The Arts

Video Vault – Jan 18, 2017


1000632433BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (Warner Archive): Director John Sturges’ classic 1955 drama, adapted from Howard Breslin’s short story Bad Time at Honda, is a taut, intelligent and still-timely – and was Sturges’ personal favorite.

The relentless, 82-minute narrative – augmented by Andre Previn’s driving score – takes place in the tiny, titular desert town, where lone stranger John J. Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) arrives and inquires about a Japanese man named Komoko – which arouses the suspicions of the townspeople, particularly the seething Reno Smith (Robert Ryan).

Macreedy’s presence sets tensions aflame; it’s clear the townspeople have something to hide, and he’s determined to get to the truth. A top-notch supporting cast includes Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Walter Brennan, Dean Jagger, John Ericson and Anne Francis. In the guise of entertainment, Bad Day at Black Rock is also a scathing exploration of bigotry and corruption.

The film earned three Oscar nominations: Best Actor (Tracy), Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The new Blu-ray ($21.99 retail) includes audio commentary by film historian Dana Polan and original theatrical trailer. Available exclusively through HYPERLINK “” ***½


“AMERICAN GOTHIC”: SEASON ONE (CBS DVD/Paramount): An affluent Boston family is rocked by the disclosure that the deceased patriarch was a serial killer, and that one of them may be continuing the trend, in all 13 episodes from the inaugural 2016 season of the CBS mystery series created by Corinne Brinkerhoff, starring Juliet Rylance, Antony Starr, Justin Chatwin, Megan Ketch, Gabriel Bateman and Virginia Madsen, available on DVD ($55.98 retail).

APPLE OF MY EYE (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Writer/director/co-star Castille Landon’s well-meaning but overly cutesy tearjerker stars Avery Arendes as a teenager blinded in a horse-riding mishap who chooses a miniature horse (“Apple”) as her seeing-eye companion. Best suited to the small screen, with Amy Smart, Liam McIntyre, A.J. Michalka, Jack Griffo and Burt Reynolds trying to make the most (which isn’t much) out of the material. Rated PG. *½

BATTLEGROUND (Warner Archive): The Blu-ray bow ($21.99 retail) of William A. Wellman’s convincing, gutsy re-enactment of the Battle of the Bulge as fought by soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division, boasting an all-star cast: Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban, John Hodiak, George Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Richard Jaeckel, James Arness, Don Taylor, Leon Ames and James Whitmore, who earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor. Oscar winner for Best Story & Screenplay and Best Cinematography (black-and-white), with additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Best Editing. Available exclusively through HYPERLINK “” ***

BORDERLESS (Olive Films): Newcomer Alireza Baledi headlines writer/director Amirhossein Asgari’s affecting debut feature (originally titled Bedone Marz ), as an abandoned boy struggling to survive in an abandoned ship near the border of Iran while war rages around him – particularly when he comes across an infant who has also been abandoned. In English and Persian with English subtitles. ***

“BRAD PAISLEY – LIVE AMPLIFIED WORLD TOUR: LIVE FROM WVU” (City Drive Films): The title tells all in this concert documentary headlining the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter as he closes out his “Live Amplified World Tour” in his home state at West Virginia University, available on DVD ($16.95 retail) and CD/DVD combo ($14.69 retail).

“BROAD CITY”: SEASON 3 (Comedy Central Home Entertainment/Paramount): Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are back on the prowl in the Big Apple, looking for love in all the wrong places, in all 10 episodes from the 2016 Comedy Central series, which they originally created as a web series. Guest stars include Hillary Clinton, Alan Alda, Bob Balaban, Tony Danza, Seth Green, Whoopi Goldberg, Melissa Leo, Rachel Dratch and others. The DVD ($26.98 retail) boasts bonus  features including outtakes and deleted scenes.

CHILDREN OF THE MOUNTAIN (Candy Factory Films): Filmmaker Priscilla Anany’s award-winning debut feature stars Rakiyat Masud as a disgraced woman desperately seeking medical treatment for her handicapped child in contemporary Ghana, available on DVD ($19.99 retail).

