DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: EIGHT MEN OUT (Olive Films)
One of the most infamous chapters in American sports is rendered in first-rate fashion in writer/director John Sayles’ 1988 dramatization of the “Black Sox” scandal, based on Eliot Asinof’s best-seller, wherein the Chicago White Sox threw the 1919 World Series.
Sayles covers all the bases, no pun intended, exploring the circumstances leading to the scandal, including the team’s dissatisfaction with penny-pinching owner Charlie Comiskey (Clifton James), the involvement (and influence) of gangster Arnold Rothstein (Michael Lerner), and the subsequent consequences – both for the participants and the overall game.
A top ensemble cast includes David Strathairn (pitcher Eddie Ciccote), D.B. Sweeney (slugger “Shoeless Joe” Jackson), Charlie Sheen, Michael Rooker, Christopher Lloyd, Bill Irwin, Studs Terkel (as reporter Hugh Fullerton) and Sayles (as Ring Lardner Jr.). Especially good are John Cusack as infielder Buck Weaver (the story’s conscience) and John Mahoney as heartbroken manager Kid Gleason.
The Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) boasts audio commentary, documentary and trailer.
“AMY SCHUMER: LIVE AT THE APOLLO” (HBO) The title tells all in this extended version of the stand-up comedy special directed by Chris Rock, available on DVD ($19.97 retail).
“ARROW”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (DC Entertainment/Warner Home Video): Stephen Amell returns as billionaire playboy Oliver Queen and his crime-fighting alter-ego, in all 23 episodes from the 2014-’15 season of the awardwinning CW action series based on DC’s “Green Arrow” character, available on DVD ($59.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($60.10 retail) – both with special features for “Arrow” aficionados.
BATKID BEGINS (Warner Home Video): Dana Nachman’s award-winning, PG-rated documentary focuses on the worldwide phenomenon surrounding five-year-old leukemia patient Miles Scott’s wish to be Batman’s sidekick for a day, which came true in San Francisco on Nov. 15, 2013. The DVD retails for $28.98.
“BATMAN”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (DC Entertainment/Warner Home Video): The Caped Crusader (Adam West) and the Boy Wonder (Burt Ward) swing into action – joined by Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl – in all 26 episodes from the 1967-’68 (and final) season of the award-winning, cult-classic ABC series based on the classic DC Comics character. Guest villains include Cesar Romero’s Joker, Burgess Meredith’s Penguin, Vincent Price’s Egghead, Milton Berle’s Louie the Lilac, Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler, Victor Buono’s King Tut and Cliff Robertson’s Shame. The DVD collection retails for $39.98.
“BLAZE AND THE MONSTER MA- CHINES: HIGH-SPEED ADVENTURES” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD collection ($14.99 retail) of episodes from the popular Nickelodeon animated pre-school series detailing the adventures of a tenacious truck (voiced by Nolan North).
CAVEMAN (Olive Films): Ringo Starr married co-star Barbara Bach after making this silly, occasionally inspired 1981 comedy set in “One Zillion BC,” the only feature directed by screenwriter Carl Gottleib, with Dennis Quaid, Shelley Long, Jack Gilford, Avery Schreiber, Carl Lumbly and ex-NFL star John Matuszak along for the ride. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG.
COOLEY HIGH (Olive Films): Glynn Turman and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs play best buddies in early-’60s Chicago in director Michael Schultz’s fresh, bittersweet ode to adolescence. Hyped as “a black American Graffiti,” this 1975 comedy/ drama has its own identity and a great Motown soundtrack. Garrett Morris shines as a sympathetic teacher. This inspired the ABC sitcom “What’s Happening!” The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG.
“DORA AND FRIENDS”: THE COM- PLETE FIRST SEASON (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A self-explanatory four-DVD collection of all 18 episodes (including double-length specials) from the inaugural 2014-’15 season of the award-winning animated adventure series spun off from “Dora the Explorer.”
FLYING DISC MAN FROM MARS (Olive Films): Mars attacks in this 12-part 1950 Republic Pictures serial, with Walter Reed as the former Air Force pilot who must save the day – and the Earth, available on DVD and Blu-ray (each $29.95 retail).
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2015, Mark Burger.