A quartet of ’30s dramas starring Clark Gable, the Blu-ray debut of a timeless noir thriller by Orson Welles, and collector’s sets saluting John Wayne and World Wars I and II are among this week’s vintage new releases. Here are some of the key titles:
All 26 episodes from the second and final season of Bud and Lou’s fondly remembered ’50s sitcom are featured in a four-disc set.
While newspaper editor Jim Branch (Clark Gable) hates the dubious work ethic of socialite/gossip columnist Sharon Norwood (Constance Bennett), he loves her headline-making connections. When she gets implicated in a romantic triangle turned deadly, however, he goes investigating in a race to exonerate her. Lively comedy-thriller co-stars Stuart Erwin, Billie Burke, Henry Travers.
When illness forces the CEO of a major American bank to declare he’s stepping down, the open warfare to be named his successor starts between popular, progressive VP Kirk Douglas and devious deal-cutter Christopher Plummer. Expansive adaptation of the popular boardroom potboiler co-stars Anne Baxter, Ralph Bellamy, Joan Collins, Robert Loggia, Jean Peters, Lorne Greene, and Helen Hayes.
Chad Hanna (1940)
When a traveling circus rolls through his sleepy hamlet in mid-19th century upstate New York, local lad Chad Hanna (Henry Fonda) is so taken with the show–particularly the bareback rider (Dorothy Lamour)–that he decides to run off with it. Chad learns all too soon that the lifestyle behind the big top isn’t all that merry, in this colorful drama. Linda Darnell, Guy Kibbee, Jane Darwell co-star.
Death Spa (1989) +
The tight and toned members of a high-tech health club really feel the burn–not to mention the stabbing, mutilation, and dismemberment–when the vengeance-seeking spirit of the owner’s late wife takes over the equipment and gives everyone a “killer workout” in every sense of the phrase. Gore-filled exercise in terror stars William Bumiller, Brenda Bakke, Merritt Butrick, and Ken Foree. Two-disc set.
The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companions travel to 21st-century Australia where they face Salamander (also portrayed by Troughton), a megalomaniacal dictator with more than a passing resemblance to the intrepid Time Lord. Can the Doctor defeat his dastardly doppelganger and foil his plans for world domination?
The Facts Of Life: Season 1 (1979)
You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have” all 13 first-season episodes from this beloved 1979-88 sictom, featured on one disc.
The Facts Of Life: Season 2 (1980)
All 16 second-season episodes are included in a two-disc set.
In the wake of a horrific airliner crash, the authorities are swift in pinning responsibility on the late pilot (Rod Taylor). One loyal friend (Glenn Ford) in the airline’s front office isn’t buying it, however, and he sets out to determine the cause with the aid of the tragedy’s sole survivor (Suzanne Pleshette). Gripping mix of disaster flick and procedural co-stars Nancy Kwan, Wally Cox, and Jane Russell.
Happy Days: The Fifth Season (1977)
Yes, this is the season with Robin Williams debuting as Mork from Ork. All 26 episodes from season five, plus an anniversary special, are collected in a four-disc set.
Hell Divers (1931)
In an early starring role, Clark Gable is CPO Steve Nelson, a young aerial machine gunner who joins a naval dive bomber squadron where he clashes with veteran CPO Windy Riker (Wallace Beery). At first a friendly rivalry, their conflict becomes more and more bitter, threatening Nelson’s engagement and earning Windy a demotion. Can the men set their differences aside when they’re stranded on an island together? Conrad Nagel, Dorothy Jordan co-star in this engrossing drama.
Musical acts rarely come much closer–or bigger–than the 30-plus multi-generational members of The King Family, stars of their own mid-’60s ABC variety series as well as the four 1968-69 specials featured in this two-disc set. The King sisters, brothers, husbands, kids, cousins, and assorted relatives perform pop, jazz, and show biz favorites in song-filled Easter, Mother’s Day, June, and Back-to-School salutes. Guest performers include Robert Clarke, Tina Cole, Alvino Rey, and others.
