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[VIDEO VAULT]

by Mark Burger

MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT

DVD PICK OF THE WEEK

ROLLERCOASTER (Shout! Factory): This summer ’77 release from Universal owes as much to the studio’s Jaws (1975) as the diminishing disaster cycle, but it’s a crackerjack winner all the way — “Sensurround” and all.

George Segal is at his best as safety inspector Harry Calder, investigating a sudden rash of disasters on rollercoasters that he’d previously inspected. He suspects sabotage, and he’s right: Timothy Bottoms (equally fine) plays the coolly methodical extortionist – identified only as “Young Man” – behind the crimes, and Richard Widmark (excellent as always) is the hard-boiled FBI agent assigned to the case, bantering with Segal throughout.

That the culprit’s identity is known at the outset, and that Harry the hero is much the everyman (he’s divorced and trying to quit smoking), bears the imprint of screenwriting duo Richard Levinson and William Link, whose many credits significantly include “Columbo.” This is easily director James Goldstone’s best feature, smoothly appropriating some Hitchcockian touches, and Lalo Schifrin’s score is another big plus.

Henry Fonda, Harry Guardino and Susan Strasberg lend star power in small roles, and there are early appearances by Steve Guttenberg, Craig Wasson and Helen Hunt, an absolute charmer as Harry’s teenaged daughter. The Blu-ray ($27.99 retail) includes the original Sensurround soundtrack, trailer and more. Rated PG. ***½

ALSO AVAILABLE

APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME (Olive Films): Writer/director John Harlow’s 1946 film noir involves ex-con (and future “Dr. Who”) William Hartnell vowing revenge on cohort Raymond Lovell, who let him take the rap after a botched heist, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).

“BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP (BLACK SHEEP SQUADRON)”: THE FINAL SEASON (Shout! Factory): A DVD collection ($24.97 retail) of all 13 episodes from the 1977-’78 (and final) season of the NBC series created by Stephen J. Cannell, based on the autobiography of US Marine Corps Col. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington (played by Robert Conrad) and dramatizing his service leading the titular team of fighter pilots in the Solomon Islands during World War II. Robert Ginty, John Larroquette, Larry Manetti, Dirk Blocker (son of Dan), and Dana Elcar (who directed a few episodes) round out the regular cast. Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Film Sound Editing for a Series.

“BEAUTY & THE BEAST”: THE THIRD SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan step into shoes of Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman in the title roles, joined romantically and to fight the forces of evil in New York City, in all 13 episodes from the 2015 season of the award-winning CW fantasy series based on the ’80s CBS series, available on DVD ($46.99 retail), replete with bonus features for “Beast” buffs.

“COP ROCK”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Shout! Factory): A DVD collection ($29.93 retail) of all 11 episodes from the 1990 (and only) season of the unique ABC series, created by executive producer Steven Bochco and William M. Finkelstein, that combined gritty police drama with full-blown musical numbers. The ensemble cast included Ronny Cox, Anne Bobby, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Peter Onorati, Larry Joshua, Paul McCrane, James McDaniel and Bochco’s then-wife Barbara Bosson. At the time, this was considered a major artistic and ratings flop, but in the ensuing 25 years a fervent cult following has emerged. Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Editing for a Series and Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics, with an additional three nominations including Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series.

“DANIEL BOONE”: SEASON ONE (Shout! Factory): Having scored big as Davy Crockett, Fess Parker returned to network television another legendary American frontiersman in a popular NBC adventure series. This DVD collection ($29.99 retail) contains all 29 episodes from the inaugural 1964-’65 season, plus bonus features including vintage interviews with Parker (who died in 2010).

GOLD (Kino Classics): Filmmaker Karl Hartl’s little-seen 1934 sci-fi thriller stars Hans Albers as a scientist who develops a process that turns lead into gold, only to see the project sabotaged and the process pilfered by ruthless British industrialist Michael Bohnen, whose daughter (Brigitte Helm) Albers falls in love with. In German with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) in a digitally-restored version.

IF IT’S TUESDAY, THIS MUST BE BELGIUM (Olive Films): Rakish tour guide Ian McShane parries with frosty American Suzanne Pleshette in this bubbly, picturesque 1969 romp through Europe on a bus tour through nine countries in 18 days, with a friendly cast including Murray Hamilton, Mildred Natwick, Norman Fell, Michael Constantine, Peggy Cass, Marty Ingels, Sandy Baron, Aubrey Morris and cameos by John Cassavetes, Joan Collins, Vittorio De Sica, Ben Gazzara, Robert Vaughn, Senta Berger, Anita Ekberg, Virna Lisi, Elsa Martinelli, Catherine Spaak and Donovan. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated G. **½

I’LL TAKE SWEDEN (Olive Films): One of Bob Hope’s flimsier late-entry vehicles, this 1965 comedy casts him as a widower who accepts a position in Stockholm to keep daughter Tuesday Weld away from boyfriend Frankie Avalon – but of course he’s completely unaware of Sweden’s liberal sexual mores. Fill in the blanks. The DVD retails for $19.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. **

IP MAN 3 (Well Go USA Entertainment): Donnie Yen returns in the title role in director Wilson Yip’s award-winning, PG-13-rated final installment of the popular martial-arts trilogy, battling a ruthless American developer (Mike Tyson!) in 1959 Hong Kong. In English and Cantonese with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).

