DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Week of 4-1-12

DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Week of 4-1-12Early screen efforts of stars ranging from Deanna Durbin to Joan Crawford highlight this week’s new releases. Along with these nostalgia-packed early performances, other noteworthy new titles include recent theatrical hits, more Hollywood classics, TV favorites, sets showcasing the works of some of the brightest stars ever to light up the silver screen, and so much more. Check them out!

Dangerous

Bette Davis garnered her first Academy Award for her portrayal of a faded stage actress descended into the bottle, who is offered new hope for her career by kindly architect Franchot Tone. As her sponsor starts to fall for her, she connives a lethal plan to remove her estranged husband (John Eldredge) from the equation. Tear-jerking drama co-stars Margaret Lindsay,Alison Skipworth, Dick Foran.

Back Pay

One of silent-era star Corrine Griffith’s handful of talkie vehicles casts her as a young woman weary of her small-town existence who willingly picks up with the first traveling salesman headed to New York. The years find her comfortably in the arms of a wealthy war profiteer (Montagu Love), but when she learns that her hometown ex (Grant Withers) has sustained mortal injury on the battlefield, she has hard choices to make. Adaptation of the Fannie Hurst soaper co-stars Hallam Cooley.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

As a boy, Kevin Clash was obsessed with “Sesame Street”; as a grownup, he contributed to its enduring success and positive influence as the puppeteer of Elmo. This affectionate documentary chronicles Clash’s life story and offers a fresh tribute to the magical world created by the late Jim Henson. The film also features heartwarming interviews with Clash, as well as Frank Oz, Cheryl Henson, Rosie O’Donnell, and “Sesame” co-creator Joan Ganz Cooney; narrated by Whoopi Goldberg.

Blessed Event

Fast-paced newspaper comedy stars Lee Tracy as a Walter Winchell-esque gossip columnist whose skills at digging up dirt on show business shotgun weddings bring him to the top of his profession. When the people he’s burned in print start looking for payback, however, he finds there’s nowhere to go but down.Dick Powell (in his film debut), Mary Brian,Allen Jenkins, Ned Sparks co-star.

Bob: The Complete Series

Former comic book artist Bob McKay (Bob Newhart) gets a chance to revive Mad-Dog, a superhero he created back in the ’50s, when a communications conglomerate buys the rights to the character. But Bob must make some reluctant compromises when he learns the company wants to turn Mad-Dog into a hard-edged vigilante. Carlene Watkins, Cynthia Stevenson, John Cygan, Lisa Kudrow, and Betty White also starred in this 1992-93 sitcom.

Brand New Day

Based on the hit Australian stage production, this charming and energetic musical relates the love story of Aboriginal teenager Willie (Rocky McKenzie) and Rosie (Jessica Mauboy), a local tavern singer. Abruptly shipped away from his hometown to a boarding school run by a strict priest (Geoffrey Rush), Willie conspires with a helpful town elder (Ernie Dingo) to live happily ever after. “Missy” Higgins, Tom Budge co-star. Songs include “All the Way Jesus,” “Child of Glory,” and more. AKA: “Bran Nue Day.”

Fast Workers

In his penultimate assignment for MGM, John Gilbert plays a hard-living, hard-loving steeplejack who takes it upon himself to keep gullible workmate Robert Armstrong from falling…for the wrong woman. Unfortunately, he also has a vengeful ex in the person of cold-hearted con artist Mae Clarke, and she’s just settled on her latest victim. Towering melodrama from director Tod Browning co-stars Muriel Kirkland, Sterling Holloway.

Francis The Talking Mule

On a mission in World War II, G.I. Peter Stirling (Donald O’Connor) is rescued by Francis, an Army mule who can talk…but only to him. Stirling’s claim that his four-legged pal speaks lands him in a padded cell before the pair are recognized for their heroic deeds. Debut entry in the popular series co-stars Patricia Medina, with Chill Wills supplying Francis’ voice; look quickly for Tony Curtis. AKA: “Francis.”

Frank Sinatra Film Collection

Ten-disc of Frank Sinatra classics set includes “The Pride And The Passion,” “Kings Go Forth,” “A Hole In The Head,” “Can-Can,” “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962), “Von Ryan’s Express,” “Cast A Giant Shadow,” “Tony Rome,” “The Detective” (1968), and “Lady In Cement.”

Great Expectations

In 19th-century England, a tenacious orphan named Pip is rescued from a life of squalor by a mysterious patron. Years later, an adult Pip learns his savior’s link to his own past, and that of the young woman he loves, in this “Masterpiece Theatre” adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel. Douglas Booth, Vanessa Kirby, Ray Winstone, and Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham star.

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns

This feature-length animated adventure from Disney Junior extends the Peter Pan story with the adventures of Neverland pirate leader Jake (voiced by Colin Ford), a young swashbuckler whose attempts at having simple fun are ever being attacked by the nefarious Captain Hook (Corey Burton). In this thrilling exploit, Jake and his crew go in search of no less a treasure than Peter Pan’s shadow! Co-stars the voices of Madison Pettis, David Arquette.