“CLOSE TO THE ENEMY” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn TV): Stephen Poliakoff’s seven-part mini-series, produced by BBC Two and aired by STARZ in the US, stars Jim Sturgess as a British intelligence officer charged with coercing captured German scientist August Diehl to develop a jet engine for the British government in the early days of the Cold War, with Alfred Molina, Angela Bassett, Freddie Highmore, Phoebe Fox, Charlotte Riley and Lindsay Duncan rounding out a star-studded cast. The three-disc DVD and Blu-ray each retail for $59.99.

“I LOVE LUCY: SUPERSTAR SPECIAL #2” (CBS DVD/Paramount): A DVD selection ($16.99 retail) of two full-length episodes (originally broadcast in 1955) from the long-running, award-winning CBS sitcom, with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz joined by guest star John Wayne.

“JERICHO OF SCOTLAND YARD” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): A two-DVD collection ($49.99 retail) of four feature-length mysteries produced in 2005 by ITV (simply as “Jericho”)   and broadcast on PBS in the US starring Robert Lindsay in the title role, the chief inspector whose job it is to crack the toughest, most high-profile cases in early ’50s London – aided by David Troughton and Ciaran McMenamin, with a star-studded line-up of guest stars including Francesca Annis, Jane Horrocks, Peter Bowles, James Wilby, Dominic Cooper and Claire Bloom

“MIRACULOUS: TALES OF LADYBUG & CAT NOIR – BE MIRACULOUS(ZAG Heroez/Shout! Kids Factory/Shout! Factory): A DVD selection ($14.98 retail) of seven episodes from the popular, animated Nickelodeon children’s series detailing the adventures of the titular heroines, doing their best to keep safe the mean streets of Paris.

STEVIE D (Candy Factory Films): In his award-winning (!) feature debut as writer/producer/director, Chris Cordone plays dual roles of a wealthy wastrel implicated in the death of a made man and the actor hired to stand in for him – just in case the mob retaliates. A featherweight, flimsy, woefully overlong romantic comedy that wastes a friendly cast including Hal Linden, Torrey DeVitto, John Aprea, Spencer Garrett, Al Sapienza and Robert Costanzo. *

STORKS (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment): Writer/director Nicholas Stoller’s award-winning, PG-rated animated feature posits the idea that storks have forsaken delivering babies for packages, boasting a star-studded line-up of voice-over talent including Andy Samberg, Jennifer Aniston, Kelsey Grammer, Ty Burrell, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, Katie Crown and Danny Trejo, available on DVD ($28.98 retail), DVD/Blu-ray combo ($35.99 retail), 3-D Blu-ray combo ($44.95 retail) and Ultra HD Blu-ray ($44.95 retail).

“THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON: JOHNNY AND FRIENDS FEATURING JERRY SEINFELD” (Time Life): The title tells all in this DVD collection ($14.95 retail) of three full-length “Tonight Show” episodes featuring guest star Jerry Seinfeld (pre-sitcom), plus additional guests Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah Winfrey and Andre Agassi. Time Life has also released “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series,” available in as a single DVD ($14.95 retail) containing two episodes, three-DVD collector’s set ($39.95 retail) containing six episodes, six-DVD collector’s set ($59.95 retail) containing 12 episodes, and a 12-DVD collector’s set ($99.94 retail) containing 24 episodes.

TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE (Hasbro Studios/Shout! Kids Factory/Shout! Factory): Before Michael Bay unleashed his big-budget blockbuster franchise, there was this animated 1986 feature that introduced Hasbro’s popular toy line to the big screen, boasting the vocal talents of Orson Welles (his final film), Robert Stack, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Lionel Stander, Casey Kasem, Clive Revill, Scatman Crothers (his final film), and Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime. Straight-faced silliness throughout, but it has a cult following, available in a 30th-anniversary special edition on DVD ($14.93 retail), two-disc Blu-ray ($29.93 retail), and limited-edition Blu-ray Steelbook ($34.99 retail). Rated PG. *½

ZERO DAYS (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Alex Gibney’s timely, concise, and alarming documentary focuses on modern-day cyber warfare and the history of the infamous Stuxnet virus, available on DVD ($26.98 retail). Rated PG-13. ***½

(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2017, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “”