Thwip! Swinging to DVD and Blu-ray this week are the recent Academy Award-winning Best Animated Feature, a follow-up to a Disney classic, more great releases from the Warner Archive and Criterion Collections, and much more. Even though the weather is finally getting nicer, you’ll be forgiven if you want to curl up on your couch with these new releases…
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
In a world where Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) got that fateful radioactive spider bite–and the mantle of Spider-Man–the use of a particle accelerator by the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is causing existence to fissure. As alternate-dimension Spideys like Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) pile into his reality, can they help Miles undo the chaos? Oscar-winning animated effort also stars the voices of Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry.
Delightful sequel to the 1964 Disney classic stars Emily Blunt as author P.L. Travers’ magical nanny Mary Poppins. It’s the 1930s, and Mary and London lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) must help grown Banks children Michael (Ben Whishaw)–now a widowed father of three–and Jane (Emily Mortimer) save their family home from repossession. Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Dick Van Dyke co-star in this blend of live action and animation. Songs include “Can You Imagine That?,” “A Cover Is Not the Book,” “Trip a Little Light Fantastic,” and more.
Gone abroad after recent scandal cost her a coveted chance at adoption, despondent stage star Judy Carroll (Constance Bennett) came across a play that spoke to her circumstances…and resolved to bring it to Broadway. Conquering the skepticism of author Jacob Van Riker Pell (Joel McCrea), she wins his heart as well–but fate’s come up with changes for the last act. Pre-Code drama, completed and retooled by George Cukor, co-stars Paul Lukas, Walter Pidgeon, Jobyna Howland, Clara Blandick.
Skirt-chasing, ethically challenged newsreel cameraman Bill Allen (William Gargan) didn’t let anything get between him and a story–until he ran into straight-arrow and unimpressed print journalist Jane Mallory (Frances Dee). A mutual attraction blossoms as they meet at hot spots across the country, but will his relentless scoop hunger scrub their chances together? News footage-leavened adventure-romance co-stars Ralph Bellamy, Wallace Ford, Robert Benchley, Jack La Rue.
As the lead in a popular B-mystery franchise, arrogant movie actor Bill Martin (Jack Oakie) thought he was a better detective than the professionals, a fact that didn’t endear him to the LAPD. Unfortunately, his ego also managed to stoke the ire of unseen criminal mastermind “The Poison Pen,” who’s targeted him for murder! Can the sham Sherlock win a battle of wits for which he’s unarmed? Snappy farce co-stars Ann Sothern, Eduardo Ciannelli, Edgar Kennedy, Joan Woodbury.
Disgusted that the British aristocrat (Alan Mowbray) who wooed and wedded her was just after the family money, American heiress Pearl Saunders (Constance Bennett) threw herself full-time into scandalizing London society. While trying to coach her visiting sister Bessie (Anita Louise) into how to land a titled beau of her own, she may be the one in for a lesson. George Cukor’s take on the Somerset Maugham stage farce co-stars Gilbert Roland, Charles Starrett, Hugh Sinclair, Violet Kemble-Cooper.
After a traumatizing experience with witch doctors as an African missionary, Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) was happy to return to the English countryside and accept a position as headmistress at a private school. She soon finds that she’s only traded one set of horrors for another, as her new employer reveals itself to be the hub of a witches’ coven…and to be targeting one of her students for sacrifice. Shocker from Hammer also stars Kay Walsh, Alec McCowen, Ann Bell, Michele Dotrice. AKA: “The Devil’s Own.”
Notorious desperado Montero (Rod La Rocque) was casing the bank run by smarmy Lucius Perkins (Charles Middleton)…who had his own designs on lovely Helen Wardell (Doris Kenyon), betrothed of poor but proud farmer Bill Howard (Tom Keene). The conniving Perkins offered Montero an easier payday if he put Bill out of the picture–but he hadn’t reckoned with the thief’s sense of honor. Pre-Code sound sagebrusher co-stars Walter Long, Mitchell Lewis.
Sexy, strong, and 6’2″, federal agent Cleopatra Jones (Tamara Dobson) was a scourge to drug traffickers around the world…and after torching a Turkish poppy field, she found herself targeted for destruction by L.A. crime matriarch Mommy (Shelley Winters). After Mommy gets corrupt cops to haul in the innocent clientele of a rehab center, Cleopatra comes home to Watts…and the fireworks start! Blaxploitation classic co-stars Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas, Brenda Sykes, Bill McKinney.
Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came
An attempt to improve relations between a small Southern town and a nearby Army base by throwing a dance fails spectacularly in this fun-filled farce. When a sergeant (Tony Curtis) is arrested for romancing a gorgeous waitress (Suzanne Pleshette) whom the sheriff (Ernest Borgnine) wants for himself, the stage is set for a hilarious showdown between the military and the local militia. Brian Keith, Tom Ewell, Ivan Dixon, Bradford Dillman, and Don Ameche co-star.
Wanda (Criterion Collection)
When a young couple (Bonnie Bedelia, Michael Brandon) decides to finally tie the knot after living together for a year and a half, neither they nor their harried families can imagine the comic complications that ensue as the wedding day approaches. Wonderfully witty filming of Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna’s stageplay stars Bea Arthur, Richard Castellano, Anne Meara, Gig Young, Bob Dishy, and, in her film debut, Diane Keaton; features the Best Song Oscar-winning “For All We Know.”
Detour (Criterion Collection)
Thumbing his way cross-country to L.A., club pianist Al Roberts (Tom Neal) gladly took a lift in the desert from amiable gambler Haskell (Edmund MacDonald). After his ride succumbed to a heart attack, Roberts opted to bury him, and help himself to car and wallet. His next bad move was to pick up hard-looking hitcher Vera (Ann Savage)–as fateful coincidence would soon steep him in a deadly con game. Seedy, shot-on-a-shoestring noir staple from Edgar G. Ulmer also stars Claudia Drake, Tim Ryan.
Phobic since a near-trampling by adoring fans, gorgeous movie star Carol Corliss (Ginger Rogers) won’t go out in public without donning wig, glasses, and fake buck teeth. Wanting to get away from it all, the disguised diva cadges an invitation to the mountains from reluctant stranger Emory Muir (George Brent)…but once he figures out her identity, he proves to have tricks of his own. Funny take on the Samuel Hopkins Adams novel co-stars Alan Mowbray, Samuel S. Hinds, Grant Mitchell.
Better break out the pesticide, because seismic activity in the Arctic has loosed a thousand-ton giant praying mantis from an icy slumber of eons…and he’s woken up hungry! As the enormous insect makes its way toward warmer climes–Washington, D.C. and New York, to be precise–can the soldiers and scientists stop it before Congress winds up on the menu? Big bug bonanza stars Craig Stevens, William Hopper
It was the early ‘60s, and four teenage SoCal buddies (Tom Cruise, Jackie Earle Haley, John Stockwell, John P. Navin, Jr.) piled into a Bel Air convertible to head down to Tijuana for adventure, laughs, and, hopefully, to lose their virginity. Once over the border, though, they found more than they expected, courtesy of a housewife (Shelley Long) running off from her husband, as well as corrupt local cops. Raucous road comedy from Curtis Hanson also stars Henry Darrow, Rick Rossovich.
Which of these will you be checking out?