video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: THE THREE MUSKETEERS/THE FOUR MUSKETEERS 2-MOVIE COLLECTION (lionsGate Home entertainment)

Director Richard lester scored back-to-back box-office hits with these rollicking adaptations of the classic Alexandre Dumas story, originally intended as a single epic but then divided into two films, released in 1973 and ’74, respectively.

Michael York plays D’Artagnan, the young swordsman eager to join the Queen’s Musketeers: Athos (Oliver Reed), Porthos (Richard Chamberlain) and Aramis (Frank Finlay). He gets his chance when treachery rears its head, personified by the nefarious Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) and his cunning cohorts, Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway) and the ruthless, one-eyed Rochefort (Christopher lee). It’s one for all and all for one — and boisterous, non-stop action and adventure, accentuated by lester’s patented slapstick and some of the best swordfights ever committed to film.

The energetic cast (of both films) also includes Raquel Welch (in a Golden Globe-award winning performance) as the lovely Constance, whom D’Artagnan is (understandably) drawn to; Jean-Pierre Cassel as louis XIII and Geraldine Chaplin as Queen Anne, simon Ward as the Duke of Buckingham, spike Milligan and Roy kinnear.

The lightness of the first film is supplanted by a darker, nastier turn in the second film, but both are splendid screen renditions of the oft-told tale, perhaps the best ever filmed. The second film earned an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. Both films are rated PG.