John Wayne: An American Icon

Follow the inspirational life story of the Academy Award-winning screen hero who came to embody the country’s frontier spirit in the documentary “John Wayne: An American Icon.” Two-disc set also includes “The Drop Kick,” “His Private Secretary,” “The Three Musketeers” (1933), and “The American West Of John Ford.”

Designing Women: The Complete Third Season

All 22 episodes from season three–including “Reservations for 12, Plus Ursula,” “E.P. Phone Home,” “The Women of Broadway,” “Stand and Fight,” and “Julia Drives Over the First Amendment”–are featured in a four-disc set.

Designing Women: The Complete Sixth Season

All 22 episodes from season six–including the two-part season opener “The Big Desk,” “Last Tango In Atlanta,” “Julia And Mary Jo Get Stuck Under A Bed,” “A Little Night Music,” and “Shades Of Vanessa”–are featured in a four-disc set.

Gwyneth Paltrow Collection

Four-disc set of Gwyneth Paltrow films includes “Emma” (1996), “Shakespeare In Love,” “Bounce,” and “View From The Top.”

Lost Angels

Searing look at disaffected upper middle-class youth in L.A. stars The Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz as a privileged-yet-perturbed punk whose rebellious lifestyle lands him in a juvenile psychiatric hospital. Donald Sutherland co-stars as the shrink who wants to guide him towards maturity. Amy Locane, Patricia Richardson also star.

Modern Girls

When a young L.A. lady (Virginia Madsen) stands up a geeky date (Clayton Rohmer) in order to chase after her disinterested ex, her two roomies (Daphne Zuniga, Cynthia Gibb) persuade the poor slob to chauffeur them across the city’s nightclub scene in an attempt to track her down. Big hair and big laughs abound with Rick Overton, Steve Shellen, Chris Nash.

Night Song

While slumming at a low-rent jazz bar, socialite Merle Oberon finds herself intrigued with Dana Andrews, the dive’s blind yet gifted pianist. After her interest is rejected as pity, she poses as both poor and sightless to win his confidence and clandestinely puts up a cash price to encourage the completion of his concerto. Earnest soaper laden with classical performances co-stars Ethel Barrymore, Hoagy Carmichael; Artur Rubinstein and the Philadelphia Orchestra perform under Eugene Ormandy.

Pieces of Dreams

A young priest (Robert Forster) newly assigned to an Albuquerque parish, already burdened with mounting doubts about his career and faith, finds his resolve tested that much further by his attraction to a lovely, divorced social worker (Lauren Hutton). Provocative tale for its time co-stars Will Geer, Ivor Francis.

The Right of the People

A compelling and provocative drama about a town that adopts a law allowing its residents to carry guns for self-defense, and the firestorm of controversy that follows. Michael Ontkean, Billy Dee Williams, M. Emmet Walsh, Jane Kaczmarek star.

Samaritan: The Mitch Snyder Story

Powerful study of homeless activist Mitch Snyder, who devoted his life to help Washington, D.C.’s downtrodden. The story focuses on Snyder’s relationship with an aging bag lady and his efforts to bring attention to the homeless problem. Martin Sheen, Roxanne Hart, and Cicely Tyson star.

Sergeant Deadhead

Lots of the A.I.P. beach movie crowd are on hand for this tune-filled farce starring Frankie Avalon as a hapless sergeant who finds himself accidentally shot into space on a chimp’s orbital flight. Though safely retrieved, he’s less than happy about it…and the military’s got a wacky idea for a cover-up! Deborah Walley, Eve Arden, Cesar Romero, Gale Gordon, and Buster Keaton co-star.

Terri

Smart indie dramedy follows overweight social outcast Terri as he lives with his elderly uncle and tries to navigate his way through the difficulties of high school. With the help of an unorthodox vice principal and a beautiful misfit, he begins to figure out himself and the complicated world around him. Jacob Wysocki, John C. Reilly, Creed Bratton star.

The Commander: Set 2

Commander Blake heads up the investigation into the death of a 2-year-old girl whose body is found well-preserved after spending several years sealed in an oil drum, in “The Devil You Know” (2007). The murder of a man known to be quite “The Fraudster” (2007) leaves Blake with a list of suspects that includes angry clients, the wife he’d been cheating on, and two mistresses. Blake finds her holiday cut short when she’s called on to solve the murder of a respected priest, in “Windows of the Soul” (2007). And a rogue cop is the prime suspect in his mother’s murder, in “Abduction” (2008). But is he guilty?

The Corsican Brothers

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. is in dashing fine form in the dual role of Dumas’ title siblings, separated at birth but sharing a psychic bond. While one brother becomes a French gentleman and the other a bandit, the pair meet as adults and plot a joint revenge against the cruel baron responsible for their parents’ deaths. Ruth Warrick, Akim Tamiroff, J. Carrol Naish also star.

