As we prepare to say hello to June, let’s take some time during these waning days of May to enjoy this week’s new Blu-ray and DVD releases. Classics from yesteryear take center stage this time out, so let’s take a look at what gems are now available! The stars are out, and their brightness will illuminate your entire week.
When her secret lover dies in flagrante, a diplomat’s wife (Lana Turner) is exhorted by her callous mother-in law to disappear for the reputations of her husband (John Forsythe) and young son. After a generation of drifting and degradation, she returned to town–and wound up killing a blackmailer poised to expose her. Arraigned as “Madame X,” can she tell the young lawyer (Keir Dullea) assigned to her defense that she’s his mother? Premier take on the oft-filmed melodrama co-stars Ricardo Montalban, Burgess Meredith, and, in her screen farewell, Constance Bennett.
Phobic of fire since facing the Kaiser’s flamethrowers, well-born British veteran Jim (Reginald Sharland) was drinking himself to death in a Fiji bar. The attentions he was receiving from stranded showgirl Josie (Sally O’Neil) didn’t go unnoticed by the dive’s sadistic, racist owner McEwen (Mitchell Lewis)…and the bully’s scheme to lure Jim into an emasculating coal-walk might force the soldier to face his fears. Pre-Code adventure-drama co-stars Duke Kahanamoku, Donald MacKenzie.
While dutifully pursuing the family calling of medicine, Jim Stanton (John Beal) couldn’t shake his passion for aviation…but after a fatal crash with him at the controls, scandal was poised to deny him a future in either. Going on the road as a vagrant, the disgraced doctor lands a mechanic’s job with an aircraft manufacturer–and intrigued nurse Doris King (Joan Fontaine, in her first lead) helps him find a fulfilling place for his mix of skills. Sturdy sky story also stars Philip Huston, George Irving, Billy Gilbert.
Bandit chieftain Hassan (Tab Hunter) had kidnap and ransom in mind when he entered Damascus as a “noble” competing for the hand of the beautiful Princess Jamila (Rossana Podestà). He stunningly learned that it was his birthright to become sultan…and that a trio of bumbling genies would protect him from the schemes of an evil vizier out to preserve the status quo. Colorful Arabian Nights costumer from Italy co-stars Mario Feliciani, Dominique Boschero, Umberto Melnati.
Blind teenager Selina D’Arcey (Elizabeth Hartman) had known little but abuse at the hands of her prostitute mother (Best Supporting Actress Oscar-winner Shelley Winters), and seemed destined to know little else. Through the kind attention of office worker Gordon Ralfe (Sidney Poitier), she might finally break her cycle of misery. Moving drama co-stars Wallace Ford, Ivan Dixon, John Qualen.
Teenager June Drew (Anne Shirley) wanted her hardworking, widowed publisher dad Christopher (Herbert Marshall) to be happy…and, having drawn the mistaken conclusion that he and insufferable pulp novelist Valerie Broughton (Margot Grahame) had eyes for each other, she connived to push them together. The scheme gets thornier as Chris develops an attraction to his daughter’s kindly teacher (Gertrude Michael)! Winsome take on Elizabeth Jordan’s “Daddy and I” co-stars Clara Blandick, Frank Coghlan, Jr.
With his alma mater’s football squad fading, sketchy booster Howard Smith (Grant Mitchell) went looking for a prospect–and found fleet-footed felon Tommy Burke (Eddie Quillan) quarterbacking in a prison yard. Out on parole and onto the campus, Burke turns the team’s fortunes around…but will the attentions of cute registrar Jane Thurston (Betty Furness) be enough to keep him from the lure of easy money? Stirring sports story co-stars Lucien Littlefield, Edgar Kennedy, Margaret Dumont.
Blue Velvet (Criterion Collection)
David Lynch’s brutally unsettling film tells the strange story of Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan), a young man drawn into the mysterious orbit of beautiful nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and her relationship with gas-huffing psychopath Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). Bringing the innocent Sandy (Laura Dern) into his investigation, Jeffrey plummets into a scary, hidden world of violence and erotic surrender. Dean Stockwell, Brad Dourif also star.
