video vault

by Mark Burger


It’s not The Godfather but it’s still plenty fun: Roger Corman produced this 1975 crime saga with Ben Gazzara in the title role of Chicago’s favorite son, Alphonse Capone — “The man who made the ’20s roar.”

Under the no-nonsense direction of Steve Carver (who contributes an audio commentary), this fast-moving smorgasbord combines fact, fiction and a liberal dose of tried-and-true gangster clichés in dramatizing the rise and fall of the nation’s most notorious crime boss.

Gazzara barrels through the proceedings with hammy brio, backed by Susan Blakely, Harry Guardino, John Cassavetes (seen briefly as New York crime boss Frankie Yale) and a pre- Rocky Sylvester Stallone as Capone’s right-hand man, Frank Nitti. There are certainly enough shoot-outs and car chases to satisfy the action junkie, but then what else would you expect from a movie called Capone? Rated R.


“APOCALYPSE: WORLD WAR II” (Entertainment One): Broadcast here on the Smithsonian Channel, this six-part documentary series traces the history of the Second World War. The DVD boxed set retails for $34.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $39.98.

“DENNIS THE MENACE”: SEASON ONE (Shout! Factory): Jay North plays the title role in all 32 episodes from the premiere 1959-’60 season of the prime-time CBS comedy series based on Hank Ketcham’s popular comic strip. This five-DVD boxed set retails for $29.93.

“DOOMSDAY EARTH 2012: APOCALYPSE RISING” (World Wide Multi Media/MVD Visual): A three-DVD documentary ($19.98 retail) featuring authors, scholars and scientists as they discuss the theory of the Mayan calendar predicting the end of civilization in the year 2012.

DR. BLACK, MR. HYDE (VCI Entertainment): A 35th anniversary special edition of the 1976 blaxploitation riff on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, with Bernie Casey as the idealistic physician who tests a new serum on himself. You know what comes next. The lowbudget seams show, but Casey and Rosalind Cash add class. Rated R.

“DR. QUINN: MEDICINE WOMAN” (A&E Home Entertainment): The doctor is in, as Jane Seymour plays the title role of a female physician in post-Civil War Colorado Springs, in the awardwinning, prime-time drama series, which ran from 1993-’98 on CBS and now being reissued in DVD boxed sets: “The Complete Season One” (all 17 episodes from the ’93-’94 season), “The Complete Season Two” (all 24 episodes from the ’94-’95 season) and “The Complete Season Three” (all 24 episodes from the ’95-’96 season) each retail for $29.95, and all boast special features.

“THE FLOCKTON FLYER”: SEASON ONE (VCI Entertainment): The Carter family is determined to reopen an old railroad line by renovating a vintage locomotive (“The Flockton Flyer”). This DVD ($19.99 retail) contains all 6 episodes from the premiere 1977 season of the British family series, starring Patrick Mower, Gerald Harper and Henry Fowler.

“FRANK SINATRA: A MAN AND HIS MUSIC”: THE COLLECTION (Shout! Factory): A special DVD collection ($19.98 retail) of all four prime-time “A Man and His Music” TV specials starring the immortal Frank Sinatra, joined by special guests Nancy Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.

“THE FUGITIVE”: THE FOURTH AND FINAL SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Dr. Richard Kimble (Emmy nominee David Janssen) draws ever closer to his quarry, the elusive “One-Armed Man” (Bill Raisch), while Inspector Gerard (Barry Morse) draws ever closer to his quarry, Richard Kimble — in all 30 episodes from the climactic 1966-’67 season of the popular, award-winning primetime ABC series. Volume 1 contains the first 15 episodes and Volume 2 the final 15. Each volume (a four-DVD boxed set) retails for $39.98.

GAMERA VS. ZIGRA/GAMERA: THE SUPER MONSTER (Shout! Factory): A Double Feature Collector’s Edition DVD ($19.93 retail) of the final, feeblest screen installments of the original Gamera franchise, following the adventures of the giant, fire-breathing turtle: 1971’s Gamera vs. Zigra (**) pits Gamera against an alien invasion; so, for that matter, does 1980’s Gamera: The Super Monster (*), which features extensive footage from the earlier films and was truly the death knell for the original series.

“GANGLAND”: THE FINAL SEASON (A&E Home Entertainment): This History Channel reality series, which provided an inside look at crime, and those who commit it, comes to an end with the final 15 episodes from 2010 (and seventh) season. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.95, the Blu-ray boxed set for $49.95.

GET HIM TO THE GREEK (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Record exec Jonah Hill is charged with escorting rebellious rocker Russell Brand across the Atlantic for a comeback appearance in this overlong, overly raunchy and occasionally funny farce, spun off from Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) and (too) reminiscent of My Favorite Year (1982), enlivened by Brand’s full-tilt turn and some funny vignettes, but Hill’s frequent vomiting isn’t one of them. Elisabeth Moss, Rose Byrne and Sean (“P Diddy”) Combs show up, as does Kristen Bell in a Sarah Marshall cameo. Rated R (also available in an unrated version).

“THE GUARDIAN”: THE FINAL SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): A six-DVD boxed set ($49.98 retail) containing all 22 episodes from the 2003-’04 (and last) season of the award-winning, prime-time CBS legal drama with Simon Baker as a hotshot lawyer who gains a new perspective on life and the law when he is ordered to take on child-advocacy cases as a result of a community-service sentence.

HOW DO YOU KNOW (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) Writer/producer/director James L. Brooks’ first film in six years is a mild, middling romantic comedy with Reese Witherspoon torn between Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd, with Jack Nicholson on the sidelines as Rudd’s dad. A few witty moments in the best Brooks tradition, but not among his best work. Rated PG-13.

“HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE”: THE COMPLETE SEASON TWO (A&E Home Entertainment): A Blu-ray boxed set ($49.95 retail) of all 13 episodes from the 2009-’10 season of the self-explanatory History Channel documentary series.

“NOAH’S CASTLE”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (VCI Entertainment): A DVD boxed set ($39.99 retail) of all seven episodes from the 1979 (and only season) of the British sci-fi series based on John Rowe Townsend’s novel, dramatizing a family’s fight for survival in a futuristic world teetering on the brink of apocalypse.

SKYLINE (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): An alien invasion strikes Los Angeles in this dopey science-fiction thriller from the Brothers Strouse (Colin and Greg). The visual effects aren’t bad, but most everything else (including performances and dialogue) is. The ending leaves the door wide open for a sequel, too… Rated PG-13.

THE TOURIST (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Attractive pairing of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp can’t save this pedestrian but picturesque thriller set in Venice, Italy. Paul Bettany, Rufus Sewell, Timothy Dalton and Steven Berkoff lurk in the background. Available as a DVD ($28.95 retail), a Blu-ray ($34.95 retail), or a DVD/ Blu-ray combo ($38.96 retail). Rated PG-13.

YOGI BEAR (Warner Home Video): Dan Aykroyd voices Yogi and Justin Timberlake his sidekick Boo Boo, in this flimsy, full-length rendition of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character, in which he tries to save Jellystone Park from closing. Tom Cavanaugh (as Ranger Smith) and Anna Faris round out the human contingent. The old cartoons were funnier. Life may be one big picnic for Yogi, but it’s not for the viewer. Available as a single-disc DVD ($28.98 retail), a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), or a 3-D Bluray combo ($44.95). Rated PG.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2011, Mark Burger