JOURNEY TO SPACE (Shout! Factory): Patrick Stewart narrates writer/director Mark Krenzien’s award-winning, self-explanatory IMAX documentary that explores the future of the NASA space program, available on Blu-ray ($19.99 retail) and 4K UHD 3-D Blu-ray ($39.93 retail).

“LITTLEST PET SHOP: MAKING FRIENDS(Hasbro Studios/Shout! Kids Factory): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($14.93 retail) of five episodes from the 2014-’15 season of the award-winning, animated children’s series about the mischievous denizens of the titular establishment.

“MANIMAL”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Fabulous Films/Shout! Factory): Simon MacCorkindale stars as Jonathan Chase, a wealthy and brilliant scientist with the ability to transform into any animal, in all eight episodes from the 1983-’84 (and only) season of the NBC science-fiction series, which was among the most heavily-hyped – and critically reviled – series’ of its day. Melody Anderson, Michael D. Roberts and Reni Santoni round out the regular cast, with William Conrad supplying opening narration. The DVD collection ($26.99 retail) includes an interview with co-creator/executive producer Glen A. Larson (who died in 2014).

“NICKELODEON FAVORITES: WHISKERS AND PAWS(Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD compilation ($14.99 retail) of selected episodes from such popular animated Nickelodeon series’ as “PAW Patrol,” “Shimmer and Shine,” “Dora and Friends,” “Blue’s Clues,” “Bubble Guppies” and others.

“NIKKATSU DIAMOND GUYS”: VOLUME 2 (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group): A limited-edition DVD/Blu-ray combo ($49.95 retail) of three Japanese action films: Akira Kobayashi stars in Buichi Saito’s 1960 Tokyo Mighty Guy (Tokyo no abarembo), Jo Shishido stars in Ko Nakahira’s 1962 Danger Pays (Yabai koto nara zeni ni naru), and Shishido’s back in action for Haruyasu Noguchi’s 1965 Murder Unincorporated (Toba no mesu neko: Sha kiba no shobu).

“POWER RANGERS NINJA STORM”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Saban Brands/Shout! Factory): The title tells all in this five-DVD collection ($22.97 retail) of all 38 episodes from the 2003 season of the live-action fantasy/adventure series – yet another incarnation/variation of the popular “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” franchise.

THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI (Olive Films): George Sanders is at his caddish best (and worst) in the title role of a social-climbing journalist who cares not for those he betrays and discards in ruthless wake, in Albert Lewin’s 1947 adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s novel, co-starring Ann Dvorak, Angela Lansbury, John Carradine, Albert Basserman, Frances Dee and Warren William (in his final film), available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).

QUACKERZ (Shout! Kids Factory): When an island of Mandarin Ducks is mistakenly invaded by the Military Mallards, the feathers start flying in this PG-rated, CG-animated comedy featuring the voices of Alanna Ubach, Michael Gross, Robbie Daymond, Enn Reitel and Andrea Becker, available on DVD ($14.98 retail) and 3-D Blu-ray/DVD combo ($24.97 retail).

THE RETURN OF A MAN CALLED HORSE (Olive Films): Richard Harris reprises his role as John Morgan in this 1976 sequel to the 1970 hit, back from England to aid the Sioux of South Dakota when they are forced off their sacred land. Not as good as the original, but director Irvin Kershner offers a respectful portrayal of Native American culture rare in films for that time. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG. **½

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (Disney): Walt Disney rolled the dice and came up a big winner with this 1937 animated feature (his first), that brilliantly brings to life the classic fairy tale, which remains one of the highest-grossing animated films in history, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Score, as well as an honorary Oscar for Uncle Walt. The “Walt Disney Signature Collection” DVD/Blu-ray combo ($36.99 retail) includes a slew of bonus feature for Disney devotees. Rated G. ****

“TARZAN, LORD OF THE JUNGLE”: COMPLETE SEASON ONE (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Robert Ridgley (who capped his career playing the Colonel James in Boogie Nights!) voices the title character in all 16 episodes from the inaugural 1976 season of the animated Filmation Studios series that aired Saturday mornings on CBS, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ enduring hero. The two-DVD collection retails for $19.98.

TONI BRAXTON: THE MOVIE EVENT (LionsGate): Lex Scott Davis makes her feature debut in the title role of the Grammy Award-winning songbird in this Lifetime biographical drama directed by Vondie Curtis-Hall, based on Braxton’s memoir Unbreak My Heart (the film’s original title), available on DVD ($14.98 retail).

“TRANSFORMERS RESCUE BOTS: HEROES OF TECH(Hasbro Kids/Shout! Kids Factory): The title tells all in this DVD collection ($14.93 retail) of five episodes from the award-winning, animated fantasy/adventure series, currently aired on Discovery Family Channel and featuring the voices of Lacey Chabert, LeVar Burton, Maurice LaMarche and Peter Cullen (the perennial voice of “Optimus Prime”).

“TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE: MISSION DISCOVERY(Shout! Kids Factory): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($29.93 retail) of five episodes from the animated fantasy/adventure series, currently aired on Cartoon Network (CN) and featuring the voices of Will Freidle, Mitchell Whitfield, Ted McGinley, Constance Zimmer and, occasionally, Peter Cullen (the perennial voice of “Optimus Prime”).

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

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