Thirty-eight-disc set includes “The Big Stampede,” “Haunted Gold,” “Ride Him, Cowboy,” “The Man from Monterey,” “Somewhere in Sonora,” “The Telegraph Trail,” “Allegheny Uprising,” “Reunion in France,” “Tall in the Saddle,” “Back to Bataan,” “They Were Expendable,” “Without Reservations,” “Tycoon,” “3 Godfathers” (1948), “Fort Apache,” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” “Flying Leathernecks,” “Operation Pacific,” “Big Jim McLain,” “Trouble Along the Way,” “Blood Alley,” “The Sea Chase,” “The Searchers,” “The Wings of Eagles,” “Rio Bravo,” “Hatari!,” “How the West Was Won (Special Edition),” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” “Donovan’s Reef,” “In Harm’s Way,” “The Sons of Katie Elder,” “El Dorado,” “True Grit” (1969), “Chisum,” “The Cowboys (Special Edition),” “Cahill: United States Marshal,” “The Train Robbers,” “McQ,” and “The Shootist,” along with a photo-filled coffee table book and reproductions of publicity material, script pages, Wayne’s personal correspondence, and more.
L.A. Law: Season Two (1987)
Did they call this show “La Law” in France? All 20 episodes from the second season are featured in a five-disc set.
The Lady From Shanghai (1948) +
Orson Welles and then-wife Rita Hayworth combine for a classic film noir tale of a roguish sailor who signs on for a Mexican cruise with a crippled businessman, his maniacal partner and his unfaithful wife. Along the way is romance, treachery, murder and a memorable climax in a hall of mirrors. Written and directed by Welles; with Everett Sloane, Ted de Corsia. Two-disc set.
When his friend is killed by the organizer of a martial arts tournament, a young fighter enters to gain revenge in “The Manchu Boxer” (1974). With Liu Yung, Tao Ming Ming, and Sammo Hung. Kwan Tak-Hing, who played Wong Fei Hung in dozens of Hong Kong films, returns to the role of the legendary hero in “The Skyhawk,” (1974), co-starring Hung as his pupil “Fatty.” Then, “perish” is the word you’ll use to describe what happens to any bad guys foolish enough to challenge Byong Yu and Angela Mao in the action-filled “The Association” (1975). And “The Dragon Tamers” (1975), an early work from director John Woo, follows a Chinese martial arts student to Korea, where he learns taekwondo and joins a battle between rival schools. James Tien and Carter Wong star. Two-disc set.
The Rough Riders (Buck Jones, Raymond Hatton, and Rex Bell) face off against a gang posing as hostile Indians in “Dawn on the Great Divide” (1942). When the schemes of land-grabbers turn deadly, Johnny Mack Brown and Hatton ride to dispense justice in “Law of the Valley” (1944). Brown and Hatton are out to stop a corrupt politician’s election-rigging in “West of the Rio Grande” (1944). Smugglers bringing silver from Mexico have their plans smelted by Brown and Hatton in “Silver Range” (1946). Wells Fargo guard Brown deals with a duplicitous stagecoach hijacker in “Over the Border” (1950). When a ranch foreman is framed for a fatal cattle stampede, Brown sets out to prove his innocence in “Six Gun Mesa” (1950). Interior agent Brown faces down a corrupt rancher terrorizing homesteaders in “West of Wyoming” (1950). Four-disc set includes “Arizona Bound,” “Forbidden Trails,” “Below the Border,” “Ghost Town Law,” and “West of the Law.”
Nosferatu the Vampyr (1979)
Werner Herzog’s moody reworking of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic vampire film, “Nosferatu,” features an eerie title turn by Klaus Kinski as the bat-eared, undead count weary of his immortality. After trapping solicitor Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) in his Transylvanian castle, Dracula travels to Germany, spreading plague in his wake, to claim Harker’s beautiful wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani) for himself.
