video vault

by Mark Burger


For the first time in one collection, this DVD boxed set ($59.92) retails includes all nine films starring Spencer Tracy (1900-’67) and Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003), perhaps the most popular unmarried duo in Hollywood history.

The films include: Director George Stevens’ Woman of the Year (1942), which earned Hepburn an Oscar nomination as Best Actress and won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay; George Cukor’s 1942 adaptation of Keeper of the Flame; Without Love (1945) co-stars Lucille Ball and Keenan Wynn; Elia Kazan’s 1947 adaptation of The Sea of Grass costars Melvyn Douglas; Frank Capra’s 1948 adaptation of the Lindsay/Crouse stage comedy State of the Union co-stars Van Johnson, Angela Lansbury and Adolphe Menjou; Cukor’s Adam’s Rib (1949) co-stars Judy Holliday and earned an Oscar nomination for Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon’s original screenplay; Cukor’s Pat and Mike (1952) also earned an Oscar nomination for the Kanin/Gordon original screenplay;

Desk Set (1957) co-stars Gig Young; and Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967) marked Tracy’s final film appearance and won Academy Awards for Hepburn as Best Actress and for William Rose’s original screenplay, as well as additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Tracy), Best Supporting Actor (Cecil Kellaway), Best Supporting Actress (Beah Richards), Best Editing, Best Score and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration.

As a bonus disc, the boxed set includes the self-explanatory 1986 TV documentary The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn, which earned Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievements — Informational Programming (for both director David Heeley and writer John L. Miller), and an additional nomination as Outstanding Informational Special. For fans of the two actors, and of Tinsel town’s “Golden Era,” this is pure gold. Not every film is great, but this collection is — and so were Tracy and Hepburn.


“BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD” SEASON 1 PART 2 (DC Entertainment/Warner Home Video): A two-DVD collection ($19.97 retail) of the final 13 episodes from the premiere 2009 season of the animated Cartoon Network series featuring the new adventures of the DC Comics superhero, with UNCSA School of Drama alumnus Diedrich Bader voicing the title role. Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series.

COUNTRY STRONG (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): A well-acted but cliché-riddled country-music melodrama, with Gwyneth Paltrow as a singer on the comeback, goaded on by her manager husband (Tim McGraw) while dallying with an up-and-coming singer (Garrett Hedlund) and tangling with an ambitious young songbird (Leighton Meester) on tour. Rated PG-13.

THE GUNSLINGERS (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Bounty hunter John Elliott tangles with outlaws as they vie for a stash of gold in this efficient low-budget Western. Rated R.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS — PART 1 (Warner Home Video): The beginning of the end for the blockbuster big-screen franchise based on JK Rowling’s blockbuster children’s book franchise, with heroic Harry (comfortably essayed once again by Daniel Radcliffe) embarking on his final confrontation with evil… which will of course take place in Part 2 (due for release in July). All told, one of the better, more suspenseful entries in the series, but it is long. The gang’s all here: Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Imelda Staunton, Julie Walters, Bill Nighy, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson and even Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration and Best Visual Effects. Rated PG-13.

“LIFE UNEXPECTED”: THE COMPLETE FIRST AND SECOND SEASONS (Warner Home Video): All 26 episodes from the 2010 and ‘11 (and only) seasons of the CW Network drama series starring Britt Robertson as a rebellious teenager who seeks out her biological parents (Shiri Appleby and Kristoffer Polaha). This six-DVD boxed set retails for $59.98.

LIONSGATE BLU-RAYS (LionsGate Home Entertainment): The Blu-ray roll-out rolls on, with Roger Avary’s 2002 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ The Rules of Attraction (rated R); the 2008 sequel Still Waiting… (rated R); 2009’s The Cove (rated PG-13), which won the Oscar as Best Documentary Feature; and, to commemorate the release of Scream 4, Wes Craven’s Scream (1996), Scream 2 (1997) and Scream 3 (2002), all rated R. Each Blu-ray retails for $19.99.

MADE IN DAGENHAM (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Sally Hawkins shines as an average working woman who finds herself at the forefront of the real-life labor strike at the Ford automobile plant in Dagenham, England in 1968, yet an odd, incongruously cheerful attitude is sometimes at odds with the overall story — and drains some of the tension. Still worth a look, thanks to a cast that also includes Rosamund Pike, Miranda Richardson, Richard Schiff, Rupert Graves, the lovely Jamie Winstone, and the always welcome Bob Hoskins. Rated R.

“MAD MEN”: SEASON FOUR (LionsGate Home Entertainment): The advertising racket of 1960s New York is dramatized and scrutinized in all 13 episodes from the 2010 season of the critically acclaimed, award-winning AMC drama series, starring Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery and Bryan Batt. The DVD boxed set retails for $49.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $49.99.

PEACOCK (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Cillian Murphy stars as a small-town bank clerk whose double life as a transvestite is threatened when a train caboose crashes into his backyard, in this odd, sometimes disjointed misfire that combines soap opera, political and rural satire, and psycho-thriller. This doesn’t lack for ambition, but in execution. Susan Sarandon, Ellen Page, Keith Carradine, Josh Lucas, Graham Beckel and Bill Pullman round out a hard-working cast. The title, by the way, refers to the Nebraska town where the story is set. Rated PG-13.

PSYCH: 9 (LionsGate Home Entertainment):

Sara Foster plays an unstable young woman who begins to lose her grip on reality when she takes a filing job at a recently closed hospital. Neat Rorschach-blot opening credits, but like its heroine, this moody, meandering shocker loses its grip, too. Cary Elwes, Michael Biehn, Colleen

Camp and Gabriel Mann (quite good as Foster’s husband) round out a decent cast. Rated R.

SIREN (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A sailing trip turns treacherous for a group a friends in this weird, fragmented chiller that doesn’t add up. Dedicated to co-screenwriter/ director Andrew Hull, who died tragically shortly after completing the film. Rated R.

THE SWITCH (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A dour, unappealing combination of romantic-comedy and schmaltz, with Executive Producer Jennifer Aniston as a woman who decides to have a baby — unaware that her neurotic best friend (Jason Bateman) is actually the biological father. Juliette Lewis, Jeff Goldblum and Patrick Wilson try to give it a lift, but this does not work at all. Rated PG-13.

“WEEDS”: SEASON SIX (LionsGate Home Entertainment): UNCSA’s own Mary-Louise Parker is back in business, in all 13 episodes from the 2010 season of the award-winning Showtime series about a single mom-turneddrug kingpin. Guest stars include Richard Dreyfuss, Alanis Morissette and Linda Hamilton. Emmy winner for Outstanding Cinematography for a Half-Hour Series. The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $39.99.

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