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by Mark Burger

 marksburger@yahoo.com

DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: NASHVILLE (The Criterion Collection)

A perfect movie. Robert Altman’s staggering 1975 drama represents a master filmmaker at his finest, a kaleidoscopic and incisive view of American attitudes and mores set in the title town.Music figures prominently in the proceedings, which run the gamut: Sharply observant, profoundly depressing, ironic, cruel, wistful and sometimes uplifting — a little bit of everything. Yet it’s always entertaining and often breathtaking in its brilliance.The flawless ensemble cast includes Henry Gibson, Michael Murphy, Karen Black, Geraldine Chaplin, Barbara Harris, Jeff Goldblum, Keith Carradine, Cristina Raines, Ned Beatty, Allen Garfield, Keenan Wynn, Shelley Duvall, Lily Tomlin and Ronee Blakley. Tomlin and Blakley earned Oscar nominations as Best Supporting Actress, Altman earned nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, and Carradine’s song “I’m Easy” won the Oscar.Some people consider this one of the great American movies. They’re right. The DVD/Blu-ray combo, which retails for $39.95, includes a retrospective documentary, audio commentary, and vintage interviews with Altman. Rated R.

THE 3RD ALARM (Alpha Home Entertainment): Impressive special effects highlight the climax of this silent 1922 melodrama starring Ralph Lewis as a neighborhood firefighter struggling to come to terms with enforced retirement.

ANGELS SING (LionsGate): This PG-rated holiday fable, based on Turk Pipkin’s novel, stars Harry Connick Jr. as a man whose dormant Christmas spirit is reawakened by family, friends and a mysterious stranger named “Nick” (Willie Nelson). Kris Kristofferson, Connie Nielsen, Lyle Lovett and Fionnula Flanagan round out the cast. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $24.99.

“THE BEST OF (THE ORIGINAL) AN EVENING AT THE IMPROV” (Somerville House): A selfexplanatory four-DVD collection ($29.98 retail) featuring a star-studded line-up of stand-up comedy: Milton Berle, Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Andy Kaufman, Leslie Nielsen, Michael Keaton, Mort Sahl, Bill Maher, Arsenio Hall, Richard Lewis, Sandra Bernhard, Don Adams, Steve Allen, Flip Wilson, Fred Willard, Dick Shawn, William Shatner, Tony Curtis, Lorne Greene, and even Patrick Macnee and Christopher Lee!

THE BLUE ANGEL (Kino Classics): Josef von Sternberg’s legendary 1930 drama (Der Blaue Engel) stars Marlene Dietrich as a nightclub chanteuse who leads respected professor Emil Jannings astray, based on Heinrich Mann’s novel. This two-disc special edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes the original German-language version and the English version.

CORRUPTION (Grindhouse Releasing): The great Peter Cushing goes slumming in this 1968 shocker as a surgeon who kills to procure fresh glands to restore the beauty of his fashion-model fiancée (Sue Lloyd) after her face is burned. Described by one critic as “a classic of sleazy Grand Guignol” — and that’s putting it nicely. The last act goes absolutely bonkers, replete with a “twist” ending. Not the greatest movie — and that’s putting it nicely — but the DVD/Blu-ray combo ($29.95 retail) is a great package, with loads of extras including alternate scenes (some very explicit). Rated R.

CRAWLSPACE (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): The inimitable Klaus Kinski’s in full rant as the murderous ex-Nazi landlord of an apartment building that seems to cater primarily to young, attractive women — including Talia Balsam, who’s next on his hit list. Director David Schmoeller’s confined 1986 shocker emphasizes style over substance. Rated R.

DEAR MR. PROHACK (VCI Entertainment): This 1949 adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s novel and Edward Knoblock’s play Mr. Prohack stars Cecil Parker in the title role, a pencil-pushing civil servant whose world comes undone when he receives an unexpected inheritance. Parker’s in peak form but the energy flags in the latter stages, despite a cast including Glynis Johns, Dirk Bogarde, Hermione Baddeley, Denholm Elliott, Bryan Forbes, Jon Pertwee and Sheila Sim (now Lady Attenborough). This was director Thornton Freeland’s final film, although he lived until 1987.

“DUCK DYNASTY: I’M DREAMING OF A REDNECK CHRISTMAS” (LionsGate): The title truly says it all, and the DVD retails for $9.98. LionsGate is also releasing the selfexplanatory “Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-3 Collector’s Set,” which retails for $49.98 (DVD) or $49.99 (Blu-ray).

FROLICS ON ICE (Alpha Home Entertainment): In an low-budget effort to replicate Shirley Temple’s success, RKO cast real-life skating phenomenon Irene Dare as a moppet whose ice-skating prowess makes her ambitious uncle (Roscoe Karns) see dollar signs. Erle C. Kenton directed this pleasant, nostalgic 1939 comedy with funnyman favorite Edgar Kennedy as Dare’s downto-earth dad. On and off the ice, Dare’s a charmer. Also known as Everything’s on Ice.

“GALACTIC ADVENTURES: 3-D SUN/MARS 3-D” (Image Entertainment): The title(s) tell all in this Blu-ray documentary double-feature ($24.98 retail).

KNIGHTRIDERS (Shout! Factory): The Bluray bow ($19.97 retail) of George A. Romero’s unique re-telling of the Camelot legend in this 1981 drama about a traveling renaissance fair in which the “knights” compete on motorcycles. An iconoclastic box-office disappointment in its day that nevertheless found a ready (and deserving) cult following. A true one of a kind, with a unique vision of Americana and a fine ensemble cast headed by Ed Harris (emanating full star power as the modern-day King Arthur), makeup wizard Tom Savini (ably playing drama), Amy Ingersoll, Patricia Tallman, Gary Lahti, Christine Forrest (then Romero’s wife), Warner Shook, scene-stealer Brother Blue (his one and only film) as Merlin, and a funny cameo by Stephen King. Its only drawback is its excessive length. Rated R.

“NFL RUSH ZONE: SEASON OF THE GUARDIANS”: VOLUME ONE (Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): A DVD compilation ($14.93 retail) of six episodes from the animated Nickelodeon fantasy series in which young heroes try to keep the world safe for professional football, featuring guest voice-overs by such gridiron stars as Drew Brees, Rex Ryan, Greg Jennings, Rob Gronkowski and others.

“THE SIMPSONS”: THE SIXTEENTH SEASON (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Life goes on (and on …) for America’s favorite cartoon family, in all 21 episodes from the 2004-’05 season of the awardwinning Fox comedy series created by Matt Groening, the longest-running animated prime-time series in history and also one of the longest-running TV sitcoms — with no end in sight. Three Emmy nominations that season including Outstanding Animated Program. The DVD boxed set retails for $49.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $59.99.

“TALES OF THE CITY”: 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDI- TION (Acorn): A self-explanatory two-DVD collection ($49.99 retail) of the Peabody Award-winning (and controversial) PBS mini-series set in free-wheeling 1970s’ San Francisco, directed by Alastair Reid and based on Armistead Maupin’s awardwinning novel, with a star-studded cast including Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Parker Posey, Thomas Gibson, Donald Moffat, Chloe Webb, Billy Campbell, Ian McKellen, Mary Kay Place, Paul Gross, Paul Dooley, Paul Bartel, McLean Stevenson (his final role), Edie Adams (her final role), Marcus D’Amico, Barbara Garrick, Nina Foch, Janeane Garofalo and Rod Steiger. Emmy nominations for Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Miniseries or Special. !

MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.

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