This handsomely mounted historical drama is headlined by Clark Gable as Charles Stewart Parnell, the charismatic 19th-century Irish statesman/activist who labored ceaselessly for his nation’s independence, only to see his efforts and reputation collapse over his dalliance with the married Katie O’Shea (Myrna Loy). Edna May Oliver, Edmund Gwenn, Donald Crisp, Billie Burke also star.
The Revengers (1972)
When his wife and children are massacred by a band of renegade Comanche led by a white outlaw, rancher and Civil War veteran William Holden arranges for the release of a band of six convicts to help him gain his vengeance on the killers. Gritty western drama also stars Ernest Borgnine, Woody Strode, Warren Vanders, and Susan Hayward.
Rollerball (Limited Edition) (1975)
The most popular sport in the 21st century is “Rollerball,” a gory combination of roller derby and gladiator combat played with motorcycles. James Caan stars as world-renowned player Jonathan E., who rebels against his corporate bosses when they try to force him to retire. John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, and Ralph Richardson also star in this gritty sci-fi tale.
Springtime In The Rockies (1942)
Bickering Broadway performers Betty Grable and John Payne decide their relationship is at an end, so Betty joins up with Cesar Romero while Payne woos Carmen Miranda. Fun-filled musical romp features Harry James and His Orchestra, a supporting turn by a young Jackie Gleason, and Miranda’s offbeat rendition of “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”
High-flying adventure yarn stars Clark Gable as a hotshot pilot, Spencer Tracy as his loyal mechanic and friend, and Myrna Loy as the farm girl he charms into marriage, only to find growing conflict with her over his need to put his life on the line every day. Great aerial sequences are a highlight of this Victor Fleming drama; Lionel Barrymore, Marjorie Main, Samuel S. Hinds co-star.
When a manned Earth-to-Mars mission is destroyed shortly after take-off, it’s up to the Tracy family and the Thunderbirds team to find the saboteurs and keep the next launch safe in the exciting feature-length “Supermarionation” adventure “Thunderbirds Are Go!” Then, in “Thunderbird 6,” the maiden voyage of Skyship One turns into a deadly trap when Alan Tracy and Lady Penelope are taken hostage. Can the rest of the Thunderbirds and their amazing land, sea, and air ships save the day?
When a hard-bitten Cavalry officer (Richard Widmark) is tasked with brokering the freedom of a long-captive settler party from the Comanche, he turns to an old friend, a savvy if corrupt Texas marshal (James Stewart), to aid the rescue. Flavorful frontier adventure from John Ford co-stars Shirley Jones, Linda Cristal, Andy Devine, John McIntire.
Viva Max! (1969)
Peter Ustinov stars as General Maximilian Rodrigues de Santos, the latest–and least–in a line of Mexican military men, who decides to prove himself by leading his ragtag band of soldiers across the border into Texas and marching to San Antonio. His mission?: reclaim the Alamo for his country! Pamela Tiffin, Jonathan Winters, Harry Morgan, and John Astin also star in this wonderfully wacky comedy based on a novel by future newsman Jim Lehrer.
Four-disc set includes “The Dirty Dozen,” “Where Eagles Dare,” “The Big Red One,” and “George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin.”
Three-disc set includes “Battle of the Bulge,” “Memphis Belle” (1990), and “Defiance” (2008).
WWI: The Complete Story (1964)
“The war to end all wars” had an effect on military and political power in Europe that continues to be felt today. This 26-part CBS News documentary series, which aired in 1964 and 1965, traces the history of World War I from the centuries-old rivalries that precipitated it to the continent-wide conflict and America’s eventual involvement. See how tanks and airplanes changed the face of warfare, and how the vengeful peace agreement planted the seeds for World War II. Narrated by Robert Ryan. Four-disc set.
For details and availability of more of this week’s new releases, click here.