ANIMATION EXPRESS (Imageentertainment): A collection of 26 animatedshorts that run the gamut from traditionalhand-drawn to state-of-the-art CGI, including“Drux Flux,” “Invasion of the space lobsters,”“sainte Barbe,” “land of the Heads,” award-winners“sleeping Betty” and “Madame Tutli-Putli,”as well as bonus shorts. The DVD and the Blurayeach retail for $29.98.ARTHUR HAILEY’S DETECTIVE (lionsGateHome entertainment): Tom Berenger stars as aCatholic priest-turned-detective investigating aseries of strange murders in this adaptation ofArthur Hailey’s best-seller, originally a miniserieson the Hallmark Channel. The whodunit toooften get lost amidst the soap-opera trappings,but there’s a tricky twist ending and a highprofilecast: Annabeth Gish, Cybill shepherd,Bruce Boxleitner, Charles Durning, Frank Whaley,Charles Cioffi, Jack Conley, Norman Alden,Rutanya Alda and Richard Riehle.BARE KNUCKLES (Image entertainment):Jeannette Roxborough plays a single motherwho turns to bare-knuckle boxing to make endsmeet in this fact-based melodrama producedand directed by eric etebari. No Million DollarBaby but not bad, with good roles for Martinkove (also a co-producer) as her promoter andChris Mulkey as her trainer. The cast also includeslouis Mandylor, Roxborough’s real-life daughterTaya, and etebari himself. Rated PG-13.“BING CROSBY: THE TELEVISIONSPECIALS”: VOLUME ONE (Infinityentertainment Group): The first in a series ofrarely-seen television specials hosted by theinimitable Bing Crosby (1903-’77), this boxed set($29.98 retail) includes Crosby’s debut specialfrom 1954, which featured Jack Benny, as well assubsequent specials with such guest stars as BobHope, Frank sinatra, Dean Martin, the smothersBrothers, louis Armstrong and others.CIRCLE OF PAIN (lionsGate Homeentertainment): It sure is. There are a fewunintentional yucks in this dopey, hackneyedaction opus centering around amartial-arts tournament. Actual professionalfighters (including Heath “the Texas CrazyHorse” Herring, Roger Huerta, Frank Mir andkimbo “kimbo slice” Ferguson) appear, inand out of the ring. Rated R.COLUMBIA PICTURES FILM NOIRCLASSICS II (sony Pictures Homeentertainment): The latest collection of classic-erathrillers, each making its DVD debut and eachone newly remastered and restored: Glenn Ford,Gloria Grahame and Broderick Crawford star inFritz lang’s 1954 adaptation of Human Desire;Pushover (also ‘54) stars Fred MacMurray, DorothyMalone and kim Novak (in her first credited role);Jacques Tourneur’s Nightfall (1957) marked anearly screenplay for future Oscar winner stirlingsilliphant and stars Aldo Ray and Anne Bancroft;The Brothers Rico (1957) stars Richard Conte,James Darren and Paul Picerni in the title roles;and Vince edwards stars in 1958’s City of Fear. Thisfive-DVD boxed set retails for $59.95.CRIMES OF FASHION (Imageentertainment): Originally broadcast on ABCFamily in 2004, this featherweight comedystars kaley Cuoco as a fashion student whodiscovers she’s heir to a mob fortune. “Thesopranos” veteran Dominic Chianese playsher Mafia mentor and Megan Fox her fashionsavvyarch-nemesis.EYEBORGS (Image entertainment): lethalsurveillance robots go on the rampage inthis paranoid sci-fi thriller filmed on locationin Winston-salem. Adrian Paul plays a DHsagent who starts to figure out the trut … butis it too late? Others in the cast include DannyTrejo, luke eberl, John s. Rushton (also a producer),Megan Blake, Dale Girard, Juan-CarlosGuzman and Mark Joy (as the president).I would be remiss not to mention directorRichard Clabaugh, who co-wrote the scriptwith wife Fran. The award-winning CGI effectsare impressive, and area residents will enjoyseeing the local landmarks (including yourstruly in a split-second cameo). Rated R.FROM MEXICO WITH LOVE (lionsGateHome entertainment): kuno Becker plays amigrant farm worker who turns to boxing inthis immigration melodrama with an underdogsports bent. stephen lang, stevenBauer and Bruce McGill (as the obligatorygrizzled old trainer) lend support. Thisdoesn’t stray far from formula, but the castgives it some heart. Rated PG-13.I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF (lionsGateHome entertainment): The latest big-screenexample of writer/producer/director TylerPerry’s patented blend of soap opera and sassstars Taraji P. Henson as a hard-living singersaddled with her late sister’s children (HopeOlaide Wilson, kwesi Boakye and Freddysiglar in his screen debut), which compelsher to turn her life around. In support: AdamRodriguez, Gladys knight, Mary J. Blige, PastorMarvin Winans and Perry himself, as bothMadea and Joe. Madea’s version of Bible storiesis a highlight of this uneven but (typically)well-meaning film, based on one of Perry’stouring plays. Rated PG-13.THE LOVELESS (Blue Underground): FutureOscar winner kathryn Bigelow made her featuredebut co-writing and co-directing (with MontyMontgomery, later a “Twin Peaks” producer) thisevocative 1982 melodrama about a ’50s bikergang, led by Willem Dafoe (in his first starringrole) that pulls into a jerkwater Georgia town enroute to Daytona. Full of mood and attitude, butthe draggy pacing is problematic. Nevertheless,this has a cult following. Nice turn by Marinkanter as a teenaged townie who catchesDafoe’s eye. Rated R.RAIN FALL (lionsGate Homeentertainment): kippei shiina plays John Rain,a hired assassin who traipses through Tokyowhile being pursued by the CIA (representedby Gary Oldman, who shouts a lot) in this slickbut needlessly protracted adaptation of Barryeisler’s best-selling novel, which ends with awhimper and not a bang. Rated R.TENDERNESS (lionsGate Homeentertainment): Director John Polson’s douradaptation of Robert Cormier’s novel starsRussell Crowe as a brooding detective onthe trail of a teenager (Jon Foster) recentlyreleased from a mental institution after killinghis parents — and who has recently pickedup a runaway teenager (sophie Traub). Moodybut muted. Rated R.UNCLE SAM (Blue Underground): The Bluraydebut ($29.95 retail) of director Williamlustig’s uneven, semi-satirical 1997 shockerabout an undead Desert storm victim (DavidFralick) who goes on a rampage after his bodyis shipped home. One of screenwriter larryCohen’s weirdest concepts, although thecast is loaded with favorites: Robert Forster,Timothy Bottoms, Bo Hopkins, Isaac Hayes,PJ soles and William smith (who recites oneof his own poems over the end credits).Dedicated to lucio Fulci. Rated R.