video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Doctor Zhivago (Warner Home Video)

David lean’s epic 1965 adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s international best-seller became one of the best-loved screen romances of all time and is now given the royal treatment with a 45 th anniversary commemorative edition that includes retrospective documentaries, vintage interviews, audio commentary and more.

At the heart of the story is the title character, Yuri Zhivago (omar sharif), a Russian physician and poet torn between his wife Tonya (Geraldine chaplin) and his mistress lara (Julie christie), set against the backdrop of the impending Russian Revolution.

The sweeping story never loses its grip, due both to lean’s controlled direction and a splendid all-star cast that also includes Rod steiger, Ralph Richardson, Tom courtenay, Rita Tushingham, siobhan mckenna, klaus kinski and Alec Guinness as Yevgraf,

Zhivago’s half-brother and the narrator of the tale. It may be a soap opera, but it’s a great one. They truly don’t make ‘em like this anymore — a sentiment that could also be applied to David lean.

long but never dull (and frequently breathtaking), this huge box-office hit reaped five Academy Awards: Robert Bolt’s adapted screenplay, Freddie Young’s exquisite cinematography, maurice Jarre’s unforgettable score, Best Art Direction/set Decoration and Best costume Design, with additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best supporting Actor (courtenay), Best editing and Best sound.

The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $35.99. Rated PG-13.


“7 TH HEAVEN”: THE TENTH SEASON (cBs DVD/ Paramount Home entertainment): Yet another go-’round for the close-knit camden clan, as they face the rigors of daily life in all 22 episodes from the 2005-’06 season of the long-running, awardwinning prime-time WB Television Network series.

This five-DVD boxed set retails for $49.98.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL (Twentieth century Fox Home entertainment): The first film (released in 2007) was a big hit, hence this follow-up, which again combines live-action with cGI animation, and again follows the musical misadventures of Alvin, simon and Theodore, while also introducing the female chipmunk group, the “chipettes” (as voiced by Amy Poehler, christina Applegate and Anna Faris). Representing the human contingent, David cross and (briefly) Jason lee reprise their roles from the first film, while Zachary levi fills in for lee the rest of the time. Impressive special effects and frenetic pacing can’t overcome the weakness of the story, but this was as big a hit as the first film, so don’t be surprised if we see another “squeakquel” before long. Available as a single-disc DVD ($29.98 retail), a two-DVD special edition ($34.98 retail), or a Blu-ray disc ($39.99 retail). Rated PG.

“BERT AND ERNIE’S GREAT ADVENTURES” (sesame Workshop/Warner Home Video): The muppet pals, immortalized on TV’s awardwinning “sesame street,” embark on a series of claymation adventures in this children’s DVD, which retails for $12.99.


A group of friends encounters an alien menace in this lousy, low-rent sci-fi shocker, filmed under the title Hunter’s Moon. Rated R. No stars “DALLAS”: THE COMPLETE THIRTEENTH SEASON (Warner Home Video): love, oil and betrayal all figure prominently — as they often do — in all 27 episodes from the 1989-’90 season cBs-TV soap opera. The regular cast includes larry Hagman as J.R. ewing, Patrick Duffy, Barbara Bel Geddes, ken kercheval, charlene Tilton, Howard keel and George kennedy. Hagman and Duffy also directed episodes that season. This three-DVD boxed set retails for $39.98.

“DIRTY JOBS”: SEASON 4 (Discovery communications): All 24 episodes from the 2008 season of the popular, ongoing Discovery channel documentary series in which host mike Rowe encounters American workers who do those jobs that somebody’s gotta do. This five- DVD boxed set, which retails for $49.95, is available exclusively through

“FALCON CREST”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Warner Home Video): War waged among the wineries in california’s fictitious Tuscany Valley, in all 18 episodes from the premiere 1981- ’82 season of the award-winning, prime-time cBs- TV soap opera. Jane Wyman heads the regular cast, which includes Robert Foxworth, susan sullivan, William R. moses, Abby Dalton and lorenzo lamas (who was later married to Dalton’s daughter kathleen kinmont in real life). This four-DVD boxed set retails for $39.98.