The Egg and I

City-bred Claudette Colbert gets more than she bargains for when she marries would-be chicken farmer Fred MacMurray and they buy a rundown farmhouse. Beloved barnyard comedy, based on Betty MacDonald’s book, marked the screen debut of Ma and Pa Kettle, played by Marjorie Main andPercy Kilbride.

The Pharaoh’s Curse

Look out, Mummy, this guy’s got the Pharaoh’s curse. An archeological expedition lands in Egypt and begins unearthing an ancient tomb. The members die thanks to the efforts of a strange Egyptian fellow who ages thousands of years. Mark Dana and Kurt Katch star.

The Steel Trap

A rat race-weary bank exec (Joseph Cotten) gives in to temptation and concocts the perfect crime: pocket $1 million at closing Friday, and have his family safely ensconced in extradition-proof Brazil by opening Monday. However, he didn’t let his scrupulous wife (Teresa Wright) in on the plan…and when she walks out, he must scramble to replace the cash before discovery. Gripping reunion for the principals of “Shadow of a Doubt” under Andrew L. Stone‘s direction.

Three Smart Girls

The feature film debut of Deanna Durbin casts the 14-year-old soon-to-be-star as one of three sisters who go to great lengths to stop their father’s marriage to a golddigger and reunite him with their mother. Nan Grey and Barbara Read play Durbin’s siblings, while Ray Milland, Alice Brady, and Binnie Barnes also star. Songs include “Someone to Care for Me” and “My Heart Is Singing.”

Torchwood: Miracle Day

All 10 fourth-season episodes–including “The New World,” “Escape To L.A.,” “The Middle Men,” “End Of The Road,” and “The Blood Line”–are featured in a four-disc set.

Untamed

In her first talkie vehicle, Joan Crawford plays an oil heiress who’s known little but the borderline-feral existence of a South American outpost upbringing. After her father’s death, her guardians ship her to New York City for a little civilizing, and while en route, she falls for personable if pennilessRobert Montgomery. Too proud to live off her wealth, he rejects her, but the willful wild child doesn’t take it lightly. Ernest Torrence, Holmes Herbert co-star.

Vietnam, Texas

Energetic action-adventure offers director/star Robert Ginty as a priest who learns from a war buddy that his tour of duty in Vietnam resulted in a daughter, and that she’s now living in Houston’s Little Saigon. Unfortunately, she’s under the sway of druglord Haing S. Ngor, and the padre’s going to have to renounce the path of peace in order to get her out. Tamlyn Tomita, Tim Thomerson co-star.

We Bought a Zoo

From writer/director Cameron Crowe comes this inspirational true story, based on the memoir by Benjamin Mee. Matt Damon stars as Mee, a recent widower who moves his two kids into a new house–that just happens to be attached to a rundown zoo. With the help of a beautiful zookeeper (Scarlett Johansson), Benjamin tries to get the place up and running in order to make a fresh start for his children. With Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Elle Fanning.

Thirteen Women

A calculating half-caste woman (Myrna Loy) embarks on a vengeance scheme against the sorority sisters who forced her college expulsion. With the aid of a phony psychic, she pushes them one by one towards horrible ends…but opts to take the direct route when the last survivor (Irene Dunne) proves too strong-willed. Outrageous pre-Code thriller co-stars Ricardo Cortez, Jill Esmond, Kay Johnson, Florence Eldridge, and, in her sole screen performance, “Hollywood” sign-leaper Peg Entwistle.

For details and availability of more of this week’s new releases, click here.

Here’s a look at last week’s DVD and Blu-ray releases.

  • Kai Ferano

    “Thirteen Women” sounds like a must-get. It’s got all the ingredients of a winner: social injustice, psychological torment, high fear factor…and Myrna Loy.

    • jfleming

      Thirteen Women is a very good b-movie. It’s from that odd phase early in Myrna Loy career when she was playing asian characters. It’s not as insanely over the top as Mask of Fu Manchu but still good.

  • Allan

    Will we have to wait FOREVER to see HEDY in SAMSON AND DELILAH on DVD!!! There was the biblical Delilah of course, but only one DELILAH in the movies!!!

    • Blair Kramer.

      I understand that “Samson And Delilah” is supposed to be released on DVD and Blue-Ray sometime this year. But a foreign made DVD of that film is readily available from numerous merchants throughout the web. I’m sure you will find it if you perform a quick search.

  • jfleming

    Glad see Fast Workers get released. Tod Browning is one of my favorite silent directors. Hope Warner Archives get around releasing more of his silent films. The Black Bird, The Road to Mandalay, The Show, West of Zanzibar, Where East is East were all made by MGM so hopefully they’ll get released sometime.

  • Wayne

    Tod Browning was Chaney Sr.’s fave director, doing some 9 pictures together. A set of Tod and Lon films might not be a bad idea; just saying!

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