Fright-filled sequel finds original babysitter Jill (Carol Kane) playing a student advisor to Julia Jenz (Jill Schoelen), a coed being terrorized by the demented stalker who, five years earlier, abducted the children she was watching. Jill enlists the aid of the now-retired police detective (Charles Durning) who helped her before, as both women are forced to confront terrors from their past if they’re to stop the maniac and stay alive. With Gene Lythgow, Karen Elizabeth Austin.
A writer who believes cats possess supernatural powers tells three feline-related terror tales, in this creepy British horror anthology. A wealthy woman’s cats don’t take kindly to her murder, in “London 1912”; “Quebec Province 1975” finds an orphan employing witchcraft to avenge her beloved cat’s death; and, in “Hollywood 1936,” an actor kills his wife, much to her cat’s consternation. Peter Cushing, Ray Milland, Donald Pleasence, Samantha Eggar, John Vernon star.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Tommy Lee Jones directs and stars in this stark contemporary Western drama. When Texas ranch foreman Jones learns that hired hand and Mexican illegal Julio Cedillo was killed at the hands of a border patrolman, he kidnaps the man. Forcing him to exhume Cedillo’s body, they begin a perilous journey to Mexico, where his friend can be buried with honor and where justice can be served. Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakam, Melissa Leo also star.
Having finally hit it big in the football pools, Harry Flakers (Harry Secombe) headed for seaside holiday with his best mate Spike Donnelly (Spike Milligan) and his winnings in a valise. Unfortunately, the trip came complete with a shady investment advisor (Peter Sellers), gold-digging females, and various other types trying to get him to lose a few pounds! Feature film debut for the “Goon Show” principals co-stars Paddie O’Neil, Alfred Marks, Bill Kerr, Freddie Frinton.
Frances McCullen (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a young woman living in New York City who recently lost her mother. When she finds a purse on the subway and returns it to its owner–lonely piano teacher Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert)–the two form an unexpected friendship. But the seemingly sweet Greta is not at all that she appears to be, and Frances soon becomes the object of a sinister obsession. Director/co-writer Neil Jordan’s offbeat thriller also stars Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea.
On her Mediterranean isle hideaway, fabulously wealthy and terminally ill Sissy Goforth (Elizabeth Taylor) was moving bitterly through her remaining days when mysterious, self-proclaimed poet Chris Flanders (Richard Burton) washed ashore. The two exchange philosophy about life and death, as well as liquor, in this infamous take on Tennessee Williams’ “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore”; Michael Dunn, Joanna Shimkus, and Noel Coward co-star under Joseph Losey’s direction.
A woman’s (Beverly Garland) search for her missing husband in the Louisiana bayou ends with the horrifying discovery that he’s the victim of a scientist whose limb-regeneration serum turns people into reptilian monsters. Now that she’s learned the truth, will she say “see ya later, alligator” to her scaly spouse? Classic low-budget chiller also stars Richard Crane, George Macready, and Lon Chaney, Jr. as a hook-handed Cajun.
A Nob Hill socialite (Lana Turner) was fed up with her tyrannical, infirm shipping magnate husband (Lloyd Nolan)…and since her illicit lover (Anthony Quinn) was also his doctor, they connived for his passing from “natural causes.” Getting away with it would prove another matter, as they soon received an anonymous letter tying them to the murder–and their own paranoia would fuel further bloodshed and betrayal. Glossy suspenser co-stars Sandra Dee, John Saxon, Richard Basehart, and, in her screen farewell, Anna May Wong.
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo kick up their (high) heels as a trio of New York drag queens whose cross-country road trip to an L.A. pageant takes a surprise detour when their car breaks down in a sleepy Midwest town whose residents are crying for a “makeover.” Alternately outrageous and touching hit comedy also stars Stockard Channing, Blythe Danner, Chris Penn.
After his assignment to take out an Asian organ-trafficking ring went fatally sideways, veteran CIA operative Jake Alexander (Steven Seagal) fumed as the government decommissioned and disbanded what remained of his squad of special operatives. He didn’t stew for long, though, as he raised private capital, got the band back together, and flew overseas to finish what they started! Slam-bang Seagal stunner also stars Sonia Couling, Byron Gibson, Mica Javier, Ron Smoorenburg.
For a complete overview of all of this week’s new releases, click here.