 episodes from the entire 1959-63 run of the popular CBS situation comedy starring Dwayne Hickman in the title role, that of an all-American high school student. Frank Faylen and Florida Friebus play his clueless parents, Bob Denver his beatnik best bud and Sheila James the gal who loves him. This also provided an early career springboard for first-season co-stars Warren Beatty and Tuesday Weld.
MOVIE 43 (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Desperate producer Dennis Quaid pitches Hollywood executive Greg Kinnear a succession of vulgar comedy ideas in this raunchy anthology that bombed with critics and audiences alike, despite a star-studded cast including Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Richard Gere, Gerard Butler, Seth McFarlane, Kristen Bell, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Stone, Terrence Howard, Uma Thurman, Chloe Grace Moretz, Elizabeth Banks (who directed a segment) and others, but the only vignette that remotely works stars real-life couple Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts as a couple home-schooling their teenaged son (a deadpan Jeremy Allen White). Rated R.
PHANTOM (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Sub captain Ed Harris matches wits with rogue KGB agent David Duchovny in writer/director Todd Robinson’s R-rated Cold War thriller featuring William Fichtner, Sean Patrick Flanery, Jason Beghe and Lance Henriksen. The DVD retails for $22.98, the Blu-ray for $29.99.
REHEARSAL FOR A SICILIAN TRAG- EDY (First Run Features): Despite the title, this warmhearted piece follows executive producer John Turturro as he explores the culture of Sicily and its proud heritage of puppetry. Co-written by Turturro and director Roman Paska, himself a noted puppeteer in his own right.
STRUCK BY LIGHTNING (Tribeca Film/ Cinedigm): Executive producer/screenwriter Chris Colfer plays a teenager looking back on life after being struck dead by a bolt of lightning. Allison Janney, Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney, Rebel Wilson, Angela Kinsey, Sarah Hyland, Ashley Rickards and Polly Bergen round out the cast. The DVD retails for $26.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.
TOWER BLOCK (Shout! Factory): A year after witnessing a murder, the residents of a rundown London apartment complex are targeted by a sniper. Sheridan Smith, Russell Tovey and Jack O’Connell try to dodge the bullet(s). The DVD retails for $19.97, the Blu-ray for $26.97.
“THE TWILIGHT ZONE”: THE COM- PLETE THIRD SEASON (Image Entertainment): A five-DVD collection ($29.98 retail) of all 37 episodes from the 1961-62 season of the immortal CBS fantasy anthology series created and hosted by Rod Serling, which earned three Emmy nominations that season including one for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama. Guest stars include Charles Bronson, Elizabeth Montgomery, Robert Redford, Leonard Nimoy, Dean Stockwell, Carol Burnett, Jack Albertson, Cloris Leachman, William Windom and more.
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.