by Mark Burger



THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (The Criterion Collection): Director John Frankenheimer once mused that his tombstone would read: “Here lies the man who directed The Manchurian Candidate.” It may not have been his best film, but it was unquestionably his best-known – and it still packs a wallop.

Adapted by from Richard Condon’s best-seller by screenwriter George Axelrod, the story concerns Bennett Marco (Laurence Harvey in one of his best performances), a Korean War hero who has been brainwashed by Communists to carry out a political assassination. The agent who recruited him was none other than his own mother (a terrifying Angela Lansbury, who was actually younger than Harvey but earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress), who has quite a sinister agenda of her own.

Frank Sinatra plays Raymond Shaw, Marco’s platoon sergeant, who can’t seem to shake the suspicion that something very bad happened them in Korea, and that something even worse is about to happen – unless he acts quickly.

The seemingly disparate elements of Cold War paranoia, dark satire and surreal psycho-thriller, seasoned with Freudian and Oedipal touches, have been expertly combined into an entertaining, sometimes outrageous, and endlessly fascinating yarn. (The 2004 remake was good, but this can’t be topped.)

The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.95. Both boast a bevy of special features including audio commentary, retrospective interviews, vintage materials, and more. Rated PG-13. ***½


“THE BIBLE STORIES: IN THE BEGINNING” (Shout! Factory): A four-DVD collection ($39.97 retail) of Biblical mini-series’ aired on TNT: Abraham (1993) stars Richard Harris in the title role and earned three Emmy nominations; Jacob (1994) stars Matthew Modine in the title role; Joseph (1995) stars Paul Mercurio in the title role, won the Emmy Award as Outstanding Mini-Series, and earned four additional nominations including one for Ben Kingsley as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series or Special; and Moses (also ’95) stars Kingsley in the title role and earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Mini-Series. Individual DVDs for Abraham and Moses are also available (each $14.93 retail).

“BLAZE AND THE MONSTER MACHINES: REV UP AND ROAR!(Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD selection ($14.99 retail) of four episodes from the popular, animated Nickelodeon children’s series that combines entertainment with education.

“THE BOLD ONES: THE NEW DOCTORS” – THE COMPLETE SERIES (Shout! Factory): A nine-DVD collection ($59.99 retail) of all 43 episodes from the entire 1969-’73 run of the NBC medical drama with the longest run under the rotating “Bold Ones” umbrella, with E.G. Marshall, David Hartman and John Saxon, who left after the ’72 season and replaced by Robert Walden. A star-studded line-up of guest stars includes Bradford Dillman, Ida Lupino, Jack Klugman, Leslie Nielsen, Stefanie Powers, Pat Hingle, Carl Reiner, William Shatner, Donna Mills, Richard Basehart, Clu Gulager, Julie Adams, Karen Valentine, Susan Clark, Kim Hunter, Lois Nettleton, Michael Lerner, Howard Duff and Raymond Burr (as Ironside, in a crossover episode).

THE BOY (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Not to be confused with the recent chiller, director/editor/screenwriter Craig William Macneill’s adaptation of the “The Henley Road Motel” chapter from Clay McLeod Chapman’s novel Miss Corpus stars Jared Breeze as a morbid youngster whose life with divorced dad David Morse takes a turn for the horrific with the arrival of drifter Rainn Wilson, available on DVD ($14.93 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.97 retail).

BRADDOCK: MISSING IN ACTION III (Shout! Factory): Chuck Norris goes to the well once too often in the last (and least) of the Vietnam action trilogy produced by the Golan/Globus duo at Cannon Films, which marked the directorial debut of Chuck’s brother Aaron Norris and was released in 1988, now available on Blu-ray ($26.99 retail). Rated R. *

“DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE”: THE FINAL SEASON (Cinedigm): A DVD collection ($24.95 retail) of all 11 episodes from the 2015 season of the popular Hallmark Channel drama series based on Macomber’s best-selling novels, starring Andie MacDowell as a judge in the titular seaside town, struggling to balance her personal and professional life.

FLOWERS (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Jon Garano and Jose Mari Goenaga’s award-winning drama (originally titled Loreak) about a group of women whose lives are changed when they begin receiving anonymous bouquets of flowers each week. In Basque with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $29.95.

GOG 3-D (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Richard Egan, Constance Dowling and Herbert Marshall lead the human contingent in this dated but intriguing 1954 Cold War sci-fi thriller about sabotage at an secret laboratory controlled by the super computer NOVAC and a pair of experimental robots, called “Gog” and “Magog.” The special-edition Blu-ray ($34.99 retail) includes audio commentary, vintage interviews, and the original 3-D format fully restored. **½

INVASION U.S.A. (Shout! Factory): When international terrorists (led by Richard Lynch) storm the shores, it’s up to ex-CIA agent Chuck Norris to take action in this predictable but action-packed 1985 shoot-’em-up produced by the ubiquitous Golan/Globus duo at Cannon Films. The special-edition Blu-ray ($26.99 retail) includes audio commentary, retrospective interviews and more. Rated R. **

LOST IN HONG KONG (Well Go USA Entertainment): Director/star Xu Zheng’s follow-up to his 2012 blockbuster debut Lost in Thailand sees him reprising his role as a man in the midst of a mid-life crisis whose vacation to Hong Kong goes haywire. In Mandarin with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).

