DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: MARCH OR DIE (Henstooth Video)
Before Star Wars changed cinema, British impresario Sir Lew Grade financed this big-budget 1977 throwback to the Hollywood epics of yesteryear in the spirit of Beau Geste (1939) and Rudyard Kipling, produced by preblockbuster Jerry Bruckheimer and director Dick Richards, the latter coming off the 1975 Raymond Chandler hit Farewell, My Lovely.Shortly after World War I, the French Foreign Legion under the command of martinet Maj. William Sherman Foster (Gene Hackman) is ordered to oversee the reopening of an archaeological dig in a Moroccan region considered holy by Arab chieftan El Krim (Ian Holm).Terence Hill is jaunty and chivalrous as a Gypsy cat burglar “recruited” by the Legion, Max von Sydow everprofessional as the archaeologist, Holm brings dignity to his role as the proud Bedouin, but the ever-lovely Catherine Deneuve is saddled with an impossible role. The real disappointment is Hackman, whose Foster doesn’t seem so much disillusioned or war-weary as simply weary, like he wishes he were somewhere – anywhere – else.The battle scenes aren’t bad, and the film was reportedly longer (and better received) in Europe, but in the end March or Die is a misfire. The DVD retails for $19.95. Rated PG.
AGAINST THE SUN (Amplify Releasing/Anchor Bay Entertainment): Producer Brian Peck makes his screenwriting/directorial debut with this earnest, fact-based World War II saga about three Navy airmen (Tom Felton, Garret Dillahunt and Jake Abel) stranded on a raft in the Pacific in January 1942. Quite reminiscent of last year’s Unbroken, itself an imperfect film. Rated PG.
AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD (Shout! Factory): Filmmaker Werner Herzog makes his statement on colonialism in this powerful, award-winning 1972 epic (originally titled Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes), starring Klaus Kinski in a legendary performances as a 16th-century Spanish conquistador seeking the fabled El Dorado. In German with English subtitles. The Blu-ray ($24.97 retail) includes Herzog commentary in both English and German.
BLUE SKY (Olive Films): Jessica Lange won the Best Actress Oscar as a military wife whose slatternly behavior causes a scandal at the base where husband Tommy Lee Jones has been assigned – but manages to get it together when he’s enmeshed in a cover-up over nuclear testing. Completed in 1991 but shelved until 1994 by Orion Pictures’ bankruptcy, by which time director Tony Richardson had died. Soap-opera trappings are balanced (somewhat) by an excellent cast including Powers Boothe, Carrie Snodgress, Chris O’Donnell, Amy Locane and Mitchell Ryan. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Bluray for $29.95. Rated PG-13.
“THE BRIDGE”: SERIES 2 (MHz Networks): A four-DVD collection ($49.95 retail) of all 10 episodes from the 2013 season of the award-winning Scandanavian mystery series (originally titled Bron/Broen) starring Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia as detectives – one Swedish, one Danish – investigating a tragedy that occurred at the Oserund Bridge, which links the two nations. In Danish and Swedish with English subtitles.
“BROADCHURCH”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Entertainment One): A two-DVD collection ($39.98 retail) of all eight episodes (plus special features) from the award-winning BBC America mystery series about the investigation of the murder of an 11-year-old boy in a small town on the English coast. David Tennant and Olivia Colman reprise their roles, joined this time by Charlotte Rampling, James D’Arcy, Eve Myles and Marianne- Jean Baptiste.
“FRANK SINATRA: 5 FILM COL- LECTION” (Warner Home Video): To celebrate the 100 th birthday of “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” this self-explanatory Blu-ray selection ($69.96 retail) includes Anchors Aweigh (1945), On the Town (1949), Guys and Dolls (1955), Ocean’s 11 (1960) and Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964), plus a 32-page photo book commemorating the screen career of “the Chairman of the Board.” Individual Blu-rays of Anchors Aweigh, On the Town and Robin and the 7 Hoods each retail for $19.98, Ocean’s 11 for $14.98, and Guys and Dolls for $24.98.
HARRY & SON (Olive Films): Writer/ producer/director Paul Newman stars as a gruff blue-collar widower trying to reconcile with sensitive son Robby Benson in this maudlin 1984 soap opera, helped (but not saved) by a star-studded cast including Joanne Woodward (the off-screen Mrs. Newman, of course), Ellen Barkin, Ossie Davis, Wilford Brimley, Judith Ivey, Morgan Freeman and Maury Chaykin. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG.
“JAMAICA INN” (RLJ Entertainment/ Acorn): Daphne du Maurier’s classic 1936 novel becomes a three-part BBC One mini-series with “Downton Abbey” damsel Jessica Brown Findlay as an orphan facing mystery and menace near the Cornish moors in 1821, now available on DVD ($34.99 retail).
THE LAST FIVE YEARS (RADiUS- TWC/Anchor Bay Entertainment): Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan headline Richard LaGravenese’s PG-13-rated adaptation of Jason Robert Brown’s award-winning play, a musical drama detailing a tumultuous five-year relationship between an aspiring actress and a struggling novelist, now available on DVD ($22.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($26.99 retail).
“MANHATTAN”: SEASON ONE (LionsGate): This award-winning WGN America series dramatizes the “Manhattan Project” in the New Mexico town of Los Alimos 1943, wherein scientists developed the atomic bomb. The ensemble cast includes John Benjamin Hickey, Olivia Williams, Ashley Zukerman, Rachel Brosnahan, Katja Herbers, Harry Lloyd and Daniel Stern. All 13 episodes from the inaugural 2014 season, plus special features, are available on DVD ($49.98 retail) and Bluray ($49.97 retail).
“MURDOCH MYSTERIES: THE MOVIES” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): A three-DVD collection ($39.99 retail) of the three 2004 TV movies, based on Maureen Jennings’ best-selling mystery novels, that introduced the character of William Murdoch (Peter Outerbridge), a police detective and early practitioner of forensics solving crime in 1890s’ Toronto, which later became a hit series.
THE PERFECT WAVE (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Scott Eastwood (Clint’s son) headlines this PG-rated, faith- and fact-based drama about real-life surfer Ian McCormack and his crisis of conscience. Rachel Hendrix, Cheryl Ladd, Patrick Lyster, and real-life surfers Matt Bromley and Rosy Hodge also appear. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.99.
“RAWHIDE”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (CBS DVD/Paramount): A mammoth DVD boxed set ($162.99 retail) of all 217 episodes from the entire 1959-’65 run of the popular, award-winning CBS series about a continuous cattle drive in the Old West, starring Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood (in the role that propelled him to stardom).
“ROGUE”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Entertainment One): Thandie Newton’s back in action as undercover agent Grace Travis, in all 10 episodes from the 2014 season of the DirecTV crime series created by Matthew Parkhill and co-starring Cole Hauser and Andrea Roth, now available in a three- DVD collection ($29.98 retail) that also includes special features.
SEE YOU IN VALHALLA (Arc Entertainment): Sarah Hyland (also a producer) headlines this occasionally contrived dysfunctional-family comedy about an argumentative clan reunited for a funeral, given a big boost by an appealing ensemble cast including Steve Howey, Odeya Rush, Bret Harrison, Conor O’Farrell, Michael Weston, Jake McDorman, Beau Mirchoff and Emma Bell. Rated R.
SHIPS (IndiePix Films): Writer/director Elif Refig’s award-winning feature debut (originally titled Ferahfeza) stars Ugur Uzunel and M. Sitare Akbas as two restless souls who romp through Turkey’s modernday industrial port cities in search of a ship Uzunel has only dreamed about. In Turkish with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $19.95. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2015, Mark Burger.