Video Vault – Nov 16, 2016
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
DVD PICK OF THE WEEK
SUDDENLY! (The Film Detective/Allied Vaughn): Fresh from his Oscar-winning comeback in From Here to Eternity (1953), Frank Sinatra tackled one of his most interesting and atypical roles in director Lewis Allen’s tight, trim 1954 thriller, the only film in which Ol’ Blue Eyes played the baddie.
Sinatra’s John Baron is a steely but psychotic World War II veteran determined to shoot the President during a whistle-stop tour in the sleepy California town of Suddenly (hence the film’s title). Aided by henchmen Paul Frees and Christopher Dark, Baron holes up in the house overlooking the train depot where retired Secret Service agent James Gleason lives with widowed daughter Nancy Gates and grandson Kim Charney (his screen debut).
Sterling Hayden offers solid counterpoint to Sinatra as local lawman Tod Shaw, wounded and taken hostage by Baron – which sparks a battle of wits between the two, a psychological game of “cat and mouse” that showcases both actors at their best.
The digitally-restored Blu-ray retails for $14.99. ***
“AGATHA RAISIN” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Ashley Jensen portrays the title role of the British public-relations guru-turned-amateur sleuth in the 2014 feature-length pilot (The Quiche of Death) and all eight episodes from the inaugural 2016 season of the popular mystery series based on M.C. Beaton’s best-selling novels, available in a three-DVD collection ($59.99 retail).
BE SOMEBODY (Paramount): Social media superstar Matthew Espinosa makes his screen debut in this PG-rated comedy, playing a beleaguered teen idol who finds romance with small-town art student Sarah Jeffrey, available on DVD ($29.98 retail).
“BLUE BLOODS”: THE SIXTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount): Standing tall for law and order in New York City, the Reagan family’s back in action in all 22 episodes (plus bonus features) from the 2015-’16 season of the award-winning CBS crime series starring Tom Selleck, Bridget Moynihan, Donnie Wahlberg, Will Estes and Len Cariou, available on DVD ($55.98 retail).
“THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW”: THE LOST EPISODES – TREASURES FROM THE VAULT (Time Life): A self-explanatory six-DVD collection ($59.95 retail) of 14 complete and uncut episodes from the long-running, award-winning CBS comedy/variety series, with guest stars Bernadette Peters, Lucille Ball, George Carlin, Ken Berry, Ray Charles, Cass Elliott, Robert Goulet and more. Time Life has also released a three-DVD collection ($29.95 retail) of seven episodes and a single DVD ($12.95 retail) of three episodes.
DEEP WEB (Kino Lorber): Writer/producer/director Alex Winter’s detailed, potent documentary feature examines the government’s case against Ross William Ulbricht (AKA “Dread Pirate Roberts”), the founder of the on-line black market called “Silk Road,” narrated by Winter’s old Bill & Ted co-star Keanu Reeves, available on DVD ($29.95 retail). ***
INDIAN POINT (First Run Features): The title tells all in Ivy Meeropol’s feature documentary examining the long-standing controversy surrounding the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, which is situated less than an hour away from New York City, available on DVD ($24.95 retail).
THE INNOCENTS (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): Director Anne Fontaine’s award-winning, fact-based, PG-13-rated drama (originally titled Les Innocentes) stars Lou de Laage as a young Red Cross medical worker who discovers a group of pregnant nuns in a convent in post-World War II Poland – and the cover-up engineered by the Mother Superior (Agata Kulesza). In French and Polish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($29.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($34.95 retail).
“JANET KING, SEASON 2: THE INVISIBLE WOUND” (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn): Marta Dusseldorp returns in the title role of a tenacious crown prosecutor in New South Wales, charged with heading a commission investigating firearms crimes, in all eight episodes from the 2016 season of the award-winning crime series spun off from “Crownies,” available on DVD ($49.99 retail).
LIVING IN THE AGE OF AIRPLANES (Terwilliger Productions): Harrison Ford narrates Brian J. Terwilliger’s self-explanatory National Geographic documentary made for IMAX screens and boasting an original score by James Horner (who died in a plane crash in 2015), available on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($32.95 retail).
THE MYSTERIOUS MR. M (VCI Entertainment): Two-fisted G-man Dennis Moore’s in hot pursuit of the diabolical title character in this 13-chapter 1946 serial, which marked Universal Pictures’ final one, available on DVD ($19.99 retail).
PATTERNS (The Film Detective/Allied Vaughn): The Blu-ray bow ($14.99 retail) of director Fielder Cook’s 1956 debut feature, adapted from Rod Serling’s Emmy-winning “Playhouse 90” segment by Serling himself, a still-timely dramatization of the cutthroat world of big business, with Ed Begley and Everett Sloane reprising their small-screen roles, joined by Van Heflin, Beatrice Straight, Elizabeth Wilson and Andrew Duggan (in his screen debut). ***
THE QUIET MAN (Olive Films): Boxer John Wayne seeks his Irish roots in John Ford’s zesty, much-beloved 1952 comedy based on Maurice Walsh’s short story, with Maureen O’Hara the fiery colleen who captures Wayne’s heart, plus Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond, Mildred Natwick, Arthur Shields (Fitzgerald’s real-life brother), Francis Ford (John’s real-life brother), Sean McClory, Jack MacGowran, and Victor McLaglen (who earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor). A bit corny, but colorful and irresistible. Oscar winner for Best Cinematography, and Ford won his unprecedented fourth Academy Award as Best Director, with additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Sound. The “Olive Signature” Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) includes audio commentary, 1992 featurette, documentaries, tributes and more. ***½
THE REAL MVP: THE WANDA DURANT STORY (LionsGate): Cassandra Freeman portrays the title role in this Lifetime TV movie tracing her life as a single mother struggling to raise her two sons (Eli Baxter and Demarius Mack), the former of whom (played by newcomer Daniel Bellomy as an adult) became the NBA superstar who won the MVP Award for the 2013-’14 season and lauded his mother in his acceptance speech. The DVD retails for $14.98.
“RED SCARE! DOUBLE FEATURE” (VCI Entertainment): A self-explanatory DVD twin-bill ($14.99 retail) of Cold War melodramas, both packed with stock footage, warning against Communist infiltration and attack: 1952’s Invasion U.S.A. (**) benefits from a “Twilight Zone”-type ending and a familiar cast including Dan O’Herlihy, Gerald Mohr, Peggie Castle, William Schallert and both women who played Lois Lane on the ’50s “Superman” TV series: Noel Neill and Phyllis Coates; and producer/director Barry Mahon’s stiff, stilted 1961 Rocket Attack U.S.A. (*) dramatizes a secret nuclear attack on US soil by the Soviet Union.
STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND (Olive Films): James Stewart’s eighth and final collaboration with director Anthony Mann yielded this stodgy but entertaining 1954 Cold War melodrama, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Motion Picture Story (a category that no longer exists). June Allyson, in her third and final screen pairing with Stewart, is in worried-wife mode throughout, while Barry Sullivan, Frank Lovejoy, Alex Nicol, Harry Morgan, Bruce Bennett and Jay C. Flippen supply the necessary testosterone for these macho maneuvers. Good flying effects, too. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. ***
SWEETHEARTS OF THE GRIDIRON (Well Go USA Entertainment): Director Chip Hale makes his feature writing/directing debut with this cheerful, award-winning documentary detailing the 75-year history of Kilgore College’s world-famous Rangerettes drill team. **½
(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2016, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com