FREE WILLY: ESCAPE FROM PIRATE’S COVE (Warner Home Video): A new spin-off of the popular big-screen family franchise sees Bindi Irwin (the late steve Irwin’s daughter) in her screen debut as a young girl who befriends a baby orca during a summer vacation at a run-down south African water park owned by her grandfather (Beau Bridges). Few surprises but the kids may like it. The whale footage combines cGI, models and actual killer whales. Rated PG.

“HE’S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS… AND MORE STORIES TO CELEBRATE THE ENVIRONMENT” (scholastic storybook Treasures): In the spirit of earth Day, this familyfriendly DVD ($14.95 retail) includes an animated adaptation of the title folk song, as well as other “environmentally-friendly” children’s stories, including “owl moon,” “come on, Rain!” and others.

“NHL CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS GREAT MOMENTS AND CLASSIC GAMES” (NHl/Warner Home Video): A six-disc boxed set ($39.92 retail) that pays tribute to the venerable (84 years) history of the Windy city’s National Hockey league franchise, including its last stanley cup championship in 1961.

“NHL WASHINGTON CAPITALS 10 GREATEST GAMES COLLECTOR’S EDITION” (NHl/Warner Home Video): like the selection above, this is a 10-disc boxed set ($49.98 retail) featuring the best games played by the professional NHl franchise based in the nation’s capital.

ON THE TRAIL OF ED WOOD (Alpha New cinema): michael copner’s 1990 documentary about the notorious filmmaker edward D. Wood Jr. (of Plan 9 from Outer Space infamy) was one of the first — and one of the worst. Basically it’s an extended interview with actor and Wood collaborator conrad Brooks. Brooks also wrote, produced, directed and stars in the 2005 horror campfest Gypsy Vampire: The Final Bloodlust, which is included as a “bonus” feature.

THE PRIDE OF JESSE HALLAM (Alpha Home entertainment): Johnny cash brings an unforced, unfettered dignity to the title role of this 1981 TV movie, that of a widowed father who must confront his illiteracy when he moves with his children from rural kentucky to cincinnati. melodramatic at times, but this is a message movie that works. Nice supporting performances by Brenda Vaccaro and the always-welcome eli Wallach. cash also did the film’s music.


Writer/director Brandon Beckner’s feature debut follows a disparate group of people at large in los Angeles and how their lives intersect in offbeat and unexpected ways. Despite an increasingly fragmented storyline, this is a nice try throughout, with twists, laughs and a smattering of good songs throughout, and an ensemble cast including kevin Nealon, Tom Arnold (better than usual and an exec utive producer), sandra Hess, Dule Hill, christopher Titus, kip Pardue, evan Peters, Johnny messner and adorable Nora Zehetner. Rated R.

“RUNAWAY RALPH” (scholastic storybook Treasures): The mischievous mouse, made popular in Beverly cleary’s best-selling series of children’s books, seeks fun and adventure in the latest animated installment of an ongoing series of adaptations. This DVD retails for $14.95.

“SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH”: THE SIXTH SEASON (cBs DVD/Paramount Home entertainment): melissa Joan Hart continues to cast a spell in the title role of the award-winning, primetime ABc-TV situation comedy, all 22 episodes from the 2001-’02 season of which are included in this three-DVD boxed set, which retails for $39.98.

THE SILVER BULLET (Alpha Home entertainment): No, it’s not about werewolves or coors light beer, but rather Tom Tyler as a blackclad hero who brings order to the ornery town of chico, in this low-budget 1935 Western.

THE SUNSET TRAIL (Alpha Home entertainment): ken maynard — he’s the one wearing the big white hat, of course — seeks justice in this 1932 Western, aided by his trusty (and quite resourceful) steed, Tarzan. clocking in at under an hour, this fast-paced B-movie can’t be accused of dragging its heels… or its hooves, for that matter.

VIGILANTE (mTI Home Video): After his fiancee is raped and murdered, Australian businessman Robert Diaz brushes up on his martial arts, dons a ski mask, and begins doling out retribution against the street gangs who terrorize the city. kazuya Wright plays the attractive detective who gets closer to solving the vigilante killings than she realizes. Generic and overly stylized at times, but not bad. Rated R.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio