DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: ATTACK! (Timeless Media Group)
Filmmaker Robert Aldrich scored an early, award-winning filmmaking triumph with this hard-hitting, realistic 1956 World War II drama adapted by James Poe from Norman Brooks’ play Fragile Fox.Set during the Battle of the Bulge, the story focuses on an escalating battle of wills between Lt. Costa (Jack Palance) and his superior officer Capt. Cooney (Eddie Albert), whose cowardice repeatedly proves costly to Costa’s platoon. Aldrich, who worked with both actors numerous times, subverts expectations by having Palance play the noble hero and Albert the sniveling antagonist. Both are in top form.A fine supporting cast includes Aldrich favorites Lee Marvin and Richard Jaeckel (later reunited in The Dirty Dozen), Buddy Ebsen, Robert Strauss and William Smithers (in his screen debut). The mere suggestion of killing a fellow soldier, or contemplating such an action, was controversial enough for the military to withdraw its support from the production. Ever the maverick, Aldrich soldiered on (no pun intended) and made an anti-war film that’s exciting, thought provoking and ahead of its time.Attack! is included in Timeless Media Group’s “War Films Triple Feature” ($9.99 retail), which includes producer/director/star Cornel Wilde’s 1967 adaptation of Beach Red, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing, and Attack on the Iron Coast (1968) starring Lloyd Bridges. Those films are good, but Attack! is the classic.
“ACTION ADVENTURE MOVIE MARATHON“ (Shout! Factory): A self-explanatory DVD quadruplefeature ($9.99 retail) that includes the IRA thriller Shake Hands With the Devil (1959) starring James Cagney and Don Murray; Jim Brown and Christopher George in the R-rated 1973 prison melodrama I Escaped from Devil’s Island; Judy Davis and Richard Widmark in the R-rated, British-made 1982 terrorist opus The Final Option (AKA Who Dares Wins); and the 1983 adventure romp Treasure of the Four Crowns (rated PG), originally released by Cannon Films in 3D (2D here). Shout! Factory is also releasing a Blu-ray twin-bill ($19.97 retail) of I Escaped from Devil’s Island and The Final Option.
A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT (LionsGate): Executive producer Whoopi Goldberg headlines this made-for-Lifetime adaptation of Terry McMillan’s best-seller as an ailing matriarch determined to bring her family together. Ving Rhames, Anika Noni Rose, Kimberly Elise, Mekhi Phifer and Tichina Arnold co-star. The DVD retails for $14.98.
“AN EVERGREEN CHRISTMAS” (Arc Entertainment): Charleene Closshey headlines this PG-rated yuletide drama as a musician who puts her Hollywood career on hold to return home to Tennessee to save her family’s Christmas tree business. Robert Loggia, Tyler Ritter, Greer Grammer (Kelsey’s daughter) and Naomi Judd co-star. The DVD retails for $20.99.
“FACES OF ISRAEL” (Film Movement): Subtitled “New Israeli Cinema,” this self-explanatory DVD boxed set ($49.95 retail) boasts four critically acclaimed, award-winning films made by Israeli filmmakers: Writer/director Joseph Cedar’s 2004 drama Campfire (Medurat Hashevet), director Dror Zahavi’s 2008 drama For My Father (Sof Shavua B’Tel Aviv), writer/director Omri Givon’s 2008 feature debut Seven Minutes in Heaven (Sheva dakot be gan eden), and Eran Riklis’ 2010 comedy/drama adaptation of Abraham B. Jehoshua’s novel The Human Resources Manager. All are presented in Hebrew with English subtitles.
“LIBERTY: HEROES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION” (Lions- Gate): This two-DVD collection ($14.98 retail) boasts seven History Channel documentaries pertaining to the founding “” and founders “” of this great nation.
NORMAN ROCKWELL’S SHUFFLETON’S BARBERSHOP (Cinedigm): Bland, boring Hallmark Channel sudser “inspired” by Rockwell’s painting, with Austin Stowell as a singer who returns to the small town where he grew up and recalls his friendship with barber Danny Glover (seen in flashback). A cloying score and bland songs on the soundtrack drag it down further.
RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (Classic Media): A 50th-anniversary collector’s edition of the perennially popular Rankin/Bass animated Christmas special based on Gene Autry’s hit song and featuring Burl Ives as Sam the Snowman, who tells the story of “the most famous reindeer of all.” The DVD and Blu-ray each retail for $17.99. Yours truly watched this many times as a child on TV during the holidays, and it’s still great fun for all ages.
SHE GOES TO WAR (Alpha Home Entertainment): Set during World War I, director Henry King’s 1929 melodrama stars Eleanor Boardman as a woman who disguises herself as a man to reach soldier/boyfriend John Holland, who’s fighting in the trenches. This late-inning silent feature was later re-released with all subtitled scenes eliminated and additional sound effects, which rather eviscerates the narrative but enhances its surreal atmosphere. The fiery tankbattle climax remains intense and impressive.
“STATE TROOPER”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Timeless Media Group): Rod Cameron lays down the law in all 104 episodes from the entire run (1956-59) of the syndicated crime series based on true cases from the Nevada State Police. Other series regulars include Robert Armstrong and Don Haggerty, with guest appearances by James Coburn, Claude Akins, Lee Van Cleef, Michael Landon, Jack Albertson, DeForest Kelley, Carolyn Jones and others. The 11-DVD boxed set retails for $39.97.
TYLER PERRY’S THE SINGLE MOMS CLUB (LionsGate): The prolific writer/producer/director’s self-explanatory, PG-13-rated comedy/drama stars Nia Long, Amy Smart, Wendi McLendon- Covey, Zulay Henao and Cocoa Brown as the members of the titular group and Terry Crews, Ryan Eggold, Eddie Cibrian and Perry himself as some of the men in their lives. This was one of Perry’s few box-office misfires, but a weekly TV series is on the horizon “¦ The DVD retails for $29.95; the Blu-ray for $39.99. LionsGate has also released Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Neighbors from Hell: The Play, a musical comedy (performed before a live audience) in which Perry reprises his signature role as Madea. The DVD retails for $19.98.
WATERMARK (Entertainment One): Filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier join forces with noted photographer Edward Burtynsky to make this award-winning, PG-rated documentary feature that offers a sweeping, picturesque exploration of the importance of H20 to Planet Earth. The DVD retails for $24.98; the Blu-ray for $29.98.
“YU-GI-OH! CLASSIC”: THE OFFICIAL FIFTH SEASON (Cinedigm): A self-explanatory seven-DVD collection ($59.95 retail) of all 52 episodes from the final season of the original ’90s animated Japanese fantasy series, based on the popular tradinggame series. Cindegim is also offering “Volume 1,” “Volume 2″ and “Volume 3″ of the fifth season (each retailing for $19.95), as well as the self-explanatory two-DVD collection from the debut 2011 season of animated spin-off “Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal”: Season 1, Vol. 1 ($24.95 retail). Finally, Cinedigm and 4K Media Inc. have released “Yu-Gi-Oh! Classic: The Complete Set,” a mammoth 32-DVD boxed set ($229.64 retail) featuring every episode from all five seasons of the original series.
“ZANE GREY THEATRE”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Timeless Media Group): A DVD collection ($29.93 retail) of all 29 episodes from the 1957-58 season of the awardwinning CBS Western anthology series hosted by Dick Powell and featuring stories adapted from the works of Zane Grey. Guest stars include Barbara Stanwyck, Claudette Colbert, Walter Brennan, Robert Vaughn, Cesar Romero, Lloyd Bridges, Anne Bancroft, Michael Landon, Nick Adams and many others. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. ‘© 2014, Mark Burger.