MAN ON THE PROWL (Alpha Home Entertainment): In an early lead role, James Best (a long way from “The Dukes of Hazzard”) plays a psychopath who holds housewife Mala Powers and her kids hostage while husband Jerry Paris is away on business in this low-budget but not bad 1957 exploitation thriller marking writer/producer/director Art Napoleon’s feature debut. The DVD ($7.98 retail) also includes the 1955 “Climax!” episode Night of Execution starring Vincent Price and Nina Foch. **½

“NEW TRICKS”: SEASON 12 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Tamzin Outhwaite and her crack team of retired detectives – Nicholas Lyndhurst, Denis Lawson and series newcomer Larry Lamb, replacing the departing Dennis Waterman, who’s been there since the beginning — continue their tireless pursuit of cold-case mysteries in all 10 episodes from the 2015 (and final) season of the long-running, award-winning BBC One crimey series, available on DVD ($39.99 retail).

“NICKELODEON: OUT OF THE VAULT RETURNS” (Shout! Factory): A DVD selection ($9.99 retail) of 10 episodes from such popular, animated Nickelodeon programs as “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters,” “CatDog,” “Rocko’s Modern Life,” “Hey Arnold!” and “The Angry Beavers.”

PUNK’S DEAD: SLC PUNK 2 (Cinedigm): Ben Schnetzer, Colson “Machine Gun Kelly” Baker and scene-stealer Hannah Marks represent the next generation of disaffected youth in James Merendino’s belated, scattershot follow-up to his 1999 cult favorite, with James Duval, Devon Sawa, Adam Pascal and Michael Goorjian reprising their original roles. Running only 75 minutes, this ends before it really seems to get going, but at least it doesn’t outstay its welcome. **

SECRET IN THEIR EYES (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Director/screenwriter Billy Ray’s moody, flashback-laden mystery, based on the Oscar-winning 2010 foreign film El Secreto de sus ojos, involves a 13-year odyssey to find the killer of Los Angeles detective Julia Roberts, which has become an obsession for former partner Chiwetel Ejiofor and a concern for former colleague Nicole Kidman. Despite a cast that also includes Alfred Molina and Michael Kelly, and a knockout chase through Dodger Stadium, this is a bumpy ride – although not without interest. The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $34.98. Rated PG-13. **

SISTERS (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Tina Fey and Amy Poehler take sibling rivalry – and sibling revelry – to new highs (and lows) in this R-rated comedy smash, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.98 retail).

STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Alex Gibney’s comprehensive and entertaining — but overlong – documentary looks at the life and legacy at techno-god Steve Jobs (1955-2011) and makes a fascinating companion piece to Danny Boyle’s feature film. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. Rated R. ***

“STRIKE BACK: CINEMAX SEASON 4” (HBO) British agent Philip Winchester and American operative Sullivan Stapleton continue their globe-trotting trackdown of international terrorists in all 10 episodes from the 2013 season of the award-winning Cinemax espionage series, available on DVD ($26.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.98 retail).

“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: HALF-SHELL HEROES – BLAST FROM THE PAST(Nickelodeon/Paramount): An animated TV movie in which those “Heroes on the Half-Shell” find themselves thrust backwards in time to the Jurassic Era. The DVD retails for $14.99.

“THERESE RAQUIN” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Kate Nelligan plays the title role in this award-winning, three-part 1980 BBC mini-series (aired on “Masterpiece Theatre” in the US) based on Emile Zola’s classic 19th-century novel, co-starring Brian Cox, Kenneth Cranham, Mona Washbourne and Alan Rickman (in an early role). The DVD retails for $29.99.

“TRANSFORMERS RESCUE BOTS: ADVENTURES IN TIME AND SPACE(Hasbro Studios/Shout! Kids Factory): The title tells all in this DVD selection ($14.93 retail) of five episodes from the award-winning, animated fantasy/adventure series featuring the voices of Lacey Chabert, LeVar Burton, Maurice LaMarshe and Peter Cullen (as Optimus Prime).

“THE TRIALS OF JIMMY ROSE” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Ray Winstone essays the title role in this three-part ITV mini-series, a disillusioned ex-con whose efforts to stay on the straight and narrow are complicated when his granddaughter (newcomer Daisy Cooper-Kelly) has drifted into a world of drugs and crime. Amanda Redman, Tom Cullen, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson and John Lynch round out the cast. The DVD retails for $34.99.

A WALK IN THE WOODS (Broad Green Pictures): Best buds Robert Redford and Nick Nolte hit the Appalachian Trial in this R-rated adaptation of Bill Bryson’s best-seller, encountering Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman, Kristen Schaal and Greensboro’s own R. Keith Harris (as Redford’s son) along the way, available on DVD ($26.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.99 retail).

(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2016, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “”